Diabetes and Oral Health

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In the US alone, there are currently around 30 million people living with diabetes and another 86 million with pre-diabetes.  Diabetes is a metabolic disease that causes a person to have high blood sugar, for a long period of time.  People that have diabetes can suffer from a wide variety of health issues and we are learning more and more about the relationship between diabetes and having a healthy mouth.

 

As diabetes progresses, so does the likelihood of an individual developing chronic periodontitis or disease of the gum tissues.  If a patient that has diabetes develops periodontitis or gum disease, it’s likely the both conditions will worsen if both are not treated and kept under control.  There is huge amount research currently being done regarding uncontrolled diabetes and its interference with glucose (sugar) regulation in the body.  Interference with glucose regulation makes the diabetic condition worse; leading to other medical conditions.  Diabetic patients commonly have swollen and inflamed gums and can notice a bad taste in their mouth. When our gums become inflamed, our inflammatory response sends mediators into the blood stream which cause a negative effect on glucose regulation, therefore worsening the diabetic condition.

 

By properly treating periodontal disease, sugar levels have a much better chance of returning to a more normal state and improving overall health. Home care for a diabetic should be strict and consist of brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and seeing a dentist twice a year. In some cases, diabetics may need to see a dentist more often.  Please contact your dental team at Norman Dental if you have any questions or concerns about how diabetes can affect your overall health.

Summertime Recipes

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August is a great time for entertaining and grilling!  Our team has put together our favorite summer recipes!

 

drink

Vickie’s Watermelon Margarita

½ cup white sugar
½ water
3 strips orange zest
2 cups cubed seeded watermelon
¾ cup white tequila
¼ cup lime juice
Salt or sugar for rimming glasses
1 lime, cut into wedges (optional)
2 cups crushed ice, or as needed

Directions:

  1. Bring ½ cup sugar, water, and orange zest in a small saucepan to boil, stirring constantly. Simmer until sugar is dissolved, about 3 minutes.  Remove simple syrup from heat and allow to cool completely.
  2. Place watermelon in a blender or food processor. Pulse until pureed.
  3. Stir watermelon puree into a large pitcher with simple syrup, tequila, and lime juice.
  4. Place a small amount of salt or sugar into saucer. Rub edge of margarita glasses with a lime wedge to moisten. Lightly dip the rim of the glass into the saucer to rim the glass; tap off excess salt or sugar.
  5. Fill rimmed glasses with crushed ice; pour margarita mixture into glasses and garnish with lime wedges to serve. Enjoy!

 

jalapeno roll ups

Katie’s Jalapeno Roll Ups

2 – 8oz. pkg. cream cheese (room temperature)
1 jar dried beef, chopped
2-3 tbsp. diced jalapenos (more if you like it hot)
1 pkg. larger flour tortilla shells

Directions:

  1. Mix by hand, all ingredients except the shells.
  2. Spread out evenly on as many tortillas as it takes.
  3. Roll up like jelly rolls or cinnamon rolls.
  4. Place rolls in large plastic container, side by side, making sure paper towels are in the bottom and on top of rolls to collect moisture. Secure lid on and place in fridge overnight so flavors can develop.
  5. When ready to serve, take out and slice in 1” thick slices, eating the end pieces as you go, since they usually aren’t full of filling and not presentable for serving. Arrange on platter, standing up, but leaning on each other at a 45° angle…Enjoy!!

 

rotel dip

 Stacie’s Sausage Rotel Dip

1 lb. sausage
2 – 8oz. pkgs. cream cheese
1 – 10oz. can Rotel, with liquid drained out

Directions:

  1. Brown sausage in skillet; drain excess grease.
  2. Add cream cheese and cook over medium heat until melted.
  3. Add Rotel and mix well.
  4. Serve warm with chips.

 

mango-blackbean-salsa

 Sharon and Dr. Charles Norman’s Black Bean & Corn Salsa

2 – 15½ oz. cans Black Beans, rinsed and drained
2 large Tomatoes, seeded and chipped
½ cup “Medium” Salsa (any brand)
2 tbsp. fresh Cilantro or Parsley (optional)
1 tsp. Salt
1 tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1 – 14½ oz. can Yellow Corn, rinsed and drained
3 Green Onions, sliced
Juice of 1 Fresh Lime
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ tsp. Pepper
1 Avocado, cut into chunks

Directions:

With the exception of the avocado, combine all ingredients in a glass bowl: black beans, tomatoes, medium salsa, cilantro, salt, red wine vinegar, yellow corn, green onions, lime juice, extra virgin olive oil, and pepper.  Toss, cover and refrigerate.  Just prior to serving, add avocado and gently toss mixture.  May be served with corn chips, or as a chilled salad.  Tastes best when prepared the day ahead.

 

potatoes

 Lisa’s Onion-Roasted Potatoes

1 envelope Lipton Recipe Secrets Onion Soup Mix
4 medium all-purpose potatoes, cut into large chunks (about 2 lbs.)
1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Combine all ingredients into a Ziplock bag to mix.  Place in a 13 x 9 baking or roasting pan.
  2. Bake, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender and golden brown, about 35 minutes.

orzo salad

Mandy’s Summertime Orzo and Chicken

¾ cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” pieces
1 medium cucumber, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ cup crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet coated with cooking spray, cook chicken over medium heat for 6-8 minutes or until no longer pink.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cucumber, onion, parsley and chicken mixture. In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper.  Pour over chicken mixture; toss to coat.  Serve warm or cold.  Just before serving, sprinkle with cheese.

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Zora’s Tomato Zucchini Casserole

 1½ cups grated Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. driel basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 medium zucchinis, thinly sliced
5 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
¼ cup butter
2 tbsp. finely chopped onion
¾ cup fine bread crumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly butter a 9 x 9-inch pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine Cheddar, Parmesan, oregano, basil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  3. Arrange half of the zucchini slices in the pan. Sprinkle ¼ of the cheese and herb mixture on top. Arrange half of the tomatoes, and top with another ¼ of the cheese mixture.  Repeat layers.
  4. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onions, and cook until soft and translucent.  Stir in breadcrumbs; cook until they have absorbed the butter.  Sprinkle on top of casserole.
  5. Cover loosely with foil, and bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil, and bake until the top is crusty and the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

 

Grilled

  Chandler & Dr. Matt Norman’s BBQ Wings

Chicken Wings (whole portion, not just drumstick)
Chicken Spice Rub (Your choice)
Olive Oil
BBQ Sauce (Your choice, standard Kraft BBQ Sauce is good)
Red Pepper Flakes
Apple Cider Vinegar

Directions:

  1. Rub the chicken wings with olive oil and the spice rub in a bowl. Once they are coated, place the wings in a ziploc bag for at least 4  No more than overnight.
  2. Set your grill on low heat and place the wings all in the same direction and same side.  Cook for 10 minutes and flip.
  3. Mix BBQ sauce, vinegar and red pepper to the desired thickness (thinner is better, so add more vinegar).  Place on a burner and let simmer while the wings cook.
  4. Continue to flip the wings every 10 minutes for a total of 50 minutes. Then dip each of the wings into your sauce and grill for an additional 10 minutes.
  5. Place on a platter and enjoy with a good cornbread and slaw!

 

Margarita-Cupcakes-Topped-with-Limes

Michelle’s Margarita Cupcakes

Cupcakes

  • One Box White or Vanilla Cake Mix
  • 1 1/3 Cups Premade Margarita Mix (the kind with tequila already included)
  • 2 TBSP Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 1½ TBSP Lime Zest

Tequila Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon water (may need slightly more)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Tequila (if you want to skip the tequila, just replace it with water and a few drops of lime juice)

Lime Frosting

  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese – softened
  • 1 Cup Butter – softened
  • 5 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 3 TBSP Lime Juice
  • Green Food Coloring (optional)

Garnish

  • ½ cup crystal sugar sprinkles
  • ¼ – ½ tsp salt – mix the sugar and salt together

Cupcake Directions

  1. Preheat oven as directed on cake mix. Prepare your cupcake pan with liners.

2. Combine cake mix, margarita mix, egg whites, oil and lime zest, stirring until well mixed. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for two minutes.

3. Spoon batter into your lined cupcake pan, filling each liner approximately 2/3 of the way full.

4. Bake according to package directions, typically about 18-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Glaze

Combine powdered sugar, water and tequila and stir well to create your glaze. You may need slightly more water to thin out the glaze so that you can brush it on to your cupcakes. Once your cupcakes have been removed from the oven and cooled for approx 5-10 minutes, brush a layer of glaze over the top of each. Allow them to cool completely.

Frosting

Combine butter and cream cheese in a bowl and mix with mixer until light and fluffy.

Add in your lime juice and green food coloring until desired shade is reached (remember it will lighten slightly when you add your powdered sugar).

Add in your powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until the desired consistency has been reached (could be slightly less or more than five cups).

Frost each cupcake as desired. You can pipe on a ring of frosting and sprinkle with sugar and salt mixture, then finish frosting your cupcake, or frost your entire cupcake and sprinkle the sugar and salt mixture on top.

Due to the cream cheese in the frosting, it’s best to store these in the refrigerator.

Prophy vs. Periodontal Maintenance

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Prophy vs Perio Maintenance

Dr. Matthew Norman and Michelle Phillips, RDH

One of the most common questions that we are asked by our patients is, “what’s the difference between a prophy and a periodontal maintenance”?  We want to address that question in this edition of our blog.

Gingivitis

When you have your comprehensive or new patient exam at Norman Dental, the doctor and your hygienist will perform a thorough evaluation of your gums to determine which type of cleaning best suits you.  The doctor or hygienist will measure a space between your gum and the tooth, which is known as a “pocket”.  A healthy pocket depth is 1-3 millimeters.  Areas that are observed to have pocket depths deeper than 3 millimeters may need to be cleaned more thoroughly than healthy areas.  Your dental team will also be looking for areas that bleed while taking these measurements, as a healthy pocket does not bleed.  Bleeding indicates the presence of inflammation, which is usually caused by bacteria located within the pocket.  Inflammation in the gum tissue can cause bone loss around the teeth.  This information is how your dental team determines whether a prophy or periodontal maintenance procedure best suits you.  We will discuss each procedure in more detail below.
A prophylaxis, or prophy, is a dental cleaning on a healthy mouth.  healthy tissueThe insurance code specifies this procedure to involve the scaling and polishing of all coronal surfaces (the crown of the tooth).  Therefore, no scaling or cleaning occurs below the gum tissue.  Scaling is followed up with polishing to remove the fine debris and stain from the teeth. A typical “prophy” patient comes every 6 months for their professional hygiene appointment.

 

A periodontal maintenance consists of a more involved “cleaning”.  The hygienist starts by using a Cavitron or ultrasonic scaler.  The ultrasonic scaler is designed to clean below the gums and to break away heavy calculus/tartar that accumulates on the root surface of the tooth.  Microscopic vibrations from the scaler loosen the hard deposits away from the tooth and the water flushes the debris away.  This process also forces oxygen into deeper pockets.  This is heunhealthy mouthlpful because much of the bacteria that causes periodontal disease is anaerobic, meaning it needs an environment without oxygen to survive and grow.  When the ultrasonic scaler introduces oxygen into the gum pockets, it kills the bacteria present.  Next, the teeth are hand scaled and polished to remove fine deposits below and above the gum line.  Finally, the hygienist will irrigate the deeper pockets with an antibiotic rinse to kill any residual bacteria present.  Typically, when you have been classified as a patient needing a periodontal maintenance procedure, your status usually never changes.  This is because bone loss around the teeth is irreversible, and the presence of bone loss causes the periodontal health to be compromised.  A typical “periodontal” patient comes every 3 or 4 months for their professional hygiene appointment.

 

periodontitis

Whether it is a standard prophy or a periodontal maintenance procedure that best suits your individual need, your Norman Dental team will work with you to endure your teeth and gums stay healthy for a long time to come!

Children’s Dental Health

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Children’s Dental Health

Matthew Norman, DDS and Michelle Phillips, RDH

 

February is Children’s Dental Health Month.  It is important for both parents and children to value the care of the child’s teeth from the beginning.  Good oral home care begins very early on, even before the first tooth comes in.

 

Your child’s first dental visit should occur by the time they have their first birthday.  The primary reason for a visit to the dentist at this young age is to assess the child’s mouth for possible abnormalities and to check for the presence of any erupted baby teeth.  Most importantly, this visit provides the parent with an opportunity to answer any questions they may have regarding caring for their child’s mouth and teeth.

 

While your child is an infant, you will want to wet a washcloth and rub it along the baby’s gums to keep their mouth clean. Your child’s first dental cleaning is typically around age 3.

 

Caring for your child’s teeth is no different than your caring for Fluorideyour own.  They should brush their teeth twice a day and floss once a day.  Keep in mind that children do not have the manual dexterity to effectively clean their teeth on their own, and will need your help.  A child should not brush alone until the age of 7 and floss alone until the age of 9.  And when applying toothpaste, simply use a “pea” sized amount to ensure they are getting a healthy amount of fluoride.

 

After a child begins to get his/her teeth, be sure to use a fluoride-free toothpaste until they can effectively spit the toothpaste out, generally at age 3-4.  Once a child can successfully spit out toothpaste, it is important to provide them with one that does contain fluoride.   Fluoride is very beneficial to your child’s dental health.  There are two types of fluoride: systemic and topical.  The fluoride found in the toothpaste, or fluoride treatments at the dental office are considered topical – this only helps strengthen the teeth that are currently present in the mouth.  Systemic fluoride, such as that found in city water or fluoride tablets/drops, is ingested into the body and helps to strengthen the permanent teeth that are currently developing underneath the gums.  Both types of fluoride are very beneficial and needed for optimum dental health.

 

Around the age of 6, children begin erupting their permanent teeth.  The first teeth that typically erupt are the permanent first molars in the back of the jaw and the two middle front teeth. The permanent first molar teeth are typically referred to as the 6-Tooth-Sealantsyear molars, because of the age they commonly erupt.  Once these permanent molars fully erupt, we may discuss placing dental sealants.  A dental sealant is a completely non-invasive procedure that helps further protect these molars from developing cavities (see Example above).  Naturally, these permanent molars have deep pits and grooves and are a common place for tooth decay to occur.   The dental sealant liquid is placed into the grooves of the tooth and hardened it with a curing light.  After the sealant is hardened, it is bonded to the tooth and provides a smooth surface across the top of the tooth to help prevent cavities.

 

Below is a tooth eruption chart with the approximate age that babies with begin to get their primary teeth, as well as the estimated age in which they will lose the baby tooth and begin to erupt the permanent teeth.

eruption chart

If you have a child in need of a dentist, or have any dental-related questions about your child, feel free to call Norman Dental at 336-282-2120.

Taking Care of Your Teeth during the Holiday Season

It’s that time of year! We have so many delicious treats to indulge in and festivities to attend. Sweets and other goodies are one of the things people look forward to during the holiday season. You may have a family favorite recipe or enjoy the special holiday store baked goods. (See below for a Norman Dental favorite recipe.) Indulging on sugary foods can lead to cavities if you don’t take proper care of your teeth. Be merry this holiday season and enjoy your favorite sweets! Just be sure to take proper care of your teeth. Here are some tips to help you do that.

Use Straws

You can minimize the damage that sugary beverages do to your teeth by using a straw. Straws help reduce the amount of the beverage that comes in contact with your teeth. They also help prevent staining.

Chew Sugar Free Gum

Sugar free gum can actually protect your teeth from cavities. Chewing sugar-free gum can stimulate the production of saliva. Saliva naturally cleans your teeth and mouth. Chewing sugar-free gum can also help prevent the plaque in the mouth from creating extra acid. Furthermore, sugar-free gum can help balance the PH in the mouth.

Eat Your Snacks with a Meal

It is better to eat sugary foods as a part of a meal instead of eating them alone. More saliva is produced when you eat large meals, and this helps prevent food from sticking to your teeth. The saliva also helps neutralize acid. These acids can cause cavities.

Rinse Your Mouth Out

You can protect your teeth by rinsing your mouth out for 15 to 20 seconds after eating something acidic. This helps prevent the acid from attacking your teeth. It also helps stimulate saliva production. Rinsing your mouth out after eating something acidic will help protect your enamel.

Brush Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth is one of the most important things you can do to protect your teeth and prevent cavities. We recommend you brush at least twice a day for two minutes each time. Consider taking a travel toothbrush with you to holiday events so you can brush your teeth shortly after your meal. To give the saliva a chance to neutralize the acid in your mouth, we recommend you wait about 30 minutes after eating before you brush.

Norman Dental Favorite Holiday Recipe

Try this and tag us in your Facebook post when you upload a photo!

Recipe submitted by Vickie

12 oz. macaroni

¼ c. margarine

¼ c. flour

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. pepper

¾ tsp. dry mustard

3 ½ c. milk

5 c. cheese, grated

Cook macaroni and drain well. Melt butter, stir in flour, salt, mustard and pepper. Stir until smooth; stir in milk and 4 cups cheese. Mix well. Add macaroni. Mix well. Pour in large casserole dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Red Wine. Healthy Heart, Healthy Teeth

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According to a new study appearing in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, red wine as well as grape seed extract could potentially help fight off cavities.

Cavities are a widespread problem that affects about 60-90 percent of the global population. As it affects the large majority of the global population, researchers and medical practitioners around the world are looking for any type of technique to help stop the growing problem. As the linkage between oral health and systematic health grows closer and closer, researchers believe we are moments away from a poor health outbreak in almost every country of the world. News that should shock a majority.

As health issues rise, researchers turned to an unlikely source for help. A study was conducted in which scientists dipped certain biofilms responsible for dental diseases in a couple of different liquids. Red wine with and without alcohol both being included in the study, the data suggested that red wines with or without the alcohol and liquids containing grape seed extract were the most effective in getting rid of that bacteria.

Red wine among other alcohols have raised concerns in the past pertaining to and individual’s health, however red wine has also been linked to raising a healthy heart. Oddly enough, this links to oral health, as those who have a healthier mouth have less risk of any type of cardiovascular disease.

Be sure to keep your teeth and gums healthy to avoid tooth decay, periodontal disease and heart issues. Make an appointment today for a check up with Norman Dental at 336-282-2120.

Toothbrush Tips: Keep Your Brush in Shape| Dental Hygiene

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October is Dental Hygiene Month and everyone knows that brushing your teeth regularly is the key to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. With that comes choosing the right toothbrush for your teeth. Here are some tips on how to pick out the right toothbrush for you!

  • ADA Seal of Approval

Make sure the toothbrush that you choose is ADA approved to ensure that the bristles are not too hard for your teeth. You’ll use it more effectively if it is better suited for your own personal set of teeth.

  • Size Matters

The size of your toothbrush should depend on how comfortably it will fit in your mouth. If you have a small mouth, pick a smaller toothbrush.

Now that you have your toothbrush picked out, make sure you pick out a toothpaste that is well suited to your teeth type. If you want a whiter smile, try picking out a whitening toothpaste. If you want a protectant toothpaste, go for ones that have baking soda in them.

Picking out your products is only half the battle. Using your toothbrush effectively is incredibly important as well.

  • Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably after each meal.
  • Take at least 2-3 minutes to brush your teeth.
  • Don’t brush too roughly, use a gentle motion so you don’t damage your gums.
  • Focus on cleaning every tooth surface.

Follow this guide and you should be on your way to a cleaner, healthier smile! To make sure your teeth and gums are as healthy as they should be, make an appointment today with Norman Dental at 336-282-2120.

 

Natural Looking Tooth-Colored Crowns

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multiple smiles

Out with the old and in with the new! You no longer have to deal with the look and feel of metal crowns because advancements in dentistry can give you tooth-colored crowns that give you a completely enhanced and natural look. Tooth-colored crowns are made to look and function just like a real tooth, complete with crevices along the chewing surfaces.

Tooth-colored crowns are to repair the following:

  • Broken Teeth
  • Severely Decayed Teeth
  • Large Fillings
  • Fractured Teeth
  • Root Canals

Whether you are living or suffering from broken or decayed teeth, and haven’t done anything about it, now is the time! Get your oral health back in top shape and look natural while doing it!

It’s time to call Norman Dental and ask about how tooth-colored crowns can rejuvenate your smile. Call today at 336-282-2120 and learn more about restorative dentistry.

No more brackets and wires! | Invisalign Invisible Braces

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invisalign

Typical braces are not the most appealing option for adults uncomfortable with their teeth. The thought of chunky, metal brackets and wires may seem daunting to those who have professional and family lives. Thankfully, you can now feel confident about your smile not only after your teeth are straight, but during! Invisalign invisible braces provide straightening treatment while looking your best!

Invisalign works by using a series of custom-made, nearly undetectable aligners. Whether your teeth are crowded, too far apart or have shifted, Invisalign may be right for you. Upon an initial examination, the dentists of Norman Dental will decide if Invisalign is right for you.

He will then write a treatment plan and take an impression of your teeth. Thanks to the latest advances in 3-D computer technology, Invisalign carefully translates the doctors instructions into a series of precisely customized aligners. The aligners will move your teeth gradually week by week until you achieve the smile you have always desired.

Also, it’s important to remember that even though you may want to straighten your teeth for cosmetic dentistry reasons, straighter teeth and a proper bite are beneficial to periodontal health.

Don’t wait another day! Get the braces you’ve always needed without compromising on your confidence with Invisalign! Make an appointment with Norman Dental today at 336-282-2120.

The Truth about Dental Insurance

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The Truth about Dental Insurance

Matthew Norman, DDS and Michelle Phillips, RDH

dental-benefits-claim-form

Many people understand the basics of medical insurance and assume dental insurance will work in a similar way, but the two are very different.   Medical insurance tends to be financially comprehensive to the patient once a certain deductible is met, while dental insurance is simply a contribution to the patient based on a yearly maximum amount.  In fact, these yearly maximum contributions have not had a meaningful increase since the 1970’s, when dental insurance became common.  During that time the cost of dental care has risen substantially.  Dental insurance is intended to supplement treatment costs, unlike health insurance.

The number one question we receive about dental insurance is “Are you in my network?”  If a dental office is a part of a PPO (preferred provider organization), the office has signed a contract with an insurance company to set their fees at a level determined by the insurer.  In return, the insurance company will direct enrolled participants to dentists that participate in the network.  In essence, the dentist is accepting a lower fee-for-service in order to increase patient volumes.

Here are some key points about dental insurance:

  • Dental insurance companies set a deductible per policy.  Most policies have an annual deductible of $50 on any dental procedure that isn’t classified as Preventive.  This means if you only come in to the office for your hygiene visit, exams and x-rays, you will not have to pay the deductible; but, if you need to have a cavity filled, crown, root canal, tooth extraction, you will be responsible for paying that deductible.  The deductible is also per person on the policy…this means that if you have a family policy and one person has met their $50 deductible and another person on the same policy then needs restorative treatment, their deductible must be met as well.
  • Dental insurance policies have a yearly maximum.  Most policies tend to have a set maximum anywhere from $1000-1500.  Again, this is per person on the policy.  Another misconception is that preventive treatment isn’t a part of this, but it is.  Once the insurance company has paid its maximum per person for that year, any additional costs incurred are 100% paid by the patient.
  • Dental insurance policies set up a table as to how much they will pay per procedure.  Some common percentages are: Preventive at 100%, Basic at 80% and Major at 50%.  Common preventive procedures are dental cleanings, exams, x-rays, and sealants for children.  Basic procedures may include dental fillings and simple extractions.  Major procedures may include crowns and root canals.  Your insurance provider will then pay a percentage of the “usual and customary” fee charged by your dental office.  For example, if an office charges $90 for a dental cleaning but the fee established by the insurance company is $75, they will pay 100% of the $75.  The patient is responsible for paying the remaining $15.  Another example…if an office charges $200 for a filling on a front tooth but the “usual and customary” fee is $180, they will pay 80% of $180…your total portion of that filling would be $56 (your 20% would be $36 plus the additional $20 for the difference in the fee and the “usual and customary ” fee).  This assumes the deductible has been met.

Here are some other common stipulations with dental insurance:

  • Some policies do not cover a tooth-colored or composite resin filling on a back tooth.  In this case, they will pay what they would pay for a silver or amalgam filling.  Example: the fee for a silver filling on a back tooth may be $150 while the tooth-colored filling is $200.  The insurance company will pay 80% of $150…you will be responsible for the difference in cost, as well as your 20% co-insurance.
  • Dental sealants for children have an age limit.  Policies can vary on the maximum age this benefit is payable to.  Some policies me cover children up to 12 years of age, while some may will cover an individual up to 19 years of age.
  • Most dental x-rays have time restraints.  Most bitewing films will be paid once a year, whereas a panoramic film or full series is covered every three to five years.
  • Fluoride treatments often have an age limit.  Most policies will only cover a fluoride treatment for someone less than 18 years of age.
  • Most dental cleanings are covered at a rate of twice per year.  Some policies are written that they will cover two cleanings per calendar year (you can have one today and one tomorrow and they will pay for both).  Most policies are written to cover cleanings once every six months (meaning you have to wait six months and one day until they will cover another cleaning).
  • If you have a crown that needs to be replaced, most insurance companies will not cover a replacement unless it has been at least 5-10 years.
  • If you were to have a tooth extracted for any reason and do not have it replaced (i.e. with a bridge, partial denture or an implant) while on the same policy, your next dental insurance policy likely will not pay to have it replaced due to a Missing Tooth Clause.
  • If you do not use your entire maximum for one calendar year, it does not carry over.  If you don’t use it, you lose it!

Be sure you know your dental insurance policy.  The more you understand the way dental insurance works, the more prepared you will be in planning for dental care expenditures.

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