No parent wants to skimp on paying for their kids’ medical care. However, it’s important to remember that you aren’t a bad parent if you deal with a tight budget, and for that matter a lot of good parents find themselves putting off unimportant appointments and procedures because they need to more immediately spend money on other things, usually for their children.
Furthermore, most children have two different doctors for their parents to worry about. Their primary care physician, and their dentist. For a lot of reasons, parents tend to prioritize taking care of their children’s primary care appointments before their dental appointments.
As a society, we just tend to separate dental care from the rest of healthcare. This is terribly misguided, as dental care is in fact key to healthcare. If your children suffer from dental issues, they’ll not only deal with pain which could interfere with their eating and in some cases even breathing habits. They’ll also be at risk for long term health problems. Children with neglected dental issues may have cosmetic dental issues that cause them embarrassment in the future, as well as tooth and jaw pain, misalignment issues, and even perhaps tooth loss.
Fortunately, you don’t have to skimp on your children’s dental care. There are ways that you can ensure that your children get the dental care that they need, without spending more than you can afford. Much of this has to do with early dental care and building good habits for both your children and yourself as a parent as early as possible. I
n fact, much of what you can do to save money on dental care for your children really has to do with lifestyle changes. It’s much easier to save money on dental care than you might imagine. Let’s find out how you can do it.
1. Start Early
A crucial mistake that a lot of parents make early on is skipping those first dental appointments. You may feel like taking your infant to the dentist’s office when they only have one or two teeth isn’t worth the money, and is in fact a waste of time. In fact, taking your child to those early dental appointments will establish the right practices and save you money in the long term.
It’s usually advised that most children should visit the dentist for the first time by age one. This will get your child accustomed to the dentist, and furthermore ensure that your child is more likely to comply with their appointments when they’re older. It will also allow your dentist to catch any potential problems early, when it’s easier and less expensive to correct them.
For example, about 4 million Americans are currently wearing braces, and on average a set of brace is worn for two years. Braces are one of the less expensive orthodontic corrective procedures, especially when they’re applied early. Therefore, a dentist that is able to catch the need for braces early will prevent you from spending money on more intense, expensive corrective procedures later on. The longer your child goes without the proper care, the more you’ll spend overall.
2. Consider Your Child’s Diet
It may seem almost like a cliche to caution your child against sugary foods and drinks. However, as their parent you are responsible for what your children eat and drink. By refusing to serve and even refusing to buy sugary foods and beverages, you are essentially making a long-term investment in your child’s dental health and longevity. Now, you don’t have to cut sugar and juice entirely out of your family’s diet.
However, it’s a good idea to rely more on fruits and vegetables when planning their daily meals. The reason why you should avoid sugar is that sugar acts as fuel for the bacteria in the mouth. This in turn leads to a build-up of plaque, tartar, and eventually, cavities, all of which can be costly to have treated by a dentist.
Cutting down your child’s sugar intake will help you avoid these costs, and indeed will also promote a healthier lifestyle for your family. Right now, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that just one in three children are active every day. A lack of physical activity can cause health issues down the road that extend far behind your child’s teeth.
3. Choose Preventative Measures
As you take your young children to the dentist, chances are that your dentist will recommend certain preventative procedures and measures. These will depend on your child’s age and the overall condition of their teeth, of course. Some will be more costly than others. However, you should definitely heed your dentist’s advice, and invest in preventative measures meant to strengthen your child’s teeth in the future. This may include having a sealant applied to your child’s teeth.
Sealants can help prevent cavities. Adding fluoride to your child’s beverages, on the other hand, can potentially strengthen their teeth against potential future damage. As reluctant as you may be to spend money on more in-depth procedures, like the use of a retainer or application of braces, these types of standard pieces of dental equipment are much less expensive than many corrective measures.
If your dentist recommends braces and your child goes without them, you could potentially be faced with unavoidable orthodontic surgery down the road. So much of the dental care we pay for is ultimately meant to safeguard against future issues. Your child will only have one set of adult teeth, and they need to last for life.
Much of the reason why some parents prioritize primary care over dental care is that dental care is associated with cosmetic issues. However, dental care is meant to help people stay healthy. It’s about far more than appearance, and all parents should keep that in mind when making decisions.