How I Saved 55% On My Dentist Visit

Are you paying a bloody damn fortune for your teeth when you’re sure they’re in good shape? Here’s my take on how to save money at the dentist.

Have you wondered why the dentist is charging you $250 per appointment twice a year?

Seems a bit much no?

The Usual Dental Visit

Today I visited the dentist, said no to most of the services they were going to routinely perform and walked out paying 55% less than what I would have paid if I’d just blindly got “another dentist appointment.”

First I want to say…obviously I’m not a dentist and I’m not qualified to give dental advice.

This post is purely my experience and my opinion and maybe others can benefit from it.

I see the dentist twice a year because I like to get that plaque build up off my teeth.

When I was working in my corporate J-O-B I didn’t think too much about the services I was getting.

I just got the works every time and that meant to scale, polish, fluoride, possibly x-rays and a quick 5-minute check over by the dentist himself.

I wasn’t paying for it, my health plan through my employer was.

The average visit was between $200 – $240.

Standing My Ground

how to save money at the dentistWell, now I’m self-employed.

Have been since 2006.

Even during these years I just figure that all those services were required each and every time I went. It was a lot to pay during certain periods of my life when I wasn’t financially able to, but I did it anyway.

So last week I went for my regular bi-yearly visit and I sat down, the hygienist said: “Ok so today we’re going to do scale, polish, fluoride and the dentist will come do a quick check of you.” A minute later after looking at my chart she said: “Oh and I see you’re due for an x-ray so we’ll do that too.”

I’m thinking to myself …Here we go again. I’m going to walk out of here with a $240 bill. 🙁

I told her I’d skip the x-rays.

I didn’t feel like I needed them.

I’m 46 years old. Nothing has changed in my personal hygiene routine, my health, my diet, my mental capacity.

I haven’t had cavities since I was a kid in my baby teeth, so why would I need another x-ray when I just had one 18 months ago. I said I’d skip that.

She didn’t seem too happy about that and tried to convince me that I need to get x-rays at least once a year “just in case”. But I insisted.

When I told her “You know what, I’m going to skip the fluoride and polish too.” her eyes bugged out of her head and I could tell she didn’t know quite how to respond. Again she tried to clumsily convince me that these extra services really were necessary. But I insisted and eventually she gave in.

Finally, we settled on scaling and a check from the dentist.

Half way through the scaling I’m thinking to myself “Why do I need to pay the dentist $33 to come look inside my mouth for no longer than one minute?”

I know this because I’ve had this quick check for the past 11 years, I know it’s 1 minute long.

I know he’s going to just have some small talk (which I’m totally ok skipping) look inside my mouth, poke around with his sharp objects and then say “Yup, everything looks great.”

So I told the hygienist half way through “You know what? I’m going to skip the dentist check too.”

I think she almost fell off her stool. LOL

But seriously, why?

My dentist drives an Aston Martin, his office is the creme de la creme of offices in town. He’s obviously doing well for himself. I’m on a budget, why do I need these services?

I decided when I got home I would research a few of these and find out how important they really are and how often they are needed in a healthy mouth like mine. Would my goal of trying to save money at the dentist harm me in the long run?

The Cost Of A Standard “Recommended” Dental Visit

Here’s the breakdown of costs. These are standard charges across Ontario where I live.

Scaling: $110
Fluoride treatment: $28
Polish: $35
x-Rays: $34
Quick dental exam: $33

TOTAL COST for one standard “so called required” visit: $240

My Findings After Trying To Save Money At The Dentist

Here are some of my findings of the various services and how often or if they are needed.

Please note that if you have a history of tooth decay, cavities or any other issues… I would suggest following your dentist’s recommendations. I have never in my adult years had a problem with my teeth other than some general plaque build up that I get removed every six months with scaling.

Tooth Polish

Most of the information I found about dental tooth polish ingredients included things such as fluoride, artificial colours and flavours. Not anything I want in my mouth unnecessarily.

Also, I did read online a few sites that indicated polishing can reduce enamel although apparently, some products don’t. It depends on what’s in them.

So for me…instead of paying $70 for two polishes a year, I’d rather spend $10-20 for a jar or bottle of all natural polish that will most likely do the same thing.

Here’s a link to ones that looks like they might be great products.

I haven’t tried them, BUT if I notice after a while of not getting polish done at the dentist, that I’m getting stains, I will grab a jar and give it a shot cause saving money is HOT! 😉 And I don’t drink a lot of teeth staining drinks or foods.

Dirty Mouth Organic Tooth Powder

All Natural Momi Professional Strength Tooth Polish

Fluoride Treatment

This is a fairly easy one for me.

There’s just too much information out there about the harmful effects of fluoride and I’ve gone years and months without using fluoride toothpaste without any issues. I use it on and off so this doesn’t mean that I avoid it like the plague.

It’s in my water and probably some fruit juices (according to one site I read from a dentist), but when it comes to my budget, I get enough and don’t need to add it to my dental bill.

An article I found on WebMD indicated that plaque and sugar demineralized the enamel on our teeth and fluoride puts it back. I’d rather just have good hygiene (regular brushing and flossing) and cut back on sugar. This way I won’t need to remineralize my teeth…saving myself $28 tacked onto my bill.


I found an article on The New York Times that indicates:

Adults without apparent dental problems do not need dental X-rays of any kind every year, the A.D.A. says. Adults who properly care for their teeth and have no symptoms of oral disease or cavities can go two to three years between bitewing X-rays, according to the A.D.A.

Found this in another article:

Because of good home care and fluoride, we typically see many patients who have never had a cavity. There is simply no justification to X-ray such patients on a six-month interval, or even once per year.

So there you have it. I will get an x-ray every 3 years and that’s it! If I start to notice something going on with my teeth, then I’ll get one sooner.

Dental Exam

Here’s my take on dental exams and how to save money at the dentist by not paying $33/minute.

If you take really good care of your mouth, eat waaaay more healthy foods than you do sugar, brush, and floss daily, then really? Do you need to pay an Aston Martin driving dentist $33/minute to look inside your mouth?

So I walked out of there paying $110 for the scaling and I was so happy that I saved myself $130 that day!!

Other Ways To Save Money At The Dentist

Try finding a dental school near you. Sometimes these places need patients for their students. Here a link for the Canadian Dental Association. They may be able to help you find one close to you that offers this. (And the American Dental Association as well.)
Get insurance. Even if you’re self-employed or your employer doesn’t cover the cost of dental work, a health plan may still work out to cost less.
Ask for a discount. You never know till you ask.
Negotiate. Dentists are business people too.
Offer to barter. Again…you never know until you ask.

How much do you pay for dental visits?

Do you feel like you’re just being upsold on services you don’t need?

Tell me all about it in the comments below!! I can’t be the only one!

Insufficient evidence to understand effect of routine scaling and polishing –
Fluoride: Chemical Weapons In Your Water And Toothpaste –
To Polish or Not to Polish –
You Probably Don’t Need Dental X-Rays Every Year –


Enter your name and email address below. I promise - no spam will ever come from me. You can unsubscribe anytime!

Tracy Cummings

About the Author

Tracy Cummings