Gateway Dental is now Gateway Oaks Family Dentistry!

logoIt is with great pleasure to inform you that we, Gateway Dental,  have changed our business name to Gateway Oaks Family Dentistry. Please note, however, that our address has not changed.To celebrate our name change the Natomas Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony on Feb. 12 at 9 a.m.

Gateway Oaks Family Dentistry believes the new name change, interior remodeling and additions to the staff, including an associate doctor, will enable a higher of level care for our patients and the Sacramento area. “Not only is our office state-of-the-art, we now have a full and highly-capable staff, and the latest in technology to provide the best patient experience,” Dr. Hoang Truong  said.

Our new name and logo looks great, but we’re most excited about the increased level of care we’re bringing to our patients.” By adding orthodontic and implant services and additional doctors we help keep convenience of more availability, plus same location, familiar doctors and staff that you already love, and maintaining affordable prices as well. We would like to thank you for your support as we implement these changes!

A Grand Re-Opening Celebration and Open House is in the works so please stay tuned for more details! For more information, call your Sacramento dentist at 916-649-0249.  Check out our new website: www.GatewayOaksDental.com!

Dental X-Rays: An Important Diagnostic Tool

X-rays are an important diagnostic tool for me. They are as vital to me as getting blood work done with your medical practitioner or chest x-rays with your cardiologist. Without them, I cannot fully determine your oral health, which is my sole purpose. Getting radiographs taken every six months allows me to detect any problems early on.

Many patients have concerns about x-rays. But, the American Dental Association (ADA) states that a person absorbs more radiation from the sun every single day than x-rays taken at the dentist every six months. Since our radiographs are digital, the radiation exposure is extremely less than traditional methods.

Dentist in Sacramento Digital Xrays

This graph shows the amount of radiation each person receives from dental x-rays in comparison to other sources of radiation.

The first thing that radiographs help me with is determining bone levels in your teeth. One of the biggest causes of tooth loss is periodontal disease, or disease of the gums and bone. It begins as gingivitis and can grow uncontrollably into sever gum “periodontal” disease.  The x-rays help to determine bone levels and the condition of bone loss due to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can be determined by looking at the gums, but in all cases radiographs are needed to determine severity of bone loss.

Why do I need to determine bone levels? Identifying bone loss early, through x-rays taken every six months, allows me to be able to address the likelihood of patients’ having periodontal disease. Horizontal bone loss suggests aggressive periodontal disease, but that can be treated with great results. However, vertical bone loss is a more aggressive disease and is more difficult to achieve a good results.

Bone Loss & Gum Disease

The straight yellow line depicts the bone level on healthy teeth. The wavy line below identifies this patient’s actual level of bone. This tells me the patient has severe bone loss.

Secondly, radiographs are also helpful in diagnosing oral pathology from identifying cysts to cancerous lesions, broken roots, cavities, and failing restorations (just to name a few!), which are impossible to determine by visual examination alone. In addition, anything that is happening below the teeth and gums, I cannot see. Ethically and legally I need x-rays to keep my patients safe, healthy, and out of pain, and – most importantly – keeping your out of pocket costs low.

Sacramento Dentist does Oral Cancer Screening

X-rays identified a tumor in the lower jaw.

I have seen many cases where a new patient came to me in pain, after seeing his/her dentist just 6 months ago. Upon taking new x-rays I have found a broken tooth after a root canal, a crown that doesn’t fit correctly causing un-comfortability, and an abscess that has formed. And not just with new patients, even with current patients that see me religiously, cavities and decay can develop within six months or less.

Thirdly, x-rays identify things in your mouth that are going on that I could never determine just by sight. I want to stress the importance of these radiographs because they will identify problems even when the patient isn’t experiencing any symptoms. If your tooth hurts, you could have more than a little cavity, it could be an infection or a fractured tooth. When it hurts, you have waited too long.

Dentist in Sacramento fixes broken tooth

Patient has a fractured molar tooth. Indeterminable by looking at the tooth surface.

Insurance Companies and Radiograph Restrictions

Although x-rays are an important tool in the diagnostic process, insurance companies usually have restrictions and frequency limitations on what type of x-rays can be taken, when and how many are allowed. Even though x-rays are all the same, just the techniques are different, insurances sometimes won’t pay for them. Sometimes with the restriction from the insurance companies the patient will have to pay out of pocket for the necessary x-rays so that I can determine the condition of the teeth.

 

I reassure you that we would never take x-rays if it was not necessary or essential for the overall well being of your oral health.

Sacramento Dentist

Another diagnostic tool I use is my camera. This camera allows me to take highly detailed pictures that allows the patient to see cavities, decay, and other problems above the gum line.

 

Dental Insurance: A Good Purchase or Not?

Did you know? In the 1960s dental insurance companies paid a yearly maximum of $1,000 and that number has not swayed over the past four decades? The average dental insurance pays a maximum of $1,200 per year. Sacramento dentist Insurance

Dental costs are on the rise and if you are like most you want to know should you purchase dental insurance. Many dental offices now offer great specials to first time patients for a full exam, x-rays, and most include a cleaning. Before deciding to purchase insurance opt for one of these appointments and talk with the dentist about how much treatment you will need. The dental office can help you decide which option would be best for you.

You should investigate the differences between using the proposed insurance through your employer or buying one independently. Weigh the monthly costs of dental insurance versus paying out of pocket for your dental treatment and see what works for you and your family.

A difficult fact for many patients but something very important to remember is that dental insurance is not similar to medical insurance. Many patients are shocked to realize that even though they are covered at 90% that they still have a big balance. The majority of dental insurance plans are designed with the purpose of only covering the basic dental care, about $1,000 to $1,500 per year, and is not intended to provide comprehensive coverage like that of medical insurance.

You might have heard the financial person at your dentist say, “you’re maxed out.” That is a term referring to your yearly maximum that the dental insurance plan will pay for the year. Any service you receive is taken from your yearly maximum. So even if your cleanings and other preventative services are covered at 100% they are done so because it is taken from allowed maximum allowance from the insurance company.

For example, if you have a yearly maximum of $1,200 and you saw your dentist in January and again in July for your biannual cleaning and check-ups at $300 per visit you would have a remaining available maximum of $600 for anything that may come up such as a filling or dental emergency. The yearly maximum will renew automatically each year and any unused benefits will not be rolled over into the next year. Each member of your family has their own yearly maximum so you will not be sharing benefits.

Sacramento Dentist - Dental Insurance Breakdown

A 2002 study of payers of dental care shows that government issued help only consisted of 6% of all bills. The rest was split almost evenly between out-of-pocket costs for the patient and his/her dental insurance.

In/Out of Network Dentists

There are HMOs which require you to go to a specific dentist and then there are PPOs which were designed to allow the patient to pick their dentist. However, more independent insurance companies are popping up calling themselves “PPO” but now have distinguished between in-network and out-of-network. It is the patient’s responsibility to verify if their dentist is in or out of network.  However, the differences are very minimal. If you have a dentist you like, trust, and are comfortable with stick it out.

Other Caveats

  • Co-pay? A lot of insurances have them but not the majority of PPOs. And if the insurance requires one and the dentist doesn’t make you pay for it then that is a red flag. That flag is called insurance fraud. While it may make things better for you right then it could certainly cause trouble in the long run.
  • Is there a “missing tooth clause” for people with missing teeth that they may want replaced later with a bridge, partial, or implant.
  • Differences in coverage for preventative, basic, and major work should be similar to other major insurance plans. Make sure that for preventative services that x-rays are covered, that root canals are covered under basic, and that they don’t have a missing tooth clause under major work. If you know you will need major work but your plan doesn’t cover it then you might want to look into switching or finding other ways to pay for your treatment.
  • Typical coverage: Preventative = 100%, Basic = 80%, Major = 50%
  • Most dental offices these days do not use amalgam (or silver) fillings, but insurances will not cover the full cost of a white filling, it would be a good thing to ask about.
  • Waiting periods – are there long periods of time required to pass before the insurance company will allow treatment to be redone on a tooth. For instance, if you had a filling 3 years ago that needs to be redone and your insurance has a 5 year waiting period, then they aren’t going to cover any of it.
  • All dental insurance companies are not alike so you must figure out which procedures fall under each category.

Conclusion

Dental insurances companies are raking in a lot of dough between your monthly premiums and your co-pays. Make sure that you are making the best decision for you and your family.

Yearly maximums are not going to be going up anytime soon and dentists know that. To help finance your dental care, many dental offices are now offering interest-free payment plans.

Do You Really Want to Keep your Teeth? Deep Cleaning Explained.

Sacramento DentistOn a recent trip back to visit family I encountered my kooky Great Aunt, let’s just call her Ivy. Ivy is an all-round entertaining lady. She could keep you talking for hours and comes up with some of the most ridiculous things. Upon telling her that I work for a dentist she blurts out, “You don’t work for 1-800-Dentist, do you!?”

Well, no, we are not affiliated with them but I was curious what caused her outburst. Upon further examination she said that recently her and her husband went to the dentist and “would you buh-lieve they wanted $250 for a cleaning, per quadrant!?” I don’t need to tell you the conversation that ensued that ended in Aunt Ivy refuting everything I said with, “I DON’T GET PLAQUE ON MY TEETH!” An odd statement considering that every single person on the planet has plaque on their teeth. Oh, Aunt Ivy.

When plaque gets under the gums where you can’t see it and can’t clean it you start to get irritation and bleeding in your gums. This is the early stages of gingivitis. When you have gingivitis your hygienist will want to give you a deep cleaning. They might also want you to use a wash called Chlorohexidine. Three out of four adults have some form of gum disease.Sacramento Dentist

Schedule your appointment today

Your body is working feverishly to clean your teeth and the interaction between the food and the saliva creates bacteria and acid. If nothing is done about this it can begin to erode your bone structure. The acid begins to drip down your teeth and starts to eat away at the bone that is holding on to your teeth. Acid. Pretty nasty stuff. It eats through everything, including bone.

Here’s the tricky part, until someone’s condition get very bad they have virtually no symptoms. If gum disease is caught in time it can be stopped and steps can be taken to improve your condition. But, sadly, bone loss is irreversible.

In addition to keeping your teeth from falling out, or getting loose, a deep cleaning will help permanent crowns and bridges adhere to your teeth and last longer. It might help take care of that bad breath, too.

A deep cleaning will take approximately three hours where as a regular cleaning without x-rays will only take about 50 minutes. You are numbed with anesthetic and the hygienist cleans off the roots of the tooth.

I know what you are thinking. You brush your teeth every day, you’ve never had a cavity, you floss every now and then and maybe you even believe that you don’t get plaque on your teeth. Good for you! But that doesn’t mean you can skip your regular teeth cleanings every six months. Hygienists have special tools that get heavy plaque off of your teeth. They also have the ability to see and reach things that you cannot.

Sacramento Dentist

Real Gateway Dental patient who received a deep cleaning. The patient was experiencing bleeding when brushing and flossing and had deep pockets of 5-6 millimeters (1-3 millimeters is great, anything more than 4 should require immediate attention).

The biggest mistake a patient can make is to not maintain a good hygiene program with the hygienist following the deep cleaning. After the cleaning your hygienist will want to see you three months later to clean the teeth again. More often than not it isn’t covered by insurance which is why many patients do not keep up on it. But, coming back every three months for a year will restore your gums to their better condition, will close the deep pockets created by the bacteria, and will help reduce the amount of bacteria that can get in there again.

If you were told you needed a deep cleaning, do not wait. Aunt Ivy will be sorry.

You can call 916-649-0249 if you have more questions and we’ll be happy to help you.

Oral Sedation Dentistry – Small Steps to Being Happy at the Dentist

A dentist who provides oral sedation is like a magician waiving a magic wand over all the fearful patients who have avoided the dentist. Oral Sedation cases range from mild to full-mouth but you will never know unless you call and make that first step.
Watch the entire process here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4rLa9f7ANk

Oral Conscious Sedation

  1. The first step is to find a dental provider near you. Sedationcare.com can help you find a sedation provider in your zip code. When you are ready, you will call the provider and their sedation
  2. At your first appointment you will receive a full set of x-rays and receive a full examination by the doctor. The doctor will want to take many photographs which can be invasive. But not to worry, these pictures will allow you to see exactly what the doctor is seeing so you are not in the dark about the condition of your oral health.The doctor may take you into a consultation room to go over your options as far as what needs to be addressed immediately and what can be done at another appointment.  You will fill out your paperwork and set up your payment arrangement.  Be prepared for lots and lots of paperwork.
  3. At your first appointment you will receive a full set of x-rays and receive a full examination by the doctor. The doctor will want to take many photographs which can be invasive. But not to worry, these pictures will allow you to see exactly what the doctor is seeing so you are not in the dark about the condition of your oral health. The doctor may take you into a consultation room to go over your options as far as what needs to be addressed immediately and what can be done at another appointment.  You will fill out your paperwork and set up your payment arrangement.  Be prepared for lots and lots of paperwork.
  4. Twelve hours prior to your oral sedation appointment you will take your first dose of medication. After this point the patient should not eat or drink anything. The next morning, one hour prior to your appointment, you will crush up a pill and put it under your tongue and allow the pill to dissolve. Upon arriving to your appointment your doctor will administer the remaining dose(s) of medication.  Each person’s dosages of medication prescribed to them will be different based on the person’s tolerance level, weight, and current drugs that they take. Regardless of the type of drug and amount prescribed the way the medication is taken will always be the same.
  5. You will be seated in the dental chair and will wear a blood pressure cuff and blood oxygen monitor through the entirety of your stay. This is required in oral conscious sedation to ensure that you are getting the adequate amount of oxygen required. Don’t worry- an oxygen tank is there for you should you need it.
  6. Your memory of your appointment will be faint, if one exists at all. You will also need to coordinate a driver to drop you off and pick you up from your appointment. They will not need to stay with you the entire time. The sedation team will be able to contact them to let them know you are ready to be picked up.
  7. Immediately following your oral sedation appointment you will want your driver to get you something soft to eat – think soup, ice cream, mashed potatoes. You will most likely return home and sleep. You will look alert to your driver but they should not be fooled, you are highly woozy. This is not the time to make important life decisions.
  8. The following day you will be normal. You will be able to go to work, go to the gym, go on vacation, and do anything else that you normally would be able to do. The only reason that you may have to return to your dental professional is to adjust the “bite” which is referring to the way the temporary crowns and fillings sit inside your mouth. If you bite is off you will experience pain, discomfort and headaches. Adjusting your bite is a simple 10 minute procedure so you should call your doctor and get in as soon as you can to avoid any added pain.

Oral conscious sedation

Oral Conscious Sedation Dentistry is gaining popularity in the U.S. and is really a good option for anyone who has time constraints and only wants one day off of work to complete tons of dental treatment. Also, you don’t have to be afraid of the dentist anymore!
Call (916) 649-0249 for your consultation today. Gateway Oaks Family DentistryHoang Truong DDS, provide oral conscious sedation to anyone who is interested, regardless of their motivations. Call today.

Oral Conscious Sedation – When fear and anxiety keep you from dental bliss

oral-conscious-sedation_Dentist-SacramentoIf you have had your wisdom teeth taken out you have experienced one form of sedation. However, conscious sedation is a more rare form that is now being used for basic to extensive dental procedures for anxious or fearful people.

Oral Sedation is a tool that trained dentists use to put anxiety-ridden patients at ease in a clean and comfortable environment; it is also a good option for those with time constraints.

One of our employees undergoes sedation. Watch it here.

Not just any ‘ole dentist can perform oral conscious sedation. Dentists are required to get special training and take special courses. The requirements for most states include a permit but few require the dental team itself to receive training.

The steps to oral conscious sedation are below. However, oral conscious sedation is not just for anxious and fearful people it is also perfect for hardworking individuals who cannot take more than one day off work for multiple dental procedures. Under sedation, the dentist will be able to keep your mouth open for an extensive period of time and since your pain tolerance is not an issue, the doctor will be able to complete multiple large procedures in one day. Appointments can last anywhere from 3 hours to 8 hours.

  1. The first step is to find a dental provider near you. Sedationcare.com can help you find a sedation provider in your zip code. When you are ready, you will call the provider and their sedation team will help you set up your initial appointment.
  2. At your first appointment you will receive a full set of x-rays and receive a full examination by the doctor. The doctor will want to take many photographs which can be invasive. But not to worry, these pictures will allow you to see exactly what the doctor is seeing so you are not in the dark about the condition of your oral health. The doctor may take you into a consultation room to go over your options as far as what needs to be addressed immediately and what can be done at another appointment.  You will fill out your paperwork and set up your payment arrangement.  Be prepared for lots and lots of paperwork.

On our next blog post we will complete the steps of oral sedation. Stay tuned!

Teeth Whitening – Three Options to a Brighter Smile

Seriously, is there a better accessory to that glowing skin that we are all blessed with every summer than a perfectly white smile? I say no, but if you said “six-pack abs” I wouldn’t disagree.

Image

Really though a perfectly white smile is attainable with the technology that is readily available to ordinary people, like you and me.  Celebrities, other rich guys and their trophy wives are no longer the only people that can enjoy teeth that are NOT stained by years of coffee, wine, and tobacco. You can, too!

There are three types of whitening that you should consider: in-office, professional teeth whitening, at-home whitening trays from the dentist, and teeth whitening strips.

Option 1: In-office teeth whitening. If you are getting ready for a photo shoot, a wedding, a vacation, or any other milestone event the only way to go is an in-office professional teeth whitening at the dentist. You are looking at a $500-$700 bill but the results are instant and will continue to get better over the course of the next two weeks.

Option 2: Take-Home Teeth Whitening Trays. Have an event coming up in a month that you are preparing for? I mean really preparing, like, have your outfit purchased, hair appointment made, car rental scheduled and guaranteed prepared. If so, then take-home bleach trays from the dentist are an awesome option. They come at a significantly lower cost than in-office bleaching and can be used for as long as you want, provided that your teeth don’t shift. Your dentist will make an impression of your teeth to create the trays and they should be ready within 24 hours. Your teeth will reach the maximum whiteness after approximately two weeks.

The bleach that you will use at home has a lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide. You can purchase bleach from your dentist, dental assistant, or hygienist anytime that you want. Bleach trays are also a good idea for those who dropped a big payment on the in-office bleaching and who would like to maintain their white smile for years.

Option 3: Teeth Whitening strips.  Just want whiter teeth but are in no rush? Guess what? Those whitening strips work wonders at removing surface stains for anyone. Smoker? Coffee drinker? Wino? Soda pop lover? You are in luck! Whitening strips cost anywhere between $35-$50 for a two-to-four week supply. Read the instructions carefully for how long and frequently you should wear the strips. Some teeth whitening strips requiring wearing them two times a day for 14 days straight while others are less strict, and also less effective. Teeth whitening strips are also really effective at maintaining a white smile.

Who shouldn’t buy in to teeth whitening: those with veneers, tetracycline staining, or dead teeth. There is nothing any dentist can do to make your teeth whiter. See a dentist near you to visit your options.

No teeth whitening toothpaste or magic teeth whitening light will replace regular dental visits. One might be surprised at the amount of surface stains a simple teeth cleaning will remove.

Get your tan on, folks! And take along a white smile and some sunscreen.

Dos and Don’ts for Healthy Teeth & Gums

We love reading SHAPE magazine around here so we were pretty happy to see this article: “10 Bad (Dental) Habits to Break”. The SHAPE magazine article outlines 10 very specific ways to treat your teeth. No guess work, love that! You can read about why the following 10 things are so dang important.

Teeth Cleaning Sacramento

  1. Brushing too hard
  2. The wrong toothpaste
  3. Forgoing Floss
  4. Drinking lots of soda
  5. Foods that stain
  6. Frequent snacking
  7. Using teeth as tools (seen this before?)
  8. Neglecting problems
  9. Avoiding the dentist
  10. Ignoring your lips

If you are experiencing pain and are in need of an emergency dentist in Sacramento or you are looking to establish a new dentist in Sacramento you can visit us today!

Call 916-649-0249 Today!

Tricky Tooth Killers

There are attacks on own teeth everywhere we look: the food we eat, the medications we take, our hormones. Silent, and tricky, these tooth killers can harm you in ways you haven’t thought of before.

Teeth Whitening at the Mall:  Does knowing that they are more than willing to pour 35% hydrogen peroxide on your gum disease and cavities make you feel good? If it does than you need to research about the effects of teeth whitening on your oral health. If it doesn’t, you’re my kind of patient. These types of services are unaccredited and are being shut down all over the country. A typical teeth whitening requires a dental office visit, exam, and any cavities or gum disease to be treated prior to receiving the bleaching treatment.Oral Health and Diabetes (click here for teeth whitening tips)

Sports Drinks & Energy Drinks: these highly acidic beverages create pitting in the teeth and other forms of tooth erosion. Pitting and erosion results in your teeth being uneven on the surface and they are more likely to stain easier and more quickly. In addition, erosion makes your teeth more susceptible to decay. If you must drink these highly acidic drinks do it through a straw to avoid pitting and tooth erosion on the fronts of your teeth.

Pregnancy:  your hormones play a gigantic part in your oral health. Increased levels of pregnancy hormones progesterone and estrogen boost circulation, which brings more blood to the gums and puts you at a higher risk for infection. Pregnant women with bloody gums are significantly more likely to have a preterm baby, according to many studies. If you are trying to get pregnant your best bet is to visit the dentist so that you can address all your oral health issues before you conceive. (Or read our preggo article here) 

Medications: many medications and diet supplements have side effects such as decreasing salivary flow in the mouth. The lack of saliva can lead to dry mouth, bacteria, and tooth decay. Products like biotene can help with dry mouth so tell your dentist if you are experiencing dry mouth.

Using teeth as tools: using your teeth in absence of other tools might cause them some harm.  My grandma has a perfect triangle in between her two front teeth at the very bottom where she keeps her pins for sewing. See my granny uses her teeth for all sorts of things, like tearing open packages, biting her nails, and that’s just the small stuff. Her teeth have become her go-to place to store the needles for sewing which have created a permanent change in her teeth. Using your teeth for anything other than chewing is a bad idea: it can lead to chipping and cracking.

Are you a suspect in these dental crimes? Studies prove that taking better care of your teeth can improve your overall health, especially if you are pre-diabetic or your family has a history of heart disease. If it has been more than six months since your last dental exam and cleaning call a dentist near you today. (or read our oral health article)