Before You Lose It: How to Maximize Your Dental Benefits

With each leaf that falls, we inch closer and closer to the end of the year, which means the holiday season is approaching—but that’s not the only reason to mark your calendar. It also means the deadline to use your dental insurance benefits is coming soon.

Whether you pay for dental insurance through a benefits plan offered by your employer, or through an FSA, the “benefit year” of most dental insurance companies ends on December 31, at which point any unused dollars will go to waste. To avoid leaving money on the table, it’s best to use your dental benefits before you lose them when the clock strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve.

The National Association of Dental Plans has said that only 2.8% of people who hold PPO dental health plans actually touch or exceed their annual coverage amounts. Not using these benefits is like throwing away part of your paycheck, and who wants to do that?

The monthly premium that you pay each month for dental insurance provides you with coverage that allows you to visit the dentist for no additional or minimal cost once your deductible is met. Once you have paid your deductible for the year, your insurance benefits will kick in, and dental plans specify a maximum amount that insurance providers will pay toward preventative and/or restorative dental services.

If you participate in a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and deposit money into your FSA account to use toward out-of-pocket medical expenses, those funds will also likely disappear if they aren’t used by the end of the year.

There are many ways to maximize your annual dental insurance benefits, starting with keeping up with your visits for preventative care. Most insurance plans will completely cover the cost of a preventative visit, like a cleaning, so there’s no reason not to take advantage of that.

Preventative visits are also the best way to keep your mouth as healthy as possible so you don’t find yourself paying out of pocket for substantial dental work farther down the road.

Scheduling a preventative visit in the late summer or early fall gives you time to fit in any necessary follow-up appointments before the end of the year while you have the benefits available to you. For lots of folks, the fall and early winter are some of the busiest times of the year—the same goes for our dental office. Between school and activities starting and the holiday season, it can be hard to find appointment times that work and you might run the risk of not being able to come in until after the new year.

If you find yourself in need of dental care beyond a cleaning, like a root canal, we can work with your insurance provider to see what is covered so we can make a plan together. Sometimes a strategic and cost-saving approach can be to split necessary treatment between two benefit periods to avoid draining your dental benefits too quickly. If you can schedule that root canal in

December and your crown appointment for early the next year, you will reduce the out-of-pocket cost.

Another reason to schedule your appointments sooner rather than later is the potential for future price increases. Like many industries, dental offices experience high and increasing overhead expenses from year to year. The cost of the latest high-tech equipment, the training needed to use that equipment, and all of the sterilization supplies and other office materials is likely to increase as time goes on as a reflection of rising prices everywhere.

For these reasons and more, we recommend using your dental benefits before the end of the year to maximize the investment you’ve already made. If you’re due for an appointment before the close of the year, give us a call and we will get something on the books. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Under Negative Pressure

In January of this year, we shared all the ways our office is keeping our patients and staff protected from COVID-19. Since then, our office has moved locations, but our dedication to the health and safety of each person who comes through our doors has remained the same.

As the delta variant becomes prevalent, we want to remind all our patients that we continue to follow strict guidelines to maintain hygiene and cleanliness in our office—on surfaces, in the air, and everywhere in between. We have gone above and beyond the CDC’s recommended precautions to ensure that our office is safe, healthy, and comfortable.

Since moving to our new location in May 2021, we have made enhancements and taken the necessary precautions to keep you and our staff safe. The negative pressure rooms in our new location are critical in maintaining a completely germ-free environment. Our high-grade negative pressure rooms eliminate aerosols from the room during treatments to prevent transmission of germs between patients.

Negative pressure rooms are used in a wide range of medical environments, including ICUs, to prevent the spread of infectious contaminants and to maintain sterile spaces, no matter the size. The science behind these rooms helps us ensure that every time a patient steps into a treatment room, they are breathing in clean, sanitary air—never the air from previous patients.

The low-pressure traps and keeps potentially harmful particles within the room, preventing them from being spread to other patients. This video, taken in our previous office, shows how the system works.

To maintain your overall well-being and especially your oral health, we want you to feel comfortable coming to the office for routine cleanings and other procedures. We are always available to answer any questions you might have about how we are keeping patients safe so you can keep up with your dental appointments.

We hope to see you soon! Schedule your next appointment by calling 408.227.1404 or scheduling via our online tool.

We’ve Moved!

After the Great Flood of 2021 we are excited to finally share with you that we have found our new dental home!  We are now located at 6080 Hellyer Ave., Suite 100, San Jose, CA  95138.

Dr. Sraon feels very fortunate to have found such a beautiful office.  This was formally Dr. Blatz’s office who retired after the Covid-19 shutdown, and his son, Dr. Brice Blatz, was offered a job opportunity in Oregon.  The father-son team needed out of their 4 year lease, and the landlord needed the office space rented, and we needed an office. This became a win-win-win situation.  But wait there’s more…The Blatz’s then donated their orthopedic exam tables to the Indian Health Center!  This was a win-win-win-win situation!!!

In addition to this gorgeous office, we look forward to sharing with you our new equipment that includes a Yoshida Imageworks pano machine, a digital scanner for impressions (no more goopy messes!) and a new digital hand held portable X-ray machine.  We are also using new state of the art portable delivery units which now use distilled water.  And yes, the negative pressure rooms have been installed and are currently running!  And yes, CNN is still with us in the waiting room.

 

All of us here look forward to seeing you soon and let us know if we have built back better.

 

Sincerely,

Dilber S. Sraon, DDS and Team

A Routine Appointment Could Save Your Life

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and we want to make sure that all of our patients are taking the necessary steps to prevent and protect against oral cancer by raising awareness of oral cancer screenings and the importance of early detection.

One person per hour, every hour of the day, dies from oral (mouth) and oropharyngeal (upper throat) cancers, and about 40% of individuals diagnosed with oral cancer have a less-than-5-year life expectancy. Even for those who survive oral cancer, the chances of suffering from facial disfigurement, difficulty eating and speaking, and other long-term effects are high.

The death rate and severity of these cancers are particularly high because they often go undiscovered until they are far along in their development. However, late discovery can be prevented if oral and oropharyngeal cancers are detected and treated early thanks to routine exams designed for just that.

Regular oral cancer exams are the best way to detect oral cancer in its early stages, and our office is proud to offer oral cancer screenings at every hygiene appointment using the VELscope.

The VELscope is a wireless, handheld tool that allows us to see oral mucosal abnormalities (including oral cancer and premalignant dysplasia) much better than the naked eye. The tool is trusted by over 15,000 dental practitioners worldwide for its accuracy and efficacy, and Dr. Sraon is glad to be one of them.

Between appointments, there are signs and symptoms that you can be on the lookout for. If you notice any of the symptoms below, and they last for over 2-3 weeks, you should call our office right away:

  • A sore or ulcer that does not go away in 14 days
  • Red, white, or black discoloration on the soft tissues in the mouth
  • Any abnormality in the mouth that bleeds easily when touched
  • A lump or hard spot in the tongue (usually on the border)
  • A bump that protrudes from the tongue or the side of the neck
  • A sore underneath a denture that does not heal after adjustment
  • A hoarse or sore throat that persists for over 2-3 weeks
  • A single swollen tonsil that is often painless
  • A painless, firm lump on the outside of the neck, lasting at least 2 weeks
  • A stubborn cough that does not resolve in 2-3 weeks
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • An earache on one side that lasts for more than a few days

Individuals over the age of 50 who use tobacco and/or drink alcohol heavily are at especially high risk of developing oral and oropharyngeal cancers. Recently, however, oropharyngeal cancer is occurring more frequently in non-smokers, and instead can be attributed to HPV16, the virus most commonly associated with cervical cancer.

About 99% of people who develop an HPV oral infection will recover from the virus on their own, but for the remaining 1%, the immune system will not beat the virus. If the virus does not succumb to the body’s immune system, it can lay undetected for decades before potentially causing cancer.

Have you had an oral cancer screening recently? If you can’t remember, give us a call and we will get one scheduled for you.