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How to Save Money on Dental Care

Welcome to Solo and Smart. The YouTube channel for adults at risk of growing older alone. My name is Carol Marak at

Dental care is expensive and it’s not covered under Medicare. But there are a few tricks you can use to save money.

Until the day when taking care of your teeth is covered by insurance, you’ll have to pay out of pocket.

Not all of these suggestions will be right for you, but you should be able to find a couple that will offer relief from a huge bill.

Dental schools. Students studying dentistry have to get experience somewhere, so most schools run clinics where the public can get treated for free or at a substantially reduced price. Anything from a standard filling to a root canal and crown can be done, but be aware that it will take longer than at a dentist’s office. Licensed supervisors check on each stage of the work. Every state has at least two, and some have over 100. Check the website to find one close to you.

Clinics. Your local or state health department may get grants from the federal government to hold a clinic that charges a reduced fixed price or provides services on a sliding scale according to your income. They offer a wide range of services, from preventive care to tooth extractions.

Dental tourism. Consider a trip to Mexico, Costa Rica or Central America when it is safe to do so (and when Americans are welcome). They have dentists that trained in the U.S. but practice their profession in a country that is much less expensive, so the same care might be half the cost. Be sure to check their rating on the internet and find out what amenities the office has. Some border offices in Mexico specialize in older Americans, but there is a wide variation in care. Alternatively, an excellent office may be found in a town loaded with ex-pats, such as Ajijic or San Miguel de Allende. Do a search with your desired country to start comparing rates. Most offices provide a phone number and are happy to answer your questions. They are used to visitors from the U.S. and can provide hotel and transportation options for your stay.

Cash discount. Many offices will offer a substantial discount, such as 20%, for paying in cash.

Dental discount plan or insurance. Dental discount plans are offered by a network of dentists who have agreed to charge less in exchange for an annual fee, usually about $75 After joining, you could save anywhere from 10% to 60% on services. For most people who have relatively healthy teeth and gums, a discount plan will save money over insurance. However, insurance may be your best bet if you have ongoing dental issues.

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