Are you looking for cheap dental care at a good dentist?
Whether you've just moved to a new area, purchased a new insurance plan, or haven't been to the dentist in a while, finding an affordable, trustworthy dentist can be a trying process. Keep reading for some tips on how to find a cheap dentist.
Cheap Dental Care Options
Depending on your financial situation, going to a traditional dental office may not be feasible. You may wish to look into the following options for finding a cheap dentist:
- Community Health Centers. Especially in rural areas where traditional dental offices are not readily accessible, you may be able to get basic dental care at a community health center. These centers are often federally-funded and provide various free or reduced-cost health services, often on a sliding scale according to financial need. Learn more about dental care at a health clinic vs. a traditional practice.
- Medicaid or CHIP (Children's Health Insurance Program). In some cases, Medicaid can provide dental benefits. However, states set their own rules, so make sure you know how much Medicaid will cover beforehand. Even in states that provide dental benefits under Medicaid, not all dentists accept it. The good news is that your children can often receive dental benefits through Medicaid or CHIP, even if adults are not always eligible under state laws.
- Dental Schools. Dental schools can be a great way to get cheap dental care. The students practicing on you will not be licensed dentists; however, they will be under faculty supervision. Dental schools have a few drawbacks, however. They often have months-long waiting lists for treatment, and there may not be one near you, so if you are in pain or have an urgent dental need, they may not be a viable option. See a list of dental schools near you.
- Donated Care. If you check the local news, dental offices will often offer days of free dental care to certain populations. For example, Aspen Dental's MouthMobile is a "42-foot-long dentist office on wheels" that travels around the country providing free dental care to veterans. Are you a veteran? See when the MouthMobile is coming to you!
- Ask your dentist about cash discounts, discount plans and payment options. If you already have a dentist you like, but the cost of care is just getting too expensive for you, don't hesitate to let them know! Especially if you've been a loyal patient, they may be able to help you by giving 10-15% off for paying cash or setting you up on some sort of payment plan. They may offer an in-house discount plan that can save you money, or they may participate with a national discount dental plan network that you can join to save a higher percentage off your dental bills.
Finding an Affordable Dental Office
Perhaps you can afford a regular dental office and don't want to go to a dental school or community clinic, but you just don't want to spend more than you have to! Here are some tips for finding a cheap dental office near you.
It is important to find a dentist that you feel comfortable with. Why not start by getting recommendations from people you already trust?
Consider asking the following people for recommendations:
- Family, friends or other people that you trust
- Your doctor
- Your current dentist, if you are moving to a new area
- Your dental plan or insurance, to find a cheap dentist that accepts the plan
- If all else fails, use the ADA Find-a-Dentist tool to find ADA approved dentists in your area
By getting recommendations from others, you should be able to put together a good list of potential dentists. Once you have your list, you can begin looking into each individual dentist and their practice to determine the best one for you.
Check Online Reviews
Google, Yelp and Facebook can be excellent resources for finding a cheap dentist you can trust. Make sure to read multiple reviews, both good and bad. Checking online reviews will be a great next step after getting opinions from family and friends to see what the rest of the community is saying.
How to Get the Most Out of Reading Online Dentist Reviews
- Use multiple sources. Checking Google, Facebook and Yelp together will give you a better idea than just checking one source. The dental office may have a 3.5 star rating on Yelp because it only has two reviews and one of them is 1 star, but they may have a 4.8 star rating on Facebook out of 150 reviews, which would be much more reliable.
- Read the reviews—don't just look at the stars. It could be that all of the one-star reviewers are just angry because they found out they needed a very expensive dental treatment, or it could turn out that the dentist made a serious mistake with their mouth. It could even be that the dentists and hygienists are excellent, but one of the members of the office staff is just rude. It's important to actually read the reviews to understand what's behind the stars. You may be able to put up with a rude administrative assistant much better than with an ill-equipped dentist!
- Note the dental office's responses. If customers are posting legitimate complaints that aren't being addressed, that's a red flag in today's digital age. You want a dental office that pays attention to how its patients are doing after their procedures and not just while they're in the dental office. If the dental office is doing everything it can to address complaints kindly and competently, that's a good sign.
Visit the Dental Office In Person
Before making a final decision, you may wish to visit the dental office in person. It may not matter what your family members say, what online reviews say or even how cheap the dentist is if you get a bad feeling pulling up to the place. When it comes to something as important as your dental care, you want to feel comfortable and safe.
Here are some things to consider when you visit the dental office:
- The location of the office. Is the practice in a convenient location for you? Would you be able to commute there easily from home or from work? If the practice is far away or hard to get to, you may want to reconsider using them as your dentist.
- The appointment schedule. What are the office hours of the practice? What is the policy on canceling or rescheduling appointments? Make sure you can conveniently work their appointment times into your schedule.
- The staff. Is the staff friendly and helpful? Consider the quality of the dental staff, as these are the people you will primarily interact with during your visit. Many people base their decision only on the dentist, but keep in mind that you will see the office staff and hygienists much more frequently than the dentist.
- The cleanliness of the office. No one wants to get their teeth cleaned in an unsanitary environment. Make sure you are comfortable with the cleanliness and organization of the office.
- The cost of the procedures. What do the typical fees look like? Do the prices seem reasonable compared with other dentists in the area? Researching average full dental prices online can be challenging, as many dental offices do not readily provide exact rates without seeing patients first. With the Careington Care 500 plan we offer at 1Dental, you can see a list of average full dental procedure prices in your area and exact discounted rates if you choose to join the plan.
- The insurance plans accepted. Not all dentists accept all insurances or dental plans. Some dental practices do not accept any insurance, and your plan may not be worth paying for if you continually go out-of-network. More and more, practices are offering their own in-house discount plans, so make sure to ask if they have anything like that at your visit. Also, depending on the dentist, it may be cheaper to pay cash prices than to pay for an expensive dental insurance policy with waiting periods and annual limits.
- The referral policy. What is the policy for special procedures that need to be done outside of the practice? Does the dentist refer out to a specific specialist, or will you need to find someone on your own? Knowing this upfront rather than being caught off guard by it later may help you decide whether or not to use the dentist.
Finding a Cheap Dentist You Can Trust
It's important to not only find a cheap dentist, but also one you can trust. Your teeth are a lifelong investment.
If you choose to join a dental discount plan through 1Dental, dentists go through a thorough vetting and approval process prior to joining the network, including a 5-year work history evaluation. You're getting access to quality care at fully licensed dentists, yet many members report getting 50% or more off their dental bills.