Why Doesn’t My Insurance Cover This? | Alhambra Dentist

One of the most commonly asked questions is, “Why doesn’t my insurance cover this?” There is no such thing as “Dental Insurance.” The term “insurance” means “protection against loss.”

Dental plans do not insure the patient against loss of any kind. That is why dental plans never include the word “insurance” after their name. Dental plans do not fully insure you for the expenses needed to keep you in good dental health for life.

Dental plans are merely a collection of benefits determined through negotiation between the dental plan representatives and employers. These benefits are based on what the employer can afford to pay. Therefore, the higher the premium paid by the employer, the better your benefits will be. These benefits will help defray the cost of treatment covered by the plan.

If a dental procedure is not covered, it means that the premium paid by your employer does not allow for this procedure to be covered. Again, your dental plan does not insure you against loss of dental health. If you allow your dental coverage to determine your dental treatment, you can place your teeth at risk of inadequate treatment, lack of treatment altogether or recurrence of a disease. Your dental plan cannot be held responsible for the loss of your teeth as a result of lack of treatment or under-treatment.

The good news is that most standard procedures needed are likely to be covered at least to a certain extent. The actual amount covered for a particular procedure depends on what your dental plan decides is the “usual, customary and reasonable” (UCR) fee for that procedure. The bad news is that UCR’s vary greatly among dental plan carriers. Sometimes the same carrier has different UCR’s for different policies. Some plans cover very little, while others cover more. Your dentist, however, can generally estimate the amount that would be covered based upon previous experience and can help you negotiate the complicities of dental plans.

Sometimes the amount of benefits covered is lower than what the patient expects; this is due to the fact that the annual maximum of most dental plans is $1000 to $1500. This annual maximum was adopted in the 1960’s and has been the standard for approximately 50 years. Inflation over 50 years has eroded the value of the annual maximum. Nevertheless, this amount of benefits is still substantial and should be properly and intelligently utilized. For example, your dentist may offer you the option of postponing some non-urgent treatment until the next calendar or contract year so that you can take advantage of the next year maximum. No matter what kind of plan you have, your dentist is likely to recommend that you not leave that yearly benefit unused when treatment is necessary.

If you believe a procedure should be covered better than estimated, inform your employer of the problem. Your employer can most effectively correct the problem for you because the employer is paying the monthly premiums and has the option of not renewing the contract at the end of the contract period (generally November). Engaging the help of your employer or your personnel department would probably be the most effective way to address the issue. In the meantime, if you want to proceed with a procedure that is not covered but find it hard to afford it, discuss the problem with the dental office staff. Most offices offer extended payment plans, sponsored by financial institutions that offer no interest or relatively competitive interest rates.

There is nothing more important than a healthy smile. However, keeping your smile white and beautiful will sometimes require a financial commitment that might be temporarily uncomfortable, but remember that a smile is the universal language and “when you give someone a smile, the world smiles back.”

If you would like more information about insurance, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

2019-08-16T23:23:09+00:00April 25th, 2019|Family Dentistry, General Dentistry|

Vitamins and Minerals for Dental Health | Alhambra Dentist

Certain vitamins and minerals are especially beneficial to your dental health. These nutritional building blocks may be essential for keeping your teeth and gums healthy while benefiting your entire body.

Calcium. Throughout the body, this mineral helps build bones and provide structural support. In your mouth, calcium helps harden your enamel and strengthen your jawbone. Milk, cheese, yogurt, broccoli and salmon are some known sources of calcium.

Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium while boosting bone mineral density, so it’s crucial to get an adequate amount of vitamin D to get the most out of your calcium intake. Your body naturally makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight, but the vitamin can also be found in fatty fish, canned tuna and portobello mushrooms. You can also look for foods and drinks that have been fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, orange juice and cereal.

Potassium. Like vitamin D, potassium improves bone mineral density. It also works with magnesium to prevent blood from becoming too acidic, which can leach calcium from your bones and teeth. Bananas are well known sources of potassium, but they’re not alone. Other fruits and vegetables with high levels of the mineral include lima beans, tomatoes, Swiss chard, potatoes, sweet potatoes, avocados and prunes.

Phosphorus. Phosphorus supports calcium in building strong bones and teeth. Phosphorus is found in a wide range of foods. Rich sources of the mineral include seafood, such as scallops, sardines, cod, shrimp, tuna and salmon. If you’re looking to get your phosphorus from plant-based foods, consider soybeans, lentils and pumpkin seeds. You can also find phosphorus in beef, pork and cheese.

Vitamin K. Think of this vitamin as a shield – it helps block substances that break down bone. It also helps your body produce osteocalcin, a protein that supports bone strength. A vitamin K deficiency can slow down your body’s healing process and make you more likely to bleed. Leafy greens, such as kale, collards and spinach, can help increase vitamin K in your diet. Other great sources include parsley, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.

Vitamin C. Vitamin C strengthens your gums and the soft tissue in your mouth. It can protect against gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, and can prevent your teeth from loosening. You probably already know that citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, but you can also find it in potatoes and leafy greens.

Vitamin A. This vitamin helps keep the gums healthy. It prevents dry mouth and helps your mouth heal quickly. Vitamin A is found in fish, egg yolks and liver as well as leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens, or in orange-colored fruits and oranges, apricots, cantaloupe, pumpkin, carrots and sweet potatoes. These fruits and veggies contain high levels of beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A.

Please check with your physician and dentist as to whether any foods or supplements containing these vitamins and minerals are appropriate for you. Also ask for advice as to quantity, duration, frequency and dosage.

(Portions of the above information were excerpted from a Delta Dental publication.)

If you would like more information about vitamins and minerals, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

2019-08-16T23:24:44+00:00April 17th, 2019|Dental Information, General Dentistry|

Sugar Eats Away Your Teeth and Your Brain | Alhambra Dentist

According to the American Dental Association, Americans consume sugar, particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), at an alarming rate. SSBs are a leading cause of dental cavities, obesity, and type II diabetes. SSBs are sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks, flavored milk, and other beverages that contain added caloric sweeteners.

Sadly, new evidence indicates SSBs are also associated brain shrinkage. So, it can be said that SSBs can eat away your teeth as well as your brain.

In the United States, SSB consumption has reached epidemic proportions. The average American is now consuming a whopping 50 gallons per person per year! This is the second highest consumption rate in the world (after Mexico). This consumption is equivalent to approximately 1.5 cans of soda per person per day. SSBs are the leading source of added sugar in the American diet and is strongly associated with the high rate of dental caries in the U.S.

Obesity is associated with diabetes. The United States is amid an obesity epidemic fueled in great part by SSBs. Americans are among the most overweight and obese population in the world. Today, over two-thirds (69%) of all Americans older than 20 years are overweight, and just over one-third (35%) are obese. It is no wonder that the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that in 2017 more than 100 million adults in the United States have diabetes or pre-diabetes. This is estimated to be over 30% of the entire U.S. population.

What is not well known is, according to the Framingham Heart Study, one or more sugary drinks per day resulted in lower total brain volume, lower hippocampus volume. Hippocampus is an important part of the brain for memory and is also where the process of Alzheimer’s disease starts. In other words, normal shrinking of the brain due to aging is accelerated by consuming sugary drinks.

This study reported that those people who consumed one or two sugary drinks per day experienced the equivalent of 1.6 years of accelerated brain aging per year. Those subjects in the Framingham study taking in more than two sugary drinks per day showed an astounding 11.0 years of brain aging.

The Framingham Heart Study is a long-term, ongoing cardiovascular cohort study on residents of the city of Framingham, Massachusetts. The study began in 1948 with 5,209 adult subjects from Framingham and is now on its third generation of participants.

So, the next time you are tempted to drink a soda or other sugary drink, remember it’s not just your teeth but your brain that is also at stake. Don’t let these beverages eat away your brain!

If you would like more information about the effects of sugar, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

2019-08-16T23:25:46+00:00April 12th, 2019|Family Dentistry|

Floss Only the Teeth You Want to Keep | Alhambra Dentist

Yes, floss only teeth you want to keep, and forget the rest! Seriously, only floss removes plaque and debris that adhere to tooth surfaces between teeth. Toothbrushes do not reach these in-between spaces. Since caries (cavities) and gum disease develop most frequently between teeth, the wise choice is to floss the teeth, rather than lose them. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, “Floss is the single most important weapon against plaque, perhaps more important than the toothbrush.” Of course, this is not to say you don’t need to brush your teeth. Brushing should always be done, followed by flossing.

Bluntly speaking, flossing requires a certain level of manual dexterity that many people don’t have and a steep learning curve for which many people don’t have patience. However, there is an easier way. This is called the “loop method.” Take an 18-inch piece of floss and tie together the two ends, to form a circle, or loop. Place all your fingers within the loop except for the thumb. Then simply use your index fingers to guide the floss through the lower teeth, and the thumbs to guide the floss through the upper teeth. Try it. It’s easy.

If you still don’t like it, try “floss-holders.” These devices, which may be disposable, can be shaped like a miniature sling-shot, with the floss stretched between the two prongs. Or, they can look like a miniature hack-saw, with the floss stretched between two ends. With the aid of a mirror and very little practice, you can get the floss between the teeth without too much trouble.

Now that you’ve got the floss in between your teeth, what do you do? First of all, don’t cut your gum by going down too far. And don’t drag the floss back and forth like you are polishing your shoes. Just go up and down between the teeth. That’s all.

Do it between all the teeth at least once a day. If your gums bleed easily, be sure to see your dentist. You might have gingivitis, or periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease.

If you feel that even floss doesn’t quite get all the debris out, then, in addition to flossing, you can buy or obtain from your dentist special brushes designed to get between the teeth. They are called “proxy brushes.” Shaped like a pipe-cleaner with an angle, these tiny brushes can be slipped between the teeth. Back and forth movement of the tiny brushes will further clean and remove plaque and debris that may remains after flossing.

If you have certain spots between the teeth that almost always trap food when you eat, it’s a good idea to bring some floss with you so that you can floss after meals. However, it also advisable to use “proxy brushes” to cleanse those food traps after meals. Some brands of proxy brushes come with a convenient cap, so that you can keep it in your purse or pocket. If you have these habitual food traps, you should consult your dentist about how these spaces may be closed. Filling, crowns, or even orthodontic treatment may be necessary. If left untreated, food traps can lead to gum disease, or cavities despite regular flossing.

Lastly, waterpicks are also effectively in cleaning between the teeth, but only after you brush and floss first. Waterpicks are especially recommended if you have bridge work. Your dentist may also suggest that antibacterial agents or mouth wash be mixed with the water in the waterpick to better control bacterial infection of the gums.

Even though brushing and flossing greatly reduces your risk of cavities and gum disease, you still need to see your dentist regularly to check for abnormal changes.

If you would like more information about flossing, call Dr. Chao in Alhambra, CA at (626) 308-9104 or visit www.alhambradental.com.

Dr. Chao proudly serves Alhambra and all surrounding areas.

2019-08-16T23:30:15+00:00April 5th, 2019|General Dentistry|