Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Controlling the Cost of Your Dentistry

People often neglect or defer dental treatment for five specific reasons.
  1. Financial
  2. Fear
  3. Time
  4. Trust
  5. Lack of urgency
I find it frustrating seeing people neglect their oral health. Let's discuss each of these reasons briefly.


One of the most often stated reasons for deferring treatment is the lack of financial resources. Deferring treatment can and does increase costs 20-40 fold. How can this be? This sounds like an

Here is an example that I see way too often. I will often diagnose a cavity that can be easily remedied by a simple filling. Just to make the math easy, let's say a filling costs 100 dollars. The patient often will opt to defer a year because they say they can't afford it. Now let's say a year passes. We then evaluate this same tooth. However, now instead of only needing a filling, we now need to do a root canal and a crown to save the tooth. Here's the shocker...... the cost to save the tooth has skyrocketed to 2,000 dollars! That's 20 times more expensive than if we would have taken care of it in the first place. If the patient had a tough time coming up with 100 dollars before, how the heck will they come up with 2,000 now? Worse yet, if we can no longer save the tooth, we now have to either do an implant (4,000 dollars), a bridge (3,000 dollars and two additional teeth are now involved), a partial denture (1,800 dollars) or do nothing. Doing nothing is another issue which would lead to other biological and financial complications. I won't go into that in this blog.

I often use an analogy to explain it this way: "either change your oil, change your engine, change your car or don't drive at all". An interesting analogy I'm sure, but people understand it. So pay a little now, or pay much more later!

If you do for some reason have an incredibly expensive treatment plan, most dentist in this country will often offer interest-free financing to make it feasible to address your concerns.


There are many people that are incredibly fearful of dentistry for a number of reasons. They may have had bad experiences as a child, they may have been swayed to believe that dentistry is something to be feared from hearing horror stories in the media, from friends and from family.

The good news is that it doesn't have to be this way. With modern technologies and techniques, dentistry can be a pleasant experience. For example, new techniques in the delivery of anesthesia and sedation medications enable the incredibly phobic patients to address their oral health.


Many of us lead incredibly busy lives. We run around from one commitment or obligation to another. We have to work, we have to take care of the kids and the pets. We have to cut the grass, clean the house and countless other things.

If time is a concern as it is for many, consider having fewer dental appointments by addressing more issues at each appointment. We can often complete everything in one or two visits. Essentially, we can cut this down to one or two appointments per year! Now who cannot find one or two days in a year? It's all a matter of priorities.


Trust is a major concern. People will often visit their new dentist and one hour later they are informed that they need thousands of dollars worth of treatment. There has been a minimal level of rapport established. People often think "this dentist just wants to take my money!"

If you do not feel comfortable with your dentist's opinion, there is nothing wrong with getting a second opinion.

Lack of urgency

I often see mouths with obvious problems. But, in many cases there is no pain. So many of us assume that there is no problem and that everything will turn out just fine. Well, it sounds nuts, but sometimes pain is a good thing. Pain will prompt us to act. If a tooth is dead for example, there will not be any pain. Another example is that if a tooth has a crack and hasn't broken all the way yet, then there is no perceived issue.

I sometimes explain it this way: If we have a 3rd degree burn on our hand from leaving it over a fire, we will not feel any pain and will therefore just leave it over the fire. There is nothing prompting us to act--to remove our hand from the fire.

I hope this information helps you save not only money, but your teeth as well. It's much better to do as little as possible with as little money as possible. Deferring treatment only does the opposite.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit

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