Strategic Smiles

LONG TERM PLANNING FOR SIGNIFICANT DENTAL WORK

You want and deserve a million-dollar smile, but that doesn’t mean you have a million dollars and an empty schedule to achieve it. If you need significant dental work, don’t let budgetary or time constraints prevent you from seeking treatment. Dentists are happy to work with you to develop a customized long- term treatment plan you can sink your teeth into.

STEP 1: Start a plan.

Postponing treatment increases the likelihood of increased expenses, so don’t put off scheduling a consultation to start your personalized smile plan. Think of it as the dental equivalent of calling a plumber when you spot a small leak under the kitchen sink rather than waiting until your kitchen needs a full-blown renovation.

The first step in any dental plan is addressing immediate pain or infection. Next, Periodontal disease must be treated. The underlying structures must be healthy enough to support new work in the long term. Never build on a faulty foundation.

After any periodontal conditions are stable, your dental professionals will re-evaluate everything and fine-tune the plan made at the initial appointment. All future work recommended by your experienced practitioner will be noted and then phased in order of priority.

Cosmetic procedures, such as veneers, can be done at any time after gums are healthy and any active infection is treated. Please note that veneers are not covered by insurance.

Since long term work, such as crowns and dental implants, are best placed in a well-aligned arch, interested candidates might be advised to consult an orthodontist, too.

STEP 2: Utilize insurance.

Your dental professionals are interested in helping you best utilize any insurance benefits. The typical dental insurance covers about $1500 of dental costs per year. Don’t miss out on using the full amount. Sometimes dental offices will begin work on a significant treatment, such as an implant, in October. Then your dental provider might recommendwaiting until January, when the insurance benefit has renewed, to place the crown on top of the implant, since those are separate charges.

Future treatments are often planned by quadrant. Pardon the pun, but you might say the work is divided into bite- size chunks.

If you are going into retirement soon, it’s a good idea to be up to date with all treatments so that the possibility of living without dental insurance is doable. After retirement, consider banking the yearly fee of what insurance would cost and self-insure that way.

STEP 3: Slow and steady creates a winning smile.

Rather than worrying about the long-term plan, just keep steadily whittling away at it every year. In a shorter time than you might think, your mouth will be well on its way to total restoration.

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