OKLAHOMA CITY - Taking care of your teeth can become extremely expensive, especially for the 50 percent of Oklahomans without dental insurance.
Even some people with dental coverage are left to pay what their insurance won't cover.
However, there are a number of strategies that can help you reduce your dental bills.
The most obvious way to reduce costs is to simply ask for a discount. Many dentists will readily shave off 10 percent for any uninsured customers.
If you're over 55 or 60-years-old, you should ask if there is a senior discount program.
- Join a discount plan - You pay an annual membership fee, which is usually between $80 to $200 a year, in exchange for 10 to 60 percent discounts on cleanings, crowns, implants, root canals and other procedures from participating dentists. To find out about a plan, call 888-632-5353.
- Medicare Advantage - Many of the Medicare Advantage plans, which are sold through private insurance companies, cover routine dental care along with eye care, hearing care and prescription drugs.
- Visit a dental school - The OU College of Dentistry offers teeth cleanings and comprehensive dental care provided by students who are overseen by their professors. You have to be screened to see if you are a good candidate for students. If accepted, expect to pay about one-third of what a traditional dentist would charge. Rose State College in Midwest City also has a dental hygiene clinic that provides teeth cleanings for only $5.
- Dental benefits for veterans - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides free dental care to veterans who have a service-connected dental condition or disability. It also applies to former prisoners of war. If you're not eligible, the VA also offers a national VA Dental Insurance Program that gives you the option to buy dental insurance through Delta Dental and MetLife at a reduced cost.
- Low-income options - There are state and local programs that provide dental care at a reduced rate or for free. Delta Dental of Oklahoma Oral Health Foundation offers a free Resource for Dental Care guide that lists most free and low-cost dental services in Oklahoma. Click here to download a copy or call (405) 607-4747.