Don't scrimp on your twice-a-year check-ups (they're important to keep teeth and gums healthy), but there are other ways you can save money where your mouth is concerned.
Pick a low-tech toothbrush. There's no need to empty your wallet for one of those turbo toothbrushes with all the bells and whistles. "As long as you brush using the right technique and do so twice a day for two minutes, a basic toothbrush will work just as well," says Lana Rozenberg, DDS, a New York-based cosmetic dentist. The best technique is to put your brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums and use a rotating motion. Make sure to brush the outside, inside and chewing surfaces of each tooth and finish up by brushing your tongue since disease and odor-causing bacteria like to set up camp there.
Money saved: Up to $156
Skip the rinses. Drugstore shelves are lined with rinses in various shapes, sizes and colors all touting how critical they are to your dental care. "But as long as you brush and floss your teeth several times a day, a rinse isn't necessary," says Rozenberg. The only caveat is if you have tooth decay, then you may want to gargle with something containing added fluoride.
Money saved: Up to $6.29
Brighten in your bathroom. Whitening is one of the most widely requested cosmetic dental procedures and its popularity has increased by 300 percent in the last decade. But you can reap effective results—no appointment needed. "Both professional and at-home teeth whitening products use an ingredient called carbomide peroxide to brighten teeth," says Rozenberg. "It's just that over-the-counter kits contain a smaller percentage so you have to use them longer to get results."
Money saved: Up to $676
Don't worry about the silver. Many people believe that you should be replacing those amalgam fillings that you got years and years ago because they're not healthy for you. "But according to the American Dental Association, amalgam is safe when used in silver fillings so unless yours are cracked or broken, there's no need to replace them," says Rozenberg.
Money saved: Up to $400