Dental FAQ | Michael C. Bell DDS, PC - Dentist Austin, TX


Will my dental work hurt? Will I be getting a shot?

To do fillings, crowns and other restorative treatment comfortably, the dentist does give a local anesthetic to numb the tooth/area. Our dentist is frequently told that he gives a “great shot.” We often hear, “I barely felt that!” To make the injection as painless as possible a topical anesthetic is placed on the soft tissue before placing local anesthetic, which helps with the “pinch” of the shot. One extra step that our dentist takes to make this process more comfortable for our patients is he starts with a less acidic/light anesthetic called, Polocaine for an initial numbing of the soft tissue. They he reinforces with a stronger anesthetic, Septocaine and/or Lidocaine. The type of anesthetic varies on which area (upper or lower) that the dentist will be working in. We also have Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) and/or headphones available to those who are more anxious about getting dental work done. Before starting any treatment, the dentist and team ensure that our patients are comfortable and their needs are met.

Can I use my own headphones?

Yes, you are more than welcome to bring in your own Ipod or music device/player and use your own headphones with the music that you enjoy. We also always have headphones available for those who do not have their own music/headphones, with Pandora available with any genre of music your heart might desire.

After the dentist numbs my mouth, how long will it last and when can I eat?

After getting treatment done that requires a local anesthetic, the time of numbness can vary from person to person, ranging anywhere from one to six hours. The way your body metabolizes things will determine the length of the numbness. You will experience a tingling sensation when the anesthetic begins to wear off.

When it comes to eating, it is recommended that you eat prior to coming in to get dental work done. In cases where eating is just not an option, you are able to eat while being numb, but we recommend eating something that doesn’t require a lot of chewing, such as a smoothie, soup or semi-solid foods such as mac and cheese or mashed potatoes. While you are numb it is easy to bite your cheek or tongue, which can be uncomfortable after the numbness has worn off. Prevention is the best solution, if you do bite your cheek or tongue, rinsing with warm salt water can help soothe the area and also speed healing.

I get nervous at the dentist. What do you have to help alleviate my anxiety?

We have a range of options you should explore. And if you are bothered by needles, ask about our new “Dental Vibe” technology, which helps make injections almost imperceptible.

I really do not like visiting the dentist. Is there anything you can do to help me relax?

We make every effort to make your visit soothing and relaxing. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can be administered safely and comfortably through a disposable nosepiece, newly opened for each patient. Headphones with your favorite music from Pandora, dark glasses to protect your eyes, nature DVDs on monitors in our operatories, neck support pillows and blankets are all available for your comfort and relaxation. For some of our most nervous patients, oral sedation is also available. Talk to us about your anxiety and we can be extra sensitive to your needs. Learn more about our sedation technologies.

What is Smile Analysis and Design?

Dr. Bell takes extreme care when analyzing your features to design a smile that best compliments you. This process is much more than just cosmetic. It includes looking at your teeth, face shape and size, bite alignment, and analyzing how you swallow, speak and eat. All of this allows them to make sure you have a healthy environment without disease and decay. Smile analysis is not just our way of helping address that common question of “what can I do to look better?” … it’s so much more! Our dentist takes everything into consideration to create a smile that will make you happy for the rest of your life. They will sit down with you to understand your goals to help you understand the opportunities to ultimately reach those goals.

Do you accept my insurance plan?

Our office is very up to date on insurance. When you provide us with your insurance information, we will call and get a general breakdown of what your insurance covers. We are not a part of any provider or DMO plan. Your HR department or personnel department may or may not know this but even if you are given a list of dentists on your plan, we find that 80% of the time, you still have the ability to choose your own dentist. We will complete your claim forms and even help argue your case if your claim is denied.

If your carrier is up to date, the claims will be transmitted electronically before the end of your treatment day! We will initially ask you for your estimated co-payment if your visit is over $200, and if it’s under $200 we ask that you pay in full and we will file your claim and your insurance will reimburse you directly. Please understand that we can’t always know exactly how your insurance company will reimburse you. We provide an estimate that is based on the information available to us from your provider. Once your carrier has paid the claim, any difference will be due upon receipt of our statement. If your insurance company postpones payment for more than 90 days, we ask that you make the payment while we work together to get the insurance company to pay you their obligations. The range of benefits depends solely on what your employer wishes to pursue. Some plans cover as little as 30% or as much as 100% of dental services, with most falling in the 40-80% range. Most plans also have a yearly maximum.

Many plans base the amount of benefit on a schedule of fees arbitrarily developed by insurance companies. For this reason, you may receive a lower percentage than the reimbursement level indicated in your dental plan. For example, if your plan states that it will pay 70% of the cost of a specific treatment, it means that 70% of the fee arbitrarily determined by the insurance company and not the actual fee charged by our office. The financial obligations for the dental treatment are between you are your office. Dental insurance is an assistance with your dental care. It does not “PAY ALL” It is interesting to note that insurance companies charge 20-25% of your premiums to administer dental plans. They also keep any unused premiums at the end of the year, and start you over with new deductibles and copays every year.

What payment options do you provide?

We consider our relationship with you to be of primary importance and will always make our recommendations based on what we believe is the very best treatment for you regardless of your insurance coverage or financial arrangements. For your comfort and convenience, we offer a wide range of financial options and welcome suggestions and questions.

Discount for full pre-payment – New patients earn a 5% discount when they pre-pay the full amount of any extended treatments, such as those that would occur over multiple visits and might extend for six months or so. Applies to payments (minimum of $500) made by cash or check.

Care Credit – Interest-free payment plans with low payments up to 12 months. With good credit we can get fast approval by phone or you can fill out an application by clicking here.

Pay As You Go – You may choose to pay your obligation for each visit with cash, check or credit card at each visit.

Gradual Payment Plan – For those patients on a limited budget, by prioritizing treatment, those who are on a tight budget or do not have dental insurance can still complete their dental work. We do this by “phasing out” their treatment and appointments accordingly over several months/ years depending on the type of treatment that is needed.