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It Doesn’t Cost A Million Bucks to Smile in 2010: Tips for Finding Affordable and Even FREE Dental Care For the New Year

Happy New Year Texas Housewife readers! I’m Dr. Catrise Austin, “Dentist to the Stars” and author of a new dental consumer book called “5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile: How the stars get that perfect smile and how you can too!” As we enter into a New Year, a new decade even, could it be time for a time for a New You? As a cosmetic dentist, I love this time of the year as many people tend to renew their vows to take charge of their dental health and even put a dazzle to a fizzled smile. I truly believe that one of the first things that people will notice about you is your smile. It’s your greeting card, your business card, your resume and your facial “mood ring” all in one. Hey, I realize that for many, going to the dentist may not seem fun, but in these tough economic times a healthy mouth can not only save you money in future dental bills, but can keep you in good overall health.

The #1 concern that I’m hearing from many of my clients, personal friends, and even those who follow me on my social media networks is “I can’t afford dentistry right now”. One of the key messages that I’m sharing is: “It doesn’t take a million bucks to have a great smile and quite frankly, you can’t afford to NOT care for your smile”. It’s true. Despite this tough economy, maintaining good oral health and visiting a dentist regularly is still a must. Studies now show however, that poor oral health can not only cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath, and tooth loss, but is also linked to other serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and preterm or low birth weight babies in pregnant women. Now more than ever, with a spiraling economy and increased competition for jobs, a healthy, confident smile can be your calling card to success and play a key role in your overall well being. But where can you start if you lack dental insurance or have limited cash to pay for dental care?

Consider these tips:

1. Start Practicing At Home- Just stroll down the toothpaste isle of your local grocery store or pharmacy and you’ll be amazed with the tools and products available to keep your teeth cavity-free and make your gums strong and healthy. Follow my daily “smile workout” at home which includes brushing, flossing, and rinsing, along with avoiding habits or activities that can harm your teeth (such as ice chewing, opening items with your teeth, grinding your teeth, or not wearing a sports mouth guard if you participate in contact or high risk sports) and you’ll save tons of money in dental bills.

2. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask for A Discount: Some dentists offer a standard 5% discount if you pay in full with cash or check before you start all of your dental work. Ask your dentist if they offer any special discounts.

3. Smile Now and Pay For It Later With Care Credit- Care Credit is a healthcare financing plan that is available at most dental offices nationwide. Care Credit offers no interest payment plans up to 12 months or low interest rate payment plans up to 5 years for dental services. The great thing is that you can also use Care Credit for other medical needs such as vision, medical visits, and even medical care for pets.

4. Go To School: Dental schools in each state offer reduced fees for dental care. The dental work is performed by junior and senior year dental students under the strict supervision of a trained/licensed dentist to ensure that you receive quality dental care.

5. Don’t Underestimate Your Ability To Strike A Deal With Your Dentist: Negotiate! If you have a special skill or service that your dentist could use, ask if you can barter/exchange services. I’ve personally considered this option with a few clients so it doesn’t hurt to ask.

6. Pre-pay For Your Smile: When I was growing up, most department stores had what was called a “lay away plan” where you could identify items that you wanted or needed, put a down payment on your items, then make installment payments on your order. When your items were paid in full, you could take home your items. Ask if you can pre-pay for your smile! Consider sending advanced payments for your treatment and begin only once you’ve paid in full.

Remember, ignoring your smile today will only lead to costly dental problems tomorrow. In 2010 I challenge you to take charge of your dental health and make it a priority. Nothing else in this world matters if you don’t have your health, which includes your oral health. It’s true! So, if you've been guilty of putting off your next dental exam and professional cleaning, consider making an appointment ASAP. For more smile tips and your VIP pass to dental resources, pick up or click to order my new book “5 Steps to the Hollywood A-List Smile: How the stars get that perfect smile and how you can too!” today.


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