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Blog - Matthews Family Dentistry

Date: 3/25/2017 12:03 PM UTC

Copy of MFD Feb Blog #1 (1)

Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay.

The chewing of sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva, which washes away food and other debris, neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and provides disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth. Increased saliva flow also carries with it more calcium and phosphate to help strengthen tooth enamel.

Look for chewing gum with the ADA Seal because you can be sure it's sugarless. All gums with the ADA Seal are sweetened by non-cavity causing sweeteners such as aspartame, xylitol, sorbitol or mannitol. Of course, chewing sugar-containing gum increases saliva flow too, but it also contains sugar which is used by plaque bacteria to produce decay-causing acids. Further research needs to be done to determine the effects of chewing sugar-containing gum on tooth decay.

Don’t let chewing sugarless gum replace brushing and flossing.

It’s not a substitute. The ADA still recommends brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning plaque from between your teeth once a day with dental floss or other interdental cleaners.

Look for chewing gum that carries the ADA Seal.

The ADA Seal is your assurance that the sugar-free chewing gum has met the ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness. You can trust that claims made on packaging and labeling for ADA-accepted products are true, because companies must verify all of the information to the ADA. Products with the ADA Seal say what they do and do what they say.


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Date: 3/7/2017 12:30 AM UTC

Copy of MFD Feb Blog #1 (2)

It’s important to be prepared to help ensure that you make the most of your dental visit. Here are some helpful questions to consider before and during your dental appointment.

Preparing for the Dental Visit for You or Your Child

Make a list of any pain or issues you are experiencing, or questions you would like to ask the dentist during your appointment. You can start with this list below, or make up your own. The important thing is to tell your dentist about any concerns or issues you have, even if they are minor, so that they can treat them now and help prevent bigger problems later on.
  • Do you have sensitivity or pain in your teeth? How bad is it?
  • Do you have pain or bleeding in your gums, tongue or jaw? How bad is it?
  • Do you have any unusual spots or sores in your mouth?
  • Do you have dry mouth or a lack of saliva?
  • Do you have an unpleasant taste or odor in your mouth?
  • Are you taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications? Make a list of those to take to the dentist.
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Do you have trouble breathing when you sleep?
  • Do you grind your teeth when you sleep?

Questions to Ask During Your Dental Visit

In addition to discussing with your dentist any pain or issues you are having in your mouth, here are some general questions you could ask to help improve your overall dental health.
  • Does my mouth look healthy?
  • What can I do to improve the health of my teeth and gums?
  • Is there anything I should tell my family doctor about?
  • What foods can I eat to improve my dental health?
  • Which treatments are absolutely necessary? Which are optional? Which are cosmetic? Which procedures are urgently needed, and which ones are less urgent?

Questions to Ask the Dentist About Your Child’s Teeth

The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives recommends taking your child to the dentist by the time they turn one. Then once you schedule a regular routine, here are some questions to ask the dentist about your child’s dental health.
  • How can I ensure that my child’s teeth are clean?
  • How can I prevent baby bottle tooth decay?
  • Do you have any advice on how to get my child to brush their teeth?
  • What foods will improve my child’s dental health?
  • Should my child get sealants to prevent cavities?
  • How are the teeth and jaws developing and, if there are any problems, when will you refer my child to an orthodontist?

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Date: 2/13/2017 7:10 PM UTC


The Link Between Medications and Cavities

You may wonder why you’re suddenly getting cavities when you haven’t had them in years. As we get older, we enter a second round of cavity prone years. One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. However, it is a side-effect in more than 500 medications, including those for allergies or asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety or depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.This is just one reason why it’s so important to tell your dentist about any medications that you’re taking. Your dentist can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities. Here are some common recommendations:
  • Use over-the-counter oral moisturizers, such as a spray or mouthwash.
  • Consult with your physician on whether to change the medication or dosage.
  • Drink more water. Carry a water bottle with you, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Your mouth needs constant lubrication.
  • Use sugar-free gum or lozenges to stimulate saliva production.
  • Get a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air.
  • Avoid foods and beverages that irritate dry mouths, like coffee, alcohol, carbonated soft drinks, and acidic fruit juices.
  • Your dentist may apply a fluoride gel or varnish to protect your teeth from cavities.

Gum Disease

Many older adults have gum, or periodontal disease, caused by the bacteria in plaque, which irritate the gums, making them swollen, red and more likely to bleed. One reason gum disease is so widespread among adults is that it’s often a painless condition until the advanced stage. If left untreated, gums can begin to pull away from the teeth and form deepened spaces called pockets where food particles and more plaque may collect. Advanced gum disease can eventually destroy the gums, bone and ligaments supporting the teeth leading to tooth loss. The good news is that with regular dental visits gum disease can be treated or prevented entirely.

Mouth Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, there are about 35,000 cases of mouth, throat and tongue cancer diagnosed each year. The average age of most people diagnosed with these cancers is 62. During dental visits, your dentist will check for any signs of oral cancer. Regular dental visits are important because in the early stages oral cancer typically does not cause pain and early detection saves lives. Some symptoms you may see include open sores, white or reddish patches, and changes in the lips, tongue and lining of the mouth that lasts for more than two weeks.

Paying for Dental Care after Retirement

Many retirees don’t realize that Medicare does not cover routine dental care. Begin to plan for your dental expenses in advance of retirement so you don’t have to let your dental health suffer once you’re on a fixed income. Organizations like AARP offer supplemental dental insurance plans for their members.

We also offer an alternative for those who do not have dental coverage. The Periodontal plan is available through our in-house Membership Club. Pay a low monthly fee for needed treatments, regular care, needed x-rays and much more. Learn more about the Perio plan here.

Do I Need to Take an Antibiotic before a Dental Procedure?

If you have a heart condition or artificial joint, be sure to tell your dentist. You may think it’s not relevant. After all, what do your heart and joints have to do with your teeth? But, there are conditions with a high risk of infection and an antibiotic is recommended prior to some dental procedures.

Dentists follow recommendations that have been developed by the American Heart Association and the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons in cooperation with the American Dental Association. Talk to your dentist about how these recommendations might apply to you.

Caregiving for a Disabled or Elderly Loved One

You may have a parent, spouse or friend who has difficulty maintaining a healthy mouth on their own. How can you help? Two things are critical:
  • Help them keep their mouth clean with reminders to brush and floss daily.
  • Make sure they get to a dentist regularly.
These steps can prevent many problems, but tasks that once seemed so simple can become very challenging. If your loved one is having difficulty with brushing and flossing, talk to a dentist or hygienist who can provide helpful tips or a different approach. For those who wear dentures, pay close attention to their eating habits. If they’re having difficulty eating or are not eating as much as usual, denture problems could be the cause.

When you’re caring for someone who is confined to bed, they may have so many health problems that it’s easy to forget about oral health. However, it’s still very important because bacteria from the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs and cause pneumonia.

Curated from: Mouth Healthy

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Date: 1/23/2017 2:46 PM UTC


CEREC dentistry is a system that allows you to have your crown fitted during one single dental visit. The whole procedure takes only about an hour. With the system a dentist can make a crown, veneer or inlay in a single visit. This is normally a procedure that would take two weeks time when customized in a lab.

During your visit your dentist will prepare your tooth in the way he or she normally would before fitting a crown or veneer. Then, instead of using putty to take an impression of your tooth a digital image is taken using a special camera. Then, the image is converted into a 3D computerized model of your tooth. This model is used to create your new tooth.

Once your dentist is satisfied with your newly designed tooth, the data is sent to an onsite milling machine that fabricates your new tooth from a high quality ceramic block. The process of milling the new tooth can take anywhere from 6 to 30 minutes. The most recent CEREC MCXL milling machine can make a crown in as little as 6 minutes.

The ceramic blocks that the teeth are milled from come in a variety of shades and colors. The block used for your tooth will be selected to match your surrounding teeth. Once the crown or veneer has been milled your dentist may need to stain it to match your surrounding teeth. Then, they will polish it and glaze it in a furnace. Next, your new crown or veneer will be cemented into place on your prepared tooth.

CEREC dentistry also has several advantages over conventional, laboratory-made restorations. First and foremost, everything is carried out in one visit. Next, you only need one set up anesthetic injections because the entire procedure can be completed in an hour. Your dentist is in complete control of the final result because the finished crown or veneer is crafted by your dentist from start to finish. Plus, you don’t have to deal with any temporary restorations.

The benefits to CEREC far outweigh and negatives there might be about it. It is the ideal way to replace or repair a tooth. You can have your repair done before anyone can even notice you need one. Contact us today to discuss getting fitted for your custom made crown, all in one appointment!

Curated from: Your Tech Weblog

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Date: 1/9/2017 8:46 PM UTC


Only 12 percent of older Americans have some form of dental insurance and fewer than half visited a dentist in the previous year, suggests new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research on Medicare beneficiaries.

Insurance status appeared to be the biggest predictor of whether a person received oral health care: For those with incomes just over the federal poverty level, 27 percent of those without dental insurance had a dental visit in the previous year, compared to 65 percent with dental insurance, according to an analysis of 2012 Medicare data.

Income also played a role: High-income beneficiaries were almost three times as likely to have received dental care in the previous 12 months as compared to low-income beneficiaries, 74 percent of whom reported receiving no dental care. Many high-income beneficiaries - even those with dental insurance - paid a sizable portion of their bills out of pocket.

The findings, published in the December issue of the journal Health Affairs, suggest an enormous unmet need for dental insurance among those 65 and older in the United States, putting older adults at risk for oral health problems that could be prevented or treated with timely dental care, including tooth decay, gum disease and loss of teeth. It also highlights the financial burden associated with dental visits, among both the insured and uninsured.

"Medicare is focused specifically on physical health needs and not oral health needs and, as a result, a staggering 49 million Medicare beneficiaries in this country do not have dental insurance," says study author Amber Willink, PhD, an assistant scientist in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Bloomberg School. "With fewer and fewer retiree health plans covering dental benefits, we are ushering in a population of people with less coverage and who are less likely to routinely see a dentist. We need to think about cost-effective solutions to this problem."

Eighty percent of Americans under the age of 65 are covered by employer-sponsored programs that offer dental insurance, which covers routine cleanings and cost-sharing on fillings and other dental work. Many of them lose that coverage when they retire or go on Medicare. The vast majority of Medicare beneficiaries who have dental insurance are those who are still covered by employer-sponsored insurance, either because they are still working or because they are part of an ever-dwindling group of people with very generous retiree medical and dental benefits.

For the new study, the researchers analyzed data provided by 11,299 respondents to the 2012 Cost and Use Files of the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey. The data included information collected on income, dental insurance status, dental health access and out-of-pocket expenditures.

Among the findings: On average, Medicare beneficiaries reported spending $427 on dental care over the previous year, 77 percent of which was out-of-pocket spending. An estimated seven percent reported spending more than $1,500. Dental expenses, on average, accounted for 14 percent of Medicare beneficiaries' out-of-pocket health spending.

Poor dental hygiene not only contributes to gum disease, but the same bacteria linked to gum disease has also been linked to pneumonia, a serious illness that increases the risk of hospitalization and death. It can also contribute to difficulty eating, swallowing or speaking, all of which bring their own health challenges. Nearly one in five Medicare beneficiaries doesn't have any of his or her original teeth left, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers took the research a step further. They analyzed two separate proposals for adding dental benefits to Medicare, estimating how much each would cost. One was similar to the premium-financed, voluntary Medicare Part D benefit that was added to Medicare a decade ago to help cover prescription drugs for seniors. The other was similar to a proposal that has been introduced in Congress that would embed dental care into Medicare as a core benefit for all of the program's 56 million beneficiaries, which is not expected to pass before Congress recesses.

The first proposal, which would cost an average premium of $29-a-month and would come with a subsidy for low-income seniors who couldn't afford that, would run an estimated $4.4 to $5.9 billion annually depending on the number of low-income beneficiaries who participate. The second, with a $7 monthly premium and subsidies for low-income people, would cost between $12.8 and $16.2 billion annually. The packages would cover the full cost of one preventive care visit a year and 50 percent of allowable costs for necessary care up to a $1,500 limit per year to cover additional preventive care and treatment of acute gum disease or tooth decay.

"It's hard to tell in this current political climate whether this is something that will be addressed by lawmakers, but regardless this is affecting the lives of many older adults," Willink says.

She cautions that if the costs become too high for Medicare beneficiaries, they could lose whatever wealth they have and end up on Medicaid, the insurance for the very poor which the government pays for fully.

"Older adults are struggling and the current benefits structure of Medicare is not meeting their needs. We need to find the right solution," she says. "Otherwise, it's going to end up being so much more expensive for everyone."

Curated from: Medical News Today

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Date: 12/14/2016 9:40 PM UTC


You can enjoy seasonal sweets and still have a cavity-free smile to flash in festive photos. These tips will keep your teeth healthy during the holidays.

Avoid over doing it with candy. It's the most wonderful time of year for candy canes, popcorn balls, and cookies -- and this nonstop buffet of sweets can wreak havoc on your teeth, says Steven Chussid, DDS. He's an associate professor of dental medicine at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine.

Still, you don't have to skip holiday treats. "Eat a single dessert and brush your teeth afterward," Chussid says. "You'll expose your teeth to less sugar [with a single treat] than if you're constantly snacking, and that reduces the risk of tooth decay."

Snack smart. Use a nutcracker, not your teeth, to shell nuts. No nutcracker? Choose a different snack. "One poor decision can cause a lot of painful and expensive damage," Chussid says. "Is it worth it to break a tooth for a nut?"

Keep a routine. The holidays can upset your schedule, but you should still brush at least two times a day.

To keep up good habits on the go, stash a toothbrush and mini tube of toothpaste in your purse or briefcase and make time to "freshen up" after meals. If brushing your teeth isn't an option, chew sugarless gum, which boosts saliva, helps flush out food debris, and more.

Honor appointments. Skipping a dental exam could get you on the naughty list. "It's much better to catch problems now and not put them off until the new year," Chussid says.

If your 6-month checkup falls during the holidays, consider it a celebration of good oral health -- and a holiday gift to yourself.

Crunch Time

If you crack a tooth on grandma's peanut brittle, you may not be able to see your dentist. "Most dental offices are closed during the holidays," says Kimberly Harms, DDS. She's a dental consultant in Farmington, MN. If you have a dental emergency, Harms offers these tips.

Be prepared. Pack dental floss, gauze, and over-the-counter pain relievers with your toiletries to deal with minor dental problems when you travel. Take your dental benefits policy number with you.

Know who to call. If your dental office will be closed during the holidays, ask your dentist for a referral for emergencies. Know the location of the nearest emergency dental clinic (similar to an urgent care clinic).

Don't delay treatment. Waiting until the new year to fix a broken tooth or replace a lost filling could make the problem worse. If you're traveling, call a local dental office for an appointment if you need emergency care. Harms says most dentists set aside time for emergencies even for people who aren't regular patients.

Curated from: WebMD

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Date: 12/6/2016 8:04 PM UTC

We are a family here at MFD, and we celebrate the holidays together in as many ways as we can! We have a lot to celebrate about this year. We are grateful for everyone's hard work this year and every year, as well as the patronage of our patients. Enjoy some of our photos from a wonderful dinner at Vivace Charlotte, our ugly sweater day in the office and our visit with Mr. & Mrs. Claus! As it turns out, Santa needed his teeth cleaned from all of those cookies he eats!























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Date: 11/21/2016 3:41 PM UTC


Who doesn't want a great smile? Feeling confident about our teeth and smile is essential. We could all use some help to get that perfect smile. Forty years ago, there was one option for teeth straightening but now technological advances give us new options. Clear orthodontics aligners, like Invisalign, an alternative to Braces.

Braces are still an option but are not the only game in town. Braces use brackets connected to one another by wires. These wires move teeth slowly overtime by pulling teeth into a new direction. The brackets come in metal and clear plastic. Orthodontic aligners, like Invisalign, rethink teeth straightening. They are form fitting custom-made retainers that slowly change the tooth’s position over time. They move the teeth in a similar way to how braces work however Invisalign is conveniently removable and transparent making them a virtually invisible. They do what braces do without the restrictions. Invisalign® is custom-made for your teeth so you do not need wires and brackets. Little by little, your teeth shift into the place they are supposed to be, creating that winning smile.

Aside from invisibility and convenience there are many other reasons to choose Invisalign.  Here are the top 10 most important reasons to use Invisalign.


Invisalign is as effectively a treatment as traditional braces. Under bites, overbite, overcrowding and gaps between teeth are all things that can be addressed when using Invisalign. You will be fitted for several versions of retainers that make slight adjustments to move your teeth over the treatment time. They are made from a clear plastic or acrylic material and fit tightly over the teeth.


Using braces can increase our insecurity. No one wants a metal mouth and they don't want to be called ‘Brace Face.’ Invisalign as a solution can often remove the source of anxiety letting people be themselves and feel confident.


When wearing braces, there are many things you should not and cannot eat. There is no popcorn, no apples, no raw carrots and, especially no candy. Invisalign removes these restrictions because of their removability.


Invisalign takes between 10 and 24 months depending on the teeth need to be moved or rotated. Usually treatments at the dentist office are shorter. You also visit the dentist less.  After the first visit you drop into your dentist’s office once every 6 weeks and get a new pair of aligners.


Your dental insurance plan—orthodontic treatment with Invisalign can often be covered by many dental insurance policies. Many dentists or orthodontists offer monthly payments to make payments convenient and affordable.


Although one of the least important factors. This is a major reason people choose Invisalign over traditional braces. The practically invisible units make them almost nonexistent and being able to remove them completely is an obvious bonus. 


Wearing them while at or participating in sporting activities can give your teeth more protection. Using Invisalign as a protection for the teeth when doing Things Mountain biking playing group sports gives you an added layer of security. You can use your retainer as a mouth guard protecting your teeth from grinding while you sleep. Along with this you can also use your retainers to whiten your teeth.


The aligners being removable make brushing and flossing easy. This helps maintain proper oral hygiene. When teeth are cooked or cluttered they are harder to clean giving bacteria a playground in your mouth. Once your teeth have moved the instruments the hygienist uses are more effective. You may spend less time in the dentist chair getting your teeth cleaned.


If you have ever had a sore face from grinding understand what I mean. Facial muscles get sore when you grind in your sleep and the only solution is a mouth guard. Wearing Invisalign while working it is magic can also help you stop grinding as there is a protective layer between your teeth.


Orthodontics was invented to help improve health. It is not just about a pretty smile. A good bite can stop the jaw clicking, pain in joints around the mouth, and will improve chewing.

If you have questions about Invisalign®, we’d love to answer all your questions. Please reach out to us to see if Invisalign is right for you. Our team will walk you through the procedure and even invite you in for a free consultation.

Curated from: Web Dental

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Date: 11/8/2016 4:32 PM UTC


Gums are a part of the mouth which are often ignored. So much so, that we ignore major symptoms like gingivitis, and lead our gums into recession, necessitating gum recession treatment. Depending upon the severity of recession, gum recession treatment can be quite intensive, and be a much more complicated procedure than you expect. If you are suffering from gum recession, it is import to access the stage of gum recession so that appropriate measures can be taken for its treatment.

Gums are the tissue which are surrounding the teeth and cover the bones which hold the teeth into place, along with the roots of the tooth. Healthy gums are a sign of proper oral hygiene and it is very important that you prevent the gums from any damage, as damage to them can lead to many other associated tooth problems and other serious health problems.

Causes of Gum Recession

Gum recession can be caused through many ways. It is important to understand each cause, so that you can come to the realization what the cause is for you, and hence determine the proper treatment for gum recession.

Poor Oral Hygiene

This is the number one cause for gum recession. If you do not follow proper oral hygiene, you will make your mouth an environment for bacterial growth, which will lead to various diseases of the gums. This leads us into the second cause of gum recession. Although not following proper oral hygiene measures is bad, being over-zealous can also be harmful. Some people tend to be very aggressive when brushing teeth or flossing, which leads to the damage to the gums, and hence recession of the gum line.

Diseases of the Gums

Having poor oral hygiene for prolonged periods of time will lead to the occurrence of various gum disease, which lead to the recession of the gums. Gingivitis is usually one the first symptoms, which is a warning sign of an upcoming more severe gum disease. If gingivitis is not cured in time, it will progress into a more severe condition, known as periodontitis. Periodontitis will manifest as damage to the gums, which will be swollen, red, bleeding, along with gum recession, and high chances of bone damage. It is a sad reality, that most patients visit a dentist for gum recession treatment at a stage when the damage is already done, when they could have otherwise gotten treatment earlier, and prevented the recession.

Tobacco Usage and Smoking

Tobacco usage, whether chewing or smoking, has been shown to have strong co-relation to gum recession. Smoking leads to direct damage to the vascularity of the gums, which acts as a aggressor to gum recession. Chewing tobacco is equally, if not more, dangerous. It leads to direct irritation of the gums, which over time, will lead to gum recession, and even more serious problems, such as oral cancer.

Tooth Positioning

If there is abnormal positioning, such that the teeth are not aligned in the proper way, there is high chance that there will be gum recession. This is due to the fact that crooked teeth will lead to abnormal forces on the gums, which may lead to the gum recession. It is important that you undergo orthodontic intervention so as to prevent tooth-positioning associated gum recession. That said, orthodontic measures can also lead to gingival recession themselves.

Orthodontic and Prosthetic Devices

Sometimes oral devices which are meant to actually correct a problem, instead end up leading to a different set of problems. Improperly applied orthodontic braces, and-ill fitting dentures can cause gum recession.


Direct trauma to the gums can lead to the gum recession. In such cases, gum recession treatment should be carried out as soon as possible to prevent possible complications.


As with most diseases and conditions, if you have a family history of gum recession, there is a much higher chance that you will also suffer from the same condition. Of course, genetics are not under our control, so the gum recession treatment options outlined ahead will be focused on factors which we can influence.

Gum Recession Treatment- What are your Options ?

If you already have gum recession, you should not worry, as there are many gum recession treatment options.

The gum recession treatment options will vary depending upon the cause of the recession in the first place. Generalized treatment options will be protocols which should be followed by all, and generally be manageable without any special intervention. Specialized treatment options will include case-specific options.

Generalized Gum Recession Treatment and Prevention Measures

Maintain proper oral hygiene- After reading the causes of gum recession, this point is obvious. By simply brushing your teeth, flossing, and using mouth wash, you can not only check various oral conditions like caries and halitosis (bad breath), but also gum recession.

It is also important that if you do practice proper oral hygiene measures, you also do them the right way. You should not be over-aggressive when brushing your teeth, and always use a soft tooth brush.

If you are suffering from any gum related disease, do not take it lightly. Visit your dentist and nip the disease in the bud. As I have discussed before, conditions like gingivitis are symptoms of forthcoming dangerous conditions, and if you get it treated, you can prevent its complications. There are various simple procedures such as dental scaling and root planning, which can go a long way in preventing and treating present cases of gum recession.

Quitting smoking/chewing tobacco - Once you do this, you will see improvement in the condition of your gums over time.

If you have any ill-fitting orthodontic appliances or prosthetic devices, you should get them rectified by your dentist as soon as possible.

Physical damage to the gums due to any traumatic blow, should be dealt with as soon as possible, and not be delayed.

Specialized/Surgical Options for Gum Recession Treatment

Sometimes gum recession has progressed far beyond the scope of general measures, and will require surgery. If the problem is just beginning, it is imperative to see a dentist right away to discuss treatment options. If you require surgery, there are multiple options available. Surgery options and procedures should be discussed with your dentist.

As you can see, some simple measures can go a long way in preventing surgical intervention. The trio of proper brushing of teeth, flossing and using mouth wash may seem trivial, but these can not only prevent gum recession, but also provide an environment for the healing of the damaged gum tissue, and hence fix mild cases of gum recession. Even after gum recession treatment, it is important to maintain proper oral hygiene to prevent reoccurrence.

Do you have any further comments or questions about gum recession treatment? Feel free to drop them in the comment section below and/or share this blog on social media to help spread the awareness.

Curated from: Dentist Says

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Date: 10/26/2016 6:49 PM UTC


Avoiding dental care because of the cost can backfire, resulting in a big bill and lot of pain later.

Between 40% and 60% of Americans don’t go to the dentist as often as they should, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although many cite anxiety or fear, cost is the largest reason: The CDC reports that while 10% of Americans forgo dental care due to fear or anxiety, 42% do so because of cost.

You don’t have to be one of them. There are ways to save money on dental care, and some may surprise you.

Dental insurance and dental savings plans

Because many employers don’t offer dental benefits, whether to buy dental insurance is often a personal choice. And if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, or you’re having pain, chances are you’ll need more than routine cleanings, like some X-rays or deep gum cleanings. Unlike health insurance, which has specific open enrollment periods, you can sign up for dental insurance any time of the year. You may have to agree to a one-year commitment with a dental plan to get the lowest price, which is typically around $15 to $30 per month per family member.

While dental insurance can save some people money, others will find it’s not always a good deal. An alternative to dental insurance is a dental savings plan, which is like a dental membership club. Here’s how it works: You pay an annual fee and sometimes an enrollment fee, usually much lower than dental insurance premiums. In return, you get a discount at the dentist’s office. Like dental insurance, there isn't an enrollment period - you can sign up at any time. Membership clubs can end up saving you more money per year than many dental insurance plans and since the plans include routine dental care, you are assured that you won't be missing out on important exams and cleanings or wasting your benefits.

You can buy a dental discount plan for yourself or your family, and since there is just one annual fee, you have the discount for a year.

Work with your dentist

Just as with medical care, a little prevention goes a long way in avoiding big dental bills. Taking good care of your teeth at home includes brushing twice and flossing once per day, according to the American Dental Association. Preventive care also includes routine cleanings and checkups with your dentist every three to 12 months, depending on what he or she thinks you need.

Don’t be afraid to talk with your dentist and the staff about costs when you are making the appointment and again when you get there. They are happy to answer your questions.

Curated from: Nerd Wallet


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