Category Archives: Affordable Dentistry

Do Affordable Dentists Always Price Gouge?

I haven’t been to the dentist for about three years because of unemployment. I’m still unemployed, but just felt like it’d been too much time and I needed to at least get a cleaning. I specifically looked for an affordable dentist. Yet, when I went there I felt like they nickled and dimed me for everything. Not only did they do the more expensive “deep cleaning” but they charged me for a fluoride treatment, and dental sealants. They’ve also asked me to come back in two weeks. How can I possibly do that after being out so much money today? Is this what I can expect from “affordable” dentists?

Luisa M.

Dear Luisa,

First, it’s impressive that you’re making such an effort to get dental care when you’ve been struggling with unemployment for so long. It shows you care about your oral hygiene. The deep cleaning can be typical, especially if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while. The fluoride treatment is useful, but optional. It helps kill bacteria. However, they should have asked.

One thing that puzzles me is the dental sealants. Those are usually placed on children. And, it is something they should definitely have asked about before placing them. In fact, generally an office goes through any procedure to make sure you understand the charges and agree to them before you start. I’d contest the sealants and fluoride because they didn’t ask.

In future, I’d suggest you still look for affordable dentists, but ahead of time discuss what their payment policy is. Also, be clear with them that you want to approve any extras along with their costs before hand. Be aware that many dentists will let you pay out any necessary expenses to get the treatment you deserve.

The upside to getting the dental sealants is you won’t have to worry about cavities getting into the grooves of your molars.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

Cheap Versus Affordable Dentists

I’m worried this “affordable dentist” is going to kill my sister. My sister needed to replace a tooth. She’s a single mom and barely gets by financially. I wanted to help her, but she’s determined to do things on her own. I was relieved she decided on a dental implant instead of a removable partial denture. I knew enough to know she needed to preserve her bone structure, especially as young as she is. But, it turns out she just went to the dentist who charged the least. Since then, she’s had nothing but trouble. It’s been infected…twice. Now the post has broken, taking a chunk of bone with it. In order to get this repaired, she’s going to need expensive grafting. How could this happen?

Cassie H.

Cassie,

There’s a difference between cheap and affordable. Obviously, your sister got cheap. While a dentist can do everything right and a dental implant still fail, this sounds like the dentist cut some corners with the materials he used in order to keep his profits up while having lower prices to draw patients in. There’s nothing that can be done now to help your sister’s situation. She will need that bone grafting, but the infection will need to be dealt with first. In fact, if it’s affecting her bone and spreads it could be life threatening. Make sure she takes this seriously.

If she’s determined to see this through without help there’s not much you can do, but there are some helpful things you can suggest. The first would be another dentist. There are affordable dentists who don’t cut corners. Often they’ll offer some type of in-house dental plan, or they take payments for treatments through a service like Care Credit. This will get your sister the care she needs while allowing her to pay it out without accruing a ton of interest costs.

Another thing is preventative care. I don’t know why she lost a tooth so young. It could have been an accident, which isn’t necessarily preventable or it could have been because she avoided treatment because of costs. If it’s the latter, there are dentists who will work with patients in difficult financial situations, like your sister. Also, some cities have dental or hygiene schools in the area that give discount services. The care is good because they’re examined by a student and the teacher. They’ll do her x-rays, exam, and cleaning at a hygiene school. If there’s anything more serious they’ll send her to a clinic.

If she goes regularly, there’s much less of a chance of her needing such a serious procedure. When things are caught early they can be treated without invasive care.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

Is This Affordable Dentist Legit?

I saw this dentist who advertised as an affordable dentist. I have a cavity. I was hopeful if I found an affordable dentist I’d be able to get a white filling, which my insurance won’t cover. I decided to go by the office and get a look first. Just to make sure it wasn’t like some backwater office that looks barely sanitary.  I walked in and the place was immaculate. Impeccably decorated, flat screen TVs.  How can the office look this wealthy and still be affordable?

Abigail W. – Arkansas.

Abigail,

It’s interesting that you went to peek at the office before scheduling. That may, in part, be the answer to your question. If you think about how families spend money, it will help, too. Let’s say you have two families which earn the same amount of money. One home can be immaculately decorated, but the family rarely travels. Another can keep their home neat, but frugally decorated. Instead, they use the money for travel.

This dentist has a certain amount of money to work with. He spends some on advertising (which would include the appearance of his lobby).  The rest he can use how he wants. This dentist may prefer a beautiful office, but keeps his prices low to help patients.  He may cut his profits. Or maybe he keeps a leaner staff than most.

Call and ask what his prices are for white fillings. That should give you some idea of if his prices are as affordable as you’d hoped. Whatever you do, don’t just leave the cavity. It will spread and will likely blow up into an infection, leaving you with a dental emergency.

Now, what could have been a simple filling will turn into an expensive dental crown or, worse, a complete tooth replacement such as a dental implant.

One thing to bear in mind is that you can get a white filling and your dentist will charge your insurance for the amalgam filling. You’ll only need to make up the difference, saving you some money right off the bat.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

 

How Do I Get Affordable Dentistry for My Mom?

My mom has been unable to care for herself lately. I’ve taken over her care. Her teeth are in bad shape. Really bad shape. She needs dental care but has no insurance and little money.  I’ve called around but everyone seems to want thousands of dollars up front. IS there any affordable option?

Sandy – Texas

Sandy,

I’m glad your mom has a daughter who cares enough to take care of her. Not all moms have that. There are affordable dentists who will work with you.

Explain your situation. At the least, many dentists have payment plans that will allow you to get her most essential work done right away.

Some dentists have in-office payment plans. Others use Care Credit, which is a  medical credit card. It allows patients to choose their terms, even zero interest payment plans.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

Affordable Dentistry for Low-Income Patients with a Dental Emergency?

I need to find an affordable dentist for my dad. He is 63 and has a terrible toothache, but he’s also unemployed and on state insurance, which doesn’t provide dental coverage. Obviously, with the unemployment, he can’t really afford to have the tooth fixed, which is terrible. He keeps trying to live with it, thinking he’ll just fix it when he gets back on his feet again, but I’m really worried that it’s infected and that it’s getting worse. How do I find an affordable dentist who will help him?

Thanks,

Jim

Dear Jim,

I love when I see children taking care of their elderly parents. There are a lot of ways you can find an affordable dentist and it sounds like your dad needs to get in as soon as possible. Anytime there’s pain it is a dental emergency. If it’s an infection, it will get worse and spread, so it’s good that you’re looking into options.

The fastest way to get him treatment is to call around and see who offers payment plans. Some offices will provide in-house financing, but a lot of them are offering things like Care Credit, which is financing through a company that only helps people with medical bills.

They usually have a deal where, if you pay off the balance in six months or less, you don’t even have to pay interest on it. If you find an office that does either one of these things, any office can instantly become an affordable dentist and he can get treatment right away.

If he’s in a real bind, have him visit his primary care physician. Although a doctor won’t treat dental needs, he can assess it and determine if he thinks it’s infected. If it is, he’ll be able to prescribe antibiotics, which should be covered under his state medical care. This won’t fix the problem. He’ll still need to see a dentist, but it will buy him a little bit of time to work out which affordable dentist he’s going to see and how he’ll cover the expenses.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

Affording a Dentist When Escaping Domestic Violence

I’ve left an abusive relationship. I need to get a job, but I have an ugly smile. I’ve been punched so many times that I have nothing attractive left about me. I am going to be hard pressed to get a job with zero work experience and no attractiveness to help me. I know I need to get my teeth worked on, but I have no way of affording it. Please tell me there are compassionate dentists who will help me.

Maggie D.  – Mississippi

Maggie,

I’m very proud of how brave you are. Leaving an abusive relationship is quite a difficult thing you’ve done. I hope you recognize the significance of that.

You’re in a tough spot, but I have some good news for you. There is an organization specifically designed for people in your position. The Give Back A Smile organization is a group of dentists who donate their services to women who’ve been in abusive relationships.

That will help you get your smile in shape in order to get a job, but it doesn’t solve your long term problem of needing quality, affordable dental care afterwards.

It takes a while to get on your feet financially and you’re starting from the beginning. You won’t want to neglect your oral health care in the meantime. I’d do a Google search for an affordable dentist. But, don’t stop there. You don’t just want cheap. You want affordable AND good. After you make a list of “affordable dentists”, check out the reviews they’ve gotten from patients. That should give you an idea of the kind of service you’ll get from that particular dentist.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

Is there a “poor man’s” smile makeover?

I looked into getting a smile makeover, but the price was through the roof.  Is there  a “poor man’s” smile makeover. Something that can really improve my smile, but won’t require me to sell my SUV to pay for it?

Mark A. – Philadelphia

Mark,

Hah! Well there are a couple of options.

  1. You can get the smile makeover you want with a qualified cosmetic dentist that will allow you to pay it out. Some dentists have low or even no interest payment plans.  Find the dentist you want and then talk to them about financing options. There are dentists that don’t advertise more affordable options, but are willing to work with you if you ask.
  2. There is a more affodable procedure that will make a huge difference on your smile. Teeth whitening can make your teeth look years younger.

Though it doesn’t sound like much, you’ll be amazed at the brilliance and youthful appearance you’ll take on from that one simple procedure.

This blgo is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

Affordable Dentist Cost a Fortune

I don’t have insurance and I needed to have a crown and two fillings done. I shopped around for an affordable dentist and picked the one offering the best rate- they’re all dentists right? Well, I go in and everything’s a hassle. The office staff is rude, the doctor spends almost no time with me, but he does agree to do the work right then and there. I give him the go ahead and he’s rough. Very clearly in a hurry. He finishes up and tells me to come back in two weeks. I stop by the front office to settle my bill and it doesn’t match what they told me over the phone. Every single item is higher and they tell me it’s because there was more work to be done. I was mad. What’s the point in a quote if they don’t stand by it? I paid what they told me to over the phone, but they say the rest is due at my next visit. It turns out this “affordable dentist” was the second most expensive on my list. Am I stuck paying the bill? What recourse do I have?

-Jeff

Dear Jeff,

It sounds like you ran into a whole lot of communication errors, but not every affordable dentist operates this way.

Quotes are particularly difficult to give over the phone- so much so that many offices refuse to give them. It is normal for treatment to be broken down by individual procedures. For instance, a basic crown is one fee, but if the tooth has to be built up to receive the crown there is another. There are also different codes for a tooth that only needs a filling on one side of it, versus two, three, or more. The logic for this is simple; it takes more time and more skill to do more procedures. In calling on the phone, the office can’t possibly know how many surfaces of your tooth need treatment. While it would have been prudent of them to explain this when you asked, and especially before you began treatment, it likely comes down to a breakdown in communication.

The amount an affordable dentist charges will likely come down to several factors, including his skill level, the average rates of the region, and the quality of the materials he uses. It is tough to select an office only based on cost, because those who offer significantly lower rates tend to be using extreme cost-cutting measures to make it work. Generally, it’s a far better idea to look for an office with a good reputation, and then find out what they do to help make care fit within their patient’s budgets. Some will offer payment plans, financing, and other options, so you’re never sacrificing quality of care to get a lower rate.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

What if I can’t afford wisdom tooth removal?

I’ve been having trouble with my wisdom teeth. I think they need to be removed, but I just can’t afford it. Can I just get an antibiotic from my doctor?  My face is starting to swell, so I’m getting worried.

Jack K. – Orlando, FL

Jack,

You have reason to be worried. It sounds like you’ve got an infected wisdom tooth and it is spreading. Our mouths are dreadfully close to our brains. you certainly don’t want it spreading there!

Though antibiotics help, they will only help if the infection is physically removed. Your teeth are different from other parts of your body. The infection has to be removed.

There are affordable ways to deal with this and it does have to be dealt with, for your own safety.

Talk to your dentist. I’m sure he or she will be willing to work with you.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

Can’t afford to clean my teeth

I’m a young adult, fresh out of college. I need to get my teeth cleaned, but when I called to get a price it was outrageous. Then, I called to get insurance, but it was too much money and every month. I asked my mom to pay for it, but she said I should plan and save up.  How in the world am I supposed to get my teeth cleaned?

Marcus G. – Little Rock, AR

Marcus,

Life is hard for adults, isn’t it? Some dentists are more expensive than others, so I hope you didn’t just hear one really expensive price and give up.  There are more affordable ways to get dental care as well.

Even though you can’t afford the insurance, some dentists have their own in-office plans. These tend to be much more affordable and the fee is annual instead of monthly.

You’ll also get discounts on cleanings and other services in most of them.

Also, don’t hate me, but I agree with your mother.  If you put aside a little every month, you’ll have the money for a cleaning in no time. You don’t want to get in the habit of being dependent on other people to provide for your basic need.

It’s a horrible cycle that few people get out of.

This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.