• April 11, 2012
  • Dr. Catherine-Anne Walsh

Fees at your dentist are much like the prices in your supermarket, at the hairdresser, at your local cafe. Just like you budget for your groceries, power bills, entertainment, you can also budget for your dental care. The best way to do this is to stop thinking of dental expenses as ‘unknown’, ‘unexpected’ or ‘miscellaneous’ bills, which can surprise you at any moment. Start thinking of dental care as ongoing care, which you need at regular times of the year and start budgeting for it as ‘dental maintenance’, ‘personal maintenance’ or ‘health and wellbeing’.

1. Have your short term treatment plan, your yearly preventative care plan and your long term treatment plan (and fee estimates) with you when creating your budget

2. Think of your dental care costs as weekly or monthly instalments of the total yearly fee:

YEAR 1:  Total dental care cost= Short term treatment plan total cost + yearly preventative care plan cost.

YEAR 2: Total dental care cost= Whole or part of long term treatment plan cost + yearly preventative care plan cost.

YEAR 3: Total dental care cost= Remaining part of long term treatment plan cost + yearly preventative care plan cost.

YEAR 4: Yearly preventative care plan cost.

Divide these yearly totals into monthly or weekly instalments for the year you are budgeting for.

3. Add dental health insurance premiums to the dental maintenance costs above

4. Work out true, ‘out of pocket’ yearly expense for dental maintenance and then work out your tax rebate entitlement (see previous article)

5. Do the the tax rebate and health fund rebate cover any shortfall in your ‘dental maintenance’ account?

6. How much does the family spend on foods and drinks that are not tooth friendly? Can they be eliminated from the grocery bill? How much does that save? Does THIS cover the shortfall?

If you have covered the shortfall in the ‘dental maintenance’ account, CONGRATULATIONS! You are now on your way to a lifetime of healthy teeth, confident smiles and top of the range, highest quality dental care. It is only year one on your journey, but by year 4, your costs are likely to reduce to only your preventative care costs and your budget will be in surplus!

If you still cannot cover the shortfall, don’t despair. Are your finances generally in order or do you need help in other areas, too? It may be useful to visit a budget advisor or personal finance advisor and speak to them about your household budget and what you can do to make your family’s health a priority. Alternatively, you may need to have another discussion with your dentist and adjust your treatment plan to suit your actual financial position. This would give you more confidence and keep you motivated to continue with your preventative care until you are able to take on more complex and more expensive treatment.

For a more detailed discussion about your treatment, financial arrangements and looking after your whole family, feel free to call (02) 92323667 and we will be happy to answer any of your questions.

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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