dentalGoing to the dentist isn’t something most people think about often. But when you need to have a root canal, it’s not just the teeth pulling that can leave you feeling sore. Without dental insurance, many Americans find their bills climbing into the thousands, and are unprepared to handle it. But insurance premiums can be very expensive, especially for the average middle class family. Even if you have insurance, there are some reports that it won’t do you a lot of good if you need a lot of work done in your mouth. So how can you prevent yourself from falling into a pit of debt due to unexpected dental care billing?

The solutions can range from complex to simple, and most rely on some form of planning. You’re going to have to look ahead.

You can try with your taxes first. Some dental procedures are allowable tax deductions. However, most of those deductions are only allowable if they are major expenses, over 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. This is for a big procedure that costs thousands of dollars, such as braces or crowns. You can lump the costs for a year to get the maximum benefit as well. Another tax option is to use pre-tax dollars with programs such as Section 125 (if you’re employed) or a Health Saving Account to set money aside for dental work.  If you want to be sure you’ve got your math right and you’re getting the most out of your deductibles, you can look into a tax professional that will help you fine tune everything.

But if you want something a little more concrete, there are discount and payment plans you can look into. You can find out what discounts dentists will offer on certain procedures of course, and even work out a payment plan to help disburse the costs of dental visits so you can pay off dental care bills in smaller pieces. For those who are not insured, there is the option of a discount network as well, which allows you to pay a lower cost premium in exchange for a percentage discount on dental work.

Two of the easiest things to do are the most obvious. Prevention and good oral hygiene can help you avoid costly work in the future. If you treat small problems sooner, you will save money. You should also set aside a dental savings account of your own if you’re worried about future dental care billing. This is an easy way to ensure that you have some money set aside just in case. Cake Health is a great free tool that you can look into, which will help you manage your dental care billing and other health related costs. This can save you time, money, and ensure that you pay all of your bills on time.