How do dentists truly call themselves “affordable?”

I can’t figure out what a truly “affordable dentist” is. A few weeks ago I finally ventured to the dentist after a long time of not going. Honestly, I was in and out of jobs and situations with my family and boyfriend. I didn’t have the money then and really don’t have it now, but I decided I wanted to go anyway. What happens? I went to a dentist who was supposed to be affordable, but they wanted to do an extra treatment on my gums and extra cleaning on my teeth, and then they put fluoride on. Of course they found cavities, so now I have to go back next week. It all costs so much money. So is it just affordable to walk in the door?

Gina, Asheville, NC

Dear Gina,

That’s really frustrating to finally decide to spend the money on something so important, your oral health, only to find it wasn’t as affordable as you expected. Unfortunately, when you return to the dentist after a long hiatus, there is extra work that is sometimes required to treat your mouth and get it healthy.

Why do affordable dentists do extra work in your mouth?

The treatment on your gums is to help alleviate or ward off any gum disease.  Gum disease can affect not only your gums and teeth, but also the bones that hold your teeth in place. If left unchecked, in extreme cases, you could lose your teeth.

Your dental team was trying to help prevent cavities by treating your teeth with fluoride. Fluoride applied to your teeth at the dentist’s office is a higher concentration than that found in toothpastes and mouthwashes from the store. If you can prevent more cavities from forming, it will save you in the long run.

The unusual thing about your appointment is that the staff didn’t ask you before they started those treatments. Most offices have a protocol to ask before performing any treatment that will cost additional.

You were smart to search for an affordable dentist the first time. There are dentists who will do a free exam or first appointment to assess the health of your mouth, make a treatment plan with you, and discuss your options and prices so you know what to expect before you start. They may even be able to work with you on a payment plan. Call the dentists’ offices you are interested in and ask questions before your appointment. That way you won’t end up paying unexpected amounts, but you can still get the care you deserve.

This post is sponsored by Dr. Ryan Perry at Baton Rouge Family Dentist.

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