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Consumer Information

  • The Lancaster County Dental Society (LCDS) is dedicated to the continuing improvement of the oral health of the general public. The members of the LCDS are committed to providing the highest-quality, compassionate oral health care that is accessible to all, and to educate the public regarding the value of oral health as it relates to total well-being.

    Access to Care

    Low-income families and individuals face many barriers to accessing dental care. For someone with health insurance, finding access to and paying for appointments for a child’s fever that just won’t go away or your own toothache isn’t a big deal.

    For someone without insurance, however, it may seem easier to ignore health problems than to treat them, considering the plight of finding access to care, and the threat of unaffordable medical or dental bills.  Millions of people in America don’t have health insurance - including approximately 55,000 people in Lancaster County alone - sometimes due to job loss, low income or employment at a company that does not offer health coverage.

    As a result, the LCDS advocates for those in need by developing innovative programs for underprivileged children, while also making known other reduced-cost dental programs throughout the state.

    Oral Health Topics

    The key to good oral health is education. From learning about children's oral health to keeping up with the latest procedures, the LCDS believes it's important for you to be informed about various oral health topics.

    For more information and a complete listing of topics available, click here

  • Dentists: Doctors of Oral Health

    Most Americans today enjoy excellent oral health and are keeping their natural teeth throughout their lives. But this is not the case for everyone. Cavities are still the most prevalent chronic disease of childhood. Further, about 100 million Americans did not see a dentist in 2007, even though regular dental examinations and good oral hygiene can prevent most dental disease.

    Too many people mistakenly believe that they need to see a dentist only if they are in pain or think something is wrong, but they’re missing the bigger picture. A dental visit means being examined by a doctor of oral health capable of diagnosing and treating conditions that can range from routine to extremely complex.

    The American Dental Association believes that a better understanding of the intensive academic and clinical education that dentists undergo, their role in delivering oral health care and, most important, the degree to which dental disease is almost entirely preventable is essential to ensuring that more Americans enjoy the lifelong benefits of good oral health.

    The Dentist’s Role

    Dentists are doctors who specialize in oral health. Their responsibilities include:

    • Diagnosing oral diseases
    • Creating Treatment plans to maintain or restore the oral health or their patients.
    • Interpreting x-rays and diagnostic tests
    • Ensuring the safe administration of anesthetics
    • Monitoring growth and development of the teeth and jaws
    • Performing surgical procedures on the teeth, bone and soft tissues of the oral cavity.
    • Managing oral trauma and other emergency situations
    • A Team Approach

    The team approach to dentistry promotes continuity of care that is comprehensive, convenient, cost effective and efficient. Members of the team include dental assistants, lab technicians and dental hygienists. Leading the team is the dentist, a doctor specializing in oral health who has earned either a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree, which are essentially the same. Dentists’ oversight of the clinical team is critical to ensuring safe and effective oral care.

    Education and Clinical Training

    The level of education and clinical training required to earn a dental degree, and the high academic standards of dental schools, are on par with those of medical schools, and are essential to preparing dentists for the safe and effective practice of modern oral health care.

    Most dental students have earned Bachelor of Science Degrees or the equivalent, and all have passed rigorous admissions examinations.

    The curricula during the first two years of dental and medical schools are essentially the same – students must complete such biomedical science courses as anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, immunology and pathology. During the second two years, dental students’ coursework focuses on clinical practice – diagnosing and treating oral diseases. After earning their undergraduate and dental degrees (eight years for most) many dentists continue their education and training to achieve certification in one of nine recognized dental specialties.

    Upon completing their training, dentists must pass both a rigorous national written examination and a state or regional clinical licensing exam in order to practice. As a condition of licensure, they must meet continuing education requirements for the remainder to their careers, to keep them up-to-date on the latest scientific and clinical developments.

    As doctors of oral health, dentists must be able to diagnose and treat a range of conditions and know how to deal with complications – some of which are potentially life-threatening.

    More than Just Teeth and Gums

    Dentists’ areas of care include not only their patients’ teeth and gums but also the muscles of the head, neck and jaw, the tongue, salivary glands, and the nervous system of the head and neck. During a comprehensive exam, dentists examine the teeth and gums, but they also look for lumps, swellings, discolorations, ulcerations – any abnormality. When appropriate, they perform procedures such as biopsies, diagnostic tests for chronic or infectious diseases, salivary gland function, and screening tests for oral cancer. In addition, dentists can spot early warning signs in the mouth that may indicate disease elsewhere in the body. Dentists’ training also enables them to recognize situations that warrant referring patients for care by dental specialists or physicians.

    Why Oral Health Matters

    Numerous recent scientific studies indicate associations between oral health and a variety of general health conditions – including diabetes and heart disease. In response, the World Health Organization has integrated oral health into its chronic disease prevention efforts “as the risks to health are linked”

    The American Dental Association recommends that dental visits begin no later than a child’s first birthday to establish a “dental home”. Dentists can provide guidance to children and parents, deliver preventive oral health services, and diagnose and treat dental disease in its earliest stages. This ongoing dental care will help b oth children and adults maintain optimal oral health throughout their lifetimes.

    Together, we can work to improve America’s oral health and give all of us something to smile about.

    Years of Specialty Training Beyond a Four-Year Dental Degree

    • Pediatric Dentistry - Oral health care needs of infants and children through adolescence – Schooling lasts 25 months after dental school
    • Endodontics - Health of dental pulp, the soft core of teeth, specializes in performing root canals – Schooling lasts 26 months after dental school
    • Periodontics – Treats diseases of the gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth – Schooling lasts 35 months after dental school
    • Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics – Correcting dental and facial irregularities – Schooling lasts 30 months after dental school
    • Prosthodontics – Restoring natural teeth or replacing missing teeth or oral structures with artificial devices, such as dentures – Schooling lasts 32 months after dental school
    • Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery – Surgical Treatment of disease and injuries of the mouth – Schooling lasts 54 months to 72 months after dental school
    • Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology – Diseases of the mouth, teeth and surrounding regions – Schooling lasts 37 months after dental school
    • Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology – X-rays and other forms of imaging used for diagnosis and management of oral diseases and disorders – Schooling lasts 30 months after dental school
    • Dental Public Health – Preventing dental disease through organized community efforts – Schooling lasts 15 months after dental school
    • Information courtesy of the American Dental Association

  • The table below lists the current members of the Lancaster County Dental Society. As an additional resource, you may find more information and current listings of these members on the Pennsylvania Dental Association website, by clicking here.

    If you would like to view a comprehensive listing of all the great dental professionals you can rely on in the Lancaster County Area, use this search form to find a PDA member dentist..

  • How safe are dental x-rays?

    Exposure to all sources of radiation -- including the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home, and dental X-rays -- can damage the body's tissues and cells and can lead to the development of cancer in some instances. Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of X-rays is extremely small.

    Advances in dentistry over the years have lead to the low radiation levels emitted by today's X-rays. Some of the improvements are new digital X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being X-rayed, higher speed X-ray films that require shorter exposure time compared with older film speeds to get the same results, and the use of film holders that keep the film in place in the mouth (which prevents the film from slipping and the need for repeat X-rays and additional radiation exposure). Also, the use of lead-lined, full-body aprons protects the body from stray radiation (though this is almost nonexistent with the modern dental X-ray machines.) In addition, federal law requires that X-ray machines be checked for accuracy and safety every two years, with some states requiring more frequent checks. 

    What are dental sealants, who should get them, and how long do they last?

    Sealants are a thin, plastic coating that are painted on the chewing surfaces of teeth -- usually the back teeth (the premolars, and molars) -- to prevent tooth decay. The painted on liquid sealant quickly bonds into the depressions and groves of the teeth forming a protective shield over the enamel of each tooth.

    Typically, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as these teeth come in. In this way, the dental sealants can protect the teeth through the cavity-prone years of ages 6 to 14. However, adults without decay or fillings in their molars can also benefit from sealants.

    Sealants can protect the teeth from decay for up to 10 years, but they need to be checked for chipping or wear at regular dental check-ups.

    I have a terrible fear of going to the dentist yet I know I need to. What should I do?

    If you fear going to the dentist, you are not alone. Between 9% and 15% of Americans state they avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. The first thing you should do is talk with your dentist. In fact, if your dentist doesn't take your fear seriously, find another dentist. The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your fears with your dentist. Once your dentist knows what your fears are, he or she will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable.

    The good news is that today there are a number of strategies that can be used to help reduce fear, anxiety, and pain. These strategies include use of medications (to either numb the treatment area or sedatives or anesthesia to help you relax), use of lasers instead of the traditional drill for removing decay, application of a variety of mind/body pain and anxiety-reducing techniques (such as guided imagery, biofeedback, deep breathing, acupuncture, and other mental health therapies), and perhaps even visits to a dentophobia clinic or a support group.

    I recently moved and need a new dentist. How can I find one?

    The American Dental Association offers these suggestions:

    • Ask family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers for their recommendations.
    • Ask your family doctor or local pharmacist.
    • If you're moving, your current dentist may be able to make a recommendation.
    • Call or write your local dental society

    What can I do if I have an unresolved issue or problem with a dental services provider?

    Patients of member dentists of the Lancaster County Dental Society (LCDS) expect the best care. When a patient is unhappy with his or her dental treatment, it is always a good policy to speak with the providing dentist first. Sometimes the dentist and patient are able to resolve the complaint or problem on their own. Sometimes they can’t. That’s where the LCDS and its complaint resolution process, called Peer Review, can help.  

  • A dental education opens up a world of professional opportunities. In addition to private practice, today's dental school graduates can choose to work in hospital emergency rooms, conduct advanced laboratory research, teach future dentists or even travel the world with international health and relief organizations.

    In association with the Pennsylvania Dental Association and the American Dental Association, a part of the Lancaster County Dental Society's mission is to ensure that dentists and dental team members receive the best possible education and training.

    There are over 50 dental schools in the United States and admission is competitive. In addition to the continual need for new dentists, dental hygienists, assistants and lab technicians are in high demand. There are hundreds of programs across the country that will prepare you for these well-paid and rewarding careers.

  • HS_Landing_LGH_LogoDALCO, Dental Access Lancaster County, is a partnership between the Lancaster County Dental Society, local dentists, and Lancaster General Health. DALCO is a program that provides a “dental home” for low-income, uninsured patients. A dental home is a dental practice that provides ongoing care, including routine cleanings, to keep your teeth healthy. A small co-pay will be collected at each visit. You can avoid painful dental problems in the future by signing up for DALCO today. For more information, or to find out if you qualify, contact Christine Eyer, DALCO Coordinator, at (717) 544-3279.

    You may be eligible for DALCO if:

    • You are a resident of Lancaster County
    • Your employer doesn’t offer dental insurance
    • Your income is below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines for your family size.