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
Dental insurance companies, or “carriers,” make up most of the dental insurance industry. The nearly 1,500 businesses in this industry earned nearly $75 billion in revenue during a recent period. In addition, the industry employs nearly 82,000 people.
Dental insurance is a type of financial product. Dental insurance companies create dental plans to help people pay for dental care.
While the past 6 years have seen spending on health care rise, some say that trend has also led to higher dental care costs. Hence, to be profitable, dental insurance companies must be frugal. They have to think about every penny when they create and market dental plans.
The Dental Insurance Companies on this Site
As a leading provider of dental insurance, we’ve made it our job to help you shop and apply for dental plans. To help you find the plan that’s right for you, we show you only some of the country’s top dental insurance companies and plans.
The following are a few of our favorites.
Ameritas is a top provider of dental and eye care products, services and business solutions. Also, it is part of Ameritas Life insurance Corp., and earns high ratings from industry analysts.
American National is among the largest life insurance companies in the US. It’s part of American National Insurance Company, which markets health and other products.
HumanaOne Dental is part of Humana Inc., one of the nation’s largest publicly traded health benefits companies. Its HumanaOne Dental and Vision Plans can help you save money with a simple and hassle-free experience.
Delta Dental is a very large and experienced carrier. In addition, they offer dental plans for a wide range of people and groups.
Dentalsave is one solution to the rising cost of traditional coverage. Northeast Dental Plan and Southeast Dental Plan in Florida and are both affiliates of DentalSave, America. Inc.
Dominion National Services is a provider of dental and vision benefits. Among its 840,000 customers are both individuals and groups.
Guardian provides dental plans to 7 million customers. It also provides access to a large dental network with competitive benefits.
But wait, there’s more…
Nationwide offers comprehensive dental insurance created to offer you protection and flexibility. In addition, Multiflex covers basic, preventative, and major dental services.
Primecare Dental is a dental plan operating in California. Founded by dental professionals, it began marketing its first dental plan in 1983.
Time Insurance Company provides a variety of plan choices. Its headquarters are in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Argus is owned and operated by professionals with extensive experience with dental insurance and clinical dentistry. Its benefit plans meet the needs of individuals and groups.
Delta Dental of MI is one of the largest carriers in the nation. Its plans are also part of a group of plans that provide coverage to more than 54 million Americans.
Renaissance Dental provides flexible plans and exceptional customer service. It boasts an A- rating from A.M. Best Company and provides online tools that make it easy to find and manage information.
Starmount Life Insurance provides dental insurance to individuals, families and groups. In addition, it has more than 600,000 covered people in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
How to Choose Dental Insurance
Even with a curated group of companies to choose from, choosing a dental insurance plan requires thought and consideration. Therefore, to take stock of your needs and choose the plan that’s best for you, start with this simple checklist.
Then, when you’re ready to start shopping, get your free quote and compare the dental insurance companies and plans available here at DentalInsurance.com.
Read next: Dental Plan Basics: Knowing Which Plan to Choose
Discount dental plans (DDPs) are not the same as dental insurance. They’re a common type of plan that can help lower the costs of dental work.
People with no dental insurance often turn to a discount dental plan for help. DDPs also appeal to those who have a dental plan that does not cover certain types of work. Having this type of plan can help you avoid an unnecessary trip to the emergency room.
Discount dental plan members receive discounts only when they use a dentist who takes part in the plan. In general, more dentists take part in DDPs than HMOs. The number of dentists in a DDP is very similar to what you might find in a PPO plan.
Learn about the types of dental insurance plans.
Discount Dental Plans: What to Expect
With typical dental insurance plans, you have set co-payments or coinsurance fees. Not with DDPs. Your discount dental plan payment comes in the form of a member fee.
Also, with a DDP, you pay the dentist for work, not the plan. Once you pay to be a member, you can work with the plan’s dentists at their discounted rates. DDPs base their costs on a discounted fee schedule.
Some DDPs offer you ways to save on costs that you can’t get with insurance. For instance, some DDPs may have no annual limits or exclusions. Some let you pay the member fee in easy monthly payments.
Some Examples of Discount Dental Plans
There are many discount dental plans. Some popular DDPs include the following.
The True Advantage Dental Discount Plan is a discount program from Aetna. It gives you access to the Aetna Dental Access® Network, which is one of the largest, most recognized discount dental networks in the nation. Learn more about Aetna True Advantage.
The Alpha Dental Plan from Beta Health is a discount fee-for-service network dental plan. Beta offers another discount dental plan called the Choice Dental Plan. The plans can even be combined to create a “Triple Choice Dental Plan” option. Learn more about Beta Health plans.
The Argus Dental Plan is licensed through the Florida Department of Insurance. Argus’ flexible benefit plans meets the needs of individuals, families, and groups of all sizes. Their network of dentists continues to grow every day. Learn more about the Argus Dental Plan.
The Careington International Plan is a dental discount plan that provides a low monthly cost, a broad list of services, and an extensive provider panel. Members receive discounted dental services at participating provider offices. Learn more about the Careington International dental discount plan.
The Patriot Health Dental Plan is for Americans who have no type of dental coverage or want to supplement existing coverage. This reduced fee-for-service dental program provides dental care at more than 3,600 participating dentists nationwide. Learn more about Patriot Health.
AmeriPlan® Corporation has been a provider of supplemental healthcare benefits since 1992. Members get instant savings when they pay the Network health care provider directly for all services. Learn more about AmeriPlan.
Checklist: Find the Best Discount Dental Plan for You
Yes, there are many great discount dental plans that can help you save on the costs of dental work. However, how can you choose the best one for you? Check out this checklist from DentalInsurance.com! It will help you evaluate which is the best discount dental plan to meet your needs.
Read next: Dental Plan Basics: Knowing Which Plan to Choose
Orthodontia is the field of dentistry that focuses on teeth and jaw abnormalities. Orthodontics refers to the devices, such as braces. Specialists use these to help address teeth and jaw related issues. Orthodontists are the specialists who work in this branch of dentistry.
Many people have teeth that are naturally straight and fit together well. However, those with problems such as an overbite or teeth that are too far apart may need help from an orthodontist.
Orthodontic devices, such as braces, help to do the following:
- Straighten crooked or misaligned teeth
- Correct problems related to “bite” – the way teeth come together
- Close any gaps between teeth
- Ensure the lips and teeth are properly aligned
Kids are not the only ones who get orthodontics treatment such as braces. Many adults get braces, as well.
However, many kids get orthodontic treatment to help ensure the jaw grows properly. When the jaw grows as expected, permanent teeth have a better chance of growing in correctly.
Having straight permanent teeth can also help to prevent future oral health problems. And, of course, having healthy teeth can be a help in other parts of life, as well.
Learn how to keep your teeth healthy and strong.
In some cases, braces alone may not be enough to change the way teeth and jaw grow. For these situations, orthodontists may recommend wearing orthodontic headgear. People wear this type of device outside of the mouth to provide added traction.
Headgear can help move teeth into a better position and keep them from shifting. Typically, orthodontic headgear is only worn while at home, such as in the evening or while you’re sleeping.
A retainer is a custom-made orthodontic device that may be either fixed in place or removable. Retainers attach to teeth to help hold them in position.
People usually wear a retainer after a full treatment with braces. However, sometimes orthodontists prescribe them to treat teeth without also using braces.
Whether used alone or with braces, retainers help keep teeth correctly positioned. They are typically made of plastic or rubber and have metal wires that cover the teeth.
For post-braces care, patients should wear their retainer at all times for the first six months, then usually only while sleeping.
Learn more about orthodontia.
Read next: Depression and a Healthy Smile: Break the Cycle
The search for the best individual dental insurance plans can seem like one of the great adventures of life in the twenty-first century. Ask any number of people, “what are the best individual dental insurance plans,” and you’re sure to get a variety of answers.
When you think about it, it’s easy to see why there are so many points of view. The criteria are always uniquely individual. Best for whom? In what circumstances?
The better question, of course, would be, “what’s the best dental insurance plan for my needs?” And that question leads to a whole list of other questions.
This is why we created the DentalInsurance.com dental insurance checklist. We designed the checklist to help you understand your needs. Using it will help you choose a dental insurance plan that truly is the best choice for you.
Dental Insurance Checklist: Key Questions
If you’re hunting for the right dental plan, make an informed decision. How? Ask a lot of questions!
For example, start by asking yourself, “what is the most important reason I’m looking for a dental plan?” Questions such as the following can get you thinking in this direction:
- Do you need dental work – other than an exam or cleaning – right away?
- If so, will a plan be available as soon as you need it?
- Have you already started dental work that needs to be completed?
- Do you want to use a local dentist or one you’ve worked with before?
We’ve included questions like these in the checklist to help you be sure that you are thinking about the reason you need dental insurance to begin with.
Other types of questions are included in the checklist to help you understand what to expect when it comes to dental expenses or the cost of purchasing a plan. Questions in these sections include things like the following:
- If there is a deductible, is it a reasonable amount considering your financial situation?
- Are there limits on the amount you might need to pay for major care?
- Can you save by choosing an annual payment plan rather than a monthly payment plan?
Other Resources: Find the Best Individual Dental Insurance Plans
In addition to the checklist, we have a wide variety of resources to help you make an informed decision about your dental insurance. Check out the following resources for more information:
- Dental Plan Basics: Knowing Which Plan to Choose
- Dental Insurance Terms
- How Long is Too Long before Seeing a Dentist
- 5 Reasons Why You Need Dental Insurance
And don’t forget to check out the checklist!
Read next: Dental Insurance Quotes
According to the American Dental Association, the main barriers to dental care are not related to the availability of dental care resources. They are financial. That is, the majority of people who are not getting the dental care they need simply cannot afford it. Fortunately, free dental care and low-cost dental care options are often available for those who are unable to cover the costs of the general dentistry work they need.
However, because free dental care services are free, they are often hard to find. They rarely have budgets to advertise. So, you need to know where to look. If you’re putting off the dental care you need because you lack the money to pay for it, here are a few possible alternatives as well as tips about how to find them.
Of course, if you are in need of emergency help, don’t wait. Call your dentist or go to your nearest emergency room immediately.
Free Dental Care: Special Introductory Deals
Sometimes, people skip dental checkups because their teeth feel fine and they need the money for other things. Unfortunately, even when teeth feel great, they still require ongoing professional cleaning and observation. That’s the only sure way to prevent problems from developing.
When they open a new office or practice, dentists’ sometimes offer free dental care such as free or discounted dental exams and dental cleanings. It’s a great way for them to begin building their list of patients. While these types of offers rarely include additional free work, they are a good way to keep your teeth healthy and get to know a local dentist who you may want to see again in the future.
To discover these types of free dental care offers, you can search online for dentists in your area. Also, watch your mailbox for these types of offers, or try calling a new dental office that you notice along your daily commute.
Dental Clinics for Low-Income Families
Many people have access to community dental clinics that serve low-income families in their areas. These types of clinics typically provide services for free or at a reduced rate. While they may not offer free dental care, the payments may be purely voluntary (pay what you can), or the fees may be tied to a sliding fee scale based on your income.
These types of clinics often provide a wide range of health-related services in addition to dental care. Depending on the clinic, they may serve only children, only adults, both children and adults, pregnant women, or low-income adults who are 19 or older and Medicaid eligible.
To find a clinic that will meet your needs, try searching for the phrase “dental clinics for low income families near me” or near your zip code. Be sure to call ahead to learn if they will be able to help you with your specific needs, and, if so, when.
State and Local Resources for Free Dental Care
State and local health departments often know of programs that offer free dental care or care at reduced prices. They will almost certainly be able to help you find a low-income clinic. They may also be able to direct you to financial assistance programs that can help with these types of services.
To learn about the free or low-cost dental resources in your area, search for “oral health resources near me.” You can also call your local, state or regional health department.
Public Schools as Free Dental Care Resources
In many communities, school-aged children receive free dental cleanings and exams. These resources may be limited to only low-income children or only available at a certain time of the year, such as at the beginning of the school year. They may or may not include more in-depth services.
It’s generally easy to find out whether these types of resources are available in your area. Check with your school or keep an eye on your local newspaper or community website announcements area.
Dental Schools and Free Dental Care
Universities with dental schools often make free dental care available to people in their communities. They often provide these opportunities as a way for students to practice the dentistry skills they have learned or as part of a student training exercise or exam.
Highly trained instructors, who are experts in their fields, supervise all the work provided by dental students. This helps ensure the student dentists and dental assistants complete their work to the highest standards. It also means that work takes a bit longer than in a clinic, but free is free after all.
Learn more: Dental Degrees
With nearly 70 dental schools in the US – and hardly a state without one – chances are you’re within a day’s drive of free help. Contact your nearest dental school to see whether they have this type of opportunity. Just be prepared to put your name on a waiting list, as these opportunities are typically only available at specific times during the academic year.
Dental Care Accessibility Organizations
In addition to state and local resources and schools, a number of other groups either provide or can help you locate free or low-cost dental care resources in your area. These include the following:
- The United Way
- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
- Dentistry from the Heart
- Mission of Mercy
- Remote Area Medical (RAM) Clinics
Check out their websites to learn more about their missions and the ways they can help you.
When your circumstances change, we’ll still be here to help
At DentalInsurance.com, we understand that not everyone can afford the costs of dental care. We hope these resources and ideas will help you to get the help you need anyway.
The ideas in this blog should help you find the help you need, whether you’re just skipping checkups to save for other expenses, or you’ve been putting off badly needed dental work due to the lack of funds.
So please, use these ideas to find the help you need. And some day, when you’re in a better financial position to be more proactive, come back and see us. We’ll be happy to help you find a dental insurance plan or dental discount plan that will keep a winning smile on your face for years to come.
Read next: Benefits of Regular Dental Visits
[Editor’s Note: This article is part three of a three part series on dental care products. Don’t miss part one and part two!]
Some age-old dental care products attain the status of classics: the toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash, for instance. Others, your dentist has to beg you to use. Dental floss gets top mention there.
And then there are specialty dental care products. Teeth whitening products, products for denture wearers, and those for emergencies all fall into this final, catchall group.
Most folks want white, vibrant teeth. However, expert teeth whitening can be costly. Having your teeth whitened by a dentist is always the safe way to go. For a more affordable choice, home teeth whitening products can help.
Along with whitening toothpastes, mouthwashes, and rinses, home teeth whitening products that use trays or strips, or that you paint-on, are available. Unlike the toothpastes and rinses, trays and strips keep their key ingredients in contact with teeth longer, so the results can be far more dramatic.
- What these products do: Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are the key ingredients used in most tooth whitening products. In each case, the peroxide gently bubbles away on tooth surfaces to scrub away the stains.
- Why they’re important: If getting whiter teeth at home is your goal, dentists generally agree using trays or strips delivers the most dazzling results.
- Who should use them: Using these products is generally a personal decision. Be sure to make it, if possible, with the advice of your dentist.
Just like people with real teeth, denture wearers must brush their dentures every day. Brushing dentures should be a daily part of denture care because it helps to remove food debris and stop plaque buildup on the surface. It also prevents dentures from getting permanent stains and helps the wearer’s mouth stay healthy.
Some denture wearers use hand soap or mild dish washing liquid to clean their dentures. Both are acceptable. However, you should avoid using powdered household cleansers as they may be too abrasive. Also, do not use bleach, as this could whiten the pink parts of dentures.
- What denture care products do: Special toothbrushes, toothpastes, and other products are available for cleaning dentures.
- Why they’re important: Denture care products are milder than the products used on natural teeth in order to avoid damage to dentures.
- Who should use them: Only denture wearers or their caregivers should use these products. Do not use denture care products to clean natural teeth.
Emergency Dental Care Products
Those of us who work in the insurance industry love Benjamin Franklin. After all, he was one of the early proponents of insurance. And when he said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail,” we think he hit the nail right on the head.
There are a number of specialty emergency dental care products available. Several retailers even offer a dental emergency first-aid kit. These generally contain most of what you’re likely to need for a dental emergency when there’s no dentist available.
- What they’re for: Depending on the type of dental emergency you have, several retailers offer dental repair kits with items to relieve tooth pain, hold loose fillings and crowns in place, or transport a knocked out tooth. The contents typically include things like tweezers, cotton, antimicrobial wipes, ibuprofen, and gauze.
- Why they’re important: These items will come in handy in the case of lost fillings, loose caps or crowns, teeth that have become dislodged, or a persistent toothache due to a cavity
- Who should use them: Everyone wants to be prepared, but it’s not always necessary to buy a specialty kit.
If you don’t want to go to the expense of buying a dedicated dental emergency first-aid kit, perhaps check your regular first aid kit and see what types of additions would make it work for dental emergencies as well. To get an idea of the types of things to include, read our blog about loose teeth and other dental emergencies.
To learn more about dental care products, read part one and part two of our dental care products overview.
Read next: 5 Reasons Why You Need Dental Insurance