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Posted: 1:09 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, 2011

Negotiate for a better deal on dentistry

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If you've been putting off dental care other than your routine cleaning every six months, now is the time to negotiate and shop around for a better deal.

I was talking to my dentist recently after she fixed my broken tooth with a new crown. She told me though patients still come in regularly for their cleanings, they usually balk when they're told they need more extensive work, like of the kind I had just had performed. More often than not, they don't have whatever they need done because money is tight.

Dentistry has long been considered recession-proof. But a recent story I saw in The Los Angeles Times indicates that many patients are starting to see larger dental jobs as a luxury, not a necessity.

The free market has responded to the diminished demand with deals. I saw one deal on a daily deal site that was offering a big reduction on dental care. Then my dentist sent around a mailer advertising holiday specials on teeth whitening and other cosmetic procedures.

The dental industry is very market driven today. If you are not doing the dental work you need to do, the long term consequences can be terrible. The repair becomes more difficult, more expensive and potentially more painful.

So right now, with dentists seeing shrinking demand, it's the time to bargain, to negotiate and to shop around. It's best to go to a dentist that you have experience with so they know your dental history. But if you are to the point where you can't afford it, that's when you need to shop around even if it means going to see an unfamiliar dentist.

As for me, I'm at the opposite extreme. I have three cleanings a year. That's right, I pay for one extra visit because I build up a lot of plaque and I avoid that by going more often than normal. You see, I'm pretty sold on this dental stuff!

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