Dental Insurance–A Basic Guide

We deal with dental insurance all the time so we understand the lingo. If you are interested in learning more, below is a quick explanation of how dental insurance works.


What is a maximum?

Your maximum is the most amount of money your dental insurance will pay toward your dental benefits in one year. After you reach your maximum, any remaining costs will be out-of-pocket. Most plan maximums are in the $1,000 – $1,500 range.


If I don’t use all of my maximum in one year, does it roll over to the next?

No—typically it is a use-it-or-lose-it policy and you cannot carry forward any unused benefits to the next year. Exceptions do occur but are very rare. This is why it is important to utilize your benefits each year before they run out.


What is a deductible?

Your annual deductible is an amount of money you must pay first before your dental benefits will pay anything toward your treatment. Most deductibles are in the $50 – $100 range. On most plans, the deductible is waived for diagnostic and preventative services (i.e. x-rays and cleanings).


What do the categories and percentages mean?

Your plan will determine which services fall under which category. Typically:

  • Diagnostic/Preventative—x-rays, cleanings, exams, and fluoride
  • Restorative—fillings, perio (gum) therapy, root canals, and simple extractions
  • Major—crowns, bridges, dentures, and implants

The percentages are the amount that your dental insurance will pay toward those services. Typically we see dental plans paying 100% for diagnostic/preventative, 80% for restorative and 50% for major services up to your maximum amount.


Do my regular cleanings/check-ups come out of my annual maximum?

Yes, most policies will pay 100% for your regular cleaning and exam however the cost will be deducted from your annual maximum benefits.


How are the fees determined?

As a participating PPO provider, our fees are contracted with your insurance company.


What is an EOB?

An EOB stands for your Explanation of Benefits. This is provided by your dental insurance company and should give a breakdown of the services that were performed, any amount they paid toward the services and the portion that is your responsibility.


What are waiting periods?

Waiting periods are the amount of time you have to wait before your dental insurance will provide coverage for that service.


Still have questions? Give us a call at 303-779-2797 and we are happy to help.

Katie Camel Resized

Get to Know Katie Stager, Registered Dental Hygienist

Katie Stager Close up 4_6_15Katie has a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from CU-Denver and also a Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene from CU-Dental Health Science Center. She has been with Willow Creek Dental since 2008 and is also our OSHA and Infection Control Coordinator, ensuring that our procedures and equipment meet OSHA requirements.


You have a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry. Were you always planning to go into the dental field?

Yes, I always knew I wanted to go into the dental field but I wanted something to fall back on in case my body doesn’t let me do hygiene for the rest of my life. At the time I was very interested in dental forensics, which is why I got a degree in Chemistry.

What advice would you tell someone who would like to be a Dental Hygienist?

I would tell them to shadow a dental office and a Registered Dental Hygienist to make sure you like it. Also, try to complete an internship if possible.

What hygiene habits are you instilling in your young daughters?

USE AN ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH FROM DAY 1.  For my 3 year-old, we sing a song until I am done brushing her teeth.  She gets to brush first and then I get to brush and I sing songs until I’m done.

You like to be active and played soccer growing up. Do you still play today?

Can’t say I still play but some days I miss it.  I am still quite active, though, and enjoy going to the gym for spin classes.

You and your husband love to travel—how many different countries have you been to? What was the place that surprised you the most?

I have been to 16 different countries, I think. I survived the Bermuda Triangle back in 2014. I never ask someone who travels a lot which place was their favorite because each place is very different.  I always ask, “if you could go anywhere right this second, where would you go?”  I love Europe for the history.  I also have favorite beaches that I love to visit for the water.  United Arab Emirates surprised me the most I would say.  The customer service was amazing and everywhere you went people were very kind.  EVERYTHING is in English. including stop signs, which are in the shaped like ours and say it in Arabic and then underneath say “STOP”.

What would be  your dream place to visit?

I have so many places still on my bucket list. As of right now, though, I am anxious to take the girls on a Disney cruise.

What do you like to do in your downtime?

I enjoy family time, making cards and scrap booking.

Favorite Book:

I enjoy reading a suspenseful James Patterson book.

Favorite Movie or TV Show:

For TV shows, I like Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef, Banshee, and Shameless. Nick and I also enjoy watching a good movie.  It’s hard to pick a favorite, but we really enjoy getting a good laugh.

Favorite Holiday Tradition:

We always watch Planes, Trains, and Automobiles for Thanksgiving and Christmas Vacation for Christmas. Growing up one of my siblings would wake up very early and wake all of us up. We would sit on my parents bed and go through our stockings. Then we would head downstairs and open presents. My mom would put some kind of pastry in the oven and we would eat that while watching one of our new movies. All of us would then fall back asleep watching the movie. We would stay in our pajamas all day and just hang out as a family. I loved it. I would love to start those kind of traditions with our daughters.


Fun Dental Facts

Did you Know…

  • Sharks have around 40 sets of teeth in their lifetime, compared to our two.
  • The world’s oldest recipe for toothpaste is from Egypt in 400 AD. The formula included mint, salt, grains of pepper and dried iris flower.
  • In medieval Japan, white teeth were considered ugly. Women used roots and inks to stain their teeth black, which they felt was much more attractive.
  • Just like our fingerprints, everyone’s tongue print is different. It is also the only muscle in our body that isn’t attached to something at both ends.
  • In 1994, a prison inmate in West Virginia braided floss into a rope, scaled the wall and escaped.
Rachel Scuba Diving

Get to Know Rachel Holland, Registered Dental Hygienist

Rachel HeadshotRachel was born in St. Petersburg, Florida but has been in Colorado for the past 20 years. She has an Associate of Applied Science degree in Dental Hygiene from Pueblo Community College.


You have an Associate of Applied Science degree in Dental Hygiene. Are you also getting your Bachelor’s degree? Have you always wanted to go into the dental field? 

Yes, I am. I am currently enrolled in the first bachelor program ever offered at Pueblo Community College. I will finish my degree in the spring of 2018 with a Bachelor’s in Dental Hygiene Education. I have known I wanted to be in the dental field since I was 19 years old. I shadowed an incredible dental hygienist and she inspired me to do what I love doing today, treating and educating patients!


What advice would you tell someone who would like to be a Dental Hygienist?

My best advice would be to do your research, shadow hygienists and get experience in the field before pursuing your degree. Make sure you enjoy it and study hard!


What is your favorite part of the job?

My favorite part of my career is the patient care. I truly enjoy getting to know each and every one of my patients while being able to provide excellent care simultaneously.


You are a certified scuba diver. When did you get certified? What got you interested in diving?

I was certified in July 2016. So far, I have dove in Mexico and Florida. My dad grew up diving in Florida and always dreamed of showing our family how beautiful underwater life can be. So this past summer we all went to Mexico and were scuba certified together!


What would be your dream scuba trip?

My dream scuba trip would be in Hawaii, Bora Bora, Indonesia, or the Galápagos Islands.


You are currently learning Portuguese. What made you choose Portuguese? Do you speak any other languages?

Yes, I am currently learning Portuguese. My fiancé is Brazilian and speaks Portuguese fluently. I am interested in learning in order to interact with all of his family, especially when we visit them in Brazil. It is a fun language but very difficult to learn pronunciation. I also know and understand most of the Spanish language.


What do you like to do in your downtime?

In my down time I like to go for walks/ runs at cherry creek state park, ride my road bike in the mountains, spend the weekends with family and enjoy a glass of wine and a good TV show in the evenings.


Favorite Book: Currently my favorite books are hygiene school related while I’m finishing my degree (haha).

Favorite Movie or TV Show:
My favorite movie is A League Of Their Own. My favorite show is How I Met Your Mother .

Favorite Holiday Tradition:
My favorite holiday tradition is Halloween because we always dress up as different characters and act goofy.

Trick or Treat

Wishing you a Happy (and Healthy) Halloween!

With Halloween only 10 days away, many of us are getting ready to go trick-or-treating with our little ghosts and goblins. A lot of patients ask us what we recommend for their children when it comes to eating candy.


Dr. Mary Blakeley has always followed the philosophy of letting her kids have as much as they want that evening. Rather than stretching it out for days and days, a little at a time, she would rather there be a bigger intake and then be done with it. That way there isn’t a constant stream of sugary foods on their teeth for a long period of time. And of course, after eating any candy have it be followed by drinking water and brushing/flossing their teeth! She also tries to have them stay away from hard and chewy candy that can stick to their teeth and do more damage long term.


Click here for more tips from the American Dental Association to make it a healthy Halloween!



Kristen Climbing

Get to know Kristen Kirkland, Registered Dental Hygienist

Kristen NEW Close up 3_27_15(1)Kristen grew up in Lake Tahoe, California and earned her Bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene from Northern Arizona University in 2005, being named the College of Health Professions Outstanding Student of the Year. She moved to Colorado after graduating and has lived in Lone Tree ever since.

You grew up in California and went to school in Arizona. What brought you to Colorado?

I decided to move to Colorado without ever having visited because it sounded fun! I wanted a real city to live in where I could still ski, and then got into climbing after having moved here. I love the seasons in Colorado – Denver is the warmest and lowest elevation of anywhere I’ve ever lived.

What advice would you tell someone who would like to be a Dental Hygienist?

I love being a hygienist, and it’s a great career for working in health care, but not working with sick people.

You are passionate about rock climbing and just got back from a trip to Switzerland. What was special about climbing there?

Switzerland is such a beautiful place. A really good friend of mine moved there earlier this year for work, so I got to see her as a great bonus. Every place I climb has a subtly different style of climbing that presents new challenges, both mental and physical.

What other countries have you traveled to?

I’ve been to the Netherlands, France, Italy, Canada, and the British Virgin Islands. I’m planning a trip to Belize for February (maybe a little climbing, but mostly enjoying some sunshine and sand instead of my usual hanging out under a rock in the dirt!)

When not out of the country, you still rock climb every weekend. What is your favorite local spot?

There are so many to choose from. I always say it depends on the season, but Guanella Pass, or a little area outside of Vail called Red Cliff are both favorites!

You are also an avid skier. What is your favorite Colorado resort?

I usually spend Friday at Mary Jane/Winter Park, but my favorite resort is definitely Crested Butte.

What else do you like to do in your downtime?

I practice yoga,  cook almost every night, and read.

Favorite Book: Anne of Green Gables

Favorite Movie or TV Show: Sound of Music

Favorite Holiday Tradition:

Making a “friendsgiving” meal every year (14 years running). I brine my turkey ahead of time and then spend all day in the kitchen making everything from scratch. One year I even made the whole meal in a motel room in Utah while on a climbing trip using just a crockpot and microwave.

Kate Pano

Are Dental X-Rays Really Necessary?

As an office that offers full-service dentistry, we understand that patients are concerned about taking dental x-rays and incurring any unnecessary radiation or additional costs. From our perspective, we cannot provide an accurate diagnosis, even for a cleaning, without x-rays. We want to be sure we are providing the best care to our patients, and without x-rays there is a lot that we could be missing including gum disease, cavities, and abscesses.

Major dental problems often don’t have symptoms until the disease has progressed to a point of needing major work like root canals and crowns, or worse, to a point of no longer being restorable. Our doctors and hygienists have seen plenty of abscesses that didn’t hurt (yet), and large cavities on x-rays that you can’t see at all with a visual exam because it started just between the teeth and hollowed out the inside, leaving the enamel mostly intact.

Radiation exposure is important and is something we take very seriously. In terms of the additional radiation you receive, radiation from dental x-rays is actually lower than the background dose of radiation received by an average person on an average day or than taking a plane ride from New York to Los Angeles. Check out the Dentsply Rinn Radiation Dosage Chart below or click here for more information.

Radiation Dosage Chart A





















At our office, we recommend a full set of x-rays every 3 years and annual bitewing x-rays so that we can properly diagnose problems and prevent them from getting worse.

As always, let your dentist know if you are pregnant, nursing or have been advised by your doctor not to have x-rays taken. Otherwise, know that you can always ask questions to the Hygienist or Dentist if you have any concerns or reservations at all. We want you to feel comfortable with your treatment at our office.

iPad Pro

Refer a Friend and Enter to Win an iPad Pro!

Thinking about a great gift for yourself or someone you love this holiday? Refer a friend or family member to our office in October or November and you’ll be automatically entered to win an iPad® Pro!

And not just any iPad®—this is the big one—12.9″ display and 256GB of storage!

iPad Pro

We’ll draw the lucky winner on December 1st! Click here for the official rules.

Good luck and thank you for all of your referrals!


Tips for Instilling Great Dental Habits in your Children

In honor of National Dental Hygiene Month, here are some tips for instilling some great dental habits in your children.

  1. Get them started early—As soon as children have teeth, they can have regular “happy visits” so they can get comfortable at the dentist office. They can take a ride in the chair, let the dentist or hygienist count their teeth and, most importantly, visit the treasure box! You can ask any questions you have as a parent and help them perceive the dentist office as a happy, fun place.
  2. Buy them an electric toothbrush—Even though there are ages on the electric toothbrushes for kids, it’s simply a matter of them getting used to it.  Train them early and that is all they’ll know. They will brush better, longer and get into a good lifelong habit. Our lead Hygienist, Katie, said her daughter has been using an electric toothbrush as soon as she had teeth.
  3. If you have dental anxiety, leave the kids at home. Even if you are trying to set a good example, they may subconsciously pick up on your anxiety and equate it with their dental experience.
  4. Reward good behavior with something other than food—If you reward your child who had a good dental visit with candy, you are sending mixed messages. The dentist probably just talked to them about limiting candy, soda and juice so it is better to reward them with verbal praise or a sticker/treasure box item instead.