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DISCLAIMER: The decisions and savings described by the author are specific to her own context. All savings were made while under the supervision of her own dentist, with regular check ups every six months. This article does not constitute medical/dental advice. All dental health decisions need to be made by consulting with your own dental care practitioner.
In this article, I would like to share my big success with taking control of my own dental care. My total savings related to these decisions was $790. What is important to note here is that I maintained – and even improved – my dental health while saving this money.
In a previous article, I had emphasized the importance of preventative dental care and check ups and how these can help you SAVE in the long run. This article builds on the previous article by sharing how I made some decisions to manage and take control of my own dental care after getting back on track with it after a difficult time in my life.
How I discovered dental care mattered
First, here is a bit of background to the article: After losing my partner to cancer, I struggled with a paying for a lot of basics of everyday life – like my dental care. I now regret that I neglected it. Lesson learned! After reaching out to an excellent local dentist who had a new patient deal, I discovered I had numerous cavities and was looking at over $1200 in dental repairs, all due to my neglect of myself.
However, at that time, I was told by my new dentist to get a preventative filling on the front of one tooth, which has a problem area where the enamel has worn down and the gum has receded slightly. My gut instinct told me to resist the suggestion and see what I could do for my tooth through natural means. I waited two years to share my successes, because I can now confirm that what I did worked. I’ve been able to maintain the health of this one tooth using the below advice. The health of this tooth has been checked every six months, and a recent X-ray has even shown that it is indeed healthy.
Money saved by the declined preventative filling – $160
First, I would like to share that I did not take this decision to decline the filling lightly. I was scared! However, I am an intuitive person. When the procedure for the preventative filling was described, I had an immediate image of harm coming to the tooth. I don’t know where this image came from. There were many other fillings to be performed on my teeth, but they were all confirmed cases of tooth decay.
What had caused this damage? The dentist felt that I was grinding my teeth at night, and that this had caused the issue. I decided to start trying to reduce that problem, and just wait until my next check up, six months later, to see how the tooth was doing.
Money saved by buying a night guard – $350
After just having spent $1200 on restorative dental care, I did not have the $400 to have a custom night guard built for me. So, I decided to try one of the versions available in my local drug store. It took a few attempt to find a night guard that worked for me, but these are so cheap, that I still saved money.
Through my learning process, I now know to look for several features.
1) Check the label before buying to ensure the night guard is free of harmful plastics and latex.
2) Look for one that has a molding tray that holds the guard in place during the molding process
3) What helped me get a good fit was that the night guard included instructions on how to PRACTICE the molding process before you heat the guard.
4) The night guard is guaranteed for fit. If you try to fit it twice and it doesn’t work, they will send you a new one, no questions asked.
The fit of my drug store-purchased night guard is absolutely perfect and comfortable. I even sort of look forward to putting it in at night. It never falls out. I am confident it has helped reduce the damage to this tooth through night grinding, so I can keep the tooth intact without a preventative filling. All for under $30!!!
Money saved buy buying a budget-friendly electric toothbrush – $120
The surface of this tooth is a bit rough, and I was quite concerned about it getting a cavity there. For this reason, I finally bought an electric toothbrush. My dental hygienist had recommended the idea to me, and I felt it was now time to act. Because I had been living off-grid, I had been extremely reluctant to add to my electrical load. I now realize that this battery-operated toothbrush uses such a small amount of charge that it is quite manageable and very worth it, even in off-grid set ups.
How I saved money on this purchase is really due to my wonderful hygienist. She knew I was on a budget, and told me to buy the cheapest electric toothbrush I could find. “Don’t worry about it having different settings or any fancy features,” she said. Following her advice saved me big money. I found the most budget-friendly electric toothbrush I could find – a brush on sale for only $16. I can use my own rechargeable batteries in it, too.
Money saved by reducing my use of fluoride toothpaste – $160
I did elect to use fluoride to treat this tooth daily. I know that many natural dental care people will not agree with this choice. In most of life, I’m a centrist, hesitant to dive into extremes. So, when my hygienist recommended brushing with a high-fluoride toothpaste at night to protect this tooth, I followed her advice.
However, I didn’t like the idea of exposing my other teeth to the fluoride. What was my compromise? So, each night, I take the tiniest (I mean TINY!) amount of this toothpaste onto the tip of my right index finger. I use a tissue to dry the surface of the front of the tooth and then spread the paste sparingly onto the tooth.
So far, I am getting excellent results by doing this. By not brushing with this toothpaste, and only using the tiniest amount, I have been able to use the same 40mL tube for two years now, and it is still over half-full. This tube of toothpaste costs $10. If I estimated I went through a tube of this toothpaste/month, this means I’m now saving $160/year here.
Want to take a bite out of your dental care bills?
We all face difficult decisions regarding our own dental care and sometimes of those we love. Could you see yourself trying any of the ideas offered here? Do you have one you can share with us? Please tell us in the comments below.
Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. She has just launched her website, Half Acre Homestead. Colette invites you to stop by and visit this work in progress! Coming soon in 2022 is her exciting new online program. Interested in Resiliency, Preventative Health, and Self-Sufficient/Off-Grid Housing (to name a few!)? Stay tuned for more details!