When something is available at a discount, it is common enough to assume that it is somehow defective. That’s often the way the human mind works – we look for a catch, or assume that there is a reason something costs less than it is expected to. And in that assumption there is the kernel of a truth. After all, it is standard to want to maximise one’s income. It therefore follows that if someone is charging less than you’re expecting for a service, it’s because they know it’s not as good as it should be.

All the same, there are many of us who will pay the lower price when the thing we’re paying for is something that can afford to be of lesser quality – you’d pay less for an unattractive tea-towel because you just want it to be able to dry dishes, or you’ll spring for a cheaper glass if you’re just going to use it to store paintbrushes, for example. But when it comes to dental treatment, can you really be honest to yourself and say that you’re happy to have discount dentistry?

This is the argument many people have with themselves and others when it comes to dental discount plans. You need to be looking after your teeth, and having poor treatment could result in toothache, cavities, loss of teeth and the need for dentures. So does it not make sense that you should be prepared to spend a little bit more for better dental care? Won’t a dental discount plan simply mean a low-quality level of treatment that just begets more appointments?

While it is easy to follow the logic of this idea, the truth of the matter is that there is no reason why a dental discount plan should mean poorer treatment. By signing up to work with the providers of dental discount plans, dentists don’t actually lose out financially. So when a patient on a discount plan turns up in their office, a dentist doesn’t automatically think “Well, I’m not going to make a profit here – might as well just give this one my C minus level of work” – as if they would anyway.

Dental discount plans work by increasing the amount of appointments available, advertising the services of participating dentists and making a bigger pie, so they are able to offer more slices to more customers at lower prices. You can benefit from these lower prices by paying a flat fee up front – and if you don’t need that many treatments you may not make your money back, but you are provided with the protection that allows you to do so, so everybody wins.