A Little-Known Dental Insurance Trick Can Save You Money

new year insurance trick
When it comes to dental insurance, or insurance in general, many of us are quickly baffled. There are so many different types of plans & unfamiliar vocabulary that it often feels like trying to learn a new language. However, there is one important concept about your dental insurance that you should absolutely know, & it can save you money!

There are actually a few sweet spots on the calendar when it comes to getting dental treatments done, & one of them is the beginning of the year. Because your dental benefits don’t roll over from year to year, every New Year you’re granted with a fresh set of benefits. That means no matter how much dental work you had done the previous year, you have new benefits you can use right away this year.

If your dental insurance plan has a deductible (i.e. a total amount you must pay out-of-pocket before the insurance company starts covering your costs), getting treatments completed at the beginning of the year could mean reaching your deductible early. Once you’ve reached your deductible, any treatments you may need later in the year might be covered entirely by your insurance, meaning there will be no out-of-pocket cost for you. By contrast, if you started treatment at the end of the year before reaching your deductible & your follow-up appointments fell in the New Year, you’d be paying some out-of-pocket cost for all of it!

If your dental insurance plan has an out-of-pocket maximum, starting a treatment at the beginning of the year can help you reach that maximum sooner. Once your out-of-pocket maximum has been reached, that may mean that any follow-up appointments you have for your treatment, plus any other treatments or appointments, could be covered 100% by your dental insurance for the rest of year. Also, most dental plans cover your regular teeth cleanings at no cost to you (or a very small co-payment), often regardless of whether you’vereached your deductible or out-of-pocket maximum. That means no matter what time of year it is, you’re entitled to teeth cleanings for free with your insurance.

Both of these examples demonstrate why the beginning of the year is a great time to get started on dental work that you may have been putting off. Plus, it may be a great way to get started on your new year’s resolution to be healthier!

Yes, Flossing Really Is That Important & Here’s Why

closeup the importance of flossingAs dental professionals we often feel like a broken record (or a scratched CD, depending on your generation) telling patients that they need to floss more. We don’t mean to be nags, we just want you to have the healthiest, happiest smile possible!

While brushing cleans the front, back & chewing surfaces of your teeth, flossing is the only way to properly clean the spaces between your teeth (what dental pros call the inter-proximal region). Even if you’re a teeth brushing superstar, you’re not cleaning your entire tooth if you don’t floss.

Here are just a few of the problems you will avoid by flossing daily:

Tooth Decay

The same micro-organism filled plaque that accumulates on the front & back of your teeth can accumulate between them. This bacteria-ridden buildup can cause cavities & tooth decay if it isn’t cleaned away by flossing.

Bad Breath

The bacteria in plaque left between your teeth can also eventually lead to bad breath. So if you brush & use mouthwash & still find yourself with bad breath, not flossing may be the culprit.

Tartar Buildup

Plaque that is left on your teeth can eventually harden into a substance called tartar, which can lead to gum disease. You can prevent the development of tartar by flossing, but once tartar has formed, only scaling & cleaning at the dentist can remove it.

Other Health Complications

Poor dental hygiene has been linked to both heart disease & aggravation of symptoms for those with diabetes. Remember that your mouth is an entry point for your entire body, so keeping your teeth healthy by brushing & flossing can prevent disease-causing pathogens from getting in.

If you feel you need a reminder of the best way to floss, your dentist or dental hygienist will always be happy to give you a demonstration at your next visit. You may also be more likely to floss if you find the right type of floss for your mouth. Try different types, such as unwaxed, waxed or tape floss, or floss on a pick tool, until you find what feels the most comfortable for you.

How to Choose a Toothbrush

Multicolor Toothbrushes

Humans have been using toothbrushes to remove food from teeth for thousands of years. Early toothbrushes were sticks with frayed ends, & later brushes were made from bone, wood or ivory & animal hairs. We have come a long way since then, & toothbrushes today are very effective at removing food & plaque & keeping your teeth & gums clean.

Why Brush Your Teeth?

Brushing your teeth removes food & plaque, which is bacteria that eats away at your teeth & can build up & become tartar, a hardened form of plaque. Without daily brushing, plaque & tartar can build up, & the acids that they produce can erode your tooth enamel & irritate your gums. Brushing your teeth can help prevent cavities & gum disease, so be sure to brush every day!

Types of Toothbrushes

There are two types of toothbrushes: manual & powered. Both types are equally effective at cleaning your teeth, but powered toothbrushes can be fun for children & easy to use for people who have trouble using manual toothbrushes. Use whichever type is easiest for you.

Bristles on toothbrushes vary in toughness, from soft to hard, & most dentists recommend using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Hard bristles can actually damage your enamel & irritate your gums!

No matter which type of toothbrush you use, you should brush twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste & replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months, or whenever the bristles seem frayed.