Don't put your money where your mouth is....

Posted by Dr. Edward Magida | Filed under , ,

Throughout the years, people have always commented to me about how they "could never do what I do". They ask how I can have no problem placing my hands inside other peoples' mouths. I tell people that I really never thought of things in the same way they do. To me, it's never been an issue about where my hands go to do their job. That said, I have found, however, a practice that some people do with their hands that totally revolts me. It skeeves me every time I see it happen. Does it bother anyone else out there when they see people licking their fingers so that they can count things. You know what I mean, the checkout person at the supermarket who has to lick her finger to count out your change. The guy at the lottery machine who has to re-count all the Super 6 tickets you just bought for the office pool. Those guys, those saliva fingered, don't even realize what they're doing and how it grosses you out, guys. There is even a super finger licker type out there, even worse than the average person who hands you back wet bills as change. How about the guy who must stop and re-lick his finger for every piece of paper he counts. That's right, some people lick every 5-6 sheets or bills. The super licker licks his finger before each sheet is counted, a 1:1 lick: count ratio, if you will. I'm a dentist and I can't tell you how much this annoys me. Yuck!

Being a dentist, I tend to be very analytical about things so I decided to put some perspective and spin on the subject of my above mentioned pet peeve. There have been several studies done to determine the "cleanliness" of dollar bills that circulate through our society. Paper money is very commonly contaminated with all kinds of bacteria. This happens because of the large number of times a bill gets into the hands of different people. On a weekly basis it could be over a hundred.

When you put the greenbacks under a microscope you can find things even Freddy Kruger would find revolting. Staphylococcus aureus, which are germs found in the nose, as well as Klebsiella pneumoniae, both of which can cause pneumonia or blood infections. There are other less harmful strains of bacteria found also. For the most part, most people will probably not have a problem with the bills. The problem arises however when someone who is immune compromised comes in contact with "dirty money". 7% of paper money and 18% of coins were found to harbor traces of fecal bacteria, including E. coli and other strains. Your mother always told you to wash your hands after going to the bathroom, now you know why. Perhaps someone can tell the patrons in the mens' rooms along the New Jersey Turnpike these facts, if you know what I mean.

The real threat about paper money is that the US dollar is a global currency. It moves a lot around the world and this could possibly help to spread disease. It might be a theoretical problem, but it sounds interesting, especially in the era of drug-resistant bacteria moving from one place to another.

The real shocker about money, however, is not the bacteria on Abe Lincoln. It's cocaine. In large cities, upwards of 90% of the bills tested had traces of cocaine on them. This does not mean that most bills have been up someones nose in the past. Most of the contamination is passed from dollar to dollar by currency counting machines. As a dentist, I would always stress to you the importance of brushing your teeth for the obvious reasons. Now I giving you another reason, especially if you are one of the "finger lickers". There is an expression "put your money where your mouth is". I would think twice...

"My Insurance Will Take Care of It..." -think so?

Posted by Dr. Edward Magida | Filed under , , ,

Many people have dental insurance through their employer. Many people do not take the time to read their benefits book to see just what their insurance will pay for. I can't tell you how many times a person has broken a tooth and needed a crown to restore it, only to find out that their dental insurance offered to them by their employer is the "bare bones" type that pays for cleanings and not much else. Don't get me wrong, I'll take something over nothing, but insurance is not insurance is not insurance. There are many differences amongst all the plans out there. Even if one employer uses this same dental insurance company as a different employer, the plans, and the benefits they have, are many times different. How is a person to know what insurance he or she has, and just what it will pay for?

Trojan. I'm not talking about the horse. I'm certainly not talking about, well, you know. I'm talking about the name of a computer program certain dental practices have installed that will tell you exactly just what a specific persons' insurance will cover. It will list exclusions to coverage. It will tell how often a tooth can get a new crown. Is orthodontics in your family's future? It will tell the maximum it will pay per person. Knowing a patients yearly maximum for insurance, which it tells us, is helpful in planning treatment to maximize coverage. It is a really great tool we use in my office to be able to tell patients exactly how much they will owe for every procedure done.

Every month the database gets updated with either new employers and/or new plans. If an employer is not listed, all we do is make a phone call and very quickly we are faxed the information. That information is then placed in next months computer update so it is in our system.

Since we have installed the program, we have been much more accurate in telling people what they will owe at the end of treatment.

One thing I like about the capabilities we know have with this program. People who are not patients of our practice, have heard that we have the program and have called to ask us if we would find out and explain to them the type of coverage they have. In the interest of promoting better dental healthcare for everyone, we have gladly helped out all those folks that called, and will continue to do so.

If you recently got new dental insurance or you just never really looked into just what your plan pays for, ask your dental office staff if they can "trojanize" you and find out all you need (or wanted) to know about your insurance.

Dental Insurance: It's only part of the answer

Posted by Dr. Edward Magida | Filed under , , ,

Congratulations! You just landed that dream job you've been after for the past year. You get a car allowance, secretary, fancy office, cell phone and corporate credit card. Of course you'll also get medical and dental insurance. Medical insurance you've always had, but dental coverage is something new to you.
Let me give you a short course in dental insurance.

First of all, dental insurance started in the late 1950's. Back then the average maximum benefit was $1,000. Of course, the premium wasn't very high. And, a person could get a lot of dental treatment done for $1,000, 40 years ago.

The problem is that now, in the year 2000, most benefit maximums on average are still $1,000. If you need a couple of fillings and maybe a crown, your total fee could easily surpass that.

And, while this dinosaur of a figure, $1,000, has not changed, insurance premiums and dental fees are much higher than years before.

What's this all mean? It means that dental insurance should be looked at as a supplement. It is not all encompassing, but can be used to help pay for regular dental exams and hygiene visits. It's there to help pay for part of dental treatment fees.

I can't tell you how many people say they are not going to have a necessary procedure done because they are out of benefits. Or worse, a person finds out that crowns or bridges are not covered, and since they've been told their dental insurance is "the best" available, decide that because the procedure in not covered by their insurance company, it is not needed. (Ironically what the insurance company will pay for is the extraction of that tooth when it rots away.)

Do not let your insurance dictate what treatment you get. If something is not covered, that does not mean it is not needed. It just means that the policy you have does not have that kind of coverage. Look for better insurance and/or accept the fact that you are responsible for the most part, for the condition of your mouth.

Ask questions about the coverage available. If there is only one plan available at your place of employment ask why.

Dental insurance is not like medical insurance. Medical procedures can become very complex and extremely costly and potentially run into six figures for long standing illnesses or accidents. There is nothing in dentistry that even comes close to that potential. That's the reason for a lower benefit limit, and anyone with the need for any treatment that's more than just the basic, is going to incur out of pocket expenses.

With all the latest advances in cosmetic dental procedures, many people are upset to learn that insurance policies pay for very few of them. Insurance companies could care less that the poor appearance of a person's teeth keeps them from smiling.

Fortunately, many dental offices have established payment plans for people who need or want major dental work done. Many people are investing in their smiles because they know the payback will be phenomenal. To see the look on someone's face once they feel comfortable smiling again is priceless. It makes going to work a lot of fun.

Patients might consider financing dental treatment... why not?

Posted by Dr. Edward Magida | Filed under , , ,

We live in a world where just about everything can be financed and paid for over time. Cars, houses, school tuition, you name it and it can be financed if need be.

Credit card offers pile up in my mailbox daily and I sleep easier at night knowing that the new sofa I just ordered wo';t have any payment due until we vote for the next president. While one must be careful not to rack up payments on frivolous things, there is one area where this type of financing can make a big difference in a person's quality of life.

I'm referring to dental treatment financing.

With this in place, a persons' dental treatment can be paid out over time and no longer do a lot of patients need to put off or cancel treatment, either needed or desired, because of a lack of funds.

Suppose you have one or more teeth that are in need of fairly extensive treatment. Maybe you finally want to replace that upper right molar that has been missing for a few years. Perhaps now that you finally lost those 50 pounds, you want to finish the makeover and get smile enhancing porcelain veneers.
Many people need or want treatment but find their pocketbooks are not quite in sync.

Well, many dental offices offer ways to pay for the procedures over time. One way that's popular is to pay for the treatment interest free for 6-12 months. Another way is to pay over several years at a reduced interest rate.

In our office, many people take advantage of these programs and are able to get their dental treatment done when they want to. Instead of having to save up for a long time, or maybe wait for a tax refund, all the while hoping the car doesn't unexpectedly need repairs, you can get dental work done when you want to.

Quality dental work does cost money; there is no question about that. However, you should consider it a good investment. If it is not done in a timely basis, sometimes it could end up costing you more in the long run. Having another option available to pay for things is something you might want to ask your dentist about.