Friday, January 25, 2019

Is your dental insurance company ripping you off ?

     I tell all my patients that healthy mouth is a very important part of their overall good health. And we all want an attractive, confident smile. This is why dental insurance is such a highly prized benefit. Insurance can help you get the care you and your family need.
      Frequently, however, the benefits you receive don’t match up with what was promised to you. Your plan may pay a smaller portion of the cost than you think it should, or maybe they reject paying for a particular type of treatment. Of course, the insurance company’s top priority is not helping you get the care you need, it is making money. And the less care you get, the more money they make.
     We’ve all noticed this same disturbing trend with our medical and prescription coverage, where rising premiums, plan limitations and sky high deductibles have left us all responsible for more and more of the cost. Dental plans use some of these same methods to make sure they pay as little as possible.
       The following deceptive practices are not new, but they’ve become much more prevalent in the past few years. Dental insurance companies have spent years stacking the deck in their favor, and these are a few of the ways they do it.

1) Artificially low annual maximums.
     Back in the 1970’s, dental plans had annual maximums of $1,500. That was the most they would pay towards your care in any one calendar year. Adjusted for inflation, they should be paying roughly $6,000 in today’s dollars. Unfortunately, most dental plans have not raised their annual maximums to reflect inflation. Some have actually LOWERED them.
     You may have been told you have “comprehensive” dental coverage, but if they cut you off at $1,500 in benefits, anything more than routine preventive care will rapidly use up your yearly limit. Does your plan still have an annual maximum of $1,500 or $2,000 per year? If so, you could definitely be justified in calling that a rip-off.

2) The “usual and customary” fee scam. 
     Your dental plan has specific dollar amounts they will reimburse for each dental procedure. They call this list the “usual and customary” fee schedule, implying that it is based on average or typical fees charged by dentists in your area. It isn’t. They don’t  tell you exactly how they calculate these fees, but they always set them much lower than the real costs. When you are required to pay the difference, you might feel like you’re being ripped off. Just remember it is the insurance company ripping you off, not your dentist.
     Fortunately, there is objective, publicly available data for consumers who want to see what the real usual and customary fees are in your area. If you go to you can search any dental (or medical) procedure and see the average fees, broken out by zip code anywhere in the U.S.A.  If you compare these real fees to your insurance company’s lowball “usual and customary” fees, you will see how wide the gap is between them.

3) Frequency limitations. 
     Human beings are individuals. You are an individual. Your dental needs aren’t the same as everyone else’s, but your insurance company probably acts as though they are. Imagine if you had a heart attack, and your medical insurance refused to pay for your care because you had a previous heart attack last year?  Outrageous, you say?
     Unfortunately, dental benefit companies do this kind of thing all the time.  Whether you need treatment for periodontal disease, tooth decay, TMJ disfunction, or many other types of restorative care, your benefits can be arbitrarily limited to a certain “frequency” set by the company.  If you break a tooth that had a filling done a year or two ago, your insurance company will probably refuse to cover the treatment because they say it is “too soon” for the tooth to be fixed again.
     This is just one example of a frequency limitation. There are many others. The insurance company is shifting costs onto the you, patient, instead of reimbursing appropriately. Yep, that’s a rip off.

4) “Preferred provider” networks. 
     Some dental plans maintain networks of “preferred providers”, and encourage you to see only the doctors in that network. Nothing wrong with that. You might assume that dentists get on this “preferred” list because of a higher standard of quality, experience or professional excellence. This isn’t the case. Dentists get on the “preferred” list by agreeing to accept lower fees than normal. Sometimes far lower. Can dentists participate in these networks and still provide good care? Absolutely, they can. And they often do. But it makes it much more difficult.  And it doesn’t help you to have the insurance company’s bureaucrats looking over your dentist’s shoulder, second guessing decisions about your care.
      The important question is : Are you given the choice to see any dentist you want?   Or are you required to see only dentists in their network? Some plans offer only in-network coverage, and pay you nothing (literally, zero) if you choose a doctor or treatment option that isn’t on their list.  Of course, that doesn’t stop them from collecting your premium payment. That is (you guessed it), a rip off.

        Getting these questions answered about your plan is also harder than it should be, of course. The insurance company probably has an 800 number you can call, where you will be kept on hold for a while and then transferred from one flunky to another, none of whom have the information you need, or the authority to resolve any problems.
        You could also get the information from your employer, who makes some of these decisions when they’re designing your plan options. They might not even be aware of some of the more disturbing tricks being used to restrict your care options. If your company is large enough, you might need to speak with someone in the human resources department.
      If you’re given an opportunity to choose among several dental plans, read all the fine print, and don’t just quickly check the box next to the plan with the lowest premium. The cheapest plan might save you some money up front, but it could cost you more down the road. It depends on your particular needs. The more information you have, the better.

     As with all questions about your dental health and treatment, speak to your dentist when questions come up regarding your insurance. We will do our best to help you get the benefits you’re entitled to. More importantly, we can help you get healthy and stay healthy. Whether you have dental insurance or not, regular preventive care is the most cost effective dental treatment you can get.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Women’s Oral Health Concerns

ALTHOUGH MEN AND WOMEN have a lot in common, there are quite a few differences when it comes to oral health. Women have some advantages men lack, but also some disadvantages men don’t have to worry about. Let’s take a look at the main ones.

TMJ And Sjögren’s Syndrome

Women account for 90 percent of people suffering from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) syndrome, or chronic pain or soreness in the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. The most obvious cause is bruxism (teeth grinding), but it can also be the result of stress, joint structure, vitamin deficiency, medical conditions like arthritis, and even hormones.
Another condition women are far more prone to than men is Sjögren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly attacks salivary glands and tear ducts (resulting in dry mouth and dry eye) before moving on to other tissues and organs. Dry mouth, aside from making chewing and swallowing difficult, is very dangerous to oral health, because saliva washes away food particles, fights bacteria, and neutralizes the mouth’s pH.
With both syndromes, regular dental visits are crucial so that you can get a proper diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that will keep your mouth healthy.

Puberty, Pregnancy, And Menopause

Hormones play a large role in women’s dental health, particularly when they are going through significant changes, such as during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Gingivitis and inflamed gums are common during puberty and pregnancy, which is why it’s especially important to maintain good oral hygiene with daily brushing and flossing under these conditions.
Dry mouth is a common problem for women going through menopause, and bone loss is another. When bone loss occurs in the jaw, it can compromise the gums and the roots of the teeth. It’s very important for menopausal women to discuss these potential effects with their dentists, ideally before any negative symptoms appear!

Eating Disorders And Teeth

More than twice as many teenage girls suffer from eating disorders than teenage boys, and that ratio persists in different age groups. Eating disorders are life-threatening. They have negative effects on every system in the body, and the mouth is no exception.
Malnutrition, particularly a deficiency in vitamins and minerals essential to keeping teeth and gums healthy, can lead to a variety of oral health problems, but eating disorders can do more direct harm as well. Bulimia in particular can lead to tooth erosion from frequent exposure to stomach acid during purges.
Anyone suffering from an eating disorder should seek psychiatric help to recover mentally, but it will take rigorous dental hygiene and help from dental professionals to maintain or restore good oral health.

You And Your Dentist Make A Great Team!

By this point, you might think women got the short end of the stick all around when it comes to oral health, but one major advantage women have is their tendency to take better care of their teeth. Women are more likely to brush twice a day, floss daily, and keep up with their regular dental appointments than men. They’re also much less likely to try toughing it out whenever they experience tooth pain or other symptoms. These healthy habits combine to greatly reduce the impact of all the above conditions, so keep up the good work!

Let’s keep those mouths healthy, ladies!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Preparing Your Smile For The Big Day

YOU’VE DREAMED OF THIS day your whole life. You have the ring and the fiancé, the planning is going well, and you’re down to the last few details. Bridals are coming up, and then the wedding itself. You realize there’s something you need to do before you have hundreds of pictures taken of you: perfect your smile!

Whitening: Home Versus Professional

When it comes to teeth whitening, strips, toothpastes, and rinses are the most cost-effective options. They’re cheap and you can do them yourself, but the results won’t be as good as with professional whitening. It’s critical to start the whitening strips at least one to two weeks in advance, and at least a month in advance if you go with toothpastes and rinses.
Another option is take-home custom whitening trays. These trays do cost more, but they result in better whitening as long as you follow the instructions carefully. We recommend starting whitening trays about one month before the wedding or any important photoshoots.
The highest quality, safest, and fastest route you could choose is professional whitening. Whitening sessions will take place at the dental office and can be pricier than take-home options, but the great results are worth it!

Straightening That Smile

Whitening alone will make a beautiful difference to any smile, but sometimes there are other issues to take care of before the big day, such as orthodontics. Orthodontic appliances can be expensive, but the results are life-changing. Having straight teeth and a healthy bite are a huge confidence-booster, in addition to providing health benefits and looking great.
Unlike whitening, which can be done in the last couple of months leading up to the wedding, braces or invisible aligners generally require at least a year, so don’t wait too long to schedule a consultation if you hear wedding bells in your future!

Repairs For Chips And Cavities

One of the factors that determines our oral health is genetics. Unfortunately, that means that sometimes, even the most diligent brushing, flossing, and avoidance of sugary treats aren’t enough to keep cavities at bay. And even when we’re being careful, accidents happen, and a tooth might end up chipped.
If you find yourself facing one of these setbacks before your wedding, veneers and bonding are both great options to consider. Veneers are color-matched to blend in with your natural teeth, resulting in a beautiful, natural-looking smile.
Tooth bonding is a process that covers damaged or discolored teeth with plastic resin. These don’t last as long as veneers, but they can be applied in just one visit. On the other hand, it takes one or two weeks after taking the impression of your teeth to receive your custom veneers.

We’re Here To Help Make Your Special Day Perfect!

We know how hectic it can be to plan a wedding, so we want to make things easier for you by helping you prepare your smile. Whether that’s as simple as a regular cleaning appointment or something more involved, you can count on our practice!

Wishing our patients all the happiness in the world!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Cause, Effect, And Prevention Of Dry Mouth

HAVE YOU EVER woken up with your mouth feeling like a barren desert? Then you’ve probably experienced dry mouth, although it can be even more severe, making it difficult to speak or even eat. Dry mouth affects a tenth of the population, but why is it such a problem, why does it happen, and what can we do about it?

In The Absence Of Saliva…

Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against bacteria, bad breath, and tooth decay. It washes away leftover food particles and neutralizes acids, protecting our teeth and gums. Consequently, when there isn’t enough saliva to perform all of these important tasks, the result is much more serious than just an unpleasant sandpaper feeling.

What Causes Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth has numerous causes, including smoking, drinking, dehydration, and even aging. Sometimes the salivary glands can be damaged by chemotherapy or radiation treatment. But the most common cause is ordinary medication. Over 400 medications include dry mouth on their lists of side effects. If you’ve been suffering medication-related dry mouth, come talk to us about options like switching to different medication or changing the dosage.

Good Habits To Prevent Or Reduce Dry Mouth

For particularly severe dry mouth, artificial saliva could provide relief and protect your teeth from decay, but there are also a few good habits that can minimize the problem.

Nose Breathing

Avoid breathing through your mouth—whether you’re awake or asleep. Even for people with fully functioning salivary glands, mouth breathing is going to result in a much drier mouth than nose breathing. For that—and many other health reasons—it’s important to breathe through your nose whenever possible, including during sleep.


Stay hydrated. Your salivary glands can’t produce saliva if you’re not drinking enough water, and even if saliva production is impeded for other reasons, regularly sipping water can help eliminate the dry mouth feeling.

Stimulate Saliva Production

Sugar-free gum and candy encourage your salivary glands to up their production, particularly if the flavor is citrus, mint, or cinnamon. (Bonus points: sugar-free gum is also good for your teeth, because it starves the bacteria that feed on sugar!)

Choose Your Mouthwash Carefully

Mouthwash containing alcohol may undo its own positive germ-killing effects by drying out your mouth! Just like drinking alcoholic beverages has a dehydrating effect on the body, swishing alcoholic liquid around will specifically dehydrate the mouth! Make sure you choose a non-alcoholic mouthwash.

Don’t Smoke

As smoking is one of the common causes of dry mouth, not smoking is an obvious solution. The same goes for dry mouth caused by alcohol intake.

We Can Beat Dry Mouth Together!

Dry mouth can pose a serious threat to your oral health, so aside from following these good habits, one of the best things you can do if you experience it is to schedule an appointment with us. We’ll be able to identify the cause and make a plan to put an end to that sandpaper feeling!

We love to fight for your dental health!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Your Child’s Baby Teeth Timeline

GROWING AND LOSING BABY TEETH are major milestones in your child’s development. If you’re a first-time parent, you probably have a lot of questions about what to expect, so let’s take a look at how baby teeth develop and when you can expect to start seeing them, as well as when adult teeth will start replacing them.

Baby Teeth Develop Before We’re Even Born!

Long before a babies are even born, their teeth begin to develop in the gums, a process called odontogenesis. The tooth buds that will become baby teeth start forming by week six of pregnancy, then continue to grow until after the baby is born, ultimately pushing through the gums. Even then, the roots still have a bit of growing left to do.

They Don’t All Erupt At Once

Baby teeth tend to erupt in pairs, and these pairs tend to alternate between top and bottom teeth. The first pair, the lower central incisors, normally make their appearance after between six to ten months. The next two are the upper central incisors between eight to twelve months. The lateral incisors come next, between nine and sixteen months. The first molars come next, then the canine teeth, and finally the second molars.
Most toddlers have their full set of twenty baby teeth by the time they turn three. Talk to us if you’re worried your child’s baby teeth aren’t growing in according to schedule, but there isn’t usually cause for concern unless no teeth have arrived by eighteen months. Whenever that first tooth does arrive, be sure to schedule an appointment!

It’s Time To Call the Tooth Fairy!

Normally, children begin losing baby teeth between ages five and six. Kids who take a little longer might feel left behind, because losing a tooth is a rite of passage and symbol of maturity. If no baby teeth are loose by the time they turn seven, it’s a good idea to talk to us about it. There isn’t usually anything to worry about; late-blooming adult teeth can actually be stronger and more cavity-resistant than they would’ve been if they arrived on schedule!

Fun Trivia: Natal Teeth And Folklore

In some (rare) cases, a baby might actually be born with one or two teeth. These are called natal teeth. They aren’t actually part of the regular set of baby teeth and typically are oddly shaped and have malformed roots, which makes them very loose. Doctors often remove them before new parents take their baby home from the hospital.
Even though natal teeth are perfectly harmless anomalies, over the centuries, different cultures have had a wide range of reactions to them. In China, they were considered bad luck, but in Europe, they were a mark that the child had a wonderful future ahead of them. Some Ural-Altaic tribes even viewed them as a sign that the child was a sorcerer!

Keep On Brushing!

No matter whether your child is a six-month-old with just one tooth or is a teenager with nearly a full set of adult teeth, all teeth always need to be cleaned and taken care of. Healthy brushing habits for baby teeth lead to healthy habits for adult teeth!

We love our patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Filling In The Gaps: Dental Implant Basics

DENTAL IMPLANTS ARE permanent false teeth designed to look just like your other teeth. They’re a popular alternative to dentures or bridges, and the American Dental Association considers them to be “one of the biggest advances in dentistry in the past 40 years.”
How Do They Work?
Unlike dentures and bridges, which don’t feel or look entirely real and may be removed and cleaned outside of your mouth daily, dental implants are surgically affixed to your jaw. In place of the roots your native teeth have, the new tooth is held in place by a surgical screw. The crown is carefully selected to match the shape and color of the surrounding teeth, so it blends right in.
There are two basic types of implantendosteal and subperiosteal. Endosteal implants are surgically attached directly to the jaw bone with a titanium post, and the entire implant structure (apart from the crown itself) is hidden under the gums and looks and feels just like any other tooth. Subperiosteal implants consist of a metal frame that fits onto the jaw bone rather than screwing into it, and these are a good option if you lack the bone structure necessary for endosteal implants.
Watch the video below to see how titanium implants are made:

Who Are They For?

If you’ve lost teeth due to injury or disease, dental implants could restore your smile more effectively than other options. However, not everyone with missing teeth is a candidate. Just as with real teeth, oral health is crucial to successful implants. Before you get an implant, you need good, strong bone and healthy gums to support it, and once it’s in, you have to keep it clean by brushing and flossing.

But What About Braces?

If you don’t already have your implants but need orthodontics to straighten your teeth, it’s usually best to do braces first. Because implants are screwed into your jaw bone, they will not move, which can make them excellent anchors to help move your other teeth where they need to go—but only if they’re in the right place to begin with. If not, your existing implants may need to be removed and then reattached after you’ve finished with your braces.

Still Have Questions? We Have Answers!

If you’re thinking about getting dental implants or know someone who is, we can answer any questions you may have about them. We’re here to help you achieve the smile of your dreams!

We love our patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dental Tips & Fun Facts

Oral Health Tips

Tooth decay often begins soon after a baby's first teeth appear – clean your baby's gums once a day by using moistened gauze or a washcloth to gently massage the gums.

Baby teeth need care too! Brush your child's teeth gently with a soft toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste when the first tooth appears.

Tired of prying your way in every time it's time to brush the tot's teeth? Why not reverse roles and let your child brush yours? Then you can laugh a lot and show how much fun it is to be pampered.

Make sure the kids see you brushing your own teeth, and then make a point of showing off your shiny, clean teeth. Ham it up and make it seem like a treat and privilege to have a shiny smile. Encourage your kids to show off their own smiles once their teeth are clean.

Carbonated beverages are a significant cause of cavities in teens, so watch what your teens drink and make sure they brush frequently during the day.

Sports related injuries account for about 5 million lost teeth per year. Protect your teeth and your children's teeth with a mouth guard whenever playing sports.

Are your older children stubborn about brushing and flossing? Do repeated reminders fall on deaf ears? Maybe it's time to change the messenger. Call the dental office before the children's next checkup, and let the dentist know what's going on. The same motivational message might be heeded if it comes from a third party.

A small amount of fluoridated toothpaste will help to inhibit decay. Fluoride is also found in mouth rinses, community water supplies, and in some foods.

At age two or three, you can begin to teach your child proper brushing techniques. But remember, you will need to follow up with brushing and gentle flossing until age seven or eight, when the child has the dexterity to do it alone.

Begin scheduling regular oral health appointments starting around your child's first birthday. Your oral health professional will check for cavities in the primary teeth and watch for developmental problems, as well as help to create a positive experience that may alleviate fear at future visits.

Determine if the water supply that serves your home is fluoridated. If there is not fluoride in your water, discuss supplement options with your dental hygienist.

Fluorine, from which fluoride is derived, is the 13th most abundant element and is released into the environment naturally in both water and air.

Fluoride is naturally present in all water. Community water fluoridation is the addition of fluoride to adjust the natural fluoride concentration of a community's water supply.

Fluoridation of drinking water has been used successfully in the United States for more than 50 years.

Fluoridation of community water has been credited with reducing tooth decay by 50% - 60% in the United States since World War II.

Fluoride's main effect occurs after the tooth has erupted above the gum. This topical effect happens when small amounts of fluoride are maintained in the mouth in saliva and dental plaque.

Fluoride works by stopping or even reversing the tooth decay process. It keeps the tooth enamel strong and solid by preventing the loss of (and enhancing the re-attachment of) important minerals from the tooth enamel.

Of the 50 largest cities in the United States, 43 have community water fluoridation. Fluoridation reaches 62% of the population through public water supplies, or more than 144 million people.

Consumption of fluids such as water, soft drinks, and juice accounts for approximately 75 percent of fluoride intake in the United States.

Brushing is the key to good dental health, fighting gum disease, and a healthy, beautiful smile for life. Remember to brush for at least two minutes twice a day, morning and night.

It is best to floss before brushing to remove plaque and loosen debris from the tooth surface.

Visiting the dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings is imperative for dental health and to maintain your healthy, beautiful smile.

Choose beverages like milk, which helps strengthen teeth and build stronger enamel, to give yourself a healthy, beautiful smile.

Smoking cigarettes is one of the greatest contributors to an unhealthy mouth. Smoking interrupts calcium absorption in the body and can also cause potentially life-threatening diseases such as oral and lung cancers.

Expectant mothers can suffer from pregnancy gingivitis caused by hormonal changes and increased blood flow in the body. Women planning a pregnancy should have their teeth cleaned to remove gingivitis and get a periodontal screening.

Using a mouthwash can reduce plaque that causes gingivitis and kill germs that cause bad breath, leaving your breath feeling fresh and clean.

Avoid sticky sweets that stick to your teeth and cause cavities, such as taffies and soft candies. Don't chew on ice, hard candies or other hard materials that can crack your teeth.

Dental Fun Facts

Did you know that Americans cite bad breath as the least attractive trait a co-worker can have? Be more popular around the water cooler and brush after lunch.

Cap the paste but not the brush. Covering the brush can trap moisture and encourage bacteria growth. Yeah, we know. Gross, huh?

The average women smiles about 62 times a day, while the average man smiles only 8 times. Women are also more likely to brush their teeth and visit the dentist regularly. Think there might be a connection here?

MacGyver claims dental floss works well as a cake cutter, makeshift clothesline, replacement fishing line, picture hangers and much more. Our favorite use for it? Cleaning your teeth.

Dental floss has played a role in many attempted prison breaks, used as everything from a rope to a chainsaw. None have been successful. We suggest flossing with it.

Bottled water doesn’t contain the tooth-decay fighting fluoride, which is added to most municipal water supplies. Ditch the bottle and drink from the tap.

Saliva helps you eat by breaking apart food particles and cleaning your mouth afterwards. The average person produces 10,000 gallons of saliva over their lifetime (no data as to how much winds up as spitballs).

Sports, accidents and fights are the leading cause of tooth loss in people under the age of 35. Play it safe and wear a mouth guard.

Each day, the average person spends 8.5 hours sleeping, 1 hour eating, 7.2 minutes volunteering and only 50 seconds brushing their teeth. Set your alarm 2 minutes earlier and squeeze in some extra brush time. Dentists recommend 2-3 minutes.

Americans spend $100 billion per year on hair care products – and only $2 billion a year on dental care products. What good is great hair without a great smile?

The next time you want to play hooky, head to the dentist for a cleaning instead. Last year alone, adults missed over 164 million hours of work – and children missed over 51 million hours of school for dental related problems.

If flossing properly, the average person should use 122 yards of floss per year. Twenty-eight percent of people claim to floss daily, but annual sales data shows only an average of 18 yards of floss are sold per person. We think someone’s fibbing.

Spearmint Sparkle. Peppermint Breeze. Eggshell Shine? The next time your dental hygienist asks you to pick a flavor, consider this – the ancient Romans used a mixture of bones, eggshells and oyster shells and honey to clean their teeth! We recommend you stick with the paste.

Let’s all scrub together now! The average toothbrush has around 2500 bristles grouped into about 40 tufts.

Contrary to popular belief, George Washington’s famous dentures weren’t made from wood. His four pairs of custom chompers were crafted from gold, ivory, lead and a mixture of human, donkey and hippopotamus teeth (take care of yours and you won’t have to think about it!).

These Dental Tips & Fun Facts were taken from Delta Dental.