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