Choosing Dental Insurance: What You Need to Know

Like health insurance, dental insurance pays a portion of your dental care expenses. Unlike health insurance, though, dental insurance is not covered by the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). That means that dental insurance is not required to provide any particular list of essential benefits, nor are there any limitations on annual caps or waiting periods.

dental insurance

Good dental insurance is hard to find, and many families try multiple plans before settling on one that meets their needs. Still, decent plans do exist. Here is what you need to know to choose a dental insurance plan.

How to Purchase Dental Insurance

Some employers offer dental insurance as part of a benefits package, and some health insurers offer add-on dental insurance plans. However, independent dental insurance is not much more expensive than an employer-sponsored or add-on plan. It is worth shopping around the individual market rather than immediately accepting the first plan you are offered.

Kinds of Dental Insurance

Modeled after health insurance, there are three basic kinds of dental insurance, along with a non-insurance option. Which kind you need depends on your unique circumstances, from your family’s current dental health to your travel habits.

Dental HMO: A dental HMO (health maintenance organization) is typically the least expensive solution, but it is also the most restrictive. All of your dental work must be performed by providers that are in your network, and you will most likely need a referral to see a specialist. Emergency care may or may not be covered out of network, so check the fine print for details. If you travel frequently or want to choose your own specialists, or if your preferred dentist is not in the network, an HMO is probably too restrictive to meet your needs.

Dental PPO: A dental PPO (preferred provider organization) can be thought of as a less-restrictive HMO. The insurance company will pay a higher percentage when you visit an in-network provider, and somewhat less outside the network. Most PPOs do not require a referral for a specialist.

This mid-priced solution fits how the “typical’ patient receives dental work. You can visit an in-network provider for routine care, but have the flexibility choose someone else when you are traveling, or when you need additional services.

Dental Indemnity: The costliest but most flexible option, dental indemnity works well for those who frequently travel, as well as those whose chosen dentist is not part of a network. You can visit any dentist you choose, as long as that dentist agrees to accept the insurance plan. Dental indemnity plans are typically limited to the United States, but some also cover border towns in Canada and Mexico.

Dental Discount Plan: A dental discount plan is not insurance, but can be a great cost-saving measure. If you choose a dentist who accepts the plan, you will receive all of your care at negotiated discount rates. You can even combine a discount plan with insurance for further savings.

Types of Services

For insurance purposes, dental services are divided into three types: preventive, basic, and major. Preventive care is heavily emphasized, and is usually covered at a far higher percentage than other services. Many insurers also have loyalty incentives, covering each type of service at a higher percentage in the second year and beyond.

Preventive care stops dental issues before they can start. It includes such services as exams, cleanings, and X-rays. Preventive care is generally covered right away at 80 to 100 percent of the cost, and is almost always 100 percent covered by year two.

Basic care is designed to save a tooth. Procedures include root canals and fillings. Some insurers cover basic care right away, while others have a 6 to 12 month waiting period. Basic care may be covered at 50 to 80 percent depending on the plan specifics and loyalty incentives.

Major care is designed to restore a tooth, and includes such services as bridges, dentures, and crowns. A handful of insurers cover major care at 25 percent right away, but most plans have a waiting period of 12 to 18 months. After the first year (or waiting period, if longer), it is typically covered at 50 percent.

The Fine Print

Every insurance plan is quite different, and it is important to read the fine print to learn the exclusions and limitations. Most insurance plans have very low annual maximums, in the neighborhood of $1000 to $1500 per year. Any work above that cost is at your own expense. A few companies have annual caps as high as $3500, with correspondingly higher premiums.

There are also annual and lifetime limits on specific services. For example, your insurer might cover only two cleanings per year, even if your dentist recommends that you receive four. You might only be eligible for replacement dentures every 10 years, or a replacement crown every five years.

Braces and dental implants are handled quite differently from company to company. Some cover them as major services. Some do not cover them at all, or cover them only for children under 18. Some have separate co-pays, deductibles, and annual and lifetime caps on them. Read the plan very carefully if you or a family member are likely to need these services.

Direct Pay vs. Reimbursement

The majority of HMO and PPO dentists, though not all, charge the patient for his or her expected portion of the costs and bill the rest to the insurance company. Some HMO and PPO dentists, and virtually all those who accept dental indemnity insurance, require you to pay the entire bill out of pocket and then wait for insurance reimbursement. Neither is right or wrong, but whether you are able to float the full expense could be a factor in selecting a plan and a dentist.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

How to Save a Knocked Out Tooth

If you or child knock out a tooth, you might start to panic. After all, a tooth that was once living peacefully in your mouth is now lying on the ground. However, it is important to stop and take a deep breath. Roughly 5 million teeth are knocked out in the United States every year, and approximately 90 percent of them can be saved. It is crucial, though, to follow these steps to maximize your chances of saving the tooth.

hockey player How to Save a Knocked Out Tooth

Be Careful

How you handle the tooth can make the difference on whether it can be reattached, and it is vital to protect the tiny roots and nerves. Gently pick up the tooth by the chewing surfaces, avoiding the root end.

Rinse or Wipe the Tooth

If you have access to water, gently rinse away loose dirt. If not, use your hands to carefully wipe away obvious debris from the chewing surfaces, but do not touch the root. Do not use any tools such as a rag or a toothbrush, and do not apply any cleanser including soap or toothpaste.

Transport the Tooth in the Mouth

Your or your child’s own saliva is the best way to protect the tooth. If possible, carefully push it back into its socket. Otherwise, place it between the cheek and the gum tissue. Do not drink or eat anything, as you could damage or even swallow the tooth.

Milk Makes a Good Substitute

If there is severe oral trauma, the tooth belongs to a very small child, or there is some other reason not to transport the tooth in the mouth, gently submerge it in a glass of milk. Specialized dental solution is also available, but procuring it immediately is generally impossible. It is usually used by dentists to prolong the lifespan of knocked out teeth once they reach the office.

Do not submerge the tooth in water. This will likely cause severe trauma to the root, killing the tooth and making it impossible to reattach. Rinsing is acceptable, but prolonged exposure to water is never okay.

See the Dentist ASAP

A knocked out tooth is an extreme dental emergency, as most successful reattachments occur within 15 to 30 minutes of the tooth being knocked out. It is worth trying to save a tooth that has been knocked out for even an hour or more, especially if it has been kept in the mouth, but the chances of success drop dramatically after the first 30 minutes. If your regular dentist’s office is closed, go to the nearest emergency dentist. Emergency dentists are available 24/7, 365 days per year.

Although a knocked out tooth can be scary, it is actually quite common, and there is an excellent chance for the tooth to be saved. If you or your child knock out a tooth, take a deep breath and remain calm. Follow the tips above, see a dentist immediately, and follow up with your regular dentist within a few days.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

Tooth Discoloration: Common Culprits

Scrupulous oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing and flossing, as well as two professional cleanings per year, are the best way to keep your teeth white. You can also have them professionally whitened in our office or with a take-home bleaching system. To make sure your teeth stay as white as possible, though, it is important to pay attention to your diet. Here are some of the most notorious tooth discoloring foods and beverages.

Tooth Discoloration: Common Culprits

Dark Berries

Dark berries are excellent for your health, but carry a risk of staining your teeth. Among the worst stain inducers are raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and blackberries. Fortunately, though, you don’t need to cut dark berries out of your diet. Instead, drink plenty of plain water right after consuming them or drinking their juice, and follow up with a dairy product to neutralize their acids.

Tomatoes and Citrus Fruits

Brightly colored tomatoes and citrus fruits are a beautiful and healthy addition to any meal, but they are high in acids that can erode your tooth enamel, exposing the yellow-tinged dentin. Dark green vegetables such as kale and spinach contain natural tooth protectors, so dig into a salad before consuming these items when possible. Otherwise, be sure to thoroughly rinse your mouth with plain water after enjoying a glass of orange juice or a hearty tomato sauce.

Coffee and Tea

Coffee and tea are highly satisfying, and entire cultures have developed around their preparation and consumption. However, they contain high levels of tannins, which can stain your teeth. Dairy is a natural tooth cleanser, so try adding a bit of milk to your coffee or tea. When practical, try drinking from a cup with a lid, which can keep your teeth from becoming coated. After you finish your tea or coffee, drink some plain water to rinse your mouth.

Wine

Most people are aware of the staining power of red wine, which contains tannins like coffee and tea. However, you might be unaware that white wine erodes tooth enamel like citrus foods. Alternate a glass of plain water after each glass of wine.

Curry

Curry is an incredibly popular spice in Indian cuisine, but it can gradually cause your teeth to yellow. Fortunately, many curry dishes contain natural tooth cleansers such as celery, carrots, apples, or cauliflower. Drinking milk or water with your curry dish can further help to protect your teeth.

Balsamic Vinegar

Balsamic vinegar has an intense flavor that makes it a natural choice for vinaigrette dressings, but its dark, sticky nature can contribute to tooth staining. Thankfully, crunchy vegetables will help clean the balsamic vinegar from your teeth. Avoid totally saturating your salad, and include a wide variety of vegetables rather than just iceberg lettuce. Drink a glass of water afterwards to finish rinsing your mouth.

You don’t need to give up your favorite foods and drinks to protect your teeth from staining. Instead, practice moderation, pair products that stain with natural tooth cleansers, and drink plenty of plain water. In tandem with scrupulous oral hygiene, these simple steps can help keep your teeth looking their best.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

What You Should Know About Sports Mouthguards

Sports can be a wonderful way for kids (and adults!) to stay active and healthy, learn new skills, and develop friendships to last a lifetime. Yet like anything else in life, sports do carry certain risks. While it is impossible to prevent all injuries, protective gear can go a long way, and a mouthguard is a key part of keeping athletes safe. Yet not all mouthguards are the same. Here’s what you should know.

sports mouthguards

Sports That Require Mouthguards

As you may already know, mouthguards are required equipment for sports that are considered “contact sports,” such as:

Football
Rugby
Boxing
Hockey
Lacrosse

While mouthguards are not typically required to participate in “non-contact sports,” the American Dental Association expands its recommendations on who should wear mouthguards to those participating in a wide range of sports where impacts or collisions might occur. These include, but are not limited to:

Basketball
Soccer
Racquetball
Skateboarding
Gymnastics

Types of Mouthguards

Mouthguards come in three different types. Whichever you choose, make sure that it fits comfortably but securely, and does not interfere with breathing or speaking.

Stock Mouthguards: A stock mouthguard is purchased off-the-shelf, and is ready to wear. They are typically the least costly, but are not formed to the wearer’s mouth. This could result in a poor fit and uncomfortable sensation.

Boil and Bite Mouthguards: A boil and bite mouthguard can be purchased from almost any drugstore. As the name implies, you will need to soften the mouthguard in boiling water, let it cool just to a tolerable temperature, and then have the athlete bite down on it. This allows the mouthguard to form to the mouth, creating a reasonably comfortable, secure fit.

Custom Mouthguards: A custom mouthguard is specifically designed by a dentist to precisely fit the athlete’s mouth anatomy. These are the most comfortable and best fitted mouthguards available. However, they can be costly. If a boil and bite mouthguard is comfortable, it may not be necessary to spend the additional money.

Caring for a Mouthguard

Mouthguards are easy to care for, and proper care is absolutely essential. Rinse the mouthguard before and after using it, and wash it frequently with soapy water. Carefully inspect it after each washing for any signs of damage. Children need new mouthguards regularly, as their mouth anatomy changes as they grow, so their mouthguards must be frequently checked for fit. Your dentist can check the fit if you are unsure whether it is correct.

Dental trauma is a surprisingly common but frequently avoidable sports injury. A properly fitted, well cared for mouthguard can make a tremendous difference in lowering this risk. Kids should learn to take care of their mouthguards along with the rest of their sports equipment, and to let parents or coaches know right away if they have any mouthguard issues.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

How to Conserve Water When Brushing Your Teeth

Although the Earth is covered in water, only about one percent is clean enough for human consumption. That means that even a small reduction in the amount of water you use can be a significant contribution to global water conservation. It can also significantly decrease your water bill over time. Yet many people don’t know how to reduce their water usage during daily oral hygiene. Here are some easy ways to conserve.

conserve water

Turn Off the Faucet

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) states that leaving the water running while brushing your teeth wastes an average of four gallons. In a four-person household, where each person brushes twice each day, that’s 32 gallons of water just running down the drain every day, or more than 11,000 gallons per year! Since you don’t use any water between dampening your toothbrush and rinsing your mouth, what’s the point?

Use a Cup

Although rinsing with water from your hands is convenient, you lose a lot of water down the drain. Instead, turn on the tap, capture a little water in the cup, and turn the tap off. If you would like to conserve trees as well as water, choose a reusable cup instead of a stack of paper cups.

Recycle Water

Many people like to run the water for a few moments before brushing, to ensure that it is the right temperature. There’s nothing wrong with the initial water, it’s just not ideal for tooth brushing. So why not recycle it by letting it run into a bowl instead of down the drain. Use it for your pet’s water dish, your plants, or even later drinking?

Fix Leaks

You are a captive audience for the two minutes you spend brushing your teeth, so why not multi-task by checking for leaks. Make sure no water is escaping around the faucet or pipe connections. Even a tiny leak could waste hundreds of gallons in a year, so if you notice any small drips, have them repaired as soon as you can.

Change the Hardware

New water-conserving faucet heads use about 50% of the water per minute that older faucets use. Yet you will scarcely notice the difference. Making the switch is a win-win, as it will lower your water bill while helping with global water conservation.

Teach Your Kids to Conserve

It’s never too early to teach your kids to be responsible citizens of the Earth. Let them see you using good conservation habits, and watch over them as they learn to brush their teeth. With a bit of consistency, your kids will start to save water without thinking twice about it.

With only about one percent of the Earth’s water available for drinking, we should all do our part to help conserve it. Following these simple tips when brushing your teeth can save thousands of gallons of water throughout the year, helping the planet and lowering your water bill.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

How Often to Brush, Floss, and See the Dentist

Keeping your teeth clean is the best defense against tooth decay and gum disease. Regular dentist visits help to ensure that any emerging issues are caught early, before they have the chance to spread or worsen. Yet many people don’t know what schedule to follow. Here’s how often you should brush, floss, and see the dentist.

brush floss

Brushing

If possible, brush your teeth after every meal. If this is not practical, make sure you brush at least twice per day. Choose a soft-bristled brush that is comfortable for your mouth and hand, and spend a full 30 seconds on each quadrant of your mouth. People’s ability to gauge time is notoriously inaccurate, so consider setting an alarm or using an electric toothbrush with a timer.

Rinse your mouth following each meal and snack. Plain water is best, but unsweetened coffee or tea will do. You can also suck on hard candy or chew unsweetened gum to stimulate saliva production and clear out food debris.

Flossing

Floss your teeth once a day, whether with dental floss, a Waterpik, or an interdental cleaner. Work the floss gently between each pair of teeth and along the gum line. Be careful not to make sudden, sharp movements that could cause cuts. Your dentist will be happy to give a demonstration if you are unsure exactly how to floss.

Seeing the Dentist

Most healthy people will need to see the dentist twice per year. Your teeth will be professionally cleaned, removing tartar and plaque that are difficult to fully brush away, and your dentist will evaluate your oral health.

However, you may need to see the dentist more frequently. If you are at high risk for dental disease, your dentist may request that you come in more often. If you are undergoing any dental treatment, from braces to dental reconstruction, you will be scheduled for more frequent appointments until your treatment is complete. Always follow your dentist’s instructions.

Keeping your mouth clean and healthy is an ongoing process that requires an active commitment. Ask your dentist about anything that you find unclear, and always follow his or her recommendations. For most people, though, flossing once per day, brushing twice per day, and seeing the dentist twice per year will help to ensure a lifetime of oral health.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

Flossing Teeth: Why and How to Do It Right

If you’re typical, you probably brush your teeth at least twice a day (once in the morning and once before you go to bed.) You probably know you should be flossing your teeth regularly, too … but if you’re honest you’ll probably admit you don’t do it nearly as often as you should. In fact, statistics indicate that almost 80 percent of people fail to floss.

Flossing takes time. It can also be uncomfortable or even painful (which actually means you should be doing it more often.) If you understand exactly why dentists recommend flossing your teeth once a day and how to floss the right way, you’ll be more likely to fit this important step into your daily routine.

“flossing

Why Dentists Recommend You Floss Your Teeth Daily

Flossing is the term dentists use to refer to the act of cleaning between the surfaces of the teeth using dental floss. Dentists recommend that people floss their teeth regularly (in addition to brushing their teeth regularly) because flossing has repeatedly been shown to improve oral health and prevent cavities and gum disease. Brushing your teeth removes plaque and decay-causing material from the tooth surfaces the toothbrush bristles can reach.

Flossing removes plaque and decay-causing materials from the crevasses between the teeth that toothbrush bristles can’t reach. If these materials are not removed, they degrade and turn into microbes that cause cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.

Compelling Research Proves the Benefits of Flossing

For a study published in a 2008 issue of the Journal Periodontal, researchers at New York University studied 51 pairs of twins between the ages of 12 and 21 to assess the effects of flossing on oral health. Half of the twins participated in a regimen of tongue brushing and tooth brushing. The other half of the twins participated in a regimen of tongue brushing, tooth brushing, and flossing. Researchers collected samples from participants to assess how prevalent 26 plaque-causing microbe species were in the mouths of each participant before the study began and after the study ended.

The results were conclusive: the group that did not floss as part of its oral-hygiene regimen had “overabundant” amounts of cavity- and periodontal-disease causing microbes in their mouths. Researchers concluded that twins who flossed for 2 weeks reduced the amount of microbes associated with oral disease.

How to Floss Properly

Dentists agree and research backs up the fact that flossing is an important step in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Why do so many people forego this step? One reason is that they’re flossing incorrectly, thus causing themselves pain and discomfort that leads them to eventually skip this important step altogether.

Choose the right type of dental floss. If your gums are sensitive, choose a waxed or single-filament floss that will slide easily between the teeth without shredding.

Choose the right amount of dental floss. Ideally, cut an 18-inch or so length of floss for each flossing session.

Employ proper flossing technique. Wind most of the dental floss around the middle fingers of each hand (divided equally between the left and the right hand). You should have about an inch or two left to work between your teeth.

Firmly grip the inch or two of floss between your thumbs and index fingers. Gently and slowly work it between teeth in a vertical motion. Curve the dental floss around the bottom of each tooth, gently slipping it beneath the gumline to lift out debris. As you move from one tooth to the next, release more floss from your middle fingers so each tooth segment uses a clean section of floss.

After you have gently and thoroughly flossed between all teeth, discard the dental floss. Gently rinse your mouth with lukewarm water, swish, and spit. This will remove any residual food particles and microbes from your mouth.

If you can’t floss, use a floss alternative. Life is unpredictable and busy, and there will definitely be times when it’s not convenient or possible to perform a “textbook floss.” In these situations, you can improvise.

  • • Flossing picks or sticks are not as effective as dental floss but are acceptable in a pinch.
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  • • Sugar-free gum chewed for 20 minutes after a meal will help dislodge decay and encourage saliva production.
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  • • Last but not least, swish water forcibly between your teeth to clear away food particles, then spit out the water.
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We’re all born with one set of permanent teeth. When they’re gone, they’re gone! Flossing regularly is one of the most effective ways to ensure the health of your teeth and gums, and ensure your natural pearly whites will last and serve you well as long as possible.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

What You Should Know About Financing Dental Work

Dental work is absolutely essential to maintaining both oral health and general overall health. Untreated dental issues can eventually lead to systemic infections that increase your risk for heart disease, stroke, and other medical problems, in addition to putting you at risk for tooth loss and painful abscesses. Yet dental work can be expensive, and dental insurance policies lag far behind traditional medical insurance in coverage. Fortunately, there are several ways of financing dental work that allow you to break up your bills into manageable chunks.

financing dental work

Cost Breakdown

Your dentist will create a detailed treatment plan for you before work begins. Some offices automatically provide detailed cost breakdowns, while others will provide one if asked. Either way, be sure that you have a full accounting of the costs involved before you get started.

Timing Issues

While it is certainly best to treat dental issues as soon as they occur, some conditions are higher priority than others. For example, a missing tooth replacement may be delayed without significant risks, while an infected tooth that is left untreated could rapidly worsen. Ask your dentist to prioritize your issues to spread the financial burden over time.

If you need a multi-stage treatment, such as dental implants, your dentist may be able to break up the work to maximize the amount that your insurance will pay. For example, he or she might extract failing teeth at the end of your insurance year, and then place the implants at the start of your next insurance year.

Consider Credit Cards

Different credit cards have different interest rates, and introductory offers can be particularly attractive. If you are good at managing credit and will have the funds to pay off your dental work before the introductory period expires, a zero-interest or very low interest rate credit card can be a great way to finance your dental work. Just be careful not to use the card for things you don’t need, and remain disciplined enough to pay off the balance. Then leave the card account open so that it can help your credit score over time.

Ask Your Dentist About Financing Plans

Many dentists work with financing companies such as Care Credit that specialize in medical and dental financing. If you need a great deal of work done, or your credit score is not high enough to qualify for a low-interest credit card, these companies may be able to help. Their requirements are typically less stringent than those of traditional banks, and they often provide high credit limits. Although their interest rates are high, they sometimes offer zero-interest deals for those who can pay off the balance in 6 months or a year.

Dental work is essential for your health, so it is important not to put it off. Don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist about your financial concerns. Dentists understand budgets, and will work hard to help you find a way to manage your dental expenses.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

Should I Get Dentures Instead of Repairing My Bad Teeth?

If your teeth are failing, it is only natural to start to wonder whether they are worth saving. After all, root canals, crowns, fillings, and other procedures are time-consuming, pricey, and often frustrating. The idea of having them all pulled and paying once for a set of dentures can start to sound pretty attractive. Unfortunately, as is often true in life, this is truly a case of wishful thinking.

The reality of dentures is that they are not a one-time investment of time and money. They represent a lifelong commitment to coping with other issues instead. Trading in your teeth for dentures means trading one set of problems for another. Here is the harsh reality.

dentures vs repairing bad teeth

Dentures Are Not Teeth

Although they were the gold standard for replacing missing teeth until recently, dentures have never been remotely the same thing as actual teeth. Resting on your gums, even the best-fitted dentures tend to slip, pinch, and irritate the mouth. They restore only a fraction of your bite strength, making it nearly impossible to eat tough meat, sticky candy, and many other foods. Their tendency to slip can cause embarrassment when talking or laughing, and can make it tough to eat foods like corn on the cob and ribs.

Bone Loss Is Inevitable

Your teeth have roots that extend into your jawbone. When they are pulled, your body thinks that some of that bone is no longer required, and it begins to resorb into the body. Over time, this inevitably leads to premature aging and a sunken, drawn look around the mouth.

Regular Adjustments Are Required

Due to this bone loss, one set of dentures will not continue to fit properly for a lifetime. Instead, you must have your dentures relined, which means adding extra soft material along the inside of the denture plate, on a regular basis. Exactly how often depends on your individual oral anatomy and rate of bone loss. Failure to keep up with relining will cause problems in fit and retention, making it more likely that your dentures will slip or even fall out.

Dental Implants Are a Solution

While they are still not as good as your natural teeth, dental implants have become the new gold standard in tooth replacement. The implant takes the place of the tooth root, osseointegrating with the jawbone. This prevents bone loss and provides a strong, stable anchor for the replacement tooth. Dental implants can replace up to 99% of bite strength, allowing you to eat difficult foods with ease. They will not slip or fall out, allowing your self-confidence to be restored. One dental implant can replace a single tooth, and just a handful of implants can secure even a full arch of replacement teeth.

Nothing beats your own natural teeth. If they can be saved, they certainly should be. However, if your teeth are truly starting to fail, dental implants may be the best solution. Ask your dentist what is best for you.

Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.

Three Reasons to Replace Your Toothbrush

If you are committed to maintaining good oral health, having fresh breath, and making sure your pearly whites stay that way, you probably brush your teeth at least twice a day, possibly more. Brushing their teeth is something most people automatically and habitually do without thinking much about it.

And, because it’s something we do in autopilot mode, many of us probably are currently brushing our teeth with worn out and possibly even contaminated toothbrushes. If you can’t remember when you last replaced your toothbrush, it’s probably time. Here are three compelling reasons to replace your toothbrush!

Two toothbrushes: a new and very old. Closeup.

1: A Worn Out Toothbrush is A Less Effective Toothbrush

Arguably the most compelling reason to replace your toothbrush is because if it’s worn out, it’s not cleaning your teeth and gums as effectively as it should be. If you want to avoid the discomfort and expense of dental procedures such as fillings, crowns, and root canals, you should make an effort to replace your toothbrush (and your family’s’ toothbrushes) regularly.

Every time you brush your teeth, fibers on your toothbrush bristles wear down a tiny bit. Eventually, they become so worn that they’re not able to penetrate between the teeth where decay hides. Even if your toothbrush looks just fine, it may be worn out. Often, changes to the stiffness of your brush’s bristles are only visible under a microscope.

2: If You Have Been Sick, Your Toothbrush Could Infect You

If you have been sick, experts recommend replacing your toothbrush after you recover. It’s not likely that your toothbrush will re-infect you with the same illness you’ve recovered from. After all, when you fight an infection, your body develops antibodies that prevent you from being reinfected by the same germs.

It is possible, though, that your immune system may have been weakened by your illness, and you could pick up a different bacterial or viral infection from the germs on your toothbrush. Myriad studies have concluded that toothbrushes harbor a plethora of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and microorganisms. Change your brush regularly to avoid being caught in a cycle of sicknesses!

3: Your Toothbrush May Have Poop on It. Someone Else’s Poop.

If you’re still not convinced it’s important to switch out your toothbrush regularly, perhaps a study published by the American Society for Microbiology will change your mind.
Research analyzing the toothbrushes of college students who shared a communal bathroom found that at least 60% of the students’ toothbrushes were contaminated with fecal bacteria. To make matters worse, the study concluded there was an 80% likelihood that the bacteria on individuals’ toothbrushes came from someone else using the same bathroom.

How is that possible? Each time you flush the toilet, an invisible cloud called a “toilet plume” including aerosolized feces is forced into the air. Studies have shown microorganisms from that plume have travelled as far as sinks – and toothbrushes. Surprisingly, using toothbrush covers did not prevent fecal contamination – by keeping bristles moist longer, they actually encouraged the bacteria to multiply.

How Often is Often Enough to Replace Your Toothbrush?

When you consider all that may be lurking on your toothbrush, you may be tempted to buy them by the case and change your brush after each use. If you follow experts’ advice for caring for your toothbrush, you need not go to such extreme measures. As long as you haven’t been sick, most dentists agree that changing your toothbrush every three months is reasonable.

The reason most people fail to replace their toothbrushes as directed is because they simply forget to do it. Some manual brushes and automatic toothbrush heads are designed with bristles that fade in color to signal when it’s time to replace. You can also remember to replace your brush by setting a reminder in your cellphone calendar. Or, simply try to remember to change your toothbrush about as often as the seasons change.

Additional Toothbrush Best Practices

While there is no way to keep your brush entirely germ free, you can take steps to discourage bacteria from multiplying. After you brush, rinse your toothbrush with water and shake it vigorously. Allow it to dry out between uses, ideally by storing it upright. If possible, store your toothbrush in an enclosed cabinet. Additionally, never share your toothbrush with anyone and make sure its bristles don’t come in contact with the bristles of another toothbrush when you store it.

If you want to make certain that your toothbrush is doing its job effectively and reduce the likelihood it will make you sick, your toothbrush-replacement rule of thumb should be, “When in doubt, switch it out.” After all, manual toothbrushes and even replacement brush heads for fancy automatic toothbrushes are inexpensive. There’s simply no need to be brushing with a worn out or contaminated toothbrush.