As technology and science advance, dentistry is becoming not only more comfortable for the patient, but much more precise. This provides many benefits to the patient and ultimately to their overall dental health.
Research surrounding fluoride’s benefits for promoting healthy teeth began in the early 1900s when Frederick McKay, a young dentist in Colorado Springs, found that his patients had remarkably resilient teeth. This was at a time when tooth decay and related health issues were nearly an epidemic blight on the nation’s collective smile.
McKay probed at the mystery for years, eventually discovering that the local water supply contained naturally occurring and unusually high levels of fluoride. Studies in other parts of the country that had similarly high levels of fluoride in the local drinking water began to confirm that the naturally fluoridated water was helping protect teeth for people in those geographic areas. Today, the use of fluoride both in toothpaste and as a health-promoting additive in local drinking water supplies is nearly ubiquitous.
How Does Fluoride Protect Teeth?
Fluoride use and fluoridation’s benefits are among the most widely studied public health debates in our nation’s history, with some early studies indicating a 60-percent reduction in tooth decay for baby teeth and a 35-percent reduction in decay for adult teeth. Even now, with fluoride commonly available from other sources like fluoride toothpaste, water fluoridation continues to promote healthy teeth, reducing tooth decay by an additional 20 to 40 percent.
Fluoride protects teeth both systemically and topically. Systemic fluoride protection means fluoride has been ingested into our bodies and is now in our system. While teeth are forming, fluoride is deposited throughout the entire tooth, providing a wall of resistance against tooth decay. Systemic fluoride protection also provides some topical protection because the fluoride in our system mixes with saliva and bathes the teeth in a fluoride solution throughout the day.
Topical fluoride protection is, much like it sounds, when fluoride is applied to the surface of the teeth. A common method of daily topical fluoride treatment to promote healthy teeth is brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste.
Also found in some mouthwashes and rinses, and in more-concentrated fluoride dental treatments, fluoride provides topical fluoride protection by strengthening existing teeth and disrupting acids in the mouth. Specialized fluoride treatments or supplements are beneficial for patients with dry-mouth conditions or gum disease which exposes vulnerable surfaces of the teeth to corrosive acids. Specialized fluoride treatment can also benefit those with a history of frequent cavities or those with crowns, bridges or braces. These dental treatments, while necessary in some cases, can allow acids to collect at the point of intersection with the tooth. A more concentrated fluoride treatment helps combat decay in these vulnerable areas.
Studies have shown both decay-fighting methods, systemic and topical, work together; dental patients can benefit from daily topical fluoride protection even when local water fluoridation provides systemic fluoride protection for teeth.
Fluoride Fights Tooth Decay and Helps Rebuild Enamel
Both systemically and topically, fluoride fights tooth decay by making teeth more resistant to harmful acids from plaque bacteria and sugars that coat the teeth. These acids attack the tooth's enamel, causing demineralization. As we eat and drink throughout the day, our bodies send minerals to our teeth, including fluoride, calcium and phosphate, to remineralize our teeth. Tooth decay results when teeth suffer too much demineralization and not enough mineralization to rebuild the enamel. Fluoride is an important part of this vital remineralization, speeding the process and disrupting acid production.
After decades of extensive studies, fluoride's beneficial properties in promoting healthy teeth are no longer the mystery they were in the early 1900s. In a study that details fluoride’s benefits, the American Dental Association endorses fluoride treatment as an effective way to fight tooth decay and strengthen both forming and existing teeth. Brushing regularly after each meal with a fluoride toothpaste combined with regular dentist checkups is the most effective way to provide preventative care for your teeth and keep your smile looking beautiful.
Dental insurance is a source of a lot of questions and confusion. Many of the questions surrounding dental insurance stem from the fact that dental insurance often doesn’t work in the same way that our other insurance coverages work. Other insurance types are really the transfer of risk from an individual to a large group. If one of the insured has a large loss (a claim), that claim is paid from the premiums collected from the group. The structure works because claims can be unpredictable. There's no way of knowing who will have a large claim, so everyone pays into a pool.
How Dental Insurance is Different from Other Insurance
Dental insurance is different than other insurance types because costs are much more predictable than with other types of insurance. If you're visiting your dentist regularly, your dentist sees you twice a year, plus visits for any additional work you may need to have done. Instead of insuring you against a potential loss of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars like other types of insurance, your dental insurance is paying toward predictable costs for checkups and mostly routine work. Because dental insurance is paying for predictable costs instead of insuring against large potential losses, many dental insurance plans function much like a discount plan as opposed to covering the entire cost.
Dental Insurance Usually Covers a Percentage of Your Procedure Cost
Most people with insurance coverage get their coverage through their employer. The employer purchases a plan from a selection of dental insurance plans offered by an insurance company or broker. The percentage paid for procedures covered by that plan depends largely on how much money the employer spends on the plan they’ve selected for employees. Coverage of 50 percent to 80 percent of the procedure cost are common, with most dental insurance plan coverage falling into this range. Generally, if the employer or union purchases a more expensive plan as a benefit for their employees, that dental insurance plan will cover a higher percentage of the cost of procedures and provide coverage for a wider range of procedures. These plans make the employee responsible to pay whatever amounts aren’t covered by their dental insurance.
Deductibles, Copayments and Caps
Dental insurance is similar to other types of insurance in the areas of deductibles and copayments. Deductibles for dental insurance are typically an annual amount, and the insurance company will cover procedures after your deductible has been met. If, for example, your plan has a $500 deductible, the insurance company will pay a percentage of the cost after you have paid $500 in that year. This yearly period is called a benefit period, and it might not match the calendar year.
Some dental insurance plans use a fixed copayment schedule for certain covered procedures. A copayment is a payment you make toward your dental care, and a fixed copayment means your copayment is a fixed dollar amount as opposed to a percentage.
Many dental insurance plans have a cap which limits the total amount that the particular plan will pay toward your dental care within a benefit period. By placing a cap on coverage, the dental insurance companies can offer more competitive pricing for plans sold to employers or unions because they know how much they will pay out as a maximum amount per patient.
In-Network vs. Out-of-Network Coverage
Some dental plans use a network of preferred providers but offer limited coverage for visits to dentists outside of the network. Visits or dental work performed by out-of-network dentists often aren't covered at the same percentage or with the same copayment as with in-network dentists. This means that your out-of-pocket costs might be higher with an out-of-network dentist. There may also be limits on the types of procedures covered by out-of-network dentists.
We will gladly submit accurate billing to ensure that you receive the maximum amount of coverage provided by your dental plan. In submitting accurate billing to your dental insurance company, we cannot:
- Alter the date of treatment for any reason;
- Submit a claim for a higher amount than the actual fee charged;
- Submit a claim for any procedures we have not performed.
While your dental insurance might not pay the entire cost of your dental work or visits, insurance companies can't govern the quality of your care. Your dental care is always based on decisions made between you and your dentist at Smiles by Burgess.
You may have noticed at your last dental exam one of the staff members using a small intraoral camera in your mouth to take photos. These photos are very beneficial to helping us provide accurate dental care to our patients.
Texas Dental Hygienists are required to complete 12 continuing education hours per year. We strive each year to exceed the required hours to educate ourselves, our team, and our patients. Smiles by Burgess’ Dental hygienists Kim and Tina began the year by attending The Star of the South Dental Meeting presented by The Greater Houston Dental Society. The hygienists attended a class focused on patient medical history updates and how they can effect a patients dental needs.
We get it. A chipped or broken tooth probably isn’t the highlight of your year. But it is by no means the end of the world! Damaged teeth are very common and affect people of all ages. Fortunately, today’s crowns are realistic, durable and more convenient than ever. Once in place, no one will ever have to know you have a crown.
Smiles by Burgess has a dedicated, professional staff with years of hands-on dental experience. Each of our employees has been with us for several years, with two celebrating their 10th anniversary with us in 2017!
One of the things we are so proud of at Smiles by Burgess is the loyalty of our staff. Our newest team members have been here nearly four years already! This means that our patients get to see the same smiling faces at the front desk and in the chair when they come and visit us for their dental or oral health needs.
As our gift to you, all new patients that have a comprehensive exam and dental cleaning will receive FREE teeth whitening trays following their first visit at Smiles by Burgess!
Invisalign is a tooth alignment system that produces gorgeous results comfortably and conveniently. It differs from traditional braces, because the clear aligners are removable and virtually invisible. If you’re looking to straighten your smile without drastically altering your daily life or appearance, Invisalign might be the perfect solution.