SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- About 74 million Americans do not have dental insurance.
And those who do, know its limitations: yearly and per procedure spending caps.
"I had to have a root canal. Most of the money for the year went for that, but I needed a crown after that and I had to pay almost $1,700," Janet Martorano told me. "And that was that. That was it for the year."
"Tapped out" dental insurance and no dental insurance are both good reasons to look into dental savings plans. They don't pay a portion of your dental bills; instead they negotiate the price down. For around $150 a year, you get discounts of up to 50%.
"I looked at the options and compared a dental insurance plan to the dental savings plan, " Ann Estes of South Carolina told me, "I was absolutely amazed at what I found."
When Ann Estes retired she had no dental coverage. Medicare doesn't offer it. Dental insurance was costly, so she went with a dental savings plan. "You pay an annual fee. It's an immediate sign up. Within 24 hours I was signed up ready to go," she said.
Personal finance expert Suze Orman is a huge fan of dental savings plans has one herself. She admits to dental problems, telling me they stretch back to her early days in the Bay Area.
"I was so shocked once someone told me about this. Truthfully I was ashamed, Michael, ashamed. How does Suzi Orman not know about this? How is that possible?" Orman asked.
"Michael, I couldn't afford to go to the dentist when I was a waitress at the Buttercup Bakery in Berkeley, California, where essentially you and I first met. I couldn't afford to take care of my teeth; I was making $400 a month," she said.
Now Orman can afford dental insurance but chooses a dental savings plan. She's even the spokesperson for a comparison site, Dentalplans.com.
"If you really want the biggest bang for your buck, so you can afford to have dental care," she said, "I promise you dental savings plans are the way to go."
Orman says look for plans that include your dentist... or choose a new dentist.
Consumer Reports says dental savings plans are worth considering, but check the number of dentists participating in your area.
One final point, many of these plans are offered by big name insurance companies.
Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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