Toothaches can be a real pain in the mouth, and it can be even more frustrating when dental care is entirely inaccessible. Dental insurance is necessary for most people to obtain the oral care they need, but not everyone has quality dental insurance.
The number of dentate individuals in America without dental insurance ranges from over 45% to 57.1% throughout the country, meaning that a large portion of the population is without dental coverage.
So what do you do if you need dental care urgently, but you don’t have the insurance to financially back it? You have some options. Let’s talk about the different ways you can go about it.
The number of people in America with health insurance coverage in 2020 was over 91%. This is over 40% higher than the national average for people covered by dental. This disparity is because dental coverage is entirely separate from healthcare coverage, and not all employers are able to offer both.
So why exactly is this the case? There are a few reasons. One is simply due to the nature of how health insurance began.
As a result of the wage freezes post World War II, health coverage began as a way to incentivize people to continue working and keep them healthy so they could complete their duties on the job. Therefore, dental care was not viewed as an essential component of healthcare and was excluded.
To this day, this thought process has remained, meaning that healthcare insurance plans do not include dental coverage. While some employers offer dental as a benefit, it is much less common compared to healthcare on its own.
Additionally, government-run insurance programs like Medicare also do not include dental coverage as an essential service.
This is an unfortunate reality, as dental health can have just as much of an impact on your overall well-being as other components of physical health.
When you think about it, your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory tracts, making it one of the only points on your body that gives you “access” to the inside. If you don’t take good care of your teeth, it can affect your overall health.
For instance, if you get a cavity that is left untreated for long enough, the tooth canal can become infected. If this infection worsens, not only will it cause excruciating pain, but it can also lead to a potentially deadly immune response known as sepsis. This is in severe circumstances, but it’s entirely possible.
In more minor instances, your oral health can impact your risk of obtaining other diseases, like endocarditis, pneumonia, or cardiovascular disease.
While brushing and flossing arere usually enough to combat these problems, routine dental cleanings and exams are essential to keep your overall health tip-top shape.
The price of dental care is not low. The cost of labor from dental hygienists and surgeons, combined with the cost of materials to allow your dental procedure to occur, can make certain procedures run a high price tag.
Insurance can usually cover 50-80% of a dental procedure, greatly alleviating the financial pressure. However, the price of certain procedures can be completely inaccessible without it.
Here is the average cost of common dental procedures in the United States, without insurance:
As you can see, some of these procedures do not come cheap. But how are you supposed to afford quality dental care if you don’t have the insurance to back it? Let’s take a look at some options.
Suppose you don’t have insurance, no problem! You don’t need it to get access to quality dental care. While some options might be better suited to your needs than others, let’s take a look at some of your best choices to get the help you need without breaking the bank.
Flossy is a dental discount plan that is made specifically for patients without insurance. With your free membership, you’ll have access to top-rated dentists in your area – at up to 50% off the cost of out-of-pocket dental treatments.
Our tech-enabled patient experience allows you to find a dentist and book your appointment all on our smartphone app. You’ll pay with your credit, debit, or FSA/HSA card without the need for monthly premiums or annual fees.
And did we mention you only pay for the services you receive? Our transparent pricing makes it clear, so you’ll know what you're paying for. Plus, there’s no waiting period, so you can get into the office as soon as possible to get the treatment you need.
Remember that list of national out-of-pocket averages from earlier? Let’s take a look at that same list with Flossy’s discount:
Notice anything different? It might be that those numbers have been slashed drastically – and the services don’t stop there. Find a dentist near you to see what other services are discounted under your Flossy membership plan.
If you don’t have insurance, you always have the option of just paying for your dental services out of pocket. While this often runs a high price tag, as you’ve now seen, this is an option that can work for some people.
If you’re self-employed and don’t have an insurance plan, yet your income allows you to pay out of pocket, you might be fine shelling out the high costs of dental care on its own. But since Flossy has no annual premiums or membership fee, why not save the money anyway?
All of the dentists who are able to charge thousands for dental care are able to do this because they’ve had extensive training and experience. But they all had to start somewhere, and dental schools across the country are working hard to train the next generation of oral health professionals.
Students at dental schools must spend time practicing on real patients and completing dental work in a practical setting. But since they are not yet graduates and cannot be compensated for their work, you often only need to pay for the cost of materials.
This is an extremely inexpensive option. And while it might seem like a risk to let an inexperienced student perform work on your teeth, know that these sessions are always monitored and guided by a licensed, skilled professional to ensure that you are safe the entire time.
Research institutes sometimes search for volunteers with unique dental, oral, or other conditions to participate in research studies. These are called clinical trials, and they often allow you to gain access to experimental treatment methods under the supervision of medical professionals.
The good news is that these never come at a cost to you. In fact, most of the time, you’ll be compensated for your help.
To find out if the National Institutes of Dental and Craniofacial Research is currently looking for candidates, you can visit their website to see if you fit the bill.
If you’re looking to add a dental plan to your existing healthcare plan, there are two ways you can go about doing it. Let’s take a look at each of them.
Some marketplace health plans include dental coverage in their package. Often, full-time or salaried occupations will benefit from healthcare and dental included. If you’re hoping to get dental included as a part of your health plan, it’s worth discussing with your employer to see if there’s anything they can do.
You can get stand-alone dental insurance separate from your healthcare plan in some cases. The only problem is that you’ll need to pay a separate, additional premium from your other healthcare package here.
Standalone insurance is tricky to navigate because if you never actually go to the dentist in a given calendar year, the high price of the premium might not make your plan worthwhile. But since you’ll only pay for the services you receive with Flossy, this might be a better avenue for you to take.
Even the best dental insurance plans do not cover certain dental procedures, and in these circumstances, you’ll need to find alternative means of payment no matter what. In general, insurance will cover dental procedures that can have an impact on your overall health, as well as preventative care. But for cosmetic procedures, you’ll likely need to use alternatives.
Teeth whitening is one of the most common examples of a procedure that is purely for cosmetic purposes. Because of this, it’s viewed as an elective treatment that is not covered by most insurance plans.
The good news is that Flossy offers up to a 50% discount on cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening as well, so you can save on your out-of-pocket costs.
Additionally, Invisalign treatments may not be covered by your insurance plan; unless you can demonstrate a physical need, such as an overbite, underbite, or more.
With that said, a dentist may be able to work with you to ensure that this type of cosmetic procedure can be covered if you have an existing dental plan.
A large percentage of the American population doesn’t have medical insurance, but a larger portion doesn’t have dental insurance. Dental insurance is separate from health insurance, so dental coverage must come as an out-of-pocket cost.
This is a problem because dental health has an impact on your health. Oral injuries can lead to infections or even cardiovascular disease if left untreated. The good news is that there are options for alleviating the pain and the financial burden.
One of the best options for inexpensive dental care without insurance is medical school. Licensed professionals supervise students, so you’ll still get quality treatment. The only difference is that it comes at an extremely low cost since students aren’t compensated for their work.
You can also try out clinical trials or just pay out of pocket. But your best bet is Flossy, a membership-based program that offers you discounted dental services from top-rated dentists. There are no annual fees or premiums, and you only pay for the services you receive. Ready to get started? Click here to find a dentist near you.
Products - Data Briefs - Number 332 - February 2019 | CDC
Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2020 | United States Census Bureau.
What is sepsis? | Sepsis | CDC.
Oral health: A window to your overall health | The Mayo Clinic
ClinicalTrials.gov | U.S. National Library of Medicine