Our patients often have questions about their treatments. Here we try to address many of the common questions we get each day.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Grandma, why are your teeth yellow?
Many of my older patients have requested cosmetic dental procedures after hearing this comment from a four or five year old. Aging happens so gradually that we don’t notice it except when viewing a photograph taken several years earlier. Our smile can age with time also. Teeth become dull, chipped, and the edges worn down. Old fillings get stains around the edges. Family and friends get used to your smile mileage, or may be reluctant to mention it. It doesn’t have to be this way. You deserve to look your best. Do your grand kids a favor! Ask your dentist or hygienist for their opinion. Check out your options. I think you’re worth it. Your grand kids certainly think so!
What is a snap-on smile?
About forty years ago a dentist in New York City had an attractive young lady come into his office with several chipped and broken front teeth due to an accident. She didn’t have a lot of money and needed a quick fix so she could go back to work. He made a plaster model of her upper arch, and using a new tough but flexible dental acrylic, fabricated for her a one-piece removeable temporary appliance that could snap over all of her teeth like a covering that looked like individual, perfect teeth.
She was delighted to have her smile back so quickly, and this provided her the needed time to gradually restore her own teeth. He refined and marketed his idea, and we know it today as the “Snap-On-Smile. In addition to providing a cover for broken down teeth, it can often be designed to fill in gaps created by missing teeth. The appliance should last for several months up to a year.
What about Invisalign?
Many adults suffer from crowded and crooked front teeth, especially the lower ones. Some had braces as a youngster, but since then misalignment gradually reoccurred. Perhaps this is your experience but you don’t want to have your teeth banded and wired back up again. Good News! There is a new way to straighten teeth using a series of clear, thin trays, or aligners that fit over your teeth. Each provides a small increment of movement over a two to three week period. You can remove the aligner easily to eat or brush and floss, then snap it back on. Very convenient! We have been providing this service for the past twenty years with outstanding results at a very reasonable cost. Give us a call.
How can I maximize my insurance benefits?
Dental plans are all over the place when it comes to what they cover. Your organization or company chose the plan it could afford, and that can change from year – to- year. Some plans allow you to kick in more monthly premium dollars for a better one, such as a PPO that covers more. If so, do it. Lower premiums mean a very basic coverage usually with higher co-pays, deductibles, and waiting periods.
Dental insurance isn’t really a true insurance product for unexpected loss. It’s a benefit plan administered by insurance companies, funded by your premium payments. They skim 25 percent off the top before paying out the rest for client dental services, based on their schedule of fees and allowances, up to a certain maximum per year. Once the year is up, any unused benefits expire so it makes sense to have needed work done before December 31.
The maximum benefit hasn’t gone up much in thirty years, although the premiums have, and of course, the cost of dental services. Your dental insurance company exists to make money, not take care of your mouth. Your dentist knows what is best for you, so trust his advice. Our goal is to get for you the most benefit money your plan allows while providing the treatment you need. We have a lot of experiencing dealing with many dental insurance plans and we are able to closely estimate ahead of time what your plan will pay and how to get the most out of it.
Do you take my insurance?
Dental insurance companies have a list, or network, of providers. These are dentists who have signed contracts with certain companies. The company then markets this list of dentists to their customers. In exchange for this, the dentist agrees to provide services at a discounted rate set by the company. There are dozens of different plans out there, with each insurance company offering several plans with different levels of benefits. Each dental practice chooses which companies and plans they are able to work with. Some dentists do not work with dental insurances at all due to the heavy discounted fees that the plan only allows them to charge.
Most offices are in network with several plans as a service to their patients. Midway Dental Center does work with several dental insurance plans, but not all. At this time we don’t work with HMO plans or Medicaid. Call or email us and we will be happy to let you know how we work with your plan.
How often does dental insurance deny a claim?
Insurance companies love to delay or deny payments even if you are covered. Keeping your benefit money in their account for an extra few weeks draws interest for their bottom line. Multiply that by several thousand claims and you get the picture. Denied claims can be more pure profit. Even if your dentist submits and receives back an official pre-treatment estimate of payment for your treatment, the fine print allows for the possibility of non-payment. “It was only an estimate.”
We do our best to discover what benefit you can expect to receive based on your treatment needs and desires. The actual insurance payment may be less, however, once the claim is submitted. They may decide that the procedure was a cosmetic treatment rather than restorative, and not covered. Or that a larger filling could have taken care of the problem instead of a stronger cap or crown. Or that your gum infection wasn’t bad enough yet to warrant therapy. Fortunately this doesn’t happen a lot because we are diligent in how we handle your claim. Additionally, there is an appeals process that sometimes helps. But again, denying or delaying your payment means more money in their pocket, and that is the bottom line.
Is dental fluoride harmful?
Fluoride is a powerful weapon against tooth decay and sensitivity. If someone disagrees with its intelligent use, based on their belief that it is harmful even in very small amounts, that is their right of course. Some people have strong beliefs and fears about any number of things that are a part of our daily lives, such as cell phones, microwave ovens, plastic food containers, drinking water, vaccines, air travel, milk, non-organic food, climate change, on and on.
Name most anything and you can find, books, articles and online sources that proclaim the dangers. Belief is the key work here. Belief is virtually impossible to argue against, be it religious, political, or otherwise. Fact: Modern dental care, including fluoride use, is based on the best scientific information available and many decades of successful experience. You can choose to believe that or not.
How does dental fluoride work?
I haven’t had a cavity in over 30 years even though I have something of a sweet tooth and a ton of previous dental work due to my youthful candy habit. The difference has been with daily brushing, flossing, and fluoride. Fluoride has a chemical attraction to tooth enamel and root surfaces, integrating itself into the crystals of tooth structure to make the surface more resistant to decay.
Because of microscopic wear and tear on the tooth’s surface , the fluoride ions need regular replenishing. This is easily done through the daily exposure to fluoridated water, tooth pastes, and mouth rinses, along with daily brushing and flossing. Having fluoride gel or varnish applied at your dental cleanings provides an added benefit. Doing so will at least cut your decay rate by more than half and may eliminate your future cavities entirely, saving you a bundle!
Why Can’t We Just Skip The X-Rays This Time?
Radiation is a word that we associate with nuclear fall out from bomb blasts and power plant explosions. True, high levels can injure and kill. So we try to avoid any and all of it if possible. The truth is, we can’t. Living on planet earth exposes us to 300 millirems of X-ray exposure per year, or a little less than 1 mrem per day. The sources of natural radiation include the sun, outer space, rocks, construction materials, radon gas, food and water, even smoking. One digital dental x-ray, by comparison, equals 0.5 mrem, half a day’s worth of natural exposure. A full series of eighteen exposures would amount to nine days worth. Even at that, we only take the minimum as recommended by the American Dental Association.
Your dentist uses X-rays (also called radiographs”) to peer under a tooth’s surface, between the teeth, and under the gums to view the 75% of its structure and supporting bone that cannot be otherwise visualized. Refusing to have this done is like asking your physician to determine if your injured arm is broken without an X-ray, or checking out your coughing lungs for cancer just by looking at your chest. Modern digital dental X-rays emit a negligible level of radiation. It makes no sense to avoid their use and not obtain such critical information.
What are the health risks of dental X-rays?
Many people joke about glowing in the dark after years and years of receiving various types of diagnostic x-rays, including dental. Joking aside, just how much is too much? X-rays (radiographs) are measured in mrem’s. An accumulation of 25,000 mrem of x-ray exposure increases your cancer risk by only one per cent. In comparison, a chest x-ray is 10 mrem, a mammogram is 42, CT scan of the head is 200, of chest is 700, abdomen is 1,000, heart is 2,000. A lower GI series is 800 mrem, upper GI is 600. A dental x-ray is 0.5 mrem.
Very few people will receive anywhere close to 25,000 mrem’s worth of diagnostic radiographs in their lifetime. Now, radiation treatment for tumors is a different level of course. Many oncologists caution their patients who have had radiation treatment of their head and neck to avoid dental radiographs. Even in that situation dental radiographs would be of no consequence. It would take 50,000 dental x-rays to raise your cancer risk by one per cent. ( Go online and check it out for yourself ). Despite that, in our office we keep x-rays to a minimum, based on the guidelines of the American Dental Association as to how often and how many. Failing to follow this can expose a dentist to legal consequences for failing to abide by the standard of care.
What Exactly Is Cosmetic Dentistry?
White straight teeth are in fashion more so now than ever. Just watch TV, go to a movie, or look at a fashion magazine or catalogue. All the faces you see have even, white teeth, and for good reason. A youthful, healthy, attractive image starts with your smile. It’s like the billboard of your face, advertising who you are. Women (and men) spend billions on cosmetic products and procedures to look better. Many times this is wasted effort if one’s teeth remain uneven or discolored. When someone looks at that smile, they can’t get past those yellow, chipped, cracked, crooked, uneven, or missing teeth.
Not to mention your own self-image. An attractive smile is a huge confidence builder around family, friends, and co-workers, and has a great impact on first impressions. A smile make-over is often life changing. Modern dentistry offers a number of options to improve, or completely redesign your smile according to your wishes and needs, whether it’s more glamour you want, or just a cleaner, younger, healthy look, or something in between. There is no shame in wanting to be more attractive, and a better smile is often the best place to start. This is one of our most popular services, one that we love doing!
Do whitening toothpastes work?
Don’t waste your money! Those products will do little to change your teeth from yellow to white, or from dull to bright. If you check the fine print it usually talks about surface stain removal, not the deeper layers of darker color. The trace amount of bleaching ingredient they contain won’t touch that. Many contain an abrasive micro sand that can erode away precious tooth enamel over time. It may help remove coffee, tobacco, or wine stains but usage should only be occasional.
What about the white strips? Many find their use messy and the results disappointing. What about the blue light booths in the middle of the mall and at the county fair advertising white teeth in only twenty minutes? Not much lasting results there either.
There are two effective whitening methods used in our practice. The best involves two in – office sessions by a trained therapist. The gums are covered by protective barrier so that a stronger effective gel can be applied to the teeth and left on for 20 minutes, then removed and reapplied for another 20 minutes.. A second session is scheduled for a week or two later. Maintenance follow-up treatments every 6-12 months are a good idea. Every case is different but most patients are pleased with their brighter younger smile.
The other option is to take home a set of custom made plastic trays with a dispenser of whitening gel that you place in the tray and wear for an hour every day or two for a few weeks until the desired results are achieved.
How can I save money on dental care?
The average dental patient will spend over $35,000 on dental care during their lifetime. Most of that will go toward repairing, removing, and replacing damaged teeth, damage that is 90 percent preventable. The earlier you begin to focus on prevention, the more teeth and money you’ll save, but even starting later will pay big dividends.
The number one way to reduce dental cost is to visit your dental office faithfully for check up and cleaning appointments. Skipping these appointments may feel like you’re saving money at the time, but you’ll pay dearly later. Problems detected early are usually a simple inexpensive fix. Over time, small problems grow into bigger ones and the cost to treat can skyrocket by as much as twenty times the early repair. So keep those check up appointments and follow your dental team’s advice.
What’s the big deal about flossing?
I’ll confess. I was a non flosser for many years. So are about 95% of you. There is just something about tangling this string stuff around both hands and poking it down between your teeth, one by one, that isn’t fun for most of us, and then your gums start to bleed. Yuk! So Johnson and Johnson came out with the Reach Access Flosser, and wah-la! Listerine has since taken it over, and they call it the Ultraclean Access Flosser. Huge breakthrough! Here is a comfortable handle holding a tough little bow of floss that allows you to floss with one hand while watching TV. Once you get the hang of it , it takes about 30 seconds. It can be rinsed and re used for several sessions before the floss finally breaks, it’s that tough. Then you snap on a new floss bow. If you don’t find it at your favorite dental products store, go online. And we dispense them in my office.
Start between the two front teeth and work your way back on one side, then the other. Easy as pie, so no more excuses for either of us! Force yourself to do it daily for two weeks straight and you‘ll be hooked. No more bleeding gums and your mouth smells and feels better! You’ll be amazed at how much left-over dinner you remove. How many dental dollars will that save you over the years? And how much better will your breath smell? Lots and lots!
Where can I sign up for dental insurance?
You often see signs on street corners and ads in newspapers or fliers. “Get your bargain dental insurance, only $40 a month for a family plan.” Really? Be careful! Buying cheap dental or medical insurance on the open market is often a scam. Even if the company is legitimate, premium payments are required for six months or more before any benefits are paid out. You then may be assigned to a dentist in another city, or the company may be out of business by then.
By comparison, a group plan partially paid for by your organization or employer will give you better benefits and more providers to choose from. However there will always be significant out-of-pocket co-pays and deductibles. Even with a relatively good plan you should expect to pay out of pocket about half the cost of your covered dental care. Then there are often needed treatments or cosmetic options your plan doesn’t cover at all. Keep in mind, it’s only a benefit, not a ticket to free care.
Is Treasure Coast water fluoridated?
Water fluoridation is the controlled addition of fluoride to the public water supply to reduce the rate of tooth decay. Local water systems doing this include Indian River County, Fort Pierce Utilities, Port St. Lucie Utilities, St. Lucie West, and the City of Stuart. Martin South, and Okeechobee do not do so. Dental decay is a major public health problem that affects up to 90% of children and adults. Oral disease is the fourth most expensive disease to treat and is one of the most chronic diseases worldwide.
Water fluoridation reduces cavity frequency on average by 40%. The U.S Center for Disease Control proclaims water fluoridation to be one of the top ten public health achievements of the last century. Its detractors scream that this is an incursion on your freedom and should be stopped. My personal observation over the years is that my patients who grew up with and continue to use fluoride have far fewer dental problems. Many have never had a cavity. That’s freedom for sure, freedom from unnecessary pain and expense.