Prioritizing your health — including oral health — gets only more important with age. ... read more
Spirit Dental Blog
Many patients ignore toothaches and other oral health problems, assuming they’ll subside on their own. However, a lot of the time these are symptoms of something far more severe. An example of this is a tooth abscess. While it may seem minor at first, if left untreated, an abscess starts to impact other areas of your body. Learn more about what causes a tooth abscess, symptoms to look out for, and how to treat it before it worsens. What is a tooth abscess? A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that forms around a tooth as a result of a bacterial infection. Not only is it gross as it sounds, it can affect the area surrounding the tooth — including bones, gums and other nearby teeth. Symptoms The signs of a tooth abscess may vary, but can include the following: Persistent throbbing or sharp pain in the area of the tooth Loosened tooth Sensitivity to hot or cold food and drink Foul-smelling breath that doesn’t go away with brushing or rinsing Bitter taste in the mouth Redness and swelling of gums It’s recommended to visit your dentist at the first sign of these symptoms. Causes Abscesses can form in different areas around a tooth for a variety of reasons. Poor dental hygiene, tooth decay or injury, gum disease or broken or cracked teeth can all contribute to infection that leads to an abscess. There are three types of infections that can contribute to an abscess: Gingival: Develops in the gums and typically doesn’t affect the teeth. Periapical: Develops at the tip of the tooth root, and the bacteria travels to the inside of the tooth through a fracture or cavity, spreading to the bone over time. Periodontal: Develops in the bone and tissues supporting the tooth, causing periodontitis or gum disease. Treatments An abscessed tooth, if caught early enough, may be treated with over-the-counter antibiotics. However, more serious cases will require in-office treatments. An x-ray, CT scan and/or thermal test may be required to determine the severity of the condition and treatment required. Upon diagnosis, your dental professional will be able to determine the best course of treatment. To eliminate the underlying infection, a few procedures may be done: Incision and drainage to remove pus from the area. Root canal to eliminate the underlying infection and restore the health of the affected tooth. Tooth extraction to allow pus to drain from the socket when the tooth is damaged beyond repair. When is a dental abscess an emergency? Ideally, you would visit the dentist as soon as you suspect something is wrong. But life can get in the way, delaying the appointment and causing the abscess to get worse. If pain isn’t managed by medication or becomes intolerable, it’s time to visit an emergency dentist. These practitioners accept walk-ins and specialize in treating certain oral issues quickly. In the case of facial swelling, fever or trouble breathing, skip the dentist and go straight to the emergency room. The infection may have begun to spread to other areas of your body. How to pay for dental abscess emergency When you have a dental emergency, you may be concerned about how much it will set you back. Whether you have insurance — and the specifics of your plan — can significantly impact how much emergency treatment will cost. What insurance will cover When it comes to emergency dental care, one size does not fit all — different dental insurance carriers have varying definitions of what an “emergency” is. Before you enroll in a plan, make sure you understand what kind of emergency situations are covered, and by how much. Many severe dental conditions, including abscesses, occur when minor issues are ignored. The biggest benefit of dental insurance is that it typically covers preventative care in full. Visiting the dentist regularly for exams and cleanings ensures any existing problems are addressed and treated before they worsen. You can also find plans that partially cover fillings and some restorative care, which will be far less expensive and invasive than an extraction or root canal. Options outside of insurance The monthly premium you’ll pay for a dental insurance plan is less expensive than paying out of pocket for an emergency. But if insurance is not an option, there are some other routes you can take to lower costs. For an annual fee (typically far cheaper than insurance), dental discount plans provide discounts for certain services. Financing is similar to a credit card; use the card to pay for services and pay it back over time. Be sure to check that the service and dental professional qualify for financing under your plan. Finally, public dental clinics are community-based offices that charge for care based on what a patient can afford. No-wait full coverage dental plans Don’t let cost get in the way of caring for your health and protecting yourself from serious illness. Find a full coverage plan that gives you peace of mind in case of an emergency like an abscess. Spirit Dental offers low-cost dental plans with no waiting period so you can resolve your symptoms and get back to your life. [Find my plan]
Your children’s health is a top priority. But while you’re focused on preventing the flu and broken bones, don’t forget about keeping their smiles healthy. Keep reading to discover why it’s never too early to instill dental health practices — and how to lower costs on your child’s care. Why is dental care important for children? Dental care is a vital part of your child’s overall health. Taking them to the dentist two to three times a year sets them up for a lifetime of healthy habits. A professional dentist can also clean their teeth beyond brushing and flossing (depending on your child’s age, their at-home care is probably already lacking). If they identify an issue with your child’s teeth or gums early enough, it can be treated before becoming something more serious. What’s covered in a child’s dental plan Coverage will depend on the specifics of your insurance policy, but most plans cover preventative care in full, including two annual check-ups and cleanings, fillings, fluoride treatments and other basic care. You may also get partial coverage for the following: Treatment for cavities and gum disease Restorative care Emergency care Wisdom tooth removal Orthodontic care Make sure to read through all the details of your plan to get a full understanding of your benefits. How to get dental coverage for kids You’ll want to have dental insurance for your kids by the time they see the dentist for the first time. It’s recommended that a child visits a dentist when their first tooth erupts. It’s important to be prepared ahead of time by enrolling in a plan that will cover your children’s care. Group coverage Children are most often covered under a family plan, either enrolled through you or your co-parent’s employer or purchased privately. You can add a newborn baby to an existing family plan within a specified period of time (check with your insurance provider), since having a baby qualifies as a life event. Keep in mind your monthly premium will increase once your child has been added to the plan. ACA coverage According to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), dental care for children is an “Essential Health Benefit,” which means that pediatric dental coverage must be available for purchase in the ACA Marketplace. Stand alone dental plans Finally, you can also enroll your child in his or her own individual plan. Monthly premiums, services covered and how much you’ll pay for different treatments will vary based on where you live, your insurance provider and your specific policy. Find a dental plan for your child Spirit Dental & Vision has dental plans for children and families so you can maintain shining, healthy smiles for every member of your family. Learn more and find the best plan for your needs. [Find my plan]
There are a number of procedures and treatments for missing, broken, or decaying teeth. Dental implants are a long-term solution for restoring your smile. It’s a procedure involving the replacement of tooth roots with screw-like metal posts that fuse to the jawbone, then replacing the damaged or missing teeth with artificial — yet realistic — teeth. Keep reading to learn more about how dental implants can restore your smile and keep your mouth healthy for years to come. The benefits of dental implants The advantages of dental implants are plentiful. From aesthetic improvements to better dental health, they are the chosen treatment for many with damaged or missing teeth. Dental implants improve your confidence Those with cracked or missing teeth may be self-conscious and shy away from social and professional situations. Dental implants will give you a smile you can’t wait to show off! You won’t look like a different person — you’ll just look like the best version of yourself. Dental implants make eating easier Missing or decaying teeth can lead to discomfort and difficulty eating. Dentures or other appliances used to replace teeth may also slip or shift after a meal. Dental implants feel and act just like natural teeth, allowing you to regain full functionality of your mouth and chew normally. Dental implants prevent bone loss Bone loss can weaken the jaw and even cause changes in your facial structure and overall appearance. Since the implant becomes part of your jawbone, it also helps to preserve the health of the surrounding bone and gums. Dental implants keep adjacent teeth stable When a tooth is missing, the surrounding teeth may start to shift to fill the gap. In filling the gap with a dental implant, nearby teeth don’t need to be altered to support it like they do with a bridge, so adjacent teeth stay in place and are left intact. This improves long-term oral health. Dental implants can last a lifetime Yes, you read that right. With proper oral care, it’s possible for implants to last decades. And where fillings, crowns and bridges can fall out or wear over time, implants fuse with the jawbone, serving as a far more permanent solution. Dental implants are cost-effective The price tag of a set of implants may leave your jaw on the floor — but remember, these implants are permanent and can last decades. They also don’t require tools, adhesives, special cleaning products, or adjustments to maintain; you treat the implants as natural teeth. Considering the convenience and the fact that you may never have to replace dental implants, they are well worth it. The potential risks of dental implants As with any medical treatment, there are possible risks associated with dental implants, and it’s our responsibility to mention them so you’re as informed as possible. However, keep in mind that most dental implant procedures are done without issue. Sinus damage In extremely rare cases, dental implants placed improperly in the upper jaw can protrude into the sinus cavity. While it may not cause problems, it will likely require a sinus lift procedure, which involves adding some bone into the sinus cavity to keep the implant stable. Infections There is a minute risk of getting an infection at the implant site. Symptoms of infection include bad breath that doesn’t go away, loose teeth or new gaps between teeth, swollen gums or pus. Nerve damage In the process of the implants being placed, there’s a small chance that they can injure nerves that connect to the face and gums. If you notice pain, numbness or tingling, contact your dental professional right away. This can cause issues for your gums, lips, chin or other natural teeth. What happens if you don’t get dental implants? A greater risk for health complications comes from choosing not to get dental implant treatment. By leaving one or more missing or damaged teeth, you’ll potentially experience one or more of the following: Bone loss Bite alignment issues Diminished ability to chew Decay of adjacent teeth Feelings of insecurity and hiding your smile The verdict: yes, dental implants are worth it Life-changing benefits; a small risk for complications; results that last a lifetime. If that’s not enough to convince you dental implants are worth it, we don’t know what is! If you’re still concerned with cost, there are dental plans available that provide some coverage for an implant procedure. Find the right dental plan for your needs and reach out to us today for dental implant insurance.with Spirit Dental.
The lens of your eye, which is located behind the iris, is normally clear, allowing for light to pass through so you can see well. But when a cataract forms on the lens, it causes it to become cloudy or foggy, inhibiting the amount of light that can get through. And that results in changes in your vision because your eye isn’t able to focus like it should. Cataracts are a common problem, and many seniors end up needing surgery to replace the lens and restore vision in one or both eyes. Being aware of the causes may help you take steps to reduce the risk of cataracts, while being familiar with the symptoms can help you recognize the problem if it develops, so we cover both the causes and symptoms of cataracts below. What can cause cataracts? You might develop a cataract simply as a result of the aging process. Basically, as you get older, the lens changes and the proteins in it break down. As they clump together, those proteins can cause clouding. These changes to the lens might start when you’re around 40 years old, but you might not notice a problem until years later. That’s right: a cataract can progress over time, making the cloudiness—and your vision—worse. In addition to being a part of the aging process, there are certain conditions, medications, injuries, and habits that might lead to cataracts or speed up their development. Here are some examples: Diabetes Certain genetic disorders Other eye problems Eye injury (the cataract might even form years after an injury!) Certain medications, such as steroids Radiation treatment, particularly to the upper part of the body Exposing the eyes to too much sunlight by not wearing sunglasses or hats Drinking a lot of alocohol Smoking What are the symptoms of cataracts? When a cataract is first forming, you might not realize that there’s a problem. Over time, though, as the cataract expands and covers more of the lens, you may start to notice changes in your vision. Here are some of the ways in which your vision might change because of cataracts: Blurriness Vision that’s described as foggy, hazy, or cloudy Faced colors Difficulty seeing at night Needing more light for doing things like reading Double vision Halos or glare surrounding lights Sensitivity to lights (such as from lamps or sunlight), which might appear brighter than they should The need to change your prescription more often than usual Your eye doctor can be there to help you see clearly again Keep in mind that cataracts symptoms may come on slowly because this condition typically develops slowly. And it’s important to talk to an eye doctor as soon as you notice changes in your vision so you can figure out if a cataract is to blame. At first, your eye doctor might recommend changing your prescription to cope with the changes caused by a cataract. But if it gets to the point that you’re finding it really hard to see clearly and do things like drive or read, your doctor might recommend surgery to remove the cataract and prevent further vision loss. Take great care of your eyes with the help of vision insurance! A last note: the symptoms caused by cataracts might also be associated with other conditions, so it’s critical that you get the right diagnosis and pursue the best treatment to save your vision. Again, don’t hesitate to talk about your symptoms and have your eyes carefully examined by a professional. If you’re concerned about being able to afford trips to the eye doctor, Spirit is here to help. With the right vision insurance, you can worry less about the cost of eye exams and prescription glasses or contacts, so you won’t need to waste any time when you need to address changes in your vision. Sources: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/8589-cataracts https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cataracts/symptoms-causes/syc-20353790 https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/cataracts https://www.nei.nih.gov/learn-about-eye-health/eye-conditions-and-diseases/cataracts/causes-cataract https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/cataracts https://www.allaboutvision.com/conditions/cataracts.htm
Vitamin C is known for supporting your immune system, but here’s something you might not know about this vital nutrient: it can also support your dental health! That’s right, getting enough vitamin C is a smart move if you want to keep your gums and pearly whites strong. Check out the information below to learn more. Do Your Gums Bleed? You Might Need More Vitamin C Researchers have found that, in addition to brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist regularly, another important step that may help support the health and strength of your gums is getting enough vitamin C. What happens if you don’t have enough vitamin C in your blood? Well, you might end up with gum problems. More specifically, you might be at a greater risk of bleeding gums, which is a symptom of gingivitis. In that case, increasing the level of vitamin C in the body might help resolve these issues. If your gums are bleeding or you are experiencing other gum problems, talk to your dentist, and consider consulting with your physician as well. They can help you determine if you’re deficient in this vitamin, and can also give you advice on how to bring the level up safely, if necessary. Where Can You Get Vitamin C? Water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C aren’t stored in your body, so you need to get enough of it daily to maintain the right amount of it in your system. The good news is there are a lot of delicious foods that can provide plenty of vitamin C. Eating a nutritious and balanced diet that consists of various fruits and veggies is a great place to start. Here are some examples of foods that contain vitamin C: Citrus fruits, such as oranges Carrots Cantaloupe Berries Kiwi Sweet potatoes Spinach Kale Red peppers Broccoli Note: Even though you can also get vitamin C from fruit juice like orange juice, it’s a good idea to enjoy it in moderation because it may be acidic and high in sugar—not good for your chompers! You can also take vitamin C supplements In addition to getting this vitamin from your diet, you can take a high-quality vitamin C supplement. Or, you might decide to take a multivitamin that provides enough of this nutrient. This simple step may help ensure that, no matter what you eat, you’re getting enough of this vitamin on a consistent basis. How Much Vitamin C Should You Aim to Get Daily? Experts recommend that adult men get around 90 mg of vitamin C every day. On the other hand, adult women can aim to get around 75 mg each day. If you want to take a vitamin C supplement to help support your gums, you might consider taking one that provides anywhere from 100-200 mg of vitamin C daily. But the amount you need may depend on various factors. For example, you might need more vitamin C if you’re following a low-carb diet. To figure out just how much is right for you, consult with your doctor for personalized guidance. He or she might check your current level to determine how much you need to get from a supplement. Plus, your doctor can also share valuable tips on how you can improve your diet. Talk to Your Dentist About Vitamin C If Your Gums Bleed Easily Bleeding gums is a symptom that should be addressed, so don’t hesitate to discuss this problem with your dentist as soon as possible. By figuring out the cause—whether it’s a low level of vitamin C or not—you can receive the right treatment and prevent further damage. Bottom line: brush, floss, and keep an eye out for gum irritation, inflammation, or bleeding. Also, improving and supplementing your diet so you get adequate amounts of vitamin C every day might make a big difference in the health of your teeth and gums. Sources: https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/nutrition-and-oral-health/5-essential-vitamins-for-teeth-and-gum-health https://oralb.com/en-us/oral-health/conditions/gums/vitamin-c-calcium-oral-health/ https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/can-increasing-vitamin-c-intake-help-stop-bleeding-gums https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/threats-to-dental-health/how-acidic-drinks-affect-teeth https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/bleeding-gums-you-may-need-more-vitamin-c