Insurance Companies Connect Oral Health With Overall HealthFriday, April 29th, 2016, 8:51 pm
Dentists have known for a long time that oral health affects overall health. In the past decade the general public has acknowledged the link as well. We are now beginning to see that insurance companies are connecting good oral health with good overall health as well.
The bacteria that are responsible for oral health problems including gum disease, infections and tooth decay, have the ability to travel throughout the body. Oral bacteria has been linked with heart disease, diabetes, pre-term birth and has even been found to link to certain cancers. Keeping the gums and teeth as healthy as possible and reducing the number of “bad” bacteria in the mouth can have a positive affect on overall well-being.
Some insurance companies are now adding links between their health insurance and their dental insurance. For instance, Cigna has the Oral Health Integration Program, where patients who are pregnant or have with certain medical conditions like diabetes, chronic kidney disease, side effects from head and neck cancer radiation, among others, may quality for 100 percent reimbursement for copays or coinsurance for specific dental procedures for periodontal treatment or caries protection. Another insurance company, Aetna insurance started their medical/dental integration program back in 2007 after a study they did with Columbia University found that people with diabetes, heart disease and atherosclerosis who were receiving dental care had risk scores that averaged 27 percent lower from those who did not. The study also showed that the medical costs for patients with those conditions who had been treated for periodontal disease averaged 12 percent lower medical costs.
“We’re starting to see this more and more as insurance companies begin to realize how closely oral health is connected to a patient’s overall health,” Dr. Ronald Riggins of the American Dental Association said. “We want dentists to be aware of these benefits so they can alert their patients, who may not be aware these are available to them.”
Most dental insurance plans don’t cover much so it is nice to see that there are some small improvements. People that have dental insurance usually receive it as a benefit from their workplace. If you do purchase this type of coverage make sure that you are looking at a plan that allows you to see any dentist you wish. Most highly qualified dentists do not participate in insurance plans but will be happy to submit your claim so you can receive reimbursement from the company.
If you are experiencing oral health problems such as bleeding gums, infections, tooth decay or bad breath (a sign of gum disease), please contact Wilbanks Smile Center in Toccoa, GA today. We can help you achieve a healthy mouth which can lead to better overall health and save you healthcare dollars.