For 25 years, I religiously visited the dentist every six months. Even with dental insurance, it didn’t come cheap.

I paid around $90 per visit. It was a price I was happy to pay. I was devoted to excellent oral hygiene. But then life happened. I had a dentist appointment scheduled for three days after my son was born. Naturally, I skipped it, but I never rescheduled it.

Then I moved across the country. Six months passed, and a reminder to make a dental appointment popped up on my Google Calendar. I ignored it. Another six months passed, then another, and another.

I felt guilty, like a Catholic who hadn’t attended mass or confession in years. I knew the gods of oral hygiene frowned upon me, and I feared gingivitis, cavities, and gum erosion.

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Finally, I had to take action. I polled friends and asked for the best dentist in the area, and after receiving a recommendation, I called for an appointment. Almost as an afterthought, I asked, “How much will this cost?”

 Should You Book Your Dental Appointment on Groupon? Does the cost of a dental cleaning scare you? Learn how to take advantage of #Groupondentistdeals without getting sent to a quack. #personalfinance #personalfinancetips #health“$272.”

“Seriously?” I gasped.

“We have a $60 new customer discount. Would you like me to apply that?”

I thanked the secretary for the discount and hung up in stunned silence. When did dental care become so expensive?

I couldn’t believe that I was going to pay over $500 per year just to get my teeth cleaned.

I briefly considered buying an electric toothbrush and forgoing sugar, cold beverages, and even coffee for the rest of my life. Taking these measures, I figured, would extend my time between dental appointments.

But after all that, I found myself in the dentist’s chair a few weeks later. It felt good to have my teeth cleaned after two and a half years. But the whole time, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much the cleaning cost me.

I drove home with cleaned teeth and $212 less to my name. I knew I had to find a cheaper option. Thank goodness no cavities were found — that would have put an even bigger dent in my bank account.

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Finding a Groupon Dentist Deal

Five months later, I searched online for “cheap dental care, Raleigh.” A Groupon portal topped the results with a dentist deal advertising $39 for a cleaning, exam, and X-rays. I bought the deal and made the appointment immediately.

Honestly, I didn’t even think about whether the dentist might have been a fraud. He could have advertised as a back-alley quack, and I still would’ve made the appointment. But my husband, Rob, wasn’t as enthusiastic.

“Are you sure that he’s, you know, a dentist?” he asked.

I’ve watched enough Law & Order for Rob’s question to make me nervous. I wasn’t sure whether he really was a dentist. I wasn’t sure about anything. But I felt that I’d better check before I signed away my teeth (or my life) to save $170.

Other Affordable Options

Looking for a cheap dental fix other than Groupon? We’ve got you covered.

  • Local dentistry colleges can provide quick cleanings as cheap as $10. Try using the American Dental Association’s website, where you can filter colleges by services offered and location.
  • Community Health Centers funded by the Bureau of Primary Health Care provide free or low-cost health services, including dental care.
  • Are your teeth clean but crooked? That can be fixed, too. Check out teledentistry sites like Invisalign, SmileDirectClub, or Candid for cheap, straightening solutions.

I asked my friends on Facebook, but no one had heard of him. Thankfully, one dentist friend suggested that I check the credentials on the North Carolina Dental Board.

It turns out that every state has a dental licensing board, and in order to practice, dentists must register themselves. North Carolina allows anyone to search the registry using first and last name, as do most other states. I searched the database and found the dentist, his credentials, and his infractions (he had none). The guy was legit.

A few weeks later, I paid him a visit. I had my teeth cleaned, my mouth examined, and my teeth X-rayed for the low price of $39. It wasn’t a spectacular experience, but it was cheap. I even had a follow-up appointment that cost $90.

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The Bottom Line on Groupon Dentist Deals

My discount dentist experience was perfectly adequate. I’m not writing rave reviews, but I never raved about my appointments before, either. Now whenever friends ask for dental health recommendations, I recommend checking Groupon for deals first.

Admittedly, if you’ve got problems with your teeth or gums, you might need a specialist. But most people just want to save money and are happy to visit just about any dentist who charges a reasonable price.

Additional reporting by Connor Beckett McInerney.