A wide array of dental insurance is available through either private or group plans, with policies ranging from discounted services to major dental only. You may purchase coverage through dental PPOs and HMOs in addition to supplemental or indemnity plans. Good dental health involves more than just avoiding cavities since oral hygiene plays a role in your overall health as well. It’s now easier than ever to find a good dental plan by entering your zip code to view the policies that are available in your area.
What is Dental Health?
When you think of a dentist, the first thing that comes to mind is probably teeth cleaning, filling cavities, taking x-rays, root canals, or pulling teeth. However, dental health and medical health go hand in hand, and are actually very closely related. A dentist is a doctor who manages your oral health and treats conditions affecting your mouth, jaw, tongue, and lips, in addition to caring for your teeth and gums. As with any other medical field, a dentist is also concerned with preventing problems, which is why regular cleanings and exams are so important.
An individual who wishes to practice dentistry must successfully graduate from dental school as either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). It is very common for new dentists to undergo continuing education degrees and internships prior to opening their own dental office. Some dentists will even choose to specialize in certain areas, many of which will require advanced training or residencies. Common specialty areas of dentistry include: dental surgery (face, neck, jaws, and skull), dental pathology (the diagnosis of disease), pedodontics (child dentistry), orthodontics (straightening and alignment), prosthodontics (prosthetic devices such as implants and crowns), periodontics (treating gum disease), endodontics (dental pulp and nerves), dental radiology (x-rays and other imaging), and dental public health (social work).
Dental assistants work alongside dentists, and prepare surgical rooms by sterilizing the instruments. During surgery, a dental assistant may pass these instruments to the dentist, and might take impressions or make crowns when not helping with other procedures.
Dental hygienists are licensed professionals who focus mainly on oral hygiene. These individuals are the ones who perform teeth cleanings, apply sealants to the teeth, and administer fluoride treatments. Dental hygienists also provide education on the best way to care for your mouth, teeth, and gums.
Buying Dental Insurance
You should ideally visit a dentist every six months, or at least once each year at a minimum. Keeping up with routine visits makes it easier for you to prevent dental problems or address them in their very early stages. Like any medical condition, dental problems are easiest to treat when they are caught early on. Dental care is also less expensive when problems are treated right away. Many a cavity has later turned into a root canal because it was not taken care of properly in the beginning. Not only is a root canal more costly, but it is also a more invasive procedure.
People are more likely to keep up with regular dental exams if they have an insurance plan that provides free or reduced-cost exams, cleanings, and imaging. That doesn’t mean that a major dental policy might not come in handy in the event you develop a serious problem or are involved in an accident that damages your teeth. Even if you think you cannot afford dental insurance, it is still something worth considering. Dental insurance may be available through your employer, or you could also purchase a plan through a private provider.
Dental Insurance and Discount Plans: The Various Types
Some of the least expensive dental “plans” are not actually insurance, but instead are designed to provide you with a discount each time you visit the dentist. These types of plans are generally affordable, and come with the added benefit of no additional restrictions or paperwork. Many times, you are able to “bundle” other services such as prescription drug coverage, vision, or hearing services; a few cosmetic procedures may be covered as well. The way dental discount plans work is simple: there is a network of participating dentists who provide a predetermined discount on certain procedures. You are then responsible for paying the remaining balance out of pocket.
Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) and Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) are types of dental insurance that are very similar to many health insurance plans. With one of these policies, you pay a preset premium and are then able to obtain dental care at an agreed-upon rate.
With a dental PPO, the consumer is responsible for a co-payment, which is normally around 20% of the bill. The plan will typically pay any remaining costs over and above that amount. You are usually required to choose a dentist in your PPO network; however, some plans also cover out-of-network providers. Dental PPOs come with annual deductibles that must be met before any benefits are available.
If you are part of a dental HMO, your insurance company will ask you to choose a particular dentist from a list of providers. This dentist will then become your primary care provider. He or she will address your basic dental needs, and will be responsible for referring you to a dental specialist when or if the need arises. HMOs do not have any deductibles or annual limitations, but do require an out-of-pocket copay amount during each visit. Routine screenings are typically provided for free.
The least expensive type of plan is usually a fee-for-service one. A fee-for-service plan costs less than a PPO or HMO, but the discounted procedure rates are normally much higher. One of these plans will also require you to visit an in-network dentist, meet certain deductible amounts, and be subjected to a maximum annual payout.
Prevent Dental Health Problems
It is always a good idea to maintain good oral health by visiting a dentist regularly. This is true even if you do not have dental insurance. In addition, you should also develop good oral hygiene habits at home that involve brushing your teeth, gums, and tongue after every meal and flossing at least once each day. It is also important to brush the right way by using firm, gentle strokes and brushing for at least two minutes each time. If you have questions on how to brush or floss properly, please see your dental hygienist.
You could develop a variety of dental health problems if you fail to take proper care of your teeth. For example, you could experience plaque and tartar buildup, which could then lead to gum disease. You might also develop cavities, halitosis, canker or cold sores, mouth infections, or sensitive teeth. Poor oral health has also been linked to medical conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, respiratory disease, and inflammation. Medical experts believe that bacteria in the mouth can make the body more susceptible to developing these conditions.
Dental care is thought of as being expensive, but it is something that is very necessary if you are to maintain good overall health. Having the right dental insurance policy is one way to reduce the financial burden associated with visiting the dentist. Dental insurance or a discount plan can help you maintain regularly scheduled visits to keep your teeth and mouth in the best shape possible.
Get a Free Dental Insurance Quote Online
Find the right dental insurance plan for you is really not all that difficult. In fact, it is very easy to do when you compare quotes from top insurance companies online. Request your free quotes now and be on your way to choosing the plan that is right for you.
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