When we think about our health, what do we usually think about right away? Our cardio-respiratory systems? Our allergies or our weight? We tend to forget about our teeth and gums.
It’s funny how we use our mouths to chew, swallow, speak, breathe, kiss, and much more, and yet they’re the last things on our minds when we consider our health. Your teeth and gums are every bit as important to your health as any other part of your body.
Why should you have dental checkups?
Your oral health can affect the overall well-being of your entire body. According to Health Canada, heart disease, diabetes and even low birth weight in babies may be caused by poor oral health. Ultimately, untreated oral diseases can have a negative impact on your quality of life.
One of the best ways you can help to ensure a long, healthy life is to take very good care of your gums and teeth, including seeing a dentist regularly to catch any problems early, or even before they occur.
And the best way to help cover the out-of-pocket cost of going to a dentist is to have dental insurance – for you and your family.
What happens when you see a dentist?
When you visit your dentist for the first time, you will have a complete patient exam, where the dentist goes over your history, takes a panoramic x-ray of your mouth, and performs a cleaning.
Unless you have dental insurance, you will be faced with hundreds of dollars of out of pocket costs for the visit, x-ray and cleaning.
With dental insurance, most panoramic x-rays are eligible for reimbursement every 2–3 years, depending on the plan. This is the same for complete patient exams.
Once you have completed this first exam, you will book your next appointment to continue your oral health care, making sure that nothing serious is going on in your mouth and that you are keeping your gums and teeth healthy.
Your dentist’s job is to identify any trouble spots and make recommendations about what to do. Your next preventative appointment will likely include another set of x-rays, but these are bitewings, and only show the molars. As molars are the most vulnerable to decay and cavities, it’s important that your dentist monitor them as time passes.
These are the most common treatments you will receive in a recall visit:
- A recall exam
The dentist looks at your teeth to see if there are any new cavities or anything else to watch for.
The hygienist will scrape tartar off your teeth and will assess your gums for tissue damage. Scaling is measured in 15-minute increments, called units. Your dental insurance plan may have a maximum number of units you can use in a year.
The hygienist will then use an instrument to “brush” your teeth and finely polish them after scaling. Reimbursement for the cost of polishing is limited to once every 6–9 months depending on your plan and the age of the patient. Fluoride treatment
This service is usually only covered for children. The hygienist will coat their teeth with fluoride to protect the enamel.
It important to have regular dental check-ups
A lot can happen to your teeth in nine months between visits to the dentist. Suppose you have a tiny crack in your tooth and your dentist notices it. He may suggest filling the tooth to prevent further damage, or he may decide that it’s too early to tell whether any intervention is required, and no treatment may be needed for a while. Recall exams are useful for these situations.
When your dentist monitors your teeth more often, regular “wear and tear” can be minimal. If, however, you do not make a point to visit the dentist regularly, any tiny crack in your tooth could grow and you could be looking at hundreds or even thousands of dollars’ worth of treatment.
Having basic dental insurance for scaling and polishing or major dental coverage for more costly procedures is important. It’s a fact of life that our bodies, including our teeth, break down over time. You can walk out of the dentist’s office fully confident that your teeth are in good condition after your first visit, but they certainly won’t stay that way indefinitely. The more you see your dentist, the less likely you will have big problems down the line.
Your dentist is there to make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy but if all else fails they are also there to fix the problem.
It is important to have dental insurance to help with good oral health
First and foremost, dental insurance helps offset the cost of your oral care. A regular check-up can cost hundreds of dollars, but with insurance you would only be paying a portion of the total.
Using your dental insurance is also a great way to keep track of how often you need to see a dentist. Most plans detail how often you can go so you can schedule your appointments according to what your plan dictates.
One thing to keep in mind is that your dental insurance plan will have a yearly maximum. Let’s say your plan pays up to $1,000 per person every 12 months. Your anniversary/renewal date is April 1st. You have an appointment scheduled for several fillings. You ask your dental insurance provider how much of your yearly maximum you’ve used so far, and they let you know that you have $55.00 available.
That $55.00 will not be enough to cover your fillings. You have the choice to either reschedule the appointment to a date occurring after your plan maximum replenishes, or you can go ahead with the appointment and pay the remaining sum amount out of pocket. You cannot reclaim that amount against the following year’s maximum.
So does dental insurance really help? Yes. It safeguards you from out-of-pocket costs for routine and unexpected dental care, plus provides the peace of mind that comes from having the financial protection of insurance. With dental insurance, you have better access to the preventative care you need to keep your teeth healthy and beautiful. The better you take care of your teeth, the lower your overall costs for dental care will be.
You will qualify for the level of dental insurance you need
Anyone can apply for any level of dental benefits they need! Here is what each level of dental benefit covers. Some coverages are available after a waiting period and most have increasing maximums. (Dental benefits are based on the current Provincial Dental Association fee guide for general practitioners.)
- Preventative cleaning and polishing
- Routine examinations and X-rays
- Fillings and extractions
- Fluoride treatments for children
- Pit and fissure sealants for children
- Space maintainers for children
- General anaesthetics
Comprehensive Basic Coverage
- Periodontal treatment, including cleaning and scaling
- Endodontics / root canal therapy
- Denture cleaning, repairs, rebasing and relining
Major Services (usually available in your third benefit year)
- Standard crown restorations or onlays on natural teeth
- Standard bridges, including pontics, abutment retainers/crowns on natural teeth
- Standard repair or recementing of crowns, onlays and bridgework on natural teeth
Orthodontics (usually available in your third benefit year)
- Straightening of teeth and/or correct the bite
- Regular orthodontics checkups
Be Proactive about your oral health. Get dental insurance now.
Special Benefits Insurance Services makes it easy to obtain affordable dental insurance, which is important given the increasing cost of dental care. Our dental plans offer Basic Coverage, Comprehensive Basic and Major Services coverage.
Go online at SBIS. You’ll find all the dental insurance answers you need in our Resources.
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If you prefer a personal touch, simply give us a call Monday to Friday 8:45 a.m. – 4:45 p.m. Eastern Time at 1-800-667-0429 or 416-601-0429.