Preventive care can reduce costs

Day-to-day care is just as important as your regular check ups

The best way to prevent expensive treatments is to brush and floss after each meal, or at least twice a day.

To promote preventive care, many dental plans pay all or most of the cost for routine dental checkups, including cleanings and examinations.

Regular preventive care, early diagnosis and treatment can help you avoid more costly dental problems that may develop or be worsened by lack of basic preventive care. For example, for non-preventive services, your share of the costs progressively climbs as the type of dental procedure becomes more involved. Many dental plans require a 20 percent coinsurance level if you need a cavity filled. More extensive procedures such as a root canal, crown, bridge or periodontal work (to treat gum disease) can require a 50 percent patient coinsurance level. The costs of such procedures can also be high in comparison to more basic services, sometimes costing upwards of $1,200.

Annual maximums (the total cost of care above which a dental program will not pay) are frequently in the range of $1,000 to $1,500 per person. As a result, you can find yourself running out of benefits if you or your family needs extensive dental work.

Even under most prepaid dental plans, which advertise lower out-of-pocket costs with no deductible and/or annual maximum, there usually are significant copayments for major services.

Regardless of what kind of dental plan you have, avoid the costs and discomfort of major dental work and advanced dental disease by visiting the dentist for routine checkups and keeping up good daily oral hygiene habits.

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