We have heard a range of responses on our addition of a "personal protection equipment" fee. I want to personally address some of the negative feedback we've heard that this is "bad customer service", "we are profiting from the pandemic", "we should be able to absorb these costs", or "don't you keep everything sterile anyway?".
Anyone who has spent any significant time at our office or with me, knows that one of my primary goals when I started Twin Falls 6 years ago was to create a dental office that treats patients like family and makes the entire process as comfortable and easy as possible. Every decision I've made since then has been to further that goal while maintaining a high level of care for you.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced some difficult decisions on me. We have had to remove many of the things that make your experience more comfortable. The addition of the "PPE fee" was my most difficult decision because I know that it comes off badly. No one wants to be charged an additional fee on top of what they are already paying, especially when so many people are hurting financially. I understand that.
Prior to the pandemic, we maintained a high level of sterilization and disinfection in our office and you may wonder why additional measures are necessary. The Covid-19 virus is unique in it's combination of contagiousness, airborne transmission, morbidity, and lack of effective treatments. Measures that were effective and reasonable for almost any other infectious disease are not when it comes to Covid-19.
These are just some of the things we have done or are currently doing to help protect you during your visit with us.
All of these procedures have a substantial cost and we believe that a per visit fee is the fairest way to share this cost. We are currently charging a $15 fee per visit. Our actual costs are closer to $20-$30 per patient visit depending on what we are doing. We make no profit on this fee and will remove it once conditions allow.
You may also wonder why some dental offices don't seem to be charging these fees. There are two reasons. Some dental offices have simply added a percentage on to their fees to make up for this difference. You may not see the additional costs, but they are there. It is unlikely that these fee increases will be rolled back when the pandemic is over. Secondly, some dentists are able to absorb these costs for the time being. These are usually dentists who have been in business for a long time and don't have the same debt load that younger dentists like myself have. The vast majority of revenue from the dental office goes toward paying staff salaries, paying off student loans, and paying off debt from building this office. If we were to try to absorb losses of $20-$30 a patient without sharing some of this cost, we would quickly go out of business.
This PPE fee is the only way I am able to keep the office open while maintaining a high level of care and safety for both you and my staff. Those are my main priorities at this point in time.
We are hoping for a return to normal in the near future and we will remove the fee at that time.
When I was 16, I started working a job on the weekends at a restaurant. As a “perk” of the job I could drink all the soda I wanted on my shift from 6pm-midnight. I’d drink it my entire shift and then after work I’d usually drop into bed without brushing my teeth because I was so tired (and a teenage boy). A year later I went to the dentist and was told I had 6 cavities! This was a big shock because I never had a cavity before. My parents weren’t happy and neither was I. That was a big wake-up call for me because I didn’t want to have to do that again!
We have a lot of patients come to the office and ask how they got all these cavities. There are a lot of reasons why cavities form but most of the big reasons are ones you have control over…
In 1820 the average American ate around 6 lbs of sugar a year. Today we’re up to somewhere around 100 lbs of sugar (and possibly even more according to some studies).
In addition to the many other health problems this sugar consumption causes, it is also the single most important reason why people continue to get cavities.
Sugar is in many foods that you don’t think about. You especially want to watch out for anything you are drinking or snacking on throughout the day. This can include sweetened drinks (coffee with sweetener too!), fruits, chips, crackers, mints, cough drops, and many other things.
Regular Sodas, Diet Sodas, Orange Juice, Lemonade, Water flavorings. All of these decrease the pH of your mouth for 20-30 minutes after each sip. That acid environment is perfect for forming cavities.
Not Brushing and Flossing!
The bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and use this sugar to form acid. It this acid that slowly breaks your teeth down leading to cavities. Brushing for approximately 2 minutes in the morning and evening removes most of the bacteria and sugar that are sitting on your teeth. Unfortunately toothbrushes can only reach 3 out of 5 of the surfaces on your teeth! Only floss can get in there and disrupt all those cavity causing bacteria. Make this a habit and not only will you protect yourself from cavities, but from periodontal disease as well. Only floss the teeth you want to keep!
Use a good fluoride toothpaste daily and you’ll reduce your risk of cavities by at least 25%.
Genetics do play a large role in the cavity process and you can’t do anything about this. Some people are just much more likely to get cavities than others. The best you can do is take care of the things above and you more often than not you’ll be in good shape.
There are also several positive things you can do to reduce your risk of cavities.
Chew gum. The increased saliva flow helps keep your mouth clean.
Eat candy/gum/mints sweetened with Xylitol. This sweetener helps reduce the risk of cavities.
Eat dairy instead of sugars/carbs. Cheese in particular seems to have a protective effect.
Still concerned about what you need to do to keep from getting cavities? Come into the office and we’d be happy to discuss a personalized plan to keep you cavity free.
We get a lot of questions about whitening. Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions…
1. Is it safe?
Yes, whitening is totally safe. It does not remove any enamel. Any sensitivity you get from whitening is entirely reversible. Occasionally the chemicals used in whitening can cause some burns on the gums but these heal within a couple of days and can be avoided by making sure the bleaching materials stay in the trays.
2. How long does it take?
A lot of this depends on what type of whitening you are using as well as the condition of your teeth. With professional whitening it usually takes somewhere between 2-4 weeks to get your desired results.
3. What type of whitening will work for me?
We offer four whitening options which vary in effectiveness and price. When we see you in the office we can make a personalized recommendation based on your whitening goals and the condition of your teeth.
KOR Deep Bleaching (In-Office & Home): This option is the strongest clinical whitening option on the market. The results are fantastic! KOR whitening is so successful because of its patented tray fabrication process which allows us to create comfortable trays that seal to your teeth. This allows you to wear your trays all night long for maximum whitening. After two weeks of at home use, we will perform an in-office treatment to get your most brilliant smile. Then maintaining your smile is easy to do with an occasional night of bleaching as needed. The KOR website has before and after pictures of typical results (http://www.korwhitening.com/gallery.asp).
KOR Deep Bleaching (Home): Clinical strength gel and the best customized trays available. Initially the trays will need to be worn for 2 weeks at night to get to your optimal white and then you can use as needed to maintain your white results.
Professional Whitening (Home): Moderate results with standard custom trays. Initially you need to wear your trays for 2 weeks and then you can use as needed to maintain your white results.
The single most common question we get at the office is “Why do I need these x-rays?”. There is one simple reason… your dentist doesn’t have x-ray vision. Your teeth have 5 separate surfaces. Two of those surfaces we can’t see and are some of the most likely surfaces to get cavities. X-rays allow us to see those surfaces and treat decay before it turns into a dreaded root canal or extraction. Cavities aren’t the only reason we take x-rays though. X-rays allow us to see if you are losing bone around your teeth, cysts or tumors of the jawbone, and can alert us to several other medical conditions.
So how often do we need x-rays? When we first meet you, we always take a comprehensive set of x-rays if we don’t have a previous set of x-rays from your prior dentist. This is our standard of care and we simply cannot proceed without them. A dentist trying to diagnose dental disease without x-rays is like your medical doctor trying to diagnose and treat a broken bone blind. It just can’t be done well. For some people we need to take a full mouth series of radiographs which allows us to see all your teeth from various angles. For other people just taking bitewing x-rays and a panoramic x-ray allows us to see everything we need. After that we only have to update the full mouth series or panoramic x-ray once every 3-5 years. Usually bitewings are taken once a year but sometimes we need to take them more or less often based on your specific situation. We make every effort to take only the x-rays that we think are necessary based on your dental health.
Now you’re probably wondering how safe they are. I could talk and talk about how you get more radiation walking around each day than you get from your average set of dental x-rays or that medical mammograms or CT scans end up being about 500-2000 times more radiation than dental x-rays, but the best way to really understand is to see this chart below. Click on it to see how little radiation dental x-rays cause. It will make you feel a lot better about those couple of x-rays you get at the dentist’s office at your next visit.
Many people think that just flossing and brushing their teeth regularly is enough for their oral health. There are actually several other things that are really important. These include your diet (really, really imporant!), medications you take, overall health, and other types of oral health products. That includes using mouthwash.
So let’s look at whether or not it really helps, and why.
Does it help?
The efficacy of mouthwash largely depends on the type you’re using. One with fluoride will absolutely help prevent cavities, as fluoride is one of the best things you can use to keep your teeth cavity-free. If you do use one with fluoride you want to use it either 30 minutes before or 30 minutes after brushing or flossing. This will give you the greatest benefit. If you use it right after brushing, it’ll just wash away the fluoride that you just got from brushing and not help as much.
Mouthwash also has the ability to soothe and heal canker sores more quickly by ridding the area around them of more bacteria (even though it burns!). The alcohol and other ingredients in mouthwash can be a great cleansing agent. It is also thought that the alcohol kills bacteria and ensures plaque buildup remains minimal. The downside to alcohol related mouthwashes is that they can dry your mouth out and we’re still not sure if there can be some long term risk from the exposure to the alcohol on a routine basis.
In addition there are other mouthwashes that can provide different benefits. These include mouthwash specifically formulated for people with bad breath (such as Oxyfresh) or dry mouth (such as Biotene). If you do get a mouthwash for bad breath make sure it has zinc as part of the formulation. This is the only ingredient that has truly been proven to reduce your bad breath longer than a couple of hours. Most of the other ones just cover over it with strong flavors such as mint.
Can it harm me?
Generally speaking, no, mouthwash can’t cause you any harm unless you swallow A LOT of it. I’m not sure why anyone would drink mouthwash but suffice it to say, we don’t recommend trying it! While there have been numerous studies regarding a potential link between alcohol-heavy mouthwash and oral cancer, any mouthwash with the American Dental Association seal of approval is currently deemed safe.
If a tooth is too badly decayed to be treated with a dental filling, Dr. Peter McPherson may recommend a root canal in Greer, South Carolina. During this procedure, our dentist will remove the nerve and pulp from the inside of the tooth. The tooth is then cleaned and sealed.
What Damages the Dental Pulp?
The tooth nerve or root can become inflamed, irritated, or infected because of deep decay, large fillings, a chip or crack in the tooth, trauma to the face, or repeated dental procedures on a tooth.
Why Does Dental Pulp Need to Be Removed?
If the pulp or nerve tissue of a tooth is damaged, it breaks down and bacteria begins to spread within the pulp chamber. This can cause several issues:
– An abscess, or a pus-filled pocket at the roots of the tooth
– Infection in the root canal
– Swelling that can spread to the face, neck, or head
– Bone loss around the tip of the tooth root
– Drainage problems extending from the root
Is Root Canal Therapy Painful?
The belief that root canal therapy is painful is a myth. Root canals are actually no more uncomfortable than having a dental filling placed.
How Can Root Canal Treatment Be Prevented?
As the nerve and pulp can become damaged because of deep decay, multiple procedures on a tooth, and large fillings, practicing good oral hygiene may reduce the need for root canal therapy. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting Twin Falls Family Dentistry at least twice a year for professional cleanings and exams. Trauma caused by sports-related injuries can be reduced by wearing a mouth guard.
Fluoride can be a controversial topic. Some say it’s a dangerous substance, but most believe it’s good for the health of your teeth. If you’re interested in making this decision for yourself, there are a few things you should know.
Many argue that the benefits of fluoride far outweigh the risks. In fact, fluoride can reduce tooth decay by up to 25%. Reducing decay in children is extremely important to their long term oral health. A permanent tooth that develops a cavity at a young age will require thousands and thousands of dollars of treatment over the course of its life. It may even be lost early. The risks associated with teeth problems are far higher than the relatively small risks that come fluoride.
It’s important to remember that fluoride can affect your kids differently—especially if they’re younger than twelve. Excess fluoride exposure while the teeth are developing is known to cause a condition known as fluorosis in the permanent teeth. Fluorosis ranges from smile white spots on the teeth all the way to very brown pitted areas. Another possible problem with excess fluoride exposure is that it may cause slight changes in cognitive development. A couple of studies have shown very small decreases in the IQ of children with high fluoride exposure.
So what can you do to make sure this doesn’t happen?
The major one is making sure your child doesn’t swallow their toothpaste. Your should avoid using toothpaste with fluoride in it for your child until you’re certain your little one can spit out their toothpaste. This usually happens right around age 3. Your child would need to ingest a huge amount of fluoride before it would cause any real immediate damage but as we’ve just discussed it may have a long term effect if it happens often. You’ll also want to make sure that you are using the tiniest amount of toothpaste possible to get the job done. For young children this means only using a tiny smear on their toothbrush. This is far less than even the pea sized amount recommended on most tubes of toothpaste.
Many dentists offer fluoride treatments. These treatments don’t usually take more than a few minutes and can come in many forms, including a gel, foam, or varnish. We personally use a varnish in our office because it is quick and easy to apply and your child can eat and drink immediately afterwards, unlike several other types of fluoride treatment. If you decide on this treatment, we’ll apply your fluoride with a small brush. Fluoride varnish an also be helpful for adults who have a high risk for cavities and for people with sensitive teeth. Ask about this if you think you might be a good candidate for routine fluoride treatment.
Bruxism is an oral health ailment where an individual unconsciously grinds their teeth. The long-term effects of grinding teeth can weaken enamel and are thought to possibly be linked to a variety of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea. Unfortunately, because most individuals are asleep and not aware of the damage being caused by the grinding, they may go years without ever taking action. Don’t let bruxism silently destroy your teeth. Here are some important signs to watch out for:
– You suffer from a temporomandibular disorder that has harmed the joints in your jaw.
– You might have bruxism if your jaw has been known to lock up or gets stuck in place.
– You experience pain in your head in parts beyond your jaw, including your face and ears.
– You have teeth that appear to be wearing down or are tender to the touch.
– You have weird markings and indentations on your tongue and inner cheek tissue.
– You cannot fully open and close your mouth.
Some of these signs and symptoms may also be related to other types of dental disorders (such as TMJ disorders). We can help you understand why these things are happening after an exam in our office.
At Twin Falls Family Dentistry, we offer custom night guards to help prevent teeth grinding and clenching from damaging your teeth and jaw bone. We make a variety of different types of appliances that can be customized to your specific situation. We’ve helped a variety of patients with these types of appliance to prevent damage from grinding, minimize snoring, and decrease TMJ related pain. Contact our dentist if you want to receive a night guard for teeth grinding in Greer, South Carolina.
Do you have any lost teeth? If so, do not fret, dentures can save your smile! Because dentures are individually designed for each patient and are removable, they are often considered the most convenient tooth replacement treatment option. Even if you only have a few missing teeth, partial dentures can be crafted to suit your needs. In addition, dentures can do the following:
– Dentures are removable and thus are the quickest treatment options if you are seeking a tooth replacement service that requires little to no recovery time for your mouth.
– Dentures can return the natural shape of your jawline and facial structure that was lost due to missing teeth.
– Dentures can reverse the aged look that often occurs due to missing teeth and return your facial profile to a much younger, healthier-looking version.
– If you are missing any teeth, the void left behind can cause the gums to loosen and shift neighboring teeth. With partial dentures, the gaps can be filled in.
– A full, natural-looking smile is often helpful in the workplace and social settings.
It is also important to remember that dentures do come with some challenges. They can take some time to get used to, both for eating and speaking. If you are concerned about how well dentures will fit, dentures can also be made that snap on to dental implants, providing a much higher level of stability and function.
Have you ever heard that getting a root canal is extremely painful? Fortunately, this isn’t true. The pain most people associate with root canals is what comes before you need the root canal. The root canal actually helps take away the pain! In fact, most people who have gone through root canal therapy say that is comparable to getting a cavity filled (except a good bit longer). Still, even though root canal therapy may not be as painful as you thought, there are several things you can do to prevent the need for this treatment.
For example, you may be able to prevent root canal therapy if clean your teeth well on a daily basis and maintain a good diet. As you might understand, inadequate oral care might leave you more susceptible to cavities. A cavity is ultimately a hole in one of your teeth, which can give bacteria access to the center of your teeth. If bacteria reach the center of your tooth, you will need root canal therapy. You should also be aware that following a good, balanced diet is important to your oral health. We also suggest staying hydrated—but please try to avoid sugary drinks, soda, and juice.
Lastly, we recommend setting up an appointment with us if you think you might need root canal therapy. In other words, if you notice a large cavity, abscessed tooth, extreme sensitivity, or pain that affects your daily life (or sleep) root canal therapy could be a necessity.
Dr. McPherson completes many root canals at our office, on both molars and front teeth. In certain cases, he may need to send you to a specialist for proper care.