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Dental work - get a discount plan or just pay in full?

Torn Mind

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2012
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A gum abscess decided to make itself known yesterday. While an urgent care facility did pop it a bit, it's not fully gone. Are such plans worth it for an abscess? I also have some wisdom teeth I have not removed yet.
 

hardhat

Senior member
Dec 4, 2011
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If the urgent care didn't prescribe some antibiotics, I would expect that you will need some more care soon.

But realistically, it depends on your health, and most people should have some kind of dental plan so they can get routine cleanings relatively cheaply. Are you in the US or Canada? I am speaking from a US perspective.
Most people should get at least a yearly cleaning, and will probably need a cavity filled every 2-5 years. If you smoke or don't brush twice a day then you will probably have worse results.
 

BoomerD

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Feb 26, 2006
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Will the discount plan pay enough to offset the costs of the plan?
How about actual dental insurance?

Will your dentist work with you since you don't have insurance? Some will accept MUCH less for uninsured patients.
 

Gardener

Senior member
Nov 22, 1999
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I'd get a few recommendations, and then call around asking for a fee schedule for basic stuff like cleaning, fillings, crowns, to get a general idea of their practices. If you aren't covered by insurance, then you likely won't get the same rates that insurance companies are charged for their covered patients...since insurers negotiate those lower rates. However in the Covid era some dentists are running short on work, so it may be a great time to call around. Before you get any work done you should have and estimate of costs. You may find a dentist that has a fee structure that is the same for cash-paying customers as it is for insurance companies.
 

esquared

Forum Director & Omnipotent Overlord
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Oct 8, 2000
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Another piece of info if you are going the insurance route (i.e. Delta Dental etc).
Cleanings and x-rays are good as soon as you sign up.
More major work such as root canal or crowns are only paid for after you have been with them for a year.
 
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Gardener

Senior member
Nov 22, 1999
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I see that Delta dental has a discount plan, which is a minimal type of insurance that gets you the cheaper, negotiated rate structure. My limited experience with dental insurance is that it pays for cleanings, but more expensive procedures you end of paying for most of it.
 

esquared

Forum Director & Omnipotent Overlord
Forum Director
Oct 8, 2000
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I see that Delta dental has a discount plan, which is a minimal type of insurance that gets you the cheaper, negotiated rate structure. My limited experience with dental insurance is that it pays for cleanings, but more expensive procedures you end of paying for most of it.
Delta has a few plans. Cheap one of which forgot the name, PPO and then Premiere.
My dentist only accepts the premier plan.
 

Torn Mind

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2012
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Will the discount plan pay enough to offset the costs of the plan?
How about actual dental insurance?

Will your dentist work with you since you don't have insurance? Some will accept MUCH less for uninsured patients.
Having looked at how dental insurance proper works, I think it's not worth it to pay into the insurance for the waiting periods, yearly service caps, and potential perverse incentives.
Coming across articles like the following really give me pause:

The discount plans work differently. As far as i know, it appears I pay some company an amount per year or month, and get a card. Dentists that accept this card will then charge less for the services...supposedly. So it's not insurance but some arrangement in which the charged amount will be lower.
 

Gardener

Senior member
Nov 22, 1999
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Right, those discounts are a marketing tactic to attract cost-conscious buyers, which is not a bad thing. Find a dentist you'd like to see, call them and ask if they have a discount for cash, or if they participate in one of those discount plans. A good receptionist can advise you.

Only about 1/2 of Americans are covered by dental insurance, as it is not part of medicare, nor the ACA. Rural community dentists, and dentists practicing in working class neighborhoods charge less, in my experience.
 

Torn Mind

Diamond Member
Nov 25, 2012
5,068
479
126
Right, those discounts are a marketing tactic to attract cost-conscious buyers, which is not a bad thing. Find a dentist you'd like to see, call them and ask if they have a discount for cash, or if they participate in one of those discount plans. A good receptionist can advise you.

Only about 1/2 of Americans are covered by dental insurance, as it is not part of medicare, nor the ACA. Rural community dentists, and dentists practicing in working class neighborhoods charge less, in my experience.
I'm looking into local dental schools as well. MD and DC has quite a few institutions.

As far as the wisdom teeth, I think NIH will remedy at least two for free since they want them for potential research; the two lower ones I have are impacted but my upper ones seem normal.

I also will be doing some personal consumption changes from here on out as I don't like spending money on such things. No more sugary drinks or foods or starches of any kind. I see a future of milk and cranberry juice indefinitely. Baking soda rinses after acidic foods and as an addition to my brushing routine. .
 

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