Dental Insurance: Are You Throwing Away Money?

Dental Insurance: Are You Throwing Away Money?

Some of the most common questions we answer in our dental offices are about dental insurance.  Dental insurance plans and the benefits they provide can be very confusing.  There are thousands of different plans, and many of them even share the same name.   So just knowing that you have Blue Cross Blue Shield won’t get you very far when it comes to figuring out your dental benefits.

The front office staffs in each of our locations have been working with our patients for decades to help them get the most out of their dental insurance.  We have  noticed some trends in recent years that may affect your dental care.  While insurance premiums have stayed the same or increased, the provided benefits have actually decreased.  This means that even though you or your company may be paying the same amount or more, you are receiving a lower dollar amount of dental benefits. 

How Do Dental Insurance Benefits Work?

Dental insurance is not like medical insurance at all.  If required, dental insurance deductibles are usually under $100, and are collected at your first dental visit of the insurance plan year.  Most insurance plans follow a calendar year; some use a different fiscal year, like August-to-August, which is important to know.   This matters when it comes to maximizing your benefits.

Dental insurance plans always have a “maximum”.  These range from $1000-2500.  There are a few great plans that offer higher maximums, but they are rare.  Dental insurance benefits pay up to their stated maximum, and then the patient is responsible for 100% of any fees that accrue past that. 

The important thing to understand about a benefit maximum is that any benefits you do not use during the plan’s year are not carried over to the following year.  They are simply lost.

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How Can I Maximize My Benefits?

Do not wait until the end of the year!  Many people forget about their dental insurance until December and then attempt to get all of their dental work done in a short amount of time.  In order you get the most out of your insurance plan, we need to see you as soon as possible.  Our experts will help you with the following things:

Know your plan’s benefit calendar.  If your benefits renew in August instead of January, that may change the timing of your treatment. 
Know your maximum.  If your plan offers $2000 in dental benefits, and you are in need of treatment, you should proceed with treatment before the end of the plan’s calendar.  Otherwise, those benefits are lost.

 

Your care at our dental centers is always based on what is best for your health, and our doctors will treat you with excellence and compassion regardless of the presence or absence of dental insurance benefits.  In all cases, Dr. Jason, Dr. Alex and Dr. Serena create a customized treatment plan for each person’s specific dental needs.  Only then will our insurance experts help you prioritize the timing and financing of each prescribed procedure so you get the most out of your dental insurance. 

How Can I Find Out What Benefits I Have?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to speak with one of our insurance experts about your specific plan.  They can answer all of your questions and set you up to see Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your appointment today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!

Invisalign

What is Invisalign®? 

Invisalign® is a method of straightening teeth that does not require metal brackets or wires.  It consists of a series of removable clear plastic aligners (or trays) that are custom made for each individual’s teeth.  When a patient decides to straighten their teeth with Invisalign®, Dr. Aanenson makes a personalized treatment plan for his or her orthodontic needs.  This unique plan is communicated to the AlignTech® laboratory, where each aligner is fabricated via CAD/CAM technology.  The aligners are virtually invisible, and it is one of the most esthetic ways to straighten your teeth.

What are the advantages of using Invisalign® to straighten teeth?

Aside from the obvious cosmetic advantages, Invisalign® provides the patient with the ability to clean the teeth much more easily than in traditional braces.  Because the aligners are removable, they are simply removed for a normal, good oral hygiene routine that includes mouthwash, brushing and flossing.  With traditional braces, adjunctive products such as special flossers, interdental brushes or picks or Waterpik tools are often needed to keep the teeth free of food debris and bacterial plaque.  The Invisalign® aligners make perfect custom whitening trays, so you can whiten your teeth while you straighten them.  The aligners can also be removed for special occasions like weddings, photo sessions, speeches, etc…

What are the disadvantages of using Invisalign® to straighten teeth?

Like the advantages, the disadvantages also stem from the fact that the aligners are removable.  Unlike braces and wires, which cannot be removed by the patient, Invisalign® aligners can be taken out at any time.  This means that the success of treatment depends on patient compliance.  If the aligners are not worn for at least 22 hours per day, the teeth will not move as prescribed by your dentist.  There are times when the orthodontic movement of teeth can cause discomfort or tooth pain.  This makes it very tempting to remove the aligners for relief from the pressure being put on the teeth.  There are many people who do not achieve a successful result with their Invisalign® treatment because they do not wear the aligners as prescribed.

How does it work? 

Through the use of its patented design, Invisalign® aligners move your teeth through the appropriate placement of controlled force.  To put it simply, Invisalign® moves teeth by pushing them into the desired position.  Invisalign® not only controls the amount and direction of force, but also the timing of the force application.  This means that your dentist can prescribe exact movements for each individual tooth, including which teeth not to move, like implants or teeth that are part of a cemented bridge.  Certain teeth can be held in place while others are being moved.

Why do some people get Invisalign® and others get braces? 

There are some limitations to the type of tooth movements Invisalign® can accomplish, and not every patient is a candidate for straightening their teeth with Invisalign®.  An orthodontic evaluation of your teeth is necessary to determine if your goals will be met by using Invisalign®.   

What is the cost?

For Invisalign® treatment, the cost varies depending on the length of treatment and is similar to the cost of traditional orthodontics.  Once Dr. Aanenson has done a thorough orthodontic evaluation, he will estimate the length of treatment and number of aligners required to meet your goals. 

Does my dental insurance cover Invisalign®? 

Many dental insurance companies do provide coverage for Invisalign®.  It is claimed as a benefit for Adult Orthodontics and typically ranges from $1500-2500.  To find out if you are covered, you can call your dental insurance company and ask if you have adult orthodontic coverage.  Teenagers are often covered under their insurance plan’s orthodontic benefits, up to a certain age limit, which varies depending on your specific insurance plan.

How long will it take to straighten my teeth?

Treatment time varies based on how much movement is required to achieve your goals and how compliant you are with wearing the aligners for at least 22 hours per day.  New studies suggest that each aligner may be worn from 7-14 days.  This range means that some patients may achieve quicker results than others.  Average treatment time for an adult is about 12-18 months. 

How often do I have to see the dentist during treatment?

After treatment has begun, your dentist will typically see you every 6 weeks, which means you will wear three sets of aligners between each visit.  Sometimes more frequent appointments are required to monitor the progress of the teeth.

What are the eating and drinking restrictions during Invisalign® treatment?

Because aligners can be removed for eating and drinking, there are no restrictions to what you can eat or drink when the aligners are not in your mouth.  You can eat with the aligners in, and the chewing force actually contributes to tooth movement.  It is important that you do not drink anything besides water with the aligners in.  Because the aligners keep your saliva from properly bathing the teeth, any acid or sugar from a beverage could be trapped under the aligners and increase the likelihood of cavities. 

Why now?

 There is no better time to straighten your teeth than now!  Over time, teeth continue to shift and move, and most problems are aggravated as we age.  Spacing between teeth continues to increase so gaps get noticeably larger.  Crowding on upper and lower front teeth typically gets worse so teeth appear more and more crooked.  Straightening teeth earlier, rather than later, allows for shorter treatment time and more time to enjoy your new, beautiful smile. 

Interested in learning more about Invisalign®?

Call our office at 605-925-4999 (Freeman) or (605) 928-3363 (Parkston) to schedule your Invisalign consultation today with Dr. Jason Aanenson, Dr. Alex Whitesell or Dr. Serena Whitesell!