Are your unhealthy teeth, breath, and self-confidence paying the price for not having dental insurance?
We've written before about the difficulties ladies often face in getting their partners to visit the dentist or doctor, Who's the Boss…When it comes to Health at Home? Tips to Convincing Your Husband to Visit a Dentist, but we never really addressed age-related aversion to healthcare. Recent research indicates that millennials are increasingly avoiding the dentist for years on end. Unfortunately, there are some severe repercussions. A recent study by the American Dental Association (ADA) found that more than 30 percent of young adults have untreated tooth decay, which is the highest of any age group.
No judgment here, we promise. We just wondered, why? After much research, we found that it has nothing to do with millennials being lazy or not caring about their health. Our research shows that this is the result of millennials having less access to dental insurance.
"I feel for this younger generation, says San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L Loev, DMD. "Lack of dental insurance can make the thought of a visit to the dentist, even more, overwhelming for this younger population that is already feeling the financial burdens of being in school, living paycheck-to-paycheck and paying off often huge student loan debt," Many statistics back up Dr. Loev's claim. According to the ADA, more than 69 percent of health plans fail to include dental insurance. Our ever-evolving work environment also means that many millennials freelance more than any other generation, making them ineligible for employer-sponsored health insurance.
Grooming and First Impressions
Studies have often found that first impressions occur in the first 3 seconds. That is certainly not a lot of time. The importance of first impressions can impact your confidence and even your breath. Are You Making the Best First Impression? It Takes Just Seconds… was a blog post we wrote years ago outlining just this. Sadly, lack of insurance has many millennials and many retirees, for that matter feeling a bit down in the mouth. According to a recent ADA survey, one in five millennials said that they have cut back on socializing as a direct result of dental problems, and 28 percent said that the appearance of their teeth and mouth impact their ability and success when interviewing for a job.
Is dental insurance going to become more widely available to this population suddenly? Probably not. So what can millennials do to keep their teeth healthy? "Brush, floss " Dr. Loev says. "It's easy; you only have to brush and floss the teeth you want to keep." Joking aside, sometimes brushing after every meal just isn't possible, so make sure to rinse out your mouth after eating. Also, chewing sugar-free gum can be helpful as it helps stimulate saliva flow, which in turn helps to neutralize plaque acid, clear food debris that sometimes gets stuck in teeth, and maintain a proper oral pH."
Sugar-free gum to the rescue… not really. So what are millennials and other individuals without dental insurance supposed to do. Excellent home care is a start, but certainly not the solution. What about individual dental plans? The shiny brochures and web banners can be enticing, but individual dental plans often have many limitations and waiting periods. For example, an individual dental plan will have an annual maximum, generally around $1000. They also typically have deductibles around $50 per person per year. Monthly payments have been reducing in price over the years, but so, unfortunately, have the networks, set-up to care for you under these plans. Also, waiting periods generally apply to most procedures other than basic cleanings and exams. These waiting periods can range from 3-12 months for certain procedures. With premiums ranging from $39-55 per month, enrollees can be paying upward of $500+ before they even have the benefit of real coverage. "During my decades in practice, my team and I have generally dissuaded patients from enrolling in individual dental plans that are not sponsored by employers. Instead, we have suggested that they look into health savings accounts or even just put a bit of money into a savings account monthly so they can budget for dental expenses. Recently, however, with the need of our patients increasing, both for millennials and other members of our patient group, we looked into other options. "says Dr. Loev. During a recent dental continuing education course (remote learning was part of my team's daily routine during our 3-month COVID-19 closure), we were introduced to dental membership programs, otherwise known as dental savings plans. We were skeptical in the beginning, but as we learned more about how this type of plan can make it easier and more affordable for our patients to see us regularly and stay healthy, we got excited, especially during these times of uncertainty and with increasing research showing a direct correlation between dental hygiene and Covid-19 risk.
Dental membership plans are designed to be easy and affordable. Because they are offered directly through a dental office, each office can develop a plan or plans that best suit their individual patients. Patients pay a monthly or annual fee to the office. In return, they receive a wide variety of preventative, diagnostic, and emergency care for free and other treatment, even in many cases cosmetic treatment (not covered at all by traditional insurance) at a discount. No claim forms are required, which is great for both dentists and patients, no annual maximums or deductibles, or frequency limitations, just predictable high-quality dental care. " We finally have a great option to tell patients that don't have insurance or are losing their insurance about." Says Dr. Loev's scheduling manager Corinne.
Millennials, retirees, or people of any age now have no excuse to go years without seeing a dentist. Ask your dental office if they have a membership program. If you don't have a dentist, ask your friends about their dentists that they love and if they might have a loyalty or membership programs. For less than what most people spend on coffee, you could be investing in improved oral and systemic health and making a much brighter first impression.
Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD, has been caring for his patients for decades from his dental office that overlooks San Francisco's Union Square. He and his team take pride in providing the best quality and most gentle dental care available. Over the years, they have transformed 100's of "non-dentist" people into people who actually enjoy their visits and take pride in their smiles. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and are in need or want of a new dentist. Dr. Loev and his team would love the opportunity to meet you and earn your trust and loyalty call them at 415-392-2072 or schedule an appointment online today. Don't have insurance? No problem; you can check-out and even sign-up for their membership program online.