Dr. Chip's Musings



One Way to Improve Dental Insurance… 

            Opinions vary widely on the effectiveness of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare as it is commonly called. One side declares that the ACA has been a huge success, adding health insurance coverage to millions of Americans. The other side declares it an abject failure and is pushing for it’s repeal. In trying to find the truth, one learns that most everything published nowadays tends to lean towards the politics of the writer and/or news source. The true worth or failure of the legislation will only be seen in hindsight, many years from now.

            Disclaimer:  I do not claim to be an expert on politics, insurance law, economics, the U.S. healthcare system, or which political party is right or wrong. I did not even stay at a Holiday Inn last night. As a dentist, I took an oath to help my patients. Under our current system, that promise often means that dental offices are tasked with helping patients to utilize and maximize dental insurance benefits by acting as an intermediary. Being stuck in the middle obviously affects my opinions. On any given day, our team would much rather spend our resources fixing teeth and caring for our patients than waiting on-hold to a call center in Chicago.

            The ACA has few provisions that directly affect dentistry. There has been expanded coverage for pediatric (childhood) dentistry. We can all agree that, at least the intent to help kids, is a good idea. Let’s prevent cavities, teach children how to take care of their teeth, and keep them healthy and free of tooth pain. The implementation and effectiveness of this intent can be debated. See above about hindsight being the true measure of success someday.

            Unfortunately, the law of unintended consequences has led to the ACA having an effect on dentistry. One rumor is that insurance companies are struggling and looking for ways to cut costs. Over the past six months or so, our office has seen a backwards revolution in dental plan coverage. Reimbursement for previously routine preventive procedures, such as x-rays, preventive screenings, and healthy gum cleanings have gone silly. All of a sudden, procedures that used to be covered fully are coming back partially paid or even denied. More and more, insurance plans seem to be trying to dictate the amount and the quality of care that patients receive.

            What happened to physicians years ago is slowly creeping into the dental profession. Without positive change, we may be headed in a bad direction.

            All is not lost, though. Professors and policy makers smarter than me have proposed one solution. That solution is called direct reimbursement. Under direct reimbursement, your employer pays for a certain amount of healthcare spending every year. That gives you, the consumer, freedom to go to whichever doctor or dentist you want and receive the type and quality of care that you decide for yourself and your family. No provider lists, no deductibles, fewer hassles. It cuts out the middle man and allows you to direct your own healthcare dollars.

            Under this system, many argue that healthcare costs will actually be reduced due to pressure from informed consumers. Capitalism at it’s best.

            There are certainly drawbacks to direct reimbursement. It fits dentistry well, but what happens when someone needs tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical treatments? That is a situation where some type of insurance would still need to thrive. Actually, that is the very reason insurance evolved in the first place. To protect one from catastrophe.

            Until next week, keep smiling.

-Please send comments to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.



My Weekday Morning Hygiene Routine…

                It is an unfortunate fact that dentists and dental office employees have about the same dental hygiene habits as the general population. You would think we would all be heroes with a toothbrush, but the statistics just don’t show that. We brush and floss about the same as everyone else. And we should know better!

                As for me, I’d say I fall somewhere in the middle. During the week, I’m not just a hero, but a bonafide superhero with toothbrush, floss, mouth rinse, tongue scraper, breath sprays, and various other hygiene gadgets. I’m deathly afraid of having bad breath, brown teeth, and/or gum disease in our dental office. On the weekends, though, I’ll admit to slacking off a bit. I’m more of a Clark Kent flosser than a Superman flosser from Friday to Sunday.

                We all have our imperfections.

                So what is my dentist-level weekday morning hygiene routine?

                After my second cup of coffee, I rinse well with tap water. I then use a Sonicare toothbrush and brush with a less abrasive fluoride toothpaste for two minutes. Then comes the floss. I really like the yarn kind that is flavored like mint or cinnamon. It seems to get more stuff out and the floss tastes and smells nice. After getting in-between all my teeth (both sides on each pass), I rinse with a fluoride rinse. Act Bubblegum is my current favorite. Then comes another couple of minutes with the Sonicare and a slightly more aggressive stain removing, fluoride toothpaste. I will generally finish it all off with another fluoride rinse and a couple sprays of Binaca.

                Throughout the day, I’ll use mints, breath spray, prescription anti-biotic mouth rinse, water pick, and more brushing to try and keep my breath minty fresh. When you are right in people’s face all day, it’s a common courtesy to try and have fresh breath.

                Obviously, not everyone has a job where they can spend 10-15 minutes a day focused on cleaning their teeth. For most, two minutes of brushing and two minutes of flossing twice a day will do wonders. A fluoride mouth rinse will also help prevent cavities. For others like me who are prone to gum disease, a little more work helps to keep the gum disease at bay.

                At least on weekdays!

                Until next week, keep smiling.

-Please send comments to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.



December 29, 2015
Category: Uncategorized
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And A Happy New Year…

            ’Tis the last week of 2015. Many of us are staring down a four day work week. The week to come will be filled with either the leisure of a year just completed or the frantic pace of a few more things left to accomplish.

            Regardless, 2015 will soon be a memory to us all.

            The void between Christmas festivities and New Year’s revelry is a nice time to reflect upon the past and to plan for the future. Add on a post-Christmas severe winter storm, plus a few less than intriguing college football bowl match-ups, and you get the ideal evening to plan for the future.

            It is time to scheme for 2016.

            During this coming week, many self proclaimed “experts” will talk of past victories and make future predictions. At best, any of us may get fifty percent of the latter correct and will only discuss the fifty percent of the former in which we were correct.

            Predicting the future is a fool’s game. It will be what it will be.

            There is hope, though. We cannot predict the future, but we can all do a few things to make 2016 a little better.

            Get better every day.  Perfection is unattainable. We are all human and will all continue to make mistakes. At our best, we should learn from those mistakes and become a better person each and every day.

            Perform random acts of kindness and pay life forward. The holiday season tends to bring out a lot of good in us all. We give and we love and we are reminded that people matter. What if we were to treat each other like it was Christmas all year long? Help those that need it and appreciate those who have helped us.

            Make someone, anyone, feel special each and every day. Call your mom. Thank a colleague. Text a friend. If we all went out of our way, each and every day, to make someone else feel really special…the world would be a better place.

            May you all have a safe and happy New Year’s celebration. May 2016 be your best year ever.

            Until next year, keep on smiling.

-Please send comments to Drs. Parrish at www.ParrishDental.com.


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