Ignoring dental health can be costly (via @www.cincinnati.com)

10 Jan

Dentist Allison Powers examines Chloe Spencer’s teeth

Are you eating healthyor picking up exercise to avoid health problems like osteoporosis and heart disease in the New Year? Make sure you add dental care to the mix.

That’s right. Taking care of your teeth with regular brushing and checkups can actually prevent serious diseases and painful dental procedures down the road.

Unfortunately many opt out of dental coverage to save money, even though the associated health problems cost significantly more than preventive care. If you’re examining 2015 health care options  through a strictly budget-focused filter, take caution.

Dental coverage is not required for adults under the Affordable Care Act; it’s only required for children. That means:

Employers aren’t required to offer dental insurance to employees, which leaves those without employer-provided coverage weighing out-of-pocket and individual insurance  options.

Even if employers do provide it, adults can opt out of the company’s dental coverage, and purchase their own through the Insurance Marketplace or forgo it all together.

In the past decade, the number of Americans with dental coverage has declined, according to the American Dental Association. Many cut short-term costs with out-of-pocket dental care  paying the full amount for services like cleaning and fillings.

That strategy may trim expenses in the short term, and many think it’s a viable option for maintaining good oral health.

But statistics tell a different story. By forgoing dental coverage, many are actually forgoing preventive oral care. The National Association of Dental Plans  reports those without dental coverage are less likely to go to the dentist, and throughout the last decade, the number of adults who visit the dentist has been on the decline. In fact, the ADA reports that in 2012, only 35.4 percent of working adults visited the dentist.

This shift toward out-of-pocket dental coverage – and the consequential lack of preventive care – can cause major health problems and financial burdens.

Individuals without dental coverage are more likely to face oral health problems like extractions, dentures  and gum disease  because they don’t get the preventive treatment they need. And those problems can extend well beyond the mouth. According to the NADP, those without dental benefits are:

67 percent more likely to have heart disease.

50 percent more likely to have osteoporosis.

29 percent more likely to have diabetes.

Avoiding routine checkups has financial ramifications, too. Routine dental exams allow problems to be caught early and treated inexpensively. Think of it like this:

Every $1 spent on preventive oral care can result in $8 to $40 in savings on future dental costs, according to the American Dental Hygienists’ Association.

A major procedure like crowns or dentures can cost you up to double what you would pay if you had insurance, the NADP reports.

If you’re looking to save money in 2015, skimping on dental coverage is not your best option. To maintain good oral health on a budget, consider a dental insurance plan that meets your specific needs. The good news is, the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period runs through February 2015, so it’s not too late to sign up.

Dental care may not be at the top of your resolution list, but it’s critical for a healthy, happy new year

Source: http://www.cincinnati.com/

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