'Real Money' Tips to Make That Dentist Visit a Little Less Painful

Paula Faris reports:

In Boston, the Hall family is planning for the arrival of a new baby - and struggling with a $3,000 dental bill.

Want help cutting dental costs? Join Jason Szczuka of Brighter.com in a live Facebook chat here at 7 p.m. ET today.

Carl Hall didn't want to pay to get a cavity filled, so now he needs to get a crown. His expectant wife, Dierdre Hall, needs gum grafting and his young daughter Mary requires regular cleanings. Grandmother Martha Hall faces a painful and costly gum procedure.

On top of that, because Medicare does not offer dental coverage, Martha Hall will need to shell out a total of $20,000 over several years for her dental work.

Carl Hall said he was scared about the cost of the crown as much as the actual drill.

"Let's be honest," he told ABC News recently. "Nobody likes to go to the dentist."

ABC News

With his family staring at a $3,626 bill for this year alone, he admitted that he did not know whether the family was getting a good deal when it came to dentistry.

So "Real Money" brought in Jason Szczuka, senior vice president of Brighter.com, a free website that negotiates deals with local dentists by helping bring in new customers.

Below, you'll find the pointers Szczuka shared with the Halls to give them something to smile about.

1. Find the going rate. By using the price estimator at the free website Brighter.com, a person can select a procedure and get a price range. "Real Money" found that prices varied as much as 400 percent. Root canals ranged from $802 to $1,106, while bridges cost $2,676 to $3,721.

Carl Hall had been quoted $1,200 for a crown - his insurance would cover $500 after the deductible - but Brighter.com got that price down to $834. He saved $366.

Dierdre's gum grafting, originally priced at $476 after the deductible, was reduced to $261 - a savings of $215.

Martha's $20,000 treatment plan of crowns, fillings and oral surgeries was whittled down, saving the family $600. And little Mary's cleanings, exams and X-rays went from $480 a year to less than $200.

2. Pay up front and schedule appointments for unpopular times. If you make it easy on the dentist, they may give your bill a break, Szczuka said.

3. Ask for a group discount. If you're taking your entire family, remind them. Most dental practices are operated like other small businesses, Szczuka said, so "they'll give something if they get something."

After working with Szczuka and Brighter.com, the Halls found they could save $1,431 this year.