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UPDATED: Oct 23, 2020
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Dental insurance is available through either group insurance or private dental insurance and with a wide variety of coverage ranging from discounted services to full coverage or major dental only. Policies are available through dental PPO’s and HMO’s as well as indemnity plans or supplemental plans.
Dental health involves more than just clean and cavity-free teeth, as oral hygiene plays an important role in your overall health. Finding the best dental insurance plan is as easy as comparing insurance quotes online. Enter your zip to start comparing free dental insurance quotes online now!
Dental Health Defined
When some people think of dentists, they think of teeth cleaning, x-rays, cavity fillings, and occasional tooth pulling or root canals. However, dentistry is actually an important part of your overall medical health. A dentist is a doctor who oversees your oral health, which means he or she evaluates and treats conditions that affect your entire mouth, including your jaw and the supporting bones, tissues, tongue and lips in addition to your teeth and gums.
As with most medical fields, a dentist focuses on prevention as well and that is why regular checkups, screenings, and cleanings are recommended.
In order to practice dentistry, a person must successfully complete dental school and graduate as either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). Continuing education degrees and internships are common practice for new dentists once they graduate and before they open their own dental office.
Some dentists choose to specialize in certain areas, which mandates advanced or residency training. The common areas of specialty include Dental Public Health (social work), Endodontics (dental pulp and nerves), Dental Pathology (diagnosis of diseases), Dental Radiology (radiographic imaging), Dental Surgery (face, jaws, mouth, neck, and skull), Orthodontics (implants and bones), Pedodontics (pediatric), Periodontics (supporting structures), and Prosthodontics (bridges, caps, crowns, and implants).
Dental assistants aid the dentist in prepping the room for the patient by sterilizing all of the instruments. This person may also assist the dentist during a procedure by passing various instruments to the dentist as needed. In addition to taking X-rays of the patient’s mouth, the dental assistant can take impressions and make crowns as well.
Unlike a dental assistant, dental hygienists must be licensed in order to practice in the dental health care industry. Their main focus is on oral hygiene and they typically perform the cleaning of the teeth, apply sealants and administer fluoride. A dental hygienist is able to instruct you on the proper care of your mouth, teeth, and gums.
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Purchasing Dental Insurance
It is recommended to see a dentist a least once a year or every six months for a teeth cleaning and exam. By maintaining routine visits you can prevent a variety of dental and medical conditions or address any problems that may still be in the early stages.
As with all medical conditions, early diagnosis and treatment is the best way to control a problem and keep it from getting worse. It also is the most inexpensive solution because the bigger the problem, the more it costs to fix. A cavity left untreated could lead to a root canal, which is not only more expensive, but it is also much more invasive of a procedure.
One of the best ways to assure routine maintenance is to have dental insurance that provides reduced rates for cleanings, exams, and or X-rays. Even if you only have major dental, it can be beneficial in the event you develop an infectious disease or have an accident involving your teeth.
While dental insurance may not be practical or possible with your budget, it is an option to be considered. Dental insurance is sometimes offered as part of your group plan through work and it is also available through private providers.
Types of Dental Insurance and Discount Plans
Some of the most affordable dental plans are not actually dental insurance but dental discount plans, which are available for approximately $100 a year. The benefits of these plans are low premiums, no restrictions or limitations, and no paperwork.
Some of these plans also include additional discounts on vision, hearing, and prescription drugs as well as savings on some cosmetic dental procedures. Dental discount plans work with a network of participating dentists. They have a prearranged discount for specific procedures with your discount provider and you are responsible for paying the remaining balance in full.
Dental PPO’s (Preferred Provider Organization) and Dental HMO’s (Health Maintenance Organization) are dental insurance options that work similar to health insurance plans. You pay a premium, typically around $300 per year, and in return, you receive dental care for a reduced rate.
In a Dental PPO, you pay for the cost of your co-insurance fee, also known as a co-payment. The plan pays the remainder of the bill, typically 80% to your 20%. Dentists typically have to be in the PPO network, but some plans cover out of network dentists as well. PPOs have annual deductibles and annual maximum limits, such as $1,000.
If you join a Dental HMO, you will choose a specific dentist from the network to be your primary provider. Your primary dental provider will address all of your dental needs and refer you to a specialist if you need one.
With the HMO, you do not pay any deductibles nor are there annual limitations. You do pay a co-payment for services, although diagnostic and preventive screenings are usually performed for no charge. If you go out of the network, however, you will be responsible for the entire bill.
Fee-for-Service plans are usually less expensive then PPO and HMO dental insurance plans, but the discounted procedure rates are usually higher. This means that your 20% co-insurance payment may be higher than the 20% co-insurance on a PPO or HMO. In a Fee-for-Service Plan, you must visit a dentist in the network and you are subject to deductibles and a maximum annual payout.
Dental Health Problems
Whether you have insurance or not, it is a good idea to protect your dental health by visiting your dentist and having routine checkups, cleanings, and X-rays as recommended. Proper oral hygiene at home includes brushing your teeth, gums, and tongue twice a day and flossing your teeth at least once a day.
It is a good idea to pre-rinse your mouth with water before each brushing. When brushing your teeth, be gentle but firm, use short brush strokes or brush in circles, and brush for at approximately two minutes. Your dental hygienist can help you with proper oral health care techniques.
There are several oral health problems that can occur if you do not take care of your teeth. These include cavities, gum disease, plaque and tarter buildup, and bad breath.
In addition to these problems, you can develop infections, canker sores, cold sores, fever blisters, and tooth sensitivity. Oral health is also linked to general medical health including arthritis, diabetes, heart conditions, inflammation, respiratory disease, and stroke. It is believed that bacteria in the mouth are believed to be one of the culprits for the connection between these links.
Dental care is expensive but necessary for the health of your teeth, mouth, and body. Dental insurance can help reduce the financial burden related to dental care. Whether your teeth are in perfect condition or you have a history of oral health issues, you can receive discounted rates through dental insurance or dental discount plans while maintaining a preventive screening routine with your dental care provider.
Dental Insurance Quotes
Finding the best dental insurance plan is as easy as comparing quotes from top dental insurance companies online. To compare dental insurance quotes, request them for free now!