- Know what type of insurance you have and the details of your plan.
I can not stress this enough. Do you have a co-pay? A deductible? What is the maximum or does your plan follow a fee schedule? What is the percentage breakdown? Does your plan have a waiting period? Does it have a missing tooth clause? What is the frequency limitation for FMX, PAN, Bitewing, PA xrays? Does your emergency exam share frequency with your regular dental exams? How many times (if any) can you have a filling done on the same tooth? If you have periodontal disease can you have more than 2 cleanings a year and if you get an SRP done will it be covered or does your insurance require you to have osseous surgery first? I mention all these specifics because I have seen patients getting screwed and owing big bills because they did not know their insurance plans and certain details slipped by those staff making treatment plans because there are LITERALLY THOUSANDS of different insurance plans and it is impossible for office staff to catch every important detail of every plan (particularly when certain insurances may not list all important details on their websites/faxes, and there are really fun (i.e. annoying) companies that don’t have websites or send faxes and will only give out information verbally over the phone).
- You need to floss. Seriously.
- You need to brush your teeth properly, paying special attention to brushing the parts where your teeth meet the gums. You need to take care of your gums because if you don’t you WILL get periodontal disease and it is NOT reversible. Once you have it you are stuck with it for life and you need to come in to your dental office every 3 months to get a cleaning (note: you cleaning your teeth at home will not be good enough at this point because for periodontal disease the hygienist cleans below the gums and this requires a special tool) otherwise you will have bone loss and this will ultimately prematurely mess up your face. Don’t get periodontal disease.
- If you get a root canal done, you need a crown. Often a core as well. I know (all too well) that they can be hella expensive depending on the kind of insurance you have (Total cost for root canal+ core+ crown may range from $400-$2000. And yes, that’s only for one tooth) but you need a crown because your tooth is brittle (because after a root canal it essentially is hollow on the inside) and is more than likely to crack if you don’t get a crown to protect it. And after going through the terrible pain (and cost!) of getting a root canal done to save the tooth it only makes sense to protect your investment.
- Really, you need to floss. And properly – you shouldn’t be slamming the floss down on the gums, you need to gently ease the floss between the teeth and use it to scrape off the gunk that’s accumulated between the teeth. Your gums will bleed at first, but after about a week of flossing once every day they will stop and it won’t be such an awful experience.
- Want to save yourself hundreds, no, thousands of dollars? Take care of your teeth. Dentistry is expensive and it is in your best interest to take care of your teeth. Go to your office for your regular cleanings (1 x 6 months for regular cleanings, 1 x 3 months for periodontal cleanings). Brush in circular motions around the gums. When the dentist says you have cavities and need fillings, GET THEM DONE. If you don’t get a filling done, you will need a root canal. If you fail to get a root canal, the tooth will die and has to be extracted. Then you need to fill the hole because if you don’t 1) supraeruption 2) bone loss 3) messed up face will happen. And if you do fill the hole it will have to be with either a denture (which doesn’t prevent bone loss) or a bridge or implant (both hella expensive, but worth it as they do prevent bone loss), when all that trouble could have been saved literally by just cleaning your teeth properly and getting fillings/root canals done when you were told you needed them.
- If you have a DMO insurance, make sure the office you go to is the one you’re assigned to and if you’re about to go to a new office CALL YOUR INSURANCE to get them to assign you to that office, otherwise if you go to an office you’re not assigned to your insurance may not cover ANYTHING, leaving you with a huge bill.
- If you hate flossing and refuse to do it, at least get yourself a Water Flosser. NOTE: It does NOT replace traditional flossing, but it is certainly better than doing nothing at all.
Note: I work in an office in the United States that is a part of a corporation. There may be insurance/billing differences in private practices/other countries.
I may do another list like this in the future, since there are SO many things I learned working at my job, but if y’all have any questions, I’m happy to answer them, provided that I am able to of course.