Tips for helping senior patients care for their teeth

There comes a time when the loved ones who taught us how to tie our shoes, comb our hair and cross the street may need our help with some of those same tasks.  And while dealing with this new normal can be a learning experience for everyone involved, there are a few simple suggestions and products available that can help make keeping their mouths healthy one less thing to worry about.

Some older patients may have worn dentures for decades and have no natural teeth, while others may have almost all or all of their own teeth. Regardless of their individual situation, the first step in ensuring good oral health is to schedule an appointment with a dental professional. At Just Wright Dental, we would perform a comprehensive evaluation of the patient’s mouth and teeth.

If the patient no longer has natural teeth and wears dentures, we would evaluate the patient’s mouth and gums. We would also evaluate the patient’s current dentures to ensure a proper fit and that they were not causing sore spots or areas of irritation. This comprehensive evaluation provides the caregiver with a detailed look at any problems or potential problems, and also offers a clearer picture of the patient’s overall oral health. More times than not, a professional cleaning by one of our gentle and thorough hygienists is also recommended at the same time.

Once problems have been identified and a plan established to take care of any issues, helping to create or maintain good oral health habits at home is the next priority. Our hygienists can show patients and their caregivers the best ways to address specific problems, but in general there are a few ways to make home care a bit easier.

The first is to identify the most comfortable and easiest place to brush each day. For most of us that’s the bathroom, but with older patients, it may be the kitchen or dining room. Often, it’s easier for these patients to sit at a table next to a bowl of water, rather than stand at a sink. For patients who are unable to brush and floss without help, it’s important that their caregiver find a position that is comfortable for both parties either behind or sitting in front of the patient so that all of their teeth can be seen and reached.

For older patients who are able to brush and floss by themselves, it is often helpful to look for larger handled toothbrushes. Electric toothbrushes, such as a Sonicare, are excellent because of their over-sized handle and ease of use. If traditional floss is difficult to use, floss holders or flossing picks may be a more manageable solution.

Denture-wearing patients can gently brush their gums and tongue to freshen breath and remove bacteria. They should also make sure they rise their dentures and keep them free from food and debris daily, and following the manufacturer’s instructions on cleaning and soaking.

If you or someone you know is responsible for an older loved one’s care, call us today and let us help with keeping his or her oral health at its best.

Dr. Justin Wright is a general dentist in Corsicana with an affinity for implant dentistry and bow fishing. When he’s not regaling his patients of his outdoor exploits, he’s spending time with his wife Jenni and their two young sons, Cooper and Cy. To learn more about his practice or how he and his team can help you or your family keep your smiles healthy, call 903-225-2330 or visit www.justwrightdental.com

Clearing up the confusion about dental insurance

Somethings in life are pretty easy to understand. Two plus two is four.  Don’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Agree to all suggested bathroom breaks on a road trip. You get the idea. But when it comes to dental insurance, easy might not be the adjective most people use to describe it.

From figuring out co-pays and deductibles to calculating waiting periods and coverage percentages, learning to understand a dental plan can feel like a second job. At Just Wright Dental, our staff goes the extra mile for patients by not only verifying their plans and filing their claims, but also helping patients understand the process.

While every plan – even those covered by the same company – are different, one of the most common questions we hear has to do with in-network or out-of-network providers. There are some dental plans that will only pay out if patients go to a list of providers selected not by the patient, but by the insurance company itself. Most of these plans are HMO or DMO plans. If purchasing such a plan through your employer, the HMO or DMO plan may look to have the least expensive monthly deductible payments, but many patients find they must drive a long distance to get to a provider “on the list.” And many times if they do, the wait time for an appointment can be extremely lengthy.

PPO plans allow patients to go to any dentist they choose. However, with some plans there may be stipulations about in-network and out-of-network providers.  If a doctor chooses to be an in-network provider, he or she basically contracts with the insurance company in question for payment at a set rate. The insurance company provides the dentist with the dollar amounts the company will pay for each procedure, regardless of the provider’s fee for those services. Sometimes, particularly when it comes to cleanings and preventative care, this may mean patients don’t have to pay anything out of pocket in the office. Other times, the patient may be required to pay the difference between the actual cost of the service charged by the dentist and what the insurance company pays. This is why it’s not uncommon for patients who, say for example, were covered by Insurance Company A through their work for years and never had to pay out of pocket for their annual cleanings to suddenly be given a $10 or $20 bill at each visit after their employer changed to Insurance Company B. The set rate Insurance Company A paid for cleanings was more than what Insurance Company B pays.

Some insurance plans pay a lower percentage of those fees to out-of-network providers. And while many people automatically think that means they’ll save more by going to an in-network provider, that doesn’t always prove to be true. If an in-network provider charges higher fees than an out-of-network provider, the patient may not be saving at all.

At Just Wright Dental, we pride ourselves on providing a high quality of service at an affordable price. We work with all PPO insurance plans and offer reasonable third-party financing options and payment plans. Additionally, we created the Wright Savings Plan for patients without insurance or for those who are underinsured or who just aren’t happy with their dental insurance options. This yearly plan gives patients access to all the x-rays, annual cleanings and exams they need for the year for one low price. Plus, it guarantees a discount on any dental work or additional treatment they need for the year.

If insurance issues have kept you from getting the dental care you need, don’t wait any longer. Call our office today and let us help!

Dr. Justin Wright is a general dentist in Corsicana with an affinity for implant dentistry and bow fishing. When he’s not regaling his patients of his outdoor exploits, he’s spending time with his wife Jenni and their two young sons, Cooper and Cy. To learn more about his practice or how he and his team can help you or your family keep your smiles healthy, call 903-225-2330 or visit www.justwrightdental.com

Fluoride treatments can help keep cavities at bay

By Dr. Justin Wright, DDS
Special to the Richland Chambers Progress

Ben Franklin said that, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and while he was talking about fire prevention at the time, his advice is just as true when it comes to dental health.

Give anyone a choice between preventing cavities or having fillings done on their teeth and it’s no secret which option most people would pick. And while there is no 100 percent guarantee against cavities, there are several simple things that can be done to help prevent them.

Establishing good oral habits – brushing at least twice a day, flossing, a getting professional dental check-ups and cleanings every six months – is the easiest and most effective way to prevent cavities and other dental problems. Recently, we discussed dental sealants as a good cavity deterrent for children.

These sealants are typically recommended for children whose permeant molars have recently erupted. A special coating is painted on the molars, providing extra protection against decay during the years when children are prone to forget or not brush as well as they should.

Another option that the Just Wright Dental team recommends, particularly for children is the application of fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in many foods and water. Every day minerals are both lost and added to the enamel of our teeth. Acids formed from the bacteria in our mouths attack the enamel causing minerals to be lost and the enamel to be weakened. Minerals such as fluoride, calcium and more are redeposited to the tooth’s surface in various ways, such as from foods we eat ingest and fluorinated toothpaste.

As long as the amount of minerals lost doesn’t exceed the amount replaced, there is typically no problem. But if tooth enamel isn’t remineralized properly, it can lead to cavities. To help ensure this doesn’t happen, we recommend children receive annual fluoride treatments. These special treatments, which most often are covered by dental insurance, are typically done during a routine dental cleaning. The fluoride coating is applied to the teeth in just a matter of minutes and can provide an extra level of protection against cavities.

While these treatments are most often recommended for children and teens, (particularly those in braces), many adults can benefit from them as well. Patients who have had a lot of recent decay, those who suffer persistent dry mouth or patients who will soon be undergoing radiation treatments, all would benefit greatly from professional fluoride treatments.  Keep your smile strong and beautiful. Call Just Wright Dental today to help ensure a healthier smile tomorrow.

Dr. Justin Wright is a general dentist in Corsicana with an affinity for implant dentistry and bow fishing. When he’s not regaling his patients of his outdoor exploits, he’s spending time with his wife Jenni and their two young sons, Cooper and Cy. To learn more about his practice or how he and his team can help you or your family keep your smiles healthy, call 903-225-2330 or visit www.justwrightdental.com

Justifying the Cost of All-On-4® Implants

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The decision to restore your smile isn’t a small one and choosing between different methods of treatment can be exhausting.  All-On-4® Implants are one of the simplest, most permanent means of restoring original function to your mouth.  Four implants are placed in your bone, and after a brief healing period, a permanent, titanium-reinforced bridge of teeth is placed.  The cost of All-On-4® Implant restorations can cause some to pause, but the benefits of this treatment far outweigh the expense. 

Restoring your mouth serves both a functional purpose as well as the positive psychological impact of a beautiful smile. When your jaw is no longer supported by teeth, over time you can develop a condition known as a collapsed bite.  In addition to the inability to chew food well, it can lead to many secondary issues including headaches, jaw and neck pain and disorders of the temporomandibular joint (or TMJ). 

Instead of replacing individual teeth with implant supported crowns, this method uses four implants, strategically placed using computer guided surgery to determine where the most bone is.  This enables people that have areas of bone loss to restore their smile without the need for bone grafting and can reduce the failure of the implants themselves.

Over the course of a person’s life, the soft tissue of your mouth changes.  Gums recede and as you age your dental ridges may change.  Traditional dentures need to be relined every so many years because they become loose over time.  This can affect your speech, ability to chew well and can cause sore spots in your mouth.  They can also get lost or crack if dropped.  

The cost of All-On-4® Implants is also less over time compared to most traditional dentures. With this method, a precision-milled bridge is directly and permanently cemented into place over the implants themselves and don’t rely on the soft tissue for support.  When the implants are placed, a provisional bridge with be inserted while your tissue heals, and the implants integrate into your bone. Once this healing time passes, a permanent titanium-reinforced bridge will be cemented over the implant abutments.  There is no relining necessary and they won’t get lost in your purse or accidently be thrown out.  There’s also no need for sticky, goopy denture adhesives and you’ll always be able to speak clearly without worry of your dentures slipping. Chances are you’ll forget they’re even there – try doing that with traditional dentures!

With dedicated home care and regular in-office cleanings and exams, the All-On-4® Implant method can last many years and restore function to your mouth and give you the self-confidence to smile.  The cost of All-On-4® Implants may seem like a big investment, but the ability to chew and a beautiful smile are priceless. 

Dr. Justin Wright is a general dentist in Corsicana with an affinity for implant dentistry and bow fishing. When he’s not regaling his patients of his outdoor exploits, he’s spending time with his wife Jenni and their two young sons, Cooper and Cy. To learn more about his practice or how he and his team can help you or your family keep your smiles healthy, call 903-225-2330 or visit www.justwrightdental.com

Helpful hints to keep extractions from becoming a pain

Getting a tooth pulled is generally never on anyone’s Bucket List. But should an abscess, injury or decay make an extraction necessary, there are few things to keep in mind that can make the process a minor bother rather than a painful ordeal.

At Just Wright Dental, we understand that extractions can seem scary to some patients and certainly not fun for any. That’s why our highly-trained team provides a thorough examination to determine the cause of the problem and provide patients with all of the options available to them, as well as the best course of action. Because each individual is different, our team carefully explains each patient’s treatment needs and also how to care for their gums after an extraction. And while every patient is different, there are a few things that hold true for all extractions.

Sedation Options. While many patients opt to utilize local anesthetic only for simple extractions, we offer a variety of sedation options for patients whose procedure may be a bit more involved or for those who appreciate the comfort of sleeping through their extraction and waking up with no memory of it ever happening. In addition to laughing gas, we also offer oral sedation and monitored IV sedation options in our office.

Antibiotics. These are not needed for every extraction. While some patients will be prescribed a course of antibiotics following an extraction, that is determined on a case-by-case basis in our office. Even abscessed teeth requiring extraction doesn’t automatically mean an antibiotic is needed. In many cases, the tooth is the cause of the infection and once the tooth is removed the infection goes away, without any drugs.

Pain and Swelling. Everyone’s pain tolerance is different. That said, most patients who come to see us for a single extraction report not needing anything for pain – not even an over-the-counter pain reliever. Patients who undergo more difficult extractions, such as wisdom teeth for instance, may find the use of cold compresses and a pain reliever help with discomfort and mild swelling.

Bone Spurs. Because teeth are anchored into the jaw bone, when the tooth root is removed, tiny pieces of the bone can splinter off. Think of pulling a screw out of a board – same idea. Sometimes, these tiny bone fragments or spurs will start working their way through the gums, like a splinter would if you got one in your finger. Occasionally, patients will call concerned that “a piece of the tooth” didn’t get extracted, but in all reality, it’s just a bone spur. These are harmless and will eventually work themselves out with some gentle brushing, but we also encourage patients to in and have them removed as they can also be uncomfortable.

Post-Op Care. Rinsing the mouth with warm salt water, especially after eating and drinking to keep the extraction site clean and free from food and debris is one of the best things patients can do to make sure they heal well after and extraction. Avoiding carbonated beverages, smoking, drinking through straws will lessen the likelihood of developing a painful dry socket, particularly after having wisdom teeth removed. We also recommend avoiding hot, spicy and crunchy foods and sticking to soft foods for a couple of days. Bleeding after an extraction, typically stops after a few hours, but patients who take blood thinning medications, may bleed longer. There is usually no cause for concern and in instances where bleeding seems heavy, we often recommend that a patient bite down on a cool, wet tea bag, as the tannins in the tea help with clotting.

Follow-up Visit. About two weeks after an extraction, we like our patients to return to our office for a quick check-up to make sure everything is healing properly and there are no concerns. Even if everything feels fine, its best to stop in for the 10-minute appointment to double-check to help avoid any unforeseen problems.

Dr. Justin Wright is a general dentist in Corsicana with an affinity for implant dentistry and bow fishing. When he’s not regaling his patients of his outdoor exploits, he’s spending time with his wife Jenni and their two young sons, Cooper and Cy. To learn more about his practice or how he and his team can help you or your family keep your smiles healthy, call 903-225-2330 or visit www.justwrightdental.com

Bone Loss

Missing teeth causes more than just embarrassment

When most folks hear the words, “bone loss,” they often get think of elderly people with osteoporosis. But when it comes to the mouth, it might surprise you to know that bone loss most often occurs whenever a person loses a permanent tooth.

No matter if it’s because of an accident, an infection or damage, when a person loses a tooth – even if it’s one that doesn’t affect the look of their smile – it’s a serious issue.

The jaw bone that holds teeth tightly in place needs the constant stimulation of teeth hitting together to keep it regenerating itself. When one tooth is missing, the bone in that area does not receive the proper stimulation from the tooth root that was once there. Without that, the bone stops growing, and slowly begins to wear away. In the first year after a tooth loss, there is a 25 percent decrease in width of bone and the bone will slowly melt away in height over the next few years. Additionally, because there is nothing to come in contact with, the opposing tooth from the one that’s missing will also begin to become loose and the bone loss cycle continues.

If left untreated, bone loss due to the missing teeth will begin to affect the person’s appearance. Without the proper bone support, the distance from the nose to the chin actually decreases and the lower part of the face collapses. This is why people with many missing teeth have a “sunken” look and often can appear unhappy when their mouths are at rest, simply because their lips and cheeks have sagged without the support of teeth and gum tissues.

While dentures, partials and bridges can provide the appearance of having teeth in places where teeth are missing, they are no means the best option. Dental implants are the closest option available today when it comes to replacing an individual’s natural teeth.

If a patient hasn’t waited too long after losing a tooth and there is enough bone present, a dental implant can integrate into the bone and stimulate it just as a natural tooth would. We have seen many patients who could have avoided dentures and partials all together, if they would have chosen to replace their missing tooth with a single implant.

 If you’re wondering if dental implants would be right for you, call our office today and let us give you a healthy smile you can be proud of.

Dr. Justin Wright is a general dentist in Corsicana with an affinity for implant dentistry and bow fishing. When he’s not regaling his patients of his outdoor exploits, he’s spending time with his wife Jenni and their two young sons, Cooper and Cy. To learn more about his practice or how he and his team can help you or your family keep your smiles healthy, call 903-225-2330 or visit www.justwrightdental.com

Resolve to have a healthier smile this year

A New Year is just around the corner and with it often come resolutions for better, healthier decisions in the year to come. While we can’t help when it comes to losing those extra holiday pounds, the Just Wright Dental team can help you get and keep a healthy, beautiful smile.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the busyness of the holidays, but with the hustle and bustle behind us, it’s the perfect time to schedule the professional dental cleaning you’ve been putting off. During that visit, we will evaluate your teeth and gums for any problems and gently clean and polish your teeth to remove the plaque and tarter that can’t be removed with a traditional tooth brush.

If problem areas are found, we’ll provide you with a detailed explanation of the issue as well as options to correct the problem and estimated cost. In many cases, we can take care of your treatment on the same day, and with our in-office savings plan and third-party financing options, we make every effort to ensure patients can afford the treatment they need.

Once your smile has been checked-out, there are a few things you can do at home to maintain a healthy mouth all year long. 

Brushing for two minutes at least twice a day and flossing is the best thing patients can do to help keep their teeth in the best shape possible. A traditional toothbrush is good; however, we recommend a sonic toothbrush, which we offer to patients at cost in our office. These electric toothbrushes vibrate at 30,000 to 40,000 brush strokes per minute for a superior clean. Regardless of if patients choose a traditional or sonic toothbrush, it’s important to change the brushes when they begin to wear out, which for most patients is about every two to three months.

For patients who don’t like traditional flossing, we also offer oral irrigators, or water picks. This device uses a hand-held tool to force a pressurized stream of water between teeth to help remove food and debris.

In addition to good oral home care, being mindful of what you eat and drink is also important to the look and health of your teeth. Tea, coffee and wine can stain and dull the brightness of a smile, while sodas and lots of sugary snacks can erode tooth enamel and cause cavities.

If you want the best smile of your life this year, call our office today and let us help you!

Dr. Justin Wright is a general dentist in Corsicana with an affinity for implant dentistry and bow fishing. When he’s not regaling his patients of his outdoor exploits, he’s spending time with his wife Jenni and their two young sons, Cooper and Cy. To learn more about his practice or how he and his team can help you or your family keep your smiles healthy, call 903-225-2330 or visit www.justwrightdental.com

Lending a helping hand during Hurricane Harvey

When Hurricane Harvey slammed into Texas at the end of August, there was no doubt the impact would affect the area and its residents for years to come. What I didn’t expect, was how much the experience also would affect me. 

My family and I had retreated for a four-day weekend with my god parents at their log cabin 10,000 feet above sea level in Colorado. Although we’d determined to get away from all electronics while we were there, we couldn’t help peeking in the evenings to see how our friends down south were doing as the hurricane and the water arrived. I told myself there were plenty of folks to go help and that everybody probably would be just fine. In my mind, I judged those who were stuck for fools (some of whom were even close family and friends), because during the four years that my wife Jenni and I lived in Houston, we drove north long before a hurricane got near.   

By Sunday afternoon, two of my friends were calling for help (mainly to help others who lived around them).  My next words to my wife were, "Jenz, I think when we land at DFW, it will probably be best if I drop you and the kids, load the boat, and head south,” as things were deteriorating faster than we first thought.

About that time, my bowfishing buddy and local contractor Bob Peters called to ask if I was going. He said he had a new project and the first day on that job was scheduled for the next day. I replied, "Bob, I just canceled two days of patients. It wasn't cheap nor easy.”  He called me back minutes later and said he and another friend were going to join the rescue effort with their boat. While he went and had magnetic “Rescue Boat” signs made for our trucks, another pair of good friends, Matt Spivey and Kyle Carrigan, headed to my house to ready my boat.

After returning from Colorado to a dry home and safe family, there was no question about my going to help, only how fast I could get there. I hooked up my boat, Leakin’ Billy III (which is actually more sea-worthy than the name suggests), loaded up my truck and headed south with another buddy named Josh Wallen, who I was blessed to have join me on my boat.  

When we arrived in Kingswood, we found a What-a-Burger and H-E-B underwater, along with thousands of completely submerged vehicles, and crazy currents that ripped in between houses and businesses. I expected a certain measure of chaos. I expected fear and desperation. We found some of all of that when we got to Kingswood and the surrounding areas. What I didn’t expect was the humor, hope and heartwarming acts of humanity that ended up making the experience as much if not more of a blessing to me than it was for anyone I helped.  

Our group from Corsicana spent 36 hours in Kingswood and Spring. During that time, we spent about seven hours a day just wet. We’d go into the water and back in the boat, rescuing people from flooded homes, apartments and nursing homes, taking them and their few trash sacks of belongings to higher ground sometimes miles away all while unrelenting rain came down and the water around us came up.

Along the way, we battled insanely strong currents and saw more than one boat capsize. We learned that the local, state and federal authorities on the ground didn’t have any more information than anyone else. Everyone wanted to help, but no one knew where to go. We started following the red helicopter we saw as it tended to hover over areas where the flight crew saw people in need of rescue from the air. The news helicopters flying around were horrible, spraying water in our faces to where we could not see to rescue. Initially, we had to bypass people who had access to a second floor in order to quickly get to those who didn’t. Once we got to people, we struggled to keep our boat balanced and keep passengers still as we worked to carefully make our way back to drop-off points carrying more weight than we ever had before. And then we went back and did it all again, and again. 

There was devastation. There was frustration and there was anxiety. But what I saw was gratefulness, kindness and Texas-sized resilience.  When we came across a three-story assisted living facility that no one had been to yet, our group stopped to help. Some of the residents were quietly gathered on the second-floor landing at the top of a flight of flooded stairs waiting patiently when we arrived. After making several trips to bring people down to my boat, I headed up again and picked up a 95-year-old lady who must have weighed less than 95 pounds. As I gathered her up, she draped an arm around my neck, gave me her best smile and said, “Does this mean we are going to dance?” To which I replied, “Well, of course. What’s your preference?” Without missing a beat she said, “I jitterbug!” 

The last four steps were completely underwater and I remember shuffling my feet as I waded through the main room and out the big front doors so as to not trip and dunk my new dance partner. Still waist-deep in water, we headed down the covered entrance to my boat. She looked at the sheets of rain coming down, likely thinking of her friends still upstairs in need of help, and she leaned back to look at me and smiled. “You think I might could get a RAINCHECK on that dance,” she asked. Ninety-five and she had lost everything except her humor and wit, and she shared every bit of that with me that day. 

There were lots of grateful smiles, heart-felt appreciation and shared laughs from those we helped. And there were lines of volunteers from all across the country wading in beside us. Loads of food, supplies, water, blankets, clothes, animal feed and more poured in almost as fast as the rain. It was amazing to see how quickly and readily strangers became neighbors just lending a hand wherever they could. 

The rain finally stopped, and in Kingswood and the surrounding areas, the water began to recede. Rescuers headed east to Vidor and into Louisiana. We loaded up and headed home with a new appreciation for our families and warm, dry homes. Behind my truck was good, old Leakin’ Billy III, looking quite a bit worse for wear. In the process of rescuing folks, my poor fan boat’s propeller chopped up anything that happened to be under the water – cars, street signs, and who knows what else. 

A mangled propeller is expensive to replace and made the boat useless, but I felt guilty even thinking about that when I knew it happened while I was using it to help people who had lost everything they owned. Over the years, I have constantly reminded myself that God blesses us when we’re faithful. But sometimes, I still ask myself, “Well, who is going to fix it though?”  That thought was still in the back of my mind when I finally asked about the Amazon box from UPS that had been sitting in my entryway for more than a week. I figured it was for my wife. She thought it was mine. Finally, she told me to open it.

What I found inside was not just a brand-new propeller sent anonymously by kind friends Michael and Kristina Kraatz, it was one more example of God’s faithfulness and how he uses people to bless and meet the needs of others in truly amazing ways. 

Dr. Justin Wright is a general dentist in Corsicana with an affinity for implant dentistry and bow fishing. When he’s not regaling his patients of his outdoor exploits, he’s spending time with his wife Jenni and their two young sons, Cooper and Cy. To learn more about his practice or how he and his team can help you or your family keep your smiles healthy, call 903-225-2330 or visit www.justwrightdental.com.