Austin Smile Creations – Austin Dentist Blog

A blog about implant dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, general and family dentistry and a healthy living.

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Laser Away! Westlake Premier Dentist Introduces New Technology for More Comprehensive Approach to Dentistry for His Patients.

Technology is one hundred percent a language we speak in this twenty-first century. It advances and we adapt and evolve with it as a society. While it remains somewhat controversial, in medicine, technology has proven advantageous. Whether learning the benefits of certain advancements or to discontinue those systems and methods, learning happens. At Austin Smile Creations it is critically important to Dr. Gotun and his team to invest their skills in technology that ultimately delivers comprehensive, high quality dentistry while advancing patients closer to optimal health. Recently, Dr. Gotun and the Austin Smile Creations team invested in a laser to offer that more dynamic, comprehensive approach to dentistry for patients.

A little bit about lasers though, they’ve been used for diverse applications outside the medical world, though many people identify lasers with hair removal and eye surgery in medicine. Excitingly, dentistry itself is becoming more involved with lasers because of the benefits it provides. “It’s amazing how effective a laser procedure is when treating soft tissue abnormalities and periodontal disease in my practice, while synonymously providing no discomfort to patients and increasing healing time tremendously,” says Dr. Gotun. And when considering comfort level in dentistry, little to no discomfort is a thumbs up for patients. So, the success this practice has seen with their newly adopted laser has been substantial.

Below are before and after photos taken for a frenectomy performed with a laser in December 2013. In this particular case, the patient needed the frenulum removed due to the strength of it pulling on the gingivae essential for a future bridge or implant. The Austin Smile Creations team always follows up with patients to check the success of their work shortly after procedures are completed (it’s a major part of their philosophy in patient care). In this case, aforementioned patient came back three weeks after the procedure for a check. As seen below, the patient had completely healed without any bleeding involved, any post-operative medication needed, very slight numbing during the frenectomy required, and no discomfort or change in lifestyle the day after the procedure.


Before: 12/9/13                     After: 12/9/13                  3 weeks after: 1/2/14

“If we can obtain these types of results within a few weeks and offer patients treatment options that no longer cause any discomfort during a procedure nor post-operative, you can guarantee it’s a win in my practice,” Dr. Gotun claims. From a dentist who has been practicing for over thirty years, staying current and evolving with new technology has been and will remain to be a testament to this practice’s success. Take note.


A Failed System. Why Doesn't My Insurance Pay For This?

Given the current trend with the American healthcare system taking a drastic change, insurance is undoubtedly the hot topic among Americans. We have briefly discussed this trend previously, but have yet to dive into what insurance means within the dental world. More specifically, what it means for a practice like Austin Smile Creations where a whole body approach to optimal dental health means choosing an almost solitary journey and certainly a journey away from what insurance considers the dental standard.

Unlike many practices and dentists, Dr. Tor Gotun and the Austin Smile Creations‘ team choose a path that is far above dental insurance standards. There are not very many general practices that are adding bone, titanium mesh plates, and membranes to generate growth of new, healthy bone, so patients can plan to keep their teeth for a lifetime (or at least the most biocompatible and structurally compatible prosthetics available to their natural teeth- implants). Even the most necessary of procedures that allow patients to keep their teeth and therefore sustain a quality of life that cannot be compared, many dental insurances won’t even consider covering.

We must then explore what are dental insurance companies’ standards? Since there aren’t any regulations on how insurance companies decide on reimbursement levels, there is no way of knowing what they will actually pay until a claim is submitted and an explanation for that claim in sent back to the provider. Think of one dental insurance company. One dental insurance company has hundreds of plans underneath it’s umbrella. Now, take twenty-three large dental insurance companies, hundreds of third party, smaller insurance companies that link themselves to several of the large companies, hundreds of plans that an employer has the option to pick from, and hundreds of different guidelines for 10,000 different dental codes. To say in the least, it’s a mess and clearly meant to confuse it’s consumer- the patient. Consider everything outside of actually extracting teeth is optional. This is what dental insurance companies believe, an archaic principle. It applies to eighteenth century folks who didn’t have the technology and education available that we have at our fingertips today. So if everything except extracting a tooth is optional, it would make sense that dental insurance pays the least expensive alternative treatment, like a composite (white) filling at an amalgam (silver filling) rate. It would make sense that they have age limits, exclusions, pre-existing conditions, deductibles and annual maximums for the year. On one end, patients who need several major procedures performed to improve or even sustain a quality of life, the expense becomes mostly out of pocket for the patient. On the other end, patients who only need minor work and routine cleanings, end up paying a higher premium than what’s actually used at their dental office. Either way, insurance companies make money.

What we do different at Austin Smile Creations is that we have chosen to be of service to each patient. Patients have individual needs for treatment and therefore have highly specialized and individual treatment plans. If insurance weren’t in the business of making money, they would understand the medical necessity for procedures that dentists like Dr. Gotun provide: allografts, autografts, PRP, PRGF, sinus lifts, and bone augmentations to name a few. The Austin Smile Creations’ team knows the quality of dentistry they provide to each patient, and such, continue on this uphill battle against insurance companies standards. And we continue on this journey, refusing to accept an unacceptable standard of care.

Sunscreens. The basics you should know.

From Consumer Reports 2010.

Whatever sunscreen you choose, make sure it has an SPF of at least 30 (plenty for most people), and that it is labeled water resistant. Also:

  • For full-body protection, adults should apply 2 to 3 tablespoons of lotion or cream 15 to 30 minutes before going out in the sun. Reapply every 2 hours or after swimming or sweating heavily.
  • There aren’t any clear guidelines about how much spray to use. We checked the labels of the sunscreen sprays we tested and found that most simply recommended applying “evenly” and “generously” or “liberally.” (Most also recommend using in well-ventilated areas.) Some say to rub the sunscreen into the skin, while others don’t. All warn to keep the product out of the eyes and not to spray directly on the face. So read directions carefully.
  • Don’t spray or rub sunscreen on clothes. Most of the products stained fabrics when applied directly and left for a day.
  • Don’t use sunscreen after its expiration date because it might have lost its potency. If your sunscreen has no expiration date on the bottle when you buy it, mark one yourself with a permanent marker and throw out after two years.
  • Don’t rely on sunscreen alone. Wear tightly woven clothing and a hat, limit your sun time, and seek shade during the hottest hours of the day.

Finally, take a quiz if you want to know what those ingredients in your sunscreen are all about.

Health-reform timeline

By Consumer Reports Health.

Last reviewed: April 2010

This far-reaching legislation brings in some changes that affect consumers almost immediately, but the major changes don’t happen until 2014.

Here are some key dates in the health-reform timeline:

Late June 2010

New high-risk insurance pool for people with pre-existing conditions is supposed to be up and running by this date. To be eligible, you have to have been without insurance for at least six months. The pool will exist either until its funding runs out, or full reform begins in 2014, whichever comes first.

July 2010

All states are supposed to establish public Web sites where you can look up the available coverage choices, including private plans, Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Programs, and high-risk pools.

Various times in 2010

Medicare patients who fall into the Part D “doughnut hole” will get a one-time $250 rebate, in 2010 only.

Sept. 23, 2010

Several consumer protections begin at the start of the first plan year after this date, which is Jan. 1, 2011 for most people with job-based coverage, but can start at any time of year, so check with your insurer or plan administrator to be sure. So in September, check when your open enrollment period runs and how these new protections will affect you. Changes include:

  • New group and individual plans must start covering proven preventive care, such as mammograms, colonoscopies, and immunizations.
  • All health plans, new and old, must allow adult children to stay on their parent’s health plan until their 26th birthday, unless they have access to job coverage on their own.
  • All health plans must start covering minor children with pre-existing conditions.
  • Health plans can no longer rescind your coverage if you come down with a serious illness.

    Nov. 15-Dec. 31, 2010

    This is the time of year when people on Medicare can switch plans. If you have been covered under a private Medicare Advantage plan, carefully review your options for 2011. That’s when these plans start losing the extra subsidies they’ve enjoyed up until now, and some may respond by changing prices or benefits.

    Jan. 1, 2011

    More changes to Medicare begin. All plans must start covering the full cost of proven preventive services, with no deductibles or copays, and provide a free annual “comprehensive health assessment”—a checkup, plus discussion of your personal risk factors and ways you might address them. And anyone who falls into the “doughnut hole” will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs. This subsidy will increase in subsequent years until the doughnut hole closes completely in 2020.


    Changes begin in preparation for full reform in 2014.

    • Medicare taxes go up on adjusted gross incomes of more than $200,000 for individuals or $250,000 for couples. They’ll have to pay an extra 0.9 percent tax on all earnings above that threshold. And for the first time, these high earners will also have to pay a 3.8 percent assessment on unearned income such as stock dividends.
    • If you have a Flexible Spending Account, starting this year you’ll be able to contribute a maximum of $2,500 a year, adjusted annually by cost-of-living increases (until that date, the law allows employers to set the limit they choose.)


    Full reform starts.

    • All citizens and legal residents will be required to have health coverage. Those who decline to purchase coverage will be charged a tax penalty. Exemptions will be available for reasons of financial hardship and other reasons.
    • Every state will have an exchange where individuals and small businesses (up to 100 employees) can purchase coverage. All plans sold on the exchange must offer unlimited annual and lifetime coverage, and must offer a comprehensive set of “essential benefits.”
    • Insurers must sell individual or group coverage to anyone who wants it, regardless of pre-existing conditions. They can’t charge people more, or limit coverage, on account of health status.
    • Families and individuals who meet income requirements will receive subsidies in the form of refundable tax credits and reduced out-of-pocket costs in order to make required coverage more affordable.
    • All individuals under 65 with an income of less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level will automatically be enrolled in Medicaid, even if they don’t have dependent children.

    Read more.

    Men: Looking for a Better Job? Start by Visiting the Dentist

    An online poll of 289 general dentists and consumers confirms the traditional stereotype that men are less likely to visit the dentist than their female counterparts, according to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing dental education.

    Why? Nearly 45 percent of respondents felt that men don’t see a need to go to the dentist, and about 30 percent of those polled reported that men may not visit the dentist because they are afraid or embarrassed to go. Almost 18 percent revealed that men just don’t have the time for a dental visit, and about 5 percent felt that men don’t even have a regular dentist.

    This long-standing trend and excuse, however, may be disappearing as more men are climbing back into the dental chair – for a surprising reason.

    “In my practice, more men are coming in and requesting bleaching, veneers and bonding,” says AGD spokesperson J. Nick Russo, Sr., DDS, FAGD. “Many have noticed the positive effects from a colleague’s improved smile and realize that a great smile has a lot of value in the business world.”

    Dr. Russo also points to the fact that not long ago, most men worked for one or two employers throughout a lifetime and many did not think about the way their overall appearance affected their professional life.

    “That’s not the reality today, with lay-offs and company closings across the board,” says Dr. Russo. “Today middle-aged men are competing for jobs with younger men, making appearance a heightened factor in their lives.”

    Taking a back seat to new cosmetic concerns for men is the increased awareness of the overall health benefits of seeing a dentist biannually.

    “As a dentist, I want men to come see me because they’re concerned about their health, however I’m glad to see them for whatever reason they come in,” says Dr. Russo. “Many times after men come back to the dentist they realize that proper maintenance and biannual checkups are the key to improving the way one looks and feels.”

    Article from AGD patient resources. 2007.