By Susan Braden
Going to the dentist is generally considered rather costly, and no one looks forward to writing that check. These five procedures top the list as the most expensive, so if you plan to undergo any of them, you should investigate your options for cheap dental coverage as soon as possible. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, medical bills cost the average household $2,976 in 2009, so it is important to be prepared to prevent any surprises at the office this year.
Braces are no longer limited to an adolescent mouth full of metal and colored rubber bands. Traditional metal braces have been updated, and many orthodontists now offer gold or clear braces. The clear, retainer-like Invisalign process is even less visible, and many adults opt for this version. Straight teeth result in more than just a prettier smile. Crooked or overly spaced teeth can trap food, which can lead to a buildup of cavity-causing plaque. Crowded teeth are difficult to adequately brush, and flossing can be difficult. Braces are an expensive but often necessary treatment, and many plans provide cheap coverage for every type of braces.
If your teeth have no crowns or fillings, particularly toward the front of the mouth, you might consider bleaching them to restore their pearly whiteness. Bleaching can occur three different ways. Over-the-counter bleaching strips fall on the cheap end of the list. Most brands require at least 14 days of at-home treatment by placing strips with whitening gel on the teeth once or twice a day for a specified amount of time. The next step up is using bleaching trays from a dentist, in which you place bleach into trays from your dentist that were made to fit your mouth. This process takes about 14 days too, but the bleach is stronger than over-the-counter versions. A third method is an in-office treatment lasting about an hour. This option is the most expensive but also the quickest and most effective.
Gum and bone diseases caused by infected gums require surgery as soon as possible. These are serious oral issues that must be treated by a skilled specialist, which usually means a steep cost. Unlike the other listed procedures, which could be considered “cosmetic” in some circumstances, gum surgery is entirely health-related. Through discount plans, you can often find cheap coverage that will include work performed by specialists.
Veneers are sometimes used to fix slightly cracked or damaged teeth, but in most cases, their sole purpose is to improve your smile. They usually adhere to the front of the tooth. Veneers are generally not covered by dental insurance companies, but certain plans provide dental coverage for work of this nature performed by specialists.
An implant replaces the root and crown of a tooth, making it a very complicated and expensive procedure. First, a post is surgically inserted into the jawbone. Once the bone meshes with the post, a crown is screwed into the post. This method lasts longer than a bridge, and can apply to only one tooth if necessary. Because of its complicated and time-consuming nature, this procedure requires a specialist. Some discount plans offer dental coverage for implants as well.
It may seem that these procedures are far too costly, but a lot of skill and training is necessary to perform them, and maintaining a healthy mouth is an important part of your general well-being. Several of these procedures involve anesthesia and require a lot more time and effort from a dentist or specialist, so don’t let a high price tag prevent you from getting the treatment you need. Do some research, look for an experienced specialist, and find a plan with cheap dental coverage so you can receive your treatment without breaking the bank.