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What dental insurances do you accept?

We accept most PPO dental insurance plans. We are in-network with Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Delta Dental, Dental Health Alliance, Dentemax, United HealthCare and Guardian. We are in the process of becoming in-network providers with more PPO dental insurance plans so please call our office to find out the most updated information.

What are the types of dental insurance coverage?

According to most dental insurance companies, dental procedures are broken down into three categories:

Preventative: Most dental insurance companies consider routine cleanings and examinations as preventative dental care. However, x-rays, sealants and fluoride may be considered preventative or basic, depending upon the insurance carrier.

Basic or Restorative: Most dental insurance companies consider fillings and simple extractions as basic or restorative dental care. Root canals may be considered basic or major, although the majority of dental plans list root canals as basic.

Major: Most dental insurance companies consider crowns, bridges, dentures, partial dentures, surgical extractions and dental implants as major dental care.

Since all dental insurance carriers are different, it is important to clarify which dental procedures fall under each specific category. This is important because some insurance plans don't cover major procedures and others have waiting periods for certain procedures.

Patients often are surprised to find that their insurance benefits do not cover all the treatment their dentist recommends. Dental insurance benefits for the most part have remained at the same level for more than two decades, leaving patients to pick up any added costs out-of-pocket. In recent years, payment options have emerged to help patients bridge the gap between what their insurance covers and the total cost of care. Most dental practices will accept cash, personal checks or major credit cards, but many also offer outside monthly financing programs. These payment plans have rapidly gained popularity.

What is a yearly maximum?

The yearly maximum is the most money a dental insurance plan will pay out within one full year. A yearly maximum could run on a calendar year (January to December) or on a fiscal year, depending on the dental insurance company. The yearly maximum will automatically renew every year. If you have unused benefits, these will not rollover. Most dental insurance companies allow an average yearly maximum of $1500.

How often should I see the dentist for a checkup and cleaning?

Most children and adults should see their dentist for a regular cleaning and checkup every six months. People at a greater risk for oral diseases should have dental checkups more than twice a year. Tobacco and alcohol use, diabetes, pregnancy, periodontal and gum disease, poor oral hygiene and certain medical conditions are some of the many factors that your dentist takes into consideration when deciding how often you need your dental cleaning and checkup. Maintaining your regular checkups will help to keep your teeth and gums healthy as well as detect any early problems such as gum disease, oral cancer and cavities. The best way to maintain good oral health is to visit your dentist on a regular basis.

How often should I brush and floss my teeth?

According to the American Dental Association, you should brush your teeth twice a day. Brushing your teeth helps to remove plaque which causes tooth decay and can lead to gum disease. Always use a soft-bristled toothbrush with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Make sure the toothbrush fits inside your mouth so that you can easily reach all areas. Always brush your tongue to remove any bacteria and keep your breath fresh. Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or sooner if the bristles are frayed.

You should floss your teeth at least once a day. Flossing in between your teeth removes food debris and plaque that a toothbrush cannot reach. Plaque causes tooth decay and can lead to gum disease. Another great reason to floss is that recent studies have shown that flossing helps to prevent a heart attack or stroke. When flossing, be sure to gently insert the floss between the teeth, without snapping, which could damage the gum tissue. Gently move the floss up and down into the spaces between the teeth and gums. Floss the sides of all your teeth even if there isn't a tooth next to another one. There are a number of dental products available that are designed to make flossing easier, such as disposable dental flossers.

What is gum disease and how is it treated?

Brushing and flossing our teeth daily has never been more important in order to avoid gum disease and the risks gum disease place on our overall health. It has been estimated that 75% of Americans have some form of gum disease, which has been linked to serious health complications and causes various dental problems that are often avoidable.

It is possible to have gum disease and have no warning signs. That is one reason why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important. Treatment methods depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. Good oral hygiene at home is essential to help keep gum disease from becoming more serious or recurring. You don't have to lose teeth to gum disease. Brush, clean between your teeth, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits for a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Types of gum disease include:
Gingivitis: The early stage of gum disease which is reversible with proper oral hygiene.
Periodontitis: Untreated gingivitis may lead to this next stage of gum disease which involves the deterioration of the gums and bone that support the teeth. With many levels of Periodontitis, the common outcome is a chronic inflammatory response, a condition in which the body breaks down the bone and tissue in the infected area of the mouth, ultimately resulting in tooth and bone loss.

If you notice any of the following signs of gum disease, please contact your dentist:

-gums that bleed when you brush your teeth
-red, swollen or tender gums
-gums that have pulled away from the teeth
-bad breath that doesn't go away
-pus between your teeth and gums
-loose teeth
-change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
-change in the fit of partial dentures

Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because periodontal disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. It is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. These bacteria create toxins that can damage the gums. Other factors that have the potential to increase the risk of developing periodontal disease may include: tobacco use, systemic diseases such as diabetes, ill-fitting dental work, bruxism (clenching or grinding), certain medications, and genetics.

Recent studies suggest gum disease may contribute to or be warning signs of potentially life-threatening conditions such as:
Heart Disease and Stroke: studies suggest gingivitis may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke because of the high levels of bacteria found in infected areas of the mouth. As the level of periodontal disease increases, the risk of cardiovascular disease may increase with it. Other studies have suggested that the inflammation in the gums may create a chronic inflammatory response in other parts of the body which has also been implicated in increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Diabetes: According to the CDC, people with diabetes often have some form of gum disease, likely caused by high blood glucose. People with diabetes need to take extra care to ensure proper brushing and flossing techniques are used to prevent the advancement of gum disease. Regular cleanings and checkups with your dentist and dental hygienist should be followed.
Preterm Birth: Babies that are born premature (before 37 weeks of gestation) may face numerous health complications. Research indicates that women with periodontal disease are three to five times more likely to have a baby born preterm compared to women without any form of gum disease. Women are more susceptible to gingivitis when pregnant and should follow their regular brushing habits and continue with dental cleanings and examinations.

Treatments for gum disease:
Depending on the type of gum disease, some of the available treatment options are:
Scaling and root planing which is the removal of plaque and calculus above and below the gumline by your dental hygienist.
Medications such as Chlorhexidine may be prescribed by your dentist to help kill the bacteria in your mouth.
Gum surgery may be necessary in certain cases to stop, halt, or minimize the progression of periodontal disease. Surgery is also used to replace bone that was lost in advanced stages of the disease.

What can I do to prevent gum disease?

The good news is that you can help prevent periodontal (gum) disease by taking good care of your teeth every day and having regular dental checkups. Here's how to keep your teeth and gums healthy:

-Brush your teeth well twice a day.
This removes the film of bacteria from the teeth. Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush that is in good condition. Toothpastes and mouth rinses containing fluoride strengthen the teeth and help prevent decay. Choose products that bear the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, your assurance that they have met the ADA's standards for safety and effectiveness. The ADA reviews all advertising claims for any product bearing the Seal. The Seal on a product is an assurance for consumers and dentists against misleading or untrue statements concerning a product's safety and effectiveness.

-Clean between your teeth every day.
Cleaning between your teeth with floss or interdental cleaners removes bacteria and food particles from between the teeth where a toothbrush can't reach. Early gum disease can often be reversed by daily brushing and flossing. If you use interdental cleaners, ask your dentist how to use them properly to avoid injuring your gums.

-Eat a balanced diet.
Choose a variety of foods from the basic food groups, such as breads, cereals and other grain products; fruits; vegetables; meat, poultry and fish; and dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt. Limit between-meal snacks.

-Visit your dentist regularly.
It is important to have regular professional cleanings and dental checkups to prevent periodontal diseases.

Proper brushing and flossing is the easiest way to reduce and prevent gum disease, but regular cleanings with your dental hygienist are necessary to remove calculus and treat advanced gum disease. If you are concerned that you may have gum disease, please contact your dentist.

Why is oral hygiene so important during pregnancy?

There are so many changes going on in your body and your mouth is no exception. Good oral hygiene is extremely important during pregnancy because the increase of hormone levels can cause dental problems to be intensified. One of the most common dental problems associated with pregnancy is a condition known as pregnancy gingivitis. Symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis are usually swollen, red, tender, and bleeding gums. Good oral health during pregnancy is also important for your developing baby. Some researchers have suggested that advanced gum disease, or periodontitis, could cause premature birth and low birth weight.

What is the difference between a silver and white filling?

The main difference between silver and white fillings is the material that they consist of. Silver (amalgam) fillings are made up of mercury and other various metals. White (composite) fillings are made up of acrylic and various glass particles. Other differences in silver and white fillings are cost, strength, and esthetics.

Are silver fillings safe?

While there have been no conclusive studies relating mercury in amalgam to any dangers, mercury by itself is very toxic. With the introduction of new filling materials, amalgam is not used as often as it once was. More than 70% of fillings placed today are made of resin or composite materials. A recent update in June 2008 states The FDA Admits Silver Dental Fillings May Not Be Safe. In light of this recent information, the FDA still does not recommend having amalgam fillings removed and The American Dental Association continues to stand their ground that amalgam is a safe and durable filling material.

What is nitrous oxide and is it safe?

Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is a gas that is combined with oxygen to produce a calming effect and a sense of well being when inhaled. It is often used to help a patient relax during dental treatments. When the dental procedure is over, the dentist will have the patient breathe only oxygen for a few minutes to eliminate the effects of the nitrous oxide. Unlike other sedations, the patient should have a clear mind within minutes of coming off the nitrous oxide allowing them to function normally with no lingering effects. Nitrous oxide is very safe and is not addictive. While inhaling nitrous oxide, you remain fully conscience and aware of your surroundings. If you have respiratory problems or other breathing problems, such as asthma, you should talk with your dentist to see if you are a candidate for nitrous oxide.

What teeth whitening treatments are available and are they safe?

Everyone loves a bright white smile, and there are a variety of products and procedures available to help you improve the look of yours. If you decide you would like to make your smile look brighter, you should investigate all of your options which include in-office whitening, at-home whitening and whitening toothpastes. You may want to start by speaking with your dentist. He or she can tell you whether whitening procedures would be effective for you. Whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellowish-hued teeth will probably whiten well, brownish-hued teeth may whiten less well, and grayish-hued teeth may not whiten well at all. Likewise, whitening may not enhance your smile if you have had bonding or tooth-colored fillings placed in your front teeth. The whitener will not affect the color of these materials, and they will stand out in your newly whitened smile. In these cases, you may want to investigate other options, like porcelain veneers or dental bonding.

In-office whitening is a procedure that can be done in the dental chair and usually takes about an hour and a half. A protective gel is applied to your gums and a rubber shield is used to protect the oral soft tissues. A whitening agent is then applied to your teeth and a special light may be used to enhance the whitening action of the agent. The whitening agent is then reapplied after intervals of 15 minutes and, depending on the degree of sensitivity, 3-4 applications may be completed.

At-home whitening involves using custom-fitted whitening trays and varying percentages of whitening gel. The whitening agent in these gels is typically carbamide peroxide and comes in different concentrations ranging from 10% to 22%. Usage regimens vary. Some products are used about twice a day for 2 weeks, and others are intended for overnight use for 1-2 weeks. If you obtain the whitening gel from your dentist, he or she can make custom-fitted whitening trays that will fit your teeth precisely.

Whitening toothpastes help remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives. Whitening toothpastes in the ADA Seal of Acceptance program have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness.

You also may want to speak with your dentist should any side effects become bothersome. For example, teeth can become sensitive during the period when you are using the whitening solution. In many cases, this sensitivity is temporary and should lessen once the treatment is finished. Some people also experience soft tissue irritation either from a tray that doesn't fit properly or from solution that may come in contact with the tissues. If you have concerns about such side effects, please discuss them with your dentist.

What can I do to ease my anxiety about a dental visit?

Do you ever get nervous just thinking about going to the dentist? You might be worrying unnecessarily. With dentistry's many advances, diagnosis and treatment gets more sophisticated and comfortable all the time.

It's often best to share your anxiety. If you're tense or anxious, tell your dentist and the dental staff. Getting your concerns out in the open will let your dentist adapt the treatment to your needs.

Try to choose a time for your dental visit when you're less likely to be rushed or under pressure. For some people, that may mean an early-morning or late-afternoon appointment. If the sound of the drill bothers you, bring a portable audio player and headset so you can listen to your favorite music. During the dental visit you might try visualizing yourself relaxing on a warm beach. Also, nitrous oxide may be used to produce a calming effect which can you help you relax during your visit.

These positive techniques work wonders for many. Try them on your next dental visit.

What if I have an afterhours or weekend dental emergency?

We are always available should you have a dental emergency. Please call the office at 770.980.0558 and follow the prompts to reach Dr. Kerr and Dr. Gavric.