Many adults know that brushing and flossing from home, as well as twice annual cleanings, are an important part of maintaining their oral health. Oral health is an important of the overall health of a child.1 As a child, your mouth is still taking its shape, teeth and all, and poor dental practices can lead to problems for years to come.2 That is why dental insurance for toddlers, children and teens is something you do not want to overlook.
Cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases of childhood in the United States. About 20% of children aged five to 11 have at least one untreated decayed tooth. Although the numbers are slightly lower for adolescents, about 13% of children aged 12 to 19 have at least an untreated decayed tooth. The numbers are even worse for low-income families, where children are twice as likely (25%) to have cavities compared to children from higher-income homes.3
Pain and suffering due to untreated teeth diseases, such as cavities, tooth decay and gingivitis can lead to problems with eating, speaking and children’s learning ability. Children who have poor oral health often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who don’t.4 You can help protect your family’s dental health is with the right dental insurance plan.
2. Early childhood caries
Early childhood caries (ECC)5 are a serious form of cavities that can erode your child’s baby teeth. ECC can occur when baby teeth are exposed to sugars for long periods throughout the day. Fruit juice and milk contain sugars that turn into tooth-eating acid if left on your child’s teeth for extended periods of time.
Although baby teeth will eventually fall out, cavities on your child’s baby teeth can still have lasting negative effects on your child’s overall dental health as they grow. Untreated cavities could become infected, which can spread to other parts of your child’s body and cause more serious health consequences.
Decayed teeth that are not addressed can cause pain and may need to be removed. Nearby teeth may shift to move into the empty spaces of a removed tooth, which can then cause adult teeth to grow in crooked or crowded. Essentially the problem of tooth decay compounds even with baby teeth if preventive measures are not taken.
Your pediatric dentist can better evaluate your child’s teeth during an appointment. Dental insurance makes it possible to save money on check-ups and make visits to the dentist a regular part of your family’s health care routine.
3. Accidents that damage children’s teeth
Kids love to run, jump, play and explore, and for many, this can lead to bumps, bruises, and cracked or chipped teeth. Left unattended, however, cracked or chipped teeth can lead to further health issues. The tooth could become infected and the infection could spread to the head and neck, causing serious health problems such as an abscess.
Dental insurance can ensure your child’s chipped or cracked tooth is addressed by your dental professional quickly before it has a chance to turn into a more serious problem. Plus, the cost of an emergency tooth repair can be less if you have insurance coverage.
Start when they’re young
The American Dental Association recommends that all children should visit the dentist after their first tooth appears or no later than their first birthday to help prevent cavities, which can grow as soon as teeth form.6
Is dental insurance for kids required by the ACA?
As you might be aware, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires adults to have medical insurance except under a few circumstances. In the case of kids, exchanges must offer pediatric dental, either via coverage that is embedded in the medical plans, or in separate stand-alone plans. But in most states, enrollees are not required to have pediatric dental coverage if they buy a health plan through the exchange, even if there are children on the policy, as long as there are stand-alone pediatric dental plans available for purchase.7
How to choose a family dental insurance plan?
Finding a family dental insurance plan for you depends on a variety of factors. Here are some items to consider when researching dental coverage options for your family:
- How much do you want to pay or can afford to pay each month?
- What procedures will your family need over the next two to three years, including filings, crowns, implants or braces?
- Will you need dental work now, within six months, or within a year? Waiting periods may vary depending on the plan level you choose
- Do you want to keep your current dentist? Some dental practices may not be in the network of the dentist you select
If your employer doesn’t offer dental insurance, you can purchase individual dental insurance from a dental insurance company over the phone, through a broker or online. Limited options are available on healthcare.gov or your state’s ACA marketplace.
There are three types of individual dental plans you can purchase:
- Dental Health Maintenance Organization Plan (DHMO)
- Dental Preferred Provider Organization Plan (DPPO)
- Dental Indemnity Insurance
Unlike employer-sponsored plans, individual dental insurance allows you to compare plans before choosing the one that makes the most sense for your needs and budget.
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Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice. This is not dental care advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your dentist. If you have any concerns about your dental health, please contact your dentist's office.