April Lee DDS

Straight Teeth and the Health Benefits

Did you know that there are health benefits to having straight teeth? Straight teeth are not just a fashion statement. They exceed far beyond a boost of self-confidence. American Dental Association (ADA) states that straightening your teeth can improve the overall function of teeth and your dental health. If you take a moment to think about it, your smile will not be beautiful and bright if your teeth are not healthy. This is true for everyone and no one is just born with a perfect smile that they do not have to put effort into.

Having Invisalign is a wonderful solution to having a beautiful smile that keeps you confident and in good oral health. In fact, Invisalign can help lower your risk for gum disease and tooth decay. Below, we discuss about the health benefits of having Invisalign.

Easier to Clean

Straight teeth are easy to clean and teeth that use Invisalign are easy to clean as well. In fact, traditional braces can make it difficult to brush and floss teeth, especially when food is caught in them. The leftover food will then begin to decay and lead to cavities and other oral problems. Plaque buildup is one of the first signs that there is a problem. Since Invisalign is removeable, you will be able to brush and floss your teeth without the worry that you did not remove all of the food.

Healthy Teeth and Gums

Red, swollen gums are often the result of teeth that are spaced too far apart or too close together. When this happens, it is the first sign of gum disease and needs to be handled rather quickly. When your teeth are straight, you do not have to worry about these things and you will be less likely to develop periodontal disease. Invisalign can help you get the straight teeth you want and the aligners will gently push your teeth into the perfect position.

Overall Health

Your teeth are the window into your mouth and they affect your health as well. If you do not have healthy teeth and gums, it will show through your smile. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria that remains in the mouth and when it is left untreated, you can suffer from gum disease, dental abscesses, and more.
The ADA has completed studies that show that oral infections that are not treated can lead to other serious health complications such as stroke, heart disease, and more. Invisalign can help combat these problems by straightening your teeth, which allows you to care for them properly.

Call Burlingame Smile Studio Today

If you would like to discuss your options for Invisalign, call Burlingame Smile Studio in Burlingame, CA today. Dr. April Lee is able to provide you with the information you need about Invisalign and how to straighten your teeth. It is important for you to protect your teeth and keep them healthy to experience full body health. Call our Burlingame, CA office now to schedule your FREE consultation!

Using Flex Spending and Health Savings Accounts for Dental Work

Have you been putting off dental care because you think it won’t be covered by your insurance provider? If your employer offers a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA), you may be able to use the funds for your orthodontic treatments at Burlingame Smile Studio.

What are Flexible Spending and Health Savings Accounts?

HSAs and FSAs are designed to let employees save money for certain health care costs. These costs are referred to as “qualified expenses” and they include coinsurance, copayments and prescription costs. Employers often make contributions to the accounts as well. Most FSA and HSA accounts give people a debit card that they can use to pay for expenses throughout the tax year.

Ask your Human Resources department about the rules for contributions and open enrollment. Most corporations make open enrollment the end of the year. HSAs and FSAs have different tax benefits. It is important to know the rules for each account so that you maximize your tax savings and get the medical care you need.

What Are the Differences Between FSAs and HSAs?

FSAs are available to anyone, including people who are self-employed. A person may contribute up to $2,550 each year. Contributions and distributions are exempt from federal income tax and employment taxes. FSA funds can be used by an account holder, his spouse and his dependents.

Most FSAs are “use it or lose it” plans that require you to use the funds by December 31 of the tax year or else lose the funds. If you have an FSA, you should plan ahead to ensure you don’t lose the opportunity to use the money for qualified medical expenses.

HSAs are available to people who have high deductible health plans (HDHPs). An HDHP is health insurance with a deductible of $1,300 for an individual or $2,600 for a family. To be eligible for an HSA, the HDHP must be your only health insurance plan, you cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return, and you must not be eligible for Medicare.

Unused HSA balances roll over into the next year. You can make contributions to the HSA for the last tax year until April 15 of that tax year. An HDHP can be combined with your HSA, which lets you pay for medical expenses without paying federal taxes.

How Does My HSA or FSA Cover Orthodontic treatment?

Orthodontics is defined as the treatment of irregularities in the teeth and jaws, including the use of braces. Orthodontia includes problems of alignment and occlusion, which usually require treatments to straighten teeth and fix bad bites.

Most HSAs qualify orthodontic treatments which would include treatment with Braces, Invisalign, and/ or active retainers.

Since HSAs have a limit on how much money you can deposit each year, if you think you or your child may need braces, consult with Dr. April Lee about how much you need to save up. Many patients save up several years ahead of time.

Can a Flexible Spending Account Be Used for Other Dental Procedures?

Yes. FSA reimbursement rules generally follow Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Publication 502, which covers the rules for deducting medical and dental expenses. Generally, anything that treats or prevents a dental disease is eligible for FSA coverage. The covered procedures include:

  • Routine Dental Cleanings
  • Fillings
  • Crowns
  • Sealants
  • Tooth Extraction
  • Dentures
  • Inlays and Onlays
  • Diagnostic Testings
  • Preventive Treatments

You can use the FSA funds to pay for advanced procedures like treatment for gingivitis, treatments for TMJ disorders, oral surgery and gum recession.

FSA plans do not cover any form of cosmetic dentistry. There are no specific rules that define procedures that are purely cosmetic. Generally, FSA funds cannot be used for teeth whitening or porcelain veneers. However FSA funds can be used to pay for the installation and maintenance of dental braces.

Contact Dr. Lee today at 650-231-2680 for an appointment to discuss your orthodontic needs!

Although cosmetic procedures are not eligible and are excluded by the IRS, many procedures are both medical and cosmetic in nature. It is important to make an appointment with Dr. Lee’s dental office well in advance of the end of the year. Dr. Lee can advise you of the treatment costs and help you obtain coverage from your HSA or FSA.

Hybrid Treatment

Many adult patients who have dreamed about a beautiful smile have deferred or declined orthodontic treatment over the years because when they sought a professional consult from another orthodontist, they were told that their cases could not be treated with Invisalign alone and that they would have to wear braces.

Requiring adults to wear braces, even clear ones can be reason enough for many adults to not embark on orthodontic treatment. What many patients don’t understand is that more severe malfunctioning bites don’t allow their teeth to fit together properly and it is the severity of these bites which excludes them for clear aligner (Invisalign) therapy alone. Malfunction of your bite can be due to crowding, spacing, or previous tooth loss and lead to future dental problems which are not only more costly than orthodontic treatment but also further decline of your smile.

So what is an esthetically consciously driven adult, or adolescent patient to do in these circumstances?

The answer is what I like to refer to as Hybrid Treatment.

What is Hybrid treatment exactly? It is combining the use of clear aligners such as Invisalign, with short durations of cosmetic clear braces to maximize esthetics and minimize the appearance of the braces.

Typically the clear braces are only needed for a few weeks or months at either the beginning or the end of clear aligner therapy. Many times only braces are only needed on a few teeth and can be hidden in the back of the mouth where it is likely not to be noticed at all by friends or colleagues. If brackets do need to be placed towards the front your mouth we utilize the most esthetic braces on the market today to minimize the appearance of the braces while they are worn. Not all braces are the same, utilizing monocrystalline clear braces as needed provides the most discrete possible treatment for those short durations while the braces are on your teeth.

By using this combo approach many adults and esthetically driven adolescents will not need to compromise on either their final function or esthetic results. It is important that your orthodontist not only addresses and corrects your chief complaint of crowding or spacing, but also addresses your bite concerns so that your results will be long lasting and beneficial to your overall health moving forward.

Here is a recap of the benefits of hybrid aligner/braces treatment.

– Minimizing the time required in braces thus maximizing the esthetics while you undergo orthodontic treatment.

– Maximizing your time and comfort in the invisible, removable clear tooth aligners (ie Invisalign) phase of treatment.

– Allowing for easier care and dental hygiene of your teeth while in treatment.

– Reduced discomfort and emergency visits related to your braces or poking wires.

– Best possible functional and esthetic smile outcomes without compromise.

If you have been previously told that braces is your only option for correcting your smile then I highly encourage you to reach out to Dr. April Lee today to discuss your options at Burlingame Smile Studio, 650-231- 2680 or [email protected] We look forward to hearing from you!

Adult Orthodontics

Let’s face it, beautiful straight teeth and a gorgeous youthful smile is what patients’ desire and is what Dr. April Lee delivers at Burlingame Smile Studio. Since very few of us are genetically lucky enough to be born with a perfect smile, most of us require some type of help a.k.a. Orthodontic appliances which could include braces, aligners, or retainers to achieve that beautiful smile.  You might think that you’re the only adult out there who would like to improve their smile, but nothing couldn’t be further from the truth!

While it’s true that for most orthodontic offices the majority of patients in treatment are children, at Burlingame Smile Studio you’ll find yourself in good company as currently over 60% of our patients in active treatment are actually ADULTS!

Many people, myself included, were not fortunate enough to have had their teeth straightened as children. Most of us have been thinking about treatment for many years, but tend to postpone the decision because we are afraid that treatment may be too costly, inconvenient or painful. However, with the new advancements in technology, today orthodontic treatment can be completed in less time, with less frequent visits and most importantly with less soreness than ever before! Additional good news is that many dental insurances now cover adult orthodontics at the same level as children. Couple that with Flex Spending or HSA dollars and suddenly your out of pocket costs drop tremendously.

Having a beautiful smile has been scientifically proven to boost self-confidence levels in all age groups. But there are a host of other great reasons to get your smile fixed as an adult. Did you know that left untreated a bad bite, crooked or spaced teeth can trap more food and bacteria than straight teeth? This in turn can sometime lead to other dental problems such as tooth decay, enamel loss, and gum disease. Orthodontic treatment can help prevent these costly unintended consequences from happening and give you a good foundation for healthy teeth for a lifetime.

Dr. April Lee is ready to see you in her Burlingame, CA office. Now is the time to call (650)231-2680 and schedule an appointment to discuss your specific orthodontic smile goals.

FAQ About Dental Orthodontic Treatment and Adult Patients

Below, we have provided you with some of the answers to the most commonly asked questions about adult orthodontic treatments. We invite you to browse through these questions to find the answers you need. If you cannot find an answer you are looking for, simply call our Burlingame office today at (650)231-2680 or fill out the contact us form and we will call you at your preferred time and date.

Can anyone receive orthodontic treatment or is there an age restriction?

Orthodontic screenings are recommended for all children at age 7, but there are no age restrictions or limitations to seeking care. In fact, today one in five patients who receives orthodontic treatment are 18 years or older. Healthy teeth can be straightened and moved whenever you want and will not disrupt your daily life. Treatment can improve your overall smile overall and function as well as decrease risks of future dental issues.

How much will it cost me to receive orthodontic treatment?

The cost of orthodontic treatment will depend on the severity of your bite and the complexity of your case. Since your teeth and bite is uniquely different from everyone else’s you will need to schedule an appointment to see Dr. Lee to discuss your personal needs. Once she has been able to complete a full orthodontic screening she will be able to provide you with an exact quote for your treatment and discuss whether or not your insurance provider can help cover some of the expenses.

Can I still live my daily life?

Yes. Orthodontic treatment is not a great disrupter to normal daily life. At your consultation appointment Dr. Lee will discuss in detail what you can expect while in treatment. Fear not, you will still be able to enjoy playing sports, instruments, and all your normal activities. You will also find that there are a wide range of orthodontic appliance options, some which even allow you to remove your appliances while you eat and or brush your teeth.

Does treatment hurt?

No. Treatment is not designed to hurt, and by using the latest technological innovations modern orthodontics is nothing like it used to be 10 or 20 years ago. That said, anything new in your mouth requires a short period of adjustment. Should you experience any discomfort in the first few days of starting treatment it can easily be resolved with the same over the counter meds that you would take for a headache. Once your mouth has adjusted to your appliances it will feel normal again. It depends. Many patients are able to pursue orthodontic treatment after they have resolved previous gum issues. For a small segment of patients previous severe periodontal (gum) disease may have damaged areas of your mouth that would render orthodontic treatment unsafe. The only way to know for sure would be to schedule an appointment to have Dr. Lee review your case on an individual bases.

Are dental appliances noticeable?

No. There are many dental appliance options are that NOT visible. These options are available to you and can be discussed with Dr. Lee. Some of these options include Invisalign clear aligners or clear braces. Many patients choose these options because they do not want to feel awkward in social situations. If you would like to discuss your options, call our Burlingame office today at (650) 231-2680.

Will my smile be improved?

Yes. Both your bite and smile will be improved when you pursue orthodontic treatment. Functional teeth in a proper bite always looks the best. Many patients are esthetically driven and aren’t as concerned about their bite, but correcting the bite is very important. Orthodontists are trained for an additional 2-3 years beyond dental school to possess the knowledge to correct both the function and esthetics of your teeth. Even if you are missing teeth, undergoing orthodontics first before placing bridges or implants can vastly improve the esthetic outcomes of your smile. Dr. Lee will go over all of your option with you and help you determine which option will deliver the best results.

How often do I need to come into your office for treatment?

Typically our patients will need to be seen once every 6-12 weeks for an adjustment. That is only 4-8 times per year so it shouldn’t be a great burden on your work or school schedule. The exact intervals for your appointments are determined by Dr. Lee at each visit. She will take into consideration how your teeth have moved since your last visit and will determine the best time for your next orthodontic adjustment.

How will I know if I am a good candidate for treatment?

Dr. Lee will complete a full orthodontic evaluation of your mouth to determine if you are a good candidate for treatment. She will take the time to ensure that you will understand all the risks and benefits of orthodontics and have ample opportunity to ask all your questions prior to starting treatment. Sometimes, patients will need to visit other specialists or return to their general dentist to get caught up on preventative care prior to starting orthodontics. Dr. Lee will be certain to explain your specific needs when you meet with her and she will still be able to provide you a quote for your orthodontic treatment.

I hope that you have found this blog post to be informative in your quest for an improved smile. If you have any additional questions, or would like to get the ball rolling we are here to help. Don’t put it off any longer, call us today at (650)231-2680 to schedule your consultation with Dr. April Lee. We look forward to meeting you!

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