Archive for July 4th, 2011

Savvy Senior: How to find affordable dental care

Q: Where can seniors turn to find affordable dental care? I had dental insurance through my work for many years but lost it when I retired.

A: Few U.S. retirees have dental insurance today. Without coverage from traditional Medicare, and with private dental insurance typically costing too much to be feasible, most seniors are stuck paying full out-of-pocket prices every time they visit a dentist.

One way you may be able to trim your dental care cost is by simply asking your dentist for a senior discount, especially if you’re paying up front. Out-of-pocket payers save the dentist office the cost and hassle of filing an insurance claim, so asking for a small 10 percent discount is not unreasonable.

Another cost-effective way to reduce expenses is to join a dental discount network. How this works is you pay an annual membership fee — roughly $80 to $200 a year — in exchange for 15 percent to 50 percent discounts on service and treatments from participating dentists. To find a network, go to www.dentalplans.com (or call (888) 632-5353) where you can search for plans and participating dentists by ZIP code, as well as get a breakdown of the discounts offered.

Brighter (www.brighter.com, (866) 893-1694) is another discounted dental service to check out. It gives subscribers access to a network of 25,000 dentists offering 20 percent to 60 percent discounts. You can sign up for a free one-month plan or opt for the premium plan, which costs $79 a year.

Another way to get care at a lower price is at a dental school clinic. Almost every dental school offers affordable care provided by students who are overseen by experienced, qualified teachers. You can expect to pay as little as a third of what a traditional dentist would charge.

And for low-cost teeth cleanings, check with local colleges that offer dental hygiene programs. To locate dental schools or dental hygiene programs in your area, visit www.ada.org/267.aspx.

There are other resources that provide dental care at a reduced rate or for free. Here’s where to look:

•Health centers. Federally funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, there are thousands of health centers across the nation, many of which provide discounted or free dental care to people based on financial need. To find a center near you, visit www.findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov or call (877) 464-4772.

•Local services. There are a few states, as well as some local programs or clinics, that offer discounted dental care to those with limited means. To find out what may be available in your area, check with your state dental director (see www.astdd.org for contact information), or your state or local dental society (see www.ada.org/statelocalorg.aspx).

•Dental Life Network. This network offers several programs that provide free dental care for elderly and disabled people who can’t afford to pay. To learn more or to apply for care in your state, visit nfdh.org or call (888) 471-6334.

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Monday, July 4th, 2011 Dental Offices No Comments

Some dentists swear by lasers

Dental lasers are possibly an indispensable apparatus in a dentist’s toolkit or an emerging-but-unproven technology. It depends on whom we ask.

They came into use in ubiquitous dentistry about 15-20 years ago though even now are used usually by about 6% to 8% of dentists nationwide. The dual categorical categories are soft-tissue lasers, used mostly for resin contouring and teenager surgical procedures, and hard-tissue lasers, used to provide small- to moderate-size cavities.



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