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Question: What is the Difference Between a DDS and a DMD?
Answer: Dentists in the United States either have the initials DMD or DDS after their name. A lot of people may wonder what the difference is between the two. But the truth is that the only difference is in the name: The dental degree and the education are the same. DMD stands for Doctor of Dental Medicine and DDS stands for Doctor of Dental Surgery. Some dental schools award the DMD degree while others award the DDS degree.

Question: What Are Dental Insurance Coverage Types?
Answer: According to most dental insurance companies, dental procedures are broken down into three categories:

   1. Preventative

      Most insurance companies consider routine cleanings and examinations as preventative dental care, however, X-rays, sealants and fluoride can be deemed as preventative or basic, depending upon the specific insurance carrier.
   2. Basic or Restorative

      Basic or restorative dental treatment usually consists of fillings and simple extractions. Root canals can be considered basic or major. However, the majority of dental plans list root canals as basic.
   3. Major

      Crowns, bridges, dentures, partials, surgical extractions and dental implants are dental procedures that most dental insurance companies consider as a major procedure.

Since all dental insurance carriers are different, it is important to clarify which dental procedures fall under each specific category. This is important because some insurance plans don't cover major procedures and others have waiting periods for certain procedures. If you know that you will need major dental work that is not covered by a given plan, you should probably look elsewhere to find one that suits all of your needs.

Question: Dental Insurance - What is Usual, Customary and Reasonable?
Answer: Almost all dental insurance companies use what is called a "usual, customary and reasonable" (UCR) fee guide. This means that they set their own price that they will allow for every dental procedure that they cover. This is not based on what a dentist actually charges, but what the dental insurance company wishes to cover. For example, your dentist may charge $78 for a dental cleaning, but your insurance company will only allow $58 because that is the UCR fee that they have set.

If you are on a dental insurance policy that requires you to go to a participating provider, you should not be charged the difference between these two prices. A contracted dentist generally has an agreement with the dental insurance company to write off the difference in charges. If the policy allows you to go to a dentist of your choice, check the insurance company’s UCR fee guide against the fees that dentist charges. You may be required to pay the difference out of your pocket, however, you cannot put a price tag on quality dental care.

Question: What is Direct Reimbursement?
A direct reimbursement plan is a dental insurance plan that is usually entirely funded by your employer and allows you to choose any dentist without the hassle of networks.

With a direct reimbursement plan, you are reimbursed for money spent on dental work, which is not limited to specific treatments. Some employers may choose to reimburse you after you have paid for your dental work, and some may choose to pay the dentist directly -- leaving you with less out-of-pocket expense.

Question: Dental Insurance - What is a Yearly Maximum?
The yearly maximum is the most money a dental insurance plan will pay out within one full year. A yearly maximum could run on a calendar year (January to December), or on a fiscal year, depending on the dental insurance company.

The yearly maximum will automatically renew every year. If you have unused benefits, these will not roll over. Most dental insurance companies allow an average yearly maximum of $1,000.

Question: What is Tooth Erosion?
Answer:Tooth erosion is the wearing away of tooth enamel by acid. The enamel is the hard calcified tissue that covers and protects the outside of the tooth. It is the hardest substance in our bodies.

The saliva in our mouth contains calcium which helps to strengthen and remineralize the teeth, however, remineralization can not occur when a great deal of acid is present.

The high amount of acids in the food and drink that you consume can cause tooth erosion. Soft drinks and pure fruit juices contain a high amount of acid.

Tooth erosion can also be caused by medical factors such as a decrease in saliva, acid reflux disease, certain gastrointestinal conditions and the eating disorder bulimia.

Question: What is Trench Mouth?
Answer: Trench mouth is a painful and severe gum infection. This infection occurs because of high bacteria levels in the mouth, usually from poor oral hygiene. Trench mouth can also be caused from lack of sleep, stress and / or poor nutrition. Trench mouth occurs more in smokers than non-smokers.

The name “trench mouth” comes from World War I, where soldiers were stuck in trenches without the means to take care of their mouth and teeth. Trench mouth is also known as Vincent's Stomatitis or Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis, hence the acronym ANUG.

While trench mouth is rare and not contagious, it can be extremely painful and will only worsen without treatment. If treatment is not sought, the infection may travel to other parts of the body. Antibiotics, along with a professional dental cleaning, can usually clear the infection from trench mouth.

Practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist for regular checkups are the best way to prevent trench mouth.

Question: What is Dry Mouth?
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is the reduced flow of saliva. Sufficient saliva is needed in the mouth to wash away food debris and reduce plaque by neutralizing the acids that plaque produces.

Gingivitis, gum disease and severe tooth decay often occur if dry mouth is left untreated. Other common problems linked to dry mouth are:

    * Difficulty speaking
    * Hoarseness
    * Persistent sore throat
    * Problems with speaking
    * Problems with swallowing
    * Burning sensation in the mouth
    * Dry nasal passages

If you suffer from dry mouth, be sure to discuss treatment methods, such as saliva substitutes, with your dentist. Sugar-free gum and candy also can increase saliva flow.

Question: What Causes Dry Mouth?
While anyone get dry mouth, also called xerostomia, it is a common problem among older adults. In fact, the Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that 20% of elderly people suffer from dry mouth and this condition is also a hidden cause of tooth loss and gum disease in 30 percent of adults.

Dry mouth, which is the reduced flow of saliva, could be a symptom of a particular medical condition or a side effect of certain medications. Sufficient saliva is needed in the mouth to wash away food debris and reduce plaque by neutralizing the acids that plaque produces.

Common medications taken that may cause dry mouth are:

    * Antihistamines
    * Blood pressure medications
    * Pain pills
    * Decongestants
    * Incontinence medications
    * Antidepressants
    * Diuretics
    * Muscle relaxers
    * Parkinson’s disease medications

If you suffer from dry mouth, be sure to discuss treatment methods, such as saliva substitutes, with your dentist. Sugar-free gum and candy also can increase saliva flow.
What is Gum Disease?
Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is mainly caused by bacteria from plaque and tartar build up. Other factors that have the potential to cause gum disease may include:

    * Tobacco use
    * Clenching or grinding your teeth
    * Certain medications
    * Genetics

Types of Gum Disease Include:

    * Gingivitis - The beginning stage of gum disease and is often undetected. This stage of the disease is reversible.
    * Periodontitis - Untreated gingivitis may lead to this next stage of gum disease. With many levels of periodontitis, the common outcome is chronic inflammatory response, a condition when the body breaks down the bone and tissue in the infected area of the mouth, ultimately resulting in tooth and bone loss.

Signs of Gum Disease Include:

    * Red, bleeding, and/or swollen gums
    * Bad breath
    * Mobility of the teeth
    * Tooth sensitivity caused by receding gums
    * Abscessed teeth
    * Tooth loss

Recent studies suggest gum disease may contribute to or be warning signs of potentially life threatening conditions such as:

    * Heart Disease and Stroke - Studies suggest gingivitis may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke because of the high levels of bacteria found in infected areas of the mouth. As the level of periodontal disease increases, the risk of cardiovascular disease may increase with it. Other studies have suggested that the inflammation in the gums may create a chronic inflammation response in other parts of the body which has also been implicated in increasing the risk of heart disease and stroke.
    * Diabetes - People with diabetes often have some form of gum disease, likely caused by high blood glucose, according to the CDC. People with diabetes need to take extra care to ensure proper brushing and flossing techniques are used to prevent the advancement of the gum disease. Regular check-ups and cleanings with your dental hygienist should be followed.
    * Chronic Kidney Disease - A study, conducted by Case Western Reserve University, suggests that people without any natural teeth, known as edentulous, are more likely to have chronic kidney disease (CDK), than people with natural teeth. CDK affects blood pressure potentially causing heart disease, contributed to kidney failure, and affects bone health.
    * Preterm Birth - Babies that are born premature -- before 37 weeks of gestation -- may face numerous health complications. Research indicates that women with periodontal disease are three to five times more likely to have a baby born preterm compared to women without any form of gum disease. Women are more susceptible to gingivitis when pregnant and should follow their regular brushing habits, and continue with dental cleanings and examinations.

Treatments for Gum Disease
Depending on the type of gum disease, some of the available treatment options are:

    * Removal of plaque and calculus by way of scaling done by your dental hygienist or dentist.

    * Medications such as chlorhexidine gluconate, a mouth rinse prescribed by your dentist or hygienist to help kill the bacteria in your mouth, along with frequent cleanings.
    * Surgery may be necessary in certain cases to stop, halt, or minimize the progression of periodontal disease. Surgery is also used to replace bone that was lost in advanced stages of the disease.

Question: What Can I Do to Prevent Gum Disease?
Proper brushing and flossing is the easiest way to reduce and prevent gum disease, but regular cleanings with your dental hygienist or dentist are necessary to remove calculus and treat advanced gum disease. If you are concerned that you may have gum disease, contact your dentist.

Question: What is an Abscessed Tooth?
Answer: An abscess of the tooth is an infection. An abscess can include pus and swelling of the soft gum tissues surrounding the tooth. An abscess can develop from tooth decay or tooth trauma, such as a broken tooth. If there is an opening in the enamel of a tooth, such as a cavity, bacteria can get in and infect the pulp (center) of the tooth and cause an abscess.

Once an abscess happens, the infection could spread throughout the mouth and body. A root canal is usually the only option to save a tooth once it has become abscessed. If you suspect that you have an abscessed tooth, you should see your dentist right away.

Question: Do Teeth Whitening Toothpastes Really Work?
Teeth whitening toothpastes seem to be popping up everywhere and you've got to wonder if they really work.

Whitening toothpastes, like all other toothpastes, contain mild abrasives to remove surface stains. Teeth whitening toothpastes may have additional polishing agents and special chemicals that are more effective against stains than regular toothpastes. While whitening toothpastes can make your teeth appear a little lighter, by getting rid of stains, they do not actually bleach your teeth.

Teeth whitening toothpastes are ideal for people who smoke, drink coffee and tea and eat certain foods that can stain your teeth. Teeth whitening toothpastes are also good to use after you have undergone a teeth whitening procedure to keep surface stains from building up on your teeth.

If you decide to use a teeth whitening toothpaste, be sure that it contains fluoride for extra protection against tooth decay.

Question: What is Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is a common problem that affects millions of people. Basically, tooth sensitivity means experiencing pain or discomfort to your teeth from sweets, cold air, hot drinks, cold drinks or ice cream. Some people with sensitive teeth even experience discomfort from brushing and flossing. The good news is that sensitive teeth can be treated.

Question: What is a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a dental specialist that has not only completed 4 years of dental school, but has also completed an additional 3 years of specialty training in diagnosing, preventing and treating gum disease. Periodontists can also place dental implants as well as perform cosmetic periodontal treatments.

A periodontal evaluation is sometimes the only way to detect gum disease. Your dentist can refer you to a periodontist, or you can make your own appointment for an evaluation.

Question: What is an Endodontist?
Answer: An endodontist is dental specialist that has completed 4 years of dental school along with an additional 2 or more years of specialty training in endodontics (root canals). In other words, an endodontist is a root canal specialist.

With the lengthy education that an endodontist receives, they are able to perform all aspects of root canal therapy including routine as well as complex root canals, retreatments and endodontic surgery.

Question: What is a Pediatric Dentist?
Answer: A pediatric dentist is a dental specialist that has not only completed 4 years of dental school, but has also completed an additional 2 to 3 years of specialty training to treat children only.

Many general dentists treat children as well as adults, but a pediatric dentist only treats children.The goal of a pediatric dentist is to teach children the importance of oral hygiene, how to take care of their teeth and to help children feel comfortable about visiting the dentist.

Many pediatric dentists do not allow parents to go back in the treatment rooms with the children. If this is a big issue for you, be sure to ask this question if you are looking for a pediatric dentist.

Question: Which Toothbrush is Really Better - Manual or Electric?
Answer: With all the bells and whistles and hundreds of toothbrushes on the market, you've got to wonder, which is really the best toothbrush to buy -- manual or electric?

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, the best toothbrush that you can buy is the one that you will actually use. That's it. Yes, it's really that simple. While both electric and manual toothbrushes have some pros and cons, the bottom line is which one you will use. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes.

If you're not sure which type of toothbrush you would use the most, I have provided some pros and cons of both:

Manual Toothbrush:


    * Inexpensive
    * Most have an easy grip handle
    * Some come with a tongue scraper
    * Easy to travel with


    * No built in timer to tell you when two minutes are up
    * Can be difficult for some people to hold onto firmly

Electric Toothbrushes


    * Most have larger ergonomic handles
    * Some have built in timers that let you know when you have brushed for a full two minutes
    * The feel and buzzing of an electric toothbrush feels good to a lot of people
    * Some electric toothbrushes dispense toothpaste


    * Some electric toothbrushes can be quite expensive
    * Most electric toothbrushes require charging or battery replacement

Since everyone is different, I think it's really good to have a variety of dental products to choose from.

Question: Canker Sores - When Should You See a Dentist?
Answer: Canker sores are very common and they are not contagious. These irritating little sores will normally go away on their own in about one to two weeks.

Even though treatment is usually not necessary for a canker sore, you should see a dentist if one or more of the following occur:

    * The canker sores persist more than two weeks
    * The canker sore is unusually large (more than one centimeter in diameter)
    * A persistent high fever accompanies the sores.
    * The pain from the canker sore is unbearable
    * You experience difficulty drinking with the sores

A dentist can easily diagnose and recognize the type of sore in your mouth based on where its located and how it looks.

Question: Retainers - What is a Retainer?
Answer: A retainer is an orthodontic appliance (usually removable) that is supposed to be worn after your orthodontist removes your braces. When braces are removed, the teeth have a tendency to want to return back to their original positions. Retainers prevent this from happening.

Most upper retainers are made of wire and hard plastic and fit in the roof of your mouth. A lower retainer can be removable or permanently cemented to the lower teeth so that it doesn’t come out.

During the first several months, retainers are usually worn full time. After that, your orthodontist will decide how often they should be worn.

When your braces come off, it is very tempting not to wear your retainers. To keep your teeth from shifting and avoiding having to wear braces again, it is crucial to wear your retainers as often as your orthodontist tells you.

Question: Why is Oral Hygiene so Important During Pregnancy?
Pregnancy is a very exciting and busy time. There are so many changes going on in your body and your mouth is no exception. Good oral hygiene is extremely important during pregnancy because the increase of hormone levels during pregnancy can cause dental problems to be intensified.

One of the most common dental problems associated with pregnancy is a condition known as pregnancy gingivitis, which usually occurs during the first trimester. Symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis are usually bleeding, swollen, red and tender gums.

Good oral health during pregnancy could also be important to your fetus. Some researchers have suggested that the serious stage of gum disease, periodontitis, could cause premature birth and low birth weight.

The tips listed here can help you maintain good oral health throughout your pregnancy.

    * Visit your dentist for regular check ups and cleanings. This is the best way to make sure that you are maintaining good oral hygiene.
    * Brush your teeth properly at least twice a day to remove plaque.
    * Floss your teeth daily. Flossing will remove food debris from in between the teeth that a toothbrush can't reach.
    * Use an antimicrobial mouth rinse. Antimicrobial mouth rinses can help prevent gingivitis.
    * Brush or scrape your tongue daily to help remove bacteria.
    * Eat nutritious meals and healthy snacks.

Now that you know what to do to protect your oral health, sit back, relax and enjoy this beautiful time in your life.

Oral Health Guidelines for Pregnant Women

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAP) announced new oral health guidelines for pregnant women in 2009 tailored to assist them in maintaining healthy teeth and gums during their pregnancy and into the early stages of motherhood. Why is oral health care important during pregnancy? Mothers with gum disease have a higher instance of preterm birth, a potentially serious pregnancy complication that may cause health concerns for their infant, typically due to a low birth weight.

Pregnancy gingivitis is a common form of gum disease known to develop in almost half of all pregnant women likely due to the change in hormones. When kept at-bay, pregnancy gingivitis generally ends shortly after the birth of the child, although it should be monitored by a dentist periodically during pregnancy in order to prevent this form of gingivitis from progressing into more serious periodontitis, an advanced and irreversible form of gum disease that has been linked with preterm birth. Pregnant mothers with periodontal disease are seven times more likely to go into preterm labor. Prostaglandin, a chemical found in oral bacteria, may induce labor. And high levels of prostaglandin has been found in the mouths of women with severe cases of periodontal disease.

The following guidelines were developed by the AAP in response to the growing concern surrounding oral health during pregnancy:

    * Oral Health Education - Counseling and early intervention by healthcare providers such as physicians, nurses, and dentists to provide expectant mothers with the tools and resources necessary to understand the importance of oral health care during pregnancy.
    * Oral Hygiene - Removing the bacterial plaque, which researchers have connected to preterm birth and low birth-weight babies, is essential. Using the correct brushing and flossing methods greatly increase the amount of plaque that is removed from the teeth and gums.
    * Fluoride - The American Dental Association recommends the use of toothpaste with fluoride by persons over the age of six. Echoing their sentiment, the AAP oral health guidelines advise the continued use of fluoridated toothpaste during pregnancy, and recommends the use of an over-the-counter alcohol-free fluoride rinse to help reduce the amount of plaque in the mouth.
    * Nutrition - Educating expectant mothers about proper diet and nutrition during pregnancy will limit unnecessary sugar intake and in turn, prevent plaque build up.
    * Treating Existing Tooth Decay - Expectant mothers are encouraged to have existing tooth decay treated during their pregnancy, which experts believe is a completely safe practice during pregnancy. Restoring decayed teeth will help achieve oral health by removing the bacteria associated with tooth decay.
    * Transmission of Bacteria - Expectant mothers are discouraged from sharing food and utensils in order to prevent the transmission of the bacteria known to cause tooth decay.
    * Use of Xylitol Gum - Expectant mothers are encouraged to chew xylitol gum (four times a day) as research suggests that chewing this gum may decrease the rate of tooth decay in children.

Talk to Your Dentist
If you are pregnant or are considering pregnancy, discuss any concerns you may have with your dentist. Women who are thinking about becoming pregnant may want to consider their oral health before becoming pregnant as research suggests that treating existing gum disease in pregnant women does not reduce the instance of preterm birth. Despite this fact, experts insist that regular oral health care should continue throughout pregnancy.

Question: What is a Missing Tooth Clause?
Answer: More than 90 percent of dental insurance policies carry a missing tooth clause. A missing tooth clause protects the insurance company from paying for the replacement of a tooth that was missing before the policy was in effect.

For example, if you lost a tooth before your coverage started and later decided that you would like to have a partial, bridge or dental implant to replace the missing tooth, the insurance company would not have to pay for that service if they have a missing tooth clause in their dental plan.

Question: What is Tooth Decay?
Answer: Decay is the destruction of tooth structure. Decay occurs when plague, the sticky substance that forms on teeth, combines with the sugars and / or starches of the foods that we eat. This combination produces acids that attack tooth enamel. The best way to prevent tooth decay is by brushing twice a day and flossing daily.

If decay reaches the pulp of the tooth, a root canal may be necessary to save the tooth.

Eating healthy foods and avoiding snacks and drinks that are high in sugar are also ways to prevent decay.

Question: What is Calculus?
Answer: Calculus, also known as tartar, is the hardened residue that forms on your teeth when plaque is not removed. Plaque can be removed by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. If tartar is allowed to remain on the teeth and below the gumline, it can lead to chronic infection and inflammation. The only way to remove tartar is to have your teeth professionally cleaned at your dental office.

Question: What is a Prosthodontist?
A prosthodontist is a dental specialist who is skilled in the replacement of missing teeth and the restoration of natural teeth. A prosthodontist has graduated from dental school and usually will have three or more years of continuing education after that.

This type of dental specialist is trained to deal with complicated and simple restorations of the whole mouth as well as treating facial deformities. Common procedures treated by a prosthodontist may include dentures, partial dentures, fixed bridges, crowns, implants, veneers and more.

Question: What is a Dental Implant?
Answer: A dental implant is a metal device designed to replace missing teeth. The device is usually made out of titanium and is surgically placed into the jawbone where the tooth is missing. Unlike a dental bridge, an implant is permanent.

A dental implant is designed to act as the tooth root and can anchor an artificial tooth or teeth such as a crown, bridge or denture.

Question: What Causes Decay?
Answer: Decay occurs when plague, the sticky substance that forms on teeth, combines with the sugars and / or starches of the foods that we eat. This combination produces acids that attack tooth enamel. The best way to prevent tooth decay is by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Eating healthy foods and avoiding snacks and drinks that are high in sugar are also ways to prevent decay.

Question: What is a Veneer?
Answer: A veneer is a thin shell made out of porcelain or composite material. They are custom made and cemented to the front side of the tooth. A veneer can be used to treat dental conditions such as a slightly crooked tooth, discolored teeth, chipped teeth or they can even be used to cover spaces in between the teeth.

A veneer can be made by the dentist or in a dental laboratory, depending on the materials used and the preference of the dentist.

Question: When Should I Take My Child to the Dentist for the First Time?

Answer: According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children should visit a pediatric dentist when their first tooth comes in or no later than their first birthday.

Question: Fluoride - What is Fluoride?
Fluoride, a naturally occurring mineral, is often added to drinking water and is commonly found in toothpaste. Research has shown that the rate of cavities decreases in areas where fluoride is added to the water supply. Health authorities, such as The American Dental Association and The World Health Organization, both advocate the addition of fluoride to drinking water, and recommend you use toothpaste that contains fluoride, if age appropriate.
Question: Are Silver Fillings Safe?
Answer: Silver (Amalgam) filling material contains about 50% mercury and 50% of various other metals. While there have been no conclusive studies relating the mercury in amalgam to any dangers, mercury by itself is very toxic.

With the introduction of new filling materials, amalgam is not used as often as it once was. More than 70% of all fillings today are placed in the tooth by the dentist with resin or composite materials. Amalgam has been deemed safe by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, the FDA and the US Public Health Service. Important Update - June 2008 The FDA Admits Silver Dental Fillings May Not Be Safe.

In light of this recent information, the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) still does not recommend having amalgam fillings removed and The American Dental Association continues to stand their ground that amalgam is a safe and durable filling material.

Question: What is a Cavity?
Answer: A cavity is a hole in the tooth that is caused by decay. Decay occurs when plague, the sticky substance that forms on teeth, combines with the sugars and / or starches of the food we eat. This combination produces acids that attack tooth enamel. The best way to prevent tooth decay is brushing twice a day, flossing daily and going to your regular dental check ups. Eating healthy foods and avoiding snacks and drinks that are high in sugar are also ways to prevent decay.

Question: What is Gingivitis?
Answer: Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, which can be treated and reversed if diagnosed early. The signs and symptoms are red, swollen and puffy gums that bleed easily. If treatment is not received, gingivitis could progress into periodontitis, an advanced and more serious stage of gum disease which includes bone loss and is not reversible. Gum disease is one of the main causes of tooth loss in adults and has also been linked to heart attacks and strokes.

Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, regular dental checkups and dental cleanings are the best preventions against gum disease.
10391 Suite A, Democracy Ln, Fairfax ,Virginia 22030, USA

Tehreem Butt, DDS | 10391 Suite A, Democracy Ln, Fairfax, VA 22030 | Call Us (703) 273 7999
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