Common Questions From Our Patients
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If you ever find yourself in a situation where your tooth is hurting and you are not able to see a dentist right away, you can relieve the toothache by taking some over the counter pain reliever, at the recommended dosage. You may also take natural pain and inflammation relievers, but if they are not strong enough to help with the pain a traditional pharmaceutical pain reliever may be needed. The medicine will work throughout the day and evening to keep the toothache at bay. Schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to evaluate what is causing the toothache. Do not wait. It is much easier to treat a dental problem when it is diagnosed earlier rather than later.
There are many varieties of toothpastes on the market. There is everything from gels, whitening toothpaste, tartar control toothpaste, to natural toothpaste, toothpaste made for children, and sensitive teeth. The brand of toothpaste you choose is not as important as what is in the toothpaste itself. Another thing to consider is, the more chemicals that are added to the toothpaste the higher at risk you are for your teeth and gums to become irritated and sensitive. Before using any of the whitening toothpaste, tartar control toothpaste, sensitive tooth toothpaste, and the likes, consult with your dentist or hygienist to see if any of these toothpastes are recommended for you.
Dental plans can be confusing to understand. For example, you may think that if your plan only allows one checkup (recare) per year, that you can only have one cleaning per year. That may simply not be the case! Scaling and polishing are both measured in units of time. Your insurance plan, for example, may allow for 1 unit of polish and 12 units of scaling per year. Divided up, this could mean 2-3 cleanings worth of scaling (this entirely depends on how much buildup you have and how long the hygienist needs to remove it all), and you may be able to use only a half unit of scaling per visit depending on how much staining you have (you might have to pay the full amount for the polish or skip it for one visit if you come 3 times a year). You may easily be able to come twice a year and have your benefits cover it! Regular cleanings help keep your gums healthier and buildup at bay, which will help prevent cavities.
How much will your dental benefits cover of a particular procedure? This is a tougher question to answer. Dental plans vary A LOT. You may have 80% coverage for simple restorative work like a composite filling, but you may only have 50% coverage of more complicated restorative work like a crown or a bridge. For example, a $300 filling covered at 80% means the insurance company pays $240, and you will have to pay the remaining $60. You should also know that not all plans have coverage for more complicated procedures. You should call your insurance company to ask for clarity if you do not understand what the benefits book or website says you have in terms of coverage. We may even be able to help if you bring the book with you to your appointment.
Your plan may say they cover 80% of a filling, but they may be using an outdated fee guide (the price guide given to dentists by their governing body) compared to the dentist you are seeing, so you may notice they list a maximum fee that they will cover up to, and that may very well be lower than the price listed for the service at the dental office. The difference is usually not that much, so it is not a large concern for most people.
When it comes to a yearly limit for your insurance, only the amount of money they pay out to you counts towards it. What that means is if you have a $1500 yearly limit on your plan, and you get a $1500 crown, but they only pay for 50% of crowns, you still have $750 remaining to use for the year, even though the total cost of the crown seemed like it would use up the whole limit. You should also check with your insurance company to see what dates they are using to track your calendar year. Some plans may follow the regular January to December calendar, others may start at a different point in the year.
If a procedure is not covered, or is only partially covered, you can claim the amount or remainder on your income taxes as a health expense so long as it was not considered cosmetic work (ie whitening, veneers). If you do not have dental benefits at all, you can claim all of your non-cosmetic dental work, including cleanings, on your taxes. So hold on to those receipts!
**At our office patients pay for the treatment upfront the day it happens (fee for service), and then we electronically send your dental insurance to your provider so that they can pay you the total amount that they cover.**
On average, seeing a dentist twice a year works well for most people. A few people can get away with fewer visits; others may need more frequent visits. People with very little risk of cavities or gum disease can do fine seeing their dentist just once a year. People with high risk of periodontal disease (because of current gum disease, a weak immune response to bacterial infection or a predisposition to plaque buildup or cavities) might need to see the dentist every three or four months, or even more frequently, for the best care. Even if you take excellent care of your teeth and gums at home, you need to see your dentist regularly so he or she can check for problems that you may not see or feel. Tooth decay generally doesn’t become visible or cause pain until it is in more advanced stages. Regular visits allow your dentist to find early signs of decay and disease and treat problems at a manageable stage. Ask your dentist the best schedule for your routine dental visits.
Good oral hygiene results in a mouth that looks and smells healthy. This means:
- Your teeth are clean and free of debris
- Gums are pink and do not hurt or bleed when you brush or floss
- Bad breath is not a constant problem
If your gums do hurt or bleed while brushing or flossing, or you are experiencing persistent bad breath, see your dentist. Any of these conditions may indicate a problem. Your dentist or hygienist can help you learn good oral hygiene techniques and can help point out areas of your mouth that may require extra attention during brushing and flossing.
Maintaining good oral hygiene is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to your overall well-being. Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop problems before they develop and is much less painful, expensive, and worrisome than treating conditions that have been allowed to progress. In between regular visits to the dentist, there are simple steps that each of us can take to greatly decrease the risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems. These include:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with toothpaste (you can get a recommendation from the dentist or hygienist).
- Floss your teeth at least once a day, twice if you can.
- Use a water-flosser to remove food debris trapped under your gum line — the water-flosser can get deeper than floss can, so this is very important if you have been told you have gum pockets — at least once a day before bed. There are also air-flossers on the market if you want something less messy. There are videos online about how to use water-flossers, that will help you not make a mess though. Water-flossers are also a big help if you have braces, bridges, implants, or anything else that can be challenging to clean around or under easily.
- Don’t smoke or chew tobacco.
- Avoid consuming too many sugary foods, or if you do brush your teeth after, or at a minimum swish water around your mouth well to try to get some of the sugar off your teeth. Bacteria in your mouth can feed on these sugars (not just traditional sugary things like candy, many other foods also break down to form sugars).
- Eat a balanced diet and limit snacking between meals unless you take the time to clean your teeth after each time you eat. You may need to snack between meals for a medical reason, we are not advising you to go against medical advice, but do try to clean your teeth and mouth when you do snack. At a minimum try to swish your mouth with water after eating to get some food residue off.
- Ask your doctor if your medicines have side effects that might damage your teeth. (For example, some medicines may cause you to have a dry mouth — dry mouth makes it easier for bacteria to build up in your mouth which can lead to cavities.)
- Look inside your mouth regularly for sores that don’t heal, irritated gums or other changes.
- See your dentist regularly.
- If you have any problems with your teeth or concerns about your mouth, see your doctor or dentist right away.