Happy New Year!!! Tips for Caregivers on excellent oral hygiene…

Caregivers are responsible for the oral and overall health of those they care for.  As a caregiver, many questions may come to mind regarding your responsibilities for one’s oral health:

 

How should I go about caring for someone’s mouth and teeth?  What type of dental hygiene routine is best for my loved-one, friend or patient?  What is the proper way to brush and floss teeth?  How often should my dependant see his/her Professional Dental Team?  What types of oral health products should I use that will allow me to provide the best oral care I can?  How do I clean false teeth?

 

Our goal is to help answer these questions and to provide information that you can use to improve your overall practices for excellent dental health, whether it be your own or someone else’s.

 

When the question of how to provide care for someone else’s oral health comes to mind, try to think of how you would care for your own mouth.  Brushing your teeth twice a day (morning/night) and flossing once a day, should come to mind…  When brushing, be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste that contains fluoride.  Fluoride helps strengthen the outer layer of the teeth to prevent cavities.  You shouldn’t use a medium or hard-bristled toothbrush because the rigid bristles can damage the gums and cause them to recede.  When the toothbrush bristles become ‘wilted or frayed’ in appearance, it’s time to change to a new one.  A good rule of thumb is to replace your toothbrush every three months, or whenever you’ve been sick.  Changing your toothbrush after you’ve been sick is extremely important—the bristles can harbor bacteria and prolong your illness.  Always use a light, but firm pressure when brushing.  For instance, imagine that you are brushing a ripe tomato and don’t want to bruise it.  These use and maintenance tips also apply to those who use electric toothbrushes.

 

It can be more difficult flossing someone else’s then than flossing your own, but the principles are the same.  To properly floss, take a piece of floss approximately           18-inches long and wrap it around your middle fingers.  Use your index fingers and thumbs to guide the floss between the teeth.  Once the floss is in between two adjacent teeth, be sure to adapt the floss to each tooth, forming the floss into a ‘C’ shape.  Gently slide the floss below the gumline, adapt to the adjacent tooth and do the same.  There are several flossers or floss picks on the market that can help assist with this motion.  The concept remains the same…you must adapt the floss to each tooth!

proper-flossing-technique

 

Ideally, everyone should see their dentist every six months and in some cases, more frequently.  Your dentist and dental hygienist work together at these visits to assess the health of your gums and teeth.  The dental team will determine the proper visit interval to ensure that an excellent level of health is maintained in your mouth.  Aside from assessing the health of your mouth and having a professional cleaning, the doctor will also perform an oral cancer screening at your regular visit.  The members of your dental team are the only health care professionals that look into your mouth on a regular basis.  It is imperative for them to establish a baseline of what your mouth looks like and record the presence of any abnormalities.  Regular oral cancer screens ensure your mouth is examined for cancer on a consistent basis and the necessary precautions and/or treatments are performed in the event an abnormality is found.

 

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The following are important points when caring for those with false teeth or dentures:  Make sure the dentures are taken out every night before sleeping.  Your gums need to breathe!  Keeping the dentures in place all day and night can cause the gum tissue to become red and irritated.  Irritated gum tissue can cause discomfort when wearing the dentures.  Constant wearing of dentures can also cause oral infections.  When cleaning dentures, be sure to brush them as you would your own teeth.  Use a denture brush or a soft-bristled toothbrush and denture cleaner—you may also use an antibacterial soap or a mild dishwashing liquid.  When the dentures are out of the mouth, they can be soaked in a denture cleanser or water, to help avoid drying and potentially losing their form.  Before replacing the dentures in the mouth, gently brush the gums and tongue to stimulate circulation and remove any plaque debris that may be present.

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Remember that your Professional Dental Team is here to help you.  If you need any assistance or have any questions about caring for your loved ones, don’t hesitate to contact them.  As a caregiver, be sure to remember what is necessary to care for one’s oral health: brushing twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, daily flossing, eating well-balanced meals, and visiting your Dentist regularly.

 

Having a Happy Holiday: Foods to Avoid this Festive Season

TeethThe holidays are a time for indulging a bit in delicious treats, but that doesn’t mean you should stop taking care of your teeth! Here at Norman Dental, we believe that everything in moderation is OK, as long as you’re getting your regular cleanings and checkups at your dentist. But if you want to go the extra mile this season to protect your pearly whites, here are some foods to avoid this festive season.

Candy Canes

If you’re going to enjoy a candy cane, make sure not to bite into it. Hard candies like candy canes are full of bad-for-your-teeth sugar – and have been known to cause a lot of chipped teeth! Avoid these treats, if possible, but if you must indulge, try melting one into your tea or cocoa instead.

Corn on the Cob

Corn on the cob is a nutritious side dish, but eating it can be a bit dangerous. People are likely to crack fillings or loosen sealants, and corn on the cob can cause serious damage to orthodontia. If you can, slice the corn off of the cob with a sharp knife, so you can enjoy the delicious treat without the dental risk.

Dried Fruit and Taffy

Dried fruits are a yummy holiday snack, but they can get stuck in your teeth. These kinds of foods can get lodged in the crevices of your teeth where they can allow bacteria to grow and thrive on sugars. In turn, this can increase your risk of developing cavities. We suggest sticking to peanuts instead!

Coffee and Soda

During the holiday season, it can be easy to overindulge in things like coffee, soda and even red wine. Just remember: these dark liquids can wreak havoc on your teeth, even causing them to appear stained or yellow. If you’re a coffee or soda lover, make sure to only have a cup in moderation. You should also brush your teeth afterwards, but wait at least 15 minutes after finishing your drink before you brush. Acidic drinks like sodas, energy drinks and coffee can actually weaken tooth enamel for a short period, which means that brushing could cause additional damage to your teeth.

For more tips to keep your pearly whites safe during the holidays, or to schedule an appointment for tooth whitening before heading off to see family, call Norman Dental today at 336-282-2120.

 

The Truth about Dental Insurance

The Truth about Dental Insurance

Matthew Norman, DDS and Michelle Phillips, RDH

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Many people understand the basics of medical insurance and assume dental insurance will work in a similar way, but the two are very different.   Medical insurance tends to be financially comprehensive to the patient once a certain deductible is met, while dental insurance is simply a contribution to the patient based on a yearly maximum amount.  In fact, these yearly maximum contributions have not had a meaningful increase since the 1970’s, when dental insurance became common.  During that time the cost of dental care has risen substantially.  Dental insurance is intended to supplement treatment costs, unlike health insurance.

The number one question we receive about dental insurance is “Are you in my network?”  If a dental office is a part of a PPO (preferred provider organization), the office has signed a contract with an insurance company to set their fees at a level determined by the insurer.  In return, the insurance company will direct enrolled participants to dentists that participate in the network.  In essence, the dentist is accepting a lower fee-for-service in order to increase patient volumes.

Here are some key points about dental insurance:

  • Dental insurance companies set a deductible per policy.  Most policies have an annual deductible of $50 on any dental procedure that isn’t classified as Preventive.  This means if you only come in to the office for your hygiene visit, exams and x-rays, you will not have to pay the deductible; but, if you need to have a cavity filled, crown, root canal, tooth extraction, you will be responsible for paying that deductible.  The deductible is also per person on the policy…this means that if you have a family policy and one person has met their $50 deductible and another person on the same policy then needs restorative treatment, their deductible must be met as well.
  • Dental insurance policies have a yearly maximum.  Most policies tend to have a set maximum anywhere from $1000-1500.  Again, this is per person on the policy.  Another misconception is that preventive treatment isn’t a part of this, but it is.  Once the insurance company has paid its maximum per person for that year, any additional costs incurred are 100% paid by the patient.
  • Dental insurance policies set up a table as to how much they will pay per procedure.  Some common percentages are: Preventive at 100%, Basic at 80% and Major at 50%.  Common preventive procedures are dental cleanings, exams, x-rays, and sealants for children.  Basic procedures may include dental fillings and simple extractions.  Major procedures may include crowns and root canals.  Your insurance provider will then pay a percentage of the “usual and customary” fee charged by your dental office.  For example, if an office charges $90 for a dental cleaning but the fee established by the insurance company is $75, they will pay 100% of the $75.  The patient is responsible for paying the remaining $15.  Another example…if an office charges $200 for a filling on a front tooth but the “usual and customary” fee is $180, they will pay 80% of $180…your total portion of that filling would be $56 (your 20% would be $36 plus the additional $20 for the difference in the fee and the “usual and customary ” fee).  This assumes the deductible has been met.

Here are some other common stipulations with dental insurance:

  • Some policies do not cover a tooth-colored or composite resin filling on a back tooth.  In this case, they will pay what they would pay for a silver or amalgam filling.  Example: the fee for a silver filling on a back tooth may be $150 while the tooth-colored filling is $200.  The insurance company will pay 80% of $150…you will be responsible for the difference in cost, as well as your 20% co-insurance.
  • Dental sealants for children have an age limit.  Policies can vary on the maximum age this benefit is payable to.  Some policies me cover children up to 12 years of age, while some may will cover an individual up to 19 years of age.
  • Most dental x-rays have time restraints.  Most bitewing films will be paid once a year, whereas a panoramic film or full series is covered every three to five years.
  • Fluoride treatments often have an age limit.  Most policies will only cover a fluoride treatment for someone less than 18 years of age.
  • Most dental cleanings are covered at a rate of twice per year.  Some policies are written that they will cover two cleanings per calendar year (you can have one today and one tomorrow and they will pay for both).  Most policies are written to cover cleanings once every six months (meaning you have to wait six months and one day until they will cover another cleaning).
  • If you have a crown that needs to be replaced, most insurance companies will not cover a replacement unless it has been at least 5-10 years.
  • If you were to have a tooth extracted for any reason and do not have it replaced (i.e. with a bridge, partial denture or an implant) while on the same policy, your next dental insurance policy likely will not pay to have it replaced due to a Missing Tooth Clause.
  • If you do not use your entire maximum for one calendar year, it does not carry over.  If you don’t use it, you lose it!

Be sure you know your dental insurance policy.  The more you understand the way dental insurance works, the more prepared you will be in planning for dental care expenditures.