W7154 Green Valley Rd Spooner, WI 54801-8651(715) 635-7888

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  1. How often should children see a dentist?   The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends “First visit by first birthday.”  The American Academy of Pediatrics agrees.  After this, most children should be seen every 6 months for checkups and preventive care.  This is because many children have diets rich in sugars and have oral hygiene skills that are less well developed.  Further, growth and development of the teeth and jaws during the critical early and mixed dentition phases must be monitored closely.  Changes occur relatively rapidly in children.
  2. How often should adults see a dentist?   The recommended frequency for preventive care visits to the dentist varies among individuals, based on suspected or known risks for dental disease.  For most individuals, twice per year (once every 6 months) is appropriate.  Some individuals who maintain excellent home care and have experienced little or no disease for many years can do well with visits once per year.  Those who have received a diagnosis of periodontal disease (gum disease), those who smoke, those who have certain chronic disease conditions, and those who have a demonstrated high risk for dental disease in the past should consider a shorter interval (3-4 months) between visits.
  3. What should I expect during my appointment?   You should expect to be greeted by one of our friendly and competent staff, upon your arrival.  You should expect to be treated with courtesy at all times.  You should expect that your private and confidential information, including all information that pertains to your dental condition and your general health, be kept in complete confidence.  You should expect complete disclosure of fees and costs in advance of any treatment.  You should expect continual awareness of and sensitivity to your needs for comfort.  This includes temperature comfort (warm blankets are available), back and neck comfort (special cushions and fully articulating headrests), noise masking (stereo headphones and I-pod based music), freedom from pain (numbing gels, nitrous oxide analgesia and very careful and gentle local anesthesia), and freedom from anxiety (conscious sedation).  You should expect to be treated as if you are the most important person in the world – which you will be, to us, at that moment!
  4. What does “painless dentistry” mean?   The mouth has more nerve endings per square centimeter than just about any other place in the human body.  Anyone who has experienced mouth pain knows this is true.  The avoidance of pain is one of the strongest motivators to engage in preventive dentistry.  Fear of pain, especially fear of “the needle” is also one of the most common reasons given for staying away from the dentist.  Fortunately, with modern methods and modern local anesthetic solutions, the mouth can be made completely numb in virtually every situation and location.  A number of local anesthetic solutions, differing in potency, speed of action and length of action, are available.  This allows us to customize the local anesthetic to your individual situation.  The use of topical anesthetic (numbing gels), the use of very small gauge (27 gauge or even 30 gauge) needles, plus very careful and patient technique, can render the experience tolerable for nearly everyone.  And once the desired area is numb, virtually any dental procedure can be accomplished pain free.  It is also true that anxiety regarding dental procedures can have an adverse affect on the perception of pain.  People who are highly anxious about the visit often have a much lower pain threshold, perceiving even small intrusions as huge.  Therefore, lowering or even completely eliminating anxiety through the use of anxiety reducing drugs and/or nitrous oxide can indirectly also reduce the perception of pain, especially the discomfort related to “the needle”.  It is not only possible to have painless dentistry, it is the norm.  Your dental visits should always be comfortable and pain free!
  5. What if I am extremely anxious about visiting the dentist?   Anxiety in anticipation of visiting the dentist (so-called “dental phobia”) is very common.  You should not be embarrassed nor should you feel guilty if this term describes how you feel before a dental visit.  Fortunately, there is an easy solution.  Dr. Bakkum is trained and licensed in the delivery of non-intravenous conscious sedation.  There are multiple levels of sedation available, from mild anxiolysis (reduction in anxiety) to conscious sedation that can completely eliminate anxiety and most to all memory of the experience.  With careful pre-planning, it is even possible to provide this type of assistance for your initial examination visit.  If you have anxiety about your dental visit, and especially if your anxiety is strong enough to keep you from seeking the care that you need, please mention this to one of our competent staff when you make your first phone call.  We can guide you through the steps that will allow you to conquer this problem once and for all!
  6. What if I have a dental emergency?   Some would say that there is no pain worse than dental pain.  Further, dental infections can pose great risk to one’s general health and even one’s life.  And finally, accidents that involve the mouth and teeth do occasionally happen.  Those are the “Big Three” that constitute the vast majority of dental emergencies:  pain, infection and trauma.  True dental emergencies will always be addressed at the earliest possible time, nearly always on the same day that you call, even if this means that Dr. Bakkum and staff stay after normal business hours.  Dental assistants that work in Dr. Bakkum’s office understand this and participate in a late call schedule. Your safety and health will always be of the highest priority.  If an emergency develops for you at a time when the office is not open (evenings, weekends), Dr. Bakkum can be reached by calling his cell phone and, if necessary, leaving a message.  For the times when Dr. Bakkum will not be available by phone (vacations), competent back up coverage will always be arranged.  Necessary information, including phone numbers, can be obtained from the after-hours answering machine.  You will never be left “high and dry” with a dental emergency.
  7. Do you accept my insurance?   We accept most insurance plans and will, as a courtesy to you, file claims on your behalf.  While we cannot guarantee insurance coverage, we do have an extensive database of historical coverage and benefit information for many plans.  Often our computer software can estimate coverage for you based on this alone.  It is helpful if you bring your insurance card to your visit.  This will not only help us file your claim, but will allow us to estimate your coverage with greater reliability.  If you have a document that lists the coverages and restrictions of your contract, we can often estimate your coverage even more accurately. We can also do pre-treatment estimates, though this will delay the delivery of care. We do not participate in certain PPO plans that dictate deep discounts.  Participation with these plans would necessitate unacceptable compromises in the quality of care.  
  8. Are payment plans available for my dental treatment?   Normally, payment for services (or the estimated remaining portion after insurance) is expected on the day of service.  However, we recognize that this may not always be possible.  For those situations, we do offer some options for payment over time.  We also offer Care Credit (a credit account that can finance your dental care for you).  We will be happy to review all of your options for payment with you personally, and we will do all that we can to make it possible for you to receive the care that you need.
  9. Do you whiten teeth?   Absolutely!  Teeth whitening is a safe and proven method of making a smile brighter.  It is important to know that existing restorations in front teeth (such as crowns or white fillings) can not be made whiter by bleaching.  Bleaching only works on natural enamel.  If you are not anticipating restorative work on front teeth, there are several very cost effective alternatives for bleaching.  Further, we can actually document the change by photographing your teeth before bleaching, analyzing these photographs on a standardized dental shade spectrum, and then photographing and analyzing again upon completion of bleaching.  If you are anticipating some restorative work on front teeth (crowns or fillings), it is a great idea to bleach first, using the same cost-effective methods. Then the new restorations can be matched to the whiter natural teeth that are nearby.  The result can be a stunning improvement in your smile!
  10. Can you fix a badly broken tooth?   Modern methods and materials allow for some amazing aesthetic reconstructions of badly broken down teeth.  Metal is rarely used in dental restorations anymore. For example, we rarely place porcelain fused to metal crowns.  This type of restoration has historically been the mainstay of aesthetic crowns, and there are many of them still in service.  However, newer crowns that are computer milled from precision scans afford improved aesthetics, improved optical properties, improved fit, improved soft tissue response, and in some cases improved strength.  Even fixed bridgework can be made from some of these materials.
  11. Are amalgam (silver) fillings a good idea?   This office does not place amalgam (so-called “silver”) fillings.  Regardless of how one feels about the mercury contained in these fillings, we believe that amalgam fillings, while easy and cheap to place, are not only ugly but profoundly bad for your teeth over time.  It is true that the perfect restorative dental material has yet to be invented.  Modern composites (white or tooth-colored fillings) have been improved a great deal in recent years.  They can be bonded (amalgams cannot), they do not expand with age (amalgams do), their initial seal is much better than amalgam, and of course they look much better than amalgam.  If a conservative and inexpensive filling is desired, composite is the material of choice, given the state of the art and science today.
  12. Is soda pop really that bad for me?   Unfortunately, yes it is.  And it is not just soda pop.  Numerous other sweetened beverages are equally as bad.  Among them are most so-called sport drinks, Kool Aid, and chocolate milk.  It even includes most fruit juices.  For the teeth, the combination of a low pH (high acidity) and concentrated simple sugars encourages the growth of dangerous strains of bacteria in the biofilm normally found on the teeth and also overwhelms the natural buffering action that healthy saliva normally affords.  The result is demineralization of the enamel followed closely by cavitation:  cavities, or decay.  For our general health, the empty calories found in these beverages can contribute to obesity (with all of the accompanying health issues).  The acidity places a load on normal physiological systems that maintain balance, and the repeated sugar loads place heavy demands on the pancreas, increasing the risk of developing diabetes.  These beverages are just plain a bad idea!
  13. How can missing teeth be replaced?   For most of the history of dentistry, there were only two ways that a missing tooth or teeth could be replaced: removable appliances (full or partial dentures) or fixed bridgework.  Now a third way is available: implants.  In many, even most situations, implant based tooth replacement has become the preferred method.  All three methods are available in this office, with no need to drive to a specialist far away.
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