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February 11, 2014
If you have been a patient here at Fox Valley Dental Care for a while, you may have noticed that recently we have been wearing these strange, very blue, exam gloves. And while they may look like something that we would be wearing if we were cleaning the kitchen sink, I can assure you there is a reason for our odd choice of hand wear.

Did you know that 1% of the population is allergic to latex? Latex is derived from the milky sap of the rubber tree and used extensively in the production of medical and dental products including examination gloves. Up to 15% healthcare workers are or become allergic to latex. There are three types of latex allergies that vary in terms of severity.

The most serious reaction is called an IgE mediated Type 1 reaction. This systemic reaction can cause hives, angioedema (swelling), rhinitis (inflammation of the tissues inside the nose), asthma, and/or the potentially life threatening anaphylaxis. Prompt medical treatment is essential.

The second and non-life threatening allergic reaction would be a cell mediated Type IV contact dermatitis. This is usually limited to where the skin contact occurred and can result in skin irritation, redness, blistering, and rash.

The last reaction that we see is not a true allergy but an irritant dermatitis. Constant washing of the hands, gloves on and off... your hands can get irritated, dry, and itchy. Annoying but no big deal.

In the past, when a patient with a known latex allergy would come in, we would switch to non-latex gloves. But what of the patient with an allergy that has yet to be diagnosed or recognized as such? We want to protect everyone, not just those who know about their condition, thus we have switched to using non-latex gloves exclusively.

So at your next appointment, if you see us wearing our “new blues” its not because we were just cleaning the bathroom. Its because we want to create the safest dental work environment for everyone that we can.

If any of you has a suggestion, comment, question, or an idea about a topic that you would like me to address on our blog, please don’t hesitate to contact me: tom@fvdc.com. Until next time...

Posted by FVDC Office on February 11, 2014 at 3:39 PM
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December 9, 2013
Hello everyone. I hope that your Thanksgiving was fun and meaningful. We are in full holiday mode here at the office, getting all the decorations up, trying to squeeze in all the patients who want to use up their left over insurance money, and enjoying the Christmas songs that we get to play for about a month each year.

I was asked if I was afraid that some folks might be offended by the Christmas music that we play. I don’t hide that fact that I am a follower of Christ and how I run my office is no exception. But I also want to be sensitive to those of other faiths or to those without any religious affiliation. Here is my take.

What do we do every Jan 21st? We celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. What do we do every Feb 18th? We celebrate the birth of George Washington. These are two great and influential men whose birthdays provide us with a day to remember them and their contributions to our society, our culture, and what it means to live a life that made a difference for the better. As a Christian, Christmas means the coming of the Savior and so much more. But at its most basic level, Christmas simply commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. And birthdays are a cause for celebration. There are conflicting opinions of who He was and what His life meant, but I would hope that simply acknowledging the birth of the most important, influential, and controversial person to ever live would be no different than celebrating the birth of King or Washington.

Some question if He ever even lived at all. Why celebrate a fictitious birthday?

Unless you simply choose to ignore the pages of history, it is extremely difficult to argue that Jesus never existed. There is just too much historical and literary evidence demonstrating that Jesus really did walk this earth, live a sinless life, and die on a Roman cross. NOT counting the Bible, there are actually more literary references to His life than there are for Tiberius Caesar. If we then include the pages of Scripture, there are almost 5 times as many ancient writings about Jesus Christ than for the Roman Emperor. To doubt His existence, is to doubt history (a great reference summarizing all the evidence can be found in a book by Dr. Norman Geisler and Frank Turek entitled “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist”). The evidence is pretty convincing. Jesus was “in the building.”

Most world religions see Jesus in a positive way. Both the Quran and Jewish texts, at the very least, view Jesus as a good man, a wise teacher, and someone worthy of respect. And while our Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, and other non-Christian brothers and sisters might not profess faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior who gave Himself in payment for our wrongs so that we may be right with God, that doesn’t mean that it's inappropriate to celebrate His birthday. Celebrating Christmas doesn’t make you a Christian. Celebrating Christmas doesn’t mean that you have claimed Christ as your Savior. So if all you do on Christmas is to acknowledge the birth of Jesus, that’s ok. It's ok to say Merry Christmas. It's ok to call it a Christmas Tree. And after all, it's a birthday and unless we are talking about remembering the birth of a bad person (and we’re not), birthdays are reasons to celebrate.

I realize that a dental blog should focus on dentistry, so I apologize for not mentioning teeth (easy on the candy canes and in a pinch, tinsel can be used as floss :-) ). But for a Christian, Christmas (like Jesus Himself) brings hope, peace, meaning, encouragement, reason, strength, and salvation. I would hope that such things would not be considered offensive. No offense is intended. And if there is something (or someone) that brings people happiness and enrichment, that is reason enough to celebrate, even if you are not one of them. I wish everyone, whether you are a Christ follower or not, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year in 2014.

Peace.

Posted by FVDC Office on December 9, 2013 at 9:56 AM
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September 23, 2013

Well, its been three weeks now that our new dentist, Dr. Saema Qadri DDS, has been with us. I have several thank you's that I need to mention.

First off, thank you Saema for choosing Fox Valley Dental Care as the practice that you wanted to work with. You have been a breath of fresh air as you bring a brightness to the office with a smile and a willingness to treat our patients with such tenderness and care. Starting your career right out of dental school can be a challenge, yet you have handled yourself exceedingly well. Welcome to our practice. 

And second, I'd like to thank the patients of Fox Valley Dental Care who have been seen by Dr. Qadri. Thank you for your willingness to give "the new kid on the block" a chance to put to good use all those skills that have taken years to develop. As Dr. Qadri is settling into her role her, she has been so busy asking questions, learning about the particular materials and techniques that we implement that might be different than the has become accustomed to at the dental school. She has been like a sponge, soaking up information and putting into practice as much as I can teach her. As a dentist that has been practicing in Elgin for over 21 years now, I may know more, but from a skill set standpoint, she will quickly pass me up, as Dr. Cathy (our other associate dentist) has already done.

We look forward to a long and fruitful run, treating the wonderful families that we have the privilege of seeing throughout the year. See you next time! Blessings!

 

Posted by FVDC Office on September 23, 2013 at 6:05 PM
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September 10, 2013

Ok, so this is coming more than a week from the last blog as promised, but I have a good excuse.... I didn't get to it. I know. I know. Not much of an excuse but the truth shall set you free.... free to finish out this series on insurance.

We've talked about every kind of dental insurance plan except the big two: PPO's and Usual & Customary (U&C). To review,  U&C plans are the king. You have the same benefits anywhere you go and you don't have any restrictions as far as choosing a provider. PPO's on the other hand still offer you the ability to go where you want but if you choose to go to a non-participating dentist, you benefits are not as good.

The benefits of having a U&C plan are obvious. But as our economy has tightened, we are seeing employers shy away from this type of coverage. You get what you pay for and U&C insurance is typically much more expensive for an employer to provide. Most larger employers have thus opted to go with a PPO type of plan. And with all these PPO's, its important to understand them at least a little.

From the patients perspective, PPO's work quite well. An employee will get a list of "preferred" or "participating" providers within a PPO network. Although a person can go to any dentist or dental specialist of their choosing, they will get a better deal from a financial point of view if they go to one of the dentists whose name is on that PPO list. Participating dentists have agreed to accept a lower than normal fee schedule that they are typically used to charging in exchange to that preferred provider status. Patients can save anywhere from 10-30% off per procedure. Why would a dentist accept a 10-30% pay cut in joining a PPO? Chalk it up to a marketing expense. Having your name in a PPO book gets you exposure to hundreds if not thousands of potential patients and having a patient in the chair getting a 10-30% discount is better than having no one in the chair! The Elgin area is saturated with large employers who offer PPO insurance plans. In order to accommodate this patient base, our office participates in most of the major PPO plans and as our patient population has grown and we have added new products, new services, and new associate dentists, it has been a wonderful relationship. We are blessed to have patients to help with their dental needs, and the patients have access to quality care at a reduced rate. Everybody wins!

 What will the future hold? No one knows for sure, but one possible type of insurance that is becoming more and more prevalent is something called direct reimbursement. Basically, this is a situation where an employer has eliminated the middle man.... eliminated the insurance company. A patient will come in for dental treatment and the payment (in full or in part depending upon the type of treatment) would be made by the employer directly. There are several great things that happen under this type of system. There are no insurance premiums to pay by the employer or the employee and no restriction as to dentists or treatments. All the treatment decisions are between the doctor and the patient, as they should be. The amount of benefit on a yearly basis would not change and any insurance company imposed restrictions, treatment can proceed unobstructed. Knowing that only half of Americans go to the dentist on a regular basis, the employer would no longer be paying insurance premiums for patients that do not use the insurance anyhow. It can save the employer money offer better access to care for the employee. A good system indeed.

If you ever have any questions regarding insurance companies or your coverage, don't hesitate to give us a call. We have been in the dental business for a good many years (I can't believe I've been a dentist for 21 years now!!!) and know all the ins and outs of the insurance side of things. So please give us a call. See you soon!

Posted by FVDC Office on September 10, 2013 at 5:34 PM
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August 20, 2013

Howdy Gang,

 I'm back from vacation and ready to do some blogging!

Last time, I talked about the different kinds of dental insurance. Today, I'd like to comment on discount plans and dental HMO's. 

 One of the things that I really like about the dental community is that most dentists are very willing to offer their own discounts to patients that are not covered under any dental plans. Although the amount of any discount offered by a dental office will vary from office to office, those discounts are typically about the same as the "official" dental discount plans. So if you don't have a "regular" dental insurance plan, before you go out and spend $$ purchasing a discount plan, talk to you dentist directly. You might be surprised at how reasonable we can be. Unless, you are given a dental discount plan for free or as a bonus as part of your health insurance, you might want to take a pass on buying a discount plan yourself.

 The other kind of insurance plan that I'd like to touch on are the dental HMO's. I'm a bit hesitant to speak from the heart here because I don't want to offend anyone. Let me preface my comments by saying that their are some fantastic dentists and dental offices that do a great job at providing quality care for people under dental HMO's (or DHMO's). But after trying to practice myself in an office that accepted DHMO's, I quickly determined that I was not one of them.

Most DHMO's are capitated plans, meaning that the dental offices that are providers are reimbursed by the DHMO on a monthly, per person basis. Other than the monthly-per-person-signed-up-with-the-office check, nothing is submitted to or paid out from the insurance company. For check ups and cleanings, no money is exchanged. The work is done for "free". Any active treatment carries with it a very small patient co-payment that is just enough to cover supplies and sterilization. So how do dental offices survive in an environment of free cleanings and minimal co-payments when something needs attention? Answer: volume and inactivity. If enough people sign up for your office, you will get a big, fat capitation check each month without doing anything. And if no one calls for an appointment (and half of America does not go to the dentist on a regular basis) the monthly check can go a long way.

And that's where I fell off the wagon. It became apparent to me that I would be the most successful under a DHMO if I tried to NOT see patients or at least make it difficult to have access to care. This went against everything that I felt was important as a care provider. And again, I am speaking from my own experience. There are those that make this work and provide amazing care. But for me, my office not only had patients in DHMO's, but also patients with more traditional types of plans. I found it very difficult to treat everyone the same. Patients should have equal access to care no matter what kind of insurance that they have. So soon after starting my own practice, I was out of the DHMO business. 

As I mentioned in my last blog, most DHMO's will only offer coverage if the patient goes to the office that they are signed up with. The patient will be given a list to choose from when they get the insurance and in order to be covered, they have to choose from that list. If your chosen dental office is not a provider and you can't sign up with their office, then you can not be a patient there and have dental coverage. Plans that restrict a persons access to care should be looked over very carefully before committing to them. There may be a better plan that is better suited for today's dental patient. Maybe you can read about them next week.... right here.... see you then.

 

Posted by FVDC Office on August 20, 2013 at 7:13 PM
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August 6, 2013

Howdy Gang! The number one question that we are asked when a new patient calls our office is whether or not we take their insurance. There are some misconceptions about dental insurance that I would like to address over the next few weeks. This entry will focus on the different types of dental insurance. The five main types are Usual & Customary, PPO, HMO, Direct Reimbursement, and Discount. Here is how those shake out....

Usual & Customary: This is the carte blanche of dental insurance plans and easy to understand. You may choose any dentist or dental specialist that you like and your benefits will be the same. No provider restrictions. Benefits are based on percentages and have annual maximums.

PPO: Most insurance carriers offer dental PPO's. Under this type of plan, the insurance company has negotiated a reduced fee schedule with certain dental offices who are willing to do the dentistry at a reduced fee. They are termed "participating providers." Members can take advantage of those reduced rates by going to one of those offices. Members can still go where ever they want, but get better benefits and lower fees by going to someone "in the network." 

DHMO: Dental HMO's are a type of plan where each member gets a list of participating dentists and must choose someone on that list. Co-payments in those offices are greatly reduced or not charged at all. This is great for the patient as our-of- pocket expenses will be minimal. The trade off is that the member has zero coverage if the dental treatment is rendered by someone outside of the DHMO network. 

Direct Reimbursement: This is not true insurance. An employer agrees to reimburse an employee up to a certain limit for any out-of-pocket payments for dental treatment. No questions asked. No provider restrictions. This eliminates the insurance company as the "middle-man."

Discount Plans: This is also not a true insurance plan. Certain dental offices have agreed to discount their fee's by usually 10-20% for services rendered. No insurance submissions. Just a discounted fee. 

 Which plan is best? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Tune in next week for some answers... Until then, keep brushing!

Posted by FVDC Office on August 6, 2013 at 6:31 PM
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July 29, 2013

Hello Again! Hope everyone had a good week. I had one of those weeks that was makes you think... a week that saw some incredible highs but also some hard-to-swallow lows. We finished out several nice cases where everything fit great, felt great, and looked great. I met some wonderful new patients and learned about a new tooth colored filling material that will fit nicely into our practice. But there is another part of being a dentist that has nothing to do with teeth. It has to do with people. I am blessed to no longer view many of my patients as simply patients... so many of you I get to call my friend. We share stories about our lives, our kids, our vacations, our triumphs... but I am also witness to how illness, disease, unemployment, broken relationships, injury, and heartache take their toll. And I got more of the bad this last week than I am used to. When patients become friends, we invest in each others lives. We get to laugh together, pray together, cry together... sometimes all at the same time. I just want to say "Thank You!" to all of you that have come to be more than just patients. And for those of you who are new to the practice, I'm excited to have the opportunity to be at least a small part of this thing that we call life together. See you next week! Tom

 ps: If you live near West Chicago, please stop by Community Fellowship Church this Sunday (August 4) at 11am for the annual Worship On The Hill outdoor service to be followed by food and fellowship. It's always great!

Posted by FVDC Office on July 29, 2013 at 4:25 PM
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