Woman with glasses in front of a computer financially confused


Dental Care on a Budget

Written By : Generations of Smiles Writers

Reviewed By : Charles Rodgers, DDS

Published: Aug 29, 2023

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Properly cleaning and caring for your mouth is crucial for maintaining good oral health. When your teeth and gums do not receive the attention they need, you are leaving your mouth at risk of developing gum disease and cavities, potentially leading to a painful dental emergency

A huge part of good oral hygiene is routine visits to your dentist. But the out-of-pocket cost of scheduling a dentist appointment can deter many Americans from seeing the dentist on a regular basis. According to the CDC, 65% of adults had a dental appointment in 2019. The CDC’s data shows that as incomes increased, so did the percentage of adults who visited their dentist. Regardless of income, every mouth needs dental care through regular dentist visits in case a problem develops. 

Dental check-ups often get pushed behind more immediate needs when finances are tight. But if dental issues go unchecked, the problem will only worsen, and the cost of restorative dental care will likely increase. Fortunately, tips and resources are available to find more affordable dentistry options so you and your family can avoid painful and damaging oral problems. 

Oral Health Is an Investment

Investing in oral health refers to not only the finances involved, but also the investment in the quality of your oral health.
Investing in the health of your teeth and gums is worth it in the short and long run. Keeping your mouth pain-free and healthy helps you in the immediate while treating gum disease as soon as possible staves off more severe health risks in the future. You can put a little money aside for dental treatments by intentionally reducing your monthly expenses. Ways to save monthly for dental care include:
  • Creating a detailed, realistic budget and sticking to it
  • Choosing to cook at home more nights a week than you eat out
  • Canceling subscriptions to media you rarely use
  • Making a grocery list each time you go to the store
  • Deciding on a no-drive weekend once a month to save gas money
You may be surprised that with little effort, you can save money to pay for dental insurance, dental services, or discount plans that easily fit routine oral care into your budget.

Why is routine dental care so important? Oral health affects not only day-to-day chewing and speaking but also impacts your overall health. Researchers are finding connections between gum disease and its potential effects on blood pressure and various heart disorders. The tremendous effects untreated gum disease can have on your health gives a newfound perspective on the risks of neglecting your oral health. And yet around 100 million Americans do not attend dental appointments every year. 

Man looking at an affordable dental care checklist
Routine dental checkups are crucial for catching tooth decay and gum disease early. Checkups help ensure dental problems do not worsen with time and lead to more expensive dental procedures. 
Regardless of the importance of dental care, paying for dental visits and treatments continues to be a hurdle for many Americans.

Affordable Dental Care

To offset the cost of dental care, discount plans, government programs, dental clinics, and community health centers provide more affordable options for financially limited patients who still want to maintain good oral health. 

Insured Patients

Dental insurance makes affording dentistry services easier, especially if you know how to maximize your benefits. Making sure you get all of your dental benefits every year will help keep your mouth healthy while leaving your money in your bank account. 

Dental insurance pays for a percentage of your dental care after a deductible is met. All dental insurance plans can be different, so knowing exactly what your plan says is important. If you want to leverage all your dental insurance benefits, pay close attention to the details in your plan to help make your dental care more affordable. 

Ways to get the most out of your affordable dental insurance include:

Being aware of annual coverage maximums. Coverage maximums are the amount of money an insurance company will pay out in a year. Once you reach the limit, the insurance company will no longer pay for your dental care until your plan is renewed at the beginning of the next year. 
Scheduling dentist appointments before the end of the year, especially if you have already met your deductible. If you have time left in the year to schedule a dental procedure that is covered by your insurance, once your deductible is met, your procedure should be covered in full unless stated in your plan. 
Choosing in-network dentists, specified by your insurance plan, to get the lowest rates for dental treatments.

Find a local dentist that accepts your insurance using the Find a Dentist Tool

Uninsured Patients

Individual coverage can be costly if your employer does not offer dental benefits. A few ways to make sure you get the oral health care that you need is to look for low-cost dental options that fit your situation.

Low-cost dental options include:

Many dental schools have clinics where their students can provide quality, budget-friendly dental care while under the experienced eye of their instructors. Dental work at a dental school costs significantly less for patients looking to save money on their oral care.

Veterans may qualify for VA dental services that can pay for partial or even all of their dental expenses.

discount dental plan, also known as a dental membership plan/dental savings plan, is different from insurance because it provides you with a number of services at a discounted rate with no deductibles or annual maximums.

Medicaid/CHIP can provide dental services to individuals and families who qualify. There are various degrees of services available between states for dental care. 

Dental Financing

Man holding a SGDP financial card
One way to pay for dental expenses without paying out-of-pocket for services or copays upfront is to apply for dental financing. Your local dentist can connect you with financing options to help break down large dental bills into smaller, affordable monthly payments.

At Smile Generation, we connect you with quality dentists in your area and provide resources on dental financing options that best fit your needs. These options ensure you won’t have to put off a necessary dental procedure because you lack the funds to pay for it. Smile Generation Financing options include:

  • Smile Generation Financial credit card
  • ScratchPay payment plans
  • In-house  dental payment plan provided by individual dentist offices 
  • Knowing you can pay for routine or emergency dental care removes the burden of deciding between oral health care and other immediate needs. 

Find a Dentist in Your Community

If you are searching for an affordable way to get the dental care you need, check out Smile Generation’s Find a Dentist tool. Smile Generation can connect you with a dentist in your area that offers financing and discount plan options if you need dental care on a budget. If you already have a dentist, be sure to ask them about your options to make your dental care more affordable.


Find your trusted, local dentist today!



  • Cha, Amy E., Robin A. Cohen, "Urban-rural Differences in Dental Care Among Adults Aged 18-64." CDC, July 2021,  https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db412.html
  • VA Dentistry - Improving Veterans Oral Health." VA, 2 Nov. 2022, https://www.va.gov/dental/
  • Dental Care." Medicaid, 20 July 2023, https://www.medicaid.gov/medicaid/benefits/dental-care/index.html
  • Pietropaoli, Davide, Rita Del Pinto, Claudio Ferri, Jackson T. Wright Jr., Mario Giannoni, Eleonora Ortu, and Annalisa Monaco, "Poor Oral Health and Blood Pressure Control Among US Hypertensive Adults." AHA Journals, 22 Oct. 2018
  • Oral Health." Mouth Healthy, 20 July 2023, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/all-topics-a-z/oral-health

Smile Generation blog articles are reviewed by a licensed dental professional before publishing. However, we present this information for educational purposes only with the intent to promote readers’ understanding of oral health and oral healthcare treatment options and technology. We do not intend for our blog content to substitute for professional dental care and clinical advice, diagnosis, or treatment planning provided by a licensed dental professional. Smile Generation always recommends seeking the advice of a dentist, physician, or other licensed healthcare professional for a dental or medical condition or treatment. 

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