Saving your smile
It takes 10 minutes a day to brush and floss. Doing so can save you thousands of dollars, a lot of pain and, oh yeah, your teeth.
What about all the insurance-less folks who don't have a friend in the business? My sister has two words for them:
"Oral care becomes 10 times as important" if you don't have dental insurance, my sister says.
Brushing takes two minutes at a time, three times a day. Flossing takes about five minutes.
Every day Linda sees the results of poor oral hygiene: sore and bleeding gums, bad breath, eventual tooth loss.
It isn't just cosmetic, either. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease and stroke.
Floss more, pay less
Let's put it in strictly financial terms: The practice where my sister works charges $105 for a regular cleaning. Root planing and curettage, a treatment for people with gum disease, costs $165 per quadrant, or $660. Yowza.
Cleaning your teeth and gums," offers the particulars. (For example, did you know you should be brushing for two full minutes?)
A few more tips:
- Dental schools offer inexpensive treatment in their clinics. Click here to find the closest one.
- Dental hygiene schools might also provide low-cost cleanings. Follow this link to look for programs in your region.
- Toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss are often available cheaply or even free after rebate.
- You can brush your teeth with baking soda (frequently two boxes for $1 at discount drug and department stores), or even with just plain water. Floss can often be found at the dollar store.
Although my cleaning went well, my sister had unpleasant news for me: An old crown needs replacing, to the tune of about $1,200. Luckily I have an emergency fund.
Even as I wince at the cost, I realize how fortunate I am. Some time ago I read a newspaper story about an unemployed man trying to get help with a serious, longstanding dental condition. The only thing he could do for the pain was to numb his jaw with ice packs.
He broke down and wept.
The photo of an adult sobbing in pain and despair stayed with me. So did the idea of him being too broke to afford even generic ibuprofen.
Please, people, brush your teeth. Get yourself some floss. A little over an hour a week could save you a lot of pain, a ton of money and maybe even your life.
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ABOUT SMART SPENDING
Editor Bev O'Shea lives and works in the foothills of the Appalachians. A former copy editor for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Orlando Sentinel, she joined MSN Money in 2007. She's a fan of sunsets, college football and free shipping, among other things.
Having worked as a writer, reporter and editor for more than 25 years, Editor Julie Tilsner is the sort of person who can't help but correct grammar in Facebook postings and on billboards. She's written for BusinessWeek, the Los Angeles Times, Parenting, Redbook, AOL and others. She lives in Los Angeles County with her family and loves to drink wine and practice yoga, although not generally at the same time.
A writer for MSN Money since January 2007, Donna Freedman won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. She also writes about smart money tactics for magazines and on her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
Mitch Lipka has been warning people about scams and shining light on questionable business practices for more than 20 years. Mitch, the consumer columnist for The Boston Globe, has also been a reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer, Consumer Reports, South Florida Sun-Sentinel and AOL. He won the 2010 New York Press Club award for best consumer reporting online and was honored in 2011 for his reporting on child product safety.
Marilyn Lewis is an award-winning writer with a passion for getting readers clear, straight information that helps them stay out of financial trouble. A former reporter for The San Jose Mercury News, she works from her home in Port Townsend, Wash. Contact her at MarilynLewis@Outlook.com.
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