How can we help you?
We know dental care and treatment can sometimes seem complicated. We always encourage our patients to ask us any questions they might have concerning their oral care. Patient education is important, and we want you to fully understand the why and the how behind every treatment recommendation we make.
We tend to hear a lot of the same questions numerous times, and we've collected some of those and put them here. If you have a question that is not answered here, please don't hesitate to ask. There is no such thing as a silly question!
Most people are under the impression that dental insurance is similar to health insurance where once a deductible amount is met under the plan, most procedures are fully covered. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
The best way to look at your dental insurance is not as insurance at all, but rather as a discount plan. Dental insurance companies negotiate a discount with dental offices to provide their services at a discount to their in-network customers. As an added benefit, the insurers reimburse a set percentage of each type of procedure, leaving the remainder as the responsibility of the patient. Every insurance has a different percentage they cover for each procedure, as well as a different maximum that they will pay annually.
We are always happy to check with your insurance company and determine the terms of your specific insurance to better understand how your particular plan can help you. We want to do what we can to ensure you are maximizing your benefits.
Our office accepts the following insurance plans:
PPOs: Aetna, Ameritas, Metlife, Safeguard, United Concordia, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Connection Dental, Guardian, Humana, Delta
HMOs: Safeguard, PacificCare, Delta, DHS, United Concordia, Golden West (California), Benefits Dental, Cigna, Aetna, Dental Benefits Pro, Pacific Union, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, CDN, Western Dental, MDG, Ameriplan
Crowns and Bridges
Fillings are an excellent conservative treatment that can work to restore many teeth. The success of a filling in repairing a tooth that is decayed is dependent on how much of the tooth structure needs to be removed in preparation for the filling. Sometimes the amount of decay is too great, and what would remain of the tooth structure is too small. The tooth could become cracked or even broken during the filling procedure.
In these instances, a crown is recommended to prevent further damage to the tooth.
A crown is also recommended when we are replacing a very large filling—usually on a back molar. By the time the old filling is removed, we might be left with very little of the tooth structure. A crown will save the tooth and protect it from further decay.
A crown looks and functions just like your natural teeth, so you will have no eating restrictions. You can take care of your crown just as you would your natural teeth, with twice daily brushing and flossing. With proper care, your crown can last for many years.
There are generally three options for replacing a missing tooth or multiple teeth:
- A dental implant. A dental implant is by far the restoration that is most similar to your natural tooth. The implant in the jaw serves as a new "root" on which a crown can be attached. Implants do take more time for healing, and not all patients are candidates.
- A dental bridge. For patients who want a quicker solution and have teeth on each side of the space, a bridge can be an option. This involves preparing the teeth next to the space and connecting them with a fake tooth or "bridge" in between.
- A removable partial denture. This is a good, cost-effective option for replacing multiple missing teeth in the mouth at the same time.
Regardless of which option you choose, it’s important that you address the space left behind by missing teeth. Not doing so will jeopardize the health of your remaining teeth. When teeth are missing, your entire bite is impacted, and your healthy teeth will start to move and shift. Ultimately, your teeth can become worn or damaged by the incorrect bite, and there is a real possibility of losing even more teeth.
That is certainly an option, but it is not necessarily the best solution. It is our goal with any procedure to keep it as noninvasive as possible. Generally, the sooner we address an issue after it is caught, the better the final result.
Usually with teeth, when we reach the point of experiencing discomfort, the problem is more advanced and requires more extensive treatment.
There are times that something such as a superficial crack in the tooth or a cavity that is just beginning may not be as bad underneath. If we are suspicious about a potential problem, we will sometimes recommend following the tooth closely and seeing if the issue progresses at all.
We always attempt to err on the side of being conservative with treatment. But when it appears a problem has progressed too far, it is important to meet it head on to prevent it from becoming more of a problem.
Staying on top of small dental issues to make sure they don’t progress is another reason why it is so important to visit your dentist twice each year for a full examination.
The numbers mean we are assessing the health of your periodontal bone and gums. These are the structures that support and surround the roots of your teeth. There is a narrow collar of tissue above the bone, which we call a pocket. A normal pocket depth is anywhere between 1 and 3 millimeters.
When pockets become deeper, around 4 to 5 millimeters, they are more difficult to clean. At this depth, the pockets are a warning to us that gum disease may be present, and we need to address the problem before it gets worse.
Anything over 6 millimeters is concerning and needs to be addressed promptly to stop the progression of the periodontal disease. Not doing so can cause severe bone loss and eventual tooth loss.
Because it is impossible to tell whether your own gums are forming pockets, it’s important to visit your dentist twice a year so these measurements can be taken. Gum disease often presents with no symptoms whatsoever, but it is possible to stop the progression in its earliest stages. Once gum disease has taken hold at a more serious level, it can be treated but not cured.
Root Canal Treatment
Unfortunately, the bacteria causing the infection are feeding on the remnants of the dead nerve within the tooth. The only way to fix it is to clean and remove that food source and create a disinfected environment to the starve the bacteria. Only then can your body control the infection and bring that tooth back to health.
The good news is that a root canal should be able to fix the problem—and save your infected tooth as well. Unlike the feared root canal treatment of decades past, today’s root canals are no worse than getting a run-of-the-mill filling. In fact, the pain that usually brings you to the dentist will be far worse than the procedure itself. The area is completely numbed, so you will not feel any pain. Once the infection has been removed, you will feel further relief.
The procedure itself is simple: Through a tiny hole drilled into the affected tooth, your dentist will remove the infected pulp and any other bacteria that are present. Once the area is thoroughly cleaned, it is doused with antibacterial medicine, filled, and sealed to protect it from further infection. A crown on top of the remaining tooth structure will give you back full chewing function.