Q. Why do you recommend a comprehensive exam for your new patients? Why can’t you just examine me after I get my teeth cleaned?
A. After watching patients closely for over 30 years, I can tell you emphatically that we see two major types of patterns on how our patients handle the aging process relative to their teeth. One group of patients will seek care only when an emergency occurs and their future is unpredictable. Often times this pattern ends with a lifetime of constant repair, frustration and the loss of their teeth, in spite of visiting the dentist every 6 months. The other group of patients at some point stops, steps back, and makes an assessment of where they are (a comprehensive exam). These patients can discuss options available to get what they want and systematically move their oral health to a place that allows them to stop their mouths from aging.
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Q. Are x-rays safe?
A. All radiation is harmful. It is the amount of radiation we get, the frequency, and the duration that determines how harmful this technology is to us. In dentistry, we weigh the risks versus the benefits to our patients. The newer x-ray units are now digital and have greatly reduced the radiation to our patients. We never take x-rays to generate additional fees. We take the least amount of exposures to show what we need.
Q. Do you accept dental insurance?
A. In most cases, yes. The front office staff can share with you the intricacies as to how we handle insurance. We belong to NO plans. Our obligation is to our patients and no one or enity will dictate to us what we recommend to our patients. The insurance benefit over the last 40 years has fallen behind the inflation we’ve seen during that period of time. Had it kept up with the normal cost of living during that time, we would be seeing benefits of $4,000 to $6,000. For many, the benefits have remained from $750 to $1500, the same as it was in the early 1970’s.
It is important to note that we will always discuss with you what is going on in your mouth and what your options are relative to treatment. Once you discover what treatment options are best for you, we can then discern how much your insurance will cover. We will work with you to help you receive the maximum benefit to which you are entitled.
We are pleased to offer our patients an extended monthly payment plan option through a dental financing company called Care Credit. Prior to treatment ask for more details and to receive an application or we will be happy to assist you with the application in our office.
Q. Why do I hear that we should not have metal in our mouths?
A. To begin with, it would be ideal to never have anything in our bodies that is artificial and foreign. In the real world, however, this is just not practical. So we must, on an individual basis, make choices about what we put into our bodies and it is imperative that we understand the consequences of those choices. To say that we should not have any metals in our mouths sounds great until one is faced with the replacement of missing teeth or the restoration of badly broken down teeth in high stressed areas. It rules out the use of implants and the use of partial dentures in the replacement of missing teeth. Many of the “All Porcelain” crowns have metals in the porcelain.
Some people just can’t have metals and for them, the choice is easier. For many others, metals present no problems. A positive mineral balance in our bodies seems to be the key to the “tolerance” of metals. Once again, each person should make an individual decision, based on all of the pros and cons known, about the use of metals in their mouths.
At Schwanekamp Dentistry, we do not place mercury fillings. Dr. Schwanekamp is certified in Mercury Safe Dentistry, which means our office has a special protocol that we follow for the safe removal and disposal of mercury fillings.
Q. How often should I replace my toothbrush?
A. The American Dental Association recommends that you replace your brush every 3 to 4 months. With each use, the bristles become worn and cleaning effectiveness decreases. Depending on your oral health, you may need to replace your brush sooner. Typically, children toothbrushes need to be replaced more regularly than adults.
Q. Is a powered toothbrush more effective than a manual toothbrush?
A. Generally, manual toothbrushes are just as effective as powered toothbrushes. Children may find brushing with a powered toothbrush more exciting. If you have difficulty using a manual toothbrush, a powered toothbrush may be much more comfortable and easier to use.
Q. Should I brush or floss first?
A. As long as you brush and floss thoroughly, it does not matter if you brush then floss or floss then brush. However, flossing before brushing enables the fluoride in your toothpaste to better reach the areas between the teeth.