Adult oral health is as crucial as their overall health and well-being. This is because, with advancing age, an individual becomes more prone to different health conditions. Some of the common oral health conditions faced by adults are tooth decay, gum disease, loss of the tooth, bone disorder, oral infections, and oral cancer.
It is essential to understand the importance of dental treatments in terms of restoring your oral health. Often, preventative measures to maintain good oral hygiene can help to seize the condition. However, professional dental treatment is often the key to improved oral health and hygiene.
Some of the conventional dental treatments that heal adult oral health conditions include tooth fillings, root canal treatment, tooth extraction, restorative dental treatments, and teeth whitening procedures. In this article, we will discuss the different types of dental treatments that are beneficial for adult oral health. Moreover, we will also look at some of the standard dental insurance plans that can benefit you economically.
What are the benefits of adult dental treatments?
Most people ignore their oral health and take it for granted. However, in doing so, they increase potential risk to their overall health and well-being. Our mouth is a mirror that reflects some of the interpretive signs and symptoms for an underlying infection or disease. It is, therefore, essential to keep up with routine dental check-ups and health management. (1) Some of the key benefits of adult oral health treatments include –
- Prevention of health complications – failure to take proper measures in maintaining good oral health can take a toll on your overall health. Studies have shown a direct correlation between poor oral health and heart disease and preterm birth in a pregnant woman. Moreover, people who do not get their oral conditions treated are more prone to the development of oral infections and oral cancer.
- Dental treatments are the best solution for permanent dental pain relief. This is because, during a dental examination, a dentist identifies the exact underlying cause of the problem and treats it. Moreover, dental treatments stop disease progression.
- Cost-effectiveness – routine dental check-ups and professional dental cleaning are often the most economical ways of maintaining proper oral health. Skipping regular dental cleanings can lead to plaque build-up and development of dental ailments which potentially increases the cost of the treatment.
- Boost up your confidence – Everyone likes to have a healthy white and bright smile. Often tooth decay and gum disease can change the appealing look of your smile. Dental treatment plays a crucial role in bringing supreme health of your teeth and gums. As a result, your smile becomes uniformly, clean, and attractive.
What are the different types of treatment that improve adult oral health?
There is a wide range of dental procedures that are performed to treat a specific dental ailment.
A dentist usually diagnosis the oral health condition by identifying potential signs and symptoms of the disease.
Some of the diagnostic steps that help to confirm a dental condition include –
- Thorough medical and dental history of the patient
- A complete dental examination that includes inspection and physical testing of every soft and hard oral tissue
- Dental x-rays to examine the underlying disease progression
- Additional dental tests for example biopsy that is usually required to confirm oral cancerous lesions
Some of the standard adult dental treatments are listed below –
Professional tooth cleaning
Professional tooth cleaning, also known as oral prophylaxis is a type of dental procedure which aims to remove the plaque and bacteria from the mouth. Dental plaque is a sticky layer of food debris and bacteria that develops on the tooth surface regularly.
Regular tooth brushing can help to clean the plaque daily. However, professional tooth cleaning ensures removal of plaque from places that cannot be reached by a toothbrush – for example, between the teeth, and around the gum line.
Professional tooth cleaning is performed by a dentist using an ultrasonic scaler that scrapes the plaque and tartar from the tooth surface. In case of deep pockets, the ultrasonic scaler can be used to remove the food debris and bacteria under the gum line and enhance the health of the gums. (2)
After the teeth are cleaned, the tooth surface is polished using a polishing brush and paste. This provides a smooth and uniform tooth surface. An added benefit of professional tooth cleaning is that it easily removes the surface stains.
Tooth fillings are one of the most common dental procedures that are performed to restore the tooth decay or cavity. The primary purpose of tooth filling is to arrest the disease progression and repair the standard shape and function of the tooth.
There are several types of dental fillings that are used to restore the tooth structure. The choice of material depends on the extent of the cavity and the patient’s preference. Some of the different types of tooth fillings are listed below –
- Amalgam – amalgam filling most commonly known as silver filling consists of a mixture of mercury and silver. The metallic components of the filling provide a characteristic silver color to the filling, which may not be ideal for front teeth. Amalgam is suitable for posterior tooth restoration. However, the health risks associated with mercury has made it a debatable option. Cost of amalgam ranges from $50- $150 per tooth.
- Gold – similar to amalgam, gold is another durable tooth filling for back teeth. These fillings often last longer than any other tooth filling. However, the metallic gold appearance may not be a prime choice for every patient. Gold fillings come on an expensive range between $250 – $4500.
- Composite – composite resin is an excellent mixture of plastic and glass particles. Moreover, it is one of the best tooth filling material that enhances the aesthetics of the teeth and smile. This material comes in a wide range of shades that can match any tooth color. (3) Tooth-colored fillings are economical and range from $135 – $240 per tooth.
- Glass ionomer – glass ionomer are well known for their high bond strength. Moreover, they are a good option for people with multiple tooth fillings. Glass ionomer is one of the very few dental materials that can be used to restore tooth decay below the gum line. Additionally, these fillings are the most affordable option out of all ranging from $10 – $100. (4)
Root canal treatment
Root canal treatments are usually performed to repair and restore infected pulp tissue in a tooth. Some of the common dental conditions that are also treated by this therapeutic dental procedure include cracked tooth with pulp involvement, extensive carious tooth, and traumatic dental injury that infects the pulp.
Typically, during a root canal treatment, the dentist drills the tooth to prepare easy access to the root canal. Endodontic files are used to extirpate the infected pulpal tissue. Moreover, the dentist cleans and shapes the canal to remove all the infected tissue. Usually, root canal treatment requires a minimum of 2-3 dental sittings to complete the procedure. (5)
Once the entire infection has been removed, the canals of the tooth root are filled with gutta-percha followed by dental crown placement. This provides strength to the toot hstructure and eqally distributes the biting force. Cost of root canal treatment usually ranges from $900 – $1100 without crown placement.
Tooth removal is usually performed for badly broken teeth and extensive tooth decay which is beyond repair. Moreover, orthodontic procedures require tooth removal to provide enough space for tooth movement. Wisdom tooth removal is one of the most common procedures carried out in a dental clinic.
It is always essential to rule out all the possible dental treatments that may save the tooth. Tooth extraction is often considered as the last resort for the betterment of oral health condition. During such procedures, the dentist anesthetizes the concerned area and removes the tooth by using elevators and forceps.
After tooth removal, the dentist places a gauze piece which is to be kept in place for at least 30-45 minutes. Post extraction instructions play a crucial role in the healing process of the extracted site. The dentist usually prescribes pain relievers to comfort the patient after tooth removal. Typically tooth extractions cost around $75 – $600 per tooth.
Restorative dental treatments usually involve a wide range of tooth replacement devices. Typically these procedures are performed to fill in the gap created by a missing tooth, treat a severely broken tooth, and strengthen a root canal treated tooth. Some of the conventional therapeutic devices used are as follows –
- Veneers – these are small porcelain shells that are used to cover the front tooth surface. Veneers are typically bonded to the tooth using dental cement. It repairs chipped tooth, decayed, or stained front tooth. Cost of veneer usually ranges from $925 – $2500 per tooth.
- Crowns – a crown is a replacement device that covers the entire tooth surface. It is a standard replacement method used for root canal treated tooth or badly broken teeth. Crowns typically can be made from metal; porcelain fused to metal, ceramic and zirconia. The choice of material depends on the type of tooth involved and the patient’s preference. Typically dental crowns cost from $800 – $1700 per tooth.
- Bridge and implant– the primary purpose for bridge and implant is to replace the missing tooth in the mouth. Usually, the bridge consists of false teeth anchored by dental crowns that take support from the adjacent teeth. The cost of a three-unit bridge for single tooth replacement ranges from $2000 – $5000.
Dental implants, on the other hand, are invasive. They consist of a titanium screw that is integrated into the jaw bone and allowed to heal for three months. Once the implant site is healed, a dental crown can be used to replace the missing tooth space. The cost of a single dental implant with crown replacement ranges from $3000 – $4000.
- Dentures – dentures are one of the most straightforward removable dental appliances that are used to restore multiple missing teeth in the mouth. This appliance takes support from the gums and underlying bone and firmly adapts to provide strength to the supporting teeth. Typically dentures can cost around $700 – $1500.
Teeth whitening is open of the most popular dental treatments that adults seek for removal of tooth stains and discolorations. However, not every cause of tooth staining is ideal for the tooth whitening procedure. A perfect candidate for tooth whitening should have healthy teeth with no signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and multiple tooth restorations. Typically, in-office teeth whitening can be categorized into two types –
- Vital tooth whitening – this procedure is performed on healthy teeth. A bleaching gel is applied on the tooth enamel and activated using a blue laser light which increases the absorption of the gel into the tooth surface. This process takes around 30-90 minutes in a single appointment. The results are instant and stay for an extended period with care and management. (6)
- Non-vital teeth whitening – as the name suggests, this procedure is performed on non-vital teeth after root canal treatment. Unlike traditional tooth whitening, the bleaching gel is applied inside the tooth cavity and left in place for several days. This process requires more than one application of the bleaching gel. (7)
Professional tooth whitening kits for home usage are also popular among adults. These include a custom fit tray fabricated by the dentist. The gel is applied on the tray and placed on the teeth for at least 30 minutes daily. The results of at-home tooth whitening usually take around two weeks. The cost of professional tooth whitening procedures often comes around $500 per session.
Gum repair treatment
Gum disease is a prevalent dental problem among the adult population. Often the gum disease initiates due to poor oral hygiene. As the disease progresses, the infection involves deeper periodontal tissues and causes gum recession. Advanced periodontal disease leads to exposure of tooth root, bone loss, and increased tooth mobility. Moreover, it risks the problem of tooth loss. Typical treatment procedures for gum repair include –
- Professional tooth cleaning and polishing to treat mild gingivitis.
- Extensive gingival infection requires deep cleaning of the teeth and root planning.
- Advanced periodontal lesions may require invasive procedures that include surgical removal of the infected gum tissue and the use of gum grafts to repair the health of the gums at the contaminated site.
Cost of gum repair usually depends on the type of gum disease treated. It typically ranges between $3000 – $6000 for extensive lesions.
Which dental insurance cover the cost of dental treatment?
One of the common concerns of every dental patient while getting a treatment done is dental insurance coverage. It is the best way to take care of your teeth at a beneficial value effectively. Typically, dental health insurance in the United States can be categorized as follows –
Direct reimbursement program As the name suggests, this insurance policy reimburses a predetermined percentage of the entire cost of dental treatment. Moreover, this rule applies to any dental procedure. Direct reimbursement plan offers freedom to choose the kind of dentist in the locality. Additionally, it also provides incentives to the patient to work with the dentist towards building a healthy and cost-effective treatment plan. (8)
A usual, customary and reasonable method
This unique insurance policy affiliates a group of dentists belonging to a particular area. The patient has the freedom to choose any dentist among the group provided by the insurance company. The insurance policy then pays any one of the below options (whichever is less) –
- Pay a preset percentage of the dentist’s fee
- Plan administrator’s reasonable and customary fee limit
Table or schedule of allowance program
This insurance plan determines a clear list of covered services with a definite assigned amount of money. The insurance covers the cost of services regardless of the fee charged by the dentist. In the end, the patient has to pay the difference between the allowance charge and the dentist’s fee.
This is a simple insurance plan that pays contracted dentists a fixed amount for every patient enrolled by them. This plan covers a few free services provided by the dentist. The dental office specifies each free service.
Take away message
Adult oral health care is one of the essential health concerns that cannot be ignored. With advancing age, people become more prone to health problems that can have adverse effects on oral health and hygiene. Some factors, like medications, reduced manual dexterity, hormonal changes, bone disorders, and systemic illnesses, can have a severe impact on the teeth and gums.
Some of the conventional dental treatments that are performed for adult oral problems include tooth filling, root canal treatment, restorative gum therapy, oral surgery, and replacement of missing teeth. Several dental insurance plans can guide you to choose the best dentist and dental services for your benefit. Proper knowledge and awareness about adult oral health treatments can take you a long way in maintaining healthy teeth and gums for life.