General dentists are not just qualified to carry out preventive care checkups, common dental examinations and routine procedures. They can also help to carry out some or all major procedures like endodontic care, orthodontic care and even cosmetic treatment. Unsurprisingly, not many are aware of this and even skip a visit to their family/general dentist and consult a specialist.
This is one of the main reasons why procedures such as dental implants, fillings, root canal, teeth extraction, bleaching have become very expensive. In fact, dental costs in Sydney are beyond the reach of average income earning households.
Sometimes visiting a specialist directly without the recommendation of a general dentist can be detrimental. Specialists limit the scope of investigation within their branch of specialization. But general/family dentists tend to take a basic approach towards the problem. Family dentists also have a better understanding of the patient’s medical history.
It is quite possible that a general dentist practicing for several years would have gained experience in a certain field of practice. The Dental Board cannot recognize his/her skills as a specialist, but their know-how can certainly help patients save money ideally spent on specialists.
For instance, rather than spend money on an endodontist for root canal, patients can visit an experienced general dentist who can perform the procedure at half the fees charged by the endodontist.
Most general dentists are qualified to provide;
a) Restorative procedures like filings, veneer, dental implants, bridges, dentures.
b) Orthodontic procedures like aligning teeth
c) Cosmetic procedures like bleaching
d) Surgical procedures like tooth extraction of tooth, minor surgery
General dentists can understand their limitations and will naturally refer patients to the concerned specialist if the case is beyond their scope. In fact, it is in their own interest to do so as it helps to avoid medical and legal complications.
It is a known fact that dental costs in Melbourne are very high. In fact, statistics suggest that a large number of people neglect teeth related problems, thanks to high treatment costs. Although preventive care helps to lower instances of dental problems, information about the cost and scope of insurance coverage isn't clear. A list of the different insurance options and their coverage is mentioned below;
Routine dental checkups are not covered under Medicare. But it does offer rebates for a limited number of dental visit to people experiencing chronic dental problems. To qualify for these benefits, patients should have a GP Plan and must have been referred to the dentist by the GP. Children between the age groups of 2-17 are offered dental assistance through the Child Dental Benefits Schedule.
Private dental insurance is expensive in Australia. They do not offer full cover as well. For instance, some insurance companies cover only 75% of the costs incurred on general dental care like checkups, filling, basic extraction, etc. The patient has to look for other sources to pay the gap fees which can be substantial. Basic dental care and treatment is also provided under some general healthcare insurance schemes. You will have to read the fine print carefully about what is considered routine and what is considered major treatment.
Insurance by Dentists:
Sometimes, dentists too offer insurance programs for common dental programs. But these are often restricted to people with healthy teeth; there's hardly a need to use the insurance. Besides, expensive treatments like bridges, braces, implants, or cosmetic treatments are excluded.
No Gap Insurance:
Some insurance companies offer free dental and hygiene checkups, which help to fill/reduce gap costs.
There's no denying of the fact that dental insurance costs are very high and almost beyond the reach of average Australians. No wonder that only 60% of Australians visit a dentist for routine checkups. They'd rather seek treatment in Southeast Asian countries where costs are comparatively cheap, than pay through their nose in Australia.