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Does Dental Tourism Really Save You Money?

Medical and dental care can be expensive – especially if you or your family is without dental insurance, and even with insurance there can be out-of-pocket expenses.  This is why many patients will elect to travel outside the country to get dental work done, believing that total expenses for treatment will be less than having treatment in Houston.  While the costs may be less initially, there are important factors to consider in addition to cost that include dental training, professional licensure, safety with radiation from dental x-rays, office sanitation, and dental instrument sanitation.  Summit Dental Center, as all dentists in the US and Houston, Texas must meet very strict federal, state and local requirements for all the above-mentioned factors.  For instance, there are very strict standards for cleanliness and a dental office as well as strict sanitization standards for dental instruments that are put in place to protect the patients from infection and blood borne diseases that can be transmitted by non-sterile conditions.  The professionals at Summit Dental Center are also trained in how to properly take dental x-rays and shield the patient from radiation exposure.  The bottom line is you don’t necessarily know what safety and professional standards apply to dentists abroad.  While some countries may match or exceed the level of safety required at your Houston main dental home, some will fall far below those standards.  Summit Dental Center strives to provide the highest quality oral health care to all its patients regardless of their budget.  We accept most dental plans, CHIP and Medicaid.  In addition, we may offer payment plans for services if payment in full is an issue.  Don’t risk your dental health, and let tourism be for vacation. [Read more…]

Making Sense of Your Dental Insurance

Some employers provide dental insurance for employees and their dependents, but most of us do not review of dental health plan until a claim is denied or only partially covered by the provider.  This can create unplanned dental expenses that stretch the budget. If you have dental insurance take some time to review your policy before seeking treatment beyond normally covered services such as cleanings and exams.  Some important terms to know and recognize in your dental insurance policy include:  usual, customary and reasonable; pre-existing condition; annual maximum benefit; preferred providers; and treatment exclusions.  Usual, customary and reasonable refers to what your dental plan actually covers in terms of services and treatment.  If you have a pre-existing dental condition, treatment for that dental condition may not be immediately covered by the plan.  The annual maximum benefit is the maximum amount your plan will pay in a 12-month period; usually the patient pays anything beyond the annual maximum.  Preferred providers refer to dentists and dental clinics that have a contract with the dental insurance company.  You can easily check to see that your dentist is a preferred provider before scheduling an appointment, but Summit Dental Center in Houston takes most dental health plans.  Finally, treatment exclusions refer to services, treatments or devices that are not covered by your dental health plan.  At Summit Dental Center we are here to help you and your family maintain excellent oral health.  We know that an unplanned and uninsured dental expense can put a major crimp in your family’s budget, so we offer flexible payment plans and various forms of payment. Do not be afraid to ask about such plans if you need to. [Read more…]

February is National Children’s Dental Care Month

Each February the American Dental Association sponsors National Children’s Dental Care Month.  The aim is to enlist the help of parents and teachers to educate children about the importance of oral health and to help those children set good habits early in life that will serve them into their adult years.  If you are a teacher in the Houston area, consider contacting a dental health provider to come speak to your class, and if that is not possible both parents and teachers can easily talk to children about their dental health and its importance.  One fun game is to have children in your class write down what foods they can eat without teeth and what foods absolutely require teeth for chewing. This gets the children actively engaged by thinking about how they’d eat their favorite foods without any teeth.  Another fun activity is to demonstrate with an apple how tooth decay progresses in a tooth with a hold (i.e. cavity).  Simply take one fresh apple and create a 1-inch hole in the fruit.  Put the apple in a brown paper lunch sack for three days.  After three days have passed, cut the apple near the hole to show a cross-section of how the apple decayed.  The same process happens with teeth that are not well cared for.  Having children participate in this kind of hands-on learning makes them think about their oral health and most importantly remember good oral health habits. [Read more…]

Dental Treatment Reaches Beyond Gums and Teeth

If you think that dentists only deal with the patients’ teeth and gums, you’d be partially right, missing a lot of other important areas.  However, a dentist’s education and clinical training takes him/her well beyond that.  In addition to the patient’s mouth (gums, teeth, tongue, salivary glands), dentists are trained to treat muscles of the head, neck and jaw and nerves in the head, neck and jaw.  When your Summit Dental Center dentist examines you, she/he is also looking for other abnormalities such as swelling, ulcers and tissue discoloration, and when appropriate she/he may perform a biopsy or other diagnostic tests.  With regular dental exams, a dentist can often see early warning signs of chronic diseases such as diabetes.  When appropriate your dentist may refer you to a dental specialist.  At Summit Dental Center, we value our patients and the fact that they have honored us with the privilege of being their main dental home.  Therefore, we take our patients’ dental health seriously. [Read more…]

When to See Your Dentist

At Summit Dental Center in Houston, many of the patients we see believe that they only need to come to see us when they have tooth pain or when they feel something might be wrong in the mouth, but that could not be further from the truth.  Patients (adult and children) should see their dentist at least twice a year for routine check-ups and cleanings.  This not only keeps the mouth healthy, but also helps your dentist to practice preventive measures so that patients don’t end up with cavities or advanced gum disease.  Though you will spend a lot of time with your dental hygienist during routine appointments, your dentist does many things in his/her examination.  He/she monitors the development of the teeth in young patients, diagnoses oral diseases, creates treatment plans to prevent and treat oral diseases, interprets x-rays and other diagnostic tests.  A dentist is a medical doctor of the mouth, and he/she has gone through many years of rigorous training passing written exams and clinical exams before becoming licensed.  Dentists also maintain their licenses by going to continuing education courses so that they are aware of the latest treatments and research on various dental conditions.  At Summit Dental Center we strive to make your dental appointment as convenient, comfortable and affordable possible.  We not only take most dental insurance plans, but we also welcome Medicaid and CHIP patients. [Read more…]

Cavity Prevention for All Ages

Cavities are not fun, and are the biggest reason for people seeking services at Summit Dental Center in Houston.  Though some people seem to have more cavity resistant teeth than others, there are things that can be done besides just having good genes, and these are simple.  Whether you dislike coming to the dentist or don’t want the expense of dealing with cavities, the end result is that taking care of your teeth takes care of your dental and medical health.  It goes without saying that the most important tool to prevent cavities from forming is to brush your teeth twice per day.  Lots of our patients think that a quick brush and rinse will do the job, but that is wrong.  The get the most benefit from brushing, you need to gently brush the teeth and gum line for 2-3 minutes.  Since most cavities form in the back molars, patients should take time to really get to those teeth, and slightly crooking the arm to get a better angle for the brush to clean the teeth is a big help for those molars.  Flossing is also a powerful tool to fight against cavities and gum disease.  Lots of patients moan and groan about flossing, but it’s not that bad.  Not to mention, it can save you big bucks at the dentist’s office if you’re not paying for deep cleanings, fillings or root canals.  If using traditional floss bothers you, there are inexpensive plastic wands available that are easy to use.  Next, a good mouthwash that kills bacteria in the mouth is a great way to finish, and it gives you good breath.  Finally, you should come in for regular check-ups at Summit Dental Center twice per year so that your dentist and dental hygienist can keep an eye on what’s going on with your gums and below the surface of your teeth.  Often times our dental professionals can spot a trouble area and take care of it before it becomes a problem. [Read more…]

Healthy Diet Leads to Healthy Teeth

Dental health, just like your general medical health, is heavily dependent upon your dietary habits.  Just like the rest of your body, your oral soft tissues, teeth and bones require a balanced diet for optimum health.  This means consuming foods from each of the five food groups on a daily basis in the proportions recommended on the Food Pyramid.  No, chocolate is not one of the five food groups.  Parents should watch what their children eat and snack on in a given day and make sure that there is not an overload of sugar-containing foods.  The best snacks are vegetables, low-fat cheese, and yogurt.  The more sugar that remains on the teeth after means and snacks, the more attack on the teeth and soft tissues by acid. As always, feel free to ask your Summit Dental Center hygienist or dentist for help on how to maximize your and your child’s oral health. [Read more…]

Invisalign: What Does It Do?

If you have been considering braces to straighten your teeth and correct a misaligned bite, but have been hesitant due to the thought of having a mouth full of metal, then Invisalign may be the right orthodontic treatment for you.  Invisalign works using a series of custom made plastic trays called aligners that easily snap on over the teeth.  The aligners are comfortable and virtually invisible to others.  There will never be the worry of metal brackets affixed to the teeth, wires to tighten, or the worry of developing cavities from have braces on for a long period of time.  Once the patient is assessed and aligners are made for him/her, the patient wears one set of aligners for approximately two weeks before moving to another set.  Patients wear the aligners for approximately 20-22 hours each day, removing them when eating and brushing.  Each patient is unique, but typically an adult seeking Invisalign treatment can expect to receive treatment for about one year. Summit Dental Center offers Invisalign braces as an option for its orthodontic patients. [Read more…]

History of Braces & Orthodontics – Part II of II

Looking back at the history of orthodontics is fascinating — especially considering the humble beginnings.  After the ancient Greeks implemented a crude system of braces to straighten the teeth, the next major advancement came in 1728 when French dentist, Pierre Fauchard, wrote the textbook called The Dental Surgeon.  In this innovative text, Fauchard dedicated a whole chapter on how to straighten the teeth.  Shortly thereafter another French dentist, Ettienne Bourdet, developed an appliance called the Bandeau, which was used to manipulate the configuration of the top and bottom dental arch.  Not until 1841 did the term “orthodontia” come into use, and by the mid 1850’s dentists used the first x-rays for diagnostic purposes.  By the late 1800’s several dentists had written about using mild force over time intervals to change the position of the teeth to improve the patient’s bite and appearance.  By the 1900’s dentists began using a specific system to classify the degree of misalignment of the teeth (called malocclusion), and this system is still in use today.  Before the 1970’s braces were not affixed directly to the front of the teeth; instead braces were made from metal bands that wrapped around the entire tooth.  Additionally, braces were not made from stainless steel, but all kinds of precious and semi-precious metals.  Some patients remember being teased about their braces and being called names such as “metal mouth” as a teen, but this is almost a thing of the past.  These days, braces can be made of clear plastic and are often times removable.  Additionally, it’s not just kids and teens that get braces.  At Summit Dental Center in Houston we have both adult and adolescent patients who get braces to straighten their teeth.  In fact, braces can improve a patient’s jaw alignment at almost any age during the teen years or adulthood. [Read more…]

History of Braces & Orthodontics – Part I of II

If you had braces as a young person, or if your child is getting ready to start with braces, you may have some curiosity about how modern braces came to be. The dental term for braces is orthodontics, but this dental science had humble beginnings.  Dental and orthodontic experts believe that early braces were first used between the time period after the mirror was invented and before 1000 B.C. in ancient Greece. It makes sense that once people could see their own reflection (and poorly aligned teeth) that they wanted not only to look better but also to have better jaw and tooth alignment.  Archaeologists have found mummified remains where the deceased had metal bands around individual teeth.  The first braces were made from base metal and catgut, which is a far cry from today’s technology where patients need not wear metal braces affixed to the teeth, but appliances such as Invisilign.  In between ancient Greece and today, the science of orthodontics has improved tremendously, which Summit Dental Center will discuss in greater detail in this series of blog posts.  Summit Dental Center offers several options for patients seeking to correct orthodontic problems, but we promise – no catgut! [Read more…]