• Do I Really Need Dental Insurance?

  • If you are a member of the general public, you have probably asked yourself this question at some point. The answer is very similar to asking whether you need any other type of insurance or not. What is your risk? Is it worth taking a chance without the insurance? I am going to try to give you a healthcare professional’s perspective on this issue.

    Dental insurance has basically traveled right alongside medical insurance’s footsteps. In the old days, like the 70’s and 80’s, most dental insurance plans covered everything at 100% , and the yearly maximums were quite generous. This was particularly true if you were employed at a larger corporation. As time has gone on, and the overall cost of medical and dental care has steadily risen, this type of coverage has become a thing of the past. As a dental provider, I have seem many permutations of dental coverage over the years. Plans range from only preventative services being covered, such as simple cleanings and exams, to coverage for implant services being included. With such a wide range of options, what is a realistic amount of coverage?

    The answer is, as I mentioned before, more of a calculated risk. If you are a person who rarely brushes and flosses, has teeth that are crumbling, and your face swells up periodically, you probably would benefit from a more all-inclusive type of dental insurance plan. If you were given fluoride as your teeth were forming, you practice perfect home care, and you have little or no dental restorations in your mouth and almost never need any, you can probably get by with a more limited plan. However, just like house fires, one can never really tell when an emergency is going to take place. Teeth can break suddenly, with little or no warning, decay has this nasty habit of growing, and if you don’t ever see the dentist, or sometimes even if you do, odds are you’ll have a gum infection at some point.

    At this point, I feel it’s important to also discuss what dental insurance is, and what it is not. Dental insurance will help offset the cost of dental treatment. It is not going to completely cover the cost of dental treatment, unless you are very lucky to have a totally awesome plan. There is no substitute for good oral home care and the twice yearly visit to let your dentist take a look. Your dentist can see things looming in the future sometimes, like the beginning of decay, cracks in your teeth, wear facets, and so forth. If you never floss, it will eventually catch up with you, and if it doesn’t, you just won the lottery. It’s that lucky. Dental insurance is not your insurance against a dental issue cropping up. If you are human, you will probably need some dental care at some point in your life. The issue is going to crop up.

    Dental care is not inexpensive. The work is highly technical, and really does require a lot of skill and precision from your dental team. The equipment and supplies your team uses are also very pricey. Also, we all know about the rising cost of pharmaceuticals, which we use to get you numb. Nowadays, it’s probably best to look at the care of your teeth like you look at your medical care. The more coverage you have to help, the better, but getting treatment is going to cost you something. The more dental issues you have, the more expensive treatment is, in general. The only time I feel that dental insurance is not recommended is if you literally have never had any dental issues or problems. Even then, there’s no guarantee you aren’t going to bite into a jawbreaker one day and break your tooth.

    As investments go, I do believe your teeth are worth whatever they cost. After all, the health benefits of being able to eat, and of proper nutrition cannot be over-stressed. If your teeth are sick, without fail so is your entire body. Our mouths are often the first place systemic issues show up.

    To sum up, if you can at all afford dental insurance, or happen to have some offered by your employer, I highly recommend the investment. It is a rare individual indeed that never needs a dentist, and our teeth are an extremely important, and often overlooked, part of our bodies. I wouldn’t expect it to cover the entire dental bill, but it can surely help offset the expense to keep your mouth in smiling shape!