Dental health is an important aspect of your overall well-being. Poor dental health can lead to various problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, and even systemic infections. Moreover, dental health can affect your self-esteem, confidence, and quality of life.
However, dental care can also be expensive and inaccessible for many people. According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 3.5 billion people suffer from oral diseases worldwide, and most of them are due to lack of access to affordable and quality dental services1. In addition, dental insurance can be costly and limited in coverage, leaving many people with high out-of-pocket expenses or unmet dental needs.
Fortunately, there are ways to improve your dental health and save money on insurance. Here are some tips that you can follow:
- Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily
This is the most basic and effective way to prevent dental problems and maintain good oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth removes plaque, bacteria, and food particles that can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Flossing helps to clean the spaces between your teeth where brushing cannot reach. You should use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, and brush for at least two minutes each time. You should also replace your toothbrush every three months or when it becomes worn or frayed2.
- Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings
Even if you brush and floss regularly, you still need to see your dentist at least once or twice a year for a professional examination and cleaning. Your dentist can detect any signs of dental problems early and provide appropriate treatment before they become worse or more expensive. A dental cleaning can also remove tartar, stains, and plaque that cannot be removed by brushing or flossing alone2.
- Eat a balanced and nutritious diet
What you eat can affect your dental health as well as your general health. You should avoid or limit foods and drinks that are high in sugar, acid, or carbohydrates, as they can erode your enamel, cause cavities, and promote bacterial growth in your mouth. Instead, you should eat foods that are rich in calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, vitamin D, and other nutrients that support your teeth and gums. Some examples are cheese, yogurt, milk, eggs, fish, lean meat, nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and water3.
- Avoid tobacco products and limit alcohol consumption
Tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and snuff can harm your dental health in many ways. They can stain your teeth, damage your gums, increase your risk of oral cancer, and impair your immune system. Alcohol can also have negative effects on your dental health, such as drying out your mouth, reducing saliva flow, increasing acidity, and weakening your enamel4. Therefore, you should quit smoking or using tobacco products if you do so, and drink alcohol moderately or not at all.
- Compare different dental insurance plans and choose the best one for you
Dental insurance can help you pay for some or all of the costs of dental care, depending on the type and level of coverage you have. However, not all dental insurance plans are the same. They may vary in terms of premiums, deductibles, co-payments, co-insurance, annual maximums, waiting periods, exclusions, limitations, and network providers5. Therefore, you should compare different dental insurance plans carefully and choose the best one for you based on your needs, budget, and preferences.
Some of the factors that you should consider when choosing a dental insurance plan are:
The type of plan: There are different types of dental insurance plans available, such as preferred provider organization (PPO), dental health maintenance organization (DHMO), dental indemnity plan, and discount dental plan. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages, so you should understand how they work and what they offer before making a decision5.
The coverage: You should check what services and procedures are covered by the plan and at what percentage. Some plans may cover only preventive and basic care, such as exams, cleanings, x-rays, fillings, and extractions. Others may cover more extensive and complex care, such as root canals, crowns, bridges, implants, and orthodontics. You should also check if there are any exclusions or limitations for certain conditions or treatments5.
The cost: You should compare the costs of different plans and see how they fit your budget. The costs may include the monthly premium, the annual deductible, the co-payment or co-insurance for each service or procedure, and the annual maximum that the plan will pay for your dental care. You should also consider the potential out-of-pocket expenses that you may have to pay if the plan does not cover or fully cover a service or procedure that you need5.
The network: You should check if the plan has a network of dentists that you can choose from and how it affects your coverage and cost. Some plans may require you to use a network dentist to get the full benefits of the plan, while others may allow you to use any dentist but pay less if you use a network dentist. You should also check the quality and availability of the network dentists and see if they meet your standards and expectations5.
By following these tips, you can improve your dental health and save money on insurance. Remember, dental health is not only about your teeth and gums, but also about your overall well-being and happiness. So, take good care of your dental health and enjoy the benefits.