Finding a Dentist Without Insurance

by Jodie Norquist - posted 12/21/2012

More than one-third of Americans reported in 2011 that they have skipped dental checkups or gone without dental care because they have no dental insurance.

If you've postponed a trip to the dentist because you suspect you need dental work beyond a regular cleaning and are unable to afford it, you're not alone. More than 108 million Americans have no dental insurance, according to the U.S. Surgeon General's Office.

Putting off a dreaded trip to the dentist is not the answer. It's important to take care of your teeth with regular checkups and cleanings to prevent the need for more costly dental work without insurance later on. If tooth decay is caught early, it could mean the difference between getting a cavity filled or undergoing a root canal and receiving a crown.

If you are in good general health, you might not need dental insurance coverage. Paying for routine dental checkups twice a year may be a less costly alternative to dental insurance for those who are young, single and practice good oral hygiene. It's important to compare the numbers before you decide to cancel or refuse to accept dental insurance if offered by your employer. 

Tips on finding an affordable dentist without insurance:

Do some research. Competition can be swift among dental providers to attract and retain new patients. Dentists want your business. Call around and ask dentists if they offer discounts for first-time patients. Visit their dental websites and see if there are any coupons or specials for services that you can print and bring in with you.

Try to negotiate. If you let your dental office know that you are uninsured and are having financial difficulties, you may be able to receive a discount. It's important that you ask ahead of time when you make the appointment, rather than trying to negotiate a discount during or after your appointment.

Find free or low-cost dental care. If you live in a community with a college or university that offers a dental hygienist program or a dental school, you may be able to participate in a program that offers free or low-cost dental services for people without insurance. Call the department and ask. Some communities offer free health clinics that provide health and dental services for low-income families.

Pay in advance. If you are prepared to pay upfront, especially in cash, rather than use a credit card, many dentists and other medical professionals are willing to give you a deduction on the total price of your bill.

Invest in a discount dental plan. A discount dental plan can be an affordable alternative to dental insurance. A discount dental plan is not a form of insurance. Memberships in a discount dental plan can cost as low as $5.95 per month and can provide you with a savings of 20 to 60 percent off dental bill. Discount dental plans can be used immediately after you purchase them. Simply visit a participating dentist who has agreed to receive specific payments for the most common dental procedures. You won't have to file any paperwork. Instead, you'll get a discount right on the spot at your dental visit.

Don't put off those necessary trips to the dentist. Having no insurance is no excuse for preventing even greater health problems.

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