Dentistry is a branch of medicine that specializes in diagnosing, treating, maintaining, and improving disorders of teeth and gums, playing an important role in overall healthcare. The importance of oral health isn’t just localized to your mouth, either. Your mouth is the primary entry point for all sorts of disease-causing bacteria, playing an important role in your body’s systems, especially the respiratory and digestive systems.

Yet despite its importance, dental health insurance has actually only been around for a short period of time. Actually, it didn’t exist at all until the 1950s. That meant that patients would pay the full costs of all dental services out of pocket, so they would typically only ever see a dentist when something was seriously wrong — like a massive toothache or rotten teeth. Dental insurance’s expansion opened the way for the more effective dental practices of giving people regular cleaning and dental exams. If you are in Las Vegas or Henderson and would like to schedule a pediatric dentist appointment for your kid, Anthem Pediatric Dentistry would be proud to provide you the healthcare you’re looking for.

Dental Insurance in the 20th Century

Let’s focus in on the topic of dental insurance some more, to start, as this is one of the most important events in the recent history of dentistry. In America, it all started with the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union and the Pacific Maritime Association (ILWU-PMA) in the Pacific Northwest. This group of workers wanted to fund dental health for their children and played an integral role in the formation of the first dental benefits organizations — the Washington Dental Service (founded in 1954), the Oregon Dental Service (1955), and the California Dental Association Service (1955). This program proved very successful, with thousands of children being covered, and thousands more being added into the program each year.

Demand for dental insurance grew, and in 1967 the first dental benefits plan across state lines was formed when Delta Dental of Washington partnered with the International Association of Machinists. The model of prepayment insurance plans exploded into a whole new industry during the 60s, but the 70s is when it really took root on the national stage.

The maximum benefit of plans in the 70s was $1,000 — which, in many places around the country remains the same today, without accounting for inflation. Had they actually kept up with inflation, the average annual maximums would be nearly ten times that amount.

Delta Dental offered most of the plans in the 1970s, but soon the Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) moved to the forefront, with many existing insurance companies backing them. The PPO model of dental insurance is essentially that a network of dentists agree to accept a reduced fee for people insured in-network. A patient visiting out of network dentists would still get coverage up to the agreed upon price by their insurance for in-network fees and have to pick up the rest of the fee themselves.

The 1980s saw the birth of the Dental Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). These HMOs were established to offer care at a reduced fee with no maximums and no deductibles, as long as the insured individual went to a provider participating in the program. By 1989, roughly 107 million Americans were beneficiaries of dental insurance.

Today, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) legally requires health plans to offer dental coverage for children up to age 18, though it is not mandated that you accept this. Dental insurance is a complex beast that is rapidly evolving even to this day. Work with your dentist and dental staff to get help maximizing your benefits!

The Future of Dentistry

In 2020, more than 77% of Americans have some variety of dental insurance, including about 90% of children. Dental insurance helps make it so people don’t just go to the dentist when they are in pain or having some obvious, late-stage problem, but instead go in for regular check-ups and cleanings. Access to low-cost preventative care means people are visiting the dentist more frequently and are also far less likely to suffer from cavities and gum disease than even their grandparents.

Anthem Pediatric Dentistry is proud to offer Las Vegas and Henderson residents a wide array of dental services:

Whatever you are coming in for, we aim to provide you the highest level of pediatric dentistry. Through our open communication, compassion, and implementation of cutting-edge procedures and techniques, we provide you the oral healthcare you need. Reach out to us today if you are near one of our two convenient locations in Henderson and Las Vegas and would like to schedule an appointment for your child!