Do I need dental insurance?

Written by: Dr. Sharanya Srinivasa DMD

Many people have dental benefits through their employer. But what about those who don’t? Is it worth it to pay for individual dental insurance? There are many different companies that provide dental insurance. Within each company there are different plans such as PPO, DMO, HMO and etc. Which one is the right one for you?

I am going to be brutally honest and tell you what it best from a dentist perspective. PPO insurance plans are among the best plans for both the patient and the dentist. One reason is that the plan pays the closest to the dental fees. It is marked down to 40% discount from the traditional dental office fees. Usually, the patient has to pay their deductible and a percentage of the procedure, usually 20%-50%.  Insurance will cover the rest. How does this benefit the dentist when they are getting less than what they normally would? The dentist accepts the insurance negotiated rate so their office can appear on the insurance directory, hence getting more patients.

DMO and HMO do not pay for treatment even close to the traditional dental fee rates. They are much lower payments for the dentist but the patient pays a lower copay, or none at all. As a result there are few dentists that accept these plans. Therefore, the wait to get an appointment and the amount of time you spend in waiting room is longer. The dentist is usually overloaded with patients because they will need to see a high volume of patients in order to make ends meet in their business. As a result there may be a lower quality of care provided due to time constraints. This is just a general statement and not all offices provide poor quality care.

In conclusion, it is best to fully research each company and plan to find what is right for you. You may also want to contact the dentist you plan on visiting to see which plans they accept.



My child broke their adult tooth, now what?

Written by: Dr. Srinivasa, DMD of Paramount Dental Care

You know how it goes. Its all fun and games until someone gets hurt. When it comes to your child getting hurt, it is important to first evaluate how serious the injury is. If your child was knocked unconscious or there is heavy bleeding, it is time for a trip to the emergency room. If you are just dealing with a broken tooth and some tears, here is how to proceed.

First things first, call your dentist and make an appointment. If the tooth was knocked out with the root, put it in a glass of cold, milk (preferably whole, not skim) or a Hank’s balanced solution. Do not wrap the tooth in a paper towel or anything dry! If the tooth dries out, this reduces the chances of it being able to be reinserted. Once your dentist has reinserted, the dentist will place a splint to keep the tooth in place so it can heal.

If the tooth was chipped or broken, check your child’s mouth and gums for all pieces of the tooth. Put any pieces you may have found into a cold glass of milk, or a Hank’s balanced salt solution from your local drug store. Have your child hold a clean piece of gauze to the area for 15 minutes to stop any bleeding. You may also administer an OTC pain reliever such as Tylenol for pain. Lastly, it is important to remain calm! Your child may feel stressed out after losing a tooth and it is important to help them feel safe.

For a minor chips, your dentist will most likely file down the tooth until it is unnoticeable.  If you are dealing with a larger break, your dentist may put the pieces back together with a filling material. If a filling material won’t work, a crown may be necessary.

What should I do if I am grinding my teeth?

Written by Dr. Srinivasa DMD, Paramount Dental Care (201) 864-4700

If you often find yourself with a sore jaw, don’t fret. Grinding your teeth, or bruxism is a common problem. When you grind your teeth, you are putting a lot of force on your TMJ joint, your facial muscles and neck muscles. This causes soreness (especially when you wake up in the morning), destruction of your teeth and in some cases can also cause headaches.

Bruxism can be caused by stress, anxiety, smoking, alcohol, caffeine, a bad bite or sleep disorders. It is also very common among people with anxiety and stress, especially those with a stressful work environment. Even children can develop bruxism.

To stop bruxism, oftentimes you must figure out the cause. Try to alleviate stress and anxiety. You should also visit your dentist to have your jaw and bite evaluated. Your dentist may fit you for a night guard, which will prevent you from grinding in your sleep. Your dentist may also refer you to a sleep specialist, who may preform a sleep study to rule out sleep disorders.

Common Myths About Dental Hygiene

By: Dr. Sharanya Srinivasa DMD,, (201) 864-4700

Myth #1: White teeth equal healthy teeth. Even though your teeth may be white, you can still have cavities on different surfaces of your teeth. These surfaces aren’t seen when you are smiling. For example, cavities can form in-between your teeth or on the gum line. You dentist may only be able to see these by x-ray. These cavities may be caused by plaque (food particles, bacteria and minerals) getting stuck in-between your teeth, gum line or the grooves on the chewing surfaces of your tooth.

Myth #2: Gum disease isn’t common. Gum disease is extremely common. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, half of adults age 30 and older suffer from some form of gum disease. Gum disease is called periodontal disease which in layman’s term means bone loss. You can have bone loss and not even know it. It can be diagnosed by dental xrays and a clinical exam by your dentist.

Myth #3: It is ok to drink soda as long as it doesn’t contain sugar. You may think that diet sodas without sugar are the way to go, however all sodas are extremely acidic. Acid weakens your enamel which puts you at risk for cavities. Here is a video of what happens if you leave a tooth in soda.

Myth #4: Brushing your teeth harder will clean them faster and better. Brushing your teeth hard will do more harm than good. Doing this can cause your gums to recede, and can also cause your teeth to be more sensitive. Brushing in a gentle circular motion is the ideal way to brush.

Myth #5: If your gums bleed, you should stop flossing. Bleeding gums can be a warning sign of gingivitis or  periodontal disease. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease.  If you notice your gums bleeding, you should see your dentist for an accurate diagnosis.

Will Charcoal Toothpaste Whiten Your Teeth?

By: Dr. Sharanya Srinivasa DMD,, (201) 864-4700

It seems like you cannot open your Instagram explore page these days without seeing someone brushing their teeth with a sludgy charcoal mixture. What is this stuff? Will it make my teeth whiter?

Charcoal toothpaste is made of activated charcoal, a type of carbon with tiny pores that increase the absorption of chemical reactions. I hate to break it to you, but there is no dental research showing that activated charcoal toothpaste is an effective way to whiten teeth in comparison to professional whitening treatments. In fact, the American Dental Association warns activated charcoal may be too abrasive for tooth enamel.

From my personal experience seeing patients who used charcoal toothpaste (even 1 time per week), the results were not promising. The charcoal powder became embedded in a pocket in-between the tooth and the gum. This formed a gray line below all of the gums. The charcoal also gave a grayish tint to the gums.  However, there was no noticeable whiteness. It appeared that the charcoal made the gums darker in shade, causing the tooth to appear whiter. Hence, not actually whitening the tooth itself.

In my opinion, charcoal toothpaste tricks you into thinking you are naturally whitening your teeth. You  need to brush extremely hard to get the charcoal toothpaste off, causing you to brush more which may give the illusion of a whiter smile. Do not waste time and energy (and tooth enamel!) on this product.

Are Dental X-Rays Harmful?

By: Dr. Sharanya Srinivasa DMD,, (201) 864-4700

Many of my patients arrive to their appointment with questions and concerns about dental x-rays. Dental x-rays are very safe compared to medical x-rays. The amount of radiation is relatively low.

An interesting fact is that every day we are exposed to radiation. Everything in our environment gives off a certain amount of radiation. For example the sun gives off a certain amount of radiation but you wouldn’t spend your life avoiding sunlight. Unless you are a vampire. All joking aside, dental x-rays are one of the lowest doses of radiation within the medical field. In a routine exam, we take 4 bitewing x-rays which is .005 mSv. This is less than 1 day of natural background radiation. It is the same amount of radiation when you fly in a plane for 1-2 hours.

You may be wondering, “Why does my dentist need to take dental x-rays?” Dental x-rays are helpful for many reasons. They help us find decay inbetween teeth that may not be visible to the naked eye. X-rays also help us check for bone loss, cysts, abscesses, infection on the root, and decay under fillings. Dentists may also need to get an x-rays of the bones and teeth before any procedures they perform and to diagnose periodontal disease.

Dental x-rays are a safe, and important part of dental care. X-ray technology helps find dental issues at an early stage, which saves patients time, money and discomfort.

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Fluoride 101

By: Dr. Sharanya Srinivasa DMD

What is fluoride and why is it used in dental care? Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods, as well as city water in certain places. Some natural sources of fluoride are brewed tea, canned fish, cooked kale, spinach, apples, and skim milk.

A lack of fluoride makes you more prone to cavities. Fluoride helps prevent tooth decay by making your tooth enamel more resistant to acid attacks from plaque and acidic foods.The dentist also gives fluoride treatments during the routine cleanings, predominantly for children. This help keeps cavities from forming. Adults can also benefit from fluoride.

Research has shown that communities that have fluoride in the tap water have less cavities than communities that do not fluoridate their water supply.  The amount of fluoride in water is very low and does not cause health related side effects but is needed to maintain oral health.

It is recommended that you have a fluoride treatment once every 6 months. Especially is you are prone to cavities.

Teeth Whitening 101

By: Dr. Sharanya Srinivasa DMD

Regular cleaning visits to your dentist help remove plaque build up and staining from your teeth. Avoiding substances that stain teeth can stop further discoloration, such as cigarettes, coffee, wine and dark tea. You can also maintain whiter teeth by asking your dentist about the available whitening options at their practice. These whitening systems are stronger than what is offered over the counter, and will make your teeth noticeably whiter to friends and family.

Studies of teeth whitening products using 10% carbamide peroxide showed no effects on the hardness or mineral content of teeth enamel surface or existing fillings.

However, please keep in mind that existing restorations such as tooth-colored fillings, crowns, bonding, veneers, and bridges will NOT lighten with any whitening treatments. Pre-existing dental work may need to be replaced to match the new tooth shade achieved in the natural teeth. Your dentist will make you aware of this prior to the whitening procedure, and give you options.

The immediate days after teeth whitening are critical for the teeth whitening process. The tooth’s pores remain open the next few days after teeth whitening which is why your teeth continue to whiten. It is important to avoid foods or drinks with high amounts of artificial coloring, such as ketchup, mustard, coffee, tea, and red wine. For coffee drinkers, if you must have caffeine, try an energy drink, or drink coffee through a straw. Smokers should not smoke during the next few days to get the best results.

Once in-house teeth whitening is complete, a patient can whiten their teeth at home until they achieve a shade that they are pleased with. However, this is not necessary if you are happy with the shade achieved by your dentist. Whitening at home can easily be done with bleaching trays or at home whitening gels. After the desired shade is reached, a patient needs a touch up every three to four months.

At Paramount Dental Care, we offer a variety of whitening plans. Below is an overview of what we offer. Call us today to set up a consultation. 201-864-4700.


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