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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Tooth fairy

Hello. Lana has posed a question which I will answer to the best of my ability.

I was wondering if you could blog or do a video about how you keep your dental bills low. I am paying a small fortune (I live in the States and do not have dental insurance), for extractions, crowns, bridges and gum treatments. I know that you grind up your nuts and seeds but are there any other tips you could give us? I am afraid I may end up eating mush for the rest of my life if this keeps up. My pocketbook hurts way more than my teeth!

Hi Lana. We have a two tier system here, NHS and Private, my dentist does both. People  have the option of paying a monthly fee for the basics, which will include some work, check the list, then anything over that will be priced separately. My sister is in this scheme. 

I am registered as an NHS patient, not on a scheme, so I pay as I go. I have the option of paying more for some treatments if I want to go private. About 13 years ago I opted for Private when I needed a new bridge, it was quicker, and they use better quality materials, so they said.  

I have regular checkups, £20 I think at the moment. I have been getting checked once a year, and for many years I have not had to have anything done, except two fillings. My regular dentist has said my oral hygiene is very good. I have a checkup next month, I think I'm going to start getting them every six months instead of annually, just to keep on top of it. 

When I read the Money Saving Expert Forum on health, I am amazed by how many people visit the hygienist when they go to the dentist. I have never seen a hygienist. The dentists on MSE say you shouldn't need to see a hygienist if you clean your teeth properly. 

I have got quite a few fillings so I think these might need some attention in the future, but I'm not going to ask, I'll wait until the dentist says I need work doing. 

How do I keep my dental bills low? I am meticulous with my cleaning. First thing in the morning before I put anything in my mouth, and last thing at night before I go to bed. And also before I go out, I hate to see food stuck in peoples teeth, yuk. I run my tongue around my mouth and if my teeth feel furry I nip to the bathroom for an extra brush. I floss between them. I tried teepee's but I only have three gaps between the teeth that I can get a small brush between. 

One thing I will mention, clean your teeth after eating anything which will stain them. Coffee, red wine, beetroot, etc. If you smoke, then STOP immediately. Try not to sip sugary drinks and eat sweets. Brush your teeth if you do. 

Regarding food. I take ages to eat a meal, carefully moving it around my mouth to break it down and mix it with saliva before I swallow. Digestion starts in the mouth. I don't want to send hard lumps down my throat and end up with indigestion. I take twice as long as anyone else to eat a meal. I try and avoid hard food that I have to bite into or chew. I even resist the temptation of biting into crisps, I suck them until they soften up. I have given up eating fresh apples unless they are pulverized with a blender. To be honest I would rather eat mush than have to run to the dentist with a broken tooth or filling. 

Using the mini chopper for seeds and nuts is a big help, and leaving the cereal to soak up the milk for ten minutes before eating it is a good idea. If I eat something that is a little bit hard, I cut it up with a knife and fork into small pieces and pop it straight into my mouth without having to bite into it. 

Has the dentist told you that you need gum treatments? Are you expecting to need extractions, crowns, and bridges? I wonder if you are worrying unnecessarily. Have you asked your dentist how you can better look after your teeth? If you are doing all the above then you shouldn't need a lot of treatment. 

Thanks for your questions, I hope I have given you some ideas. 
Thanks for popping in, we'll catch up soon.
Toodle pip

25 comments:

  1. I've got an NHS dentist and I've been with the same practice for a very long time. It's only now I'm in my 50's where problems began. I've had 2 double teeth at the back literally snap in half. Luckily my dentist was able to build both back up with the equivalent of polyfilla😂, thereby avoiding crowns. It's meant to last forever but still cost me nearly £60 per tooth (a crown would've been about £200 per tooth). I absolutely dread my dental visits - would rather have a smear test!!

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    1. Wow! You've got great bargains on teeth costs. A regular crown here will cost about 4-5x what you pay. I've never heard of something usd to help avoid crowns. I think you might be talking about some kind of temporary filling. I had that done once but was told it was very temporary. I didn't get back to the dentist for some time and when they tried to remove it it was not so easy to get out. Perhaps I should have left it in!

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    2. There was enough of each tooth left to build on luckily. My dentist was adamant this replacement would last a lifetime. I'm pleased with it so far as hubby had a crown last year on a big back tooth and there was lots of faffing about beforehand - so I think I got the more pleasant (and cheaper) option.

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  2. MY dentist told me to wait an hour after eating/drinking anything before brushing my teeth, and not to rinse out with water after cleaning them.

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  3. Hi Ilona. Here in Ontario, Canada, hygienists can set up on their own. So I do the opposite to you - I go to see my hygienist every 3-4 months (I do have gum issues, plus I seem to have the kind of saliva that causes tartar to form very quickly, no matter how often I floss). She exams my whole mouth each time and I am confident that she is qualified to let me know if there are any problems brewing. Therefore, I go to the actual dentist only every couple of years. My husband's job has quite good dental insurance, so I pay the hygienist about $20 Canadian each time (around 12 pounds right now). This works for me as I haven't had any dental issues for many years (although I grew up in Scotland eating lots of sweets, so I do have fillings etc.!). It probably works out more per year than you pay, but, as I said, I really need the professional cleanings due to gum issues.

    I've read that you shouldn't brush your teeth right after eating, as some foods can soften the enamel and that becomes a problem if you brush right after. I keep forgetting to ask about this, so not sure how true it is.

    I really enjoy your blog Ilona, keep up the good work!

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    1. Wow! I live in Canada too and each time I go to the hygienist it costs approx. $200-$300 dollars for a cleaning and I go to one in a community health clinic where costs are supposedly lower. I do remember when I lived in Ontario many years ago that my dental coverage was excellent. i thought it was just through my particular employer and insurer but the longer I live I see the Ontario health care coverage is generally much better than BC.

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    2. Wow, Joyful! That's awful! We also pay the full amount for my older son who is no longer a student, and that's usually around $120 or so (of course, once a year we pay about $25 for admin costs too).

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  4. I never bite into an apple. I cut it in quarters, then slice each quarter into paper thin slivers. Two positives from that: you save your teeth and eating an apple this way fills you up and helps you keep slim! Similarly with raw veggies (carrots, celery etc), I do the same Ilona, I cut them very thin and small and pop them straight into my mouth.

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  5. I just dont go anywhere near a dentist. I am 68 and I still have most of my teeth. Some are a bit crooked. I clean my teeth. I use a mouth wash. They work. End of.

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  6. My teeth aren't at all perfect looking.The 2 front ones have slightly discoloured enamel possibly damaged by food or drink the dentist said.He asked me once if I drank tea ,coffee or red wine-at the time lots of red wine.I could have them whitened or capped he said if I was worried about them -I'm not so I didn't.I have a NHS dentist and visit twice a year usually.My mum years ago had front cap which fell into a puddle once on the way to a family party and once in Malta .she was so embarrassed.My dads family who were Italian had gold teeth and when I was little I was scared of them when they smiled at me.My mum had a cousin who wobbled her false teeth at me when mum went into the kitchen.Teeth nightmares are awful x

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  7. I'm with an NHS dentist and I go twice a year. I brush twice or three times a day, use floss and TeePees and also a tongue scraper, so I feel I'm on top of the hygiene situation! I've had a lot of problems with my teeth in the past. I have acid erosion due to eating a lot of fruit and also gum recession. I used to grind my teeth in my sleep and had two major teeth crack because of this, I lost them which has changed my face and is not attractive. I lost many second teeth as a child because they were too big for my jaw, and also had all four wisdom teeth removed as they were too big and impacted. So my problems have been more physical than hygiene related. I used to see a private dentist and he sent me to a specialist who told me it would cost £16,000 to have everything sorted out, i.e. implants and crowns. Even if I had that sort of money I doubt I would go for it, as I'm not sure my mouth is worth that. I make sure my hygiene is excellent and I try not to show my teeth when I smile! Lovely teeth are a great asset of course and people vary so much in their situations. A person can spend their life taking great care of their teeth but still encounter problems. When I was young it was very common for older people then to have no teeth at all, both my grandparents and father had full sets of false teeth because dental work was so poor in those days. We are certainly extremely lucky to have the NHS in the UK, my check up costs about £20 too and I've just paid in advance for two fillings - £53. My dentist is brilliant, a piece broke off one of my front teeth and she managed to save it with a big filling. I'm afraid I hate sloppy food and do eat a lot of dry/hard stuff so no doubt my teeth have to work overtime!

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  8. My teeth are very important to me so I try to look after them without being obsessive. Brush twice a day, sometimes more if they 'need' it, floss daily and a full dental teeth cleaning every 6 months. I might change that to every 3 months because of gum issues. Every one is different. Some people do not have a problem with mineral build up along the gum line (tartar) but I do. My saliva contains more minerals than most I guess and it builds up very very quickly. If I didn't have a full dental scraping every 6 months, there is no doubt that I would lose my teeth! I cannot abide the thought of false gnashers.

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    1. Hi Anon, that's what I was talking about further up the thread ... I definitely need my regular cleanings!

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  9. Just wanted to add that I haven't seen a hygienist as my dentist gives them a clean and polish herself, this seems to come under the NHS general check up? I have friends who go private and they pay around £40 to have them cleaned.

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  10. I live in the USA, if Lana lives close to a dental college, that is the most consistent affordable dental care I know about in the US. I will also recommend you wait until about 1/2 way through the first semester in the fall. That will let 3rd-year and 4th-year students time to get their sea-legs. This advise came from dental students during my daughter's clerkship rotation through the dental clinic.

    The next thing to do is start asking family, friends, co-workers and church members where they go and about costs. The dentist I used in Kansas came highly recommended and his costs were about half of everybody else in the area. The one I use in Arizona came highly recommended but his costs are 3 to 4 times as high as the dentist in Kansas. I like him and he is good but I intend to look at the local dental college to see if I can get approximately the same care at a much lower cost.

    Until Lana can get to the dentist, doing whatever she can to be pro-active, will help her in the long run.

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  11. Hi,
    I live in Phoenix, Arizona, and have two neighbors who go to the dental school here in town for their cleanings and any work. All the dental students are supervised while they do the work. I have been told the cost is 25-50 percent less. However, they will take longer since they will be getting instructions. But all three people who go there said the quality of the work is exceptionally high. You might check your town or city to see if there is a dental school. I am having difficulty posting with my google name so here it is since I will show as anonymous. Hilogene in Az.

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  12. Hello. I just have to say you guys are lucky with your NHS. I don't have dental insurance here in the US. I pay $299 annually for my dentist which includes two cleanings and X rays, exams. A crown here would cost over $1,000. My husband broke his tooth last year while we were at our Turkey home and it cost 220 euros to repair; a super bargain!! Luckily. We have always gone to the dentist regularly and have been lucky in that we don't have major problems. But, God forbid, if we do, we will pay dearly $$$. Pat

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  13. I spent 25 years in the U.S. Navy and received excellent dental care. Unfortunately, that didn't stop me from being an idiot when it came to oral hygiene. ( Ah, youth ) It was a shock to go from a military Medical / Dental system to private "Providers". I found, and am sure you agree Lana, that the "Healthcare" system here in the U.S. is driven solely by $$$. Your comments show that you're very worried. Unfortunately, fear is used by some medical "professionals" to manipulate people into spending for things they may not need. The only practical advice I can add is that you become better informed on your Dental / Medical condition before making any major decisions. I use the National Institute of Health, Center for Disease Control, Mayo clinic and other not-for-profit websites to educate myself. In your case I would start with the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, which is part of the N.I.H. I would also STRONGLY advise you to avoid any Dentist that has a Crown making machine in his or her office - they are big money makers, and MAY cause more problems than they solve... the same goes for Dental Implants. Another suggestion is to have the Dentist apply a Flouride "Varnish" to your teeth once a year - it helps to stabilize and improve Gum and Tooth health. Ilona's excellent suggestions regarding food preparation and eating are also good habits to get into. Good luck. R/Tim

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  14. For anyone in the US, I use Physicians Mutual for dental insurance. ($39.80/month)It save me money. Brushing immediately after anything acidic can destroy teeth enamel. Eating meat that is browned, eating dark spices, along with the tea, coffee, and colas will darken teeth. I go to have teeth cleaned twice a year. I floss maybe ten times each day and brush at least thrice each day, maybe more.

    One time when I was really broke, I went four years without having my teeth cleaned. The woman cleaning my teeth at this new dentist said she thought I had them cleaned a few month before as I barely had any plaque.

    Missing teeth is the number one indicator of poverty in US.

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  15. My husband has to have the scraping too, he hates it! Whereas I have never had to see the hygenist. Karen

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  16. I know we are discussing peoples teeth but I am very concerned about the cost of dogs dental treatment costs here.I booked an appointment at the vets for dental treatment and was quoted up to £520 if my dog needed up to 2 teeth out.Luckily she at the time just needed a clean when they checked that was £160 and I couldn't claim on her pet insurance either.Vet told me lurchers do have poor teeth.I use dog toothpaste and previously dental grit.Top dog refuses to have his teeth cleaned so they suggested a dog gel toothpaste to dab on -20g for £15.It does last a while though.I use Lidl myself x

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    1. dog dental cleaning? give the pup something hard to chew on. bones, chew toys, etc..

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  17. Thanks everyone for all the tips. Unfortunately I think everyone has a "weak spot" and in my case it is my teeth. Otherwise I am very healthy and hardly ever go to doctors. I have had gum problems for over 30 years and have been fighting this battle. My gums are receding and I have very deep "pockets" (not my wallet) around my teeth. Two teeth had to be pulled because they were infected at the root. Now I am getting a bridge and in future LANAP which is a laser gum treatment. Here in the states that all costs thousands and thousands of dollars. I brush, I floss, I do it all yet still have problems. My father and grandmother had false teeth so it may be genetic. At any rate, I do appreciate the advice and will be trying some. I have taken to eating nut butters instead of the actual nuts and I am very careful not to eat anything sharp or hard like chips, crisps, etc. I have been rinsing and brushing after each meal but I will have to ask my dentist about that - if I should wait before doing so. I really like my dentist, there are two of them, both women. They are very professional and caring. My husband is is 100% disabled veteran and gets all his dental and medical care for free. Me, not so much. Thanks again for all your comments and thank you Ilona for blogging about this! Love your blog and videos and look forward to them every day.

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    1. Lana...
      I read this suggestion for any sort of long term or short term gum problems about forty yrs ago, researched and used with all his patients, by a Periodontist.

      He said he used this with all his patients (suggested to them) and the ones who used it, this cleaned up any gum problems.

      Put baking soda in a small cap. Brush teeth gently with this, and swish through teeth with a bit of water. Spit. Put a little more baking soda in cap and add Hydrogen Peroxide. Immediately brush all teeth and gums, and swish through teeth. If you have "some problems" it most likely will burn like dickens at first, but this recedes. If you currently have problems, do two or three times a day (morning/noon/before bed). Once problems are gone, or if no problems, do now and then, unless something pops up.

      When I read this (some forty yrs ago, I had been having trouble with gums...bleeding sore, pockets etc. Even back then (in Canada) dental bills were high, and treatment seemed invasive --(cutting back gums etc). I gave this a try, and have used it regular since. If I use it regular, my gums are fine.. (regular as in now and then). If I have a problem (usually caused by something hard eaten ,, even toast will sometimes "cut" my gums..then more often)

      It has worked very well for me.

      Dentist bills seem HUGE here...maybe five to ten times what Iona mentions. And the Hygenist? gosh, it seems like a money making scam...Yup...three to four hundred Canadian dollars each visit. And lots of "urging" to come more often, as in twice a yr.

      Give this baking soda/hydrogen peroxide a try. Costs little. Remember... if you have any gum troubles, it can burn like dickens at first, but this subsides. Eventually as your gums heal, it will not.

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