How to maintain that winning smile when you don’t have dental insurance
By John Dougherty D.D.S, MAGD

You find out your insurance plan has changed and dental coverage is cut. What are you to do? Ignoring dental care can end up being expensive, as well as dangerous to overall health.  The good news is there are some preventive steps you can take to help protect your teeth and your bank account.

Keep up daily care

Brushing your teeth three times a day and flossing once a day is your best line of defense. Daily care will help prevent tooth decay, keep your gums healthy and help keep your teeth clean and white.  If brushing your teeth during the day is tough to do, always be sure to brush before going to bed, no matter how busy or tired you are. While you sleep, the sugar you have sitting on your teeth from the day combines with the bacteria in your mouth and forms acid that eats at your teeth during the night.

Think about what you eat and drink

Everyone knows that candy, sugary gum and treats aren’t healthy choices, but when it comes to your teeth the most damage can come from sipping sodas, energy drinks, and juices all day.  Sip water instead, and try to have the recommended eight- eight ounces servings a day. If you must drink soda, have it with a meal, so you avoid the attack of sugar throughout the day.

Avoid late night snacks

If you have brushed your teeth, do not sneak back into the kitchen to satisfy that late night craving or rumbling tummy. This will not only pack on the pounds, it will completely undo the benefits of your earlier evening brushing.

Quit clenching or grinding

Clenching and grinding your teeth can cause some serious dental problems like TMJ, loose or chipped teeth or an overall wearing or breakdown of the teeth.To stop this habit the first step is awareness of what you are doing. Then, seek out ways to relieve stress. If you still have problems in this area, ask your dentist about getting a mouth guard to wear at night.

Keep appointments

Prevention is the best insurance for your health and your budget. Keep regular cleaning visits and exams and you can avoid more serious and costly dental issues; doing so will end up saving you money. Also, ask about fluoride treatments, in-office and home regimen, to help prevent new and recurrent decay.

Ask about payment plan options

Most dentists participate with financing companies such as Care credit, which offer 6-12 months interest free payment plans.  Some dentists will offer cash courtesies for payment made in-full at time of service – avoiding submission of dental claims. Some offices will even arrange a short term payment plan with a credit card on file for auto debit.  Another option may be a dental membership like Quality Dental Plan, which is a customized plan that covers all of your preventive care, like cleanings, x-rays and exams and savings on fillings, crowns, and even implants, orthodontics, and cosmetic dentistry. When a patient is actively involved with regular dental care, dental professionals will always try their best to work with you financially. Call your dental office staff and ask for your options.

It is important to know that if you do not have dental insurance, you still have options. Practicing good daily care and prevention will have a significant impact on keeping teeth and gums strong and healthy. When you skip regular visits and daily care, you run a much greater risk of tooth decay and gum disease, which can lead to expensive dental treatments and potentially more serious and costly health risks like heart disease and stroke.