Helping People & Families Value And Receive Dental Care
Importance of Quality Dental Care
At Seaman Family Dentistry we want to do our part to help insure our community receives quality dental care. We no longer live in the dark ages, there are so many options in dental care that everyone should be able to obtain and maintain a healthy smile.
So why are so many people not seeking regular dental care?
Why do so many people wait until they are in pain or have no choice to seek the help of a dentist?
We have found there are frequently four underlying reasons to this problem, there are likely other reasons, but we have found these to be the most common.
1) Severe financial circumstances (both temporary and continuous).
2) The belief that dental care is too expensive or that you have to have dental insurance to see a dentist.
3) Dental care is not a priority because everything feels fine.
4) A true fear of receiving dental care - this could be the person themself or a parent of a child who needs care.
This page is designed to explain and offer solutions to combat these problems, in the hopes that more and more people, and families, will begin to incorporate regular preventive and basic restorative dental care into their normal routine and start avoiding or lessening the frequency of dental neglect and "only when I have a toothache" dental visits. Browse through the topics to determine which solution might help you or your family start obtaining regular dental care.
Severe Financial Circumstances Prohibiting Regular Dental Care
In 2002, when then President Bush called for citizens to hold a Make a Difference Day, our office started a program called Creating Healthy Young Smiles; to help provide dental care to children who did not have the financial means to receive regular dental care. We have re-vamped that program now, to broaden the assistance available.
We now have an application process, rather than just relying on referrals from various agencies. As a result, we now have 3 different levels of assistance based on the financial needs of the family and have increased the maximum age from 14 to 17 years of age.
This program is meant to help low income families by providing free or reduced cost dental care. Our office is not a "free or sliding scale clinic," we are a general family dental office that is working to do our part in helping under-served children. Patients under this program make appointments just like all our other patients and receive the same quality care and services that all our patients receive.
Our program is designed to help those children whose family has been unable to obtain assistance elsewhere.
Who should apply?
Low income families (whether this is a temporary or ongoing financial situation) who meet the following criteria:
1) Have children not covered by dental insurance.
2) Have children who do not qualify for or have been turned down by all available State and Federal government dental care assistance programs (KanCare, Medicaid, etc.).
How to apply?
You must complete our Creating Healthy Young Smiles application, which can be obtained at our office or by downloading the pdf version and printing it out.
Under normal circumstances allow us 7 business days to review your application. For dental emergencies, we are able to review your application the same day (Mon-Fri) and possibly provide approval on a temporary basis until you can obtain the required documentation. You may mail the application and required documents to our office, drop them off at our office, fax them to our office, or scan your completed application and documents and then email them to our office:
Seaman Family Dentistry
7757 Quivira Rd
Lenexa, KS 66216
You can also call us for more information or to have us send you an application via regular mail or email.
If your child is in pain, the best thing to do is call us and get your application completed (even if you do not have all the required documentation) so we at least review your application for temporary approval to get your child's dental problem handled the same day.
Too Expensive or No Dental Insurance
Surely you have heard or maybe even said this yourself, especially when you hear someone else talking about going to see their dentist,
"I don't go to the dentist regularly, it is too expensive",
"I can't go the dentist, I don't have dental insurance."
We see patients every day that have put off going to the dentist for the above reasons, but they finally come in because they are in pain or have a broken tooth, etc. Basically, a dental situation has overcome their concerns about the cost, they feel they have to do something.
Here are the common comments once they actually arrive...
"Wow, that was not as costly as I thought it would be,"
"I didn't know you could get a dental plan from the dentist office to help with costs,"
"If I would have known there were so many options, I would have come in a lot sooner."
For one reason or another, people commonly get the idea that if you don't have dental insurance you can't afford to see a dentist. This is simply not true, especially if you don't have major dental problems.
Did you know? If you spend $2.85 per day on a caffe latte, then yearly, you are spending more than TWICE the cost of 2 complete preventive care visits at the dentist on COFFEE - and that is without having any dental insurance or discounts!
Don't get us wrong, we are not putting down coffee, even Dr. Seaman appreciates his morning Cup of Joe!
The point is, even without dental insurance, keeping your teeth clean and healthy is not as costly as many people imagine. Perhaps it is because the cost comes in chunks, instead of only $ 1.00 -2.00 a day, so it seems more expensive. Or, that most people are thinking of the cost of handling a serious dental problem to save a tooth, instead of just thinking about the cost involved in preventing those situations. Or, more commonly, the concerned about the cost when the whole family needs dental care or is due for preventive care, all at the same time.
Yes, dental insurance certainly helps many people, especially when it is provided free of cost by your employer. But, not everyone is going to have dental insurance provided to them free - so does that mean everyone without it is doomed to just treat one dental emergency at a time?
NO - it does not, it means you have to start thinking differently about the cost of dental care or take steps to create your own savings.
More and more dental offices are creating their own dental savings plans to help patients receive dental care more regularly and to lessen the cost of care when they do need restorative or major services.
At our office, we have put together an in-office dental plan for patients who do not have dental insurance. Our plan allows you to receive all your regular check-ups and preventive cleanings, diagnostic x-rays, and even fluoride treatments at 100% coverage; so, no additional cost to you. In addition, if you do need other services, then you receive those services at a discount. Actually, our plan even gives plan participants a discount on cosmetic services - so you can pay less to have a whiter, brighter, smile! The link below will take you to our page about this plan to find out more details. TAKE ME THERE
I Just Can't Pay All At Once, Do You Have Payment Plans?
Yes! Don't worry, we have you covered! We offer various payment plan options.
This is covered in more detail on our FAQ page, TAKE ME THERE.
My Teeth Feel Fine, Why Do I need to see a dentist now?
Many years ago, more and more was done to increase the amount of dental care education children received in school to insure that everyone would understand the importance and need for dental care. Now days, most people KNOW they are supposed to see the dentist regularly and have their teeth cleaned regularly. Many even know preventive dental visits are supposed to be done twice a year.
So isn't everyone visiting the dentist twice a year?
No is the simple answer - just because people know they need to do something, it doesn't mean everyone is really going to make time or spend money to do it.
Besides, financial constraints which we discussed in the previous two articles, people don't really believe it is important enough or necessary enough to work it into their schedule. Even people with dental insurance covering 100% of the cost for their preventive care, don't make it a priority to go. We see new patients coming in with a dental problem, who have had dental coverage for over a year, some as many as 5 years, and yet they have never used these benefits. Why? They believed they were fine and didn't really need to come in, or they meant to, but just didn't get around to it until they were really in discomfort.
Did you know that most dental problems have very mild, often ignored, initial symptoms?
Or, that most dental problems are not painful until they become serious problems?
Well both are true and because of this, a false sense of security motivates people to put off seeing a dentist. People believe that if they are not experiencing regular or extreme discomfort, then everything is fine.
In dentistry, most cavities cause no noticeable signs until they have either reached the nerve or are close to reaching the nerve of the tooth. The problem, by the time the decay reaches the nerve - a filling is not going to solve the problem and typically a root canal is necessary.
Or, this is all too common, "it only bothers me off and on" or "only when it bite down just right" - obviously something is wrong! But it isn't constant enough to outweigh all the other things going on in life.
So what happens, people put it off until the tooth finally breaks and/or it starts hurting all the time. Initially, maybe a filling would have solved the problem, or if the tooth was cracked, a crown could have taken care of it. Now that it broken off and/or causing pain, means possibly a buildup of the tooth and a crown, or a root canal and a crown - but not likely a filling! In some cases, if a tooth breaks or splits just right, even a root canal and crown can't save the tooth, then it has to be removed and replaced with an implant, bridgework, or removable partial denture.
Here is also one of the reasons people believe dental care is so expensive, they don't go to the dentist at all for years - sometimes as long as 10 or more years - then they are in pain, so they rush to the dentist. Then, they not only have to spend a lot to save their tooth, they find out they have a bunch of other teeth that are about to cause them just as much pain and/or they have severe gum disease which is threatening the loss of all their teeth. Now, if they want to stop the progression they have to fix all these problems all at once. Even people lucky enough to have dental insurance are facing a mountain now. Dental insurance plans have a maximum per year per person they will pay out and usually only cover 50-80% of major and restorative care. So instead of going to the dentist for preventive care and fillings as needed over the past 10 years, the patient now has to face all this at once, which can be overwhelming.
Let's illustrate this better:
Patient A, finds out that after 10 years of avoiding the dental office, he now needs full mouth gum disease treatment, 2 root canals, 4 crowns, and 3 fillings. The average cost for all this is around $ 7,000.00, but his insurance covers 80% of fillings, gum disease treatment, and root canals, only the crowns are covered at 50% - so he is feeling a little better, then he finds out he has one of the better dental plans - but it is not good news! He has a calendar year maximum of $ 1,500.00 and it is January 15th! So the bottom line, he can't ignore these problems for almost a whole year, so if the fees come to $ 7,000.00 - his insurance is going to pay $ 1,500 and he has to come up with $ 5,500.00 out of his own pocket!!!
This is where dental financing comes into play - most people today don't have $ 5, 500 laying around for dental care, so he pays what he can down and finances the rest to get himself out of this downward spiral and back on the right track.
What might have happened if he would gone to the dentist before he had an emergency? Well, his insurance would have paid 100% of two preventive visits per year and if he also did a good job with regular dental home care, he could have avoided the gum disease treatment all together. It is also likely that the dentist would have caught the decay when it began forming at one of his two dental exams each year, then insurance would have paid 80% of his fillings as they were found which could have prevented him from needing the 2 root canals and all 4 crowns. So his expenses per year would have been minimal and he wouldn't have come close to his maximum yearly benefit in any of those years he was covered.
We tell this story because we see it happen all the time.
Why do you think insurance companies pay 100% for preventive care?
Because, they are trying to avoid having to pay out 80% of gum disease treatment or root canals and 50% of crowns, bridgework or dentures. Insurance companies want to reduce the amount they have to pay out as much as possible - they know if people receive regular dental care they are less likely to need more costly services, less likely to utilize all their yearly benefits every single year. There are even insurance plans now, that penalize members for not seeking preventive care, under these plans if you don't have preventive dental services during the year, then the percentage they cover your services (including preventive care) drops to the lowest percentages on the plan and you have to keep receiving preventive care every year to gradually get your coverage percentages back up to the full benefit level.
So it is time to change your priorities in regards to dental care - save yourself the expense in the future by getting on track with regular preventive care now, when you are not experiencing pain and other dental problems. Or, if you happen to be experiencing minor ones now, get on the phone today and get your preventive visit scheduled. Whether you have dental insurance or not, MAKING DENTAL CARE a regular priority now - is always going to save you time, money, and expenses down the road! Call us today... 913-631-2626
too afraid to go to the dentist, Advice for overcoming fears
Fear can definitely be a devastating emotion, one that will stop people from even moving an inch, when confronted with the thing one fears most. As with any other type of fear, it comes in varying degrees. Some people who so fearful of snakes they won't even walk in tall grass, while others are more fearful of the idea of snakes, or snakes showing up where they don't belong, etc., the same is true when it comes to fears of going to the dentist.
Before we go on, this is very important - don't pass your fear onto your children! If you are afraid to go to the dentist, take your children regularly, at least by age 3 or as soon as possible after that, so they will grow up comfortable in a dental office. Who knows, your fear may melt away when you see your children enjoying their routine trips to the dental office!
So the first thing you have to do, is recognize where your fear stems from and how bad it really is.
If you actually, personally, had a terrible experience at a dental office - then you already know where your fear comes from - so you need to ask yourself:
Can I recognize that not all dental offices or dentists are alike - just like not all people you know or meet are all alike?
Could I go to a dental office, just to sit in a dental chair and talk to a dentist?
Could I let dentist, if I decided I liked him/her, just take a look at my teeth?
Is my fear more about having a certain dental service provided, like having a tooth pulled?
If you answered yes to these questions, chances are you just need to find a dentist you trust and take it one step at a time and allow your fear to dissipate with each visit. Many offices will offer a Meet & Greet visit for new patients, just a short appointment to see the office and talk one on one with the dentist to determine if you can be comfortable with him/her. If that goes well you can usually schedule an appointment for just an examination and x-rays, which gives you another chance to sit and talk with the dentist and find out what services you need. Then, if you need some dental work, you can take it one step at a time, having the least invasive, less scary, services done first. But, don't wait until you have a toothache to overcome your fear; that is the worst time to have to deal with fear! Find a dentist and start the process when you are not having a problem with a tooth - this way you build up your comfort level and trust with the dentist on a gradual basis. Maybe then you will won't encounter and emergency dental need, but if you ever do - you will have a place to go and a dentist to treat you that you have built up a level of trust with and your fear will be much less than it feels today.
Now, if your fear does NOT come from a personal experience, think about why you are afraid.
Is it the fear of something unfamiliar to you, or a fear based on stories you have been told, or things you have read or heard about?
Most of these fears are also overcome by just going to see a dentist for the first time and gradually building a relationship so that the fear starts to fall away or lessen with each visit and each service you receive. If you are fearful of picking the right dentist to start this journey, ask your friends and family which dentist they see, ask if they are comfortable with their dentist, what types of services have they received and how did those services go? The important thing, is to do this as soon as possible, don't wait until you have a dental problem - it makes overcoming fear much harder when you are experiencing pain and discomfort already. Start taking steps today to locate a dentist and start building some good experiences to combat the ones you have stored in your mind.
Now, if the above sounds too horrifying to even try or your personal experience was so traumatic that you cannot say yes to the questions asked earlier, then you may have to go about things a little differently.
You are probably still going to need to use the Meet and Greet step to at least go into the office and talk with a dentist. Dentists are not going to discuss pre-medication to ease your anxiety or agree to sedate you without seeing you first and discussing your medical history. Depending on the circumstances, the dentist may even need to speak with your medical doctor, before determining the best medications to assist you. But, we can't stress this enough, the time to take action to locate a dentist, is before you need one on an emergency basis - especially if you are extremely fearful.
So talk to family and friends or do some online research and read about different dentists or offices, try to find one that you think you would be comfortable enough with to meet and talk with him/her. Then, call the office and make an appointment for a Meet and Greet or a Consult about choices for pre-medication or sedation during future dental visits. That will get you started and you will be able to work out a solution to ease your fear and get some preventive care before you need other services.
At our office most fearful patients gradually ease out of their fear, so they are comfortable coming in for routine care on a regular basis to help prevent the need for major dental treatment. In rare cases, the use of pre-medication can help them out when they do need something beyond regular care - but this is typically when the problem arises early in their relationship with the offices. Even some patients who had to be seen at the oral surgeon's office under complete sedation when they first became a patient, are now able to come in for any service and get through it without the need for anything other than the trust they have developed with our office and Dr. Seaman.
We actually do not provide sedation as an option at our office, but for patients who truly want to go that route, there are offices around who provide this service regularly. The only time Dr. Seaman has provided care under sedation, are instances when the patient needed care from Dr. Seaman and either a periodontist or an oral surgeon - then Dr. Seaman travelled to the other location and provided the general services while the patient was still under sedation. This is a very rare occurrence, most patients do not require as much work initially, especially if they start seeing a dentist before they have allowed problems to grow and multiply over the years. So don't let your fear worsen your situation, overcome it enough to build some trust and start getting preventive care as soon as possible.
If you would like to schedule a Meet and Greet with Dr. Seaman, give our office a call 913-631-2626.