What price are you willing to place on your children’s teeth?

Protected tooth
This sealant was placed over 20 years ago and it is still protecting the chewing surface of my tooth.

We invest in our kids. There are the usual things:  clothes, food, and school. We equip them with all kinds of technology which includes cell phones and computers, but investing in their teeth seems to be another story. I was surprised to read an article that highlighted an issue that our children are not receiving preventive care for their teeth. I was flabbergasted at the number of children missing out on care which could prevent bigger problems for them in the future.
Let me throw out some numbers for you to process, by way of a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC:

Approximately 23% of children aged 2-11 years have at least one primary tooth with untreated decay and 20% of adolescents aged 12-19 year have at least one permanent tooth with untreated decay.*

Untreated decay=cavity. When we use the word cavity, people seem to feel that it is not a big deal. “Oh it’s JUST a cavity. It’s not hurting.” But cavities left untreated will continue to get bigger and bigger until the decayed portion eats away at tooth structure, can cause pain, broken teeth, and worse, infection.

A systematic review of randomized controlled trials found that dental sealants reduce decay in permanent molars by 81% approximately 2 years after placement and continue to be effective up to 4.5 years after placement. *

81% reduction in decay/cavities by placing a sealant on the chewing surface of the tooth! Prevention is what we believe, teach, and preach here at the office. It is so important to protect tooth structure. Yet for some reason parents are not taking advantage of this simple procedure. How can parents leave without scheduling an appointment to place sealants on their kiddo’s teeth?  The main reason I hear repeatedly is THE COST. A study by the CDC addressed several issues which could help explain the lack of preventative care for children. Let’s see if you agree that these could be obstacles to healthcare:

  1. Lack of dental insurance,
  2. If dental insurance is available, the out-of-pocket costs compared to medical expenses were more expensive.

And this is what the study found,

In 2009, the total dental expenses for U.S. children aged 5-7 years were approximately $20 billion (5), accounting for 17.7% of all health-care expenses among this age group (6). Approximately 40% of dental costs were paid out of pocket (5), compared with 17% for medical care (6). Approximately one fourth of U.S. children do not have dental insurance (private or public) (7). The types of services covered by dental insurance vary widely by plan, but typically have higher copayments and lower annual limits than services covered by medical insurance (8). *

In relation to cost, preventive care is usually less costly than restorative treatment.  Or another way to put that is, fluoride varnish and sealants placed on teeth will be less expensive than a filling, root canal, or crown. An added bonus to not having to pay for the more expensive restorative procedures is that tooth structure was saved! Plus, another child did not have to have to have an injection or feel anxious about having “work” done on them. There is also less time spent away from school and school activities. Those are all good things to keep in mind when “preventive care” is presented at the recall appointment.

I have used a number of statistics from the CDC study, and I encourage you to visit the site for EVEN MORE information about the health of our children.  Go to * and click on the * FULL REPORT The information is very informative about medical and dental issues concerning our kids.

If you have children and have questions about preventive care such as sealants, fluoride varnish, or rinses, call our office or your dental provider and get as much information as possible about those important services.

We welcome comments about our blog.



Yes, we will work with your dental coverage.

Dental insurance is a tricky subject. When looking at it from a patient’s point of view there is a good reason to pay a company to help with coverage for dental treatment. Dental insurance allows the patient to feel they can afford dental care. The person feels covered, taken care of, and protected. There is also a dark side when considering coverage for dental treatment. It is the business side of the insurance game. In the same way a used car salesman will exaggerate the positive points when you are looking at a car, such as the new tires and the spiffy spare tire in the trunk or the jack which is included, and will downplay the negative, possible past accidents, you should be prepared to ask questions to get the most of what you pay for. The insurance brokers are selling to a customer’s needs, not necessarily to satisfy a patient’s needs. A person’s expectations of what they have paid for can often leave a bad taste in their mouth when they show up at their dental office with their shiny, new dental insurance card and find out what their “benefits” are or are not.

The question, “Do you take my insurance?” can be too vague of a question when calling to search for a dentist. Why? Because most offices can and will accept benefits from any company that is providing coverage for its customers. Most offices will also file the dental claims for the services provided by the dentist. What you want to know is, “I am covered with Company X, is your doctor a preferred provider with that company?” Or, “Is Dr. X. contracted with Company X? I am looking to save money by using a network provider.” If your goal is to save money, don’t be afraid to say so. You are more likely to have your expectations met if you are clear in what you are seeking. Another possibility to consider is that your policy will dictate which dentist you use by withholding payment, unless you use a dentist contracted with that company. If you like the choice to be yours, be sure your policy allows you to choose your dentist.

Currently, the office where I spend my day, the dentist has decided to be contracted with one company. The question often comes up as to why the doctor is not signed up with more insurance companies. I will explain, you may not like what I have to say, but here it goes. He prefers to provide dentistry to his patients in a low-volume, less-rushed environment so that the he can spend quality time with each person. We want our patients to feel comfortable while they are here and that takes time and personal attention. The relaxing atmosphere can be lost when you are pushed to do more for less, which can happen depending on how many companies the dentist is contracted with.  This is due to the discounts and adjustments which are made when a provider becomes contracted with each company. Plus, a dental office patient load will most likely increase because insurance companies will promote their contracted providers. A contract can limit your choices, be sure you get what you pay for.

A great way to find a dentist is to ask around. If your company provides insurance there is a big probability that others in your workplace have found someone they trust, like, and the dental office works well with the insurance company which covers the company’s employees. Your friends and coworkers will often give you the low down on the office too. Such as sharing which is their favorite hygienist or dental assistant and the little things that make their dentist, “THE BEST!” We love inside referrals, because that shows that we are doing something right.

There is more to this story, so stay in touch and keep in mind that Knowledge is Power. The more you know about your individual dental insurance policy, the more empowered you become about your dental health.

Keep brushing!