Posts for: August, 2014
Think of a contagious disease and you may picture one of the great outbreaks of the past: the terrible flu epidemic of 1918, the ever-present threat of polio in the early 20th Century, and the ancient (and still widespread) danger of cholera in overcrowded urban areas. Or you may think of the common cold, a familiar contagious malady that’s still very much with us. Yet there’s one contagious disease you may not think of, but probably should: tooth decay.
Many people don’t realize that tooth decay is contagious. But the fact is, decay bacteria can be passed between people like a bad cold — and it happens all the time.
Sugar usually gets the blame for tooth decay; a recent survey found that 81 percent of Americans say it’s responsible for cavities. But sugar alone isn’t the culprit. Cavities are actually caused by certain types of bacteria that cling to the teeth in the absence of proper oral hygiene. These bacteria process sugar from the foods we eat, and then secrete acidic byproducts that erode the hard enamel of the teeth. This causes the formation of the tiny holes we call cavities.
Children aren’t born with S. Mutans. But studies show that most of them “catch” it from their caregivers — often, their parents. By the time they are two years old, over 80 percent of kids will have detectable levels of the bacteria. Whether or not they pick up harmful microorganisms — and how much they have — depends on the infectiousness of the strain, and on the caregiver’s attention to oral hygiene.
How can you prevent the spread of decay-causing bacteria? Essentially, by limiting its transfer from your mouth to your baby’s mouth. So don’t “clean” a baby’s pacifier by putting it in your mouth, and don’t share utensils — for example, by tasting baby’s food with his or her spoon. While it’s ever so tempting, avoid kissing baby’s lips, especially if there is a chance of transferring saliva. And don’t even think of “pre-chewing” baby’s food — no matter what some self-appointed health gurus may say.
There’s still another way to limit the spread of decay-causing microorganisms: Make sure your own practice of oral hygiene is top-notch! Oral bacteria can spread not only from parents to babies, but also between adults. Maintaining good oral health means brushing and flossing every day, and getting regular check-ups: It’s important for you, and for everyone you care about.
If you have questions about tooth decay prevention or oral hygiene care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Tooth Decay” and “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”
- Schedule Regular Dental Visits: We know how busy your schedule gets; however, don’t ever let it get so busy that you forget about your dental health. In fact, many dental conditions don’t cause pain, so you may not even know you have a problem until you visit your dentist. And the sooner you see your dentist, the better your dental outcome will be.
When her daughter Ashby was born in 2007, Nancy O'Dell was overjoyed; but she found the experience of pregnancy to be anxiety-provoking. O'Dell is host of the popular entertainment news show Entertainment Tonight.
After her baby was born she compiled her memories and thoughts into a book for first-time pregnant mothers. The book, “Full of Life: Mom to Mom Tips I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Pregnant,” covers a wide range of topics — including oral health during pregnancy.
“While my dental health has always been relatively normal, pregnancy did cause me some concern about my teeth and gums. With my dentist's advice and treatment, the few problems I had were minimized,” O'Dell told Dear Doctor magazine. An example of her experience is a craving for milk that started at about the time the baby's teeth began to form. She felt that her body was telling her to consume more calcium.
As often happens with pregnant mothers, she developed sensitive gums and was diagnosed with “pregnancy gingivitis,” the result of hormonal changes that increase blood flow to the gums.
“I love to smile,” said O'Dell, “and smiles are so important to set people at ease, like when you walk into a room of people you don't know. When you genuinely smile you're able to dissolve that natural wall that exists between strangers.”
Dentistry can accomplish some amazing smile transformations. But these advanced techniques and materials all come with a price. Additionally, your dental insurance plan may be of limited use: some procedures may not be fully covered because they’re deemed elective.
It’s important then to review your financial options if you’re considering a major dental procedure. Here are a few of those options with their advantages and disadvantages.
Pay Up Front. It may sound old-fashioned, but saving money first for a procedure is a plausible option — your dental provider, in fact, may offer a discount if you pay up front. If your condition worsens with time, however, you may be postponing needed care that may get worse while you save for it.
Pay As You Go. If the treatment takes months or years to complete, your provider may allow you to make a down payment and then pay monthly installments on the balance. If the treatment only takes a few visits, however, this option may not be available or affordable.
Revolving Credit. You can finance your treatment with a credit card your provider accepts, or obtain a medical expenditure card like CareCredit through GE Capital that specializes in healthcare expenses. However, your interest may be higher than other loan options and can limit the use of your available credit for other purchases. In addition, some healthcare cards may offer interest-free purchasing if you pay off the balance by a certain time; however, if you don’t pay off the balance on time, you may have to pay interest assessed from the date you made the purchase.
Installment Loans. Although not as flexible as revolving loans, installment loans are well-suited for large, one-time purchases with their defined payment schedule and fixed interest rate. Some lenders like Springstone℠ Patient Financing specialize in financing healthcare procedures, and may possibly refinance existing loans to pay for additional procedures.
Equity Loans. These loans are secured by the available value in an asset like your home. Because they're secured by equity, they tend to have lower interest rates than credit cards or non-secured installment loans. On the downside, if you fail to repay, the lender can take your property to satisfy the loan.
To determine the best financing route for a dental procedure, be sure to discuss your options with your financial advisor and your dental provider.
If you would like more information on financing dental care, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Financing Dental Care.”