How to Budget for Dental Care

A healthy smile doesn't have to break your budget.

A healthy smile doesn't have to break your budget.

Healthy smile, healthy teeth, healthy wallet. The first two don't negate the last. Budget to ensure you've got your dentist visits covered, keeping your teeth at their best and your wallet insulated from unpleasant surprises. Keeping your teeth healthy keeps your wallet healthy because gum disease and other oral issues can lead to bigger, more expensive problems down the road. If you don't have dental insurance, work with your dentist on the money side of things to make sure your healthy teeth stay that way.

Check your coverage. Not all companies offer dental insurance. If yours does, find out what type of coverage you receive and if the coverage requires payment of an annual deductible.

Call your dental care provider and find out what the general cost is for the procedure for which you're budgeting -- a twice-yearly cleaning and/or X-rays, for example. If you have dental coverage, find out from your insurer what costs aren't covered as well as an estimate of the cost of your visit. If you don't have coverage, estimate the total cost of the visit and ask your dentist about discounts for cash payments.

Calculate the annual cost, based on the dentist's information, your coverage and deductible requirement, if any, assuming twice-yearly visits for everyone in the family.

Divide the annual cost by 12 to define the monthly amount to set aside in your budget. Save that portion each month and schedule your appointment once you have the funds waiting in your bank account.


  • If you have extensive dental costs, they may be deductible on your Form 1040, Schedule A when you file income taxes. Check with your tax adviser for details. Cosmetic dental costs are not, however, generally deductible.
  • If your dental need is urgent and you don't have dental insurance, ask your dentist if you can create a payment plan. Use the negotiated monthly amount as your guide for future dental costs when building your budget.
  • Get the work done at a dental school if your dentist's charges are too expensive for your current budget.

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