Do you share health concerns with your physician? Well, it’s just as important to maintain that dialogue with your dentist as well, because after all, your mouth is connected to the rest of your body and dentists are doctors, too!
Dentists are highly trained doctors who treat diseases in the head and neck area both intraorally (inside the mouth) and extraorally (outside the mouth). Your dentist should be examining and screening your head and neck area; just below your eyes to about the top of your neck, as well as examining inside your mouth.
What’s my overall dental health status?
You can ask your dentist to give you a general exam for the mouth area, which includes looking for any lumps or bumps that don’t belong; gauging bone density, especially if osteoporosis is a concern; or checking for inadvertent teeth grinding. They can make sure everything is functioning properly and, if it isn’t, they can begin to talk about treatment options, and cost, with you – BEFORE any treatment is performed.
Is there anything that I should tell my family doctor about?
There are a range of health problems that begin in the mouth. Changes inside your mouth can signal certain conditions, such as vitamin deficiencies or osteoporosis; inflamed gums can be an indicator of diabetes. Your dentist can make you aware of which symptoms should be brought to your GP’s attention.
Is there anything you need to know from my family doctor?
Your dentist should be advised about any changes in your overall health status. For instance, sudden complications in your mouth could be because of medications you’re taking or related to health changes or conditions elsewhere in your body.
When taking your child to the dentist, keep in mind some additional questions.
- What advice can you give me about nutrition as it relates to my child’s oral health? (Remember, your dentist can gauge for such things as nutritional inadequacies or whether a baby bottle at night is affecting good growth.)
- How are the teeth developing and, if there are any problems, is there anything I can do about it now to avoid orthodontics later?
- How can I ensure my child’s teeth are clean?
- Do you have any advice on how to get my child to brush their teeth?
- How can I reassure my child for his or her first visit?
- How long will it take and will there be any pain afterward?
- Will there be follow-up procedures, and how many appointments can I expect this to entail?
Dental Benefits versus Dental Insurance
“An insurance plan is designed to reimburse you for a loss (out of pocket expenses).” In an insurance plan, the insurer company carries the risk.
A benefit plan, is only set up to cover certain specific costs and only under specific conditions. Your dental benefit plan will only cover some procedures fully, and then pays a percentage of other procedures. You may find some procedures your dentist recommends aren’t covered at all, so it’s important to educate yourself regarding your dental benefit coverage as you the plan holder are ultimately responsible for any services not covered under your benefits plan.
Demand transparency from your insurance carrier to disclose what they will cover and how much BEFORE going to the dentist. Be sure to share that information with your dentist so they can help give you their best estimate of what a particular dental treatment plan will cost you.
Did you know that in most states dental benefit plans are not required to tell you what the cover and how much they will reimburse for treatment – even though they can tell you how much to pay for your premium every month?
Regardless of whether you have an insurance plan or dental benefit coverage did you know that medical and dental insurance companies claim a loss every time they pay a charge for the health care services you are provided. This enables them to reduce the amount of profit they disclose to their shareholders or corporate owners.
Discount plan versus dental benefits plan?
Dental treatment can be expensive and confusing. How do I know what type of plan or coverage is best for me or my family?
The three most common types of coverage/plans in dentistry are PPO, DHMO and a Discount or Referral Plan.
- PPO = Preferred Provider Organization. An network of dentists who agree to provide dental services for a contracted/discounted and capped fee. In-network dentists agree to provide services at an agreed upon fee. The individual plan purchased will dictate what is covered and when it is covered and at what percent. This is important because just because something is a ‘covered expense” doesn’t mean your carrier will issue benefits. If you stay in-network, there is usually an out of pocket savings for the patient. If you choose to go out of network, you will likely have a greater out of pocket cost.
- Dental Health Maintenance Organization (DHMO) A dentist who is in you DHMO agrees to accept a monthly fee to provide covered dental services to you whether you see the dentist or not. Some services will be rendered at no cost to you, while other services will require you to cost share and pay a portion.
- Discount or Referral Dental Plans This can be a private plan issued by the dental office or it can be a purchased plan through an insurance company. If you purchase a discount plan from a carrier, the terms will likely be much different than if you participate with an in-house discount plan offered by your dental office. Insurance carriers will contract with dentists who agree to treat you at discounted fees. Discounts are typically applied to all services (including cosmetic). The patient pays for the services received up front at the discounted fee. No paperwork other than the original agreement is processed for each service.