So, put your seat belts on folks, because this is gonna be a post you want to sit down for... There is the common misconception that dentist and insurance companies are friends. Why? Well, because the first thing almost all parents ask is...do you take my insurance? The answer is: "We are not in-network, but we work with all insurances."
So, what does it mean to be "in-network"?
To be an in-network dentist means that you sign up with a variety of dental insurances to accept discounts to your fees (sometimes very large ones - 50% off!) in order to be part of that insurance. In order to make up for these discounted fees, generally in-network dentists need to see a lot more patients to make up for these severely discounted fees, and they can sometimes force dentists to cut corners which it comes to dentistry.
Did you know that employers spend $95 billion on dental insurance premiums annually, but only 60% goes to dental care?
Why are you an "out-of-network" dentist?
What if I don't have insurance?
I get this question from parents all the time. Sometimes the next statement is..."I don't understand, I've never had cavities, how is my child getting cavities?"
Thankfully, due to great public health initiatives and general knowledge, many parents know already to brush their kids teeth twice a day, for 2 minutes (which, by the way, we'll talk about later because I definitely do not do a full 2 minutes for my 2 toddlers...
The main reasons for why kids get cavities are a mix of 2 primary reasons - 1) oral hygiene aka how clean are we keeping the teeth? and 2) dietary habits. Is it true that there are some children that have anatomical defects in the teeth that may them slightly more predisposed to cavities but this is not the norm!
If I'm seeing a child whose teeth are really clean and parents endorse that they are brushing and flossing daily, my next question is regarding their child's eating habits. What we know is that children who tend to snack more, and "graze" throughout the day tend to have an increased risk for cavities because the mouth doesn't have time to cleanse itself inbetween! (Our spit and our tongue cleans out our mouth inbetween "feeds", and if we don't give our mouth a break and constantly feed it, that will increase our risk for cavities. So frequency of eating is one risk factor in increasings the risk of cavities, and the other is what the child is eating.
When I go grocery shopping, almost all children's snacks are highly cariogenic (causes cavities!) Many children snack on dried carbohydrates (Cheez-its, goldifsh, pretzels, veggie sticks), and I have literally seen goldfish particles in my own toddler's teeth hours, yes HOURS after! So what is the harm regarding dried carbohydrates? It's not candy...however, carbohydrates break down into sugar, which is a food source for our oral bacteria, and the longer the food stays on the teeth, well the sugar bags have a feast, and as they break down the sugar, the byproduct is...sugar bug poop as I like to call it to the kiddos, or cavities.
What can you do as a parent or guardian to help prevent cavities?
1. Bring your child to the pediatric dentist starting at age 1. Prevention is key!
2. If you have a toddler (or 2 like me!) if you can at least brush their teeth with a smear of fluoridated toothpaste once a day for 20 seconds, that's awesome! (When kids turn 3 they can have a pea-sized amount!)
3. Floss your child's teeth when their teeth touch (most important to get to those back molars which usually start to contact/kiss at age 3!)
4. Limit snacking to twice/day. Have organized meal and snack times. Great snacks for your kids that are Dr. Gazdeck approved: cheese, yogurt, applesauce, meat (chicken nuggets!), nuts, fresh fruit.
5. Anything that is not water have your child drink it through a straw so it doesn't touch the teeth as much. Also teeth love WATER the most! The only 2 drinks my children get unless it is a special occasion are water and milk. Bubbly water is NOT the same thing as water. Anything carbonated increases our risk for cavities!
6. Avoid sticky candies/granola bars. Dr. Gazdeck has a sweet tooth though...and the sweets you want to veer your children to are straight chocolate (no caramels in the middle!), and ice cream as it melts off the teeth.
Would you like more reading on this topic?
I Love love love this book called: More Chocolate, No Cavities. It is written by a colleague of mine Dr. Roger Lucas who is not only a pediatric dentist but also a biochemist who writes in a very easy-to-read way on how to practically keep your child cavity-free!
Hi everyone! So funny story when I was in high school one of my friends actually set up me up a website and I had a blog that I updated almost everyday. Funny how things come full circle and here I am, a mom of 2, opening my office and blogging again. I know you came here for dental knowledge, but I thought it might be nice to share a little about myself first...and my story!
As we all know this past year has been tough all around. But instead of focusing on the negatives, something really beautiful came out of the pandemic for me. In March 2020, I had already planned to take 4 months of maternity leave with my 2nd born son, so I was at home and got to thinking a lot on what I saw my life looking like. I was an associate at an office, and I liked it, but I was coming home and feeling like...what is my next challenge, what am I working for, and do I see myself as an associate for the rest of my career?
It was during this time that I did a lot of praying, soul searching and realizing that I wanted to open Cultivate Kids. It is my 3rd baby. I love being a mom, but I also love being a pediatric dentist and I felt in a sense I had lost myself a bit after having kids. Does anyone else feel this way?
Who was I anyways? What were my interests and what did I want to pursue?
This beautiful opportunity came a'knockin' and I am taking it by the horns and running with it! I hope you come alongside me and see how passionate I am about what I do and how I really believe that all kids can have no cavities in their whole childhood and let's partner together in this.
Everyone asks me, why Knightdale?? (well, those people who have no idea where Knightdale is..it's closer to Raleigh than you might think!) I feel incredibly called to his profession and this community. I fell in love with Knightdale the first time I took a walk in Knightdale Station Park and every. single. person. said hi to me. The friendliness, the small-town charm, it just clicked.
I want to give a special shoutout to Drs. Martin and Bumgarner for entrusting me and sharing their space with me, Dr. Ketan Jumani who went to pediatric residency with me for your start-up prowess, Dr. Cook for all his one-liners and mentorship from my residency days, and my local pediatric dentists who have been my colleagues and supporters- Dr. Shraddha Patel and Dr. Bobby Elliott to name a few. I am also so thankful for having the most supportive husband who literally hand-picked Knightdale from us looking at Google Maps one day and also for my 2 kids...I want them to see a mom who goes after her dreams and makes a difference in her community, but who also prioritizes family time too!
I'm looking forward to meeting ALL of you and your children. I'm pretty much an open book so feel free to comment on any questions or any blog posts you'd like to see!