Austin Smile Creations – Austin Dentist Blog

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

Archive for choosing a dentist

Mom’s gum disease treatment safe for baby

Pregnant women can safely be treated for gum infections without having to worry about their baby’s health, according to a new study.

The concern among dentists had been that treating the problem could cause bacteria to get into the mothers’ bloodstream, where they could harm babies’ development.

Gum disease — caused by a bacterial infection that breaks down gum tissue and can cause tooth loss and serious health problems — is a particular problem during pregnancy.

Hormonal changes appear to make a pregnant woman more susceptible to developing it, yet the standard antibiotic-based therapy is not recommended because it stains the baby’s teeth.

What’s more, dentists have shied away from aggressive teeth-cleaning, which is also effective, out of fears they’d help the bacteria get into the bloodstream. In principle, that could harm the brain development of the fetus.

But those fears are baseless, the new study shows.

“Women can be confident that it’s not going to have clinically meaningful effects on their child’s development,” said Dr. Bryan Michalowicz, whose findings are published in the journal Pediatrics.

Michalowicz, a dentist at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in Minneapolis, and his colleagues tested more than 400 two-year-olds, who’d been born to mothers with gum disease.

Half the mothers had been treated with aggressive teeth-cleaning — called scaling and planing — during pregnancy, while the rest had not.

The researchers found the kids did just as well on language, motor and mental tests regardless of whether their mothers had been treated.

On the other hand, treatment didn’t seem to benefit the kids either. That was the researchers’ original hypothesis, because earlier studies have linked gum disease to developmental delays.

“We asked the question, does treatment of periodontal disease in pregnant women improve child development?” said Michalowicz. “We found it doesn’t.”

The researchers did find a slight increase in toddlers’ test scores when the mothers’ gum disease improved. But the effect was so small it doesn’t have any practical consequences, they say.

Nonetheless, he said, “As a dentist I think that improving oral health is a goal in its own right.”

Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat, a dentist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia who wasn’t involved in the study, said it couldn’t rule out that treatment might benefit the baby in some cases.

“You need to have a higher risk population in order to draw a conclusion,” she told Reuters Health. “I wouldn’t jump to the conclusion that we should let periodontal disease run rampant in pregnant women.”

But, she added, women should try to maintain good oral health in the first place.

“They need to use a soft toothbrush and floss the right way,” wrapping the floss around the tooth, she said. “The first goal with almost all dental disease is prevention, prevention, prevention.”

SOURCE: Pediatrics, April 11, 2011.


Austin's Dentist Standard of Care. Planning in Dentistry.

Clinically, planning is everything in dentistry. It’s what we believe at Austin Smile Creations, your Westlake Dentist. We drive this point home among colleagues, patients and, well, really anyone we have the pleasure of meeting. Planning is the difference between success and failure, we believe. While any dentist may experience success without planning, it’s the risk they are willing to take at a patient’s expense. Planning goes hand-in-hand with perfection in all areas of dentistry, and because we strive for perfection in all areas of dentistry, the key to reaching that is all in Dr. Gotun’s expert planning.

So what does this mean for the patient? Put simply, we give each patient the best quality and most individualized care that can be offered in dentistry. When we say Dr. Gotun tackles each case on a case-by-case basis that’s exactly what we mean. He dissects each case individually, after thorough examination and in-depth diagnostics. Remember all those x-rays that are taken at an initial appointment- 18 to be exact? Or what about the gooey impression material needed to create exact replicas of each individual’s teeth and bite? Or maybe a 3D image called a CBCT scan- Cone Beam Computed Tomography– basically a 3D map of both head and jaw? All are diagnostics, which are part of necessary planning in what we consider our only option at Dr. Gotun’s office: taking really good care of people. Because we care about each patient’s health in it’s entirety (did you know your dental health affects your overall health? More on that later…), we are absolutely keen on proper planning for patient’s to recieve only the best dental care.                                                  

From a patient perspective, if you ask me, there’s nothing else I would want more than knowing and trusting I’m getting the best dental care. Any dentist has the ability to cement a crown, but is that dentist looking at how that crown will affect your bite? Does the dentist look at the way the temporomandibular joints align and possible tension on those muscles and joints naturally? Do they study if a procedure will affect your comfort? Are they using a semi-adjustable articulator to analyze your models before even beginning to plan treatment? Do they complete in-depth research of what will treat the problems and not just the symptoms? This is our standard of care at Austin Smile Creations, because this is the philosophy we all believe in.

Ultimately, we want patients to know what kind of quality they receive in our practice. We want patients to be involved, understand and ask about treatment options. We dedicate ourselves to finding the longest lasting results, because we want to have the happiest patients! For the team at Austin Smile Creations to reach these goals and provide exceptional dental care all begins with proper planning in every stage of dentistry.

Dental Insurance. In and out-of-network providers.

This is a very complicated topic. The intricacies of the insurance system and variables in dental practices make it very complicated to explain, but we will try to share some insights into the world of insurance confusion.
It is a fact that dental insurance is nothing like medical, and you should keep that in mind. The coverage is very different, and there is nothing that dental insurance realistically covers at 100%. Most PPO plans state that they pay 100% of preventive services ( cleanings and exams), 80% of basic services ( fillings) and 50% of major ( everything else). There are some variations in which services fall into which group based on the plan. It is important to know that they pay percentages of their “usual and customary fees” which they define based on some national averages. Also keep in mind that these fees have not been updated for 15 years or so, so do your own math and figure what realistically the payment can amount to, especially if you live in a prominent area, say, such as Westlake Hills in Austin. Another important thing – the yearly maximum that insurance pays on most plans is $1500. While it is better than nothing – it will not help you tremendously if you need a lot of dental work and you need it done in one year. Insurance does not cover TMJ disorder treatment, cosmetic services, implants. Most insurance agents offering better policies do not sell dental insurance at all. So it is up to you to make a choice if dental insurance is worth the premiums for you for these benefits.

It is also a fact that there is a difference between in-network providers and out-of-network providers. While most people don’t realize it, no two dental practices are the same, even without any affiliations with insurance networks. Every dentist is different when it comes to education and experience, has a different approach to dentistry, chooses different equipment and materials, techniques and methods, and also how to run their business. When it comes to determining fees –  all of those factors plus the going rates in the area where the practice is located are crucial. Knowing that, even if you do shop around, you will probably not find a big difference comparing fees of dental practices of similar philosophy. If you find a big difference –  odds are – you are comparing apples and oranges and you may want to ask yourself what that difference gives you and what you might be sacrificing by choosing one practice over the other.

With in- network providers, the insurance company and your employer negotiate the rates and what is covered. So the insurance companies set their level of reimbursements to the doctors for various procedures and the rest of it is your out-of-pocket. Unfortunately, because of being very outdated ( ask any insurance agent) – the reimbursement rates are very low, and the doctors who strive to produce cutting-edge dentistry using the latest equipment simply cannot make it work, otherwise there would be no out-of -network providers. There is a reason why many dental practices choose to be independent –  so they could be the ones setting the bar for themselves. And even then, there are apples and oranges.

Hopefully this helps you a little bit to understand the big picture ( or at least see that it is even bigger). We believe, that one factor in determining your choice of a dentist trumps all others -it  is not insurance, not if the dentist is in- or  out-of-network, but the dentist himself.  The level of continued education, experience, desire to stay current with technology, and if you can trust him or her is what will help you get your money’s worth and get many more benefits in the long run. You want to develop a relationship with your doctor that will help you achieve and maintain your oral health for a lifetime, not just for the time of your appointment. And that is what we do every day and love it!