Not being able to afford decent care can be very upsetting. What is pocket change for one person is an astronomical fee for another. People have their budget limitations and we always respect that. Sometimes “patchwork” has to be the way when “the best” is not within reach. Helping patients find real alternatives can make their dental treatment possible. Here are some useful tips and guidelines for receiving safe, reliable dental care on a limited budget.
Root Canal Adventures:When my patients balk at the high cost of dentistry, I will usually insist that root canal is NOT the place to save money. It may take years for a root canal to flare up, and even the best root canal specialist will have a 1-2 percent failure rate. When a root canal fails, it often requires removing the tooth. For this reason, we refer to specialists with a proven track record.
Affordable Implants?Because dental implants are expensive, many people either cannot get the treatment they need or are tempted by “discount” implant centers. I advise my patients who decide to try these centers to make sure the dentist treating them sends us copies of all Х-rays and treatment records. This way, the treating dentist knows that the family dentist cares and is looking out for our mutual patient. In many cases of patients who followed this advice and then came back with their “economy” implantsand crowns, I have been pleasantly surprised.
Long-Distance Dental Work: Some patients will fly to Israel to have their implants done. My concern with this idea is that if there are any problems, the treating dentist is thousands of miles away. Some dentists that place implants in Israel actually fly in and treat patients once a month in New York. The concern is still real – the treating dentist is usually not available when needed to address problems that arise with the implants.
Dental Insurance Has Limitations: Some people think that if they have dental insurance, everything is covered. This is rarely the case. Most treatments, including fillings, crowns, bridges, root canal, extractions, and gum therapy are often covered at only50 percent, which means significant out-of-pocket expense. In addition, once you meet your maximum – which is usually only $1000 – $1500 for the year – you will have to wait until the next year to take advantage of your insurance. To find out exactly how much you will have to pay for your dental treatment, ask your dental office to submit a pre-treatment estimate (also called a pre-authorization or predetermination). Once that comes in, you can schedule your treatment according to your dental needs and budget.
Some Dental Treatment May Not Be Covered: Not every treatment that you want or need is covered by your dental plan. Cosmetic procedures and dental implants, for example, are usually not covered. Some plans are so limited that they only cover exams and cleanings. That is why it is important to know ahead of time which treatments you need and if you have the coverage for it.
NYU Dental Clinic: Recently we sent a patient to the NYU dental clinic for 10 porcelain laminates. She was able to take care of her cosmetic needs and still fit it into her budget. Of course, the work is often done by students, but everything is under the supervision of well-seasoned professionals. The NYU dental clinic maybe the right alternative for fillings, crowns, root canals or wisdom teeth. It may take longer than being treated in the dental clinic – but it can fit into many more budgets.