23 South Main Street
Travelers Rest, SC 29690

Why Dental Checkups are So Important

Why Dental Checkups are So Important

At Carolina Oaks Dental Care, we want you to have the healthiest and brightest smiles possible. One of the most important ways to accomplish this is routine dental exams. Your daily oral hygiene regimen is certainly critical to avoiding tooth decay, but six-month visits are equally important, and we’ll tell you why!

Call Carolina Oaks if you need a dentist in Travelers Rest, SC. Dr. Preston Hamrick provides gentle and thorough care for every member of your family. Contact our office online or at 864-836-8416 to make an appointment.

Aren’t brushing and flossing enough?

Your home care regimen of brushing and flossing will clean away most mouth bacteria, but it is incapable of removing all of it. What’s more, bacteria are tiny. Any small crevice in your molars or other spot that can’t be reached by toothbrush bristles can harbor enough plaque and bacteria to initiate the start of a cavity. If teeth were uniformly smooth and perfectly cylindrical, then perhaps we could reach all those spots ourselves—but they are not. Even the most diligent of us simply cannot remove all the plaque and bacteria from our teeth.

When any spot of plaque remains on a tooth, no matter how small, it can solidify into insoluble tartar (calculus). If this tartar does not get removed it will lead to enamel demineralization, and ultimately a cavity. That’s why most people will get at least one or two cavities in their lifetime. The microscopic nature of bacteria means that toothbrush bristles simply cannot reach every surface where bacteria hide.

How do dental exams prevent cavities?

At a dental checkup, dentists and hygienists are trained to recognize the spots where tartar has accumulated and remove it with dental tools. We can also treat soft spots to remineralize and protect the enamel, so a cavity does not form.

The other important thing we do is identify small cavities that have already formed. As a patient, you may be disappointed to hear about small cavities, but we are always happy when we can catch a cavity in its earliest stages. Without regular checkups, cavities can form and grow to the point where extensive restorations (deep fillings and root canals) are needed.

My Teeth Are Fine!

A lot of people mistakenly believe that as long as they don’t have any pain, everything must be fine with their oral health. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. We understand why this attitude persists; with our bodily health we rely on pain or dysfunction to let us know when something is wrong. We also tend to take a wait-and-see attitude to aches and pains. It doesn’t work that way with your teeth and gums, though.

Tooth enamel is actually the second-hardest naturally occurring substance in the world (diamonds are the first). To be this hard, and function so well for us, the only nerves in the teeth are found in the innermost chambers of the tooth. By the time decay reaches the nerves, the cavity is too large to enact a fast and easy correction. Wait-and-see never works in this case, either, as teeth cannot self-heal. That’s why you need dental exams to help you catch cavities and restore them before a toothache starts.

What else happens during a dental exam?

Checking your teeth for cavities is important, but there are a number of other important things that happen during a checkup!

Dental exams include:

  • dental cleaning;
  • cavity detection;
  • preventive treatments;
  • screening for symptoms of oral health conditions;
  • patient/provider information exchange; and
  • oral cancer screening.

You may not even notice these things happening, but each dental exam includes a patient interview and a visual inspection for signs of oral health problems other than cavities. Oral cancers, gum disease, bruxism, and TMJ disorder are all conditions that are more treatable when detected in their earliest stages.

We also like to learn about your overall health during a checkup, since so many medical conditions can affect your teeth and gums. For example, diabetes, pregnancy, and acid reflux can have a dramatic impact on your oral health. Sharing information makes it easier for us to work together to keep your smile healthy and beautiful.

Call Carolina Oaks if you need a dentist in Travelers Rest, SC. Dr. Preston Hamrick provides gentle and thorough care for every member of your family. Contact our office online or at 864-836-8416 to make an appointment.

7 Foremost Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Dentist

7 Foremost Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Dentist

Are you looking for a Travelers Rest SC general dentist?

Whether you’re having a dental problem or simply looking for a new provider, all patients should be comfortable with their dentist on a professional and personal level. A good patient/provider relation is founded on mutual trust and openness. You want to find someone who inspires professional confidence, but is also easy to talk to. A great dentist will also be enthusiastic about promoting good oral hygiene and radiate a positive attitude.

When you interview a dentist, these questions may help you get a sense of his or her qualifications, principles, and chair-side manner. Beware any provider who does not welcome questions from prospective patients; there are plenty of other fish in the sea.

Do you need a Travelers Rest SC general dentist? Contact Carolina Oaks Dental Care at 864-836-8416 to meet Dr. Hamrick and our staff. We would love to hear from you!

1. What are your specialty areas?

This question will help you learn about a dentist’s professional qualifications and interests. If he or she doesn’t mention prior education, training, certifications, and state license—ask, as all these details will help you understand his or her qualifications. Also ask if he or she belongs to any professional organizations and how he/she stays current on advances in the dental field. The answers you get will reveal not only whether he or she is a legitimate, licensed professional, but the underlying attitudes and philosophies that drive patient interactions.

2. How do you maintain patient satisfaction?

It’s never to a dentist’s advantage to have unhappy or dissatisfied customers. A good dentist will have a system in place to make sure all patients walk away from their treatments happy: perhaps a survey sent by email or follow-up phone call for more involved treatments. In today’s connected world, a good dentist will go the extra mile to keep patients satisfied, since negative reviews online can harm their business.

3. Do you offer consultations without charge?

Routine preventive and restorative care aside, a good dentist should always be willing to schedule free consultations for more involved treatments (such dental implants) and cosmetic dentistry. Many general practices offer advanced restorations and cosmetic options today, so as to be able to treat their patients’ every potential need. Cosmetic treatments, especially, should come with free initial consultations so patients can learn about their options and details regarding specific treatments. If you are looking for a dentist for cosmetic work, expect a potential dentist to give not only a recommendation for treatment, but a full account of what the treatment entails, a timeline, potential risks, how long results will last, and precise financial expenses.

4. Do you offer extended payment plans?

Many Americans go without medical insurance, and even the well insured often lack quality dental plans. A compassionate dentist who is truly devoted to promoting good oral health will have a system in place to assist those without the means to pay for treatments up front. Even if you have insurance, find out what the office will do to help you if you should one day require a service not covered by your plan.

5. What is your approach to diagnosing oral health problems?

Even the most experienced dentists should keep an open mind when you come to them with a mysterious problem. Diagnosing problems with routine care and fillings may be straightforward, but it’s always good to have a dentist you know will take a methodical, scientific approach to your problem. Be it an unusual toothache, TMJ pain, a gum infection, or something worse—you want a dentist who makes full use of the diagnostic tools and body of medical research available in the industry. Any dentist who treats all problems with one-size-fits-all solutions is not sensitive to the complexity of the human mouth!

6. If I have a problem, will I see a treatment plan?

An oral health professional should never keep your diagnosis or treatment plan a secret from you. An attitude of “let us handle the details” may be a red flag indicating a dentist who will not keep you informed or educated about the facts of your condition or treatment options.

When a problem is detected (gum disease, infection, impacted teeth, etc.) your dentist should provide you with a written diagnosis and itemized treatment plan. A good dentist recognizes that sharing these details is vital to the patient/provider relationship. Beware any dentist who treats problems without a methodical, documented, plan.

7. What enhanced technology do you use?

True professionals know that scientific innovations can enhance their ability to diagnose and treat dental problems. A good dentist will stay abreast of the technological innovations in their field and apply them to their practice. You don’t need a checklist of specific technology every dentist should have, but expect your potential dentist to tell you about an innovation they have adopted and the positive effects it has engendered. A dentist who isn’t excited about digital x-rays and laser dentistry, for example, is missing out on critical advances in patient care.

Bonus Question: What is the connection between dental health and whole body wellness?

With an established body of medical studies documenting the link between oral health and medical health, you want a provider who doesn’t keep his head in the sand. A thorough dentist will mention the many common medical conditions that can affect your teeth (acid reflux, diabetes, pregnancy, etc.) as well as the serious medical illnesses that are linked to the bacteria found in gum disease.

Trust Your Gut!

Overall, the questions you ask are not as important the fact that you do ask. Engaging a potential provider in conversation is the best way to get a sense of whether you’ll be able to develop a trusting and comfortable bond with this person. If something rubs you the wrong way, keep looking!

Are you looking for a Travelers Rest SC general dentist? Contact Carolina Oaks Dental Care at 864-836-8416 to meet Dr. Hamrick and our staff. We would love to hear from you!

Things to Consider When Choosing a Travelers Rest, SC Dentist

Things to Consider When Choosing a Travelers Rest, SC Dentist


Finding the best dentist for your family may seem like an uphill battle, but there are many caring, qualified dentists out there. These helpful tips will help you organize your priorities before you start.

If you are looking for dental care in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, call Carolina Oaks Dental Care and interview one of our friendly dentists. Call us today at 854-836-8416 for a meet-up with Dr. Preston Hamrick.

Before You Begin

Before you start looking for a dentist, check with your dental insurance for a list of providers. If you have a dental health maintenance organization (DHMO) your options may be more limited. Don’t waste time researching dentists you won’t be able to visit. Many insurers have searchable data available online, but your customer service hotline should be able to help, as well.

You will also need to think about what type of dental office you’re looking for. A large practice that sees many patients at a time may be ideal if you’ll schedule dental visits during your lunch hour, for example, so you can get in and out quickly with little fuss. If you want a smaller, patient-centered experience, look for a more family-oriented dentist that schedules only one person at a time.

A Good Relationship

Good relationships are the key to every positive experience, so look for a dentist you feel comfortable with. This may be hard to gauge at first, but interviewing potential dentists gives you the chance to spend a few moments in their company and ascertain whether you feel valued and respected. There’s no way to guarantee you’ll always have positive experiences at the dentist, but asking some of the suggested questions (below) may help you understand each dentist’s personal style of communicating with patients.

As you take in a dental practice, think about how the rest of your family will react to the staff, office, and dentist. If your children or spouse have special considerations (dental or otherwise) mention them and see how the dentist reacts. Ultimately, finding a dentist you can trust comes down to personality and communication. When you’ve found someone you like, you’ll know it!

Qualifications and Recommendations

Most people look to family, friends, and neighbors for recommendations for a good dentist. This is a good starting place, but be sure to ask your friends what they like about their dentists. Keep in mind, you may have different priorities. One friend may value a calm, adults-only atmosphere, while another likes how well her dentist handles rowdy children. Ultimately, there are so many great dentists out there that a personal recommendation may not be needed, if you know what you are looking for.

If you are new to the area, and don’t yet have a community to ask for recommendations, check out sites that review service providers, such as Yelp or Healthgrades. Any dental practice can put positive testimonials on its website, but independent sites show you the positive and negative impressions other patients have felt compelled to share. Take emotional posts with a grain of salt, however—helpful reviews will be calm and detailed.

Any dentist can put certificates on the wall, but true credentials are verifiable. Before you decide on a dentist, be sure to check your state’s professional licensing board to make sure he/she is licensed to practice dentistry in your state.

Look for a Well-Oiled Machine

This might go without saying, but if you’ve ever worked in a poorly-run business, you know the signs of dysfunction. Employees may turn over at a high rate, or policies may be vague and disorganized. A good way to screen out any potentially problematic options is to call the dentist’s office ahead of time and speak to someone at the front desk. Ask a few questions and listen carefully to replies. Is the staff member positive and confident? Does she know the answers to your questions and seem knowledgeable, overall? Feel free to ask a question that may throw her off guard, to see how she reacts. “How many complaints do you get? What do patients say when they are upset?” It’s a good sign if they give honest answers that don’t diminish the professionalism of the dental practice.


If your job and home are in different areas, think about accessibility before you start your search. You may wish to have a dentist near one, rather than the other, or you may want a dentist whose office is centrally located.

Ask about office hours before you choose, as well. If there’s a particular day of the week that’s ideal for your appointments, you don’t want to discover down the road that they are closed on that day. Will you schedule your visits in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Make sure your dentist’s office hours are compatible with your predicted schedule.

Topics to Ask About

  • How do you manage dental anxiety?
  • How do you care for active children, or shy children?
  • What’s the cancellation policy at your office?
  • What are your hours and days of operation?
  • What dental technology do you use?
  • What happens if I have an after-hours emergency?
  • Who will perform my cleanings and fluoride treatments?
  • How long has your practice been open?
  • Do you have high staff turnover?
  • Can you text appointment reminders?
  • Will I be able to reach you or your staff by email?
  • Does your office handle insurance claims?
  • Which areas of dentistry are your specialties?
  • What was your favorite part of your education/training?

Ultimately, there are many good dentists just about everywhere. We’re certain you’ll find a dentist that’s right for your family. Plan your search ahead of time, keep an open mind, and trust your gut. You can’t go wrong!

If you are looking for dental care in Travelers Rest, South Carolina, call Carolina Oaks Dental Care and interview one of our friendly dentists. Call us today at 854-836-8416 for a meet-up with Dr. Preston Hamrick.

Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Insurance

Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Insurance

Dental insurance is rarely linked to health insurance, so it falls on us to enroll in dental programs. This begs the question: do I need it? And if so, how much? The answer depends on your health, your family, and what you can predict may happen in your future.

At Carolina Oaks Dental Care of Travelers Rest, we get a lot of questions from patients about dental insurance. We hope these frequently asked questions (FAQs) can help you understand your options and the circumstances that should influence your enrollment decisions.

Do you have questions for Carolina Oaks Dental Care about your dental care and coverage? Contact our Travelers Rest, SC dental practice at 864-836-8416 to talk to our staff.

Do I need dental insurance?

While dental care costs can be considerable, there are cases in which it is more affordable not to enroll in dental insurance.

You may not need dental insurance if:

  • you are a single person,
  • you are in a good state of oral health, and
  • you see a dentist regularly for preventive treatments and dental cleanings.

If you are only likely to be paying for routine, six-month preventive visits, plus the occasional cavity filling—it may be wise for you not to enroll at this time. Compare the costs of these visits to insurance costs, to know for sure.

However, there is always the possibility of accidental dental injury. The most common cause of knocked-out teeth is from accidents that happen when playing sports. If you engage in sports, motorcycling, or other activities that could lead to dental trauma, ask your medical insurance if they cover those sorts of accidents before you deny yourself dental insurance. You don’t want to wind up losing a tooth and having to pay for a dental implant on your own!

What does dental insurance cover?

The amount of money you will have to pay out of pocket varies quite a bit for dental treatments. Preventive treatments, such as routine six-month visits, exams, and fluoride treatments get the most coverage. Often you pay nothing at all for these services.

For basic dental restorations, such as fillings, root canals, and periodontal therapies, insurance will cover the bulk of the cost, but patients usually pay about 20-30%. More advanced restorations you are not likely to need too frequently, such as bridges, crowns, and dental implants, usually require a greater patient contribution, often as much as 60%.

Most plans have a basic provision for orthodontia, but patient costs are significant. If you have children who may need braces in the future, this may be a deciding factor in the type of plan that you choose.

How much coverage should I consider?

Most dental insurance plans offer two levels of dental insurance, basic and extended. You pay more for the latter, obviously, but in some cases you will save money with greater coverage.

You may benefit from the extended plans, based on:

  • The Size of Your Family – Even with excellent preventive care, the need for occasional fillings or orthodontia can lead to heavy out-of-pocket costs if you have multiple children. If your family is large, or if you plan for it to be one day(!), you may want to look carefully at the differences between basic and extended coverage before making a choice.
  • Your Dental History and Family Dental History – Look at the type of dental work you have needed in the past. Are you one of the lucky few who never gets cavities, or are your teeth prone to decay? Also consider your parents’ dental health. Many dental conditions have a genetic link. If your parents needed a lot of dental work or periodontal treatments, (or lost their teeth), you may want to play it safe with an extended package.
  • Your Overall Health – Dental and overall health are more connected than people realize. Chronic health concerns frequently have a negative impact on your teeth and gums. For example, diabetes, acid reflux, and many other health conditions often go hand-in-hand with oral health problems. Pregnancy and menopause can require more frequent dental visits, as gingivitis and gum disease frequently begin during times of hormonal changes. If you take medications regularly, you may develop dry mouth, which contributes to tooth decay.

What are DHMOs and PPOs?

A DHMO is a dental plan that only allows you to choose from a small list of contracted dental providers. They are more affordable than other plans, but you will be more limited in the dentists you can choose from.

PPOs offer a wider network of dentists to choose from, and will even cover out-of-network providers, though at a different rate. You will definitely have more flexibility with a PPO, but monthly costs will be higher than those of DHMOs.

Learn More Before You Choose!

If you want to make sure the dental plan you select is right for your family, take the time to read about them carefully. As your employer to provide side-by-side comparisons of the plans they offer—they probably already have these ready for you, to help you with your decision. You can also find out more information on dental insurance sites that aim to inform, rather than sell. There is a wealth of information available online, once you start looking for it.

Do you have questions for Carolina Oaks Dental Care about your dental care and coverage? Contact our Travelers Rest, SC dental practice at 864-836-8416 to talk to our staff or make a dental appointment.