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Affordable Dental Plans for your Family

by Helene Zemel

Good dental care is so important to your family's good health and well-being. Who can underestimate the importance of a pleasant and attractive smile? Healthy gums and teeth can contribute to an individual's self esteem. A pleasant smile can help you feel confident and secure when you meet people, and even help you perform well at a job interview.

Dental and gum disease may possibly effect your general health. There is some evidence that the bacteria from diseased gums and teeth may cause inflammation in the body which can eventually lead to heart and coronary artery disease. Preventative dental care can avoid these serious complications, yet, sadly, there are many Americans who cannot afford expensive dental treatment.

Now that it is back to school time and your child will be required to bring in completed dental and medical examination forms, it might be time to give some thought to your family's dental plan. What if you or your children need some serious dental work? What if your child needs expensive orthodontic treatment? If there are any senior citizens living in your household, they may have medical coverage through Medicare, but do they have an affordable dental plan? Missing or broken teeth or poorly fitted dentures can affect an older Amercan's ability to chew comfortably. This can result in poor nutritional status for the senior.

Dental insurance is often the forgotten coverage. While many employers provide some form of medical insurance, as many as 7 out of 10 Americans do not have a dental plan. Even among those who do have dental insurance, many dental plans prove to be very inadequate. In my work as an AmeriPlan Independent Business Owner, I speak to many individuals each day who lack affordable dental benefits. Even if they have the good fortune to have dental insurance provided by their employer, often these plans have serious limits on coverage, have waiting periods for pre-existing conditions, and frequently do not provide orthodontic treatment for children or adults. With the high cost of dentistry, a $1,500 per year limit on dental services will not take a family very far.

Discount dental plans provide the consumer with an excellent choice for saving money on dental care. These affordable dental plans are reasonably priced alternatives to expensive dental insurance plans. Savings typically range from 25% for specialist treatment (periodontists, oral surgeons, endodontists) to 80% for exams. Most major dental procedures, such as fillings, root canals, crowns and bridges, dentures, and orthodontic treatment (braces), offer savings from 50% to 60%--literally cutting a family's dental bill by more than half. A good dental discount plan will even provide savings on implants and cosmetic dentistry which are usually not covered by traditional insurance.

Some added features that a good discount dental plan provides are:
When looking for an affordable dental plan, look for a plan that is a member of the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP), has a good choice of dental providers in your local area, and has an 800 number for customer service. In addition, many discount dental plans offer value added services such as discounts on vision care, prescriptions, and chiropractic treatment.