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Gary M Hulet, DMD Family Dentistry | News/Blog in Provo

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777 N 500 W, Suite 101B
Provo, UT 84601

801-375-1275

News/Blog
 

Allergies in the Dental Office

Published on October 11, 2013 by admin

Allergies are an every-day issue for many people, and for others, it’s only a problem in the dental office. There are several allergies_300x265.jpgitems in dental offices made of latex, allergysuch as masks, gloves, and syringes. Latex is a natural rubber harvested from trees, and prolonged exposure to the dust from powdered gloves sometimes triggers an allergic reaction. Local anesthetics used in a dental office can also, rarely, cause an allergic reaction. These anesthetics are used to numb the mouth and gums during relative dental procedures. Allergic reactions to local anesthetics are rare, but are known to happen from time to time.

The potential for an allergic reaction should never be reason not to go to the dentist. You should still visit the dentist at least twice a year. Here are several tips to help avoid allergic reactions, if this is a problem for you, while going to the dentist.

If you have a latex allergy, consider going to the dentist early in the morning, before the latex particles build up in the air as the day goes on.

If you are allergic to an anesthetic, tell your dentist! There are usually other options that don’t contain the preservative in them that the allergy is usually linked to.

You should always let your dentist know if you have allergies, by completely filling out the medical history forms, and telling your dentist beforehand.

 

How Does Dental Insurance Work?

Published on August 12, 2013 by Gary Hulet

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You’ve seen the above insurance  and HMO  plan names before, but what does it all mean and how do these plans work? I personally like this article that describes the difference between a PPO plan and an HMO plan. You may feel uncertain about what type of dental benefit plan you are currently enrolled in.  My goal is to assist you in gaining a clearer understanding of what Dental insurance is and how to use your benefits to the fullest.

1. What is Dental Insurance?

 A Dental insurance is a contract between the patient and an insurance company for a specific benefit toward the payment of dental services.  A common type of dental insurance is referred to as a Preferred Provider Organization or PPO. You may have also heard this type of plan called a “network” plan.  With this type of insurance, the patient receives discounted services by going to a dental office that is under contract with the insurance company. A co-pay for visits and treatments are required of the patient and is collected at the time of the office visit. The dental office then sends a claim for the remaining balance due to the insurance company, which the company pays directly to the dental provider.  Our office accepts many PPO insurance plans including the companies you see above. A complete list of all insurance plans currently being accepted by our office can be found below. If you do not see your particular insurance company listed below, please call us so that we can advise you!

A second type of dental benefit plan is called an HMO or Capitation Plan, and discount plans. These plans function much differently than the insurance described above.  In this case, the patient agrees to pay for all services provided by the dental office according to the discount fee schedule that the sponsor company and the dentist have agreed upon. No billing or payments transact between the dental office and the sponsoring company at all.  Although we do not at this time accept any HMO/capitation, we do accept some company discount plans and we do offer a superior discount plan through our office that is not related to any insurance or provider company. We would be happy to discuss this opportunity with you, please call us for the details! We’ve helped many patients receive the care they desire and need with our affordable, easy to understand and follow private plan.

Your dental insurance PPO  plan will have some rules and restrictions that are required by the insurance company, not in any way determined by the dental office. You as the patient should by aware of your policy or plan and its benefits and restrictions. Our dental office is happy to help you understand your policy with the information we have. We encourage you to read your policy and call the insurance company with questions before receiving services.  Keep in mind that not all services are covered by insurance or even discount  plans, and you’ll want to know which services are covered before seeking treatment. We can help!  Also, there are different levels of coverage associated with different insurance policies. We are happy to do our best to help you feel informed about your insurance PPO plan.

2. What Does Dental Insurance Mean?

Dental insurance is a wonderful benefit for you and your family. Having insurance means that you will have help from an entity outside of your own pocketbook that can help you keep your smile in-check. Dentists choose which insurances they will contract with. Some insurances offer more coverage for treatments than others, and that is why sometimes a dentist will accept or not accept an insurance.

Insurance does not mean that your treatment is free. If a dental office accepts your particular insurance plan, you will be responsible for a portion of the fee with what is called a “co-pay”. For example, the discounted fee for a filling may be $100 according to your insurance plan.   You agree per your contract with your insurance provider to pay $20  of that fee as your co-pay, and the insurance company will pay for the remaining $80 when it receives your dental claim.  The dental office will normally send the claim to your insurance company as a courtesy to you. So, instead of paying for the full fee, your insurance policy allows you to pay only a portion of the fee at the time of your service. Most insurance plans also have you agree to something called a “deductible”. A deductible is the amount of money that you as the subscriber agree to pay before the insurance company will begin paying a full benefit. Typically deductibles are $25-50 per person per contract year, but each insurance plan specifies their own dollar amount. If you are unsure what your annual deductible is, it is best to call your insurance company to review. It’s a good idea to review this information with your insurance company at least annually so that you are aware of any possible coverage changes. We are happy to help you understand your deductible requirements as well, call us!

Another important insurance restriction to be aware of is called a “yearly maximum.” Each time you have treatment done, the dentist office reports to the insurance what service were provided. If you started with a yearly maximum of $1500, and you had 3 fillings done at $100 per filling, your insurance would still provide benefits for you up to $1200 after paying the $300. Staying informed about where you stand with your maximum benefit is important. If your insurance will only cover the amount of 3 crowns in a year, and you wanted to do a 4th, you would be responsible for the entire cost of the 4th crown –but the fee will normally be the insurance’s discounted fee, not the dentist’s normal fee, which is still a benefit to you!

3. How Do I Best Use My Insurance?

If you have insurance, you should use it! You are paying for insurance benefits through your employer or personal contract, so of course it makes sense to use it!

Most insurances will cover 2 cleaning and 2 exams per year. This is extremely beneficial to you. Tooth decay can progress quickly, and regular checkups help you to keep your treatment costs manageable. This is why insurance plans allow you to come in at least 2 times each year, so that they don’t have to pay for the more expensive treatments that are often required when regular checkups are missed.

Another benefit of using your insurance is that you gain experience with that insurance. Maybe your employer has more than one dental insurance plan to choose from and the only way to know what is best for you and your family is to gain experience by using it. Another benefit of using your insurance and being regular at a dental office is that you gain relationships within that office. Dr. Hulet can help you maintain your beautiful smile and healthy teeth if he can see you regularly. He will be able to catch cavities and other dental issues before they become painful and possibly more costly.  Our relationship with you is very important to us! We enjoy visiting with you and getting to know you and your family! When you visit our office, we focus completely on your needs and the professional services we provide you.

If you are unsure of what your insurance covers, or what benefits are available to you, call your insurance provider! Their phone number should appear on your benefit card. They are the right resource for understanding the coverage they offer you. Our dental office manager is here to help you too. She may not always know the exact specifics of your insurance coverage, but she can help you find out!

Here at Dr. Hulet’s dental office, we accept these insurance plans. If you do not have insurance coverage, it’s ok! We understand that insurance is often a luxury, and we have provided those without insurance an excellent private discount plan that will help you stay regular with your checkups and treatment. Please take a look at out in-office plan options here  if you do not have insurance at this time. Give us a call so that we can help you get started on your dental care right away!

 

Problems with the Jaw

Published on June 10, 2013 by Gary Hulet

 

We have had many patients, ourselves included, that have come to us with concerns about Jaw joint pain. This is a common concern in the dental field, and one that has many types of solutions, from simple do-at-home remedies to invasive surgeries.

The jaw joint is a very sensitive spot on the body that can be easily injured. When the jaw is injured or overused, the disc that helps the jaws glide open and closed become inflamed. This inflammation will cause swelling in the joint and may cause pain and popping or clicking. If it is injured again, it may become inflamed enough to lock the jaw open (see above diagram).

Jaw joint discomfort can be caused by a few specific things:

1. Nighttime clenching or grinding (Bruxism)

2. Overstretching, over-using the jaw joint- for example: chewing gum, chewing tough pieces of meat or candy, or opening your mouth too wide

3. Trauma to the jaw joint: examples: getting hit in the jaw from a car accident, sports injury, etc.

When the jaw joint is injured, it may have symptoms such as: inability to bite down all the way, aches or sharp pains near the ear or deep into the jaw joint, headaches, soreness of facial and neck muscles, popping or clicking in the joint when you open or close your mouth, or, in sever cases, the jaw locking into place (if you have this last symptom, please contact your dentist for help).

Jaw joint discomfort can occur for short periods of time, or it can be chronic. The key is learning how to manage your symptoms. The easiest thing to begin doing is taking a dose of Advil (Ibuprofen) before bed each night. This acts as a muscle relaxant as you sleep and can help reduce the amount of clenching and grinding while you are sleeping. Avoiding gum chewing, sticky foods, large bites of tough meats and other foods will help the joint heal faster. There is a risk of re-injuring the joint if it is overworked. Gentle massages to the facial muscles and jaw joint can relieve the stress built up in those muscles. This massage can be self-administered or given by someone else, even a massage therapist if needed. Below is a diagram of places on the jaw to administer the massage to relax the facial muscles:

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If these methods do now work over time (the healing time can take many weeks), then please consult your dentist on alternative methods. 

 

Dental Anatomy Basics

Published on May 6, 2013 by Gary Hulet

Knowledge about how your body works and what can be done to keep it healthy is extremely important- and teeth are no different! (They happen to be part of your body!) You may know how your digestive system works, and how to recognize when some thing is wrong, but do you know much about your teeth? Your oral health plays a part in your overall health, and it is important to know how the teeth function and how to recognize when something is wrong with them.

First, it is important to understand that your teeth are alive! Yes, a tooth is considered a live, or viable, part of your body. Teeth are similar to bone, and just like bone, they can be injured, crack, break, become diseased, and even die. Therefore, in order for your teeth to remain viable, they must be taken care of and checked regularly.

The diagram below shows the basic structure of the tooth. Knowing each part of the tooth will help you and your dental team communiate better about preventative care and diagnosis.

 

1. Enamel: The hard, white part of the tooth that you see when you smile. The enamel is made of a hard mineral content.

2. Dentin: Under the enamel lies the dentin. Dentin is a darker, yellowish color and contain living cells. These cells secrete a hard mineral that makes it a hard and stable structure (though much softer than the enamel).

3. Pulp: This is the living part of the tooth. The pulp is made of soft tissue which contains blood vessels and nerves.

4. Root: The roots are the anchors of the tooth. The root canal is where the nerves and blood vessels inter the tooth from the jawbone.

5. Gum(s): This soft, pink tissue covers the jawbone and root surfaces (which are covered by a layer of dentin) and acts as a buffer between the acids and bacteria in the mouth and the living bone.

6. Jaw Bone: your teeth grow in an arch along the top of the jawbone. The jawbone provides stability, nerves and blood vessels to the individual teeth.

Now that you know the basic anatomy of a tooth, you can begin to understand diagnoses from your dentist. For example:

A Cavity: A cavity happens when bacteria erode away a spot in the enamel and then begin to infect the dentin.

A Root Canal: Your dentist will recommend getting a “root canal”, which is short for a Root Canal Treatment, when the bacteria have eaten their way through your enamel and dentin and have begun to infect the soft tissue within the pulp. The proceedure includes cleaning out the infected tissue and filling the root canal with a sealing material.

Dentin Hypersensitivity: Dentin hypersensitivity happens when the gums have receeded, or have fallen away from, the roots of the teeth. This exposes the dentin. Your teeth feel sensitive because the enamel is living tissue and has nerves which can feel a touch (like your toothbrush or fingernail), hot, or cold.

If you want to learn more about your diagnosis and how it effects the layers of the teeth, don’t hesitate to ask the dentist! You now know the basics of tooth anatomy and you and your dentist will be able to communicate better about your treatment plan.

With “armed with knowledge” love,

Tiffani

 

Dentistry Basics: What is a Cavity?

Published on April 11, 2013 by Gary Hulet

The author of this post is Tiffani Berthold, our long-time assistant. You can learn more about her on our staff bio page!

A common question asked by our patients is, “What actually causes cavities anyway?” Understanding what cavities are, and how they are formed is important to your health and preventative at-home dental habits.

First of all, a cavity, or caries, is simply the word used to define tooth decay. The picture below is an example of what a cavity may look like in a molar (or back tooth). The brownish color that extends from the right side of the tooth to the center (or pulp) is the cavity.

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Simply put, cavities are caused by bacteria in the mouth. When the number of bacteria in the mouth increases and is not removed through brushing, flossing, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash, your risk of developing a cavity increases. Sometimes the bacteria in the mouth can be seen when their numbers become very high, this collection of bacteria is called plaque. The pictures below show what plaque looks like. As you can see, it looks like a bulky, dull, white substance on the surface of the tooth. In actually, this white substance is the buildup of millions of bacterium! A milligram of wet plaque may contain as many as 200-500 million microorganisms!

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Plaque, once it has started to collect on the surface of the tooth, is sometimes difficult to remove. It is important to visit your dentist regularly to have any buildup of this substance removed from your tooth. If plaque is allowed to stay on the tooth surface for a long time, the bacteria begin to destroy the tooth structure, creating a cavity. The picture below illustrates what can be found under plaque after it has been sitting on the surface of the tooth for too long:

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The presence of so much bacteria in the mouth has decayed the surface of this person’s tooth (the brown spots). This type of decay is preventable through good dental hygiene, controlling dietary sugars, and regular visits to the dentist.

But what if you do practice good hygiene and visit the dentist regularly? Unfortunately, cavities occur even in the cleanest of mouths. One answer is that your personal biology plays a part- some people have weaker, or more decay prone, enamel (the outermost layer of the tooth that is hard and white) while others have stronger, or decay resistant, enamel naturally. Some people have more aggressive bacteria in their mouth, while others may not.

Another reason may be found in your hygiene techniques. We often find ourselves busy or late, and sometimes we get in the habit of brushing our teeth quickly before we fly out the door.  A quick, 30 second tooth brushing will certainly not remove the bacteria from the teeth adequately. It is important to take time to brush our teeth methodically, without pressing hard on the brush and giving ourselves at least one to two minutes worth of brushing.

Next, flossing is extremely important to good oral hygiene. Your brush, unfortunately, will not remove the bacteria found between the teeth. More often than not, cavities are found between the teeth! Flossing is the most effective way to get rid of food particles and the bacteria that rest between the teeth. In order to do an effective flossing, slide the floss between the teeth and rub both in-between surfaces. This pushes out the bacteria to a place where it can then be brushed off. Snapping the floss between the teeth quickly is ineffective.

Last, using an antiseptic/fluoride mouthwash (like Listerine) is very helpful in keeping bacteria numbers down. These rinses are most effective after flossing and brushing. The use of these three simple hygiene techniques will decrease the rate in which the bacteria may damage your teeth (i.e. less cavities!).

If you want to know more details about how cavities are formed or prevented, please ask your question in our comment box! I will respond promptly!

With “cavity free” love,

Tiffani

 

Dental Fear

Published on April 8, 2013 by Gary Hulet

We’d like to offer one comforting and wonderful fact about today’s dentistry: it’s virtually painless. Technology, new procedures, and some very sophisticated approaches to anesthesia have all contributed to painless treatment, from cleaning to cavity preparations to root canals.

But what if you didn’t grow up with modern dentistry, and remember it differently? If you have had difficult dental experiences, you may be among the 150 million Americans who suffer through treatment, or avoid the dentist altogether. The fact is, about 80% of the fearful can overcome this kind of anxiety, with a little help from an empathetic dentist.

Everyone in our practice understands dental fear and where it comes from. We are trained in forming good working relationships with fearful patients. We encourage you to voice your anxiety and discuss your problems with us. We’ll listen to your needs, and agree on small things that help you maintain a sense of control–a hand signal works with some patients. But talking about fear with us–being assertive and letting us know what bothers you–is the first step.

Call us before your consultation and tell us you’ve had some bad dental experiences you just don’t want to relive. We can help.

 
 
Provo Dentist | News/Blog. Gary M Hulet DMD is a Provo Dentist.