What should I look for when choosing a dentist?
You and your dentist will be long-term oral health care partners; therefore you need to find someone with whom you can be comfortable. To find a suitable dentist to meet your needs, consider asking the following questions as a starting point:
- What are the office hours? Are they convenient to meet your schedule?
- Is the office easy to get to from work or home?
- Where was the dentist educated and trained?
- What’s the dentist’s approach to preventive dentistry?
- How often does the dentist attend conferences and continuing education workshops?
- What type of anesthesia is the dentist certified to administer to help you relax and feel more comfortable during any necessary dental treatment?
- What arrangements are made for handling emergencies outside of office hours? (Most dentists make arrangements with a colleague or emergency referral service if they are unable to tend to emergencies.)
- Is information provided about all fees and payment plans before treatment is scheduled? (If you are comparison shopping, ask for estimates on some common procedures such as full-mouth X-rays, oral exam and cleaning, and filling a cavity.)
- Does the dentist participate in your dental health plan?
- What is the dentist’s office policy on missed appointments?
How safe are dental X-rays?
Exposure to all sources of radiation — including the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home, and dental X-rays — can damage the body’s tissues and cells, and can lead to the development of cancer in some instances. Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of X-rays is extremely small.
Advances in dentistry over the years have lead to the low radiation levels emitted by today’s X-rays. Some of the improvements are new X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being X-rayed, higher speed X-ray films that require shorter exposure time compared with older film speeds to get the same results, and the use of film holders that keep the film in place in the mouth (which prevents the film from slipping and the need for repeat X-rays and additional radiation exposure). Also, the use of lead-lined, full-body aprons protects the body from stray radiation (though this is almost non-existent with the modern dental X-ray machines). In addition, federal law requires that X-ray machines be checked for accuracy and safety every two years. Some states require more frequent checks.
Even with these advancements in safety, it should be kept in mind, however, that the effects of radiation are added together over a lifetime. So every little bit of radiation you receive from all sources counts.
We take bite-wings x-rays every 6 month visit and a panoramic x-ray or full mouth series every 3 years.
What Causes Periodontal Diseases?
Plaque, a thin, colorless, sticky film containing bacteria, which constantly forms on the teeth. These bacteria use carbohydrates—sugars and starches—to produce an acid that attacks the enamel covering the teeth. After repeated acid attacks, the enamel can be broken down and a cavity begins. Continued acid attacks eventually dissolve the enamel and penetrate the softer, inner layer of the tooth, where decay can spread rapidly throughout the tooth’s structure. Acid attacks begin immediately after every meal or snack and last about 20 to 30 minutes.
Can Periodontal Diseases Be Prevented?
Teeth can be protected from acid attacks by removing plaque, reducing the number of times and the amount of sugar and starches eaten, using fluorides, having plastic sealants applied to teeth, and by regular professional cleaning of teeth by a dental hygienist at least every 6 months as recommended.
According to most dental insurance companies, dental procedures are broken down into three categories:
- Preventative: Most insurance companies consider routine cleanings and examinations as preventative dental care, however, X-rays, sealants and fluoride can be deemed as preventative or basic, depending upon the specific insurance carrier.
- Basic or Restorative: Basic or restorative dental treatment usually consists of fillings and simple extractions. Root canals can be considered basic or major. However, the majority of dental plans list root canals as basic.
- Majo: r Crowns, bridges, dentures, partials, surgical extractions and dental implants are dental procedures that most dental insurance companies consider as a major procedure.
Since all dental insurance carriers are different, it is important to clarify which dental procedures fall under each specific category. This is important because some insurance plans don’t cover major procedures and others have waiting periods for certain procedures. If you know that you will need major dental work that is not covered by a given plan, you should probably look into other insurance plans to find one that suits all of your needs. You must also consider that every insurance plan has a yearly maximum. Once you have reached this maximum, the insurance company will not pay out any more benefits until the following year. This includes all treatment and hygiene visits.
Will you file my Dental Insurance?
Yes, we will call or email for your dental benefits. This is never a guarantee of coverage but it does help to estimate your cost for your dental care. We will file your claim to your dental provider on the day of service and ask that you pay your deductible and co-payment. Once we receive your Explanation of Benefits and insurance check, we will post this to your account. If there is still any amounts due, a statement will be sent to you for payment. Remember, we can only estimate what your insurance company will pay. Please check our website for the insurance companies that we participate with and are considered “In-Network” with.
Do you accept payment plans?
Payments need to be made on the date of service, with the following exceptions. If you have a procedure such as a crown or bridge or partials or dentures, the front office may allow your payments to be split between the two visits. All co-payments and deductibles must be met first. We offer CARE CREDIT to our patients in order to finance larger procedures.
What causes sensitive teeth?
You may notice sensitivity if your gums have receded. Gums cover the roots of your teeth like a protective blanket. When the blanket is gone, your roots are exposed. Exposed roots contain small pores that lead directly to the nerve of the tooth. Pressure and cold can stimulate the tooth nerve causing pain and discomfort. Normally, your gums would prevent these stimuli from reaching the nerves.
There are primarily two reasons why your gums recede. The first is improper and heavy-handed brushing of your teeth. Over time, this heavy-handed approach can also wear away tooth enamel. The second reason is poor oral hygiene. When plaque builds up around your teeth and gums, it hardens into tartar. Bacteria in tartar cause gingivitis and periodontal disease. Gum recession can result.
Long-term sensitivity can be a sign of other problems. Ask how you can prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease and avoid sensitive teeth.
What can I do about sensitive teeth?
Sensitivity toothpaste, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate are very effective in treating sensitive teeth. After a few weeks of use you may notice a decrease in sensitivity. Highly acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, as well as tea and soda can increase tooth sensitivity, and work against any sensitivity toothpaste. If you do not get relief by brushing gently and using a desensitizing toothpaste, see your dentist. There are special compounds that can be applied in office to the roots of your tooth to reduce—if not eliminate—the sensitivity. High-fluoride containing home care products can also be recommended to help reduce tooth sensitivity.
Can I prevent cavities?
You can certainly minimize the number of cavities you get. Always spend two to three minutes brushing your teeth. It takes that long to get rid of the bacteria which destroy tooth enamel. Do not brush too hard. It takes very little pressure to remove bacteria and plaque. Floss at least once a day. It is the only way to get bacteria from between your teeth.
Watch the sugar you eat. There is sugar in candy, fruits, crackers and chips. These are the foods that the bacteria in your mouth like best. Be mindful of foods like raisins and peanut butter that stick to your teeth. They can provide a constant supply for the bacteria eating into your teeth. Try to minimize the times during the day when sweet items are eaten and clean your teeth afterwards.
If you can not brush after a meal, rinse your mouth with water—which can help to remove food from your teeth. Chewing sugarless gum after a meal can also help. Chewing stimulates the flow of saliva which acts as a natural plaque-fighting substance.
Do not forget your regular dental visits. Good dental habits will go a long way toward a no-cavity visit.
Why should I floss?
You should floss to reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth. There are millions of these microscopic creatures feeding on food particles left on your teeth. This bacteria lives in plaque which can be removed by flossing. Brushing your teeth gets rid of some of the bacteria in your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the bacteria your toothbrush can’t get to. That’s the bacteria hiding in the tiny spaces between your teeth. Brushing without flossing is like washing only half your face. The other half remains dirty.
If you do not floss, you allow plaque to remain between your teeth. Eventually it hardens into tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing. Only your dentist can remove tartar.
Ask your hygienist to show you the proper way to floss. You will both notice the difference at your next cleaning appointment.
Why should I go to the dentist regularly? (Crisis treatment vs. preventive treatment)
Many people do not see a dentist on a regular basis. They go only when they have a problem. We call this “crisis treatment” as opposed to “preventive treatment”. While these patients may feel they are saving money, it usually ends up costing much more in both dollars and time. The reason for this is that most dental problems do not have any symptoms until they reach the advanced stages of the disease process. A simple example is tooth decay. We often hear, “Nothing hurts…I don’t have any problems”. But tooth decay does not hurt! Until, that is, it gets close to the nerve of the tooth. By that time, root canal treatment followed by a post, buildup, and crown are often necessary, instead of the filling which could have been placed several years earlier when the cavity was just beginning to form. Your dentist can usually detect a cavity 3-4 years before it develops any symptoms. It is not uncommon to see a patient with a huge cavity and who has never felt a thing! This is why regular checkups are important- so why not schedule yours today?