The Doctor Is In

How do you feel about a trip to the dentist? Yesterday was my bi-annual teeth cleaning, and I was excited—in the same way I am excited when I complete my swimming workout. It’s more about knowing I’ve done the right thing, the healthy thing, than any inherent pleasure I get from the getting-from-here-to-there process of it. I can, after it’s in my rearview, pat myself on the back for a job well done.

Dental hygiene is a rich topic for me; maybe I’m not alone. Invariably when the topic comes up, and weird to say, it does occasionally, my thoughts run in many directions. First there’s dental insurance. Why is it that dental insurance is generally so inadequate? Within six months of  relocating here, I split a molar from biting surface through the root. The dentist, a great guy I heartily recommend should you be in town with a dental emergency, apologized. “Jeez, Trish, I’m sorry we’re meeting this way. I hate to give such bad news on a first visit!” After the tooth had been extracted, his assistant could not contain her excitement, “You should see this tooth. The fissure is perfect from top to bottom.” Hmmm.

Yesterday’s visit went well. I literally crossed my fingers, superstitious I know, as post-cleaning, Dr. Huett gently poked and prodded, scraped and shined his light, turning his head to check the light board and my x-rays, to ultimately give me a clean bill until the next visit (hopefully in six months). “That implant is doing great,” he marveled at his own handiwork. And I joined in the praise. Having the space that I’d carried around for almost a year filled with a matching, manmade molar still fills me with pleasure. Now it even fits like the original, like a tight pair of shoes broken in.

It cost a fortune because—insurance is not up to speed with the need. This should come as no surprise. My sister and brother have both told me it’s a scam, a waste, but I get most of it through my State Benefits Health plan, and I did get some reimbursement, so…. Why isn’t dental insurance linked to health insurance?

So much evidence exists that links good health to good dental care. It’s not for nothing that cancer screenings as well as prophylactic antibiotics are part of some office visits. An article from the Mayo Clinic explains some of the health implications for the entire body as a SYSTEM. It concludes, “Taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.”

Here’s the idea I can sink my teeth into: dentists are doctors and contribute to our well-being; they and the care they provide are not luxuries. Health insurance should cover those pearly whites!

4 thoughts on “The Doctor Is In”

  1. Health insurance doesn’t even cover the rest of the body either. I actually think my dental plan might be better than my general health insurance.

    Anyway, I’m also obsessed w/ teeth and dental hygiene. I wrote a post about my latest trip to the dentist yesterday and wrote about teen in literaturexa couple weeks ago.

  2. I totally agree that dental insurance should be just as high of a priority as medical. My son had his cleaning today, and even at 20 years old he is proud of his “no cavities” report. Glad you got one today as well.

    1. Congrats to your son! My son has a decade on him, and he’s partly the reason why I’m so rabid about this! He has his own business and pays a lot in the marketplace for health insurance. Dental care, despite my harping on him and all those habits of care that people tell you will stick, he just can’t afford…granted he prioritizes differently, but I get it.

  3. I totally agree that it should be part of health insurance and not its own entity. I don’t have dental insurance. When I lost mine after I retired the people in my dentist’s office told me that to buy insurance would be more expensive than paying out of pocket twice a year. So far it has worked in my favor.

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