7 Dental Procedures You Didn’t Know Medical Insurance Will Pay For

If you have read some of our past blogs, you will know that most dental insurance companies haven’t raised their dental benefit levels since their inception back in the mid-1960’s. The maximums were $1000 a year back then, and most continue to be $1000 today.

The dental insurance companies keep raising their premiums, and the fees of the dental procedures as cost of living and inflation goes up, but the yearly maximum has stayed stagnant at right around $1000 for the last 50 years.

To get an idea of how things have changed since the beginning of dental benefits and now, the cost of a new house back in 1965 was $13,600, the cost of a new car was $2,650, and the average income was $6,450 a year. Back then, $1000 covered a lot of dentistry, but today, it barely covers procedures needed to treat one tooth.

More and more dental offices these days are turning toward medical insurance to help their patients supplement the dental treatment they need. This was very rare a few years ago, but many offices have learned that almost all of the medical insurance companies will pay out for procedures done in a dental office, as long as the procedures fall under the scope of the dentist’s license.

Since a lot of dental offices don’t bill anything to medical insurance, most patients don’t know that they can use their medical insurance toward their dental treatment. It can get tricky at times because not every procedure can be billed to medical insurance. The following procedures though, can:

Exams and Consultations

Whether it be a new patient exam, a periodic exam that is done in conjunction with a cleaning appointment, an emergency/limited exam, or a consultation, these can all be sent to medical insurance.

X-rays

Any x-rays taken in a dental office can be sent to medical insurance because they are diagnostic in nature.

Cone Beam CT Scans

Cone Beam CT Scans are usually taken in conjunction with the need for an implant or to extract wisdom teeth, these are also diagnostic in nature, so can also be sent to medical insurance.

Oral Surgery

Not all oral surgery is done by an oral surgeon. While oral surgeons have been billing medical insurance for years, some things done in a general dental practice can also be sent to medical insurance. Any type of extraction, including wisdom teeth can be sent to medical insurance, as well as any type of bone graft.

Trauma

Any procedure that is done in a dental office that is a result of any type of accident (car accident, workman’s comp, etc.) can be billed to medical insurance, whether they are dental in nature or not. For example, if you break a couple of teeth in a car accident, one tooth needing a filling and the other a crown, both of these procedures can be sent to medical insurance because they were caused by the trauma from the accident.

Night Guards

Night Guards are very effective for people who clench and grind their teeth at night. These guards protect the teeth, and even the restorations like crowns and fillings against harmful night time grinding and clenching. These guards are considered medical equipment by medical insurance companies, and often times are paid for at 100%, rather than the 80% or 50% that dental insurance usually pays.

OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) Appliances

There have been a lot of advances in dentistry over the past decade, but none more-so than for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Before these advances, most people needed to be hooked up to a large and invasive CPAP machine. With the advances that have been made, sleep apnea can (most of the time) be managed by wearing an appliance very similar to the night guard mentioned above, and is a lot more comfortable to wear than the facemask to a CPAP machine.

These appliances are also considered medical equipment, much like the night guards are, and are covered at 100% a lot of times as well. Although in most cases a sleep study is required to prove medical necessity, but one can be obtained very easily.

Bring your medical insurance card to your next dental visit to see if you can take advantage of using your medical insurance to supplement your dental treatment. Doing so will open up your dental benefits so that you can apply them to procedures that are more dental in nature like crowns, root canals, and dental implants. Call 602-993-4200 today or visit our website to see how we can help you use your medical insurance at the dental office.

Summer, Summer, Summertime!

Hopefully everyone out there stayed safe and cool this weekend and didn’t melt. With these temperatures that we are having, we don’t have to tell you that Summer is officially here. We had our checkups for our air conditioners last week just to prepare for the summer and they are working beautifully!

This summer we wanted to prepare ourselves a little better for children and teachers being off for the summer, so we made sure to open up our cleaning schedules to make room and ensure that we could get everyone in. So if you haven’t called to schedule the kids for their cleanings yet, make sure that you get them in soon!

June also marks the last month of our Smiles for Life campaign. If you haven’t received one of our earlier newsletters, the Smiles For Life Foundation provides whitening services to our patients for a minimal donation to charities that help impoverished, malnourished, and disabled children around the world. Email or call us at 602-993-4200 to see how you can help these children and whiten your smile at the same time!

We were shocked to learn that some of you didn’t know about our ‘Share The Care’ referral program, so we wanted to go over it again so there isn’t any confusion about it. How our ‘Share The Care’ cards work is when you give the card to a friend or family member that you would like to refer to our office, and they bring the card into their appointment, you both will receive a $20 Visa gift card. It’s our way to say thank you for putting your trust in us to deliver high quality dentistry to your friends and family.

If you need some of our ‘Share The Care’ cards, you can either stop by the office (we would love to see you!) or give us a call, and we would be happy to mail some out to you.

We also wanted to thank you all. We sent out an e-mail asking you to let us know how we are doing by writing us a review of either Yelp or Google, and we had an overwhelming positive response. We wanted to thank you for taking time out of your busy days to do us that favor, it means so much to us!

Stay cool out there, and let us know if there is anything at all that we can do for you!

Catching Up With Dr. Core

It has been a couple of years since we have checked in with you here on the blog. How have things been going lately?

Oh my gosh, things have been pretty busy these past couple of years. The office is open on Saturdays now, so that has been occupying a lot of my time, but thankfully our new associate, Dr. Julie Brann will be starting soon, so I’ll have some more time to spend with my family. We also added new technology last year, so taking continuing education classes to see how to utilize the new technology to best treat our patients has also kept me pretty busy.

You mentioned new technology, and we have talked about it here in the past, but could you go into a little more detail about it?

Sure, yeah, most of the new technology has to do with the images we take here in the office, which is a huge part of dentistry. It is what helps me determine what treatment each patient needs, so the advances in the imaging we have here helps me immensely.

We have the new Schick 33 sensors which are the latest sensors on the market, and are a huge upgrade to what we used to use. The images that come from these sensors are so crisp and clear and makes my job so much easier.

The other addition we added last year was the Galileos Cone Beam, which takes 3D CT scans of both the upper and lower jaws, as well as the airway. This has been the biggest change here because now I can see 3D renderings of patient’s head, so I can tell exactly what is going on with the teeth, the gums, the sinuses, the jaw joints that contribute to TMJ, and the airway that has a lot to due with sleep apnea.

It has been nothing short of amazing in helping me understand the whole picture of what is going on with our patients, and has made the process of placing implants such a breeze. It is so nice that we are able to provide that service to our patients here at our office now.

Wow, that’s really impressive! Last year you were approached by DentalTown Magazine to write an article teaching dentists about IV Sedation, how did that feel?

Oh wow, that was a surreal experience. It felt great to be thought of as an “expert” in the field of Sedation Dentistry. They came to me because they are based here in Arizona, and I help the Arizona Board of Dental Examiners certify that dentists are qualified and prepared to administer IV Sedation in their offices.

I just love the options that Sedation Dentistry gives me. Most people are afraid to come to the dentist for one reason or another, and Sedation Dentistry allows them to push past that fear and get the treatment that they deserve, and ultimately need. I would write 100 articles if it helped more dentists feel comfortable offering sedation to their patients.

 

We hope you get the chance to! It’s almost halfway through June and you are about to wrap up your 2nd Smiles For Life Campaign. How has that experience been?

Anytime you are able to help kids in anyway, you just do it. For those that don’t know Smiles For Life works with dentists around the world to provide whitening services to patients in return for donations for children’s charities. These charities help sick, malnourished, disabled, and impoverished kids around the world, and here locally.

We were able to work closely with the Boys and Girls Club here in Glendale to provide them with some desperately needed resources for the kids, and I don’t see us stopping anytime soon. It has been an absolute pleasure working with our patients, giving them something that they really want, and being able to help all of these children at the same time. We couldn’t have done it without our patients!

That’s so inspiring! We know you’re busy, so we won’t take up too much more of your time. What’s next for you and Legacy Dental Group?

Wow, for me, hopefully a vacation! In all seriousness, what I see for us in the future is to continue to grow and be here as much as we can for our patients. To keep taking continuing education classes so that we can provide the best care for our patients, and to keep adding new products and procedures to make our patient’s visits here the best they can be. Our patients are why we are here, and we’ll continue doing everything we can to make coming to the dentist an enjoyable experience.

Take that vacation, you seriously deserve it! Well that wraps up our time here, thank you so much for checking in and taking the time to answer our questions!

It was my pleasure. Thanks!

9 Factors You Didn’t Know About Gum Disease

Gum disease is a huge hot topic in dentistry today. With the onset of corporate dentistry, it seems like periodontal disease is the biggest point of contention between dentists, and hygienists alike. Dentists will never agree on the subject, some studies say that 85% of Americans have gum disease, and some reports say that the number is closer to 60 percent. That is a very wide gap, but on the low end, that is still 60% of all Americans that have some sort of periodontal disease. There are numerous factors contributing to gum infection like age, genetics, smoking, and gender. But some contributing factors may come as a surprise to you. The top nine factors that come as somewhat of a surprise are:

Diseases

Many systemic diseases have been linked to periodontal disease with the biggest being diabetes and heart disease. Diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease, which in turn can increase blood sugar and diabetic complications. Some studies have shown tha the inflammation associated with gum disease can contribute to heart disease as well.

Other diseases that have been linked to periodontal disease are osteoporosis, respiratory disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. Also, post-menopausal women have an 86% higher chance to develop gum disease.

Medications

Studies have shown that certain types of oral contraceptives, antidepressants, and heart medication have a side effect of gingival overgrowth, which can be a contributing factor of gum disease. Also, any drug that has a side effect of dry mouth can increase the risk for gum disease. We will get into this a little later.

Grinding

Clenching and grinding teeth together breaks down the fibers and bone that hold teeth in place, and can speed up the rate at which the gum tissue is destroyed.

Nutrition

A diet low in fruits and vegetables can compromise the body’s immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection, and because periodontal disease begins as an infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums.

Sleep

Studies have shown that getting 6 hours of sleep a night or less makes you 3 times more susceptible to periodontal disease.

Stress

Stress affects the immune system, which fights against the bacteria that causes periodontal disease, making you much more prone to gum disease. Studies have shown that those at greatest risk for gum disease were those who were highly emotional in dealing with financial problems.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth irritates the gums which can make them inflamed and more susceptible to infection. Without saliva protecting the teeth and gums, tooth decay and gum disease become more common. Medications like antihistamines, decongestants, painkillers, and diuretics are the most common cause of dry-mouth. Dry-mouth has also been linked to pregnancy and menopause as well.

Oral Hygiene

Oral hygiene habits are the number one contributor to gum disease. If you don’t have good oral hygiene habits, then none of these other factors really matter. Brushing at least twice a day, flossing, and regular visits to your dentist and hyginist are the first line of defense against periodontal disease. These are also the only ways to fight gum disease or to get your mouth healthy again if you already have gum disease.

Our hygienists are trained and highly skilled in the area of periodontal disease detection and prevention. They both would be happy to go through your medical history with you, assess your risk factors, and help you in your fight against gum disease, call or click here to make an appointment today!

Wedding and Graduation pictures last forever. You can have a bright, white, amazing smile, and here’s how…

Wow, it seems like this year is in hyperdrive! It seems like yesterday that we were talking about New Year’s Resolutions, and we blinked and it is already May. With it being May here in Arizona, people’s mindsets have switched from resolutions to Wedding Season and graduations.

It seems like everyone we talk to is bust either getting ready for a graduation, planning a wedding, or making plans to attend a wedding. Even our own Dr. Core is getting ready for his graduation from Arizona State’s WP Carey School of Business with his MBA. We are so excited for his accomplishment, and he is so excited to finally be done!

The one thing that Wedding Season and graduations all have in common are pictures…and a ton of them! These photos are a celebration of a time that everyone involved will want to remember forever, and I’m sure that everyone is going to want their smiles as straight and white as they can be. We have many different solutions that can help straighten and whiten smiles just in time for these pictures to be taken. These solutions include:

Invisalign

I’m sure that by now everyone knows what Invisalign is, but if you don’t, Invisalign is an alternative to traditional braces. It is a series of clear aligners that incrementally shift and straighten teeth. Invisalign works a lot faster than traditional braces, most times in as quick as 4-6 months, and no one will be able to tell you are wearing them.

Dr. Core has been providing Invisalign to his patients for over a decade now, and is considered a Premier Provider by Invisalign. Only a handful of dentists in Arizona are considered Premier Providers, and even fewer are general dentists like Dr. Core. Which means that we can take care of all of your dental needs here, rather than going to an orthodontist strictly for Invisalign, and having to find another dentist for your general needs.

Another advancement that Invisalign has made is that they now accept digital impressions rather than the old, invasive “goop” impressions that we used to have to take. Our patients could hardly breathe while we were taking those imperssions the old way, but now we have the capability to take digital scans of your teeth so you will never have to deal with the “goop” again!

Invisalign is being accepted by more and more insurance companies everyday, and we would be happy to check your benefit plan to see if they can help with the cost. Even without the help of your benefit plan, we are able to get the cost down to a little over $100 a month. We would be happy to help you schedule a consultation to see how Invisalign could work for you.

Whitening

The most popular procedure in dentistry these days is teeth whitening. there are so many options for whitening including whitening toothpaste, strips, swabs, and I’ve even seen a mouthpiece with a little blue light that shines on your teeth. I think these companies think the more ridiculous the idea, the better it will work.

I have personally tried most of these options available (save for the little blue light thing) just to see if they do work. I wanted to do the research so that I would be more informed to talk to our patients about whitening. They all pretty much do the same thing, they dehydrate the teeth, which will definitely make your teeth whiter…for a day or two.

Dr. Core wanted to offer the best option on the market to his patients, and I think he is the only dentist in the country that doesn’t offer in-office whitening. That’s right, our office does not offer in-office whitening! We have tried it before, and Dr. Core decided that it doesn’t produce the results that are expected from it. His expectations weren’t met, and neither were our patient’s so we stopped doing it.

We have found that the best teeth whitening results come from take-home trays, so that is the only option that we offer here. Take home trays are clear plastic trays, that are very similar to Invisalign aligners and are made precisely to fit your mouth. We also use that we have determined to be the best whitening gel that is available, Opalescence. Opalescence is formulated to prevent dehydration and contains potassium nitrate and fluoride which both help to maintain enamel in teeth and help with sensitivity issues that are often associated with teeth whitening.

Right now is the perfect time to invest in teeth whitening at our office. Now through the end of June we are working with the Smiles For Life Foundation to offer our patients and anyone else that would like them, take-home whitening trays. These take-home trays are deeply discounted from their normal price, and all that we ask is that you make a nominal donation to the Smiles For Life Foundation which helps raise money for seriously ill, disabled, and underprivileged kids here in Glendale, and around the world.

So, if you are preparing for a wedding or a graduation, let us be one of the first to congratulate you, and also let us help you to have the most remarkable smile you can for those pictures that you’ll cherish forever! Call us today at 602-993-4200 or click here to see how we can help.

What Is Cone Beam 3D Imaging And What Is It Used For?

Dr. Core asks himself everyday, “What can I do to make coming to my office a better experience for my patients?” Whether it be something to change in the way we do things here at the office, offering IV Sedation to make the visits easier for our patients, or a new piece of technology that makes the work he does easier for the patient to handle, he is always looking for some way to make our patients more comfortable. Well, last year, he went to a conference across town in Scottsdale, and they introduced a new piece of equipment that he knew would change the way he practices dentistry as soon as he saw it. That piece of equipment was the Galileos Comfort Plus which takes cone beam 3D CT scans. Think of it like a 3D x-ray of your whole mouth.

The technology is so revolutionary it has literally changed the way that Dr. Core practices dentistry. He used to have to look at blurry two-dimensional x-rays and, while that is how he was trained as a dentist, and all other dentists are for that matter, when he looks at a crisp, clear 3D image, he can see every aspect of what is going on in the mouth. He can see the difference between the need for a root canal and just having a sinus infection. He can see how close a wisdom tooth is to the nerves and arteries in the jaw, instead of just making an educated guess like he used to have to do. He can even manipulate the image to see inside of each and every tooth to check for fractures or infected canals that would not show up on a regular two-dimensional x-ray.

To get an idea of the difference between what most dentists are working with and the new technology that Dr. Core now has, here is a panoramic x-ray from a phosphor-plate x-ray system that most dentists are using now;

pano

And here is a screenshot from the software the new cone beam system uses:

Galileos_Screenshot

Not only is the new technology a lot clearer, it can be manipulated to any angle, zoomed in, and highlighted depending on what application Dr. Core is using it for. Cone Beam 3D imaging is used to aid in many different procedures that we do here, including:

  • Dental Implant Surgery
  • Orthodontics
  • Root Canals
  • Jaw Reconstructive Surgery
  • and Extractions

It can also be used to diagnose:

  • Lesions
  • Nose and Sinus Issues
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Fractures
  • TMJ Issues
  • Suspect Pathology
  • and Un-diagnosed Pain

The more information a dentist has about a patient, the more predictable the diagnosis and treatment will be, and now that Dr. Core is utilizing cone beam 3D imaging in our practice, he is confident that he can provide the most predictable recommendations for his patients.

The new technology has also made it possible for Dr. Core to provide services that he had previously referred out to oral surgeons such as placing implants. With the 3D imaging, Dr. Core can plan out exactly where the implant would need to go not to affect the surrounding teeth, nerves, or arteries that come into play when placing most implants. He can use the image to create a surgical guide that will assist him when he is placing the implant to ensure that it will be placed precisely where he planned it using the software referenced above. So not only is new technology making dentistry more predictable than ever, it is simplifying procedures that were once very complex and precarious.

Give us a call or click here to schedule an appointment to learn more about 3D imaging or the services that we can now perform that maybe we couldn’t the last time you were in. We would love to see what we can do for your dental needs.

 

Dental Insurance: Do I Really Need It? Part Two

Last week I went through some of the exclusions and limitations that dental insurance companies employ to pay out less and less every year. This week, I wanted to get into dental insurance alternatives, and why I think that individuals might be better off without any dental insurance at all.

How dental insurance works these days is that usually you, or your employer pays the insurance company a monthly premium. For that monthly premium the insurance company offers a dental benefit, typically of $1000 a year, and like I said last week, they pay out on a percentage level. One hundred percent for preventative services, usually eighty percent for basic services, and fifty percent for major services. What the insurance companies don’t tell people is that a lot of the plans they offer, and almost all of the plans that they offer to individuals, have a waiting period for anything other than preventative services.

Most times the waiting periods for basic services are six months, and for major services it is usually twelve months. What this means for the patient is that the insurance company will collect the monthly premiums from the patient or the patient’s employer for the first six or twelve months respectively, before they will pay out any benefits for any services other than a preventative service like a cleaning.

A pretty conservative estimate for a dental insurance plan monthly premium would be approximately $30. Which would make the yearly premium for the insurance plan $360. Keep this number in mind for a little later on. What this means is that you or your employer have to pay the insurance company $180 before they will even start paying for basic services, at eighty percent, after your deductible is applied. For major services it would be $360 before they start to pay fifty percent, after your deductible. And that is before they start applying the exclusions and limitations that I was talking about before.

So, say you had a tooth break and needed a crown done. If it was within the first year of coverage, you would owe the full amount, let’s call it $1000 for a nice round number. If you needed that crown done in the second year of coverage, after the waiting period has been satisfied, you would be looking at 50% of the total cost, after your deductible, which is usually $50. When you do the math, that makes the patient portion $525. That $525 is a little misleading though, because that doesn’t include the premiums that were paid during the first year of coverage, or any exclusions or limitations that the plan might have for crowns, such as an alternate benefit limitation. So in reality, the total cost of the crown ends up being $885. The insurance ended up contributing $115 toward a $1000 procedure after making the patient wait a year to get the procedure done. This is all assuming, of course that the crown was done in the first month after the 12 month waiting period, the monthly premium was only $30, which is a pretty conservative estimate, and the deductible was only $50.

A lot of dental offices are turning to in-office discount plans to rival the growing disdain that their patients are feeling toward dental insurance companies because of the rising premiums and the shrinking benefit payouts. The offices that are doing this are receiving positive feedback from their patients because they still get a percentage off of the usual and customary rate for the area, and they do not have to deal with the headaches that dental insurance usually brings.

Another  alternative to dental insurance that some offices are employing are loyalty programs. These loyalty programs work somewhat like a dental insurance plan would, but the dental offices would be the ones collecting the premiums, and there are no waiting periods at all. It is a discounted premium, usually around $15 or $20 a month. For that monthly premium the patient would get two preventative cleanings, two exams, and any necessary x-rays covered every year, and a deeper discount than an in-house discount program could provide for any other treatment the patient would need.

These programs are somewhat new to the industry and differ by dental office, so you would have to contact your office for details about the plans that they offer. We would be happy to explain the different options we have available, just send us a message or give us a call at any time at 602-993-4200.