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For many families in our practice, the time for open enrollment regarding your health and dental insurance is upon us! We are thrilled that so many of you call our office to get an idea as to what might make the most sense for your family. We are always here to help and are grateful to you for inviting us into your decision making process! We thought it might be helpful to offer some points to consider when you are considering what your options may be for dental benefits for your family.
What are 'dental benefits'?
Perhaps the place to start with this answer is to help accurately describe WHAT dental insurance actually is. Unlike medical (or life or home or auto…), dental insurance is truly nothing more than a ‘discount plan’ to help offset the cost of dental treatment. It essentially has a maximum payment amount (ranging from $500 - $2,000 depending on how the plan was set up). As you receive treatment, the insurance company may pay out a portion of the cost to help reduce your responsibility, up to the annual maximum amount. We always encourage families to reflect on whether dental insurance is the best approach for their families’ needs – we know there are other options available (e.g., Flex Spending Accounts, Health Savings Accounts, Membership Plans, etc.) and would be happy to discuss those with you.
Do I always have to see a dentist that is 'In Network'?
Happy to report that most insurance plans offer two categories of benefits - In-Network and Out-Of-Network. That means that you can be seen by a dentist that has either decided to contract with the insurance carrier - or has decided not to contract and is termed 'Out-Of-Network'. Again, most plans have benefits available for both categories! It's important to remember that the choice of where you wish to bring your children for care ALWAYS resides with you! We work with many, many, many families that exercise their Out-Of-Network benefits at our practice - and many who have In Network benefits. If you have any questions regarding your plan, please don't hesitate to contact us and we can help you explore your benefits.
Is dental insurance always the best approach?
Not always! Many families are unaware that they may have the option to forgo dental insurance entirely and instead leverage a Flex Spending Account or a Health Savings Account. In addition, there are Membership Plans that are available to you (one of which we will be rolling out in our office so stay tuned!). If you wish to discuss what options may make sense for your family, please don’t hesitate to contact our office! Know that most dental disease is preventable. If your family follows the principles of disease prevention, your children may not need much more than preventative services (i.e., exams, cleanings, fluoride, x-rays, sealants, and diagnostics). If your family is able to embrace these prevention principles, it may not make sense to spend the money on dental insurance – we are happy to help explore other options for your family so please give us a call!
How can I learn more?
The American Dental Association (ADA) offers a series of very short articles on their website that we think you might find helpful as you weigh your options. Here are a few links:
o What's the difference between 'dental insurance' and 'dental benefits'
o Do I need a dental plan?
o In addition, we wanted to share an interesting NPR Podcast/WGBH article - Why Aren't Dental Benefits Typically Included with Health Insurance?
We hope you find this information helpful! As always, if you have questions or think we can be of help, please don't hesitate to give us a call!
In our pediatric dentistry office, we take the oral health of our young patients seriously and strive to protect their oral health in any way we can. We understand that we are the source of key information and encouragement for the oral health of our patients. Our objective is to educate our young patients and their parents to improve their oral health as they continue to age.
The process becomes even more important as children begin to transition and start to take care of teeth themselves. This typically happens as they begin to reach the end of elementary or enter middle school.
Kids at this age need help
Very often, parents make the assumption that since their child has reached school age, they no longer need parental supervision when it comes to brushing and flossing their teeth. While we hope that children will know how to properly brush by this age, that is not necessarily a safe assumption to make.
It is far better to observe how children take care of their teeth and make suggestions when necessary, to ensure that the children remain healthy. With that in mind, here are some tips that parents can give their children at home.
1. Continue to brush using the 2-2 rule
No matter how old a person is, it is important to continue to brush teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time. This simple rule is the easiest way to remember to brush frequently enough. As long as the child is brushing for the full two minutes and twice a day, then they should get a fairly good clean.
2. Brush plaque away from the gums
We recommend brushing teeth in a circular fashion and starting at the gum line. The circular brushing technique pushes plaque away from the gum line instead of toward it. This brushing method is critical for long-term gum health.
3. Start with the right tools
For a child to have good oral health, they must begin with the right tools to keep their teeth clean. This means a toothbrush that is not older than six months, fluoride toothpaste and floss. Without the right tools, a child could be brushing but not see the best results. For example, if the toothbrush is too old, it can be full of germs and make it more likely that the teeth will suffer from decay or infection.
parents need to switch the brush head or toothbrush every six months, at a minimum. We recommend switching the toothbrush even more frequently if it begins to look dirty, smells or the bristles fray. As for toothpaste, we recommend using a toothpaste with fluoride since it will strengthen the teeth. For floss, patients will need to measure thickness so that the floss fits between their teeth.
Bring them to our pediatric dentistry office
Remember that even if a child does an excellent job brushing and flossing at home, it is still likely that some plaque and tartar will be left behind in hard-to-reach places. For this, we need to conduct an examination and cleaning so that we can remove the plaque and ensure that their teeth are as clean as possible.
While they are at our pediatric dentistry office we will also check for signs of tooth decay and remove it as necessary. For additional help, call and schedule an appointment today.
We recommend that you bring your child to our kid's dentist office twice a year for a thorough dental examination and checkup. The examination is important for maintaining a child's oral health. During that appointment, we are going to provide some information that can be useful in helping the child to maintain healthy teeth now and while growing up.
One of the things that we discuss, though few people consider it, is the importance of saliva production on oral health. Most people think of saliva as drool, rather than something that is important to overall health. This is a mistake. Saliva is something that the body needs to maintain a healthy environment.
Why is saliva so important?
There are several health benefits to saliva, including the following:
1. Saliva works to create and maintain a healthy pH balance in the mouth
A healthy pH level is important for preventing the erosion of dental enamel. Things that people eat and drink throughout the day can create an acidic environment in the mouth. This is dangerous for enamel because the acid can begin to erode it, permanently weakening the teeth. Since saliva works to maintain pH levels, it lowers the risk of erosion and loss of dental enamel.
2. Saliva contains important enzymes
Even though saliva mostly consists of water, it does contain important enzymes that work to break down food. Since food particles can easily stick between teeth when eating, these important enzymes work to reduce the likelihood of tooth decay. Without the enzymes in the saliva, a child or adult's risk of decay is much higher. Thus, people with dry mouth are at a greater risk for suffering from dental infections.
3. Saliva keeps the mouth moist and reduces bad breath
The reason most people wake up with bad breath is that the body produces very little to no saliva during sleep. If a person has a lack of saliva, they are likely to struggle with constant bad breath. If a child's breath regularly smells bad, even though they brush and floss, it could be an indication that they are not producing enough saliva. In other cases, the child may be suffering from a dental infection or tooth decay.
Things you can do to help
As a parent, it is possible to influence the level of saliva a child produces by making sure that they stay hydrated and are drinking plenty of water throughout the day. This will benefit their overall health conditions and their oral health.
Parents can also positively impact the oral health of their children by bringing them to our kid's dentist office twice per year. While here, we can conduct a dental examination and teeth cleaning to reduce the likelihood of a child developing dental decay or an infection.
Schedule an appointment today
If you have not scheduled a kids dentist appointment for your child yet this year, we encourage you to do so right away so that they can receive the many benefits of preventative dental care.
A pediatric dentist can provide medical care for complex oral health issues. Most children visit our office to receive dental cleanings and examinations, among other types of preventative care. We also have the ability to treat children that have suffered serious oral health problems or dental damage.
Problems with oral health
If a child does not visit a pediatric dentist on a regular basis and have a good oral hygiene routine at home, they are likely to suffer from things like dental decay and infections. Because children have difficulty communicating how they feel, parents will often be unaware that their child is struggling with something like an infected tooth until the problem has become severe and a child can no longer stand the discomfort. By this point, there is a good chance that the tooth will be in very bad shape and may even need an extraction. This is why we want parents to bring their children in twice a year so that we can examine them and identify any problems early. However, if that has not happened, we are able to treat children with serious oral health problems.
Some of the conditions we treat
#1. Dental decay
To treat decay we need to remove it. After numbing the area and providing a child with pain medication, we will use a dental drill to remove the decayed portion of the tooth, clean the area and then place a tooth colored dental filling so that the restoration can be complete. This can be done relatively quickly, though if there are several teeth with decay we may schedule more than one appointment so a child does not have to sit for too long.
#2. Dental infections
There are varying degrees of dental infection. To address this, we may need to prescribe antibiotics that can be taken for a week or so. This can help to clear up the infection but the source of the infection also needs to be removed. This may require a root canal to be completed. However, since children have a limited ability to sit still, we sometimes need to put them to sleep when performing such a significant procedure.
If the tooth that is infected or seriously damaged is a baby tooth, we may recommend extracting it instead. It depends on the severity of the damage and the health of the roots. We can complete that extraction in our office after providing a child with the appropriate pain medication.
We also fix dental damage
We recommend that parents bring a child to our pediatric dentist office as soon as the tooth becomes damaged. We can restore teeth that have been cracked, chipped or have enamel missing. The most common restorations we use are dental crowns and dental bonding.
- Dental crowns. Crowns surround the tooth so that it is completely protected. This is an excellent option if budget is an issue or some of the enamel is missing.
- Dental bonding. This is is a popular solution for cracks or chips since bonding material can be placed and hardened fairly quickly during one appointment. This is a noninvasive solution that is quite popular because of how quickly we can complete the process.
Visit our pediatric dentist office at the first sign of a problem
Ultimately, we hope that parents bring children in twice a year so that we can examine them, clean their teeth and address any dental issues while they are small and easy to correct. This is better for our young patients because it helps them to be far more comfortable. However, if this has not happened or if a tooth becomes damaged or infected anyway, it is important to bring a child to our office immediately. The faster we can treat the problem, the less discomfort a child will feel.
We know that it can be difficult to create time in a busy schedule to visit a children's dentist, but it is very important to do so twice per year. Otherwise, the likelihood of a child developing dental decay is significantly higher. To understand how important maintaining good oral health is, it helps to learn more about the mouth in general. People need to know some of the things that can happen when they do not maintain proper oral hygiene.
Maintaining a healthy environment
It is important to maintain a healthy environment in the mouth, one that is not full of dangerous bacteria. What many people do not realize is that once children begin to suffer from dental decay and infections, it can create an unhealthy atmosphere in the mouth. Thus, instead of having one tooth suffering from dental decay, a child is likely to suffer from several teeth with dental decay.
The best way to prevent this is to schedule biannual teeth cleanings to ensure that a children's dentist can remove the decay as soon as it begins to form. Catching it early enough can help to maintain a healthy environment in the mouth and prevent future oral health problems.
How decay develops
Every time that someone eats, food particles get on the teeth and help sugar remain there. The food will then begin to lead to the formation of plaque, which can secrete acid that attacks the teeth. Brushing teeth after meals help to prevent this. However, the longer that plaque remains on the teeth, the more acid that will attack the teeth.
Eventually, the enamel on the outside of the teeth will give way and a small hole will form. The decay can continue to spread throughout the tooth and potentially infect the center of the tooth as well. Certain foods and beverages increase the likelihood of decay forming because they are high in sugar or acid. These include:
- Soda, including diet
- High sugar cereal
- Cookies and cake
- Ice cream
Treating dental decay
When patients visit our children's dentist office for cavity treatments we must conduct an examination and may need to take X-rays. Then, we can remove the decayed portion of the tooth. Afterward, we will thoroughly clean the area and then place a dental filling. We typically recommend tooth-colored fillings that have the ability to blend in with the natural tooth structure.
We do all of this after first numbing the area and providing a child with pain medication so they do not feel anything. If children are anxious or scared about the appointment, we may use a mild sedative first in order to help them remain calm.
Schedule appointments on a regular basis
The best way to prevent this situation and to reduce the likelihood that your child will suffer a terrible toothache caused by decay is to call our office and schedule an appointment for routine cleanings and examinations. These preventative appointments are the best way to help a child remain in good oral health.