A Few Things You May Not Have Realized About Your Dental Insurance

Well, we’ve reached the halfway point of the year, and it’s a great time to think about your dental benefits that you obtain through your employer.  Do you have any idea what your benefits actually are?  Do you know how much dental benefit you have remaining in your plan year?  Did you know that those benefits don’t roll over into the next year?  Here are a few things to think about as we get into the last half of the year.

You have paid your insurance premiums all year – you have EARNED your
dental benefits, do not let them slip away before your remaining
benefits expire at year’s end.

1.      Yearly Maximums

Your dental plan gives you a maximum of what can be spent on your
dental care on an annual basis.  This amount varies between insurance
companies, and averages around $1000 per person per year.  These
maximums are typically reset at the end of the year, and if you have
unused benefits, they will be forfeited.

2.       Deductibles

The deductible is the amount of money that you pay out of pocket
before your benefits begin to take effect.  The fee varies between
insurance companies and could be higher if you prefer to see a dentist
that is out of your network.  When your plan rolls over, you are
required to pay your deductible again to start taking advantage of
your benefits.

3.      Premiums

If you are paying for dental benefits, you should be taking advantage
of them!  This sounds simple, but there are many people that do not
exercise their benefits and let the insurance company take that money
away from you, and put it straight into their own pockets.

4.      Fee Increases

Another reason to use your benefits now is because it is always
possible that fees will be raised to accommodate for the cost of
living or increased material costs.  An increase in fees can also
raise your copay.

5.      Dental problems don’t get better over time

By delaying treatment, you may be opening the door for more extensive
treatment to be needed in the future.  What may be a simple cavity now
can turn into a root canal or extraction down the road.  Treat your
teeth with care now, and they will thank you for it in the long run.

We love to educate patients about their dental benefits so that they fully understand their plans.  Stop by the office or give us a call if you are interested in finding out if you have any remaining benefits for the year.  Even if you don’t have pending treatment we would love to give you great information about your plan.  By completing your treatment before the end of the year, you will be able to maximize yours insurance benefits and enjoy better dental health.

Take Care of Your Teeth at Any Age

One of the most frequently asked questions that we get in our dental office is “What should I be doing to take care of my teeth?” Our top priority is to educate our patients and empower them to maintain their smiles for a lifetime. Whether they are two years old or ninety years old, each patient deserves to have a health mouth. The American Dental Association (ADA) recently created a section on its website that addresses these issues and provides concise and useful information to help patients understand how to care for their mouth at any age. Take some time and click through the links. For any give age group, there are separate categories giving information about healthy habits, concerns, nutrition, and facts vs. fiction. If you have any additional thoughts or concerns after reading the information, please feel free to stop by the office and chat with us.


It is summer, time for family vacation, reunions, and cameras flashing — SMILE!  Smiling for photographs is not always pleasant if you are dissatisfied with the way your smile looks.  Sometimes, the dissatisfaction is hard to identify.  Maybe your teeth are not as white or as straight as you would like.  Maybe you have staining from antibiotic use as a child.  Or maybe the size and shape of your teeth aren’t proportionate with your face.  Often, you are not even sure what it is that you dislike, but you know something is not quite right.  Since a healthy, nice-looing smile can affect your whole attitude, it is worth giving some thought about whether you are happy with your smile.

Discuss your smile with your dentist.  In addition to keeping healthy gums and teeth for a lifetime, simple cosmetic changes can readily improve your smile.  Ad recent patient came in to my office with old veneers on her front teeth that were chipped and beginning to decay.  She hated to smile and felt that she looked older and less attractive than she could.  With just a few visits, we removed the old veneers, took care of the decay, and placed beautiful porcelain crown on her front teeth.  She was overwhelmed by her new look and left our office with tears of happiness.

Her case is just an example of what new materials and techniques can do to improve your smile, with less discomfort than ever before.  Whether it is bleaching for whiter teeth, Invisalign to straighten your teeth, or crowns to reshape the teeth, there is a solution for any esthetic desire you may have.

Please give us a call if you would like discuss any changes to your smile, so that the next time the camera flashes, you are proudly smiling back!

Dr. Nauert and Dr. Vaughan

An Important Message About Oral Cancer…

One of the places that we turn to for information is Dentaltown Magazine.  It was started by a dentist named Howard Farran.  He is a great businessman and a wonderful advocate for our profession.  Recently he wrote a great article about oral cancer and what dentistry needs to be doing to really help the public fight this terrible disease.  A link to his blog and the full text is posted below.


Let’s Band Together to Improve Public Health by Howard Farran, DDS, MBA, Publisher, Dentaltown Magazine


When the average person hears “dentist,” the word “activism” doesn’t usually come to mind. However, there are many dentists who stand up for the changes they want to see. For instance, dentists changed oral health forever when they rallied to fluoridate water. They took action and won, case by case, community by community. We need that same kind of dedication for a different matter now: oral cancer.

In the United States, a person dies every hour from oral cancer, and many of those people could have been saved if they’d had a screening or an earlier screening for oral cancer.1 Let’s face it—actually getting reimbursed for a screening would help. We have 150,000 dentists in this country and we don’t even get paid by the largest dental insurance companies in the world for an oral-cancer exam?

Another lifesaver: the vaccine for human papillomavirus (HPV). If more people got the HPV vaccine, fewer people would get oral cancer. It’s that simple, but dentists aren’t even allowed to administer the vaccine.

It’s worse than that, though: most of us don’t give HPV advice or talk about HPV at all. How many people have to die before the physicians of the mouth start asking parents, “Has your child been vaccinated for HPV?” The fact that HPV is linked to cervical cancer is becoming well known, but the average person is not aware that HPV is also linked to oral cancers.

Dentists could be an amazing ally in spreading this information, and I believe we should be able to give the vaccine. I would like to, but as a dentist I’m not allowed to, and even if I did give it, I wouldn’t get reimbursed for it. A registered nurse can give the vaccine, but I can’t.

After almost a decade of advanced education I don’t have the legal right to give a vaccine, yet I go to Walgreens or CVS and I can get a flu shot.

Dentists, we have to take our ground back.

All the data I see says that the average American sees a dentist twice for every time he or she sees a physician. This frequency of visit gives us tremendous power, and that power is not being used adequately. Dentistry is a sleeping giant in terms of overall health. We do a lot, but we could do more, and we should be reimbursed for it. Should we screen patients for lung cancer or brain tumors? No. But preventing oral cancer is a cause we should take up.

There has long been a resistance to helping people regarding oral cancer and I think it has to do with past prejudice. When I got out of school in 1987, a lot of clinicians weren’t much into oral-cancer screening, and it’s probably because they were judgmental. Public perception was that everyone who had oral cancer did “bad” things such as drinking and smoking, and brought the illness on themselves. Some people still may have those beliefs regarding oral cancer and HPV, when sexual activity plays a role.

We’ve had some brave famous people go public about their oral cancer (such as actor Michael Douglas, who was diagnosed with throat cancer) and this is helping to remove the stigma. There’s a lot more that can be done to educate the public, though, and we are just the people to take the lead. We’ve taken the lead before…

I am very proud of our efforts for community fluoridation, which started in the 1940s in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Right now about 74 percent of Americans drink fluoridated water, and the research shows that we have about a 40-percent reduction in decay in those communities. But why stop there? One in four Americans still doesn’t have water fluoridation. Maybe it’s time for the American Dental Association (ADA) to get involved. The ADA has an amazing president, Dr. Maxine Feinberg, whom I love and adore, and the president-elect is Dr. Carol Summerhays, whom I also very much admire. Maybe if we start talking with these two legendary dentists and the ADA about this topic, water fluoridation can become a piece of national legislation. By the way, check out the podcast I did with Maxine Feinberg and Carol Summerhays at Dentaltown.com/ADApodcast. You can also find it in the blogs/podcasts section.

We have national legislation to put vitamin D in milk; we have national legislation to put chlorine in water. We don’t let every community decide if they put vitamin D in milk, or chlorine in the water to prevent cholera, or iodine in the salt to prevent goiter. Can you imagine if one in four communities didn’t have iodine in the salt and people had goiters? Or if communities didn’t have vitamin D in their milk and had rickets? This is crazy. It’s time to close the water-fluoridation deal and have one piece of national legislation.

I’d like to go farther than that, though, and take on oral cancer. I want to see legislation for this and I want people to accept that dentists have eight years of college and are doctors. They should be able to do anything in any state that a pharmacist at Walgreens and CVS can do, such as give a flu shot if they want to, and they sure should be able to give an HPV vaccine.

Legislation or not, we all need to start talking to patients about HPV and oral cancer, because someone is dying of oral cancer every hour.

You’re a doctor and your patients are counting on you. Man up. Woman up. Let’s band together to standardize fluoridation nationwide and to reduce oral-cancer deaths.

Oral Cancer Facts

  1. Nearly 45,750 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year.
  2. It will cause more than 8,650 deaths, killing roughly one person per hour, 24 hours per day.
  3. Historically, the death rate associated with this cancer is particularly high not because the cancer is hard to discover or diagnose, but because the cancer is routinely discovered late in its development.
  4. Of those 45,750 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half—approximately 57 percent—will be alive in five years.
  5. One of the real dangers of this cancer is that in its early stages, it can go unnoticed. The good news is that in many cases, a physician or dentist can see or feel the precursor tissue changes, or the actual cancer while it is still very small or in its earliest stages.
  6. Worldwide the problem is much greater, with more than 450,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Note that the world incidence numbers from the World Health Organization, while the best available, are estimates that users should consider with caveats.
  7. The human papilloma virus (HPV) is now confirmed to cause oral cancer in a younger age group. Transmitted via sexual contact, HPV (particularly version 16) is conclusively implicated in the increasing incidence of young, non-smoking oral-cancer patients. This is the same virus that—along with its other versions—causes more than 90 percent of all cervical cancers in women. The foundation believes, based on recent peer-reviewed published data, that HPV16 may be replacing tobacco as the primary causative agent in the initiation of the disease process in people under the age of 50.

I’m missing a tooth… Now what?

There is no worse feeling than having a missing tooth.  The smile is a powerful and beautiful thing, and when a tooth is gone, the picture just isn’t complete.  In the past, replacement options for lost teeth were limited and not always esthetic.  However, dental implants now offer many patients an ideal solution to replace what is missing.

Dental implants offer an alternative to conventional crowns, bridges and dentures. For some people, dental implants offer a smile that looks and feels very natural. Implants are surgically placed below the gums, fuse to the jawbone and serve as a base for individual replacement of teeth, bridges or a denture. Implants offer stability because they fuse to your bone. Candidates for dental implants must have good over-all health, healthy gums, and enough bone to support the implant. A thorough evaluation by your dentist will help determine if you are a good candidate for implants.

Replacing missing teeth with implants begins with a surgery to place the implant in the jaw bone.  Diagnostic x-rays are taken prior to implant placement to determine the appropriate length and diameter of the implant as well as to assess the quality of the bone.  After a healing period of 2-4 months, the implant can be restored with either an implant crown, an implant supported bridge, or an implant supported denture.  Our extensive implant dentistry training allows us, in the majority of cases, to place the implants surgically here at Contemporary Dental rather than having to refer our patients to another doctor.  Some cases necessitate a team approach with a specialist due to patient health or other complexities involved in the case.

Implant supported crowns and bridges have revolutionized dentistry.  They allow dentists to be more conservative and simply replace a failed or missing tooth rather than needlessly grind away healthy tooth structure.  In addition, implants look very natural and can help preserve bone in an area where a tooth is missing.  If you or someone you know has a missing tooth, an implant might be the perfect solution.  Call our office today at 713.668.9119 to schedule your consult.

Doesn’t Everyone Want Straighter Teeth?

Lately, I’ve seen more and more adults coming to my office who are curious about what they can do to improve their smile.  The answers are as diverse as the patients who make up my practice.  Some people just need a little whitening; some people have complex restorative needs; many could benefit from getting the position of their teeth corrected.

What?  Braces?  Often when we start to discuss straightening teeth that question or one similar to that is the first thing out of the patient’s mouth.  While some adults do need traditional braces, many adults can be treated simply with Invisalign.  Invisalign uses a series of clear retainers that are custom made for a specific patient and shift teeth incrementally over a period of months.  The best part about Invisalign is that these retainers are practically invisible.

If you are interested in a better smile, Invisalign might be the perfect option for you.  Straighter teeth will make you feel more confident about your smile, will communicate to others a true picture of your health, and will help you and your dental hygienist keep your teeth and gums healthier with greater ease.  Call our office today at 713.668.9119 to schedule your consult or visit the Invisalign website at http://www.invisalign.com/how-invisalign-works for more information about the Invisalign process.