Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Anti-Dentite Nation

I’ve always wondered about this too:
Imagine if your health insurance -- and for the purposes of this thought experiment, you have health insurance, and it's decent -- covered everything save your liver. For that, you need liver insurance. Or maybe it does cover your liver, but not your right foot. That requires right foot insurance. Or maybe it covers everything but your brain. Got some brain insurance?

That's the odd space dental insurance occupies. None would argue that what happens in your mouth is unrelated to your health. An abscessed tooth is considerably more dangerous than a sprained ankle, and diseases that begin in the gums can travel down to the heart.
And even if you are fortunate enough to have dental insurance, I bet it’s not very good. I’ve had (and now have) pretty good health insurance coverage, but even when that’s been the case, the accompanying dental insurance has hardly covered anything. Right now I have a health insurance card and then a separate dental insurance card provided by the same insurance company and paid for by the same employer. (Actually, I’m particularly lucky to have the best dental plan of all –my dentist is a relative.)

I’m not sure how dental care got disconnected from healthcare in general. I suspect it has something to do with having never been connected in the first place. We almost treat dental issues as if they are cosmetic and barely worth considering as basic healthcare. Oddly, I think we view cosmetic surgery, even the entirely elective vanity stuff (as opposed to reconstruction from some trauma) as tied more closely to traditional healthcare than dentistry.

Is it this way in other countries? I bet not, especially if you consider almost all other developed countries have some sort of universal healthcare. This is probably just some odd state of affairs we just accept here for no other reason than that’s just the way it’s always been.

Or maybe we‘re just a nation of anti-dentites.

1 comment:

RickMonday said...


One of the most important actions one can take for your teeth is to floss. I used to floss maybe once a week until I was read the riot act by my dental hygenist about 2 years ago. Now, I use Plackers, basically a piece of floss with a handle, and floss several times throughout the day. One would be surprised how long your teeth will last with flossing regularly.

But back to your post. You are quite right, the health companies seem to treat dental care as an afterthought.