Dental Coverage Essential to Your Overall Well-Being
Whether you have access to insurance coverage through your employer or you purchase individually, the end of the year is frequently decision time. As you make your choices, make sure you consider the importance of dental coverage and know what to look for in your insurance carrier.
If you're like many consumers, you may view dental insurance as a way to cover your dental visits and protect against more costly dental procedures. But recent research confirms that dental coverage can mean even more to your overall health and well-being.
According to the Delta Dental of Illinois Oral Health and Well-Being Survey, having dental coverage increases the likelihood that you will visit the dentist by 50 percent. In addition, adults who visit the dentist once a year are 37 percent more likely to report good or better oral health. And, adults who report good oral health are almost twice as likely to report good or better overall well-being.1
Oral and Overall Health with Dental Visits
Two of the most significant oral health issues are, of course, gum disease and cavities, and dental visits can help with their prevention and treatment.
Nearly half of adults over 30 suffer from some form of gum disease, a chronic infection that can cause sensitive teeth and bad breath, and can even lead to tooth loss. During a dental visit, gum disease can be detected and treated with a deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar from the surface of your teeth.2
Cavities are the most common chronic disease among children aged 6 to 11 years and adolescents aged 12 to 19 years.3 Regular dental visits, along with cleanings, fluoride treatments, and sealants are key to preventing cavities.
In addition to oral health, regular visits to the dentist can help you maintain your overall health, too. In fact, your dentist can find signs of 120 systemic diseases in the mouth and jaw. For example, diabetes can be identified by symptoms like dry mouth, burning tongue, and a high rate of tooth decay, while pain in the jaw can be caused by insufficient oxygen to the heart muscle and may be a symptom of heart disease.4 Oral cancer can be detected by discolored patches in the oral soft tissues or other changes in the mouth such as the appearance of red or white spots on the tongue or inside of cheeks.
Factors to Consider in Choosing and Using Dental Coverage
Dental coverage is important to your oral and overall health. As you consider and use your dental coverage, there are several factors to keep in mind.
Use a network dentist
A 2014 Ruark Dental PPO Study estimates patients will save more than 30 percent by using dentists in PPO, or preferred provider, networks. As you choose coverage, look for a carrier with a strong, qualified nationwide dental network. Also, consider whether the dental carrier contracts directly with all of its dentists or whether it simply rents another network of dentists. A directly contracted network helps ensure effective oversight and that dentists meet standards for cleanliness, safety and care.5
Align your procedures with your plan benefits
No matter how extensive your dental plan is, there will likely be limits as to how much coverage is offered. If you are in need of multiple dental procedures that aren't urgent, consider timing your care to take advantage of annual plan maximums.
A dental carrier that focuses on oral health
Some carriers offer dental coverage as a secondary product with medical or life as the primary offering; some have dental as their focus. Dental-focused carriers invest in more oral health resources and information that help you get the most out of your coverage. In addition, these carriers develop plans that are best suited to meet your oral health needs.
During decision time this fall, remember the importance of dental coverage – to your mouth, to your overall health and to your everyday life. Then, look for a dental carrier that will help you save money and get the most from your coverage.
1 Delta Dental of Illinois, “Oral Health and Well-Being Survey,” 2014
2 The Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry, 2014
3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Hygiene-related Diseases,”2014
4 Journal of the American Dental Association, Vol. 134
5 Ruark Dental PPO Study, 2014,