Medicare and Dentistry

Medicare and Dentistry

If you’re nearing 65 this year, or headed for blissful retirement, you’ve likely heard of your eligibility to start receiving Medicare benefits. This is great news in some aspects of coverage. Medicare is a great social program that helps build a safety net for injuries and diseases, whose treatment costs can get expensive. However, the list of benefits and services Medicare provides is limited, it won’t cover everything. There are a handful of very basic healthcare services you might be surprised aren’t covered by your new benefits plan. Being aware of the gaps in your coverage is necessary because what used to be considered a routine health care appointment, all of a sudden, might no longer be covered.

One of the biggest gaps in Medicare’s coverage is dental care. If you’re looking for a preventative cleaning or routine checkup – you’re looking to foot the bill for those expenses. Cavities fillings, oral surgeries, root canals and even dentures are not covered by Medicare’s senior plan. As people age, they grow increasingly susceptible to cavities. An increase in medications that increase dry mouth among patients come with an increased difficulty in maintaining good oral health. Dry mouth affects your teeth and gums which leads to a higher probability of gingivitis and cavities. Besides being just a nuisance to deal with, these symptoms can often be a warning sign for other greater health issues that might make someone sick, like, strokes, diabetes and pneumonia.

This makes a good oral hygiene system almost essential for any senior. Brushing, flossing, mouthwash every day. But even taking these careful measures might not be enough to stop the onset of dental problems. Routine trips to the dentist are just as important as an at-home-maintenance ritual but with Medicare not covering even these routine examinations, many seniors are finding themselves footing the whole bill for their dentist visit.
The only time Medicare will step in to cover a dental expense is a service that renders the patient hospitalized. In that case, the Medicare Part A plan will help cover some cost of the service. Beyond that, seniors are on their own with the expense.

This, is obviously, a huge inconvenience for anyone 65 or older. As we age, the teeth age too, making them, just like any other body part, more susceptible to problems and wear and tear. Most people will need dentures at a point in their life and without insurance coverage, the bottom line of that bill can get pricey.

We understand your frustration with this insurance policy. My passion since entering Dentistry has always been, bottom line, the love of helping people. If you find yourself in a sticky situation regarding your Medicare coverage, call our offices today and set up an appointment, we can talk about solutions and discuss different options available to get you the care you need and depend on.

Mouthwash Helps Provide a Total Clean

Mouthwash Helps Provide a Total Clean

Mouthwashes are a great addition to your oral hygiene ritual. There are two predominate kinds, one with fluoride, a chemical used to strengthen teeth and reduce decay; and there’s the kind with antiseptics, designed to attack the germs that can cause decay and gum disease. Both are effective in their promise and will deliver results to the user, but they’re no substitute for flossing and brushing, and should be treated as an accessory to use after your more thorough regime is complete.

I know most of my patient’s dislike flossing. Not without reason, it’s time consuming and awkward. For infrequent flossers, there can be some discomfort associated with picking at your gum-line. But, it is absolutely essential for your mouth health. I can see when my patients don’t floss correctly, or even at all. Plaque builds up along the bottom gum line and can cause discomfort if left untreated for too long. Bleeding gums and pain are all potential signs of peritonitis and can be avoided if one practices proper flossing habits. With so many options available, you can make it easy to find something that fits you. There’s personal flossers with handles, there’s the traditional dental string and there’s even dental tape. Differentiating thicknesses and wax application make the options endless and are aimed to find a solution to the discomfort many people experience during the process. The more you take flossing into your own hands, the less I have to scrape out during your visits to me.

Mouthwash is a great tool to use after flossing, and your mouth will be extra healthy with this winning combination. After food and plaque gets uprooted and loosened away from the teeth, rinsing with mouthwash neutralizes what was just brought out and kills the germs that surround the base of our teeth. Mouthwash can get in between the crevices of teeth and more easily remove buildup that’s been loosened with the proper care techniques. There are a few different kinds of mouthwash you can choose from, they’re all effective but if you have specialized concerns, a little research into what you’re swishing with can go a long way.

Mouthwashes with fluoride are used to help strengthen teeth while adding extra protection against tooth decay. Since fluoride is present in most toothpastes, and tap water – consuming excessive amounts can have some negative health side effects, so keep in mind an approximate amount that you’re actually consuming. Antiseptic mouthwashes contain chlorhexidine gluconate, a chemical that stops the growth of bacteria. This mouthwash is recommended for people who are battling an infection and stronger versions can be picked up over the counter with a prescription from your dentist. These mouthwashes break down plaque intensely in the short term, but can cause more bacteria to grow if overused, since it so harshly strips the mouth. Antiseptic mouthwash is also useful for anyone who suffers from halitosis. Fresh off the farm to table trend, natural mouthwashes are now more available than ever. They’re alcohol free and contain no fluoride, so they work similarly to conventional or cosmetic mouthwashes. If you’re going the au-natural route, a pinch of salt and warm water can ease inflammation and pain associated with dental problems, and this can also treat the mouth for infection and injury.
While mouthwashes are great for a lot of things, they won’t replace regular checkups with me. I love a lazy life hack as much as the next guy, but you’re still going to need to brush and floss twice a day, every day, even with the addition of a mouthwash. Be sure you’re following your oral hygiene routine normally to keep your teeth happy and healthy, and visit me regularly so I can remind you of what a great job you’re doing.

Saving Lives Through Dentistry

Saving Lives Through Dentistry

Your dentist may be the best line of defense when oral cancer is in question. Whether or not you’re aware of it, part of your routine examination at your dentist’s office is a cancer check. When your dentist asks you to say “AHHHH”, he is looking into your throat for any abnormalities. Additionally, when you move your tongue around your dentist is looking for cancerous abnormalities around, under and on the sides of the tongue. Same goes for that nice neck massage you receive with cold gloved hands: checking for lumps in the passageways that could be indicative of a much more serious health issue.

Oral cancer screening is a routine examination performed at your dentist’s or doctor’s office. Screening for signs of cancer or precancerous conditions at least yearly keeps you informed of your health. An early diagnosis could be the difference of life and death, and you, as a patient, are probably not even aware that a screening is happening. If abnormal looking cells are found, then your dentist might order more tests to be done. Some argue the necessity of a screening but most dentists perform them routinely for your own benefit. Consequently, if your dentist is aware of risk factors that may increase your chance of oral cancer, they might screen more in-depth or more frequently.

As with any cancer, engaging in risky health habits increase your likelihood of contracting oral cancer. Tobacco use of any kind, which includes: cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, snuff, hookah, and many others – increase that risk exponentially. Heavy drinkers or alcohol abusers also suffer heightened risk of contracting cancer. Even a history of significant sun exposure plays a role in increasing the likelihood that you’ll contract lip or skin cancer which can migrate or show in other areas such as your mouth or throat.

A screening isn’t the best way to determine if you do or don’t have cancer but a second set of eyes from someone who cares about you might lead to finding abnormal cells. The findings of these abnormalities gives the patient leverage in their own health. If precancerous cells have been found, more tests are probably going to be the first thing recommended. As just a simple screening can’t detect all mouth cancers, anything that looks fishy will need to be reevaluated for clarity. There is no proof that routine examinations reduce the numbers of death caused by oral cancer. But if a diagnosis is made early enough then the patient has the option to start treatment earlier, where remission is most possible.

Some dentists use special tests in the addition to the oral exam to screen. Some of these practices include having the patient rinse their mouth with a special blue dye for an exam. Abnormal cells in your mouth may take up the dye and appear blue. Shining a bright light into your mouth during an exam is another practice. The light makes healthy tissues appear dark and makes abnormal tissues appear white. None of these procedures are uncomfortable in any way for the patient.

Since most of my patients are like extended family to me, I take the time to do cancer screens on each of them. Being privileged to look into the lives of the people I treat, sometimes I’m aware of habits they’ve picked up that pose a threat to their health. This is an area I’m passionate about and I love helping people dearly, so looking out for their best interest is in my best interest as well.

The Link between Diabetes and Dental Health

The Link between Diabetes and Dental Health

Research is continually highlighting the correlation between a patients’ dental problems and other medical conditions they may have. Our teeth are one of the more individually unique features to ourselves, and a patient’s dental health can play a major role in determining other kinds of illnesses or problems. If my patients have diabetes, for example, I can know simply from a few visits.

There’s an existing link between diabetes and Periodontal Disease. People who suffer from diabetes are more likely to suffer from gum and bone infections that hold the teeth in place. If allowed to advance, Periodontal disease can lead to painful chewing problems and even tooth loss, in rare cases, and like any infection, gum disease can make it even more difficult to keep your blood sugar under control.

If you do suffer from diabetes and are noticing the effects are shifting to your mouth, keep in mind that the more you control your diabetes, the less persistent infections become. Good diabetic control is the best protection against periodontal disease. Statistics show that people with good control of their condition have no more periodontal disease than a person without diabetes. Literally the only difference would be the predisposition when their care is neglected.
There are a few physiological reasons this correlation exists. Blood vessel changes caused by diabetes lead to a thickening in the vessel which makes carrying away the tissues’ waste products slower. This can weaken the resistance of gum and bone tissue and cause infection. Because bacteria thrives on sugars, the sugar linked to diabetes lead to exceptionally large glucose levels which helps germs grow inside the mouth. Consequently, if you already have shaky dental hygiene habits and diabetes, your preexisting exposure is running high for possibility of infection.

I try to drum this knowledge into my patients whom I know have diabetes and also suffer from frequent infections. Seeing them get to a place where they can thrive is a passion of mine and dentistry can be a close-up look into a person’s health and hygiene habits. I’ve been fortunate to say most of them heed my advice and have seen improvements in their overall wellbeing once they start taking control.

How Microscopic Dentistry Improves Results

How Microscopic Dentistry Improves Results

Using a microscope in dental procedures is a guaranteed way to achieve better and more accurate results. Cosmetic, root canals, crown procedures and fillings all serve to be improved by microscopic precision. This technique provides me with a feeling of thoroughness and professional enjoyment.
Most dental offices that do microsurgical endodontics use loupes that magnify at about 2.5-3 times the magnification. Our office uses a microscope that can magnify up to 16 times. This is to ensure the maximum possible accuracy when working on our patients.
Loupes are used to scrutinize and examine a patient’s oral cavity. In order to make improved diagnosis’s or allow for a better visualization of details, we can use a microscope. Looking at these details is important to many procedures. For example, I may want to determine how far a crack runs along the surface of a tooth. What is the risk of the tooth fracturing or having that crack extend into the nerve, thus needing a root canal. With a microscope a diagnosis can be made with a higher level of definiteness and the proper treatment can be provided or determined that no treatment is necessary
Studies have demonstrated a much higher success rate in procedures that utilize surgical operating microscopes. Even with all the positive attention garnered around using these tools, it still isn’t considered standard practice among dentists. These microscopes have a steep learning curve and require extensive practice and training to master. Yet, for me the ability to see at this higher level makes the daily grind much more enjoyable.

The Great Organic Debate

The Great Organic Debate

The focus of consumers is changing; more and more people are asking and looking for items labeled ‘organic’ or ‘natural’. Should your toothpaste choices be any different? On one hand you want to limit the amount of chemicals you intake on a daily basis for your own health, but on the other you’re probably wondering if they really clean as well as main stream brands. Natural toothpastes have developed a long way from their farm origins so fear not, you won’t be brushing with a dollop of clay if you do decide to switch over.

The reality is that we brush to clean our teeth. We want to remove the plaque that causes decay and gum problems. Toothpaste adds a nice flavor and can provide benefits that address our specific problems.

If you have a decay problem, use a toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride hardens the teeth and helps prevent future decay.
If you have a gum problem, use a toothpaste that is designed to help control gum disease. Keeping the bone and gums healthy will prolong the life of your teeth and will reduce the risk of germs contributing to disease through out your body.

I realize, we are not necessarily addressing the organic issue, but it is my job to help my patients and reduce their risk of dental disease. The problem with organic toothpastes is that there are no scientific studies that verify the benefits and or risks of organic toothpastes.
If your teeth and gums are healthy, by all means feel free to use an organic toothpaste. I am no different than my patients. I look for organic alternatives in my life. Yet, I am also science oriented and I want to use the things that benefit my teeth and overall health.