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How $100 Can Save You Thousands on Dental Care

These days, it's easy to spend $100 fast. Those fancy coffee drinks add up. So do music downloads. Going to dinner and a movie can easily eat up half that amount. All of those things are great - you work hard, so why not treat yourself? The thing is treating yourself doesn't only mean being indulgent. Being good to yourself also means being responsible. And we're here to show you how investing that $100 in your teeth is both sensible and smart.

It may sound crazy, but $100 spent on your teeth can actually save you thousands. How? First let's look at the costs. The average cost of a dental exam and cleaning is $50 - $135. If you have dental insurance, your out-of-pocket expense may range from nominal to nothing for basic dental care services including X-rays, which run between $13-$135.

Now that we have the costs out of the way, let's get to the good stuff - how you're going to save.

For the Health of It

If you have dental problems like tooth decay, gum disease or even oral cancer, regular dental visits give your dentist a chance to catch it early on. That's key. Because the earlier your dentist diagnoses a problem the easier it is to treat. For example, if you have gum disease and let it go unchecked (and untreated) for too long, you may need extensive - and expensive - gum disease treatment. Regular dental exams/checkups allow you and your dentist to stay ahead of problems, which can translate into thousands saved.

A professional dental cleaning is also a must because it's the only way to effectively remove tartar (hardened plaque). Even if you brush and floss regularly, that may not be enough. Besides looking unsightly (tartar is a "stain magnet" and often has a brown or yellowish tint), tartar also contains cavity-causing bacteria. And too much buildup over time can lead to gum disease.

That brings us to one of the most important reasons to invest in regular dental exams and cleanings: It has a positive impact on your overall health. Recent studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and heart disease; when the former is present, the latter is twice as likely.

According to the American Academy of Periodontology, gum disease can have a domino effect on your health. The bacteria caused by periodontal disease can enter your bloodstream and attach to your heart's blood vessels, causing dangerous blood clots. Another scenario is that the plaque buildup caused by periodontal disease can cause the heart's blood vessels to swell.

So if spending about $100 on a dental exam and cleaning can help you prevent future heart problems, isn't it worth every penny?


Other Treatments Worth Your Money

You may already have a suspicion that cavities are pretty prevalent. You're right. What you may not know is just how common cavities really are: Statistics show that by age 17, about 95 percent of adults will have had at least one cavity. For children, cavities can be quite the menace. In fact, more children miss school due to cavities than any other illness. And young children aren't immune to cavities either; the Centers for Disease Control reports that more toddlers and pre-schoolers are developing cavities than ever.

Cavities are probably one of the most benign dental problems to have, but if you leave them untreated for too long, they can lead to all sort of problems: chronic toothaches, tooth sensitivity, bad breath and even tooth loss. The good news is a tooth filling doesn't take long and doesn't cost much, ranging from $75-$160 for amalgam (1-2 surfaces) and $90-$250 for composite (1-2 surfaces).

Again, if you have dental insurance, your out-of-pocket expense could be almost nothing for amalgam (silver) fillings. Your portion may be a little more for composite resin fillings (since they fall under cosmetic dentistry), but many patients think they're worth it because they look great and last long, too.

Even if you don't have dental insurance, you don't have to avoid the dentist like the plague. Fillings are some of the easiest, cost-effective dental treatments around. Getting a cavity filled in its early stages is also cheaper; the larger the cavity, the more work your dentist has to do. Plus, larger cavities require more dental filling material, which can add to costs.

The moral of the story is this: You can spend $100 on a string of little things that give you temporary satisfaction or spend it on your dental care and make that $100 go a long way. Spending on things like a dental exam, cleaning or filling, will give you instant gratification by putting that "dental guilt" to rest. And in the long run, your investment can yield even better results. Spending on regular dental visits now can save you from shelling out big bucks for expensive dental treatment in the future. Plus, maintaining good oral health can keep your overall health in tact. And that's priceless.

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