Your Smile Dental Care


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Foods: Healing or Harming?

Healthy Teeth Start with Healthy Food Choices

 

Foods that Help Teeth

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and Vegetables that contain a high volume of water–such as pears, melons, celery, and cucumber– help balance ingested sugars and help to clean the teeth. Many fruits and vegetables also contain vitamin C (important for healthy gums and quick healing of wounds) and vitamin A (key nutrient in building tooth enamel).  Fruits and veggies that are fibrous help “clean” teeth and also get saliva flowing. Leafy greens are great sources of calcium too.
  • Dairy: Cheese neutralises acid in the mouth and is also a saliva maker. Saliva can help to rid your teeth of decay-causing food particles. Eating cheese before a meal helps to coat tooth surfaces making it harder for other foods and germ to stick to teeth. Milk, and plain yogurt are also great choices.
  • Protein: Calcium-fortified tofu and almonds can promote good teeth health due to their high calcium properties and other nutrients.  Other great options for protein: meat, poultry, fish, milk and eggs. These foods are also high in phosphorus. Both calcium and phosphorus rebuild and protect your tooth enamel and are vital to your dental health.
  • Water: Helps to wash decay-promoting particles from your teeth. Water is a great choice for hydration because it is sugar-free and helps in the digestion process.

 


Foods that Harm Teeth

  • Hard candies: Not only can these sweets break your teeth, they are full of sugars bacteria love to feed on and can be sticky.
  • Ice: Refreshing for cooling off a drink, but chewing on then can cause microfractures in enamel that can break your teeth.
  • Citrus foods: Citric acidic can erode the enamel of your teeth. Get to know what foods are acidic and eat them as part of a meal of other healthy foods to help wash away and neutralise their acidic properties.
  • Coffee/Tea: Caffeinated coffee and tea can dry out your mouth allowing bacteria to stick your teeth and promote decay. Sugar is often added to sweeten coffee, so if you’re sipping it all day it can lead to tooth decay. Also, these types of beverages can stain your teeth over time.
  • Sticky foods:  Bacteria continue to eat the sticky foods left on the tooth the long after you’re finished eating.  Choise fresh fruit instead of dried, sticky fruit like raisins, dried figs, dried apricots, granola bars, jelly beans, caramel, and molasses. It is especially hard to clean them out of any deep grooves on the biting surface of teeth. Coat your teeth by eating some cheese first to create a film over tooth surfaces. This makes it harder for sticky foods to adhere to teeth.
  • Crunchy foods: Be careful of foods that can break teeth and past dental work or get stuck in between teeth and under gums. This is especially important for weak teeth or failing dental restorations. Biting into foods like raw carrots, bones, Patients stool often remark about how they broke a tooth eating a sandwich or other starchy food, but a fracture line probably occurred on a harder goid and the sticky soft foods”pulled” it away.
  • Sodas, Energy drinks and Flavoured Waters:  These drinks are full of citric acid and/or sugars. Drink in moderation and rinse with water or mouthrinse afterwards. You can also chew sugarless gum. Plain ol’ water is the best beverage choice!
  • Alcohol: Causes dehydration and dry mouth which can cause decreased saliva flow over time.  Less saliva means your mouth is more prone to tooth decay or gum disease. Heavy alcohol use can also increase your risk for mouth cancer.

 

Moderation is key when it comes to certain foods. The tips offered above help you enjoy a variety of foods while also giving consideration to how they can harm or heal your oral health.

 

Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 576-4537 (Oshawa)
(416) 783-3533 (Toronto)
www.yoursmiledentalcare.com

 


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Cavities under Dental Crown

Tooth Decay and Your Crown

Q: Can I get a cavity if my tooth is covered by a cap?

This is a common question. Actually, it’s a good question because people are often surprised to learn that the tooth is still susceptible to the decay process even with a strong crown fitting snugly over it. It is one of the valuable pieces of information that your dentist should pass on to you about your new crown.

A thorough explanation of why you need a crown should also be given. When a dentist recommends that you consider having a crown placed over one or more of your teeth, it is for their protection or to improve their appearance.

 

Crowns are recommended for teeth if they:

– have a very large filling and it needs to be covered with a crown for added support and strength.

– are weak because they are cracked, broken or worn down

– have cosmetic imperfections

– have undergone root canal treatment

 

The Destruction Process

What’s important to understand is that even though a crown is very durable, you have to treat it like your natural tooth because it is attached to your own tooth structure underneath. This tooth is still vulnerable to corrosive effects of repeated attacked by highly acids foods and bacterial acids. As acid continually accumulates along the seal between the crown and the tooth, it can soften enough of the tooth to cause a hole into which more bacteria can gather. Eventually it begins to make inroads underneath the crown and farther into the tooth. So, it’s important to understand that it is the tooth, not the crown, that is being destroyed and the cavity can only be cleaned away properly by removing the crown. During the cleaning and repair process, it is virtually impossible to retain the original shape of the underlying tooth and the existing crown will no longer fit this modified tooth precisely enough to protect it from future damage.

 

Bacterial plaque can accumulate along margin where crown meets tooth

 

Lifespan of Crowns

Like your tooth, crowns are subject to normal wear and tear and, as mentioned, can be under minded by tooth decay. Crowns generally last anywhere from 5-15 years before they may need to be replaced. However, we have seen crowns last as long as 25 years or more! Full metal ones tend to resist wear and breakage more than all porcelain one or those that are covered in porcelain. Simple chips to the white porcelain covering the crown can sometimes be smoothed by the dentist and in some cases, minor damage and holes due to wear can be covered using white dental filling material. However, all crowns can be compromised by the decay process and usually have to be replaced if it has to be removed. This is why keeping your crown free of plaque and maintaining healthy dental habits are critical to the life of a crown.

As with the care of natural teeth, these 4 habits are the most important factors in caring for your crown:

  1. Space out your meals and reduce, if not entirely eliminate, snacking in between meals.
  2. Brush 3 times/day and floss daily
  3. Eat well balanced, nutritional meals and avoid foods that are high in refined sugars and acids.
  4. See your dentist regularly for professional care.

 

Regular dental visits are important so that your dentist can monitor the integrity of your crown and the health of the tissues surrounding it.  Your dentist will be extra careful in checking the margin of your crown. Ideally, they would like to be able to detect and repair small issues while keeping your crown in tact before they become more advanced. Regular visits also allow your dental care team to evaluate your home care and advise you as needed.

 

Early Detection

Monitoring your teeth on a regular basis allows your dentist to assess the health of your teeth and gums. They will check around the margins of your crown to ensure that the area is being kept free of plaque and tartar and that the seal between crown and tooth is still sound. But detecting decay is not always easy. Sometimes there is a cavity growing underneath the crown that goes undetected because there it is showing no clinical evidence of it’s existence and x-rays do not penetrate through metal crowns. A cavity can be growing for a long time before it is caught and can advance to such a stage that the inside of the tooth can turn to mush and the crown loosen without the patient even knowing. At this point, the tooth itself may be at risk and the concern lies in saving the tooth.

Extending the Life of Your Crown

Replacing a crown can be costly in terms of the crown itself and in saving the tooth underneath. The best prevention strategy is to stay one step ahead of tooth decay by practicing good cleaning around where the crown meets the natural tooth at what we call the “margin”. The little time that it takes to clean away destructive bacterial plaque before it has a chance to buildup and become hard to remove is certainly worth the effort to help keep your tooth and surrounding gums healthy for years to come.

Of course, nothing last for ever, but the wise phrase, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a fitting one when it comes to caring for your crown so it will serve you well for many years.

 

Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 576-4537 (Oshawa)
(416) 783-3533 (Toronto)
www.yoursmiledentalcare.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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How often should you go to the dentist?

Why should I see a dentist if my teeth don’t hurt?

Your Smile is important and the health of your teeth has an impact on your overall health. But what if your teeth feel and look great to you?

Many people still believe that unless they are experiencing pain or have broken a tooth, it’s not necessary to see a dentist for regular examinations, but in a healthy mouth you shouldn’t be feeling any pain or sensitivity with your teeth!

 


“Pain should not be the only factor that makes you decide to go to the dentist.”


 

The fact is, dental pain is usually a warning that you have left an undetected problem too long.

Each tooth has a soft inner core consisting of blood vessels, lymphatic tissue and a nerve center. It plays an important role in the growth and development of the tooth, but once the tooth comes into the mouth, it is the lifeline that brings nutrients to the tooth and also sends out sensory signals in response to trauma and disease.

If you have ever broken a tooth or have had a painful cavity, you know the pain signals that your nerve sends out as a warning! However, it is actually located far enough away from the tooth’s outer surface that by the time an advancing cavity reaches the nerve it is usually too late to repair the problem with a simple fix.

The fact is, many oral disease are silent. We usually think that if our teeth are “quiet” that they are healthy, but you have to treat your oral health as you would your overall health.

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Regular maintenance check-up exams allows us to catch and manage the early signs of disease, before they become bigger, more complicated issues. At Your Smile Dental Care, we are here to help our patients restore their smiles to optimal dental health so that their future focus can be on prevention! We think that by encouraging our patients to maintain regular check-ups and cleanings and teaching them how to prevent dental problems before they occur is time well spent.

How often should you be going to the dentist?

That depends!

Our recommendations are based on your own individual, “specific to you”  oral health, medical conditions and lifestyle habits. Maintaining regular professional dental care allows us to monitor and evaluate your oral health and advise you accordingly.

Some people see us twice a year for their regular check-ups and cleanings, while others, who have more tartar build-up or who are at a higher risk for cavities and gum disease, need more frequent visits. It is important to understand that there are many changes in our lives that can impact our oral health and change the schedule of our dental visits.

 


“Even if you maintain an excellent oral care routine and always have good check-ups, you still need to continue a proactive attitude to help ensure that you and your dentist can always stay on top of things.”


 

And, it is especially important to take care of your teeth and seek professional dental care if you are in one of the following high risk groups below:

  • smoke or use tobacco products
  • are pregnant
  • have diabetics
  • have current gum disease
  • have a weak immune system
  • tend to get cavities or build up plaque
  • suffer from *dry mouth (see below)
  • have limited dexterity
  • have poor dietary habits
  • Snack frequently or sip a beverage other than water all day
  • have bulimia or acid reflux

*Dry Mouth: If you suffer from dry mouth your oral health may be at risk. People can develop dry mouth for a number if reasons, especially if they have:

  • diseases, such as bulimia, Sjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus or pernicious anemia, that alter the flow rate or content of saliva,
  • are receiving chemotherapy with drugs that cause xerostomia
  • are receiving radiation therapy directed to the head or neck.

 

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Early Detection

Knowing that here are also a number of oral health problems that can exist before you even begin to have symptoms will better help you understand why seeing your dentist regularly is so important for your oral health. We want to catch and treat problems early before they become more complicated.

If you’ve put off regular dental care – for whatever reason – do not delay any further. Your Smile is important!

 

 

Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
www.yoursmiledentalcare.com

 


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Need to know what your Dental Insurance Plan covers?


Am I covered?

This is one of the most common questions that our patients ask us, whether it is in response to a recommended treatment plan or just a general inquiry.

It is an important question because it is obviously one of the greatest factors that a patient takes into account when considering dental treatment. And although, treatment may be necessary for your dental health, no one wants any surprises when it comes to finances.

 


“It is becoming increasingly difficult for dental practices to gather information from your insurer on your behalf.”


 

Even if you already have an employee booklet that was given to you by your employer, it can sometimes be difficult to interpret or may not explain all the limitations your plan may apply to your covered benefits. Under Ontario’s Privacy Act, it is becoming increasingly difficult for dental practices to gather information from your insurer on your behalf. Oftentimes, they want the subscriber of the plan (the employee) to be present in the office to grant permission and that is not always practical.

When a patients needs to be seen by a dentist for an unexpected emergency or last minute appointment, they do not always have the luxury preparing for their visit. If we have to initiate immediate treatment in order to save the tooth, waiting for approval of a cost estimate is also always a choice. An inquiry to the insurer over the telephone about treatment eligibility can be further complicated if they do not wish to disclose the information about the plan’s benefits without the policy holder’s written permission (regardless of the emergency circumstances) or they want to review the treatment case and dental images first.

This is just one of the many scenarios that take place when dealing with dental insurance. It can be an exercise in frustration especially when you are faced with having to make an immediate or timely decision about your dental health needs. When treatment cannot be delayed and is a same-day necessity, the uncertainty of insurance coverage can trigger an additional worry for patients.

 

Dental Speak

Understanding your dental policy and the terminology used can be confusing. If you ever want to call your insurer to get a general breakdown of your policy there are a number of important terms and questions you may want to know and understand before making an inquiry:

 

Basic Services – Most insurance companies classify routine maintenance and restorative treatment under basic services. These include, but may not be limited to, exams, cleanings, fluoride, x-rays, sealants, fillings and extractions. Your plan will likely limit the frequency under which they will pay for such procedures and you should be aware of these date/frequency limitations.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “What procedures are considered Basic under my policy?  How often can will these Basic services be performed?”

 

Major Services –  Most insurance companies classify Major as those services that go beyond the scope of routine procedures because they involve more complex or extensive treatment in order to restore or repair a condition where breakdown, loss or damaged has occurred.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “Am I covered for major services? What are those major treatments and the associated limitations that I should be aware of?”

 

Fee Guide (aka. Fee Schedule) – is an annual suggested fee structure that is put together by a provincial or state dental association and serve as a guide when dentists are billing patients. Most insurance companies will base their fees according to this annual fee schedule. In order to make a dental plan more affordable for an employer to offer to employees, they may choose a plan that pays at a previous year’s suggested fees. For example, if you have an appointment in 2017 and your dentist bills you at 2017 prices, but you plan pays out at 2015 prices, you will pay the difference in fees between these two dates. From year to year, some dental fees increase, some decrease, while others may remain the same price. Dentists are not required to follow any fee guide, but most do. If the dentist practices a specialty such as oral surgery or endodontics you should inquire about their fees.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “What fee guide does my plan follow?”  “Does it cover both General and Specialist practitioners?”

 

Deductible – Similar to a car deductible, it is the annual dollar amount you must pay before your insurance policy takes effect. It usually is an annual deductible and is applied to your first visit of the year. You may have a deductible for each member on your policy or just one for the whole family.

Case Scenario 1: If your first visit of the year is a covered expense under the terms of your policy and you are charged $100.00 for the treatment, under a policy family deductible of $25 your insurer will pay $75.00 ($100 minus the $25 deductible). Subsequent dental treatment for your family members within the year will not be subjected to this deductible as it has already been applied.

Case Scenario 2: If your first visit of the year is a covered expense under the terms of your policy and you are charged $75.00 for the treatment, under a policy family deductible of $100 your insurer will pay not pay anything as the $100 deductible has not been met yet. In fact, there is $25 still outstanding and will be applied to the next visit in that particular year. Subsequent dental treatment for your family members within the year will not be subjected to this remaining deductible as only $75.00 has been applied.

Sometimes, the deductible is only applied to certain treatment procedures such as major services. Understand that any premium or co-payments usually do not count towards this deductible.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “Does my policy have a deductible and is it single or family? How much is the deductible? Is it applied  to all covered procedures or only certain treatment?”

 

Annual Maximum – Most dental plans have a certain dollar amount that they will pay towards your dental treatment per year. It involves a specific benefit period (January to December for example) and once this maximum dollar is reached then you are responsible for paying any remaining costs. It is important to understand that, if at the end of this benefit period, you still have a portion of this dollar amount still available and do not use it, it is usually lost and does not carry over into the next benefit period. Annual maximums vary depending on the policy and they are another way that employers and insurers limit their costs. There may be a different dollar amount applied to basic treatment as opposed to major services. It may also be applied to each individual under the policy or be a dollar amount for the entire family.

Case Scenario 1: If you have an individual annual maximum of $1000 and you have seven cavities totaling $700 and have not used any other monies from your plan during that specific benefit period, then you still have $300 remaining.

Other consideration that can affect this dollar amount of deductible, co-payments and type of dental services – basic or major.

Case Scenario 2: If you have an individual annual maximum of $1000 and you have seven cavities totaling $700 and have not used any other monies from your plan during that specific benefit period, but your plan only pays 80% for this type of basic treatment and has a $25 deductible, then they will pay $535 toward the dental cost leaving you with $465 remaining.

Unfortunately, the annual maximums that many insurance companies offer do not match the realty of today’s dental healthcare costs.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “Does my policy have an annual maximum? Is it a single or family maximum? What period does it cover? How is it applied – basic, major towards any treatment? What happens to remaining dollars at the end of the benefit period? Does my policy have a lifetime maximum? How can I best keep track of this annual maximum?

*TIPSometimes, a patient needs a lot of dental treatment during their benefit period. They may choose to have only the treatment that is covered by their annual maximum, and then delay the remaining treatment until their benefit period renews. Sometimes, it may be a viable option for you, while other times, delaying dental treatment can lead to higher costs in terms of fees, pain, complications and disease progression. Always consult your dentist if you are considering delaying recommended treatment. Oral health can be unpredictable, especially if you do not visit your dentist on a regular basis.

 

Co-Payments (aka. co-insurance) – is the percentage of the procedure bill that your insurance does not pay. It is your portion of the dental cost. If your dental office bills your insurance directly, then you will pay this fee after each dental visit. If you pay your dentist first and are reimbursed by your insurer then they will pay the covered costs minus this co-payment.  Co-payment are usually expressed as percentages.

Case Scenario: your dental policy may cover basic procedures at 80% and major services at 50%. You will be responsible for paying the remaining 20% or 50% respectively. For basic treatment, your insurer will pay $60 of a $75.00 dental bill.  If you were charged $500 for a major service your insurer will pay $250.00. Other factors will also be accounted for such as annual maximums and deductibles etc…

Again, it is a way for employers or insurance companies to limit their costs of offering dental coverage. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a dental policy that covers 100% of all treatment. Like a deductible, a co-payment represents your portion of your dental expenses. Some patients ask their dentists to waive or write-off their co-payments, but each dentist in Ontario has a legal and ethical obligation via-a-vis the insurance company to collect all co-payments from a patient.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “What co-payments am I responsible under this policy? Are there different co-payments for different types of procedures?”

 

Coverage period – This term basically means the period of time for which you or a member of your dental plan is covered for insured benefits. It can be used to describe a benefit year or the period of time that your policy is in effect. Some plans kick in only after a specified “waiting period”, so it is essential that you call your insurer to ensure that you are eligible to use the plan before you make a dental appointment. Additionally, you may only be covered for basic services for a period of time before any major coverage applies.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “When is the exact date that I can begin using this plan?” “Up to what age are my dependents covered and what conditions apply?” “What happens if I am laid-off or go on leave from my job?” “Is there a wait period for any procedures such as major treatment? “Is there anything else that can affect my eligibility under this plan.”

 

Single/Family – Single refers to the individual policy holder/employee and Family includes their spouse and at least one child. Single coverage usually costs less in premiums than a family plan. Clarify with your insurer who is covered under your plan and ensure that their personal information (spelling of name, date of birth etc…) is correct. If you are living in a co-habitation arrangement with a common-law spouse or separate with your spouse, ensure that you understand how it can affect their eligibility under the plan. Lastly, you may want to know if your yearly deductible applies to the family as a whole or each individual member of the plan.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “Does my policy cover my family?” “Do we have one maximum dollar amount for the whole family or do we have individual annual maximums?” “Is my plan’s annual deductible single or family?”

 

Frequencies – Your insurer often limits the number of times that they will pay for a particular dental procedure. The time lapse between two identical procedures and the limitation your insurer will place on having the same procedure performed again can be very problematic for patients if they are not aware of these plan limits. For example, you may be covered to have a check-up examination every 6 months. There are other plan frequencies applied to different treatment such as crown replacement (ie. every 5 years), orthodontics (ie. once in a lifetime), fillings (ie. once every 3 year for same tooth, same surfaces) or new patient exam (i.e. once every 36 months).

When making an inquiry to your insurer, it becomes a little trickier when asking about frequencies. If you think that a tooth has had dental tx performed on it in the past, your dental provider can make this inquiry to your insurer on your behalf.

 

Examinations – There are different types of exams that a dental provider may perform. The exam that is arranged for you depends on the situation and the amount of time involved for the dental provider.

Complete Exam (Procedure code 01101 baby teeth, 01102 mixed baby and adult teeth, 01103 adult teeth) – Exams that warrant a complete verbal, visual and radiographic (x-ray) evaluation of a new patient or of an existing patient that requires a more comprehensive assessment of their oral health status. It generally centers around in-depth information gathering to the extent that allows the dental team to acquaint themselves with a patient’s past medical/dental history, chart pre-existing dental work, diagnose current conditions and develop a plan for future care. Most insurers pay for this every 2-3 years.
Recall/Check-up (Procedure code 01102) – A regular, periodic maintenance examination of a pre-existing patient to ensure no dental problems/issues have arisen since your last check-up exam. It usually coincides with  a regularly scheduled cleaning. Every 6-12 months
Emergency Exam (Procedure code 01105)- An exam that is required in an unexpected, urgent situation such a fractured tooth, extreme pain or swelling of an area of the mouth. Insurers may limit how many of these exams can be done outside of your regular check-up exam.
Specific Exam (Procedure code 01104)- An examination that is required apart from your regular check-up exam for the assessment/diagnosing of a specific area or tooth of concern and is not urgent in nature. Again, your insurer usually place limitations on the frequency of this type of exam.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “How often can I have a check-up exam?” “What are my plan’s frequencies concerning emergency and specific exams” “How often can I have a complete new patient exam?”

 

Specialist – If you have been referred to a Specialist, typically their fees are higher than the suggested provincial fee guide for General dentists. Additionally, you will usually pay up front for your treatment at a Specialist office and be reimbursed by your dental insurer according to the terms of your policy. Although your insurer may not cover all of the fees, it may at least defray some of the cost. Ensure that you know the payment policy of the Specialist you will be seeing and how you are to submit a claim for treatment to your insurer.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “Does my policy covers Specialist fees and at what percentage and up to what maximum dollar amount?”  

 

Composite on molars – This is term that is used to describe a white filling on a molar. Some plans will only pay for an amalgam fillings on back teeth where aesthetics are less of a concern since most people cannot see your back teeth. Many dental offices no longer provide amalgam material as a choice for fillings when a tooth is decays or fractures. There is a cost difference – with the composite white filling being slightly higher in price – so insurers will scale their payment of white fillings to the amalgam price.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “Does my plan cover composite on molars?”

 

Dual Coverage – This is when a patient has dental coverage through 2 separate dental plans – usually their own plan and then an additional plan through another employer, school, spouse or partner. Other dependents and children oftentimes have coverage through both parents. When there is eligible coverage under 2 dental plans one becomes the Primary plan that pays first and the other plan is the Secondary policy that pays all or some of the cost that the Primary does not. When submitting your claim to your Secondary insurer, you will need to enclose proof of Primary insurance payment before they will cover the remaining cost. You may not “double dip” meaning – both insurers require that you fully disclose the presence of dual coverage as you cannot claim your dental fees in such a manner that results in both the Primary and Secondary insurers reimbursing you or the dentist for more than 100% of the claim. Having 2 plans to help defray the cost of dental treatment helps to lower your out-of-pocket expenses, not profit from it. When your Primary claim is submitted, it will include details that will indicate to your Primary insurer that you have Secondary coverage and vice versa. If, for whatever reason, you no longer have the benefit of a Primary plan, you may need to provide proof to the Secondary insurer before they step up to their new position as Primary Benefit provider.

When making an inquiry to your Secondary insurer, you would ask:  “What kind of proof do you require to pay a Secondary claim?” There are two types of Statements of proof that are available – both referred to as EOB: Explanation of Benefits. One is the statement that the Primary carrier sends along with the dental cheque (it may be in postal, email or online form) while another form of proof that is sometimes accepted is the insurer’s response to the electronic submission that your dental office sends over a specific carrier network online and has the phrase EOB on the response.

 

Secondary payments – The is the benefit/money that is paid by a Secondary insurer as in the case of dual coverage or a Health Spending Account. See above. They are not the initial insurer that pays for a dental claim.

 

Health Spending AccountA Health Spending Account is a type of benefit that provides payment for healthcare-related expenses that are over and above any insurance benefits that an employee may have. Typically, a patient would pay the dentist bill first then provide receipt of payment to their HSA for reimbursement.

When making an inquiry : You would make any inquires about a HSA to your employer or  Human Resources department.

 

Orthodontic coverage – This refers to any type of treatment involving re-positioning of teeth like dental braces. It is typically categorized under major treatment and often has it’s own lifetime maximum and co-payment limitations. Generally, your orthodontic provider will submit a treatment plan to your insurer for consideration before any benefits will begin to be paid out and usually these costs are paid out over the course of  the treatment.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “Does my policy include orthodontic coverage?” “What is the maximum dollar mount I can claim under orthodontics and is it a lifetime maximum?” “Is there an age restriction?” “Does treatment have to be provided by an orthodontist?”

 

Assignment of benefits – As a courtesy to patients, some dental offices will submit and bill your insurance company directly then wait for payment of the covered portion of treatment. Dentists are not required to do this. The full cost of the procedure is ultimately your responsibility. Understand, that many offices may not offer assignment of benefits for a number of reasons. It is getting increasingly difficult to do business with or make inquires on behalf of patients to insurance companies who implement very strict information policies based on their interpretation of Ontario’s Privacy Act. Lastly, dentists treat you based on your needs – not your dental plan. A dentist is still obligated to recommend treatment based on sound, evidence-based diagnosis even when your benefits do not completely match your health needs. Providing dental care while being a third party and fee collector to an agreement between a you and your insurer is a relationship that many healthcare providers do not wish to engage in.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “Will you make payment directly to my dental provider?” “Do you accept electronic claim submissions?”  Your dental office will then have additional information about this electronic claim process.

 

Estimates – A written treatment plan (and images/x-rays, if requested) that is submitted to your insurer to determine whether any or all of the dental procedures in the treatment plan will be covered by your plan. Most insurers no longer provide verbal authorization over the telephone and recommend that you send them an estimate for any treatment over $300-$500. In this way, you will know in advance what your plan will cover and what your out-of-pocket expenses will be. It is important to remember that a pretreatment estimate does not guarantee payment from your insurer. Your insurer will calculate benefits according to your current eligibility, any deductibles that may be applied and how much is remaining of your yearly allowed maximum.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “Can you tell me over the phone if I will be covered for “such and such” treatment.  If not, approximately, how long will the estimate process take?” When making an inquiry to your dentist, you would ask: “Will you submit an estimate to my insurer for the proposed dental treatment and await their reply before we proceed?” Will it be safe to postpone advised treatment until my insurer replies?”

 

Age Limitations – This is another restriction in coverage and applies to limiting or denying benefits based on age. An example is fluoride or orthodontic braces that may be limited to children under a certain age or the termination of coverage once a dependent reaches adulthood. Many plans allow dependents to still remain eligible for benefits as long as they are still in school full time and can provide proof of this. Ensure that you provide your insurer with any pertinent information they require for your post secondary school aged child to remain eligible.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “What are the age restrictions that limit the eligibility of any members on this plan? What information do you require in order for my post secondary children to remain eligible?”

*TIP – Know the date when your child will no longer be covered under your policy due to any age/school restriction and ensure that they receive a comprehensive dental examination and complete any recommended/outstanding treatment before this date. Waiting until last minute will put unnecessary time constraints on both you, your dependent and your dentist.

 

EOB – A statement issued by your insurer showing what the dentist billed for each procedure and how much the insurer paid. Oftentimes, the statement will contain additional information with respect to why a particular procedure was not covered, the remaining balance of your yearly allowable maximum and perhaps some information pertaining to frequencies.

When making an inquiry to your insurer, you would ask: “How will I receive an accounting of what my dentist billed and what you, the insurer pays – Email? Online? Mail?

 

Other Consideration….

Alternative  Provision: When it comes to dental treatment, your dentist will usually make recommendations based on your individual circumstances. You may be fortunate enough to have several different options available to you. When it comes to options, however, each option generally comes with their own set of advantages/disadvantages in terms of cost, material, long-term prognosis (outcome), stability, patient comfort and compliance, success, limitations, etc.  When it comes to your insurer providing payment for any particular treatment, you are limited to the terms of your policy.

Alternative  Provision 1: Your insurer may agree to pay for your treatment, but only if your choose a less costly option or another treatment option of their choosing. The least expensive alternative is not always the best treatment option for you. For example: Your dentist may suggest a crown for a tooth that has been heavily restored and your insurer may only pay for the tooth to be repaired using pins and filling material. What happens when that tooth breaks sooner than later because the filling did not provide the necessary coverage/support/strength? What happens if the break extends down into the root and the tooth has to be removed?

Alternative Provision 2: Your insurer may agree to pay for your treatment, but will only pay out at the price of a less costly option or another treatment option. For example: Your dentist may suggest an implant in the area of a missing tooth. Your plan may provide benefits for a less expensive option, but agrees to pay for your implant, but only up to the price they would have paid for the less costly option.

It’s great to have dental coverage until you find out that your plan does not cover your individual needs – needs that become more complicated with due to age, neglect accidents, disease or wear. Remember, your dentist treats you not your dental plan.

 

Pre-existing Conditions – There may be a clause in your policy that restricts benefits if your particular condition already existed before you had your current dental plan. One such common condition is the “Missing Tooth.”  If your dentist recommends that that you replace a missing tooth/teeth with a bridge, implant or denture, but this tooth was removed before you were insured under your dental plan, your insurer may not pay any money towards restoring your condition back to ideal dental function. Likewise, for treatment of gum disease if they can prove that the condition of your gums and supporting structures of the periodontium were already compromised before your plan came into effect.

 

Whew!

This is a lot of information to take in.

In dentistry, we work with many, many different types of dental plans – all with various limitations and rules. Although a dental office may become familiar with a certain number of dental plans in their particular area or community, it is not practical to expect dental staff to be fully knowledgeable of all the individual plans available.

Your dental coverage is usually part of an overall benefits package offered by your employer and is designed to help employees offset their healthcare expenses. It is generally not based on your dental care needs – needs that are necessary to keep your smile happy and healthy!

 

Help Us to Help You!

Prevention is the number #1 way to keep dental costs down!

Prevent dental disease by practicing good oral hygiene and nutrition.

– Brush and floss daily
– Limit sugary drinks and snacks
– Don’t smoke or use tobacco/marijuana products
– See your dentist at least once a year for a thorough examination and cleaning.
– Except for water, space your food intake to 4-5 hours apart to allow saliva to repair damage from acid attacks. – – If you must snack, choose raw, crunch vegetable or fruit.

Prevent  insurance complications for your dental office by informing them of any policy or personal life changes that could alter your coverage such as: changes to employment status changes (as in the case of a temporary layoff), a child in post secondary school or a change in marital status.

Prevent small issues from becoming bigger problems by maintaining regular recare visits and attending to dental issues when they are small and under control. This will go a long way in reducing the likelihood of unexpected emergencies and their associated costs in terms of pain, dental fees and future restorative care.

Prevent dental cost surprises by understanding the ins and outs of your dental plan including what’s covered, limitations and what you are expected to pay before having treatment done.

Prevent future worries by taking the time now to consider future dental costs when planning for your overall healthcare needs in retirement.

Prevent disappointment by taking the time now to discuss treatment options and expectations with your dentist. This includes asking about any risks, future maintenance, long-term prognoses, as well as the consequences of delaying or opting out of treatment.

Prevent any miscommunications by practicing good dialogue techniques with your provider, including the insurance company. Practice active listening, repeat back what you understand and ask for clarification when necessary, be open about your concerns including financial considerations, voice any objections immediately, know what your portion of the bill will be etc…

 

Understanding dental insurance is crucial to making smart decisions about your dental plan’s features. Now that you have a solid grounding in the basics of dental insurance, you’ll be better prepared to understsnd you own plan’s features and help you and your family get the dental care you need!

Who’s taking care of Your Smile?

 

 

 

Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
www.yoursmiledentalcare.com

 


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Defend Your Smile!

Behind Your Smile…

 

 

This is the time of year that we start to think of winter sports and the one piece of equipment that we want our patients to include in their purchases – mouth guards!

Most sports related activity carry some element of risk for injury. The more contact involved in the activity the higher the risk. We’ve certainly seen our share of orofacial and dental trauma over the years. With many sports now mandating the use of mouth guards for dental protection during participation we hope to see a decline in the area of sports dentistry.

 

 

Reduce Your Risks

Your Smile is precious, and in some cases, an expensive investment in orthodontia or cosmetic dentistry has been made to obtain your great smile. Wearing a mouth guard while participating in any activity that carries a significant risk for injury extends this investment and is the best way to protect Your Smile.

 


Accidents ~ they’re unpredictable, so be prepared!


Prevention

Wearing a mouth guard can prevent serious injuries such as:

  • concussions
  • cerebral hemorrhages
  • unconsciousness
  • broken teeth
  • jaw fractures
  • neck injuries
  • lacerations and bruising or inner mouth, lips and cheek tissues

 

Customize Your Protection!

Your Smile is unique! We advocate the use of mouth guards – even it’s an off-the-shelf one from a store. However, having your dentist make a custom mouth guard offers you added protection and the benefit of a more customized fit since they are constructed from a durable, vinyl material consisting  two strong layers. This not only ensures that your guard will last longer, but will also fit snugly and comfortably especially when it matters most – during impact!

Mouth Guard Care

If you think of your dental sports guard as a “petri dish full of germs” you will better understand why cleaning your mouth guard after use is an important step in caring for the guard and your smile. To read more about how your can protect yourself from germs and the wear and tear of wearing a guard, read more about it in our blog called: Sports Guard Care

 

 

Defend Your Smile!

Dental reconstruction and emergency dental treatment can be costly in terms of dental fees, your future dental health and time. Dr. Axelrod and the team at Your Smile Dental Care can make mouth guards for you and your family ensuring that your activities are safer for your smile.  Make sure that they are a part your essential sports equipment!

 

Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care Team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
www.yoursmiledentalcare.com

 

 

 


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The New Patient Exam

 

 

Because there is a doctor shortage in Ontario, most people do not have the luxury of choice once an opening in a practice becomes available. They either accept the physician available or wait further.

However, dentists are plentiful in many Ontario cities. Nonetheless, having too many choices can also frustrate your search for a new dentist. Life is busy and oftentimes too many choices can be overwhelming.

If finding “the one” is proving to be more difficult than you anticipated, we hope that you will find all the information you are looking for in our blog:   Tips: Choosing A New Dentist

What is involved in a New Patient Exam when you see a new dentist?

We get many calls to our office from people asking if we are accepting new patients. At Your Smile Dental Care, we love welcoming new people to our dental family. Your first phone call to our office is the first step in understanding what to expect during your first visit and how to prepare for it.

 

Record Transfer

Your previous dental history often provides information that may be vital to your future care with a new dentist. As such, your dental records can be transferred from your previous dentist to our office by signing a release form that gives your current dentist permission to transfer your private dental information. Because this is a process that dental offices carry out routinely, records are usually transferred in a cooperative and timely fashion so that they can be reviewed by our staff before you come in for your first appointment.

Alternatively, some people prefer to begin this process at their current dental office. The key point is that this undertaking requires your signature. Some offices simplify this process by sending you the documentation to your mobile device for an electronic signature or for you to print, sign, then photo capture before sending back. The idea is to get the process started quickly and efficiently so that there is no interruption in patient care.

 

Booking Your Appointment

Once the records are received and reviewed, a New Patient appointment can be scheduled for a convenient date and time. Sometimes, this appointment can be booked in advance and in anticipation of receiving your dental history records promptly. Knowing what to expect during your first visit depends on your individual dental needs – be they Check-up, Emergency or Consultation

The 3 Types of New Patient Exams

 

1. The Complete Exam

Because you will be a new patient to the office, you will have a full exam even though you may be due for your periodic check-up exam.

Why do you need a full exam?

Many things can alter your oral health care in between dental visits. As a new patient to our office, it is necessary to evaluate and become familiar with your dental and medical history and current status before we even pick up any instruments to clean your teeth. This initial exam is a very important step and consists of a detailed and thorough exam and information gathering session. It will include:

  • A review of your medical and dental history
  • An examination of all oral structures in your mouth, not only your teeth
  • Your teeth will be checked for things like decay, wear, damage, bite, mobility etc.
  • Your gums will be examined for pocket depths, bleeding, recession, and overall health
  • An oral cancer screening will be performed
  • Your past dental work will be checked for signs of damage, wear, fracturing, looseness, etc.
  • We determine if x-rays will be necessary to help us access and identify areas of concern
  • As we examine we chart of all this data
  • When we move onto the cleaning phase of this appointment, we continue to analyse your dental health
  • We will discuss al findings with yo and recommendations will be made, including any treatment plan going forward
  • Of course, we will encourage you to share your thoughts and concerns with us during this examination

Naturally, all of this takes times and is a crucial step in getting to know you, your health and your individual needs.  The more we know about you and your overall health, the more effective we can be in addressing your dental care needs. Your subsequent dental cleaning will then be tailored to your “specific to you” needs. For any future dental check-ups, we will have a baseline and reference point that allows us to provide continuity of care.

 

2. The Immmediate Exam 

If your dental concern is of an immediate or emergency nature, then you are likely seeking an appointment as soon as possible. Understand that there is a difference, however, between what is considered an emergency and a non-emergency issue.

A true dental emergency is typically anything that involves any dental issue that requires immediate attention in order to save a tooth, if there has been a traumatic injury involving bleeding of the mouth or if you need relief from severe pain. Most offices can accommodate you into their same or next day’s schedule with the anticipation of providing you with an assessment then determining what form of relief or temporary treatment can be offered immediately. A discussion will then take place concerning what long term remedies may be necessary for your “specific to you” dental issue.

A non-emergency new patient appointment would concern a dental problem that poses no immediate threat to your teeth or life, as in often the case with infections or trauma. Some examples are a lost fillings, chipped tooth, moderate pain/discomfort that you can manage with some pain relief, or the recementing of fixed dental work like crowns, bridge or braces.

 

3. The Consultation Exam

Perhaps you do not have an immediate problem, but are looking to move forward with some elective or comprehensive dental treatment. You may just wish to have a dentist offer you some treatment options or a 2nd opinion. This is especially common with patients who are interested in teeth straightening, implants, cosmetic treatment or complete dental makeovers.

This no-hassle, first New Patient appointment will likely consist of some information gathering and a discussion about your “unique to you” dental situation. A visual exam can only yield so much information. Having current radiographs or other pertinent dental records available for this visit will allow the dentist to assess your current dental status more accurately before offering an informed recommendation. For more complicated issues, sometimes a secondary visit is necessary. Which brings us to…

 

Why do different dentist offer different treatment plans?

 

 

No two patients are alike and that is important to understand when you are comparing your dental options with another person. The confusion arises when different dentists offer different recommendations for the same patient. It is important to understand that you are fortunate if you have more than one option available to you. It means you have choices!

Your dentist is there to help you make an informed decision based your dental health, finances, values and your commitment to maintaining a healthy mouth moving forward. Dentists, themselves, come to their conclusions based on a variety of factors including training, occupational experience, office technology, passion, thoroughness of patient assessment, confidence in patient’s future compliance/efforts, prognosis,  and whether they are conservative or progressive in their approach to patient care.

Lastly, it can also be a challenging situation if a person is looking for a quick, inexpensive and long-term solution for rather complex dental issue.

How can you prepare for your first visit to a new dental office?

There is some information that must be gathered in order to ensure that there is continuity of care and to identify any medical issues or medications that can challenge your dental care going forward. To ensure that all information pertinent to your care is available to your new office, be prepared to bring with you or arrange for the following:

  1. Updated medication list.
  2. Family doctor’s name and telephone number.
  3. Details surrounding any current medical treatment you are receiving.
  4. Your dental insurance information. Most people have a dental ID card that has been issued to them by their employer/school. In the absence of this, be prepared to have your insurance information written down including – Name of employer, Name of Insurer, Policy and ID number
  5. If you are anticipating that your first visit will be an expense covered by your insurer then you will likely want to ensure this. Your new dental office will usually work with you to gather this information and will likely be part of the records release process from your previous dentist in addition to contacting your insurer.
  6. The need to take a prophylactic antibiotic before any dental treatment is a decision that should be made in consultation with your physicians and is a matter that should be reviewed regularly. If you have been advised to continue being pre-medicated before dental treatments, inform your new office in order to ensure that you are prepared for treatment.
  7. Confirm your appointment the day before you arrive to ensure that all pertinent information has been received
  8. Don’t forget to brush and floss your teeth!

 

We hope that you now have a clearer understanding of what different new patient visits consists of. To make an appointment at Your Smile Dental Care or to get more information about your first visit, call us at (905) 5SMILES. You’ll be glad you did!

 

Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
http://www.yoursmiledentalcare.com

 


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What is a Periodontal Screening?

Does your smile pass the Test?

No doubt, you have heard how important it is to take care of your gums for the health of your teeth, but it can also affect your overall health. Gums, also known as gingiva, is a barrier tissue that covers and protects your teeth and the bone that surround and support your teeth.

When gums become tender, swollen and begin to bleed, it is usually a sign that the body’s immune system has been triggered.

Our mouth is home to a complex ecosystem of microorganisms. While much of the bacteria is our mouth are beneficial in preventing disease, there are some that are harmful if allowed to take over. The proper balance of these germs is critical for a healthy mouth. Certain processes take place everyday to keep this balance from being disrupted so that a response from our immune system is not triggered.

Some patients become aware that something is going on when they begin to notice bleeding when they brush their teeth. Others have had progressive gum disease for a long time and are surprised to learn of it.

Periodontal Screening

Watchful Eyes

Your dentist and dental hygienist are trained to not only help you maintain healthy mouth and teeth, but they are always monitoring your mouth for signs of the onset of gum disease. By routine – usually once a year – they will perform a gum evaluation called a periodontal screening.

During this screening, they are assessing the health of your supporting gum and bone structures and evaluating the look of your gums.

Healthy gums are pink and firm. Unhealthy gums are red, swollen, spongy-looking and may bleed. They also look for signs of gum loss (recession) and use a tiny instrument called a probe to measure the depths of the pockets between the teeth and gums. The pocket is a free space located around each tooth. In between each tooth it is where your floss enters for cleaning.

In a healthy mouth, this free space becomes attached gum about 2-3 mm of the way down. When bacteria is allowed to accumulate in this space inflammation occurs that triggers the immune system to send white blood cells. Unfortunately, the WBC not only destroys bacteria but gum tissue also. When the attachment portion of the gum tissue gets destroyed, the pocket become deeper and more bacteria, dental plaque and food can accumulate.

If left untreated or unnoticed, this pocketing will lead to bone loss. Eventually, enough bone is lost that the tooth becomes loose and cannot be saved.

Early detection is key

This is why it is important to identify this pocketing early in order to prevent further gum and bone loss. There are various treatment options available for gum disease and your dentist may refer you to see a gum specialist (Periodontist) for ongoing care.

Unfortunately, gum disease is called a “silent disease” that often goes unnoticed until a significant amount of damage occurs. This is usually the case for people who do not see a dentist routinely where the health of their teeth and gums can be monitored on a regular basis.

Periodontal disease has long been the leading cause of tooth loss in adults which is why every patient should have a periodontal screening performed annually. Early detection is key and can make all the difference.

The good news is that gum disease is an easily preventable disease. By simply brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and attending to regular dental check-ups and cleanings you are already helping your mouth and teeth.

To keep them in tip-top shape you need to start looking at your other habits:

  1. Meal frequency – Reduce snacking in between meals to allow your saliva to repair damage done by acid attacks. Read here
  1. Do not sip on sugary drinks or coffee/tea with milk, cream and/or sugar frequently or all day long.
  1. Use an antiseptic mouth rinse once a day
  1. Ensure that other medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease is monitored by your physician regularly and is under control.
  1. Consider a smoking cessation program as smokers are almost three times as likely as nonsmokers to have periodontitis
  1. Eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet that  helps to control inflammation.

Suggestions:

  • green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards
  • fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
  • fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
  • nuts and legumes
  • olive oil
  1. If you suspect gum disease, never ignore the signs and see a dentist.

Signs:

  • red, swollen gums
  • tender and/or bleeding gums
  • loose gums that have pulled away from your tooth
  • sensitive teeth
  • pain when eating
  • receding gums; tooth appears longer
  • spaces between tooth and increased food impaction
  • loose fitting partial dentures
  • persistent bad breath

 

Keeping your gums healthy and strong is the simplest way to maintain your overall health and help to ensure you keep your teeth for life. If it has been a while since you have been to the dentist for a check-up or suspect you may be having problems with your gums please contact our office today at 905 – 5SMILES (905.576.4537). You’ll be glad you did!

Your in better dental health,
The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
www.yoursmiledentalcare.com