The “Dental Benefit” is not the same as medical insurance. The product is not called dental insurance for good reason. Unlike medical insurance, dental benefits are limited to a yearly amount ranging anywhere from $1000.00 to $3000.00. The average yearly benefit has been around $1500.00 for decades. There are many other differences, but that’s the main one.
Offices can fit into two broad categories, insurance driven or non-insurance type, that’s our office. If the receptionist asks for your insurance info after asking for your name or even before asking for your name then you can bet its an insurance/dental benefit focused office. In that situation the treatment is determined primarily by what is covered under the plan and does not exceed the yearly maximum. The patient often does not have a significant out of pocket expense or none at all. This is great if the treatment you need and want equals your benefit amount. The challenge is bridging the gap when the needs and desires of the patient greatly exceed the dental benefits.
The main concerns of the Dental Dream Team are the patients needs and desires. We are not ignorant of the financial burden of dental expenses and the benefit of having a dental plan. We are painfully aware of the limits of dental benefits. Many of our patients don’t have a dental plan which is often better than having an inadequate one. By focusing on comprehensive care we are able to deliver treatment with the patients budget in mind. We offer payment plans through 3rd party lenders and office payment plans. We accept all forms of payment and work to optimize your dental benefits without compromising your care. This strategy has worked for us going on 20 years now. Its been our choice to not enter into any PPO or HMO contracts and maintain the freedom to set fee’s as we see fit. When you have treatment here you can rest assured your main concerns are being addressed in the best way possible.
As a periodontist, I am quite pleased that Governor Quinn proclaimed February as Gum Disease Awareness Month. The proclamation reads like a poem to a periodontist. It clearly states many facts about gum disease and why its important to have the condition treated. I hope to have the proclamation posted on my website in the near future. Another interesting development is the publication of the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). This ongoing study for the first time included a comprehensive periodontal examination. No surprise to me the prevalence of gum disease is greater than past estimates. On average half of the adult population has some form of gum disease. In adults over 60, men, smokers,and minorities the prevalence is over 50 percent.
These two developments, the proclamation and the NHANES study, seem to have come out at the same time. I’m using this time to seriously market the need for awareness, proper examinations and treatment. This is a perfect time to promote a very important part of the Dental Dream Team’s care. Not only do we make beautiful smiles, we are also very aware of the health needs of our community. The population we serve has health issues all tied together so treating one effects the other and can improve overall health. Diabetes, hypertension, and smoking are the main conditions that relate to the the infection in the mouth known as gum disease. Some studies are also showing a relationship of gum disease to cancers, erectile dysfunction, and a host of other ailments. The size of the studies and design of the study prevent a clear causal relationship, nevertheless the results do warrant further study.