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Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth

Sensitive teeth

It’s summer in Texas!  It’s natural for all of us in Carrollton and surrounding areas to start heading for the nearest ice cream store, or get a giant cold drink in an effort to cool down.  But, is the taste of ice cream (or a sip of hot coffee) sometimes a painful experience for you? Does brushing or flossing make you wince occasionally? If so, you may have sensitive teeth.

Possible causes include:

In healthy teeth, a layer of enamel protects the crowns of your teeth—the part above the gum line. Under the gum line a layer called cementum protects the tooth root. Underneath both the enamel and the cementum is dentin. 
Dentin is less dense than enamel and cementum and contains microscopic tubules (small hollow tubes or canals). When dentin loses its protective covering of enamel or cementum these tubules allow heat and cold or acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth. Dentin may also be exposed when gums recede. The result can be hypersensitivity.

Sensitive teeth can be treated. The type of treatment will depend on what is causing the sensitivity. Your dentist may suggest one of a variety of treatments:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste. This contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, and usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.
  • Fluoride gel. An in-office technique which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.
  • A crown, inlay or bonding. These may be used to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.
  • Surgical gum graft. If gum tissue has been lost from the root, this will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.
  • Root canal. If sensitivity is severe and persistent and cannot be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend this treatment to eliminate the problem.

Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing sensitive-tooth pain. Ask Dr. Griffin if you have any questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or concerns about tooth sensitivity.  We can help!

(Click HERE to see a video from Colgate regarding tooth sensitivity).

How Does Dental Insurance Work?

How Does Dental Insurance Work?Insurance

How does dental insurance work? It doesn’t. Just kidding. Dental insurance does work, it just doesn’t work the same way as health insurance, which most people assume it does. When most people think about health insurance, they think first about covering costs of treatment for serious medical conditions or accidents. But, dental insurance is a completely different animal.

“Dental insurance” is not really insurance, it’s more like a benefit. Most dental plans are chosen and by employers to save you some money on your dental care, but it does not relate at all to your personal dental needs or “catastrophic” dental needs.

That being said let’s look at a little history of dental insurance.

Dental insurance was first introduced in 1954 and gained popularity in the 60’s. By the 70’s, many employers offered dental insurance plans. These plans typically covered 100% of preventive care, 80% of minor dental work, or basic dental work, such as fillings and simple extractions, and 50% of major work such as crowns and bridges.

The annual maximum annual coverage of dental plans in the 70’s was $1000. Back then, $1,000 bought a lot of dental care. Today, the average cap on dental plans is…wait for it… $1,000. Um what? Yep, you read that right — most plans still offer $1,000, some plans offer $1500, and the rare plan offers more, but the average is still $1000. So in over 40 years, dental maximums have not gone up. Based on the Consumer Price Index, $1000 in 1970 would now be around $6258. Yes, you read that right. What you could have bought in 1970 for $1000 would cost you over $6000 today.

Let’s take a look at how most dental insurance plans work these days.

First, you have a deductible, which is typically $25 or $50. This is applied and paid by you when you have your first appointment for dental treatment like a filling or crown. Most plans do not apply this deductible toward your exams and cleanings, therefore no money is due from you during these types of appointments, unless your plan does not cover certain procedures such as fluoride for adults.

Then, you have your reimbursement levels, or the percentages of what your dental plan will cover. Most plans are typically grouped into three categories:

  • Type 1 (Preventative/Diagnostic) 100% coverage – exams, x-rays and cleanings, fluoride and sealants for kids up to a certain age.
  • Type 2 (Basic restorative) 80% coverage – fillings, root canals, extractions, periodontal procedures.
  • Type 3 (Major restorative) 50% coverage – crowns, dentures, bridge work.

The coinsurance would be the percentage of the covered dental expense you pay, after the deductible has been met. So, if your plan covers 80% of a procedure your coinsurance would be 20%.

Next, is the annual maximum benefit. Most plans have a maximum of $1000.00 – $1500.00. Once you have reached that maximum, dental insurance will not pay for any more treatment that may be needed for the year. Which leaves you paying out of pocket.

Looks pretty straight forward doesn’t it? But hold on, many plans have exceptions especially with dental insurance. Here are some possible exceptions that dental plans may have:

WAITING PERIODS: Woops! You have to wait 6 months from your effective date on the group dental plan for Type 2 services to be covered!

MISSING TOOTH CLAUSE: If the tooth was missing prior to your effective date with the group plan, too bad. They are not going to pay to replace it with a bridge or implant.

FREQUENCYS: The group plan allows certain services at certain intervals. Cleanings every 6 month plus 1 day.  (I’m not kidding, have your cleaning 1 day too soon and you insurance won’t cover it.) Full sets of x-rays are usually limited to every 3-5 years. That means if you switch dentists you want to have those x-rays sent over before you arrive.

And finally,

DOWNGRADES: Most plans have “downgrades”, meaning the insurance may approve a procedure, but pay for a less expensive procedure (Example: You have a tooth colored filling on a back tooth. Your insurance pays what it would pay for silver, leaving you with the difference in cost).

So, that’s basically how dental insurance works. As you can see it can be easy and confusing at the same time, and, not a whole lot hasn’t really changed with dental plans in over 40 years!

 

If you have any questions about your dental insurance please feel free to call us here at 972-242-2155. Or you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” link at the top of this page.

 

Restoring Smiles with Dental Implants

Dental ImplantsRestoring Smiles with Dental Implants

If you lose or break a tooth, are self-conscious because you have missing teeth, wear dentures that are uncomfortable or don’t want to have good tooth structure removed to make a bridge, dental implants may be the best option for restoring your smile. Read on to learn more about dental implants and whether they are right for you.

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is a post, usually made of titanium, which serves as a substitute for a natural tooth’s root. The implant is placed in the jawbone so that it may fuse with the natural bone to become a sturdy foundation for a replacement tooth. Implants can be used to replace individual teeth or to support a bridge or denture containing multiple teeth.

Who can receive implants?

Dental implants can be provided to most patients who are missing teeth due to decay, disease, injury, or other medical conditions. Since surgery is required, implant patients must be in good general health, with healthy gums and adequate bone structure.

Implants are not for everyone, however. Chronic conditions like bruxism, diabetes, or leukemia may interfere with healing after implant surgery, so the success rate decreases for patients with these conditions. This also is the case for patients taking bisphosphonates for osteoporosis. Additionally, those who drink alcohol or use tobacco may not be good candidates for implants. Your medical and dental history are taken into consideration when deciding if implants are right for you.

 How does implant placement work?

Surgery is performed to place the implant in the jaw. The implant must be allowed about 3-6 months to heal, and during this time the jaw bone will form around the implant in a process called osseointegration. During this healing time you can have temporary crowns placed so that you can eat and speak normally and maintain a proper aesthetic appearance for your smile. After the implant has healed it is time to place an abutment on the implant. The abutment serves as the base for your new tooth. One this is placed an impression of the abutment is taken and is used to create your permanent restoration.

What can I expect after the procedure?

Most patients will adjust to implants immediately. Some people may feel slight discomfort or notice differences in their chewing or speech, but these symptoms are usually temporary.

How do I care for my implant?

Although an implant’s success rate depends on its purpose and location in the mouth—as well as the patient’s overall health—a major reason some implants fails is poor hygiene. It’s important to brush implants at least twice a day, as well as to floss in between them. Additionally, as many as four dental cleanings per year may be necessary to maintain gum health. You will be given specific instructions on caring for your implants.

 

If you would like to know more about dental implants or to find out whether they are the right choice for you, please call us at 972-242-2155.  Or, you can use the “Ask Dr. Griffin” form at the top of this page.

 

(Information gathered from the Academy of General Dentistry)