Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Does Dental Sealant Protection Outweigh Potential Risks?

Brushing your teeth is important, but dental sealants may be the best way to prevent kids from getting cavities.
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has touted the benefits of the relatively simple and inexpensive procedure in children.
Dental sealants are a thin coating that is painted on teeth to protect them from cavities.
This painless procedure can be $30 to $60 per tooth, although some insurance or discount plans can reduce that cost.
“Considering that less than half of children have them, I’d say [the trend of dental sealants] it still is gaining traction,” Ashley Grill, a New York-based dental hygienist, told Healthline. “Dental sealants are safe and effective, and they’ve been safe and effective for over 40 years.”

What the research shows

The CDC report states that dental sealants prevent 80 percent of cavities for two years after application.
They also continue to protect against 50 percent of cavities for up to four years.
The sealants can be retained in the mouth for up to nine years, according to the CDC.
About 43 percent of 6- to 11-year-old children have a dental sealant. Children from low income households were 20 percent less likely to have sealants than children from higher income households.
School-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.
Applying sealants in school-based programs to the nearly 7 million children from low income households who don’t have them could save up to $300 million in dental treatment costs, the CDC reported.
Dr. Valerie Barba, a dentist in New Jersey, told Healthline that sealants are the “most conservative” noninvasive treatment in dentistry.
The sealants need to be monitored and maintained during regular care visits to ensure they do not wear away.
They are technically sensitive to where they are placed, so practitioners who do not apply them correctly may not have the best success rates.

The skinny on sealants

Grill noted that children can report lost school time due to tooth decay, as it can interfere with sleep, eating, and other regular activities.
In addition to preventing cavities, sealants can ensure the teeth stay intact.
“Once a tooth is drilled and filled, restored, or extracted, the natural structure is compromised. There is a lifetime cost associated with maintaining the restored tooth or implant,” she noted.
There are some disadvantages or potential problems with sealants, Grill said. They may need to be reapplied if they fall out, chip, or wear away. In replacement, excess material may need to be drilled down or removed with a scaler.
“I understand the environmental exposure concern about synthetic estrogens such as bisphenol A (BPA),” Grill said.

I’ve never observed an adverse reaction to dental sealants, and none have been reported in the literature.

Ashley Grill, dental hygienist
Salivary BPA levels from exposure to BPA peak three hours after a procedure and return to baseline within 24 hours, she said. Grill added that blood serum levels of BPA have not been detected in clinical studies, but more research is needed.
“I’ve never observed an adverse reaction to dental sealants, and none have been reported in the literature,” said Grill, who applies sealants. “People tolerate dental sealants well.”
If parents are concerned about BPA more than the risks of tooth decay, they should note that treating tooth decay can involve a wealth of dental materials that have more chemicals than BPA. Alternative sealant materials exist, though Grill is not sure if they work better than those containing BPA.
Another issue with sealants is that a person’s bite can feel abnormal after application due to the extra layer on the tooth, Dr. J. Kolby Robinson, a board certified pediatric dentist from Oregon, told Healthline. Some of that wears away over time.
“The main problem with dental sealants is lack of awareness,” Grill added.
Most children don’t benefit from prevention because of overregulation and restrictions at all levels on preventive dental care, Grill said.
Some are insurance barriers, such as only covering certain teeth for sealants. There are also rules imposed by state boards that only allow hygienists working with dentists to place sealants, or requiring a dental examination with a dentist before prevention is allowed.

Long-term benefits

If the application technique is perfect, dental sealants can last a lifetime. More often than not, though, they do need to be replaced, Grill said.
“As soon as your child is getting new teeth in with grooves called ‘pits and fissures’ like molars and premolars, get them sealed once they are erupted,” she said. This happens at 6, 12, and 18 years of age.
Baby or primary teeth can be sealed, but the child should be old enough to tolerate the painless procedure, which involves being able to hold their mouth open and not move for a few minutes. Usually, treating younger teeth is performed only on those with an increased risk of tooth decay.
“I recommend getting individual advice on when to seal from your dental team. You can seal any vulnerable surfaces, but retention is best in the pits and fissures,” she said.
Adults can also benefit from sealants.
“All people, no matter age can benefit [from sealants], even adults,” Barba said.
With age, our exposure to decay increases, and the protective quality and biochemistry of saliva changes with certain medications over time. That said, adults are also candidates for this treatment.
But if you already have a restoration or implant, then that tooth will not benefit from a sealant, Grill noted.
“Sealants have proven to be safe and effective,” Robinson said. “The benefits outweigh the risks.”

 By:Kristine Fischer, HealthLine

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Omni Dental Group at one of our three office locations listed below:

North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811

Monday, November 21, 2016

Floss: Have dentists been stringing us along?

To floss or not to floss, that is suddenly the question.
For decades, the federal government and dentists have recommended flossing daily to prevent cavities and gum disease.
Now the evidence for flossing appears to be hanging by a string.

The Associated Press announced this week that its investigation of 25 studies on flossing found the data supporting its benefits to be “weak, very unreliable,” while also noting that the federal government’s new dietary guidelines have quietly removed any mention of flossing.
If you’re smiling about the news — a recent study found that nearly one-third of American adults never floss — hold on.
Should you still floss? Yes, say experts from the University of California’s two dental schools.
“The dental profession is behind flossing 100 percent,” said Dr. Paulo Camargo, associate dean of clinical dental sciences and the Tarrson Family Endowed Chair of Periodontics at the UCLA School of Dentistry. “It’s a preventive measure that’s common sense. The cost of telling people not to floss would be a lot higher in terms of exposure to bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease.”
Dr. Mark Ryder, chair of the Division of Periodontology at the UCSF School of Dentistry, agrees.
“You need a way to remove those soft deposits that accumulate between the teeth,” Ryder said. “If you throw away your floss and don’t do anything else to clean between your teeth, you’re leaving problems behind.”

The case for flossing
Why floss? Blame plaque, an almost invisible film of bacteria that collects all around your teeth and is associated with cavities and gum disease.
A toothbrush doesn’t remove bacteria from the spaces between teeth, Camargo said.
“That in itself is a recommendation for flossing,” he said, noting that flossing is a low-cost way to decrease risk for developing oral diseases.
If the evidence for flossing seems shaky, that’s likely because the studies have followed people for a short period of time — some for only two weeks — rather than years, Camargo said.
“It’s not enough time for periodontal problems to develop,” Camargo said. “In order to evaluate the effect of flossing on the onset and progression of periodontal disease, a prospective study would require that a group of people did not floss for a few years. Ethically, you can’t do that type of study.”
The two leading professional groups — the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology, for specialists in gum disease and implants — both issued statements this week reiterating the importance of flossing daily, along with brushing twice a day and regular dental visits.
Maintaining good oral health isn’t just about protecting your pearly whites. Oral health is strongly linked to overall health: Bacteria in dental plaque and inflammation from periodontal diseases can spread to other parts of the body, Ryder said. There is some evidence that maintaining oral health may lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, pneumonia and possibly dementia and Alzheimer’s, he said.

Flossing alternatives
If you don’t like flossing — or find it too difficult — there are alternatives, Ryder said. Interproximal brushes — mini brushes affixed to a handle — have been shown in several studies to be even more effective than flossing and easier to use, he said.
Other options, such as plastic or rubber tips, wooden wedges, and even toothpicks, also may be effective, Ryder said.
“Flossing consistently and correctly is a challenge for many patients,” Ryder said. “Each dentist needs to see what can their patient do — do they have the dexterity and motivation to floss correctly? If not, they should recommend alternatives to help patients clean these harder-to-reach deposits between the teeth.”

Floss like a pro
When you floss, wrap the string around each tooth and move the floss from the gum upwards, Ryder said. “Don’t saw back and forth like a lumberjack sawing a log — that’s probably just cutting into the gum.”
Waxed or unwaxed?
“It’s a personal preference,” Camargo said. “Any floss can do the job. How you do it is more important than what you use. The idea is to disrupt the bacteria on a daily basis so they don’t accumulate to the point where they cause disease.”
As dentists like to say about teeth: “You only brush and floss the ones you want to keep.” 
North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811

Friday, November 18, 2016

8 tips to overcoming anxiety about going to the dentist

Dentists are around to take care of your teeth. Although you might take your teeth for granted, they’re pretty important. You use them when you speak, smile and when you eat. It’s safe to say these are all pretty pleasant activities.
But for some reason many people still dislike going to the dentist and even fear it. According to Harvard Health Publications, between 13% and 24% of people all over the world are afraid to go.
Some people feel anxiety because of a bad experience they had in the past or because they start to anticipate discomfort and fear that everything could go wrong. However, modern medicine has advanced incredibly. Even the most dreaded procedures (we’re talking to you, root canals), have been tamed, so there’s really no rational reason to fear going.To keep your gums and teeth healthy, follow these 8 tips to overcome the anxiety of going to the dentist.
To keep your gums and teeth healthy, follow these 8 tips to overcome the anxiety of going to the dentist.
1. Be honest with your dentist
The first step to building trust, reducing your anxiety and improving the overall experience is to simply be honest. Tell your dentist and the staff how you feel and your concerns. They aren’t scary monsters — they’re humans, and probably have fears of their own. They’ll do the best they can to make you feel more comfortable.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Often, fear stems from the unknown. You may start to try and fill in the foggy future by creating narratives about what might happen. Usually, your mind spirals into worst-case scenarios, even if they are actually very unlikely to happen in real life.
Instead of letting your mind wander into the dark cavities of the dental world, ask your dental assistant and dentist to walk you through what they’ll do during the procedure before you even go in. Once you’re there, ask them to explain what they’re doing as they work, too.
You might even be surprised just how much you’ll learn and how happy your dentist is to tell you what all their equipment is for. Pretty soon the procedure will seem routine, maybe even a bit repetitive, and less like your worst nightmare.
3. Go slow
Sometimes people get caught up in the people pleasing side of dentistry. Your mouth is open for most of the time, it’s difficult to speak and someone else is standing over you instructing you how to adjust your face.
It certainly can feel awkward, and you might try to just get in and get out without making waves. However, it’s actually okay to interrupt your dentist or dental assistant. Don’t forget that you’re the patient, and they want to make sure everything goes smoothly, too.
If you need to slow things down, ask a question, spit, take a break, or anything else, speak up. Sometimes people don’t feel in control when they’re in the dental chair, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
4. Try deep breathing exercises
Being able to calm yourself and get back to an emotional middle-ground is essential for any type of stress. Practice slow, deep breathing exercises before you go to the dentist and when you get there to try and maintain your equilibrium. This will also help you stay grounded in the present.
You can also practice breathing exercises when you’re with your dentist. Focusing on your breath will also draw your attention to something other than what’s going on in your mouth.
5. Bring something soothing
Sometimes focusing on your breath can be a little difficult, so you might want to take along something else that you find soothing. Bring your own music to listen to while you’re waiting or take along something to fidget with like silly putty or a hair band. You can play with it while you’re getting your teeth cleaned to distract your mind.
6. Bring backup
Having a friend or family member with you – someone you can trust – is also beneficial. Just knowing someone is there to support you can bring some relief.
7. Ask your dentist for sedatives
If you really feel unable to handle your anxiety, ask your dentist to use sedatives. They may be able to use nitrous oxide (laughing gas) or local anesthetics. Actually, there are quite a few options to choose from.
Although not ideal, using these sedatives to cope with your fear is better than not ever going to the dentist at all.
8. Go to counseling
For some people, none of these tips are enough to get over their fear. If you’ve become so petrified of going to the dentist it prevents you from getting the treatment you need to stay healthy, you may have a phobia.
There’s a difference between being afraid of something and phobias, which interfere with your daily life and go far beyond anxiety. If you really can’t go to the dentist because of a phobia, it may be a good idea to seek counseling to try and master it.
Dentists don’t want to inspire fear; they want to help. If you let them, they can work with you to make sure those pearly whites are healthy for years to come. So, what are you waiting for?

By: Benjamin Grenne, NewsOk

North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Take Care Of Children's Teeth

We are not taking care of our children's teeth, and it is hurting them in school and later in life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, tooth decay is among the most common chronic conditions of childhood. One in 5 children, aged five to 11, and 1 in 7 children, aged 12 to 19, have at least one untreated cavity.
These numbers are higher for children from minority and low-income families. African-American and Hispanic children are more likely than white children to have cavities in their primary (baby) teeth and are twice as likely as white children to have untreated cavities. The disparity in untreated cavities continues into the teen years.
A report by the Pew Charitable Trusts states that untreated tooth decay "can cause pain and infection that may lead to difficulty eating, speaking, socializing and sleeping, as well as poor overall health." Tooth decay can also contribute to low self-esteem and dental health problems.
Dental problems can also adversely affect both school attendance and performance. A report issued by the U.S. Surgeon General in 2000, estimated that more than 51 million school hours were lost annually due to dental-related illnesses. More recent studies confirm these earlier findings. A 2011 study of school children in North Carolina published in the American Journal of Public Health found that "children with poor oral health status were nearly 3 times more likely ... than were their counterparts to miss school as a result of dental pain."
School absences due to dental pain affect learning. A 2012 study by the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry at the University of Southern California found that "children who reported having recent tooth pain were four times more likely to have a low grade point average – below the median GPA of 2.8 – when compared to children without oral pain." This affects academic achievement, employment opportunities and earning potential.
Poor dental health is also driving up costs to American taxpayers. The American Dental Association reports that overall spending on dental care increased from $50 billion in 1990 to $113 billion in 2014. And during this same period the share of total U.S. dental care funded by public sources soared from 2 percent to 11 percent. One major contributor to this increase has been more children getting dental care from Medicaid and through the Children's Health Insurance Program.
Childhood tooth decay and gum disease can lead to serious health problems in adults. According to the American Dental Association, there are "more than 125 health conditions that may affect or be affected by oral health, including cardiovascular disease, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, HIV/AIDS, osteoporosis, obesity, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis." And the association reports that people who have tooth decay as children are more likely to have tooth decay as adults.
The main culprits that lead to tooth decay are sugar and starches, which are complex sugars. But they are not the direct cause. Decay is caused by the bacteria in everyone's mouth that feast on the sugars, producing acids which erode the enamel of teeth.
What can we do about it?
The best advice is what your parents probably told you: Limit the sweets, and brush your teeth. The more sugar a child eats, the more acid is created to eat away at teeth. But it is a tough challenge. Sugars and starches are in a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products, bread, candy, cookies and soda. Processed foods contain added sugars, too.
The most obvious way to prevent tooth decay is to have children brush their teeth at least twice a day. And it is important to use toothpaste that contains fluoride to help strengthen tooth enamel.

By: Jonathan Fielding, U.S News

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Omni Dental Group at one of our three office locations listed below:

North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dental Detectives: What Fossil Teeth Reveal About Ancestral Human Diets

When scientists want to know what our ancient ancestors ate, they can look at a few things: fossilized animal bones with marks from tools used to butcher and cut them; fossilized poop; and teeth. The first two can tell us a lot, but they're hard to come by in the fossil record. Thankfully, there are a lot of teeth to fill in the gaps.
"They preserve really well," explains Debbie Guatelli-Steinberg, a dental anthropologist at Ohio State University. "It's kind of convenient because teeth hold so much information."
The structure of a tooth and even the amount of enamel, for example, hint at what the teeth are adapted to eat.
Look at molars: Thick enamel on a molar is good for crushing foods. It suggests an animal used its teeth to grind seeds or crush the marrow out of bones. Thin enamel on a molar, while delicate, causes sharp edges — perfect for slicing and tearing foods like leaves and fruits.
However, these are just clues to some of the things the animal could have been eating, not what it ate every day, says Peter Ungar, an anthropologist at the University of Arkansas.
Article continues after sponsorship
"If you eat Jell-O almost every day of the year, but sometimes you need to eat rocks ... you want teeth that can eat rocks," he explains. So, teeth are usually adapted for the toughest component of an animal's diet, not what it eats on a daily basis.
To see what an animal was actually eating, Ungar studies something called dental microwear, the marks left behind by food on teeth. As we chew on say, a celery stick, hard particles — either bits of silica from the plants' cells or sand and grit from the surrounding environment — are dragged across and pressed into our teeth. When we chomp down on something hard, like a nut, the crushing force leaves microscopic pits behind. When we tear through tough grasses — which may not sound appetizing now, but it's likely some of our ancestors did eat them — by moving our teeth side-to-side, the teeth get tiny, microscopic scratches.
"I call it a foodprint," Ungar says.
These foodprints can paint a pretty good picture of what an animal ate in the weeks leading up to its death — a sort of last meal. A study of such microwear revealed that Australopithecus afarensis, our 4 million-year-old ancestor best known by the famous fossil of Lucy, probably ate tough grasses and leaves. And it looks like early members of our genus, Homo — like Homo habilis, which lived 2.4 million years ago or Homo erectus, which even overlapped with humans about 100,000 years ago — were omnivores like us. They ate a variety of foods like meat, plants, fruits, "Anything they wanted!" says Ungar.
So we can tell what an animal was adapted to eat and what it ate shortly before it died. But to know what it ate for longer periods, scientists have to look deeper — to just below the surface of a tooth — for certain molecular signatures left behind from daily meals.
As our teeth grow in early childhood and adolescence, they incorporate certain molecules from the food we eat. The same was true for our ancestors. Paleoanthropologists studying ancient diets are especially interested in carbon molecules in our ancestors' teeth, because they come from plants and stick around for a long time.
Some groups of plants use mostly one form, or isotope, of carbon. Plants with C3 isotopes are usually found in fruits and leaves — things that grow in forests. Plants with C4 isotopes, like grasses and sedges, grow in savannas.
Data from isotopes confirmed that Lucy's species switched from forest foods to savanna foods about 3.5 million years ago. That transition from forests to grasslands may have played a key role in human evolution, explains Matt Sponheimer, a paleoanthropologist at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Some researchers even think that adding more grass to our diets gave our ancestors more foods to eat and places to live as the early climate changed causing Africa's forests to shrink.
Our understanding of what our ancestors ate has become more complex and richer with time, as scientists have applied newer, more advanced techniques to study teeth. When Mary Leakey dug the 2 million-year-old human ancestor Paranthropus boisei out of Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania in 1959 year, she noticed the fossil's wide, thick molars. The skull had huge cheekbones to accommodate strong chewing muscles and powerful jaws, suggesting the species was well-suited for crushing nuts. So, Paranthropus boisei was nicknamed Nutcracker Man.
But when Peter Ungar and others examined Nutcracker Man's teeth, they barely found any foodprints, so they decided he likely ate soft foods like fruits.

An analysis of Nutcracker Man's tooth isotopes revealed C4 carbon, which comes from savannas, not fruit-filled forests.
Today, researchers think that Paranthropus boisei ate a varied diet with lots of different foods, but he mostly ate tough grasses and sedges.

Teeth from more recent fossils reveal more because they have more isotopes preserved in them. For example, the nitrogen in the teeth of Neanderthals can reveal whether the protein they ate came from plants or animals. It's one of many reasons researchers think Neanderthals hunted large mammals, though scientists have also found fossilized plants stuck in Neanderthal teeth.
Researchers were even able to use isotopes to find out when one Neanderthal started weaning her baby. As teeth grow, they lay down layers of enamel. And barium, a molecule children get from breast feeding mothers, builds up in baby teeth until the mother stops nursing. By comparing barium in a Neanderthal tooth with levels in donated present day baby teeth, the scientists were able to find out that the Neanderthal baby had been weaned at about seven months.
We can even use teeth to tell if someone moved between places with dramatically different foods or soils. Since wisdom teeth are the last adult teeth to come in, comparing them to an early emerging canine tooth can give scientists a dietary snapshot across time. Say someone was born in Africa and moved to a new continent as a preteen, while wisdom teeth were still growing. A comparison of the isotopes in the teeth would reveal the story of that migration.
There's still a lot to learn from teeth, and a lot of fossil teeth still being discovered, says Sponheimer. And as the tools to study them get more sophisticated, teeth are providing a richer picture of "who we are and how we came to be," he says.

By: Erin Ross, NPR

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Omni Dental Group at one of our three office locations listed below:

North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811

Friday, November 11, 2016

10 Holiday Foods and Drinks Dentists Won't Touch

The holiday season, which unofficially starts with Halloween and ends on New Year’s Day, is the time when everyone likes to cut loose, put inhibitions aside, and eat and drink, well, whatever looks good. The reckless consumption of cakes, candies, pies, beverages (alcoholic and otherwise), meats, and sides carries with it a number of potential health risks — and some of these are dental, because many of these sweet and savory delights can do some serious damage to our teeth. The mixture of sticky candies, sugary sweets, and acidic alcohols and sodas is something out of a dentist’s nightmare. By knowing which foods to eat in moderation, which to chew carefully, and which to simply stay away from, you can avoid that emergency crown replacement and protect yourself from cavities.
The Daily Meal asked nine dentists and dental professionals to give us their lists of holiday foods and beverages they won’t touch. Our experts include: Fountain of Youth Dental in San Antonio led by Chris Cappetta, D.D.S.; Bill Crutchfield, D.D.S. from OBC in Chantilly, Virginia Ira Handschuh, D.D.S. from The Dental Design Center in White Plains, New York; Brandi Dupont, D.M.D., chief dental officer at Community Health Alliance in Reno, Nevada; Victoria Veytsman, D.D.S. in New York City; Hugh Flax D.D.S. in Atlanta; Samantha Sacchetti, D.M.D. in Chicago; Kami Hoss, D.D.S. in Chula Vista, California; Melissa Thompson, D.D.S. in Woburn, Massachusetts; and Harold Katz, D.D.S, founder of The California Breath Clinics and developer of the TheraBreath line of premium oral care products.
There was a general consensus among all of these dental professionals that sugar, acids, alcohol, and sticky foods can do the most damage to your teeth and gums. Acidic foods like citrus, sour candies, or tea can wear away tooth enamel and lead to greater tooth sensitivity and a higher risk of fracture; beverages like eggnog contain the “triple threat” of sugar, alcohol, and dairy. Also worth noting is that some foods affect certain age groups differently. Adults need to worry about fracturing a crown or a bridge, but they are less likely to suffer from tooth decay than someone under the age of 18.

Here are the holiday foods and drinks dentists won’t touch. 

Bourbon and Other Spirits

Bourbon might be a tasty addition to eggnog, but it can wreak havoc on your mouth. Dr. Harold Katz says alcohol such as bourbon “makes the mouth very dry, which then creates an environment prime for gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath.”

Candy Canes

These iconic holiday treats are better left as a Christmas tree decoration. Candy canes and other hard candies are notoriously bad for teeth because they are packed with sugar and can also cause chipped or broken teeth, Dr. Bill Crutchfield warns.

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are associated with numerous health benefits, but, sadly, many of those don’t apply to dental health. “Acidic foods such as limes, oranges and other citruses can erode enamel over time, causing sensitive and weak teeth,” Dr. Kami Hoss notes.


“High caffeine drinks cause reduced salivary flow. Saliva assists in removing food particles and unwanted sugars from the mouth. If salivary flow decreases, then sugar and food remain on the teeth and gums leading to an increased risk of problems,” notes Dr. Ira Handschuh says.

Corn on the Cob

Corn is nutritious, but eating it off the cob can be tricky. “This is a difficult food to eat because biting into it can cause you to crack a filling or loosen sealant you may have in your mouth. Not to mention it's terrible to get out of braces or retainers, and can damage orthodontic wires. A better way to eat corn is off the cob, since you'll have a better chance of avoiding gum disease,” Fountain of Youth Dental points out.

Dots and Jujubes

“These are great for decorating gingerbread houses, awful for your teeth,” Dr. Samantha Sacchetti explains. “Similar to the hard, sticky candy that you have option to suck on, you have really no option but to chew them. The excessive chewing it takes for these things (longer if they're from a stale gingerbread house) also can lead to some temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain. For a candy that doesn't even taste that good, it's just not worth it to me.”

Dried fruit

Dried fruit is a plentiful source of fiber and nutrients, but these common holiday munchies might increase your risk of getting a cavity. “Although dried fruit may be a better option to snack on than a cookie, dried fruit is still full of sugar that will get in your teeth and cause decay,” notes Fountain of Youth Dental.


Eggnog is one of the worst holiday beverages for your dental health because it contains sugar, alcohol (sometimes), and dairy. “Dairy proteins are easily converted to odorous sulfur compounds by oral bacteria. Sugar feeds the bacteria and alcohol creates a dry mouth, which is an ideal environment for the bugs to multiply. Eggnog is terrible,” Katz says.


If you’re looking for an excuse to avoid eating fruitcake this Christmas, here it is. The sticky and sweet nature of fruitcakes “can cause tooth decay and if you have weak teeth or crowns these foods can actually cause them to dislodge,” Dr. Hugh Flax warns.

Hot Chocolate

There’s nothing more appropriate for a cold winter morning than a steaming cup of hot cocoa with a plump marshmallow floating right in the middle. Unfortunately, “hot cocoa’s high sugar content can lead to tooth decay, and the high dairy content may lead to bad breath,” Katz notes.

By: Michael Serrur, The Daily Meal

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Omni Dental Group at one of our three office locations listed below:

North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811

Monday, November 7, 2016

Dental Sealants Prevent Cavities and More Kids Need Them, CDC Says

There's a quick and easy way to prevent 80 percent of cavities, but most kids don't get it, federal health officials said Tuesday. The treatment, dental sealants, works well, but only 60 percent of kids who need sealants get them, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Dentist inspecting boys mouth before treatment. Universal Images Group / UIG via Getty Images

One good solution: doing it at school. But states often lack the funding to pay for such programs, and often bureaucratic requirements about having dentists on site can hold them up, also, the CDC said.

"Many children with untreated cavities will have difficulty eating, speaking, and learning," said CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden.

"Dental sealants can be an effective and inexpensive way to prevent cavities, yet only one in three low-income children currently receive them. School-based sealant programs are an effective way to get sealants to children."
The CDC says that 20 percent of kids and teenagers have untreated dental decay by the time they are 19. Kids with constant toothaches cannot eat properly and have trouble paying attention at school.

Related: Do Kids Need Dental Sealants?

Even though they are endorsed by the CDC and the American Dental Association, only 43 percent of 6- to 11-year-old children have a dental sealant, federal surveys show.

"Low-income children were 20 percent less likely to have sealants than higher-income children," the CDC's Susan Griffin and colleagues wrote in a report released Tuesday.                    

"School-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants," the CDC added.

"Applying sealants in school-based programs to the nearly 7 million low-income children who don't have them could save up to $300 million in dental treatment costs."

That's because a filling costs more. In addition, once a tooth has been drilled to put in a filling, it's never as stable again.
But many states struggle to pay for such programs, the CDC team found.

"Federal funding of state oral health programs is largely com­petitive and varies widely by state," they wrote. "Many state and local school-based sealant programs cover part of their expenses by Medicaid billing."

And Medicaid, the joint state-federal health insurance plan for children and low-income people, is already badly stretched in most states.
One big expense is paying a dentist to oversee the program, the CDC found. One solution: Allow lower-paid professionals to administer sealant programs. At least one state has already done so.

"For example, in South Carolina, school-based sealant programs managed and staffed by dental hygienists deliver sealants in approximately 40 percent of high-need schools," Griffin and colleagues wrote.

"CDC currently provides funding to 21 state public health departments to coordinate and implement school-based and school-linked sealant programs that target low-income children and those who live in rural settings," the agency added.

It said the federal government plans to do more. It will classify pediatric dental services as an essential health benefit to be covered by dental insurance as part of the Affordable Care Act, for instance, and match state Medicaid and CHIP costs for sealants.
The sealants are plastic-based coatings that get into the cracks and crannies of molar teeth, stopping food and bacteria from starting the chemical reaction that leads to cavities.
 Studies show they are safe and stop tooth decay, even when they are layered over an existing pre-cavity.

"Studies on sealant effectiveness indicate that sealants delivered in clinical or school settings prevent about 81 percent of decay at two years after placement, 50 percent at four years, and can continue to be effective for up to nine years through adolescence," the CDC said.

 The American Dental Association (ADA) agrees, and says many people don't know that dental insurance often pays for them.

"Dental sealants are one-third the cost of a filling, so their use can save patients, families, and states money," the Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent, public service-oriented nonprofit, says in a statement. "Sealant programs based in schools are an optimal way to reach children — especially low-income children who have trouble accessing dental care."
 One worry that parents may have is about BPA, a chemical found in the sealants that is increasingly linked with health risks. The ADA says the benefits of sealants far outweigh any perceived risk.

"The potential amount of BPA patients could be exposed to when receiving sealants is minuscule, and it's less than the amount a person receives from breathing air or handling a receipt," the ADA says.

By: Maggie Fox, NBC News

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Omni Dental Group at one of our three office locations listed below:

North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811

Friday, November 4, 2016

Is dental insurance worth the cost?

You need medical insurance, if only to protect against the cost of an accident or illness so expensive that you could be ruined financially. But do you really need dental insurance?
It’s an interesting question, because you can avoid the most likely causes and expenses of dental problems, decay and gum disease, by brushing and flossing your teeth diligently. But some teeth are more prone to problems, and when they have a problem, the costs can mount quickly.

The price of insurance
About 64 percent of Americans have dental insurance. Nearly all of them have coverage through work or a group plan like AARP, Medicaid, Tricare (for military families) and the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program, according to Evelyn Ireland, executive director of the National Association of Dental Plans, in an email interview.
Most dental preferred provider organizations and regular insurance (indemnity) plans have an average deductible of $50 and a maximum yearly benefit of $1,000, Ireland says. Only 2 percent to 4 percent of Americans with dental insurance use up their yearly maximum allowance.
Dental plans offered through a workplace typically are one of three types:
  • Indemnity plan: You choose your provider, and your plan pays a percentage of the fees.
  • PPO: Preferred provider organization plans have groups of practitioners who agree to reduced fees for patients within the network. Your costs are lower with network dentists. You may see out-of-network dentists, but it’ll cost you more.
  • HMO: Health maintenance organizations cut costs by requiring members to use only providers within the network.
Premiums for group dental plans in 2014 (the latest information available) averaged from $19 to $32 a month ($228 to $384 annually), said the NADP.
Is insurance worth it?
The NADP describes these elements of coverage in a typical plan:
  • Preventive care: periodic exams, X-rays and, for some age groups, sealants -- 100 percent.
  • Basic procedures: office visits, extractions, fillings, root canals (sometimes) and periodontal treatment -- 70 percent to 80 percent.
  • Major procedures: crowns, bridges, inlays, dentures and sometimes implants and root canals -- 50 percent or less.
Orthodontics coverage usually can be purchased as a rider, said the NADP. Cosmetic care isn’t covered.
Dental insurance isn’t always worth the cost. It depends on your plan, your needs and the cost of the services available to you.
In deciding if an insurance plan is right for you, weigh:
  • The annual premium
  • The cost of the dental care you need
  • Your policy’s limit on how much it pays out in benefits and whether you can roll over unused benefits from the previous year
  • Policy coverage
“While many dental policies focus on preventive measures by offering two annual visits, you’ll really start seeing the savings with more expensive treatments, like root canals and crowns,” according to Angie’s List.
Help from the Affordable Care Act 
The ACA requires providers to offer dental insurance for children younger than 18. “Although the new act does not require dental coverage for adults, most state marketplaces will also offer dental coverage for adults,” said the American Dental Association. Adult dental coverage may be offered as part of a comprehensive health plan or as stand-alone dental insurance. Here’s more about the ACA and dental coverage:
Dental insurance isn’t the only way to cut dental bills. In fact, 36 percent of Americans have no dental insurance. Here are 10 other ways to cut your costs:

1. Self-pay
It may be less expensive to pay out of pocket than buy a plan. Fees vary by dentist’s office and by geographic region. Here are average costs in the U.S. for several common procedures, from the ADA Health Policy Institute’s 2013 Survey of Dental Fees (the latest data available):
  • Teeth cleaning (prophylaxis) adult: $85
  • White dental filling (one surface, anterior): $149
  • Silver filling (one surface, primary or permanent): $125
  • Porcelain crown fused to noble metal: $1,003
  • Complete series of intra-oral X-rays: $124
2.  Preventive care
In many cases, the best way to save on dentistry is to take excellent care of your teeth and gums, and to teach children healthy dental routines. For example, did you know that fruit juices, carbonated drinks and acidic foods can help wear away your tooth enamel?
The ADA tells you how to brush correctlyhow to floss effectively and offers more information on dental health.
Delta Dental, an insurer, has more tips on preventive care.

3. Cut back to one cleaning a year
Several studies have shown that visiting the dentist twice a year doesn’t deliver notable benefits compared with one exam a year. If you don’t have serious dental issues, you can probably get by with one cleaning annually.
But don’t skip that one annual cleaning and exam. It could save you from costly and serious problems.

4. Discount dental plans
Discount plans charge an annual fee in exchange for discounted services from network providers. Before you buy into a plan, look over its list of covered procedures to see if they’re ones you are likely to use.
PolicyGenius, an independent insurance broker, compared five dental insurance and dental discount plans. Costs vary a lot depending on where you live and because the state insurance marketplaces created under the ACA offer different plans. It’s hard to comparison-shop for dental plans: Companies don’t easily share information on costs and coverage until after you’ve subscribed, PolicyGenius found. Even so, “all five plans we looked at delivered better value than paying cash outright.”
A tip: The cheapest dental plans don’t offer much value, but don’t just go with an expensive plan -- do some careful research. “If you know you’re going to be spending some time in the dentist’s chair soon -- and especially if you require an expensive dental procedure immediately -- the right discount plan could save you hundreds of dollars,” PolicyGenius writes.

5. Request 10 percent off
Some dentists will take 10 percent off the cost of a visit or procedure if you pay at the time of the visit. Some offer a discount for cash.
If your dentist doesn’t provide a discount, ask (politely, of course) if he/she could do so. Or shop around for a dentist, gathering recommendations from friends and then phoning those offices to find out if they offer a discount.

6. Charitable clinics
Look for low-cost or free dental clinics in your community offered by local dentist volunteers.
Find opportunities in your area through America’s Dentists Care Foundation. Another charitable organization with volunteer dental professionals is Dentistry From the Heart, a global nonprofit organization. Or ask your state’s dental association about low-cost care.

7. Dental schools
Dental schools at many colleges and universities around the U.S. often offer free or reduced-cost care. Accredited programs are listed at the ADA website.

8. Federally qualified health centers
Private health centers offering dental services exist in cities and counties across the country. They receive some government funding and charge according to what you can afford. Use the clinic locator at the federal Health Resources and Services Administration website.

9. Consider dental tourism
Dental tourism -- traveling to other countries to get treatment, often at a fraction of the U.S. cost -- is a huge business. Among the top countries that have a thriving dental industry catering to foreigners are Mexico, Thailand, Spain, Turkey, Czech Republic, Costa Rica, Poland, Philippines and Hungary.
“Dental tourism companies and corporate dental chains are increasingly advertising ‘all inclusive’ travel packages that include dental procedures, hotel room reservations, side trips to tourist attractions, and airline tickets to lure international clients,” said an article in the International Journal of Contemporary Dental and Medical Reviews.
Do plenty of research to ensure that you’re getting safe, high-quality care. Some resources:
“The decision to visit another country for dental care should go beyond simply comparing prices or even evaluating the dentists’ expertise. Countries differ in their standards for infection control and safety. The use of fresh gloves, sterile instruments and safe water are not standard practice in all countries. Without these precautions, patients could be infected with diseases such as hepatitis B.”

10. Get out of town
Dentist fees in rural counties typically are lower than in urban areas. Comparison-shop for the procedure you need by phoning offices of ADA member dentists outside your metro area and asking about fees. Here’s how to locate an ADA member dentist.

By: Mariyln Lewis, CBS News

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Omni Dental Group at one of our three office locations listed below:

North Austin on Hymeadow Drive: (512) 250-5012
Central Austin on Jollyville Road: (512) 346-8424
South Austin on William Cannon: (512) 445-5811