1How often do I actually need to visit the dentist?
There are a few different ideas swirling around out there about how frequently you actually need to visit the dentist. Most people need to visit their dentist for a regular hygiene visit twice a year, or once every six months. There are exceptions to this rule, however. If you have gum disease, or a history of gum disease, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits. Another reason you may need to see the dentist more frequently is if you are undergoing orthodontic treatment. The bottom line is that you need to at least see the dentist twice a year and you need to comply if it is recommended that you make those visits more frequent. According to the American Optometry Association, infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at 6 months of age. Children then should have additional eye exams at age 3, and just before they enter the first grade – at about age 5 or 6.
2What exactly is a cavity?
Everyone knows that cavities are bad, but a surprising amount of people don’t know exactly what cavities are. A cavity is simply a small hole in the tooth that develops as a result of tooth decay. In other words, decay eats away at the tooth and results in a void space that disrupts the structure of the tooth. It’s important to get cavities repaired because they will continue to grow larger with time.
3How safe are dental x-rays?
Dental x-rays are very safe. The amount of radiation that a dental x-ray produces is about the same as you would receive from a cross country airplane ride. Radiation is measured in millirems and one dental x-ray has only .5 millirems.
4How long will my dental restoration last?
A common misconception is that dental restorations last forever but unfortunately this is rarely true. With time dental restorations may break down or become loose, allowing decay to enter the area around the restoration and become problematic. Although you can’t expect your fillings, bridges, and crowns to last forever, you can do your part to make them last as long as possible. Maintain great oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly to keep those restorations in great condition for as long as possible.
5What is the best way to whiten my teeth?
Patients ask us about whitening their teeth all the time. It’s a tough question because there is no universal answer that applies for everyone. The fastest and most effective way to whiten teeth is typically an in-office professional whitening procedure. However, depending how dramatic you need your results to be, you may not require this type of procedure. Our best advice is to speak with your dentist or dental hygienist about what type of teeth whitening they would recommend. The best results are always going to be a result of a professional treatment, but your dentist can help you determine which treatment is right for you.
6Why do I need Dental Xrays?
When Dr. Zanthos performs a dental examination, he can use his eyes and dental instruments to evaluate the areas in your mouth that he can actually see. In order to provide you with a complete oral health assessment, he relies on dental xrays to "see" areas beneath the gums/soft tissue such as tooth roots and jaw bone structures. X Rays are invaluable for Dr. Zanthos' in his diagnosis of contact areas between the teeth that are not visible to the naked eye. These are the most common areas where tooth decay develops.
7Why doesn't my Dental Insurance pay for all my dental needs?
Unlike medical or car insurance, dental insurance plans are not designed to pay for comprehensive care. They are, instead, a benefit that some insurance companies offer employers as a "rider" to make health care insurance plan more appealing.
- Dental insurance plans vary greatly, but for the most part, they place an emphasis on preventive and diagnostic care.
- Routine xrays, exams and cleanings are typically covered at a higher percentage than other procedures, as all subscribers, especially families, need these services.
- Services that treat disease or restore and replace tooth function such as fillings, crowns or implants are more costly than preventive care and not necessarily needed by all subscribers. If they are covered by dental insurance, it is generally at a lower percentage with an applied deductible.
- Insurance reimbursement rates for dental procedures are, simply stated, based on the premium dollars that subscribers pay in vs. what is paid out for treatment. To be profitable, an insurance company must stay "in the black" on this equation, and adjust their reimbursement levels or premiums each year as a result. Read more Facts About Insurance (PDF).
Alternatives to Traditional Dental Insurance
We always encourage our patients to "do their own math" when it comes to dental insurance.
- If you calculate your annual dental insurance premiums, and you paid more for dental insurance benefits that you actually used, you should ask your employer about other options, such as a flexible spending health savings account. Most HSAs allow you to apply your health care dollars to both your medical and dental needs.
Dental insurance is a broad topic – please don’t hesitate to contact us to research your specific needs. We would be glad to help!
8Why place fillings in my child’s baby teeth if they are just going to fall out anyway?
Baby teeth, or deciduous teeth, serve an important function in your child's growth and development. They hold the position in the jawbone to allow permanent teeth to erupt normally. Baby teeth begin to fall out around age six. By age twelve, most children have all permanent teeth. Early loss of baby teeth can disrupt the tooth development and eruption sequence, and can lead to misalignment of permanent teeth. Our goal is to keep deciduous teeth intact whenever possible to help them to do their job.
- If a cavity develops in a baby tooth, Dr. Zanthos may treat the tooth with a filling or, in the case of deep decay, place medication in the nerve of the tooth and cover it with a pediatric dental crown to maintain its position.
- If the tooth is lost prematurely, we are able to place a space maintainer to hold the space until the permanent tooth fully develops.
We also want to work with you and your child to create a preventive plan built on effective home care, regular dental visits, dental sealants and good nutrition habits to ensure a healthy future for permanent teeth. Regular dental visits can help protect a child’s oral health for a lifetime. We invite you to contact us for our recommendations for your child’s dental needs.