Making the Most of Your Dental Benefits

As the end of the year draws near, your calendars quickly begin to fill up with “to-do” lists and events.  Whether it’s planning the perfect Thanksgiving meal or Christmas shopping – we know this is a busy time. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the holidays, a visit to the dental office might fall pretty low on your priority list. However, now is actually a very smart time to make an appointment with your dentist, because for most people, unused dental insurance benefits and Flexible Spending Accounts reset at the end of the year.

An FSA account allows you to set aside a specified amount from your salary each month to go towards medical and dental expenses throughout the year. These funds are pre-tax dollars. Basically, this means that the amount you contribute is deducted from your gross income before taxes, resulting in a lower amount of income taxes that are required to be paid. The good news: this can result in significant payroll tax savings!  The stipulations: the money in this account must be used for eligible expenses and the entirety of the funds needs to be spent annually, usually by the last day of the calendar year, or the money in the account is lost. Most people refer to this as the “use it or lose it” policy.*

While having less-than-expected medical bills is a positive thing, it is certainly frustrating to see your over-estimated funds wasted. If December is looming and you are frantically searching for a way to use your hard-earned dollars, look no further than your dentist and orthodontist. Most dental services, including those listed below, are considered “eligible expenses” for your Flex account.

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  • Crowns/Bridges
  • Dental Implants
  • Dental X-rays
  • Dentures
  • Exams/Teeth Cleaning
  • Extractions
  • Fillings
  • Gum Treatment
  • Oral Surgery
  • Orthodontia/Braces, and
  • TMJ related expenses

It is also important to stay informed on whether or not you have reached the “annual maximum” your dental insurance provides. Most plans have a stipulated amount that they will pay towards treatment for each member of your policy annually. This varies by plan and provider but is usually around $1,000-$1,500. After this maximum is reached, if your treatment plan requires additional work, even if it is a covered procedure, it is your responsibility to pay in full. Working with your dentist to space treatment over certain time periods will allow you to make the most of your insurance benefits, especially if you know you have work to be completed.

For example, if your treatment plan suggests several fillings, a root canal, and two crowns, and you decide to undergo all of the work in February, you would be over your allotted annual benefit and individually responsible for a large portion of the cost. However, if you split the treatment into multiple visits that stretched over December and January, you would meet your maximum for one year and then, as your policy reset, have a new allotted maximum to apply towards the cost of treatment.

As the end of the year approaches, don’t forget to work a trip to the dentist into your busy schedule. You will not only sport a healthy smile for the holidays but also take full advantage of your dental benefits!

*Under the Affordable Health Care Act, in some cases, an employee can now carry over up to $500 without losing the funds into the next year.

Call today to schedule your next cleaning and check-up today before all the slots are full! Our doctors here at Victory Dental in Boise, ID would be happy to see you! (208) 402-1040

 

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World Smile Day is October 6th!

What Is World Smile Day?

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The smiley face is a universal symbol recognized worldwide. The very first smiley face was made by Harvey Ball who was an American commercial graphic designer. In 1963, Ball was hired to create a “happy face” to raise the morale of a company’s employees. Since then the symbol has become world renowned as representing happiness, kindness, and joy. In 1999 Ball got the idea to declare the first Friday in October as a day to share your smile.

Every year since 1999 the Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation celebrates World Smile Day in honor of Harvey Ball and his smiley face. Here are some ways you can celebrate with them:

 

 

 

  • Kids sidewalk chalk activities drawing smiley faces
  • Selfies with smiley masks
  • Hospital events to get patients to smile
  • Visiting nursing homes to bring smiles to the elderly
  • Pass out smile certificates
  • Volunteering at a homeless shelter with a smile on

Whatever you decide to do on World Smile Day don’t forget to post pictures to Facebook.com/worldsmileday with a tag #worldsmileday. Check out the Facebook page for other fun smile gear like shirts and hats!

 

Let’s Talk Gum Disease – For National Gum Care Month

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround the tooth. There are two terms you are likely to hear when discussing gum disease with your dentist or hygienist. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums that can cause discomfort, but usually not irreversible tissue damage.  However, if left untreated, it can become a precursor to periodontal disease, or periodontitis.  When a person develops periodontitis, the gums pull away from the tooth, leaving an open space. Debris collects in these open “pockets, ” and they can become infected. Toxins from the bacteria in the pockets break down and destroy the bone and tissues that are surrounding them.  This is a serious condition that requires gum disease treatment and can result in permanent periodontal tissue and bone loss if not treated aggressively.

What are warning signs of gum disease?

  • Red or purple colored gums
  • Gums that are swollen, tender or shiny
  • Gums that easily bleed when brushing or flossing
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Receding gums, or gums pulling away from the tooth to make it appear longer than it used to
  • Mouth Sores
  • Loose Teeth
  • A change in how your teeth fit when you bite together

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What are some factors that put you at higher risk for gum disease?

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Hormonal changes (such as during pregnancy)
  • Family history of periodontal disease
  • Some medications
  • Stress
  • Teeth Grinding
  • Tobacco use
  • Poor nutrition

Gum disease can usually be prevented by regular brushing and flossing, good nutrition and regularly scheduled cleaning visits and check-ups with your dentist. If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of gum disease, talk to your dentist. He/she will discuss with you appropriate approaches to treatment that may be as simple changing your oral hygiene habits, r that could include a deep cleaning- called a scaling and root planning- or other options.

Quick Tips

Following these simple guidelines recommended by the American Dental Assoc
iation could greatly
improve your oral health:
  • Brush for two minutes, twice a day: 98% of dental disease can be prevented by just following this common practice. Studies show that people who think they are brushing for two minutes are actually brushing for less than one!
  • Don’t brush too hard: Plaque is soft and sticky. Scrubbing might feel like it’s doing a better job, but it may actually be causing more damage than good. Lightly brushing with a soft bristled toothbrush is all you need. Any calculus (hard deposits) that still remain should be removed professionally by your hygienist.
  • Angle your brush at 45 degrees: When brushing manually, make tiny circles at the correct angle and you should be able to feel the bristles gently sweep under the gum line.
  • Change your toothbrush regularly: This is not just for cleanliness. Over time, the bristles of your toothbrush may become bent or splayed which will no longer clean properly. We recommend getting a new brush every 3 months.
  • Get in between your teeth: Brushing only gets 70% of the debris off of your teeth. Whether it’s using dental floss, a water flosser, or even just a toothpick, something is better than nothing. Most cavities start in those hard-to-reach areas and grow from there.

If you have questions about your oral health, call our office in Boise, Idaho today!
(208) 402-1040. 

Your Dental Checklist for Back To School

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The first day of school is just around the corner! Don’t miss out on this ideal time to get procedures done without working around missed tests and schoolwork. Slots fill up quickly for dental cleanings and checkups this time of year so don’t delay!

Could your child benefit from sealants?

Most children can benefit from having sealants placed, usually on the premolars and molars to make their teeth less susceptible to decay.  Molars have pits and grooves in the chewing surfaces, making them hard to keep clean.  Some fissures are so deep it is virtually impossible to remove all the food particles with a toothbrush.  These trouble areas are remedied with a filling material, similar to filling a cavity.  Sealants can protect a tooth for many years, but good oral hygiene is still required.

Does your child need their wisdom teeth removed?

Third molars or wisdom teeth often lack enough room to come in properly. When this happens they can cause tooth crowding or damage nearby teeth. They are also prone to gum disease because of their hard to reach location. Removing wisdom teeth during the teenage years is usually a much easier process because the roots are still forming. Summer is a great time to schedule your teen for this procedure to allow adequate time to recover. Most activities may resume after the first day, but they should take it easy from strenuous activity for 3-5 days and contact sports for a good week.

Is your child ready for orthodontics?

Did you know that the American Association of Orthodontists actually recommends kids be seen by age 7 to detect early problems and allow treatment to begin at the most ideal time. This “interceptive treatment” may provide a chance to make room for crowded, erupting teeth, focus on bite problems early, reduce the need for tooth removal and the overall time in braces. Send your child back to school in style with the latest colors and designs.

Now is the time to get your child in before school starts!
Call our office today in Boise, Idaho today!  (208) 402-1040

Is A Dental Implant a MAJOR Surgery?

iStock_Teeth Implant_Small.jpgDental implant surgery takes education and skill on the part of your dentist and his instruments are technologically precise.  However, because of that education, skill, and technology the procedure itself is simple. In most cases, having an implant placed is less traumatic than the extraction of a tooth and the sensation is similar to having a filling placed.

 

 

After a local anesthetic is given the implant procedure is just 3 simple steps:

  • A small hole is drilled into the jaw bone.
  • The site is prepared until the exact size and length are achieved for the implant.
  • A titanium root replacement is placed in the prepared location.

Most implant surgeries take less than an hour and a half and most patients experience only mild discomfort during the healing process.

Who Can Get A Dental Implant?

Dental implants are not always suitable for every patient. Prior to implant surgery, a comprehensive dental exam, which may include x-rays or CT scan is necessary to determine if you would be a good candidate. Your dental and medical history will also be reviewed by your dentist to consider factors such as bone loss and diabetes. Once your dentist has determined you will be a good candidate, the implant will be surgically placed into the bone and allowed to integrate with the jawbone for up to six months.

What Can Implants Be Used For?

  • One or More Missing Teeth: For implants used for one to a few missing teeth, a post may be placed to extend the implant above the gum line. An impression will be taken of your mouth and a final restoration such as a single tooth crown or a dental bridge with several teeth permanently connected to multiple implants.
  • All Missing Teeth: Removeable and permanent options are available.
    • Removeable: Implants for dentures can be used for stability to create a removable denture that “snaps” into place. A post it placed that will stick above the gum line while the female end of the snap is placed in the denture. This appliance is removable and will eventually need the seal pieces replaced every few years.
    • Permanent: Similar to a dental bridge that is connected to implants on both sides, implants can be placed all the way around an arch of the mouth and a single appliance made to replace all the missing teeth. This piece is the placed permanently in the mouth and is not removable by the patient.

Dental implants are very unique from case to case and can be used for many different tooth replacement options. Is the implant process precise? YES. Is it a major surgery? NO.

At Victory Dental, we offer a free consultation. If you are interested in learning more about dental implants, call our office today to schedule a time to talk with Dr. David Ripplinger in Boise, Idaho. (208) 402-1040

Improving Your Smile

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Father’s Day is just around the corner and that means trying to figure out the perfect for him! What about a bright, new smile? Have Dad fill out this checklist to see if a Smile Makeover is right for him.

Smile Checklist

Do you try to hide your smile when you meet new people?

Are you unhappy with the color of your teeth?

Do you have gaps between your teeth?

Do you have any crooked teeth?

Do you feel your teeth are too short or too long?

Do you feel your teeth aren’t quite the right shape?

Are any of your teeth chipped or damaged?

Are you missing any teeth?

If he answered yes to any of these questions, we can help! Here are some options to help improve Dad’s confidence in his smile again.

  • Teeth Whitening – May be the best solution for you if your natural teeth are stained or yellowed. Whiter teeth can make you look years younger! We offer in-office teeth whitening and home teeth whitening systems.
  • Veneers – May be the best solution for you if you have chipped, broken, misaligned or badly stained teeth where whitening will not be effective.  A veneer is a tooth colored shell that is bonded to the front of teeth and the result is a beautiful smile.
  • Tooth Contouring and Dental Bonding – May be the best solution for you if your natural teeth are poorly shaped or have minor imperfections. Tooth contouring is often a quick way to shape your teeth to achieve that perfect smile.  It is sometimes combined with dental bonding, in which composite resin material is added to the tooth to achieve that perfect smile!

Smiles are important and even life-changing sometimes. If you think the gift a Smile Makeover is just what Dad needs, call our office today for a FREE Cosmetic Consultation with Dr. David Ripplinger in Boise, Idaho. (208) 402-1040

 

 

 

 

Are baby teeth really that important?

iStock_000006684208MediumWe recently celebrated how wonderful moms are. Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs there is! Most moms would say they would do everything in their power to keep their kids healthy. We all have questions about how to do this. Oral health might not be the first thing on our minds; questions might come up such as this one. We thought it would be helpful to give some insight from a dental perspective.

So, as a mother, you make ask questions like these, “Are baby teeth really that important?”, “Should I have a baby tooth with decay fixed when it is just going to fall out in a year or two?”, “Is it really worth fighting a daily battle with a toddler to get a toothbrush in their mouth?” These questions come up all the time in the dental office. While we hear and understand those concerns, we must set this one straight. Baby teeth are extremely important and worth fighting for!

Healthy baby teeth

  • Aid in proper nutrition
  • Help with speech development
  • Hold room in the jaw needed for development of permanent adult teeth
  • Can have a big part in building self-esteem
  • Allow a child to focus in school without the distraction of tooth pain
  • Set the child on a path of good oral health habits for life

What Happens If I Don’t Treat Tooth Decay?

Unless the baby tooth is already loose and on its way out, your dentist will most likely tell you that the tooth needs to be repaired. Primary tooth decay is serious! It can spread quickly and lead to infection or an abscess. An abscess occurs when a cavity reaches the nerve of the tooth. Once the infection reaches the end of the root, a pocket of pus begins to form called an abscess. Sometimes that pus cannot drain and can cause throbbing pain, swelling and may be accompanied by a fever.  An abscessed tooth needs to be taken care of by a dental professional right away and might require antibiotics to fight the infection. If not treated, the infection could spread to other parts of the child’s body. The dentist will either try to save the tooth with a baby root canal or by simply removing the tooth. If the tooth is removed the dentist will often put in a “space maintainer” to hold a place in waiting for the permanent tooth to erupt.

Start With A Check-up!

Regular checkups are important for young children who don’t always let on that there may be a problem until it is too late. Helping children develop the habit of caring for their teeth has payoffs throughout their life. Healthy teeth also mean easier dental visits, which is a plus for both parents and children. Call to schedule a checkup and cleaning for your little one, today!

Side note: Tooth decay remains the most common chronic disease among children ages 5-17 with 59% affected. More than 51 million hours of school are lost each year by children due to dental-related illnesses.

If you think your child may have a cavity, call our dental office today in Boise, Idaho to schedule a check-up!  (208) 402-1040