Providing Montclair with the Most Advanced Dental Services for More than 70 Years

Providing Montclair with the Most Advanced Dental Services for More than 70 Years

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First Visit to the Dentist - What to Expect

February is National Children's Dental Health month, and at Ferguson Dental, we always welcome children of all ages. We believe a lifetime of healthy smiles is supported by early and regular visits to the dentist.

What to expect from a first visit to the dentist

Our office is a relaxed, family-oriented environment which accommodates the anxieties and needs of young patients. Aside from the kid-friendly office that features a fish tank, colorful toys and magazines, and fun prizes, the staff is committed to making the experience fun and stress-free for each child.

A child’s first visit is focused on meeting the office staff, getting comfortable in the office environment, and having a positive experience. As our hygienist Geri Caughey explains, “It is a great feeling to be a part of a child’s first dental visit. Many children arrive fearful, but by the end of their visit they are so proud of their smile! They can’t wait to tell family members and teachers about what a great experience they had at the dentist.” Our youngest patients can expect to have a “ride in the chair”, have their “teeth counted” while Dr. Ferguson or Dr. Joseph complete a quick exam, and receive a short talk on brushing and taking care of their teeth. Following the first visit, it is suggested that parents schedule follow-up appointments every six months.

Parents can expect our staff to check their child for early signs of decay or developmental problems, as well as answer any questions they might have. Hygienists will also explain exactly how to care for young teeth through brushing and flossing. It is important to know that our hygienists and dentists are experienced with hesitant and fearful patients. Our staff is prepared and committed to patiently work with the child and family towards a positive experience. This process of trust-building may occur over several consecutive office visits.

Children are special to us, and their dental needs, from toddlers to teens, vary widely. Our goal is to foster the growth of children who are prepared to maintain healthy teeth for a lifetime. We have developed a series of age-appropriate protocols for children as they pass through the many developmental stages between their first dental visit (usually between ages two and three) and adulthood. These guidelines are flexible and can be adapted to the needs of each child.

Dr. Jessica Joseph's daughter recently visited the office for her first official dental visit!
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Help and Options for Dental Anxiety Treatment

It is not unusual for people to feel hesitant and nervous when visiting a dental office. For some people, this can lead to fear and anxiety that can cause people to avoid dental treatment and risk their general oral health. We feel strongly that all patients in our office should have the best experience possible and there are a number of ways in which we strive to make all appointments stress-free and comfortable.

1. Communication:
We find that the more information people have about conditions or treatment, the less anxious and more in control they feel. Often, a simple conversation can ease fears and reduce anxiety. Our doctors are available for consultation and are always happy to discuss your concerns and treatment. Patients can expect full explanations of planned dental treatment and will also be provided with information concerning appropriate pain relief medication and strategies.

2. Oral anti-anxiety medications:
For some patients, information is not sufficient to ease their fears. For more profound relaxation, oral medications to reduce anxiety can be given to patients prior to your appointment.

3. Nitrous oxide:
Sometimes known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a gas that is administered with oxygen through a small nose piece and requires you to breathe normally through your nose. The advantages of nitrous oxide are that it works rapidly and produces a feeling of relaxation and can diminish pain sensation. The effects are instantaneous, unlike oral sedatives (pills), the gas can be switched off and its effects are removed. There are no lasting side effects and you can resume all normal activities, including driving, after the procedure is completed. For patients with procedures involving the gums (scaling and root planning, deep cleanings) that feel uncomfortable, nitrous oxide can make the treatment more tolerable with or without the need for local anesthesia.

4. IV sedation:
Dr. Ferguson has successfully partnered with Dr. Glen Atlas, a board certified anesthesiology physician, to provide safe in office sedation for the last 10 years. This option is offered to patients who require extensive procedures or exhibit extreme dental phobia. In these situations, Dr. Ferguson treats patients while in-office sedation is safely administered and monitored by Dr. Atlas. Dr. Atlas is a full Anesthesiology Professor at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and more information is available through Dr. Atlas’ website. Dr. Ferguson is also available to answer any dental anxiety or sedation questions you may have by calling the office at 973-744-3181.

The Argument for Sealants

We were pleased that a recent article in the NY Times titled "Defending Your Children's Teeth (and Dentists): The Value of Sealants" mirrored many of our sentiments about the benefits of dental sealants.

Sealants are generally placed on the molar teeth. These teeth are often characterized by deep grooves and pits that are susceptible to getting food, small particles and bacteria stuck on their surfaces. To help protect these teeth from decay, dental sealants can be placed shortly after these teeth erupt into the mouth. A dental sealant is a material that bonds to the deep grooves on teeth, leaving the chewing surface smoother and easier to keep free of food debris and plaque.

The NY Times article discussed two different types of sealant material, resin-based and glass ionomer. At Ferguson Dental Associates we use a glass ionomer sealant. We have found that these sealants are easier to place successfully on the teeth and tolerated better by many of our patients. They can be placed with less isolation, shorter setting time and penetrate into the pits and grooves well. An added benefit of the glass ionomer sealants is a lasting fluoride release that has been shown to continuously release fluoride at the site of application for up to 24 months. This means that the sealants are not just a physical barrier on the tooth, but also strengthen the tooth and make it more resistant to secondary caries. Sealants typically last 3-5 years, but if and when they do fall off, the tooth structure under the sealant is stronger because of the fluoride release. We guarantee sealants for 24 months after application. At your child's subsequent cleaning appointments we will continue to assess the integrity of sealants and reapply as necessary.

Sealants are normally placed by your child's hygienist, following a dental cleaning and exam. We strongly believe that sealants are a great preventative measure against tooth decay, and, as always, we are happy to answer your individual questions about sealants at your next office visit.

Only Floss the Ones You Want to Keep

Our advice concerning flossing hasn't changed in 70 years... "Don't worry about flossing them all, only floss the ones you want to keep." In all seriousness, the truth about flossing is that some patients can get away with limited flossing while others need to be diligent and effective in their flossing habits to maintain oral health. Regular dental hygiene visits are important and your hygienist can give you specific advice for your unique dental health needs. We are proud to have three of the very best dental hygienists working at Ferguson Dental, Geri Caughey, Dawn Giraldi, and Lynn Kempinski.

From the New York Times
Feeling Guilty About Not Flossing? Maybe There’s No Need

Dental X-rays…/you-probably-dont-need-dental-x-ra…

This is a good article that highlights many of the issues relevant to dental x-rays. A few thoughts:

1. X-rays provide valuable diagnostic information. X-rays have always allowed dentists to identify issues such as cavities, gum disease and developmental dental problems at a point where they can be successfully treated with minimal and conservative dental treatment.

2. Radiation should be avoided in all forms, and dental x-rays must always be used only after evaluating the cost vs. benefit to the patient. All professionals should follow ALARA guidelines or As Low As Reasonably Achievable. But, it is important to have perspective when evaluating the radiation associated with dental x-rays to the typical background radiation experienced by all of us on a daily basis. A day at the beach or a flight from New York to LA will expose a person to significantly more radiation than patients will experience in a dental office.

3. Beyond this, Ferguson Dental is committed to providing patients with the safest, most advanced technology available. Digital dental x-rays expose patients to a 1/5th of the radiation experienced from film x-rays, and we have provided digital dental x-rays for our patients for over 20 years. Additionally, our new extra-oral x-ray machine provides us with the option of ultralow dose panoramic x-rays and ct scans. This technology provides, again, significantly lower radiation dose x-rays compared to film panoramic x-rays or medical CT scans. Using our advanced technology, we are able to see more with less radiation than conventional full mouth radiographic imaging.

4. Most importantly, we work with every patient and parent to assess individual disease risk before determining the proper interval of dental x-rays. We are committed to minimizing radiation dose while also maintaining dental health.

5. Choosing dental care based upon what dental insurance will cover is not advisable and that approach is not found at Ferguson Dental. We recommend and implement dental protocols on an individual basis given the specific needs of every patient. We are absolutely committed to your dental and overall health. Please always feel free to ask us more about any issue that concerns you!

Introducing Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique

Dr. Ferguson has recently completed extensive training in the Pinhole Surgical Technique, breakthrough treatment for gum recession. Dr. Ferguson is certified in using the innovative method and is excited to introduce this option to his patients.

Gum recession, or loss of gum tissue along the gumline exposing the tooth root, is a common dental problem caused by several factors including periodontal disease (gingivitis, periodontitis, advanced periodontitis), hormonal changes, or aggressive habits when it comes to brushing the teeth. Additionally, many patients have a genetic predisposition to recession or the cause of recession is unknown.

While Dr. Ferguson has decades of experience in periodontal tissue grafting and surgical methods, the traditional procedures used in treating recession were invasive requiring difficult and long recovery periods for patients. Dr. Ferguson is excited to introduce the Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique, an innovative new procedure for treating recession, as an option for Ferguson Dental patients.

What is the Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique (PST)?

The Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique is a minimally invasive option for treating gum recession. Unlike traditional grafting techniques, PST is incision and suture free.

Unique tools and techniques are used to perform the Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique. Dr. Ferguson has completed comprehensive training in the Pinhole Surgical Technique and is fully certified in using the innovative method.

How does the Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique differ from traditional gum grafting?

Traditional gum recession treatments involve the use of donor tissue or soft tissue grafts in order to rebuild the gumline. This soft tissue would be sutured in place and would join with existing gum tissue as it healed.

While this traditional grafting treatment is effective, comparable results with better patient experience can be achieved through the Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique.

How is Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique performed?

During the Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique, a needle is used to make a small hole in the patient’s existing gum tissue. Through this pinhole, special instruments are used to gently loosen the gum tissue. These tools help expand and slide the gumline to cover the exposed root structure.

There are no grafts, no sutures, and no incisions needed with the Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique. It simply involves the adjustment of the existing tissue.

What are the benefits of Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique?

The benefits of the Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique are many:
• Less discomfort for the patient after treatment
• Faster recovery for the patient than traditional grafting
• No need for uncomfortable sutures
• No need for scalpels or invasive surgical tools
• No need to take donor tissue from the patient’s palate
• Excellent, natural-looking, long-lasting results

Do we take dental insurance?

Ferguson Dental Associates operates as a fee for service practice.  We have chosen this model because we strongly believe that it allows us to provide the optimal dental care to our patients, care that we would not be able to provide given the limitations and policies of current dental insurance programs.  As a result we do not "participate" in any given dental plan.  

We do, however, work in partnership with our patients and dental insurance companies to maximize your health benefits and facilitate reimbursement for our patients.  At each office visit we are happy to assist you in this process by providing completed insurance forms and mailing them to your insurance company for you at the conclusion of your visit.  

Additional Dental Insurances Facts

1. Dental Insurance is fundamentally different from medical insurance.

2. Dental Insurance is a contractual agreement between the employer and insurance company. The percentage of reimbursement varies greatly dependent upon the premiums paid for a particular plan and the limitations of the agreement.

3. Maximum payable benefits typically are around $1000-$1500 per year. This maximum benefit of most dental insurance plans today is almost identical to the annual maximum benefit of dental insurance plans 40 years ago.

4. Dental insurance is a benefit designed to help defray the costs of quality dental care, but is not all-inclusive of what an individual may need or desire to obtain optimal dental health for a lifetime.

5. While individual plans and companies vary greatly, our patients often receive similar reimbursement using their out of network benefits at Ferguson Dental as they would at an in network dentist. It is important to learn an understand your unique plan and benefits.

Please contact us directly to discuss your individual insurance questions!