Dental Implants and Insurance Part 5
August 02, 2017
By Alexander Germanis
Most major changes in our lives do not follow a set schedule. In fact, the less welcome the change, the less likely we will be prepared for it or will have the funds sufficient enough to deal with it.
This can certainly be the way with our dental health. For many people, significant tooth loss is one of those things not easily dealt with. Even with the advent of dental implants, the go-to move for major tooth loss is still dentures. This is due largely to the fact most insurance companies do not yet cover the cost of dental implants procedures.
The main reason insurance companies cite for that is due to the classification under which dental implants have fallen — they are still largely considered to be a purely cosmetic dentistry procedure by many companies.
Fortunately, that is an oversight slowly being mended. “We’re starting to see more insurance companies cover dental implants than in the past,” says Emil Verban, Jr., DDS. “Because research studies have shown, over a ten year period of time, there is less maintenance and a higher success rate with implants than with bridgework.”
For the cases when implants are covered, navigating the waters of insurance can still be fairly complicated. “The insurance companies that do cover replacement of the tooth, or a certain percentage of it, want you to have that [natural] tooth removed while you are underneath their plan,” Dr. Verban explains. “For example, if you lost three teeth last year, had no dental insurance then and you want to get implants now, under [some insurance companies], they won’t cover it. But for some plans, like the State of Illinois Insurance, for instance, if you lose the tooth while underneath their coverage, they’ll pay for replacement with a dental implant.”
Longevity with a specific insurance company can make all the difference. Dr. Verban adds that staying under the same plan for an extended period of time means the insurance company will end up saving money on you in the long run.
Those slowly awakening insurance companies aside, most people are still probably not covered by their insurance plans when it comes to implants. As one’s health does not always follow an insurance plan’s schedule, Dr. Verban says implants may be a viable option a little further down the line.
The issue with getting dentures first and implants later is there can be a problem with bone resorption. “Any time you lose or remove a tooth you're going to get resorption of the bone where the tooth was removed,” Dr. Verban states. “You can get up to 50 percent loss of the width of the ridge where the tooth was.”
Simply put, when someone loses one or more teeth, the jawbone in that area starts to reabsorb, effectively shrinking the overall size of the jaw. While a dental implant tricks the bone into thinking there is still a tooth there and the bone does not reabsorb, dentures do not have the same effect. That is why time can be of the essence with placing a dental implant.
Dr. Verban says it is important to place an implant within three to six months after the loss or removal of a tooth before bone resorption becomes an issue. For many people, either their finances or their insurance will not allow the necessary funds in such a small timeframe. Fortunately, there is a time-extending procedure.
Although dental implants may still have an uphill struggle to be recognized by insurance companies for what they are, there is no arguing with those people who have already seen their advantages, both short and long-term: dental implants can be life-changing and life-improving.
To learn about the time-extending procedure meant to aid patients in acquiring implants later on, read “Treatment of Choice, Part 6” in next month’s Healthy Cells. If you missed the previous articles in this series, you can read them online at www.HealthyCellsBN.com, or call Cheryl at 309-664-2524.
For more information, you may contact Emil Verban, Jr., DDS at 309-662-8448 or visit www.mcleancountydental.com. McLean County Dental is located at 2103 E. Washington Street in Bloomington. Dr. Verban provides his patients both general dentistry expertise and the ability to provide specialized services such as sedation dentistry, cosmetic procedures, and dental implants.
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