Some of your Questions:

Q.What will my first appointment be like?

Every new patient to our office receives a new patient exam which includes a complete set of digital radiographs (x-rays), an oral cancer screening, a periodontal evaluation, and if necessary, a set of diagnostic study models made from impressions of your teeth. Your health history is very important to us, so we will review this with you as well. It is at this appointment that we can set up a time for you to come back to have your teeth cleaned in our office with one of our hygienists.

Q.Why doesn’t my insurance pay for my treatment?

If your employer offers dental insurance, consider yourself fortunate. This benefit is like a “coupon” that can greatly reduce the cost of dental treatment. However, NO dental plan is set up to cover all of your costs.

Almost all dental plans are the result of a contract between your employer and an insurance company. Your dental coverage is not based on what you need or what your dentist recommends. It is based on how much your employer pays into the plan. All insurance plans are different. They have yearly maximums, (the most they will pay in a year) and deductibles, (usually a one-time amount per year). They also have percentages they will pay for certain services. An example of this might be 100% coverage for cleanings, 80% for fillings and root canals, and 50% for crowns. We encourage you to look over your own policy to determine coverage, and if you have any questions about your policy, we will be happy to help you understand it better. Our main goal is to help you take good care of your teeth. We will happily bill your insurance for you. However, the portion of your bill not covered by your insurance will be your responsibility.

Q.Are amalgam (silver) fillings safe?

Over the years there has been some concern as to the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings. An amalgam is a blend of copper, silver, tin and zinc, bound by elemental mercury. Dentists have used this blended metal to fill teeth for more than 100 years. The controversy is due to claims that the exposure to the vapor and minute particles from the mercury can cause a variety of health problems.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), up to 76% of dentists use silver containing mercury to fill teeth. The ADA also states that silver fillings are safe and that studies have failed to find any link between silver containing mercury and any medical disorder.

The general consensus is that amalgam (silver) fillings are safe. Along with the ADA’s position, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, the FDA, and others support the use of silver fillings as safe, durable, and cost effective.

Although studies indicate that there are no measurable health risks to patients who have silver fillings, we do know that mercury is a toxic material when we are exposed at high, unsafe levels. For instance, we have been warned to limit the consumption of certain types of fish that carry high levels of mercury in them. However, with respect to amalgam fillings, the ADA maintains that when the mercury combines with the other components of the filling, it becomes an inactive substance that is safe.

There are numerous options to silver fillings, including composite (tooth-colored), porcelain, and gold fillings. We encourage you to discuss these options with your dentist so you can determine which option is best for you.

Q.Why should I floss?

Most people don’t realize that if you skip flossing, you are missing 15-20% of plaque removal. This 15-20%  of the plaque that stays in your mouth, when mixed with sugar, causes an acidic reaction that eats away at your teeth, thus producing a cavity or “decay”. Plaque can also cause problems in the gums and bone surrounding the teeth. If you have problems flossing or have difficulty handling traditional floss, any one of our trained hygienists can show you different tools to use to get the job done.

Q.What is the difference between a prophy and a perio cleaning

A prophy is a simple cleaning, usually done every 6 months that involves removing hard calculus from the surfaces of the teeth and sometimes under the gumline. A periodontal cleaning is a special cleaning that is needed for patients with periodontal disease. In some cases, 4 cleanings a year are needed to control the disease. See definition of periodontal disease below.

Q.What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is an infection that affects the tissues and bone that support the teeth. As the tissues are damaged, a pocket develops between the gums and the teeth resulting in bone loss. Generally, the more severe the disease, the greater the pocket depth and bone loss can be. The enlarged pockets allow harmful bacteria to grow and make it difficult to practice effective oral hygiene. Left untreated, periodontal disease may lead to tooth loss.

Q.I still get cavities even though my hygienist says I have really clean teeth. Why?

There are several reasons why you may be getting cavities. One is the lack of flossing. Even though your teeth may look clean, without flossing you are missing anywhere from 15-20% of the plaque that can hide in between your teeth and cause cavities.

Another cause of cavities may be due to a certain type of bacteria that live in our mouths. This bacteria, if not treated can cause tooth decay and can ultimately lead to crowns, root canals, or even tooth loss. There is a special test that can be done in the office that will tell us if you have high levels of this bacteria. If needed, a rinse can be prescribed to use at home to help change the environment in your mouth to prevent further development of cavities.