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FAQ – COMMON QUESTIONS

How do I find a new dentist?

The most reliable source is likely the soccer/PTA Mom whom you work with. She is likely tied into the community and knows the more active dentists in the community.

If you go to the doc with the largest ad, consider that a full page ad in “ye olde time” Yellow Pages costs $20-30,000 per year. Similarly, 1-800-Dentist charges $10-15,000 per year. Radio and television coverage comes with similar numbers (how much did they have to pay for that 5 second jingle?). Are you getting my drift here? Someone has to pay for this and it helps if a lot of new patients are coming in. This oftentimes gives you the answer to a follow-up previous question, “Why did this doctor feel that I needed so much work done?

If you ever go to a dental office and feel intimidated, get a second opinion – dental treatment is expensive and usually irreversible. Your gut feeling may be more accurate than you know.

For more thoughts on what makes a good dentist: click here

Why doesn’t my insurance cover this?

By now, I’m sure you realize that the insurance companies see you as a financial transaction – not a patient. Their exclusions and limitations rarely make sense to us either. Even with a clear medical need and a well-written narrative, it is rare to get these companies to pay for certain treatments. We’ll try our best to help you.

Why are x-rays necessary?

Without x-rays, you cannot see decay in between the teeth, screen for abscesses (infections), evaluate bone level or screen for bony lesions. It is a well worn adage in medicine that if you’re not looking for something, you’re not going to find it. I’d rather know what I’m dealing with and find problems before they find me!

Why do I get charged for an exam?

Personally, I’d like to give one fee… that’s it, “here’s the visit, here’s the fee”. But, the insurance companies don’t let us do this, so this is why a separate exam fee is charged. While the hygienist is cleaning your teeth, she is examining every surface for damage or change. She is observing every square millimeter of soft tissue also. When you think about it, the exam actually lasts for forty minutes, not just the five when the doctor comes in.

What about silver (mercury) fillings?

I still have silver fillings in my own mouth and my wife’s. Silver fillings still have a place in dentistry, although I use white fillings about ten times more frequently. Silver fillings routinely last for 15 years and more (often 30), the same cannot be said for white fillings.

Modern white fillings are pretty darn good. They tend to cause less sensitivity and they look great. The original controversy was based on terrible research. In 1990, a researcher placed silver fillings in pregnant sheep and observed mercury levels in their excrement. He missed one very big point – sheep are like cows, they constantly chew their cud. Within 30 days, most of the fillings had been worn away and swallowed! Talk about a poorly designed study!

Honestly, you are more at risk driving on Route 84.

How can I get my teeth whiter?

This is such a complex subject, I have written a whole page (click here).

What’s more important, brushing or flossing?

Don’t miss the point here- the point is thoroughness and time. Clean your teeth like a hygienist! Did you notice that it takes us 30-40 minutes to properly clean your teeth? Floss at least once a day, then brush for 1.5 minutes in the morning (also, after lunch) and night. BTW – the answer is flossing.

Why did the Doctor’s work only last for…

Why did the doctor’s work only last for… (fill in the blank) As much as we try, we can’t improve on what God gave you. If the tooth had been in good shape, we never would have had to touch it. Any time you touch the tooth with a dental drill, you are making it weaker. If you already have a weak tooth, no filling is going to make it stronger than it was to begin with. Also, if you have habits (like ice chewing and nighttime grinding) that weaken the teeth, these will cause premature failure. So to answer the question in a round-about way, there’s generally more to the story and blaming achieves nothing. After using them for many years, teeth break – sometimes for no reason at all.

Why does this doctor feel I need so much work done?

This is tricky. Sometimes it is a justified treatment plan. However, without seeing you, and your records, I cannot make that determination. God gave you a brain – get a second opinion. There are dentists who stretch the point and over-treat.

If you have more questions, e-mail me at query@drliftig.com.