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The Dental Life

Today, many people have a need for individual dental insurance due to the continuously rising costs of dental care treatments. Thanks to individual insurance packages, anyone can have access to dental healthcare at affordable prices, with planned expenses.

If you are planning to take advantage of dental insurance for yourself, take care when choosing the insurance plan before you invest your money.

Here are some important things you need to know about individual plans so you can make an informed decision when you choose to buy one.

How does individual dental insurance work? Dental insurance packages work the in much the same way as life insurance packages. You will be required to pay monthly premiums so you can have continuous dental coverage. This means as long as your insurance policy is active, you will have coverage.

What insurance benefits do you get?   The set of dental benefits you get from an individual dental insurance plan may differ from one insurance package to another. Many dental policies often cover 100% of preventative services (cleanings, x-rays), 80% of restorative services (fillings, endodontics, periodontics), and 50% of major services (crown, bridge, partial). There is a deductible, yearly maximum, specific exclusions, table of allowances (TOA), and often waiting periods. These variables depend on the policy chosen.

What are your dentist (provider) options ?   You have several options to choose from when you decide to purchase an individual package. There are indemnity insurance plans, HMO network dental insurance plans, PPO dental plans, direct reimbursement plans, and discount dental plans. Discount dental plans are considered distinct from dental insurance plans since these are plans where you apply for membership to be entitled to discounted dental treatments. Dental insurance goes deeper than that and offers a strict and formal process of dental coverage. Exercise caution should you opt for a HMO/Capitation plan. These plans require you to choose one listed dentist and only during an open enrollment period (once/year) may you choose to select an alternative dental provider.

The best suggestion one can take is to call a dental provider’s office, ask for an insurance specialist, and discuss the best solution for your individual needs. A well informed specialist can be crucial to the process. Some offices may even offer a discount plan of their own!

Grand Dental Central Business Office Team

We hear this question from our patients on a pretty regular basis. And for every patient that actually asks this question, there are likely many more that are thinking the same thing but don’t mention it. The fact is many people are under the misguided impression that as long as they are not experiencing dental pain, then scheduling an appointment to the see the dentist is an unnecessary evil. This thought process leads some patients to delay needed treatment and miss their regular cleaning and exam.

The truth is maintaining your oral health is similar to maintaining your car. When you buy a new car, you can give it the best care possible with regular vacuuming, washing and waxing, but you still have to take it to an automotive specialist for periodic inspections and service. If you wait until your car engine seizes up to get an oil change, then it becomes much more time consuming and expensive to fix than if you had actually performed the recommended routine maintenance. The same is true for your oral health. If you wait until your tooth hurts or your gums start bleeding, then it usually requires more extensive and costly treatment to fix them than if you completed treatment as soon as the problem was detected. A tooth with a small cavity can be fixed by removing the decay and placing a filling. However, if treatment is postponed, the cavity will continue to get bigger and the bacteria will eventually travel to the nerve of the tooth. This is when many patients experience pain, swelling and infection. Once the nerve is infected, the tooth requires more involved treatment including a root canal, build-up and crown.

To prevent this costly progression of dental disease and a possible emergency visit to the dental office, we recommend that patients visit their dentist regularly for a comprehensive examination and professional dental cleaning. While brushing twice a day and flossing is great, professional cleanings by a dental hygienist are also necessary to get those hard to reach areas. During your cleaning, the hygienist will evaluate the health of your bone and gums, and look for early signs of gingivitis and gum disease. In the same manner, the dentist will look for signs of decay, fractured teeth, infection and other dental issues during your exam. Preventative dentistry is the most effective way to maintain a healthy mouth and smile. So remember, as soon as a dental issue is detected it is always in your best interest to fix it before it hurts!

Sandy M, Dental Assistant, and Dr. Leslie Clevenger

Call me a dental dork, but I clean my black lab’s teeth…every 6 months…since she was a puppy.  I clean Titan’s teeth whenever I am due for my own cleaning and always prided myself on knowing how to keep her chompers healthy.  After all, I am a dental hygienist and should know how to do that, right? My dental hygiene school was connected to a vet tech school and we shared much of the same equipment and instruments, since cleaning human canines is not much different than cleaning canine canines. (And if you are wondering, yes, our equipment was always sterilized properly!)

Some months back, I noticed that Titan’s breath was getting worse.  Nothing I did relieved that horrid dog breath! What is a hygienist to do?  Well, I got over my pride and took her to the vet, prepared to hear that she had gone the way of most dogs….down the road to gum disease!  Periodontal disease is one of the most common pet problems that vets treat.  That bad breath almost always means gum trouble!

I heard the expected: Titan wasn’t being cleaned well enough anymore with my amateur puppy cleanings. She needed a real vet professional to tackle her tartar. However, I was totally stunned when the vet mentioned her upper left carnasel (“vet talk” for that huge molar) looked fractured and the gum around it was infected. The doctor then gave me two options: have the tooth pulled or take her to a veterinary endodontist for a root canal.  A ROOT CANAL?  On a dog?  I had never heard of such a thing!  (One of my hygienist co-workers is a former vet tech herself and she had never heard of it either, when I asked!)  Now, again, being a dental healthcare professional, I know that saving a tooth is always better than losing a tooth…but taking my pooch in for a root canal seemed too bizarre for words! (My dental coworkers also had a great time teasing me for a couple of days and my dog’s possible root canal was the source of plenty of dorky dental jokes around the office!)

But, either way, she needed to get healthy, so I scheduled a cleaning and when the vet called with the news, I was told: The tooth was fine!  She had plenty of tartar and stain, but under it all, the tooth was actually not cracked. Her infected gum tissue was actually a swelling common in some breeds of dogs, known as an epulis.  PetMd.com tells me that “Epulides (plural for Epulis) are tumors or tumor-like masses on an animal’s gums”. Interesting!  Titan had 3 epulides removed from her gums that day, but at least came home with all of teeth.

I thought it was fascinating that after 15 years of cleaning people, I learned something new about canine oral health! I am back to cleaning Titan’s teeth myself…and pretending NOT to notice that her breath is starting to smell a little rough again…..