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Did You Know?

The Dangers of Tobacco & Cigarettes

Cigarette smoking can contribute to periodontal disease and tooth loss. If you use tobacco products, you are more likely to develop calculus which if not professionally removed during regular cleanings, remains below the gum line and causes your gums to recede. Not only does this make your teeth look longer but it also allows bacteria to get in between your teeth and gums which destroy tissue and bone. This condition may be painful and can lead to tooth loss.

Did you know that if you start smoking at age 18 you could lose 5 teeth by age 35?  Smoking can also slow the healing process after dental treatments or make treatments less effective. The good news is that if you decide to quit smoking, much of the damage can be reversed and you can improve your oral health.

Smokeless tobacco can cause even more damage to your oral health than cigarettes. Not only does chewing tobacco put you at a greater risk of developing cavities, tooth decay, gum recession, and tooth loss but it can also lead to oral cancer. Up to 90% of oral cancer is caused by smokeless tobacco.  Oral cancer can be found on the tongue, the floor of the mouth , the lips and the gums.

Symptoms of oral cancer include sores that don’t heal, a lump in the mouth or throat, white or red patches on the tissues of the mouth, unusual bleeding, difficulty swallowing or hoarseness.  If you experience any of these symptoms, please contact your dentist immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here you'll find answers to all types of questions both about Dr. Wintersteen's office policies, and about dental health in general. Take the time to explore this page and the provided links and we're confident you'll find what you're looking for. If not, please call our office at (217) 762-4366 and we'd be happy to answer any further questions you may have.

General

New Patients:

We are currently accepting new patients!

If you are a new patient, please visit our New Patient Information page for answers to common questions about your first visit to our office. If you have questions about our Privacy Policy or our Financing and Insurance policies, please refer to the respective sections below.

What's the problem? the solution?

If you have questions about your symptoms and want to find out what the problem may be, please visit our Symptoms, Diagnoses, and Treatment Options page where you will find a list of common symptoms, their likely causes, and your options on how to fix the problem. We provide this information as a courtesy for your ease of mind but it is important that you schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible if you have a problem so we may give you a proper diagnosis and prompt treatment.

for Parents

If you are a parent or prospective parent, visit our Information for Parents page where you will find information and answers to common questions parents have in regards to their child's dental health. Find out what you can do to ensure your child has a happy, healthy smile.

Treatment Plan:

If you are a current patient and have questions about your printed treatment plan, please visit the Treatment Plan Explanation page where you'll find a sample treatment plan and an explanation of each section.

Post-Operation Intstructions:

If you have recently been in to our office for a dental procedure and have questions about possible rules or restrictions, please visit our Post-Operation Instructions page.

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FAQ List

Common Questions

How soon Can you get me in for an appointment?

What is your cancellation policy? Will I get charged?

I have anxiety concerning dentists. Do you offer gas to relax you?

Do I need to need to be pre-medicated before my appointment?

Can I bring my kids? How young? What if my kid is scared?

Privacy

What is your policy regarding privacy and patient confidentiality?

Are there any international or national standards enforced in regards to patient privacy?

What other measures do you take to ensure the privacy of your patients?

Why do you need my SSN?

Financing

How can I pay for your services?

What credit cards to you accept?

Will you send me a bill or do I have to pay at the time of service?

Do you offer payment plans for people who can’t pay the entire cost at the time of service?

I received a bill in the mail but I paid the charges at the time of service. What is the bill for? When is it due? Are there late fees?

I’ve been getting calls from Collections. Why did you send me to Collections? What are the consequences? I’ve paid my bills; how do I get back in your ‘good books’?

Insurance

What insurance do you accept?

What if I am out of network?

Do I have to send the claims to my insurance or do you?

I don’t have insurance. How do I get insurance? What do you recommend?

Do you accept public aid/ Medical Card patients?

What if I have further questions?

Services

What's the difference between a crown and a cap?

What's the difference between a bridge and a partial denture?

What about silver fillings versus white fillings?

Do I need to have a root canal just because I have to have a crown?

Treatment

Will I have to get a shot?

Will it hurt to get restorative procedure such as a filling, a crown, a bridge, or a root canal?

Will it hurt to get my tooth pulled?

I am taking a blood thinner. Will this affect my treatment?

I am taking medication for osteoperosis. Will this affect my treatment?

Oral Health

How often should I brush my teeth? Do I have to brush my tongue?

Is there any special care required if I have braces?

How often should I floss?

Should I use a mouthwash? Why? How often? Which one?

Is it true that tobacco and cigarettes can lead to oral health problems?

What is gum disease? How can I prevent it? I have it, what can I do?

I have dry mouth syndrome. Is this bad? What can I do?

How often should I get my teeth cleaned? Why?

I have more cavities than my friends. Why?

What I can do to ensure my child’s teeth will be healthy?

Is fluoride treatment necessary?

Products

Which type of toothbrush should I use?

Is one toothpaste better than others?

Can I purchase regular toothbrushes or toothpaste at your office?

Can I purchase an electric toothbrush at your office?

Do you sell any whitening products?

Do you provide any other products for purchase?

Denture Care

How often should I clean my dentures/partial dentures? How often do I have to change the solution?

Do I have to brush them or can I just soak them?

Do I have to remove them at night? When I eat?

What happens if I’m out of solution? Can I soak them in water?

Do you offer products for denture care?

Miscellaneous

Is it OK to go to the dentist when you're pregnant?

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Common Questions:

How soon can you get me in for an appointment?

It depends on what you need an appointment for.

What is your cancellation policy? Will I get charged?

We require at least 24 hours notice in order to cancel your appointment. This ensures that if you are not able to make it to your appointment we can find someone else to take your place. If you do not cancel and do not show up for your appointment we will mark the appointment as "missed". After two "missed" appointments you will be charged $20. After three missed appointments you will be charged $50 and you will have to pre-pay for any future visits.

I have anxiety concerning dentists. Do you offer gas to relax you?

No, we do not provide gas but we will prescribe you Valium to take an hour before your appointment to relax you. If this is the case, please let us know before you arrive for your appointment and please remember that if you have taken Valium, you need to have someone else drive you to your appointment for safety reasons.

Do I need to need to be pre-medicated before my appointment?

Check with your physician to see if you need to be pre-medicated before a visit to the dentist. Reasons for pre-medication include (but are not limited to): joint replacements, heart valve replacement, or any type of shunt.

If the above is true, most dental procedures require pre-medication. It is important to have pre-medication before any procedure where the dental professional will be working around the gum line. You do not need to be pre-medicated before coming in for an emergency exam, a follow-up exam, or an X-ray.

While we abide by the guidelines of the American Heart Association,  we will follow the advice of your physician regarding pre-medication.

Can I bring my kids? How young? What if my kid is scared?

Yes. Children of all ages are welcome. We ask that if you have children under the age of 5, you do not leave them in the waiting room unsupervised. If your child is scared the best thing you can do for them is to be calm. If you are nervous about coming to the dentist then they will be too.

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Privacy, Financing,
& insurance

Privacy

What is your policy regarding privacy and patient confidentiality?

We respect the privacy of our patients. We give all new patients a copy of our Privacy Policy with their welcome packet but you can ask for a copy of our Privacy Policy at any time or view our Privacy Policy online (PDF format) which you can print off for your own records.

Are there any international or national standards enforced in regards to patient privacy?

Yes. All medical professionals must abide by the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). Our office privacy policy follows these standards.

What other measures do you take to ensure the privacy of your patients?

When we call patients back from the waiting room we do not disclose the patient's full name, or even their last name. We feel that, especially in a small town environment, this helps protect the privacy our our patients. We mean no disrespect. We also have a private consultation room where patients can discuss their treatment, their insurance, or other private matters.

Why do you need my SSN?

We need your social security number in order to send out insurance claims. The electronic system we use to file a claim with the insurance companies will not process a claim without a social security number. We also use your social security number for financial reasons in case we have to deal with a collection agency.

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Financing

How can I pay for your services?

You can pay for your office visits and any treatments at the time of treatment by cash, check, credit or debit card, and money orders.

What credit cards to you accept?

Visa, Discover, Master Card, and American Express

Will you send me a bill or do I have to pay at the time of service?

According to our office policy payment is due at the time of service. If you have insurance we will estimate how much the insurance is likely to pay and you only pay your estimated portion at the time of service. If you do not have insurance you must pay the entire portion at the time of service.

Do you offer payment plans for people who can’t pay the entire cost at the time of service?

Yes. We work with a company called Care Credit which is a health care financing company. For more information about Care Credit, please visit our Care Credit Information page.

I received a bill in the mail but I paid the charges at the time of service. What is the bill for? When is it due? Are there late fees?

This is most likely due to your insurance coverage. When we calculate your payment at the time of service we are basing your portion on an estimate of what we believe the insurance company will pay, based onwhat they have paid in the past. Sometimes coverage changes or prices are increased and therefore the insurance doesn't pay as much as we estimated they would and you are responsible to pay the remainder.

If you do not have insurance, or if you have determined that a change in insurance coverage is not the cause of the mysterious charge, then you probably have a charge for a missed appointment.

I’ve been getting calls from Collections. Why did you send me to Collections? What are the consequences? I’ve paid my bills; how do I get back in your ‘good books’?

If you've been sent to Collections it means your bill has been outstanding for 90 days with no payments made during that time. We send out several statements including a final notice as reminders to pay your bill. If we recieve no response and no payments we will send you to Collections. We will call you to inform you when we send your information to a collection agency.

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Insurance

What insurance do you accept?

We accept ALL major dental insurances. We are a PPO (preferred provider) for Aetna and a Premier provider for Delta Dental.

Check with your health insurance provider to see if your coverage includes dental procedures. Just because you have medical insurance doesn't mean you have dental insurance.

What if I am out of network?

We accept out of network patients. Depending on the cost of the procedure it could cost you more out of pocket if we are out of network for your insurance plan. You can go online to your insurance company's website to check your insurance coverage.

Do I have to send the claims to my insurance or do you?

We send the claims for you. Unlike many care providers, we don’t make you pay the entire portion up front and have the insurance company reimburse you. Instead, at our office you only pay the portion of your bill that is estimated not to be covered by your insurance plan. We are usually able to let you know what your estimated portion is at the time of service.

I don’t have insurance. How do I get insurance? What do you recommend?

If you don’t have insurance with your place of employment, and don’t qualify for state assisted programs, you can get individual dental insurance through Aflac and Delta Dental of Illinois.

Do you accept public aid/ Medical Card patients?

Yes, but only if you are a resident of Piatt County.

What if I have further questions?

To discuss your payment options or insurance coverage, please call (217) 762-4366 and ask to speak with our office manager, Vicki.

 

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Services & Treatment

This section is for general questions about various services. If you want a more detailed explanation of what a service is, please go to our Services page or click on the name of the service which will link you to an explanation of that service on our Services page.

If you have specific questions about whether you need a certain service or treatment, Please visit our Symptoms, Diagnoses, and Treatment Options page.

Services

What's the difference between a crown and a cap?

None. Dentists generally refer to these restorations as crowns, while patients often refer to the tooth-colored ones as caps and the gold or stainless steel ones as crowns.

What's the difference between a bridge and a partial denture?

Both bridges and partial dentures replace missing teeth. A bridge is permanently attached to adjacent teeth or, in some cases, implants. A partial denture is attached by clasps to the teeth and is easily removed by the patient.

What about silver fillings versus white fillings?

Although the U.S. Public Health Service issued a report in 1993 stating there is no health reason not to use amalgam (silver fillings), more patients today are requesting white or tooth-colored composite fillings. Most dentists prefer tooth-colored fillings because they bond to the tooth structure and therefore help strengthen a tooth weakened by decay. White fillings are also usually less sensitive to temperature, and they also look better.

In certain situations, however, silver fillings may be more suitable because they are easier to place: there are fewer steps and it is not required that the area surrounding the tooth be kept dry while the filling is being placed.

Do I need to have a root canal just because I have to have a crown?

No. While most teeth which have had root canal treatments do need crowns to strengthen the teeth and to return the teeth to normal form and function, not every tooth needing a crown also needs to have a root canal.

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Treatment

Will I have to get a shot?

You may need anesthesia for fillings, crowns, bridges, root canals, and extractions. While no one likes getting a shot, most general restorations are more comfortably performed while the patient is numb. However certain procedures are minimally invasive and therefore a shot is not necessary.

Will it hurt to get restorative procedure such as a filling, a crown, a bridge, or a root canal?

If you have been given a shot, the anesthesia will greatly reduce your ability to feel pain so the procedure should be a relatively comfortable one.

Will it hurt to get my tooth pulled?

With adequate anesthesia, any discomfort you feel will be minimal and brief.

I am taking a blood thinner. Will this affect my treatment?

If you are taking a blood thinner we will need to know your INA# before performing an extraction.

I am taking medication for osteoperosis. Will this affect my treatment?

If you are taking osteoperosis medication, we may need to have a CTX done before an Extraction.

 

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Oral Health & Products

Oral Health

How often should I brush my teeth? Do I have to brush my tongue?

It is recommended that you brush your teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. Some people prefer to brush their teeth after each meal but it is not required. It is also recommended that you brush your tongue when you brush your teeth to prevent build-up that can cause bad breath among other things.

Is there any special care required if I have braces?

If you have braces you may wish to brush more often to ensure that no food is caught in your teeth, as apart from potential embarassment, food that sits near the teeth for extended periods of time can lead to tooth decay. If you have braces it is especially important to brush thoroughly and floss under the wire of your braces at least twice a day. If you have just had your braces put on or tightened it may be painful but this does not mean you should stop taking proper care of your teeth.

How often should I floss?

It is recommended that you floss your teeth at least once a day. It is a good habit to floss your teeth whenever you brush your teeth so you will not forget. Flossing your teeth once a day helps to prevent cavities from forming between the teeth where your toothbrush can't reach. Flossing also helps to keep your gums healthy.

Should I use a mouthwash? Why? How often? Which one?

It is recommended that you use a mouthwash after brushing. Most mouthwashes help with the prevention of plaque build-up, prevention of gingivitis (gum disease), and prevention of bad breath. Mouthwash is not a replacement for brushing or flossing your teeth. We reccommend Listerine, Crest Pro-Health, or Prevention which we sell here at the office. Prevention has a rinse for braces, periodontal disease and one for everyday use which helps prevent canker sores and sores in your mouth.

Is it true that tobacco and cigarettes can lead to oral health problems?

Yes, smoking cigarettes and chewing tobacco can contribute to many oral health problems including gum disease. Further Information

What is gum disease? How can I prevent it? I have it, what can I do?

Gum disease is a broad term used to describe various diseases that affect the gums, bone, and surrounding structures of the teeth. The best way to prevent gum disease is to brush gently and thoroughly, to floss daily, and to get your teeth professionally cleaned on a regular basis. If you have gum disease, speak with your hygienist about treatment options and continuing care.

I have dry mouth syndrome. Is this bad? What can I do?

It can be bad because it makes you more prone to tooth decay due to decreased saliva flow. We recommend a product called Biotene. For more information on dry mouth, the causes, and the symptoms, please speak with your hygienist or visit the Biotene website.

How often should I get my teeth cleaned? Why?

For the general population, professional cleanings  twice a year are recommended. However, some  individuals may need personalized treatment plans  with more frequent visits. In fact, research has  shown that patients who have had gum surgery to  treat periodontal disease can  best maintain the  health of their gums if they come every two to three  months.

I have more cavities than my friends. Why?

The most important factors in preventing tooth decay are maintaining a proper diet and proper dental hygiene. However, due to variances in the chemical make-up of saliva, some people are more prone to cavities than others.

What I can do to ensure my child’s teeth will be healthy?

For more information and our top tips to ensure your child's dental health, see our Information for Parents page.

Is fluoride treatment necessary?

Yes. Fluoride treatment is beneficial in preventing tooth decay. For more information, visit our Information for Parents page.

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Products

Which type of toothbrush should I use?

The brand of the toothbrush is not as critical as the type of bristle and the size of the head. A soft toothbrush with a small head is recommended because medium and hard brushes tend to cause irritation and contribute to recession of the gums. A small head allows you to get around each tooth more completely and is less likely to injure your gums. Any electric toothbrush, generally, will clean better than a manual toothbrush.

Is one toothpaste better than others?

Generally, no. However, it's advisable to use a fluoride-containing toothpaste to decrease the incidence of dental decay. We recommend our patients use what tastes good to them as long as it contains fluoride.

Can I purchase regular toothbrushes or toothpaste at your office?

Regular toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss are given to each patient at their regular dental check-up but you cannot purchase them at our office.

Can I purchase an electric toothbrush at your office?

Yes. We do sell Oral-B and Sonicare brand electric toothbrushes and the brush head refills.

Do you sell any whitening products?

We sell Professional Crest Whitening strips which cannot be purchased in a store.

We also sell custom-made bleaching trays. To find out more information visit our Services page.

Do you provide any other products for purchase?

Yes. We sell Prevention mouth rinses for specific problems. We also sell Viroxyn for cold sores and Debacterol for canker sores. We sometimes provide samples of Listerine and Oralbase.

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Denture Care

For more detailed information on the proper care of dentures and partial dentures, see our Services page.

How often should I clean my dentures/partial dentures? How often do I have to change the solution?

You should clean your dentures at least once a day. How often you change your solution depends on the brand of solution. Please read the packaging carefully for instructions. Some cleansing solutions require you to change them every day while others may last up to a week.

Do I have to brush them or can I just soak them?

It is important to brush your dentures as well as soaking them in order to properly remove any food debris.

Do I have to remove them at night? When I eat?

It is recommended that you remove your dentures at night to give your gums and bone a rest.

You do not have to remove your dentures when you eat. Dentures and partial dentures are designed to help you eat properly.

What happens if I’m out of solution? Can I soak them in water?

Yes. It is important that you do not allow your dentures to dry out otherwise they may warp. However, it is important that you acquire more cleansing solution as soon as possible.

Do you offer products for denture care?

We give patients a denture care kit when you get your new dentures or partial dentures. We sell denture and partial denture cleanser that lasts 7-10 days which can't be bought in stores.

 

 

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Miscellaneous

Is it OK to go to the dentist when you're pregnant?

Yes. Be sure to mention that you are pregnant because there may need to be an adjustment in your treatment plan or prescriptions. If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, you may want to visit our Information for Parents page to find answers to other common questions.

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A bridge is a restoration that replaces one or more missing teeth and usually consists of replacement teeth attached to two crowns which are cemented onto the natural teeth to either side of the gap. Click the link for more information.
If a tooth is severely decayed to the point that a restorative treatment cannot be attempted, it may be necessary to have that tooth pulled. Our office also performs wisdom teeth extractions. Click the link for more information.
Root Canal Therapy is a treatment used to save teeth that are severely damaged and have an infection in the nerve chamber of the tooth. Click the link for more information.
When a tooth has a cavity, the best treatment option is a filling. There are two types of fillings. Fillings are a fairly simple and caught early enough, cavities can be treated easily with little or no discomfort. Click the link for more information.

A crown, or cap, is a man-made cover that is used to restore and preserve decayed, broken, or cracked teeth. Crowns are custom fit to your mouth and we have an extensive shade guide to ensure your crown matches the color of your natural teeth. Click the link for more information.