Dental care can be seriously expensive 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.

Average costs 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 do not have any subsidies.

  • Impacted wisdom tooth surgery (per tooth): S$400 – S$2,140
  • Root canal treatment (per molar tooth): S$400 – S$1,605
  • Single unit crowns: S$400 – S$2,140
  • Implants (per unit): S$2,000 – S$4,815
  • 
Braces (non-surgical): S$2,000 – S$10,700.

If these prices are way beyond your budget, don’t panic. Here are some ways for you to save on dental care.

Help out a dental student and save some money

The cheapest way to get dental services is to help out the undergraduates at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The students will fill cavities, extract bad teeth, make dentures, and so forth at a fraction of the cost.

In some cases, the bill can come to as low as S$20. All of this is performed under close supervision, so there’s no need to worry. Besides, you’re not the one with reason to be nervous.

Can you imagine what it’s like the first time you walk up to a patient and get ready to pull some teeth? Believe us; you’re not the one who should be quaking. Contact the Faculty of Dentistry for an appointment.

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.

You can have the urgent procedures done first, and then save the rest for later, thus staggering your payments. That is a better alternative to getting a personal loan for dental bills, as you’ll save on interest repayments.

Check your employment benefits for dental provisions

A lot of Singaporeans don’t know their employment benefits well. When you have the time, take a peek at the health care benefits provided: many large companies may have an inclusion for dental services.

The only downside is that you may not be able to use a dentist of your choice. Most of the time, the subsidies will only apply to select practitioners.

Get an insurance policy with dental coverage

Dentistry is often overlooked when we buy insurance. In fact, many health insurance plans have limited or no coverage for urgent dental treatment; some may not pay out more than S$1,000 maximum for dental work, even if the eventual bill is twice that.

Speak to your insurance agent about options to add better coverage for dental, or buy a specific dental plan. Singaporeans who smoke, have a sweet tooth, or are regular soda drinkers, should be the first to consider such plans.

Check for dental provisions in your travel insurance

When going abroad, check if your travel insurance provides for emergency dental treatment. Whether it’s from needing a bad tooth pulled, or reconstructing your teeth after a major accident, the cost can be prohibitive.

That’s the last thing you need while you’re already in pain. If your travel insurance covers it, you can get immediate treatment rather than waiting to get back to Singapore.

Regular visits are cheaper than the costs of ruining your teeth

Paying the dentist S$60 twice a year (the average number of visits for many Singaporeans) may be a real pain. But it’s better than putting it off for five years, and then facing a S$4,000 root canal.

Regular visits also give you an update on the condition of your choppers. The dentist can tell you what to avoid, and prevention is a sure way to save on crowns, implants, and dentures.

This article originally appeared on SingSaver SG.