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Using Your Health Savings Account or Flex Plan for Braces!

October 4th, 2021

As Fall approaches we get a lot of people asking if they can use their HSA / FSA account for orthodontic treatment at Holt Orthodontics.  The short answer is yes . . . so get on your way to a better smile!

What is an HSA or FSA account?

Health Savings Accounts (HSA) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA), often offered by your employer, allow you to set aside money for qualifying health care expenses for yourself, your spouse and eligible dependents.

Can I use my HSA or FSA for orthodontic treatment? 

In most cases, yes, you can use your HSA or FSA for eligible orthodontic treatment. Only the portion of your orthodontic payments(s) not paid by your dental insurance or any other plan may be considered an eligible expense.

How can my HSA or FSA help save me money?

HSA and FSAs are types of savings account that let you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. By using untaxed dollars in an HSA or FSA to pay for your orthodontic treatment, you save money.

Contact your HSA or FSA provider or your HR specialist for specific details.

Trust Holt Orthodontics

You can work with Dr Holt to achieve a healthy, beautiful smile at any age. Orthodontists are experts in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics – properly aligned teeth and jaws – and possess the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Start smiling now! 

The Benefits of Seeing an Orthodontist by Age 8

September 2nd, 2021

Much like laundry, orthodontic health can be more manageable if you get ahead of it.

You wouldn’t skip a well-check at the pediatrician, and you shouldn’t skip an early trip to the orthodontist either. A visit to your orthodontist by age 8 will help keep your child’s oral health in check. And it may help you avoid more costly or more invasive treatments down the road.

How so?

Palatal expander – Your child may be a good candidate for palatal expansion, which can make the upper jaw wider and help to reduce crowding in abnormally narrow arches. Ideally, a palatal expander is used when a patient is still growing. Expansion occurs when the growth plate or suture in the middle of the palate is stretched and the two halves are pushed apart. As the two halves are spread, new bone is added.

In younger patients, palatal expansion may reduce the need for extractions or prevent impacted teeth. Cases not corrected in growing patients may require surgery for correction in adulthood and may lead to abnormal wear or bite problems if not corrected at all.

Early interceptive treatment–Sometimes a short time in braces can correct problems early on to prevent larger problems later.  An example of interceptive treatment is correcting an anterior cross bite or severe crowding or severe buck teeth.

Tooth removal – Sometimes removing baby or impacted teeth can help permanent teeth emerge better and encourage them to come in closer to their ideal position even without an orthodontic appliance. Dr. Holt will suggest the best time for extractions to take advantage of your child’s growth and development. Getting them into the orthodontist early allows you to receive the optimum treatment for them.

Not all early visits result in orthodontic treatment

One of three things could happen following your child’s first appointment at Holt Orthodontics. 

  • There may be no need for treatment at that time. We are thrilled when we can pat the kiddo on the back and tell them they will go on observation for another year or so. 
  • Treatment may be necessary in the future, so the child will be followed periodically while the face and jaws continue to develop.
  • A problem already exists that would benefit by early treatment, and you are in the right spot to get started!

Holt orthodontics offers free consultations, so there’s no reason to wait. We are very conservative and ONLY recommends treatment when it is clinically indicated and when it is the best time for your child.  Hope to meet you soon! :)

Where Should You Go for Braces – Your Dentist or Orthodontist?

May 4th, 2021

People may think that orthodontists are for kids, but orthodontists are actually specialists in straightening teeth and correcting the bite in patients of all ages. Today, many dentists offer some kind of treatment for better aligning and straightening the teeth. So, with both dentists and orthodontists offering tooth alignment how do you know where to go?  It is important to understand the differences in care or treatment you may receive by a dentist versus an orthodontist.

What is the difference in training for a dentist and an orthodontist?

Dentists and orthodontists specialize in different things. Dentists are experts at keeping the mouth clean and the gums healthy. They are experts in providing restorative care such as fillings and crowns and even some cosmetic dental procedures such as bonding or veneers.  An orthodontist is a specialist in straightening teeth and aligning the bite.

It’s like many other areas of medicine, the patient has the choice to go to a generalist or a specialist. If you think you have skin cancer – do you want to see your family medicine doctor or do you seek out a dermatologist, someone who is a doctor first and then had specialty training in the skin?  If you have a heart issue, do you want to see a generalist or a cardiologist who has trained for many years in specific, accredited residencies, fellowships, etc.

Orthodontists first become dentists by attending four years of dental school and then go on to complete another two and a half to three years of specialty training in a recognized and accredited residency.  During that training they look at orthodontic cases every day – working with mentors and faculty to learn the best techniques to align teeth in a comfortable, efficient, and esthetic manner.  They also study journal articles, conduct research projects, and read literature reviews on straightening and aligning teeth and improving bites. Through this training, that takes place both in a classroom setting and in a clinic setting, orthodontists learn to treatment plan the best outcome for each individual patient.  Only orthdontists can say they have been trained specifically to obtain the most ideal esthetics and bite for each patient.

Through this extra specialty training an orthodontist hones their skills and ability to diagnose and treatment plan the complex issues associated with bite fit and tooth alignment. That expert skill comes from the repetition of treating only orthodontic cases plus the expertise from large amounts of research and literature study.  The thought is, do you want a doctor that does 5 knee repairs a year or a doctor that does 5 knee repairs a week operating on your knee?  The same is true in orthodontics—they only do braces and Invisalign and retainers so they are the experts at tooth alignment.

General dentists, on the other hand, do not have any formal orthodontic training. They are usually trained on using clear aligners to straighten the teeth through a weekend course or by a sales rep for the product they are selling. They do not have detailed training in smile design or bite alignment and the techniques necessary to get the teeth to come together properly, whereas an orthodontist has gone through rigorous training and testing as a part of their education.

What is the difference in treatment?

While all patients expect the end product of orthodontic treatment, whether by a dentist or an orthodontist to be a beautiful, confident smile and straight teeth, they do not always understand or value the importance of treating those things that are not seen outwardly. Ultimately the alignment of the bite is important for the longevity of that beautiful smile and helps to prevent uneven wear or cracking or chipping teeth as you age.  An orthodontist is an expert in assessing and correcting bite issues and the way the teeth fit together, and treating issues such as a crossbite, overbite or underbite, this helps to keep teeth healthy for years to come.

Orthodontists are also true experts in what is known as the “detailing phase” of treatment - the last six months of treatment. At this point they are working on the micro level – fine tuning and detailing each tooth in this finishing phase. They look at each tooth three dimensionally and make sure it has the very best placement. They assess the tip, torque, and angulation, of every tooth and insure it is positioned correctly next to its neighboring teeth as well as the opposing tooth.

An orthodontist has several types of braces available to them -  metal braces, ceramic braces, and Invisalign, also known as clear aligners.  An orthodontist assesses each patient individually and recommends the type of braces necessary to achieve both the bite corrections and have a great looking smile. Dentists, on the other hand, primarily stick to the Invisalign or a generic version even if the patient would benefit from traditional braces. While many patients are good candidates for clear aligners, there are certain cases where it is not the right product and will not provide the proper correction of the teeth. Only an orthodontist who is specialty trained is  able to offer all options and decipher which treatment modality is best for the individual patient.

Understand Your Insurance Coverage for Braces

One thing that is often misunderstood is how dental insurance companies help to pay for orthodontic treatment. Insurance companies usually have a lifetime maximum benefit for orthodontic treatment. So once you use that benefit for orthodontic treatment, it does not renew. For most other dental benefits you have a preset amount for the year and that renews with each year. For orthodontic treatment insurance companies consider it a one-time benefit, regardless of where you seek care.

Orthodontists commonly see patients in their office who have started by seeking treatment from their family dentist or even have tried ordering clear aligners on-line for a discount, who come to realize that they are not happy with the end result.  These patients usually need additional treatment. In these cases, their insurance benefit for orthodontics has already been used and these patients then need to pay out-of-pocket for any additional treatment necessary to straighten or correct their teeth.  So, it is always  more economical for the patient to start with a specialist and get the right result the first time.

If you are interested in straightening your teeth and want an excellent result, start with an orthodontist. Dr Holt and his team offer a complimentary visit (worth $300) that includes a set of 8 photos, a digital panoramic x-ray, and a personal consultation with Dr. Holt.

 

Buyer Beware of Direct-to-Consumer Orthodontics

March 22nd, 2021

 

If you’ve seen advertisements or considered programs where you can straighten your teeth by buying clear aligners on-line or through the mail, think again. The American Association of Orthodontists ("AAO") recently issued a consumer alert for direct-to-consumer orthodontics and has raised serious concerns about this service because there are over 1000 customer complaints and consumer horror stories on the Better Business Bureau's website for SmileDirectClub and other companies that sell options to straighten teeth by ordering clear aligners through the mail.

Consumers are often lured into these programs by the lower cost or convenience, but unfortunately, they don’t often understand how it works and they are unaware that there is no oversight by an orthodontist. In fact, unless you live in an urban area where you can go in and have a tech provide a scan of your teeth, you will most likely take your own impressions of your teeth with a putty at home.  Once you do that and mail it in, they ship you a set of plastic trays that you wear to align your teeth.

There are several problems with this model:

  • There is no dental assessment to see if you are a good candidate for clear aligners to straighten the teeth. Some individuals with more complex issues need metal braces to achieve a well-aligned bite and a healthy smile
  • There is no exam to assess dental, periodontal, jaw or joint health to determine if you will do well with the treatment. Additionally, there is no oversight of changes that may occur over the course of treatment.
  • There is no tracking or monitoring of progress or the movement of the teeth, which means there is not an opportunity to make needed adjustments along the way.
  • When the treatment time is up and you have cycled through all the sets of aligners, that’s the result you get, and it is a result that many people are unhappy with.

While people are often unhappy with the end result because their teeth are not straight or they didn’t achieve the result that they had hoped for, it’s important to note that the consequences can be even more serious. When you are moving teeth, if not done correctly, it can lead to potentially irreversible and expensive damage such as tooth and gum loss or a misaligned bite.

Who is the right candidate for straightening teeth with clear aligners?

 When people want straight teeth one of the first things that an orthodontist will do, beyond a dental health assessment, is to determine the best method or technique to use to straighten the teeth. Clear aligners, such as Invisalign, are not always the right option for every person. An underbite or overbite, jaw or joint pain, uneven tooth wear or a misaligned bite are all signs that metal braces may be needed to achieve an optimal result. These individuals with more complex cases or bite-related problems would not be ideal candidates for clear aligners.  Orthodontists would instead recommend regular metal braces, because they can be more aggressive with the treatment, predict the outcome more accurately and achieve a more optimal result.

The right candidate for clear aligners is often someone in their thirties, fourties or fifties who had braces when they were younger and may have had some movement in their teeth.  Sometimes this is because they didn’t wear their retainer or as they have aged the jaw has changed shape which has caused some aesthetic shifting. Clear aligners are ideal for these patients who have a good bite and generally well-aligned teeth.

Benefits of seeing an orthodontist

If you want to achieve the best result, you best see an orthodontist.  Orthodontists attend dental school and then complete another three years of training beyond that specifically in orthodontics, facial development and the biomechanics of the jaw. They are uniquely qualified and dedicated to getting the best possible outcome.  When seeing an orthodontist you can expect:

  • That you will have a complete and thorough oral health assessment to determine if you are a good candidate for orthodontic treatment and identify any underlying periodontal concerns.
  • To form a relationship with your doctor and create mutually agreed upon goals for straightening your teeth.
  • You will receive the right kind of braces for your individual treatment plan – sometimes that is clear aligners, other times it may be metal braces, or some combination of both.
  • Your progress will be monitored every step of the way. The doctor will monitor your teeth to ensure they are tracking with the digital treatment plan and a 3D model of what the teeth are supposed to look like at each stage of the process. As they compare the teeth in the mouth and the bite to that digital model, they make necessary adjustments, because sometimes additional techniques or modifications in the treatment plan are needed to achieve the optimal result.

Keep in mind that even though some cosmetic dentists now offer clear aligners, they still do not have the additional years of specific orthodontic training that is critical for treating complex cases and achieving superior results.  An orthodontist is not just focused on the aesthetic look of the smile, but rather the underlying health of the jaw, the bite and the alignment.  It’s proper alignment that helps to maintain a healthy jaw and avoid problems with sore joints and chipped or broken teeth from uneven wear you age. The truth is, good orthodontic care keeps you mouth not only looking great, but feeling great for a lifetime!