How to cut the cost of dental care
Going to the dentist can be painful in more ways than one, with resulting bills proving a tough pill to swallow. But don't let this stop you looking after your gnashers, Moneywise TV shows you how to keep costs down.
Many of us put off going to the dentist until an emergency treatment is required, which can end up being a false economy in the long run.
The old saying of prevention is better than cure, is true in this case, here we show you how to go about it.
Firstly, find a local dentist accepting patients. You can search for both NHS and private dentists online. Then contact them to set up an initial appointment.
Before your first visit, find out what you should expect to pay for treatment.
In the last few years the charging structure used by NHS dentists has been simplified. There are now four fixed price bands relating to the treatment you receive.
Knowing what each band covers will save you being ripped off. Also remember you are entitled to as many appointments as it takes to complete the treatment, at no extra charge.
If you have to cancel an appointment, be sure to do it at least 24 hours in advance, otherwise you may be charged a penalty fee.
You may opt to go for private dental care, and most dentist surgeries offer a mix of both. While the benefits can be a more personal service and better appointment times, you could also end up paying a premium for it.
There are no nationally set fees for private practices, but you can ask the surgery for a price list to see what you can expect to pay. If a dentist recommends a course of treatment make sure you ask them for an estimate, and get it in writing too!
An alternative to paying for each individual treatment is to take out a dental plan. This could work out more cost effective if you need to go to the dentist often and for more than just a quick check-up and clean.
Payment plans are run by surgeries in-house or by external companies. You can also get a scheme individual to you, which means you can take it with you if you change practice. The schemes involve paying a set amount each month, which then covers you for most types of treatment. Different providers offer varying degrees of cover so make sure you read the small print.
A growing number of Brits now go abroad for large-scale dental work, to try and get a better deal. But this is not a decision you should take lightly. Only deal with surgeons registered with the General Medical Council and research your trip thoroughly before you go.
Finally, children, under-19s in full-time education, pregnant women and people on certain state benefits qualify for free dental care, so be sure to explore that avenue too.