We are regularly asked about dental insurance. Oral health, like eye health, offers clues about overall health.
Like many areas of the body, your mouth is teeming with bacteria — most of them harmless. Normally the body’s natural defenses and good oral health care, such as daily brushing and flossing, can keep these bacteria under control. However, without proper oral hygiene, bacteria can reach levels that might lead to oral infections, such as tooth decay and gum disease. In addition, certain medications — such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants — can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbial invasion or overgrowth that might lead to disease. [Source – Mayo Clinic]
Studies also suggest that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with periodontitis — a severe form of gum disease — might play a role in some diseases. Poor dental health has been linked to cardiovascular and kidney disease, certain cancers, respiratory infections, pregnancy complications, erectile dysfunction and infertility, among other maladies. In addition, certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body’s resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe. While oral health is an important aspect of overall good health, most insurance plans offer only limited coverage, and many times there is disappointment in that coverage, based on what it costs.
As with other types of insurance, individual dental policies may not have as broad a coverage as group policies. (Large numbers generally help with spreading the risk.) Under the Affordable Care Act, dental coverage is required for children, and if not included in their medical insurance coverage, must be added. This rule does not apply for adults. Some Medicare Advantage plans include some dental coverage, but this is an added benefit and not required.
Another disappointment: dental insurance plans are not likely to cover implants or cosmetic procedures. If implants are covered, there is still the limitation of the plan’s maximum coverage, which typically will not the cover the cost of an implant.
Regardless of where your efforts to improve oral health, remember that most dental insurances require waiting periods for major procedures. It is best to start now than later.