How to save money! Woo!
1. Brush your teeth
This is obvious. The best way to save money at the dentist is to look after your teeth. If there is nothing wrong with your mouth, then the basic treatments are not expensive. Brushing your teeth properly and often will keep your mouth in good condition.
2. Visit the dentist regularly
Preventative dental treatment is not that expensive. Seeing the dentist every 6 months for maintenance is usually cheaper than getting your car serviced. With such regular check ups, any problems that have occurred are picked up early and conservative procedures can be done. Small fillings cost significantly less and last longer than large fillings.
3. Rinse with water
Water is teeth's best friend. Tooth decay is due to conversion of sugars to acid by bacteria attached to teeth. After eating or drinking, swish water around your mouth to decrease the sugars in your mouth. Doing this also helps you maintain fluid intake, which brings in many other health benefits.
4. Don't go to sleep right after drinking soft drink
When we sleep, saliva production decreases dramatically. Sometimes it doesn't and we end up with drool all over our face! Saliva has acid buffering properties and protects our teeth from decay. It also has many other functions but that is for another post. If you drink soft drink then go to sleep or have a nap not long afterwards, the sugar will stay in your mouth for a MUCH longer time and you also lose the buffering effect. This is extremely bad for your teeth!
I had a patient who developed 4 new cavities within 6 months. This was worrying so and he ended up telling me he wakes up in the middle of the night, thirsty, so he would go and drink some coke and go back to sleep! He stopped that habit immediately!
5. Find a great dentist
A great dentist will charge more because they perform higher quality treatment and find more problems when they are not as obvious. Attention to detail and time is required to achieve this, just like making a tailored suit. All this means that less treatment is required to be redone in the future and less major treatment is required. Obviously this is actually saving you money. Do it once and do it right.
How can you tell if your dentist is great? A great dentist will be passionate about their work and will want to educate you; they will use magnifying glasses (loupes) or even a microscope.
6. Stop the bad habits
There are habits that people do which cause damage your teeth. Common bad habits are: biting your nails (hopefully just fingernails!), crunching on ice & other hard objects, and brushing too hard. Doing these things will cause premature wear on your teeth, cracks and sensitivity.
7. Be respectful to your dentist
No one wants to deal with people who are disrespectful. Studies have found that rudeness makes people perform worse, which means worse dentistry. Also, if you are pleasant to work with, people are much more likely to throw in some perks and go the extra mile for you. You might even be charged more for giving them a headache.
There is a common element with all the above. It is prevention. Just because you feel everything is fine, doesn't mean it is; cancer starts off pain-free the majority of the time. See a dentist ASAP if you haven't been in a while!