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How to save money at the dentist?

To the point Here are our tips for saving money at the dentist, as treatments can be very expensive.

Why are dental fees so high in Canada?

Before we get to the money-saving tips at the dentist, we need to understand how the process works. Dental clinics operate like private mini-hospitals. Before having a patient, dental offices must pay:

  • rent or mortgage
  • amortization of thousands of dollars of equipment
  • the cost of materials
  • the cost of sterilization
  • employee wages and benefits
  • etc.

That’s exactly the same cost to run a hospital! However, instead of paying for the care through your taxes, you must pay the private facility directly.

Dentists do not receive government subsidies. However, there are many ways to save money at the dentist even when you don’t have insurance.

When the RAMQ was founded, dental care was mostly excluded except for some care for young people. However, over the years, the Quebec government has reduced the age range of children eligible for covered dental care (10 years less a day).

Save money at the dentist with prevention

When you ask around, you can see that the more the tooth is worn down, the more it costs to have it repaired. So, to save money at the dentist, you need to prevent problems before they occur.

In fact, treatment prices are correlated to the level of complexity of the work and the skills required to perform it.

Treatment Price
Polishing a tooth $25
Simple filling on a molar $150
Root canal treatment on a molar 1,100 $
Replacing a missing tooth with an implant 5,000 $

Please note that prices vary from one dentist to another, as operating costs differ between regions; rent in downtown Montreal is much more expensive than in Chicoutimi.

The importance of oral hygiene

To save money at the dentist by preventing more serious procedures, dentists generally suggest between one and two exams + cleanings per year to detect:

  • cavities
  • gum disease
  • diseases and cancers of the mouth

When you invest in two additional exams per year and repair small cavities, you can save a lot of money in the long run. What better way to save money at the dentist than to not have to pay for treatment?

Soins dentaire

Save money at the dentist with clinics that have no doctors?

Although there are clinics with only dental hygienists, the only person who is allowed to give you a diagnosis (decay, disease, etc.) is a dentist.

If there is no dentist on-site following the cleaning, you will need to make a second appointment with a dentist for an examination to get a clear picture of your oral health.

Do your calculations and get informed! Paying for a cleaning at one facility and then the exam at another may cost you more than the exam-cleaning packages to save money at the dentist.

Finally, it should be known that treatments to straighten teeth (e.g. Invisalign braces) can be done at a very low cost. These treatments in clinics without dentists will be at your own risk. The treatment is not supervised in the same way, and if something goes wrong, it may cost you more which is counterproductive to the goal of saving money at the dentist.

Santé dentaire

Save money at the dentist by getting treatment at universities

Dental students are often looking for patients for their internships. So, getting treatment at a university is a good option to save money at the dentist and have quality treatments at a lower cost.

However, it should be noted that time must be given: the student must be supervised at every step, so treatments will take longer than with an experienced dentist.

Again, you have to do your math since you will be saving money at the dentist at the university clinic, but you may have to miss several hours at work.

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Saving money at the dentist with dental insurance

Is it really a good idea to have insurance to save money at the dentist? The answer will depend on your situation, your coverage, and the cost!

Once again, we need to get out the calculator. Here is an illustrated example for a person who is not prone to cavities. This patient would have an annual bill of $450 for his two exams and cleanings (2 x $225).

Cost of insurance 600 ($50 per month) – $600
Cost of care $450 – $450
Insurance reimbursement 80 % + $360
Applicable deductible $50 – $50
Actual cost of disbursements – $740

In this example, this person should not have dental insurance and should cancel their policy if possible to save money at the dentist. Thus, this patient will pay $450 (without insurance) for this care instead of $740 (with insurance).

Talk to your dentist! Are you an individual with a high calorie risk? Look at your history; crowded with treatments at every appointment for years or a minor cavity or two here and there over the last decade?

In some cases, it’s smarter to open an account and deposit the cost of your insurance monthly; you build your own savings for your care. In addition, there is often interesting welcome offers when you open an account!

Did you know that you can support the Milesopedia website by using our links? Whether it’s credit cards or bank accounts, you’ll get the same or even an exclusive offer!

Saving money at the dentist by maximizing credit card rewards

Earn credit card points with our dental care

The vast majority of firms accept credit card payments and some even take American Express!

This is a great way to unlock an application bonus; for example, a 70,000 American Express Membership Rewards point bonus is minimally equivalent to $700 and is available through the American Express® Gold Rewards Card after $3,000 in spending. A 23% return on your care is a great way to save money at the dentist! Most “major care” will not be done at the first appointment and you will have time to analyze your options.

The dentist will present you with a treatment plan and cost estimate. So you can plan those expenses with a credit card strategy using the best deals around! So, you can evaluate as you go, whether it’s for a big cash back or for travel points.

Note that purchases at the dentist are categorized as “other“.

In fact, a dental bill could earn you enough Aeroplan points for a couple’s trip to Western Canada or the whole family to New York with the American Express® Aeroplan®* Card.

The same costs could also unlock up to 18 nights of Marriott Bonvoy hotels for a trip to Bali with the Marriott Bonvoy® American Express®* Card.

When it comes to cash back cards, the CIBC Dividend® Visa* Card currently offers 10% back or up to $250 as a bonus. Again, credit card rewards are a great way to save money at the dentist.

Then, during American Express’ Shop Small promotions, many dental clinics even qualify for the credit!

Économiser chez le dentiste Shop Small 1
Économiser chez le dentiste Shop Small

In short, regardless of your goal for credit card rewards, dental care should be considered in the point hunter’s accumulation strategy.

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How do you earn points when you have insurance?

Some dentists will go to your insurance company to claim the money owed. However, you have the right to ask to pay the bill yourself and to be reimbursed directly.

The association of dentists is fighting to establish this structure despite the interchange fees that dentists have to pay (in any case, they also accumulate a lot of points through the purchase of their supplies and through their operating costs as laboratories).

Thus, it will be possible to accumulate reward points easily and, above all, for free! What better way to save money at the dentist than to use insurance to earn points without having to pay for the purchases that unlocked those generous welcome bonuses?

In addition, most dental offices can forward the claim for you and you can receive reimbursement via direct deposit within 24-48 hours. Sometimes the deposit to the account is made while the transaction is still pending on the credit card!

Économiser Chez Le Dentiste - opération en attente
Économiser Chez Le Dentiste - opération en attente
Économiser Chez Le Dentiste - dépôt hâtif
Économiser Chez Le Dentiste - dépôt hâtif

Then, you can use those reward points as cash back to pay off your card balance. In this screenshot, I used my American Express Membership Rewards points to reimburse my expense.

Économiser chez le dentiste Points privilèges

This advice also applies to drug insurance, optometrists, massage therapy, etc.

Credit Card Emergency Medical Insurance

Some credit cards offer emergency medical (EMS) coverage, but there are many dental exclusions.

In fact, credit card travel insurance does not provide coverage for teeth unless the treatment is the result of an accident or emergency. Then, the amount of coverage is minimal; it’s often limited to $500 per trip except in the case of a serious blow to the mouth where it can be up to $2,000.

Care such as a root canal is usually excluded from this type of insurance. It’s true that a toothache can come on suddenly and ruin your trip, but there are other procedures that can be done to ease your pain until you get home. So, if your plan to save money at the dentist was to use your travel insurance, this is not a good option.

Beware of dental tourism to save money at the dentist

The cost of dental treatment is very high in Canada and it can be tempting to get treatment abroad to save money at the dentist while on vacation, especially when our all-inclusive was paid for entirely with points!

However, you have to be careful, because it could be a low-quality treatment.

Quality of care and protection of the public

In every province in Canada, dentists are governed by a professional association. They must therefore provide quality care, keep up to date with training, and pass inspection for their work and office!

Of course, the work can be well done abroad and badly done here, but the difference is in the recourse available if the dentist is at fault.

What would you do if the dentist abroad removed the wrong tooth?

The importance of follow-up in case of complications

In most cases, people often turn to medical tourism to save money at the dentist on large, expensive treatments.

  • root canal treatment
  • crown
  • implant

In Canada, when a dentist performs treatment, he or she is obligated to follow up with you after the treatment. What would you do if your tooth is still hurting from the root canal treatment done in the South? Will you go back for follow-up? Redoing this treatment in Canada can be much more expensive if the work was done poorly in the South.

I suggest you watch this segment of the Radio-Canada program La Facture where the placement of implants in Mexico caused many problems for the patient. The latter wanted to save money at the dentist’s, but he ended up paying more in addition to all the inconvenience.

Santé dentaire 2


Dental care can be very expensive, but when you put an emphasis on prevention and credit card point strategies, saving money at the dentist is very possible.

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Mother of two young children, pharmacist, travel hacker's wife and frequent traveller, Audrey shares her advices and destinations recommendations on milesopedia.

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