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About the ODA

Got a question? This area of our website provides answers to some of the most common oral health questions, as well as some facts about the dental profession.

Looking for some general dentistry-related information? A list of dentistry FAQs provides answers to some frequently asked questions regarding dental health and dentistry-related issues in Ohio. For information on general oral health issues and topics, please visit the American Dental Association. However, you should always consult with a dentist for any concerns, injuries or issues related to dental health and specific care of your teeth.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following are answers to some frequently asked questions regarding dental health and dentistry-related issues in Ohio. For information on general oral health issues and topics, please visit the American Dental Association. You should always consult with a dentist for any concerns, injuries or issues related to dental health and specific care of your teeth.

How much should dental treatments cost?

The ODA recommends that you ask the dentist about fees for a particular service or treatment before beginning any treatment.

What does UCR mean?

There is no one acceptable or "correct" UCR for any dental procedure. However...

Usual — the fee a dentist most frequently charges for a given service;
Customary — the fee level determined by a dental benefit plan administrator from actual submitted fees for a specific dental procedure to establish the maximum benefit payable under a given plan for that specific procedure; and
Reasonable — the fee charged by a dentist for a specific dental procedure that has been modified by the nature and severity of the condition being treated and by any medical or dental complications or unusual circumstances.

Am I entitled to a copy of my dental records?

Patients have an absolute right to a copy — but not the original — of their dental records. Some dentists will only release patient records to another individual upon written consent of the patient or patient's guardian. It is legitimately accepted practice for a dentist, as for any other health care provider, to charge a reasonable fee for duplicating a patient's records.

I am on Medicaid/I have a health card, where can I find a dentist that participates in these programs?

Call the county or city office that issued your health coverage; they may have a list of dental practitioners for you to contact. If you are in a Medicaid HMO, call that HMO or go to ohiomcec.com. It is also possible that your local dental society may also have a list of practitioners.

Are there infection control measures to which dentists and their staff must adhere?

Ohio has had regulations for dentistry, including those governing infection control procedures in the dental office since 1987. Ask your dentist if you have concerns or questions about compliance in the office.

Why do teeth need fluoride?

Fluoride, often called nature's cavity fighter, helps safely prevent tooth decay. The American Dental Association has endorsed fluoridation of community water and use of dental care products with fluoride for over 40 years. If your local water supply does not contain fluoride, ask your dentist how you and your family should get it.

Is every community in Ohio fluoridated?

The Ohio Department of Health reports that about 91 percent of residents with public water systems in their community are receiving “adequate” fluoride through the water. However, there are 745 non-fluoridated water systems throughout the state and ODH estimates an additional 897,000 people in the state on public water systems do not get fluoride through their drinking water. The ODH also lists the following 22 Ohio cities exempt from mandatory fluoridation due to a 1970 referenda:

  • Celina (Mercer)
  • Crestline (Crawford)
  • Dover (Tuscarawas)
  • Galion (Crawford)
  • Greenfield (Highland)
  • Greenville (Darke)
  • Lancaster (Fairfield)
  • Lockland (Hamilton)
  • Mansfield (Richland)
  • Mt. Vernon (Knox)
  • New Carlisle (Clark)
  • New Philadelphia (Tuscarawas)
  • Oakwood (Montgomery)
  • Ohio Water Service-Washington Court House (Fayette)
  • St. Marys (Auglaize)
  • Springfield (Clark)
  • Troy (Miami)
  • Twin City-Dennison (Tuscarawas)
  • Urbana (Champaign)
  • Wilmington (Clinton)
  • Wooster (Wayne)
  • Xenia (Greene)

To learn more about water fluoridation in Ohio, including a list of the organizations that support fluoride in community water supplies to help prevent dental decay, visit the Ohio Dept. of Health.

What should I look for when buying individual or family dental insurance?

The ODA has developed a Consumer's Guide to Individual and Family Dental Insurance (PDF). This is a wonderful source for dental insurance that you may want to recommend to your employer. Direct Reimbursement is an innovative way to offer affordable and cost-effective dental benefits to employees. Direct Reimbursement reimburses employees based upon the dollars spent on dentistry, not the type of dental procedure performed. The plan can be customized by the employer to meet both company and employee needs. This type of benefit allows employees freedom of choice – they aren't confined only to dentists in a certain plan, or restricted to select procedures. Furthermore, the only benefits paid for are the services received. The employer does not pay for coverage that individual employees do not use or does not need. And employees are not subject to waiting periods of eligibility imposed by an insurance company. More information on Direct Reimbursement is available at www.ada.org.

When should my child have a first dental check-up and should it be with a pediatric dentist?

Your child should visit a dentist by his or her first birthday, with regular visits as recommended by the dentist after that. Whether it is with a pediatric dentist is a personal decision; however, it is wise to ask the dentist if he or she regularly treats children.

How does pregnancy affect my oral health?

Recent research indicates that poor oral health can contribute to pre-term delivery and/or a low birth weight of the baby. Women should discuss oral health issues with their physician and/or dentist. Basic dental health concerns during pregnancy include:

  • Need for additional calcium
  • How to ensure optimum oral health
  • Brushing and flossing more carefully and frequently
What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are third molars and people generally have three permanent molars in the upper right, upper left, lower right and lower left areas of the mouth. The first molars "grow" at about age 6, the second around age 12 and the third around ages 18-20 – a maturation time when people are considered to be wiser, hence the name.

Can any dentist do orthodontics (braces)?

It is the responsibility of the dentist to know when to refer cases to specialists and when a case falls within the scope of their training and comfort level. There is only one standard of care and if a dentist provides a service that does not meet that standard of care then he/she can be held accountable. Some dentists obtain additional formal education in orthodontics; these specialists are orthodontists.

When can a dental hygienist practice unsupervised in Ohio?

They cannot. A hygienist can practice without a dentist physically present in that particular office, providing he or she has met all of the Ohio State Dental Board requirements for doing so. Still, hygienists must practice under the supervision of the supervising dentist. Whatever hygienists do in the office is ultimately the legal responsibility of the dentist.

Why can only a dentist make dentures?

Under Ohio law, dentists are the only professionals trained to provide this care.

Who are the other clinical members of the dental team and what are they permitted to do?
  • Dental hygienists, among other tasks, can clean teeth and place sealants.
  • EFDA's, among other tasks, can place fillings and sealants.
  • Dental assistants, among other tasks, assist the dentist and clean and disinfect the treatment area and equipment.
  • Certified dental assistants can perform the duties of a dental assistant plus polish teeth and place sealants.
  • Dental assistant radiographers, among other tasks, can take dental x-rays with a permit.

For additional info on the dental team, please the visit Careers in Dentistry page.

Common Dental Emergencies
(responses as suggested by the American Dental Association)

In any oral health emergency, first and foremost, do NOT panic!

What to do if you have a toothache.

Gently rinse the mouth out with warm water to clean it out. Gently use dental floss to ensure that there is no food or other debris caught between the teeth.

Never put aspirin or any other painkiller against the gums near the aching tooth because it may burn the gum tissue. If the pain persists, contact your dentist.

What to do if you have a broken tooth.

Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area. Use cold compresses on the area to keep any swelling down. Call your dentist immediately.

What to do if a tooth is knocked out.

It's important to retrieve the tooth, hold it by the crown, and rinse off the root of the tooth if it's dirty. Do not scrub it or remove any attached tissue fragments. If possible, put the tooth back in its socket. If that isn't possible put it in a container with milk or cool water. Immediately contact your dentist. Don't forget to bring the tooth!

What to do for a bitten lip or tongue.

Clean the area gently with a cloth and apply cold compresses to reduce any swelling. If the bleeding doesn't stop, go to a hospital emergency room immediately.

What to do if objects get caught between the teeth.

Try to gently remove the object with dental floss; avoid cutting the gums. Never use a sharp instrument to remove any object that is stuck between your teeth. If you can't dislodge the object using dental floss, contact your dentist.

What to do if there are problems with braces and retainers.

If a wire is causing irritation, cover the end with a small cotton ball, beeswax or a piece of gauze until you can get to the dentist. If a wire gets stuck in the cheek, tongue or gum tissue, do not attempt to remove it. Contact your dentist immediately. If an appliance becomes loose or a piece of it breaks off, contact your dentist.

Contained within this section are numerous fact sheets on oral health topics. These are available to download and distribute.   Consumer Information