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Dear Nancy

Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Should I Have My Wisdom Teeth Removed?

We often see patients who ask if they should have their wisdom teeth removed. The first thing we mention is that this is a decision that you need to make while referring to the advice of your dentist. However, there are some things you can think over in preparation for having an informed discussion with your dentist about your oral health care.

What Are Wisdom Teeth?

In my years as a dental receptionist, I have met my share of patients who have wisdom teeth. Wisdom teeth are an extra set of four molars that most people have. I remember meeting one patient who had nine extra molars, which is very rare. Most patients have four, but there are cases where there are fewer. A lot depends on your genetics, and if Mom or Dad had only two or three, the chances go up that you might have the same. Also, it is interesting to know why we have wisdom teeth in the first place!

I'm Thinking About Getting My Wisdom Teeth Extracted. Does My Age Matter?

This is a particularly good question for parents of young adults who are in the position of needing them removed. Wisdom teeth develop and can be removed when you are as young as 16 years of age. Removing them at 16 is much easier than leaving them until you are older. As you age, the roots of the wisdom teeth start to grow, and more of the root the bigger the issue. For example, my oldest daughter had her wisdom teeth removed when she was 16, and this was done under IV sedation. So she was unconcious through the whole procedure, and did not remember a thing. She had no complications, and recovered with no issues. My youngest daughter decided she would put it off as long as she could, and had them removed at 21 years of age. Perhaps because the roots had an extra 5 years to grow, her experience was a bit more eventful. Although she also had the IV sedation, her recovery time was much longer, and she experienced some slight complications.

My advice to Mom and Dad is to have your dentist check the progress of your children’s wisdom teeth at their next visit. If the teeth are causing pain, ask if it would be too early to think about removing them. Generally, the rule of thumb is "the earlier, the better".

Should I Think About This Sooner, or Later?

I see so many children who are covered under their parents' insurance, and are covered usually to the age of 21 and 25 as full time students. Keep in mind that dental insurance coverage is different for each family, and the age limit for your children could vary.  Your dental receptionist should be able to check that information for you and advise you of the findings. For those kids who are insured by Mom or Dad’s insurance and have wisdom teeth, you are in for a big surprise if you don’t take advantage of that while you are covered! In cases where wisdom teeth become infected, they often will not subside until you have them removed. During my years of experience, I have seen a lot of patients that wish they would've had them removed while Mom or Dad's insurance could cover the bill.

My words of advice are, “have those dreaded wisdom teeth removed while you are covered.” If you put it off, paying out of your pocket could cost $2500 or more. No one wants to pay out of their pocket, especially for something that they could have avoided while their are under their parents' insurance.

So now the bottom line: if you are experiencing pain, don’t put off the removal of those wisdom teeth. Be sure to check with your dentist at your next visit if it is time for them to be removed, and take it from me, you will not have any regrets. If I can be of any help with regards to your wisdom teeth or just dentistry in general, please don’t hesitate to stop in and see me at Longworth Dental.

 

No Dental Insurance? How to Make Dentistry Affordable.

No Dental Insurance? How to Make Dentistry Affordable.

Dear Nancy,

I don't have dental insurance and can't afford to go to my dentist. What can I do? And why does dentistry cost so much, anyways?

Dear No Dental Insurance,

If you don't have dental insurance, please do not delay going to your dentist until you are suffering with a horrible toothache. I know dentistry can be expensive, but preventative maintenance is the best approach to your dental care.  If you wait until you are in pain, then the issue may be bigger and more expensive than if you'd gone before it started hurting. Get your teeth the attention they need when problems are small, and you will save yourself some hassle in the long run.

No Dental Insurance
No Dental Insurance

Taking the initiative to visit your dentist for a check-up, a few necessary radiographs and possibly a cleaning is the best route to take. If you haven't gone in a while, the first visit may be more expensive. But once the initial visit is complete, your return check ups (whether they are 6 months, 9 months or yearly, as decided between you and your dentist) are much less expensive.  This is because you have already established a chart and your return visits are on a preventative basis instead of a "new patient" basis.

There are different options available for those who don't have dental insurance.  You can talk to your dental office receptionist and inquire about your different options.  I tell my patients that their options are to set up:

  1. a payment plan;
  2. individual dental insurance; or
  3. a Dentalcard.

Read More: Why doesn’t my dentist just accept payment from my dental insurance company?

Payment plans and individual dental insurance have been available for many years, and they work for many patients. The newest idea is plan 3, Dentalcard financing.  This is a financial institution that offers financing for patients who are interested in going ahead with the treatment plan outlined by their dentist, and payment plans or dental insurance are not an option.  They will work with you, and make arrangements best suited to your budget, and in turn, they will pay the dentist directly.  Most offices will have pamphlets that will give you more information if needed.

Now for the second part of your question, "why does dentistry costs so much?" My answer would be, like everything else in today's society, overhead is the biggest contributing factor.  The cost of dental equipment, instruments, material used in restorative procedures, sterilization products which are most important in making sure you are looked after and all procedures are safe for you and the environment.  The list goes on.  These are the costs that the dentists incur so that they can make sure the office runs with precision and accuracy, and your care is utmost and foremost.  There are no corners cut when it comes to overhead costs.  The ultimate care of your oral health, the cleanliness of the clinic and the operation of the dental team is included in those costs.

I hope I have answered your questions. Always remember that you are always welcome to stop in and visit if you have any others! I'll leave you with this piece of wisdom: "BE TRUE TO YOUR TEETH, AND THEY WILL NEVER BE FALSE TO YOU."

Dentist Not Accepting Payment From Employer's Dental Insurance?

Dentist Not Accepting Payment From Employer's Dental Insurance?

Dear Nancy,

Every time I visit the dentist, I have to pay up front and get reimbursed through my dental insurance. Why doesn't my dentist just accept payment from my employer's dental insurance?

Dear Confounded,

This is a good question for those who have insurance coverage which WILL NOT pay your dentist directly.

There is a percentage of employers who have chosen for insurance claims to be paid directly to the employee. Some examples are the federal government, Bell Canada, Royal Bank and Durham College.  This decision is made by your employer, and while it can be an inconvenience, it is a choice that you can only affect by talking with your employer or union.

Read More: Why is There a Balance When I Visit the Dentist?

The immediate solution for this particular situation is to pay the dentist "up front". Most offices accept debit, cheque, cash and credit cards. The receptionist can submit the claim electronically for you, and you will be reimbursed within days.  This will avoid extra costs such as the gas or postage you will use to get the cheque back to the dental office.  It can also have the benefit of giving reward points or air miles on your credit card. Importantly, by the time the charge shows on your credit card statement, you would have already applied the insurance cheque, incurring no interest.

I hope I have been helpful in answering your question. Feel free to stop in and visit if we can be of any other assistance!