• General Questions

    What is plaque and how is it bad?
    Plaque constantly forms on teeth. It is a clear film of bacteria that builds in hard to reach areas such as between your teeth and in the lines of your gums.

    When allowed to accumulate, the plaque can irritate the gums and lead to certain gum diseases, such as gingivitis. Research has provided evidence that gum disease has been linked to many health problems including stroke, heart disease, pneumonia, and even pregnancy complications

    Plaque can be removed with regular brushing and flossing along with professional cleanings from dental professional to help with tough tartar removal. Early stages of gum disease are often unnoticed. By the time you begin to feel pain or irritation, it may already be too late to focus on prevention. Regular checkups can assist in preventing plaque and tartar from building up,as well as prevent many other dental complications.

    What is the cause of bad breath?
    When breath has an unpleasant odor, it is known as “halitosis”. Depending on the cause, the odor can occur occasionally, but it has been known to become more of a long lasting problem with some people.

    The mouth contains millions of bacteria. The back of the tongue can condense bacteria and cause of bad breath.

    Although bad breath and the accumulation of odor forming bacteria can be considered a common problem, there are many causes of why frequent halitosis can be occurring. Such problems could be:

    Poor dental hygiene – If brushing and flossing is not conducted on a regular basis, bacteria and plaque can begin to form in hard to reach places. If this is the situation, poor dental hygiene can eventually lead to much more serious problems.

    External sources – Smoking, chewing tobacco, drinking coffee, tea, or wine are just some of the causes of regularly occurring bad breath. These activities can also lead to the discoloration of teeth.

    Why are dental X-rays needed?
    In dentistry, no mouth is the exact same. In order for our professionals to assess your individual needs, X-ray imaging helps identify any underlying signs of bone loss or gum disease that can be undetectable with the naked eye. It is typical for new patients to undergo a full set of dental X-ray imaging for the dentist to get an idea of their oral health status. In order to help with future comparisons, we may request additional X-ray images be taken during follow-up visits in order to determine what treatment will be needed, as well as to identify any conditions that may require action.

    How safe are dental X-rays?
    Dental radiographs, or X-ray generated images, are necessary in receiving the highest standard of care. The diagnostic benefits far outweigh the minimal risks involved in the use of dental X-ray imaging. We are careful to limit the amount of radiation exposure for patients by using lead aprons and digital radiography, which reduces radiation substantially. Without the use of X-ray generated images, conditions like cavities, extra teeth, and diseases could go undetected. Digital X-rays have minimal radiation, detailed images, and remarkable speed. With digital X-rays, the patient’s images appear instantaneously on a nearby monitor, giving us a convenient chairside image to analyze and refer to throughout the dental visit. We are pleased to offer this dental technology.

    How do I take care of my sensitive teeth?
    There are types of toothpastes that cater to those with sensitive teeth. These types of toothpastes have been known to decrease the symptoms of sensitive teeth over the period of several weeks if used regularly. Tooth sensitivity symptoms can become worse with the regular consumption of high acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemon. If regular gentle brushing does not decrease symptoms, we can provide a consultation to determine a treatment that’s right for you. Products containing fluoride may also be recommended to assist in reducing tooth sensitivity.


    Insurance Questions


    Why doesn't my insurance cover all the cost for my dental treatment?
    Dental insurance isn’t really insurance (a payment to cover the cost of a loss) at all. It is actually a money benefit typically provided by an employer to help their employees pay for routine dental treatment. The employer buys a plan based on the amount of the benefit and how much the premium costs per month. Most benefit plans are only designed to cover a portion of the total cost.
    But my plan says that my exams and certain procedures are covered at 100%.
    That 100% is usually what the insurance carrier allows as payment toward the procedure, not what your dentist or any other dentist in your area may actually charge. For example, say your dentist charges $80.00 for an examination, not including x-rays. Your carrier may allow $60.00 as the 100% payment for that examination, leaving $20.00 for you to pay.
    How does my insurance carrier come up with its allowed payments?
    Many carriers refer to their allowed payments as UCR, which stands for usual, customary and reasonable. However, usual, customary and reasonable does not really mean exactly what it seems to mean. UCR is a listing of payments for all covered procedures negotiated by your employer and the insurance company. This listing is related to the cost of the premiums and where you are located in you city and state. Your employer has likely selected and allowed payment or UCR payment that corresponds to the premium cost they desire. UCR payments could be accurately called negotiated payments.
    Since most payments are negotiated, does this mean that there is always a balance left for me to pay?
    Typically there is always a portion that is not covered by your benefit plan.
    I received an Explanation of Benefits from my insurance carrier that says my dental bill exceeded the usual and customary. Does this mean that my dentist is charging more that he or she should?
    It does not mean that your dentist is charging too much. Remember that what insurance carriers call UCR is really just what your employer and the insurance company have negotiated as the amount that will be paid toward your treatment. It us usually much less than what any dentist in your area might actually charge for a dental procedure.
    Why is there an annual maximum on my benefits?
    Maximums limit what a carrier has to cover each year. Amazingly, despite the fact that costs have steadily increased, annual maximum levels for dental care have not changed since the 1960’s.
    Why do some benefit plans require me to select a dentist from a list?
    Usually a dentist on the list has agreed to a contract with the benefit plan. These contracts have restrictions and requirements. If you choose a dentist on the list, you typically pay less toward your dental care than if you choose a dentist not on the list. If your dentist is not on the list this does not mean that something is wrong with the dentist or the office.
    Why does my dental plan only pay toward the least expensive alternative treatment?
    To save money. Your dentist may recommend a crown, with your insurance only offering a benefit toward a filling. This does not mean you have to accept the filling. The good news is that some benefit will be paid: the bad news is that more of the fee will be your responsibility. Remember that your dentist’s responsibility is to prescribe what is best for you. The insurance carriers responsibility is to control payments.
    Why won't my insurance pay anything toward some procedures, such as x-rays, cleanings and gum treatments?
    Your plan contract specifies how many of certain types of procedures it will consider annually. It limits the number of x-rays, cleanings, etc. covered because these are the types of treatments that many people have frequently.
    What should I do if my insurance does not pay for treatment I think should be covered?
    Because your insurance coverage is between you, your employer and the insurance carrier, your dentist does not have the power to make your plan pay. If your insurance does not pay, you are responsible for the total cost of treatment. Sometimes a plan may pay if patients send in a claim for themselves. The Employee benefits Coordinator at your place of employment may be able to help. Patients may also lodge complaints with the state Insurance Commission.
    What if my spouse has insurance?
    Dental plans used to work together. However, may times you will get little or no coverage from a second plan. Consider any extra benefit an unexpected gift.
    Why can you only estimate my coverage?
    Dentists deal with thousands of plans and hundreds of types of treatments each year. Most carriers refuse to release the details of their plans. They change policies and reimbursements constantly and with our notice.
    What types of insurances do you accept?
    We proudly work with many defined dental benefit plans (insurances). Call our friendly staff if you have any questions about financial policies.


    Questions For Child Treatment

    When will my baby start getting teeth?
    Babies typically begin teething at six months of age. Usually, the bottom lower front teeth erupt first, followed by the two upper front teeth. Children have twenty teeth compared to adults that typically have thirty-two. In general, a child will have erupted all of his or her teeth by 2-3 years of age.

    How often do I need to bring my child to the dentist?
    In general, checkups are recommended at a minimum of every six months in order to aid in the prevention of cavities and other dental problems. It is always better to diagnose a potential problem early on. Since every child has individual oral healthcare needs, the frequency of dental visits will vary as the situation necessitates. Regular visits keep children familiar with the dentist and dental professionals. These visits build confidence in children and are much more pleasant when the child is not forced to associate the dentist with emergency treatment due to tooth pain and dental neglect. Decay or breakdown of a tooth that is detected in the early stages is easier and less costly to treat.

    How important are baby teeth since they are going to fall out anyway?
    “Baby” teeth – also known as primary teeth – have three main functions. First, they allow children to chew. The importance of pain-free feeding directly relates to your child’s diet, nutrition, and overall health. Second, baby teeth are important for speech development. Third, baby teeth provide a pathway for permanent teeth to erupt in a timely way. Premature tooth loss from cavities or infections allows for remaining teeth to move into the empty space and ultimately cause crowding. Cavities on baby teeth can cause permanent teeth to have higher cavity susceptibility.

    If my toddler has a cavity, should he or she get a filling?
    The earlier a cavity is diagnosed and treated, the less invasive the overall treatment will be. Over time, cavities can spread if allowed and possibly lead to an infection. It is important to evaluate each situation on an individual basis to determine what is best for the child.

    What are dental sealants and does my child need them?
    Dental sealants are hard plastic-like materials that are placed into the grooves of the chewing surfaces of teeth in order to help prevent cavities. They work by blocking out the sticky, sugary foods and liquids that tend to get caught in the teeth. The application is fast and pain-free. Dental sealants are recommended based on the child’s diet, history of cavities, and overall anatomy of the teeth.


    Oral Healthcare At Home For Children

    What should I use to clean my baby's teeth?
    The use of a soft cloth, gauze or toothbrush for children 0-2 years will adequately remove plaque and bacteria that can lead to cavities. Caregivers should clean the teeth at least once a day (most importantly before bedtime following the last feeding). Infant non-fluoridated toothpaste can be used. Until your child is able to spit out the toothpaste without swallowing it, we recommend not to use fluoridated toothpaste.

    How can I prevent baby bottle tooth decay and early childhood cavities?
    First, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water. If swelling is present, place a cold pack on the area. Over the counter Children’s Tylenol or Ibuprofen (Motrin) are recommended for the pain. DO NOT place aspirin on the gums as this can cause harm to the tissue. Please, see a dentist or healthcare professional as soon as possible.

    Is fluoride toothpaste and fluoridated water good for my child?
    Use of fluoride for the prevention of cavities can be safe and effective in decreasing cavities when given in the correct dosage. If your water supply contains less than 0.6ppm (private wells), a dietary supplement may be recommended for your child (6 months to 16 years old). If your child is unable to spit out toothpaste, then toothpaste with fluoride should be avoided. It is acceptable to begin using toothpaste (pea-size amount) with children 2-3 years of age. Prior to that, parents should clean the child’s teeth with water and a soft-bristled toothbrush. It is important to contact a pediatric dentist to make sure your child is not receiving excessive or inadequate amounts of daily fluoride.

    If my child has tooth or mouth pain, what can I do to help?
    First, rinse the irritated area with warm salt water and if swelling is present place a cold pack on the area. Over the counter Children’s Tylenol or Ibuprofen (Motrin) are recommended for any pain. DO NOT place aspirin on the gums, this can cause harm to the tissue. Please, see a dentist or healthcare professional as soon as possible.

    What can I do to stop my child’s thumb sucking and pacifier habits? Is it harming my child's teeth?
    Many oral habits, such as thumb and pacifier sucking, only become problems if they persist for long periods of time. This is very normal in infants and young children. Most children stop these habits on their own by age three. Habit-breaking appliances can be used for children who want to stop but need an active reminder. Long-term oral habits such as thumb or finger sucking, mouth breathing, and tongue thrusting can produce dental and skeletal changes. The amount of change is directly related to frequency, duration, intensity, and direction of the forces applied.

    What should I do if my child has a tooth knocked out?
    First, remain calm. Second, locate the tooth. Always hold the tooth by the crown (not the root). Third (if possible), determine whether it is a baby tooth or a permanent tooth. If it is a baby tooth, do not replace the tooth in the socket. For permanent teeth, reimplant by applying mild finger pressure. If that is not possible, put the tooth in a glass of milk and take your child and the glass immediately to the pediatric dentist.