Healthy and cost-effective dental work

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- A trip to the dentist can be a pain in the mouth and an even bigger pain in the wallet. Even if you have dental insurance, many policies have a $1,000 annual limit. All it takes is one jaw-dropping procedure like a root canal or braces to take a bite out of your budget, but there are several ideas to make your trip to the dentist more affordable.

"I like where I go for my dental work. The people here are always nice and friendly, and I don't have to wait long to get in. Plus the dentists are very efficient, and the hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. are great," said Justin Henderson, ImmediaDent dental patient.

Henderson goes to ImmediaDent on 86th Street in Indianapolis for his dental work. He says he knows dental procedures can be intimidating and sometimes pricey. But you don't have to pay an arm and a leg to have work done on your teeth. One way to save money is by signing up for discount plans. The plans are more than you just putting away money to use at a later date.

"The savings can be significant. Patients can save 10 percent to 60 percent based on what procedure we are getting. So if you need multiple crowns and you can get that for a huge discounted rate and you can use your insurance at the same time, it's very beneficial for the patient," said Anthony Michael Dee, Co-Owner ImmediaDent.

ImmediaDent has several locations around the state.

There are also several other ways to save on your dental work. Another idea is to do what many patients don't do, which is to be a smart shopper. This can help you prepare for possible out-of-pocket costs. You can look up prices for dental procedures in your area using FAIR Health's "Consumer Cost Lookup" tool.

Another great money saver for dental work is to go to a dental school for procedures. Justin Henderson did decades ago!

"At the time, I had four cavities. It was the only cavities I ever had. So now I've got a bunch of lead at the top of my teeth , but they are still there and I haven't had a problem with them. Doctor Dee told me the fillings, which were done 40 years ago, look really good," said Henderson.

There's a dental school at IUPUI where students say procedures for patients are up to 75 percent off typical costs. Students do the procedures, but they are monitored by dentists.

"It does take a bit longer for a procedure than if you're going to a private practice, because we are new at it and we take our time. But I think the benefits of that are, you're getting really thorough care. We also spend a lot of time on patient education," said Lauren Chilman, former Student Hygenist at IUPUI.

Patients can do their part by getting regular, twice a year dental visits. If they don't, it can cost far more money than you actually saved.

"Avoiding a dentists regular check-ups can lead to future dental problems that can be very serious. And if that happens, it could lead to more expensive bills over a long period of time," said Dr. Dee.

More than 55 percent of adults recently surveyed only went to a dentist when they had serious problems. Additionally, 28 percent didn't have dental insurance, so this is something that affects a majority of Americans.

The final way to save on going to the dentist is simple. Use a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss every day. Eventually good health is about more than your teeth. Medical studies continue to show there's a strong correlation between oral health and overall health.