Tooth Talk: Need work done but can’t afford it?

Q: I was just at the dentist and he gave me an estimate for some work that I needed to have done. I wasn’t prepared for the amount and am just not sure if I can afford to spend that much money right now. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Well, you are not alone. Many people are putting off or delaying treatment because they are feeling uncertain about the current financial environment we are in now.

While I don’t know what treatment you need or the cost involved I do know you shouldn’t prolong the inevitable. Doing so will only increase the severity of the problem and the cost associated with fixing it.

The good news is that there are many ways for you to have your needed treatment completed in a way that works for you financially. One of the first and most important things to do is to determine a budget.

The process of figuring out what you can afford to pay and what you cannot is extremely helpful to you and your dentist when planning your treatment.

In most cases, once this is done your dentist can customize your treatment based upon your financial capabilities. This is generally possible in all but the most extreme cases where extensive reconstructive work is necessary.

Once your dental budget is determined you will often have several options available to you. Many offices now offer very affordable financing plans through outside companies where you can pay over time. It is a very simple process to apply and, in most cases, you can even apply online from home. The amount financed and the rate is based upon your credit. You are able to choose the term of re-payment which will alter your monthly payment up or down depending on what you choose. This is a very popular and extremely common option that many, many people use to their advantage. This option allows people to have their treatment completed without placing a large financial burden on them.

Another idea is to check with your credit card companies. Many of them will offer low to no interest on purchases for a given period of time.

If you have dental insurance try to use it. While I don’t recommend purchasing a policy if you don’t have one because the cost to benefit ratio is about even. If you already have insurance it should provide you some benefit while reducing your own financial outlay.

If none of these options are feasible there are still other ways to have your dental work done in a way you can afford. How? First, ask your dentist to prioritize your treatment. Which procedures should be done first, second, third... Once your dentist understands your situation he or she will usually work with you to make it affordable.

You can then set up a plan to treat one tooth or one area at a time and pay for that treatment as you have it performed.

Although, keep in mind that your treatment may take longer and may possibly cost more in the end. If none of these work for you, I have one final suggestion I can make and that is to ask your dentist for alternatives to the proposed treatment.

If your dentist has planned your treatment based upon your budget this may have already been taken into consideration. But it doesn’t hurt to ask. Keep in mind though as with the option before this will definitely prolong your treatment and will result in a higher cost at the end. Whatever your own financial situations may be don’t put off necessary treatment based upon cost. There are always many avenues open to enable you to keep a mouthful of strong healthy teeth for a lifetime.

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Questions can be sent to Fred Eck, D.D.S. at Marco Dental Care, 950 N. Collier Blvd., Suite 305, Marco Island, or call 389-9400. Web site: marcodentalcare.com. He received his Doctor of Dental Surgery at the University of Detroit Mercy and is licensed by the Florida State Board of Dentistry.

© 2008 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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