More Than Teeth: Dental Health

Your dentist is your best friend when it comes to teeth, but did you know that he or she is also a key player in your overall health? It’s true. Dentists have a front row seat to indicators of serious diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. That makes your regular dental checkups all the more important.

If you don’t have a dentist you see regularly, it’s time to find one; not just for your teeth, but for your overall health. Here are some tips for choosing a dental practice.

  1. Check your insurance. If you are covered by a dental plan, you might need to stay in network or pay higher costs. NOTE: Having a medial plan doesn’t necessarily mean you have a dental plan. They’re usually separate. Check your coverage before you make an appointment with any dentist.
  2. Ask friends. Referrals are the best way to find a new dentist. But don’t just ask for names, ask for reasons why your friends recommend a specific dentist. They might say things like, “she has flexible hours” or “the hygienists are awesome.” Know what matters to you, and choose accordingly.
  3. Ask about hygienists. On routine visits, you’ll spend most of your time with them. Call the practice and ask about hygienists’ backgrounds, experience, and longevity with the practice. Look for practices with experienced, long-term staff members.
  4. Consider location. A great dentist is worth some travel time, but if distance becomes a barrier to regular visits, you should find someone closer to you.
  5. Ask questions. Before visiting, call and ask questions about what a typical visit includes, how the dentist monitors overall health, and if the dentist has any specialties or unique approaches.

Finally, remember you can pay for dental care through a health spending account if you have one, even if you don’t have dental coverage.

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