Saving money when it comes to dental care is about preparation. Knowing what to plan for, knowing what to look out for, and when and how much to spend on recommended care. To lend a helping hand, we thought we’d lay out a few simple ways for you to stay on top of your game when it comes to keeping your kids in good health, and keeping your hard-earned money where it belongs – in your pocket!
- Remind Them to Wear Their Retainer: Ask any adult who has worn braces, which piece of orthodontic advice they WISH they had adhered to, and overwhelmingly they’ll say they wish they wore their retainer more often. Without question, ensuring your kids wear their retainer as often as their orthodontist suggests, and in every suggested situation, is the key to avoiding an early return to shifting teeth.
And while some shifting is natural as kids grow into adulthood, for those who don’t wear their retainer, that shift might come much, much sooner than desired – sometimes while they’re still in their teens. That could mean a return to some form of orthodontic appliance, another round of braces, and quite likely, if they’re still under your purse strings, another big bill.
- Teach Them Proper Brushing Technique: Most kids, and most adults for that matter, still have no idea how to brush properly. And that’s a problem, because all that back’n’forth rapid-fire brushing is wearing away precious tooth enamel. Long-term, this sort of habit can lead to premature deterioration of tooth enamel, resulting in expenses to repair those teeth with bonding. Even worse: gum grafting procedures. Teach them to go soft, and in small circles. If necessary, repeat the instruction while with the dentist … and often.
- Promote Foods That are Good for Their Teeth: Certain kinds of foods help protect and remineralize teeth. And what’s best isn’t always what you’d think. Take cheese for example … who would have thought all that mac’n’cheese served a purpose? Good food keeps away decay, which keeps away fillings, which keeps more money in your pocket.
- Visit the Doc: It bears mentioning that maintaining regular visits to the dentist is important. Why? Because life gets away from us and sometimes we forget. Or, when kids are young, we just think it’s not that necessary. By the time that first tooth comes in, though, they should already be visiting the dentist, and by the time they’re seven, a quick consult with the orthodontist is usually in order as well. Regular visits always help to catch small problems before they become major ones.
- Keep Pushing the Water: We all know kids love their energy drinks. Their teeth, on the other hand, can’t stand them, and decay and enamel wear tend to be the eventual result. So, put a wedge between decay and costly repair by ensuring your kids are drinking a lot of what mother nature has gifted us with: water. Water. Water. Water. It should be a mantra …
- Shop for a Mouthguard: The American Dental Association has said that 200,000 oral injuries to the mouth could be prevented each year simply by wearing a sports mouthguard. The cost of a custom guard is infinitesimal compared to the cost involved in repairing and or replacing several teeth. Get one today if you have a child who participates in sports. This can’t be stressed enough.
- Stop the Comparison Game: Kids love to compare. Johnny has this, Sally has that. And, when kids start to notice their appearance, the game gets kicked up a notch. But remember when you were a kid? Before whitening agents were in seemingly every toothpaste, and when kids were actually proud of the space between their teeth? Not everything needs to be “fixed” right away. There is a time for these treatments if they’re so desired, and they’re best only when you and your family decide they are. Not when Johnny and Sally say they are. So, save your money. Remember, it’s okay to be a kid. There’s plenty of time to grow up and be “perfect” later in life.
- Use Your Flexible Spending Account: Many parents waste away the money in flexible spending accounts. Don’t do that. Here’s how to prepare so you don’t lose your hard-earned money.
- Stay Educated: Good dentists are interested in creating a base of educated patients. That’s why they send out newsletters (like this one)! So be sure to read up on what’s being sent to you – it’ll help you keep abreast of concerns you need to be on the lookout for, or methods you can share with your kids to help them keep their teeth in great shape. The content here is always evolving, and designed to help you stay on top of your kids’ health and budget.
This list could really be book-length, but these are some of the biggies. Follow them, and you’ll win twice-over: good health and good finances.