Thursday, June 26, 2014

Is Your Insurance Company Trying to Decide the Treatment you need?

            If you have dental insurance, chances are you pay hundreds of dollars each year to cover your family for the basics and in case something goes wrong. So if the time comes along that a major procedure is warranted, shouldn’t your insurance provide some help in covering a procedure that will give you the best long term result? The answer should be yes, but you will be disappointed to learn that this is not always the case.

            A common example of dental insurance trying to dictate the treatment you need is when you want to replace missing tooth with a dental implant over a dental bridge. Dental implants are long lasting, cosmetic, functional, and are non-invasive to your other teeth. Over the course of your life, they typically result in the least amount of long term financial investment because they will last longer than a dental bridge. This also means the insurance company will have to contribute less over the long term.  But for whatever reason, many insurance companies will deny you coverage on the dental implant but will approve the dental bridge. Both procedures require a large financial commitment, and the difference in coverage is often the difference maker if you need your tooth replaced. Thus, the insurance company can push you towards one option over another.

            So what can we do if your insurance company denies coverage to a recommended procedure? In some cases, no matter what we do, the insurance company will simply not provide any coverage for certain procedures. But in other situations we can submit a new request for coverage along with a narrative explaining our rationale for the treatment needed. There are times when reason wins and coverage is granted, but unfortunately it doesn’t always work out that way.

            Before signing up with an insurance carrier or package, I would recommend doing some detailed research on what procedures may be covered. If you are overwhelmed by all of this or confused, I encourage you to call us and we can help you sort through what plan may be best according to the needs and dental history of you and your family.

For more information, visit

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Can the Dentist Help with Snoring or Sleep Apnea?

           More and more people are being diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea than ever before. While snoring can be an indicator that you may be suffering from sleep apnea, there are also a number of other symptoms. The first step should be to consult with your physician to determine if you need to undergo a sleep study. Depending upon the findings of the study and the recommendations of your doctor, you may be eligible for an oral appliance to supplement or replace your CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine.
          If snoring is your only issue, there are a number of appliances we can offer to reduce or eliminate the issue. Making a ‘snore guard’ is a non-invasive procedure that requires us taking a number of different impressions of the teeth with your jaw in an altered position. This allows us to dictate how the appliance will fit your jaw to limit your snoring. By pulling the lower jaw forward the correct amount we can help open the airway and help you and your significant other sleep better.
         If you are in search of another option to supplement or replace your CPAP machine, there are times when an oral appliance can be used. However, I believe it is always a good idea that we consult with your physician before making an appliance to help with sleep apnea. Each case of sleep apnea is different, and there are times when it may be appropriate for us to try and there are times where it may not. But much like the snore guard, we can fabricate the appliance with a series of impressions with the lower jaw in an altered position. Once it has been made, we will make the necessary adjustments to achieve the best possible results and we may even recommend another sleep study to verify its effectiveness.

          If you suffer from snoring or sleep apnea and you are looking for a solution, we encourage you to discuss your concerns with us. We can help evaluate your situation and determine if there is an oral appliance that may help. However, I strongly discourage anyone from using over the counter products because of the potential harm that can be done to your jaw if not properly used.

For more information, visit

Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Traditional Dental Implants vs. Mini Dental Implants

            In recent years, mini dental implants have gained some notoriety as an option to help anchor dentures. Some dentists like the idea because they are less invasive and are less likely to have complications with nerves and other surrounding structures in the jaw. Patients like the idea of mini implants because they are less expensive than traditional implants. I want to explain the advantages and disadvantages of each and why we should remain cautious about extent to which mini implants are being used.

            At Brown and Kupper DDS, we have been successfully using traditional dental implants for 25 years. When properly cared for, dental implants can be one of the most successful procedures in dentistry. Millions of dollars of research has shown how and why implants succeed, and the longevity of these studies helps support the validity of these findings. Because mini implants are relatively new, we do not have the benefit of these findings to support their long term efficacy. Until we know more, I believe traditional dental implants to be a safer decision in replacing teeth or supporting dentures.

            But if mini implants are less expensive, is it worth the risk? While they may be of short term benefit, they are less likely to last as long as traditional implants. The mini implants don’t have enough length and width to support the normal biting forces that we typically need to function. And if you have to replace them 2 or 3 times in the span of 1 traditional dental implant, you will end up spending much more than if you did the larger implant from the start.

            Right now, the only time I may recommend the use of mini implants would be in an effort to help stabilize a denture while traditional implants were healing and could not be used. This would allow for immediate use of a denture without disturbing the larger implants. Until more definitive data can support mini implants, we will continue to recommend traditional implants to support dentures and replace missing teeth.

For more information on dental implants, visit

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.

Friday, June 6, 2014

How Do We Check for Signs of Oral Cancer?

            Every time you are in our office for an exam, both the dentist and dental hygienist perform an oral cancer screening. Our goal is to understand you medical history, dental history, and any other risk factors you may have. Using this information we can help identify, treat, or refer you to the right person for any possible treatment.

            To identify any potential areas of concern, we look for colors or lesions that are out of the ordinary. They could be red, white, blue, black and just about everything in between. In most cases the key is to identify these areas, take pictures when necessary, and follow their progress. If these areas continue to change size, shape and color, we will likely recommend a specialist examine and biopsy the area. In more extreme situations where the appearance is more aggressive, we will immediately refer you to a specialist for a biopsy of the area.

            There is technology now available that uses a light or a rinse to look for potential cancerous areas. We currently do not use these tools because we have found they present a large number of ‘false-positive’ findings. This means it shows an overabundance of areas that may be pre-cancerous or cancerous and can lead to over treatment. Until this technology improves, we will continue to conduct our oral cancer screenings without the lights or rinses.

            So what should you look for at home and when do you need to come see us? When you notice something new and it does not go away in 10-14 days, I believe that is a good indication to have the area more closely examined. If you have any history of oral cancer, smoking, or smokeless tobacco it is even more important to see us whenever you are in doubt.

            Like many other types of cancer, oral cancer can go undetected for a long time if you do not maintain regular visits with your doctor or dentist. Even if you do your best to check at home for any irregularities, you should always consult with your dentist whenever in doubt.

For more information, visit us at

Lee T. Brown, DDS

Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.