Monday, October 23, 2017

3 keys to maximize dental insurance

Dental insurance can be confusing

1) know your policy maximums, inclusions, and exclusions

Every policy has a maximum annual allowance benefit. Lets say it is$1,500 per year. That means the policy will pay out to a maximum of $1,500 per year for dental care. If the policy is a PPO plan, this amount is paid at a rate that is pre-determined through an agreement between the insurance company and the doctor. In other words the fees the doctor charges you and the plan are determined by the insurance company.
 Dental insurance plans are usually  negotiated  between an employer and the insurance company. The employer is trying to get the best plan for a set premium (cost). The premium  of the plan determines what procedures will be covered,  For example a lower premium plan may not cover braces, or dental implants,  or have a lower annual maximum payment. It may also not cover replacement of missing teeth that were lost prior to being insured and so on. The patient may still have the procedures done, but the insurance company will not be helping pay for it.

2) know your anniversary dates and waiting periods

Insurance plans usually reload on January 1, but your plan may have a different anniversary date. Some plans have a waiting period for more costly (major) services.  If there is one and you have a major service done before that date, it will not be paid by insurance.

3) know which providers are in your plan.

Providers will either be in your network of out  of your network.  In network doctors are usually all reimbursed the same for the same procedure. Out of network doctors are paid less and are usually able to charge a higher rate for a procedure as they are not contracted to charge the PPO fee. In our area very few specialists are signed up with any of the PPO plans. If you are referred to a specialist, your PPO plan may not apply.

In addition, there are some HMO type plans in existence, but only a few doctors take them due to the extremely low reimbursement rate.

Call for an appointment 815 459 2292

Dr Neal and his team answers all of your questions regarding your dental insurance and dental health at Crystal Lake Dental Associates.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

3 Health Benefits of Straight Teeth

Health Benefits of Straight Teeth 

You may be surprised to know that the benefits of having properly aligned teeth extend far beyond a confident smile. According to the American Dental Association, straightening your teeth can actually significantly affect your overall dental health.1 Think about it — a smile can hardly be perfect if it's not a healthy one. Fortunately, with Invisalign®, having a confident smile and reducing your risk for tooth decay and gum disease go hand in hand.

Healthier Teeth and Gums

Swollen, red gums can often be the result of having teeth that are crowded or too widely spaced. Unfortunately, these are also signs of periodontal disease. When teeth are properly aligned, it helps the gums fit more securely around the teeth, allowing for the strongest and healthiest defense against potential periodontal problems. That’s where Invisalign comes in. The comfortable and clear aligners gently and gradually begin to move your teeth into the proper position — without unsightly brackets and wires.

Easier Cleaning

One of the biggest challenges of having braces is removing all the food that gets trapped in the brackets and wires. This can often lead to plaque buildup and eventually tooth decay. With Invisalign, the aligners are removable, so it’s easy to continue brushing and flossing your teeth the way you normally do.

Overall Health

Think of your teeth as a window to the health of your body. Your teeth and gums — and how they look to others when you smile—say a lot about your overall health. If you're taking good care of both, you're probably taking good care of the rest of you.

Tooth decay and gum disease are caused by bacteria. Left untreated, they can cause mouth sores, tender or bleeding gums, bad breath, and possible tooth loss. Studies by the American Dental Association have shown that oral infections can also lead to other more serious ailments such as heart disease,2 stroke,3 pneumonia4 and diabetes.5 Invisalign aligners make daily oral hygiene easier, thus reducing the risk of possible problems. And correctly aligned teeth can also alleviate the issues that can be caused by an improper bite, speech or chewing difficulties, jaw problems, and increased wear on the tooth enamel. Invisalign effectively addresses all of these orthodontic issues, so you'll have the confidence of a great smile and increase the likelihood of improved oral health.


Call for an appointment 815 459 2292

Dr Neal answers all of your questions regarding your child's smile and dental health at Crystal Lake Dental Associates.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Watch your mouth: How bad teeth can knock out kids’ school success

Reprint of original story in the Freso Bee


SEPTEMBER 27, 2017 1:57 PM

Julian started a fight at school today. The kids teased him again. He knew his teeth looked bad, and he talked funny. He knew he shouldn’t fight. However, today was the final teasing straw that broke the camel’s back and Julian took a swing.

You may think this is about bullying, but it is not. It concerns the unintended consequences of poor dental hygiene. We often think of oral health as not very important. However, it has far-reaching impacts we need to understand and prevent.

First, early breakdown of frontal teeth can prevent children from refining certain sounds in their speech.

Second, tooth decay can be very painful. The pain can make eating, sleeping and concentrating difficult.

Third, the physical appearance of tooth decay is a source of embarrassment and can make it difficult to form and maintain healthful social relationships.

Several common practices lead to tooth decay: giving bottles of milk or juice to babies as they fall asleep; not brushing and flossing or doing it incorrectly; drinking too many sugary beverages such as sodas and fruit drinks; and not seeing a dentist for cleaning and treatment.

We’ve all heard advertisements for dental care that tell us a healthy mouth is more than an attractive smile. The fact is, oral health is an issue of huge significance to our personal and public health. Not only is our mouth the portal to our digestive system, but it also serves a key role in our personal interactions and socialization and is a major point of introduction of infection and chronic inflammation.

Poor oral health, in the primary form of dental caries (tooth decay or cavities) in children, can affect our individual and collective well-being in an astounding variety of ways.

Dental caries is a communicable disease to which all ages are susceptible. Dental caries occur when bacteria residing in plaque, which has developed on tooth surfaces, convert carbohydrates to acidic by-products. The result is a lower local pH which causes, over extended periods, the leeching of important minerals from the tooth and subsequent collapse of the enamel substructure known as cavities.

Dental caries causes pain and discomfort that affects nutrition, communication, socialization and sleeping, all of which affect our overall health and well-being. Additionally, dental caries can result in absence from work and school, leading to reduced income and lower academic performance.

In children, particularly, caries can lead to psychological, learning and self-esteem difficulties that severely impact their social development. Finally, dental caries can lead to infection and abscess formation that can be life-threatening.

In adults, gum disease is associated with other chronic inflammation diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. In a recent study, individuals with serious gum disease were 40 percent more likely to have another chronic medical condition as well.

There is also a possible association between periodontitis and bacterial pneumonia, stroke, preterm birth and low birth weight, and pancreatic cancer.

The Fresno County Department of Public Health, Fresno County Economic Opportunities Commission, and Reading and Beyond, are working together to provide youths in Fresno County with dental services. If you are on Medi-Cal and would like to schedule an initial or follow-up appointment for your child, please call 844-421-3484. Services are available throughout Fresno County.

As your Fresno County health officer, I urge you to protect your health and well-being by:

▪  Brushing at least twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush.

▪  Flossing at least once a day.

 ▪  Reducing your consumption of sugary drinks.

▪  Regularly visiting a dental provider for cleaning and examination (at least once a year).

 ▪  Modeling and teaching these habits to your children.

click here to view original article

Call for an appointment 815 459 2292

Dr Neal answers all of your questions regarding your child's smile and dental health at Crystal Lake Dental Associates.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

5 Oral Health Musts for Caregivers

As a Caregiver, you may have to assist or even take a hands-on approach to dental care. It’s important to point out that when caring for someone’s overall health, their dental health is often just as critical. Preventing infections, dental pain, and other oral complications can help to improve or maintain a person’s quality of life.
Thoroughly removing plaque and germs from all surfaces of the teeth promotes gum health and helps prevent cavities. 

5 Tips for oral care

  • For those with their natural teeth, it is ideal to brush twice daily (or at least once a day) using a soft bristled toothbrush. If a person is unable to brush on his or her own, a power toothbrush may be a helpful tool in many cases – though it will likely take some practice when you start using it on someone else! If the person is able to spit after brushing,
  •   Fluoride toothpaste is a great choice. For individuals with swallowing problems (or those unable to spit), brushing with water is also an option.
  • Flossing (or using other interdental tools) to clean between the teeth every day cleans where a toothbrush can’t reach and is extremely important in preventing decay.
Visually examining the teeth and gums and soft tissues once a week can catch potentially serious problems early.
  • Using a disposable dental mirror* and penlight, examine soft tissues of the mouth for sores red or white spots on the gums, cheek, palate, and tongue. Red or white areas in the mouth that do not clear up should be seen referred to your dentist for evaluation.
  • Examine also for broken teeth and missing fillings.

6 tips for full and partial dentures

  • Dentures and partials need to be cleaned every day. 
  • Removed overnight and soaked in a denture soak.
  • They should be brushed with a soft bristled brush that is designed for dentures. 
  • Don’t use regular toothpaste to clean dentures- it is likely too abrasive and may cause damage. You can use mild dishwashing liquid to clean them if commercial cleaners are not available. 
  • When you are cleaning dentures, do so over a towel. This can prevent breakage if they drop in the sink or onto the floor. 
  • If dentures do not fit well, be sure to visit your dentist. Ill-fitting dentures can cause sores and can lead a person to stop eating from discomfort.
  • Over the counter moisturizing products are available
  • Fluoride rinses of concentrated prescription strength fluoride toothpaste prevent cavities when used consistently.
  • Regular dental examinations can help to identify problems before they cause unnecessary pain.
  • In addition, professional cleanings are necessary to maintain natural teeth and avoid gum infections or gum disease.
Dentures and removable partials require special care to keep them clean, free from damage, and fitting well.

4 Additional tips and recommendations

We all need saliva to moisten and cleanse our mouths, and to digest food. Dry mouth can be caused by medical conditions, as a side effect of many medications, or from certain medical treatments (such as chemotherapy or radiation treatments for cancer). Dry mouth can cause discomfort and lead to a dramatic increase in dental decay over a short time. 

  • Over the counter moisturizing products are available
  • Fluoride rinses of concentrated prescription strength fluoride toothpaste prevent cavities when used consistently.
  • Regular dental examinations can help to identify problems before they cause unnecessary pain.
  • In addition, professional cleanings are necessary to maintain natural teeth and avoid gum infections or gum disease.

A great resource for Caregivers, “Dental Care Every Day: A Caregiver’s Guide” can be found online on the website for the National Institute of Health at:

Preventive measures go a long way when it comes to dental health, leading to better overall health.

*Disposable mouth mirrors can be found at Amazon if you follow this link

Dr Neal can advise you in your  oral health caregiving. at Crystal Lake Dental Associates

815 459 2202

Your comments are welcome

Phillip C. Neal DDS
Crystal Lake Dental Associates
280 B Memorial Court
Crystal Lake, Illinois 60014

Friday, September 8, 2017

5 reasons to replace a missing tooth

Reasons to replace missing teeth include:

1) Your jaw bone around a missing tooth deteriorates  causing receeding gums 
2) Your neighboring  teeth will  leading to spacing, cavities, and gum disease
3) Your remianing teeth will work harder causing more wear and breakage
4) Your muscles of your jaw will work differently to compensate for changes in your bite
5) Missing teeth change support for your smile and lower face leading to a sunken in appearance

Millions of Americans are missing teeth

According to the American College of Prosthodontics:
More than 36 million Americans do not have any teeth, and 120 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth. These numbers are expected to grow in the next two decades.
Tooth loss happens from decay and gums disease, and as a result of injury, cancer, or simply wear.
Edentulism affects our most vulnerable populations – the aging and the economically disadvantaged.
In the geriatric population the ratio of edentulous individuals is 2 to 1. About 23 million are completely edentulous and about 12 million are edentulous in one arch.
90 percent of those who suffer from edentulism have dentures.
The number of partially edentulous patients will continue to increase in the next 15 years to more than 200 million individuals. Partial edentulism affects the majority of adult Americans.
Consequences of missing teeth include significant nutritional changes, obesity, diabetes, coronary artery disease, and some forms of cancer. More than 36 million Americans do not have any teeth, and 120 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth. These numbers are expected to grow in the next two decades.

There are many options available to replacing missing teeth including implants, fixed bridges, removable partials and dentures

Dr Neal can go over these options with you and help you have a beautiful healthy smile at Crystal Lake Dental Associates

815 459 2202

Your comments are welcome

Phillip C. Neal DDS
Crystal Lake Dental Associates
280 B Memorial Court
Crystal Lake, Illinois 60014

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Stress and Your Teeth

Last week it was reported that actress Demi Moore had lost her two front teeth because of stress. Experts have said that the number one cause of tooth loss is gum disease, of which stress can be a factor. Here are 7 other ways stress could be taking it's toll on your teeth..

1. Translucent teeth
"If you notice that your teeth are becoming translucent or getting shorter this may be due to Bruxism (grinding) of the teeth. You should see your dentist as you may need a bite guard to protect the teeth from wearing further."

2. Achy jaw
"If you feel an ache or clicking in your jaw joint this may be a sign of stress. Seek advice from your dentist and you may need a treatment for the jaw, such as a special splint or even Botox to relax the muscle."

3. Bleeding gums
"If you notice your gums are bleeding more this can be a sign of gum disease (gingivitis or periodontitis), which can be caused or exacerbated by stress. See your dentist and you may need some gum treatment such as deep cleaning (root planing) under the gums."

4. Dental abscesses
"Dental abscesses can be caused as during times of stress your body can be unable to fight of gum infections. Seek advice from your dentist and you may need antibiotics or further treatment for this."

5. Root canal problems
Root canal problems can be caused by stress if the grinding becomes so severe that the nerves of the teeth are exposed. Root canal treatment may then be needed to remove the nerve from the teeth.

6. Bad breath
Bad breath can be a sign of stress. Stomach acids can build during times of stress and lead to reflux and other compounds that causes bad breath. You will need to see your GP for this and may need treatment with antacids or other medication. This may even require further investigation of the stomach lining."

7. Cheek biting
"Cheek biting is a sign of stress. For some people this is a habit that is developed to cope with stress. Acupuncture or hypnosis are some of the treatments that can be used to help relax and prevent this.

8. Shortened teeth
Shortening of teeth is a symptom of bruxism (tooth grinding). This most often occurs at night called “sleep bruxism”. Sleep bruxism has also been associated with Obstructive sleep apnea. It can also occur in the daytime during times of increased stress.

9. Broken teeth and broken fillings
Clenching of teeth at night or in the daytime  will bend teeth and fracture them and any fillings in them. This can lead to the need for fillings, crowns, root canals, and tooth loss over time if not corrected.

815 459 2202

Dr. Neal answers all of your questions about Stress and your teeth  at Crystal Lake Dental Associates.

Your comments are welcome

Phillip C. Neal DDS
Crystal Lake Dental Associates
280 B Memorial Court
Crystal Lake, Illinois 60014

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Autism Tests on Baby Teeth Promising

Autism and high lead. low zinc, and manganese

New test to identify babies with autism identify heavy traces of lead and lack of zinc and manganese...

crystal lake dental asociates
Laser detection of metals

A new study may have found a way to isolate genetics from environmental contributors to autism, allowing researchers to focus on the link between heavy metal levels and autism risk. The research was led by Manish Arora, PhD, an environmental scientist and dentist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, NY, and the findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.
Such studies have had to approximate the toxic metal exposure based on the metal concentrations in the bloodstream. However, this estimation was done after the children had already been diagnosed with ASD, rather than before.
Previous studies were not able to account for genetic factors that may have influenced the results; generally, separating environmental factors from genetic ones in the development of autism is challenging for researchers.
The method used in this new study manages to bypass many of these limitations. By looking at naturally shed baby teeth, the researchers explain, they have access to information that goes as far back as a baby’s prenatal life. And by studying twins, Prof Arora and colleagues were able to separate genetic influences from environmental ones.
To determine how much metal the babies’ bodies contained before and after birth, the researchers used lasers to analyse the growth rings on the babies’ teeth.
Laser technology allowed the scientists to accurately extract specific layers of dentine, which is the substance that lies beneath the tooth enamel.
In much the same way that we can tell the age of a tree by looking at the growth rings in a cross-section of its trunk, the scientists were able to see different developmental stages correspond to different rings by looking at a cross-section of the babies’ teeth.
This correspondence between growth dentine layers, their levels of lead, and the exposure to lead during different developmental stages, has been previously demonstrated by Prof Arora and team in research they carried out previously.
Cindy Lawler, PhD, head of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Genes, Environment, and Health Branch, explains the importance of using this scientific method for studying autism:
“We think autism begins very early, most likely in the womb, and research suggests that our environment can increase a child’s risk. But by the time children are diagnosed at age 3 or 4, it’s hard to go back and know what the moms were exposed to. With baby teeth, we can actually do that.”
The study revealed that children with ASD had much higher levels of lead throughout their development.
The greatest difference between lead levels in children with ASD and children without was noticed during the period after birth.
Zinc levels, on the other hand, displayed a more complex pattern. During the prenatal period, children with ASD had lower levels of zinc, but after birth, these levels increased to higher levels than those found in children without ASD.
Finally, manganese was found to correlate with ASD as well. Children with ASD seemed to have less manganese than children without, both pre- and postnatally.
Overall, the study suggests that either prenatal exposure to heavy metals, or the body’s ability to process them, may influence the chances of developing autism.
“A lot of studies have compared current lead levels in kids that are already diagnosed,” Lawler says. “[But] being able to measure something the children were exposed to long before diagnosis is a major advantage.”
David Balshaw, PhD, head of the NIEHS Exposure, Response, and Technology Branch, also weighs in on the scientific method used for this study, saying, “There is growing excitement about the potential of baby teeth as a rich record of a child’s early life exposure to both helpful and harmful factors in the environment.”

Prof Arora called the method “a window into our fetal life.” He and his colleagues note, however, that more large-scale studies are needed to replicate and confirm their findings.

 815 459 2202

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815 459 2202

 Dr. Neal answers all of your questions about Gum Recession at Crystal Lake Dental Associates.

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About Me

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Born in the Midwest. Married with 6 children and 3 grandchildren. Attended Maine West High School, Harper Jr College, Northern Illinois University, the University of Illinois College of Dentistry. Practice in Crystal Lake, Illinois.