Thinking about the cost of good health

Most of my friends are in their 20s and 30s, so conversations about health care costs are not top on our minds, but they should be. I think that part of having a sound financial plan involves thinking proactively about health care costs. The good thing is that if you are young and healthy preventative care is all you need.

Dental – I am honestly obsessed with dental care and know first hand that this small thing can put in you in pits for thousands of dollars when something goes wrong. Before coming to the US, I had never been to the dentist. I never had toothaches, and I brushed my teeth. In college, I did not even know we had dental coverage- I now know that most college plans cover dental.

College student resources can be found on your campus websites. A quick look around shows that schools like Brown, Wellesley, Amherst, Harvard all introduced dental plans in recent years. You can also check here to see if your school participates in this discount program – I had a look around and still prefer the insurance option.

Some states also offer great insurance options. For those in MA have a look here 

Teeth are great because if you do the bare minimum, you will most likely have exceptionally healthy teeth for a long time – genetics also play a part and some of us luckier than others. Dental insurance is also cheaper than health insurance – I encourage you to get it.

People often ignore easy to fix dental issues. Your gums should be a lovely healthy pink.
Your gums should not bleed when you brush them
your teeth shouldn’t hurt when you bite on them,
you should not have extreme sensitivity to hot or cold drinks
And, you may not want to have bad breath.

The excellent news is that dental health can be attained at a reasonable cost over a long period allowing you to save for payments. If you have a good dentist, you can plan together with advance notice for big expenses.

I was reading that being able to flash a happy smile does wonders for our self-confidence.

What is covered in a basic dental insurance plan?
Two cleanings twice a year –regular cleanings are usually $60-$80
Some proportion of things like fillings, crowns, implants

What are some common dental issues faced by migrants?
Most people will need to have a deep cleaning (scaling and root planning) the first time you visit a dentist as an adult – the dentist will check your gum pockets with a needle to determine gum health – healthy gums have pockets between less than 2 millimeters (mm). If you have deep pockets above 3 mm, you maybe have some gum disease. Worry not – most people only need to have the deep cleaning done once in their life. When I first went to the dentist in college, he said my pockets were between 3 and 6. I was so scared. But he explained that most of us from the global south eat yummy starchy foods – so we have a lot of sugar retained in our mouth. Happy to report that now my dentist often uses my gums as an example for healthy and well taken care of teeth. Most of my gum pockets are 1.

If you do not get regular cleanings, food collects in the gums and on the teeth. If you look at your teeth, you may notice the tartar build-up. This is not good. Our grandmothers understood this because they used traditional floss and toothbrush. Great for the environment and your health. We will be selling these at ZimTuckshop soon.

Dealing with gum disease can cost anywhere from $300 per quad to $1,000 health insurance will cover some of the costs, but generally, you will have to pay for the vast majority.

If you have had fillings done at home, they might suggest redoing them – ask for a second opinion because this is not always necessary.

They might suggest that you have your wisdom teeth pulled out. I did not, but there are some cases when you need to have this done.

They may also suggest that you need braces – ask for a second opinion and do a lot of research on your own. If you decide to get braces, most insurance plans will cover at the very minimum $1,000. Braces, including Invisalign, usually cost between $4,000 and $6,000. There are very few reasons to rush getting braces so even if you do decide you want them you can certainly wait until you have saved a bit. Most dental offices offer payment plans, but they also require down payment between $500 and $1,000. My husband is currently going through Invisalign. His teeth are already starting to look amazing, but I should warn that the process is painful lol – happy to chat if you go this route. I have so much to say about a process that is not happening in a mouth LOL

The good thing about dental care is that once you get into a rhythm of care, you will not need to do much.

Strategies for dealing with dental costs and maintaining good dental health
1. Get the premium plan – it is usually just $20 more – you will be glad you did
2. If you have a partner who also gets dental insurance at work, I suggest you both get family plans. We have not paid out of pocket costs for dental health in years – most policies cover 80%, so having two plans is great.
3. Go to the dentist twice a year -I go three times a year because we have excellent insurance
4. Brush your teeth a MINIMUM of two times a day
5. Invest in good toothpaste – if you have sensitive teeth -Sensodyne is great
6. Invest in a right electric toothbrush ($10) change your toothbrush at least twice a year (my husband says monthly YIKES!) – you probably go shoe shipping three times a year
7. Floss at a minimum once a day (good floss is just $2-$5 per month)
8. For some people, a Waterpik is also a great idea
9. Use mouth wash (a big jar will cost about $5)
10. Ask your dentist for a gum stimulator to help clean your gums and keep them healthy
11. Avoid sugary drinks if you are prone to dental issues

Good resource for what to expect with

Other good health practices that will save you money in the long run
1. Go for your annual checkup – this is free under ALL health insurance plans in the US. I know in the UK, Canada, and even Zim this is also free
2. Follow what the doctors suggest for any issues – if you have high blood pressure take this seriously, iron deficiency, etc. take it all seriously and improve your diet, increase your workouts and your body might self-heal and take medications if you must
3. Invest in multivitamins
4. Use protection if you have sex with multiple partners
5. Use birth control if this is something you believe in (and want to avoid pregnancy)


The usual – not an advisor just love sharing my thoughts