Practicing Dentistry As It Should Be

Do you remember when your family physician would visit your home with his or her little black bag, stethoscope around the neck, visiting in the late hours of the night to take care of you? A families doctor used to be a family friend, not just a doctor. The doc would know your kids’ names and what was going on in the family. He or she would spend the time necessary to really take care of you and get to know you. Getting to know you actually used to be an important part of taking care of you. Where did that type of medicine go? This beautiful medical service has shifted to a bloated, insurance driven, not-enough-time-to-chat mammoth of a problem.

Well…why is a dentist talking about this? Because dentistry is becoming the same thing. What used to be a beautiful, small private practice service industry, has now become an impersonal, large multi-doctor, insurance driven, and very expensive commodity business. Patients have become a means to paying off terribly high student loans and expensive offices and equipment. The future of my dental profession isn’t looking pretty. I think you know what I’m talking about.

We as dentists have done a disservice to you, the patient. Our mentality of treating our patients like our family has been erased by a mentality of seeing patients as a means for profits and luxury. Much of the dentistry done today doesn’t need to be done, but it is because insurance covers it. How do I know this? Because I used to practice this way, and I go to the dental meetings and talk with the local dentists as well as other dentists around the country and world. This is my profession- it’s my experience. But this experience has woken me up and I’ve changed the way I think and practice. I treat my patients based on THEIR needs, not mine, while not allowing a disinterested insurance company to dictate their diagnosis and treatment.

Why am I writing this? Because it’s up to us dentists to help shift the dental culture we’ve created, and get back to putting first, truly putting first, the interests and needs of our patients. Dentistry has been turned on its head and it’s up to us dentists to turn it back right.

We live in an AMAZING time of medical technological advancement! What we know now is going to help us cure dental diseases, I’m confident of that. But during dental disease creates a little conflict of interest for us dentists, right? That’s not how I see it. We are learning more and more about how the mouth is the gateway to the body, or how oral health affects our whole body health. I see us becoming a more integral part of comprehensive health care in the future. Did you know that bacteria from cavities and gum disease are also found in the blood clots that cause heart attacks and strokes? Did you know that a diabetic that takes care of their mouth has an easier time managing their diabetes? Did you know that braces can GREATLY decrease your risk for sleep apnea? We are at a very exciting time. And too many dentists just have their heads down drilling and filling away. Advanced dental education, far beyond what you get at dental school, helps me connect the dots and gives me the tools and training I need to advance with the changing technology and paradigm. We can turn dentistry back right again by helping our patients know that their mouth is directly linked to their body.

In our office we feel dentistry is practiced as it should be. You, the patient, are the focus. Yes we take insurance, but we don’t allow the insurance company to dictate your diagnosis or treatment. Disease dictates diagnosis, and the patient dictates whether or not to undergo treatment. Your authority to choose for yourself the best course of action is paramount to your health. We don’t hijack that authority. We view ourselves as friends that, if asked, can help you make decisions. I, as the doctor, am the referee- I call it as I see it. The ball is then in your court to decide how to proceed. I don’t employee pushy front desk personnel whose only job is to “close the deal.” You’ll never leave our office without knowing how much something is going to cost. And we spend the time needed to answer your questions about the treatment options you have.

We take all insurance. Most of our patients have some form for a dental benefit. But because I’m not a contracted dentist for most plans, the insurance can’t tell me or you what to do. PPO plans will still pay your entire yearly dental benefit, even if I’m not on the contracted list of dentists. Again, most of our patients use their dental benefit with us. But our goal is for you to not have to use your dental benefit, other than for routine cleanings and exams. So many patients are tired to having fillings done every year and crowns done every five years. They tired of root canals, extractions, and implants. I would be too. We feel we have the answers to get our patients healthy and stay healthy. That’s empowering to both you and me.

At our office you’ll feel a difference because our mentality has shifted back to where it should be- to the patient. Honesty, integrity, gentleness, and kindness is our mantra here. You’ll be greeted with a beautifully warm smile, and leave with your questions answered, empowered to make choices based on your needs and timing. Come see us!

Dr. Taylor

Dental Insurance? The truth that most don’t explain.

Insurance? Absolutely, we take it. We just don’t allow your insurance to dictate your diagnosis and treatment.

I hear too many friends and others around town express that they feel they’re getting the dental runaround- their questions aren’t answered, they’re pushed through so fast they wonder what’s going on, and they don’t even see the same doctor every time. This isn’t how dentistry should be. What most patients don’t realize is these problems stem from the office being insurance driven. Let me explain what I mean. Grab a cup of coffee, this is gonna be good!

Often times an employer will bring on a dental benefit from an dental insurance company as a perk of employment. If you want good employees, you better give them benefits, right? Well, these benefits cost the employer money. The good dental plans cost more, the crappy plans cost less. That’s just how it is. So the dental insurance companies form dental plans to pitch to the employers in certain areas, hoping for their business. Sadly, often what determines the plan the employer chooses is the cost, so often the crappy plans are the ones you get when you get hired. But it’s something- it’s definitely a benefit to help you pay for your dental care, which is great! It’s certainly better than nothing.

The issues with these lower cost plans is they reimburse the dentists much less than the higher cost plan. So a crown done on a low cost plan may get the dentist $500, whereas the same crown done on a high quality plan may get the dentist $1000. This is not uncommon. So what does that mean for the dentist and what does that mean for you, the patient? Well, the dentist who is a preferred provider for the low cost plan, has to see twice as many patients as the dentist who isn’t a preferred provider for that plan, just to make the same amount of money. These dentists have to work faster, much faster, in order to make a profit. And because they don’t get paid as much per procedure, they usually aren’t able to afford paying for higher quality staff, materials, and technology. The crowns I get from my lab from either California or here is Montana cost almost 4 times as much as a cheap crown I could get from a “mega-lab” or from China. This is just one small example. So for the dentist, life looks much different if he/she is in deep with the low cost plans as a preferred provider. The main difference is TIME. They don’t have the time to sit down with you for an hour and explain why you need $3000 of dental work. They simply can’t do it and still make a profit. How do I know this? Because this is how I used to work. For the first three years out of dental school that was my life. I had to work fast, I didn’t have time to sit and chat, and the insurance price I would get would dictate where I would send a crown to be made, what material I would use to do a filling, and in the end, how much I could pay my assistant. Hindsight is 20/20- it’s easy for me to see now how insurance companies dictated almost everything in my office.

Well…that’s not how I practice any more. I honestly don’t even think about insurance now; I’ve realized my patients are just that- MY patients, not the insurance companies. And who knows my patients best? I do. I no longer allow the insurance companies to have so much influence in my practice and between me and my patients.

So what does this mean for you, the patient? First, it means that you will be able to make decisions without the insurance company trying to make those decisions for you. Second, it means that you’ll get our full attention here. Because I don’t have to see as many patients, I’m not juggling 2-4 patients at one time. I see one patient, start to finish, and then see the next patient. And third, it means your treatment will be done by a highly trained doctor and staff, well researched and highly successful dental materials and technology, and get dental care that will last 15-20 years instead of 5-10 years.

Dr. Taylor

5 Things Your Dentist Wishes You Took More Seriously

5 things your dentist

While you may only think about dental health every six months at your cleaning, your dentist thinks about dental health all day long! Here are 5 things we wish our patients took more seriously.

1. INVEST TIME IN LEARNING ABOUT YOUR DENTAL COVERAGE

INVEST TIME IN LEARNING ABOUT YOUR DENTAL COVERAGEWe get it — researching your dental insurance plan isn’t at the top of the list when it comes to free time, but a little homework can go a long way. Every dental plan is different, which means you truly do have to read the fine print, get on the phone and ask questions to understand what services your plan covers and at what percentages.

Plus, dental insurance has some random stipulations. Ever heard of a “missing tooth clause?” Some insurance companies have a clause stating that if your tooth has been lost before you begin coverage, they have no responsibility to cover the cost of replacing it via bridge or crown.

If you find yourself in one of these situations, ask your dental insurance provider about setting up a predetermination. The American Dental Association defines a predetermination as an estimate about who pays for what on a particular service. Even if you are paying more than you would like, a predetermination can help you know what to expect.

While it might be annoying to get something pre-approved, it is much easier than getting a procedure done and trying to get your insurance to foot the bill after the fact.

While plans vary, most cover preventative care like checkups and cleanings. Take advantage of these services! Above all else, politeness and persistence are key to getting what you want! And arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible. Peruse the American Dental Association’s glossary of terms so you can speak with confidence.

2. PREVENTION IS KEY TO LONG TERM DENTAL HEALTH

PREVENTION IS KEY TO LONG TERM DENTAL HEALTHScheduling and keeping preventative dental check-ups is extremely important. These visits are not to pad your dentist’s pocket, they are crucial to prevent costly, painful and time consuming dental issues.

For example, if you have the beginnings of a cavity and go to your bi-annual appointment, I can identify the decay and give you a filling ASAP. On the other hand, if you develop a cavity and keep missing appointments, the decay will soon get out of control and you could end up with an extremely painful abscess. According to MedlinePlus, untreated abscesses can lead to tooth loss, blood infection, spread of infection and other life-threatening complications.

 

3. CHOOSE DENTAL PRODUCTS CAREFULLY

CHOOSE DENTAL PRODUCTS CAREFULLYSelect your toothpaste, toothbrush and mouthwash carefully! One of the most common mistakes people make is buying products with a high acidity level. Enamel demineralizes at a pH level of 5.5 and some toothpastes are very acidic. Through continuing education and seminars I have learned about which products to avoid and which products to recommend. I love sharing this information with patients.

When purchasing toothpaste, always look for fluoride in the ingredient label. As far as toothbrushes go, soft bristle are recommended at an electric toothbrush is even better. WebMD reports that studies have found using a powered toothbrush can cut down on plaque that leads to periodontal disease.

 

4. STRIVE TO SAVE EACH & EVERY TOOTH

STRIVE TO SAVE EACH & EVERY TOOTHIf a tooth can be saved, it should be saved! Nothing makes me cringe more than a tooth being pulled needlessly. These days there are so many options for saving your smile with crowns, bridges and dental implants. Teeth are not just aesthetic, they are functional and missing teeth can affect your ability to eat and speak. Those with missing teeth can be restricted to soft foods and can even develop a speech impediment. Plus, when one tooth is removed it can cause the remaining teeth to shift.

Many times people make the decision to pull a tooth instead of save it in order to save money. While it may be cheaper in the moment, its effects are long lasting. Do everything you can to repair your tooth even if it means setting up a payment plan or comparison shopping. Most dental offices have a billing specialist that is more than willing to work something out with you.

5. PICK YOUR DENTIST CAREFULLY . . . AND THEN LISTEN!

PICK YOUR DENTIST CAREFULLYMany people have been conditioned to think that dentists are strictly self-interested individuals looking to make a buck. If you have evidence to support this theory, get a new dentist!

But when you trust and respect your dentist, you will believe that he or she has your best interest at heart. I can honestly say that my focus is to care for my patients, and the financial side of things falls into place after I have done that. Take our recommendations seriously, ask questions, educate yourself and then make the best decision.

It is our job as dentists to suggest the best treatment plan available. If that treatment plan is not in your budget, let us know! We can let you know what treatments can wait and what procedures need to be done immediately. A good dentist will always explain the problem and why the procedure is necessary to fix a problem. Plus, we regularly spend time and money learning about new technology and techniques to better serve our patients.

Are You Grinding Your Teeth Away?

Are You Grinding Your Teeth Away

Do you think your teeth are shorter than they used to be?
Do you occasionally notice sharp edges and ask your dentist to “smooth them off”?
Do your front teeth look flat across? Do you have sore jaw muscles, or joints, or frequent headaches?
Do you notice gum recession and sensitive roots or sore teeth?

If you answer “yes” to any of the above questions, then you probably suffer from bruxism. Bruxism is defined as clenching or grinding of the teeth. The effects of this can range from minor to disastrous depending on the degree.

Most people would be surprised to learn that bruxism is a disease. It is considered a pathological process. In fact, there are only three disease processes that we deal with in dentistry. These are cavities, periodontal disease, and bruxism. Unfortunately, dentists historically have received much less training on how to deal with bruxism than with decay or periodontal disease. Not only does bruxism contribute to the seriousness of periodontal disease or cavities, it can by itself destroy a whole mouth of otherwise healthy teeth.

In this fast-paced world stress has often taken the blame for why people clench or grind their teeth Certainly stress is a factor. However, it is more involved than that. It is believed that some people are driven to grind or clench and nothing can stop them. Have you ever sat next to someone who can’t stop shaking his leg? A similar type of impulse is responsible in both situations.

For many people it is believed that there is a place where their jaw joint and jaw muscles are happy. In other words, this position is where the joint and muscles want to be and are under the least stress. If the way the teeth come together prevents this from happening, then the brain will try to eliminate the interferences. Unfortunately, the interferences are your teeth. This is a very brief explanation of a subject about which volumes have been written.

OK, so what can we do to treat bruxism in the 21st century? The good news is that today we can do a lot to prevent the ravages of bruxism and to treat the symptoms and repair the damage caused by bruxism. Any treatment should aim first to prevent further damage and to alleviate any unpleasant symptoms such as sore jaw joints, muscles, or headaches.

There are a variety of splints or guards that can be used to prevent further damage from bruxism and to alleviate headaches and jaw pain.

If there is already extensive damage to the teeth then some restorative options are available. For instance, worn off front teeth can be lengthened with bonding or veneers to avoid an aged appearance and provide a more normal function. Yes, shortened teeth make you look older. Restoring teeth to their normal length can take years off of your appearance. Usually, after treatment, a night guard should be worn to prevent wearing down or breaking the new restorations as happened to the original teeth.

Equilibration or selective grinding can eliminate some interferences and relieve undue pressure on certain teeth. This can help all of your teeth work together more like a team.
For more severe cases, however, it can be necessary to re-lengthen most or all of the teeth. This is a procedure that requires a high degree of skill and is much more involved than routine dental procedures.

So are you “grinding your teeth away’? If you are concerned that you may be having problems from bruxism, ask your dentist. Without proper treatment your problem will only get worse. With proper treatment, you can maintain the health and function of your teeth and preserve or achieve a youthful smile.
-Dr. Taylor

The Value of a Smile

The Value of a Smile

 

What is the true value of a smile? Just how important is it to be able to smile with confidence, to be proud of your smile?

I have come to realize that a smile is very important indeed. Years of pain and embarrassment in the expressions of people who are unhappy or even ashamed of their smile can be very evident. I have also witnessed dramatic increases in the self-esteem and confidence of people who have had major improvements in their smile.

The ability to give patients the smile they have always wanted is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My team and I are constantly inspired by the emotional experiences that our patients feel when they see their smile enhanced.

How is this transformation achieved? A cosmetic dentist utilizes many procedures to help achieve the desired outcome. Some of these tools are crowns, veneers, bonding, tooth-colored fillings, and whitening procedures. This is by no means a complete list.

Teeth can be straightened in a procedure called “instant orthodontics” in as little as two visits. Short, worn teeth can be lengthened to give a much more youthful appearance as well as providing better function. Tipped and canted smiles can be corrected. Uneven gum lines can be made more symmetrical as well. A good analogy is if the teeth are the picture, then the gums are the matting, the lips the frame, and the face is the wall on which the picture hangs. Great attention must be paid to achieve harmony to the greatest degree possible. The availability of other specialists such as orthodontists, periodontists, oral surgeons, and endodontists are sometimes essential.
Research has shown that what people perceive as beautiful or aesthetic is really the symmetry that occurs in nature. The symmetry of nature is awe-inspiring and has influenced the human race for ages. Artists and architects have sought to emulate and represent it in their works.

The cosmetic dentist actually does the same thing. His goal is to achieve to the greatest degree possible the natural form, function, and symmetry of a person’s smile in harmony with his face.

Much study has been done to find out what factors aesthetically-pleasing smiles have in common. The form, proportion, inclinations, and symmetry of natural uncrowded, unworn smiles can be studied and emulated in creating a new smile. Proportions of width to length of individual teeth, of one tooth to another, and the inclination of the teeth in relation to each other and in the context of the face are all very important. Color, hue, shade, and brightness or value are also important but not nearly so as the proper form, function, and symmetry in harmony with the face.

With today’s newer materials, the desired color, shade, or brightness is not that difficult to achieve. However, the proper shapes and symmetry require a much higher degree of training and skill of both the cosmetic dentist and his ceramist.

An outstanding ceramist is absolutely crucial to achieving the patient’s desired outcome. The ceramist knows how to provide the desired color, shade, texture, and translucence and can provide these restorations in harmony with the patient’s face.

Modern materials and techniques along with years of study of the art and science of creating beautiful, natural-looking smiles make it possible to provide absolutely stunning improvements in a person’s smile. The effect this can have on self-esteem and confidence can be immeasurable.

The reasons for wanting a new smile are many. Some women in the golden years of their lives, feel significantly younger because their new smile makes them look more youthful. Women in sales have significantly improved their sales records, simply because they are more confident. Others increase self-esteem because they no longer hide behind a smile that embarrasses them.

Changing a smile is truly life changing.
-Dr. Taylor

Dental products you buy at the store may not be helping you…at all.

Dental products you buy at the store may not be helping you…at all

 

I recently returned from a week-long continuing education course in Seattle, WA, given by Dr. John Kois: one of the more brilliant dentists in the country. He presented some research and information that I thought you, as our patient, would appreciate knowing. It concerns the products many of us buy at Walgreens, Walmart, CVS, etc. Some of these oral care products can actually do harm to some patients with certain diseases. So take notes, and make some changes on your grocery list the next time you run out of toothpaste or mouthwash.

Determine Your Toothpaste and Mouthwash Goals

First, ask yourself why you use the toothpaste or mouth rinse you use. Is it because of the taste, because of the nice commercials on TV, because Costco sells it in a bulk pack for cheap? Or is it because your dentist recommended it? I’ll be honest, I was practicing for some time and didn’t understand the toothpaste I and my family was actually doing more harm than good (Crest Prohealth). Because I liked it, I was recommending it to my patients; not because there was science behind it showing it worked to combat disease, but because it tasted good. I’ve since learned this is not the best way to practice medicine. The oral products you use and spend your hard earned money on should improve your oral health, not make it worse and there should be data behind those claims. There are some products out there that leave me very confused as to why companies make them. All this deals with one major issue about oral disease; pH.

Understanding pH and Why it’s So Important

Secondly, we have to understand pH and what it means to our oral health. PH is a scale that measures how acidic or how basic something is. A pH of 7 is neutral, neither acidic nor basic; pure distilled water has a pH of 7.0. Stomach acid has a pH of 2.0. Battery acid has a pH 1.0. This scale is not linear however. Even though battery acid is 1.0 and stomach acid is 2.0, battery acid is actually 10 times as acidic as stomach acid. Each single digit increase or decrease in the scale is actually an increase or decrease by a power of 10. So compared to a pH of 7.0, stomach acid is 100,000 times as acidic. We are learning the important role of the mouth’s pH in relation to oral disease; I’m not going to say we completely understand it, but we have made some much needed progress. The bacteria that cause decay, or caries disease, produce acid and flourish in acidic environments. Teeth start to dissolve in acid with a pH of 5.2. So, the more acidic your mouth, the higher risk you have of getting cavities.

Avoiding Acidic Toothpaste and Mouthrinse

Almost everything we eat that is nutritious is acidic; fruits, vegetable, juices, etc. So we are constantly introducing acid into our mouths, giving the disease causing bacteria not only sugars to eat, but also creating an acidic environment for them to thrive in. The oral care products we use should help us neutralize these acid attacks, but sadly, mostly don’t. For example, Crest ProHealth mouth rinse has a pH of 4.38. What?! Teeth start to dissolve at ph 5.2 and Crest Prohealth is 10 times as acidic?! That is madness. What about an organic/natural mouth rinse you can buy at Lucky’s or Whole Foods, such as Tom’s of Maine Wicked Fresh Mouthwash? It has a pH of 3.30. It’s actually one of the worst out there.

Do you really think (I’m speaking to the companies that make this stuff) that having patients rinse their mouth with acid and then go sleep for 8 hours is the best thing for their oral health? It certainly is not. I have patients who seem to get cavities every year I see them, no matter how much they brush or floss. Many of you reading this may feel the same way. Well, has your dentist sat down with you to try to figure it out or does he/she just say “You need to brush and floss better”? You can brush and floss all you want, but if your mouth is too acidic, you’re probably going to get cavities and keep getting them until your mouth pH changes.

Dr. Taylor’s Recommended Oral Care Products

So what can you do? There is actually a very easy solution to this and I think it will help everyone: don’t rinse your mouth with acid. Below you will find a list of products I recommend with their associated pH values. Some are prescription, but the others you can find at the grocery store or online. Here you go:Recommended Products pH chart

 

Notice that all of these rinses are ABOVE a pH of 7.0, or, in other words, they are basic. Rinsing with these will help neutralize the acid in your mouth and will decrease your risk of dental decay. As a general rule, I tell my patients, “Here are your choices. If it’s not on this list, I don’t want you to use it. If you have something not on this list and love it, bring it to me and I will test its pH myself and let you know if you should use it or not.” It’s that simple. Now, excuse me, I ate three delicious chocolates while writing this and need to rinse my mouth with ACT. See you soon.

Next to come…toothpastes. (I know, exciting right?)

-Dr. Taylor

 

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