Tuesday, December 21, 2010

“All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth”

Well, this would be for certain if they were missing. But more than likely, you have your two front teeth, and most - if not all of your teeth for that matter. Having been in the dental industry for my entire adult career, my job has always required me to educate people about the importance of dental care and oral hygiene.

Consider this blog entry my public service announcement or message.

This has been another tough year on people and their families in Arizona. Unemployment remains high and many people are still without jobs.

It used to be that mainly lower income families had more dental issues, because they could not afford dental coverage, which meant fewer trips to the dentist.

Now, many people, regardless of their social-economic backgrounds are experiencing tough times, and American Dental Plan would like to help. ADP has a gift that could benefit thousands.

American Dental Plan is willing to offer a free membership to any Arizona individual who has lost employment or employment benefits in 2010 (only a $10 administration fee is required). Just contact us at 602-265-6677.

For more information about our benefits, please visit www.arizdental.com.

Enjoy your holidays. We want families to enter 2011 with a smile.

Monday, November 22, 2010

End of the Year Dental Checklist –Healthy Tips for Your Teeth and Gums

Our mouths are bacteria-breeding grounds for cavities and gum disease. Tooth decay is the second most common health issue, falling just behind the common cold, which you may find surprising. Most Americans have their first cavity before the age of five. There are many reasons we develop cavities and gum issues, many of which are diet and lifestyle related, which is not surprising.

It is never too late and never early enough to harness control of your dental health. Here are six things you can do all-year-round to improve your dental health and prevent tooth and gum disease.

Brush and Floss Daily and Visit Your Dentist Twice a Year. You would be amazed how brushing and flossing keeps the cavities away and the dentists happy. So, let this serve as a reminder to brush and floss, every day. In addition, keep your calendar open twice a year for a routine, bi-annual check up and cleaning with your dentist. Semi-annual visits to the dentist are vital to maintaining good dental health. Teeth cleanings with a dental hygienist keep your smile bright, and check ups with your dentist are the best preventative measures. Do not wait until you feel pain to visit your dentist. No dental problem will disappear. As a matter of fact, it will only get worse.

Know the Difference Between Myth and Fact. Although diet, poor eating habits and too much sugar can increase your risk of cavities and decay, eating too many foods with high-fructose corn syrup and sugar are not the primary cause of cavities. The main cause is the pH balance in your mouth, which can be impacted by sugar. High acid levels and an acidic mouth lead to cavities, dental disease and bacterial growth. You can brush and floss all you like, but it is also important to neutralize pH balances in your mouth. Ask your dentist about treatments and products that promote healthy pH balance in the mouth and help minimize acid levels.

Food Balancing Act – Much on these Morsels.
You can promote a healthier pH balance in your mouth by eating certain foods, like: onions, celery, cheese, wasabi, shitake mushrooms and other food items, because they fight the bad bacteria that causes cavities. They may not be the tastiest foods, but they will make your teeth want to smile.

Hydrate with H20. Your body naturally craves water, because we are comprised of mostly water. So pay attention to your thirst and drink more water to keep up the production of saliva, fight bacteria and hydrate your gums. Drinking water is different from many “hydrating” drinks that contain a lot of sugar. Green tea has a lot of healthy anti-oxidants that fight bacteria and benefit your teeth and gums, without staining.

The Benefits of Xylitol.
There are benefits to eating, chewing or drinking products that contain Xylitol, which is a natural sweetener that’s found in plants and fruits. Xylitol adds a shield of protection against bacteria and acid, because it cannot be broken down by either. There are many smile-boosting benefits to Xylitol , because it protects teeth and does not allow bacteria to adhere to the surface of the teeth and create decay. Look for products that contain it and try to consume 6-11 grams per day in the form of select fruits, chewing gums, toothpastes, and mouthwashes.

Newsflash! Fatty Fish, Nuts May Prevent Gum Disease. Recent studies recently revealed that foods high in polyunsaturated fatty acids may reduce risk for periodontitis. This new study released by WebMD suggests that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as salmon and nuts, may help prevent gum disease or periodontitis. Periodontitis is a common type of gum disease in which the gum tissue separates from the teeth and allows bacteria to build up and leads to a condition that can lead to bone and tooth loss. Researchers found that people whose diets were rich in PUFAs were as much as 30% less likely to have gum disease than those who ate little or none of this type of fat.

So, check your dental health checklist and make sure you follow these six steps for healthier teeth and gums. American Dental Plan is here to make sure you and yours have something to smile about, 24/7.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Gums Play an Important Role in Your Health

We tend to place a lot of value on our smiles. Truth be told, the psychology behind dental visits and upkeep is more about the pearly whites than what holds them in place. Most people pay closer attention to taking care of their teeth than their gums, because their teeth are a gateway to their image. However, the gums play an important role in the health of your teeth, and your health, overall.

The American Dental Association recently released an article linking gum disease to Alzheimer’s disease. According to the article, this new study conducted by researchers at the NYU College of Dentistry found that gum disease may increase the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

“It’s the first long-term evidence that gum disease may increase the risk of cognitive dysfunction associated with Alzheimer’s disease in healthy individuals as well as in those who already are cognitively impaired.”

The study was led by NYU’s Dr. Angela Kamer, who collaborated with a team of researchers from Denmark, and expands on a 2008 study by Dr. Kamer which “found that subjects with Alzheimer’s disease had a significantly higher level of antibodies and inflammatory molecules associated with periodontal disease in their plasma compared to healthy people.” You can read the article here.

There are many health risks associated with oral issues, tooth decay and gum disease. The best preventative medicine is to keep up with your dental care, flossing, and visits to the dentist office for bi-annual examinations and cleanings.

If affordability is an issue, then American Dental Plan is an answer to keep you and your smile, healthy and happy.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Healthy Tips to Keep the Cold and Flu Season from Getting the Best of You

As a dental benefits provider, our focus is on oral hygiene and how you can achieve healthier outcomes by practicing better dental and oral habits. People always seem amazed at how their oral care factors into their overall health. This is especially true during cold and flu season. Our mouths are huge purveyors of contagious diseases, germs, and viral and bacterial infections.

Whether you do or do not get an influenza vaccine this year, you can still help ward off germs, viruses and bacteria and the flu by practicing and endorsing a few simple practices in your home and around the office.

Sniffling, sneezing, coughs and fevers are big signs of viral and bacterial infection. Wherever these symptoms exist, germs are present. The healthiest response to the coughing, sneezing, sniffling and signs of a fever are to: avoid close contact with others, wash your hands often, especially after coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue to, maintain good oral hygiene, and brush your teeth more often to keep your mouth clean.

In addition, there are other factors that can help you avoid contracting or spreading germs and infection, like:

• Wash your hands before and after brushing your teeth.
• Protect your toothbrush an keep it away from others and off common surfaces.
• Rinse your toothbrush with hydrogen peroxide, weekly, then rinse and air dry before use.
• Allow the brush to air dry after each use, since the bacteria most harmful will die when exposed to oxygen.
• Store your toothbrush in an upright position.
• Replace your toothbrush more often, like every 1-2 months, depending on whether bristles appear worn or you've if you have had a cold or flu to prevent possible re-infection.
• Clean the toothbrush cover or container to kill harmful bacteria and the spread of infection that reside in the bristles.

Here are some things to avoid:

• Do not share your toothbrush, because the exchange of saliva and oral fluids from can increase the risk for infections.
• Be aware of things that can lead to cross-contamination.
• Do not use community toothbrush holders. If you do, then rinse your brushes with hot water and make sure the toothbrushes do not come in contact with one another.
• When you brush, do not allow the toothbrush to touch the toothpaste tube and spread germs to the next user.

Every year the health risks and viruses tend to get worse, not better. You can make a big difference in your general health by taking care of your oral health, first.
Keep these tips in mind and practice them to avoid the spread of infection, influenza and bacteria.

Our team at American Dental Plan cares about you and your health. To learn more about our dental programs and benefits, visit:

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Friday, August 20, 2010

A Fruity Discovery Made in the Dentistry Industry

As always, science is amazing! American Dental Plan is always looking for interesting news stories and studies that are relevant to our members.

When we think of our teeth and the ideal image of a smile, we always think of a pearly white grin, beaming at our audience. If this were not the case, then teeth whitening agents and teeth whitening procedures would not be such a hot selling item in drug stores and dentists offices.

In this article, The Dental Tribune reveals a study conducted by Harvard University. It revealed that “eating fruit daily is the best way to whiten teeth.”

The three-month clinical study determined that “strawberries, orange peels, and lemon juice are the most effective teeth whiteners in the world. Strawberries can be made into a puree and smothered on the teeth.”

Apparently, strawberries contain a natural enzyme that removes tooth stains, according to TeethWhitener.net. Orange peels can be used to remove tooth stains, just by rubbing the inside of a peel against tooth surfaces.

In addition, the study disclosed that a little lemon juice can go a long way if you take a little lemon juice and salt with warm water, and rinse your mouth out, the combination will remove stains from coffee, tea, red wine and other teeth staining items.

Baking soda can also do wonders, which is why it is now an active ingredient in toothpaste. Peroxide is another whitening agent. Strawberries, lemons, baking soda, peroxide and various concoctions may not taste great, but they are effective whiteners.

As the article states, “it is best to not drink coffee, tea, colas or red wine, which are all known to stain teeth and cause some decay of the enamel. Apples and potatoes can cause discoloration, but they also tend to clean off the teeth. Mouth washing is important after eating apples.”

At American Dental Plan, our “Aim” is to help improve your oral health and smile.
It is best to ask your dentist about any of these agents and the best way to use them. Obviously, too much of any of these items may cause a break-down in the enamel if used in excess. In addition, every one has different shades of teeth. Some teeth are naturally more yellow or darker. It is best to consult with a dentist to discuss a whitening plan, aside from any natural approaches.

Finally, remember that a little prevention can go a long way. Going to the dentist once or twice a year for a cleaning and checkup is strongly suggested.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

2010 Most Popular Cosmetic Dentistry Trends

As a provider of dental care programs, we like to keep informed of upcoming trends in the industry. By doing this, we can share updates and evolutions in dental care with you.

The world of dentistry is always changing and evolving to advance procedures, decrease discomfort to patients and improve alternatives. New techniques, procedures, materials and products replace old ones.

The Consumer Guide to Dentistry released its top dental trends for 2010, which focuses more on cosmetic dentistry trends.

According to the report, dental implants are high on the list. Dental implants are an alternative to crowns and bridges for individuals who need replacement teeth, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).

In addition, requests for removable teeth aligners will be on the rise are expected to become more popular, because they are less visible and convenient than metal aligners.

Our objective is to offer best practices and comprehensive guidance on traditional dentistry and cosmetic dentistry. Traditional dentistry focuses on oral hygiene and treating oral disease and preventative oral health, while cosmetic dentistry focuses on improving the appearance of a person's teeth, mouth and smile.
Keeping up with your regular dental routine and dental appointments to maintain good oral health is paramount, but there are many things you can do to improve your smile, cosmetically.

Here are some cosmetic dentistry trends that may enhance your smile. See which ones are right for you and discuss the options and procedures with your dentist at your next visit.

Cosmetic Dentistry Trends and Treatments

Composite Bonding:
Teeth Whitening:
Dental Veneers:
Smile Makeover:
Full mouth reconstruction:

Aesthetic or cosmetic dentistry can be expensive, but check with your dentist and insurance or dental provider to see if there are discounts available to have the necessary work done to beautify your smile. American Dental Plan, though primarily focusing on basic clinical dentistry, also offers a variety of cosmetic dental procedures. Check with a participating dentist for your free smile evaluation.

Monday, June 14, 2010

New Applications to Keep You Informed About Your Health

If there is one truth that emerges from the ongoing healthcare reform dialogue, it is this one: “It is up to every individual to look after his or her own health and well being, because no one else will or should care as much as you.”

It is an ongoing debate between the politicians and the people, but while the issue of health reform continues, more Americans are stepping up to take interest and control of their own health. As the medical industry becomes more bogged down with the limitations and legalities that impact their level of care, we the people have access to our greatest allies – the Internet and software developers – the gateways to the latest health information.

The fastest way to access information regarding your dental health is to use the world-wide-web. You can search online, anytime, 24/7 to find the answers you need, especially if it is after hours and you cannot reach your dentist or physician.

As the new healthcare reform initiatives are instituted, various healthcare entities are also taking matters into their own hands to develop user-friendly programs to keep individuals and patients informed. Dentists Management Corporation (DMC) instituted the Dental Optimizer™, a free dental health application offered online to help users learn about:

• the most effective oral treatments available
• the costs for treatments and learn how to reduce dental care costs
• the best ways to prevent dental disease and tooth decay

There are new tools and applications available, like Microsoft HealthVault to help health organizations and individuals learn healthy lifestyle habits and obtain and store personal and family health information.

About Microsoft Health Vault

Microsoft HealthVault is a personal health application platform designed to put consumers in control of their health information. HealthVault provides a security-enhanced foundation on which a broad ecosystem of providers can build innovative health and wellness solutions such as personal health records, disease management, fitness, weight loss and other web applications.

The Dental Optimizer™ uses the Microsoft HealthVault application to enhance their offerings for patients and users.

A recent Medical News Today article announced that the Dental Optimizer™ also launched “a pharmacy module that allows patients to find out if the medications they are taking may impact their oral health. In addition to learning about the side effects of their medications, users can access recommendations from dentists and pharmacists aimed at helping them alleviate potential oral health issues.”

American Dental Plan (ADP) offers affordable network plans to dramatically reduce the costs of dental optical, chiropractic and alternative care - in addition to discount pharmacy benefits. At ADP, we are always looking for healthy news to post to our blog.

American Dental Plan, Arizona’s oldest and most credible voluntary dental network and discount plan offers great savings and affordable plans for individuals and their families. For an additional $25 you can receive many more health care related savings! Members will receive the same dental benefits PLUS... savings for Pharmacy, Optical, Hearing Aids, Chiropractic, and Alternative Care. These discounts can be used individually, in conjunction with your Healthcare Savings Accounts (HSAs), or for services not covered by your regular medical insurance.

Check out the Pharmaceutical Encyclopedia application for Dental Optimizer, which is a great tool for consumers to better understand the link between their medications and their oral health."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

American Dental Plan - A solution and a great source for dental care news!

There is still much ado about health reform and how dental health coverage will prevail. When it comes to reform debates, the main question that comes to the minds of the masses is “what’s in it for me?”

That’s a good question for you, me and everybody, because it impacts every person who has teeth.

According to an article posted on March 24, 2010 at www.WorlDental.org, titled, How Dental Care Will Be Changed by Health care Reform, health reform may bring some big changes in the arena of dental care due to an expansion of coverage for individuals in need once health reform is initiated. In addition, new reform will have a lasting effect on the field of dentistry and the type of dental care that people will receive, especially children.

Hopefully, more funding will be available to help educate the public about adequate oral hygiene, preventative measures, and proper care to optimize dental health. That is where dental problems begin – and where they can be solved.

In another article featured on April 22, 2010 at WorlDental.org: Dental Insurance Options and Dental Plan, they discuss the many dental coverage options and plans available for individuals and their families who need some form of coverage.
Depending on your income and needs, dental coverage can vary greatly – as addressed in the article (http://worldental.org/dental-insurance/dental-insurance-dental-plan-coverage/1282/).

But for the millions of people who cannot afford the high cost of dental insurance, and for those who do not have insurance provided by their employers, accessing affordable plans remains an issue.

Let’s face it, dentistry is expensive. People dread having to go to the dentist, especially if they do not have any form of coverage and they have to pay 100% out of pocket. Ouch!

According to most people, dental insurance seems the best option, but as the article points out, there set backs, as denoted in this quote:

“If you decide to opt for regular dental insurance, be prepared to deal with financial restrictions; these plans are often accompanied with a cap on the payments that will be covered by dental plan for the period of a year. The limits placed on dental insurance plans usually include a cap of $1200.00 to $1500.00.”

Discounted dental plans and voluntary programs received merit and bonus points for offering more benefits for less, as stated:

“Generally, a consumer can expect to pay as little as $80.00 every year to as much as $120.00 a year to participate in such dental plan program. The payment of enrollment fees gives individuals access to dentist that will offer dental treatments and procedures at discounted prices; discounts can range from as little as ten percent to as much as sixty percent.

What’s nice about this kind of option is that there are no yearly caps placed on dental plans and the consumer is not responsible for paying any deductibles before discounts can be taken advantage of. What’s more, this type of dental plan can get the consumer discounts on cosmetic dentistry or complex dental procedures whereas such treatments are often not covered with traditional dental insurance coverage.”

American Dental Plan (ADP) is a great option for the entire family. Unlike insurance, there are no waiting periods, no restriction and no limits to coverage. In addition, ADP is a great program to fill the gaps and subsidize insurance.
Our dental plan covers you if you are:

Self employed
Part time or seasonal employee
Small business owner
Full time employee with gaps in coverage
Needing more dental services than your insurance will pay
Wanting to save $$ on all your dental needs
You can join American Dental Plan now
and start saving TODAY!
Even if you have dental insurance, you can use American Dental Plan for any services not covered by your insurance program. Visit our FAQ section for more info.

American Dental Plan has been in business since 1978 and is Arizona's oldest voluntary dental benefit plan. With approximately 650 participating dental providers, and priced at only $59 per year, why pay more for any other discount plan? No other competing plan can offer you more services, more providers, more business experience or more value for less money.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Ten Tips to Optimize Dental Health … It Takes More than Brushing and Flossing

Brushing and flossing are very important to your daily dental routine. If you do both as a part of your daily regiment, you increase your dental hygiene and decrease chances of decay and gum disease. Here are some other factors and tips that will help you keep your teeth and a healthy smile for a lifetime.

1. Do not let affordability or fear keep you from the dentist’s chair. Many people do not visit the dentist for two reasons: because they think it will cost too much and because they think it will be painful. True. Visiting the dentists office can be costly and painful, but only more so if people ignore their dental health. American Dental Plan is the most affordable discount network program and alternative to dental insurance. Membership includes a free annual exam and four x-rays, which covers the cost of membership. Do not ignore the dentist or your teeth. Your dental health is a key factor to your overall health.

2. Be aware of oral issues and dental needs. Your oral health includes a proper diet, which dictates many other things, such as: production of saliva, acidity, and cavities caused by too much sugar. What you put in your mouth impacts your teeth and your health. In addition, medications, pregnancy illness and disease can influence changes in your body and dental health. Ask your doctor how your afflictions or prescriptions will affect your teeth and gums.

3. Commit to a daily oral health routine, which includes brushing and flossing.
Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about your oral health practices. Based on the discussion, come up with an effective routine. It should be easy to remember and follow. You may want to add fluoride rinse or whitening products to your routine. Ask your dentist or hygienist about their treatments and to recommend products.

4. Fluoride products are not just for kids. Fluoride can be an added benefit for all, not just children. Although fluoride helps strengthen their teeth as they grow and develop, but it also helps prevent decay for all age groups. Toothpastes and mouthwashes contain fluoride, but your dentist can also prescribe a stronger concentration of fluoride in a gel, toothpaste or rinse.

5. Brush, Floss, Repeat. It is a good habit to brush twice a day – even better to brush after every meal. In addition, you should floss at least once a day, because it helps remove plaque, which is vital to your dental health. Plaque is the bacteria that forms on your teeth and if it is not removed often, it builds up and can cause gingivitis, periodontal disease and decay.

6. Limit sugary snacks and beverages high in fructose corn syrup. It is wise to eat healthy to stay healthy. Foods high in sugars and starches provide more fuel for bacteria, plaque and decay. Reduce your intake of sugary foods and beverages, and brush after consumption.

7. Daily vitamin and mineral supplements help keep teeth nourished. A balanced diet is very important. Sometimes life gets hectic and we eat poorly and do not get enough nourishment. Taking daily supplements can offset imbalances and boost your health and well-being. Look for a quality vitamin and mineral supplement that has plenty of Calcium, and vitamins K and D.

8. Smoking and tobacco consumption are bad for your oral health.
Smoking or using chewing tobacco increases your risk of oral cancer, gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth decay. Using tobacco also contributes to bad breath and stains on your teeth. Talk to your doctor and dentist about risks and ways to quit the habit. Regular examinations are particularly important for tobacco users who are at increased risk of developing lesions and growths.

9. It is your mouth, you should know what’s inside. Even if you visit your dentist on a regular basis, examine your mouth and look for changes that might be of concern, such as: swollen gums, dark discoloration on teeth and gums, chips in teeth, and sores or lesions on gums, cheeks and tongue.

10. Don’t delay on decay … visit the dental office, regularly. Talk to your dentist about how often you should visit, based upon your individual oral health and plaque production. If you have a history of cavities or crown and bridge work, or are wearing braces, you should visit the dentist more often. Diabetics and smokers should visit the dentist more often in addition to people with suppressed immune systems.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dental Health Determines Smiles and Frowns

Every New Year, I make the same resolution: to smile more. It’s a simple resolution. If I am smiling more, it means I have something to smile about and that I am healthy and confident – two things that really matter in life.

You know how they say “a picture is worth a thousand words?” Well I came up with a new saying “your dental health is worth a thousand smiles.” Being in the industry for so many years, you notice people’s smiles and whether they have had good dental care. It is when they do not smile that you assume the opposite and that they have not had good care or taken good care of their smiles.

However, here are some facts that impact our smiles:
• In a survey published last year, nearly 89 percent of consumers receive regular dental care, with the majority seeing their dentist twice a year or more. Sixty percent have dental benefits, while the other 29 percent pay out of pocket for the care they need. This means six million at-risk consumers defer the dental care they need. (These findings were revealed in a survey of consumers age 25 and older by the Long Group for the not-for-profit Delta Dental Plans Association).
• In 2008 and 2009, many people lost their jobs and their benefits due to the economic crisis and benefit cuts. Corporate budget cuts, healthcare reform and job losses have pulled the teeth out of dental benefits and offerings and may place certain mandates on dental health coverage. According to Employee Benefit News and Employee Benefit Advisor, Dental benefits, remain one of the most valued and important benefits an employer can offer – aside from health insurance.

More than likely, we will continue to see benefit options shrink in the corporate arena, as companies struggle to survive and stay in the game. Interestingly, this economic crisis has delivered a big message to many Americans who lost their homes, jobs, benefit offerings and money in the market. Here is the take away: Your health and well-being, financially and otherwise, are in your control. Your smile depends on you.

Here is something to smile about:
• It is never too late to turn your frown upside-down and get the affordable dental care you need to brighten or straighten your smile.
• It was denoted in a recent article in Employee Benefit News that stand-alone dental companies and providers have more experience designing and administering cost-efficient dental and vision plans, where medical carriers specialize in adjudicating and paying medical claims based on policies, systems and processes unique to the practice of medicine. Many of these insurers lack the experience and infrastructure to do the same for dental benefits – and they charge more. Read more: http://ebn.benefitnews.com/news/pulling-the-teeth-out-of-dental-plans-2682015-1.html
• American Dental Plan offers individual and family programs that will keep you smiling, year-round. Check out our plans: www.arizdental.com.
• By purchasing a yearly membership, you gain access to a network of participating dental offices that provide the same quality dental services but at affordable and predictable prices. All residents of Arizona are eligible to join regardless of their age, employment status or dental care needs. This dental plan is unique since there are no waiting periods, no claim forms, no pre-existing exclusions, no yearly maximums, no employment requirements or age restrictions. Enrollment is always open and benefits are available immediately!

Happy New Year to you and yours. Here is to your health and your dental health. Give yourself and your family something to smile about – and take care of it. The return on your investment will be thousands of smiles.