How to avoid expensive bills for dental work – a look at five easy ways to cover your dental costs.
Do you remember that Pam Ayres poem I wish I’d looked after my teeth?
It’s a brilliantly funny tale about someone who neglects their teeth and later regrets it – they suffer the ‘murder of fillin’s, injections and drillin’s’ in the dentist’s chair.
Almost everyone loves it, but don’t you think it needs updating?
After all, if there’s one thing that now scares us more than a trip to the dentist, it’s the thought of paying huge dental costs.
Don’t get caught out by NHS dental costs.
We were reminded how expensive dental costs can be when a client emailed to tell us they’d taken out a loan to cover theirs.
They had forgotten that, like most people (apart from children, pregnant women, those on certain benefits and a few others), they had to pay for NHS dental treatment.
That’s an expensive mistake, especially when the NHS charges £204 to get a new crown fitted. And if you use a private dentist, the bill can be over double.
Our client has since wised up and taken out dental insurance to cover themselves against any future dentist’s bill.
And along the way they learned about different ways you can safeguard yourself against dental costs. They’ve asked us to share them with you so you don’t get an unexpected dental bill like theirs!
1. Pay-as-you-go dental treatment
If your teeth are in excellent condition and you’re confident you will need little or no dental treatment, then the easiest option is to pay your dental costs as you go.
But remember, things can go wrong – if you accidentally smash a tooth, you could end up with expensive dental costs when you least expect them.
2. Dental Insurance
If you want complete peace of mind about your dental costs, then you should consider dental insurance. It’s what most of us at Money High Street have opted for.
You pay an annual premium to an insurance company, and your insurance will normally cover 100% of the costs of NHS dental appointment and treatment. If you go to a private dentist, routine maintenance and treatment will normally be covered up to a defined amount. Importantly, you can normally choose which dentist you use.
As always with insurance, check the small print so you know exactly what’s covered and what’s not. Our guide to dental insurance is the perfect place to start.
3. Self insure against dental costs
If you are good at putting money aside (and at resisting the temptation to dip into it!) you could ‘self insure’ against dental costs.
All you need to do is put an appropriate amount of money to one side each month, making sure there’s enough to cover any treatment you may need. You also have the added benefit of enjoying any interest your money earns.
When you need treatment, you simply pay your dental costs from the ‘dental insurance’ money you’ve saved. However, if you need major treatment and you haven’t saved enough, you could run into trouble.
4. Dental cover – capitation scheme
If you have a dentist you know and trust, you could consider a dental plan such as Denplan. It’s a capitation scheme, which means you agree to pay your dentist a fixed monthly sum to cover all routine and emergency treatment at no extra cost (bar laboratory fees and items like cosmetic whitening).
Normally your dentist will assign you to a payment band, depending on how much treatment he or she expects you will need.
But remember – you cannot use a capitation scheme to pay for treatment at a different dentist. So if you think you will need specialist dental treatment, or would simply prefer the flexibility of choosing your own dentist, proper dental insurance may be your best option.
5. Healthcare cashplan schemes
Technically, these insurance schemes that help you to cover healthcare or dental costs.
You pay out a monthly premium, and when you need dental treatment (or visit the optician, chiropodist or other healthcare provider), you can claim back a proportion of your costs – typically in the region of 75% – up to a defined maximum.
These schemes are designed to be affordable, but are best used to cover occasional NHS treatments. If you have expensive private dental costs, healthcare cashplans aren’t for you.
Of course, the best way to avoid expensive dental costs is to look after your teeth!
But if, like in Pam Ayres’ poem, it’s too late to keep your teeth in perfect shape, make sure you don’t end up wishing you’d looked after your health insurance too.