Is Your Insurance Ruining Your Oral Health?
Posted on Nov 26, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
A necessary ‘evil.’
These days, insurance coverage seems to be an ever-expanding chunk out of paychecks. Even so, coverages seem to be getting more and more limited.
Yet, health insurance is an investment that provides peace of mind and reminds us that we need to do all we can to stay healthy – and NOT need it! Deductibles, uncovered items, and prescriptions can drain the wallet in spite of what is shelled out for monthly premiums.
Regardless of the insurance coverage you have, taking full advantage of its benefits is an annual goal. Some people have Health Savings Accounts (HSA) to give some padding for certain expenses not covered by insurances.
Because of out-of-pocket expenses, dental patients sometimes make decisions on accepting treatment based on what their insurance covers. This can be detrimental to the patient.
Dental insurance was developed to give people some help for basic annual expenses. For many, this includes twice-a-year dental exams and cleanings. Some policies include assistance for an annual crown or filling, and some coverage for periodontal (gum) therapy to treat gum disease.
Although adults may see these coverages as ample, they can be far from sufficient some years. For aging adults or people who have conditions such as diabetes or take medications that have an oral dryness side effect, basic insurance coverage can be far from what is in your best interest.
Keep in mind that insurance companies are for-profit businesses. What these companies deem coverage-worthy may be far from what is best for a patient’s long term oral health.
Think about this … As of Aug. 2, 2018, publicly traded health care companies amassed $47 billion in profit. (https://www.axios.com/health-care-industry-on-track-massive-q2-profits-1533226387-dacec8f8-c9f5-406c-a49e-1103e3316c64.html) That’s BILLION.
Sadly, insurance companies tend to serve as judge and jury for some people when it comes to treatment decisions. If an insurance company overrules what a dentist or dental specialist advises, it can leave the patient with an even more-complex situation.
They also use additional limiting terms such as “usual and customary.” This means that it is the insurance company that determines what is reimbursed for the treatment rather than the skill level and reputation of the provider.
Another dilemma for today’s insured patient has to do with the treatment recommended. For instance, when I consult with a patient who is missing teeth, I typically advise dental implants. My recommendation is based upon what will provide the patient with a lifelong solution for missing teeth as well as other benefits.
I look at a dental implant as the ideal in tooth replacement, since it is held in the jaw bone just as natural tooth roots. An implant restores the dependable foundation necessary for biting and chewing, enabling the patient to eat a healthy diet and chew foods comfortably, which supports the digestive system and overall health.
Dental implants are a more expensive option (initially) than crown-&-bridge combinations, dentures, or partials. They are designed to last a lifetime; often far beyond the span of time an average policy holder would stick with the insuring company.
As beneficial as they are to your overall health, dental implants are often deemed as ‘elective’ by insurance companies. This is where the patient must decide: “Is protecting my overall health and smiling confidence a priority to me or should I go with what my insurance coverage allows?”
What it comes down to is, essentially, how we perceive insurance coverage. While major medical insurance gives us peace of mind should we experience a health challenge that would otherwise drain us financially, dental insurance coverages are different.
Dental insurance, for the most part with most policies, is structured as a ‘support’ for helping those covered to maintain a healthy mouth. For people who already have good oral health and are able to tend to it sufficiently between checkups, this is fine. However, for most American adults, tooth repair, tooth loss and gum problems are a fact of life, particularly as we age.
For most of us, the decisions we make today will affect us in the years to come. When it comes to your oral health, don’t let your long-term oral wellness, the longevity of your teeth, the comfort of healthy eating, or the confidence of smiling and laughter be dictated by what insurance coverage allows.
When it comes to your smile, put your needs first.
If you trust your dentist and others involved to guide you towards good oral health and maintaining your smile, consider their recommendations and ask questions. Be an informed consumer. But, most importantly, make decisions that are in your best interest rather than that a for-profit insurance company deems is worthy for your smile.
If you don’t have regular dental care and would like recommendations, feel free to contact us at 828-274-9440. We work with exceptional general dentists in Western North Carolina and will be proud to connect you. Or, feel free to begin with a thorough periodontal exam here. We will make recommendations based upon your unique needs and goals.
Know The Unseen Risks Of Wearing Dentures
Posted on Sep 19, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
As an Asheville periodontist, my goal is to provide each patient with the very best so they can enjoy a healthy, confident smile. For patients who have lost one or more natural teeth, some come to me because they want to avoid ending up having to wear a full or partial denture. For those who wear one and are unhappy with the feel and function, we are sought out as specialists in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants.
Denture wearers, especially those who have worn dentures for many years, can quickly become dissatisfied with the uncomfortable rubbing and difficulty eating foods they once enjoyed. Although their ‘appliance’ may have fit well when first made, changes in the fit, over time, are due to what is taking place below the gum tissues. These changes aren’t obvious, at first.
When first made, a denture is custom-designed to fit snugly to the unique contours of the gum ridge. This ‘ridge’ is the raised arch where natural teeth were once held. Over time, denture wearers begin to notice that the denture moves while chewing certain foods. This can rub sore spots on gums. As the denture loosens more, even using denture adhesives or pastes don’t help much.
Denture patients also learn that it can be painful for something as small as a sesame seed to become trapped between their denture and gums, piercing into tender gum tissues. Some people eventually switch to a diet of soft foods that dissolve easily to avoid rigorous chewing. Because of fear of embarrassing slips, others begin to decline social invitations when they are centered around food.
The problem for a denture wearer is what is happening underneath the gums. The looser fit is not because the denture has expanded – it’s the decline of the jaw bone. This occurs with the absence of tooth roots, which once provided nourishment and stimulation to the bone that supported them.
When natural tooth roots are removed, the jaw bone begins to shrink. This decline in bone mass also contributes to changes in facial appearance, such as deep wrinkling around the mouth and the formation of jowls.
The process of bone loss continues as the gum ridge your denture was contoured to flattens. Relines may temporarily adjust the denture to accommodate some of the change. However, as the jaw bone continues to decline, the denture continues to be difficult to keep in place.
The denture itself merely adds to the problem of bone loss. The pressure of wearing a denture actually accelerates the rate of bone loss. Since a number of denture wearers also sleep in their dentures, the 24/7 pressure speeds this rate even more.
Long-time denture wearers often complain that they are not able to chew, with some admitting they have to even remove their denture to eat. Fear of embarrassment is another common complaint. Speaking, laughing and even sneezing in the presence of others can create embarrassing moments that leave lasting impressions.
The solution to these problems – dental implants. Not only do implants restore the ability to bite and chew comfortably, they halt bone loss that is associated with dentures. Because they are held by the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots once were, implants recreate the stimulation needed by the jaw bone to maintain its mass.
Does your denture bring to mind words like rocky, wobbly and slippery? If so, the problem will only worsen over time. When people choose dental implants to replace an ill-fitting denture, they can smile, laugh and chew with confidence.
Eating a healthy diet, socializing with friends and family, and feeling confident are essential to a healthy, happy life. Call our friendly Asheville periodontal dental office: 828-254-9440 to schedule an initial appointment. (A referral is not required). During this time, I’ll explain the type of implants that may be best for your needs as well as comfort options, including oral and IV sedation (“twilight sleep”). We are also happy to discuss estimated costs and payment options.
Get The Most For Your Investment When Replacing Teeth.
Posted on Jun 12, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
Losing a natural tooth is a big deal. Its loss not only leaves a gap in the appearance of a smile, its absence can lead to movement of surrounding teeth.
Without all teeth in their proper positions, an open area can cause others to tilt and turn. Additionally, the one above or below will grow longer without having its ‘roommate.’ These issues can lead to broken, fractured, or chipped teeth.
Replacing a tooth involves decisions, and costs. While there are ‘cheap’ ways to replace a tooth, the ideal method – a dental implant – offers lifetime replacement that actually enhances the well-being and lifespan of surrounding teeth.
In dental implant treatment, the ‘implanted’ portion is positioned into the jaw bone as a tooth root replacement. This provides the teeth attached the same foundation as natural tooth roots have. A partial or bridge simply sits on top of gum tissues and relies on adjacent teeth for support.
When a tooth must serve as a support for ‘prosthetic’ teeth, its key role becomes greater. With the added pressure and stress to the natural tooth, there are also more risks to its structure on its own.
Because of the ability to restore the presence of natural teeth to such a great extent, dental implants are the preferred choice for replacement. Although the costs seem greater, over time, the benefits far outweigh the expense. This is why more and more adults are choosing implants to replace one, several, or all missing teeth.
However, there are many factors that can come into play when going forward with a dental implant. Your choice of doctor to place the implanted portion can greatly increase your potential to enjoy your dental implant for a lifetime.
As a Periodontist, my specialty encompasses treatment of all levels of gum disease, the re-contouring of gum tissues, and advanced training in the diagnosis and placement of dental implants. This includes the proper selection of the implant type best for each patient’s needs as well as placement at correct depths and angles.
The most troubling thing I see in implant dentistry is when a patient opted for a “good deal” with a less-experienced doctor, and having to remove a ‘failed’ implant.
Along with an intricate knowledge of the specific type of implant needed, proper placement angles and depth have much to do with the overall success of the implant. For optimal results, the doctor placing the implant should be skilled in the selection of the implant angles and positioning depths.
For example, an implant placed in the upper jaw in too-shallow bone can work its way into the sinus cavity. A lower implant in insufficient bone depth can reach a nerve that runs horizontally through the lower jaw (the mandible).
Additionally, the shape, size and the number of teeth to be attached to an implant have much to do with the type of implant system selected. When the placement doctor is only familiar with one or two types, disasters can occur.
In our Asheville periodontal office, we enjoy restoring the health and appearance of smiles. We also help patients who once struggled with dentures or partials to resume eating the foods they love again and laugh confidently in social gatherings.
The doctor is not the sole factor in success, however, Along with proper selection and placement, a patient must take measures to ensure proper oral hygiene at home. Oral bacteria can contribute to an infection that works its way into the bone surrounding the implant. In some cases, the only way to resolve the infection is to remove the implant.
When a patient entrusts their implant treatment to a skilled doctor and adheres to hygiene and healing guidelines, having an implant fail is very unlikely. The success rate of today’s implant dentistry is excellent – over 97 percent.
If you are considering dental implants, increase your potential for a successful outcome by asking a Periodontist to join your dentist in team treatment. Most general dentists have close relationships with periodontal specialists for implant placement and in treating gum disease.
Feel free to discuss your specific needs and desires before you make your decision. Call (828) 274-9440 to schedule a consultation.
For Dental Implants, Begin With A Specialist For Optimal Results.
Posted on Apr 10, 2019 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS
If you are considering dental implants to replace teeth or an appliance (dentures or partials), having your treatment BEGIN WITH a Periodontist offers many advantages to achieving a successful, overall result.
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the he placement of dental implants as well as the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease. Periodontists are experts in the treatment of oral inflammation of the gum tissues, which make up much of the foundation for an implant.
A periodontist is familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease and trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures. To specialize in periodontology, he or she must undergo an additional 11 years, on average, to complete the educational, clinical and specialty requirements after high school.
Essentially, a periodontist becomes a dentist and continues on in education and training to further expand his or her realm of knowledge and skills. While some general dentists offer dental implant diagnosis and placement in their dental office, having a specially-trained periodontist can help you enjoy an optimal outcome based on a unique understanding of the supporting gums, bones, and appropriate implant types and placement.
For example, a dentist who offers dental implant services may actually have completed a brief weekend course hosted by a particular implant system company. The dentist, while ‘taught’ to place the particular implant type, is essentially instructed in what the hosting company teaches as far as diagnosis and placement of their system alone.
Yet, every mouth is different. An implant designed by one company may not be appropriate for the number of implants you actually need, nor the bone structures you have, or the number of teeth being supported. There are a number of factors that must be taken into consideration for a successful result.
A periodontist uses specialized training that covers all types of implant systems to carefully select the type of implant that is most appropriate for unique needs. From this, a treatment plan will be developed for the number of implants needed and ideal positioning in regards to existing bone structures and surrounding gum tissues.
If finding the “cheapest” price for your implant is the priority in your decision, the involvement of a periodontist will probably not be less expensive than what you’ll find advertised online. You’ll find bargains that sound too good to be true (which often are).
However, your choice in dental implant treatment should factor in the risks of failure. Some people are unaware that dental implants can “fail.” While insufficient at-home care can be a contributing factor to the need for implant removal, an implant that is placed at an improper depth and angle, or one that is too big or small to support the attached restorations (replacement teeth) is also a cause.
As a Periodontist in Asheville, I’ve had to remove a number of implants that were poorly selected or placed over the years. I feel badly for these patients, knowing they have to go through the entire process again, and make the investment all over again. In our practice, we take every step to “do it right the first time” so implant selection and placement is the very best for each patient.
At Biltmore Periodontics, we offer oral sedation for added relaxation. We also have a Board Certified Anesthesiologist on our team. Dr. Brad Stone is a medical doctor providing sedation and anesthesia for optimal comfort and relaxation. Here, our patients know us for making comfort and safety high priorities. (https://www.biltmoreperiodontics.com/comprehensive-care-team/) IV sedation provides patients with a “twilight sleep” state with a quick recovery. Too, it typically erases all memory of the procedure afterwards.
It may be tempting to consider a “cheap” dental implant offer or a “one-stop clinic” for your treatment. However, your overall comfort and long-term success should be the guiding force in your decisions in tooth replacement.
Begin with a consultation appointment. Call 828-274-9440. During this time, we can discuss the implant type that may work best for you and the process involved. We will also be happy to address anticipated fees and payment options, if desired.
Dental implants, when properly chosen, placed, and cared for, are designed to last your lifetime. In the proper hands, your new smile will be an everyday joy, every day of your life!