Patients often question what a cosmetic dental procedure is and whether or not they are covered under their dental health plan. Often times there is a fine line between cosmetic procedures and restorative dental procedures. While every dental insurance plan is different as far as what they will cover, Momentum Plans would like to share what procedures are typically considered cosmetic so you have the knowledge you need when making dental insurance and procedure decisions.
Cosmetic Dental Procedures
Teeth whitening lightens teeth, removing stains and discoloration. Whitening is amongst the most popular cosmetic dental procedure due to its aesthetic benefits. While there are many over-the-counter tooth whitening products, professional whitening is safer and more effective. There are possible risks to whitening your teeth and therefore should be discussed with your dentist whether you decide to whiten on your own or have it professionally done. Whitening is typically not covered by dental insurance.
Orthodontics corrects the alignment of teeth for a healthy smile. Various techniques for straightening teeth can be used like braces, retainers, and even mouthpieces. The earlier a child is seen by an orthodontist the better. Your dentist can recommend an orthodontist for a consult.
Several factors can affect the cost of orthodontic care, dental insurance coverage being the biggest factor. It’s important to have a clear understanding of what your insurance plan covers. Orthodontic care may not be covered if you begin treatment before you start an insurance plan. When making your first orthodontist appointment confirm whether your plan is accepted and what it covers. Orthodontics may be covered by employer-sponsored group plans and rarely by individual plans. Waiting periods and medical necessity may apply.
Tooth bonding is a dental procedure which involves applying a tooth-colored resin material to a tooth and hardening it with a special light. The same material is used for filling a cavity. Bonding is done to fill in spaces between teeth, repair a chipped or decayed tooth, or even change the shape of a tooth. Bonding is an inexpensive procedure and is not permanent. If the bonding is done to improve appearance, and not to restore tooth function, the treatment is typically not covered.
Onlays or Inlays
Onlays and inlays restore normal tooth structure after decay or any other damage. An inlay is done when the tooth structure replaced is within the cusp tips of the tooth. If the damage is outside of the tooth cusp than an onlay is added. Inlays and onlays repair the chewing surface of your tooth. Coverage varies with insurance plans.
Veneers are typically thin pieces of porcelain and used to recreate the natural look of teeth. Veneers are often used to improve the appearance of a tooth. They are bonded to the front of the tooth which can change the color, shape, size or length. Veneers are typically not covered under dental insurance plans.
Dental implants are titanium posts which are surgically inserted into the jawbone beneath the gum line. The procedure allows a dentist or oral surgeon to provide stable support for artificial teeth. This secure fit helps dentures, bridges and crowns feel more natural especially when speaking and eating. Individual dental plans often exclude implant coverage.
Tooth Caps or Dental Crowns
Sometimes a cavity may damage the tooth to the point where restoration is needed. When too much of the structure of the tooth is removed, a dental crown is required. A crown will strengthen and restore the entire top of a tooth by covering the outside of the tooth with a casting of metal (or ceramic). Crowns are often covered in part as a major restorative service.