With increased time at home (and on Zoom meetings!), our Sunnyvale patients have started to pay extra attention to their teeth. With work meetings held virtually and social gatherings kept to a minimum, many of our patients are using this as an opportunity to improve their smiles. If you've been seriously considering cosmetic dentistry recently, you may find these frequently asked questions helpful.
What can you achieve with cosmetic dentistry?
Cosmetic dentistry can help you reshape your teeth and change your smile. If you're self-conscious about your smile, or if you noticed that you have teeth that are discolored, stained, or misaligned, you may be a good candidate for cosmetic dentistry.
Am I a good candidate for cosmetic dentistry?
Not everyone is a good candidate for cosmetic dentistry. It's important to have an honest discussion with our office about your goals. We need to first start by ensuring your gums and teeth are healthy by scheduling an appointment in our Sunnyvale office for a check-up and cleaning. If you have large cavities or any infections, we will first address those concerns. After more urgent dental concerns are treated, we can discuss cosmetic dentistry options to help you achieve your goals.
Is cosmetic dentistry expensive?
This depends on the procedure(s) you want and need. Some patients' desires are to simply whiten their teeth.For those patients, we offer professional teeth whitening. Other patients opt for teeth bonding with composite filling materials. And other patients want a complete overhaul of their smile - involving crowns, veneers, and sometimes even orthodontics (braces). The more involved and complex your treatment is, the higher the costs will be.
What type of cosmetic dentistry procedures do you offer?
In our Sunnyvale office, we offer a variety of cosmetic dentistry procedures to help you meet your goals. I've included some photos below that show the variety of cosmetic work we've completed on our patients. Each of our patients had different goals and have received different, customized treatment plans. Depending on your goals, you may need a combination of teeth whitening, bonding, crowns, veneers, or braces.
How long will cosmetic dentistry last?
I always tell patients that dental care lasts as long as they're willing to take care of the work! Dental crowns can last a lifetime with proper homecare routines (brushing twice a day and flossing daily). Veneers are meant to last many, many years. While teeth whitening can last anywhere from 6 months to 1 year, it is a procedure that requires maintenance. Avoiding foods and drinks that stain your teeth may improve the longevity of your results.
If you have been recommended to wear a nightguard to protect your cosmetic dentistry from harmful nighttime grinding habits, it's important to remember to wear it every night.
Schedule your appointment for cosmetic dentistry in our Sunnyvale office today.
If you've been considering cosmetic dentistry to brighten your smile, schedule an appointment today to discuss your options and get your questions answered!
We always recommend that our patients understand their insurance benefits, and our Sunnyvale dental office will go the extra mile to help you understand your insurance benefits.
Many of my friends are trying to select insurance plans for the new year and are deciding how much money to allocate to their HSA/FSA for the new year. Some of them have also realized that there are only a few weeks left in the year to use their dental insurance benefits.
If this is your employer's open enrollment period and you are deciding between several dental insurance plans, here are a few things to consider:
What does insurance consider a "year"?
Many insurance plans are a calendar year benefit. This means your insurance benefits are paid January 1 through December 31. Your insurance renews itself on January 1, and your benefit year ends on December 31.
Some other insurance plans run on a different benefit cycle. For example, many of our patients who work for Amazon have plans that run from April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021.
Insurance plans are "use it or lose it" - which means if you don't use your insurance benefits, you will lose them for the year. Most plans do not have a "rollover" option.
What are your yearly benefits? And what is a deductible?
Most insurance plans have a maximum amount that they will pay each benefit year. Any expected costs beyond this amount are your responsibility, regardless of your insurance coverage. In the Sunnyvale region and the greater Bay Area, many insurance plans range from $1000-5000 per year. This means your insurance will pay up to this set amount per year.
Additionally, most insurance plans have a deductible that needs to be paid once per benefit year before insurance companies will help you with your treatment costs. While deductible costs vary per plan, most deductibles for our Sunnyvale patients run between $25-75.
This is especially important to patients who seek treatment near the end of the year. If you needed two different appointments for treatment but scheduled them both in different benefit years, you would need to pay the deductible twice. Many of our patients allow themselves ample time to schedule their treatment in the same benefit year, thus eliminating the need to pay a deductible twice.
How much does insurance pay? What is my expected cost for treatment?
Many insurance companies will only pay for a percentage of your treatment fees. While most preventative dental visits (such as exams, x-rays, and cleanings) are usually covered in full, many other procedures are not.
It is common for insurance companies to pay a percentage (and oftentimes it is a large percentage) of treatment costs associated with fillings, root canals, deep cleanings, and extractions. Insurance companies usually pay a smaller percentage of treatment costs associated with crowns, bridges, and implants. And I know what you may be thinking next - usually, insurance companies do not cover cosmetic work, such as veneers or whitening.
However, each insurance plan is different, and many dental insurance plans have loopholes and conditions that limit what they will help pay for, which is why...
It is important that you understand your dental insurance benefits. It is important that your dentist and dental home understand your dental insurance benefits.
We ask all patients provide us with their updated insurance information prior to their visits with us. We check your insurance benefits for you ahead of time and have it ready for you during your visit with us.
Our team will prepare a detailed pre-treatment estimate and review this with you so that you understand your insurance benefits. If you have questions regarding your teeth and oral health, and are wondering how your insurance benefits may help you, schedule an appointment with us today!
Despite 2020 feeling as though it's been going on forEVER, fall is officially here. Ever since he lived in Michigan, fall has been my husband's favorite season. He loves that fall comes with brilliant red and orange leaves, a drop in humidity (Midwest summers are no joke!), and a noticeable weather difference...and he appreciates the chill in the air (although we haven't had too much of it in Sunnyvale and the rest of California). And while he's not the biggest fan of pumpkin spiced lattes (he drinks his coffee black), he LOVES anything apple spice flavored. Going to the apple orchards is a *thing* that one does in Michigan during the fall. I admittedly never picked apples, but I definitely sipped on apple cider and indulged in the donuts.
I took this picture during my last autumn in Michigan before moving to Sunnyvale. My little iPhone camera couldn't capture the full brilliance of the leaves.
As students in Sunnyvale are transitioning back to school and employees are bracing for the stress of year-end, here's a quick refresher on a dentist's tips for healthy teeth as we transition into the fall and cooler months.
If you aren't regularly seeing a dentist, use the fall as a guide for regular check-ups and cleanings with your Sunnyvale dentist.
Many of our patients like to come every March/September for their dental visits. Others coordinate dental visits with their birthdays (and also half-birthdays). If you can't remember to visit your dentist regularly, make it easy for yourself - schedule visits in the fall (and spring) to remember.
Coordinate visiting your Sunnyvale dentist with a reminder to replace your toothbrush.
I recommend replacing your toothbrush every 3 months. Some of our patients switch at the beginning of each quarter. As we are starting a new season, replace your toothbrush! And then make it a habit to replace your toothbrush as each season changes. While we're at it...
Brush and floss your teeth twice a day.
We recommend brushing twice a day (for two minutes each time) and flossing daily, making sure to wiggle the floss underneath your gums and "hug" your teeth to get them clean. If you're unsure of your at-home oral hygiene regimen, or if you'd like feedback or pointers, visit us in Sunnyvale to review our oral hygiene tips. Our team is great at educating and showing patients how to brush and floss your teeth.
Sunnyvale dentist hack: incorporate fluoride in your routine.
'Tis the season to indulge in apple donuts and apple cider. Soon enough, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all the gluttony and sweets that accompany those holidays will be here. This is a great time to incorporate fluoride in your regimen. I personally brush with a prescription-strength toothpaste every night, but ACT Mouthrinse is a great option for people looking for an over-the-counter option to increase their fluoride exposure. Fluoride will help strengthen your teeth, protect them from cavities, and decrease sensitivity.
Use the appliances (such as nightguards or retainers) your Sunnyvale dentist recommends.
We've been seeing an increase in patients who are fracturing their teeth, causing them to need root canals, crowns, or even implants. Please, protect your teeth. I'd much rather have a patient chew (and break) a plastic nightguard than have them break their own tooth. Many of our patients' spouses have been hearing our patients grind their teeth and have been encouraging them to visit our office.
If you're looking to get a few questions answered about your smile, or if you're looking for some encouragement on how to improve your oral hygiene, schedule your visit in our office today!
As we transition to the new normal in a world with covid-19, I have found that the #1 cause of emergencies in my Sunnyvale dental office are fractured teeth. I've blogged about how stress can cause dental emergencies, such as broken teeth or root canals. In cases of teeth with large chips or fractures, crowns are recommended to preserve the teeth and keep them functional, healthy, and serviceable.
Many of our patients understand the importance of getting crowns to protect their teeth and are proactive about preserving their teeth, but I wanted to talk briefly about what happens if you don't get a crown.
Crowns protect your teeth from further damage.
Teeth with large existing fillings, fractures, or large cavities may not be able to withstand the forces exerted when chewing. Delaying recommended treatment compromises your teeth and puts them at increased risk of fracturing. When you have a tooth with an existing fracture or a large cavity, the integrity of the tooth is compromised. By "capping" your tooth structure, crowns can protect your teeth from further damage.
Crowns can keep your tooth serviceable for many years.
I am happy to help my patients in Sunnyvale save and care for their teeth. When fractured or decayed teeth are caught before the damage is too extensive, crowns can protect their teeth. In some situations, the extent of the fracture is so large that the tooth cannot be saved. One problem that dentists cannot help you fix is a vertical root fracture. This occurs when your tooth fractures in a way that it runs parallel to your root and extends below your bone level. When teeth have vertical root fractures, we need to think about ways to replace them.
Delaying recommended treatment may lead to unfavorable outcomes.
I had a patient come into my office because she chipped her tooth. The original fracture was between the filling and natural tooth structure. I explained my concerns regarding further fracture of the tooth and recommended a crown. I was concerned she would bite down and cause the tooth to fracture even further.
My patient returned 3 weeks later and mentioned that she noticed her tooth broke further. I took the pictures above at each of her appointments with me. The first picture was taken the day we met. If you look closely, you can see the fracture located between the filling and natural tooth structure.
The second and third photos, taken 3 weeks later, show the damage that occurred. At this point, a section of her tooth was missing, and another section of her tooth had fractured so badly that it was moving. This fracture extended vertically beneath her bone level.
As mentioned before, dentists can't save teeth with vertical root fractures. Unfortunately, this patient will need her tooth replaced with an implant and an implant crown.
Be proactive. Visit your Sunnyvale dentist to help protect and save your teeth.
If you've noticed a filling or tooth that has chipped recently, schedule an appointment for yourself in our Sunnyvale office. We can discuss ways to help you protect and save your teeth. The solution may be as simple as a nightguard, or your situation may require a crown to avoid an emergency visit.
How can your Sunnyvale dentist help you if you've been affected by stress?
The most frequently occurring dental emergency we've seen these past few months is cracked teeth. In Sunnyvale and around the Bay Area, our patients are working from home, and it seems like they're working harder than ever. In our earlier post about bruxism, I talked a bit about side effects of and treatment for bruxism. I wanted to show you some photos from a patient we saw recently who had history of teeth grinding (bruxism).
This patient emailed us and scheduled an appointment for "pain on the left side", but he wasn't sure exactly where it was. He just knew that he had a constant toothache that seemingly came out of the blue, and he figured he needed to visit the dentist.
Teeth grinding can cause a dental emergency.
When we brought him in for his emergency appointment, we saw a tiny crack extending from his existing filling to the edge of his tooth. This same tooth was the culprit of his pain and discomfort.
Increased stress and bruxism during this time led to a cracked tooth. Bacteria traveled through the crack and into the nerve of the tooth. Our patient was able to feel immediate relief after visiting us by electing to start a root canal. A few appointments later, and he has a brand new crown to protect his root canal treated tooth. He is now able to chew and eat normally without any pain.
Check the photos below to see the extent of the cracked tooth. This is how stress can lead to a root canal. Who knew that a tiny crack could spread and cause such problems?
In the first photo, you can see a crack forming on the patient's tooth. In the second and third photos, we are able to see how the crack (dark brown line) spread underneath the filling to the pulp of the tooth. Bacteria was able to travel through the crack to the pulp, thus leading to a toothache.
Visit your Sunnyvale dentist to discuss ways to prevent and avoid dental emergencies.
As we talked about in my previous post, preventive dentistry can help save you money and help you avoid problems. If you have a nightguard that you don't wear, now's a good time to start wearing it regularly. If you have history of bruxism or if you're concerned about clenching/grinding your teeth, please schedule a visit to our office so that we can help you avoid being in the same situation as our emergency patient.
Patients who visit our Sunnyvale office every 6 months for their preventive dental care understand the benefits and importance of routine dental visits. Preventive dental care allows us to check in with you regularly to maintain your oral health, and it helps you avoid dental pain and the extra expenses that may occur. Your health is our priority. Let's explore how Mint Dental Care can help you improve your health with preventive dentistry.
Preventive dentistry stops serious dental problems.
Routine dental visits allow us to check in with you and your concerns. All our patients receive oral cancer screenings during their examinations. Radiographs are taken at regular intervals to check for cavities and gum disease. Visiting the dentist every six months allows us to detect and treat small changes in your oral health before they become bigger problems.
Preventive dentistry saves you from pain.
I can't think of one person who likes being in pain. In fact, most of us actively seek to avoid pain. We'd do just about anything to avoid hurting. Maintaining routine, preventive dental appointments is the easiest way to avoid dental pain! Preventive dentistry allows us to address any issues you may have, treat cavities when they are small, and address gum problems before you get a toothache, a dental abscess, or worse.
Preventive dentistry saves you money.
When we catch dental issues when they are smaller, the treatment - and associated costs - is often much less than if you had a more complicated dental issue. As with other things in life, the more complicated your dental issue is, the more it will cost you. Many dental insurance plans cover a majority of your treatment for fillings. Your copay will be much less than if you had more complicated dental treatment.
Preventive dentistry is covered by your insurance company.
Most insurance companies cover routine check-ups, radiographs, and cleanings twice a year. A growing number of employers near our office in Sunnyvale understand the importance of preventive dentistry and allow their employees 3-4 exams and cleanings per year. Insurance companies usually cover the full cost of these preventive dentistry appointments because they want you to be proactive in maintaining your oral health! Insurance companies would rather pay for you to prevent and avoid problems than pay the higher cost for you to fix problems after they occur.
Experience the benefits of preventive dentistry in our Sunnyvale office for yourself.
In addition to brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing your teeth daily, you should be visiting our Sunnyvale dentist for regular exams and cleanings. This will allow us to find any issues you may have when they are small; thus helping you avoid pain and more expensive dental procedures.
As we inch closer to year end, don't lose out on the opportunity to maximize the benefits that you have paid for throughout the year. Many insurance plans and FSA funds run on a calendar year plan, where your benefits expire on December 31st. These benefits are considered "use it or lose it". If you're unsure of your plan benefits, contact our office so that we can help you understand how many preventive exams and cleanings your insurance company covers each year.
It is now easier than ever to schedule your appointments online for preventive dental care. Let us help you take care of your smile. Preventive dentistry will allow us to help you save your teeth and your money.
This is one of the most frequently asked questions I receive as a dentist in Sunnyvale. Does a patient who has periodontitis really need a deep cleaning?
One of my patients wanted a cleaning because he noticed he had build-up on his teeth. He had deeper pockets that were accompanied with red, puffy gums and calculus. He knew he had periodontitis but wasn't sure why he needed a deep cleaning (known as Scaling/Root Planing to dentists and hygienists) instead of a routine cleaning.
As you may remember from my last blog post, in cases of periodontitis, you will have deeper pockets and inflammation of your gums. When we don't brush and floss regularly, calculus can build up between your teeth and under your gums. A deep cleaning allows us to thoroughly access the areas between your teeth and underneath your gums. By removing calculus, bacteria, and build-up from underneath your gums, the goal of a deep cleaning is to improve your gums and the overall health of your mouth.
X-rays help us detect whether you have any calculus under your gums. The blue circles placed on the first photo (x-ray) above show us the presence of calculus (the white projections coming from the teeth).
The second photo shows calculus on the front teeth. Many patients call us for appointments because they notice this build-up on their teeth. The third photo is a photo taken during the patient's deep cleaning. You can see the difference between areas where calculus has been removed and where calculus still remains.
Our patient told us he immediately noticed a difference in his teeth after his deep cleaning. He was ecstatic and amazed at how smooth and clean his teeth felt after the deep cleanings and has been especially motivated to improve his oral hygiene habits (brushing and flossing) at home.
Deep cleanings and periodontal therapy are recommended for patients with periodontitis because they allow us to remove bacteria from under your gums. The goal of a deep cleaning is to reduce the inflammation of your gums by removing the calculus and bacteria. If you notice calculus on or in between your teeth that you'd like cleaned off, schedule an appointment with our team! We're here in Sunnyvale, and we'd love to help you out.
Our patients are awesome. Truly. They are consistent in maintaining regular check-ups and cleanings and try their best to brush and floss their teeth. Our patients understand the importance of good oral hygiene, and they understand that coming in for frequent check-ups and cleanings helps prevent dental issues from worsening.
Routine dental cleanings can help to prevent periodontal disease. Most people have heard of periodontal diseases and terms such as “gingivitis” and “periodontitis”, but they aren’t aware that more serious health issues can result from poor oral care and infrequent exams and cleanings.
But did you know...
Your first visit in our office will include a set of x-rays and a clinical exam that includes measuring gums. These measurements are taken regularly to help us diagnose periodontal disease. During initial appointments, we also discuss treatment and home-care recommendations
Almost all my patients see improvements in their oral health and gums after they come to see us. I strive to build relationships with patients where they are motivated to improve and maintain their oral health. As they return for frequent check-ups and cleanings, my patients are excited to see the positive changes as a result of committing to their dental care, both in-office and at home.
Do you clench and grind your teeth? Are your teeth sensitive?
We've received quite a few phone calls from emergency patients these past few weeks. An overwhelming majority of our calls have the same issues - patients have been fracturing their teeth. Furthermore, they notice their jaws hurt and their teeth are sore when they wake up in the mornings.
As we’re entering our seventh (!!!) week of sheltering in place in Sunnyvale, I’m noticing that a lot of our patients are under high amounts of stress. Many of them are grinding or clenching their teeth (many times without realizing it). The term we use when referring to teeth grinding is bruxism.
Bruxism is a term for the involuntary and unconscious clenching and grinding of your teeth that occurs either when you are awake or asleep. It is often associated with stress, fatigue, anxiety, or caffeine/alcohol use during the day. Most people who exhibit this behavior are completely unaware of it.
Common effects of bruxism include:
As dentists, we are able to diagnose and discover if you have bruxism through a visual exam. There will be noticeable wear patterns on the chewing surfaces of your teeth. As we’ve seen recently, there may also be damage in the form of chipped or fractured teeth.
If you are a patient who is experiencing bruxism or the symptoms from it, we can make you a custom fitted night guard. These night guards are worn on your upper teeth when you sleep and work by redistributing the unwanted forces from clenching and grinding. Early intervention will lead to longevity of your teeth and oral health. Prevention costs less than treatment.
Across Sunnyvale and the Bay Area, we’ve been sheltering in place, and I’ll admit - this is new for me! For some of our patients in Sunnyvale, it’s business as usual, except they've been working from home rather than the office. Others, including ourselves, have had to make major changes to their routines. I’ve loved reading everyone’s tips on how to use this time to keep routine schedules and to do meaningful things, and I wanted to chime in with tips of my own.
As we do our part to #flattenthecurve, many patients have reached out to ask - what can they do at home to avoid dental emergencies?
We are here for you, your families, and our Sunnyvale community during these unexpected times. We remain as reachable and committed to you and your oral health as before - we are available via email and text (in addition to traditional phone calls). We are also available for teledentistry consultations to help you with your concerns. If you have any questions, please reach out to our office.
Good luck sheltering in place, and stay healthy. We’ll see you soon!