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Professional Cleanings
Professional cleanings performed by a licensed dentist or hygienist are just as important to your dental health as daily brushing and flossing. Using specialized tools and training, your hygienist or dentist will:

• Remove plaque build-up from the surfaces of teeth. Bacteria in the mouth form plaque, which collects on teeth and causes decay, gum disease, and gingivitis.
• Remove tartar from teeth surfaces. Tartar, or calculus, is plaque that has become so hardened on the teeth that its removal requires special procedures. Tartar below the gum line is also an indication of gum disease.
• Remove surface stains from teeth through polishing.

Examinations
Regular examinations by your dentist help detect and prevent health issues before they become serious. Consistent dental check-ups help catch problems when they are small and easier to treat. Left unattended, small treatable problems become worse and may require more extensive, expensive procedures to repair. Dental examinations generally include the following:

• Gum disease screening
• Oral cancer screening
• Visual tooth decay evaluation
• Visual gum disease examination
• Gum pocket measurement and tracking
• X-ray examination to detect: tooth decay, cysts, tumors, problems below the gums and other hidden issues

Regular examinations by a dentist are very important for your health. Remember, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." –Benjamin Franklin

X-rays (Radiographs)
Dental x-rays are a primary tool for early identification of dental problems. Dentists can detect issues with x-rays before they become problems saving you money in the long run by preventing the need for more extensive, expensive procedures or surgeries. X-rays are primarily used to detect:

• Internal tooth decay
• Cysts (fluid filled sacks at the base of your teeth)
• Tumors, both cancerous and non-cancerous
• Impacted teeth
• Teeth that are still coming in

Digital X-rays Advantages
Digital x-rays have several advantages over traditional film based x-rays:

• They emit up to 90% less radiation
• They are ready for examination nearly instantly
• They can be viewed on a computer screen
• Their image can be refined and enlarged
• They are greener; no chemicals are needed for processing

Sealants
Sealants are generally used to help prevent tooth decay on the biting surfaces of back teeth (molars). The natural grooves of these teeth can trap food that can resist casual brushing and rinsing. If left in place, the trapped food allows bacteria to multiply, eventually causing tooth decay and requiring costly attention.

Sealants are painted directly onto the tooth's biting surface where they seal the natural grooves to help prevent tooth decay. While sealants are durable, they are not permanent. They can last up to 5 years of normal wear before needing replacement.

Sealants offer a cost-effective, preventative step to reduce the chances of tooth decay on the chewing surfaces of molars. However, they do not replace the need for regular brushing and flossing.

Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease)
Gum disease accounts for approximately 70% of all tooth loss in adults. Early signs of gum disease include bleeding gums when flossing or brushing, and gums that are red, inflamed, or swollen.

Gum disease and tooth decay are caused by the same bacteria. These bacteria form plaque beneath the gum line, which eats away at the bond between tooth and gum. If deterioration is allowed to continue, "pockets" form in between the teeth and the gums. Pockets deeper than 3mm may require special treatment to remove the bacteria and plaque. Without treatment and continuous maintenance, gum disease will eventually weaken the bonds that hold the teeth in place.

There is no permanent treatment for gum disease. However, it can be kept under control with proper personal hygiene and regular visits to a trained dentist or hygienist.
Flexible Spending, the Time is Now
Fall has arrived and the New Year is fast approaching. If your employer permits you to put funds in your FSA all year long to help you pay for non-covered medical expenses including co-pays and deductibles, then this is the time of year to check your Flexible Spending Account Benefits and use the amounts remaining! If you do not use your FSA stored funds, your benefit will expire, your saved money will mostly likely be forfeited and redeeming your FSA money is wonderfully simple.

While some employers still require you to pay out of pocket and fill out forms to be reimbursed, many have opted for the simpler more convenient debit card option. Your FSA debit card connects directly to your FSA, allowing you to visit your dentist, medical doctor or eye doctor, receive the needed care and simply swipe your card just the way you do your banking debit card. Whichever option is available to you now is the perfect time for you and your family to visit our office and get those regular eye exams by using those FSA dollars before it is too late!

If you have not had your eye exam this season, schedule your appointment today! FSA funds can help cover, not only eye exams but can also help you purchase a new pair of eyeglasses, a supply of new contact lenses, much needed contact solution, sunglasses or over-the-counter ready glasses. You can also use your FSA funding to pay for eye medications, or even laser vision corrective surgery. Don't wait, call our office today and use your FSA funds to get the eye care you need.

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