I had the pleasure of writing a guest blog for a dear friend and life coach, Leann Herron. She hosts a podcast called "Happiness on Tap" and has so many interesting guests. On a recent show, she interviewed her dentist and dental hygienist. You can see the podcast here! They discussed issues around oral health and how important this small area of our body is for our overall wellbeing.
We all know we should take care of our teeth. Yet money can be a major barrier to proper dental care. Even with the best insurance, we've all had sticker shock at the dentist.
When I worked as a nurse in the Newborn ICU, I learned the correlation between oral health and preterm labor. Poor oral health was directly linked to poor placental health. Bacteria from your teeth can seep into your bloodstream, wreaking havoc on your entire body. It's been taught to use since we were young to brush twice a day and floss daily. Professional cleanings twice per year ensure your mouth is healthy. But how do you pay for this?
Employer-sponsored plans: when offered, usually the way to go for routine care
Medicaid: if your income falls within the range to be on Medicaid, you can get one cleaning per year from a participating office
Pay Out-of-Pocket: negotiate with a dental office to pay outside of insurance
Prepaid Dental Plans: participating offices take a monthly or annual payment towards basic services
Dental Hygiene Schools: often offer free or steeply discounted services to help their students learn dental hygiene
Free Dental Clinics: usually require income proof, but can be a great resource when you qualify
Up until 2022, I worked for an employer who offered dental insurance. The thought never crossed my mind that I would need to consider payment. When I knew I was quitting my job, I rushed to get my PCP visit and dental cleaning done. Once I started my business, I didn’t qualify for Medicaid. I also could NOT afford dental insurance on my own through the marketplace. In fact, when I signed up for health insurance, the agent on the phone made me promise to always wear my seatbelt and avoid getting pregnant at all costs. That’s not great.
I attended a networking event and met Brandy Stogsdil of Maven Dentistry. Her husband Benjamin is a dentist, and they own a full-service practice. I casually chatted with her about my predicament and joked about not having a cleaning for the second half of 2022. She shared Maven's self-pay plan with me: $425 for two cleanings & exams, x-rays, one fluoride treatment, one emergency exam and 20% off additional services. I was thrilled to know I had won their event drawing and received one free year of this plan. I received excellent care and love their staff. Thank goodness I met Brandy, because I had a cavity that needed filling (I know, right?!).
That was in March of 2023, and now I know exactly how to plan for March of 2024. I simply divided $425 by 12 months and plan to save $36/month in my YNAB. When the time comes to renew my membership, I'll be able to pay guilt-free and in full. You can even ask for monthly payments instead of annual if that's easier to handle financially. They offer the same package for children at $225/year.
If you're in the same boat I am and need affordable dental care, mention that Kristin Wade sent you to their office. You'll get $25 off your plan and won't have to worry about your oral health any longer. Check out their site: https://mavendentistry.com/
Do you have a favorite dental office you'd hate to part with? Talk to them! These are caring professionals who want to help. Tell them your situation and see if they can work out a payment plan for you that isn’t offered to the general public. Here are some things to ask if you’re truly unable to pay for dental care for a period of time:
How long you can go without x-rays and fluoride for your specific case
If you can have any extra supplies (floss, toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc.) to keep up with care at home
What tips they have for stretching time between cleanings if you absolutely have to (foods to avoid, hygiene tips, what to look out for)
If they trust a cheaper dentist in town and can refer you
The worst thing that can happen is they say no, and you find an office that can accommodate you. Taking care of your dental health should be a top priority.