Did you know that every dollar you spend on preventive care such as brushing and cleaning may help save you money later in restorative care and emergency procedures? It’s true — keeping your teeth and gums healthy by seeing your dentist regularly can help you avoid more serious oral health problems and more extensive — and expensive — treatment.
See a dentist regularly. Doing so can help ensure that problems are taken care of before they become more serious and expensive.
Verify what your plan covers before treatment begins. Before you agree to undergo any major dental work, ask your dentist for a detailed description of the treatment you need and so that you can check to see how much of the cost will be covered.
Choose a dentist who belongs to your plan’s network. Switching from a dentist who isn’t in the plan to one who is enrolled will likely save you money.
Know the costs before you agree to treatment. Find out which problems need to be treated immediately and which are less urgent. Ask the dentist to describe all the options for treatment — there may be less expensive alternatives — and what might happen if treatment is delayed.
Take advantage of any exams, teeth cleanings, or X-rays your insurance may cover. Getting regular dental checkups, such as cleanings and exams, will prevent dental complications or worsening of dental problems such as cavities.
Gently brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss at least every day. When brushing, pay special attention to the gum line. Adults and children should use toothpaste with fluoride. Children under age 6 should use only a pea-size amount. According to the ADA , both electric and manual toothbrushes are effective. Choose the type that’s easiest for you to use. Children may enjoy brushing with an electric toothbrush.
Children and adolescents should have a sealant applied to their teeth to help prevent cavities; your dentist can advise you on the appropriate age for sealants.
Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluoridated water, and limit snacking on sugary or starchy foods. (Chewing sugarless gum after a snack may help prevent tooth decay.)
Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk for gum disease and tooth loss.
Take good care of your teeth. Here are some recommendations from the American Dental Association (ADA):
Become a partner in your dental health. Tell your dentist about yourself and your concerns, and ask questions about caring for your teeth. Make sure you also understand any treatment options your dentist recommends. Here are some questions to get you started:
How often should I change my toothbrush?
What kind of toothbrush and toothpaste should I use?
What’s the proper way to brush and floss my teeth?
How often should I schedule a dental visit?
At what age should my child first visit the dentist?
Getting answers to these questions can help you get the best dental care possible.
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“ADA Seal of Acceptance Program: Toothbrushes.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/1321.aspx. Accessed 2013.
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“Smoking and Tobacco.” Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/smoking-and-tobacco. Accessed 2013.
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“Insurance: Frequently Asked Questions.” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/2837.aspx. Accessed 2013.
“What Is Cosmetic Dentistry?: Which Procedure Is Right For Me?” Know Your Teeth, Academy of General Dentistry. http://www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=C&iid=300&aid=1196. Accessed 2013.
“Frequently Asked Questions.” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. http://www.mychildrensteeth.org/education/faq/. Accessed 2013.
“ADA Seal of Acceptance Program: Toothpaste (Dentifrice).” American Dental Association. www.ada.org/1322.aspx. Accessed 2013.
“Preventive Dentistry.” American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. http://d27vj430nutdmd.cloudfront.net/17248/64409/64409.3.pdf. Accessed 2013.
“Gum Disease. Mouth Healthy, American Dental Association. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/g/gum-disease. Accessed 2013.