It may seem strange that there is such a prevalent trend of dental clinics offering in-house savings plans to patients. As someone who was originally unfamiliar with the specifics of insurance plans, I could not understand why a dentist would have any business offering these plans. My rudimentary understanding of insurance was that typical PPO insurance plans would cover any operations which were needed in exchange for paying the monthly fees. My assumption turned out to be pretty far from the true nature of the insurance companies.
I neglected to consider the fact that insurance companies need to make a profit. In order for the insurance provider to be able to maintain their profit margin, the provider creates stipulations which create favorable terms for themselves. Due to the unfavorable conditions of coverage for patients, some individuals find themselves paying significantly for bad coverage which they do not use. Patients who fall into this category have great oral health and few recurring issues. For these individuals, it may be economically beneficial to cancel their existing insurance and adopt a savings plan from your dentist.
The savings created using a dental savings plan instead of a dental insurance plan may reduce your health care costs significantly.
Patients who have significant oral health issues and who are not enrolled in dental insurance are also likely to benefit from a dental savings plan. This sub-group of patients benefits significantly from the favorable terms of a savings plan over the conditions of an insurance plan. These patients may have trouble being approved by dental insurance companies for the treatments they require. In addition, the full costs of necessary treatments may not be covered by insurance companies.
To decide if dental insurance is the best option, consider the following:
Cost: Analyze your monthly premiums and co-pays for the year. Many dental plans have monthly payments which add up to a considerable amount. It may have been substantially cheaper to pay for the procedures with a savings plan rather than paying for dental insurance. This is especially true for those who do not have recurring oral health problems. Add up what you have paid in premiums for a few years and subtract it by the costs which have been covered by the insurance company. A typical dental insurance plan costs approximately $450 per year. This fee covers all preventative and diagnostic procedures while only covering a percentage of basic and major procedures. Thus if there is a serious oral health issue it will still be a significant cost to get the dental care required. If you consistently pay much more in premiums than you use through treatment it may be better to cancel the insurance and pay for a dental savings plan when you require an expensive procedure.
Coverage: Dental plans are notorious for offering low coverage plans to those who purchase their insurance. The reason someone chooses to buy dental insurance is to give them protection from serious and unexpected dental problems. Many discover when emergencies occur that their dental plan is not useful enough and are saddled with unexpected bills they tried to avoid. If your insurance is capped it may not be enough protection to give you peace of mind in case of a dental emergency. If your dental insurance has limited protection you may be forced to pay entirely out of pocket in the event of a serious costly issue. This is in addition to paying about 50% of the cost of a major procedure up to the coverage limit. The capping of coverage reduces the benefit an individual gets from dental insurance. If you have a low coverage plan which does not give you good protection it may be logical to decide to switch.
Flexibility: If you enjoy having the freedom to make your own medical decisions you may want to consider canceling your dental insurance. When you buy into a dental insurance plan you instantly lose a significant amount of independence when making a decision for your oral health. Your insurance company decides what dentists you can see, what procedures are covered, and has the ability to deny treatments even if they are necessary. In addition, dental insurance cannot be easily canceled or purchased. This means that if your oral health improves significantly you cannot easily cancel your insurance plan and are stuck paying for unneeded coverage. Conversely, dental savings plans typically offer month to month coverage which can be easily canceled or bought based on your situation. In addition, dental savings plans are between you and your dentist and do not involve a third party. This means all transactions are much simpler and can be handled at without any of the bureaucracy of an insurance company. If you want the flexibility to choose when you are protected or if you desire the freedom to have a dentist of your choice it may be a good decision to use a savings offered by your individual dental clinic.
Whether it’s a matter of cost, coverage, or flexibility many decide that dental savings plans are the right decision for their situation. If after analyzing your dental insurance plan you discover that you are unsatisfied, the next step should be finding out about the dental savings plan offered by your dentist. For many individuals switching to the dental savings plan may solve the issues they are concerned about. Dentists have been realizing that dental insurance plans do not benefit all of their patients and have been offering their own saving plans as a replacement. Maybe it’s not so crazy to replace your insurance agent with your dentist after all.
Seneca Ridge Dental offers a dental savings plan which covers a fixed percentage of about 25% of all procedures and costs $25 per month. The savings plan can be canceled at any time so it provides much more flexibility than typical dental insurance. The savings plan is likely to provide financial relief to those who are overwhelmed by the costs of a procedure and do not have dental insurance. For these patients, it will be much easier to buy into the preferred savings plan than to deal with an insurance company. In addition, any healthy patients who do not typically require dental care besides preventative and diagnostic procedures may benefit from the savings plan. This is especially true if the individual has an expensive dental plan. For more information check out the preferred plan tab on the home page.
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Teeth last a long time if you take care of them...
It may seem counterintuitive but cavemen did not have many dental issues. The notion of a caveman with healthy teeth contradicts popular sentiment of our primitive ancestors, but according to fossil discoveries, this is the case. Fossils of hominids which were dated prior to the advent of agriculture did not have noticeable dental issues. Despite possessing very little knowledge of dentistry and hygiene techniques, there were few instances of cavities in our early ancestors. Scientists hypothesize that the reason for the absence of identifiable dental issues is attributed to the lack of processed foods and carbohydrates available prior to the expansion of farming. Naturally occurring sugars are very rare and would not be a part of early man’s diet. With less sugar available for consumption, there was less prevalence of pathogenic bacteria which cause the breakdown of enamel which causes cavities.
“Hunter-gatherers had really good teeth,” says Alan Cooper, Ph.D., director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA. “[But] as soon as you get to farming populations, you see this massive change. Huge amounts of gum disease. And cavities start cropping up.”
According to Cooper and his team, the gradual shift in human diets from meat, nuts and vegetables to carbohydrates and sugar effectively altered the makeup of bacteria in the mouths of modern men and women, National Public Radio reported.
Researchers examined the teeth found in 34 prehistoric skulls and determined that, specifically as ancient man took to tilling the fields and focusing on agriculture in favor of hunting, particular forms of harmful bacteria began to infiltrate human mouths.
Disease-causing pathogens specializing in devouring carbohydrates helped deteriorate human teeth. The introduction of pre-processed sugar and flour in the late 19th century during the Industrial Revolution hastened the decline of teeth.
“What you’ve really created is an ecosystem which is very low in diversity and full of opportunistic pathogens that have jumped in to utilize the resources which are now free,” added Cooper.
Techniques from ancient dentistry
While Cooper’s study suggests that prehistoric man enjoyed greater oral health due to diet, another report published in PLoS One has revealed more information about possible early dentistry techniques.
Led by Federico Bernardini and Claudio Tuniz, of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Italy, researchers in Italy and Australia made remarkable discoveries while examining the remains of a 6,500-year-old human jawbone, Medical News Today reported.
Specifically, a tooth found with the jaw near Trieste in Slovenia hints at possible methods used to fill cavities by dentists during earlier times. The tooth, which is a left canine, was found to have traces of beeswax in the crown.
“This finding is perhaps the most ancient evidence of prehistoric dentistry in Europe and the earliest known direct example of therapeutic-palliative dental filling so far,” said Bernardini.
Bernardini and Tuniz used a variety of tools, including synchrotron radiation computed micro-tomography, accelerator mass spectrometry radiocarbon dating, infrared spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy to prod more deeply into the tooth.
Due to the condition of the tooth, researchers believe the person who received the filling may have been near-death or perhaps already dead by the time the procedure was completed.
“If the filling was done when the person was still alive, the intervention was likely aimed to relieve tooth sensitivity derived from either exposed dentine and/or the pain resulting from chewing on a cracked tooth,” wrote the study’s authors.
Teeth have weathered erosion for thousands of years. Our teeth are resilient if they are taken care of properly. Make sure you take the proper measures to protect your teeth. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss frequently, limit sugary treats and carbohydrates, and get treated for dental health issues before your oral health deteriorates. Ensure you make regular appointments to see your dentist and dental hygienists.
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If you were to make a list of common but irrational fears, the top three might be spiders, needles, and going to the dentist. Now logically this list may not make much sense as spiders are usually harmless, needles are used to save lives, and dental care is crucial to good oral and overall health. I have heard stories of people and their experiences with dental care which lead me to believe these fears are completely rational. I have heard of dentists who do not explain the procedure and just start drilling, patients who see a new dentist for every visit, and dentists who are so focused on efficiency that the patient’s comfort is not considered. It makes sense why people may be fearful of going to a callous, cold, or inconsistent dentist. For patients who worry about poor quality dental care it is completely logical to be afraid of going to the dentist.
Conversely I enjoy going to my visits to the dentist. Instead of fear for going to the dentist, I fear missing an appointment. The only difference between the “dental-phobic” and the “dental-philic” (like me) is the experience each has as a patient. For anyone unhappy with the dental care they are receiving, I suggesting looking for a dentist with the following important qualities. Finding the right guy or gal to care for you may be a turning point in your oral health care journey.
As a patient it is absolutely imperative that you see the same doctor at every visit. Some practices will have an assortment of dentists hired on a salary basis. Seeing multiple dentists improves the chance that there is a miscommunication or error in translation between each doctor. A misunderstanding of a treatment plan can have adverse effects for a patient. In addition seeing a new doctor at every visit adds to the anxiety that a patient will feel during a visit. It is much better to develop a good relationship with a single dentist who understands your medical situation completely. I suggest either attending a practice with a single dentist or checking with a larger group to see if they rotate doctors depending on a schedule.
Almost everyone has a busy and constantly changing schedule. It can be challenging to fit a dental appointment into an already busy schedule. The challenge compounds when the dental practice does not have flexibility in scheduling. Patients at many practices are forced to set appointments many months in advance and pressured to stick to that time even when their schedule starts to fill up. It’s critical that a practice allows patients to set appointments at times that work for them. I personally struggle with this problem as I don’t often know when I will be free to go to an appointment. Offices with friendly and receptive patient coordinators can handle changes in a schedule and accomodate the needs of their patients. Look for employees who answer the phone with a kind and upbeat voice who are looking to serve you. Some offices may allow you to schedule online, or at least request appointments.
3. Pain Free
This is the issue which may be considered the most fear inducing. When a dentist performs a procedure, no discomfort or pain should be felt. There is no excuse for a dentist to continuing to perform procedures while you are in pain. While researching dental practices, check ratings and reviews of doctors at the practice to see what other patient’s experiences are. If reviews claim that the dentist works forcefully or disregards the comfort of the patient, it may be a good idea to steer clear. In addition prior to having a procedure always ask what type of anesthetic will be used. For some minor procedures some dentists will make the choice to withhold anesthetic. If you are known for having sensitivity of the teeth or would just feel more comfortable with a pain reliever be sure to ask your dentist. Most dentists have multiple forms of local anesthetic with different times of onset, and duration of action. In addition if you ever feel discomfort or need a break during a procedure make sure to let the doctor know. Kind dentists will understand your concerns and cater to your needs.
The issue of affordability is a pressing concern for many patients. Some patients who already may be afraid of going to the dentist stay away because of the financial implications. Health care in general is known for being expensive, and dental care is no exception. For many cost is a limiting factor to getting high quality oral health care. Patients unable to find a dentist who is able to accommodate their financial limitations turn to lower quality alternatives. This is not an ideal solution because of the long term impact of using a lower quality alternative. A poorly performed procedure can be ineffective, temporary, or possibly harmful to your oral health. Instead I would suggest researching financing programs available to patients at dental offices. Some dental practices have discount programs which lower the cost of procedures. Additionally many offer financing programs which allow payments to be made over a longer period of time which is less financially burdensome for patients. If you do not have health insurance the financial problems are compounded. Not only are you completely responsible for paying all bills and fees, but you are actually penalized by being charged a higher rate for procedures than insurance patients are entitled to.. If this describes your situation there is some good news you can take solace in, some practices have a policy which matches the insurance rate for procedures. If a practice has this policy you are not penalized for not having insurance. Overall I would suggesting looking for excellent care with programs that address the financial needs of the patient. If lower quality alternatives are chosen, the problems could persist costing the patient more in the long run. Those who may be afraid of going to the dentist should know this, going in for cleanings decreases the chance you will have serious dental issues which require in-depth procedure. In other words if you go to see your dentist regularly, you won’t have to have expensive and invasive procedures.
The personality of a dentist is another important characteristic to monitor. When looking for a quality dentist you should look for someone who treats patients with respect and kindness. As a patient you should feel like your dentist actually cares about you as a person and wants to give you the best oral health. It will benefit you to find a kind, personable dentist who is willing to explain procedures and give you some discretion with health choices. In addition it would be ideal to find someone who puts you at ease during procedures. I know that I personally feel much more relaxed after speaking with my dentist before he starts a procedure. I am sure I would have more anxiety before a procedure if my dentist had a cold personality. I would have a negative experience if the dentist started working before explaining the issue and his method of treatment. For someone who has a pre-existing fear of going to the dentist, these actions may scare the patient from continuing their care.
If you are worried about getting dental treatment or in general think your dental experience can improve I would suggest looking for a dental practice with some of characteristics I find important. Of course some may find other characteristics more important and instead find dental practices emphasizing other qualities, but my positive dental experiences can directly be linked to the previously mentioned qualities. I find that my dentist, Dr. David Cappuccio, fulfills the qualities I look for in a dentist and does a great job of truly caring for me. He and his team at Seneca Ridge Dental are committed to serving the needs of their patients. To anyone afraid of going to the dentist, I would say do not lose hope. Maybe you simply need a change to a dentist who will prioritize your specific needs and address your concerns with honesty and compassion.
Recently my dental hygienist was sharing a story about how her daughter threw a party when her and her husband left town for a weekend. I laughed and remembered back to high school when I, regrettably, did the very same thing. The hygienist and I were considering how many “not so smart” things her daughter did, from replacing the vodka and gin she stole from her mom with water, spilling beer and not covering up the smell, leaving ringlets on some surfaces, and of course having cars parked on the street a half mile in either direction. My dental assistant was also engaging in the conversation and what she ultimately said really resonated with me. “I always thought doctors were these really smart and serious people, but I guess you remind me that you’re just a person too.”
Just a person. What a neat way to put it. Sometimes I think we can struggle to relate with patients and to our staffs as we go on about periapical radiolucencies, antibiotic prophylaxis protocols, or periodontal attachment fibers. While we make our patient’s heads spin with our dental explanations, we also have many opportunities to relate with patients on personal levels. Whether it be noticing an emblem on an article of clothing, paying attention to a business name in an email,or simply observing someone’s jewelry, there are many cues to drum up conversation. The personal connection with our patients is actually what drives case acceptance. Patient’s will not accept your proposed treatment if they don’t know you, or trust you.
Along the same lines, and probably equally important, is being a “person” to your staff. My dental assistant and I have only worked together for about one year now. I think we have a fantastic working relationship. She knows what I need for each procedure that we do, she is attentive to patients, and she has an infectious laugh that brings happiness to the entire office. I find it interesting to think about how nervous she got when she first started working with me. Once we formed a closer relationship, she told me how I used to be “scary.” She reminded me that assistants working with new doctors don’t know what to expect and only want to do the best job they can. She’s absolutely right. It took time for me to become a person to her. Once I did, she felt more comfortable, her productivity improved, and her motivation soared.
The point of sharing comes down to this; simply because you are a doctor, people have certain notions about you. The key is to reinforce the positive notions and put to rest the negative. Being “scary” because you’re working with someone new is obviously not something you want creeping into your workplace. You could be labelled as domineering, or intimidating. So make an effort to be friendly, take interest in your staffs interests, be available to address their needs. If they trust you, they will work hard for you, and at the end of the day, isn't that all we can ask for?
Moral of the story: be a person.
At Seneca Ridge Dental, we believe in providing West Seneca and the surrounding Buffalo, NY area with the best possible dental care using state of the art dental technology and modern best practices.
SENECA RIDGE DENTAL
3626 Seneca St. West Seneca, NY 14224