How Can I Get the Most for My Money When It Comes to Dental Care?

You have a family of smiles to look after and, of course, a budget. The good news is there are several ways to get your whole family the dental care they need for the healthiest smiles around.

Prevention is key

Your six-month cleaning is about more than your smile; it can help your wallet too. A basic cleaning is removes cavity causing tarter and helps identify problems early. Before they turn into more complicated, costly ones. Your dentist can apply low cost sealants and fluoride varnish to help prevent cavities. Dental x-rays are worth doing as recommended by your dentist for your individual needs too – they can help your dentist see that tiny crack before it turns into a painful abscess later on.

Know your insurance coverage

It is important to know what your dental insurance coverage covers and what your co-pay is for different procedures before you go. Most dental insurances cover preventive services and basic restoration like fillings. Your co-pay may be higher if you need more involved treatment like crowns. Know your annual maximum too. This is all determined by an agreement between the purchaser (your employer) and the dental insurance company. If you have questions, ask your employee benefits manager.

Ask about financing

If you have a lot of dental needs, your dentist may offer financing or even reduced fees for cash paying patients, so you can pay off the cost of your dental work over a longer period of time. Discuss it with your dentist office to find the best option for the procedure you’re considering. Make sure you have this conversation before you get any work done so there aren’t any surprises.

Government Insurance Programs

Michigan offers Medicaid coverage to people with low income. You can apply at to see what you might be eligible for. Medicaid, the Healthy Michigan Plan and Healthy Kids Dental all offer dental care coverage.

Health Centers & Dental Schools

There are hundreds of community health centers, dental schools and other programs in Michigan that offer reduced fees based on your income. Some receive federal or state funding and others are supported by grants and community funding. You can find a list of those types of programs at

Donated Dental Care

Besides the community programs scattered across the state, there are some programs that provide free dental care. One program, Michigan Donated Dental Services (DDS) provides donated care to frail, elderly and chronically ill patients, as well as those who have a permanent disability, who may not have any other means to get the dental care they need. Volunteer dentists and dental labs completely donate their time and skills. More information on the program and an application can be found at

Some communities also host free dental care events. Ask your local health department if they are aware of any of these events in your area. The Michigan Dental Association Foundation hosts a free dental care event called Mission of Mercy. During this two-day event, volunteer dentists provide care to all who show up. There are no requirements for income or insurance status. The next event will take place in Flint in 2020. For more information, visit Mission of Mercy.

All of that’s to say—don’t worry, money savers! There are plenty of ways to afford dental care so everyone in the family can have those bright smiles you love so much.