Discount Dental Plans and Affordable Dental Care

Healthy teeth and gums play a fundamental role in our overall health. Regrettably, rising dental insurance premiums and treatment costs have made dental care inaccessible to many people across the nation. Today, there are more than 108 million children and adults without dental insurance in the U.S. As the need for affordable dental care continues to grow, more and more people turn toward discount dental plans as a cost-effective and easy-to-use alternative to dental insurance.

Current research shows a clear shift in the dental benefits marketplace attributed, in part, to concerns with cost, choice and service. Many consumers and employers are moving away from the inflated premiums, strict restrictions, poor service and other limitations often associated with traditional dental insurance and are looking toward the savings and benefits offered by discount dental plans. “With an estimated 45% of Americans not having any type of dental coverage, and the dental insurance marketplace offering few, affordable dental products for individuals, discount dental plans are an attractive answer to the need to reduce consumer out-of-pocket costs and increase access to care.”

Discount dental plans provide consumers with the value they desire by offering access to affordable, quality dental care at a low price and with an emphasis on choice and service. Plan members pay a low annual membership fee and are granted access to a network of participating providers offering discounts of 10% to 60% on most dental procedures, including braces, root canals, crowns, dentures, cosmetic dentistry and more on select plans. Certain plans even include discounts on additional benefits, including prescription, vision, hearing and chiropractic care.

Discount dental plans, designed to provide significant savings on members’ dental care needs, have quickly become an attractive alternative to costly dental insurance. Traditional dental insurance, once the only dental benefit option available, features many drawbacks including costly deductibles, tedious claim forms, long waiting periods and other limitations. On the other hand, discount dental plans are more cost-effective, easy-to-use and free of these hassles.

Additionally, discount dental plans – starting at $79.95 per year for individuals and $129.95 per year for families – are much more affordable than dental insurance. According to a 2005 report by the National Association of Dental Plans (NADP), a trusted representative of the dental benefits industry, the average monthly premium for individual dental HMO insurance is nearly $16 (about $192 per year), compared to nearly $24 (about $288 per year) for individual dental PPO insurance and nearly $31 (about $372 per year) for individual dental indemnity insurance. According to NADP, “Discount dental plans have become an economical and important alternative to combat the rising cost of health care. They are a cost-effective vehicle for millions of undeserved consumers to improve their access to dental care.”

Discount dental plans also provide businesses and other groups with dental benefits that are easy to implement and practically effortless to manage. Many businesses are using discount dental plans to offer dental benefits to people that are rarely covered by traditional dental insurance, including retirees, part-timers, seasonal workers and uninsured dependents. Businesses can protect their employees’ health and provide peace of mind by encouraging their team to join a money-saving discount dental plan.

In short, discount dental plans offer individual, families, businesses and other groups with a great deal of value by providing access to affordable dental care without sacrificing service or flexibility. Discount dental plans are an ideal solution for anyone looking to save money while improving their oral health.

Dental Care Services and Plans

Many people usually neglect issues related to dental care such as taking good care of their gums, teeth etc. Dental care also involves treatment and prevention of diseases of the teeth and gums apart from the repair and replacement of defective teeth.

Gone are those days when dental services used to be an expensive option. Let us have a look at a few tips on how to find affordable dental care services:

1. Start by simply inquiring about a good dental plan from your co-workers, friends and relatives. Ask questions such as whether emergency service is provided, how easy it is to get an appointment, how much it costs, the different types of dental services and so on. Also inquire about whether the atmosphere of the dental care facility is reassuring and relaxing, behavior of the staff especially towards children etc.

2. Dental services are also provided at local dental schools at affordable and competitive rates. Some of these schools might offer to check and clean your teeth for free of cost. It should not be a problem to find a list of such schools in and around your area through internet.

3. In case you are new to an area, try checking out the services of the dental specialist who provides his/her services to the local hospitals. You can also search for the best dental care facilities in your area online. You can also use your insurance company’s website to search for dentists who would accept your insurance cover.

Following are the two most popular dental plan options:

1. Dental Insurance:
One of the options for oral health care is dental insurance. Apart from a few dental insurance policies which might cost less than $10 on a monthly basis, most of the available options would be expensive. It is essential on your part to read the entire terms and conditions, excluded procedures and items, what the policy covers, the annual cost for both family and individual policies which ever applies to you.

Most of the people going for such policies do not know that pre-existing conditions are not covered by such policies. Even after the completion of 1 year, most companies pay progressively, such as covering 15% the 2nd year, 30% the 3rd year and so on. Thus, such kinds of dental insurance are usually not recommended by agents currently because of their lack of coverage and high cost.

2. Discount Dental Plans:
Pre-existing plans are not restricted in case of discounted dental care plans. Substantial discounts are offered by such plans on routine dental care like braces, dentures, root canals, X-rays, cleanings, check-ups and more. The membership fees of such dental care plans usually average around $150 for families and $100 for individuals annually. At the time of your appointment, you need to pay for your visit in full.

No permission of any sort is required in case you want to change your dentist. Within the network of the plan, you can visit any provider in any state. It is to be noted that large discount dental plan networks have providers in excess of over 0.1 million dental specialists and dentists worldwide.

You might be surprised to know that over 70% of the families residing in United States do not have any dental plan. Thus, it is important for you to realize that proper dental care is essential for the wellbeing of your entire body.

Satisfying Dental Care Needs in Raleigh

If you are relocating to Raleigh, North Carolina or the Research Triangle Park area, this information may help you find the best dentist to provide the level of care most appropriate for you and your family.

How Accessible Are Dentists in Raleigh?

In Raleigh, dental care is much more accessible than it is in many other parts of North Carolina. Raleigh is located in Wake County, which is one of eight North Carolina counties with dentist-to-patient ratios that exceed the national average. Sadly, the state of North Carolina ranks 47th in the nation in terms of dentist-to-patient ratios. While the state ranks low for dental care availability, Raleigh residents have great access compared to the rest of the United States. By combining June 2009 figures from the North Carolina Dental Board with 2008 census figures for Raleigh, one can extrapolate that there is a ratio of about one dentist per 1,350 residents.

What Kind of Quality Can I Expect?

The quality of care (as well as the number of dental providers) in Raleigh is influenced by the nearby University of North Carolina School of Dentistry in Chapel Hill, NC. Raleigh, the Research Triangle Park area, and neighboring cities and counties have exceptional access to dental care, thanks in large part to the presence of graduates of this school.

Founded in 1954, the UNC School of Dentistry has a national reputation for both research and education. Each year, the school admits about 80 students to its DDS (doctorate of Dental Surgery) program, with about 80% of those being in-state admissions. In the United States, schools of dentistry – unlike medical and law schools – have no official rankings. However, UNC is typically a top contender on unofficial lists. The nationwide respect for the UNC School of Dentistry program helps to validate the quality of dental services being provided in Raleigh by graduates of that school.

The North Carolina Dental Board is the regulating body for providers of dental services in North Carolina. Its mission is to ensure that the dental profession merit and receive the confidence of the public and that only qualified persons be permitted to practice dentistry and dental hygiene in the state of North Carolina.
What Types of Dental Providers Exist?

While the North Carolina Dental Board is the regulatory body, the North Carolina Dental Society is a professional organization that promotes the improvement of the public’s oral health and the art and science of dentistry. It encourages the maintenance of high standards of practice and competency, and represents the interests of members of the dental profession and the public that it serves. While membership in the professional organization is not mandatory, the North Carolina Dental Society provides figures that give some insight into the distribution of different types of providers of dental care in Raleigh. Raleigh members include dental providers in these commonly used categories: General Practice (142), Orthodontists (17), Oral/Maxillofacial Surgery (11), Endodontists (9), Pediatrics (8), Periodontists (7). June 2009 figures from the North Carolina Dental Board indicated that 264 dentists in Raleigh were licensed to practice General Dentistry. The combination of these two sets of numbers should provide for rough extrapolation on the number of specialized providers.

What Are the Emerging Trends in Dental Care?

In Raleigh, the provision of dental services is beginning to change, thanks to the progressive thinking of some dentists. This change involves making a broader range of dental care services available under a single roof. General dentists willing to invest in appropriate training can offer a broader range of dental care services, a concept sometimes referred to as Comprehensive Dentistry. Some also include Cosmetic Dentistry services. Having services provided under a single roof also eliminates the need to obtain consents and transfer dental records from one practice to another.

This emerging model for dental care in Raleigh has distinct advantages – one being that the dentist most familiar with the patient’s dental care and preferences can provide most, if not all, of the needed services in a familiar environment. A familiar environment can help to reduce the anxiety that some patients experience when they have to go to a (new) specialist to receive needed services. (Be assured that general dentists who provide a broader range of dental services do refer very complex cases to appropriate dental care specialists who focus on only one very specific dental care issue, and whose skills may be needed in those particular situations.)

Since specialists in Raleigh are not nearly as accessible as general dentists (see figures above), general dentists who offer a broader range of services can help provide more timely treatment for many “non-routine” dental needs (e.g., wisdom tooth extraction, periodontal treatments, orthodontics). Ask any prospective provider of dental care in Raleigh to explain the range of services the practice is making available to you, as well as the specific credentials of the dentist(s). You may also want to ask whether the practice is accredited by the state of North Carolina to perform sedation dentistry, because the state recently enacted guidelines and an accreditation process to ensure public safety in the administration of sedation in dental practices.