Dental Plans Tips

Read these 10 Dental Plans Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Dental Plans tips and hundreds of other topics.

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I’m going to lose all my teeth as I grow older, right?

Losing Teeth and Old Age

Thirty years ago, most adults in the US took it for granted that they would lose their teeth as they grew older. That is not at all true, but many of the nation's 75 million aging baby boomers still believe it.

The truth is that with proper dental care, including daily brushing and flossing, frequent (every 6 months or so) dental visits, and a healthy diet, there is no reason that you shouldn't keep all of your teeth for your entire life.

The most common cause of tooth loss is gum disease, also called periodontal disease. Gum disease is caused primarily by plaque accumulating along the gum line, so removing the plaque from your teeth daily really can keep them healthy and in your mouth.

So, don't just resign your teeth to eventual loss like millions of other Americans; take advantage of your dental plan (and if you don't have one, buy one of the many affordable dental plans now on the market), see a dentist, and start treating your teeth properly. It is not too late to ensure that they stick around as long as you do.

   
Need treatment now for your aching tooth?

Immediate Coverage for Existing Conditions

If your aching tooth is driving you crazy and you don't have any dental coverage, you might not want to wait through the process of applying for a dental insurance policy. Not only can the application process take several days, but insurance companies often will not cover pre-existing conditions for new applicants.

To sooth the aching tooth without having to mortgage your home, you should consider enrolling in one of the “reduced fee,” affordable dental plans. These plans offer discounts on treatment for pre-existing conditions, and will cover you starting the next business day after enrolling.

   
What’s the difference between a dental health plan and a dental insurance policy?

Two Kinds of Dental Health Plans

Trying to figure out the cheapest way to keep your pearly whites bright and pearly? Unless your employer provides you with a traditional dental insurance policy, you'll probably save more money in the long run if you purchase your own dental insurance out-of-pocket, rather than relying on fate to keep your teeth healthy. These days, there is a dental health plan available for nearly every individual financial and health situation, so the biggest decision you'll have to make is between the different types of coverage available. Two of the most popular types include managed care insurance policies and discount dental plans.

Dental insurance policies require you to pay a monthly fee, cover what is often a large deductible for treatment, and require you to provide a co-payment with every visit. However, they do cover a very substantial portion of your treatment, so if you get a lot of work done on your gnashers a traditional insurance policy could save you a lot of money.

Reduced fee dental plans, also known as discount dental plans, are more affordable and only require a relatively modest annual fee; no other charges apply! Members of a discount dental plan provide dentists and specialists with their membership card at the time of treatment and are offered a discount. The discount will typically not be as substantial as what an insurance company would cover, but if you don't get your teeth dealt with professionally very often the model annual membership fee of a discount dental plan could save you a lot of money compared to the monthly fees charged for traditional insurance coverage.

Even within these two broad categories, there area large varieties of personalized plans available. So before making any big decisions, you should do your research, make some calls, and take your time to find the right dental health plan for your teeth and your wallet.

   
Should I have my old mercury-based fillings replaced?

Mercury Fillings

So you've got a really old, veteran filling sitting in your mouth that was originally made with mercury, a terribly poisonous chemical and one that has not be used in fillings for many years.

Fortunately, just as buildings with asbestos don't need the asbestos replaced unless the building is being renovated, you don't need to get that mercury out of your mouth unless the filling pops out or is otherwise damaged. The American Dental Association has ruled that there isn't enough mercury in the filling material to actually do you any harm, so you're fine letting it be.

If, however, the silver coloring of the filling bothers you and you want a more natural, white-colored filling, you should first check to see whether your dental plan will cover such a replacement. Some dental plans work under a least expensive alternative treatment policy and will not cover a new filling that is being put in for purely cosmetic reasons.

Even though you don't have to worry about replacing your mercury fillings, if you still want to replace them you should consult your dental health plan provider to see if they will cover the procedure.

   
If I practice perfect dental hygiene, do I still need to a dental plan?

Dental Erosion is Unavoidable

Think you can outsmart the insurance companies with your perfect dental hygiene and, to date, cavity-free, sparkling, pearly whites? Think again!

Even the best dental habits do not leave your teeth free from the daily grind of eating, drinking, and breathing. Over time, dental erosion, caused by such nearly unavoidable things as chewing, grinding, exposure to acids in foods (even healthy foods like fruit juices), and breathing in polluted air, can eventually wear down your teeth and cause minor cavities to occur. What's more, even brushing can often fail to remove plaque from the deep grooves present in your larger molars.

Thus, even with immaculate dental hygiene, it's still in your best interest to enroll in a dental health plan of some kind. You can probably get away with purchasing one of the most affordable dental plans, as you probably won't need the extensive coverage offered by better plans.

   
Are there any over-the-counter medications available for gum disease?

Gingivitis Treatments

Are your gums a little swollen and bleed easily? Then you may have a mild type of gum disease, called gingivitis. More than 75% of Americans over the age of 35 suffer from some kind of gum disease and, if these are your only symptoms, then you're in pretty good shape. However, if left untreated, gingivitis can become really nasty, so the disease is best dealt with early.

It is recommended that you see your dentist as soon as you can, but if you don't have dental insurance and can't shell out for any of the affordable dental plans on the market, which you should consider doing if at all possible, there are still over-the-counter treatments for gum disease.

Rinsing your mouth with Listerine, or a generic equivalent containing an anti-microbial called chlorhexidine, can help prevent and also help combat gingivitis. Furthermore, Colgate Total, which contains the antibacterial triclosan, is FDA approved to fight gum disease.

If you do notice that your gums swell and bleed easily, and are sensitive in general, see a dentist and try these readily available treatments to bring your gums back to top health.

   
Do I really have to get my wisdom teeth removed?

Wisdom Teeth

Do I really have to get my wisdom teeth removed?

That depends on how they come in. If your wisdom teeth impact against your rear molars, an entrance referred to as “coming in sideways,” then you'll probably have to have them removed, or suffer for it in the long term.

Unfortunately, a dentist can only guess as to whether you will need your wisdom teeth removed before they start coming in, which typically occurs between ages 17 and 20. So, if you have a teen approaching the wisdom tooth period, you should reexamine your family's dental health plan to see how much it will cover. Depending on the complexity of the procedure needed, the cost for having one's wisdom teeth removed could be enormous, especially if anesthesia is used. Thus, if your current dental plan doesn't cover the vast majority of such a procedure, you should consider switching to one of the many other dental plans on the market.

   
What is a canker sore?

Canker Sores

Ever wonder what really causes those painful, nasty looking sores in your mouth? You're not alone, as canker sores are one of the most common recurring inflammatory conditions of the mouth and 20% of Americans suffer from them.

Despite a fair amount of research into canker sores, scientists have failed to discover a common cause. Various theories include that they are caused by allergic reactions, bacterial infections, stress, hormonal cycles (such as a female's menstrual cycle), or deficiencies in various vitamins, though there is little agreement as to whether any of these causes are legitimate.

The mystery of canker sores doesn't stop there, as there is also little consensus regarding treatment, though there are some prescription medications on the market for more severe canker sores. It is important to note that, even though the sores occur in your mouth, their treatment is covered by standard health insurance policies, not by dental plans. Therefore, you need to see your doctor about them, not your dentist.

   
Tired of filing claims forms with your dental insurance company?

Claims Forms

Tired of filing out those pesky claims forms for your dental insurance company while the Novocain is still causing you to drool? Then you may want to consider joining one of the many discount dental plans on the market.

Unlike traditional dental insurance policies, a discount dental plan simply provides its members with a discount up front when the service is provided, no annoying paperwork necessary! In addition to relieving you of the burden of filling out claims forms, other advantages offered by discount dental plans over traditional insurance coverage include:

No waiting period
No coverage exclusions
No deductibles
No monthly fee
No referral is necessary to see specialists

Although this seems like a rare win-all situation, if you need to have a lot of work done on your teeth then a more traditional insurance policy will actually cost less in the long run. So, if you can afford one now you should do research and potentially talk to some dentists before deciding to enroll in a discount dental plan.

   
Does your dental plan rely on a least expensive alternative treatment approach?

Least Expensive Alternative Treatment Policy

When something's wrong with your body, you should have the ability to choose how to deal with the problem. Unfortunately, many dental plans, especially the more affordable dental plans, actually dictate what type of treatment you're allowed to get for certain afflictions.

The type of policy they use is called a Least Expensive Alternative Treatment (LEAT) policy. Under a LEAT policy, if there are multiple types of treatment available for a specific condition, you are required to go with the least expensive one, which is not necessarily the one that is best for you and your long-term oral health.

So when looking at a potential dental plan in which to enroll, check whether or not the plan uses a LEAT approach. If so, you might want to move on and consider other plans.

   
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