How to Save Money at the Dentist

30 September 2013


Taking care of your teeth is a necessary aspect of our daily hygiene practices.  When you don't take good care of your teeth there are lots of negative consequences, which include bad breath (halitosis), rotting teeth, and it can also lead to extremely negative health consequences.   The trouble with taking care of your teeth is that having dental work done is expensive!!  I recently had to have a root canal done, which cost nearly $1,000!!  Thankfully my benefit plan through my work covered about 80% of the procedure.  Although I am thankful I have some benefit coverage, I was astounded how expensive non-preventative dental work can be.

Not to fear!  Here at Bargainmoose we have come up with some simple and practical methods to save money at the dentist.

Take good preventative care of your teeth

Brush at least twice daily, and floss daily as well.  I think most people have the brushing thing down pat, but flossing is quite a different story.  Personally, I don’t floss as often as I should (maybe that’s in part why I had to have a root canal, so don’t follow in my footsteps!!).   Remember to toss that brush every few months, especially after you have been sick.  Cut back on sugary foods and drinks too.  Clean eating isn’t just food for your body; it’s also great for your teeth!

Shop for bargains for your dental supplies 

Here at Bargainmoose, we have an awesome coupon forum where you can find coupons to reduce the cost of floss, brushes and toothpaste.  Most dentists sell various tools such as electronic toothbrushes, toothpastes etc.  You likely will not score an amazing deal by purchasing these items at the dentist’s office, so check regularly for deals on dental supplies.  As always with saving money, if you shop for deals and plan ahead, you’re more likely to get a better price.

Go to see your dentist regularly 

A cleaning is covered under most benefit plans every 6-9 months so take advantage of those cleanings so your teeth are clean and healthy.  Even if you don’t have dental coverage through your employer, seeing your dentist regularly can prevent tooth issues from escalating and becoming much more costly procedures (such as the painful root canal that I had to endure!).

Understand the plan

Make sure you understand what your company’s dental benefits cover.  If you have a dental recall covered every 9 months, take advantage of that.  Even if you go just to have your teeth polished, it’s worth it.  Everyone loves having shiny white, clean teeth! Try not to get procedures which your provider does not cover, so you won't have to pay for out-of-pocket expenses.

Shop around

If you need to have a major procedure done, consider whether you need to have the procedure done at a specialist, or whether your local dentist can complete the procedure.  As an example, regular dentists can often complete a root canal, but some might refer you to a specialist if the tooth is in a tricky spot, or if the procedure is complicated.  Going to see a specialist can include lots of extra fees, so buyers beware.  Call around for quotes and ask your friends for recommendations of good dentists.  Heaven forbid that either of my children will need orthodontics.  Ortho is not covered in my benefit plan, and having had braces as a child, I’m aware that they are extremely expensive.

Dental school?

Consider having your dental work done by a dental school.  At most dental schools, the senior-level students will take care of your oral hygiene needs at a reduced price.  Here is a list of Canadian dental schools.

Get your own insurance

Purchase your own dental insurance.  If your company doesn’t offer dental benefits, consider purchasing your own policy.  There are tons of options to choose from, Blue Cross and CAA being two of them.  Go onto their websites for a free quote.

Start early

Start your kids early with taking care of their dental health.  Again, prevention is the best money-saver at the dentist!  Starting your children early with brushing and flossing, and educating them on the importance of clean teeth could reduce your dental costs in the future.

Tax benefits?

Claim your dental costs on your income tax.  Some dental costs are able to be claimed at tax time.  Check out this list of items which are included.

Work with your dentist. 

Negotiate prices and procedures if possible, and be sure to have an open discussion about what your benefits include and what they don’t.  If your dentist isn’t willing to talk openly about the cost of services, you might want to consider a different dentist.  We have moved cities a few times, and I have visited a number of different dentists.  Each dentist I have visited has a different personality and level of comfort with having these discussions.  I’m fortunate with my current dentist; he is totally willing to work within the constraints of my dental plan.  I have another cavity that needs to be filled, but we agreed to wait until January to fill it, as my benefit plan begins each calendar year.  Of course, if it was a deep cavity that needed to be filled, I’d have it fixed right away, but he reassures me that it is small.  My dentist has been completely understanding about my situation, which has been reassuring to me.  I’m sure it helps that my children and husband go to the same dentist.  We have developed a good relationship with him, and we trust that he’ll make sound recommendations based on our benefits and budget.


At the end of the day, taking care of your teeth doesn’t take much time every day, and is a critical part of your overall health.  Don’t take it for granted, and make sure you shop around for the best deals on your dental care, and your dental supplies.


  • Ali
    In my experience, buying your own dental coverage isn't worth it. It costs as much or more to buy the dental add-on to any plan than to pay for your cleanings and occasional filling yourself.
  • Krista W.
    Great tips thanks!
  • Patricia
    Don't forget Community Colleges some offer courses for Dental Hygienic courses therefore they are open to the public. They have ADULT Dental Services that are extremely reasonable plus if you have children you can get their teeth cleaned at a reasonable price.

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