The Cost of Missed Dental Appointments

Sometimes missing a dental appointment is unavoidable due to a variety of reasons such as illness, emergencies, work/school commitments, or simply forgetfulness. Although emergencies are understandable, habitually missing dental appointments can cause many problems, both for the patient and the dental office.

What does missing a dental appointment mean for the PATIENTS?

When patients miss their appointments, their treatment gets delayed, negatively impacting the end result of the treatment. Gum disease, decay, teeth fractures, impacted wisdom teeth – among others – are examples of problems that will only get worse when delayed.
Your health, number of appointments, comfort, and cost, could all be affected by delayed treatment.

What does missing an appointment mean for the DENTAL OFFICE?

Missed appointments significantly reduce the efficiency and productivity of a dental office and increases its operating cost.
Since time is blocked for each patient, staff and supplies have been reserved for that particular appointment. All the necessary supplies and instruments are ready 24 hours before each patient’s appointment.

Other patients get affected as well. Patients with pending treatment or emergencies, or patients who need a particular time or day, are unable to get in. We haven no way to predict failures or openings in the schedule. By taking up valuable time in the office schedule, patients with pending treatment have to wait several days or weeks to treat their dental problems.

Please help us maintain the efficiency of our office and be respectful to our clinicians and other patients by giving us 48-hour notice of any changes in your schedule and avoid accruing failed appointment fees.

Cracked Teeth

Teeth may crack for many reasons, such as chewing on ice, clenching or grinding, or older large fillings. Cracked teeth can be sensitive to cold, heat, or sweets. Sometimes cracked teeth do not present with any symptoms or pain. The dentist can diagnose a cracked tooth through a clinical examination and x-rays.
Treatment of a cracked tooth depends on the size and location of the damage. Sometimes no treatment is necessary and the doctor will place a “watch” on that tooth. If the crack is deeper, a filling or crown may be required. If a cracked tooth is not repaired, it can lead to a nerve pulp infection, which may require a root canal and crown to save the tooth. In severe cases, the tooth may need to be removed.

Flossing and Interdental Aides

There has been some recent controversy regarding flossing. The benefits of flossing has been taking for granted, and have observable clinical benefit. Dentist have been recommending flossing since at least 1902. In August of 2016, the Associated Press announced that flossing did not have proven medical benefit. The Department of Health and Human Services, in turn, dropped flossing from its recommendations due to lack of strong scientific evidence in the 25 studies that were used to make the original recommendation in 1970. New studies are underway to evaluate the benefit of flossing. The ADA and most dentist and dental hygienists are confident in their continued recommendation for flossing or using other interdental aides.

The trouble with flossing studies is teaching patients the proper technique and patients following through with the recommendations. Brushing and flossing is still the best way to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Besides tooth loss, gum disease has been linked to multiple ailments in the body, including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s.

Traditional Floss:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other options for floss include floss forks, floss picks, and gum picks. These are not as effective as traditional floss because the floss is not flexible and not as readily manipulated in the gum pockets.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Another great option is a water flosser. This is a device that uses a high stream of water to clean the gums. This device is fun to use, but has a specific technique that must be followed for maximum effectiveness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic Dental Care for Infants and Children

Baby teeth begin to form during pregnancy. It is very important for pregnant women to eat a nutritious diet that includes all of the necessary vitamins and minerals. Regular checkups should include comprehensive dental care to treat cavities and gum disease to avoid spreading bacteria to the fetus.

It is important to start good habits early. Use a soft cloth daily to clean the baby’s gums. Teeth typically start to break through the gums at around 6 months of age. Start brushing the child’s teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush as soon as the teeth come in. Start flossing as soon as the teeth touch. Children should be brushing their teeth in the morning and at night by age 4, but may need to be supervised until they are 8 years old.

The family doctor will examine the baby’s mouth during routine well visits. A dentist will typically want to see the child for the first check-up at 12 months of age and then every 6 months thereafter. The first visit may not include xrays or cleaning, that depends on the individual situation and how the child acts during the visit. A full set of baby teeth has 20 teeth, and will finish erupting by age 3. Between the ages of 6 and 11, baby (primary) teeth will become loose and fall out, and will be replaced by adult (permanent) teeth.

Give your children nutritious food to develop strong teeth and healthy bodies. Avoid sharing utensils with babies, as saliva can transfer harmful bacteria that cause cavities. Talk to your dentist if your child sucks fingers or thumbs. Do not put infants or small children to bed with a a bottle of milk, formula, juice, or any other fluids that contain sugar. Fluoride needs should be discussed with the dentist. It is not recommended to use fluoridated toothpaste prior to age 3 due to risk of ingestion. Dental offices can prescribe supplements or use fluoride varnish to help protect the child’s teeth from cavities.

Oral Cancer

Every year, close to ten thousand patients die of oral cancer in the United States. Almost 50 thousand new oral cancer diagnoses are made annually, and only half of those individuals survive after 5 years. Death rates from oral cancer are typically high due to late diagnosis, especially if the cancer has spread to other areas. Traditionally, older men who smoked or used chewing tobacco were the most likely to get diagnosed with oral cancer. However, due to rising rates of HPV16 infections (human papilloma virus 16), many younger men and women are diagnosed with oral cancer. There are several types of oral cancers, but around 90% are squamous cell carcinomas.
The goal of preventive care is to avoid major medical and dental catastrophes, reduce pain, and keep medical cost low. The most dangerous feature of oral cancer is that it is often painless and unnoticeable. As dental professionals, we perform a thorough oral cancer screening on each patient at every routine visit. We also evaluate radiographs for any signs or abnormalities. Any area in the mouth that does not heal within 14 days should be evaluated by a professional. By noting suspicious areas, we are able to monitor any changes in size, color, or texture of lesions found in the mouth and around the head and neck region. When indicated, we refer patients to a specialist – an oral surgeon – to evaluate the area of concern.

E-Cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes were first produced in China in 2009. These devices are battery-powered cigars that hold liquid cartridges containing nicotine and flavors. The cartridges are heated and emit vapor. The use of electronic cigarettes have recently become very popular in the United States, with many “Vape” shops popping up around the country. Advertisers have led the public to believe that electronic cigarettes are a safe alternative to smoking because they do not create ash; instead, they produce smokeless vapor.

Although the makers of e-cigarettes would like to claim otherwise, the safety of these products has not been adequately tested. In fact, early studies have found traces of toxic, cancer-causing ingredients. There is also evidence that these ingredients lead to a condition called “popcorn lung,” which causes irreversible damage and scarring to the lungs, as well as asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The Food & Drug Administration does not regulate the production of electronic cigarettes. E-cigarettes are not FDA-approved for quitting smoking. Other products such as patches and gums are more acceptable ways to quit smoking, and have been tested long-term for their safety and effectiveness. The American Lung Association has petitioned the FDA to oversee the ingredients used in e-cigarettes and conduct long-term studies that test these products. Until more research is done, electronic cigarette use is not recommended and cannot be called a safe alternative to smoking cigarettes or an approved way to quit smoking.

Replacing Missing Teeth

As dental health professionals, we focus on prevention and early intervention to preserve existing teeth and improve the overall health of our patients. Pulling a tooth is sometimes unavoidable, when it is the only option. Missing teeth can impact a person’s ability to chew, speak, and smile. Front teeth are often replaced for cosmetic reasons, but back teeth are extremely important to maintain the bone and function. There are several replacement options for teeth, including implants, fixed bridges, and removable partial dentures.

Implants are the best option of treatment, that most closely resembles the missing tooth. They are the newest and most expensive option. Implant titanium posts are surgically placed into the bone to anchor a single crown, multiple crowns or bridges, or a denture. Ideal candidates for implants should have adequate bone, non-smokers in good general health, with great home care. The process is usually performed in phases, which may take several months.

Fixed bridges close a space between teeth by replacing it with a floating tooth (pontic) attached to bonded crowns. It is a permanent replacement, but will need special care to keep clean. Bridges look and function like a natural teeth. Bridges typically require 2-3 appointments.

Removable partial dentures and full dentures are made out of resin to match the color of the teeth and gums, and sometimes include metal clasps for better retention. Partial dentures require special care to keep clean. Also, it may take some time to adjust to speaking clearly with these appliances and the fit may need to be adjusted several times for comfort. Dentures will also need to be replaced after 5-10 years, or more often if they break or cannot be adjusted to fit properly.

If you have questions about replacing your missing teeth, please contact our office and we would be happy to discuss your options!!!

Focus on Prevention

In recent years, medical and dental professions have shifted their focus from simply treating diseases to focusing on preventing them by promoting healthy habits and early diagnosis through regular check-ups. Over the years, preventive care has saved patients thousands of dollars in treatment costs, reduced the number of missed days of work, and prevented much of the medical and dental pain that results from neglect and advanced disease. In addition, when diagnoses are made early and treatment is started as soon as possible, the treatment itself and recovery time is reduced by a significant amount.

The two major diseases associated with the mouth are cavities and gum disease. Untreated, each of these can lead to tooth loss and generalized loss of health due to infection that spreads to other areas of the body. Advanced gum disease has been linked to many other problems in our bodies, such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and autoimmune disorders. In addition, oral cancer is very commonly missed during regular medical check-ups.

Dental professionals recommend regular care to prevent major issues from going unnoticed. In addition, most insurance companies will cover recall visits including exams and cleanings twice a year. When benefits are not utilized, they expire. As a result, future benefits may be reduced if patients consistently do not use their allowable benefits. By maintaining timely visits, you are improving your overall health. Utilizing your dental insurance benefits twice a year is a smart health and financial decision. Call our office today to schedule your check-up and cleaning!

Dental Crowns

Crowns are a common dental procedure to restore a tooth that can no longer be filled because there is not enough tooth structure left.  This is either due to the size of the damage or if the tooth already has a large filling that is broken. A tooth that cannot be repaired by adding filling material will require a crown to give it strength and protect the tooth and nerve. A tooth that has been treated with a root canal usually requires a crown, but there are other reasons a crown may be necessary to restore a tooth.

When a dentist recommends a crown, there is typically a need for the procedure to be completed in a timely manner. When patients wait too long, the tooth can break along the crack line and would need an emergency crown or a root canal. If the tooth splits, it may be too damaged to repair and may need to be extracted.

The procedure for a crown is not complicated, but it does typically require 2 appointments. First, the tooth needs to be prepared and reshaped to fit the crown. An impression will be made and sent to a dental laboratory. A temporary crown will be placed for 10-14 days while the lab prepares the final crown. When it is ready, the final crown will be placed and cemented to the prepared tooth. Crowns are typically made from 3 types of material: full porcelain, full metal, or porcelain fused to metal.

The dentist will typically discuss the need for a crown and explain the different options. Our office would be happy to answer any financial or treatment options. Thank you for trusting us with your care!!!

Dental Crown

Tooth Whitening

A wide Hollywood smile is the best accessory you can wear. White, shiny teeth tell the world that you are a healthy and confident person. But what if your teeth are stained and yellow? Years of drinking coffee, tea, and red wine can change the color of teeth to a yellowed hue or cause brown staining around the gumline and between the teeth. A dental hygiene cleaning will remove some discoloration, mainly extrinsic (external) staining, but to change the intrinsic (internal) coloration, a professional whitening procedure can be used to lighten the enamel and dentin.

The procedure is not complicated, but requires several specific steps. First, an impression of your teeth will be taken, and a clear plastic custom tray will be made to fit snugly over the teeth. A special gel with carbamide peroxide will be used in the trays, and worn for an hour per day, for a period of 7-14 days, or until the desired results are achieved. A follow-up appointment will ensure that you are happy with your results. A small touch-up may be needed every 6-12 months to maintain the new color.

Tooth whitening is a safe procedure, but there are several considerations to ensure maximum comfort and results. First, tooth sensitivity is a common temporary side-effect due to the dehydration of the tooth structure that takes place during treatment. This can be reduced by using a sensitivity-reducing toothpaste for several weeks before, during, and after the whitening treatment. Second, it is important to consider other dental needs first. For example, teeth and gums should be in a healthy state prior to starting any whitening procedure. Third, realistic expectations should be discussed before starting a whitening procedure. A natural, clean color should be expected rather than an ultra-bright hue. It is also important to keep in mind that only natural teeth will change color; whereas fillings, crowns, and other materials will not be whitened with the gel application.

Still have questions or concerns? We would love to hear from you! If you are interested in improving your smile with a whitening treatment, please don’t delay. Call our office today!