Dr. Chuck weighs in on why dental and medical insurance should be connected
In our latest Ask Me Anything segment, one of The Dental Medical Convergence’s followers wanted to know why medical insurance does not cover dental needs. This is a great question. After all, the mouth is part of the body!
Throughout history there has been a disconnect between the mouth and the body. “When was the last time a physician asked you about your mouth?” asks Dr. Chuck. Doctors should be asking about oral health because more and more research has emerged in the last few decades showing the health of the mouth has a direct impact on the health of the body.
Studies show that gum disease is linked to several chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, and pregnancy complications. This is because your mouth is full of bacteria – both good and bad. Without proper oral hygiene, the bad bacteria can lead to an oral infection. Since the mouth is the gateway to the body, the infection can get into your bloodstream and travel to other parts of your body. Regular visits to the dentist and proper oral care could prevent health problems. Your dentist is a great source for preventative care.
According to the CDC, only half of Americans between the ages of 18 and 64 with private health insurance have dental coverage. The important thing to remember is you don’t need dental insurance to visit a dentist. Some dentists recommend you visit them every six months for a cleaning. Your dentist can advise you best on how often you should schedule a visit. The dentist will screen you for oral cancer and check the health of your mouth so you can prevent future health problems and treat any issues before they get worse. Prevention is the key word. It will save you money in the long run. Dental insurance generally covers two cleanings per year. Without insurance, the cost of a cleaning can range between $100 and $200.
Despite the connection between oral and overall health, doctors and dentists have separated the two. We believe it’s time doctors and dentists work together to improve patients’ overall health care. We encourage you to share information about the health of your mouth with your doctor. Print this helpful guide with the five questions we recommend you ask your dentist. We’ve included a checklist you can take with you to your next dental appointment. Share the information you learn from your dentist with your doctor. You might identify health issues that started in your mouth so your doctor can better treat them.
Do you have a question about your oral health? We want to hear from you! Send your questions to AMA@thedentalmedicalconvergence.org.