Dental care is one of the most overlooked aspects of healthcare. According to a report by the National Association of Dental Plans, more than 114 million Americans don’t have dental insurance coverage, which indicates the enormity of the problem.
How Dental Insurance Works
There are different types of dental insurance, but the most common typically requires you to pay a deductible dictated by the plan, and the plan will cover up to a certain amount per year for services. For each service, the dentist and insurance provider have a rate that’s agreed upon, which is typically less than the full price of the service.
The plan also (usually) only covers a certain percentage of the negotiated price for the service you receive. For example, a dentist’s price for a filling may be $319, but the negotiated rate with your insurance provider may only be $200. Your plan may cover 90% of fillings, which would then require you to pay the other 10%, or $20, for it.
Understanding how dental insurance works is certainly important, but what I think may be even more important is understanding why you should have it. I am a walking advertisement for dental insurance.
What Can Happen When You Are Uninsured
About three years ago, i turned 26 and was no longer able to stay on my parent’s health insurance plan, which included dental coverage. At the same time, i was also in graduate school, only teaching very part-time. I did some research and found a major medical plan through the health insurance marketplace and decided it wouldn’t be a big deal to forego the dental coverage until i finished grad school (i needed every penny i could save!). This was probably one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made in my adult life.
Two and a half years later, I was offered dental insurance through a new job and decided to enroll. I found myself a dentist, scheduled a check-up, went to said check-up, and got some pretty terrible dental news. Because I put off getting dental insurance (and therefore put off going to the dentist), I have found myself with dozens of procedures- ranging from fillings to root canals to crowns- that need to be done.
You’re probably thinking, “but you have dental insurance to pay for that,” and that’s partly true. However, dental insurance only covers up to a certain amount each year, like I mentioned. For my plan, this is $1500, and with all of the work I need done, that number will far be exceeded… exceeded by thousands.
The significance of dental insurance
As we all know, dental care is a vital aspect of overall health and wellness. Brushing and flossing daily, visiting the dentist for regular checkups, and staying current on necessary treatments are all important factors in maintaining strong teeth and gums. However, dental care can be expensive and sometimes prohibitive for those who do not have insurance coverage. This is where dental insurance becomes essential.
Dental insurance provides individuals with coverage for preventive care services (such as cleanings, X-rays, and exams) as well as restorative services (such as fillings, root canals, and crowns). It also often covers orthodontic treatments like braces or Invisalign, which can be costly without insurance. With dental insurance, the cost of these services is usually significantly reduced or covered entirely.
In addition to helping patients cover the cost of necessary dental care, dental insurance can also encourage individuals to seek out preventative services. With routine checkups and cleanings covered by insurance, patients are more likely to visit the dentist regularly and catch potential oral health issues early on. This proactive approach can prevent more serious and costly problems down the line.
Another significant benefit of dental insurance is that it can provide peace of mind. Knowing that you and your family are covered if a dental emergency arises can relieve the stress of unexpected expenses. Dental insurance can protect individuals and families from the financial burden of unexpected toothaches, cracked teeth, or other dental issues that may require immediate attention.
Overall, dental insurance is a vital tool for maintaining good oral health and overall wellness. It can provide access to necessary treatments, encourage preventative care, and offer financial protection in case of emergencies. If you do not currently have dental insurance, consider exploring your options and finding a plan that works for you and your family. Your smile (and your wallet) will thank you.
Preventative dental care, including regular check-ups and cleanings, helps you maintain good oral health and prevent dental issues from developing into more significant dental problems. Unfortunately, the absence of dental insurance restricts regular visits to the dentist, resulting in a plethora of dental problems, some of which are outlined below.
What Can Really Happen When You Don’t Have Dental Insurance
- Tooth Decay and Cavities
Tooth decay and cavities are common dental issues that occur when bacteria convert the carbohydrates in food into acid, which weakens tooth enamel. The absence of dental insurance makes it less likely that you’ll receive regular check-ups and cleanings. As a result, tooth decay and cavities can often go unnoticed and lead to severe tooth damage, making dental procedures such as root canal treatments and tooth extraction inevitable.
- Gum Disease
Gum disease, also known as gingivitis or periodontitis, is a severe dental issue caused by bacterial infections that affect the gums and the bones that support the teeth. It can cause inflammation, tooth loss, bad breath, and even heart disease. Without dental insurance, it’s challenging to access regular dental care that can prevent and treat gum disease, leading to significant oral health problems.
- Financial Strain
Without dental insurance, funding dental procedures can be challenging. As dental problems worsen due to lack of treatment, the costs of fixing them increase, leading to significant financial burdens. For instance, dental procedures such as extractions, braces, and root canal treatments can be too expensive for most people.
- Health Problems
Poor oral health can lead to various health problems. For example, gum disease can increase the possibility of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory disease in some cases. Further, bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation in different parts of the body. Lack of dental insurance is restricting people from accessing preventative dental care, which leads to compounding oral and overall health problems.
In conclusion, not having dental insurance leads to various dental issues and financial burdens, making it hard to maintain optimal oral health. Preventative dental care is critical for overall dental health, and regular visits to the dentist would prevent the aforementioned dental problems. Dental insurance is crucial to managing dental costs and preventing dental problems from snowballing into more severe health concerns. It’s time to treat dental care as an essential part of overall health care and promote access to it for everyone.