If you’re here, chances are good that you’re bothered by the state of your teeth. And who could blame you? Everywhere we look is the message that having straight, white teeth says something about your value as a person.
Even though your teeth truly don’t describe who you are on the inside, having a beautiful set of choppers signals to the world that you’re affluent enough to pay for results that nature doesn’t just give away for free.
But here’s the good news. You don’t have to be rich to get that work done – you just need to be a savvy shopper.
Seek Out Dental Societies
Dentists in many communities like to join together to host planned events that extend free or low-cost services to lower income patients. Your local org may also be able to put you in touch with care for specific demographics, such as people with disabilities, domestic violence survivors, women, and children.
A great place to start in your search for affordable dental implants is the American Dental Association. They maintain an online directory of dental associations organized by state and county. One thing to remember if you are seeking charitable services is that there are often set times when the services are available, so you won’t be able to schedule at your convenience.
Even though it is most convenient to stick with your regular dentist, take the time to shop around for those dental implants. Dentists are not the only ones who can do dental implants. You can also go to a periodontist or oral surgeon, so there are plenty of places to seek a consultation.
Note that newly established dental professionals are likely to charge less as they establish a solid client base.
When you do receive a quote, make sure that they break down every cost, rather than giving you one big number. You need to know what is included for that price, and honestly, there may be a line item or two that you can strike from your procedure.
Go to School
New dentists need to practice their services, and you can benefit from that. Don’t be scared – this isn’t like when a stylist trainee cuts your hair! Recently graduated dentists participate in workforce training to get some real world experience before joining or starting a practice. They have already been highly educated and are always monitored by an experienced dental professional who guides the procedure.
However, some dental schools only offer services to low-income patients so you’ll have to meet the income requirement. Others maintain a wait list organized by the nature of the treatment, so cosmetic procedures are prioritized lower. And finally, you might spend a lot more time than strictly necessary in the dentist’s chair as the work is scrutinized and reviewed by the dental mentors.
If you’re down with all of that, dig into this list of dental schools to find a good one near you.
Urban centers offer more choices, but also higher prices. Even though industry competition is triggered in a city with a lot of dentists, they all have a high overhead to manage when it comes to office space and staffing. So while Dentist A may be willing to honor the price offered by Dentist B, better prices could yet be available outside of town.
It might be worth it to drive an hour or two outside of the metro area and visit a dentist in a smaller town with a cheaper office space and staff. That may mean that he or she can offer lower prices on services like dental implants.
Finding the right sized town is critical, though. Truly rural areas are experiencing a critical shortage of dentists, so it’s best to look in small but well-established cities.
Buy a Discount Plan
Check with your dentist to see if they offer an in-network discount plan that works kind of like a subscription service. Basically, you will pay an annual fee to belong to the plan and for that fee receive something like twice yearly cleanings and one set of x-rays.
A good plan also offers discounts on other services, ranging from 10% to 60% of the cost. If you purchase the discount plan at a small-town dentist, the savings could be even higher because you start from a lower list price for the implants.
If you’re feeling like you can’t drive anywhere in America to get affordable dental implants, perhaps it’s time to think about leaving the country – temporarily, of course! Healthcare costs are significantly higher in the US than other developed countries. Even factoring in the cost of air travel, you might actually save money by seeking treatment elsewhere.
A great resource for exploring this idea is the Complete Guide to Dental Treatment Abroad, which details the risks and benefits of receiving dental care in various countries. Since every country has different licensing requirements and standards for these procedures, you’ll want to carefully weigh your options.
Choose an Alternative
If you still feel that dental implants are beyond you financially, know that there are alternatives. You might choose a bridge or partial denture instead and be just as happy with your results. In some cases, you can even have the false teeth bonded to the teeth next to them so you don’t need to remove them for cleaning.
While implants are the longest-lasting option, a good bridge can last for 15 years or more if you take care of it. Bridges most often fail when the gums underneath them recede and leave a gap that causes suction to weaken the bond with the abutting teeth.
There is definitely a lot of societal pressure when it comes to teeth, but don’t let anyone make you feel bad about yours.
If you choose to get dental implants, do it for your happiness only. Yeah, others will make assumptions about you based on your new million watt smile, but no one has to know how you were able to snag such a fantastic deal on a high-end procedure.