Individual Dental Plans Tips

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Can drinking alcohol cause damage to my teeth?

Alcohol and Your Teeth

One tequila, two tequilas, three tequilas…cavity?

Although pure alcohol won't damage your teeth, the sugar content in most alcoholic drinks, including beer, can really damage your enamel. Some beverages, such as sweet wines or mixed drinks involving sodas or citrus juices, can be even worse, adding a high acidity to the equation.

Since it would be a damper to eliminate tasty beverages and fun Friday nights from your life just to avoid a couple extra cavities, there are a few things you can do to help lessen the partying damage to your teeth.

First and foremost, as part of your individual dental plan it is important to brush and floss your teeth before going to bed, no matter what you did during the day. If you find that you often forget to do this after your night out, leave your toothbrush on your pillow before hitting the town. That little reminder will help you spend the minute or two before passing out for the evening. Furthermore, chewing sugarless gum between drinks or on the way home, as well as swishing some water around your mouth, will help increase saliva flow, rinse away sugars, and decrease the latent acid content of your mouth, further decreasing the total damage done to your teeth.

Can’t afford rinsing with Listerine every day?

Homemade Mouthwash

Having trouble stomaching the cost of mouth rinses? Most individual dental plans won't cover such routine daily treatments but, with a little ingenuity, you won't have to pad the wallets of Listerine's stock holders either.

Two common recipes for homemade mouthwash are:

1. ½ teaspoon salt in 8 ounces of water (or 4 ounces for a stronger solution)
2. ½ teaspoon baking soda in 8 ounces of water

Want to avoid the months-long gap in coverage when you first start a new insurance plan after being uninsured?

Start a Company, Protect Your Teeth!

Healthy teeth can cost more than their weight in gold to maintain, especially if they're capped with that shiny metal.

To protect your bank account from suffering too much from having an unexpected cavity, tooth ache, or avulsion treated, you should really have a good individual dental plan. Unfortunately, if you have gone without insurance for a long period of time, most insurance providers and even some state laws will prevent you from receiving any non-emergency care for the first few months after starting a new plan (it's called a waiting period). Although this seems silly, the point is to prevent people from waiting until they know they have a problem, then getting insurance specifically to have an expensive treatment done immediately.

There is a useful loophole, however. If you get your individual dental plan from your employer, as opposed to paying for one by yourself, the insurance is in full effect immediately. What's more, in most town halls or city halls, you can register a new company, owned by you, for a small amount of money ($25-$50 is not uncommon), and, using your shiny new business certificate, you can get yourself dental insurance from your own company at the discountd rate offered to any company by the insurance providers!

So if you need to buy dental insurance for yourself, start a company and you'll pay less for the plan and have your coverage effective immediately, regardless of state regulations.

Will my dental plan cover my dentures?

Substituting for Missing Teeth

We've all seen cartoons in which an old man gets slapped on the back so hard that his teeth pop right out of his mouth. That gag never really gets old, but, ironically, as we age we may require dentures ourselves. Luckily, there are other options for replacing missing teeth, including implants and bridges. Each of these tooth replacement options is best in different situations and insurance coverage is different for each of these treatments, so if you're missing one or more teeth, you should look into all three potential treatments.

Dentures are removable and are constructed specifically for each individual mouth. They do take some time getting used to, but are comfortable, allow you to eat just about anything, and can be cleaned off every night (as in the cup of teeth next to the old man's bed in the cartoon). Dentures are covered at least 50% by most individual dental plans.

Implants are permanent replacements for your missing teeth, and are actually connected via a titanium false root that is inserted into your jawbone. Though probably superior to removable dentures, you may be too old to go through the difficult and painful procedure of getting even one implant, a process that involves anesthesia and several steps to fully complete, let alone several. As such, implants are typically used to replace teeth that have been lost due to trauma and not simply poor dental health and gum disease. Implants may or may not be covered by your dental plan, so if getting one is a reasonable option, you should consult your dental health care provider to see if it covers implants.

Bridges, like implants, are permanent and cannot be used to fill in gaps several teeth wide. If you are missing a single tooth between two healthy teeth, a false, bridge tooth can be attached to its neighbors. Unfortunately, bridges are very expensive and considered a form of cosmetic dentistry, so will not be covered by your individual dental plan.

If you are missing one or more teeth, talk to your dentist about replacing them. Depending on your situation, one or a combination of the above treatments could work for you.

Does the type of filling I get for my teeth matter?

Types of Fillings

Even though you might desire the bling effect given off by a gold or silver filling, there are other factors that you must consider when choosing a material with which to fill your teeth.

Metal fillings are actually more likely to cause your teeth to be sensitive to temperature than amalgam fillings, which are white. Despite this, they are often used to fill in your larger molars, as the gold or silver used is actually cheaper than the white amalgam material.

If you can afford it and aren't trying to make a fashion statement, amalgam fillings are the strongest and most naturally suited for your teeth. However, whatever type of filling you get will likely have to be replaced in 6-12 years, so if you need a bunch of fillings, make sure that your individual dental plan stays up to date over the years or you may have to shell out hundreds of dollars over time to maintain them.

What does good tooth brushing form really consist of?

Brush Up Your Brushing Form

If tooth brushing were a televised sport, the commentators would have a field day with the ridiculously individualized brushing styles each one of us has developed over the years. And yes, some of our styles are more effective than others.

To start with, most of us don't brush for long enough. Studies have shown that most of us brush for only 30 seconds, while dentists and other experts tend to brush from 2 to 4 minutes, that's at least 4 times the brushing action!

Your toothbrush grip also matters. One Finnish study has found that using a pen-like grip, as opposed to the common tennis racquet-like grip, is just as effective at removing plaque but is also much less likely to damage your gums as you're less likely to brush too hard.

However, should you brush up and down or in circles? Actually, it doesn't really matter as much as the duration of your brushing and whether you brush too hard and cause damage to your gums. Go with whatever motion you're most comfortable with.

Finally, even if you're out of toothpaste you can still get the most important benefit of brushing, the removal of plaque, by simply brushing with plain water.

Remember, your daily brushing is the most important and effective part of your individual dental plan.

Is brushing your tongue important?

Brush Your Tongue

You think you're an all-star tooth brushing machine since your yoga has given you the flexibility to twist your arm and wrist into angles that reach even the most evasive corners of your mouth and rear molars. No plaque on your teeth or gums can escape your Zen-like mastery of the art of tooth brushing!

Think again. Under a microscope, your tongue looks like a little forest of bushes or mushrooms, under which you can harbor plaque, food particles, and bacteria. Aside from contributing to a bit of funky breath even after you've brushed, these stowaways will inevitably get moved around the rest of your mouth between brushings.

No individual dental plan is complete without a good tongue brushing.

Do I really need a dental plan?

No Excuse Not to Have Dental Coverage

Almost half of all dental expenditures in America are paid out of pocket but, with the current wide array of individual dental plans available, there really is no reason that should be true.

Having just one tooth filled can cost anywhere from $75-$200, which is about the same amount as the total annual cost to belong to an individual discount dental plan. Furthermore, with a dental plan you'll actually be able to afford the recommended twice annual visits to the dentist for cleanings and inspections, which will help keep your teeth in a healthy state and help you avoid even more expensive and painful procedures down the line.

Even though the cost of an individual dental plan might seem like a lot, the cost of not having one can be much greater. With the variety of affordable plans available today, there is no excuse not to have dental coverage.

What is a waiting period?

Waiting Periods

Have you found yourself with an achy tooth, no Advil, and no dental insurance? Unfortunately, you can't simply buy dental insurance tomorrow and expect them to cover your teeth immediately.

Just about any individual dental insurance plan has a waiting period from 6 to 18 months long, during which time you will be paying but your provider will not cover most procedures. This is a great reason to enroll in a dental insurance plan now, even if you may not need one.

If you need to get work done on your teeth quickly, then you should consider a discount dental club for at least the short term, as protection under those plans is effective immediately upon enrollment.

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