The importance of preventative dental care cannot be underestimated. Ultimately, getting regular check-ups, home care, and dental procedures aren’t just about your appearance; they play a huge part in how healthy you are overall, as well. But costs can add up quickly, especially for families who might lose valuable coverage that was formerly covered by the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Even if you are not eligible for plans subsidized through CHIP, managing the rising costs of preventative care can be daunting. Below, you’ll find a few tips that might help you put a plan in place for necessary treatment.
Start Saving Now
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that parents bring their child to the dentist by the time the child turns one or when their first tooth appears (whichever occurs first). Early dental care is essential for preventing adult tooth decay, according to experts.
Ray Stewart, pediatric dental professor at UCSF, told The Sacramento Bee: “By the time children are age three, they are often so far down the road [of dental decay] that prevention is no longer an option.”
Although scientific literature suggests dental implants have a 98% success rate, you’ll want to do everything possible to ensure your child won’t ever lose their teeth due to decay. In the long run, youth preventative care is far less expensive and physically painful. In the short term, of course, the financial hit can bring some hurt. However, if you start saving now, you can address any dental issues that come up without having to scramble.
Don’t Forget About Orthodonture
Regular dental care can be pricy enough, but what if your child might need braces? According to the American Association of Orthodontists, parents should bring their children in for an evaluation by the time they turn seven. Although that will be too early for braces, your orthodontist will be able to determine whether your child has or may develop misaligned teeth or bite issues by that time. Since one out of every five Americans doesn’t have an ideal bite, it’s fairly likely your child may need some type of orthodontic care. And since a 2013 American Dental Association survey found that the cost of fixing orthodontic problems like these in adolescents ranged from $4,685 to $6,500 on average, getting a good idea of what you might have to pay later on will help you plan accordingly.
Review Your Insurance
A lot of dental plans will cover preventative care within your network and will even cover a portion for braces for children under the age of 18. Policies will usually have either a yearly or lifetime maximum of coverage for orthodonture, which may represent just part of the total cost of treatment. Although dental and orthodontic care is extremely important, you need to understand the terms of your insurance policy and any out-of-pocket costs you may be responsible for before you decide on a course of treatment. In some cases, you may be able to open a health savings account using pre-taxed dollars from your employer-sponsored health insurance plan to cover these kinds of expenses. Be sure to talk to your insurer and find out what’s covered and what isn’t while you can still make changes to your coverage (through December 15, 2017).
Obtain Treatment Fee Breakdowns
Depending on your dentist or orthodontist and the way they structure their services, you may find there are costs you wouldn’t be able to predict. Although some orthodontists will include consultations, monthly appointments, X-rays, retainers, and more in the total cost of their services, others will charge separately for each service. You must ask for this information upfront in order to financially prepare and ask for clarification on anything you don’t understand. And even though you won’t necessarily want to choose a dentist based on cost alone, this information can be useful if you decide you need to find more affordable options for your family.
By eliminating the element of surprise, you’ll be in a better position to manage your finances while still getting the health services your family needs. Budgeting for dental care isn’t ever going to be a pleasure, but having as much information as possible and pursuing preventative care (rather than fixing problems later on) will be your best bet for financial security and overall health.