Can you Have Healthy Teeth without Spending a Fortune at the Dentist?

Can you Have Healthy Teeth without Spending a Fortune at the Dentist? #budget #saving #spendingless #dentalvisit #healthyteeth

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I’m either the worst businessman in the world… Or there’s some other explanation why the CEO of a dental practice would be writing an entire post detailing how you can strategically and systematically save BIG money at the dentist’s office – and still have healthy teeth.


I’ll let you decide.


But as someone who runs a dental practice that prides itself on taking care of people (both customers and our staff), I saw a great opportunity here.


Our goal is to have the happiest and healthiest patients around… And last I checked, patients tend to be happier with both healthy teeth and a healthy pocketbook after visiting our office.


So, today I’m pulling back the curtain and giving you the cold hard truth about what you can do to save money at the dentist’s while maintaining your healthy teeth

Can you Have Healthy Teeth without Spending a Fortune at the Dentist? #budget #saving #spendingless #dentalvisit #healthyteeth


The good news – you can do both! And here’s your roadmap:


Take care of your teeth at home


First things first, you need to put in the work on the front end. That’s brushing twice per day and flossing at least once. I know it’s boring and you’ve heard it time after time… But there’s a reason you keep hearing this same, vanilla message – it works!


You don’t expect to not exercise at all and eat unhealthy foods all year, then head in for your annual checkup and receive resounding praise from your doctor. Good health requires hard work, discipline, and a focused plan. And that advice doesn’t stop for your mouth.


Getting specific 


The good doctor (my wife) and our superstar hygienist, recommend brushing for 2 minutes for each session – that’s 30 seconds per quadrant in your mouth… Upper right, upper left, lower left, lower right.


Regarding the flossing – it’s great to actually get the floss down between the teeth but let’s not stop there. My experts advocate making a ‘C-shape’ or horseshoe around the tooth and then move the floss up and down to dislodge the plaque.


Brushing and flossing is your mouth’s equivalent of a daily run. So lace up the shoes and get to work. Then we can get creative with our savings plans 😉


Do your research before you visit


When I’m taking the time to book a dream vacation for our family, I’ll scan different hotel/resort options, look at different locations to stay, and examine all the activities available at each… But there’s one constant – I’m checking the reviews for everything. How do people feel about their experiences at these places and do they seem happy to have stayed there?


Your dental office should be no different. What are their existing patients saying about the doctor and the staff?


If all of the reviews are glowingly positive – that tells you a lot


They’re negative – also enlightening


If there are no reviews… Believe it or not – that may give you the most information of any scenario


A lack of reviews tells me a couple things


1- Going to that dental office may produce a kinda vanilla feeling – It’s not great or terrible, it just is. And if you’re just looking to check the box and go on about your day, why not do it at an office that makes your day a little brighter?


2- The office doesn’t have a focus to earn reviews – Why does this matter to you? Well, the office that’s hyper-focused on earning positive reviews is going to go above and beyond to make your visit memorable. They’ll care about you as a person, they’ll ask about your family (because they remember), and they’re probably more likely to cut you a deal 😉


From here – let’s break it down into 2 categories… Those with dental insurance and those without


What to look for if you have dental insurance


Now that you’ve searched your area and found a dentist or two that has an awesome web-presence and great reviews, you’re ready for the next step.


First things first, you’ll want to get on your insurer’s website and see if this new-to-you dentist takes your insurance. From there, you’ll want to know what procedures are covered and what portion of the cost will be yours to absorb. If it’s not clear on their site, call them up and see how they handle the question.


Skittish?? …Interesting


Open and helpful?? There you go!


Does the office offer any new patient promos, discounts, or referral bonuses? 


It’s not uncommon for an office to do whatever it takes to get you in the door. That’s the most expensive portion of a dentist’s costs regarding their patients are – finding new ones and getting them in the office. So, if you can’t get a cleaning for free (out of your pocket), you should be able to get one for a drastically reduced price.


Why is this the case?


If the dentist’s office is good: Once they have you in the door, they’ll be able to get your family in the office, your friends, and your aunt Midge who hasn’t visited the dentist in a while… Look who carries a metric ton of value to a dentist – YOU, the new patient! Use your leverage to your full advantage.


And if you don’t have dental insurance, you may be in a better negotiating position 


Here’s why… And what you can do about it


Remember how we talked about your potential value as a new patient to a dentist’s office? That doesn’t change if you don’t have insurance. In most cases, those patients are more valuable.


When an office sets their fees, they take those numbers and negotiate with the different insurance companies (a painstaking and ridiculous process). But just about every single time, the dentist is providing a discount to accept dental insurance – anywhere from 50-20% off their services.


New patients that don’t have insurance haven’t had those companies advocate on their behalf.


So, unless you’re good with asking a few difficult questions, you may be paying close to 100% as opposed to your friends with insurance who could be paying much less.


Don’t be that person. Do this instead


Ask if the office has a membership program


We offer an annual membership to patients without insurance. This is typically a reduced rate for 2 annual cleanings, exam, and X-rays, while also providing additional discounts on other procedures. It’s a benefit to the patient because they pay much more competitive rates to receive our regular services, and it’s great for us because we have guaranteed income throughout the year.


Let’s also not forget that when we see these patients more often, we have an increased ability to help educate them on good healthful practices, and we can keep an eye on trouble areas.


Healthy mouth and healthy wallet… Sounds like a winning combo to me!


Find out the cost of any cleaning or procedures in advance


If there’s one thing I can’t stand as a business owner, it’s when a client (patient) goes through a procedure without knowing the cost. That almost never ends well… And morally, financially, and reputationally (word?) it’s bad practice.


Just about any time that happens, the patient comes up to check out, get’s upset because of the “high price”, and then leaves your office unhappy. We’ve actually found that by explaining the cost in advance, the patients can financially and mentally prepare, they aren’t surprised at all when leaving the office.


Now here’s what you can do as a patient:


Negotiate – Ask for a discount! 


Listen to the procedures, understand why you actually need them, then listen for the price. Take a minute, collect your thoughts, and simply say, “Ok – are there any discounts you can offer for the procedure(s)? That’s a little more than I have budgeted but I do value my oral health.”


What are they going to say? “No”?


Well maybe they will, but if they do – give me their name and I’ll call to tell them why that’s a terrible practice.


What’s more likely is that they’ll say, “Let me talk with the doctor/office manager and I’ll see what we can do.” Then, make sure to tell them how many friends and family you’d like to refer and that your mom is actually looking for a new dentist. They’ll start seeing their schedule filling up and… you may be pleasantly surprised to see what they come back with.


What if you love your dentist but they don’t offer any discounts or membership plans?


Pitch them on the idea and tell them why it’ll be so great for their office. If you truly love your dentist and their staff, they’ll probably at least hear you out.


And this has been the theme throughout this post – a patient with a healthy mouth and a healthy wallet are so valuable to a dentist’s office. They’re walking billboards for the office.


And seeing things from a patient’s perspective – YOUR perspective


With the knowledge that there are dental offices out there that want to knock your socks off and far exceed your expectations… Don’t you deserve to be catered to – to have a phenomenal experience?


You do!


So get out the old Google machine and start your search. Your healthy mouth and healthy wallet are just a call away!



Reader’s Input


I’m bracing for the backlash from my dental community friends, but what do you think? Are you treated well at your dental office and do they work to make your experiences memorable? Maybe more importantly, are you paying more than you need to? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll keep this discussion going!


Thanks for reading!


If you’re interested in discovering a better version of yourself – whether with fitness, finance, or family – then subscribe below to MikedUp Blog’s FREE newsletter and let’s improve together!


I’m glad you’re here. Thanks again and talk soon!


– Mike
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  1. I am always a fan of business conducted with integrity and honesty. You may start a trend of being the first fiduciary dental practice. On a completely separate but somewhat related note: I remember one business I dealt with that basically did my concrete driveway, it was a massive job due to the length of the driveway. He gave me a price which I agreed upon. After the work was completed the owner came to me and said, listen, the amount of concrete I estimated was way too much, so we didn’t need it and refunded me almost $2k. Most people would have pocketed that money as part of business. But because of his integrity I then promoted his business through all my outlets and hopefully he got even more because of it. Sometimes doing the right thing can pay many times over. 🙂

    1. “Fiduciary dental practice…” I think I may steal that term… You know, it’s kind of crazy. We are obviously in business to make money, but at the same time – we’re there to serve our community and to give these folks the best oral health possible. That includes proper techniques, cleaning, educating, treating, providing a welcoming and comfortable experience… And why shouldn’t it also include us looking out for their pocketbooks? I’ve found out pretty early that they love the experience and treatment – sure… But they instantly respect the financial savings when it’s offered.

      I think your story about the driveway gentleman speaks volumes. The guy overquoted, underbilled, and delivered… And now you sing his praises to everyone that will listen. Good for that guy – we could all learn something from that experience. Like you said – he probably made multiples more money by giving you a discount. That point’s not lost on me.

      Thank you!

    2. Awesome post. Never thought of negotiable prices at a dental office. I have a question maybe you can answer. I have a neurological disorder (will post link) after comment on living it. I have to have two crowns from old root canals (one is infected). The problem is when there is stress to my body like drilling, I can get an attack where I lose coordination from my body (very scary) and it would interrupt the procedure.

      I need a dentist that can put me out (not just a relaxant) but where I am actually out. Any ideas. Thks

      Here is the link to my disorder

      1. Mark – Thanks so much for your comment and the question. That does sound like a scary situation. 100% that fees can be negotiated – depending on the office, obviously. As I said above, if they are somewhat with it – they should deal to help you out.

        I’ll reach out to you via email regarding your specific case via email if that’s good with you.

        Thanks so much for the comment and have a great week!

  2. As someone who’s spent nearly $1600 this year on dental care for my wife and children I can certainly relate to this! After the kids were diagnosed with 6 cavities between them we used open enrollment to join a low cost Cigna dental insurance plan. The enamel filling rate went from $272 per tooth to $174 just for having the insurance! And because it was insurance and not just a discount plan they picked up another $75 per tooth bringing our overall cost way down.

    We specifically look for quality dentists because my wife has had some Terrible fillings and crowns completed by discount dentists. There’s nothing worse than paying to have this expensive work redone.

    I personally have found the best dental care from use of my electric toothbrush (twice daily for 1-2 minutes) and reusable floss picks. The reusable flossers make it easy for me to floss, so I do. They are only a couple cents a piece and I’m sure they provide good long term value.

    Thank you for the post and an insight to dental care from the other side! 4 out of 5 readers recommend! Sorry, bad joke.

    1. Your point about dentists over treating is one to definitely keep in mind. That’s just additional information as to the importance of tracking a business’ reputation – are they respected and do people trust their information?

      And that’s one of the things I love about the way my wife treats patients – she’ll treatment plan based on the patient’s need and overall oral health.

      Also – great call on the electric toothbrush and floss picks! If those are the things that will keep you brushing and flossing regularly, then they have incredible value. It’s like arguing about the best types of workouts — That answer is always the workouts that you’ll actually do.

      Thanks for reading and for your comment!

  3. Hi Mike. Two years ago I sold my dental practice. I am still practicing a little bit for the new owner. Your post was refreshing. The trend, at least in Canada, with corporate dentistry taking over is anything but fiduciary in nature. I was brought up with the golden rule in mind. However for the 37 years I did own a practice I practiced much like your wife and you do. As a result I can look all my patients in the eye and still have somewhat of a following when I do work. Don’t worry about the money. I did very well in solo practice. My wife and I are still living in the same house we bought 38 years ago. You are on the right track.

    1. John – wow. Your comment really made my day!

      We’re new to this whole process and while we’re cautiously optimistic that our ship is pointed in the right direction, it provides me great comfort to get some favorable support from someone with so much experience. We model our business around serving the needs of our patients, and while we may have lower fees than our competitors (and thus work with lower margins…), we’ve been banking on our approach paying off long term (for our family, team, and our patients).

      You and your wife sound like some people we’d enjoy getting to know better and share some common interests with. I really appreciate you reaching out and leaving your thoughts here. Seriously – thank you so much.

      All the best,

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