Dental insurance has long been known as a corporate employee benefit and for everyone else, an insurance luxury. It’s nice to have, but after the bills are paid, it’s easy to skip because of life’s other financial demands. Until someone breaks a molar, has five cavities or suddenly has to deal with an abscessed tooth, dental insurance isn’t regularly considered as a must have life benefit. In order to think about dental insurance one must instead think, ‘how much financial risk can I take on?
It costs how much?
Generally speaking, dental out-of-pocket expenses constitute about a quarter of overall health out-of-pocket expenses for Americans. If you may have not incurred significant dental expenses in the past, you might not realize how much dental care truly costs. For example, a crown can cost anywhere from $800 to $3,000 per tooth, depending on materials are used and the complexity of your case. A root canal procedure is usually in excess of $1,000.1
Oral health affects overall health
In the past decade health experts have established links between mouth health and body health. In one study, people with serious gum disease were found to be 40 percent more likely to have a chronic health condition.2
In particular, gum disease has been linked to diabetes because inflammation that begins in the mouth reduces the body’s ability to manage blood sugar and properly utilize insulin. Very high blood sugar levels, a factor in diabetes, create an environment where infections can accelerate, including gum infections.
Inflammation in your mouth can also directly impact your heart. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, mouth disease can make existing heart conditions worse because inflammation from disease in the mouth interferes with proper heart function.
What kinds of dental plans are available?
Most dental insurance plans provide coverage for some level of routine check-ups, as well as more extensive work, such as fillings and crowns. And yes, dental insurance policies are available for individual purchase if your employer does not offer coverage. In many cases, dental insurance can start at under $15 a month (that’s three latte’s from your favorite coffee shop).
Like health insurance plans, there are two major types of dental insurance:
- Indemnity plans, which cover procedures as specified in the plan and generally can be used with a broader set of providers than PPO plans, also known as managed care plans.
- Managed care plans are usually available only within specific dental provider networks, where providers agree to perform services at pre-negotiated rates. Co-pays and deductibles are common. In most managed care dental plans, you can use dentists outside of the network, but claims will only be paid for the amount that a network dentist would have accepted for the job. The remainder is considered the patient’s responsibility.
Check out your options
Adults, children and seniors need dental benefits, which usually include a combination of regular checkups, cleanings, X-rays and other services needed to promote general dental health. If a major accident or dental crisis happens, it can be comforting to know that some of your financial burden will be lightened when the medical bills begin to appear. In either case, there are multiple ways to help you meet your dental health needs. Find out about dental insurance plan options.