MYRTLE BEACH, SC ( WMBF) - All it takes is one or two jaw-dropping procedures -- like a couple root canals with crowns -- and just like that, you could be paying hundreds or thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for your dental bill.
According to a 2016 survey by the Commonwealth Fund, 32% of American adults say they skipped dental care in the past year because of costs.
"It's a very unfortunate thing, because generally if you come in or come in more often, like two times a year for x-rays and a cleaning, we're able to catch things while they are a lot smaller and prevent those bills from getting even higher," explained Dr. Jacob Shirk, Dentist with Smiles of Carolina Forest.
Dr. Shirk says cost is definitely one of the biggest things and also a general fear of the pain associated with dentistry. But here are four tips to help you take a bite out of the dental bill.
The Charles F. Freeman Dental Clinic at Horry Georgetown Technical College offers high- quality hygiene services, for a fraction of what you pay at many dental practices.
Some of their services even include cleanings, X-rays, whitening, and sealants to prevent decay. The dental student clinic also works with several dental offices in the Grand Strand, patients can check with their dentist to see if some of the services needed could be provided at the clinic and results sent to their doctor. Fees for services start as low as $15. The clinic also accepts children as patients too.
Try Dental Savings Plan.
Dr. Shirk says higher dental bills are often times a result of patients waiting too long. "Unfortunately a lot of people wait until there's pain, and by the time it's pain, you are talking about a lot more expensive procedures that need to be done, and a lot more invasive, so there's a fear that kind of cascades and that's one big problem with dentistry," said Dr. Shirk.
A dental savings plan is another way to help soak up dental costs. Some of the non-insurance programs offer 10% to 60% savings on procedures at participating dentists. Most plans have no waiting periods or annual limit on discounts. Some plans to search in South Carolina include: DentalPlans, Careington, and New Benefits.
Talk to Your Dentist.
Talk to your dentist about a discount or options to pay over time. Check with the office to find out if there are any specials available for those who may not be able to afford certain or all services.
Terry Kushigian, Practice Administrator, at Smiles of Carolina Forest says the goal is give the best care and quality care, and price shouldn't have to be an option.
"All they need to do is ask we want to help them we want to get them the treatment they need," said Kushigian.
Last but not least, get regular checkup. Dr. Shirk says avoiding the dentist could lead to more dental problems, and even hundreds of dollars in future bills. So, preventive care is key. Medical studies have shown the correlation between oral health and overall health. Visit a dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and x-rays and maintain daily habits.
"The best thing is always brushing twice a day, routine flossing, also mouth rinses, usually antibacterial mouth rinses is very important and find one that says alcohol- free," said Dr. Shirk.