When comparing dental insurance to medical insurance, both are useful in helping to reduce your out-of-pocket costs when it comes to managing your health. But they each cover very different treatments and procedures. In the past, dental coverage was rarely considered when purchasing individual healthcare plans. But today, many dental policies are now designed to mirror major medical plans to provide policyholders with more comprehensive coverage. Keep reading to learn the difference between medical and dental insurance and why you should have both.
Many think that dental insurance is a form of medical coverage, but this is not true. Oral diseases are very different from diseases that affect other areas of the body and can be an indication of more serious conditions. The primary focus of a dental plan is preventive care, meaning it is geared toward preventing problems before they start. This is why biannual visits to the dentist for regular cleanings and exams are often fully covered under dental insurance rather than medical.
Medical insurance focuses more on unexpected healthcare, cushioning the blow to your wallet when illnesses or injuries occur. For example, it covers all or at least part of the cost of treatment for health conditions like sleep apnea. This disorder occurs when your tongue or the soft tissues in your throat block your airway and interrupt your breathing pattern while you sleep. When this happens, you remain asleep, but your body wakes up long enough to breathe normally and restore the oxygen levels in your blood. It can occur up to 100 times every hour without you even noticing! If you snore loudly and wake up feeling extremely tired, even after a full night of rest, you may have sleep apnea.
One treatment is an appliance called a CPAP machine, which increases air pressure in your throat to keep it from collapsing while you sleep. Another treatment option is oral appliance therapy, which involves placing a custom-fit oral sleep device that fits like an orthodontic retainer in the mouth at bedtime. This appliance holds the jaw in a forward position to help keep the upper airway open, minimizing or stopping snoring and OSA. Both of these treatments are typically covered under medical insurance.
Generally, dentists and doctors carry different responsibilities, but both fields have quite a bit of overlap. Certified sleep physicians and specially-trained sleep dentists often work together to determine symptoms, diagnose and decide the best treatment for patients suffering from sleep apnea. For example, a sleep physician will prescribe an oral appliance for a patient and a sleep dentist will design the appliance for the patient.
Though these two fields have quite a bit of overlap when it comes to overall health, insurance companies view them very differently. Having dental and medical insurance is a good idea, but it’s also important to know when to visit which doctor. Any issue that arises with your teeth, gums or oral health, in general, should be handled by a dentist.
About the Author
Dr. Paul Jones is a sleep dentist who received his doctorate from the University of Iowa. He received state-of-the-art training in dental sleep medicine and has achieved diplomate from the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Today, Dr. Jones is a Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry. If you believe you may be suffering from sleep apnea, contact Dr. Jones at (480) 256-1489, or visit the website to schedule an appointment.