Thankfully, we now live in a society where tooth extractions are the absolute last resort, and dentists will do everything in their power to save your teeth. Sometimes the measures they take include dental surgery, which can sound scary at first, but once you know what’s involved you’ll realize it’s a much better alternative to simply yanking out the offending tooth!
The Most Common Surgeries
Speaking of tooth extractions, while most dentists will avoid pulling teeth, it’s a completely different story when it comes to your wisdom teeth. Located at the very back of your jaw, most wisdom teeth do not erupt, and when they do, they cause crowding in the jaw and serve little function.
Unless you have a large, accommodating jaw, there aren’t many reasons for you to keep your wisdom teeth. Your dentist will want to have them removed, usually no later than when you’re in your early twenties, though sometimes people can wait much longer.
Wisdom tooth removal is usually done under full sedation and is often performed in a hospital or dental surgery centre. The practitioner must cut your gums open to access those teeth that have impacted under other teeth. Some people’s wisdom teeth emerge and can actually be used, but they are often prone to cavities and decay due to how far back they are in the mouth.
Another common surgery is a gingivectomy. This type of surgery removes damaged and diseased gum tissue. Sometimes the pockets of tissue between your teeth become decayed from years of neglect or due to a medical condition. A gingivectomy is typically performed by a periodontist.
Root canals are another means of trying to save a tooth from removal. Sometimes the nerve and pulp of a tooth become so damaged that they need to be removed and the space needs to be sealed. A skilled practitioner can perform this with minimal discomfort, but it is still considered surgery.
Similar to the root canal, a pulpectomy is the removal of all pulp from a tooth. Usually when a tooth is compromised to this degree, it will require a crown to keep it all together. A pulpotomy is similar, but only removes a portion of the pulp, leaving the remaining healthy pulp intact.
The surgeries mentioned above are all considered basic comprehensive dental services.
Major Dental Surgery
Some surgeries are considered to be major dental services. Surgeries involving the placement of bridges or implants are all considered major, but may not be covered under your policy. Implantology is not covered by any of our plans, for instance.
The placement of crowns, bridges and dentures aren’t necessarily considered surgical, but they are still rather invasive. These types of services are payable at a lesser percentage, but the coverage is very important, nonetheless.
Jaw alignment surgery may be performed by a medical doctor and is not usually covered as a dental service, but it depends on what the surgery is, what kind of practitioner is performing it, and whether a dental code is used.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, more commonly known as TMJ, is when the “hinge” of your jaw is injured or not working correctly. Whether it is misaligned or the muscles in your face are damaged, this disorder is very often treated with surgery.
TMJ-related services are usually not covered by any plan, but double check with a broker to find out for sure, or have your dental office submit a cost estimate.
Pre-Determinations Are Important
Before scheduling any kind of dental surgery, be sure to ask your dentist to submit a treatment plan or pre-determination form to your dental insurance company. Some insurance plans will pay for surgeries without issue, but there is always the chance that something isn’t covered.
Cost estimates are also a way to find out just how much your plan will cover. Some plans will pay a certain percentage, and it’s very good to know in advance just how much you will be paying out of your own pocket.
Your dental office should send an estimate with
- Your name
- The practitioner’s name
- Dental codes that will be used
- Cost per code
- Any necessary anaesthesia codes and fees
It’s advisable that you wait until you hear back from your insurance company before booking your procedure. You may choose to get the work done even if it isn’t covered, but at least you’ll know for sure what is and isn’t paid by your plan!
General Practitioners or Specialists?
Many dental surgeries are performed by specialists. Dental surgeons are considered specialists and often work out of hospitals. Periodontists are also specialists. These practitioners will charge specialist fees which are higher than those of general practitioners. Most plans will not pay the extra specialist fees.
If you have surgery performed by a specialist, your plan will pay up to the amount of a general practitioner, for the maximum amount allowed for each procedure. To determine the parameters of your plan, talk to your insurance broker.
As we age, it’s inevitable that we will require some dental attention. When we need dental surgery, it’s not a cheap endeavour! Having a dental insurance plan is one of the best ways you can ensure that your dental health never gets neglected and that you don’t go broke taking care of yourself!
Contact our office today to find out what your best options are, what types of plans we have to choose from, and how you can help protect your own, and your family’s dental health today!