Moms and dads, holiday season is under way with the familiar scents and events as we pull out those gorgeous leafy decorations, pumpkins (pumpkin everything, really) costumes, and favorite movies, in addition to tissue boxes for sniffling noses and chapstick. Before you know it, Thanksgiving will arrive, and then it’s a frantic busy slide right into Christmas and New Year’s Eve. It’s a fun time of year full of family gatherings and events, yet it also means that your insurance benefits are coming close to a lapse.
Most insurance plans include coverage for dental services for all members of the family in question. You are paying those monthly premiums, however have you checked to see if you’re maximizing the dental insurance benefits in your plan? Some things to consider:
- Has each child in your family had dental X-rays taken this year?
- Has each child in your family had 2 dental cleanings this year?
- Has one of your children complained about dental pain but you’ve forgotten about it in the everyday bustle of life?
Questions to Ask Your Dental Insurance Provider
- What is my copay?
- What is my maximum coverage amount per person in the family?
- Does my coverage include basic preventative care?
- Are X-rays covered?
- If yes, under what circumstances and/or with what frequency?
- Are dental cleanings covered?
- If yes, how many per year?
- Are fluoride treatments covered?
- If yes, are their age restrictions for fluoride treatments?
- What is my coverage for basic restorative care?
- Is basic restorative care covered up to a certain amount or is a percentage of it covered?
- What is considered basic restorative care in my plan?
- Is in-office sedation covered in my plan?
General Information About Dental Insurance
Basic preventative care typically covers two dental cleanings per year, some plans include a fluoride treatment at the cleaning appointment under the coverage, while others do not. Other insurance plans only cover fluoride treatments for certain ages.
Annual X-rays may be covered by your insurance, while yet other plans only cover them when deemed necessary by the dentist. Such circumstances when X-rays would be necessary would be in preparation for restorative work.
Some plans may cover mouth guards for children under preventative care but not all. Which is unfortunate due to the fact that we know dental injuries are common and preventable with the use of mouth guards when engaging in any type of sport activity!
Basic restorative care typically includes fillings, dental emergencies such as chipped or knocked loose teeth, as well as crowns or root canals. It’s important to ask your insurance questions about basic restorative care, due to the fact that while fillings are almost always covered, they might have restrictions on said coverage. For example, most people prefer composite fillings on the grounds that the composite material blends in with the color of the tooth so as to not be obvious. Some dental plans may only cover amalgam fillings, which are structurally sound but have the disadvantage of being metal in appearance and therefore not very discreet.
Partial Coverage for Restorative Dental Work
Don’t be surprised if you learn that your plan will only fully cover some basic preventative care services. It’s pretty common for restorative care to be partially covered. Partial coverage can mean that they’ll cover up to a certain amount in a year period for each member of your family (or in some cases a certain amount per family) while with other insurance providers, partial coverage means the insurance company will cover a percentage of restorative care services.
Furthermore, some insurances cover partial until a threshold is reached. Upon reaching that threshold, you may be entitled to full coverage again. Accordingly, if this is your circumstance, it’s important to find out how close to that threshold you are.
In-Office Sedation Services and Dental Coverage
When you are checking the details of your dental coverage with your insurance provider, it’s a good idea to ask for details about sedation. Our offices provide three different sedation options:
- Oral Sedation – prescription sedatives for the night prior or the day of a procedure or visit, we may suggest and also implement if your child suffers dental anxiety or has developmental delays that may cause difficulties for dental procedures.
- Nitrous Oxide – also referred to as “laughing gas” is most often utilized in conjunction with a local numbing agent for restorative dental procedures.
- Intravenous Sedation – unlike general anesthesia utilized in hospitals by surgeons, our intravenous sedation technique does not inhibit the protective reflexes, which mainly means our patients under intravenous sedation can breathe on their own.
Any time we consider in-office sedation, we first review the options, the benefits, including the circumstances with the parents. If there is a concern for cost and/or insurance coverage, we will work with you and together we’ll find a solution.
Utah Pediatric Dentists Accepts Most Insurance
We work with most insurance companies, if you don’t find your provider on this list, give us a call to double check that your provider isn’t a new addition.
- Assurant/Sun Life Financial
- Anthem BCBS
- Regence BCBS
- BCBS Federal
- Blue Cross of Illinois (Blue Care)
- Blue Cross of Michigan (Blue Dental)
- Dental Select
- Dentist Direct/Direct Care Administrators
- Delta Dental
- GEHA – Connection Dental Network
- Humana – Connection Dental Network
- Life Map
- Lincoln Financial Group/Lincoln Dental Connect
- Traditional Medicaid
- Medicaid Premier Access
- Premier Access PPO
- Premier Access Chip
- Principle – EMI Network
- Standard Life Insurance/Reliance Standard
- Select Health
- Utah Sheet Metal/JAS/Southwest Service Administrators
- United Concordia PPO
- United Concordia Tricare/Active Duty
- United Healthcare – GEHA/Connection Dental Network
Book an Appointment Right Away
Don’t wait for your dental benefits to expire! Some dental services require impressions that must be sent to a lab for production which means a time lag of at least a week. Schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist before the holiday season speeds up.
We’re hosting a Disneyland Giveaway for one family this November, enter to win and that lucky family can be yours! We’ve established 12 different methods for you to enter the sweepstakes, moreover there’s no limit to your total number of entries. On November 15th, we’ll draw the name of one lucky family. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was your name? For more information on how to enter, click here.
It’s officially fall, and that means the beginning of a string of happy holidays to look forward to, first among them, Halloween. Are you already decorating your house in pumpkins, spider webs, and spooky specters? It’s no doubt your kids are excitedly deciding on their costumes for their exciting night of trick-or-treating. Moreover, the time-honored tradition of pumpkin buckets full of candy is already filling their heads with anticipation. But what about their teeth?
It’s no secret that those tricks and treats are an assault on teeth, but how do we reconcile fun, tradition, and dental health all in the same bucket? We’ve put together a list of dental tips for you to help you survive Halloween with a balance that will include some healthy treats alongside the chocolates. You won’t have to say “no” to everything.
Toothy Tips for Your Child’s Dental Health This Halloween
1. Space Out the Stock Pile
Put limits on how many Halloween sweets your kids can eat at once. It’s not unusual for kids to want to binge on their goodies when they come home, but it’s certainly bad for their teeth. Space it out, allowing one or two treats per day instead.
2. Sort Through the Stock Pile
While it’s true that any candy or sweet is bad for your teeth, not all are created equal. Sort through their stash, and pull out hard candies that take a long time to dissolve. These candies are particularly harmful to the enamel on teeth due to the longer period of time they take to dissolve. The drawn-out process allows the sugars more time to compromise the tooth’s enamel before being washed away. Additionally, after an extended period of time sucking on a hard candy, we chew them up. These hard candies tend to stick firmly in the crevices of our teeth and are difficult to dislodge. Similarly, sticky candies such as taffy, gummy bears, gummy wears, and gumdrops present the issue of sticking to the teeth.
3. Donate Excess Candy
This is actually becoming a more popular solution for parents everywhere. It seems wasteful to simply throw away all the candy that has been deemed too sticky or too hard, and there are programs established to donate unopened and unwanted sweets! Isn’t American ingenuity wonderful? Call your local nursing home, homeless shelter, or food pantry to see if they will accept these donations. If these options aren’t accepting candy donations, hold off before you toss them into the trash! Here’s a rundown of some national programs that will take your candies off your hands without a doubt:
- Treats for Troops by Soldiers’ Angels – Fill out their donation form and mail your candy to the collection address found on their official website’s search function.
- Operation Gratitude – Register on their website where you will be paired with a local military unit, veteran group, first responders, or asked to ship to a collection center. This group also accepts monetary donations to aid with the cost of shipping the candy care packages to trips.
- Operation Shoebox – Operation Shoebox sends care packages all year long, regardless of the season, and are always accepting donations. Donations can be sent directly to their receiving address in Florida.
- Ronald McDonald House Charities – Ronald McDonald helps take care of families who have children in the hospital. Imagine how delighted children would be who can’t go out trick-or-treating to receive a Halloween treat? Check their website to find a chapter near you to organize your donation.
- Halloween Candy Buy Back – Nationwide businesses are organizing buy-back events, check the website to search for a business doing a buy-back event near you!
We’ve talked before about the superpowers of our saliva in washing away sugars and acids that eat on the enamel of our teeth. The fact is, our saliva production increases during mealtime therefore, if your kids are going to eat chocolates or candies, they had best do it right after a meal so there’s plenty of saliva to start working. Avoid allowing the candy as a snack when saliva production is lower, healthy snacks such as crispy fruits or veggies are best between meals.
5. Water with fluoride
Fluoridated water is another steadfast soldier in the protection of our teeth. Make compromises with your kids that if they’re going to have a candy, they’ll avoid juices or sodas and stick with water to quench their thirst afterward (sugar makes us thirsty). If you’re opposed to drinking water from the tap, this link will take you to a list of brands that produce bottled water with fluoride.
6. Set an Example
Consider you’re not the only parent concerned about the massive quantities of candy your kids are receiving every Halloween. Why not, instead of handing out candies at your doorstep, seek to set an example and hand out something healthier or creative for Halloween? Here are a few ideas:
- With a black marker, draw a jack-o-lantern face on little tangerines to hand out.
- Hand out ADA-approved sugarless gum.
- Hand out granola bars.
- Hand out mini boxes of raisins.
- Hand out mini packets of trail mix or peanuts.
- Hand out little applesauce snack cups.
- Some of these healthy Halloween snacks cost more than others, and certainly none of them are likely as cheap as buying a bag of small chocolates. Nevertheless, you aren’t required to have your porch light on all night. Buy what you budget for, and turn out your light when supplies are gone. There’ll likely be more than one parent out there relieved to see something in their kids’ pumpkin bucket that they can consider healthy.
7. Brush Teeth
If you’ve been lax on the routine of brushing and flossing at home, it’s time to turn back to it! Throughout the month of October, chocolates and candies are available in abundance, not only on the night of the 31st. Hop on the dental hygiene habit wagon, and stick to it this month, no matter how late you stay out trick-or-treating on Halloween.
As always, we’re here for you, so if your kids are due for a checkup, or a cleaning we’ll have them in the dentist’s chair quick. Give us a call and come see us before they have a toothache.
It’s no secret that parents and experts alike worldwide are concerned about how life under the duress of COVID-19 is influencing (for better or – more talked about – worse) our children’s lives. We worry about the physical effects on their eyes and their brains from so much time in front of a computer or tablet screen when virtual school has caused such a significant up-tick in screen time. We worry about their behavioral development as our societies have turned very insular and social interactions are so limited if they occur at all. We worry about their mental health as more are subjected to internalizing major stresses in the home from food and job insecurity or the direct stress issues that come from parents managing so much all while everyone is in the home all the time.
Less talked about, although certainly a concern from all our staff at the four Utah Pediatric Dentists locations, is the impact the pandemic is having on children’s dental health.
Mott Poll Report on the Challenges to Children’s Oral Health Due to the Pandemic
In February 2021, the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital released their findings of a report conducted to study the impact of COVID-19 on the dental health of children in the United States. The survey was conducted recently, in January 2021 to families with at least one child under 18 in their home. Some of these findings aren’t surprising. However, thankfully not all are negative, there were a few pleasant surprises as well. Here’s a thorough run-down of their findings directly from the source:
60% of parents surveyed reported they had at least attempted to get preventative dental care for their child since the onset of COVID-19.
- 69% of those parents reported they were able to get an appointment in the usual timeframe.
- 24% of those parents reported they were able to get an appointment, after a delay.
- 7% of those parents reported they were unable to get an appointment.
Of the parents, unable to get an appointment, a small percentage of them did have private insurance (4%) or no coverage (5%) at all while a significantly higher percentage had Medicaid dental coverage (15%). 40% of parents reported they had not attempted to schedule preventative dental care for their child. When asked to give a reason most responses fell into one of the following four reasons:
- 40% of the parents in this group gave the reason that they did not want to risk coronavirus exposure.
- 23% of the parents in this group said their dental office was closed or only accepting patients with dental emergencies.
- 23% of the parents in this group said their child wasn’t due for an appointment.
- 28% reported their child didn’t have any dental issues.
- 67% of parents surveyed reported that it felt safe to seek dental care for their child now.
- 14% of parents surveyed reported that it felt unsafe.
- 19% of parents surveyed reported that they were unsure if it was safe or not.
- 33.33% of parents say the pandemic has been a barrier to getting preventative dental care.
Now for the pleasant surprises:
- 28% of parents reported at least one change to the benefit of their child’s dental health.
- 37% of this group of parents have Medicaid dental coverage.
- 32% of this group of parents have zero dental coverage.
- 24% of this group of parents have private dental insurance.
Of the positive changes reported:
- 16% are brushing more often.
- 11% are flossing more often.
- 9% are using a fluoride rinse more often.
- 15% are drinking sugary beverages less often.
While the survey doesn’t exactly give a pediatric dentist an overwhelming feeling of success, the positive changes that were reported in almost 1/3 of surveyed households are absolutely encouraging. We want to follow that feeling of encouragement and share it with the parents of our pediatric patients in our communities.
What You Can Do in Home to Combat Negative Dental Effects During the Pandemic
While our kids are spending more time at home, and less time in the actual classroom their access to food has become almost unlimited. The problem with unlimited access to food for kids is that it can result in grazing, which means snacking lightly but steadily over a long period of time. Grazing, simply stated, is bad for anyone’s dental health (not only kids) because it is a near-constant assault of sugars and acids on your teeth.
What Can You Do About It?
We’re not asking you to put locks on the pantry, fridge, and cabinets (although technically you could do that.) We’ve got a few simple things you can do to help reduce the grazing and reduce the damage snacking can cause.
- Create a meal and snack schedule for the household.
- Maximize the healthy snacks that are available such as crisp fruits and vegetables like apples, pears, carrots, celery. Nuts are also a great snack packed with protein. For more about teeth healthy snacks, check out this blog post.
- Minimize access to “junk” foods. If it’s not in the house, it’s so much easier to curb. Junk foods can be such a temptation, knowing there’s a bag of chips in the pantry just might be torture for your 14-year-old.
Safe access or perceived safe access to preventative dental health was another major concern in the Mott Report, and for that, we ask you to call us. We are open, we are taking precautions to protect ourselves, our staff, and our patients from contagion, and we want to see our pediatric patients!
If you’re a parent who is concerned about the safety of bringing your child in for a dental cleaning and checkup, let us know your concerns and we can tell you specifically about our biosecurity protocols. If you think your child doesn’t have a need for an appointment, nevertheless it’s been more than six months, it’s still time to schedule an appointment. Your child might not have any pressing dental needs right now, but an important part of prevention is dental cleanings every six months. Call us today and get your child scheduled for a cleaning.
It’s a custom we all grew up loving, the Easter basket goodies found in hidden spots of the backyard garden every year. Somehow, over the years we’ve made it seem perfectly normal to imagine a magical bunny leaving candies and chocolate eggs littered about. It’s quite amusing if you try to ascribe logic to it. Even our youngest children know that real eggs come from chickens, most definitely not bunnies. Nevertheless, it is fun, and aren’t the part of our celebratory tradition of what gives childhood and life in general moments of joy?
Unfortunately for our teeth, more specifically your children’s teeth, those jelly beans, peeps, caramel candies, and chocolate-filled Easter baskets are a slow assault on their dental health. So, what can a parent do to keep fun and tradition alive, while also protecting those happy healthy smiles? We have a list of suggestions for you, some are alternatives, and others merely tips to help ensure that those smiles remain healthy in spite of an Easter sugar siege.
1. Be Selective About the Types of Candies You Include in the Easter Basket
We won’t ask you to eschew sweets entirely for the holiday, but we will advise you to be selective. Sticky candies are among the worst offenders for teeth because they leave behind more than just sugar and bacteria, they leave behind parts of themselves. Sticky candies will get stuck in the grooves and the in-betweens of the molars providing fertile ground for the bacteria to feast throughout the day. Those bacteria secrete acids that attack the enamel of the teeth that can cause damage up until the time of your child’s next brushing routine.
Furthermore, sour candies are acid offenders in the extreme. Sour candy is by its processed nature is acidic. This causes it to be a double whammy on the enamel of teeth. Candies that are to be slowly consumed over a period of time such as suckers are another to be wary of. We’ve shared in previous posts about the negative effects grazing can have on the teeth because the constant assault over an extended period of time doesn’t allow the saliva to work its defensive magic before the teeth are sieged again.
At this point, you may be wondering if there are any candies or goodies that we do approve of for Easter. The truth is, as pediatric dentists we are so very familiar with the damage and even pain that accompany habitual eating of sweets that it’s hard not to say, “omit it all entirely!”
That being said, we are parents, and we realize an Easter basket without any candy at all is hardly realistic. So, we’ll share our secret: Little chocolate bunnies or eggs that are hollow, and easily chewed. Those are the best in a group of delicious “bad”-ness. Little is a subjective term here; some hollow chocolates are quite large. Look for the smallest ones that you can find.
2. Portion Control and Moderation
Here’s your opportunity to draw out the fun of the Easter basket. Don’t set it up for your kids to eat everything in their basket in one day. Instead control the portion and start setting the example or habit of indulging in moderation. Let your child pick one or two for the day, and then do the same the following days until the Easter basket is empty. This will be fun for your kids as they’ll have a treat for a few days in a row instead of just one and will help them develop the habit of moderation instead of bingeing.
3. Incorporate Other Things into the Easter Basket
We suggest that you bring in other items to the hunt that will end up in the Easter Basket. Books are a favorite item, a small toy, stickers, or crayons. Dare we event suggest it? A new toothbrush and toothpaste! There’s no rule for an Easter egg hunt that says everything must be candy or chocolate.
4. Convert Your Kids to Dark Chocolate Connoisseurs
When it comes to your teeth, dark chocolate is the better option among chocolates for a few interesting reasons: polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins. Cocoa beans are very rich in all three of these antioxidants. Polyphenols can help neutralize some of the microorganisms that are responsible for bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. Flavonoids can help to slow tooth decay, and tannins can help reduce how much bacteria can stick to your teeth. Milk chocolate does have these antioxidants as well but on a much lower scale. The darker your chocolate the more antioxidants and the better for your teeth.
5. Drink Water with Fluoride
If your kids are going to indulge, try accompanying those indulgences with fluoride water instead of a juice or soda. Fluoride is a strong defender of dental health. Studies show that fluoride in community water systems prevents at least 25 percent of tooth decay in children and adults, even in an era with the widespread availability of fluoride from other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste. So, while any water is better than juice or soda, fluoride water from the tap is the best.
Don’t give up on the morning and evening brushing and flossing routines, but consider adding in a brushing session after the Easter Egg Hunt! If you include a new toothbrush and/or toothpaste in the Easter basket, brushing after some Easter basket sweets would be easily accomplished. All kids like to try out their new stuff.
7. Schedule a Cleaning at Your Pediatric Dentist
It’s always a good idea after a season of indulgence to schedule a dentist checkup. We’re offering $25 gift cards for our patients who have an appointment for a cleaning and checkup at any of our four locations through to April 15. Give us a call and come see us!
Come in and celebrate National Dentist’s Day with us by showing your pediatric dentists how you prioritize your children’s oral health. Dentist’s Day falls on March 6th every year and while this time last year we were closed due to pandemic restrictions, we’re happy to be able to look back on a year full of trials, changes, and joys while being grateful this year is already better than the last!
A Little History About Pediatric Dentistry
The profession of dentistry can be dated all the way back to the year 7000 B.C. Despite its ancient origins, it wasn’t until the 1700s that it gained significant formal attention and developed into a more specific profession.
In the early 1700s a book was published outlining a specific and thorough routine for dental hygiene titled “The Surgeon Dentist, a Treatise on Teeth”. The book’s author Pierre, Fauchard furthermore discovered the link between sugar and tooth decay.
1840 was the year of the first dental college, and in 1859 the American Dental Association was founded. It is only decades later that the profession of dentistry begins to take an active interest in pediatric dentistry. In 1913-1914 the Fones Clinic for Dental Hygienists in Connecticut began a program of sending its female students into public schools to clean children’s teeth. In Los Angeles, California around that same time, the first dental clinic for kids was opened by dental hygienist Minnie Evangeline Jordan. She went on to publish the first English book on pediatric dentistry in 1924.
In 1940, pediatric dentistry was finally recognized as its own specialty of dentistry. Less than a decade later, in 1947, the American Academy of Pedodontics was founded. The American Academy of Pedodontics would later become replaced by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. This decade also saw the first city to add fluoride to the water supply, Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1945.
In the 1950s more children began to visit the dentist annually, and in the 60s the federal government creates the Pediatric Dentistry Training Program due to the rise in need of specially trained dentists. Moreover, in the 60s dental sealants are developed to help reduce cavities in children.
In the 1980s a children’s book is published teaching children about the dentist, your kids might be familiar even today with the characters of the book. “The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist” showed children what to expect when visiting the dentist and taught them about having their teeth cleaned and checked for cavities and even the tools a dentist uses.
In 2000, the Surgeon General released the first-ever Oral Health in America Report, and the American Dental Association endorsed the comprehensive oral healthcare plan for children starting before the age of one year old.
Celebrate Dentist’s Day with Us
As you can see, pediatric dentistry has come a long way and in not so very much time! Our specialty profession is only around a century old, and yet we know so much now about how to take care of children’s dental health and work to see more happy and healthy smiles in our communities.
For Dentist’s Day, what our pediatric dentists really want is to see happy healthy smiles. Tag our Instagram accounts with your kids’ healthy smiles #NationalDentistsDay. Other ways you can celebrate with us include:
- Commit to prioritizing your children’s dental hygiene by establishing morning and nighttime brushing routines.
- Set an example to your kids of good dental habits by taking care of your own dental health.
- Encourage family members and friends to place importance on their children’s oral health, and spread the word of your favorite pediatric dentist.
- Make dentist appointments for each of your kids in one of our four convenient locations; professional cleanings and checkups are an integral part of preventive care, don’t wait for complaints of pain!
- Give us a review on Google, Yelp, or Facebook.
Dental Facts: Did You Know?
- U.S. News & World Report releases an annual ranking of the 100 Best Jobs, and dentist consistently ranks very highly. For this year, Dentist ranked ninth place, for 2020 Dentist ranked second place, 2019 fourth, and in 2017 first. (We are not surprised by this, we love being pediatric dentists!)
- You should replace toothbrushes every three to four months.
- On average, Americans spend 38.5 days of their lifetimes brushing their teeth.
- In the year 1950, the average amount left under pillows from the Tooth Fairy was 25 cents. (How much are you leaving under pillows?)
- Your bite is super strong, on average a person can bite down with 200 pounds of pressure!
- The majority of Americans drink at least one sugary drink daily and adolescents and young adults are the heaviest consumers.
- A 20 ounce Coca-Cola has upwards of 16 teaspoons of sugar in it.
- Most dental insurance plans will cover two standard cleanings per year. If you aren’t sure about your plan, let us know.
- Giraffes only have teeth on their lower jaw.
- If chewing gum gets stuck in your hair, you might not have to cut it out. Instead of reaching for the scissors, grab the peanut butter. The peanut butter will help lift the gum from the hairs.
Come in For a Cleaning and Walk Out with a Gift Card
That’s right, we’re offering all our patients who book a dental cleaning a 25$ gift card. This offer is valid through April, but don’t wait to get your appointment booked. Give us a call and schedule your kids at one of our four locations, we want to see you!