Posts for: August, 2014
Dentistry can accomplish some amazing smile transformations. But these advanced techniques and materials all come with a price. Additionally, your dental insurance plan may be of limited use: some procedures may not be fully covered because they’re deemed elective.
It’s important then to review your financial options if you’re considering a major dental procedure. Here are a few of those options with their advantages and disadvantages.
Pay Up Front. It may sound old-fashioned, but saving money first for a procedure is a plausible option — your dental provider, in fact, may offer a discount if you pay up front. If your condition worsens with time, however, you may be postponing needed care that may get worse while you save for it.
Pay As You Go. If the treatment takes months or years to complete, your provider may allow you to make a down payment and then pay monthly installments on the balance. If the treatment only takes a few visits, however, this option may not be available or affordable.
Revolving Credit. You can finance your treatment with a credit card your provider accepts, or obtain a medical expenditure card like CareCredit through GE Capital that specializes in healthcare expenses. However, your interest may be higher than other loan options and can limit the use of your available credit for other purchases. In addition, some healthcare cards may offer interest-free purchasing if you pay off the balance by a certain time; however, if you don’t pay off the balance on time, you may have to pay interest assessed from the date you made the purchase.
Installment Loans. Although not as flexible as revolving loans, installment loans are well-suited for large, one-time purchases with their defined payment schedule and fixed interest rate. Some lenders like Springstone℠ Patient Financing specialize in financing healthcare procedures, and may possibly refinance existing loans to pay for additional procedures.
Equity Loans. These loans are secured by the available value in an asset like your home. Because they're secured by equity, they tend to have lower interest rates than credit cards or non-secured installment loans. On the downside, if you fail to repay, the lender can take your property to satisfy the loan.
To determine the best financing route for a dental procedure, be sure to discuss your options with your financial advisor and your dental provider.
If you would like more information on financing dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Financing Dental Care.”
Concussion in athletes is a topic that’s getting lots of attention recently — not only in professional leagues, but also at the level of high school, collegiate and amateur sports. Helmets are being increasingly used in both contact and non-contact sports, like skiing and biking. But when you’re looking for quality gear that gives you additional protection against head and facial injuries, do you think of getting it at the dental office?
According to some new research, you should. A study published in the journal of the Academy of General Dentistry shows that a custom-made mouthguard, obtained at a dentist’s office, is more than twice as effective against mild traumatic brain injures (MTBI) and concussions than the over-the-counter (OTC) mouthguards you can get at a sporting-goods store.
The randomized study followed six different high school football teams, with a total of 412 players. Half were assigned to wear custom-made mouthguards, while the other half used OTC types; all wore the same type of helmets. When the season ended, a total of 24 MBTI/concussion injuries were reported, for an overall rate of 5.8 percent.
But the study revealed that not all mouthguards are created equal: The incidence of concussion for players wearing OTC mouthguards was 8.3 percent, while the group with dentist-provided custom mouthguards had an incidence rate of just 3.6 percent — less than half the rate of the OTC group!
That’s a big difference — and there’s one more thing to consider: While they can give you additional protection against concussion, mouthguards are primarily designed to protect your teeth from serious injury. It is well established that athletes who wear mouthguards significantly reduce the risk of dental and facial injury. That’s why they are recommended by the American Dental Association, and why so many sports leagues and associations require their use at all levels of play.
A custom fabricated mouthguard, made from a model of your own teeth, fits you better than any generic type can; it’s also a better investment. The mouthguards we provide last much longer than the “boil-and-bite” or self-molded ones available in sporting-goods stores and big-box retailers. And if it prevents a single serious injury, a custom-made mouthguard can pay for itself many times over — not only in terms of medical bills, but also in time lost from school or work… and on the field, the trail or the slopes.
If you have questions about custom-made athletic mouthguards, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Athletic Mouthguards” and “An Introduction to Sports Injuries & Dentistry.”
If at all possible, we want to save a tooth — it’s the best outcome for your overall dental health. In many cases, we can achieve this by filling the tooth or installing a crown over it.
Unfortunately, preservation isn’t always possible if the natural tooth has been irreparably weakened by decay or trauma. Replacing the natural tooth with a life-like artificial one is the next best option: the replacement will help you regain lost function and reinvigorate your smile. Filling the missing tooth’s space also prevents neighboring teeth from drifting into it, causing further problems with function and appearance.
Dental implants are widely recognized as the best choice for tooth replacement because of their life-like qualities, durability and positive effect on bone health. Even their biggest drawback, their cost, isn’t that great an issue if you factor in their longevity — they may actually result in less dental expense over the long-term.
A dental implant, however, isn’t always a viable option. Some patients may not have enough bone mass to support an implant. Those with certain systemic diseases like uncontrolled diabetes or a weakened immune system may not be able to undergo dental implant surgery.
Fortunately, many of these patients can benefit from a fixed bridge, a restoration option that’s been used for decades. A bridge is a series of life-like crowns permanently joined like pickets in a fence. The middle crown known as the “pontic” fills the empty space left by the missing tooth. The crowns on either side of the pontic are permanently attached to the natural teeth that border the missing tooth space. Known also as “abutment” teeth, they serve as the support for the bridge.
Bridges do have one downside — the abutment teeth must be prepared by filing them down so the new crowns fit over them properly. This will permanently alter and possibly weaken the teeth. Dental implants, on the other hand, have little to no effect on adjacent teeth.
Still, a bridge remains an effective option for many people. Properly cared for, a bridge can restore function as well as enhance your smile for many years to come.
If you would like more information on bridgework as a restorative option, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Crowns & Bridgework.”
Vanna White has been a household name for the last 27+ years and is best known as the first female co-host of the game show, Wheel of Fortune. She radiates a warm, friendly, down-home appeal and says when describing herself, “what you see is what you get!” While this is quite true, there is so much more to her. She has received a star on the famous Hollywood Walk Of Fame, has starred in an NBC movie and written a book. She is even featured in The Guinness Book of World Records as TV's most frequent clapper, and most recently started her own line of yarn called Vanna's Choice with half of the proceeds going to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. And while any one of these accolades could serve as the highlight of a lifetime for most, for Vanna they fall slightly short. Her favorite job is being mother to her son, Nicholas, and daughter, Giovanna.
The following are excerpts taken from an exclusive interview in Dear Doctor magazine, the premier oral healthcare resource for patients and consumers.
What is the secret to her dazzling smile?
Vanna's oral healthcare routine is the same today as it has been since her childhood — and one everyone can follow. She brushes her teeth at least twice a day (morning and at bedtime) and flosses her teeth daily. She also has strong feelings about flossing. “I think that flossing is the most important thing. I believe that dental floss helps a lot as it keeps your gums strong and looking younger.”
What about bleaching, has she done it?
Absolutely! Vanna bleaches her teeth once or twice a year to help retain her naturally white teeth and to offset any discoloration from coffee and an occasional glass of red wine. “I have done over-the-counter and professional bleaching, but I do like the trays my dentist made because they fit perfectly.” She also states, “Anything you can do professionally is probably better because I would assume that a dentist's ingredients are stronger than over-the-counter products.”
Has she had any cosmetic dentistry?
When it comes to answering a question about cosmetic dentistry, Vanna is just as open and honest as she is about everything else — a trait for which she is known. “I had a bridge put in probably 30 years ago, where I had a tooth pulled and there was a space. And I did have a little tiny chip on one of my front teeth years ago that my dentist fixed. But that is it. Again, I feel very fortunate to have good teeth. The braces [from her childhood] straightened them out and there has been no need for any cosmetics since then.”
Does she do anything to protect her teeth?
While she admits to occasionally forgetting to use her nightguard, a protective mouthguard worn during sleep, she firmly believes in their need. “I do sleep in a nightguard because I grind my teeth. I have a filling in the back that probably has been filled five times from grinding.” She added, “Both of my children do have mouthguards that they wear for their sports.”
Want a smile like Vanna's?
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about bleaching, cosmetic dentistry or mouthguards. You can also learn more about Vanna by reading the entire interview in the Dear Doctor article, “Vanna White — The Smile Defining America's Favorite Game Show — Wheel Of Fortune.”
Q: I’ve never heard these terms used in dentistry. What are they?
A: In the decorative arts, an inlay refers to a small piece of distinctive material that’s set into a larger matrix: a mother of pearl accent worked into the lid of a wooden box, for example. In dentistry, it means something similar: a filling (or restoration) that’s fabricated in a dental laboratory, and then set into a tooth in an area that has been damaged or lost.
Q: What’s the difference between inlays and onlays?
A: An inlay is made to fit in between the cusps (small points or ridges) of a back tooth (molar or premolar), and it covers only a small region of the biting surface of the tooth. If the restoration covers one or more of the cusps, it’s an onlay.
Q: Why would I need to have one of these restorations?
A: When a tooth has suffered damage (from decay or trauma, for example), and the affected area is too large to fill with a simple filling — but not large enough to need a full crown (cap) — then an inlay or onlay may be just right. Both of these procedures are considered “indirect fillings,” because the restoration itself is custom-fabricated in a laboratory and then bonded to the tooth in the dental office.
Q: What is the procedure for getting an inlay or onlay?
A: It’s similar to having a crown placed, in that it typically takes more than one office visit — yet an inlay or onlay involves less removal of tooth structure than a crown would require. On the first visit, after the area has been anesthetized (usually with a numbing shot), any decay is removed, and the tooth is shaped to receive the restoration. Next, a model of the tooth is made (either with putty or in digital form), and the tooth receives a temporary filling. The laboratory uses this model to create the actual inlay or onlay, which may take a few days; it is then permanently attached to the tooth on a second visit to the office. However, with today’s advances in CAD/CAM (computer aided design/ manufacturing) technology, some inlays or onlays can be made in the office and placed in the same visit.
Q: What else do I need to know about these tooth restorations?
A: Both inlays and onlays are strong and long-lasting restorations that need no more care than you would normally give your teeth: namely, regular brushing and flossing, and periodic checkups at our office. But because they don’t require the removal of a great deal of natural tooth material, they are considered relatively conservative treatments. After a thorough dental examination, we can recommend the type of tooth restoration that’s most appropriate in your individual circumstances.
If you’d like to find out more about inlays or onlays, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers” and “The Natural Beauty of Tooth Colored Fillings.”