Understanding and Using Your Dental Insurance

dental insurance dental benefits family dentistry in KnoxvilleMillions of dollars of dental benefits go unused each year. The insurance company is paid their premiums, but a surprisingly high percentage of people do not take advantage of the insurance paid for, leaving money (in the form of benefits) on the table, even if they have dental needs.

You are paying for your dental benefits in some way, even if they are part of your employment benefit package that was offered as part of your wages. The insurance companies make more money when you let your benefits go to waste.

We encourage you to use your dental benefits every year, whether you only need preventive care or have a lot of problems with your teeth.  Taking care of your teeth will:

  • Prevent pain and emergencies
  • Save you money in the long run
  • Help you keep your natural teeth
  • Or, replace them if they are lost
  • Positively impact your overall health
  • Keep you smiling
  • Avoid having to go over your insurance yearly maximum

There are thousands of dental insurance plans available and it is important to understand what yours covers.  You may have been sent a packet of information or can call the insurance company directly to learn more.  Keep in mind that there may be exclusions and limitations that are not described in the general materials.   Here are a few things to look for:

Yearly Maximum The dollar amount of benefits available to you each year. If not used, they often go away on December 31st of each year.

Deductible: The amount you need to pay each year before the insurance company starts paying.

Preventive Payment Percentage: This percentage usually applies to x-rays, cleanings, and exams.

Restorative Percentage:  These benefits are for more minor treatments like fillings or periodontal care.

Major Percentage:  This is the percentage paid on approved crowns, bridges, dentures, and other major treatment.

  1. Keep in mind that these percentages are not usually based on your dentist’s fee, but an amount  predetermined by your insurance
  2. Most plans have a limit on how often you can have preventive care
  3. Some plans exclude implants, tooth colored fillings, and other treatments
  4. Most plans have a frequency limit on major and restorative treatment
  5. Your dental office can get a written pre-authorization estimate from the insurance company on major treatment
  6. Insurance companies will often pay for the least expensive way to resolve a dental issue
  7. Some plans only pay in specific dental offices

In our office we are happy to check insurance benefits for our patients and help them understand what they mean.  We give clear, easy to understand estimates before treatment is started.  We have been at this for years and love helping people understand and use their insurance to take care of themselves.

If you have insurance, there is no reason to delay calling and setting up a dental appointment.  If you are in the Knoxville area, we would love to serve you.

Ron Smith, DDS – Family and Sedation Dentistry – Knoxville TN – (865) 922-1613

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4 Dental Tips for a Fun and Healthy Halloween

Halloween dental tips Knoxville dentist

Kids love Halloween and Trick or Treating and that means that there will be a lot of sugary treats coming their way. We have put together a few tips for you that will help them celebrate the holiday without hurting their smiles.

Sort Their Candy with Them

Keep your kids safe by having them not eat anything before they come home. Dump out the candy and go through it together, taking out anything that may not be safe.

Let your kids select their favorite treats and set them aside. The rest may not look as appealing once that is done.

Offer to Swap Out Candy for Other Types of Treats

You can give your kids incentives to give up the remaining, non-favorite candy by offering to swap it for other things they may want more, like a toy, coloring book, or movie. This works easily as long as what you offer is something they value more than the candy.

Inspire Them to Keep Their Teeth Clean

Give them a new fun tooth brush every Halloween to help them keep their smile healthy. Make it a tradition.  Another option is to include sugarless gum with their treats as it will help keep their teeth clean.

Designate Treat Times

When kids eat candy all day, their teeth are constantly marinating in sugar. Give your kids special times to eat their treats. This will give them something to look forward to and and can be timed shortly before they brush their teeth as well.

Celebrating can be both healthy and fun when you try these tips. But, if your teeth are feeling a little spooky you might want to give us a call. (865) 922-1613

Knoxville, TN

4 Signs the Bacteria in Your Mouth are Out of Control

mouth bacteria, dentist in Knoxville

Your mouth may be home to billions of bacteria, but when they are in balance there is nothing to worry about. It’s when they get out of control that your teeth and health can be at risk.

While there may be no symptoms that are obvious, sure signs that your mouth bacteria are having too much fun include:

Bad Breath: While the smell of your breath can change for simple reasons like the last thing you ate or your mouth being dry, it can also be a sign of digestive problems or unruly germy guys in your mouth. Try cleaning your tongue with a tongue scraper or a plastic picnic knife and be sure to brush it daily. If this doesn’t help, you may want to give us a call.

Cavities: Many people don’t realize that cavities are caused by bacteria, not sugar. The sugar feeds the bacteria and they use it to create acids that eat away at your teeth. Be sure to brush and floss daily and get regular dental exams to prevent and catch cavities early.

Bleeding Gums: Another byproduct of bacteria is tartar that eventually hardens and becomes calculus. This creates nooks and crannies where bacteria can hide and build colonies, resulting in inflammation and infection. This condition is what is referred to as periodontal or gum disease and bleeding gums is one of the symptoms, although you can have it with no symptoms at all. Getting a professional teeth cleaning at recommended intervals is important for preventing this disease which can cause tooth loss and impact your overall health.

Toothaches: One of the most common causes of a toothache is a nerve that has died and become infected. If you have a tooth that hurts, especially if it throbs, is sensitive to heat or swollen, it is important to see your dentist right away. When tooth infections get out of control they can get into your bloodstream and be dangerous for your health.

Our goal is to help you keep the germs in your mouth in balance so that you can continue to enjoy a healthy smile and protect your overall health.

If you are looking for a dentist in the Knoxville area, we would love to meet you. Just call (865) 922-1613 to schedule an appointment.

What to Do If Your Tooth Breaks

broken toothBreaking a tooth can be both inconvenient and painful. When it happens, it is important to call your dental office and schedule an appointment quickly. Your tooth will be at risk of breaking further or needing a root canal or extraction if it is not treated.

Not all broken teeth hurt, but If your tooth is painful or sensitive the inside of the tooth containing the nerve has probably been exposed. If you can’t get to the dentist right away, you may be able to calm the discomfort by putting oil of cloves on a cotton ball and putting it gently on the exposed area or taking over the counter pain relief medicines.

A chewed piece of gum can sometimes be used to protect and insulate an exposed area and most pharmacies have other temporary options available, as well. If you can save the broken off piece, rinse it in warm water and bring it to your appointment with you.

Most of all, be very gentle so that whatever you do doesn’t cause your tooth to break further.  

Dentists are very skilled at fixing broken teeth and stopping the pain that comes with them. We do it all the time.

If you are in the Knoxville area, call (865) 922-1613 and we will be happy to help.

Tips for Dental Patients that Gag Easily

gag reflex woman with hands over mouth Knoxville dentist sedation dentistryMany people are challenged with sensitive gag reflexes when they visit the dentist. The urge to gag may be caused by physical and/or psychological issues. The most important thing is to feel comfortable with the dentist you have chosen and to communicate clearly with them.  If they are not being caring and gentle, you may be in the wrong place.

Our number one recommendation for patients who gag easily is oral sedation dentistry.  It is as easy as taking a pill before your treatment and can limit stress, fear, and the urge to gag. Oral sedation dentistry also allows us to accomplish more treatment (often all of it) in one visit, making it more convenient, too.

Other ways to to help keep your gag flex under control include :

  • Hypnosis
  • Breathing through your nose
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Numbing throat spray or ask for topical anesthetic
  • Snore relief spray
  • Putting a little table salt on the tip of the tongue
  • Choosing the time of day your gag reflex is least active
  • Listening to music
  • Lifting one foot in the air (takes your concentration away from the dentistry)
  • CBT – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

If you are looking for an understanding and compassionate dentist and team, we would love to meet you. We promise we will be gentle and take very good care of you.

Call (865) 922-1613 Knoxville, TN

12 Reasons to Choose Oral Sedation Dentistry

oral sedation dentistryOral sedation dentistry is an excellent option for a number of situations. Some of our patients choose it because they are afraid of dental treatment and others to help with challenges they face with regular dental care.

Some simply like it because it is fast and convenient, often allowing them to get all of their dental treatment accomplished in just one visit.

Dr. Ron Smith and our team are highly trained in oral sedation dentistry and attend regular continuing education courses to stay up to date with the latest recommendations.

We also have decades of experience providing this service for our Knoxville community and other patients who travel to see us.

You might be surprised by some of the reasons oral sedation dentistry might be a good choice for you:

  1. It is safe and effective
  2. You have fear or anxiety about dental treatment
  3. It is easy – you simply take a pill (no IV is needed)
  4. Taking care of your teeth can protect your health
  5. You want as few appointments as possible
  6. Your teeth have a history of being difficult to numb
  7. You have a strong gag reflex or very sensitive teeth
  8. You want a lot of treatment completed in one visit
  9. It is difficult for you to keep your mouth open wide
  10. Physical disabilities make dentistry challenging
  11. Lack of dental care can lower your confidence & quality of life
  12. You will be proud of yourself for getting your dental work done

If you would like to learn if oral sedation dentistry is right for you, please give us a call to schedule a consultation in our Knoxville, TN office. (865) 922-1613

How Often Should You Get Your Teeth Cleaned?

dental hygienist teeth cleaned

Every person’s oral health is unique and it is very important that you follow the recommendations of your dentist and hygienist. If your mouth is healthy and you brush and floss daily, having your teeth cleaned every 6 months should work well for you.

Your dentist may recommend you come in more often if you have an unusual situation or any of the following conditions:

  1. You smoke – Smoking puts you at risk for tooth loss, oral cancer, and periodontal gum disease.
  2. You have diabetes or heart disease – an unhealthy mouth can contribute to the advancement of these conditions and on the flip side they make you more prone to periodontal disease and it’s complications.
  3. You already have a history of periodontal disease – this chronic infection can impact your overall health putting you at a higher risk for life threatening diseases as well as tooth loss.
  4. You have an impaired ability to take care of your own teeth – Some people lack the dexterity or have disabilities that prevent them from brushing and flossing effectively.
  5. You are not brushing and flossing regularly – If you don’t take care of your oral health it is important to let your dentist and hygienist do it for you.

If you are due or over due for a visit to the dentist, please give us a call. We would love to help you enjoy the benefits of a healthy smile. 

Call (865) 922-1613  Knoxville, TN