Do you ever wonder why health insurance doesn’t cover your dental work when your mouth is obviously the gateway to your body? We’ve wondered that too. With over 800,000 visits to the ER each year due to dental related issues, it seems it would be beneficial to combine health and dental coverage into one policy.

Diseases Can Be Caused by Poor Oral Hygiene

Your mouth is the first stop for many things and can cause or contribute to many diseases. Poor oral care is implicated in the following major health issues:

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Complications during pregnancy
  • Dementia
  • Respiratory infections
  • Infertility
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Kidney disease
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

In each of the above diseases, there have been studies that link lack of oral hygiene as a direct cause and/or contributor to the disease. You would think that these factors alone would make dental exams an important part of a person’s overall health care, and would make dental care eligible to be covered by health insurance.

Early Detection

Regular dental exams and cleanings are not only necessary to prevent illness, a dentist is able to detect more than 120 diseases during a routine dental examination. When thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars can be saved by insurance because of early detection, why not cover dental exams the same way the rest of your body is insured? Well, that’s the million-dollar question.

The Roots of Dentistry

Part of the disconnect between the medical and the dental worlds is that, until the early 1800’s, dental work was performed by a barber. Get a haircut, pull a tooth. While it might seem awful to us now, teeth were treated like hair and nails; just things that grow on your body.
As dentistry progressed into a specialty in the late 1800’s, and the link between general health and oral health was being discovered, dentistry tried to integrate with medical programs at universities, but was initially rejected. Separate dentistry schools were established that later became part of various universities.

The Modern Dilemma

That underlying disconnect seems to carry over into modern day even though dentists are the first line of defense and can also detect diseases early in their progression. The current insurance industry explains that, while those points are widely acknowledged and accepted, the state of the insurance coverage is based on risk analysis. In other words, the number of people who run to the emergency room with a toothache are minimal. The number of people who die from a toothache are minimal. Therefore, there is no risk and no need to cover dental care under health insurance.
The problems with the analytics are that it isn’t the toothache that is the problem to your health (other than the stress of the pain and possibly lack of nutrients from not wanting to eat and lack of sleep from the pain and not being able to concentrate at work, etc.). It’s what is causing the toothache that is a problem, or what will happen if the tooth isn’t fixed that will cause a health problem.
While the gap seems to be narrowing, the insurance industry is a tough one to change. (Even Medicare doesn’t provide dental coverage to seniors.) As a solution, there are supplementary dental policies that help cover routine care, as well as contribute some toward paying extraordinary expenses.
At Danville Family Dentistry, we are happy to offer our Smile Savings Plan to our patients who don’t have dental insurance. We believe that good oral care is so important, we felt it was necessary to find a solution so that everyone can get good dental care. Give us a call at 317-745-4400 or visit our website for more information about our plan.

Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.