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In Defense of Root Canals: The Unsung Hero of Dental Care

root-canal


Think you might need a root canal? It's not the end of the world, nor is it as torturous as you might think! Even though a root canal is usually the last resort for decayed teeth, when compared with other alternatives, it's quite practical and cost-effective.


Put your fears to rest by discovering the truth about this much-maligned treatment, and find out why it's considered by many dentists to be the unsung hero of dental care.


When and Why Root Canals Are Necessary


Left untreated, tooth decay can eventually result in bacteria infiltrating the very core of the tooth, infecting its sensitive nerve tissue (otherwise referred to as "root" or "pulp"). Once the pulp has been infected, a pocket of pus known as an abscess can form and wreak havoc beyond the problem tooth itself. From swelling of the mouth, jaw and face, to bone loss and even the spread of infection into the skin, the cost of delaying treatment can compound rather quickly.


If the problem is caught in time, a root canal may be possible, allowing the dentist to clear the infected pulp without having to sacrifice the whole tooth. Keeping your natural tooth not only helps maintain proper chewing and speech, but also it requires less time and money compared to a tooth removal and implant.


Signs You Need a Root Canal


If you experience any of these symptoms, you might need a root canal:


Acute, shooting pain when pressure is applied to a tooth

Noticeable darkening or discoloration of the tooth compared to neighboring teeth

Lingering tooth sensitivity, particularly to extremely hot or cold foods

A pimple on the gums that never seems to go away

Swelling of the gums near the problem tooth

Continuous pain or throbbing even when not chewing or using the tooth

See your dentist to know for sure, and let him or her know about your situation when scheduling an appointment to ensure you are seen as soon as possible. Like most dental problems, it's best to be proactive. The sooner the dentist is able to diagnose and treat the infected area the better — and it could decrease the amount of post procedure discomfort.


What to Expect During a Root Canal


The length of time for treatment can vary widely depending on the complexity of each patient's situation, but it's safe to say that multiple visits are required to complete a root canal. Anesthesia may be applied, but it is not always necessary since the nerve is already dead. The first phase of a root canal involves thoroughly ridding the tooth of any infection and decayed matter — usually by drilling an access hole, flushing out the pulp, and applying medication to the tooth and surrounding gums. The dentist will then seal off the area completely, or in extreme cases, wait several days for the infection to clear before sealing off the tooth.


The second phase of treatment focuses on filling the tooth. To do this, a dentist normally uses sealer paste or a rubber-like compound to fill the empty nerve canal and interior of the tooth. After the tooth has been filled, a metal post is inserted into the tooth to further strengthen it.


Restoration, in which a crown is created to cap off the tooth, is the final step of treatment. Once the custom crown arrives, the dentist covers the tooth and shapes the crown to function as optimally as possible.


Post Treatment Care


As with any lengthy dental procedure, temporary tooth and gum sensitivity are to be expected, but should go away within a day or two. If the permanent crown has been applied, you can return back to your normal routine immediately.


Root canals have a very high success rate, but it's important to remember that there is always a possibility for the filling to become infected. To avoid complications and additional root canals down the road, make oral hygiene a top priority and schedule regular visits to your dentist.


Sources:

Dental Health and Root Canals. (2015, January 26). Retrieved May 25, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-root-canals

Johnstone, G. (n.d.). The Latest on Root Canals. Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.yourdentistryguide.com/root-canals/

What is Root Canal Treatment and Why Would You Want It? (2010). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.dentalfearcentral.org/faq/root-canal/

Receding Gums: Are Your Teeth in Peril?

gums


No cavities, no problem, right? Wrong! Even the straightest and whitest of teeth can fall prey to a serious case of receding gums, a common condition that can sneak up and do some damage before many individuals realize it's even a problem.

While a surefire way to detect and treat it is with regular visits to the dentist, meticulous at-home monitoring and preventative care is also a great line of defense. Here's what you should know to keep the threat of gum recession at bay.

Signs and Symptoms of Receding Gums

Gums don't recede overnight, but if you pay close attention, you can spot telltale signs of the problem: a tooth that appears much longer than its neighbors, yellow stains where the tooth touches the gum line, or even a ridge you can feel on the affected tooth, indicating your gums have shifted. Tooth sensitivity is another red flag, as a declining layer of protective gum tissue can leave nerves beneath the enamel exposed.

Causes of Receding Gums

Many things can cause vital gum tissue to detach and recede, but the most common culprit is untreated gingivitis. If you have gum disease, chances are that gum recession is just around the corner.

Other possible causes include:

Brushing too hard, thereby resulting in unnecessary pressure and irritation

Smoking/tobacco use, which can impact blood supply to the gums

Crooked teeth that can pull on the gums, and also lead to gingivitis

Oral piercings that force precious tissue aside over time

Genetics, an inherited predisposition to gum recession

Diabetes, which has been linked to receding gums

Depending on the root cause, the rate of recession may vary, but being aware of all the possible factors can help you steer clear of other hazards and behaviors that will only aggravate the problem.

In-Office Treatment Options

The good news is that, if you do have a confirmed case of receding gums, all is not lost. Whether it is mild or extreme, in-office treatments are available to help halt recession — and in some instances, even restore lost tissue.

Periodontal therapy is an effective procedure your dentist may recommend to put a stop to further gum erosion. This process involves laser treatments that target and sanitize the problem area(s). With proper care and time, it is possible for the gum tissue to reattach to the tooth's surface.

For patients with severe gum recession, the dentist may ultimately advise surgery. Grafting is one common option that may be offered, in which tissue from a donor or another area of your mouth is applied to the affected area. Crown lengthening, or "pocket depth reduction", is another alternative that involves removal of diseased tissue altogether. This treatment may be recommended only if the gums have receded to such a point that tooth loss is imminent, and it can result in tooth sensitivity.

Other Steps You Can Take

In addition to seeking professional help, preventative care is critical to combatting gum recession. Due to its gradual nature, sometimes a few proactive measures can go a long way:

Brush and floss more regularly to help eliminate gum disease

Switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush to apply less pressure on your teeth

Quit smoking/tobacco use to maintain a healthy blood supply to your teeth

Get teeth straightened to help prevent gingivitis, which is linked to receding gums

Use a mouth guard at night to keep teeth grinding from weakening the gums

No matter the source or severity of the problem, see your dentist for help. In addition to the positive impact that regular dental cleanings can have on your gum health, your dentist can craft the optimal treatment plan based on your individual situation.


Sources:

Receding Gums. (2014, September 12). Retrieved June 12, 2015, from http://www.webmd.boots.com/oral-health/guide/receding-gums

Receding Gums Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention.(2014, March 18). Retrieved June 12, 2015, from http://ultrablubrush.com/receding-gums-causes-symptoms-treatment

Have A Heart Problem? 9 Issues Your Dentist Needs To Know About

Have A Heart Problem? 9 Issues Your Dentist Needs To Know About

heart problem


Heading to the dentist's office with a heart-related issue? It's important to tell your dentist about it! Your mouth and heart are linked in more ways than you might expect – and failing to inform him or her about cardiovascular problems could spell serious trouble. For your health and safety, be sure to let your dentist know if any of the below heart conditions apply to you.


1. Born or Developed Heart Ailments


Any heart ailment – whether past or present – should be discussed with your dentist. Many heart conditions, especially those involving the valves, come with a higher risk for a heart infection, or endocarditis. To prevent harmful oral bacteria from entering the bloodstream, your dentist may find it necessary to place you on antibiotics prior to treatment.


2. High Blood Pressure


Hypertension may cause faintness in the dentist's chair and also exclude you from certain procedures. To ensure that dental work isn't causing any negative effects, your dentist may monitor your blood pressure before and during treatment. In addition, he or she will check for excess gum growth, dry mouth and taste loss – all common side effects of blood pressure medication.


3. High Cholesterol


Similar to hypertension, high cholesterol can also cause light-headedness after being seated in a reclined position. If your dentist is aware of this, he or she can make adjustments to minimize your discomfort. Your treatment plan may also be altered to avoid complications between your cholesterol medication and any medicine your dentist prescribes.


4. Heart Attack


All dental work must be held off for six months after a heart attack, and future treatment will require your dentist to consult with your physician. Because anti-coagulants, a common medication for those who have suffered a heart attack, can prevent blood from clotting, certain procedures or surgeries may require you to stop using the medicine beforehand.


5. Angina


Often characterized as intense pain in the chest, attacks can be triggered both by dental anxiety and certain dental procedures. Your dentist may call for nitroglycerin and oxygen during treatment, as well as blood pressure monitoring. If you take calcium channel blockers to combat angina, he or she may also advise more frequent checkups to monitor for gum overgrowth.


6. Stroke


Blood thinners are often used by stroke survivors, and may interfere with dental procedures. Blood work and a consultation with the physician will be necessary before undergoing any treatment. Because paralysis is a common outcome of a stroke, the dentist may also recommend more frequent visits and different dental products and techniques to maintain proper hygiene.


7. Use of a Pacemaker


Dental work should be avoided for a few weeks after implantation of a pacemaker. Afterwards, treatment can proceed, but it is critical to check with the doctor and even the pacemaker manufacturer for any potential electromagnetic interference that could be caused by common dental devices.


8. Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)


In minor cases, CHF patients may experience dry mouth due to their heart medications, and your dentist may prescribe an oral rinse and suggest certain habit modifications to combat the problem. In severe cases, CHF patients may experience serious complications if seated in a reclined position. Depending on the severity of the condition, it may be necessary for dental work to be completed in a hospital setting.


9. Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG)


While CABG may not have oral health implications, and antibiotics are usually not necessary before dental work is conducted, severe pain due to this surgery may be experienced when seated in a reclined position. Unless it is an emergency, wait six months before proceeding with any serious dental treatment.


Preventative Care is Paramount


Heart conditions – even those that have been corrected – can have a lasting impact on dental care, so stepping up efforts to prevent dental problems from happening in the first place is even more critical to maintaining good oral health. Consult with your dentist about necessary changes both to your checkup schedule and at-home routine to help keep dental issues at bay.


Sources:


Cardiovascular Diseases. (2013, March 1). Retrieved July 21, 2015, from http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Medical-Conditions/Heart-Disease-and-Oral-Health/article/Cardiovascular.cvsp

The Mouthwash Mistake You Could Be Making


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It can freshen up your breath faster than brushing, but does mouthwash really make a big difference when it comes to your oral health? You may be surprised to find that looks–or in this case, smells–can be deceiving! Oral rinses are not created equal, and if you're not careful, some can actually be more harmful than helpful. Find out whether your go-to for gargling is doing you any good, or if another mouthwash makes sense for you.


Therapeutic vs. Cosmetic Mouthwashes


Most mouthwashes claim to eliminate bad breath, but how they go about doing this can differ significantly. In general, over-the-counter oral rinses fall into two categories:


"Therapeutic" Mouthwashes

Comprised of various anti-microbial agents, these mouthwashes have plaque-fighting properties that can give your oral hygiene an added boost by inhibiting the growth of oral bacteria. Oftentimes, they may be further enhanced with fluoride to help combat tooth decay. Therapeutic mouthwashes proven to treat the root causes of bad breath are easy to tell apart from other mouthwashes because they come with an ADA seal of approval. In some cases, a special type of therapeutic rinse may be prescribed by your dentist.


"Cosmetic" Mouthwashes

Similar in appearance to therapeutic mouthwashes, cosmetic rinses also promise to control bad breath, but a closer look at the label will reveal both the lack of active ingredients and an ADA seal of approval. This means that while your breath may smell fresher, the mouthwash only serves to temporarily mask the odor, and doesn't specifically attack oral bacteria or built-up plaque.


If you've reviewed the product details carefully, but are still unsure whether your mouthwash is therapeutic or cosmetic, call your dentist for confirmation. He or she can easily verify its safety and effectiveness.


Choosing the Right Mouthwash


With countless options available, choosing mouthwash can be overwhelming, but a simple self-assessment is an easy way to narrow down the field:


If your breath is normally fresh...

A cosmetic rinse might be right for you. Keep a travel-sized bottle on hand for occasional use if/when your breath feels stale or smells bad due to something you may have eaten.


If you have chronic bad breath (or "halitosis")...

See your dentist first. He or she can determine the severity and likely causes, and advise whether the best solution can be found over-the-counter or if a prescription rinse is necessary. Either way, a therapeutic rinse will be most beneficial to keep bacteria at bay and help resolve your bad breath problem permanently.


If you have other dental problems in addition to bad breath...

Look for therapeutic rinses that come with added benefits. Those who have trouble with tooth decay, for instance, may fare better with a cavity-fighting mouthwash enriched with fluoride. Others who struggle with dry mouth ("xerostomia"), burning mouth syndrome, or have noticed an adverse reaction to traditional rinses, on the other hand, should reach for a non-aggravating, alcohol-free rinse. Nowadays, mouthwashes come with different benefits to meet varying preferences and dental goals: from those with whitening ingredients to organic mouthwashes and beyond.


Brushing and Flossing Always Come First


No matter which rinse you choose, it's important to remember that mouthwash is only meant to supplement–not substitute for–brushing and flossing. Ultimately, the best way to get rid of the bacteria and plaque that cause bad breath in the first place is with good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist's office. To ensure your at-home routine is meeting your dental needs, be sure to share your hygiene practices and products with your dentist.


Sources:


Benefits and Risks of Mouthwash. (2013). Retrieved June 10, 2015, from http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Adolescent/BadBreath/22,21555


How to Use Mouthwash. (n.d.) Retrieved June 5, 2015, from http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Mouthwash


Learn More About Mouthwash. (2015). Retrieved June 10, 2015 from http://www.ada.org/en/science-research/ada-seal-of-acceptance/product-category-information/mouthrinses

The Buzz on Braces for Adults: 5 Things You Should Know

6mo smiles


Wish you could go back in time to straighten your teeth? Good news: the ship hasn't sailed for that dream just yet! More and more adults are heading to the orthodontist's office to get the smile they've always wanted.


If news about the topic or a passerby with braces has left you wanting to know more, your curiosity is about to be satisfied. Below are key insights about adult orthodontic treatment that can help you decide whether braces are right for you.


1. Braces are possible at any age.


Tradition may hold braces as a rite of passage for pre-teens and teens, but the truth of the matter is that they are an effective solution to improve your smile no matter how old you are. Even senior citizens can (and increasingly do) get their smile straightened at the hands of an orthodontist.


2. Certain oral health conditions can exclude you from getting orthodontic care.


In some extreme cases, patients with receding gums may not be eligible for care. If your teeth have very shallow roots, this can also make orthodontic treatment unviable. Don't rule out braces, however, until you get the professional opinion of an orthodontist.


3. Treatment lasts longer, but you'll still get results.


The primary difference between getting braces as an adult versus a teenager is the length of time for treatment. Because adult jaws are less malleable, correcting misalignments and/or crowding may require teeth to be pulled if there is not enough space. This is different than treatment for young patients, since a growing jaw can be stretched and shaped to accommodate teeth. Healing time also tends to slow down with age, which means moving teeth can take a bit longer. Despite these adjustments, you'll still be able to achieve a straighter smile.


4. There are more options than ever.


Times have changed, and metal braces aren't the only choice. For those who are less than enthused about having a "metal mouth", or are anxious about their braces becoming a distraction, there are more discreet options to consider. While metal braces offer the speediest route to a straighter smile, ceramic and clear braces are much less noticeable. It's important to note that ceramic and clear braces can stain easily, but if you don't smoke and steer clear of dark beverages, either might be a great choice for you.


5. Braces make your smile better inside and out.


It can take more time to straighten your teeth, but the benefits are significant — and not just cosmetic! In addition to improving your appearance and self-esteem, straighter teeth can reduce unnecessary stress on your jaw, make chewing/eating more efficient, and help keep gingivitis and tooth decay at bay.


Schedule a Consultation


Get our perspective on which type of braces is best for you, and an estimate on the length of treatment you can expect. Don't be afraid to ask questions about correcting your smile, and remember that a slow, gradual approach may be safer and more manageable in the long run.


Sources:


Frequently Asked Questions: Adult Orthodontics Patients. (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.bracesinfo.com/adult.html


Straight Talk About Braces for Adults (2005, March 18). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/straight-talk-about-braces-for-adults

High-Tech Toothbrushes: Is it worth going electric?

High-Tech Toothbrushes: Is It Worth Going Electric?

manual vs electric


The verdict is in: electric toothbrushes are here to stay, and they mean business for your teeth! By now, you've probably seen them on the shelves, on TV or in magazines. Dentists endorse them, and most are ADA-approved — but if you still swear by your manual toothbrush, these benefits just might convince you otherwise.

The Pros Of Using An Electric Toothbrush

Making the switch from a manual to an electric toothbrush doesn't change the amount of time it takes to thoroughly brush your teeth (approximately 2 minutes), nor should it alter your brushing technique, but this is where the similarities end. Some of the biggest advantages of electric toothbrushes over traditional toothbrushes are:

1. Effortless brushing.

Because a motor oscillates and rotates the bristles for you, it requires less energy to brush your teeth. Many even find the rounded handle of electric toothbrushes to be easier to hold, and with less force required, brushing can still be done thoroughly without using a tight grip. For the elderly, those with chronic arthritis, and children and adults with dexterity challenges, this alone can make electric toothbrushes the better choice for oral health maintenance.

2. Better cleaning ability.

Thoughtful bristle design coupled with the automatic power of electric toothbrushes makes it easy to remove plaque from hard to reach areas. The constant rotating and even pressure can also result in a more consistent cleaning than you might achieve with a standard toothbrush. Often, electric toothbrushes come with a variety of heads that you can experiment with until you find one that cleans your teeth the best.

3. Other hygiene-helping features.

Thanks to technology, electric toothbrushes come with many other bells and whistles that can help ensure proper hygiene. From timers that notify you once you've brushed long enough, to sensors that alert you if too much pressure is being applied or if the head needs to be replaced, electric toothbrushes can help you stay on track to meet multiple oral health goals.

4. Less plastic to be thrown away. 

Unlike manual toothbrushes, you don't need to toss out the whole brush once the bristles are worn. Only the head of an electric toothbrush needs to be replaced, which means a lot less plastic that is thrown out in the long run. From an environmental standpoint, electric toothbrushes are also a better choice than battery-operated toothbrushes because they can be recharged.

Other Factors To Consider

Just as there are pros to using an electric toothbrush, there are a few cons to be aware of before making a final decision.

Price: Electric toothbrushes are significantly more expensive than manual toothbrushes; the price difference may cause some initial sticker shock. However, to keep costs down you can always purchase one electronic toothbrush and multiple detachable heads – for each member of the household.

Convenience: Those who are frequently on the go may find it slightly cumbersome to have to pack a charger.

If you're interested in an electric toothbrush, however, don't cross it off your list without trying a battery-operated toothbrush first. It's similar in concept and feel, but much more affordable, and it can help you determine whether electric toothbrushes are worth the investment.

Comfort Matters Most

A toothbrush loaded with features won't do you any good unless you're comfortable with it. For the sake of your oral health, it's worth considering all the toothbrush options available, but choose the one you believe will best help you maintain good hygiene...whether it be manual or powered. If you're still unsure and need additional guidance, ask our office to demo the differences at your next visit.

Sources:

McManus, M. (n.d.). 5 Benefits of Electric Toothbrushes. Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/oral-care/products/5-benefits-of-electric-toothbrushes.htm

Power Toothbrush or Manual Toothbrush. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.oralb.com/topics/power-toothbrush-or-manual-toothbrush.aspx

Toothache Trouble? How to Make the Wait Less Painful

tooth ache


It can happen to anyone: the sudden onset of a throbbing toothache at the most inconvenient of times. Perhaps it arrives in the middle of the night, or worse, at the start of your weekend–when a whole lot of time and agony seem to stand between you and the next available dentist appointment.


You'll live, of course, but there is no need to suffer so badly! With a little observation and resourcefulness, the wait for professional care can be a lot less excruciating.


Conduct a Self-Exam


Understanding what is causing your tooth to ache can help you identify the best solution for interim relief. While a cavity is the more probable culprit, other common reasons include:


A damaged filling that has left a sensitive nerve exposed

An abscessed tooth, which tends to feel more painful due to an infection of the root

A jaw complication ("TMD"" or "TMJ") resulting from excessive chewing or grinding

Sinusitis, an inflammation of the nasal area often confused with tooth pain

You won't know for sure what's truly to blame until you see your dentist, but a quick assessment of your symptoms and the location of your discomfort may prove telling. For instance, extremely sharp, shooting pain and fever suggest an abscessed tooth is likely, whereas tenderness in the jaw area and a clicking sound is usually due to TMD.


How to Ease the Pain at Home


Countless tips are touted to zap your toothache as quickly as it started, but aside from visiting your dentist, there is no long lasting cure. For temporary relief however, here are a few tried-and-true measures you can take:


Take a dose of store-bought pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen

Soak the problem tooth in clove oil to help dull the throbbing

Avoid yawning or chewing, especially if you suspect your toothache is jaw-related

Pass on extremely cold or hot foods that may cause acute pain in your tooth

Wear a mouth guard while sleeping to prevent grinding down on the tooth

Use an ice pack or cold compress near your problem tooth to minimize any swelling

Rinsing your mouth with water and salt, and stepping up your normal dental routine in general can also keep the problem from getting worse.


(Please note that these suggestions are for adults only. If your child suffers a toothache, consult with his or her pediatrician for safe treatment options.)


Long Term Preventative Care


Once your appointment is under way, use the time you have with your dentist to its fullest. He or she will be able to determine the cause and treat the toothache accordingly. After the problem has been treated, be sure to ask for a detailed explanation and recommendations to help you avoid a similar experience in the future.


Brushing, flossing and regular check-ups continue to play central roles in the world of preventative care, but based on your unique dental situation, additional procedures may be recommended as part of your treatment plan.


Sources:


Dental Health and Toothaches. (2013, March 24). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/toothaches


Toothache: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention. (2013, December 17). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.webmd.boots.com/oral-health/guide/toothaches


Toothache Treatment. (2014, January 10). Retrieve June 1, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/first-aid/toothache-treatment

Dental Checkups: Why You Should Never Brush Them Off

Examining mouth


Your teeth look and feel just fine, so what harm can there be in skipping one checkup? Plenty... and it's not just a free toothbrush and dental samples you'll miss! A lot can happen in just a short period of time, and the ramifications of canceling your semi-annual dental checkup can go beyond your oral health.

If you've ever doubted the necessity of regular visits, these reasons will have you running for the dentist's chair at least every six months!


Developing Decay and Disease

Practicing perfect hygiene can be difficult, and occasional slip-ups can happen to the most diligent of dental patients. But forgetting to brush or floss here or there, or overindulging in sugary snacks one too many times is all it takes to put you on the path to tooth decay and gum disease.

Seeing your dentist regularly for a professional cleaning and exam can help detect and remove hardened plaque buildup (otherwise known as "tartar") before it results in new cavities and gum disease. While timely preventative care should be of universal importance, frequent checkups are even more crucial to the oral health of children still learning about proper dental care, as well as to pregnant women who are at higher risk of gum disease.


Serious Non-Dental Health Issues

The state of your teeth and gums can tell far more about your overall wellbeing than you might think. In fact, the mere presence of periodontitis (severe gum disease) and/or tooth loss has been associated with other non-dental conditions, such as:


Diabetes

HIV/AIDS

Heart Disease

Stroke

Osteoporosis

Premature birth

Alzheimer's

Because dental exams also include an assessment of the head, face and neck, a checkup can detect larger concerns directly resulting from poor oral health. Facial muscle strain due to protruding teeth, or jaw disorders caused by bruxism (excessive tooth grinding) are just two examples of serious side effects that can progressively worsen over time if left unchecked. Oral cancer is another serious health threat that you might overlook without the experienced eyes of your dentist.


Significant Cost Savings in the Long Run

Not only does preventative care make sense from a health perspective, it makes a lot of financial sense as well. No one can deny that replacing a lost or cracked filling is much more cost-effective than a root canal or tooth replacement. Moreover, early detection of certain conditions — such as gum disease or weakened tooth enamel — makes it possible to reverse the problem in some situations, and avoid costly alternatives altogether.

Where regular dental checkups prove themselves to be even more invaluable is in detecting and treating larger diseases and health concerns. Safeguarding your body from the ravages of cancer and other aforementioned illnesses is worth the effort of going to a dental checkup every few months.


Making the Most of Each Checkup

Regular checkups every 6 months provide you with the opportunity for professional care and treatment specific to your dental situation. If you suffer from gum disease, you should aim to see your dentist for a professional cleaning every 3-4 months. From nutritional advice to cosmetic improvements and necessary surgical procedures, your dentist can help you navigate the more complex aspects of dental care to safeguard your oral health.


Sources:

Healthy smile, healthy you: The importance of oral health. (2011, May). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from https://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/dentalhealth.html

The Importance of Regular Dental Visits. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.oralb.com/topics/importance-of-regular-dental-visits.aspx

Why Are Regular Dental Visits Important? (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2-15 from http://www.dentalcare.com/en-US/dental-education/patient-education/regular-english.aspx

The Buzz on Braces for Adults

The Buzz on Braces for Adults: 5 Things You Should Know


Wish you could go back in time to straighten your teeth? Good news: the ship hasn't sailed for that dream just yet! More and more adults are heading to the orthodontist's office to get the smile they've always wanted.

If news about the topic or a passerby with braces has left you wanting to know more, your curiosity is about to be satisfied. Below are key insights about adult orthodontic treatment that can help you decide whether braces are right for you.

1. Braces are possible at any age.

Tradition may hold braces as a rite of passage for pre-teens and teens, but the truth of the matter is that they are an effective solution to improve your smile no matter how old you are. Even senior citizens can (and increasingly do) get their smile straightened at the hands of an orthodontist.

2. Certain oral health conditions can exclude you from getting orthodontic care.

In some extreme cases, patients with receding gums may not be eligible for care. If your teeth have very shallow roots, this can also make orthodontic treatment unviable. Don't rule out braces, however, until you get the professional opinion of an orthodontist.

3. Treatment lasts longer, but you'll still get results.

The primary difference between getting braces as an adult versus a teenager is the length of time for treatment. Because adult jaws are less malleable, correcting misalignments and/or crowding may require teeth to be pulled if there is not enough space. This is different than treatment for young patients, since a growing jaw can be stretched and shaped to accommodate teeth. Healing time also tends to slow down with age, which means moving teeth can take a bit longer. Despite these adjustments, you'll still be able to achieve a straighter smile.

4. There are more options than ever.

Times have changed, and metal braces aren't the only choice. For those who are less than enthused about having a "metal mouth", or are anxious about their braces becoming a distraction, there are more discreet options to consider. Ceramic and clear braces are much less noticeable. It's important to note that ceramic and clear braces can stain easily, but if you don't smoke and steer clear of dark beverages, either might be a great choice for you.

5. Braces make your smile better inside and out.

It can take more time to straighten your teeth, but the benefits are significant — and not just cosmetic! In addition to improving your appearance and self-esteem, straighter teeth can reduce unnecessary stress on your jaw, make chewing/eating more efficient, and help keep gingivitis and tooth decay at bay.

Schedule a Consultation

Please call our office to get an perspective on which type of braces is best for you, and an estimate on the length of treatment you can expect. Don't be afraid to ask for referrals or reviews.


Sources:

Frequently Asked Questions: Adult Orthodontics Patients. (n.d.). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.bracesinfo.com/adult.html

Straight Talk About Braces for Adults (2005, March 18). Retrieved May 24, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/straight-talk-about-braces-for-adults

5 Ways to Maximize Your Dental Benefits Plan

insurance plan


With terms like PPO, HMO, in-network, and out-of-network to describe dental benefits, it's no surprise that many don't understand how to make the most of their plan. This means you may be overlooking benefits that are critical to maintaining your oral health.


Don't settle for just what you understand as part of your coverage. Read on for 5 simple tips to take advantage of everything your plan has to offer.


Tip #1: Take Time to Understand Your Plan


The best way to take advantage of your plan is to ensure you know the type of plan it is and its deductibles, copayments, and annual maximums.


There are two main types of dental plans:


HMO Plans – With an HMO, you'll be required to choose a dentist in your primary network to handle most of your needs. You are charged a relatively low co-payment for office visits, procedures, etc. There is no coverage if you visit an out-of-network provider. HMOs typically have no deductible or maximum.


PPO Plans – With a PPO, you have the option to see both in-network and out-of-network providers, but coverage is better if you stay in network. Once you hit your deductible, you are reimbursed for a percentage of office visits, procedures, etc. The percentage may vary depending on the treatment and is much higher if you see an in-network dentist.

Key things to understand about your plan are its:


Deductible – The dollar amount you must pay for covered services prior to claiming benefits under your plan.


Copayment – A fixed dollar amount you must pay when you visit your dentist. Some plans with copayments don't have a deductible whereas others may have both.


Annual Maximum – The maximum amount a plan will pay for dental care for an individual or family during a specific benefit period (often, benefit periods last for 12 months).

Tip #2: Take Advantage of All Benefits Covered Under Your Plan


In addition to understanding the basics of your plan, it is important to explore all of the associated benefits.


Most individuals are aware of and will use diagnostic and preventative services for professional cleanings every 6 months. These services are often covered in full by HMO plans and between 80% and 100% by PPO plans.


However, there are other benefits that should be included both in your plan booklet and online. These benefits may cover restorative care (like fillings), major restorative care (like crowns and bridges), as well as orthodontic care. By doing your research, you can determine what procedures are covered, what limitations each procedure has, and if there are any exclusions.


Tip #3: Use a Dentist in Your Network


One of the most significant challenges for many individuals is determining whether or not a dentist is in their network. This can be particularly difficult for plans that have multiple networks because dentists may participate in all or some of them.


If you choose a dentist that is out of your network, the amount of insurance coverage you receive for your treatments will vary. As such, seeing an in-network dentist allows you to maximize your benefits.


Coverage will differ if you go out of network on either type of dental plan:


HMO Plans – If you visit a dentist other than your primary or a referred specialist, your services won't be covered (even if that dentist is also in your network).


PPO Plans – PPO plans allow you to visit any licensed dentist and you will still be covered. However, choosing a dentist in your network offers top savings (allowing you to maximize your benefits and coverage).

Tip #4: Control Expenses with Treatment Plans


To maximize your benefits, it is best to schedule treatments in advance to align with your annual maximum. In many cases, you can strategically plan multi-stage treatments with your dental professional to minimize your costs as much as possible. Of course, it is also important to be prepared for unforeseen dental emergencies.


Tip #5: Track Claims and Remaining Benefits


Track claims as you receive treatment so you are aware of when you are approaching your annual maximum. After each appointment, review your treatment summary to see what your carrier covered. Then, subtract this amount from your annual maximum to calculate your remaining coverage for the given benefit period.


Get What You Pay for by Maximizing Your Benefits


You sign up for dental insurance for the benefits and you should receive what you paid for. By utilizing each of the tips above, you can make the most of all your benefits and keep your smile looking great.


Sources:

10 Tips to Maximize Dental Benefits. (2014, February 14). Retrieved July 2, 2015 from https://www.dentalinsurance.com/blog/?post_type=resources&p=1554

Maximizing a dental benefits plan: 6 easy tips. (n.d.). Retrieved July 2, 2015, from https://www.deltadentalins.com/administrators/guidance/maximizing-a-dental-benefits-plan.html






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