talk like a pirate day

Talk Like a Pirate; Don’t Treat Your Teeth Like One!

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Shiver me timbers, matey! On September 19th, we celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Ye landlubbers wouldn’t know it, but there may have been a reason the scallywags of the 7 seas downed so much grog: their oral health habits were atrocious!

Avast! Ye better be swabbing yer deck, er, teeth twice daily and flossing regularly to avoid a swashbuckling brethren experienced! Forget and you’ll be forced to walk the plank and the Tooth Fairy won’t share her booty! Arrr ye hearing me?

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Dental Procedures: The ‘Root’ of All Evil?

Your teeth have been killing you so you head to the dentist to investigate the pain. After your appointment, your dentist gives you the bad news – you have an infected tooth. At this point, it’s safe to say you’re not jumping for joy.

Your dentist will likely give you two treatment options to replace the tooth – a root canal or a dental implant. Torn between which way to treat your compromised tooth? Here’s a quick rundown.

Root Canals:

Hearing the words “root canal” might as well be the sound of nails on a chalkboard. Root canal procedures get their bad rep because decades ago they were painful. But don’t let that outdated stereotype make you cringe! Today, a root canal is no more dramatic than a routine filling. Local anesthetics have been improved and the instruments used to clean the inside of the tooth are very small. Most root canals can be completed in one visit and are near painless.

During a root canal treatment, your dentist removes the source of your tooth pain, also known as the inflamed pulp. Once the inflamed pulp is removed, the tooth is then cleaned, filled and sealed.

Dental Implants:

Dental implants had been used for decades with mixed success. Just like root canals, dental implants have come a long way since their breakthrough in the ‘60s. In fact, dental implants and root canals yield virtually equal success rates.

Implants require extracting the tooth followed by multiple surgeries to insert a metal post in the jaw and attach a porcelain crown to the post. These surgeries often can take 3 or more visits to complete, and can be timely and costly. However, if your tooth is severally damaged, an implant might be the best choice.

In the end, no one procedure is better than the other.

The decision should be based on the complexity of your case, as well as your preference. Make sure to weigh the pluses and minuses with your dentist. No matter what procedure you choose, both options are sure to make your smile last a lifetime. 

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Pre-Treatment Estimates: Your Personal Crystal Ball

Think of a pre-treatment estimate like a fortune-teller and crystal ball – it predicts the future of a dental procedure. But unlike fortune-tellers, pre-treatment estimates are accurate.

But why would you want to get a pre-treatment estimate?

Reasons to get a pre-treatment estimate:

  • You’re planning to have extensive dental work such as crowns, wisdom teeth extractions, bridges, dentures or periodontal surgery.
  • To see if a procedure is covered under your dental plan.
  • To see if you’re going to exceed your maximum.

Before you schedule an extensive dental treatment, ask your dentist for a detailed cost estimate. Next, your dentist will submit the procedure cost to your benefit provider (i.e. Delta Dental of Washington) for an estimate. Your dentist may have to submit x-rays or supporting documents. Finally, your benefit provider will send you and your dentist the final estimate.

After you receive the estimate you’ll know:

  • How much your plan will pay toward treatment
  • Your out-of-pocket financial responsibility
  • The amount remaining toward your deductible (if applicable)
  • How close you are to your benefit maximum

While many aspects of your future remain unknown, pre-treatment estimates act as the tarot cards of the dental world. Get an accurate picture of what your next dental procedure has in store for you.

Remember, coverage details will differ depending on your benefit provider, as well as your specific plan. If you’re a Delta Dental of Washington subscriber, log in to the Patient Area to get more details on your plan.

Not a Delta Dental of Washington subscriber? Visit deltadentalwa.com for more information on our plans.

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Exercise: The Fountain of Youth

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You’re as young as you feel?”

If you find yourself feeling your age, it might be time to get active! Even though there are no roadmaps to good health, starting and maintaining an active schedule can contribute to healthier bones, a healthier body, and yes, a healthier smile.

Healthier Bones   

Your bones are more important than you might think. Not only do they structurally support your body, but they also keep your internal organs safe and store necessary minerals, among other functions.

As you age, osteoporosis becomes a greater threat than it was in your younger years. Luckily, simple exercises can help reduce your chance of osteoporosis; in some cases, exercising can actually help build bone density back up.

Healthier Body

The hype is real, people. Exercising genuinely does help your body function properly. In addition to feeling better, regular activity can hold off common diseases like diabetes, heart disease and strokes.

Healthier Smile

Lack of physical activity is a risk factor for obesity, a disease known to cause dental health problems. In addition, physical activity may decrease your chances of having gum disease.

To give you a jump-start, here are 3 tips for starting your new exercise routine:

1. Visit a doctor. The first step to a successful exercise routine is getting the okay from your doctor.

2. Start slow. Find a walking buddy and do 1 lap around the local track. Slowly increase your distance, as your body gets stronger.

3. Find an activity that is fun to you. If walking isn’t your forte, look for something that you can enjoy doing, like prancercising. We promise not to judge. 

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Top Gums: Feel the Need. The Need to Prevent Gum Disease

If you don’t already feel the need to prevent gum disease, we’re here to tell you why you should.

Gum disease can take 2 forms – gingivitis and a more advanced form, periodontitis. Both diseases come with a myriad of nasty symptoms including receding gums, gum pain and teeth sensitivity. Interested in a toothless smile? Negative, Ghost Rider. If left untreated, gum disease can cause teeth to fall out!

Here’s something to smile about – gum disease is preventable, so it’s important you take care of your mouth from this point forward.

Jump in the pilot’s seat and work your way to top gums by:

  • Brushing and Flossing Daily: Brush with fluoride toothpaste at least 2 times a day. Flossing is the wingman to brushing – make sure to floss at least once a day.
  • Getting Regular Checkups: Regular dental checkups are especially important in preventing gum disease. With bi-yearly checkups, the condition of your gum tissue can be compared over time.  Additionally, professional cleanings are the only way to remove tartar, a buildup of bacteria along the gum line.
  • Saying No to Cigarettes and Tobacco: Using cigarettes and/or other tobacco products automatically put you in the danger zone. Tobacco is one of the most significant risk factors for gum disease.
  • Maintaining a Healthy Diet: Poor nutrition can worsen your gum’s condition. Obesity is a proven risk factor for developing gum disease. Make your mouth and body happy by eating like a maverick. Load up on nutritious, low-sugar foods, limit snacking and drink plenty of water.

Now that you’ve learned the facts, do you feel the need to prevent gum disease?

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A Final Salute to Summer

Still looking for something to do today to celebrate the end of summer? Labor Day is a great chance to get in those last to-dos on your summer list. Our state is full of natural beauty so be sure to spend the last weekend of summer basking in it.

So, have you:

-   Been horseback riding?

If you or your kids have never ridden a horse, try taking them to one of the many horseback-riding adventures offered in Washington. Saddle up to reconnect with nature and enjoy some family bonding time.

-   Visited a national park?

Washington is home to 13 national parks, each one filled with beauty and variety. A day’s exploration can take you from breathtaking mountain views to colorful ocean tide pools. If you plan to hike, remember to drink lots of water to beat dehydration.

-   Hit the beaches?

If you haven’t been to the beach yet this summer, or even if you have, seize the opportunity to soak in some rays, make a sand castle and enjoy the breeze. Luckily Washington’s beaches are relaxing destinations for all ages and interests, so finding a plot of sand to park your towel won’t be too hard.

No matter what you chose to do to celebrate Labor Day, make sure you keep tabs on your oral health! Pack some sugar-free gum and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Happy Labor Day!

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Back-to-School Smile Tips

In the midst of back to school shopping and class registration, it’s easy to overlook the less common back to school customs. Add these 3 to-dos to your list to ensure your child maintains his or her healthy smile while navigating a new school year.

Schedule your child for a dental visit

If your child plays sports, you know that an annual physical is necessary prior to the school year. A back-to-school dental appointment is just as important! Dentists recommend two visits a year for most kids, and back-to-school is the perfect time because it follows a summer of sweet treats, such as popsicles.

Practice proper brushing

Before the first day of school, proper brushing schedules should be set. In the morning rush to get out the door, parents and children may neglect the recommended 2 minutes of brushing. Brushing before school should be a part of every kid’s morning routine, and brushing after breakfast is often the best choice, as it will remove all traces of food and leave the mouth clean.

In addition to building a good routine, it’s important your child have correct techniques. A hurried and improper brushing style may lead to dental problems like cavities and toothaches. Don’t forget to supplement brushing with daily flossing!

Eat a low-sugar diet

Packing a low-sugar lunch for your child helps to ensure that he or she doesn’t exist on a lunch of cookies and candy. Consider making PB&Js with sugar-free jam, or buying maple-flavored turkey or ham. Both have the same great taste without the high amounts of sugar. Fruits and veggies also make excellent snacks, as does sugar-free gelatin.

With regular cleanings, proper care at home, and good nutrition, you can ensure your child has a happy and healthy smile that lasts a lifetime.  Stay one step ahead of dental trouble by scheduling their next cleaning today. For more information about your child’s dental coverage, please visit DeltaDentalWA.com

Do you have any tips for parents gearing up for back to school? Leave them in the comments.

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Choosing the Right Dental Plan for Employees

You’re finally ready to choose a dental plan for your employees – you’ve made a great decision! A majority of consumers consider dental benefits to be a “very important” part of the essential benefits package. Choosing a dental plan can be a confusing and complicated task, even to a seasoned business owner. The best plan for one company might not necessarily be the best plan for another. But what factors should you consider?

Age is an important factor in determining your employees’ dental needs.

  • Employees between the ages of 20-39 are less likely to have poor oral health. This age bracket is also more likely to have children. They appreciate tools that encourage kids to practice good oral health habits.
  • Employees between the ages of 40-59 appreciate a dental plan that covers more restorative procedures.
  • Those in the 60+ age range are more likely to face more complicated conditions and need a dental plan that covers full restorations

Prevention is key. While medical insurance primarily focuses on treatment, prevention is the key idea behind dental insurance. What types of services does the dental insurance plan cover? It seems like all policies are alike – but they’re not! Look for an insurance plan that emphasizes preventive and diagnostic care. Most dental problems, such as cavities, are nearly 100% preventable with proper dental care.

Work within your budget. As an employer, it’s important to understand what your payment obligations are. In addition to monthly premiums, there may be cost-sharing arrangements on services. Next, look at deductibles. This is the amount that members must pay before the insurance company pays for all or a portion of the costs. Deductibles vary. Lower-priced premiums typically have higher deductible amounts. There are also plan maximums. The higher the annual maximum, the higher the premium.

Pick a plan with a large network. How many dentists will be in network locally? Do you have any employees that work in different states and/or regularly travel? An affordable dental plan doesn’t mean anything when it provides access to only a narrow network of dentists. Make sure your dental insurance offers you the lowest cost…with the most choice.

Regardless of the dental plan you choose, making the decision to give your employees dental insurance is the right choice. Delta Dental recommends that you consult with your broker or consultant when evaluating a dental plan. For more information on Delta Dental of Washington’s insurance, visit DeltaDentalWA.com

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Hooray for National Tooth Fairy Day!

On August 22, we celebrate everyone’s favorite tooth-collector – the infamous Tooth Fairy! And because she’s so nice, we celebrate her twice! National Tooth Fairy Day also occurs once in February. The Tooth Fairy must be a pretty big deal to have two holidays a year.

It’s also a big deal when your child loses a baby tooth, and it should be celebrated accordingly. Leaving gifts from the Tooth Fairy is a great way to help make losing teeth less scary and more enjoyable for kids. We encourage parents to talk about the Tooth Fairy’s visits as a way to discuss good oral health even before a child loses their first tooth. After all, there’s nothing that makes the Tooth Fairy happier than healthy teeth! Whether it’s their first, second or tenth tooth, here are three ways to go all out when a tooth falls out:

  1. Give oral health gifts. In 2013, the Tooth Fairy left cash for 98% of the homes she visited. It’s obvious she’s notorious for leaving money, but isn’t it time she left oral health surprises too? Gift your child with a new toothbrush and toothpaste that feature their favorite cartoon character. Books also make for fun tooth-themed trinkets. There are dozens of children’s books about Tooth Fairy adventures that can add to the Tooth Fairy excitement.
  1. Get crafty and make a DIY Tooth Fairy pillow. Gone are the days of worrying about not being able to find the tiny tooth under your child’s pillow. Never fear – this fun-sized pillow will make it ‘fairy’ easy for the Tooth Fairy to find your child’s lost tooth!
  1. A personalized note and certificate from the Tooth Fairy can be just as exciting as a gift. It gives your little one a sense of accomplishment, and encourages him or her continue taking care of that beautiful smile. Visit www.theoriginaltoothfairypoll.com/tooth-fairy-resources/ to download letters, certificates and more!

Visit the Original Tooth Fairy Poll website for even more ideas on how to make your child’s Tooth Fairy experience sparkle!

Seniors

Dental Benefit Categories and Coverages

Many dental plans offer 3 classes or categories of coverage. Each class provides specific types of treatment and typically covers those treatments at a certain percentage.

Each class also specifies limitations and exclusions. Reimbursement levels vary from plan to plan, so be sure to read your benefits information carefully.

Here are the typical levels in benefit plans:

Class I (usually called Diagnostic & Preventive)

  • Procedures are diagnostic and preventive and typically are covered at the highest percentage (for example 90 – 100% of the allowable dental charge).
  • Give patients a financial incentive to seek preventive care, because such care can prevent more extensive dental disease or even dental disease itself.

Class II (usually called Basic)

  • Includes basic procedures — such as fillings, extractions and periodontal treatment — that are sometimes reimbursed at a slightly lower percentage (for example 70 – 80%).

Class III  (usually called Major)

  • For major services, such as crowns and dentures. This is usually reimbursed at a lower percentage (for example, 50%).
  • Class III may have a waiting period before services are covered.

Limitations and Exclusions

Dental plans are designed to help with part of your dental expenses. The typical plan includes limitations and exclusions, meaning the plan doesn’t cover every aspect of dental care. This can relate to the type or number of procedures, the number of visits or age limits.

If you want to find out more about your coverage specifics, log on to our website at DeltaDentalWA.com where you can find your specific benefits and usage. Or, call us to talk with a customer relation representative at 800-554-1907.

No matter what type of a dental benefit plan you have, it’s important to understand your plan offerings so that you can use your benefits to help improve your health.