Is Oil Pulling Good for Oral Health?

By Jenifer Dorsey

oil pulling oral healthOil pulling might be the latest alternative oral health craze. It’s appearing in blog posts and news stories with increasing frequency as people rave about and question the oral health benefits of oil pulling. Even celebrities are talking about it. The trend hardly gets mentioned now without ties to Gwyneth Paltrow who, in a recent interview with E!, listed it among her favorite DIY skin treatments, touting its oral health, teeth-whitening and skin-clearing benefits.

However, oil pulling is hardly a modern phenomenon. The practice is said to have benefits to overall healthy as well as oral health and comes from Ayurvedic medicine, which the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine say “originated in India more than 3,000 years ago and remains one of the country’s traditional health care systems.”

How it surfaced as an American health trend is a question for which we don’t have the answers, but we can tell you how it works:

  • You swish a tablespoon or two of oil—people use coconut, sesame, olive, and sunflower, among others—around in your mouth for twenty minutes.
  • Then, you spit it out and rinse your mouth with salt water. The oil is said to pull out toxins, which will give it a white, milky appearance when expelled. Visit for a more detailed explanation.

As for whether or not oil pulling is truly good for your oral (and overall) health, it depends on whom you ask. The American Dental Association on its website says, “There are no reliable scientific studies to show oil pulling reduces cavities, whitens teeth or improves oral health and well-being. Based on the lack of scientific evidence, the American Dental Association does not recommend oil pulling as a dental hygiene practice.” The ADA then reminds us to brush twice daily and floss for good oral health.

In the April–June 2011 issue of Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, the article “Tooth Brushing, Oil Pulling and Tissue Regeneration: A Review of Holistic Approaches to Oral Health,” states, “Oil pulling has been used extensively as a traditional Indian folk remedy for many years to prevent decay, oral malodor, bleeding gums, dryness of throat, cracked lips and for strengthening teeth, gums and the jaw.” Furthermore, the article cites a study showing a reduction in the plaque index and modified gingival index scores in 10 adolescent boys with plaque-induced gingivitis who practiced oil pulling with sesame oil. The 10 who participated in the control group used chlorhexidine mouthwash. Both groups experienced a “statistically significant reduction of the pre- and post-values of the plaque and modified gingival index scores.” The article’s abstract says, “Scientific validations of the Ayurveda dental health practices could justify their incorporation into modern dental care.”

Should you incorporate oil pulling into your daily oral and health care routine? Perhaps you might treat it as a complementary practice. Ultimately, it is up to you to discuss with your trusted oral and/or health care professional(s) and decide.


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Delta Dental Survey Results: Dental Insurance Increases Dentist Visits, Dentist Visits Increase Well-Being

By Jenifer Dorsey

Delta Dental Survey Well-BeingPeople who visit the dentist more often report better oral health and overall well-being. Results from the Delta Dental Oral Health and Well-Being Survey, which were released in May, showed that Americans who visit the dentist at least once a year are more 22 percent more likely to report their overall physical and emotional health as good or better and 37 percent more likely to report their oral health as better than those who seldom visit the dentist.

Furthermore, those with dental insurance are significantly more likely to visit the dentist. Seventy-eight percent of those with dental coverage see the dentist annually; of those without it, 52 percent do so.

In a press release, Dr. Bill Kohn, DDS, Delta Dental Plans Association’s vice president of dental science and policy, said, “The connection between dental coverage and dental visits perhaps isn’t surprising, but the numbers demonstrate the stark contrast in dental care. At Delta Dental, we strongly encourage those with coverage—and those without—to get the preventive care they need.”

Additional findings included the following:

  • More than 1 in 4 Americans (27 percent) say they have open oral health issues they’d like to resolve. The biggest reason for not addressing the problem is ability to pay for the work (cited by 62 percent of those with unresolved issues), while nearly a quarter (23 percent) mentioned fear of the treatment.
  • More than 1 in 5 Americans (21 percent) say they have been advised by a dentist that they have gum disease.
  • About 1 in 6 Americans (16 percent) say they have missed work due to oral health issues beyond regular treatments and cleanings.

Click here to read the study press release at

Do you have dental insurance?

Dental insurance is designed to encourage preventive care. Plans often cover routine exams and professional cleanings, among other preventive oral health benefits, at 80 to 100 percent and without a waiting period.

Visit to learn more about dental coverage and get a quick, multi-carrier quote. Call 888-468-3390 to talk to a dental insurance agent who can answer your questions and help you find the right dental plan for you and your family.



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5 Tips for Buying Reliable Dental Insurance

By Jenifer Dorsey

Reliable Dental PlansPurchasing individual dental insurance be relatively quick and easy (especially online), but it also requires a little research. If you buy from the wrong people and companies, you risk purchasing coverage that is not what you expected or, worse yet, a fraudulent product.

Here are five tips to help ensure the dental insurance you decide to buy for your family is reliable, trustworthy, and just what you need:

1.    Ask questions. If you are not familiar with a company or the agent selling the dental coverage, find out more before you do business with them.

The National Association of Dental Plans suggests asking the following questions:

  • Are you licensed to offer this plan in this state?
  • Are you registered with the Better Business Bureau
  • Can you mail me information on the plan, the providers and other details before I sign up with the plan?
  • Do you have a website with more information?
  • Read NADP’s “Ten Questions to Avoid Fraudulent Dental Plans” for more questions and in-depth explanations about the answers you should expect.

If you are buying online, call the customer service number listed on the website and ask any questions you have about the company and its products. The answers, as well as the interpersonal experience, can tell you a lot.

2.    Contact your state insurance department. The National Association for Insurance Commissioners calls your state insurance department your “best source for company and agent licensing information.”

You can also file a complaint, learn more about consumer protections, and even find tips on shopping for insurance through your state insurance department website.

3.    Check with the Better Business Bureau. This trusted nonprofit organization has been around for more than 100 years and provides free business reliability reviews to consumers. Visit to investigate the carrier from which you plan to buy dental insurance.

4.    Look for the A.M. Best Rating. Independent insurance industry credit rating agency A.M. Best has been around since 1906. As the agency’s website states, Best’s Financial Strength Rating “is an independent opinion of an insurer’s financial strength and ability to meet its ongoing insurance policy and contract obligations.”

The scale ranges from A++ (Superior) to S (Suspended), and the ratings help consumers get a feel for the carrier’s stability or vulnerability. Each Financial Stability Rating also includes an outlook for the next 12 to 36 months. Visit and read the Guide to Best’s Financial Strength Ratings to learn more.

Look for a carrier’s A.M. Best Financial Strength rating on its website or marketing materials. The IHC Group, the carrier for many plans sold on, has an A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating of A- (Excellent).

5.    Know what you need and what you are buying. Having a clear idea of what you can afford to pay in monthly premium and for out-of-pocket for care, as well as what kinds of dental benefits you typically use in a year, can help you find the right dental plan. Once you select a plan, read the details carefully to become aware of any applicable copayments, coinsurance, deductible, maximum benefit payment, and waiting period.

Simply buying the least expensive coverage you can find may mean buying inadequate benefits or a dental insurance plan that isn’t dental insurance at all. For instance, dental insurance and dental discount plans are often confused with one another but are not the same thing—read “Dental Discount Plans Vs Dental Insurance: What’s Right for You?” to learn more about the difference. Also check out our 10 Tips for Buying Dental Insurance Online.

Visit to learn more about the plans we sell and get quotes. If you need more help selecting the right dental insurance coverage, call a agent at 888-468-3390.



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What Information Do You Need to Buy Dental Insurance Online?

By Jenifer Dorsey

Online Dental ApplicationOnce you choose a dental insurance plan, applying for and purchasing coverage online takes just a few minutes.

Here is how it works at

First, select your coverage from the quoting results provided and click “apply.” You will be taken routed to the carrier’s website to fill out an application

Unlike buying health insurance, dental insurance does not require a health history. However, you should be ready to provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Contact information—street address, phone, email
  • Billing and payment information—know whether you want to pay monthly or annually
  • Additional applicant details if you are also buying coverage for a spouse and/or children
  • Tobacco use

This process will be similar when purchasing dental insurance from other websites as well.

Before you buy

Not all dental insurance plans are created equal. Benefits, lifetime maximums, waiting periods and deductibles vary, as does access to networks and additional discounts, among other details. Spend some time collecting and comparing quotes and plan details.

It is important to consider not only what monthly or annual premium you can afford, but also how you and your family use dental services in a typical year. Read 10 Tips for Buying Dental Insurance Online for more information on choosing the right plan.

If you have questions or need assistance, call 888-468-3390 to talk to a dental insurance agent from

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Need Dental Insurance? 5 Reasons to Buy It Before a Toothache

By Jenifer Dorsey

Dental Benefits Focus On PreventionAs the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You might say that is the philosophy behind dental insurance. Dental plans are designed to promote good oral health with robust preventive care benefits. Nonetheless, going without dental insurance can be a tempting way to save money.

Here are five reasons you might re-think skipping dental benefits:

1.    Many plans include cover preventive care at or near 100 percent. Such preventive benefits typically include an exam and cleaning once every six months, and oftentimes fluoride treatments, X-rays and sealants, too.

When shopping for dental insurance, be sure to consider a plan’s premium, coinsurance and out-of-pocket costs and weigh them against your dental care needs. Read our 10 Tips for Buying Dental Insurance Online to learn more about finding the right dental plan.

2.    Tooth decay is largely preventable, even though it may be the “most prevalent chronic disease among children and adults,” according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The American Dental Association lists dentist exams and cleanings—along with brushing, flossing, checking with your dentist about supplemental fluoride, and eating healthy—among the top ways to prevent tooth decay.

Having dental insurance plays a large role in receiving preventive care. Studies show that people with private dental insurance have more dentist visits each year than those without it.

3.    Dental insurance premiums may be as low as $15 per month.  Annually, Americans spend an average of $850 on soft drinks, $475 on dry cleaning and $1,542 on their dogs, according to a analysis. For as little as $15 per month, about $180 per year, you can purchase dental insurance benefits that, when used, can help you maintain good oral health.

Even if you only see the dentist for two preventive care visits per year, having dental insurance is likely to save you money. Furthermore, while many plans do not require you to see network providers, they do offer access to network providers who provide dental services at discounted rates.

4.    If you need dental care, dental benefits can help reduce the cost. While dental plans do not cover basic and major care such as cavities and root canals at 100 percent, they do include benefits to help reduce your out-of-pocket costs for these services. How much they cover will vary by plan design and the options you select. Again, when shopping for the right dental plan, consider your typical dental needs and all costs associated with the benefits, not just your premium.

5.    If you wait until the toothache, you may be too late. Many dental insurance plans have waiting periods on benefits other than preventive care. If you wait until you are in discomfort to buy dental benefits, you may find yourself paying out of pocket for treatment. However, if you maintain dental insurance coverage and your preventive dental visits, you may avoid dental problems altogether, catch them early on when they are more treatable and less expensive to treat, or at least have access to basic and major care dental benefits when you need to use them.

Get a dental insurance quote

Visit for free, no-obligation dental insurance quote from multiple carriers. Simply enter your ZIP code, desired plan effective date, gender and date of birth—as well as the genders and dates of birth for your spouse and children, if applicable.

To learn more and discuss your options, call 888-468-3390 to speak to a dental insurance agent from

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Where Did Wisdom Teeth Get Their Name?

By Jenifer Dorsey

Wisdom TeethHaving one’s wisdom teeth removed is almost a rite of passage for young adults. This third and final set of molars arrives somewhere around age 17 to 21, perhaps a little later.[1] And while we may be generally familiar with what they are and when they appear, many wonder why we call them wisdom teeth.

Wisdom teeth earned their name from the stage in life at which they arrive: the age of wisdom.[2] They typically depart our mouths around this time, as well. Dentists often recommend their removal early on, since they can cause oral health problems and we run a greater risk for these problems with them as we age.[3]

Dentist opinions vary on the best time to have them pulled: when they do not fully emerge, if they grow near the nerve of the lower jaw, or before the roots are fully formed, when someone is younger and more likely to recover from surgery.[4]

Maintaining routine dental visits can allow your dentist to monitor wisdom teeth and determine if and when they should be removed.  Of course, if you experience pain or infection or have other concerns before your next preventive exam, you should schedule a special appointment.

Check with your dental insurance plan to determine what benefits it has for wisdom teeth removal and whether or not you must visit a network provider for the procedure.


[1] Know Your Teeth. “What are Wisdom Teeth?” Academy of General Dentistry. Reviewed January 2012.

[2] Steinberg, Stephanie. “The Survival Guide to Getting Your Wisdom Teeth Removed.” U.S. News & World Report. May 23, 2014.

[3] American Dental Association. “Wisdom Teeth.” n.d.

[4] Carr, Alan DMD. “Wisdom Teeth Removal: When Is It Necessary?” Mayo Clinic. Feb. 27, 2104.

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How to Handle Kids’ Dental Emergencies

By Jenifer Dorsey

Summer Dental EmergenciesSummertime means active time. Unfortunately, as much as we try to create safe conditions as kids spend more time playing outside and participating in summer organized sports, injuries are sometimes inevitable. Knowing how to respond can improve the outcome. Many of us are familiar with where to go or who to call when a medical emergency occurs, but what about dental emergencies?

First, talk to your dentist about what to do should you or your children chip, break or knock out a tooth. Find out if the clinic offers emergency hours; if not, ask if your dentist can recommend a clinic for emergency situations. Then, be sure to add the clinic’s number and address to your cell phone contacts so it they are easily accessible.

Next, familiarize yourself with what actions to take until professional care is available. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry offers the following tips for handling dental emergencies[1]:

Knocked out teeth

Baby teeth

    • Contact a pediatric dentist as soon as possible. Quick action can lessen a child’s discomfort and prevent infection.
    • Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling.
    • Spend time comforting the child rather than looking for the tooth. Remember, baby teeth should not be replanted because of potential damage to developing permanent teeth.
    • The pediatric dentist may make an appliance to replace the missing tooth, but this is not needed in every case.

Permanent teeth

    • Find the tooth. Rinse it gently in cool water. (Do not scrub it or use soap.)
    • Replace the tooth in the socket and hold it there with clean gauze or a wash cloth. (If you cannot put the tooth back in the socket, place the tooth in a clean container, preferably with cold milk.)
    • Take the child and the tooth to a pediatric dental office immediately. (Call the emergency number if it is after hours.)

Chipped or broken teeth

  • Contact a pediatric dentist immediately. Fast action can save the tooth, prevent infection, and reduce the need for extensive dental treatment.
  • Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling.
  • If a parent can find the broken tooth fragment, it is important to take it to the dentist.

It also helps to know how your dental insurance plan covers dental emergencies. Read over policy documents and contact the carrier to learn more about your dental benefits. If your dental plan requires in-network care, confirm that the emergency dentist you have on file is included in that network.

Need dental insurance?

Visit for quotes and plan details from multiple carriers, or call 888-468-3390 to talk to a dental insurance agent.

[1] American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. 2013 Fast Facts.

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Whitening Your Teeth? Visit the Dentist First

By Jenifer Dorsey

Teeth Whitening DentistThe toothpaste aisle contains many at-home teeth whitening options these days—gels, strips, trays, rinses and toothpastes. Americans spend millions, if not billions on these products—$1.4 billion on over-the-counter teeth whiteners annually, according to the latest widely circulating statistic. Sure, it is far less than we spend on groceries ($478 billion) or even coffee ($11 billion) but it is still more than we spend on Girl Scout Cookies ($800 million) or golf balls ($500 million).

While teeth-whitening products may be affordable and accessible to many, that does not necessarily mean they are good for your teeth. The American Dental Association, in a press release, this week reminded patients who are considering having their teeth whitened by non-dentists to first visit their dentists to ensure their teeth and gums are healthy.

“White teeth are not necessarily healthy teeth,” the ADA release stated along with a reminder that dentists can diagnose and treat oral health conditions as well as evaluate a patient’s mouth to determine if whitening will be comfortable and achieve his or her desired results.

Your routine dental visits may be a good time to ask questions about yellowing teeth, get about your dentist’s opinion on at-home whitening products, or obtain a quote for in-office whitening. However, if you plan to whiten your teeth soon or have specific oral health concerns, make a special appointment with your dentist.

Our smiles may yellow and stain due to many factors—age, certain food and drink, heredity—but there are also many things we can do to keep them as bright as possible.  Read Teeth Whitening: Putting the Pearly Back at for more tips on whiter teeth, and visit the ADA’s to learn more about whitening options and safety.

Will my dental insurance cover whitening?

Dental insurance typically does not cover cosmetic procedures such as whitening; however, it does include preventive care benefits intended to help keep your smile bright and healthy. Many dental plans cover cleanings and routine exams at or close to 100 percent. Contact your dental insurance carrier to see what benefits are included in your policy.

If you need dental insurance for you and your family, visit to obtain quotes, compare plans from multiple carriers, and apply for coverage in just a few minutes. Or, call 888-468-3390 to talk to a dental insurance agent who can help you find the right dental plan for your oral health needs and household budget.

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Can You Still Buy Pediatric Dental Insurance? Coverage Options for Kids

By Jenifer Dorsey

Buying Pediatric Dental BenefitsI purchased health insurance for my family through our state exchange. It did not include the pediatric dental and vision essential health benefit, and I decided not to buy the standalone coverage. Now I wish I had. Is it too late?

Unfortunately, in your circumstance, it is likely too late to buy the standalone pediatric dental coverage. However, you do have the option of buying dental insurance for your entire family in the private marketplace.

First, it is important to note a couple of details about the Affordable Care Act—aka Obamacare. The health care reform law’s inaugural open-enrollment period concluded March 31, 2014. As of this date, though an extension through was given in certain circumstances, Americans can no longer purchase health insurance—on or away from the state-based or federally facilitated exchanges—that qualifies as minimum essential coverage unless they qualify for a special enrollment period or wait until the 2015 open enrollment, which begins Nov. 15, 2014. This also applies to the pediatric dental and vision essential health benefit, which was embedded in or bundled with health insurance plans or sold as stand-alone coverage.

At this point, if you and your children need dental insurance and do not have access to employer-based benefits, you can purchase a dental insurance plan for individuals and families from an insurance carrier’s website, your health insurance agent, or a website such as or Children may be added as dependents and receive benefits through these plans, which are not sold as child-only coverage.

Dental insurance can be a wise investment for your entire family since it emphasizes prevention. Tooth decay among the most common chronic childhood diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, it is largely preventable through good oral hygiene—brushing, flossing, eating nutritious and balanced meals, and visiting the dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams.

The preventive care benefits included in individual and family dental plans often cover routine exams and cleanings at or close to 100 percent; fluoride treatments and sealants are frequently included as well. Read “Is an Individual Dental Insurance Plan Right for You?” and “10 Tips for Buying Dental Insurance Online” for more information about shopping for dental benefits and selecting the best plan for your needs and budget.

Visit to obtain quotes and compare plans from multiple carriers. Simply provide the following information—no contact information needed until you apply:

  • Your ZIP code
  • Desired effective date, the date on which your dental insurance plan will begin
  • Your gender and date of birth, as well as that of your spouse, if applicable
  • Number of children who will also be covered, their gender and date of birth

Call 888-468-3390 to talk with a agent who can answer your dental plan questions and help you find coverage.


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5 Ways to Save Money on Dental Care

By Jenifer Dorsey

We all want to keep health care costs low, and this includes dental expenses. Fortunately, there are things we can all do at home as well as the dentist’s office to help contain dental costs. Below, we’ve listed five ways to Save Money on Dental Costskeep dentist bills low and even non-existent.

1.    Visit the dentist. – Routine dental exams and professional cleanings help keep teeth and gums healthy. During these preventive care visits, your dental hygienist will thoroughly clean all surfaces of your teeth and your dentist will check your teeth, gums and mouth for signs of oral health problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and even oral cancer. When problems are detected early, they are often more treatable and less expensive to treat. Furthermore, your dentist or dental hygienist may notice things that are not yet problematic but could become so (i.e., signs of grinding teeth at night, inflammation of the gums). He or she may then talk to you about how to improve your daily oral health routine accordingly.

Regular dental visits also provide an opportunity to discuss any oral health concerns with your dentist and dental hygienist so you can properly care for your teeth and gums and hopefully avoid more expensive and invasive treatment later on.

2.    Discuss dental work and costs. – If you learn that you need dental work, ask questions. Find out how urgently it needs to be performed, possible alternatives, and whether or not it can be done in stages.

Then, get a quote from your dentist so you know how much it will cost up front. If you do not have insurance, consider paying cash rather than using a card and seeing if your dental provider will negotiate a discount. You might also inquire about a payment plan.

 3.    Practice good oral hygiene – Taking care of your teeth and gums will pay off when it comes to avoiding the dentist’s drill. Dental caries—aka tooth decay—are largely preventable through practicing good oral hygiene and drinking fluoridated water.

In addition to regular dental visits and cleanings, the American Dental Organization includes flossing daily, brushing twice a day, eating a balanced diet and limiting between-meal snacks as part of a complete oral care routine.

4.    Buy the right dental insurance plan – Dental insurance may be acquired for as low as $15 per month, and having it is a primary indicator of access to care. However, choosing dental coverage on premium alone puts you at risk for buying benefits that don’t meet your oral care needs. So consider what those needs are for you and your family.

Do you typically see the dentist for preventive care only? Then consider a dental plan that covers preventive care (i.e., routine exams, cleanings, fluoride, sealants) at 100 percent. Do you regularly need additional dental work such as fillings? Then consider a dental plan that covers fillings at a higher coinsurance percentage.

For more tips on finding dental benefits that meet your budgetary and oral health needs, read our last blog post, How Much Does Dental Insurance Cost? and the article 10 Tips for Buying Dental Insurance Online.

5.    If you have dental insurance, use network providers – Not all dental insurance plans require consumers to visit network dentists; however, many are affiliated with a provider network or two. These networks include providers who have contracted with the insurance company to provide dental services at pre-negotiated and sometimes discounted rates.

Look at your dental plan materials to find out if your dental plan includes access to network providers, and read What are Dental Insurance Networks to learn more about networks and how to use them.

Need dental insurance?

Visit for quotes from multiple carriers or call 888-468-3390 to talk to a dental insurance agent.






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