The “T’s” of Thanksgiving

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Wendy Parker RDH

The “T’s” of Thanksgiving

It’s that time of year again, when the holidays are upon us, family and friend gatherings, and days seem to get shorter and shorter.  With each passing year, it seems like we become busier and busier and time grows shorter and shorter.  This holiday season, I hope we all take the challenge and remember all the big and the little things we can be thankful for each and every day.  At the end of your day, I hope that we remember to say thank you to someone, to smile, and to be grateful for the small and simple things in life.  With that said, and with the fact that I am a hygienist, I am listing just a few things that I am thankful that begin with the letter “T.”

TEETH that help me smile, talk, and eat
Teeth
Toothbrushes and Toothpaste to keep my mouth healthy and happy
Turkey, who doesn’t love Turkey?!
Turkey
Trivia, to enlighten me with random facts of knowledge
Trivia Pursuit
Technology that enables us to solve problems and obtain information at the touch of hand
Technology
Terrific Employers, Friends/Employees I work with and Patients that make my job more than just an occupation
Signature
consisting of:
North Stapley
Shalimar
Alameda
Smiles
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From all of us here, we wish you the happiest and most memorable holiday season!  May you know how grateful we are for YOU this Thanksgiving Season!

Smiles For Life

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Andra Mahoney, BS RDH

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From March – June, our offices will be participating in Smiles for Life.

What is Smiles for Life? The Smiles for Life Foundation raises money for seriously ill, disabled, and underprivileged children in our local communities and around the world.  It also helps sponsor Dental Humanitarian trips throughout the world.

How does it work?  We welcome you to our office, whether it’s your first visit or you are a long time patient.  Ultradent donates the whitening materials, and our Dentists donate their time.  Together, we offer professional teeth whitening services at substantially reduced prices (donations).  You may choose between three different whitening options:

1. Professionally made-to-fit-your-mouth trays and 8 tubes of take home whitening gel
2. In Office Whitening
3. In Office Whitening with take home trays and 8 tubes of take home whitening gel

Where does my donation go?  No proceeds stay in the office.  100% of your donation goes to children’s charities!  50% will go to Hope Arising, a charity that our offices work directly with.  The other 50% is given to a children’s charity approved by the Smiles For Life Foundation. And for you, it is all tax deductible!

What are the benefits to professional whitening? Whitening helps you look and feel younger.  And when you professionally whiten your teeth, you are ensuring a safer, more effective way of whitening.  Over the counter items may be quicker and cheaper, but they are not tailored to your specific mouth and are not as effective.  If you have ever wanted to whiten, now is the time.  Everybody wins!

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

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Sources:

If you would like more information on Smiles for Life, please check out this short video: http://youtu.be/asAom_V5ukY or visit them at: http://www.smilesforlife.org

If you would like to learn more about the organization we specifically work with, Hope Arising, you may check out this video: http://youtu.be/zi06jlAVQOc or visit their website here: http://hopearising.org  (you may even see some of our great Doctors pictured on their page!)

What is a Sealant?

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Katie Moynihan RDH

What is a Sealant?

Dental sealants are thin plastic-like coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of molars to prevent cavities. They work by providing a protective shield over the deep grooves and pits to seal out plaque and food. Often times, your toothbrush bristles do not reach all the way into the grooves to remove plaque and food. Once these vulnerable areas of your teeth are sealed, you can decrease your chance of tooth decay and be on your way to maintaining a healthy mouth!

Sealant 1

How are sealants applied?

In 5 easy steps:

1. The tooth is thoroughly cleaned.

2. It is then dried properly and covered in cotton, so it stays dry.

3. A solution is applied on the tooth to make it rough, so the sealant sticks better.

4. The tooth is rinsed, dried and again covered in cotton, so it stays dry.

5. The sealant material is painted on the tooth and hardened with a light.

Sealant 2

The likelihood of developing pit and fissure decay begins early in life. Sealants are often applied on children as a preventative method once their adult molars come in. However, adults with deep grooves on their teeth can also benefit from sealants. The process is a quick and painless method. Once applied, sealants can withstand the force of normal chewing and last for several years. During your regular dental visits, we will check the condition of the sealant and re-apply as needed.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

Sources:

Hood, Alex. Sealants: A Weapon Against Cavities. http://www.deltadentalar.com/blog/sealants-a-weapon-against-cavities

Dental Sealants. (2013). http://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/publications/faqs/sealants.htm

Sealants. http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sealants

Dental Fears

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Becky Larson RDH

I once had an elementary school teacher who would scream if she heard the word “dentist.” About 75% of the population has some form of dental anxiety while about 5-10% of the population has an actual dental phobia. There are various degrees of dental anxiety/phobia, some even requiring psychiatric help. Those who experience this fear of going to the dentist will often avoid dental appointments until they are in extreme pain. I think we all realize that sometimes going to the dentist is just not fun. However, some signs that you may suffer from legitimate dental anxiety/phobia include trouble sleeping the night before a dental appointment, nervous feelings that increase in the dental office waiting room, crying or feeling physically sick when thinking about the dentist, and/or panic attacks or difficulty breathing when at or thinking of the dentist.

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So what causes dental anxiety or dental phobia? Some common reasons for experiencing dental anxiety are fear of pain, fear of injections, fear that injections won’t work, fear of anesthetic side effects, fear of not being in control, embarrassment, and loss of personal space. The key to dealing with any of these fears is to talk to your dentist. If your dentist is aware of your fear(s) he/she can suggest ways to make you feel more comfortable when in the dental chair. Some helpful strategies include:

  • Having your dentist explain procedures in detail prior to and during treatment
  • Topical anesthetic and/or closing your eyes during injections
  • Establish a “stop” signal when you want your dentist to stop or give you a break
  • Nitrous oxide prior to treatment
  • Prescription pre-medication (such as Halcion)
  • Sedation/general anesthesia

At our offices we do offer intravenous sedation techniques for dental treatment. With these techniques, sedation drugs are administered through an IV in the patient’s arm or hand. While the patient is sedated, they will still be still be conscious and able to respond to dental staff. They will also be able to breathe on their own.

Recognizing dental fears and finding ways to cope with them is extremely important to your dental health. Regular check-ups and cleanings can help prevent recurrent decay, which in turn can reduce the amount of time and money you spend at the dentist.

 

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

 

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/easing-dental-fear-adults

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dental_phobia

http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Checkups-and-Dental-Procedures/The-Dental-Visit/article/What-is-Dental-Anxiety-and-Phobia.cvsp

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=dnetal+anxiety&FORM=HDRSC2

What Is Laser Dentistry?

Peggy

 

Peggy Storr RDH

Just as in other areas of medicine, lasers are increasingly becoming more common in dentistry.  Lasers are instruments that produce a very narrow but intense beam of light. The light can remove or shape tissue. While lasers have been used in dentistry since 1985, its estimated that only 6% of dental offices utilize lasers. With improvements in technology and as the cost of lasers decrease, a greater number of dentists and hygienists will feel confident in incorporating lasers into their treatments.

How are lasers used in dentistry?

Hard Tissue (or Tooth) Laser Procedures

  • Cavity detection: Lasers provide readings of by-products produced by tooth decay
  • Tooth preparation for fillings- dental lasers may soon eliminate the need for anesthetic and the dental drill.
  • Tooth Sensitivity-lasers may be used to seal tubules located on the root of the tooth that are responsible for sensitive teeth.
  • Help treat infections in root canals

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Soft Tissue (or Gum) Laser Procedures

  • Reshaping of gum tissue to expose tooth structure if needed to place a filling
  • Reshaping gum tissue to improve the appearance of a gummy smile
  • Remove inflamed gum tissues and aid in the treatment of gum disease
  • Removing muscle attachments causing “tongue-tie”
  • Removing benign tumors from gums, palate, sides of cheeks and lips
  • Reducing pain and minimize healing of cold sores
  • Treat pain and inflammation of temporomandibular joint disorder

 

While lasers do not yet replace the traditional dental drill, or the instruments the dental hygienist uses to scale teeth, improvements in laser technology will soon offer quicker, more effective and more comfortable procedures than in the past. This is good news for all especially those of you are anxious at the thought of visiting the dentist!

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/laser-use-dentistry

www.rdhmag.com/articles/print/volume-21/dental-lasers

Lesley Ranft, The Future of Dental Lasers, Retrieved from  http://www.Consumer Guide to Dentistry

Lesley Ranft, Laser Dentistry: Enhancing Dental Treatment with Lasers, Retrieved from http://www.Consumer Guide to Dentistry

http://www.Know Your Teeth.com/infobites/abc/article What is Laser Dentistry? http://www.yourdentistryguide.com/laser/

www.dentistrytoday.com300

 

Sugar

Arianna Headshot

Arianna Marsden RDH

 

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With all the candy that has come into our homes as a result of trick or treating, now seems like a great time of year to review strategies for preventing cavities.  Cavities are caused by acid-producing-bacteria that are present in our mouths.  Bacteria consume the sugars in the foods we eat and produce acid.  This acid produced by bacteria in our mouths softens the hardest outer layer of our teeth, the enamel, and causes tooth decay or cavities.  Some of the best ways to prevent cavities are to eat sugars in moderation, limit the amount of time our teeth are exposed to acid, and practicing proper oral health habits.

In order to prevent cavities, it’s important to eat sugars in moderation.  The sugars being referred to be not just the sugars found in candies and soda, but also natural sugars such as those found in fruits and nuts!  Bacteria are not picky about the type of sugar they like to eat, and will produce enamel-softening acid even from something as healthy as sugar in an apple.  Keep in mind that while fruits are important for a healthy diet, how frequently these sugars are consumed plays a big part in their capacity to cause cavities.  This is why it’s important to limit the amount of time our teeth are exposed to acid.

When sugar is eaten, acid-levels in the mouth spike for a period of about one hour before they are neutralized again by the saliva.  The longer sugar is in contact with our teeth, the longer bacteria have a chance to produce acid.  Sticky candies, like sugared fruit snacks, caramels, or lollipops should be avoided, because they tend to stick to the teeth for a longer period of time.

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Another factor that causes acid-levels in the mouth to stay high is grazing on candy throughout the day.  This grazing-style of eating prevents the saliva from being able to neutralize the acid levels in the mouth, as they are continuously spiking from the intake of sugar.  This high acid-level environment is the perfect storm for causing cavities, but there are some strategies we can use to assist our saliva in neutralizing the acid-level in our mouths.  Drinking a glass of water, or thoroughly brushing teeth after eating sugar are great for neutralizing acid.  Chewing a piece of sugar-free gum for about 20 minutes after eating has also been shown to stimulate saliva flow and quickly neutralize the acid-level in our mouths.

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We should be brushing our teeth at least twice a day, with a soft toothbrush and a small, pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste.  Flossing at least once a day is critical for removing plaque bacteria from between the teeth.  Brushing and flossing removes plaque bacteria from our teeth, and fewer bacteria present in our mouths means less potential acid that can be produced.  Fluoride has been demonstrated to dramatically reduce the damage caused by cavities, and when used properly, is a great strategy for preventing cavities.

Fluoride in our toothpaste and water at home can help prevent cavities, as well as professional fluoride treatments provided at the dentist’s office.

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Being selective about the types of candy that we are giving to our trick or treaters, when and how much candy we are eating, and being especially conscientious about our oral health practices will be helpful strategies in preventing cavities this holiday season.

 

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

 

Sources

https://www.dentalhealth.org/tell-me-about/topic/caring-for-teeth/sugar-free-chewing-gum

http://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/halloweendw.html

http://www.rudyard.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/toothbrush-and-toothpaste-and-floss.jpg

http://i3.dainikbhaskar.com/thumbnail/300×259/web2images/www.dailybhaskar.com/2014/05/15/4907_lollipop.jpg

http://stayhealthyla.org/blog/uploads//2010/03/sugar.jpg

https://www.dentalhealth.org/uploads/images/chewinggumchart.jpg

 

 

Radiographs

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Becky Larson RDH

Why do I need “x-rays” today?

Many patients are concerned about radiograph frequencies, fearing they are receiving too much radiation. While too much radiation is not good, I want to clarify what is too much and share some important facts about the purpose and benefits of radiographs.

Why do we need to take radiographs?

Radiographs can help dental professionals evaluate and diagnose many oral diseases and conditions. Radiographs can be used to evaluate cavities, bone levels, calculus deposits, abscesses, root apices, wisdom teeth, cysts, sinuses, growths, foreign objects, jaw joints, and/or jaw fractures. Much of what goes on in the mouth is not viewable without a radiograph. In most cases, treating patients without radiographs would be performing below the standard of care. Exceptions can be made in certain circumstances regarding pregnancy or patients who have undergone extensive radiation treatment for other reasons.

How often should radiographs be taken?

Radiograph frequencies are recommended by the American Dental Association. A “full set” of radiographs is generally 18-20 images, depending on the office. A full set is usually taken at a patient’s initial visit to the office and then every 3-5 years after. Panoramic radiographs are helpful in assessing when/if wisdom teeth need to be removed and in viewing eruption of permanent teeth in children. In these cases the dentist uses his/her clinical judgment to determine if a panoramic radiograph is necessary. “Check-up” radiographs usually consist of bitewings and anterior peri-apical radiographs. Frequency of these radiographs will vary from patient to patient but can be prescribed anywhere between 6 months and 36 months. Radiograph frequency is prescribed by the dentist based on a patient’s risk of caries or history of caries.

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www.dxis.com

Am I getting too much radiation?

On average, Americans receive a radiation dose of about 0.62 rem (620 millirem) each year. We live in a radioactive world. Radiation is part of the environment and some types can’t be avoided. These include the air around us, cosmic rays, and the Earth itself. About half of our radiation dose comes from these sources. The other half of our yearly dose comes from man-made radiation sources that can include medical, commercial, and industrial sources. Medical radiographic imaging causes more radiation than dental radiographs. One dental intraoral radiograph has a radiation dose of about 0.005 rem. Similarly, a full set of radiographs at a dental office has the same amount of radiation as flying roundtrip from L.A. to New York. In this day and age many dental offices are using digital equipment to process radiographs. Digital imaging emits even less radiation (as much as 80% less) while still producing diagnostic images.

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Radiation Safety

As dental professionals we are aware that patient’s are exposed to radiation. We take proper precautions and cover the neck, thyroid, and chest with a lead apron. We also make sure our radiology equipment has regular checks to ensure it is functioning properly. Radiographs are prescribed with the patient’s best interest at heart.

 

We look forward to helping you create that new smile that you have always wanted.

Want to learn more? Visit us at

http://www.shalimarfamilydentistry.com

http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com

http://www.alamedadentalaz.com

 

Sources:

http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Member%20Center/FIles/Dental_Radiographic_Examinations_2012.ashx

http://www.dentistry.com/treatments/dental-exam/dental-xrays-and-digital-technology

http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/dental-x-rays

http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/radiation/around-us/doses-daily-lives.html

http://www.livescience.com/10266-radiation-exposure-cross-country-flight.html

http://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/safety/?pg=sfty_xray

Fluoride: It’s not just for the kids.

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Andra Mahoney BS RDH
 
When someone says fluoride, most of us automatically think children. While it is true that fluoride is an important part of our children’s oral health, it is also a necessity for adults as well. Adults, just like children, get cavities. So adults, just like children, should receive fluoride.In fact, there are many age related problems that increase our need for fluoride.Some examples include:

  • Eating disorders
  • Drug or Alcohol abuse
  • Lack of regular professional dental care
  • Poor Oral Hygiene
  • Exposed root surfaces of teeth, recession
  • Decreased salivary flow, resulting in dry mouth
  • Poor diet
  • Existing fillings
  • Tooth enamel defects
  • Undergoing head and neck radiation therapy

I’d like to address recession and dry mouth specifically, since those are very common problems.

Recession- Recession is when the gums have receded below the crown of the tooth, exposing the root to the tooth. 

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This creates two main problems. First, the roots of the teeth do not have enamel, they are covered by cementum.

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As we all know, enamel is the hard material that protects the surface of the tooth. Enamel is 70 times stronger than cementum. This, unfortunately, means that the roots of the teeth are more prone to decay than the crowns of the teeth. The best recommendation for recession and the prevention of decay is fluoride. Make sure you are using a soft bristled brush with soft brushing (to prevent further recession) in combination with fluoride toothpaste. Also, you may received fluoride treatments at your dental appointments. The most beneficial would be fluoride varnish. Your hygienist is able to apply this for you at each appointment. The varnish coats the tooth in a protective layer of fluoride to aid in the prevention of decay.

The second problem that recession creates is sensitivity. When the root is exposed tiny little tubules open up on the tooth and the chances for sensitivity increase. This makes eating or drinking cold or sweet things painful. You will often notice a sharp zing when the area of recession comes in contact with cold or sweet items. The best recommendation for sensitivity due to recession is fluoride. Sensitivity toothpaste, such as Sensodyne, contain an increased amount of fluoride (as opposed to regular toothpaste) to assist in the prevention of sensitivity (and decay).

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Fluoride varnish is also helpful as it coats the tooth and temporarily closes the tubules decreasing the sensitivity. 

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Xerostomia

The last topic that I wanted to address is dry mouth, also known as xerostomia. Many adults take medicine and the most common side effect of many medications is dry mouth. A decrease in saliva increases your risk for decay. Saliva is important in washing away bits of food, neutralizing acids created by bacteria, as well as containing minerals that help prevent tooth decay. If you are having problems with dry mouth, try rinsing with a fluoride mouth was or a saliva substitute.

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All these reasons and many more show the importance of fluoride use for adults. If you have any other questions about the other problems that fluoride can help with, feel free to make an appointment with us and we’ll answer all your questions! 

 

Want to learn more? Visit us at http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com/

 

References:

Fluoride Treatments in the Dental Office ADA: http://www.ada.org/sections/scienceAndResearch/pdfs/patient_72.pdf

Can Fluoride Help Adults? Colgate: http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-at-Any-Age/Adults/Adult-Maintenance-and-Care/article/Can-Fluoride-Help-Adults.cvsp

Recommendations for Using Fluoride to Prevent and Control Dental Caries in the United States CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5014a1.htm

Pictures:

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http://www.m.sensodyne.com/?redirectfrom=www.sensodyne.us+R-https%3a%2f%2fwww.google.com%2f

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Dental Insurance 101

Kim McCrady

Kim McCrady RDH BS

Dental insurance can be a confusing subject to even the savviest subscriber.  Why?  They make it confusing for a reason. Dental insurance companies are in business to make money for their stockholders and to pay out as little as possible on YOUR dental claims. Did you know, on average an insurance company has a goal to pay out less than 35% of your total maximum annual benefits?  That is roughly $350 per patient per year.  That covers routine exams, x-rays and routine dental cleaning twice in a 12-month period of time.   The good news is we are here to help you navigate the gauntlet and get your moneys worth from your plan.

1-     Know your dental insurance plan.  A common mistake is to assume your medical and your dental insurance are the same company.  Almost always, this is not the case.  Interestingly,  many dental insurance companies do not provide you with an ID card.  The solution is to ask your HR department.  They should be able to provide you with the name and the phone number of your dental insurance carrier. EX:

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www.deltadentalva.com

2-     Providing accurate information to your dental office is the first step to getting your claims paid.  You will need your subscriber ID number and the subscribers’ date of birth and the patients date of birth.  You should know many companies still use your social security number to identify you in their system.  If you are uncomfortable with them using your social security number you can request a unique ID number.

3-     Know your annual deductible.  Almost every dental plan has a deductible they require you to satisfy before they begin to pay out benefits on your dental claims.  This deductible can vary in amount.  There are usually individual and family deductibles.  Family deductibles are often three times the individual deductible. Deductibles can apply to any dental service billed to your insurance company.

4-     Many plans do NOT reset your annual benefits in January.  You should know your benefit year.  This is important so you do not leave unused benefits to the insurance plan.  By knowing your plan year, you can maximize your coverage.

5-     Your plan has a maximum amount of benefits they will pay on each family member each benefit year.  The average maximum benefit is $1500 per year.

6-     Although your plan has a maximum amount of benefits per year that are earmarked for your care, the insurance companies pay out your benefits on a percentage scale, NOT at 100% per claim until you have reached your maximum.   This scale usually has three categories for dental services:

1-Preventative

2-Basic

3-Major

Each insurance company places dental services into a category.  It is important to know how your plan categorizes services so you can better understand you estimated coverage from you dental plan.

7-     When your dental office estimates insurance coverage for the dental services you are receiving from the office, it is only as ESTIMATE.  Any time you or your dental office call your insurance carrier, the insurance company representatives often read a disclaimer to inform you a description of benefits is NOT a guarantee of payment.  It can be very difficult to provide an accurate estimate of insurance coverage.  You should expect a down payment for your care and a balance bill after your carrier has processed your claim.

8-     Once your dental claim has processed and your plan has paid their percentage of the services to your dentist, you receive an explanation of benefits (EOB).  Many people do not even open their EOB’s and read them.   They can be very complex, but very informative.  EOB’s include the fees billed to your plan for services rendered, payments made by the insurance company on your claim and the patient portion for the services.  Often, your plan will include any notes explaining adjustments to payments, including subjecting the claim to frequency limits for services, other exclusions including a feature referred to as down coding.

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www.bcbs.com

9-     Down coding is a loophole insurance companies have instituted that allows them to pay their contracted percentage on a lesser service.  The two most common down coded procedures are tooth colored crowns and tooth colored fillings on back (posterior) teeth.   For example, if a tooth colored filling costs $200 and you have 80% coverage on basic services, most plans will not pay the $160.  They will “down code” to minimize their responsibility for the services.   Therefore, the claim will be received at $200, subjected to your deductible, down coded to a fee for a lesser service, such as a silver filling at $140.  Assuming a $50 deductible, the insurance will pay their 80% on $90 instead of $200.  This nets a total insurance payment of $72 on your $200 claim and a $128 patient portion.

10- But what if you have a secondary plan to help with your dental claims? Be careful and DO NOT assume your secondary plan will pick up the patient portion for your primary claim.  You need to be sure you know if your secondary plan has a “non-duplication of benefits clause”.  This means your secondary plan will only pay the difference between what your primary plan covered and what they would have covered if they had been primary.  For example, if a claim is submitted for $1000 for dental services to your primary insurance company and your primary covers the service at 50% (assuming the deductible is satisfied and there is no down coding) the primary should pay $500.  If you have a non-duplication of benefits clause, the secondary will not pay the patient balance of $500 to complete the claim if, they too, would have covered the services at 50%.  But let’s say the secondary plan had 60% coverage for the services rendered and would have paid $600 on the claim.    Then they should make payment of an additional $100 so the total insurance payments received between the two plans is equal to the payment they would have made, had they been the primary plan.  Secondary insurance often is most beneficial when the primary plan has been maxed out and the secondary begins to pay benefits for care.

In plain English, dental insurance is very different than medical.  There are no set co-payments for each office visit.  Each visit is considered by your plan once it is received and processed according to the guidelines and limitations of your plan.  There are thousands of dental plans with thousands of loopholes and limitations.  And it seems the limitations are changing on a daily basis.

Your best bet to successfully utilize your dental insurance coverage is to join forces with your dental office administrators.   They spend hours obtaining breakdowns of benefits, applying this information to your care plan, sending the claim with all supporting documentation, following up on the claim weekly to assure payment on your behalf and will often have to repeat the process for you when the insurance company claims to have not received the information.  Be kind to them.  They are working for you to get you more than the average 35% of your benefits.

Want to learn more? Visit us at http://www.northstapleydentalcare.com/

Oral Bacteria: Sharing or Spreading?

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Becky Larson RDH

            The sharing or spreading of oral bacteria happens very frequently and most people are unaware they are even doing it.  Our mouths are filled with millions of bacteria. When you share food, cups, utensils, toothbrushes, or have contact with someone else’s saliva these bacteria can be transferred from person to person. This can be particularly harmful when sharing with children.

Cavities (caries) are the result of a bacterial infection and young children can “catch” the harmful bacteria that cause cavities. While everybody has bacteria in their mouth, it’s important to try to keep these harmful bacteria from our children’s mouths during their first year or two. Babies are actually born without any harmful bacteria in their mouth.  Once the harmful caries bacteria are introduced, the child may experience tooth decay.

So what does this mean?  It means DON’T SHARE BACTERIA.  I’ve seen many parents (including my own husband) suck their child’s pacifier clean.  This can be both good and bad.  The parent has just introduced new bacteria into their child’s mouth.  Some bacteria are harmless and can actually help prevent allergic reactions.  However, if the parent has any caries bacteria, they have now given those bacteria to their child.  Sharing saliva can also spread the bacteria that cause inflammatory reactions and periodontal disease in adults.

Why does it matter? Tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, five times more common than asthma.  When left untreated, the disease can cause developmental problems.  Tooth decay can lead to mouth pain, which makes it more difficult for a child to eat healthy foods, speak correctly, and even concentrate in school.  Tooth decay can also damage permanent teeth when they erupt.  Periodontal disease cannot currently be cured.  If left untreated, the gums, bone and tissues that support the teeth can be destroyed.  This can result in the loss of teeth.

            Tips on how to prevent bacteria transmission and cavities:

*If your child sleeps with a bottle, fill it with water rather than milk or juice

*Clean baby gums with wet cloth several times per day before baby teeth erupt

*Once your child has erupted teeth, brush them at least twice per day (even if it’s only one tooth!)

*Take your child to the dentist by their 1st birthday or when the first tooth erupts

*Avoid putting anything in your child’s mouth that has been in your mouth

*Avoid kissing your child on the lips

*Avoid sharing food, utensils, cups, and toothbrushes

*Help your child floss their teeth once the teeth are contacting

*Change toothbrushes every 3 months

*Eat a balanced diet, limit sugar intake

*Brush your own teeth twice per day and floss once per day

Sources:

http://www.perio.org/node/224

http://oralhealthmatters.blogspot.com/2013/05/bacteria-in-mouth-are-not-harmless.html

http://brushinguplasalle.com/tag/oral-bacteria/

https://www.deltadental.com/Public/NewsMedia/NewsReleaseBadThingsHappen201108.jsp

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/35989527/ns/health-oral_health/t/moms-kiss-can-spread-cavities-baby/#.UpYHZ9F3uM8

http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/GumDiseases/PeriodontalGumDisease.htm