It's recommended to visit the dentist at least once every 6 months and have dental insurance handy to keep your teeth in tip-top shape. Here's how you can shave off some of the costs for maintaining your stellar smile.
Dental care can be costly in Singapore. Barring major operations like a root canal, most of it has to be paid out of pocket, not through insurance or Medisave. That means one little cavity might bust your budget for the month.
Here are some quick tips to help you save on dental costs in Singapore.
Average cost of dental treatment in Singapore
According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), these are the average costs for dental procedures in Singapore. Note that these dental procedures are not covered by any subsidies.
|S$3,300 - S$6,500
|Polishing and Scaling
|S$50 - S$215
|Wisdom Tooth Surgery
|S$380 - S$1,000
|Yes (up to 80%)
|S$700 - S$1,300
|S$2,000 - S$4,815
|Yes (up to S$1,250 per tooth)
|Implant With Crown
|S$3,300 - S$5,700
|S$300 - S$1,200
|S$560 - S$1,700
The above comparison table gives you a quick look at the cost range of some of the most popular dental procedures in Singapore along with a glance at the ones you can claim MediSave for.
If these prices are, however, beyond your budget and you need urgent treatment, don’t panic. Here are some ways for you to save on dental costs.
Check employment benefits for dental reimbursement
Many Singaporeans don’t know their employment benefits well enough. Many companies offer dental insurance and dental health benefits under their corporate health care plan, capped to a certain amount or with a copayment component. Usually, simple dental checkups like scaling, polishing, and minor procedures are covered.
Unfortunately, more expensive procedures like getting braces or a wisdom tooth extraction are considered "cosmetic" and will not be covered, but check your corporate health benefits anyway. Another thing to take note of is to check whether the dental insurance policy covers panel clinics only or if you are able to visit any dentist of your choice. Sometimes, the subsidies will only apply with select practitioners.
Ask your dentist to prioritise procedures
If you’re on a tight budget, tell your dentist early on. Most of the time, your dentist will be able to prioritise one procedure over another. Have the urgent procedures done first, and then save the rest for later, thus staggering your payments.
This is a better alternative to getting a personal loan for dental bills (which can still be an option under the right considerations), as you’ll save on interest repayments.
Get an insurance policy with dental coverage
Another option to save yourself from hefty dental bills is to try and see if you can ride on your health insurance plan. However, doing so is easier said than done.
This is because dental coverage is usually only available under global healthcare plans, which are designed for individuals who need to relocate for work or other reasons.
For most of us, chances are we would take up a region-locked healthcare plan that covers us in the region we signed up for (i.e., Singapore), because it would be more tailored to our needs and budget. After all, there’s no point paying for benefits like emergency overseas hospitalisation treatment if you’re not planning to go out of the country.
However, if you do find yourself in need of a healthcare plan with global cover, you might as well look for one with dental care benefits. But you should know that many such plans offer only limited dental coverage, such as for routine dental checkups. If you require more intensive work, such as surgery, you may find yourself out of luck.
To help you get started, we’ve summarised a few of such plans below.
|AXA GlobalCare Health Plan
|Routine care, up to S$1,600 per yearSubject to 20% co-payment
|FWD International Health Insurance
|From S$750 to S$1,400 per yearCovers the following:
- Routine dental checks- Extractions- Implants- Crowns
|Allianz International Health Insurance
|From S$1,000 to unlimitedCovers the following:
- Dental treatment- Dental surgery- Periodontics- Orthodontic treatment and dental prostheses
Another way to locate the dental insurance options you need is to hit up your insurance agent. They may know of standalone dental care plans, or can suggest suitable riders that you can tack on your existing policies.
Tap into your Medisave account
Did you know that you can use your Medisave for certain dental procedures? It’s true, Medisave may be used to pay for medical surgeries, including day surgeries (where you do not need to be warded overnight).
This means that you’ll be able to use your Medisave for:
- Dental implants
- Wisdom tooth surgeries
- Surgical removal of retained roots or fractured teeth
- Bone grafts
- Sinus lifts
- Gum surgery
However, it’s a pity that Medisave won’t cover root canals and crowns, which are among the most expensive dental procedures you’ll come across!
In any case, like with all other Medisave claims, limits apply. Each year, you can claim between S$250 and S$2,850 for qualifying dental surgeries.
How much you can actually claim depends on how your procedure is classified. If you find yourself in need of any of the above dental treatments, it’s best to check with your dental clinic on the Medisave claims procedure before committing to the treatment.
Check with your bank or credit card provider
Those of you who know your credit card benefits will also know that certain credit cards, such as air miles or travel credit cards, offer complimentary travel insurance plans.
By default, travel insurance plans come with dental insurance, but mostly only in case of accidental injury or during emergencies. You likely won’t find cover for, say, needing an extraction because of a bad cavity, but you will be covered if you require dental treatment after suffering a fall.
Beyond credit cards, your bank may also be able to help you save money on your dental care bills.
For instance, Maybank is advertising a standalone dental insurance policy underwritten by Chubb. The plan offers up to 100% coverage for emergency treatments, and routine preventative treatments once a year. It also gives you up to 70% cover for extractions, surgical work, root canals, fillings, and other conservative procedures.
Meanwhile, DBS customers can avail themselves of preferential rates at Jebhealth, including dental cleaning at S$75 and pre-braces consultation at S$138.
It might be worthwhile checking with your bank or credit card provider for such offers as and when they come up.
Go for regular dental checkups
Visiting the dentist twice a year (the average number of visits for many Singaporeans) may fill you with dread. But it’s way better than putting off seeing a dentist for five years, only to face a S$4,000 bill for root canal.
Regular visits help keep your pearly whites in good health. The dentist can also tell you what to avoid, and spot early warning signals that something is wrong. Prevention is, after all, the surest way to save on crowns, implants, and dentures.
Consider treatment by a dentistry student
The cheapest way to get dental services is to help out the undergraduates at the National University of Singapore (NUS). These dentistry students studying to become general dentists will fill cavities, extract bad teeth, make dentures, and so forth at a fraction of the usual cost.
In some cases, the bill can be as low as S$20. All of this is performed under close supervision, so there’s no need to worry. Contact the Faculty of Dentistry for an appointment.
Practice good dental hygiene
Last, but not least, simply adopt good dental habits. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day (once in the morning and before you go to bed) – and in the proper way, with the right toothpaste – is highly recommended. So is regular flossing and also gargling with mouthwash or water after meals.
Also, limit sugary or acidic foods which can erode the enamel of your teeth. If you're a regular coffee drinker (guilty as charged!), excessive coffee drinking can also stain teeth. Combat this by drinking plenty of water. Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables can also strengthen your teeth by working your jaws.
Until the next selfie, take care of those pearly whites and save money on dental costs!
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