Michael V. Woolwine D.D.S. - Home


1500 W 38th Street Ste. 14
Austin, TX 78731



Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Do We Accept Your Insurance?

While we are considered "out of network," most insurance companies make reimbursements according to their payment schedules. Some policies require you to go to a dentist (frequently a clinic) on their list, but most allow you to choose your own dental office. We think this is an important choice. Sometimes there might be a little more out-of-pocket expense for an out of network office, but we have seen several cases when out of pocket expenses have actually been less with our office because of our conservative treatment approach. If you are not sure if you can go to an "out of network" provider, we encourage you to contact your dental insurance company. If you need help figuring out your coverage, we are happy to help too!

We generally ask for payment of the expected patient portion at the time services are rendered. We will tell you the approximate amount prior to your appointment so you can know upfront, and any difference will be reimbursed or billed after insurance payment has been fully processed. As a courtesy, we file insurance claims for you and try to get the proper reimbursement in order to maximize your benefits. If you are looking for the cheapest dental care you can get, then we are probably not the office for you. However, if high quality and customer service are important factors in your choice of a dental office, we provide all that with reasonable, fair fees.

No Insurance? No Problem!

We accept cash, checks, debit and most major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express). We also accept Flexible Spending and Health Savings plans. Additionally, We offer payment plans through Care Credit because we understand that they can help patients fit the cost of dental treatment into their budgets.

Dental Hygiene

Why do I need to come in twice a year for cleanings and checkups?

Biannual teeth cleanings performed by a skilled dental hygienist are central to keeping teeth and gums looking, feeling, and functioning well. If you have gum disease, more frequent visits to our office will probably be recommended for your oral and overall health.

During routine dental cleanings, plaque and calculus (more commonly known as tartar) are removed from teeth. Plaque is a sticky deposit on teeth in which bacteria grow, and tartar is basically calcified or hardened plaque, so it is more difficult to remove. When tartar builds up under the gumline, causing gum disease, more extensive treatment than a standard cleaning is needed to remove it and help ensure healthier gums. Hygienists also record gum pocket measurements, polish teeth, floss (partly to test the condition of gums, to see if they bleed), and they document any bleeding along with stains they noted during the cleaning in a patient's file.

Thorough and complete dental exams with Dr. Woolwine make it so problems can be diagnosed and treated before they grow to be big, often painful and expensive. A typical exam includes a visual assessment of teeth and occlusion (bite), along with an appraisal of current restorations. When x-rays have been taken, Dr. Woolwine will carefully review them to identify areas of decay and other possible areas of concern for cysts, tumors, and other disorders of the mouth. We will perform a general screening for early detection of gum disease and oral cancer, as well.

In between cleanings and exams at our office, brushing teeth at least twice a day (in the morning and at night) is the most important thing you can do to take care of your teeth. Brushing after every meal is even better, if you can. If not, chewing sugar-free gum after meals or rinsing your mouth with water five to six times a day can get food particles out of teeth. Additionally, clean between teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners, and remember to brush your tongue. Brushing your tongue, especially the back areas, can make a big difference in how clean your mouth feels and smells, and how clean it actually is. Restorations, such as bridges and partial dentures, should be cleaned thoroughly, too, just like natural teeth. Toothbrushes should be replaced every two to three months.

Why do I have bad breath?

If you feel constantly worried about bad breath, you're not alone. Bad breath (halitosis) is an all too common problem, not to mention embarrassing and distracting for you and others around you. Deducing what is most likely causing your bad breath will help determine what you can do to prevent it.

Greatly reduced saliva flow during sleep (the cause of morning breath), certain foods (such as garlic, onions, and peppers), poor oral hygiene, periodontal (gum) disease, dry mouth, tobacco, dieting, dehydration, and some medical conditions (including sinus infections and diabetes) can all cause bad breath. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day-in the morning and at night-is the first thing to start doing, if you are not already in the habit. Brushing after every meal is even better, if you can. If not, chewing sugar-free gum after meals can get food particles out of your teeth. Additionally, clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners, and remember to brush your tongue. Brushing your tongue, especially the back areas, can make a big difference in how clean your mouth feels and smells. If you wear dentures, be sure to remove them at night and clean them thoroughly before replacing them the next morning. Toothbrushes should be replaced every couple months.

Biannual dental cleanings and checkups at our office will not only keep your teeth and gums in good shape, but seeing you regularly will also allow us to better detect any problems, such as gum disease, dry mouth (Xerostomia), or other dental conditions, such as decay, that may be the cause of persistent bad breath. If you have gum disease, more frequent visits to our office might be recommended for your oral and overall health.

Breaking a tobacco habit (smoking or chewing tobacco) can significantly improve your oral health and the way your breath smells. Ask us about ways we suggest to help break a tobacco habit. Drinking plenty of water and eating healthy also keeps your mouth moist and more free of bad bacteria. Mouth rinses can help, too, but ask us which rinses actually kill the germs that cause bad breath, because some only mask odor as a temporary solution.

When bad breath is a symptom of a larger bacterial problem in your mouth, we can help. If he finds that your mouth is healthy, we may refer you to your physician for further consultation and more comprehensive treatment.

I have a dry mouth? What should I do about it?

Symptoms of dry mouth can include a sticky, dry, or burning sensation in the mouth, altered taste, chronic bad breath, an altered sense of taste, and insufficient saliva. Dry mouth is particularly common in the elderly and the very young, but it can affect anyone at any given time, and there are a number of common causes.

Dry mouth is a known side effect of many medications, from prescriptions to antihistamines. Medical conditions such as diabetes can also cause recurrent dry mouth, cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiation), hormone changes during pregnancy or menopause, and high levels of stress are other conditions that can lead to dry mouth.

Dry mouth can be uncomfortable, and is one of the leading causes of chronic bad breath, but it can also make teeth more prone to decay and soft tissue more susceptible to infection. Because insufficient saliva endangers the health of your entire mouth, it's important to ask us about oral sprays, prescription drugs, or simple lifestyle changes that can provide relief.

My teeth are sensitive all the time. What do I do?

If you've been avoiding ice cream or cup of coffee because of sensitive teeth, you don't have to! Sensitivity is a common complaint, and can be the result of a number of factors. Involuntary grinding, jaw clenching, gum recession, and enamel loss can all cause teeth to become extra sensitive, because the usually-protected layer of dentin-the nerve-packed surface beneath the enamel-is exposed to external stimuli. Surface irritants such as braces and teeth whitening can also cause temporary sensitivity.

Because the causes of sensitivity are so diverse, and because sensitive gum tissue can indicate a more serious problem, it's important to ask us which treatment is best for you. A softer toothbrush is usually the first step, and special toothpastes can reduce sensitivity over time. There are also over-the-counter fluoride rinses to protect your enamel against further damage, and we can even provide an in-office procedure to coat your teeth with a protective agent.

My teeth hurt but I can't tell which tooth it is. What can I do?

You may have a sinus infection! There is a connection between sinus infections and impacted or damaged teeth. They can also occur after intense dental work or cracked restorations. Pain in the sinuses can mimic the sensation of a toothache (or actually cause one) because of the proximity between the two. If you're experiencing chronic sinus pain with a general, unidentified toothache, you should ask us to check it out. A regular check-up and a series of x-rays should be able to determine a tooth-related cause, but if they don't, he can also perform a "percussion test," during which he gently taps on individual teeth to discover the source of your discomfort. After all, when deciding on a treatment plan, it's helpful to know whether it's a toothache or an infection.

Why do I need a crown?

Crowns, often called "caps," cover teeth to restore them to their appropriate shape and size after large fillings, fractures, and/or weakening forces such as intense grinding. In all of these cases, crowns not only cover teeth but provide added support as well. Crowns can also be used to attach bridges, cover dental implants, restore seriously discolored or misshapen teeth, and even as a preventive measure to protect a tooth in danger of breaking. Crowns can be made of all-porcelain (ceramic) material, porcelain fused to metal (for added strength), gold alloys (high noble), or base metal alloys (non-noble). Each of these restorative materials has its advantages and disadvantages. Porcelain fused to metal alloy restorations are tooth-colored and stronger than all-porcelain crowns. Gold alloy crowns are very strong and wear resistant. They are well tolerated in terms of biocompatibility, but metal colors do not match natural teeth.

Crowns can be placed in as few as two appointments. For porcelain crowns, properly matching the aesthetics of teeth can take more visits but the natural looking cosmetic results are worth it to most patients. Crowns in general are very strong restorations, and they help to protect teeth. If a crown is placed before the tooth is so badly decayed or so weak that it fractures, the necessity of a root canal can often be preempted. This can also help prevent a broken tooth from becoming so bad that it needs to be removed, which would require a bridge or implant for restoration.

In light of their excellent restorative capabilities, crowns have few disadvantages. As they are more extensive restorations than fillings, their relative cost is higher. However, if Dr. Woolwine recommends a crown it is because he wants to help you keep your teeth healthy and looking good for years to come. The problems crowns help to prevent and repair offset the cost.

Also, while crowns are highly resistant, due to normal wear they will eventually need to be re-cemented or replaced. Ten percent of teeth that are damaged enough to need a crown may someday need a root canal.

What is involved in a root canal?

Beneath the top layer of your tooth (the enamel) and the second layer (the dentin), there is a pulp, or nerve, which delivers sensations such as heat, cold, and pain to the brain. Whether from excessive decay or physical trauma, this nerve can become damaged, causing an abscess to form at the root of the tooth. Root canal therapy is a procedure in which the diseased pulp is removed from an infected tooth, to prevent further damage and tooth loss, and most importantly, to relieve your pain.

Symptoms of an infected root include severe toothaches, sensitivity, pressure around your tooth, discoloration, and upraised lesions on your gums. You could even develop swelling which you can see in the mirror. . X-rays and a thorough dental examination will determine whether a root canal is your best option. Though root canal therapy has a reputation for being painful, the toothaches associated with an infected root are most likely causing you more pain than the treatment will. In addition, there are a number of ways to relieve pain and discomfort, including nitrous oxide and oral sedation.

The nerve is not vitally important for day-to-day function, so removing it will not affect your tooth. In fact, allowing it to decay further can lead to more pain and bone loss. Usually, an over the counter pain medication takes care of immediate post-operative discomfort, and most patients return to normal activities the very next day. Root canal therapy is highly successful. After the root canal is complete it will be necessary to place a crown on the tooth.