I thought my insurance covered two cleanings per year no matter what?
All insurance policies carry different limitations and stipulations. Most policies offer two cleanings. Some policies only allow one. Those cleaning services use up part of your plan benefit maximum dollar amount in most cases. Each family member has their own set benefit amount to use. The family doesn’t share a lump sum. The average is around $1000.00 per person. If a person doesn’t have any benefit dollars left to use, a cleaning would not be covered, regardless of how many had been done prior. Also, keep in mind that insurances assign different time periods in which to use your benefits. Some start in January and end in December; a regular calendar year. Others might start in July or October. The insurance companies also assign frequencies for procedures. For cleanings, it might list “2 per calendar year” or “2 per 12 month consecutive/rolling period." The two are very different from each other but could seem misleadingly the same. Some even stipulate that 6 months exactly have to lapse between the two cleanings. Miss it by one day and it will not be covered. It’s confusing to be sure, even for those that deal with the insurances daily. The key is to be as familiar with your policy as possible. Our office tries to help as much as we can out of courtesy. Having a good understanding of your own benefits is the best way to use them as efficiently as possible. Knowledge is power!
Why should I have an office fluoride treatment as an adult? I thought fluoride was for kids?
Getting as much fluoride delivered to the tooth structure as possible is smart on many fronts. Prevention is the name of the game. Fluoride applied topically (OTC rinses, in office treatments) are effective agents against decay no matter your age. Specifically, fluoride applied to the tooth and root structure will not only keep new decay from occurring but also helps prevent decay around the margins of fillings and crowns both old and new. Statistics show that the incidence of decay increases in rural areas because of the use of well water as opposed to fluoridated city water. Topical fluoride also helps prevent and treat tooth sensitivity due to recession. Sensitivity is rampant in the adult population. The consistent and long term use of fluoride is your way of banking your tooth health for the future, especially in the senior years, where the prevalence of decay and sensitivity increases.
Why do I need a bite splint?
Grinding and clenching is a common phenomenon with potentially destructive results to the teeth and jaw, as well as to the head and neck soft tissues. People have the perception that their teeth are indestructible. They are not. Grinding and clenching is one of the many reasons there is tooth loss in the adult population. Your dentist will recommend a bite-splint based on clinical evidence such as wear facets (small holes in the biting surface), abfraction (indented and notched teeth at the gum line), and gum recession. However, the results can go undetected until it becomes so obvious that the person has significant symptoms. These can include tooth pain, sensitivity, chronic headaches, jaw soreness, head, neck and shoulder pain and breakage of part or all of a tooth. On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes a person is completely unaware. A bite-splint consists of an acrylic plate that is custom made by a dentist and fits onto the upper teeth. It is not thick like an athletic mouth guard and most people find it comfortable to wear. The bite-splint acts as a physical barrier between the upper and lower teeth, cushioning and offering protection from further damage. For many people it offers tremendous relief and comfort.
How can I tell if I have gum disease (periodontitis)?
According to American Academy of Periodontology, about 47% of American adults have mild, moderate or severe periodontitis. In adults 65 and older the prevalence rates increase to 70%. Some signs of periodontitis can include red swollen or tender gums, bleeding while brushing, flossing and eating, receding gums, loose teeth, persistent bad breath, etc...
There are multiple causes of periodontal disease. Some of the main causes are: poor oral hygiene, systemic issues (diabetes, autoimmune disorders, high blood pressure, etc.), excessive drug and alcohol use, smoking, and genetics. Your dental healthcare professional can help educate you and prevent or stop your progression towards periodontal disease.
There are many ways we treat periodontal disease at the dental office. The first step is to come every six months for a cleaning, complete exam, and x-rays once a year. If you show symptoms, we can begin to treat the disease with scaling and root planning (SRP). This involves smoothing the tooth’s root surface below the gum line and preventing harmful bacteria from causing damage. It is a more involved cleaning, typically in multiple visits, that reaches areas that you cannot get to with regular home care. After therapy is completed you will return to our office more frequently, every 3-4 months, for a regular periodontal maintenance therapy visit to assure the disease is arrested and to maintain your oral health. Proper home care includes brushing twice per day, flossing daily, and using a fluoride rinse and/or an anti-bacterial rinse.
Treating periodontal disease is a team effort. It includes a diagnosis, proper education and a course of action recommended by your dental hygienist and dentist. Diligence in maintaining your scheduled treatment and home care is essential to success. Our goal is to help you keep your mouth healthy, retain your natural teeth, and enjoy your smile.