Why Preventive Care Shouldn’t Be Considered Elective

Oftentimes it is easier to stop a problem before it can become a dental nightmare. This is true with what is classified as preventive dentistry: cleanings, exams and x-rays. Identifying potential problems when they are not emergencies helps save patients hundred and even thousands of dollars. Routine cleanings and exams allow dentists to identify cavities when they are very small and easy to fix. If left untreated, cavities often lead to expensive dental procedures such as crowns, root canals, extractions followed by implants or partial dentures.

 Tooth Anatomy

Reversible Demineralization

Another, often diagnosed issue is decalcification. Decalcification of the tooth enamel doesn’t mean you have a cavity yet, but it is certainly a spot where a cavity could easily form. Our tooth enamel is in a constantly changing state of demineralization and remineralization. When our mouths become acidic, such as after eating or drinking sugary substances, the tooth enamel demineralizes. Our saliva is a natural buffer against an acid environment and helps return our mouth to a neutral PH. As our mouth approaches a neutral PH, the enamel on our tooth can remineralize. If not, the enamel becomes weak.

At routine cleanings and checkups, dentists can identify spots of demineralization and recommend reversal options such as prescription toothpaste. We frequently sell 3M Clinpro 5000 to our patients to help reverse demineralization spots. Clinpro 5000 supplies a stream of fluoride to aid in the remineralization of weak spots in tooth enamel. In this case, a $20 tube of prescription toothpaste might prevent a $200 tooth filling. If left untreated, demineralization continues until there is a hole in the enamel for bacteria to enter into the tooth dentin. At this point, it is irreversible and the tooth will need a filling.

Small Versus Large Cavities

The three main parts of a tooth are the outer enamel which is the protective layer, the middle layer called the dentin and in the center is the tooth’s nerve (pulp). When a hole forms in the enamel and bacteria enter the dentin, the tooth now has decay. A misconception is that once a cavity forms the tooth will start to hurt. This might be true for some cases, but often bacteria can eat away at a tooth’s dentin for months or even years without causing pain. It is usually when it gets close to or into the nerve that pain is felt. At this point, what could have been a simple $150 - $200 filling is now a root canal or extraction

Extracting the tooth is a less expensive route that can lead to other issues such as bone loss in the jaw and shifting teeth. The other option is to have a root canal followed by a crown. This option is much more expensive and typically ranges from $2000 - $3000. By frequently visiting the dentist every six month, cavities can be caught or prevented saving patients thousands of dollars.

Why Does Dental Insurance Cover Preventative Services At 100%?

Just like us, dental insurance companies love to save money and most plans cover preventative services at 100% with no deductible. Dental Insurance companies know that following healthy routine dentistry, such as visiting the dentist every six months for a cleaning, reduces dental claims for more expensive procedures such as fillings, crowns and root canals. 

See An In-Network Dentist

Our office is happy to be an in-network provider for almost all insurance companies and plans. This significantly reduces out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles and many times increases plan limits. Several of the major companies and programs we participate in are: Careington, UnitedHealthcare, Ameritas, Principal Life, Guardian, Cigna, Delta Dental, Aetna, DHA, Dentemax, Humana, Metlife, Anthem BCBS, United Concordia and more.

To learn more about our practice visit Biltmore Avenue Family Dentistry's Home Page or Contact US for questions. If you enjoyed this article, we invite you to peruse our other Blogs and check out our last article “How to Care for the Teeth Behind the Braces”.