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  • Blog

    August 2017 – Summer Fun

    Summertime means longer days, camping, movies, school/church camps, concerts/symphonies in the park along with many outdoor activities, vacations, stay-cations and honeydew lists.  When the Montana fair comes to town we know school is right around the corner.

    This time of year can bring about new beginnings. For some people it can mean retirement, empty nesters, college, high school, middle school, and primary school. The stores have been preparing for back to school and will be packed with shoppers.  I look forward to getting back into a routine. Organization and preparation is one of the keys for back to school routines and is very helpful with busy school schedules.  As you prepare for back to school remember take care of your most important asset, you! If you are a teacher or an administrator we have a Thank You gift!

    August is Teacher Appreciation Month. Dr Tanner is offering free take home whitening to all Billings and surrounding area teachers and school administrators.  If you always wanted a whiter brighter smile call us today. This is Dr Tanner’s way of saying THANK YOU for all you do to empower our community by equipping kids for the future.

    Lisa Lovering, MADAA

    July 2017 – Invisalign

    Invisalign are clear aligners (clear plastic trays), also known as clear-aligner treatment, that are orthodontic devices that use incremental transparent aligners to adjust teeth as an alternative to traditional metal braces.

    Invisalign is a multi step process to getting the straight teeth you have always dreamed of! At Grand Avenue Dental Care we use a digital scanner called Itero that takes a 3D image of your teeth. After the scans are complete we send them to have your trays made. Before we submit to the company the patient will sit down with Dr. Tanner and go over how many trays you will need to complete your treatment and be shown a digital video on how their teeth will move over time.

    When the patient decides to proceed with treatment we process and have the trays made and sent to our office and in about two weeks you’ll be starting your Invisalign journey!

    Patient testimony:

    “I went through Invisalign for roughly a year and a half and now I have the smile I have always dreamed of having!

    The first few trays are getting used to the tightness of the tray but also getting used to changing your dental routine. You have to floss and brush after eating or drinking anything other than water or food because it will get jammed up into your gum tissues. After roughly a month I came back into the office to have the attachments (buttons) placed, Dr. Tanner placed composite attachments to my teeth matching the shade my teeth. After bonding the attachments in place I got my new set of trays and then the moving really got going. Every 6 weeks you come in for a new set of trays, the appointments take very little time out of your day, sometimes Dr. Tanner has to INP (interporximal stripping) to make sure your teeth have enough room to move and floss. After my last trays we removed the buttons and I was placed in my Viveras (night retainers) full time for a month for the bone to harden then graduated to just at night! I am so glad I went through this journey, not only do I have a smile I have always wanted but also boosted my self confidence! Invisalign was one of the best choices I have ever made about my dental health!” –Patty

    Patricia Furman, CDA

    May 2017 – Oil Pulling….”Pulling your Leg!”

    This is a misunderstood topic for the general public and extremely frustrating topic for dental professionals. I recently was on a social media site..ahem… Facebook, and noticed comments on oil pulling being a miracle cure, this couldn’t be farther from the truth! While studies have shown coconut oil reduces the bacterial load in a person’s mouth, it is not significant enough to stop decay. Oil pulling does not deplete bacterial causing decay either. The best thing to do to prevent decay is: mouth washes, flossing, brushing, and toothpaste containing fluoride and of course a fun meeting with your dental hygienist every 6 months.

    Laura G. CDA, CPT, CNA

    Cited Source:
    Beck, Julie. The Atlantic. “Swishing With Oil for Oral Health: Not Recommended.” March 19th, 2014.

    April 2017 – Oral Cancer

    Spring at last! Now into April, two important topics take the spotlight in dentistry.

    The first topic is oral cancer. Early detection and treatment is key to increasing survival. Do you know the signs?

    Some Signs and symptoms of oral cancer

    • difficulty chewing or swallowing
    • ear pain
    • difficulty moving the jaw or tongue
    • hoarseness
    • numbness of the tongue or other areas of the mouth
    • swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable
    • soreness or a feeling that something is caught in the throat
    • lump or thickening of tissues inside mouth
    • red and/or white lesions that do not heal anywhere in the mouth or throat
    • sore or irregular moles on lips that do not resolve

    Especially with the wonderful weather around the corner, be aware of the terrible triad!
    Smoking, drinking alcohol, and sun exposure (especially done at the same time) greatly increase your chances of developing oral cancer.

    It is recommended to have an annual exam and screening with your dentist to check for any abnormalities, but first line of defense often lies with you taking note of any changes or unusual findings. When in doubt, call your dentist or doctor to be checked.
    More good information and support can be found on

    The second topic is mouth guards. Sports are a great way for our children and us to stay healthy and socially involved, and they are tons of fun. Why let a mouth injury ruin that?

    Mouth guards are an easy way to prevent serious injuries to the mouth and teeth. They help cushion a blow to the face decreasing risk of broken teeth and injuries to your lips, tongue, face and jaw.

    Custom fit sports guards made by your dental office are superior for fit, comfort, and quality protection, but the over the counter guards also provide protection if cost is a factor. So, protect that smile, and make sure to put in that sports guard!

    Christina Smith, RDH

    March 2017 – Healthy pH

    Balancing the pH of the mouth may be one efficient way to reduce bacteria that can cause tooth decay. There are several ways to balance pH including consumption of alkalosis foods, reducing consumption of foods that lower the pH of the mouth, and of course regular dental care.

    A healthy pH in saliva is between a 5.6 -7.9. A pH level of less than 5.5 can put a person at risk of tooth enamel erosion that can cause cavities. A higher pH can reduce the risk. A standard neutral pH is 7, the balanced pH level found in water.

    Bacteria feed off of sugars commonly found in foods including sucrose (table sugar), glucose, fructose, lactose and cooked starches. Foods such as candies, sodas, pastas, animal proteins and breads, as well as many natural fruits, provide oral bacteria with fuel to produce the lactic acid that causes tooth decay. Reducing consumption of these sugary foods is one method of controlling the growth of bad bacteria and production of acid.

    Consuming foods that balance the alkalinity of saliva may be a method for creating an unfavorable environment for bacteria to thrive. When pH drops, bacteria that produce lactic acid thrive. Try consuming foods that have a higher pH value, and are higher on the alkaline spectrum. At the high end of the spectrum are spinach, broccoli, cucumbers, onion, sweet potatoes, green beans, blueberries, mangos, avocados and peas. Some surprisingly alkaline fruits also include lemons and limes, which despite their acidic taste are alkaline for the body. On the highly acidic, low pH end of the spectrum lie sodas and energy drinks, beef, bread, nuts, artificial sweeteners, pasta, pork and coffee.

    Balance is important when deciding on foods for regulating the pH of the mouth. While having a mouth that is too low on the pH scale can put one at a higher risk for cavities, consuming only foods with only high pH can be too much of a good thing. Consumption of the proper vitamins and nutrients required for good health, and good oral health, is most important.

    It is important to brush, floss and rinse twice daily, as well as visit the dentist every six months for exams and cleanings. Talk to your dentist about your oral health and any concerns you may have. Paired with a good dental health routine, balancing the pH of the mouth can be one method to keep the mouth healthy and reduce cavities.


    February 2017 – New Year

    2017- Wow! The New Year is here and a month gone!

    Many New Years resolutions that we make concern improving our health, and trying to stick to it. Think about making part of your New Years Resolution to improve or maintain your oral health—it’s never too late to start this. In doing so, you may very well be improving you total overall health.

    Bacterial infections in the mouth can be related to other health issues such as:

    • Heart Disease, Diabetes, Premature/low birth weight babies.
    • Or mouths are connected to the rest of our bodies after all!

    So, come in to Grand Avenue Dental Care on a regular basis for your routine cleaning/perio evaluation, exam/cancer screening and x- rays- as needed.
    Let us help you to achieve Oral health and overall body health.

    Keep going in 2017!


    January 2017 – Oral Hygiene

    Good oral hygiene begins with parents at an early age. For instance, teething usually begins around six months and it is not uncommon for teething to begin as early as three months. It is important for parents to clean their infant’s teeth after every nursing or bottle feeding. Parents should not put milk or sugary drinks in their infants bottle at night time.

    Parents can use a soft bristle toothbrush or a warm wash clothe to gently wipe the teeth clean. When infants become toddlers and then school age, parents will need to teach them to floss and brush correctly. Younger children do not have the manual dexterity; therefore, they need more assistance. In addition, parents can promote good oral hygiene by monitoring how much their children consume sugar. Children who consume lots of processed, sugary foods rather than healthy fruits and vegetables in their diets are more prone to tooth decay. Overall, children who learn from their moms and dads with assistance will develop healthy oral hygiene habits as well as healthy teeth and gums.

    Hygiene Coordinator

    December 2016 – Dental Plans

    It seems that understanding changes are not always easy but I hope by sharing this information will help you understand and clarify unanswered questions regarding insurance benefits. This information is from the ADA (American Dental Association) 2014 Brochure;

    Having dental insurance or a dental benefit plan can make it easier to get the dental care you need. But most dental benefits plans do not cover all dental procedures. Your dental coverage is not based on what you need or what your Dr. Tanner recommends. It is based on how much your employer pays into the plan.

    When deciding on treatment, dental benefits should not be the only thing you consider. Your treatment should be determined by you and Dr. Tanner.

    How Dental Plans Work:

    Almost all dental plans are a contract between your employer and an insurance company. Your employer and the insurer agree on the amount your plan pays and what procedures are covered.

    Often, you may have a dental care need that is not covered by your plan. Employers generally choose to cover some, but not all, of employees’ dental costs. If you are not satisfied with the coverage provided by your insurance, let your employer know.

    The Role of your Dental Office:

    Dr. Tanner’s main goal is to help you take good care of your teeth. This office will file claims with your dental plan as a service to you. The part of the bill not covered by insurance is your responsibility.

    Cost-Control Measures Used by Dental Benefit Plans:

    Key terms used to describe the features of a dental plan may include the following:

    UCR (Usual, Customary, and Reasonable) Charges

    UCR Charges are the maximum allowable amounts that will be covered by the plan. Although these terms make it sound like a UCR charge is the standard rate for dental care, it is not. The terms “usual,” “customary.” And “reasonable” are misleading for several reasons:

    • Insurance companies can set whatever amount they want for UCR charges. They may not match current actual fees charged by dentists in a given area.
    • A company’s UCR amounts may stay the same for any years. They do not have to keep up with inflation or the costs of dental care.
    • Insurance companies are not required to say how they set their UCR rates. Each company has its own formula.

    If your dental bill is higher than the UCR, it does not mean Dr. Tanner has charged too much. It could mean your insurance company has not updated its UCR charges. It could also mean that the data used to set the UCR is taken from areas of the state that are different from Billings.

    Annual Maximums

    This is the largest dollar amount a dental plan will pay during the year. Your employer decides the maximum levels of payment in its contract with the insurance company. You are expected to pay copayments and any costs above the annual maximum. Annual maximums are not always updated to keep up with the costs of dental care. If the annual maximum of your plan is too low to meet your needs, ask your employer to look into plans with higher annual maximums.

    Preferred Providers

    The plan may want you to choose dental care from its network of preferred providers. The term “preferred” means these dentists have a contract with the dental benefit plan; it does not mean these are dentists the patient prefers. If you get dental care from a dentist who is not in the network, you may have higher out-of-pocket costs. Learn about your plan’s costs when using both in – and out- of- network dentists.

    Pre-Existing Conditions

    A dental plan may not cover conditions that existed before you enrolled in the plan. For example, benefits will not be paid for replacing a tooth that was missing before the effective date of coverage. Even though your plan may not cover certain conditions, you may still need treatment to keep your mouth healthy.

    Coordination of Benefits (COB) or Non-duplication of Benefits

    These terms apply to patients covered by more than one dental plan. The benefits payments from all insurers should not add up to more than the total charges. Even though you may have two or more dental benefit plans, there is no guarantee that all of the plan will pay for your services. Sometimes, none of the plans will pay for the services you need. Each insurance company handles COB in its own way. Please check your plans for details.

    Plan Frequency Limitations

    A dental plan may limit the number of times it will pay for certain treatment. But some patients may need a treatment more often to maintain good oral health. For example, a plan might pay for teeth cleaning only twice a year even though the patient needs a cleaning four times a year. Make treatment decisions based on what’s best for your health, not just what is covered by your plan.

    Not Dentally Necessary

    Many dental plans state that only procedures that are medically or dentally necessary will be covered. If the claim is denied, it does not mean that the services were not necessary. Treatment decisions should be made by you and Dr. Tanner. If your plan rejects a claim because a service was “not dentally necessary,” you can appeal. Work with your benefits manager and the plan’s customer service department to appeal the decision in writing.

    Other Cost-Control Measures

    • Bundling – Claims bundling is when two different dental procedures are combined by the insurance company into one procedure. This may reduce your benefit.
    • Downcoding – is when a dental plan changes the procedure code to a less complex or lower cost procedure than was reported by Dr. Tanner’s office.
    • Least Expensive Alternative Treatment (LEAT) – Your plan may have a LEAT clause. That means that if there is more than one way to treat a condition, the plan will pay for only the least expensive treatment. However, the least expensive option is not always the best. For example, Dr. Tanner may recommend an implant for you, but the plan may only cover less costly dentures. You should talk with Dr. Tanner about the best treatment option for you.

    Make Your Dental Health the Top Priority

    Although you may be tempted to make decisions about your dental care based on what insurance will pay, remember that your health is the most important thing. Dental insurance is one part of your healthy mouth plan. If you find out what your dental policy covers and plan accordingly, it will help maintain your oral health. Our office staff and Dr. Tanner will work hard to take the best possible care of your teeth so they last a lifetime!

    Debbie, Insurance Coordination

    November 2016

    The importance of Flossing

    Flossing is one of, if not, the most important at home routine maintenance care you can do. Recently there was an article in the New York Times released showing a study done in which flossing is not necessary. The study was very short term, done on healthy adults and not in a controlled environment—which in turn is leaving out realistic facts as to why flossing is very beneficial to overall health. Any dentist can tell you the benefits of flossing that were not directed in this study. I have listed 5 basic facts as to why you should be flossing daily;

    1. The human mouth has 700 different strains of bacteria that have been detected. Flossing removes bacteria/plaque buildup between the teeth, in the soft tissue, that brushing alone cannot reach.
    2. Halitosis (bad breath) is directly related to not flossing. If bacteria is left to fester between the teeth crevasses it will over time turn into tartar that cannot be removed by regular brushing or flossing. This also breaks down the tooth’s enamel and heightens the risk of tooth decay.
    3. Gingivitis is the inflammation of gums. Flossing lessens the likelihood of this happening and promotes healthy gum tissue around the tooth enamel. Flossing also minimizes the bleeding of gum tissue.
    4. If bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease enter into your circulatory system, it can cause the liver to release C-reactive proteins. These proteins have inflammatory effects on your entire circulatory system, therefore affecting your entire body.
    5. There is a higher percentage of type 2 diabetes among those with gum disease, due to the inflammatory effects of unbalanced microflora in your mouth. Flossing helps balance detrimental bacteria’s in your mouth that affect overall health.

    These listed effects are just a few items that are directly related to oral hygiene. We strongly suggest flossing and maintaining good home care and using quality oral techniques. Contact our office if you have questions about technique, effects and longer term health. Your mouth is the window to your body—treat it well!

    October 2016


    ​Toothbrushes are dangerous! I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s very true. It is crucially important to always use a soft bristled toothbrush. What most people don’t realize is as soon as a toothbrush starts to fray it is no longer a soft bristled brush, but gets more and more abrasive the more frayed it is.

    Also as long as a toothbrush is moist it is teaming with bacteria; there is bacteria present within a 6 foot radius of a toilet, and the best way to kill toothbrush bacteria is with UV light. So what is one to do??


    In an ideal world you should brush your teeth at a sink that is in a different room than a toilet. When you are done brushing your teeth you should place your toothbrush in a window sill where it can get exposed to sunlight and dry out. If it dries during the day you can use it again at night. If it’s not dry you should use a different toothbrush.

    So I actually recommend one toothbrush for use in the morning and another at night. In an ideal world you should also have a third toothbrush to use after lunch while at work. As soon as a toothbrush starts fraying, replace it.

    And last try to brush at least 2 minutes!!! Shockingly the U.S. average time for brushing teeth is 17 seconds. Just a couple tips to help you all have healthy happy teeth!
    Dr. Nathan Tanner, D.M.D.