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Payment Options

What are my payment options?

Being able to afford necessary dental care is an important consideration when choosing a dental office.  Payment options vary from office to office and many times can be a confusing and frustrating process for the patient.  In a previous question I discussed utilizing dental insurance and how that can apply towards a treatment plan.  In that article I mentioned the possibility of a Co payment depending on how the insurance benefit is structured and to what percentage it covers a procedure.  This Co payment many times can be sizable and the patient needs to consider how to afford it.  This scenario also applies to those without dental insurance who completely finance their dental care.

At Belmont Dentistry we offer many ways to manage the costs of your dental care.  In addition to accepting and participating with many dental insurances we also offer interest free financing as well as in-office payment plans.  Cash, check, Visa and MasterCard are also acceptable.

Please don't let finances be a barrier to getting the necessary dental care you deserve.  Call us at 616-284-3200 for a free consult, we'd be happy to discuss options with you.

Missing Teeth

I'm missing a tooth/teeth, What are my options?

When deciding upon a replacement for your missing teeth the first thing to consider is if you want your replacement to be permanently positioned within your mouth or if you'd consider having a replacement that is removable.  The options that are permanent include implants and bridges.  These options are permanently placed or cemented within your mouth and cannot be removed.  The Removable options include Dentures and Removable Partial Dentures (Partials for short).  These replacements are removable and resemble retainers that are generally removed at bedtime.

There are pros and cons to each type of replacement.  Each option also has a variety of designs and material options as well.  It is important to explore all your options first as cost and insurance benefits vary with each option.

Give us a call today at 616-284-3200 and we'd be happy to schedule a free consult to discuss what options would be best for you!

I Hate Needles

I Hate Needles!

Believe me your not alone.  The injection is probably the most feared aspect of the dental procedure.  It's amazing though what the profession has done recently to decrease and often eliminate the anxiety associated with "the shot".  One such innovation is that of strong topical anesthetic prior to the injection.  This is a medicated topical gel that is placed for approximately a minute to the injection site.  It numbs up the tissue and many times makes the injection virtually painless.  Another aspect of dentistry that is moving away from the injection is that of conservative / preventative dental care.  This philosophy utilizes the latest in dental technology (lasers, air abrasion, digital radiography) to diagnose a cavity when it's small and most likely able to be removed and treated without the use of anesthetic.

We take the care and comfort of our patients extremely serious at Belmont Dentistry and are committed to providing the latest and best treatments available. Give us a call today at 616-284-3200 and we'd be happy to schedule a free consult to discuss your needs!

Teeth Bleaching

Will Bleaching Work for Me?

There are several different approaches to bleaching or whitening your teeth.  Options range form utilizing "whitening" toothpastes and take home kits to professionally having your teeth whitened at a dental office.  The first thing to be aware of is that bleaching is only effective on your natural tooth structure.  Crowns, fillings and other artificial teeth cannot be lightened with bleaching.  This is important to realize because if you do bleach more than likely your previous dental work will appear darker than your now lighter bleached teeth.  It may be necessary to replace previous work after the bleaching process for a more balanced and matched look.  The second thing to be aware of is that bleaching works predominately on external staining of the teeth.  This includes staining or darkening as a result of smoking and/or consistent coffee or tea drinking.  Internal staining caused from trauma, previous root canal therapy or developmental issues may not respond to external bleaching techniques.  To lighten or bleach internal staining it may be necessary to have a specialty service called internal bleaching where bleach is placed within the tooth for a specified amount of time.  This requires a dentist to place, monitor and remove the bleaching material.  It also may be necessary to place a veneer or porcelain crown to ultimately achieve the shade you need to match the rest of your teeth.

Typically professional bleaching offered through your dental office will achieve the most predictable results.  It usually involves applying concentrated bleaching gels to the teeth either directly within the office or with a customized take home tray.  It's a nice route to go because the office can help to customize your care in response to your desired result.  Also, if sensitivity is a concern most offices will have strategies to help to minimize and often eliminate it as a side effect.

We'd be happy to discuss with you further the exciting prospect of whitening and improving your smile!  Give us a call today at 616-284-3200 for a free consult.


Teeth Wearing Down

Why Are My Teeth Wearing Down?

Wearing down of your teeth or noticing the ends of your teeth chipping or cracking is a common occurrence.  What most people don't realize though is that it's typically not linked to your diet.  Usually excessive wear on the teeth is caused by tooth to tooth contact.  This is known as bruxism (clenching or grinding your teeth).  More often than not this occurs at night time during sleep as a way of tension release.  Excessive wear on your teeth is just one of the many signs associated with clenching and grinding.  Other common signs and symptoms include frequent headaches in the temple region, popping and clicking of the jaw joint, frequent bite marks on the insides of your cheeks and tension and soreness within the muscles of the jaw and face.  Usually these signs and symptoms start out small and pain free, but if left untreated they can progress to fractured and broken teeth, arthritic changes to the jaw joint (TMJ) and migraine type headaches.

Fortunately the treatment for clenching and grinding is conservative and cost effective.  The key is treating it early and taking a preventative approach.  This usually involves having a custom splint (or bite guard) made to wear at night or throughout the day as needed.  There are many materials, designs and types to choose from.  It's important to have your dentist design a splint that appropriately addresses your concerns.

Be proactive and start protecting your teeth and smile today by giving us a call for a free consult at 616-284-3200!

Needing A Crown

Why Do I Need A Crown?

A crown serves a couple valuable services for your tooth.  It braces and protects the tooth from fracturing under the heavy forces of biting and chewing as well as seals the tooth from the destructive and infectious affects of bacteria within the saliva.  Most often a crown is recommended when it's determined that your tooth is susceptible to either fracture (a large previous filling showing signs of breaking down) or contamination from bacteria (usually after having a root canal).  We see emergencies just about every day and the most common occurrence is a fractured or broken tooth.  Usually the tooth has a large filling (replacing more than 1/3 of the natural tooth structure) and the filling had a "wedging effect" that fractured off part of the remaining natural tooth structure.   In some circumstances it's a very painful situation for the patient in that the nerve of the tooth has been exposed and infected.  Although the treatment is straight forward and effective (Root canal and crown) the patient has had a major inconvenience to their schedule and lifestyle.  More than likely this situation could have been avoided by having a crown when the tooth was showing signs of breaking down.  This is one of the many things evaluated at periodic recall exams within your dental office.

If you've experienced a fractured tooth or are concerned about this occurring give us a call at 616-284-3200 and we'd be happy to offer you a free evaluation and consult!

Improving Sleep

Can My Dentist Improve My Sleep?

Unfortunately the lack of quality, restful sleep seems to be a common complaint today.  Lack of restful sleep has been connected to a multitude of health issues including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, strokes, depression and many others.  Although restless sleep can be attributed to many things, two of the most common factors are snoring and sleep apnea.  Both of these conditions are linked to the airflow (or lack thereof) from your nose/mouth to your lungs.  With snoring, many times tissue in the back of your throat is partially covering your airway and as you breathe the tissue vibrates resulting in the noise referred to as "snoring".  Snoring can not only be disruptive to the snorers sleep quality but can also impact anybody within earshot!  Sleep apnea is a serious condition where the tissue completely covers the airway blocking the intake of oxygen.  This results in an "episode" where an individual is abruptly awoken from their sleep to get air into their lungs.  Depending on how many episodes a person has throughout the night corresponds to the severity of the sleep apnea.  If you suspect you or someone you know has sleep apnea I highly recommend you have a sleep study done to determine the severity.

One of the most conservative and cost effective ways to manage both snoring and sleep apnea is through the use of a mouth appliance.  Although there are many types and designs the basic premise is to keep the airway open and unblocked thus eliminating snoring and sleep apnea episodes.  Some appliances accomplish this by pulling the lower jaw forward and others utilize a design to depress and reposition the tongue.  Both approaches are effective.  Your dental office will be able to discuss your particular needs and recommend an appropriate design.  I would recommend that if you are using it as a treatment for sleep apnea that you follow up with a sleep study while wearing the appliance to confirm that your episodes have been addressed.

Call us today at 616-284-3200 for a free consult regarding this important and potentially life changing treatment!

Silver Or White Fillings

White Fillings Or Silver Fillings?

Deciding what type of filling material to use to fill your tooth can be confusing and frustrating.  Not only is there many materials to choose from but many opinions about those materials (some scientifically based others not) that play into the decision.  Silver fillings (also called amalgams) are a combination of different metals (copper, nickel, etc) mixed with mercury to allow the filling to be adapted and shaped within the cavity.  After approximately 24hrs from placement the silver filling has hardened and can withstand chewing forces.  Silver fillings have a lot of history behind them as they were the material of choice in dentistry for many years.  Many dental offices still believe in them as an appropriate filling material and offer it to their patients.  There is a concern that has been raised regarding the mercury contained within the material and it's potential health concerns.  Regarding this issue I'd recommend that you discuss it with your dentist as well as do your own due diligence in researching the topic on the web.  My only caution would be to make sure that the advise you seek is from a reputable peer reviewed source because as I stated before there are many opinions on the topic.  The alternative material is "white" or "tooth colored" (also called composites or resins).  These materials are a type of plastic that is bonded to the tooth and hardened by a light or a chemical reaction.  These materials have evolved and improved greatly over the years to now be able to compete with amalgams in regards to stability and longevity.

There are advantages and disadvantages to each material and I'd recommend discussing it with your dentist to determine the best material for you.

Insurance Coverage

Does My Insurance Cover That?

Dental insurances are an excellent tool to help finance your dental treatment.  However, many times the specific terms of the benefit can be very confusing for a patient to understand.  Insurance policies are purchased by employers for their employees as a benefit.  The employer decides upon a policy based on many factors.  Depending on the employers budget, the policy will have defined benefits for the employee.  Two important ones are the annual benefit amount and the percentages of coverage.  The annual benefit is the amount of money the employee may use towards their dental treatment in a calendar year (usually ranges from $1000-$2500).  After the employee has used up the annual benefit amount, any remaining care is at the employee's expense.  Also, if any benefit remains or is not utilized within the calendar year it does not carry over to the next year.  So if it isn't utilized, it's lost.  The percentages of care also are determined by the policy bought by the employer.  There are different categories of care defined by the insurance companies.  These categories include Preventative (cleanings, x-rays, exams), Operative (fillings, extractions, root canals), Prosthodontic (crowns, bridges, partials, dentures) and Orthodontic (braces).  The policy usually has different percentages assigned to each category.  For example, if your policy stated it would cover 50% in the prosthodontic category, then a crown would be covered at 50%.  So if the total fee for the crown was $800, then $400 would come out of the employees annual benefit amount and the remaining $400 would be at the employee's expense.

Other terms to be aware of are deductibles, waiting periods, missing tooth exclusions and age limitations.  I know it can be a bit overwhelming and confusing trying to understand your dental insurance benefits but many times your dental office can really help.

Ask for a consult or an amount of time at your initial exam to help define your benefits.  It will help you plan out and manage your care more effectively as well as avoid confusion and frustration in the future.  Although insurance can help lower the financial investment you make in your dental care, I always recommend choosing a dental practice based on the quality of care and professional relationship you develop with that office.  In the end you'll be more satisfied and proud of the care you receive.

Give us a call today at 616-284-3200 for a free consult!