How to Reduce Out-of-Pocket Costs for Dental Procedures

by Shelley Frost
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Why is dental work so expensive, even with insurance? You still have to pay a portion of the procedure costs even with insurance.

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The specifics of your plan often impact how much of the dental work costs you have to pay. However, you can get creative and figure out how to pay for expensive dental work by lowering your out-of-pocket costs.

6 Ways to Lower Out-of-Pocket Dental Costs

Dental procedures costs can be quite shocking, especially if you expect your dental insurance to pay most of the bill. Here are some ideas on how to pay for expensive dental work when your insurance doesn't cover as much as you thought.

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1. Shop Around for Better Insurance

Why is dental care so expensive? It could be partially due to the coverage you have. Plans vary in how much they cost and how much they cover. You can lower your overall dental costs by looking around for a different plan.

One way to lower your overall costs is by finding a dental insurance plan with a lower premium. However, cheaper plans might not offer as much coverage. You might have to pay a higher percentage of the bill, or you might have high co-pays or deductibles. The plan maximum might also be lower, so you'll have to pay for any additional procedures after you max it out.

If you expect to have a lot of dental work done, you might save money by finding a better plan that pays a higher percentage of your dental bills. Compare the plan limits to find out the cap on what it'll pay. Spending a little more on premiums for better coverage and a higher plan maximum could save you money overall.

2. Verify That Your Dentist Is in Network

You'll get the most out of your insurance plan when you choose an in-network dental care provider. These participating providers work with your dental insurance company and have negotiated the prices for dental work. If you choose an out-of-network provider, you'll likely pay more. They don't have the same negotiated rates as in-network providers, so they might charge more for their dental procedures costs. Plus, your insurance plan might not cover as much of the procedure. Many plans cover a smaller percentage of the dental work costs if you choose someone who's out of network.

3. Practice Preventive Care

An easy way to avoid high dental procedures costs is by taking good care of your teeth. Brush and floss religiously at home to keep your teeth in good condition. It's also important to visit the dentist for routine checkups. Preventive dental care is often covered 100% by dental insurance plans, so it's an affordable way to avoid high dental work costs.

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4. Don't Wait Too Long

It's easy to put off dental treatments, whether because of fear or other reasons. Maybe you're waiting to save up money before you go in. But waiting too long can make the problem worse and could result in a more extensive treatment. For instance, a basic cavity can continue to decay. Your dentist might have to do a root canal instead of a regular filling. The dental work costs for those more extensive procedures are typically much higher.

5. Spread Out Your Procedures

While you don't want to put off procedures for too long, spacing them out a little could help make the dental procedures cost more affordable. Instead of scheduling everything at once, handle the most critical dental procedures first. Give yourself a little time to get together the costs for the next procedure so it's a little easier on your budget.

6. Explore Other Dental Office Options

Do different dentists charge different prices? Yes, they do, and that could make a difference in your financial responsibility. Dental insurance often relies on a percentage system: The plan covers a percentage of the bill and you pay the rest.

That means if you go to a dentist who charges less than others, your portion of the bill will be smaller. Trying smaller towns nearby could help you find lower prices. General dentists typically charge less for dental procedures costs than specialty dentists. Calling around to get pricing from different offices for dental work costs could help you lower your cost.

Another option is going to a dental college for procedures. They often charge a small fee for their services. Students will be the ones doing the work, but they'll be supervised by licensed dentists.

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