Your Dental Insurance - Is It Worth the Premium?
Many of us may not realize, but having healthy teeth is often the most important factor in your overall health. Even an otherwise healthy person with no chronic ailments can begin to have health problems if his or her teeth and gums are not properly maintained and undergo regular exam by a qualified dental physician.
Before I talk about dental insurance, let me share with you some facts about your dental health.
Your dental hygiene and health are crucial. Most non-inherited or non-genetic diseases start with your oral health or lack of it. Digestive problems, intestinal problems, circulatory problems--they are all related to how healthy your mouth, gums and teeth are. And the care of your dental and periodontal health starts as a child. Here are some common tips we can and should follow daily.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day
- If possible, use mouth rinse after every solid meal
- Use high quality toothbrush and toothpaste
- Make regular use of rotating cleaners
- Floss at least thrice a week
- Exercise your lower jaw muscles regularly
- Watch for stuck food particles--once lodged, it is hard to take out and the breach in the tooth or between the teeth should be corrected through a filling or a crown
- See your dentist as scheduled. Some dentists may want to see you more than twice a year--do not think they are racking up fees unnecessarily. Your poor dental health may required more frequent treatments like clinical flossing, deep cleaning etc.There are basically three areas of your mouth that you need to take care of:
Breath: Bad breath is a pre-cursor to some serious issues with your dental health. It may be caused by anything from tooth decay to cancer. Persistent bad breath should be checked.
Teeth-related problems: These typically consist of decay (loss of enamel), crack or chip, sensitivity and loose grip
Gum and Mouth related problems: These typically consist of erosion, infection and sores and bone disease.
So how about your dental insurance. Of course each situation is different, but in evaluating your dental insurance, here are the questions to ask for:
1. Who will be using the services of a dentist or dental specialist like a periodontal physician--is it an adult or a child in your family?
2. Is there a chronic problem?
3. Do you have a favorite dentist you would like to keep on your plan?
4. How much are you willing to pay out of pocket for a) maintenance and b) special conditions like an implant?
5. Are there waiting periods in the policy for certain prescribed treatments like crown, implant, deep cleaning etc.?
6. Is there a sub-limit, e.g. for x-rays etc.
Most dental insurance plans have maximums or caps. These are generally $2,000 to $4,000 annually per member, and then there may be a family cap.
One other thing. If you change your dentist, make sure you get all critical documents from the previous dentist. A very important document is the set of x-rays and dental chart. If your new dentist does not have a recent one from the previous dentist, he or she will order new x-rays and that can cut into your reimbursable amount from the insurance company. If they are recent, insist on your new dentist using those, rather than ordering new x-rays.