As the end of the calendar year approaches it is a good time to review your dental benefits and any preventative or restorative treatments that you may be due for. Many dental plans cover preventative treatments up to a maximum limit, and at set intervals such as every six months. Most dental plans reset at the start of a new calendar year, meaning that unused balances do not carry forward. To make the most of your available benefits, contact your family dentist to check when you’re next due for treatments such as x-rays, oral exam, scaling, polishing, and sealants. If you have been putting off scheduling an appointment, consider booking yourself in before the holidays.
What is Covered by Dental Benefits?
Dental benefit plans often categorize services into basic coverage and major coverage. Basic coverage includes the most common day-to-day maintenance and repair procedures. Many patients are covered for dental check ups every six months, including treatments such as scaling, polishing, and oral exams. Some preventative services such as x-rays and sealants are not automatically included at every visit since they may not be required as often. If x-rays are recommended within the next few months you may want to consider scheduling an appointment before the new year. If you have previously had sealants applied, ask your dentist to check them for chips and cracks in case any sealants need to be repaired.
A dental sealant is a coating that is applied to the chewing surface of the molars to protect the teeth from bacteria and food particles that can collect in the grooves of the teeth. Since decay most commonly occurs on the surface of the teeth, it is recommended to maintain sealants from the time permanent molars erupt as a preventative measure. Having sealants applied is a simple and short procedure. The teeth are cleaned and then a gel is painted onto the surface and a special light is used to help the sealant dry and harden quickly.
If tooth decay has already occurred, basic dental will cover minor restorations such as fillings, root canals, and extractions. During your dentals exam, your dentist will look for signs of decay. If you have a cavity it is best to get it filled sooner rather than later to prevent the decay from spreading. Your dentist will also check any existing fillings for cracks or damage that may need to be repaired.
- Fillings: This procedure generally requires local anaesthetic so that your family dentist can clear away all of the decay from the affected tooth. Once the decay has been removed the tooth is filled with composite resin or amalgam. Once filled, your dentist will check the alignment of your teeth to ensure the filling matches the shape of your natural teeth.
- Root Canals: When a deep cavity is left untreated, or when a filling is damaged, the pulp pf the tooth can become infected. A root canal is a procedure where the pulp of the infected tooth is removed. The canal is sealed and the opening is filled with a temporary filling while a crown is prepared to replace the tooth. In some cases, a post is used to help support the filling.
- Extractions: When a tooth is damaged beyond repair due to decay or trauma it must be removed to prevent the spread of infection. To replace a damaged tooth, your dentist can insert a post into the jawbone. While the gum tissue is healing around the post, a prosthetic tooth will be fitted, shaped, and coloured to match the surrounding teeth and then attached to the top of the implant (post).
If you have any questions about dental services that you may be due for, contact your dental office to confirm the best treatment and maintenance plan. Contact your benefits provider if you have questions about what basic and major dental services are covered by your plan and what balances you have remaining for the year.