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Understanding Dental Insurance Terminology

April 15th, 2020

If you have a hard time understanding your dental insurance plan, particularly the treatments and services it covers, you’re not alone. That’s why Dr. Dayna Cassandra and Dr. Erika Dean Donovan and our team have put together a cheat sheet to help you through them.

It’s common for patients to get lost in the morass of the terms and phrases that surface when you’re dealing with a dental insurance plan. Knowing the commonly used terms can help speed up the process and enable you to get the most out of your coverage.

Common Terms

Annual Maximum: The most your policy will pay per year for care at Dr. Dayna Cassandra Cosmetic Dentistry. It is often divided into cost per individual or per family.

Co-payment: Typically, a small amount the patient has to pay at the time of service before receiving care, and before the insurance pays for any portion of it.

Covered Services: A list of all the treatments, services, and procedures the insurance policy will cover fully under your contract.

Deductible: An amount you must pay out of pocket each year before the insurance company will contribute for any treatments or procedures. The amount can vary according to your plan.

Diagnostic Services: A category of treatments or procedures that most insurance plans will cover before the deductible, which may mean services that occur during preventive appointments with Dr. Dayna Cassandra and Dr. Erika Dean Donovan, including X-rays or general screenings.

Exclusions: Dental services not covered under a dental benefit program.

In-Network: An insurance company will usually cover a larger portion of the cost of the care if you see an in-network provider for treatment.

Out-of-Network: If you visit someone who is not a part of your provider’s network, the insurance company may pay for a portion of the care, but you will be responsible for a significantly larger share out of your pocket.

Lifetime Maximum: The most that an insurance plan will pay toward care for an individual or family over the entire life of the patient(s).

Limitations: A list of all the procedures the insurance policy does not cover. Coverage may limit the timing or frequency of a specific treatment or procedure, or exclude some treatments altogether.

Member/Insured/Covered Person/Beneficiary/Enrollee:  A person who is eligible to receive benefits under an insurance plan.

Premium: The regular fee charged by third-party insurers and used to fund the dental plan.

Provider: Dr. Dayna Cassandra and Dr. Erika Dean Donovan or other oral-health specialist who provides treatment.

Waiting Period: A specified amount of time that the patient must be enrolled with an insurance plan before it will pay for certain treatments.

It’s essential to understand the various insurance options available to you. Knowing what your insurance covers can save you major costs in the future.

Dr. Dayna Cassandra and Dr. Erika Dean Donovan and our dental staff hope this list of terms will help you understand your dental insurance plan better. Be sure to review your plan and ask any questions you may have about your policy the next time you visit our Paramus office.

Coronavirus Office Updates

April 10th, 2020

Happy April to all of our wonderful patients, family and friends!

We hope everyone is staying safe, well, and positive! As we are sure you are all aware, the mandates and regulations surrounding the national Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic are changing constantly as new information emerges. Our office has currently been mandated by the governor of New Jersey to remain closed at this time for all elective and non-urgent dental care through April 30. We continue to stay up-to-date with the latest CDC, ADA, New Jersey State Dental Association, New Jersey Board of Dentistry, and Bergen County regulations and will update you as things change.

With that being said, we want you to know that we are here for you! We are still treating dental emergencies as they arise and both Dr. Cassandra and Dr. Donovan are accessible by phone/video conferencing to discuss any matters of concern. A member of our team will be checking our voicemails, texts, and emails daily in order to maintain constant contact with our patients. If a dental emergency should arise, we ask that the patient call our direct office number at 201-261-7645. Through that number, they can reach their doctor or our general voicemail. Our team is going to begin contacting you within the next 2 weeks to reschedule any canceled or missed appointments, but please do not hesitate to reach out anytime!

We hear that social distancing is turning everyone into professional chefs and we hope that everyone is keeping up their oral health! Drs. Dayna Cassandra DDS and Erika Dean Donovan DMD recommend brushing twice daily with an electric toothbrush, flossing or using dental interproximal brushes at least once daily, and rinsing with mouth rinse regularly. Try to minimize snacking and sugar intake to reduce risk of decay. Fun fact: crisp fruits and vegetables are natural oral cleansers!

While at home, Dr. Cassandra is enjoying having extra time with her newborn baby, Xane. Dr. Donovan has been spending time with her husband, reading, completing puzzles, and preparing for the arrival of their baby boy in June. Both doctors are also hard at work planning the best way we can continue to accommodate our patients' needs once the social distancing recommendation is lifted. The rest of the team is enjoying their time with their loved ones and their pets. Some activities that keep our team busy include exercising, cooking delicious meals (and a few desserts), reading, dental webinars/continuing education, and staying in touch with family and friends via video chats. We’d love to hear what you are doing during social distancing!

We know that these measures are necessary to help control the spread and to keep all of our patients and their families safe and healthy. Even though our office hours are limited at this time, please know that we are always here for you and we are just a phone call away!

Follow us on Facebook or Instagram where we are posting positive and uplifting messages to brighten the days ahead! We can’t wait to see all our patients again soon.

DIY Teeth Whitening

April 8th, 2020

We all want our best and brightest smiles, and today there are many options we can explore at home to make those beautiful smiles a reality. Whether it’s healthy habits, a healthy diet, whitening toothpaste, or do-it-yourself home products, we have golden opportunities to achieve whiter teeth.

  • Healthy Habits

Proper brushing is the first step in keeping your teeth stain-free. You should devote at least two minutes twice a day to brushing, being careful to cover the areas between and at the base of teeth, where plaque you miss can form visible tartar. Ask us about the most effective brushing techniques. And please, don’t smoke. Smoking is one of the worst offenders when it comes to discoloring teeth. If you are a smoker, quitting at any point in your life will make a big difference in the whiteness of your smile—and your lasting health!

  • Healthy Eating

We all know red wine, coffee, and tea cause some of our worst enamel stains. Acidic drinks such as sodas and citrus beverages can cause even more problems by eroding tooth enamel, exposing the yellowish dentin underneath. Moderation and rinsing with water can help prevent damage. But we have some dietary allies as well! Crunchy foods like apples, carrots, and celery provide a mild scrubbing effect. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt strengthen enamel. Fruits such as strawberries and pineapples, studies suggest, contain enzymes that are natural stain removers. While no one food takes the place of brushing or cleaning, a healthy diet and a healthy body enhance any smile.

  • Brushing with a Whitening Toothpaste

Toothpastes are available which can remove some surface stains, and which can keep teeth their whitest after a professional whitening. They won’t penetrate the enamel surface or change the natural color of your teeth. If these toothpastes are going to work on discolored tooth surfaces, you will usually see results within a few weeks.

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) Whitening Kits

These products provide a peroxide-based gel that can be applied in a tray or with strips. If you choose a tray application, make sure trays fit properly so sensitive mouth and gum tissue is not irritated. If you decide on strips, always make sure all of the tooth surface is covered to avoid uneven whitening. These kits have more powerful whiteners than toothpastes, and so you might see better results, but tooth and gum sensitivity can be a problem.

While all these whitening methods can be helpful, there are some circumstances when a professional whitening is best. Professional gel whiteners are more powerful, and can help eliminate darker stains that OTC products can’t remove. We can make sure sensitive gum and mouth tissue is protected from bleaching agents. And, if you are on a deadline, we can provide a much faster result. Some conditions, such as deep stains caused by trauma or medication, or darker-colored caps, veneers, and crowns, require more than whitening, and we are happy to present options for those situations.

If you have any questions or concerns about whitening your teeth, please give our Paramus office a call. Whether it’s advice on how to brush or how to quit smoking, discussing the effects of foods and drinks on our teeth, suggesting OTC whitening products, or providing a professional whitening, Dr. Dayna Cassandra and Dr. Erika Dean Donovan and our team are happy to help you achieve your best and brightest smile!

Oral Cancer Awareness Month

April 1st, 2020

Happy Oral Cancer Awareness Month! We know oral cancer can be kind of a scary topic, but it’s worth using this opportunity to learn about the disease and spread knowledge so everyone becomes more aware. The more we know, the better we can work to prevent it!

Oral cancer is exactly what it sounds like: cancer that occurs anywhere in the mouth. It could occur on the tongue, the lips, the gums, the tongue, inside the cheek, or in the roof or floor of the mouth. Every  year, more than 8,000 people die from oral cancer. It’s a truly deadly disease.

The reason oral cancer scores a higher death rate than other common cancers such as testicular cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, thyroid cancer, cervical cancer, or even skin cancer, is because it often goes undetected until it's become too advanced and has spread to another part of the body.

So what causes this devastating disease? There is no clear answer, but some potential causes have been identified. By being aware of these, we can be alert and promote prevention of this illness:

  • Age: Most patients who develop oral cancer are above the age of 40. If you’re over 40, make sure your doctor checks for signs of oral cancer and that you stay on your dental hygiene regimen.
  • Tobacco: Excessive tobacco use, whether in the form of cigarette smoking or tobacco chewing, can be a substantial contributor and cause of oral cancer. So that’s another reason, among many, you should avoid tobacco.
  • Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can put you at risk because alcohol converts into a chemical called acetaldehyde, which damages the body’s DNA and blocks cells from repairing the damage. When paired with tobacco, the dehydrating effects of alcohol make it even easier for tobacco to infiltrate mouth tissue.
  • Sun exposure: Your lips need SPF, too! Repeated sun exposure increases your risk of contracting cancer on your lips, especially the lower lip.
  • Diet: Not getting all the nutrients you need, from vegetables and fruits for instance, can weaken your immune system and make you more vulnerable to the disease.

Obviously, many of these causes relate to lifestyle choices, which we have control over. It's all about balance, being aware, and making small tweaks to our habits if we need to.

If you’re concerned that you may be at risk for oral cancer, give us a call to talk about a screening. And if you’ve been putting off a visit to our Paramus office, now is an excellent time to schedule one. Regular visits to the dentist can be the first line of defense against oral cancer!

 
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