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Interesting (and Sometimes Shocking) Facts from Dental History

Dentures of the Past

Dentures of the Past

Nothing like a look back in the past to see how far you’ve come, am I right? Today’s blog was a request from our fabulous front office coordinator, Becca. Enjoy!

  • Dentistry is one of the oldest professions. Early in recorded history, a Sumerian text described “tooth worms” as the cause of dental decay, an idea that wasn’t proven false until the 1700s.

  • The first book to be published purely on the topic of dentistry was in 1530 titled, The Little Medicinal Book for All Kinds of Diseases and Infirmities of the Teeth.

  • The Etruscans of Italy used gold bands to attach human and animal teeth as far back as 700 BC. In today’s Mexico, they’ve found dentures dating from 2500 BC, made from wolf teeth. . The first recorded wooden dentures in Japan appeared in 16th century. During the 18th century, dentists experimented with dentures made out of human teeth, animal teeth and carved ivory. Dentures were usually made by goldsmiths and ivory turners. United States President, George Washington, was famous for having wooden teeth. While he did wear dentures, they were made with ivory from hippos and elephants, real human teeth, gold, rivets, spiral springs- not wood.

  • One of the most common medical practitioners in Europe during the Middle Ages was the “barber surgeon”. In this era, barbers were called upon to not only cut hair with their razors, but also to conduct many surgeries and pull teeth.

  • In 1723, Pierre Fauchard, a French surgeon credited as the father of modern dentistry, published a book called, The Surgeon Dentist, a Treatise on Teeth. For the first time, he provided a documented comprehensive system for preventing dental issues and treating teeth. Fauchard introduced dental fillings and proposed that acids from sugar led to tooth decay.

  • In 1840, Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, the first dental college opened. Harvard University Dental School was the first university-affiliated dental institution founded in 1867.

  • Colgate mass produced the first toothpaste in 1873 and mass-produced toothbrushes a few years later.

  • Around 1765, Paul Revere, who would later become famous for warning Colonial troops that the British were coming, was also trained as a dentist by America’s first dentist, John Baker, in addition to being a silversmith.

  • Imagine having to feel all your dental work without Novocaine. We take it for granted now, but it wasn’t invented until 1903! We can all thank the German chemist Alfred Einhorn who invented it.

We hope you enjoyed this look back at our adventurous dental history. Don’t worry - if you’re having any dental issues of your own, you can rest assured we have much more advanced and painless procedures to take care of you! Feel free to give us a call anytime at 541-482-4995.



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6 Toothbrushing Mistakes You're Likely Making

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6 Toothbrushing Mistakes You're Likely Making

We’re always thrilled to see patients invested in taking care of the oral health. But there are a few brushing related mistakes that are made quite often - we’re talking every day! A few simple tweaks to your routine may make a big difference, so today we’re sharing these common errors to get to on the right track.

  1. You use the wrong brush
    First and foremost, we recommend ultrasonic toothbrushes. We can guess with pretty great accuracy if someone uses an electric toothbrush - the results are that obvious! An ultrasonic toothbrush is one that uses a very high frequency of vibration referred to as ultrasound to remove plaque and bacteria from the teeth. Additionally, anything other than a soft brush has the potential to harm not only the teeth but the gums as well. Always use a “soft” bristled brush.

  2. You don’t brush at the right time of day
    The most important time to brush your teeth is before bed. Sleep is the longest period of the day you’re not eating and therefore the best time for the bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease to “feed”. Another small change can be made for people who brush their teeth before breakfast - suds up those chompers afterwards instead, for optimal oral health.

  3. You ignore the rest of your mouth
    Don’t forget to care for your tongue! The tongue can harbor food and bacteria in the tiny crevices between “papillae” (little bumps on the top of your tongue that help grip food while chewing) . Use your tooth brush lightly on your tongue and then follow with a tongue scraper to get rid of harmful bacteria.

  4. Not brushing long enough
    The American Dental Association recommends brushing twice a day for 2 minutes each time. Two minutes feel like a long time when you’re doing something less stimulating (to most … not us of course!). This is one reason we love electric toothbrushes - they keep you honest with their built in two minutes timers.

  5. Not using proper technique
    Many people are surprised to find, later in life, that they’ve been brushing the wrong way. But the truth is, proper brushing and flossing can be a little tricky! Don’t hesitate to get exact recommendation from your dentist or hygienist and ask any questions. We love these conversations! Most commonly, mistakes have to do with the angle of the brush, brush strokes and flossing motions.

  6. You don’t replace your brush
    You should replace your brush every 3-4 months, more frequently if the bristles become worn. Worn down bristles aren’t as effective. You should also change your brush out after you’ve been sick.

    As always, the Soulsmile team is available to address any concerns you have about the proper way to brush. Don’t hesitate ask us the next time you visit our office. Feel free to give us a call at 541.482.4995. Happy brushing!

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Managing Dental Anxiety - Part 2 (Source: Local's Guide, Ashland)

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Managing Dental Anxiety - Part 2 (Source: Local's Guide, Ashland)

The following interview is Part 2 of a featured interview published in the 2019 Ashland Local’s Guide. You can read Part 1 here.

I like that you address that head on. I’m beginning to see how real dental anxiety can be. How about #3?

#3 was touched on earlier, but it is the fear of not being in control. For example, a patient fears that, once tipped back in the chair, it is just going to be an invasion of their personal space with a whirlwind of activity, chatter, and action that they can’t control, even if they wanted to.

The way I give space to this fear is a formula of friendly chit-chat before and after but 100% quiet focus during treatment. We always review a patient’s treatment before starting, give them an idea of the chronological order of things, explain how we will be on the lookout for their left hand to move even a twitch (I joke that they can test me with even the slightest movement of any finger, but that I prefer a “thumbs up” versus other popular single digit expressions!) and then … we shut up. From start to finish we barely say a word. The patient feels a succession of actions that feel logical, purposeful, and gentle. According to our reviews and feedback, this flow and the systems around the workspace give a patient a great deal of assurance that we are in control and they are in control.

That’s another one I hear about. It seems most people do not like being talked to while being worked on or feeling like the dental team is distracted. And #4?

The fourth is financial fear, especially when it has to do with the cost of large treatment plans. Financial fear and a related fear, that of being taken advantage of, should be remedied by trust. The first easy way to build trust is with excellent dental photographs (in addition to x-rays). Digital photographs let a patient see their teeth for themselves and lead to a very clear decision about what the patient would like to address. The second method is a very detailed treatment plan, decided on ahead of time, that shows what you will be doing all the way until the very last appointment if possible.

One recommendation I have is to work with your dental office on the treatment plan and then ask how it can be divided into the fewest appointments possible to qualify for an overall discount. Dentistry is essentially billed out according to the doctor’s time. By allowing your dentist to work efficiently, you should qualify for a discount. Just be sure to make it to those appointments.

One big challenge for a fearful patient is being able to follow through with actually showing up. That’s understandable, but if this is the case for you, let the office know and start by making short appointments for a couple simple procedures in the beginning. Soon, you will have no problem showing up.

I can understand that. When I contemplate high medical expenses it creates an anxiety that feels almost like a concern for the procedure itself.

Yes, for sure! Me too. When patients are faced with a large treatment plan, it is very easy to become overwhelmed. When combined with true anxiety, the result is postponement and a worsening condition.

This brings me to another topic. There are many ways to address the financial burden of a larger treatment plan. Here are some examples of how to make your treatment more affordable:

-       Crowns (without prior root canal treatment) generally do not require “buildups” – there you go, you just saved $300 per tooth!

-       Don’t blow your budget on one tooth with a poor prognosis and leave others with minor decay untreated (in this case, you might extract the tooth and fix the other teeth for the same cost).

-       You may be able to temporarily opt for large fillings instead of crowns, on select teeth, to save money. This is typically a better option than optimal treatment if it means halting the decay process.

-       If you’re considering dentures vs fixing teeth, you should know that full upper dentures can look and feel great. If at all possible, try to keep as many lower teeth as possible to support a lower partial denture.

-       Don’t suffer because of the price tag of implant-supported dentures, if that’s your ideal treatment. You can always do regular dentures for now and get implants to support those dentures in the future if you choose to.

-       When missing teeth, get your self esteem back by wearing an inexpensive “flipper,” “stay plate,” or “Nesbit” in areas where you are missing teeth and can’t afford dental implants.

-       There are many dental financing options offering 0% financing.

-       Modern dental offices have their own membership plans now that cover all your preventative services (exams, x-rays and cleanings) for a low monthly cost.

-       If you are a longstanding patient with an office, they will most likely extend to you a monthly payment plan on your word. This is great motivation to establish a dental home and let them get to know you.

-       Don’t be afraid to ask an office to barter dental services for your services or wares.

-      Ask to be put on a “short call list” so the office can slide you into the schedule on short notice if they have an opening pop up. This convenience of filling an opening in their schedule may afford you a discount on your treatment.

So it seems sedation or laughing gas isn’t the magic ingredient in handling dental fear.

Right! Forms of sedation are great and certainly indicated for emergency situations or surgery, but in fact, it can be another barrier to long-term dental health. The real benefit of overcoming fear without sedation or gas is that a patient becomes free of fear and able to have routine cleanings and dentistry with no problem. This dental confidence is also a gift given to one’s child, as dental fear seems contagious.

Whether or not a person is a patient of Soulsmile, I hope they can live free of dental anxiety and achieve the dental health of their dreams.

Thanks for dedicating this interview to helping folks with dental fear.

My pleasure. Thank you, Shields.

If you’re looking for Part 1 of this feature, you can read it here. And if you’d like to check out the original article, you can see it here.


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Managing Dental Anxiety - Part 1 (Source: Local's Guide, Ashland)

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Managing Dental Anxiety - Part 1 (Source: Local's Guide, Ashland)

The following is Part 1 of an article that appeared in the January 2018 issue of the Local’s Guide. Dr. Kivel was honored to be interviewed on this topic he is so passionate about.

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Hi Aron, I thought we’d catch up on what's new for you and for your dental office, Soulsmile.

Hi Shields. Great to talk to you and congratulations on pulling off living and working from the rainforest of Costa Rica!

Thanks. It sure has been an adventure and after two years we are really getting into our groove. So, tell me what’s new with you.

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Well our daughter, Siena, will be two in the spring and is more fun that I ever imagined. Her head-back, arms-out greetings are pure joy for my wife and I. As for Soulsmile, we are almost to our four-year anniversary and grateful as ever for the continued support of the Rogue Valley community, as well as residents of towns from Yreka to the Coast.

As for what’s new, for the first part of 2019, we’ll be expanding our hours and maybe even bringing on a partner. We are - and will always - accept new patients, see them within one week, and work emergencies into our schedule on the same day.

Sounds like great growth plans. What’s new from a services standpoint?

Well, since we offer such a wide array of services, one of the biggest recent shifts in our paradigm is realizing the contribution we can make for anxious patients - a large group of Rogue Valley residents for whom dentistry really brings out fear or a feeling that they are not in control. We seem to be sought out by many individuals who feel this way and it’s been some of the most rewarding work of my career.

I hear that from people so often, they are afraid of going to the dentist, but hadn’t really thought of what it actually means for them.

Yeah, like others fears or phobias, dental anxiety hides in the shadows but really gets in the way. After all these years practicing dentistry, I’m still moved by these wonderful folks who come in and really start opening up about it and then allow us to help them on the journey to dental health and relief from dental anxiety. And I’m not talking about using drugs or sedation. I’m talking about good old-fashioned person-to-person trust and normal dental services. It really goes to the heart of why a healthcare provider does what they do.

Treating anxious patients and having a successful outcome is a big emotional deal for me, too. After treatment, there are usually hugs and glassy eyes all around. It’s impactful for everyone and a core reason that someone suffering from dental anxiety should feel confident in taking the first steps to a new beginning.

I love this topic! So tell me, what does dental anxiety look like?

Good question. Well, there is a massive barrier between patients and dental health when they have dental anxiety. It’s almost unthinkable for many. It can present as a guarded smile, sweating, pacing, overly quiet – the expressions are varied and personal, but the source is clear. I start off by congratulating them for even picking up the phone. To call, make an appointment AND show up… that takes courage! I let them know that I get it. It isn’t long into dental treatment that the smiles start to show up, the sentences become longer, the conversations fuller, the shoulders broader, this sort of thing. So I know the signs just from having seen hundreds of people show me their true personalities within days of getting started with treatment. It’s incredible.

So what happens when they are at the dentist for the first time, what should they look for? What should they say?

A patient with dental anxiety seeks trust in the entire dental team and office. The good news is that most dentists, and certainly the dentists and their teams in this town, are really good people. If at all possible, an anxious patient should try to say what it is that most causes them fear. Ideally the entire team will allow this conversation to build naturally. Just call an office and offer a hint of your fear and see how it goes! Call another office if you feel like finding just the right connection. There is nothing to lose in that and meeting the dentist for a free consultation is a great way to find out if it’s a good fit.

What if someone is afraid but feels uncomfortable or uncertain about how to express it?

It’s true that it might help to identify a fear so to get the conversation started. Anxious patients come in four big categories with some subtle variations within each.

First, some people fear pain. This usually relates to an earlier dental experience or maybe even stories of a family member who spoke of feeling discomfort while having treatment. They may also have more sensitive teeth and gums or have a fear of needles. Talking to a dental team about this fear allows them to share ways that the patient can remain in control along the entire path, including making sure they are completely numb before and during treatment.

Can you give me an example?

Sure, here’s an easy one. Many people with a square jawline report being difficult to get numb (picture Michelle Pfeiffer or google “celebrities with square jaw”) as the reason they are afraid of dental treatment. This is one of the easiest situations for a dentist to address with slight technique changes since really the nerve serving the teeth is just a little more hidden around the corner of their slightly flared out jawline. Try an appointment just to get numb if you’d like to feel reassured. Maybe try one easy filling to get started. In this case, pain is managed through technique, patience, and a patient’s ability to stop treatment at a moment’s notice by raising their hand at the slightest sensation.

I never even thought about how someone’s anatomy might change their perceived ability to get numb. Great example! How about the second category of anxious patient?

Being judged. Some people fear being judged for their dental problems. They just want to stay home and be left alone. If they tell a dental team this on the phone, or in the chair, I can assure you that everyone will respectfully discuss what relatively affordable and easy things can be done and zero about how the teeth got in this condition.

For example, I can see plenty in x-rays and may suggest to a patient that we just shoot the breeze about what they would like to accomplish and that we take our first small step on the next visit, lightly touching on our final goal of say dentures, implants, cosmetics, etc. In other words, let’s place something in front of us that feels like a small positive step and begin the practice of not looking back.

On that note, if a person has had a history of drug use that has led to their dental condition, they should know that this doesn’t really need to be discussed. You will probably feel comfortable talking to your dentist about it a couple visits down the road, but for now just focus on getting out of discomfort, saving teeth, and coming up with an affordable immediate solution to restore your self-confidence. This goes hand-in-hand with recovering from drug abuse and is one of the most rewarding type of cases I get to treat. I can tell you with certainty that no one at Soulsmile will ever talk about “how did your teeth get like this?” No way. We are totally focused on looking down the road into your future.


Stay tuned to read Part 2 of “Managing Dental Anxiety”

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Common Dental Emergencies and How to Handle Them

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Common Dental Emergencies and How to Handle Them

What’s considered a dental emergency? Typically we would consider a dental issue that requires immediate medical attention to save the tooth, continuous gum bleeding that needs to be stopped or severe pain as a dental emergency. It’s unfortunate that most hospitals and Emergency Departments are not equipped for or trained in dental emergencies. No matter where you are located or having a dental emergency, it is usually better to seek out immediate care for a dentist rather than a hospital if you can find one. In this blog, we are covering the most common dental emergencies and some advice on how to handle the situation until you can receive proper care.

Trauma to the Face and Mouth

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Emergencies or trauma involving the face and mouth that require immediate medical attention include jaw fractures, jaw dislocations, serious cuts or lacerations to the face and mouth, or an abscess or infection that is very swollen or affecting your breathing or swallowing.

These are situations where you'd want to call 911 or go to a hospital ER. Don't wait for a dentist's office to handle a potentially life-threatening condition.

A Cracked or Broken Tooth

A cracked or broken tooth is one of the most common dental emergencies seen by dentists. Regardless of how the tooth cracks, we often see situations where the nerve of the tooth gets exposed, causing a great deal of pain and discomfort. An exposed nerve is also extremely sensitive to temperature fluctuations - especially cold.

If this happens, you should immediately book an appointment with Dr. Kivel and let our team know you are in pain so we can get you in the same day. If you are away on vacation and in a great deal of pain, we would encourage you to seek out a dentist in the area who can help you right away. Being in Ashland, we see lots of visitors here for the Shakespeare Festival or other leisure, and similarly, we can help them out while they are far from their “home” dentist. While you wait for an appointment, you can gently bite a fresh piece of gauge, and definitely avoid cold drinks and foods. This can protect the nerve from further damage.

Keep in mind that this type of dental emergency is almost always avoidable! By keeping up with regular dental exams and completing recommended dental treatment, you can avoid this type of situation. Dr. Kivel can usually see potential problems and tae steps to prevent them. There is a joke around the dental profession about how teeth always “wait” to cause a problem until you are on vacation, at a graduation or other equally unfortunate timed event!

A Knocked Out Tooth

A knocked out tooth is yet another common dental emergency. Almost everyone can think of a time when they or someone they knew had a tooth knocked out, often times as a child. In this situation, retrieve the tooth and hold it by the crown to rinse it thoroughly with water. During this process, take care not to remove any soft tissues attached to the tooth.

If you (or the affected person) are willing, you can try to gently insert the tooth back in the socket, but do not force it. If at all possible, try to visit Soulsmile (or a dentist in your area) within thirty minutes of the accident. It is ideal to transport the tooth (or teeth) either in a container of milk or in the patient's mouth.

A Crown That Comes Off

If the crown falls off due to injury, you should visit a dentist right away! This situation should be treated as a “knocked out tooth” above.

More commonly, a crown comes off while eating, brushing your teeth or flossing. In this case, the crown can sometimes be reattached by a dentist. However, there are times that the tooth has an ongoing issue (like decay or nerve damage) that will require a new crown to be fabricated or additional treatment. One way to get an idea if it will be possible to reattach the crown is to look inside it. If it is “clean” with no tissues or tooth material, it might be able to be used!

While you wait for an appointment, it's a good idea to place the crown back on temporarily to protect the underlying tooth structure and nerve. You can purchase over-the-counter denture cream at your local drugstore. You can also use a small dab of toothpaste. Before you use the denture cream, be sure to carefully determine the correct way it’s supposed to fit on your tooth. Test the fit before applying the cream. If it's on correctly, it should feel comfortable when you close your teeth together. Avoid biting down too hard or you may damage your crown.

An Abscess or Infection

A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that develops due to a bacterial infection in the mouth. Abscesses can develop on different parts of the tooth, and because they will not go away on their own, it is incredibly important to treat them as soon as they develop. The symptoms of a tooth abscess are sensitivity to hot or cold, severe toothache, sensitivity to pressure, fever, facial swelling, swollen lymph nodes in the jaw and neck area. If you notice a sudden rush of foul tasting fluid in your mouth followed by pain relief, it is likely that your abscess has ruptured.

Treatment for a dental abscess at Soulsmile will consist of draining the pus from your abscess and treating the infection with antibiotics. Treatment often requires a root canal to thoroughly remove the decayed portion of your nerve, which can save the abscessed tooth; otherwise, the tooth must be removed. The bacterial infection from a tooth abscess can be incredibly dangerous if it spreads to your jaw, neck, or brain, or if you develop sepsis, which is a life-threatening infection that spreads through your body, so we encourage you to seek help as soon as possible

Contact Us to Be Seen Right Away

At Soulsmile, we are highly adept at handling every kind of dental emergency. We also place a premium on keeping people out of pain and handling emergencies promptly. We can always get you in on the same ay for a dental emergency. We also list Dr. Kivel’s emergency line on our voicemail which can be called or texted outside of our regular hours. And the best thing is, we always handle emergency cases on a preferential basis. Give us a call at 541.482.4955 to book an appointment.




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Dental Insurance and FSA ... Use It or Lose It!

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Dental Insurance and FSA ... Use It or Lose It!

Did you know that dental insurance benefits do not roll over from year to year?

Millions of people in the US leave unused dental benefits on the table each year. The National Association of Dental Plans estimates that only 2.8% of people with PPO plans reach their plan's annual maximum. Additionally, many people now have FSAs (Flexible Spending Accounts) which can help pay for their dental care. These type of plans often "run out" on December 31st as well. Here's how we suggest you make the most of any remaining benefits you might have ...

Traditional Dental Insurance 

Many people with dental benefits get them through their employers, though individual plans are also available through Health Insurance Marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act. Remember, when you buy a plan you and your employer are paying some premium – upfront dollars – that are wasted if you don’t see your dentist.

When You Need to Use Them By

Many insurance companies have a benefit deadline of December 31, and this means that any of your unused benefits don’t roll over into the New Year for most dental plans. Still, some plans may end at different times of the year, so check your plan document or ask your employer to be sure. 

Tips for Making the Most of Your Plan

The key with this type of coverage is to take advantage of any benefits before they expire for the year.

  • Prevention is better than treatment both for your health as well as your pocketbook. Most plans typically pay 100% for preventive visits, so if you’re duet, this is a good time to schedule one.

  • Start thinking about using your coverage early. During a dental appointment this fall, talk to Dr. Kivel about what your dental needs are and what treatment you might need before the end of the year. Make any upcoming appointments early so you can take care of them before the holidays.

  • Once you've determined what your dental needs are, you can work with our front office coordinator or your insurance company directly to figure out what is covered. You can call your plan using the 800 telephone number on your identification card, or usually go to their website for information.

 

Flexible Spending Accounts

A Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is an account you can set up for healthcare costs. During open enrollment, you choose how much money to put into this account, and a portion of this amount is deducted from each paycheck pre-tax. FSAs generally cover services or products that help keep your mouth healthy, including cleanings, braces needed for dental health reasons, benefit plan co-pays, dentures and more. This huge benefit of this account is spending money that has not been taxed on your health expenses.

Many FSAs work like debit cards, and you can use that card to pay for various medical and dental expenses, including some products available at your local drugstore. 

When You Need to Use Them By

Generally, you must use the money in an FSA within the plan year by December 31. However, your plan may offer one of two options that give you a little more time to spend what’s in your account:

  • Some provide a grace period of up to 2½ extra months to use the money in your FSA.

  • Others may allow you to carry over up to $500 per year to use in the following year.

Whether it’s at the end of the year or a grace period, you lose any money you haven’t spent. Check with your employer or FSA administrator to see what your plan allows.

Tips for Making the Most of Your FSA

  • Plan carefully so you don’t put more money in your account than you will spend within a year on dental or other health care costs.

  • As with dental benefit plans, talk with Soulsmile this fall during regular appointments to see if you have any needs or procedures that need to be completed. You may be able to use your FSA to pay for these needs or use your FSA to pay any associated co-pays or co-insurance.

  • Contact your FSA administrator for a list of covered services and products (usually referred to as eligible expenses). However, most FSA accounts cannot be used for cosmetic procedures and services like whitening, veneers or cosmetic braces.

  • Make any remaining dental appointments as soon as you know you need them to ensure your FSA dollars can be used in time.

Have any questions regarding your own insurance plan, coverage or treatment needs? Call us at 541-482-4995 and we’ll be happy to help!

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Drive a Different Kind of Hybrid: Dentures Supported by Dental Implants

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Drive a Different Kind of Hybrid: Dentures Supported by Dental Implants

Sometimes we see patients who, due to a variety of reasons, have lost most of their teeth. Estimates are that there are 35 million edentulous persons in the United States. In the past, these individuals would often be presented with the option to extract the remaining teeth and have dentures made. The problem with this is that dentures are known for feeling insecure and can make normal eating habits uncomfortable and embarrassing. An alternative could be to place dental implants for each of the missing teeth, but this is often a cost-prohibitive solution. However, using strategically placed implants to support a hybrid denture can be the perfect, middle-of-the-road option.

An implant-supported denture is one that is supported by dental implants placed beneath the gum line. They are also referred to as “overdentures”. The minimum number of implants is four, although more implants can be beneficial. After placing implants, the body will need some time to naturally fuse with the jaw bone, a process called “osseointegration”. A titanium or gold bar is then placed to hold the prosthetic teeth in place. This system creates a much more secure prosthetic than a denture that simply rests on the gums and will not slip around. The denture is then fixed in place by Dr. Kivel. It is not removable by the patient like typical dentures.  

What are the Benefits?

The most commonly reported benefit of a hybrid implant denture is the ability to eat, smile and speak with complete comfort and confidence again. It also comes at a significantly lower cost than a large number of implants. Lastly, the implant denture is easily cleaned, close to your natural teeth. You don’t have to take it out every time you want to brush - just keep up your normal hygiene habits.

What is the Dental Implant Process?

We are proud to offer a digital process for dental implant process in conjunction with specialists around the Rogue Valley. Below is a quick overview. 

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Are you a Candidate?

Most patients who have lost an entire arch of teeth are eligible for hybrid implant dentures. One consideration is that the patient must be in reasonable good oral and overall health. The only way to confirm this, of course, is to book a free consultation appointment with Dr. Kivel at our Ashland, OR office. We can’t wait to help create a stable, secure, and complete smile!

Implant Supported vs. Implant Retained

There is another option to have implant retained dentures. In this option, the gums still absorb most of the force of the bite and the implants simple help retain the prosthetic. These type of dentures are removable . We find that many patients dislike the thought of having removable teeth, because it is a constant reminder of their tooth loss and feel comforted waking up with teeth in their mouth. For this reason, we typically lean towards a fully supported, more permanent option.

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4th of July 2018 Recap

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4th of July 2018 Recap

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The 4th of July is one of our favorite holidays in the Rogue Valley! The Ashland Chamber of Commerce does such a fantastic job of organizing the parade, fair booths, music performances - they blow us away! We love being a sponsor for the festivities and enjoy putting together a fun photobooth as part of our involvement. The photos are free to keep and always entertaining! Below are a few of our favorites (we even got Kelsey, the event organizer herself, in the photo booth with us). If you took photos at the booth this year, you can find digital copies on our Facebook album. As always, a huge thanks to Matt at Smile Photo Booth for providing excellent service. We highly recommend him for your next event or wedding! 

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Invisalign Lifestyle FAQs

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Invisalign Lifestyle FAQs

Invisalign has become one of the most popular treatments in the world since its debut in May of 2000. It easily enables patients to straighten their teeth without uncomfortable and unsightly metal. You can learn a lot about the basics of how it works throughout our website, but we’ve noticed most patients are really interested in how it will affect their day-to-day lives. So, today we are answering lifestyle-related questions to help you discover what you can expect during treatment.

Will Invisalign affect what and when I eat?

We joke around at Soulsmile about going on the “Invisalign diet”. In the big picture, eating whatever you want is one of the advantages of Invisalign (compared to traditional braces where food gets stuck easily), but it does take a moment to remove your aligners, eat, and then MOST patient will feel more comfortable if they do a quick brush before putting the aligners back on. Because of this process, many patients find they snack less and thus dub this reduction in food intake the “Invisalign diet”. When I personally did Invisalign, I didn’t eat less food, but I did consolidate my meals a bit more.

A couple more considerations - drinking only water when the aligners are in will keep your teeth clean and your trays nice and clear. Colored beverages can stain them a bit. I was known to occasionally drink white wine with them in, but I wouldn’t say that’s an “approved” tactic.

Will brushing my teeth be the same?

You’ll be able to brush and floss as normal, which is great! You just take your trays out. However, you’ll be adding a bit of time and effort to your routine to clean your aligners. You simply brush them with your toothbrush. My advice is to use an electric toothbrush (which you should already be using on your teeth anyway!). I once traveled with only a manual toothbrush and was shocked at how much more stained my aligners were during that time.

Invisalign also makes some cleaning crystals that you can use to soak your aligners in that work wonders!

Can I whiten my teeth while using Invisalign?

In most cases, patients will need small bumps adhered to select teeth (Invisalign calls them “attachments”) to help move the teeth. Because of this, whitening during treatment is not advised. You can definitely begin your treatment with a round of whitening and we certainly encourage a tune-up after you complete treatment and are ready to show off your beautiful new smile.

What if I have a special event? Can I leave my aligners at home?

Compliance is the number one factor in Invisalign success. It is essential that you wear your aligners for 20-22 out of 24 hours every day. That said, if you have an hour-long job interview, you’ll probably be just fine leaving them out. You can even try to keep your other eating periods shorter that day to make up for it. On the other hand, a day-long wedding may not be appropriate for skipping your aligners. Use your best judgment and wear them as much as possible. The rewards will last a lifetime!

Is Invisalign Comfortable?

Although there may be occasional discomfort due to the snug fit of starting with a new set of aligners, this usually subsides in a couple days and patients find them to be significantly more comfortable than metal braces. The new-aligner discomfort also seems to diminish a bit as treatment progresses.

What Is the Invisalign Treatment Process Like?

  • First, a free consultation with Dr. Kivel is scheduled to discuss treatment and ensure that you are a candidate for Invisalign.
  • Once treatment has been agreed upon, the Soulsmile team will take X-rays and impressions of your teeth. These will be used to create a 3-D image to map out the exact movements your teeth.
  • Next, we will make a customized series of aligner trays from virtually invisible (and BPA-free) plastic that will gradually re-align your teeth!
  • You will progress through the series (or change out) about every two weeks.
  • You will need to wear your aligner trays for 20 to 22 hours daily, removing them only to eat, brush or floss.
  • You will visit Soulsmile about every six weeks to make sure you’re teeth are moving as planned.
  • As with braces, you may need to wear retainers after your Invisalign treatment in order to keep your teeth in their new position.

Is there an age restriction for Invisalign?

We only recommend Invisalign for patients 18 and up for compliance issues. Fortunately, there is no upper-age limit! Invisalign is great for adults who previously thought they were “too old” to be wearing metal braces.

More Questions?

Hopefully, this answered questions you might have about Invisalign. If you live in Ashland, or Medford/the greater Rogue Valley, and have more questions, we would love to answer them - in person! Give us a call to schedule your free Invisalign consultation.

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The Link Between Childhood Obesity and Poor Dental Health

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The Link Between Childhood Obesity and Poor Dental Health

Lots of studies in recent years have been proving the connection between dental health and overall health. But a study released at the end of last year explored the link between dental health and childhood obesity. The study researched the habits and stats among 271 Swedish children. They found that children with a higher amount of carries bacteria (which is responsible for cavities) also had significantly higher body mass index (BMI) and unhealthier eating habits. Their eating habits more frequently and consumed more foods rich in sugar. 

Because weight can be a sensitive subject, registered dietitian Louise Arvidsson advises focusing the conversation on dental health and the type of foods that can help or harm your teeth. Foods high in carbohydrates (starches and sugars) contribute considerably to the production of plaque and acids that break down tooth enamel which can eventually lead to cavities. 

Food suggestions for dental health AND overall health:

  • yogurt
  • leafy greens
  • apples
  • celery
  • carrots
  • almonds
  • lean sources of protein such as lean beef, skinless poultry, and fish
  • dry beans, peas, and other legumes
  • plenty of water

Tooth decay is actually the single most common chronic childhood disease, but the good news is that we can prevent it and impact children's overall health when we educate them and teach them healthy hygiene habits. Remember to teach children to brush twice a day, floss daily and visit their dentist regularly. If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment for your own child, please contact us or give us a call at 541-482-4995.

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Dental Insurance Terms Defined

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Dental Insurance Terms Defined

We know it can be very hard to understand dental benefits. At Soulsmile, we are happy to bill insurance as a courtesy to our patients. Our team encounters dozens of different insurance providers, all with multiple plans and “levels” making it impossible to know the details of each one. We always encourage our patients to get to know their dental plan to have the best estimate of what is covered. The only problem with this is also needing to know what many of the insurance terms they throw around even mean. In this blog, we are going to help you understand some of the terms and ideas behind dental insurance so you can feel confident in understanding your benefits.

Annual Maximum

This is the grand total that your plan will pay for dental services for an individual or a family (if you’re under a family plan). Most “years” reset January 1st, but occasionally we see them reset at the enrollment date, so you’ll want to check on this for your plan.

Basic or Minor Services

This is one of a few common categories of dental services defined by insurance companies (along with Preventative and Major, each explained below). Basic services typically fillings, sealants, extractions, periodontal treatment and sometimes root canals. Usually, the same coinsurance (patient payment portion) percentage applies to all services in a group such as Basic.

Closed Network Plan

If you are enrolled in a closed network plan you must see a preselected dentist in order to receive benefits. If you go to an out-of-network office with this type of plan, you’ll need to pay for 100% of your services. More commonly, you’ll find a breakdown of coverage for both in-network and out-of-network dentists.

Coinsurance

This is your share of the cost of services, typically marked as a fixed percentage, of the contract allowance or “usual and customary” fee (see definition below). For example, a benefit paid at 80% by the plan leaves a 20% coinsurance obligation for the patient. This coinsurance applies after a required deductible is met (if necessary).

Contracted Dentist

A dentist who has a contract with your network. In this case, the dentist agrees to accept the insurance carrier’s fees as payment in full for services to plan members. Sometimes referred to as network dentist or participating dentist.

Deductible

A dollar amount that each patient enrolled in a plan (or family under a family plan) must pay before the insurance company begins paying benefits.

Diagnostic and/or Preventive Services

A category of services that usually includes exams, routine cleanings, X-rays and fluoride treatments. These fees are usually covered at 100% for in-network plans and 80% for out-of-network plans. Often times the difference for a patient to choose a dental office like Soulsmile, that might be out-of-network, for a normal exam and cleaning can be ~$20.

Effective date

The date that benefits begin for an enrolled patient. Please be sure to get this information from your insurance company if it is a new insurance plan. We often see patients’ plans with a wait period (often 6 months or 12 months after starting a new job and insurance plan). Sometimes the wait period only applies to selected categories of services.

Eligibility

Circumstances or conditions that determine who and when a patient is covered by the insurance plan. These may include the length of employment, job status, length of time an enrollee has been covered, dependency, dependents’ age.

Lifetime Maximum

The total dollar amount a plan will pay for care for the life of the enrollee or the plan. This type of limitation usually applies to a specific service such as orthodontic treatment.

Limitations and Exclusions

Dental plans often opt to not cover every dental procedure. Each carrier can provide you with a list of conditions that limit or exclude coverage under your plan. Limits are often related to frequency (for example, no more than two cleanings in a 12 month period).

Major Services

This category of services usually includes crowns, dentures, implants and oral surgery.

Out-of-Pocket Costs

Any amount the patient is responsible for, such as coinsurance, deductibles, costs above the annual maximum or cost for services not covered by the plan.

Pre-Treatment Estimate

Pre-treatment estimates are a written estimate of benefits provided by an insurance company in advance of proposed treatment. These are a very reliable way of finding out for a patient exactly what payment they would be responsible for at the time of service. Sometimes referred to as a predetermination.

Provider

Any licensed dentist who performs dental health services for the patient. This can also include dental specialists.

Usual and Customary Fees

This refers to the dollar amount set by an insurance carrier as a reasonable cost for a service. This term only comes into play when you are seeing a dentist who is out-of-network. This may also be referred to as the “allowed amount”. Let’s say your plan has an allowed amount of $98 for a cleaning, and your dentist’s fee is $111. The plan will pay 80% of $98, not $111. The difference in price will be the patient’s responsibility.

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Mt. Ashland Downhill Dummy 2018

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Mt. Ashland Downhill Dummy 2018

It's no secret that the Soulsmile crew LOVES Mt. Ashland. You'll find most of us there all winter long enjoying the wonderful terrain and awesome atmosphere. If you haven't been to Mt. Ashland yet, you have to check it out! Even if you go just to get a bite or a drink in the newly renovated lodge, its worth it just for the incredible views and to experience this fantastic little slice of our Southern Oregon community. You can even time your visit with one of the many fun events, like the Downhill Dummy (see our video below), they put on throughout the season. Experience some local mountain fun!

Thanks to the Mt. Ashland team for everything you do!

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LocalsGuide Article: The Evolution of Soulsmile

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LocalsGuide Article: The Evolution of Soulsmile

We are always so grateful to Shields and the LocalsGuide crew when they want to interview us and help people get to know Soulsmile and the people behind it. This is the full transcript of the article that ran in the December 2017 issue of the LocalsGuide in Ashland, OR ...

ashlanddentistinterview

Hi Aron, it’s been a year since we last spoke. Tell us, what’s new with Soulsmile?

Shields, thank you for this interview opportunity. This type of support from the community has helped Soulsmile get its message out and boosted it beyond the business startup phase. Having moved mid-career from the Bay Area three years ago to start anew - I can’t express my thanks enough! We are committed to providing one patient at a time, high-tech, high-touch general dentistry with an emphasis on complex dental conditions and cosmetics. We deliver this service at a great value by really listening to our patients to come up with a treatment plan based on the patient’s wishes, and then performing in an efficient, predictable manner to achieve excellent results.

New for 2018 will be a monthly membership plan for uninsured patients, laser-assisted hygiene at no additional charge, cone beam 3D imaging for critical diagnostics, and 3D printing of diagnostic models for accurate planning and enhanced patient communication.

And personally? Congratulations on your baby girl. How is fatherhood?

Thank you! Siena is six months old and it has been absolutely wonderful. I’m most blown away by motherhood. My hat is off to my wife, Ryann, and moms everywhere. Second, I’m in love. I think about Siena all of the time and can’t wait to see her. I’m a softie already!

Starting a business brings about unexpected challenges. Would you share yours?

Right, these challenges are lifelong learning in an organic sense, as opposed to more academic learning. The two most significant areas where this has occurred for me with Soulsmile have been, first, the earning of trust in a new practice and in a new community, and, second, the development of my leadership skills.

I see that, as your “Modern Dentistry - Classic Values” slogan touches on trust.  

Yes, absolutely. That motto is eight years old now, stemming from our San Francisco office.  It’s easy to write a strong message into a vision statement, but trust is earned the old-fashioned way in dentistry. It doesn’t matter to a new patient if you’ve been practicing for a dozen years.  Making a solid connection with everyone walking through the door who values our services is at the heart of earning that trust. So I have spent a good amount of thought on earning and maintaining trust rather than assuming years of service, academic background, technology or past success will speak for themselves.

How has leadership become a learning opportunity for an experienced dentist?

To get Soulsmile where we want it, I need to become a better leader. Simple as that. Podcasts and audiobooks, which were already in my regular diet, have been perfect for improving my shortcomings in this area. Of the ten or so audiobooks I have listened to this quarter, Extreme Ownership, written by a couple of Navy Seals, was my favorite. In a nutshell, it’s about taking full responsibility for every condition, situation, and outcome.

Beyond the application of building and maintaining a high-performance team, I now see what an amazing dynamic my team members bring to our business since taking full ownership of training, working through our vision, being vulnerable to them about my own dreams and concerns, giving them a safe and fun place to work, and allowing them to express themselves and own their personal connection with patients. It’s really exciting for me to see this team becoming one of our greatest strengths.

Those points make sense, as your patient reviews often mention being very trusting of you and your team.  Do you have a particular philosophy to credit?

We feel lucky to have such great reviews from patients and humbled by their generosity. The patient experience is always on our mind. We actually have a six-star goal: a five-star review plus a willingness to refer a friend. Our patient exams are at the heart of this trust, I believe. A quote from the famous martial artist, Bruce Lee, might shed light on our approach: “No way as way, no limitation as limitation.” Lee’s philosophy rejected the idea of a preconceived response (in our application, a predetermined dental treatment plan) and mandates an open mind with no perceived limitation of what is possible. I can’t tell you how many times being open-minded, curious and communicative has uncovered a wide range of really important dental considerations, from a patient’s unexpressed desires to big life events - good or bad, to finances, to hidden dental conditions. We believe that every patient has a unique view of their dental health. Safety, comfort, dignity, beauty ... whatever the objective, it is in flux depending on a person’s situation. So our sincere goal is to have patients feel (“soul”) these positive ways (“smile”) about their dental experience.

So trust stems from focusing on listening before the big-picture plan?

Exactly. We combine what we have learned from our patients with a myriad of dental solutions - from simple to complex- to come up with an ideal plan for that patient at that specific point in their life. Sometimes the plan is even to do nothing; whatever fits the patient’s desire. Each team member is highly trained and crossed-trained so we can be nimble, often pivoting to a patient’s request while plugging in the relevant standard operating procedures that apply. This feels flexible, understanding and compassionate to the patient. But there is also an efficient and methodical backbone which gives the feeling of safety and comfort.  It also allows us to see one patient at a time and to keep fees at a good value. A patient leaving a review may not directly notice these things. Such is the case with many of our favorite businesses.

You barely mentioned technology, yet many reviews comment on this as a strong characteristic of the practice.

As Jim Collins stated in his business book, Good to Great, technology can accelerate a business beyond good, but it will not in and of itself make a business great. People will. I love technology in dentistry. It’s great for patients and the progress keeps us all engaged. Using new technology is a state of mind; it keeps you in the loop.  At Soulsmile, we don’t use technology before it is practical, tried and true. But we do continue to look for the slightest application for affordable technologies in order to stay in the mental game so that when the application of use say, 3D printing, comes full circle, we are on the train instead of looking for the station.

In your opinion, what is the least understood area of dentistry?

Dental implants. Implants are actually a group of components that are combined to create the part that the patient cares about: the tooth. Understanding the parts, prices and prognosis can be confusing. Also, a natural tooth is still the best implant. Implants are a fantastic solution for an empty space or a completely empty dental arch, but I think we need to respect mother nature and the patient’s desire to keep their natural teeth when possible and practical to do so.

What’s a question people don’t usually ask, but you wish they did?

“Here is my budget today and here is my projected budget, can you make me a three step treatment plan that will allow me to look and feel my best and keep my teeth healthy forever?”

Any particular observations from this mid point in your career?

It’s a great view from which to look around. I’ve been thinking about how my “n=” is getting high enough that what were anecdotal observations as a younger clinician have now become a large enough sample size to amount to bona fide professional experience. As mentioned, I like entering each exam and treatment with an open mind, a “beginner’s mind” in the yoga sense, and yet good clinical judgment and planning stems from solid experiences from which to confidently draw diagnosis and treatment proposals.

Lastly, I know you are an outdoor enthusiast and adventure athlete.  Any new projects?

My wife and I love the Rogue Valley as a base for outdoor activities. The dirt is perfect for riding bikes right now and there will certainly be a good amount of backcountry and Mt. Ashland shredding in the months to come. We love paddling performance stand-up paddleboards and rowing at Emigrant Lake. There are fantastic adventure motorcycle routes all around. The list goes on, and yet, I have to say, that taking Siena for simple walks in the woods might be my new favorite outdoor pursuit.

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The Scoop on Coffee Breath - More Than Just Coffee

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The Scoop on Coffee Breath - More Than Just Coffee

Apparently, the five-year-old son of a friend recently confronted her just prior to his school-driveway departure. He said, "Don't even fink about kissing me when you drop me off at school. Your breff smells like coffee."

Unsurprisingly, caffeine is America's drug of choice. We consume a total of 700 million cups in a single day! We at Soulsmile love our coffee. There's always a fresh pot brewing in the team lounge and don't even get us started on all the awesome coffee joints in town (looking at you, Case, Noble and Mix!). Yes, it stains teeth. Yes, added sugar can contribute to cavities. But we are big believers of enjoying life's treats, especially when coupled with a proper hygiene routine. 

We do, however, care about coffee breath. Coffee breath is not simply the smell of coffe. If that were the case, "coffee breath" flavored ice cream would sound just as appealing as coffee ice cream. Any takers? Not here. Coffee breath is actually the smell of sugar-eating bacteria in your mouth laced with coffee. 

So how does your gorgeous cappuccino become a menacing platform for bacteria? It turns out the chemicals in coffee contribute to a slow down in the release of saliva. Saliva production is usually one of our mouth's best defenses, sloshing around to disrupt bacteria. With coffee, this lapse in saliva flow creates the perfect breeding ground for the more than 500 species of bacteria in your mouth. Studies have shown that showing milk in the mix can increase these effects even more.

Not pretty.

So, to keep your pearly whites smelling fresh, there are a handful of tips to offset the effects of coffee after consumption:

  • Brush your teeth 
  • Chew a piece of gum
  • Drink water
  • Eat something mouth-watering (think fruit, not bread)

Another factor to consider is your mouth's normal bacterial state. Bacteria grows exponentially. So the more bacteria that's present before coffee will contribute to more after coffee (and a worse smell). Come in for regular hygiene visits with Soulsmile, our Ashland OR dental office, and consult with our awesome team members on the best home care routines to keep your oral health in check at all times. 

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Visiting Soulsmile: Your Questions Answered

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Visiting Soulsmile: Your Questions Answered

ashland dental office

Hello and happy summer! We hope everyone has been enjoying the weather here in the Rogue Valley. We're particularly fond of afternoons at Emigrant Lake. Coming from the crowded state of California, we are always surprised at how few people are out on the lake, even in the middle of summer. Oh well - more fun for us!

We've noticed that we get asked a lot of the same questions by prospective patients when they first call in. We thought we'd gather a list to answer them in a blog. 

Do you accept ______ insurance?

The easy answer is that we accept any insurance that allows you to choose your own dentist. My advice to friends and family when they have questions about their dental insurance is to request a copy of their benefits and become familiar with them. It is surprising how many patients are never given a copy of their benefits! Unfortunately, there are HUNDREDS of dental plans out there and they change yearly. A dental office will usually know the basics of your plan, but knowing the nuances yourself can answer a lot of questions. Most likely, you're looking for a section of your benefits titled "Out of Network". A lot of people are surprised to find that going to an out-of-network dentist may only cost them $20 more, but can mean a HUGE difference in the quality of care they receive. 

Currently, we are IN network with Delta (aka Moda), Regence (aka Blue Cross Blue Shield) and Cigna. However, there are even some plans within those companies where they do not let you choose your own provider. So check out your benefits for the best answers! Feel free to ask us your questions too. 

How much does _______ cost?

We are as transparent with costs for our services as possible and are certainly able to give you an estimate. The only problem is, without seeing what's going on in your mouth, its hard to know exactly what you need. Here are some common services we get asked about:

  • A crown is usually $1,100. But in some cases, the tooth has worn down enough or has had a root canal and needs a $200 build up too. This is so the crown has something to secure it to.
  • Fillings cost between about $100-300 depending on how many surfaces it needs to cover.
  • Invisalign is $4700.
  • A cleaning is $111. Unless you have periodontal disease and need a deeper cleaning called Periodontal Maintenance, that is $160. 

Sometimes the best price to ask about is your initial exam (we usually run great specials!). From there we can see what you need and discuss costs. There are ways to work within any budget!

Do you offer payment plans?

Yes! We work with a third party service called CareCredit. They allow you to finance healthcare service, similar to using a credit card. They even offer no interest plans if its paid off within a certain time frame, usually a year. You can learn more or even apply on their website. We can also help you with the process in our office.

What will happen at the first visit?

First, you'll be greeted by our friendly team. Then, you'll be seated in our conference room to fill out welcome forms. We've had them laminated to eliminate paper waste. They are scanned into our computer when we're done and then erased for the next guest. You'll then be escorted to a treatment room by one of our awesome dental assistants. There, they'll take records. Most commonly this consists of not only xrays, but also digital images. Patients love that high resolution photography allows us to show you what we see. This way you can make more informed decisions about your dental care. Our assistants are highly trained and will often start the conversation about your dental health - if anything is bothering you, what they are seeing, your goals for your oral health, etc. Dr. Kivel will then do an in depth oral examination and review of records. He will present a comprehensive overview of your teeth and gums and if there is any recommended treatment. The main goal of this appointment is to give you any information you might want to know about your mouth, but most importantly - find out what you want and how we can help. Sometimes this means nothing at all! Other times, it means simply addressing any obvious decay or how your smile can look its best. It really is all up to the patient and what they want. 

I just need a cleaning. Can I make an appointment for that only?

The state of Oregon actually requires that dentists perform an oral exam on a patient before assuming care for them. It makes sense! How can we even provide the best type of cleaning for a patient before we know what they need? So at Soulsmile, you'll first have an exam with Dr. Kivel and his assistants to see how things are going before booking a cleaning with our fantastic hygienists. 

Do you offer consultations or second opinions?

Yes and yes! Anyone with more general questions about bigger treatment plans, cosmetics, treatment proposed by another dentist, etc, is welcome to come in to meet Dr. Kivel and an assistant for a free 15 minute consultation. This type of appointment is also useful for patients with dental anxiety who simply want to meet the team and check out the office before making their first appointment. 

Have any other questions? You can contact us directly or leave it in the comments if you'd like us to add it to the blog article. Thanks for your interest in Soulsmile. 

 

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Latest Dental Trend: Charcoal Toothpaste?!

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Latest Dental Trend: Charcoal Toothpaste?!

You may have seen some pictures on Instagram or YouTubers posting videos of the latest, greatest dental trend - charcoal toothpaste. Move over oil-pulling ... this DIY whitening trend consists of smearing a charcoal-derived black mixture on your teeth and brushing with it. 

Proponents of the technique claim that because these mixtures are highly absorbent they can naturally solve surface stains. In fact, there are already medical applications for charcoal, like absorbing poisons in an accidental poisoning. Many "reviewers" online brush their teeth for 3-5 minutes with the mixture and then have seemingly whiter teeth afterwards. 

Currently, the American Dental Association has not evaluated or approved of charcoal toothpaste. In fact, a representative for the ADA has commented saying the trend is concerning because its abrasiveness is not yet known and could be causing damage to people's teeth. Did you know, teeth are the only part of our bodies that does not replenish or heal itself. Once they are gone or damaged, it's a done deal. Of course, we can help correct any problems, but we'd rather see them avoided in the first place. But this means your teeth are usually not where you want to do any experiments. Fun new hair color or crazy nails? Yes! They grow back. Your teeth - not so much.

Whitening your teeth can happen in two ways. One, by scrubbing surface stains. Or two, by bleaching to actually change the color of the dentin. The later method is many times more effective. Charcoal tooth paste only claims to affect surface stains anyway, so if you're looking for real results, consider a professional whitening systems. These penetrate the enamel making teeth 3-8 times shades whiter, with effects that last years. 

We've concluded that there is not enough evidence available yet to know if the supplement is hazardous, beneficial or benign. Our vote: wait until there are more studies (if that even happens before it falls out of favor). In the meantime, there are plenty of proven techniques and products for whiter teeth. Ask us at your next appointment about whitening options. We offer three levels to meet your needs and budget. As always, if you have any questions feel free to contact us or leave a comment below. 

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Is Mouth Rinse a Must-Do?

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Is Mouth Rinse a Must-Do?

Walking the aisles of an Ashland drugstore will reveal a plethora of mouthwashes and rinses. These products tout dozens of features like germ eradicating ingredients, fluoride or even teeth whitening. Many of our patients wonder about the benefits and if they should make mouthwash a part of their daily routine. 

Our short answer is that brushing and flossing are the two most critical habits that will affect your dental health. If you're doing a good job of these two, mouth wash is not a necessity. 

On the other hand, it simply doesn't hurt to add an additional aspect to your routine, like mouth wash. While it may not live up to every promise advertised, it can be beneficial. We like to advise mouth rinse after flossing to help wash away any excess particles of food which may have been dislodged during your flossing. 

One thing to keep in mind is that mouth wash will not necessarily help with bad breath. Often, bad breath is a result of dryness and the harsh alcohol content of many mouthwashes can worsen this condition. If fresh breath is one of your primary goals, we'd recommend selecting an alcohol-free variety. Plus, its easier to handle! Additionally, chronic bad breath is often a result of plaque build -up. Ask Jordon (or your own fabulous hygienist) at your next cleaning if she thinks this may be contributing to bad breath. If so, improving your brushing and flossing is much more likely to help. 

The bottom line is that you should never substitute proper flossing and brushing with mouthwash. But feel free to supplement your routine with a little rinse! If you have any specific questions, feel free to contact our Ashland dental office. If you want to make an appointment for a check up, you can call us at 541-482-4995. 

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6 Surprising Habits That Can Wreck Your Teeth

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6 Surprising Habits That Can Wreck Your Teeth

We know all the list of things that can be bad for your teeth - soda, gummy candy, smoking, etc. But there are a handful of habits with the potential to wreck your chompers that may not be quite as obvious. Here's the low down ...

1. Chewing Ice

Ice can easily be thought of as harmless - its juts H20 after all. But crunching down on hard, frozen cubes can cause cracks, chips and wear on your teeth. If you chew ice regularly enough, you may even cause aches in the soft gum tissues around your teeth. Often times a habitual ice-chewer gets "shorter" tooth appearance from all the wear. Dr. Kivel can fix this cosmetic issue but will only do so after the patient has curbed their ice habit!

2. Playing Sports (Without Proper Protection)

We love sports! All of us here at Soulsmile not only grew up playing many sports, but still take part in a myriad of outdoor sports including biking (motorized and non-motorized, running, surfing, kayaking - you name it! But we are also huge proponents of mouth protection! Mouth guards are a piece of molded plastic that protects your teeth. Without it, contact sports can easily result in chips or even a full tooth knock-out. We can make these for you or your whole team. Just contact us to schedule an appointment. 

3. Bottles Past Bedtime

Just like adults, a baby's teeth should be cleaned before bed. Putting a baby to sleep with a bottle of milk, formula or juice can put new teeth in harm's way. This can basically bathe the baby's teeth in sugars overnight. Its best to keep them out of the crib and establish a good hygiene routine. 

4. Tongue Piercings

Dentists have long lamented tongue piercings. Accidentally bumping a metal stud along teeth for years can definitely pose a risk to your teeth. In a study published by the Journal of Periodontology, "nearly half of the participants who wore either long or short barbells for four or more years had chipped teeth." The study also found receding gums in up to 50% of participants who had worn long-stemmed barbells for two or more years. Furthermore, the mouth is a haven for bacteria, making tongue piercings a likely candidate for infection and sores. Bottom line - research the health risks before you decide on a tongue piercing. 

5. Grinding

Bruxism (the fancy name for teeth grinding) wears teeth down over time. It is most often caused by stress and sleeping habits, making it a hard habit to control. We just wrote a whole blog on teeth grinding if you want to find out more about diagnosing an treating this condition. 

6. Cough Drops

We'd like to think that anything you find in the medicine aisle is healthy, but that's just not the case. Most cough drops are packed with sugar. We still love them, but recommend that after you sooth a sore throat with a lozenge, break out the toothbrush. Think of them like hard candy! 

Have any questions for us about habits that you suspect may be compromising your oral health? Feel free to write them in the comments section below or feel free to make an appointment with our Ashland, OR dental team here at Soulsmile. We'd love to have you in as a new patient! 

 

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Teeth Grinding and Nightguards

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Teeth Grinding and Nightguards

Do you ever wake up in the morning with headaches or soreness in your jaw? Have you or your dentist ever noticed chips or small cracks in your teeth? If so, you may be grinding your teeth while you sleep. Don't worry - you're not alone. Its estimated that about 30 million people in the US do the same. 

This condition, known in dental as bruxism, is not life-threatening, but it can definitely cause damage to your teeth. It is probably also disrupting your sleeping habits. In this blog we'll discuss the causes, symptoms and solutions for bruxism and how the latest dental products can help you. 

Diagnosing Bruxism

Bruxism is not typically hard to spot. Most people suspect they grind their teeth. They usually either looked up their symptoms online or have been told by friends or family that they're grinding. 

During a dental exam, we can usually tell a patient has been grinding. We look for chips and damage to the tooth enamel as well as smoothly worn surfaces. We will also ask questions about jaw pain and/or headaches. One of the most significant concerns related to bruxism is that it often is an indicator of a sleep apnea - a very serious condition. 

Identifying Signs of Bruxing and Clentching

Treatment with Nightguards

The most common way to treat bruxism is with a nightguard. In fact, up to 70% of our regular patients use a nightguard. It's one of the easiest methods of prevention! This appliance is worn in the mouth during sleeping hours to prevent grinding. Nightguards are similar to athletic guards, but thicker and more rigid. These custom appliances are made with acrylic using a professional impression, ensuring a perfect fit. 

Another advantage of a custom-made night guard is the material. Acrylic is hard (opposed to store-bought "boil and bite" type of nightguards that are soft) and discourages further biting, clenching and grinding. These are the behaviors we're trying to eliminate! An over-the-counter biteguard isn’t made specifically for you, it’s meant to fit a wide variety of jaw and mouth sizes. Unfortunately, it will never fit perfectly. 

Ask Us About It!

If you suspect that you’re grinding, ask your regular dentist for help. He or she can confirm a diagnosis and work with you to develop a treatment plan. If you're in the Ashland or Rogue Valley area, contact us at Soulsmile. You can call us at 541-482-4995 to schedule an appointment. We'd love to help you sleep better. 

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Recommended Dental Home Care Products

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Recommended Dental Home Care Products

On a daily basis we are making recommendations to patients regarding products to improve their oral health care routine at home. We decided to consolidate our list for patients' easy access. Have any additional questions? Drop us a line!

Toothpaste

Winner: Tom's of Maine
Amazon Link: With Fluoride or Without Fluoride  or Children's

We like the fluoride version to help prevent cavities, but they offer non-flouridated version too. In general, our hygienist, Jordon, recommends looking for the ADA seal when deciding on a toothpaste. She says, "It means the product is scientifically supported. It has met the safety criteria and is proven to be effective." 

Toothbrush

Winner: Phillips Sonicare (Any model! You don't necessarily need all the bells and whistles)
Amazon Link

We love Sonicare toothbrushes! We don't even go on vacation without them. They are great for getting below the gum line which lowers plaque levels. They are also great for people with a loss of dexterity due to age or health conditions, as the toothbrush does most of the work for you through its unique sonic technology.

Go with a soft bristle head. Contrary to popular belief, hard bristles are not more effective and can cause damage to gums.  Remember to replace your toothbrush (or toothbrush head if using Sonicare) every 3 months or sooner if bristles look worn. 

Electric Dental Flosser

Winner: Sonicare AirFloss
Amazon Link

This product is great for flushing out debris. It is a fantastic options for patients with deep periodontal pockets (periodontal disease), complex restorative work, food traps or braces. Just remember that it is not meant to take the place of regular flossing. Another popular option is the brand Waterpik - we like these too, we just happen to prefer AirFloss. 

Mouthwash + Rinse

Winner: Listerine Total Care Zero Alcohol
Amazon Link 

Adding a mouth rinse to your hygiene routine is a great idea. We suggest rinsing after you floss to help remove any debris that was dislodged. Our favorite is the Listerine Total Care Zero Alcohol. It contains fluoride to help fight cavities and getting one that does not contain alcohol takes the harsh alcohol "sting" out of the process which can dissuade a lot of patients from using it regularly. 

Floss

Winner: POH No Wax Floss (great reviews online)
Amazon Link

The bottom line with floss is that any type of floss is better than none! Our recommendations are light in this category as it is mostly up to personal preference. Some tips from Jordon:

  • If reaching the back teeth is difficult, try floss with a handle
  • If shredding around crowns or fillings, try Glide floss
  • Superfloss is great for under bridges, implants and braces
  • A floss threader-aid can help get floss under bridges or braces as well. 

Interproximal Brushes

Winner: Interprox Plus
Amazon Link 

Interproximal brushes are great for larger spaces where floss is too thin. Also great for complex restorative areas. 

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