Category Archive Other Dental Topics

Seal Out Tooth Decay

The surest way to keep your mouth and teeth healthy is to brush and floss twice a day for at least two minutes. "C'mon Everybody" by Eddie Cochran, "Eleanor Rigby" by the Beatles, and " I put a spell on you" by Nina Simone are great songs to listen and hum to that will keep you brushing for the entire two minutes.

Sometimes even with regular brushing and flossing you may still find yourself with a cavity. Especially in the areas of your mouth that are more difficult to reach and clean properly. Also, teeth with deep grooves and depression have a greter likelihood of developing decay because they are more difficult to clean thoroughly.

What is a dental sealant?

A dental sealant is a thing coating that is painted on teeth to seal and protect them from cavity causing bacteria and acids. A sealant can be placed on any vulnerable tooth grooves and pits and once placed a sealant can last in the mouth for many years. The effectiveness of protection may decline as the years progress but monitoring and maintenance during regular care visits will ensure they are intact and allow them to be touched up.

We have seen the benefit of sealants in patients of all ages at our practice. Children benefit from sealants because they can be applied to a tooth once it has erupted and protect it early on. Adults benefit from sealants becuse as we age our exposure to decay can increase for example; medicines taken alter our saliva and can over time effect the enamel (protective coating) on teeth leaving them more vulnerable to decay.

Dental sealants are quick and easy to apply, they are simply "painted on" and take moments to set and become effective. Sealants are a great low maintenance option that have proven results of protecting your teeth and keeping your mouth and body healthier.

Tooth decay and mouth pain is a regularly reported reason why both children and adults have missed school or work because it can interfere with sleep, concentration, and eating. We are advocates of preventative dentistry , and keeping our patients pain free.

Tooth decay and mouth pain is a regularly reported reason why both children and adults have missed school or work because it can interfere with sleep, concentration, and eating. We are advocates of preventative dentistry , and keeping our patients pain free.

We would love to answer your questions and talk to you more about the benefits of sealants. Call or email us today or ask us at your next visit.

Stop Cavities In Their Tracks

Silver Diamine Fluoride has been getting a lot of attention lately, maybe you are already familiar with what it is and how it works to stop tooth decay in its tracks. If you haven't heard about it then you will want to keep reading!

What is Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)?

SDF It is a liquid that is applied to a tooth with a cavity to help reverse decay and keep it from growing larger and requiring a dental treatment to restore the tooth back to health.

How does it work?

Once painted onto the cavity the SDF liquid adheres to the decay. The silver kills the bacteria, the fluoride helps to rebuild the tooth enamel and working together they stop the decay from growing larger.

Multiple applications of SDF often are necessary to arrest the cavity completely. It will turn only the decayed area black so we typically  recommend it for adult teeth that are not seen when you smile and most baby teeth.

One application takes moments and you can eat and drink normally almost immediately afterwards.

Why SDF?

We believe that SDF is a great options for many of our patients and recommend it when we know that it would provide them a benefit.

The longer you can maintain your natural tooth structure the better and, SDF allows us to help you with that goal even when you have a tooth experiencing decay.

We would love to answer your questions and talk to you more about the benefits of SDF. Call or email us today or ask us at your next visit.

3 Habits that are dimming your bright smile

Keeping your mouth healthy requires more than flossing, brushing and eating nutrient dense foods. While those habits are the foundation and essential to maintaining your oral health, other habits we may have picked up through out the years could be causing damage without you even realizing it. Do you have any harmful habits that could be dimming your smile? Hopefully not, but most likely you unknowing have at least one.  Don't worry,we are going to give you a few simple tips to help you break these habits with little effort.

1. Using your teeth as tools 

Your teeth were made for eating, and that's a big job! They do not like moonlighting as a pair of scissors or bottle opener when you don't feel like searching for one (they are tired from all the chewing). Using your teeth in ways they were not designed puts you at a higher risk of fracturing or chipping teeth, injuring your jaw or accidentally swallowing something you shouldn't have; which could cause many other issues in different areas of your body.

Solution: Forks, knifes, and, towels are all items readily available in most places that can also open that tricky packaging or bottle cap when there is no bottle opener in sight.

2. Nail Biting 

This often mindless habit can fracture or chip your teeth and hurt your jaw. Putting your  jaw in a protruding position while placing pressure on it can cause your jaw muscles to  become tight, making it painful to move your jaw to chew or even speak.

Solution: Bitter tasting nail coverings can work for  those  who chew nails as a  mindless or stress relieving habit. If you  chew  your  nails  out  of  boredom  then a  stick  of  sugar  free gum could be a good substitute for that long meeting you need to sit through. If these do  not help then ask a trusted friend or family member to help you break the habit by having  them tell to stop biting your nails every time they see you doing so.

3. Brushing your teeth too hard 

Brushing twice a day is one of the best habits you make. Some of us mistakenly think that if you brush with more force or harder then you will clean your teeth better and faster, which is a myth. In fact, brushing too hard, or with a stiff bristled brush can cause damage to your teeth and gums. If your gums are normally not red before brushing and you notice they are after, that could be a sign that you are brushing to hard.

Solution: Use a soft toothbrush and a light touch or pressure. When brushing try brushing  in a circular motion instead of back an forth; and don't death grip your toothbrush handle, hold it with the pads of your fingers. Lastly, a good electric tooth brush will take all the  guess work out of the pressure and motion, because it does it for you, with a bonus of  timing you so you always brush for the recommended two minutes.

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR DENTAL BENEFIT PLAN IS RIGHT FOR YOU? Part 3

In part 1 and 2 of this series we described how a dental plan works, what type of services  are covered, key terms and how two insurances really work together, so you can start  narrowing down your plan options. In this issue we will break down what costs to consider when comparing your plan options to make the final determination of which plan  is right for you and what other options you have for keeping your smile in tip-top shape. 

Deductible, Coinsurance and Copay

These are all considered out of pocket expenses in addition to the monthly or yearly premium you pay for the plan. 


Deductible:
 The amount you need to pay before your plan will contribute towards care. Deductibles can be specified that each individual covered must meet a certain amount or as a group, make sure you are aware which it is because the difference could increase your total costs. 

Coinsurance: is a fixed percentage of a treatment cost you share with your dental plan. 

Copay:
 is the flat fee you pay for treatments and services at every visit. Typically copays are paid at the time care is received and the amount is usually printed on your card. Copays do not count towards your deductible or coinsurance. 

Is there another option?

Yes! There is one more option we have for your consideration. 

The Merrimack Smiles Dental Benefit Plan

We created our three prevention based plans with our patients in mind because we  understand how important your oral health is to your total body health. Our plan has: 

NO Deductibles       NO Annual Maximums        NO Coinsurance                            

NO Exclusions         NO Copays                            NO Waiting Periods    

Provides a fixed percentage off all treatment- NO Limitations

A full breakdown of what the plan includes and the cost can be found on our website.

We hope you found the information presented in this series beneficial. As always if you have a question about what you are seeing when choosing the plan right for you this year, give us a call! We will happily answer any and all questions you may have. 

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR DENTAL BENEFIT PLAN IS RIGHT FOR YOU? Part 2

In part 1 we described how a dental plan works, what type of services are covered and what key terms to look for so you can start narrowing down your plan options. In this issue will go into detail of how two insurances work together and discuss what usual and customary charges really mean.  Even armed with all the information we have provided, choosing the right plan can still be quite the task and what worked well for you one year may not in the next. Don't forget that you have help and we are simply a phone call or email away! While we can't pick the plan for you, we will gladly help guide you and answer any questions so that you can fully maximize the benefits you pay for each year. 

Usual, Customary and Reasonable Charges (UCR)

UCR charges are the maximum allowable amounts that will be covered by the plan. UCR rates are not required to meet any sort of industry standard, in fact it is the opposite: each company is able to set whatever amount they want for UCR charge and they may not match the current actual fees charged by dentists in any given area. Adding to the ambiguity of this line item is that the company is not required to disclose the formula or data used to compute the number. Low UCR rates mean low employer cost, low employer cost equals more employer participation and greater revenue for the insurance company.  

Primary and Secondary Plans 

If Patient A is the subscriber to a dental plan it would be their primary plan. If Patent A has a spouse who also has a dental plan, the spouses insurance would be Patient A's secondary plan. 

Birthday Rule: primary and secondary plans are determined differently for children and are usually designated using what is called the birthday rule: assigning the primary plan by which parent's birth month comes first in the calendar year. A divorce agreement or other court ruling may supersede the birthday rule when determining which plan is primary and secondary. 

Coordination of Benefits (COB)

If you have two dental benefit plans they will coordinate benefits one of two ways. 
1) Standard Coordination: The secondary insurance will coincide with the primary on all claims. 

Example: Mary's Primary plays a filling at 80%, her secondary will pay the remaining 20%. 

2) Non-Duplication (Non-Dup): The Secondary Insurance will not pay anything towards services the primary paid on unless the primary is completely maxed. 

Example: Mary's primary plan has $15 dollars remaining for the benefit year and pays that amount towards her filling. Her secondary insurance will not pay towards the filling, leaving the remaining as her responsibility. During the same benefit year Mary needs a second filling. Her primary plan is now maxed and will not pay towards this filling, but her secondary plan will now begin to pay and she will have her full benefit year maximum available. 

Next up part three: What is the real cost for me and do I have other options?

HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOUR DENTAL BENEFIT PLAN IS RIGHT FOR YOU? Part 1

Picking a dental benefit plan carrier for you and your family can feel overwhelming. Between the number of plan options and variations within each one individually it can be hard to feel confident even after you’ve done your due diligence and read about each plan thoroughly.

We think that understanding your dental benefit plan or choice to not be covered under a dental plan is invaluable and have compiled our most helpful tips, descriptions and definitions so you can pick (or keep) your next plan with confidence.

Understanding My Dental Plan

Using the term “insurance” for dental plans is not a truthful representation of what your plan actually is. It is not a payment to cover a loss, catastrophic event, or accident as your medical, auto or home insurance will. It is a benefit provided by employers to help employees cover the cost of dental care. Typically an employer will purchase a plan based on the amount of the benefit and cost of the premium for the company or employee.  Think of your plan as a benefit plan that your employer contributes towards which will help to offset or subsidize the cost of your dental care.

How Dental Plans Work

Dental plans are a contract between your employer and insurance company. Your employer and insurer agree on the amount your plan pays and what procedures are covered. If you are not satisfied with your plans coverage or insurer experience, talk with your employer to let them know how it could be improved or changed.

Key Terms to Compare When Looking at Plans

Plan Year: What months does you plan year start and end? Most plans follow the calendar year (Jan-Dec) or have a benefit mid-year start/end (June-July).

Benefit year Maximum: What your annual maximum benefit dollar amount is for individual and family? Preventative and diagnostic treatments will count towards your maximum benefit for the plan year. 

Waiting periods: Are there any waiting periods before you are able to use your benefits? If so, are those benefits something you had planned or needed to use right away? Do you have the ability to wait?

Age Limitations: Some plans have age limitations on service. This means that your insurance will only provide coverage up to or after a certain age. 

Frequencies: How often does your plan cover specific treatments? It is important to look at what treatments you and your family use most or know that you have coming in the next year. Even if this insurance plan is new to you, companies share history and frequency, so limitations will still apply. 

Percentage of coverage for:  
Preventative/Diagnostic-including dental examinations, x-rays, cleanings and topical application of fluoride. 

Basic Restorative– including fillings, routine extractions, root canals, periodontal treatments, & sealants. 

Major Restorative and Prosthodontics-including Surgical extractions, crowns, bridges & implants. 

Orthodontics-including braces or other appliances. Age limitations and lifetime benefit may apply. 

 

Read Part 2 : Important terminology to know before choosing a plan

Did you fully utilize your dental insurance benefits this year?

Maybe a better question would be- How do I know if I fully used the  value of my dental insurance plan this year?

The simplest answer is: We try to do that work for you and help to make sure that you are always getting the best value out of your individual  dental insurance plan.

Before each and every visit we send pre-determinations, research your  insurance coverage, usage and limitations, and do our very best to  communicate with you along the way regarding the information we are  receiving. Hopefully, this helps you read and understand the copy of the pre-determination and explanation of benefit (EOB) statements that  your dental insurance company sends to you.

What does this mean for me?

Since December 31st marks the end of the benefit year for most  dental plans, it means that any remaining dollars available to you  that you have already paid for, by paying your monthly premium will be lost.

What can I do to prevent losing my benefits at the end of the year?

You can log into your dental insurance companies’ user portal or callyour insurance company to ask then exactly what type of coverage  and how much you have remaining.

 OR

You can give us a call and we can help walk you though it. We can  help you determine what remains unused and how to maximize your dental insurance plan to it’s fullest.

If you have any remaining dental benefits and dental care that you  need completed, NOW is the time to schedule an appointment.

By delaying treatment, you risk more extensive and expensive  treatment down the road. Even if you’re unable to complete  treatment this year, you can at least get the ball rolling and use any  leftover benefits, then in the New Year when you dental benefit  renews, you can return to complete treatment. What may be a simplecavity now, could turn into a root canal later if left untreated.

 

Don’t Forget About Your Flexible Spending Account 

Your dental insurance benefits may not be the only benefit that you  could lose if you don’t use them by the end of the year. Not all  employers allow you to roll over your Flexible Spending Account  (FSA) funds at the end of each year. That means if you don’t use it, you lose it!

Electric toothbrushes, whitening strips, and our OxyFresh products  all qualify as FSA approved expenses & double as a great practical  gifts for your friends and family.

So, if you are drowning in cold medicine and have enough band aids in stock, why don’t you stop by the office and pick up a toothbrush  this year instead! Or use what you have left to pay for the dental  care that you may need!

3 Teeth friendly ways to eat sugar

October marks the start of the celebration season filled with sweet treatsand delicious hot drinks. It also means that our mouths and teeth will  have to fend off constants attacks from sugar. If we are being honeswith ourselves, there is absolutely NO WAY we won't be consuming any of the delicious treats and drinks offered up this season. Fortunately,  there is a better way we can consume sugary treats that will keep our  mouths and teeth safe from harm. Read on for our 3 tips to help you  safely enjoy  your treats this fall and holiday season. 

1. Length of time it takes you to eat or drink your treat

For your teeth it is less about the amount of cavity-causing foods and drinks you are consuming and more about how long it takes you do so. The duration our teeth are exposed to sugar the better. Bacteria in our mouth convert sugar to acid, it's the length of time your teeth are exposed to this acid that can cause the most damage. For example, sucking on a hard candy or slowly sipping on hot chocolate can cause more damage than eating a piece of chocolate or cookie monster-ing a cookie.  

2. Wait 30 minutes before brushing your teeth

It may be tempting to brush immediately after eating but it is best to wait for at least 30 minutes after consumption. The acid created by the sugar consumed can make your tooth enamel (top layer of the teeth) weak making it easier to be scrubbed away by a toothbrush. Waiting 30 minutes will allow the enamel to re-strengthen and become safe to brush. If you can't wait the 30 minutes then our third tip- drinking water- is your best option! 

3. Rinse with or drink water

There is a good reason why water is the champion of beverages! Among its many benefits, water will also dilute the acid and help to wash it from your mouth, reducing its potential to cause harm. Eat your  treats with water instead of hot chocolate or alternate drinking water with a sugary beverage. If you can remember to swish it around yourmouth before you swallow (or spit) it that will help to remove most ofthe acid from your mouth and teeth.  

Why are my teeth suddenly sensitive?

We all know the feeling. A sharp unexpected pain when you bite into  your sandwich, take a sip of water or a breath on a cool day. It does not feel good and can even make you wince. So, the question is- what  happened? Why are my teeth suddenly sensitive?  

While tooth sensitivity can happen for many reasons the root cause  generally can be explained by one of a handful of common issues, which your dentist can expertly help identify by using a method called  differential diagnosis. Differential diagnosis is a process that medical  professionals use to correctly identify the cause of tooth pain in an  instance where multiple alternatives are possible. 

First, your dentist will need to know if the pain is associated with  multiple teeth or one tooth. There are specific reasons for one or a few  teeth to suddenly become sensitive such as a cavity, crack, fracture,  receding gums, or an abscess. If one or more of your teeth have any of  these issues then your dentist will help you identify the next steps to  take and treatment options to help you get back on track with the goal of a pain free healthy mouth.  

If none of your teeth have any of those described issues then your  dentist will know that your teeth/tooth has become sensitive as a result  of an outside factor such as: 

Are you stressed? Even when we think we are dealing with our stress  levels very well on the outside our bodies can still show signs of wear  and tear as a result, and one of the first places to experience any  discomfort is our mouths. We clench and grind our teeth when stressed, most of the time without even realize that we are doing it. Which is why when your jaw is tired and your teeth hurt it can feel like it came out of  nowhere, when in reality it has slowly been building overtime. Have you ever woken up with a sore or tired feeling jaw and sensitive teeth? Its  because often times we do the most clenching and grinding in our sleep, and if we are not aware of it during the day it is almost impossible to be aware of it while asleep. 

Have you been sick? Sinus colds will make all of your teeth feel  very sensitive to any type of vibration from even the softest steps, orfrom the constant coughing and nose blowing. Also, the cough drops that we all have the best intention of only sucking on but sometimes crunch and chew after a while may have caused a crack or fracture.

Did you whiten your teeth? Using any type of teeth whitening products, whether over the counter or in your dentist’s office can result in a temporary sensitivity of your teeth.

Have you had any recent dental work? Sometimes, the slight  change in your bite from a new filling or simply holding your mouth  open for a longer period of time can cause you to begin to clench  and grind your teeth causing tooth sensitivity and pain. This is why  your dentist asks you to bite down on a colored piece of paper after a filling or crown. The colored paper leaves marks on your tooth  surfaces recording your bite so that your dentist can see if all your  teeth are hitting in the right spots. They also rely on you to tell them if it feels comfortable since sometimes our mouths can look fine but  feel slightly off. It is also normal to feel like your bite is fine in the  office but within a few days realize that it actually feels slightly off. Simply call us and we will get you right in for a bite adjustment.  

Do I have to live with tooth sensitivity forever? Absolutely not!  Luckily there are many ways that we can help you defeat tooth  sensitivity! Occlusal guards can help relieve the clenching and  grinding. Fluoride toothpastes and treatments, which are available inour office, will help protect and strengthen your enamel againssensitivity resulting from acidic foods and whitening. In office  sealants and fluoride treatments will also help to prevent the  development of cavities and reduce the likelihood of sensitivity due  to tooth decay or compromised tooth structure. Most importantly if  you are expe