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A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

February 19, 2012

My last blog touched on the fact the ‘dental insurance’ is not really insurance after all.  It is more like a ‘dental gift card’ or ‘dental dollars at a reduced cost’. Dental insurance doesn’t really ‘buy peace of mind’ for a disaster, like home or car insurance does.  Imagine if you car insurance paid for ‘3 oil changes and 2 tire rotations’ every 10,000 miles and only gave you $8000 towards a new car if it was totaled!  I know I would be outraged.  Why call it insurance at all?  It’s more like a ‘dental maintenance plan’.  Imagine if medical insurance let you treat only 1 disease?  “Gee, should I be seen for my high blood pressure or my high cholesterol this year because my insurance won’t pay for both.”……Outrageous we would all say!  Yet, dental insurance companies have demoted the gateway to a healthy body, your mouth, into this role.

A stitch in time saves nine…….

Many patients that have dental insurance haven’t even used it this year, or even for a few years.  Maybe they feel by procrastinating their check ups, they can buy themselves some time and ‘save up’ to fix their teeth.  But even missing 1 yearly check up can lead to undiagnosed cavities and gum disease that will only get worse.  Many times these early stage cavities don’t hurt so patients feel like they have time to take care of it.  Unfortunately, any savings that people may think they get in putting off their visits are wiped out when that one tooth ends up causing lots of pain, and takes a lot of work to fix not to mention using up those ‘dental insurance’ benefits.  Gum disease is a ‘silent’ disease so symptoms may not crop up until lots of damage is already done.  By keeping up with more frequent cleanings, bone and gum problems can be kept in check.

Many patients get on the proverbial hamster wheel of putting off needed treatment because ‘insurance ran out’. Their problems get bigger, they wait longer to fix it, and the solutions get more complex and expensive.

What happens if  you have a true dental emergency?  Imagine if you tripped on the sidewalk this year and broke your 3 or 4 front teeth.  Guess what?  You may have only $1000, or $ 2000 at best, to use towards fixing those teeth, and maybe less if you already used some ‘benefits’ for your visit.  That doesn’t sound like insurance to me.  But this is a ‘worst case scenario that I see quite often.  Accidents do happen, and the teeth can be fixed, but ‘dental insurance’ just doesn’t pass the test.  Luckily, with all the options that we offer, like crowns and implants, we can make you smile again.  So far, ‘dental insurance’ doesn’t sound like anything the definition of ‘insurance’.

So, that old adage is true.  A stitch in time does save nine.  That is, getting in to see the dentist often and taking care of problems early will save you both time and money.  In the end, dental ‘insurance’ at best is a ‘helping hand’ for times when almost everything is doing well, or only 1 or 2 problems crop up.  At worst, dental insurance is a hinderance because people feel that they cannot undergo the treatment they deserve because they don’t ‘have enough insurance’.  Rather, free your mind from those definitions and ask us how we can help get back to health.

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