How To Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy

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Contributor, Benzinga
December 13, 2022

Whether you make formal New Year’s Resolutions or not, this is an inspiring time of year. It seems that everyone is focused on making positive changes – and for many of us, that means taking good care of ourselves and the ones we love. Here’s a suggestion: start with your smile. Your entire body will benefit. 

The healthy habits that support your oral health – more fruits and vegetables, less sugar, reducing stress, staying hydrated, and having regular checkups – have an equally positive impact on your overall health.

Plus, chronic gum infections and untreated tooth decay have been linked to many serious health conditions including cardiovascular disease, bronchial infections, digestive problems, dementia, certain types of cancer, weakened immune systems and rheumatoid arthritis.

Here’s how to maintain (or reclaim) your oral health. 

1. Get your preventive care throughout the year

In addition to addressing typical dental concerns, such as plaque buildup (which can happen with dentures, bridges, and crowns too – not just natural teeth), a dental visit is an important way to maintain your quality of life and well-being throughout the year. 

2. Stay on top of dental health issues

Don’t delay seeing your dentist. Putting off dental care is risky for your oral health and your budget. One tiny cavity that could have been fixed for around $200 can quickly turn into a big health problem that costs thousands to treat.

3. Review your dental care strategy annually

Your needs change, and your plan to pay for essential services like dental care will likely evolve too. It’s a good idea to review your strategy early in the year, especially if you are a member of a Medicare Advantage plan. If your current Medicare Advantage coverage doesn’t fit your needs, you can switch your plan (or switch to Original Medicare) from January 1 – March 31. 

When evaluating dental insurance, whether it’s part of a Medicare Advantage plan or not, look for information about deductibles, annual maximums, and restrictions. Here’s a few tips:

  • Deducible: This is the amount you have to pay for dental care before your insurance coverage is activated. 
  • Annual Maximum: This is the maximum amount (typically $1,000-$1,500) that your plan will pay every year. After it is reached, you will have to pay out-of-pocket for dental care or you can use a separate insurance-alternative, like a dental savings plan, to continue saving on your dental procedures.
  • Restrictions: There’s often a waiting period before your dental insurance kicks in for restorative care, so you may only save on checkups, cavity fillings, and basic restorative care for six-to-twelve months after purchasing dental insurance. Most will never cover treatment for dental problems you had prior to purchasing insurance. 

4. Explore ways to save

There are various ways to save money on your dental care – dental insurance being just one of those ways. Dental insurance typically pays 100% of your preventive care costs, and that may be all you need to keep your smile healthy. But those who want more flexibility or anticipate the need for restorative care, may want to research dental savings plans.

Dental savings plans are an alternative to dental insurance that offer plan members 10-60% off on the majority of dental procedures at more than 140,000 dentists and specialists nationwide. They do not have health restrictions or annual limits, and plans can be used on both preventive and restorative care within 72 hours of joining.

Making sure you have the best dental plan for your needs and budget can make it easier to stay on top of your dental care, and your overall health in the new year. Make 2023 the year you prioritize your smile and your health.