FAQ

Who is at risk for tooth decay?

What is tooth decay?

Why should I spend alot of money on a Root Canal? Why not just pull the tooth?

What is “plaque” and how does it affect my teeth?

What causes Bad Breath?

What is Bruxism?

Why do I need a crown instead of a bigger filling?

What do I do if my tooth is loose or knocked out?

What are dental implants?

What are dental sealants, who should get them, and how long do they last?

Are women more prone to oral health problems?

What is a “regular” or “standard” cleaning?

What is periodontal disease?

My dental plan says that it will pay 100 percent for two dental checkups and cleanings each year. However, I just had my first checkup and cleaning, and the insurance company says I owe for part of the dentist’s charge. How can this be?

What is the difference between an in-network and an out-of-network dentist?

Who is at risk for tooth decay?

The answer is… everyone who has a mouth. We all host bacteria in our mouths which make everyone a potential target for cavities.

What is tooth decay?

Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in dental plaque damages the enamel of your teeth, leaving a hol or cavity. Any part of a tooth can decay, from the roots below the gum line to the chewing surface. If plaque bacteria reach and damage the pulp, the tooth will likely die, because the pulp contains nerves and blood vessels that supply the tooth. Tooth decay can occur due to a number of issues, including poor brushing and flossing habits, diets rich in sugar, the presence of rish factors such as smoking and lack of fluoride in the water supply.

Why should I spend alot of money on a Root Canal? Why not just pull the tooth?

Losing a tooth can be the beginning of many more lost teeth. Saving the tooth maintains space, keeps other teeth from shifting, and eliminates the need and cost of a bridge or implant. Although seemingly expensive it is actually quite cost effective.

What is “plaque” and how does it affect my teeth?

Plaque is a colorless, sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. If left undisturbed, it hardens to form tartar. The bacteria in the plaque produce byproducts that can not only irritate the gums and make them bleed, but it can also lead to periodontal disease. A daily regimen of proper brushing, flossing and rinsing (plus, regular dental visits), will help you keep your teeth healthy.

What causes Bad Breath?

Bad breath is caused by many factors. Normally, saliva helps wash away the natural buildup of bacteria in the mouth and on the tongue. Yet, when saliva sits on the back of the tongue and is digested by bacteria, it shows up as a white film on the tongue. This is a major source of bad breath. Bad breath is also caused by postnasal drip, a condition where the back of the tongue and throat accumulate high amounts of protein, which bacteria thrive on. Foods that are high in protein or acidity, such as fish, milk, cheese or coffee, also cause bad breath. Proper oral hygiene eliminates many cases of bad breath. Daily brushing and flossing removes the plaque and bacteria that often cause bad breath. While brushing, take special care to thoroughly brush the back of the tongue where bacteria normally collect. Mints and mouthwashes can hide bad breath, but do not eliminate this condition. Avoid foods that have powerful odors and drink lots of water to insure that the mouth is cleansed and full of oxygen (an environment in which bacteria do not thrive).

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the term that refers to an incessant grinding and clenching of the teeth, unintentionally, and at inappropriate times. Bruxers (persons with bruxism) are often unaware that they have developed this habit, and often do not know that treatment is available until damage to the mouth and teeth have been done. Damage caused by bruxism often includes the following symptoms. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently.
Symptoms may include:

  • Abraded teeth
  • Facial pain
  • Oversensitive teeth
  • Tense facial and jaw muscles
  • Headaches
  • Dislocation of the jaw
  • Damage to the tooth enamel, exposing the inside of the tooth (dentin)
  • A popping or clicking in the TemporoMandibular Joint (TMJ)
  • Tongue indentations
  • Damage to the inside of the cheek

Why do I need a crown instead of a bigger filling?

Teeth are often restored using silver or composite fillings. However, whent too much of a tooth’s structure is removed to support a filling, a crown or “cap” may be needed. A crown essentially covers a tooth to restore it to its natural shape and size. This permanent covering fits over your original tooth to strengthen or improve the appearance of the tooth. Fitting a crown generallly requires at least two visits to the dentist’s office.

What do I do if my tooth is loose or knocked out?

If the tooth is loose, even extremely so, but is still attached in any way, leave it in place; do not remove it. If it is out of its socket completely and unattached, but still in the civtim’s mouth, it is best to have the person hold it there, if possible, until a dentis can attempt re-implantation. If it is out of the mouth, do not let it dry out. Handle it as little as possible. Do not attempt to disinfect the tooth, or scrub it, or remove any tissue attached to it. If it is recovered from the ground or other soiled area, rinse it off in lukewarm water. Preserve it in milk until a dentist is available. If milk is not available, lukewarm water will suffice. Time out of the socket is critical in the long-term success of re-implantation. After 30 minutes, the success potential begins to decline. However, re-implantation is still possible after several hours, so the attempt can still be made.

What are dental implants?

Teeth will drift and tip into a space that is created by missing teeth. When you lose a tooth, a dental implant may be needed to replace the tooth root and crown. Dental implants are simply “anchors” that permanently support replacement teeth. They are secure and durable and can be cleaned and cared for much like your natural teeth. The procedure requires a titanium root be fitted into your jaw to replace the lost tooth’s root. Once the implant is anchored into the bone, the bone around the implant requires four to six months of healing. Once the bone has healed a support post and replacement tooth is placed onto the implant.

What are dental sealants, who should get them, and how long do they last?

Sealants are a thin, plastic coating that are painted on the chewing surface of teeth – usually the back teeth (the premolars, and molars) – to prevent tooth decay. The painted on liqued sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and grooves of the teeth forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth. Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the dental sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benfit from sealants. Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wearing at regular dental check-ups.

Are women more prone to oral health problems?

Yes. Women have an increased sensitivity to oral health problems because of the unique hormonal changes they experience. These hormonal changes not only affect the blood supply to the gum tissue, but also the body’s response to the toxins that result from plaque build-up. As a result of these changes, women are more prone to the development of periodontal disease at certain stages of their lives, as well as to other oral health problems. The five situations in a women’s life during which hormone fluctuations make them more susceptible to oral health problems are during puberty, the monthly menstruation cycle, when using oral contraceptives, during pregnancy, and at menopause.

What is a “regular” or “standard” cleaning?

A regular cleaning is known as a prophylaxis in dental terms. The American Dental Association describes a prophylaxis as the removal of plaque, calculus, and stains from the tooth structures. A regular cleaning is recommended for persons who do not have any bone loss, periodontal disease, or infection around their teeth. There should also be no bleeding, mobility of teeth, receded areas where the gums have pulled away from the teeth, or gaps where the spaces around the roots of the teeth are exposed. In other words, the mouth should be healthy, with no gum and bone problems.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is very common, but does not always have distinct symptoms. It is an inflammation and infection of the supporting structures of the teeth (gums, bone, ligaments, root surfaces) that eventually results in the loss of teeth. You may notice that your gums bleed easily, that you have a bad taste in your mouth, that your gums appear red or swollen, that your teeth appear longer or have shifted. Or you may not notice anything at all.

My dental plan says that it will pay 100 percent for two dental checkups and cleanings each year. However, I just had my first checkup and cleaning, and the insurance company says I owe for part of the dentist’s charge. How can this be?

Plans that describe benefits in terms of percentages, for example, 100 percent for preventive care or 80 percent for restorative care, are generally Usual, Customary and Reasonable (UCR) plans. The administrators of UCR plans set what the plan considers to be a “customary fee” for each dental procedure. If your dentist’s fee exceeds this customary fee, your benefit will be based on a percentage of the cutomary fee instead of your dentist’s fee. Exceeding the plan’s customary fee, however, does not mean your dentist has overcharged for the procedure. These plans pay a set percentage of the dentist’s fee or the plan administrator’s “reasonable” or “customary” fee limit, whichever is less. These limits are the result fo acontract between the plan purchaser and the third-party payer. Although these limits are called “customary”, they may or may not accurately reflect the fess that area dentists charge. There is wide fluctuation and lack of goverment regulation how a plan determines the “customary” fee level.

What is the difference between an in-network and an out-of-network dentist?

An in-network dentist is one contracted with the dental insurance company to provide services to plan members for specific pre-negotiated rates. An out-of-network dentist is not contracted with the insurance company. Typically, if you visit a dentist within the network, the amount you will be responsible for paying will be less than if you go to an out-of-network dentist. Though there are some exceptions, in many cases, the insurance company will either pay less or not pay anything for services you receive from non-network dentists.

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©2011 Dr. Heather L. Skari Family Dentistry 4110 40 St S, Suite 103
Fargo, ND 58104
Phone: (701) 293-7996
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