There’s no getting around it: good teeth matter. Once you are old enough to have all of your adult teeth, a gap-toothed smile is no longer considered cute. It’s unfortunate, but missing any teeth at all, or having stained and broken teeth, says to anyone who sees you that you’re poor or low class. Having beautiful straight white teeth indicates that you have enough money to maintain your choppers in a way that nature never could.
In reality, proper dental care is an expense that is out of reach of all kinds of hard-working and educated people. With the cost of living skyrocketing while wages stay stagnant, going to the dentist and investing in pricy whitening or straightening treatments often takes a back seat to more pressing expenses. It doesn’t mean you are low class. But sadly, that is the assumption that will be made by strangers.
If you need dental implants to replace damaged or missing teeth, it’ll cost you. Luckily, the price you see up front doesn’t have to be the final price. There are some clever ways to get those implants without skipping a mortgage payment. We found 7 great options; one of them may be the answer for you.
Dental societies are more than just groups of local dentists who get together to gossip about their patients over wine and cheese. They also host planned events to extend free or low cost dental services to low income patients. There are certain associations that offer dental care to specific demographics, such as women, children, domestic violence survivors, and people with disabilities.
To begin your search for affordable dental implants, check out the American Dental Association and their online directory – it lists dental associations by state and county. A word of advice if you are going to pursue this route: start early, as you may need to wait for a special event rather than just walk in off the street.
Generally, we think about the best of everything being available in urban centers. But the urban lifestyle comes with a higher price tag, too. Dentists who work in large cities often have much higher overhead and will quote you considerably steeper prices for their services.
You could be better served by driving a couple of hours outside of your city to find a dentist in a smaller town with a more affordable office and staff. That will translate into a lower cost for those implants. However, note that there is a critical shortage of dentists in truly rural areas, so look primarily in small but established cities.
Sometimes driving a few hours will make the difference in price for your dental implants, but let’s face it, this is still America. Health care costs are significantly higher for just about everything than those in other developed countries. Many of them have socialized medicine, which means that the government brings its significant negotiating power to the cost of services and treatments. And even though you will have to pay as a guest, rather than a citizen, of those countries, the price will still be a lot less than you’ll find at home.
Another good strategy is to look at dental services in developing countries, which have lower prices on everything. However, since a botched job is almost as bad as no implant at all, consider your options carefully. Every country has different licensing requirements and standards. If you are thinking about traveling internationally for dental care, look at the Complete Guide to Dental Treatment Abroad to discover the benefits and risks of care in different countries.
If you’ve ever had a hair stylist trainee cut your hair, you know that the results can be, well, unpredictable. But did you know that dental schools also offer services that are actually quite reliable? Recently graduated students take part in a program to gain some real world experience, and the procedures are carefully monitored by long-time dental professionals who can step in if need be.
Some dental schools only offer their services to low-income individuals. You may also be placed on a wait list for non-essential work and sit in the chair longer as the treatment is analyzed and reviewed by professors. But if you qualify, you are likely to save thousands of dollars on those implants. Check out this list of dental schools that provide services to the public to see if there is one near enough to you.
Many dentists maintain an in-network discount plan that essentially allows you to pay a yearly or monthly fee in order to be eligible for discounted services. For example, you may pay a certain amount each year to belong, which means you receive twice yearly cleanings and a set of x-rays as part of the plan and get a discount on additional services.
The discount generally ranges from 10% to 60% of the price of your service. This might be a wise strategy to pursue in conjunction with searching for services outside of your local metropolitan area. Buy a membership at a dentist in a smaller community for even more savings.
Even if you are not able to travel for your procedure, be sure to comparison shop among the dentists in your area. Don’t let them give you just one big number, but ask for a comprehensive breakdown of the individual costs. Perhaps there are line items you can strike from your particular case. You may also find that a newly established practice charges less as they work to build up their clientele.
Note that dentists are not the only professionals who are certified to do dental implants. Periodontists and oral surgeons can also do them. Be sure to include all dental professionals in your search for the most affordable option.
If none of these strategies work to get your dental implants into affordable territory, consider an alternative. Perhaps a bridge or partial denture could create the beautiful smile you want instead. If you have good teeth next to the gaps caused by missing teeth, your bridge could be bonded to those teeth so that they need not be removed at night for cleaning.
Dental bridges don’t last as long as implants, but they can be good for 15 years or more with proper care. When bridges fail, it is usually because the jawbone under the bridge has atrophied and left a gap. This in turn can create suction and pressure that weakens the bond with the abutting teeth.
It’s a shame that good teeth are pretty much a requirement in order to be considered attractive, and that not-so-great teeth send all sorts of unspoken signals about your standing in the world. But alas, this is the world we live in. With some research and patience, the 7 tips above can save you a lot of money when it comes to getting dental implants.
If all else fails, you can start a fundraising campaign to help cover the cost. Though it is no guarantee, Indiegogo.com and GoFundMe.com are commonly used platforms for this purpose. It may feel awkward to ask for money, but this practice is only increasing in popularity. Fundraisers for medical services and funerals are pretty much standard these days for everyone but the very rich. If you can make a compelling or entertaining enough case to have your campaign picked up the local media, you’ll find that strangers come out of the woodwork to help.