What does my dental insurance cover?

Treat dental insurance as a rebate and you won’t be disappointed!

The topics for our blog often come from the questions most frequently asked in our practice by patients and potential patients. The one question we here every single day is “Does my dental insurance cover this?”

For many patients, dental insurance provides a sense of security; unfortunately, the perception that your insurance is there to assist you in quality preventative and restorative care is incorrect. In fact, I have watched over the last 20 years as insurance companies have reduced reimbursements for regular maintenance care (cleanings, exams, xrays) as well as restorative care (only reimbursing for amalgam mercury fillings or extractions). There are a huge number of high-quality modern dental treatments for which patients receive NO rebate at all, such as dental implants, crowns, TMJ treatment, and sleep apnea/anti-snoring appliances.

Why is dentistry so expensive?

I agree that the cost of receiving dental care can be high! In dentistry, we have a choice about the type of care we provide, and not every dental office is the right fit for every patient. If we wanted to reduce fees, we could use knock-off dental materials, shop for the cheapest of every filling material, and not continue to improve our skill, being satisfied with the current level of care we provide.  Many dental offices will use an off-shore dental laboratory to have crowns and dentures made to lower the overall cost to the patient. In our office, we choose to use the best quality of materials we can find, with the most modern equipment, using a local dental laboratory which gives us the highest-quality products, after having the best level of continuing training…and all of this costs us more. However, we feel very strongly that we wouldn’t want to treat our patients differently from how we would treat our loved ones or ourselves.  We say that our best is always changing as we continue to learn.

Potential patients will sometimes call our office prior to coming in to ask about our fees in general, or even fees for specific procedures. To be honest, I believe the relationship between the dental office and the patient is much more important than obtaining the lowest possible price; if someone calls us “shopping best price”, we are probably not the right dental office fit for them. I expect to see in the future a very distinct separation in the types of dental offices–larger practices providing basic and emergency care for fees reimbursed by dental insurances, and smaller practices offering overall preventative and restorative care in a way that benefits patients comprehensively, but will come at a cost.

In a nutshell, when we talk about dental insurance with our patients, we explain to treat insurance as a “rebate”, like getting a coupon in a store. We always promise to help you get the largest possible rebate legally available from your insurance, just make sure the human resources person at your work tries hard to get you the best available plan. Anything not rebated by your insurance can be used as an expense on your yearly taxes!

Dr. Andrea Stevens is a cosmetic and family dentist in practice in Kanata, Ontario. If you have dental questions, you can call her at 613-271-7091 or visit her at kanatacosmeticdentist.com Please also feel free to leave comments or questions below, and Dr. Stevens will be happy to answer!