Online Dental Education Library

Our team of dental specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth and gums. Please use our dental library to learn more about dental problems and treatments available. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.

 

INSURANCE

Usual and Customary. What Does It Mean?

 

Every once in a while a patient calls us after receiving a statement from their dental insurance company and asks: “Your fee for this is over what my dental insurance company calls ‘usual and customary,’ does that mean you are overcharging me?” 

That’s a good question, one we’re happy to answer. 

Each separate insurance company has its own “usual and customary” fees for all dental procedures for a certain geographical region. When our state dental association asks these companies for data to see how the numbers were arrived at and which dentists (if any) were surveyed, they are told that this is privileged company information and they do not reveal that. 

The fact is that different insurance companies have different “usual and customary” fees for the same area.  If the calculations were done correctly they should all have the same fees.  But they don’t! In fact the ranges are quite broad. 

Because the insurance companies establish artificially low fees in an effort to keep their profit margins as high as possible, animosity can be created between the dentist and the patient.  The insurance companies’ main goal is to collect as much in premiums as possible while paying out as little as possible and delaying payment for as long as possible. That is how they make their money.  Unlike us, they do not have the patients’ best interest at heart.

What is Dental Insurance?

Dental insurance is nothing more than a contract between the employer and the insurance company to partially pay for certain services.  It exists to help in covering the costs; it was never intended to cover all the costs. There are deductibles, some services get paid at 50 % or 85 % and some aren’t covered at all. 

The type of insurance coverage your employer is willing to buy is determined by how much the employer is willing to pay for.  The employer selects as many or as fewer benefits they want.  The higher the premium paid by your employee – the higher is your usual and customary fee.

How Are Our Fees Set?

Our fees are set by the actual cost of doing business in this particular office.  Costs vary from office to office depending on rent, the salaries of out employees, quality of materials used, lab costs and many other "cost of doing business" factors.

For example, we will not compromise on sterilization because it’s just too important for our patients.  Likewise we will not use inferior materials for our dental restorations just to “save money”.  The fact is you never save money this way because the cheaper materials don’t last as long and the patient ends up back in the dental chair in a few years complaining that their crown or filling failed. We hire only the best, well trained staff, who love their jobs and give 110% every day to our patients care and customer service.

                          (information taken from Dr. Alex Shvartsman)

 



Bridges

Bridges are natural-looking dental appliances that can replace a section of missing teeth. Because they are custom-made, bridges are barely noticeable and can restore the natural contour of teeth as well as the proper bite relationship between upper and lower teeth.

Bridges are sometimes referred to as fixed partial dentures, because they are semi-permanent and are bonded to existing teeth or implants. There are several types of fixed dental bridges (cannot be removed), including conventional fixed bridges, cantilever bridges and resin-bonded bridges.  Unlike a removable bridge, which you can take out and clean, your dentist can only remove a fixed bridge.  .

Porcelain, gold alloys or combinations of materials are usually used to make bridge appliances.

Appliances called implant bridges are attached to an area below the gum tissue, or the bone.

Crowns

Crowns are synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain, placed on the top of a tooth.

Crowns are typically used to restore a tooth's function and appearance following a restorative procedure such as a root canal. When decay in a tooth has become so advanced that large portions of the tooth must be removed, crowns are often used to restore the tooth.

Crowns are also used to attach bridges, cover implants, prevent a cracked tooth from becoming worse, or an existing filling is in jeopardy of becoming loose or dislocated. Crowns also serve an aesthetic use, and are applied when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance.

Procedures

A tooth must usually be reduced in size to accommodate a crown. An impression is then made from the existing tooth to create a custom-designed crown.  The impression is sent to a special lab, which manufactures a custom-designed crown. In some cases, a temporary crown is applied until the permanent crown is ready. Permanent crowns are cemented in place.

Crowns are sometimes confused with veneers, but they are quite different. Veneers are typically applied only to relatively small areas.

Caring For Your Crowns

With proper care, a good quality crown could last up to eight years or longer. It is very important to floss in the area of the crown to avoid excess plaque or collection of debris around the restoration.

Certain behaviors such as jaw clenching or bruxism (teeth grinding) significantly shorten the life of a crown. Moreover, eating brittle foods, ice or hard candy can compromise the adhesion of the crown, or even damage the crown.