• April 2, 2012
  • Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

We are now getting to the exciting part where it becomes a lot clearer how almost everyone can afford best quality dental care for their whole family without worrying about the financial implications.

If you have followed our advice thus far, you would have:

1. Understood and accepted that the business of private dentistry is expensive.

2. Made a decision to find a great dental practice where you and your family can feel comfortable and well looked-after and you are ready to commit to ongoing long term preventative care.

3. Obtained a short term and a long term treatment plan for yourself and all other family members, as well as an estimate of yearly preventative care costs (minimum two preventative care/hygiene and examination/visits per year).
A dental treatment plan is an essential piece of information when planning your health related expenses

Do you “know what you’re in for”?

Looking at your treatment plans and remembering the discussions with your dental team, do you really understand these items and numbers? If you don’t, STOP! pick up your phone and call the dental practice to arrange a time to go and discuss these again.

Ask another family member to come with you, two pairs of ears are better than one. Even better, ask one of the staff members (other than the dentist or practice manager) to sit in on the consultation with you as your ‘translator’. Often, a nurse or a receptionist may be able to explain the dentist’s terms in plain language or may feel more comfortable asking the dentist to explain on your behalf.

Once you have clarified what each item and number means, what your short term plan and what your long term plan is, the most important question is:

Can I complete the short term treatment plan before my next preventative care visit (around 6 months on average)?

  • Can you take enough time off work for all the dental visits involved?
  • Do you have appropriate child-care arrangements?
  • Do you have enough money in the bank for the dental treatment, the preventative care visit and the child-care needed?

If you answered YES to all the above questions, get this treatment done THIS WEEK! Don’t stop to think about private health insurance, premiums, rebates, tax refunds or anything else. The sooner this short term plan is completed, the less chances of further problems and escalating costs and the sooner you can enter the ‘preventative care cycle’ which is PREDICTABLE, AFFORDABLE and ENJOYABLE!

Remember: short term plan focuses on immediate problems, which need to be contained. Ideally, this plan should be completed within 6 months.

Can your dental practice help?

If you have answered NO to some of the above questions, you may want to discuss the following possible solutions with your dentist:

  • Does your dental practice offer early morning and late evening (before and after work hours) appointments, at least one day per week?
  • Would your dental practice welcome the idea of you taking the children with you to your appointment and possibly minding them for you during your visit?
  • Would your dental practice consider discounting your total treatment fee if you complete and pay for your treatment in full within a certain time frame? (e.g if you have a large treatment plan, the practice may agree that you complete the whole proposed plan within 14 or 30 days, in return for a 5-10% reduction, which may save hundreds of dollars)
  • Does your dental practice offer any other financial arrangements or loyalty incentives?

Once you have the financial arrangements discussion with your dental practice, you can then explore what relief your private health cover and tax rebate can offer you. We will cover these in our next article.

Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh
About The Author

Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

Catherine-Anne is a New Zealand-qualified dentist. She holds a Masters Degree in Public Health from Sydney University and she has a broad range of experiences from working in both the public and private sector.

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