FAQ

Are X-Rays Safe During Pregnancy?

As an expectant mother, you do everything you can to keep yourself healthy and protect your baby. You make regular prenatal visits, take vitamins, try to eat right (aside from the cravings, of course) and read plenty of books to prepare.

One of the things a woman can do to ensure a healthy baby and delivery is to keep up with her regular dental care. In fact, studies show that women who have gum disease are more likely to experience preeclampsia, preterm labor, have babies with a low birth weight, and pass the bacteria on to their child.

But what about dental X-rays during your regular checkups? Or if you need treatment on an aching tooth?

X-Rays And Protection

Dental X-rays, especially today’s digital versions, are extremely safe and use very little radiation. As a precaution, dentists use lead aprons to cover reproductive organs so that radiation doesn’t have the chance of affecting the cells inside of them (which would lead to atypical conditions in offspring.) Due to the cumulative effects of radiation, dental staff make a habit of stepping outside of the room when X-rays are taken.

 

That being said, they’re still quite safe. In fact, a person will get more radiation from spending a day out in the sun on the beach or on an airplane flight across the country than they would a set of full mouth dental X-rays at their dentist’s office.

 

The American Pregnancy Association, along with the American College of Radiography, state that regular dental X-rays don’t use enough radiation to have any type of unwanted effects on an unborn baby or their mother.

 

The Need For X-Rays While Pregnant

Active dental infections don’t resolve on their own. In many situations, professional dental care is needed before the situation becomes more complex…or worse, spreads to other areas of the body.

 

Since most dental procedures can’t be completed without the use of an X-ray, pregnant women who are experiencing tooth pain or oral infections can still safely rely on getting X-rays to diagnose and treat their condition.

 

When you do, your dentist will still use a lead apron to shield any scatter radiation from reaching your developing baby.

 

Which Trimester Is Best?

Some experts recommend that if you’re going to avoid X-rays, the best time to do so would be your first trimester. However, it’s generally considered safe to see the dentist at any point. That being said, many women feel uncomfortable laying back during their third trimester, due to the baby’s size.

If you’re planning to get pregnant, it’s best to go ahead and catch up on any dental work that you need to have done, or plan to get it completed by your second trimester. In fact, current research shows that women who have trouble conceiving — and have active gum disease — may conceive more quickly once their periodontal infection is treated.

 Visit A Smilebar Dentist For More Information

Do yourself and your baby a favor and schedule a checkup with a Smilebar dentist near you today!

Can I See a Dentist Without Dental Insurance? Aliquam Tempor?

Is it possible to afford quality dental care if you or your family doesn’t have dental insurance? Absolutely. But to understand how, you’ll first need to know what goes into the benefits that you might be “missing” should you drop your coverage.

Understanding What Dental Insurance Pays For

Nearly all dental insurance plans are prevention-focused. What that means is that they “pay for” preventative services like two checkups and cleanings per year, plus any necessary X-rays.

When restorative procedures like fillings or crowns are needed, the insurance plan pays for less on the service, and only after a specific dollar deductible has been paid by the patients. More involved or complex treatments are covered at even less.

Don’t forget the “maximum allowable” amounts that once met, mean your insurance won’t pay anything more until the next calendar year. Additionally, elective services such as cosmetic procedures are not covered at all.

How Much Dental Insurance Really Covers

Once you’ve done the math, the money that you pay into your dental insurance policy each year is about as much as what it would take to pay for your six-month preventative care appointments, plus a little more. If you’re not one to usually have many dental problems, it may actually be more cost effective to pay out of pocket than it is to enroll in a dental insurance plan.

Insurance allowable amounts usually cap out at around $1,500 per year. Surprisingly, this amount has not changed in over four decades. While medical insurance coverage has adjusted with the cost of inflation, dental policies have not. That means you’re getting the same about of coverage as a family did in the 1970s…so when you need extensive restorative or rehabilitative care, practically no one will be able to say their insurance covers everything.

Complimentary Cash Discounts

Deciding to go to the dentist without insurance means you’ll be paying for your service at the time of the appointment. If you’re writing a check or paying by cash (and no credit card fees are involved,) most private practices will include a courtesy discount of around 5-8%.

Seeing a dentist without dental insurance is quite similar to fee-for-service dentistry, where the patient pays for their appointment and is then partially reimbursed at a later point directly by their insurance carrier.

How To Keep Dental Costs Down

Most oral health concerns are preventable. By choosing to see your dentist every six months, you’ll be equipped with the tools and information that you need to lower your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, your dentist can diagnose concerns at earlier stages.

Treating areas of decay or infection earlier means less-invasive therapies that are more affordable. Such treatments are also healthier for your teeth, because less tooth structure or soft tissues are involved.

In-House Savings Plans

Depending on where you live, your Smilebar Center dentist may also offer an insurance alternative such as an in-house savings plan. Such discount programs usually include fixed discounts or included benefits that replace the need for dental insurance altogether.

Do Dental Insurance Benefits Expire?

If you’ve been waiting until after the holidays are over to catch up on your dental care, think again. You could be throwing away hundreds to thousands of dollars by simply delaying your appointment for a couple of weeks.

 

Why? Because every January 1st, most dental insurance policies reset. That means any funds available to cover necessary oral health services during this calendar year go away.

 

This can be a good and not so good thing. For example, if you’re waiting to start on a necessary procedure, it means putting the treatment off until January will cause you to lose the benefits you’re still entitled to for 2019. But if you start treatment before the end of the year, your allowances re-set at the new year, so that you can address additional treatments you need (without hitting your yearly allowance so early on.)

 

Remember, most dental insurance plans are designed to promote preventative care. So, your cleanings and exams are typically covered 100% twice per year. If you don’t use those allowances, you lose them. They do not roll over until the next calendar year. By scheduling a checkup every six months, your dentist can intercept any developing issues while they’re still reversible or more affordable to treat.

 

As with any type of dental treatment, your Smilebar Dentist will have financial coordinators who help to break down your benefits and allowances, so that you know exactly what to expect when it’s time to schedule a treatment, be it a small filling or a dental implant supported All-on-4 prosthesis. When there are portions of your care plan that aren’t covered by yearly benefits, it may be possible to schedule them a month later when your benefits reset. If not, flexible financing is also available!

 

Call a Smilebar dentist today for an individualized care plan that helps your insurance benefits work in your favor.

Does Insurance Cover Cosmetic Dentistry?

You’ve been considering a smile makeover, but one of your friends recently had several cosmetic dental procedures and told you that everything had to be paid for out of pocket. Is it possible to use your insurance benefits to cover your cosmetic dentistry treatment?

Understanding what differentiates your procedures from “elective” and “restorative” is the key differentiator.

Some Restorative Treatments Are Cosmetic Dentistry

Let’s start with restorative dental treatments, which are almost always covered under your dental insurance. Restorations include things like fillings and crowns. It can also include dental implant therapy, depending on the specifics of your plan.

Restorations can be made in a manner where they are aesthetically pleasing, thus making up a crucial part of your smile makeover.

For example, white (composite) fillings and porcelain dental crowns protect and restore your teeth. But they’re also made using cosmetically pleasing materials that enhance the appearance of your tooth during the process. Regardless, they’re an essential procedure used to achieve a better level of oral health.

When your dentist uses white restorations due to physical damage to your teeth, you have a better chance of them being covered by your dental insurance.

When Treatments Are “Elective”

An elective dental procedure is one that you choose to have completed, even if you don’t need it for health purposes. For example, if your teeth are free of decay or disease, but you don’t like the way they look, having them enhanced would be an elective procedure.

Dental insurance usually does not cover elective types of dental procedures such as cosmetic dentistry. Some common examples would include cosmetic veneers or teeth whitening.

There will, of course, always be exceptions to the rule. Perhaps you have a type of irregularity on a front tooth that needs to be repaired, but a dental crown will be too aggressive to the rest of the tooth structure. A veneer or cosmetic bonding would be less invasive and serve as a restorative-type procedure. Your dentist will likely have to submit case notes, photographs, and X-rays to the dental insurance company to convince them to pay for the treatment.

A Combination Of Treatments

Every smile makeover is unique. Your dentist will evaluate your needs on a comprehensive and tooth-by-tooth basis. In some situations, a variety of restorative and elective treatments are used to achieve an overall goal. If you need to whiten your teeth before replacing a single porcelain crown (crowns can’t be whitened after they’re placed, so it’s best to start with a lighter color from the start) you would have to pay for the whitening out of pocket, before filing the crown against your insurance benefits.

As part of your cosmetic dentistry plan, your dentist will provide a variety of options and a detailed breakdown as to what’s covered (or not) by your benefit package.

In most cases, you can easily finance the portion of your treatment that isn’t covered by insurance, making it more affordable. If your insurance pays more than you expect, you’re left with a lower out-of-pocket amount.

Talk to your Smilebar Trained Dentist to find out which types of cosmetic restorative treatments are covered by your insurance.

Do Some Dentists Take More Continuing Education Than Others?

Continuing education credits (CE credits) are something that every dental practitioner is legally required to complete on an annual basis.

Depending on the state where your dentist is located, some are mandated to take more than others. However, some dentists choose to take dozens to hundreds of hours more than what’s legally required, simply to become the best provider possible or perfect their knowledge in certain areas of dentistry.

Although dentists graduate from dental school being competent in all general and restorative dentistry, ongoing CE credits help them to advance their capabilities and improve the quality of care they’re capable of offering to their patients.

Added Continuing Education Certifications

It’s not uncommon for the best dentists in the nation to travel out of town (or across the country) to complete intensive training, mini-residencies, mentorship, or clinics to learn specific strategies and perfect their current skill set.

Certain procedures cannot be completed in the dental office unless specific continuing education courses are taken and certifications earned.

On the other hand, a procedure such as dental implants or soft tissue therapies can be offered in a general private practice, but the dentist may not feel they have enough of the foundational knowledge and skill set to confidently provide this service without additional training outside of dental school. Attending topic-specific courses on these treatments gives the dentist the resources necessary to perform the highest level of care with added training in a particular subject.

Incorporating New Technology And Methods

Every few years, new technological advancements and treatment methods are developed. To learn how to use them, dentists must select specific CE credits classes for appropriate training. Unless they go out of the way to attend these continuing education courses, they won’t receive the training and tips from the people who developed them and understand the “behind the scenes” details.

For instance, soft tissue laser therapy is becoming more and more common in general and specialty dental clinics. But unless your dentist has added training in how to properly use the equipment, you may be more hesitant to have your procedure completed in their office. When your dentist goes to continuing education courses, it benefits both them at a professional level and you as a patient.

Training By The World’s Top Dentists

Not all continuing education providers and courses are the same. The best dentists will seek out the best CE credits institutions, which hold high standards in patient care and professional skillsets. Smaller, more intensive courses make it so that your dentist can learn from the best leaders in the industry. Many choose to travel out of town multiple times throughout the year, simply to train with these industry professionals.

The Smilebar Center is one such continuing education provider. Our state-of-the-art training facility is located in Seattle and is an American Dental Association certified continuing education provider. Our Alumni are some of the most skilled dentists in the country, committed to providing the very best care and resources to each patient who walks through their practice doors. Find a Smilebar dentist near you today!

Do Wisdom Teeth Need To Be Removed?

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, are the final teeth to develop in the mouth, usually in our late teens or early twenties. The 4 wisdom teeth are the last teeth in the back of your mouth – top and bottom. Not everyone has them and if they do not crowd other teeth, they can stay and act like other molars for chewing food.

Pain And Infection

Often times, wisdom teeth become trapped in the jawbone and don’t break through the gum tissue. Sometimes wisdom teeth are crooked and cause cavities or gum disease. If wisdom teeth are crooked, blocked by other teeth or have a flap of gum tissue on top, plaque and food can enter around the tooth and cause cavities, gum disease or wisdom tooth infection.

X-rays are taken to see if you have wisdom teeth and how they are placed in your jawbone.

Do Wisdom Teeth Have To Be Removed?

In many cases, it is a good idea that trapped wisdom teeth be extracted. Depending on the location of the tooth, taking out the tooth can be done in your dentist’s office or in an oral surgeon’s office.

 

Angular, bony impaction of third molar

Soft tissue impaction of third molar.

An incision is made and overlying soft tissue and bone are removed, exposing the crown of the impacted tooth.

The tooth is extracted whole or surgically cut into large pieces, which can be removed separately if the entire tooth cannot be removed at once. The site is closed with stitches.

Tips For A Speedy Recovery:

  • Use ice packs on the cheek for swelling, putting the pack on for 30 minutes and leaving it off for 30 minutes
  • Bite on clean gauze to stop bleeding
  • Eat soft foods and drink extra liquids
  • Don’t chew hard or crunchy foods in tender areas
  • Brush carefully the day after surgery
  • Follow the instructions for taking any medications your dentist recommends
  • Don’t use drinking straws as the suction can dislodge the blood clot in the tooth socket
  • Don’t drink hot liquids
  • Your dentist may tell you to use a mouthwash

Call your dentist or doctor right away if you have excess bleeding, swelling, severe pain, or fever. It will take several weeks to months for the mouth to heal completely after the wisdom teeth have been removed

Smilebar Center dentists are trained with the most up to date research and focus on the patients’ health first. Find one in your area – Alumni Look Up

Resource from: https://www.dentalcare.com/en-us

How Often Should I See My Dentist?

Most dental insurance policies cover a routine dental checkup every six months (or twice per year, depending on how it’s worded.) But when it comes to how often you really need to see your dentist, are there other factors to consider?

For Preventative Care

Individuals with healthy teeth and gums will generally only need to see their dentist every six months for a prophylaxis (preventative care) appointment. These visits generally consist of:

• Cleaning
• Exam
• Appropriate X-rays
• Oral cancer screening
• Periodontal evaluation
• Orthodontic assessment

…as well as a consultation to answer any current questions or concerns that you may have about your teeth. Should any type of treatment be needed, you’ll schedule the procedure at that time.

Unless you tend to develop heavy stain and tartar between appointments, a biannual cleaning is typically appropriate. Some patients prefer to be seen as frequently as three or four times a year to have superficial stain and deposits cleaned away for aesthetic purposes, even if it’s not covered by their insurance policy.

If You’ve Had Periodontal (Gum) Disease

Gum disease causes permanent bone and soft tissue loss around the teeth, making them more challenging to brush, floss, and maintain. To prevent relapse of disease, most gum periodontal patients need to see their dentist every 3-4 months for maintenance appointments.

Unlike preventative cleanings, these visits are meant to control infection and prevent it from spreading, rather than avoid the onset altogether. Depending on how your body responds and if any adjunctive procedures (such as bone or gum grafting) have been completed, your scheduled maintenance visits can be spread out appropriately.

Denture Care And Maintenance

Even if you no longer have natural teeth that you’re caring for, you should still see your dentist routinely (at least once per year) to check for soft tissue diseases like oral cancer or to monitor the fit of your dentures.

As time goes by, removable prosthetics can start to wear down or fit loosely because of changes in your natural oral anatomy. Having the denture relined or adjusted can ensure that it fits comfortably throughout the day.

When You’re In Pain

It’s important that issues like toothaches be attended to at your earliest convenience. Most types of dental infections will not resolve themselves on their own. Seeing your dentist sooner can eliminate unnecessary pain and provide an opportunity for more conservative (and affordable) treatment options.

Has It Been Years Since You Saw A Dentist Last?

Perhaps time has gotten away from you and it’s been years — or even decades — since you last visited a dentist. It’s common to feel a little nervous or even embarrassed about what may possibly be discovered during your next exam. That’s ok. Dentists who train with the Smilebar Center often work with complex full mouth rehabilitation and cosmetic cases and are committed to a personalized, private approach to your dental care. Find a provider near you to get started!

How Much Radiation do I Get from a Dental X-ray?

If you’ve ever wondered why your dentist draped you in a lead apron and all of their staff step out of the room each time you need a dental X-ray, it’s normal to have some concern about the safety of the procedure.

Fortunately, getting dental X-rays today is extremely safe…and the only reason why your dental team stays far away, is because of the risk of gradual exposure that accumulates day after day throughout their career.

Otherwise, dental X-rays are usually nothing to be concerned about!

Digital X-Rays Use Lower Amounts Of Radiation

A digital X-ray requires less radiation to capture a high-resolution image than the traditional X-rays used a few decades ago. Depending on the type of film, equipment, and image being taken, it may be as much as a 90% reduction in exposure! As such, it’s safe to say that today’s dental X-rays are extremely safe.

Compared to not getting dental X-rays, the tiny amount of radiation exposure is an important trade off. Why? Because diagnostic imaging allows dentists to see inside and around the tooth structures where pathology (such as bone loss, oral cancer, or tooth decay) commonly lurk. Diagnosing them as early as possible allows for less-invasive and more cost-effective treatments. Otherwise, such problems can’t be detected until they’ve reached an advanced state that requires more aggressive therapies to manage.

A Daily Dose Of Background Radiation

Every day, we’re exposed to radiation. It comes from the sun, our cell phones, and even riding in an airplane (the longer the airplane ride, the more radiation you’re exposed to!)

But when you get a set of four “bitewing” X-rays (the images that are usually taken about once a year to check for new cavities,) the total amount of radiation is only about 0.005 mSv (micro-Sieverts,) which is less than an average daily dose of radiation in everyday life.

To give you an idea of other types of radiation encountered in everyday activities, consider these comparisons:

• Going through an airport security scanner 80 times is the equivalent to a single day of casual radiation exposure. 1,000 times equals the amount of radiation used for a chest X-ray.
• An average 7-hour plane ride exposes each passenger to approximately 0.02 mSv (or 16 small dental X-rays)

Why Is A Lead Apron Really Necessary?

Radiology and health experts follow the rule of ALARA, or “as low as reasonably achievable.” This means limiting the risk of scatter radiation to staff and patents. While scatter radiation is minimal, it cannot perforate lead. As such, lead aprons are used to shield tissues that are most sensitive to radiation, including the thyroid gland and reproductive organs. While the risk is extremely low, the apron essentially prevents radiation exposure to other parts of the body that are of greater concern.

If you have questions about dental X-rays or how often imaging is necessary to keep your smile healthy, be sure to speak with a Smilebar Center dentist in your area.

Is Fluoride Good for Children?

Over the past several decades, fluoride use has significantly reduced the rate of tooth decay in children. Cavities remain to be one of the main childhood diseases and a common reason for missed school days. But tooth decay can also impair a child’s speech development, self-esteem, appearance, and overall wellness.

Fortunately, fluoride can help. When used properly, this natural mineral promotes healthy teeth that are more resistant to tooth decay and sensitivity. But like any type of supplement or vitamin, there comes a point where you can have too much of a good thing. That’s why fluoride levels are strictly regulated in municipal water sources and within oral health products.

What Dental Experts “Used To Say”

In the past, it was recommended that only fluoride-free toothpaste be used for infants and toddlers, at least until they were old enough to rinse and spit effectively. By the time this skillset was acquired, using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste was preferred. Until then, children could get their recommended fluoride intake from their regular diet.

Today’s Recommendations On Fluoride Use For Children

 Today dental research supports the use of a rice-sized smear of fluoridated toothpaste when brushing baby teeth. At this small of an amount, any accidental ingestion is safe. Too much could cause an upset stomach, so save the “pea sized” amount for when your child is old enough to rinse her mouth well.

Professional fluoride applications are recommended twice a year, usually during your child’s checkup and cleaning appointment. This treatment remineralizes any weaker outer enamel that’s been exposed to acids or sugars, strengthening it against potential tooth decay.

Is It Possible To Get Too Much Fluoride?

 Yes. Any excessive mineral or vitamin intake can be harmful, no matter your age. In children it’s especially important because their teeth are still developing. In areas where fluoride is naturally high in the soil, special filtration may be needed. If you are on a well water system, it’s important to ensure that fluoride levels comply with state or federal mineral guidelines, so that steps can be taken if it is too high or too low. If too little, teeth and bones can be extremely weak; too high, excessive mineralization can cause unsightly brown coloration and pits within the mature enamel.

When To Get A Prescription

Prescription fluoride use is usually only needed when children have suffered from extensive decay in the past (meaning that the bacteria are still active inside of their mouths,) take certain types of prescriptions due to underlying medical conditions, are developmentally impaired, or undergoing orthodontic treatment.

The type of fluoride prescription that’s best for your child’s situation will be something that you want to discuss with your family’s dentist. It may be in the form of a rinse, gel that’s brushed on before bed time, or a paste used in lieu of your child’s normal toothpaste.

Visit a Smilebar Center dentist to learn more about how you can help your child enjoy healthy, cavity-free teeth well into adulthood.

What are My Options for Anesthesia at a Dental Visit?

Do you have sensitive teeth or gums? You’ll be pleased to know there are a variety of anesthetic options available for making your next dental visit more comfortable.

Whether you’re having a routine cleaning or a root canal, your dentist will help you select the best type of anesthetic for your needs.

No Anesthesia: Numbing Gel Or Rinse

If you’re slightly worried about sensitivity during a routine dental procedure (such as a cleaning, or before having an area numbed with local anesthetic) your dentist can use a topical anesthetic that’s rubbed onto your gums.

Since your gums are mucous membranes, topical anesthetic works very quickly and effectively, making it useful if you need a specific spot cleaned or are slightly sensitive in a particular area of your mouth. But because the effects wear off within a few minutes, topical products are not recommended for general routine procedures.

 Local Anesthetic

Most restorative dental procedures call for local anesthetic, to temporarily numb the area of the mouth being worked on. This medication is infiltrated into the soft tissues or nerves on one side of your mouth, numbing the affected area for up to a few hours.

There are numerous types of local anesthetic on the market, some with epinephrine and others without. The type that your dentists selects will depend on the area being treated, how long the anesthetic needs to last, and if you have any particular medical conditions that need to be considered. Since epinephrine is contraindicated for some people, it’s important to share your medical history so that your dentist can make the best decision for your heath.

What About Sedation And Analgesia?

Most types of sedation dentistry involve lighter forms of sedatives that make you feel sleepy or experience amnesia related to your appointment.

The lightest type of sedative is nitrous oxide (laughing gas) which is fast acting and quickly reversible. Deeper sedatives such as oral or IV sedation will last longer, but you will need someone to escort you to and from the appointment since you’ll be unable to drive.

General anesthesia is typically not used unless your treatment involves oral surgery or is being completed in a surgical center. During this type of anesthesia administration, a licensed medical anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will administer and supervise the sedative for the duration of the procedure. You may want to opt for this type of anesthesia if you’re having a wisdom tooth extraction, jaw surgery, or other complex procedure.

Discussing Options With Your Dentist

It’s completely normal to want to attempt certain dental procedures without anesthesia and then go back to it if you’re too sensitive. For example, if you need a deep cleaning (scaling and root planing) you may want to just have the hygienist apply topical anesthetic. But if it’s too tender, you can have local anesthesia administered at any time. Or maybe you’re getting a small filling and want to avoid sedation, but you ask your dentist to keep the laughing gas on standby “just in case.”

Talk to your Smilebar Center-affiliated dentist about which options are available to keep you comfortable.

What are the Signs of Oral Cancer?

According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, oral cancer takes the life of one person every hour in the United States. Of those people who are diagnosed, only about half of them will survive.

Aside from brain cancer, oral cancer comprises over 3/4 of all cancers affecting the head and neck.

Why is oral cancer so deadly? Because it’s usually not diagnosed until it’s reached an aggressive stage. By that point, it will metastasize to other areas of your body.

What To Look For

During your oral cancer exam, your dentist or hygienist will be visually assessing and physically palpating areas like the insides of your cheek, sides of the tongue, floor of the mouth, back of the mouth/throat, and lymph nodes in your neck.

Some of the most noticeable symptoms of oral cancer include:

 

  • Sores that don’t heal in a timely manner
  • Lumps or bumps on one side of your mouth
  • Fixed nodules under your skin
  • Atypical growths
  • Loss of the “border” around your lip lines
  • Red, white, or spotty areas
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Sunken in areas

 

Notice that pain and discomfort aren’t on the list. Since oral cancer doesn’t usually hurt, it’s easy to overlook.

It’s important to look inside your mouth regularly (while you’re brushing and flossing is fine) to take note of any areas that don’t look like they should. When something appears abnormal, watch it for 10-14 days to see if it improves. If it doesn’t, schedule a visit with your dentist as soon as you can.

 

Who To See For Help

Your dental team is a go-to source for oral cancer screenings and diagnosis. As experts when it comes to oral anatomy, dentists can help to put your mind at ease if it’s a false alarm, make appropriate diagnosis regarding your condition, and guide you to the next steps to take if cancer treatment is necessary.

 

Regular oral cancer screenings can save your life. The best person to perform these evaluations is your dentist, because of how attentive they are to your intraoral and extraoral anatomy, having been able to evaluate it twice per year if you schedule regular checkups.

 

Some dental offices use advanced oral cancer screening systems, which pinpoint abnormal tissues on a cellular level, before they’re visible to the naked eye. The process generally involves a special rinse and light, which illuminates cells that differ from the healthy ones around them.

 

If precancerous or abnormal tissues are observed, they may be monitored, or a biopsy taken. Once the results of your brush or punch biopsy return, you can get a referral to an oncologist or oral surgeon as needed.

 

When Was Your Last Oral Cancer Screening?

Is your dentist performing an oral cancer exam at each checkup? If they aren’t, you need to be visiting an oral health provider who takes pathological screenings into account during your visits.

 

If it’s been longer than six months since your last appointment or oral cancer exam, book a checkup with a Smilebar dentist today.

What Is A CBCT Scan?

Dental Cone Beam Tomography [Dental CBCT] is a specialized type of x-ray that provides more information than conventional dental or facial x-rays. This computerized scan uses advanced technology to generate three-dimensional[3-D] images.

What Are The Benefits Of A Dental CBCT Scan?

The benefits of a Dental CBCT scan are that it:

  • Provides 3-D images of dental structures, soft tissues, nerve paths and bone which are considerably more detailed than conventional two-dimensional dental x-rays.
  • Allows for more precise diagnosis and treatment planning.
  • Is simple and comfortable to take and can diagnostically image both bone and soft tissue simultaneously.

What Are The Common Uses Of A Dental CBCT Scan?

Dental CBCT scans are commonly used to:

  • Evaluate the position of teeth, bone structure, jaw joints and the airway.
  • Aid in:
    • Accurate placement of implants
    • Surgical planning for the removal of impacted wisdom teeth
    • 3-D orthodontic evaluation
    • Complex root canal diagnosis and treatment

What Are The Risks Of A Dental CBCT Scan?

Although relatively low, Dental CBCT scans cause some exposure to radiation; the amount of exposure is approximately the same as taking a five-hour international plane flight. Due to radiation exposure, scans are not generally recommended for pregnant women and should be used cautiously in the pre-orthodontic evaluation of children.

What Are The Risks Of A Dental CBCT Scan?

How Does A Dental CBCT Scanning Procedure Work?

During the scan, a motorized arm rotates 360-degrees around your head while capturing multiple images from different angles that are then reconstructed to create a single 3-D image.

What Are The Risks Of A Dental CBCT Scan?

Who Interprets The Results Of A Dental CBCT Scan?

The interpretation of a Dental CBCT scan may be done by your dentist, dental specialist or radiologist.

 

Smilebar Center dentists are trained with the most up to date research and focus on the patients’ health first. Find one in your area – Alumni Look Up

What’s the Difference Between a DDS and a DMD?

Have you ever been to a dental office and noticed that the dentist’s credentials were “DMD” instead of the usual “DDS”? Or maybe it was the other way around?

If you’ve seen a dental specialist before — such as an oral surgeon, periodontist, or pediatric dentist — you’ve probably noticed the different letters behind their name. But for a general and family dental practice, is there a difference between seeing a DDS and a DMD?

DDS Vs. DMD

DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery, while DMD is the abbreviation for the Latin version of Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine (either one is correct.)

Although the credentials are different, the training and degree are practically identical. In the United States and Canada, you’ll see these credentials used interchangeably, depending on where the dentist went to school. However, other countries may use an abbreviation such as BDS (Bachelor of Dental Science.)

What determines if a dentist is a DMD vs. a DDS? The school that they attended. Depending on the university, the dental program will award one degree or the other. It’s up to that particular educational institution as to which one they want to provide. Both are recognized by the American Dental Association as equal degrees.

Is One Better Than The Other?

It depends on where your collegiate loyalties lie. Joking aside, the difference dates back to 1983 where universities established different dental programs with separate names. Baltimore College of Medicine called theirs DDS, while Harvard settled on DMD.

To this date, about one out of three American dental schools award a DMD degree, while the other two-thirds award a DDS.

Since the ADA establishes specific educational protocols and licensing requirements for all dental schools in the United States, the education received at DMD and DDS programs are essentially identical from school to school. One degree is not “better” than the other.

After graduation, all DMD and DDS students must pass the same National Dental Board exams and certifications and State exams to become licensed before they are able to practice independently.

How Dentists Choose One Over The Other

Most dentists do not set out to become either a DDS or a DMD, but rather choose their degree based on the dental school they hope to attend.

As with other university students, prospective dental students may locate their program based on geographical area, reputation of the University, the interview process, and how well their test scores are. Dental programs are extremely competitive, with only the top performing students being accepted into the programs, whether they be DDS or DMD.

Continuing Education For The DDS And DMD

Both “types” of dentists require the same ongoing professional development training and licensing in order to practice. However, dentists are free to select with which professional organizations they study through, making it easier to learn unique approaches and care methods from leaders in the industry.

At the Smilebar Center, we partner with DDSs and DMDs throughout the United States to provide impeccable care methods that often are not perfected during dental school. Locate a Smilebar dentist near you today!

What Can I Expect at a Dental Checkup?

When you see a new dentist for the first time — or it’s been a while since your last dental exam — you may be wondering what to expect at your appointment.

Although each dental office is different than the next, your regular checkup will general consist of the same steps in some way or another, including:

Tour of the Office: Many offices will take new patients for a quick walk through of their practice to see different rooms or technology, such as the sterilization area, lab, or digital equipment.

Medical History Review: Your new patient paperwork provides your dentist with important information about your medical and dental background. Be sure to bring a list of all medications and supplements that you take, as well as the dosage of each. Certain types of prescriptions or surgeries may contraindicate dental treatment, so it’s vital to communicate with your provider.

Baseline X-rays and Photographs: In order to fully assess all of your smile’s needs, recent dental X-rays are a must. This may include a set of bitewings or a full mouth series/panoramic, or both. Additional digital photographs may be taken throughout the course of your exam in order to better communicate any findings that your dentist needs to make you aware of.

Consultation with the Hygienist or Assistant: One of the staff members will review your information and discuss any concerns that you have.

Examination by the Dentist: After speaking with the assistant or hygienist, the dentist will step in to perform a comprehensive examination and consultation. Some of the things being evaluated will include your:

• Periodontal (gum) health
• Oral cancer risk and screening
• Existing dental work
• Bite alignment
• TMJ function
• Primary concerns
• Newly diagnosed conditions

Proposed Treatment Planning: Your dentist will visit with you about their findings, sharing their recommendations and any applicable treatments you have to choose from.

If you require immediate care, some treatments can start the same day. But in most cases, your treatment will be mapped out on a customized care plan and scheduled at a future date. The treatment or insurance coordinator will confirm your benefits to take existing coverage into account when calculating the costs of your care.

Some people do not need any treatment, which is ideal. The treatment planning step is only needed if you have issues you need to correct or an elective service, such as cosmetic procedures that you’re planning for.

Dental Cleaning by the Hygienist: As long as your teeth and gums are generally healthy, the hygienist will usually clean your teeth during your first dental checkup. For moderate to severe gum disease, you’ll be rescheduled for a series of deep cleanings at a separate appointment.

To keep your smile healthy, you’ll want to plan on scheduling a preventative care appointment every six months.

Your Partner In Oral Health

Smilebar Center dentists involve their patients as an essential part of the oral health experience. You will co-plan and co-diagnose your needs, playing an active role in your dental care. Locate a Smilebar dentist near you today!

What is a Digital Impression?

Throughout the country, many dental offices are limiting the number of dental impressions that they have to take, thanks to digital scanning technology. These “digital impressions” use CAD/CAM systems to capture 3D images and transfer them into a computer system, providing the software with a virtual model of your mouth.

But how does digital impression technology change the way you see the dentist? Here are just a few reasons why this option offers a superior alternative to conventional impression trays:

No Gooey Messes Or Gag Reflexes

One of the biggest challenges of having your dental impression taken is that for many people it triggers their gag reflex. Add to the fact that the material feels soft, mushy, or even flows toward the back of the mouth and it can be – well – a recipe for disaster.

Digital impressions only require a small handheld wand that’s scanned over your teeth. It’s essentially no different than having a dental exam conducted. Just say “ah,” and the digital tool does the rest.

Instantly Send Digital Models To The Dental Lab

If you’re having a custom restoration made by a ceramist or other dental lab expert, the model of your mouth has to be sent to a 3rd party, which requires someone to come pick it up or even shipping it out of town.

Labs that are equipped with digital scanning capabilities can receive your virtual tooth impression instantly, shaving off hours or even days when it comes to how long you have to wait for a custom restoration to be designed.

On Site Crown Or Restoration Milling

Dentists with in-house milling equipment such as CEREC can use digital impressions to make same-day dental crowns, inlays, and onlays while you wait or catch up on other treatments during the same appointment. This technology essentially takes traditional 2-visit procedures and makes them into a one appointment process.

Extreme Accuracy

Digital impressions are extremely accurate, allowing for creating of well-fitting restoration designs when aesthetics and comfort matter most. Thanks to technology like 3D CAD/CAM equipment, modern dental practices are able to greatly reduce the chances of human error while providing the highest quality of care for their patients.

No Need To Re-Impress

Have you ever had a dental impression taken and then re-taken because the first one didn’t come out? That’s because a conventional impression takes a lot of practice to get just right. Even the texture of the impression material must have a certain consistency and then have a particular type of modeling material poured into it to create a replica of your mouth. If one step of the process bubbles, warps, or breaks, an entirely new impression is needed.

Digital impressions are permanently saved as part of your records. As such, they don’t risk breaking or warping, so there’s no need to re-take them.

Save time and enjoy better accuracy when it comes to dental treatments like porcelain veneers, crowns, dental implants, dentures, braces, and more. Visit a Smilebar Center dentist near you to experience the difference for yourself!

What is HIPAA?

From dentistry to your personal physician’s waiting room, if you’ve received any type of healthcare services over the last two decades, you’ve seen a paper or heard the term “HIPAA” used. Established as a law in 1996, Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (also known as “HIPAA”) to protect patients while establishing privacy and protection of individual’s information.

But What Is HIPAA, Exactly?

Keeping Your Information Confidential

HIPAA helps to protect your privacy and personal health information. For example, if you’ve had tests run or X-rays taken, your doctor or dentist cannot discuss their findings or your health with anyone, unless you’ve given the permission to do so. Privacy rules ensure that your health status isn’t disclosed to someone else without your consent.

In regard to dental insurance, HIPAA forces all electronic health information (such as your claims and digital records) to be securely stored or transferred in a way where it’s not read or accessed by anyone other than who is necessary to process your insurance claims, reimbursements, checks, etc.

Everything from your name and social security number to your private records are covered under HIPPA.

HIPAA Violations

When an insurance company or healthcare provider fails to properly protect sensitive information or the privacy of a patient’s health data, they can be fined. When HIPAA was first implemented in 1996, fines were more common. Since then, providers have worked to establish strict guidelines and privacy practices that make it more difficult for 3rd parties to gather private information of their patients.

Poor handling or storage of your private information would otherwise result in the opportunity for that data to be stolen, placing you at risk and the at-fault party susceptible to huge fines. Depending on the violation, providers can be fined up to millions of dollars.

Who Is Affected?

Every patient in the United States is protected by HIPAA, whether they’re seeing a dentist or any other type of healthcare provider. The same laws also apply to insurance companies. While patient privacy has always been a concern in healthcare, HIPAA places additional responsibility on non-healthcare personnel who work with insurance claims and processing, even though they may not be the person administering treatment or services. This includes the people processing your information or checking you in at the reception desk.

Required Training

Dental and medical offices are legally required to have all staff trained on current HIPAA rules and regulations, with updates on a routine basis. Such refreshers are a good reminder, given the changes in electronic data use and technological advancements that are constantly changing. But written and oral communications are also enforced by HIPAA laws, which is why a dentist may not be able to “chat” with you on Facebook or texting, or the treatment coordinator escorts you to a private area to discuss your treatment along with the estimated insurance coverage.

Release Forms

Before your dental insurance can be filed or a treatment plan discussed with your loved one, you’ll need to sign appropriate release forms with your dentist’s office. Otherwise, they legally cannot process claims or review concerns with your family.

For more information or specific questions about what your dental provider does to protect your private information, ask to speak with the practice or office manager.

What is “Fee-for-Service” Dentistry?

When you hear the words “fee-for-service dentistry,” it may sound like a deterrent. Does it mean cash only? No insurance accepted?

Here’s what the reasoning behind fee-for-service really is, and how it can benefit the care you receive.

Quality Over Quantity

Some dental patients feel restricted by their dental insurance, in that they’re not able to select a provider that offer the level of quality care they are looking for. However, many fee-for-service dentists do accept insurance, even if they do not participate as a “preferred provider” in the plan that you carry.

Working outside of the network allows the fee-for-service dentist to charge a fair and fixed rate for specific procedures that they offer, rather than have their fees managed and dictated by a third-party insurance provider.

This measure allows dentists to utilize the highest quality labs and materials, rather than having to select lower-quality facilities in order to meet cost restrictions. As a result, patients will be able to receive excellent care that isn’t restricted by an insurance carrier’s contract.

Payment At The Time Of Service

A fee-for-service dentist may request payment one of two ways: having the patient pay for their services in full at the time of treatment (to be reimbursed directly by their insurance carrier) or paying the copayment then any remaining balances not included in their insurance benefits after the claims have been processed.

 

Either method, the patient is paying the same amount. It’s just a matter as to whom is being paid by the insurance carrier and how quickly their account is resolved at the dentist’s practice. Some insurance companies prefer to reimburse the patient directly, making it more cost-effective and efficient for all parties involved to pay for the dental treatment at the time of the appointment.

What Happens Once Insurance Is Filed?

Depending on your dentist’s financial policy, many practices are happy to file insurance claims on their patients’ behalf. Even though you are paying the office directly, they manage all of the paperwork and forms that are needed to seek reimbursement for your plan’s coverage.

It’s important to note that insurance claims can take well over 30 days or more to file, process, and a reimbursement check sent out. Once it arrives, the payment should be made and mailed directly to your home address.

An Advantage For Patients And Dentists

Fee-for-service dentistry is a deterrent for some individuals when seeking out a new dentist. But the truth is that when you need the best care at a competitive rate, seeking out a fee-for-service dentist provides both you and your dental practice with more freedom in regard to what’s possible for your smile. The fair pricing allows your dentist to select the best procedures and methodologies, rather than the ones that will “only fit into the plan’s package.”

Not all Smilebar Center dentists are fee-for-service, but many are. Now that you know why, you can feel confident selecting one of our highly-trained providers in your area!

What is a Lip Tie?

Lip ties — much like tongue ties — involve natural anatomy that keeps the lips from having a full range of motion.

The labial frenum is a tiny strip of skin just inside of the lip, where the center of your lip attaches to the jaw. It ties into the mouth just below the two center teeth, on both the upper and lower arches.

Generally, the frenum is loose enough that a baby or child can nurse, suck on a bottle, eat table foods, and learn to speak without an impediment. But in instances where that small strip of skin is too tight, all of those normal life skills can be challenged.

Natural Lip Tie Correction

As uncomfortable as it sounds, most children with a tight labial frenum will eventually bump or fall, naturally tearing the tissue and loosening up the lip. But sometimes that just isn’t the case, or the tissues are too tight that professional intervention is necessary.

Lip Tie Treatment

A lip tie treatment may be needed as early as 2-3 days old in an infant, or when a child is about to enter school for the first time. It depends on the symptoms noticed by parents and pediatricians.

For example, your newborn baby is especially fussy and isn’t soothed when eating. She’s losing weight and your doctor recommends pumping or supplementing with formula in a bottle. She won’t drink it. Upon examination, your pediatrician, midwife, pedodontist or family dentist observes a tight strip of skin just inside of her lip. It turns out she’s lip tied.

By loosening the labial frenum, your baby can free up her lips for a better latch. She’s immediately able to take in more milk, feel satisfied, and grow.

Depending on your doctor’s capabilities and equipment, the actual lip tie treatment is a fairly straightforward process. Numbing may not even be necessary! In less than a minute, the skin can be trimmed away and your baby can comfortably eat.

Speech Woes?

Sometimes lip ties aren’t apparent until a child is much older. If your son or daughter is in middle school and requires speech therapy for a lisp or speech impediment, your speech therapist may recommend a labial frenectomy.

For older children, a bit of numbing gel or even local anesthetic may be needed. The skin can be trimmed or lasered away.

Recovery time is minimal, and there’s no post-operative care needed. Your child will need to use special exercises to stretch and train their lips to extend, also preventing the skin from adhering back into place.

See A Dentist Trained In Lip Ties

Smilebar Center dentists take more into account than just the health of your teeth and gums. Everything about your oral anatomy from your lips to your jaw structure can affect your oral health and lifestyle. Lip ties are no different.

If you suspect that you have a tight labial frenum or your child is experiencing difficulty, schedule an exam with a Smilebar Center dentist in your area.

What is a Tongue Tie?

Tongue ties prevent the tongue from being able to have the full range of motion that they ought to. A loose frenum allows the tongue to move further upwards or out of the mouth. If a person has restricted tongue movement, a tongue tie is likely to blame.

The lingual frenum is the strip of skin just under your tongue. It attaches somewhere towards the middle-to-anterior belly of the tongue (hence the name “lingual”) to the floor of the mouth.

Lingual frenums vary from person to person. In some cases, they can be extremely short. When such is the case, a “tongue tie” exists.

Limiting Nursing/Feeding Abilities

Generally speaking, tongue ties are often observed when newborn babies are only a few days old. This occurrence is due to problems nursing or sucking on a bottle. The baby may seem irritable, spit up frequently, need to eat more often, or appear colicky.

A lactation consultant, pediatrician, or pediatric dentist are usually the first professionals to confirm whether your newborn’s lingual frenum is the cause of their feeding woes.

Tongue Tie Impairs Natural Speech Patterns

Tight skin under the tongue can alter speech patterns. When a person is unable to move their tongue freely to form various shapes, their language skills are directly impacted.

If your child has an undiagnosed tie, it will likely become more evident as they age and develop better language skills. An apparent speech impediment should always take tongue anatomy into consideration as part of the speech therapy plan.

Seeing a dentist regularly and making them aware of your language development concerns offers a prime opportunity for tongue tie screenings.

 Possible Clefting Concerns

 Severe tongue ties can pull on the tip of the tongue so much, that it begins to cleft at the end. Clefting looks like a visible cut or fork at the tip of the tongue.

Most tongue clefts only occur in instances of severely tight lingual frenums.

 Ways To Fix A Tongue Tie

To fix a tongue tie, the tight frenum needs to be released. A portion of the skin is removed, leaving a looser and thinner frenum behind.

Traditional frenectomies are where a tongue tie is “clipped” or essentially trimmed back with a small tool. Local anesthetic to numb the area may or may not be needed, depending on the age of the patient. This method is very straightforward and still used today.

Laser frenectomies are an alternative to conventional treatment and typically more comfortable to the patient. Using a soft tissue laser, the tissue is released while the outermost layer of skin is gently cauterized. This process significantly reduces swelling, eliminates bleeding, and greatly improves post-operative discomfort.

Do you or your child potentially have a tongue tie that needs to be corrected? Visit a Smilebar Center dentist near you for a short consultation.

What Is IV Sedation Dentistry?

Intravenous (IV) sedation is a form of sedation available in dentistry which delivers the sedative directly into a vein in your arm. IV sedation allows for rapid effect to produce adequate relaxation and comfort. The medication dose is easily individualized to meet the patient’s specific needs.

Who Is A Candidate For IV Sedation Dentistry?

Anyone who has fear and anxiety about dental treatment is a candidate. Anyone who has a strong gag reflex, or has put off dental care for years because of dental anxieties or certain medical conditions could benefit from IV sedation.

What Are The Benefits Of IV Sedation Dentistry?

  • Relaxation is rapid.
  • Anxiety and pain are safely eliminated.
  • Multiple procedures can be efficiently performed in one appointment.
  • Many patients report that they remember little-to-nothing about their appointment by the next day.

What Can I Expect From IV Sedation Dentistry?

Treatment will begin when adequate sedation is achieved. Vital signs will be continuously monitored for your safety. You must have a driver to and from the appointment, and plan on resting for the remainder of the day.

Smilebar Center dentists are trained with the most up to date research and focus on the patients’ health first. Find one in your area – Alumni Look Up

What Makes a Dentist a Specialist?

Some dentists advertise themselves as “experts” or “specialists” in a certain field, such as smile makeovers, dental implants, or cosmetic dentistry. But those terms are actually reserved for specific dentists who meet additional criteria that includes another 2-4 years of formal dental education on top of their four years of dental school.

Types Of Dental Specialists

According to the American Dental Association, there are specific types of dental specialists recognized in the country. These include:

Periodontists — A type of dental expert who specializes in managing the bone and soft tissues around teeth, such as in the instance of gum disease or dental implant therapy.

Prosthodontists — Experts at tooth replacement and fixed restorations, such as dentures, dental bridges, and implant restorations.

Pediatric Dentists — Those dentists who specialize in treating children, especially those who are young or have special needs.

Endodontists — This is who your dentist might refer you to if you needed a particularly challenging root canal treatment or are experiencing unexplained tooth pain.

Orthodontists — You’re probably familiar with this one! These dentists are experts at orofacial and growth modification with braces and orthodontic appliances.

Oral Surgeons — While known for wisdom tooth removal, oral surgeons also provide reconstructive jaw surgeries, dental implant placement, and cleft palate repair.

There are other specialists like Oral Pathologists and Oral Radiologists, who may be experts you see if you’re experiencing chemotherapy or oral cancer diagnosis and treatment.

In order to become one of these experts, dentists must be accepted into a post-graduate dental program to further their formal studies in the particular area of oral health. While a dentist may claim to specialize in a particular treatment, they are not a licensed specialist unless they’ve completed one of these post-graduate programs.

National And State Dental Board Requirements

Most state dental boards have requirements that prohibit dentists from saying they’re an expert in particular procedures, unless that dentist is one of the above-mentioned specialists.

After completing post-graduate school, some of these dental specialists also go on to become board-certified experts. In such cases, the experts have numerous cases to complete and submit to the governing boards for review. There are also additional exams that the dentist must sit for, to prove they have mastered the area of specialty.

While not all specialists are board-certified, they are still licensed to provide those expert services.

Ironically, dental specialists do not practice general dentistry. Although they are all dentists, they are legally obligated to restrict their practice to there of specialty that they have mastered.

Finding The Best Dentist Near You

Smilebar Center dentists receive advanced training in specific types of dentistry, allowing them to master and become better skilled at various restorative and therapeutic procedures. These skills make up part of their comprehensive education in order to become more proficient or learn new techniques to incorporate for their patients.

If you’re looking for a dentist with extensive skills or experience in treatments like dental implants, cosmetics, or holistic dentistry, locate a Smilebar Center-trained provider in your area today.

Why do I Have Swelling in my Mouth?

Swelling in your mouth can have several causes. These commonly range from infection, trauma and blocked salivary glands to normal bone growth. Less commonly, mouth swellings may be due to cysts or tumors.

What Causes Mouth Swellings?

  • Swellings in your mouth may be due to the following:
  • Tooth or gum infections
  • Trauma from bite problems or an ill-fitting denture
  • Blocked salivary glands
  • Cysts
  • Tumors
  • Normal anatomy of your mouth (i.e., bony growths called “tori” that can develop over time near the base of your teeth)

Who Is At High Risk For Mouth Swellings?

People with untreated bite problems, heavily restored teeth, badly broken-down teeth or advanced gum disease are at higher risk for dental infections and are therefore more likely to experience mouth swellings. People with compromised immune systems are also at higher risk for developing mouth infections and therefore swelling. People with an ill-fitting denture may develop swelling where the denture rubs. People with untreated bite problems may also traumatize their cheeks and tongue resulting in swelling. Less commonly, diseases such as Sjogren’s Syndrome or mumps may lead to swelling in the mouth.

What Is My Role In Dealing With Mouth Swellings?

Pay attention to the size, shape, color, consistency, location, appearance and duration of the swelling. If the swelling lasts longer than one week, grows in size, becomes painful or recurs over time you must have the area examined by your dentist.

What Can Happen If I Do Nothing About The Mouth Swellings?

Ignoring swelling in your mouth can be dangerous. If the swelling is due to an infection it can cause serious damage to your body and may ultimately be life threatening. In the rare event that it is cancer, it can lead to disfigurement or death. Both of these types of swellings must be diagnosed and treated in a timely manner.

Find a Smilebar Trained dentist near you!

Oral Care Guide

We spend most of our lives caring for our teeth — from the first 20 or baby teeth to our 32 adult pearly whites. Here you’ll find new and traditional treatment options for oral and dental health issues like gingivitis and tooth decay, dental complications and what to do about them, and many tips on day-to-day dental care.

Teeth and Gums

     Teeth Problems

     Gum Problems

Dry Mouth

Your Throat, Tonsils, and Glands

Tongue and Lip Problems

Jaw Problems

Oral and Throat Cancer

Oral Appliance Therapy 

Customized oral appliances are a quick and easy way to relieve snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Oral appliances are designed to keep the airway clear by positioning the lower jaw in a slightly more forward position, preventing the collapse of the tissues surrounding the airway. After being diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, many patients are prescribed a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine and mask. Around 50% of patients prescribed CPAP cannot tolerate it. Oral appliance therapy is a great alternative for those who have been prescribed CPAP but fail to use it consistently. Compared to other snoring and sleep apnea treatments, oral appliances are designed with patient comfort in mind. They are small, comfortable, and give you the freedom of movement throughout the night. 

 

Invisalign 

Invisalign treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is an innovative way to improve your smile while helping you sleep. Typically obstructive sleep apnea is worsened by a small mouth that does not allow for adequate tongue space. Invisalign therapy can help create more space in the mouth and better airflow by aligning the teeth, leading to a reduction in the effects of sleep apnea. 

Benefits of using Invisalign®: Virtually Invisible Comfortable Convenient Custom Fit Better Oral Hygiene 

Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are closely related, but are not identical conditions. Not all patients who snore will present with sleep apnea; however, all patients who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea will count loud snoring as one of its more prominent symptoms. The first step to treating snoring and sleep apnea is to determine the extent, nature, and severity of the issue, then help you understand your condition and your options for treatment. 

 

Snoring 

Snoring is caused by narrowing of the upper airway. The harsh sound comes when airflow through the throat causes the relaxed tissues to vibrate. This can be caused by large tonsils, excessive soft palate, a long uvula, or excessive flabby tissues around the throat. The causes of snoring are very similar to those of obstructive sleep apnea. About half the patients who snore, will have obstructive sleep apnea. The difference between the two is that those with OSA have 

a blocked airway which causes pauses in breathing and lack of oxygen flow. Individuals who snore without suffering from OSA can change positions and stop snoring. 

 

Sleep Apnea 

Common physical findings: 

  • Enlarged uvula 
  • Hyperplastic soft palate (extra soft palate) 
  • Nasal congestion 
  • Enlarged tonsils 
  • Enlarged tongue 
  • Small lower jaw 
  • Receded chin 
  • Neck size > 17, > 16 
  • Overweight & obese 

 

Common Signs & Symptoms 

  • Snoring 
  • Stop breathing at night 
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness 
  • Morning headache 
  • Nighttime gasping 
  • Restless sleep 
  • Insomnia 
  • Nightmares 
  • Irritability 
  • Memory loss 
  • Dry Mouth 

Health Conditions (Comorbidities) 

  • Stroke due to damage of blood vessels 
  • Loss of vision due to retinopathy or glaucoma 
  • Kidney disease due to damage 
  • Bone loss due to increased loss of Ca from body reducing bone density 
  • Dementia due to lack of O2 to brain 
  • Depression & Anxiety 
  • Heart disease especially hypertension and heart failure 
  • Sexual problems including erectile dysfunction and decreased libido 

 

Sleep Apnea is a serious medical condition that results in decreased oxygen reaching the brain due to interruptions in breathing. There are two types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. In 

central sleep apnea, the brain fails to send messages for the body to breathe. This type is less common. In obstructive sleep apnea, the throat muscles and tongue relax, blocking the flow of oxygen. Each time normal breathing stops, the brain is depleted of oxygen. These episodes can last more than 10 seconds and can occur hundreds of times a night. Once the oxygen level drops enough, the body will activate the sympathetic nervous system to increase the heart rate and may make the person gasp, snore, or choke in order to increase airflow to the brain. This wakes the patient just enough to start breathing again but not enough to remember the incident. As a result, they wake up feeling groggy and experience excessive daytime sleepiness but don’t remember snoring or gasping for air. 

Sleep apnea can also lead to or cause high blood pressure, depression, and sexual problems in addition to many other chronic diseases. Studies have shown that sleep apnea affects 1 in 15 individuals. You may suffer from sleep apnea and not even know it! A sleep study is needed to determine if you have a sleep disordered breathing condition such as obstructive sleep apnea. 

 

Facts about OSA 

  • 40 million Americans suffer from some form of Sleep Disordered Breathing 

(SDB). 

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) may be present in 20-40% of the adult 

population who snore. 

  • As many as ninety percent of people with OSA have not been diagnosed. 
  • An individual with untreated apnea is up to four times more likely to have a stroke 

and 3 times more likely to have heart disease and twice as likely to have 

hypertension. 

  • Studies show that OSA causes hypertension; one study showed that eighty 

percent of patients with drug-resistant hypertension have OSA. 

  • Untreated OSA increases the risk of complications and even death from related 

chronic diseases, such as stroke, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. 

  • Treatment of OSA results in fewer hospitalizations from related diseases, such as 

heart disease and diabetes. 

 

Home Sleep Test 

We Help Patients Suffering From Snoring And Sleep Apnea 

 

An Alternative to CPAP – There are three medically accepted ways to successfully treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea: CPAP, Surgery, and Oral Appliances. We focus on providing patients with Oral Appliances. Oral Appliances are designed to be more comfortable and less intrusive than other options in the sleep apnea treatment. Studies have shown that upwards of 50% of patients who are prescribed a CPAP are not wearing it the way they are supposed to after one year. As many as 95% of patients who are prescribed an oral appliance are able to regularly wear it. 

 

How Oral Appliance Therapy Works 

Custom-fitted dental appliances have proven to be a successful treatment for many OSA sufferers and snorers. They are less cumbersome and more comfortable than other alternatives such as CPAP or surgery. 

 

Insurance: Most private insurance and Medicare plans cover oral appliances for the treatment of sleep apnea. We can find out for you if you’re covered, and what (if any) the out-of-pocket cost will be before any treatment is initiated. 

 

Comfort: Many patients who have tried Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) treatment and found it too uncomfortable or too cumbersome have found success with oral appliance therapy. 

 

Fast Results: Most patients grow accustomed to the oral appliance within a few days or weeks and it begins providing relief from sleep disordered breathing immediately. 

Portable: Unlike the more cumbersome CPAP device that requires electricity, the oral device fits in a pocket and can be taken anywhere, making travel much more feasible. 

 

Ease of Use: Patients can drink and talk while wearing the devices, unlike some of the other treatment options. 

 

Silent and Less Noticeable: OSA sufferers and their sleep partners are sometimes bothered by the noise and presence of breathing devices like the CPAP. 

 

Teeth and Gums

Teeth Problems

  • Wisdom Teeth
  • Gum Problems
  • Bad Breath
  • Dry Mouth
  • Your Throat, Tonsils, and Glands
  • Tongue and Lip Problems
  • Jaw Problems
  • Oral and Throat Cancer

Find Available Appointments

Open Hours

Mon: 10 am – 4 pm
Tue-Fri: 9 am – 5 pm

Ask Us A Question