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The health and looks of your teeth and the perceived social status

Besides your regular cleaning, what is the most common reason you go to the dentist? Tooth hurting? Well, it's a good time to make an ap...

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Not all x-rays are equal

How many times have you said "I love my dentist!"? How many times have you heard others saying - "I've been going to the same dentist for the last 20 years"? We hear these all the time, at every promotion we do, at every event, at every fair or convention we participate.
There is nothing wrong with that, your dentist knows your medical/dental history, they proposed and performed most of your dental treatments, they took care of your emergency pain when it happened.
And of course you love them for that!
This becomes a problem only when your dentist uses the same equipment and procedures as 20 years ago. This is something that you might not even notice since you've only been in the same office all your life. A lot of materials and equipment changed for the better lately, they are more health-conscious and environmentally friendly. Between the BPA free resin to low radiation x-ray machines there are a lot of improvements in dental offices in United States in the last decades.
We use digital sensors connected to computers these days instead of films for example, since they need less radiation and have instant exposure. Meaning that the dentist and you can see the x-rays on the screen in just a second, and you have the option to enlarge or change the contrast and brightness to be able to see the smallest cracks or cavities right in front of your eyes. The old films are as small as your watch, good luck seeing anything there!
The x-ray machines have similar settings these days and the sensor/computer setting should be 0.100 and 0.50 for children, as seen in the picture above. At least look for the computer or sensor symbol to make sure it's set up right. If you see a different symbol or higher numbers on the x-ray machine display or you see them using films - ask your dentist why and if they can change the settings. If they can't offer the lower radiation option you should refuse to receive higher radiation for every exposure they will take of your teeth.
There is a better, healthier way to do dentistry today and you shouldn't downgrade your oral health care just because you got used to go to the same dentist as your Father did. If they can't upgrade their skills and educate for the latest technology - they don't deserve your trust with your dental care needs, or your business. If they don't upgrade their equipment and their education for the better - it's because they want to pocket the money instead.
Try to find a dental office where they provide a better, healthier service, geared towards preventing problems rather than treating them. Yes, you can take care of your problems when they are incipient and easier to treat with less pain and inexpensive, before they become the big problems that will empty your wallet. For more info or to learn more about preventive dentistry please visit our website at https://www.alisoviejodental.com/

Monday, December 10, 2018

"In-house" Discount plans

Given the raising cost of insurance and all the uncertainty about coverage or restrictions - we see an increase in Patients with no Dental Insurance. Even though the dental coverage doesn't cost too much, compared to the medical insurance, just because people don't renew one - they don't renew the other either. Of course you could get Dental or Vision separately, but few people do that, most just end up with no dental insurance after all.
That's why we offer a discount plan for Patients with no insurance, that offers some preventive services at no cost and a discount for other, more common procedures. There is an annual fee, depending on your needs, for 1 person or for the whole family.
This is great for our Patients since it encourages them to keep their preventive, cleaning appointments with their dentist, and also offers a discount for other cosmetic or restorative procedures, which comes in handy.
Plus  - this is not insurance, so there are no claims to send, no deductibles, and no check to wait for in the mail. You can see the discount, the difference upfront, and how much you save and it's all clear, with no confusion or delays. Also, you can take advantage of our $49 New Patient Special if you don't have insurance coverage.
Call or text us for a brochure at 949-425-1447, or come in if you want to ask for more details, we are in the Aliso Viejo Town Center, near Ralphs, next to Habit Burger and Urbane Cafe. Visit AlisoViejoDental.com for more details.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Keep your cleaning appointments to avoid "deep cleanings"!

Your dentist office called to remind you of your next cleaning or Hygiene appointment you booked almost 6 months ago when you had your last cleaning. You totally forgot about this appointment (that card they gave you is somewhere in your car or at home with all the junk mail) and you look at your calendar and realize you can't make it. How often does this happen? Pretty often, considering how many Patients miss their dental cleaning appointment.

But should you ignore it or try to re-schedule it as soon as possible?
As a rule of thumb - you should have the cleaning as close to the recommended date as possible.

Why? First of all - it's covered by your insurance most likely, or it's inexpensive compared to the alternative.
So why would you not take advantage of this (most likely) covered cleaning?
Or, you might be THAT Patient who flosses and brushes twice a day and really takes good care of your oral health, so there is very little tartar that adds up on and in between your teeth. But you would rather clean them regularly anyway, especially when the cost is close to $0 out of your pocket.

But let's be honest, you forget to carry the floss sticks in your car or purse, and brushing is rushed and inefficient. Then a lot of bacteria and tartar adds up on your teeth and you really need that cleaning every 6 months!
Because if you don't get your teeth cleaned regularly - 6 months becomes a year and a year becomes 2 and you are most likely set up for a deep cleaning. Why? Because the tartar and inflammation is already there and at this point "emergency" flossing and brushing won't help any more - you'll need a professionally done, thorough cleaning! The tartar can be visible on the x-rays to the point when the dentist doesn't even need to look at your actual teeth to diagnose your deep cleaning!
At this point - time works against you. Postponing, delaying, rescheduling and avoiding will make matters worse! Plus, a deep cleaning and any adjacent procedures will cost hundreds of dollars out of pocket at this point.

First stage is gingivitis, which is reversible with a thorough cleaning. If it's not cured, it will transform into the second stage called periodontitis. This is a chronic disease, much harder to reverse, the inflamed tissue starts to pull away from the teeth, forming spaces, or deep pockets. These deep pockets are housing the harmful bacteria and tartar buildup that chew up on the bone surrounding the teeth, creating bone loss. In the advanced stages of this disease - the bone loss is so severe that teeth become loose.

Do yourself a favor, take care of your oral health while is inexpensive and mostly covered by insurance so it's less harmful, less painful, less costly and keep your routine dental cleanings. So you don't have to google "deep cleaning" 'cause you wont need it! Having a great smile will most likely help you get better first impressions, better friendships, better relationships, a better job, a better life and ultimately a better you!

If you need a cleaning or a deep cleaning - don't postpone it, call or text us at 949-4251447 and schedule you appointment today!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

How does dental insurance work?

Most people get their dental insurance through their employers, together with their medical insurance. PPO dental plans are relatively inexpensive and they usually cover your cleanings and basic preventive procedures. They also cover part of your bigger treatments, like crowns or even implants. Most dental PPO insurance plans have a maximum of $1500 per year, but they can have $1000, $2000 or even more, depending on your employer's preference and monthly payments.
There might be a waiting period for bigger procedures, it's the insurance companies way of making sure you don't buy a plan for 2 months and get all your major work done quick i guess!
There are also deductibles, usually some $50 per subscriber and $150 per family, so you might still have to pay something for your "free" benefits.
Procedures are typically grouped into 3 categories when it comes to coverage - preventive, which are usually covered 100%, like cleanings, x-rays or sealants, basic and major.
Basic procedures include gum disease treatments, extractions, fillings or root canals. Most plans cover 70% - 80% and Patients are responsible for the rest.
Most plans though don't cover cosmetic dentistry procedures, or the ones that are not considered "necessary", like laser or extra forms of anesthesia, including sedation. Patients chose to have those  for a better standard of care or comfort, or to have a beautiful smile instead of just functional teeth.
Usually the dentist will submit the claims for you and receive the insurance portion of the payment. Sometimes the insurance pays way later or not enough for different reasons, and that usually becomes Patient's responsibility.
You should work with an "in-network" dentist, but most are, so it's usually easier to find your dentist searching online, on reviews apps like Yelp or Google Maps and Nextdoor or ask friends, than on your insurance's website. We find those to be wildly outdated, and include dentists who moved from the area years ago.
HMO plans work differently, there are no claims or co payments, there is only a discounted fee schedule, and a minimal visit fee. Usually, diagnostic and preventive services have no co-payment, so the Patient pays nothing for these. And major treatments have a lower fee, while there are no maximums or deductibles.
In a nutshell this should answer most questions, but if you need more info please call or text us at 949-425-1447, or visit https://www.AlisoViejoDental.com/

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

What is preventive care?

The skinny? Preventive healthcare (or prophylaxis) refers to measures taken to prevent illnesses or diseases, as opposed to treating themThat is because cavities, and oral health problems begin way before individuals realize they are affected. That's why if you miss your regular cleanings you might need a deep cleaning, which is way more expensive and not covered by insurance! All that for missing a 1 hour visit with a Hygienist every 6 months or so! Same with cavities, we can find them early and treat them when a small filling (covered by insurance sometimes), rather than wait till you need a root canal, extraction or an implant! Think about it - a short visit for (a possibly almost free) filling or thousands of dollars and tons of anesthesia to get an implant? Unfortunately too many choose the latter, don't be that guy!

It also includes counseling to prevent health problems down the road because getting preventative care (both forms of this word are correct), such as screenings and regular cleaning, can help you and your family stay healthy. They say that oral cancer screenings save lives, and that is true! Think about it: getting a free screening in our office or possibly paying for cancer treatment later! All these mean less surprises, pain, or emergency visits, which keep our Patients happy! 

Admit it, the first thing that pops to mind is - why would my dentist want me to have less visits and save more money, right? Well, here is why: we love it when our Patients have a good oral health, that is the reason we entered this profession in the first place. 
But there is also another component to this: under most PPO and HMO insurance plans regular cleanings are 100% covered, fillings are at least partially covered, and that means no or little out-of-pocket costs, so you can use this saved money for improving an already healthy smile, like teeth whitening, veneers or Invisalign! Imagine that - healthy AND beautiful smiles! What would a dentist like more than that! Right?

Referrals! A happy Patient will tell everyone and our Patients' beautiful smiles are our business cards! Everybody will compliment you for a brighter smile, whiter teeth, straighter teeth, or an overall happier smile! If you don't get those compliments then you need to contact us today!

Friday, April 20, 2018

How to get whiter teeth ?

Our teeth naturally lose their white color as we age, from external influences such as coffee, tea, red wine, soy sauce, caramel color, chocolate, smoking etc. a teeth whitening procedure will have a lot of cosmetic and medical benefits for your teeth, but not only that. The increased awareness for a healthy smile rapidly changes your hygiene habits for the better! As a result, Patients generally have significant improvements in oral and systemic health just from whitening their teeth! "Having your teeth whitened makes you feel good, it's like wearing a great outfit or a wonderful accessory!"
Therefore you start getting more compliments and see that others are looking at you in a different, nicer way, and that usually boosts your confidence! Teeth whitening is the easiest dental cosmetic procedure that can dramatically improve your smile!
So wouldn't you want a chance at all these many benefits? How can you get your teeth whiter, how hard is it and how much does it cost?
Well, you'll be surprised how easy, comfortable and inexpensive it is compared to the value you get!
You can try different whitening products you can buy at the drug store, but they only go that far. They work best to maintain your white teeth after you whitening procedure. They hardly go in between teeth or close to the gums, and you'll see the yellower shade there.
So the best way to do it is in a dental office, and let the professionals take care of this. Is it expensive? Some dentists offer free Zoom teeth whitening for new Patients, some charge up to a couple hundred dollars or so. It's totally worth it for the benefits you get, absolutely!
The problem with Zoom whitening is that it was invented about a decade ago and it was THE teeth whitening procedure at the time. But it has a major inconvenience, it takes a while to warm up the whitening substance on your teeth and that gives an uncomfortable sensation and sensitivity afterwards. That scared a  lot of people away and even the excitement of an easily improved smile wasn't able to bring them back.
Also, dentists who offer free teeth whitening hope that you need a teeth cleaning or a deep cleaning that they can charge for, or even some cavities to take care of, which you should do anyway.
But in the last few years a new technology involving Laser Teeth Whitening came up, which is a better, shorter process to activate the whitening gel. That's why it is faster and that means less to no discomfort and less to no sensitivity afterwards. Exactly, isn't that perfect? Isn't that what we all want and can't wait to get it done?
Yes it is!
Now, if only Patients wouldn't be so scared of sensitivity from the old process or previous bad experiences! And that's why we try to explain the difference and how easy and convenient this is, not like the old school whitening process.
Also, it most likely isn't free since the diode Laser used is a complex, expensive machine, but Aliso Viejo Dental has promotions all the time, we had it for $99 at one point. Isn't $99 worth getting your teeth whiter in as little as 20 minutes, with almost no discomfort or sensitivity? People who answered Yes to this question changed their lives in a day and improved their smiles, their self esteem, their chances for a better image, better relationships, maybe a promotion and a better version of themselves!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Turn The Tide on Opioids

There is a wave of reducing the prescriptions for opioids recently and that's a good thing!
We signed the pledge to #TurnTheTide on opioids on https://turnthetiderx.org, a site supported by the Surgeon General of the US, Cigna and other big names. You know there is something going on and there is a better chance to make things happen when the big hats get involved.
We believe in avoiding pain in the first place if possible,  that's why we start with Laser surgery to reduce post-operative pain whenever possible. And  we don't prescribe opioids anyway unless absolutely necessary and they are the LAST resort in managing pain.

Opioids are drugs that work by reducing the intensity of pain signals that reach your brain. These drugs can be helpful for a short time but they have serious risks.  

Let's not get into how we arrived here, nearly two decades ago US doctors were encouraged to be more aggressive about treating pain, often without enough training and support to do so safely. And this coincided with heavy marketing of opioids. Many doctors were even taught – incorrectly – that opioids are not addictive when prescribed for legitimate pain.

The results have been devastating. Since then the opioid overdose deaths have quadrupled and the prescriptions have increased tremendously, yet the amount of pain reported by Americans has not changed. Now, nearly 2 million people in America have a prescription opioid use disorder, contributing to increased heroin use and the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.

But we can turn this around, and everyone has do their part and it starts with each and every one of us.

A major way that people become addicted and overdose is by using someone else's opioid medications. So we should all store and dispose of those pills safely, keep opioid painkillers in a safe place and out of reach of others. Make sure to responsibly dispose of any unused opioids, check for any drug take-back program or your pharmacy mail-back or return program in your community to safely dispose of unused opioids. Please ask our office at Aliso Viejo Dental too, we can help with safe disposal of pain killers or other unused medications.

Opioid use disorder can occur when a patient has a hard time controlling his or her opioid use, which lead to significant health or social problems. There are effective treatments for opioid use disorder available, if you or someone you know has an addiction to pain medication, talk to your doctor or contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s treatment help line at (800) 662-HELP.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Call or Text

Communications have evolved over time, back in the day we used to send telegrams (oh, don't admit you remember those, you don't want to date yourself!) when we needed to send a message quick. Or send a letter in the mail when the message was larger and we wanted to explain or describe things properly. And then the telephone came up a while ago and that simplified a lot of things! It was quick, fairly cheap in the beginning and we could instantly take care of anything we needed to communicate. Quickly it became the main system in offices and homes. And then the cell phones came up and it got even simpler and quicker, now we could text when we needed to say something quick. We went full circle to the telegrams, except now the message was instantly in the palms of our hands!
Internet came up and email became the easiest, fastest way to communicate long letter-type messages. Again, full circle, but this time it was almost instant.
The text message is still one of the most popular ways to communicate, especially for the younger generations. It's short, no need to waste time with intros and good byes, it's instant and efficient. Except it doesn't work on land lines. Well, until now, when we have IP phones that also use apps on cell phones (oh, don't admit you know what these are, you don't want to look too nerdy!). That's what Aliso Viejo Dental has been using for a few years now, since we can answer emergency work calls anywhere at night and over the weekend. Also, because of the transcribed voice messages into emails and available in the app too. Oh, and also because of this new feature they introduced recently to be able to send and receive texts from our office's phone! That's right, now you can call OR text us to 949-425-1447, whichever you prefer. No need to use many words, "I need to set up an appt for next Fri" will do. Go ahead, give it a try!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Clean your tongue

Brushing twice a day and flossing are great habits, but we also need to brush our tongue too once in a while to prevent bad breath. You can use use the bristles of your toothbrush or you can try a specialized brush with a built-in tongue cleaner on the back, like the Colgate 360 and others.

Tongue Brushing Techniques: The tongue harbors bacteria and food particles trapped under a thin layer of mucus. Remove this odor-causing buildup by using a small dab of toothpaste and carefully brushing the top of the tongue. Start by reaching to the back of the tongue, and then work toward the front. Make sure you brush the entire surface of the tongue using gentle pressure and finish by rinsing with water.

For a more thorough cleaning, use a tongue scraper, again, use gentle pressure. This tool is usually made of soft, flexible plastic and gently peels the thin mucus-based layer of debris from the tongue. Rinse the scraper under warm water after each swipe of the tongue.

How Often Should You Clean Your Tongue? If you can, each time you brush and floss your teeth finish your dental care routine with a tongue cleaning. Realistically, clean your tongue once every few days. If you have dry mouth or notice a foul taste in your mouth, try cleaning your tongue more often to improve this situation.
If you have any other questions, or you need to make an appointment, please visit us online at AlisoViejoDental.com or call or text us at 949-425-1447.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


For years and year we had photo albums that we could show our friends when they visited. And we had wedding albums and yearbooks and wallet size pictures to remind us of our loved ones. Then we had Picasa (anyone remembers that?) and yahoo pictures and all those online storage places where our friends could log in and see our vacation photos.
And then it all exploded when social media started the revolution, now we could post pictures every day and our friends could see them right away. Remember when we logged in to Facebook on our desktops at home and scrolled through all the posts and looked at all the pics our friends posted and shared?
Those pictures were the proof we were "there", they were proof that we had a great time with our friends, proof that we are happy and enjoying life to the max!
That's why we started taking selfies, because they were instant and reflected our happiness in that moment! That's how Instagram popped up, then SnapChat and all the filters that made us look funny and put a smile on everyone's faces!
Isn't that great? When it comes to posting our own pictures to leave a trail of our digital life for others to enjoy too - it is great!
And it highlights how good, healthy and happy we look, and how blessed we are to live this life! But that puts pressure on some of us to have the perfect smile that everyone else has in their selfies. Fortunately somehow, selfies only need a teeth whitening and a cleaning to look good in pictures, no one will see your gum infections or bleeding, no molar crown missing or molar missing altogether, and we can rarely see the dark amalgam fillings or cavities.
So to be selfie ready a quick teeth whitening would do it, but to have a good oral health (that affects your overall health) please contact Aliso Viejo Dental at 949-425-1447 or visit our website, we would be happy to discuss an affordable treatment plan with you!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Cryptocurrency payments and Bitcoin

It's all the talk about cryptocurrency now, everybody heard something or wants to find out more about it! Bitcoin is the word of the day and a lot of people want to find out more info and want to find how to buy it 3 years ago! (just kidding!)
It all seems like a bubble that we want to stay away from but we feel bad for missing this train too. We also understand that in a form or another, cryptocurrency will eventually settle down and it will be part of our everyday life. We just don't know in which form or when yet.
Those are all legitimate questions and they bug us more and more lately.
But it all got real and close to home when we had 2 Patients last month who wanted to pay for their dental services with Bitcoin! And the frustration was awkward when we didn't know anything about cryptocurrency payments or how they work. Well, since then we got on it and researched this issue, I mean sooner or later we'll have to anyway! There are numerous cryptocurrency forms of payment, and there is one designed specifically for dental payments, called Dentacoin.
Our Bank Of America merchant account doesn't accept bitcoin and understandably so, this market is too volatile and unreliable for payments for now. But there are other platforms like Shopify and Bitpay and others that will eventually become mainstream. And there are a lot of retailers who accept cryptocurrency already, like Microsoft, Overstock.com or Expedia, so this is coming to a store near you soon!
And when it does we'll be ready, until then we accept cash, checks, debit/credit cards, also ApplePay or AndroidPay, and we'll submit your claim to insurance too!
More info on our website at AlisoViejoDental.com