Working With My Dentist
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Working With My Dentist

A few years ago, I realized that I was thinking about dental care all wrong. Instead of listening carefully to my dentist and making the necessary changes, I assumed that he was ultimately responsible for making sure that my teeth stayed healthy. Unfortunately, I developed a few serious cavities because I failed to properly brush and floss my teeth, and I knew that it was my fault. I decided to start taking notes at my dental checkups and carefully abiding by the dentist's orders. The difference was almost miraculous. This blog is all about working with your dentist to improve your result.

Working With My Dentist

Expiring Dental Insurance? Which Treatments Should You Seek While Still Covered?

Siiri Puro

If you've always had an employer-sponsored dental insurance plan, you might be shocked after researching the cost and coverage of the policies you'll be able to obtain on the private market. If your employer stops providing dental insurance (or if you lose your job), you may be tempted to make as many appointments and receive as many preventive or long-awaited treatments as you can while your policy is still effective -- but is this always a good idea? Read on to learn more about what you should do when your dental insurance is about to expire, as well as a few treatments you definitely don't want to rush.

What types of checkups or care should you get just before a dental insurance policy expires? 

For those facing an extended interruption in dental insurance, it can be a good idea for all family members to have a checkup and cleaning while coverage is still effective. A checkup with your regular dentist can give you an idea of how your oral health is progressing, and you'll be able to make recommended changes in time to avoid permanent damage. Your dentist will also be able to remove any plaque or tartar buildup on your teeth and treat them with fluoride to help them remain impermeable to acids, bacteria, and other potentially harmful substances.

If you've been putting off much-needed dental care -- like having a cavity filled or a sore tooth examined -- now is also the time to obtain this treatment. Having dental insurance can often help you get a quicker appointment than if you're paying cash, and ignoring a dental condition that won't improve without intervention is a recipe for future problems.

Even if you're not able to purchase a new dental insurance policy after your existing one expires, you should make an effort to seek inexpensive preventive care on a regular basis. Doing so can help prevent much more expensive treatments down the line, and many dentists offer alternative payment arrangements or sliding scale fees for those otherwise unable to afford care. By investing a small amount into these preventive treatments, you'll usually save money in the long run.

Are there any treatments you shouldn't try to squeeze in at the last minute?

While it can seem like the fiscally prudent decision to have any procedures you or your family may eventually need performed while you still have insurance -- from wisdom teeth extractions to orthodontia -- it may not be a good idea to rush into certain treatments. 

  • Having your wisdom teeth removed too early -- or too late

Many adolescents, teenagers, and early twentysomethings have their wisdom teeth surgically removed once these teeth begin to breach the gums' surface or start crowding other teeth. However, having these teeth removed preemptively isn't always a good idea, as it's tough to know whether your child's mouth will grow to accommodate wisdom teeth; in some cases, if they're removed too early it can cause the remaining teeth to develop unattractive gaps.

On the other end of the spectrum, if you've already passed age 25 without having all your wisdom teeth removed, it's possible this procedure won't be medically necessary. If you do have your wisdom teeth removed at an older age, you'll need to be prepared for the possibility that it will take you longer to heal from this procedure than it would have if you'd had it performed in your teens or early twenties. You should talk with an oral surgeon or professional in wisdom teeth extractions, such as Dale D. Lentz DDS, for more information and evaluation of your circumstances. 

  • Having orthodontic treatments performed at a young age

For those who suspect their children will need braces or a retainer during the teen years, starting orthodontic treatment while dental insurance is still in effect can seem like a no-brainer. However, if your child's dentist hasn't already recommended that this treatment begin, you may not do yourself (or your child) any favors by rushing things. Many orthodontists now recommend treatment be postponed until your child's mouth has finished some of its larger growth spurts -- having corrective braces or other devices fitted and placed in a still-growing mouth could unnecessarily extend the course of treatment.