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Ashland Oregon

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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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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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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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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#RideMyRoad

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#RideMyRoad

Lauren Trantham

Lauren Trantham

Our patient and friend, Lauren Trantham, is about to embark on the adventure of a lifetime with a project called RideMyRoad. Soulsmile is proud to be a sponsor as she rides around the United States on her motorcycle photographing survivors of sex trafficking. She will be telling their stories, raising funds and promoting awareness. Many of the photos will be available for viewing on her website. Her goal is to make women feel beautiful, empowered, and worthy. 

Come out to the starting point of Lauren Trantham's 9k solo motorcycle journey to raise awareness and funds for survivors of Human Trafficking. She'll be starting here in Ashland, Oregon and traveling clockwise around the entire country. 

Kick Off Details

Where:  Schneider Museum of Art  1250 Siskiyou Blvd, Ashland, Oregon 97520
When: September 2, 2016 @ 7pm
Stay up to date with the Facebook Page
Follow Lauren on Instagram: ridemyroad 

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