A growing number of dentists are finding that VR improves dental experiences for patients.
Virtual reality (VR) is technology that transports users into a “virtual world.” According to recent projections, its use in health care could grow into a $5+ billion industry by 2025.*
Some dentists are already on board with this trend. A growing number have found that using VR improves dental experiences for patients.
Dr. Bryan Laskin of Lake Minnetonka Dental in Minnesota is one. After listening to a virtual reality conference and studying its correlation to pain management, he’s been trying out VR.
“I like to think of virtual reality like digital nitrous,” Laskin said. “I think that VR in health care is going to take a different path than in the entertainment and gaming industry, and I think we are the right people to chart that path,” he added.
How VR Improves Dental Experiences
However, is there solid research to back this trend? It turns out, researchers have studied this use of VR for years. Many studies have found that using VR can help manage pain.
Recently, British researchers looked more closely at the issue of dental pain and VR. They wanted to see if using VR improves dental experiences. To find out, they used it during routine work such as getting a dental filling or tooth extraction.
In their study, patients were given standard care, took a VR “walk” along a beach, or “walked” through a virtual city. Those who strolled the beach (called Virtual Wembury) were “less anxious, experienced less pain, and had more positive recollections of their treatment a week later,” the researchers reported.
However, patients who took a VR “walk” around a virtual city did not find the same benefits.
Natural Environments and Stress Reduction
Why should imagining walking along a beach help block pain?
The authors stress that the type of VR environment is important. The fact that only patients who visited the beach had better experiences than standard care makes some sense. That’s because many studies have shown that natural environments can help reduce anxiety.
“…people are happiest and most relaxed when they are at the seaside,” co-author Dr Mathew White from the University of Exeter said. “So it seemed only natural to investigate whether we could ‘bottle’ this experience and use it to help people,” he added.
Proof that VR improves dental experiences
In short, there is clear proof of the positive effects of VR on dental experiences.
“Our research demonstrates that under the right conditions, this technology can be used to help both patients and practitioners,” the lead author of the study, Dr Karin Tanja-Dijkstra, said.
“The level of positive feedback we got from patients visiting Virtual Wembury was fantastic,” added Melissa Auvray, the dentist involved in the research. “Of course, as dentists we do our very best to make the patient feel as comfortable as possible,” Auvray said, “but we are always on the look out for new ways to improve their experiences.”
Read next: Dental Anxiety? Sedation Dentistry Could Help
*Healthcare Augmented & Virtual Reality Market Worth $5.1 Billion By 2025, published May 2017, www.grandviewresearch.com.
When you buy a major medical insurance policy, dental insurance is usually not included. Typically, you have to purchase a supplemental dental insurance plan separately.
Have you ever wondered, though, if you could have more than one dental plan? The answer is, “Yes, you can.” Supplemental dental insurance can help if you have dental needs that your current dental plan won’t cover.
However, while it may cut back on your out of pocket costs, having a second dental plan will not double your coverage. When you have two dental plans, the insurance companies work together to coordinate your benefits.
Supplemental dental insurance and benefit coordination
Having supplemental dental insurance, or “dual” coverage, does not mean you’ll be able to get dental work free. It means that your plans will work together and coordinate your benefits so you can get the work done for less.
In practice, this means one plan will be the “primary” plan and the other will be the “secondary” plan. The primary plan pays first, and then the secondary plan kicks in.
However, a secondary plan’s benefits are typically limited. In most cases, it only pays whichever is less: its normal benefit or the patient’s out of pocket costs under the primary plan.
Have kids? Are you ready to deal with dental trauma?
Example: How supplemental dental insurance works
Suppose you have two dental plans, and each includes two cleanings a year. That sounds like you’d be allowed to get a total of four cleanings a year, doesn’t it?
Actually, you would only be entitled to two. That’s because your dental plans will work together to coordinate your benefits. The primary plan covers two cleanings, leaving nothing for the second one to pick up.
This means that if you shop for a second plan, you will want to coordinate as well. You will want to look for additional coverage that fills gaps in your primary plan, not simply duplicate what you have.
Learn about Discount Dental Plans.
According to the US Census, 24% of the US population will be 65 or older by the year 2060. As Americans age, more people are asking about dental insurance for seniors.
That should be no surprise. Older Americans have seen record advances in oral care. Dental tech has grown far beyond where it was even 50 years ago. Dental schools have raised the bar for dental training and certification. Also, dental care products are simply more varied and easier to find today.
Moreover, older Americans are healthier now than in the past. They’re more active and conscious of health and diet than their parents were. In short, seniors today have more teeth than at any other time. And they want to keep them.
Who needs dental insurance for seniors?
Even with better dental care products, tech, and training, people face added oral health challenges as they age. In fact, according to the CDC, the following are just a few of the oral health issues in aging adults:
- Untreated tooth decay: 1 in 5 adults age 65 and older have untreated tooth decay
- Tooth loss: 1 in 5 adults in this range have lost all of their teeth
- Gum disease: Nearly 2 in 3 adults in this age range have gum disease
- Oral cancer: Cancers of the mouth are primarily found in older adults
- Chronic disease: Prescription and over-the-counter drug use can cause dry mouth, which reduces saliva flow and increases the risk of cavities
Still, staying on top of these and related oral health concerns is only part of what’s driving the interest in dental insurance for seniors. What else is driving the need? Well, as the Boomer generation retires, more older adults will need to find a dental plan that will pick up where their employee plans left off.
While Medicare provides benefits that help ensure healthcare coverage continues into old age, it does not cover routine dental care. The federal government may not see the connection between oral health and overall health, but you can bet your dentist does.
How to find dental insurance for seniors
The “healthy teeth, healthy body” link is just one more reason to protect your teeth as you age, and dental insurance is the best way we know to preserve your hard earned oral health.
To find dental insurance for seniors that will fit your lifestyle and needs, get started with a free quote today.
Read next: Supplemental Dental Insurance
Did you know that you could buy your own dental insurance whenever you want to? It’s true! Wondering what’s the best way to start your search? It’s easy. Get some dental insurance quotes.
Everything you need to get started with a new dental plan is available right online. Getting a quote is the place to start. This site let’s you search for plans that are available where you live.
Then, you can compare the plans to find the one that’s right for you. You can even apply for and purchase your new dental insurance right from the comfort of…well, wherever you may be.
Dental Insurance Quotes Help You Sort Your Options
Dental insurance is important for a number of reasons. One is to keep your dental care costs low. If you need work such as oral surgery, dentures, or a crown, a dental plan will help you save money. Preventive care is also very important. Most plans will pay for routine exams and cleanings. Insurers know: Repairing damaged teeth is far more costly in the end.
Oral Health Facts: 60–90% of kids have cavities.
If you’re ready to take control of your dental care costs, getting some dental insurance quotes will help you sort your options. Getting a quote is easy. In most cases, all you need to start a quote is your Zip code.
You can try this out right now on our home page. Enter your Zip code and click “Find Plans.” On the Plan Summary page, you’ll see a list of the dental plans that are available in your area. You can sort by plans that offer dental only, vision only, or see plans that have both dental and vision benefits.
Dental Insurance Quotes Make Comparing Plans Easy
It is easy to compare up to three dental plans side by side. Simply check the “Compare” box in up to three plans on your list. Then click “Compare.”
What you’ll see next is a summary of the plan types and costs for your Zip code area. Providers and Plans are at the top, followed by the Plan Type. To learn about the type of plan, such as a PPO plan, you can click on the type for a pop-up definition.
Dental Discount Plans: Could one help you?
Next, you’ll see the Requested Effective Date. This tells you when your plan would take effect based on when you apply. Plan Costs are next. This section lists the plan premiums for individuals, couples, and families.
Our dental insurance quotes also show you clear information about fees. In addition, a number of links help you dig deeper into plan info and learn about plan providers.
Finally, when you find a plan that fits your needs, you can simply click to apply.
Read next: Supplemental Dental Insurance