Americans want more from their dental care, from technology that makes it easier to have a great smile to realistic options for making care more affordable, according to DentalPlans.com, which notes several key trends that will influence how dental professionals provide oral healthcare in 2019.
“Anything that makes quality dental care more accessible and affordable is a good thing,” said Bill Chase, senior vice president of marketing at DentalPlans.com. “And with new innovative treatments, virtual doctors, and new ways to save on your dental care, 2019 will be a great year for consumers to take control of their oral and overall health without breaking the bank.”
For example, dental care will continue to lead the way in healthcare technology, the company says, from 3-D printed replacement jaws to China’s efforts to address its lack of clinicians by using robotic dentists that can perform sophisticated procedures.
Also, virtual reality will increasingly replace the use of nitrous oxide to reduce mild discomfort and anxiety simply by distracting patients. For safety reasons, however, these efforts won’t include gaming and other more interactive software.
Dentists will provide more support for at-home self-care as well, such as dentist-prescribed tooth whitening pens and smart toothbrushes that use artificial intelligence fed by data from accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers to let users know how effective their oral hygiene routine really is.
As consumers want better smiles without using artificial ingredients, items such as charcoal toothpastes and tooth powder will play a greater role in the market. DentalPlans.com notes, though, that such products may include abrasive substances that can create dental issues and advises consumers to check with a dentist or hygienist before using them.
Teledentistry promises convenience and lower costs, DentalPlans.com adds. As consumers begin to accept it more, telehealth companies will need to compete to win them. Better user interfaces and short-term insurance plans with limited benefits will drive its growth as well. DentalPlans.com now offers telemedicine with select dental savings plans.
Meanwhile, more dentists will offer in-house membership plans, where patients pay a monthly or yearly membership fee in exchange for discounted dental care. DentalPlans.com advises patients, though, to weigh discounts against the commitment to a single dental office.
Also, consumers should compare savings on dental procedures such as root canals, crowns, dentures, implants, and bridges. Many in-house plans have a maximum discount of 20% on these treatments, while other plans can offer savings as high as 40%.
Finally, DentalPlans.com expects more Americans to supplement their insurance coverage. People with high deductible healthcare plans, as well as people on basic Medicare, which doesn’t cover dental, will increasingly turn to healthcare discount programs to help lower the cost of healthcare.