Ways to save – at the Dentist!

I lost my dental insurance four years ago. My mom covered my health insurance and dental insurance costs for years as I became disabled while still under her plan and qualified. However, when she went down to part time work it became cost prohibitive and she had to remove me. She, incredibly generously, kept me on there for years, paying for it herself to make sure I had coverage. I was very fortunate.

As a diabetic, I was able to have cleanings covered every six months, exams and xrays, even filling replacements and repairs done at no or very low cost. Poof. That was gone!
Diabetics have a higher rate of dental disease and as most people know now a days, dental disease can lead to heart disease so it is very important to keep your mouth in tip top shape.

Some people think that if you brush and floss you are good, but depending on your genetics, you may need more dental care than you believe. In addition, if you have chronic illness or health issues, it may impair your ability to follow dental hygiene recommendations. There are times when I am not able to brush and floss as I would wish so cleanings are especially important for me to maintain my health.

After losing my dental I struggled to figure out how to pay for cleanings. My dentist of ten years did not offer cash pay discounts and charged several hundred dollars for an exam and cleaning and I was severely disappointed to not be able to continue to go there, but had to come up with something more attainable.

I remembered seeing dental coupons in Valpak blue Wednesday envelopes. I watched for a few months and finally one came through that was exam, xrays AND cleaning for $99. I saw them all the time for exam and xrays, but the CLEANING was the good bit.

I did that twice with different dental offices until I found out that when my income was low enough I qualified for Medicaid and Medicaid covered dental. I had no idea! This year I had six weeks of coverage so I booked my butt into the dentist to have an exam, cleaning, and two fillings repaired before those six weeks were up.

I make sure to go in once a year, because my chronic illnesses mean that I can develop serious problems quickly. The last couple years I have managed to get in during brief windows of Medicaid coverage, but if it didn’t happen I would do like I did before and dentist shop.

Another option would be to find out if you have a dental school in your area. Sometimes they offer low cost / no cost treatment. They especially want you if you have advanced dental disease or have not had treatment in years. In my experience, they may not accept you if you have had consistent treatment and are not in more advanced stages of needing a cleaning.

Best wishes and healthy teeth, my friends!


  1. This is a super important topic. I had to find low-cost dental care when I didn’t have insurance, and simply going for two years without a cleaning meant I had five cavities to take care of when I finally got back into the chair.

    Also, I found your blog through A Gai Shan Life, and I love it. Thanks for writing!


  2. Great suggestions on an important subject! Another option is Geoarbitrage, if you can get into a low cost country within reason (probably easy for an avid travel hacker like yourself).
    What a fun coincidence that we picked a similar subject around the same time.


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