Frequently Asked Questions
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WHAT CAUSES TOOTH LOSS?
Tooth decay and periodontal disease are the most common causes of tooth loss. Tooth decay takes place when most of the tooth’s mineral makeup has been dissolved away and a hole (cavity) has formed. While tooth decay primarily affects children, periodontal disease, or gum disease, affects mostly adults. Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums caused by the buildup of plaque, and its earliest stage is known as gingivitis.
HOW MANY TIMES A DAY SHOULD I BRUSH MY TEETH?
Most dental professionals recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice a day. Brushing after every meal (and flossing at least once a day) is also a good way to maintain dental health.
WHEN SHOULD A CHILD HAVE HIS/HER FIRST DENTAL APPOINTMENT?
A child should have his first dental appointment no later than his third birthday. Many dentists recommend a child have his first appointment when his first tooth comes in.
WHAT CAUSES ORAL CANCER?
Tobacco (cigarettes, pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and snuff) is the most common cause of oral cancer. Combining tobacco use with heavy drinking can also foster the development of oral cancer. Bad hygiene, prolonged irritation of the oral cavity, and extended exposure to strong sunlight on the lips are among other causes of the disease. Many dentists believe vitamins A and E can help prevent the acquisition of oral cancer.
WHAT ARE THE WARNING SIGNS OF ORAL CANCER?
Early symptoms of oral cancer include: a sore on the lip, in the mouth, or in the throat that does not heal; a lump on the lip, in the mouth, or in the throat; a red or white patch found anywhere in the mouth; unusual pain or bleeding in the mouth; swelling of the mouth; and any difficulty or discomfort felt in chewing or swallowing.
WHAT IS TOOTH EROSION?
Tooth erosion is the wearing away of tooth enamel by acid. The enamel is the hard calcified tissue that covers and protects the outside of the tooth. It is the hardest substance in our bodies. The saliva in our mouth contains calcium which helps to strengthen and remineralize the teeth. However, remineralization cannot occur when a great deal of acid is present. The high amount of acids in the food and drink that you consume can cause tooth erosion. Soft drinks and pure fruit juices contain a high amount of acid. Tooth erosion can also be caused by medical factors such as a decrease in saliva, acid reflux disease, certain gastrointestinal conditions and the eating disorder bulimia.
WHAT IS DRY MOUTH?
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is the reduced flow of saliva. Sufficient saliva is needed in the mouth to wash away food debris and reduce plaque by neutralizing the acids that plaque produces.
Gingivitis, gum disease and severe tooth decay often occur if dry mouth is left untreated. Other common problems linked to dry mouth are:
- Difficulty speaking
- Persistent sore throat
- Problems with speaking
- Problems with swallowing
- Burning sensation in the mouth
- Dry nasal passages
If you suffer from dry mouth, be sure to discuss treatment methods, such as saliva substitutes, with your dentist. Sugar-free gum and candy also can increase saliva flow.
WHAT ARE DENTAL INSURANCE COVERAGE TYPES?
According to most dental insurance companies, dental procedures are broken down into three categories:
Preventative: Most insurance companies consider routine cleanings and examinations as preventative dental care. However, X-rays, sealants and fluoride can be deemed as preventative or basic, depending upon the specific insurance carrier.
Basic or Restorative: Basic or restorative dental treatment usually consists of fillings and simple extractions. Root Canals can be considered basic or major. However, the majority of dental plans list root canals as basic.
Major: Crowns, bridges, dentures, partials, surgical extractions and dental implants are dental procedures that most dental insurance companies consider as a major procedure.
Since all dental insurance carriers are different, it is important to clarify which dental procedures fall under each specific category. This is important because some insurance plans don’t cover major procedures and others have waiting periods for certain procedures.
DENTAL INSURANCE. WHAT IS USUAL, CUSTOMARY AND REASONABLE?
Almost all dental insurance companies use what is called a “usual, customary and reasonable” (UCR) fee guide. This means that they set their own price that they will allow for every dental procedure that they cover. This is not based on what a dentist actually charges, but what the dental insurance company wishes to cover. For example, your dentist may charge $78 for a dental cleaning, but your insurance company will only allow $58 because that is the UCR fee that they have set. If you are on a dental insurance policy that requires you to go to a participating provider, you should not be charged the difference between these two prices. A contracted dentist generally has an agreement with the dental insurance company to write off the difference in charges. If the policy allows you to go to a dentist of your choice, check the insurance company’s UCR fee guide against the fees that dentist charges. You may be required to pay the difference out of your pocket.
WHAT IS DIRECT REIMBURSEMENT?
A direct reimbursement plan is a dental insurance plan that is usually entirely funded by your employer and allows you to choose any dentist without the hassle of networks. With a direct reimbursement plan, you are reimbursed for money spent on dental work, which is not limited to specific treatments. Some employers may choose to reimburse you after you have paid for your dental work, and some may choose to pay the dentist directly – leaving you with less out-of-pocket expense.