Lansing's Dental Discussion

Posts for: March, 2022

By Holly Scott-Hetchler DDS
March 22, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  
4ReasonstoChooseDentalImplantstoRestoreMissingTeeth

Many of your friends and family—and perhaps even your dentist—tell you that dental implants are the way to go replacing your lost teeth. Even so, you're still hesitant about choosing them.

For one thing, you're anxious about undergoing the surgical procedure needed to place and secure the implant (although it's relatively minor, and usually only requires local anesthesia). It could also be weeks, perhaps months, before you complete the process. Last, but not least, dental implants are more expensive than other dental restorations.

Is it really worth the time, effort and expense to obtain dental implants? Here are 4 reasons why the answer is a resounding yes.

They look and feel like real teeth. Unlike other restoration methods, a dental implant replaces the root as well as a tooth's visible crown. This gives them more of the feel of real teeth when you're biting or chewing. And with its root replacement design, we're better able to achieve good positioning that makes the final tooth look incredibly natural and life-like.

They're strong and durable. After surgical placement, the implant begins to integrate with the surrounding bone. Bone cells "like" titanium, the most commonly used metal in implants, and readily grow and adhere to the implant surface. This integration process results in an incredibly strong hold that can last for several years, if not decades.

They're adaptable to other restorations. People missing multiple teeth often shy away from implants for financial reasons. It's true: Replacing multiple teeth individually with implants can be extremely expensive. But we can also use a few strategically placed implants to support a bridge or denture. Not only is this often a more cost-effective option, the implants may also improve the traditional restoration's stability.

Long-term costs may actually be lower. While it's true an implant's initial costs are usually higher than other restorations, it could cost you less over time. Because of their durability, more than 95% of implants are still intact after ten years, and most last much longer. You may find maintenance and replacement costs for other restorations could eventually exceed what you'll pay with dental implants.

If you would like more information on dental implants, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Implants.”


By Holly Scott-Hetchler DDS
March 12, 2022
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: tooth decay  
TreatingDecayedBabyTeethProtectsFuturePermanentTeeth

Primary ("baby") teeth may look cute and adorable, but they're a big player in your child's dental health. A primary tooth lost prematurely could eventually lead to a major bite problem.

Primary teeth fulfill a number of functions, most notably enabling young children to eat solid foods, speak and relate to people with a normal smile. But they also serve as placeholders and guides for future permanent teeth developing within the gums.

Problems arise, though, when a child loses a primary tooth early due to disease or trauma, leaving an open space on the jaw. Nearby teeth tend to drift in to fill the space intended for the permanent tooth, leaving little to no room for it when it's time to erupt. This can cause it to erupt out of position, which in turn could force other teeth out of alignment. The end result is a poor bite.

You can, however, avoid this costly outcome by either treating and preserving a decayed baby tooth, or preventing other teeth from drifting into a vacancy left by a lost primary tooth until the permanent tooth comes in.

Depending on the level of decay, treating a diseased primary tooth can include fillings, crowns or modified root canal therapy. For children at high risk for decay, a dentist may also apply sealant to the teeth to inhibit plaque buildup. Although some of these procedures can be extensive, they're often worth the time and effort to prevent a poor bite.

If, on the other hand, we eventually lose the tooth, we can still intervene by installing a space maintainer. This is essentially a loop of wire securely attached to a tooth on one side of a gap, while the other end of the loop butts up against the tooth on the other side. This prevents either tooth from migrating into the space until the permanent tooth is ready to come in.

Primary teeth may not seem all that important, but in the greater picture, they truly are. By taking care of them, you'll be doing your child's soon arriving permanent teeth a favor.

If you would like more information on pediatric dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Importance of Baby Teeth.”


By Holly Scott-Hetchler DDS
March 02, 2022
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health  
UnderstandingDentalInsuranceThe3TypesofPlans

Health insurance is an important part of life, helping to even out the high costs of medical treatment. Without it, many of us would find it extremely difficult to financially weather physical illness or injury.

But many also view health insurance as frustratingly complicated, including policies that cover dental care. Regarding the latter, people often view it as medical insurance's identical twin—which it's not. While insurance for clinical services and hospitalization manages cost in a comprehensive manner, the majority of dental plans function more like a discount coupon.

The great majority of dental policies today are paid for by employers as a salary benefit to their employees. There can still be differences in policies and it's important to know what kind of plan your workplace has provided you. Here's a rundown of the three basic types of dental insurance plans.

Fee-for-Service. This is the most common dental plan in which the employee is able to choose their dentist and the insurance company pays the dentist for services rendered. Each individual policy outlines the treatments covered, as well as the percentage of payment.

Direct reimbursement. With this approach, the employer pays employees' dental bills directly out of company funds. Even so, an insurance company is often still involved, but as a paid administrator for the employer, reimbursing the dental provider on behalf of the company.

Managed care. An insurance company may also create a network of dental providers that all agree to a set schedule of fees for services rendered. These dental health maintenance organizations (DHMOs) or preferred provider organizations (PPOs) can reduce patients' out-of-pocket expenses. But covered patients can only use dentists within the DHMO or PPO network to receive benefits.

You can, of course, purchase dental insurance as an individual rather than receive it as an employee benefit. If so, you'll need to weigh what you pay out for the policy and what you receive in benefits with what you would pay out-of-pocket without it to see if you're truly realizing any savings.

Either way, understanding a dental insurance plan can be a challenge for the average person. Fortunately, most dental offices are well experienced with these plans. Your dentist's staff can be a valuable resource for helping you get the most out of your insurance benefits.

If you would like more information on the financial side of dental care, please contact our office. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Dental Insurance 101.”




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