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What You Need to Know to Get the Best Discount Dental Plan?

A dental plan is a great way to reduce the cost of dental work which a person would have to pay out of pocket. If you have looked up discount dental plans recently, undoubtedly you came across a myriad of different options. There are not only multiple companies offering a discount dental plan, there are often a number of different plans offered by each company. All of the plans have different strengths and weaknesses, as well as different costs. You need to take a look at the specific strengths as wells as the individual's specific needs to determine which plan will be more beneficial in your case.

Questions to Ask Before Buying a Dental Plan

What is covered?

Most dental plans will post a sample price list with about 10 procedures for you to look at. An important question to ask, however, is how many procedures are going to be reduced on the full price list? Some plans will offer the full price list to look at up front, while other plans will not offer the full schedule until you are a member of the plan. If the sample price list looks good, chances are good that the entire plan is going to be good, but the sample price lists are not always 100% accurate.

Where do I live?

Another consideration to keep in mind when selecting a dental plan is the region in which you live. There are different strengths of plans in different regions around America. Some plans are good in the South, others specialize in the Northeast, while others are strongest in the Western part of the U.S. There are also plans which can be used anywhere in the United States, regardless of where you purchase the plan. When looking at a sample fee schedule, be sure that the sample fees are correct for your region. If you live in Oregon, but the sample prices listed are for Texas, there could be some extreme differences in price when you get to the dentist office.

Do specialists offer discounts?

Yet another consideration to look at with a dental plan is the coverage for work done by a specialist. The savings at the specialist office will never be as strong as the savings at the general dentist, but the dental plan should still post the specialists savings ahead of time. Typically, the savings for a specialist will be 15%-25% off the typical rates. If a plan does not mention anything about specialists this can be a red flag about the plan. Double check to make sure that there is a savings for work done by a specialist. Many dental plans also include some extra benefits like savings on vision, prescription, and chiropractic work. Although this is normally not the major selling point of a plan, additional features are nice to have and can be very useful.

Are there providers available?

A final deciding point when choosing a dental plan is the availability of dentists in your area. Each dental plan will have a specific list of dentists who participate with that plan. If there is a specific dentist which you would prefer to use, you will need to do a bit more research to find a plan that the dentist office accepts. If you are open to new dentists, you will still want to check to make sure there are participating dentists in your area on the plan which you choose. Some plans only have dentists in certain regions around the U.S. Make sure you are getting a plan that has participating dentists in your immediate area.

Is there a waiting period?

Lots of dental plans have waiting periods before they will allow you to get certain procedures. Many times you can use a dental plan for cleanings and oral exams. However, if at one of those dental exams you discover that you need a root canal, for example, you may have to wait about 6 months for coverage to kick in! When you are choosing your dental plan, make sure that you ask the consultant if their policy is completely effective immediately. Otherwise, you could end up in a tough situation.

Does it have a pre-existing conditions clause?

A pre-existing conditions clause seems to defeat the purpose of a dental plan because usually, no one thinks to purchase a dental plan until they have a nice toothache reminding them to do so. Either purchase your dental plan when you have no problems in your mouth, or double check and make sure your policy does not have a preexisting condition clause.

What is the annual maximum?

Usually plans that include an annual maximum cap out around $1200 a year. A single root canal with a crown usually runs around $2000. Obviously, you don't want to have to come up with an extra $800 just because your policy ran out on you. If you have four people on a policy, and one person gets a root canal while another needs fillings, you could really be in trouble. Don't worry, though, there are plenty of dental plans that have no annual maximums.

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How to Find a Discount Dental Plan

Step 1. Search the Web.

If you go to the search engine of your choice and search the terms "discount dental plan," a long list of websites will appear. The most helpful and reliable websites are typically listed towards the top of the page. You may want to peruse the top 5 listings and make some notes about each plan.

There are observations you can make upon entering a discount plan’s website that will tell you a lot about the quality of its service and the strength of its prices. First, the site should look professional, because established, reliable businesses can always devote the time and money to create a nice-looking, user-friendly website. Secondly, if the website offers several different types of health plans (including a variety of plans for dentistry, nursing, chiropractic, etc.), its resources may be spread thin between a myriad of plans, and the website may not be able to give you the best customer service and discounts for your needs. Finally, if the site has multiple plans available, it is most likely a large dental broker that will charge more than other sites that specialize in offering one key plan.

Once you have made these initial observations, start looking more thoroughly through plan websites that interest you for more information about their reputations, pricing, and benefits, so you can best compare each afterward.

Step 2. Investigate Each Plan’s Reputation.

Before digging into a plan’s pricing and any "fine print," you will want to check the company’s reputation. You can do this several ways.

First, check the Better Business Bureau to determine if the company and/or website you are researching is registered and has no negative reviews listed. Secondly, find out if this plan is used by any major, trusted corporations. This key information will usually be listed on the plan’s homepage.

Finally, find out how large the plan’s network is. How many dentists honor its discounts, and how many members does the company serve? Plans with less than 50,000 dentists involved and less than a few million members are likely less established and less likely to offer you a cheap price.

Step 3. Find out about Prices.

Discount plans have two sets of prices that you need to know: 1) monthly or annual rates and 2) prices per procedure. The monthly and/or annual membership rates should be easiest to spot on the company's website. If you want discounts for both yourself and your dependents, determine how much the membership rates will rise for each person added. Typical monthly rates are less than $18 a month.

Before you join a discount program, be sure to check its prices per procedure so you know exactly what you will be charged for different types of treatment at the dentist. Make sure that you can see its full fee schedule of prices for the procedures you need before you buy. Less reliable companies tend to provide just a sample fee schedule, so you will only know what each procedure really costs after you have become a member.

Step 4. Note any Fine Print or Plan Add-ons.

If you like a plan’s website, reputation, and prices, you may want to further research the plan’s features to determine if there is any "fine print" you may have missed. If you need to see the dentist due to a toothache, make sure the plan can discount pre-existing conditions, a common feature of a discount dental plan. Be sure to find out how soon the plan can be effective and if it includes any helpful add-ons like a vision or prescription plan.

Step 5. Compare Your Results.

If you want to create a personal comparison of the pros and cons of each discount program, try writing a simple summary for each website you have researched and set the summaries next to each other. You may not have to do such extensive comparison if a one plan clearly stood out during your research.

After completing this final step, you will have survived navigating the discount dental plan market, and likely found the program that best fits your situation! You now have the power to make an informed, rational decision about which plan is right for you.

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Myths about Dental Health

Myth 1: Cavities are The Consequences of Poor Oral Health

What you eat and how you care for your teeth can affect many aspects of your life and, in some cases, the lives of others. It is no secret that poor nutrition, especially eating sticky and sugary foods, leads to tooth decay. But did you know that if you are a mother-to-be, your bad oral health habits can affect your baby?

If you don’t eat right during your pregnancy, your child could be more prone to tooth decay. That is why it is especially important to eat foods rich in calcium, vitamin D, vitamin A, protein and nutritious calories, especially during your first and second trimesters. In children, tooth decay is an increasingly common problem, occurring in five times as many children as asthma does. A kindergartner with a toothache will find it difficult to concentrate in school. In addition, she will be more likely to gravitate toward softer, easier-to-eat foods such as starches and sugary pastries instead of more nutritious crunchy fruits and vegetables. In the end, in a tragic downward spiral, these choices will lead to more tooth decay.

Myth 2: More Sugar Always Means More Cavities

Our mothers always warned us that sweet snacks like candy would lead to tooth decay. While they were right, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Tooth decay occurs not just because you may have eaten a chocolate bar; it happens when sugars remain in contact with the teeth over time. Therefore, hard candy and sodas sipped throughout the day are actually more harmful than that candy bar that melts quickly away, particularly if you rinse out your mouth immediately after eating the chocolate.

Myth 3: Decay in Baby Teeth is not a Problem

Many parents mistakenly believe that true pediatric dental care doesn’t really begin until after the permanent teeth appear. They think that there will be no lasting damage from a decayed baby tooth, since it will soon fall out. In reality, decay in primary teeth can lead to damage in the permanent teeth that are developing underneath them. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, the incoming permanent tooth may not be positioned properly, necessitating later visits to an orthodontist.

Myth 4: Osteoporosis Has Nothing To Do With Oral Health

As we get older, our bones are often not as strong as they once were. In a serious condition called osteoporosis, bones throughout the body become weakened, more porous and less dense. While most people associate osteoporosis with the spine and hips, it also can affect the bones in the face that hold your teeth in place. Maintaining a diet rich in calcium is thought to be helpful in reducing the likelihood and severity of osteoporosis. If you eat right, your whole body will be energized.

Myth 5: Dentures Lead to a Better Diet

In fact, just the opposite is often the case. This is because many dentures are not fitted properly. As a result, patients are uncomfortable and eating becomes a chore, particularly when it comes to ingesting firm and crunchy foods like fruits and vegetables. If your dentures hurt, ask your dentist if they can be re-fitted to your mouth. In the meantime, you can still maintain a healthy diet without being in agony. Eat fresh, cooked vegetables, ground meats, and smoothies made with fruits and veggies to ensure that you get the proper nutrition you need.

Myth 6: Only Young People Need to Worry About Tooth Decay

As we age, our gums tend to recede. Unfortunately, that can result in tooth decay at the roots of your teeth. Medications commonly taken by older people including sedatives, antidepressants, antihistamines, and diuretics can lead to dryness in the mouth and a reduction in the mouth’s ability to cleanse itself. Drinking water frequently can go a long way toward stopping this type of tooth decay. Since uncontrolled diabetes can also lead to gum disease and tooth decay, keeping blood sugar levels at a normal and stable level can minimize tooth decay in older people.

Myth 7: Dental Coverage is not Affordable

Tragically, many people avoid visiting the dentist because their finances are tight and they do not believe they can afford coverage. As a result, they do not receive the twice-yearly maintenance visits they need to optimize their oral health. In reality, coverage does not have to be prohibitively expensive. Discount dental plans such as the Careington 500 Seriesplan work because large groups of dentists join together to provide high-quality oral care at manageable costs. Affordable coverage is not just for the wealthy or the fortunate. With a discount dental plan, you can have control over your and your family’s oral well-being.

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How Long Can I Go Without Seeing a Dentist?

You should schedule a visit at least every six months to a year. Avoiding the dentist any longer than that may allow problems to increase unnoticed. Sensitive gums could lead to periodontal disease or plaque that could lead to advanced tooth decay. Plaque buildup or bleeding gums could also mean severe decay and jawbone damage if left untreated.

Brushing your teeth and flossing regularly are important to your dental hygiene, but these habits alone can't prevent every dental problem. Regular dentist visits will help keep your teeth clean, and allow professionals to detect any potential problems in your mouth early on. Avoiding the dentist can increase your pain and cost. A classic example is the decaying tooth. Some people say they would rather have a decayed tooth fall out than pay a dentist to extract it. Failing to treat the tooth, however, can lead to gum disease. After the decay demolishes the inside of one tooth, it could move to another and even start destroying your entire jaw structure. In an effort to extract the rotting tooth itself, your body will deteriorate the surrounding bone anchoring it to the jaw until it falls out. When you need a replacement prosthetic tooth to replace it, the implant will be difficult to anchor in the weakened bone. A visit to repair or treat such a problem will be much more costly than if you had simply paid a small fee for an extraction.

Don’t wait until you have serious oral health issues to attend regular checkups. Find a discount dental plan and visit a dentist as soon as possible to improve your oral health and general well-being.

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