What can I expect on my first visit?
After completing your medical history, we will take any necessary x-rays. The doctor will thoroughly examine your teeth and gums as well as your face, lips and oral tissues. He will then discuss his findings with you and propose a treatment plan. At this point, patients are encouraged to ask questions and raise any concerns. We want you to be an active part of your treatment! If your case is particularly complicated, the doctor may have you return for a separate visit to discuss your options. In the meantime, our front desk can process estimates of various treatment alternatives, allowing you to plan for the treatment that will meet your needs while working within your financial means.
Do you accept payment plans?
Generally, we require payment at the time of service. If you have insurance, we can estimate your plan's percentage of coverage, allowing you to pay only the differential. Additionally, we offer Capital One Healthcare Financing, which allows patients to apply for low-interest credit for dental care they may need.
So you don't accept payment spread out over time after services?
Unfortunately, this sort of arrangement results in our office staff spending excessive time billing and playing "collection agency." Using our staff in more efficient and productive ways allows us to keep fees lower for everyone.
I'd like to whiten my teeth. What does that involve?
This process is sometimes extremely simple! If your teeth have darkened due to staining by coffee, tea, tobacco, wine or they've simply lost some whiteness due to natural aging processes, you may benefit dramatically from whitening trays. These comfortable soft plastic trays are custom fabricated for your teeth using models made from impressions of your mouth. You probably need to spend no more than 30 minutes in the office, and the trays can be delivered in 24 hours or less. Then it's just a matter of filling the trays with safe, professional-strength whitening gel and wearing them for a few hours over a few days.
Patients should be aware, however, that if they have any crowns or fillings on their front teeth, these will not whiten. Nevertheless, we will be happy to discuss corrective esthetics at your initial exam if this is a concern!
Are electronic toothbrushes really better?
Sometimes! Generally speaking, a healthy adult, using the correct brushing techniques can get by just fine with a "good old" (soft bristled!) manual toothbrush. However, for children, some older adults or individuals with disabilities, an electronic brush can help quite a bit. Additionally, for individuals with periodontitis (gum disease), these brushes can be an extremely helpful therapeutic adjunct. Lastly, there is some scientific evidence that ultra-sonic brushes (such as Sonicare) give patients a small (but significant) advantage in preventing decay and gum disease. Many patients express that they get a more pronounced "nice clean feeling" using these brushes!
I am missing a couple teeth and it makes me very self-conscious. What are my options?
The very best treatment option to replace missing teeth is to restore them using dental implants. These titanium implements basically replace a missing tooth root, allowing the dentist to anchor a tooth-like crown to the implant. They look and function just like natural teeth, they are highly predictable and typically last for years and years. The major drawback to these restorations is that they are the most costly, however, most patients feel they are well worth the investment!
Another option is a "bridge." This procedure involves shaping the teeth to either side of the space and later cementing in a teeth-shaped span which looks and feels like natural teeth. If you happen to need crowns on the teeth in question, it's an excellent alternative to the implant, and costs somewhat less, as well. However, it is slightly trickier to clean, and if the adjacent teeth are healthy, patients should think twice about this procedure.
A "Maryland bridge" is a variation on this procedure. It is more conservative of tooth structure and less expensive than a conventional bridge. However, it is less stable and less durable than its traditional cousin.
The final option to replacing teeth is a removable prosthesis. This may take the form of a partial denture, Nesbit appliance or "flipper." These are all fairly esthetic, but not as functional as the previous options. Further, they need to be removed and cleaned fairly often. On the plus side, they are the least expensive treatment, and can be used as a temporary fix until another treatment is affordable or available. Additionally, a partial can be a very economic way to restore multiple missing teeth with just one, relatively inexpensive appliance. Today's appliances can be quite esthetic, utilizing acrylic clasps in place of metal ones.
Is it possible to brush too hard?
Yes! Many people reason that if a little is good, more is better. Unfortunately, fast brushing or aggressive techniques may cause a wearing away of the tooth structure, called "abrasion," which can lead to sensitivity or tooth fracture. Our hygiene staff will work with you to find a brush that meets your needs while helping you to develop safe and effective brushing techniques.
It's been a long time since I've been to the dentist and I don't have insurance. Is there anything you can do for me?
We encourage anyone to come to our office for an exam. Once completed, we can then offer you any number of affordable options. For example, while a dental implant is often the best way to replace a missing tooth, it may cost up to $4000. However, for a "quick fix," many times we can provide a single tooth denture or a removable bridge for as little as a couple hundred dollars. This allows patients to look better and chew better until such a time as a better restoration can be done!
What many people don't realize, is that while insurance can defray many dental costs, it will usually only contribute up to $1500 per year, and even then the patient may be responsible for 30-70% of fees, depending on the procedure. By putting off going to the dentist due to lack of insurance, you run the risk of problems getting worse and requiring even more money to eventually fix. A decayed tooth that could be easily saved with a filling could cost up to TEN times as much to save two years later if it needs a root canal and/or crown! Once it gets to this point, some patients choose to simply have the tooth extracted. Ironically, many fillings aren't much more expensive than the extraction those patients ultimately choose.