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Poor me! Sore teeth, sour mood, empty pockets. Root canals are always terrible, but a monstrous quote from a fancy downtown Toronto dentist ($ 2,000-plus for my insurance-less self) made a bad situation even worse. Luckily, a little Nancy Drew action saved the day: I did some research, grabbed a $ 7 bus ticket and ventured an hour outside the city, where the same procedure cost hundreds less. Here’s everything else I learned about how to take and keep control of your dental bills.
1. Look into dental insurance
If you’re not blessed with coverage through work, paying out-of-pocket can seem like a great excuse to skip or delay regular checkups. “Whereas, if it’s already paid for, you’re going to use it just because you have it,” says David Baker, assistant vice-president of Individual Health Insurance at Sun Life Financial.
Dental insurance is loosely divided into three categories: preventive, orthodontic and restorative. If you’re in good health, a standard health plan can be purchased with an option to get a dental upgrade that includes checkups, cleaning, fillings and even X-rays for less than $ 40 a month. Buy a family plan to save even more.
2. Practise healthy hygiene at home
Your best defence against scary-size dentist bills is – you guessed it – prevention. “That way, you won’t find yourself in an expensive root canal situation to begin with,” says Dr. Robert MacGregor, a past president of the Canadian Dental Association. It’s elementary school basic, but you should be brushing twice and flossing once daily. Duh, right?
But the Crest and Oral-B Smile Survey found that just 30 percent of Canadians say they diligently follow the brush-floss-rinse system, and only 16 percent actually do. If you’re on the lazy side of this survey, try thinking of the cavities you might be paying for in the future.