Visiting The Dentist

Visiting The Dentist 101 - Everything You Need To Know

By Stephanie Datt 8/10/2019
Dental visit

Many people put off their dental visits until they experience some kind of pain. Often people leave their visits until the pain is unbearable or the problem hinders their everyday life. Unpleasant as it may seem, regular check-ups are good for everyone.

Taking care of your oral health will improve your overall health and wellbeing. Your ability to eat, converse and socialise largely depends on it. Poor oral health can cause discomfort, embarrassment, and pain.

Australia’s Oral Health

❝1 in 25 Australians aged 15 years and over have no natural teeth❞

AIHW 2017- 2018 data on Australia’s oral health show that:

✅ 1 in 2 Australians have seen a dentist in the last 12 months.

✅ 3 in 10 adults aged 25-44 have untreated tooth decay.

✅ 42% of all kids aged 5-10 have experienced tooth decay in their baby teeth.

✅ 1 in 25 Australians aged 15 years and over have no natural teeth.

✅ In 2016, there were 57.7 dentists per 100,000 people in Australia.

There is also evidence that poor oral health is linked to chronic diseases such as stroke and diabetes, oral cancer, and lung and cardiovascular diseases.

Common Concerns with Dentist Visits

If you intend to visit a dental centre, you may be worried about nasty surprises.

What if the dentist starts pulling out my teeth? Will he be disgusted by the state of my mouth? What if I can’t afford treatment? These are all perfectly normal concerns but you’ll find, after a visit, that many of them are quite unfounded.

Firstly, your dentist will never perform any work on you without prior authorisation. Even if they recommend treatment, you can refuse to have it. While it is advisable to heed your dentists’ advice, you will always have the final say.

Just like every medical practitioner, your dentist has seen it all. A major factor in people holding off dental visits is worrying about being judged for poor oral health. The thought of a dental team tsk-ing their way through your mouth causes many people to suffer through untreated dental pain. While all dentists are different, most are friendly and reassuring, because they understand that most people have these qualms.

It is no secret that dental visits don’t come cheap. Having private health insurance will help alleviate most, if not all of your dental visit costs. If you aren’t privately insured, the costs can be alarming. You can ask your dentist if they are willing to treat you on a payment plan or consider taking out health cover.

Dentistry through history

Dentistry is one of the oldest medical professions, dating all the way back to 7000 B.C.

Most of us fear dental visits even with anaesthesia. Imagine our forefathers with their primitive tools and lack of numbing medicine.

The approach to ancient dentistry for different cultures is quite interesting. The Chinese wrote prayers for relief on small bits of parchment. They then wrapped the paper around the troublesome tooth.

dental history

Ancient Sumerian text reveals that the civilisation believed in the presence of tooth worms. The idea was that the pain of dental decay was formed by worms burrowing into and residing in your molars. Treatment for this sometimes involved a hand-operated drill to get the offending worm out. It wasn’t until the 1700’s when the worm-tooth theory was finally disproven!

In the middle ages, dentistry was often a blacksmith or barber’s side job. Extraction was the most popular method of treatment.

Patients everywhere no doubt breathed a bit easier when Dr Horace Wells introduced painless dentistry with nitrous oxide in 1844. Before that, it was more than likely that patients had to be knocked out senseless before treatment.

Routine Dental Checks

Dentists recommend that you visit them for a check-up and clean every 6 months. If you’re going in for preventative care, expect a routine dental clean.

You will most probably be asked how you’re feeling, how your teeth have been, and about your dental history.

Routine cleaning involves a check for cavities and a clean-up of any build-up or tartar. A dentist will perform this using a small mirror and a scaler around your gum line and in between your teeth.  Patients do not typically experience pain.

You might need to have an X-ray to determine if there are any cavities between your teeth. Using a periodontal probe, your dentist will check to see how healthy your gums are.

Usually, your dentist will also check your tongue, throat, face, neck and head. This is just to determine if there are any anomalies relating to your oral health.

Preventative care like examinations and cleaning goes a long way in terms of saving costly dental treatments. Many health funds, such as nib & Australian Unity to name a few will offer you no-gap check-up & cleans when you visit one of their dental centres

Preventative care saves the pay-out of hefty treatment costs for your health fund and saves you discomfort, out-of-pockets, and pain.

Common Dental Treatments

You’re sitting in your dental clinic, already nervous, and your dental hygienist starts saying things like, ‘let’s book you for a bonding session.’

What’s a bonding session? Here’s a quick rundown of some common dental treatments to get you up to speed with oral health care.

Bonding is made up of a type of plastic called composite resin. It is made into a paste and tinted to match your tooth colour. This paste is then plastered on to repair chipped, fractured, decayed and discoloured teeth. It can also be used to fill in gaps between your teeth. Several layers of the composite will be pasted on and then hardened under ultraviolet light. This procedure will finish with a shape and polish to achieve a natural look.

Braces are used to correct bite-related problems and the alignment of teeth. The steady pressure of the brace causes the teeth to straighten over time.

Bridges literally bridge the gaps in your teeth. These are false teeth held in place by its neighbouring teeth.

Implants can support more than one false tooth by a titanium screw that serves to replace the root of a tooth. These then provide support for artificial teeth.

If your tooth has severe damage, stains, or is misshapen, it can be capped with a crown.  These fully encase the whole visible area of a tooth that sits above the gum line. These are quite costly and are made from acrylic, porcelain, metal or porcelain bonded to metal.

Porcelain crowns look more like your natural teeth and are mainly used for front teeth. Metal crowns are usually used for back teeth because of its strength.

There are two types of prosthesis to replace missing teeth- full and partial.

This is the dental specialty that deals mainly with the study and treatment of the inside of your teeth. The most common procedure an endodontist performs is a root canal.

If your tooth has irreparable or severe damage you may consider extraction. This is a removal of your tooth and may also be done for orthodontic purposes.

Fluoride treatments come in the form of highly concentrated rinse, gel, foam or varnish. These treatments have a higher concentrate of fluoride than toothpaste. You will be asked to avoid eating or drinking 30 mins after treatment to allow the fluoride to fully absorb.

Gum disease has two stages- gingivitis and periodontitis. This disease affects the gums and bone, resulting in a loss of teeth and gum. Gingivitis is treatable but periodontitis may require gum surgery to reverse damage.

Otherwise known as braces, this is the specialised service of dentistry that deals with correcting bites and the straightness of teeth.

If your tooth is injured, cracked or decayed, a root canal may treat it. The tooth will be opened and cleaned of any infected tissue in its centre. Then it is filled and then sealed. This method is good in that it keeps your natural tooth. This will keep your other teeth from falling out of line and save you from getting an artificial replacement.

Veneers are wafer-thin pieces of porcelain that are bonded to the teeth. These are usually to improve the appearance of damaged or stained teeth. These can also be used for cosmetic reasons instead of crowns and caps.

Dental costs

Medicare does not cover dentistry unless it affects your general health, like oral cancer. This means there are no prescribed or set fees. There are also no standard fees for dental procedures in Australia.

The body that regulates dentistry (AHPRA), focus solely on the quality of care provided. They also monitor professional, registration, and code of conduct standards. While they ensure that you get the best service, they do not have any set cost guidelines. This is because dentists’ treatment methods and techniques vary greatly. Where it may take one dentist 30 minutes to treat a patient, it may take another 2 hours. Also, overhead costs, type of equipment and material used, and location vary for each dentist. This basically means that dentists can charge whatever they like.

Dental cover in insurance policies comes in 3 forms; general dental, major dental and orthodontic. General dental may include cleaning, scale and cleans and fillings. Major dental typically covers treatment that requires surgery. These are procedures like gum disease treatment, veneers, and crowns.

The following costs are what some dentists charge for treatment:

  • Comprehensive oral exam: $52-$93
  • Scale and clean: $90-$160
  • Fluoride treatment: $24-$65
  • Extraction: $136-$298
  • Preparation of root canal: $185-400
  • Braces: $5000-$8000
  • Dentures: $950- $2000

It is always prudent to discuss fees with your dentist and health fund upfront. Dental visits are already alarming without the fees involved. Most people take out an extras policy with a private health insurer to assist with fees of their dental visits.

*Endodontic dental, generally falls within major dental.

Finding the best dental cover

Maintaining your smile can often destroy your pocket. Many people find that the only way to stay ahead of these costs is to take out an extras policy with a health fund.

What is extras cover? This is an insurance policy that includes dental care in its plan and is relatively easy on the budget. This not only covers you for your dental visits, but for prescription glasses as well as physiotherapy, and other services generally not covered under Medicare.

You can enjoy reasonably priced dental services up to a yearly limit and cut back most of your out-of-pockets. You will find some really great policies with high or even unlimited yearly limits for preventative dental. Some health funds have their own dental centres, which mean higher benefits for you.

Want dental cover and don’t know where to look? No problem. Health Deal is a free health insurance comparison service. Our highly trained team’s primary goal is to ensure that you get the best value for your family. This will save you time, any confusion, and most importantly, your hard-earned money.

There are over 40 health funds and hundreds of policies. You can either research yourself or compare now on our website. This service only takes a few minutes. If you already have cover and want to switch, we’ll take care of that too. If we can find you a better deal than the one you currently have, we’ll even arrange the transfer, so there are no awkward goodbyes.

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Invisalign and Health Insurance

Invisalign health insurance

Invisalign & Health Insurance: What You Need To Know 

(5 Minute Read)

You’re probably reading this because you’re thinking about getting Invisalign but are unsure about how it all works. That’s why Health Deal has compiled this article to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision.

We’ll explain how Invisalign works, what sort of cost you can be looking at for Invisalign treatment, as well as important information around how it all works with private health insurance and what you can expect to claim back.

What is Invisalign?

Firstly, Invisalign is not actually a dental procedure but is, in fact, a company. Invisalign has become synonymous with clear aligners because they are by far the biggest player in the clear aligner industry (like saying Google instead of saying search engine or Hoover instead of vacuum cleaner).

Invisalign is a convenient alternative to traditional braces. They are clear aligners that fit over your teeth, which over time will straighten your teeth, leaving you with that smile you always wanted. They are brilliant for people who want to have their teeth re-aligned but don’t want the metal train track look from braces. Unlike traditional braces, you can also take them off whenever you want!

How does Invisalign work?

The Invisalign process all starts off in the dentist chair. Your dental practitioner will take a physical impression or a digital scan of your teeth. This scan will be used to help create a digital 3D impression of your mouth, which will be used to create an individual treatment plan for you. Once you’re happy with the plan, your 3D impressions will be sent across to Invisalign to begin the process of making your aligners!

The number of aligners you need will be dependant on the length of your treatment plan. The length of your treatment plan will vary on the amount of work you need doing. Invisalign themselves say that the average length is around 12 months – 18 months for an adult, but again it really is dependant on your individual work, so don’t be alarmed if your treatment plan is up to 2 years.

Once you have your aligners, you’ll need to wear them for around 22 hours a day to receive maximum benefit. You should take them out only to eat, drink & brush your teeth. You will also need to replace your aligners every 2 weeks. When you leave your orthodontists, you’ll be given a series of aligners to wear, it is the gradual replacement of these aligners that slowly alter the arrangement of your teeth. It is recommended that you visit your orthodontist every 6 -8 weeks, to make sure your Invisalign treatment is working correctly.


Invisalign Cost

The cost of Invisalign treatment will be dependant on a few different factors such as:

  •    How long your treatment plan lasts?
  •    How many aligners do you need?
  •    Do you need to have mid-treatment adjustments?

Australian Dentists Clinic estimate the average cost of Invisalign to be anywhere from $3,500 – $7,000. Some dental practices even put the estimates up as high as between $4,500 – $9,000. What is certain though, is that Invisalign is not cheap by any stretch. This is why most people have private health insurance to help them pay for a portion.

Invisalign & Private Health Insurance

You can claim a benefit on Invisalign through your private health insurance. Invisalign is orthodontic work, and as such, any claims you make for Invisalign will come off your orthodontic limit.

If don’t currently have coverage for orthodontics on your current extras plan, or you don’t have an extras policy at all, then you’ll need to wait 12 months before you’ll be eligible to make a claim for your Invisalign treatment. So, if its something you’re considering getting & you currently have no cover, it might be worth investing in an extras policy.

If you do have private health insurance which covers orthodontics, you should shop around and see which health fund will give you the best rebate for your price range. If you switch over to another policy that covers orthodontics, you will not need to re-serve your wait period.

Be aware though, if you switch to a plan which increases your orthodontic limit, you will need to wait 12 months before you can claim any of the additional benefit. For example, if you currently have an orthodontic limit of $1,000 and you switch to a plan with $1,500 for orthodontic treatment, you will gain access to the $1,000 straight away, but you will wait 12 months before you can claim the extra $500.

Listed below are some health funds which will cover you for Invisalign. We’ve also listed the individual policy names and important fund information you’ll need to be aware of if you decide to switch.

HIF Invisalign

HIF can offer fantastic limits on orthodontic & Invisalign treatment. However, they have a few fund rules which are different to the majority of other health funds, which you need to be aware of. Firstly, to quote HIF’s policy booklet “Orthodontic benefits are not payable by HIF if the treatment or service has commenced prior to joining HIF”. This means if you have already started orthodontic treatment, HIF will not pay out a single dollar on orthodontic treatment if you switch to them.

Secondly, your orthodontic lifetime limit will depend on how long you have been with HIF when you make your first claim. HIF’s orthodontic lifetime limits increase each year you stay on the plan, however, the year you claim is the year that your lifetime limit will come into effect. So for example, if you had Super Options for 3 years and you made an orthodontic claim, your orthodontic lifetime limit would be $1,700 (see table below).

HIF invisalign

nib Invisalign

If you want to claim a benefit on Invisalign through nib, you currently have two policy options; Top Extras & the Family Extras bolt on.

With Top Extras, the yearly limit starts at $800 per year, however, it does increase by $100 each year you remain on the policy until you reach $2,600. For example, if you switched to Top Extras, but you didn’t claim on Invisalign for 2 years, nib would actually pay $1,000 yearly instead of $800 yearly. This policy can be good if you have young children who won’t be claiming on orthodontic treatment for a number of years.

Family Extras is a bolt-on package with nib. Family Extras cannot be purchased as a stand-alone product. This means you must at least also purchase either Core Extras or Core Extras plus, alongside Family Extras.

nib invisalign

ahm Invisalign

ahm currently have 3 stand-alone extras policies which will cover a benefit for Invisalign; Lifestyle Extras, Family Extras, and Super Extras. The two things you need to know about ahm policies in relation to orthodontic/Invisalign claims are; ahm are a financial year fund & that your yearly limit increases with loyalty.

ahm run on a financial year, unlike most other health funds. This means that all your yearly limits re-set on July 1, as opposed to January 1 like most other health funds, for example, Bupa, Medibank, HIF, HCF etc. With this in mind, it means that you could claim for your upper teeth in June & your lower teeth in July, granting you the highest amount of claims in the shortest amount of time.

Like HIF, ahm will also reward you for your loyalty, by increasing your yearly limits on orthodontic treatment over time. The table below will show you how much they increase by.

ahm invisalign

HCF Invisalign

HCF currently have 2 extras policies which will cover you for Invisalign; Gold Extras and Platinum Extras. Unlike the previous health funds discussed in this article, there are no loyalty benefits over time with HCF when it comes to orthodontics.

Something you need to be aware of though, is that HCF will limit your claims if you get your orthodontic work done by a dentist and not an orthodontist. So if you do decide to switch with HCF, double check with the dental practice & HCF customer service team, that you’ll be able to claim your entire yearly limit, and not 50% of it.

hcf invisalign

Still need more info?

If you still need more information regarding Invisalign and private health insurance, speak to a Health Deal health cover consultant & they’ll be able to run you through all your different options and assess which health insurance policy is right for you.


7 ways to maximise your Private Health Insurance Extras

It’s that time of year again, the silly season is upon us. While the focus for most people is getting their Christmas shopping sorted out, most people don’t realise that they could be leaving hundreds or thousands of dollars’ worth of Private Health Insurance extras behind.

Most Australian Private Health Insurance Extras policies operate on a calendar year basis. This means that your annual limits reset on January 1st each year. Unfortunately annual limits don’t rollover, so if you don’t use them – you lose them. We often find that many people don’t even know what extras they are covered for, let alone what their annual limits are.

Below are some commonly used extras which feature on most Private Health Insurance Extras policies.

1. Optical – Most optical retailers run end of year promotions to capitalise on those unused optical annual limits which on-average run between $150 and $300 per person per year. That could mean a new pair of prescription glasses, sunglasses or contact lenses. Tip: Even if you don’t currently require prescription eyewear, we recommend getting your eyes tested under Medicare with generally no out of pocket cost. You may find that you require prescription glasses for specific activities such as using a computer or driving – and this is a great way to utilise your extras cover.

2. Dental – Dental coverage is usually split across 3 areas listed below. If you have been holding off a visit to the dentist, now is a great time as it will save you more costly treatment in the future as well as reducing the dreaded time you spend in the dentist’s chair.

  • Preventative (Examinations, X-Rays, Scale & Cleans),
  • General (Simple Fillings and Basic Extractions)
  • Major. (Crowns, Root Canals and Multi-Surface fillings)

3. Natural Therapies – with all the stress of the holiday season, you may have any number of natural treatments that will restore your mind-body balance. Therapies such as acupuncture, remedial massage, naturopathy, and myotherapy are just a small number of natural therapies you could be using. Rebates generally start at $20 per session for basic extras cover and all the way up to 90% rebate of the treatment cost on top extras covers.

Some of the more comprehensive extras covers feature the following:

4. Lifestyle Benefits – claim on approved gym memberships and personal training costs

5. Sunglasses, swimwear, hats and sunscreen (make sure they’re Cancer Council approved)

6. Children’s Swimming lessons – utilise rebates for children’s swimming lessons just in time for the school holidays

7. Travel Vaccinations – save hundreds on travel related vaccinations before you head overseas

At Health Deal, our sales specialists can view all Australian Private Health Insurance policies and are specialists at helping you understand your level of cover and any special needs you may have.

So why not give us a call on 1300 369 399 and make sure you aren’t missing out.