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)

 



Infants

Infants should be seen by our office after the first six months of age, and at least by the child's first birthday. By this time, the baby's first teeth, or primary teeth, are beginning to erupt and it is a critical time to spot any problems before they become big concerns.

Conditions like gum irritation and thumb-sucking could create problems later on. Babies who suck their thumbs may be setting the stage for malformed teeth and bite relationships.

Another problem that can be spotted early is a condition called "baby bottle tooth decay," which is caused by sugary substances in breast milk and some juices, which combine with saliva to form pools inside the baby's mouth.

If left untreated, this can lead to premature decay of your baby's future primary teeth, which can later hamper the proper formation of permanent teeth.

One of the best ways to avoid baby bottle tooth decay is to not allow your baby to nurse on a bottle while going to sleep. Avoid dipping pacifiers in sweet substances such as honey, because this only encourages early decay in the baby's mouth. Encouraging your young child to drink from a cup as early as possible will also help stave off the problems associated with baby bottle tooth decay.

Teething, Pacifiers and Thumb-Sucking

Teething is a sign that your child's gums are sore. This is perfectly normal. You can help relieve this by allowing the baby to suck on a teething ring, or gently rubbing your baby's gums with the back of a small spoon, a piece of wet gauze, or even your finger.

For babies under the age of 4, teething rings and pacifiers can be safely used to facilitate the child's oral needs for relieving gum pain and for suckling. After the age of 4, pacifiers are generally discouraged because they may interfere with the development of your child's teeth.

Moreover, thumb-sucking should be strongly discouraged because it can lead to malformed teeth that become crooked and crowded.

Primary and Permanent Teeth

Every child grows 20 primary teeth, usually by the age of 3. These teeth are gradually replaced by the age of 12 or so with a full set of 28 permanent teeth, and later on, four molars called "wisdom teeth."

It is essential that a child's primary teeth are healthy, because their development sets the stage for permanent teeth. If primary teeth become diseased or do not grow in properly, chances are greater that their permanent replacements will suffer the same fate. For example, poorly formed primary teeth that don't erupt properly could crowd out spaces reserved for other teeth. Space maintainers can sometimes be used to correct this condition, if it is spotted early enough.

Brushing

Babies' gums and teeth can be gently cleaned with special infant toothbrushes that fit over your finger. Water is suitable in lieu of toothpaste (because the baby may swallow the toothpaste). Parents are advised to avoid fluoride toothpastes on children under the age of 2.

Primary teeth can be cleansed with child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrushes. Remember to use small portions of toothpaste (a pea-sized portion is suitable), and teach your child to spit out, not swallow, the toothpaste when finished.

Fluoride

Fluoride is generally present in most public drinking water systems. If you are unsure about your community's water and its fluoride content, or learn that it has an unacceptable level of fluoride in it, there are fluoride supplements your dentist can prescribe. Your child may not be getting enough fluoride just by using fluoride toothpaste.

Toothaches

Toothaches can be common in young children. Sometimes, toothaches are caused by erupting teeth, but they also could indicate a serious problem.

You can safely relieve a small child's toothache without the aid of medication by rinsing the mouth with a solution of warm water and table salt. If the pain doesn't subside, acetaminophen may be used. If such medications don't help, contact your dentist immediately.

Injuries

You can help your child prevent oral injuries by closely supervising him during play and not allowing the child to put foreign objects in the mouth.

For younger children involved in physical activities and sports, mouth guards are strongly encouraged, and can prevent a whole host of injuries to the teeth, gums, lips and other oral structures.

Mouth guards are generally small plastic appliances that safely fit around your child's teeth. Many mouth guards are soft and pliable when opened, and mold to the child's teeth when first inserted.

If the tooth has been knocked out, try to place the tooth back in its socket while waiting to see our office.  Remember to hold the dislocated tooth by the crown—not the root. If you cannot relocate the tooth, place it in a container of cold milk, saline or the victim's own saliva. Place the tooth in the solution.

First, rinse the mouth of any blood or other debris and place a cold cloth or compress on the cheek near the injury. This will keep down swelling.

For a fractured tooth, it is best to rinse with warm water and again, apply a cold pack or compress. Ibuprofen may be used to help keep down swelling.

If the tooth fracture is minor, the tooth can be sanded or if necessary, restored by the dentist if the pulp is not severely damaged.

If a child's primary tooth has been loosened by an injury or an emerging permanent tooth, try getting the child to gently bite down on an apple or piece of caramel; in some cases, the tooth will easily separate from the gum.

Irritation caused by retainers or braces can sometimes be relieved by placing a tiny piece of cotton or gauze on the tip of the wire or other protruding object. If an injury occurs from a piece of the retainer or braces lodging into a soft tissue, contact our office immediately and avoid dislodging it yourself.

Sealants

Sealants fill in the little ridges on the chewing part of your teeth to protect and seal the tooth from food and plaque. The application is easy to apply and typically last for several years.