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Be a Wise Healthcare Consumer

What Makes Regular Dental Visits Such a Smart Investment?

In times when money is tight, it might be tempting to postpone your regular visit to the dentist until another time. You may even consider dropping your dental coverage for a year to save on monthly premiums. But you’d be risking much more than just your dazzling smile if you decided not to invest in taking good care of your teeth and gums. By learning more about the hidden value of dental care and how to keep your out-of-pocket costs as low as possible, you can get the most from your investment in your oral health.

Regular dental checkups and cleanings can help prevent or address oral health problems before they cause discomfort or require extensive (and expensive!) treatment. Poor oral hygiene can lead to a variety of health problems, including: oral and facial pain, gingivitis, heart problems (due to the spread of inflammation or infection), oral cancer, and digestive problems (which can originate from problems with physical and chemical processes in the mouth). Dental exams may also identify signs of poor nutrition and hygiene, growth and development issues, and improper jaw alignment.

Beyond that, research now suggests that the health of your mouth mirrors the condition of your body as a whole. So, if you keep up with your routine appointments, your dentist may be the first health provider who is able to identify a health problem in its early stages.

The Medical-Dental (Body-Mouth) Connection

While all of the answers aren’t in just yet, there is mounting evidence that your oral health and your overall health are connected. Many health conditions have an oral component such as swollen or bleeding gums, ulcers, dry mouth, bad breath, metallic taste, and various other changes in your mouth. Some specific conditions tied to oral health include:

Questions to Ask Your Dentist

Going to the dentist is not something most people look forward to. But the payoff can be well worth it if you are able to find problems early and improve your health before serious conditions develop. Next time you visit your dentist, get the most value out of your time in the chair by asking plenty of questions.

Save Money When You Get Regular Dental Care

By now, hopefully you’re more convinced that the value of regular dental visits can easily outweigh the cost. If you invest in dental coverage as part of your UT Benefits package, you can protect yourself from extra expenses that you’d otherwise have to pay when visiting the dentist.

In some areas, the Assurant Dental Maintenance Organization (DMO) offers a cost-effective coverage option that provides a variety of routine procedures at participating providers on a copayment basis as well as savings on a variety of specialty dental procedures.

All UT System employees and retirees, along with your dependent family members, have the option to enroll in the UT SELECT Dental plan, administered by Delta Dental. This plan is a dental PPO which offers the flexibility to see any dentist that you choose without requiring referrals or pre-approvals to change providers.

You can maximize the value of your dental care by taking advantage of in-network providers. With the UT SELECT Dental plan, you have the benefit of two different network options. The smaller DPO network of reduced fee-for-service dentists offers the greatest possible savings. The larger Premier network still provides substantial savings through dentists who agree to accept Delta Dental’s maximum allowed fee (which may be higher than the DPO fee) as payment in full.

Non-network dentists who do not contract with Delta may bill you up to their submitted charges. Both DPO and Premier dentists have agreed not to bill you for charges above Delta’s allowed amount.

The chart below provides an example of how your benefits and savings might look for one sample dental procedure based on the network participation of the dentist you select:

Crown – Proc. #2790

DPO DENTIST

PREMIER DENTIST

NON-DELTA DENTIST

Dentist bills

$800.00

$800.00

$800.00

Dentist accepts $____ as payment in full (Delta Dental’s agreed-upon fee)

$602.00

$752.00

No fee agreement with Delta

Delta payment of 50%

$301.00

$ 376.00

$376.00

Patient payment

$301.00

$376.00

$424.00

Patient saves**

$123.00

$  48.00

$   0.00

*    Based on fee scale for Austin, TX- Zip Code 78701
**  Savings vs. visiting a non-Delta dentist.

Content adapted from materials provided courtesy of Delta Dental and WebMD.