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What is oral pathology?
Oral pathology is the specialty of studying diseases affecting the oral cavity and around the jaw regions. It deals with the nature, identification and management of diseases affecting the oral and maxillofacial (jaw/TMJ and surrounding) regions. It is a science that investigates the causes, processes and effects of these diseases. A new name for this discipline, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, was chosen to acknowledge expertise in diseases of tissues in the oral cavity and the immediate surroundings.

In the United States it is one of the specialties officially recognized by the American Dental Association and the federal government, and because of this it has its own national certifying board, the American Board of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology.

There are at least 300 diseases that occur in and around the mouth. Many are unique to the oral regions, some are similar to diseases seen elsewhere in the body, and still others spread to the oral region from other parts of the body. Many conditions can cause serious consequences if not recognized, classified, and treated early.

What is oral medicine (Clinical oral pathology)?
Clinical oral pathology is also known as Oral Medicine. Oral Medicine is the discipline of dentistry concerned with the oral health care of medically compromised patients and with the diagnosis and non-surgical management of medically-related disorders or conditions affecting the oral and maxillofacial (jaw/TMJ) region. Some who are trained in oral medicine only have no skills to diagnose oral diseases microscopically.
What is Orofacial Pain?
Orofacial pain management is a special field in dentistry providing an interdisciplinary diagnostic and treatment service for patients with painful disorders of jaw (TMJ) or conditions including myofascial (muscle) pain, tension and mixed headaches, neuralgias, neuropathic pain, toothaches of non-dental origin, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) and arthritis, bite disturbance problems, and oral motor disorders (bruxism, dystonia, dyskinesia).
How can Oral pathologists help the patients?
A well-trained oral pathologist serves you as the “physician of the mouth”, who integrates medicine and dentistry to promote optimal healthy living.

Practitioners of Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology specialize in the clinical and microscopic diagnosis, as well as the treatment of diseases of the oral and maxillofacial (jaw/TMJ) regions.

Oral pathologists provide diagnosis and management in clinical practice (clinical oral pathology or oral medicine), and operate biopsy services for the dental and medical professions (laboratory services).

Oral and maxillofacial pathologists complete three to five years of intensive advanced education in their specialty after receiving a degree in dentistry. They continue their professional development through annual seminars and voluntary compliance in continuing competency assurance programs. Their unique interpretive skills and expertise focus on the oral and maxillofacial (jaw/TMJ) regions.

As an exception, Dr. Su also received one year extra formal training in Orofacial Pain program at UCLA. This experience has enhanced her ability to diagnose and treat the patients with those painful disorders in and around TMJ regions.

Should I see oral surgeons or ENT surgeons as recommended by my insurance company?
The primary focus of oral surgeons and ENT surgeons is on the surgical procedures. Their practices are not completely focused on diagnosis and management of the challenging problems in or around the mouth and jaw regions by non-surgical approaches. Oral pathology and orofacial pain are rare specialties, not commonly known by other practitioners or insurance companies. Therefore, your insurance company may “refer” you to either oral or ENT surgeons for a mouth or jaw problem that may be better handled by oral pathologists.

Inappropriate referrals can lead to unnecessary treatment and expenses. In some cases, delayed treatment or incorrect diagnosis may sadly cost the patient’s life for those who only seek insurance coverages.

Should I see a neurologist for my pain in or around my jaw areas?
In general, neurologists are capable of treating nerve related pain or disorders throughout the body. However, the pain disorders around jaw regions are associated with some unique characteristics, and an accurate diagnosis often requires the background knowledge in dentistry in order to navigate through the confusing symptoms that the patient may present with orofacial pain.
Why is it so difficult to diagnose or treat some of the mouth or jaw problems?
The reason for much of the confusion about some challenging conditions in the mouth or around the jaw areas, as well as poor treatment choices, is a lack of a definitive diagnosis, as well as a failure to identify all the causes of the symptoms.

A physician may write a prescription, a chiropractor will try manipulation, and a dentist may recommend some treatment on the teeth. In other words, in too many cases, the treatment is determined by the type of doctor that the patient chooses to go to for help.

The diseases of the oral and maxillofacial regions including TMJ are a complicated and not well-recognized area of health care. These problems are as confusing for doctors as they are for patients. There can be a multitude of causes for what appears to be the same condition. The challenge, therefore, is to establish not just a proper diagnosis, but also to identify all the potential causes or contributing factors that brought about the disorder or symptoms. Then, it can be treated properly.

How do I schedule an appointment?
You can call the office to see Dr. Su at Westlake Village (818-865-1039) or Orange (714-856-3349). The phone lines are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30p.m. to 5 p.m. If you reach an answering machine, please clearly state your name, phone number and reason for the call. Our friendly staff member will return your call in a timely fashion.
Do I need a referral to see Dr. Su?
No, you can self-refer to Dr. Su, although 95% our patients are referred by their dentists, physicians, ENTs, oral surgeons, periodontiists, neurologists, or other dental and medical specialists. This is largely because most patients do not know how to find such a rare specialty. If you are concerned about whether our practice can address your condition or symptoms, please feel free to call. We welcome all who seek treatment for non-dental related mouth and jaw problems.
What if I need to cancel an appointment?
We would appreciate that you call us at least 48 hours in advance of any cancellation to free up the time slot for other patients on our waiting list.
Where do I get my new patient forms?
The forms are available under the menu “For New Patients” on this website. If you cannot access the forms through this website, please contact the office and request that the forms be mailed or faxed to you. In order to make your first visit as efficient as possible, it is best that you complete your forms beforehand, but do not sign the forms until you get to our office. Please bring them with you to your appointment and you will sign the forms at the office in front of our staff member. If you cannot complete your forms in advance, please come to your appointment 30 minutes early in order to fill out the forms.
What other relevant items must I provide in addition to the new patient forms?
The relevant items are those that provide a medical history of your condition to help Dr. Su develop her diagnosis and treatment plan.

These include:
Your medication list
Any pathology report or blood lab work
X-ray films or radiologist’s report if any
Dental and medical insurance ID cards

Does Dr. Su provide general dentistry services?
No, our practice is limited in Oral Pathology, Oral Medicine and Orofacial Pain only.
Paying for your services received
How do I pay for the service?
This is a fee-for-service practice. We accept personal and certified checks, VISA and MasterCard. We are not members of any preferred provider networks. However, as a courtesy to you, we will bill the insurance companies (excluding Kaiser, HMOs, Medi-Cal and Medicare) on your behalf and request that they reimburse you directly if applicable. In all instances, you are responsible for the full cost of examination, diagnostic testing and treatment.
Does insurance pay for the services rendered by Dr. Su?
The short answer to this question is “probably not.” Very few dental or medical insurance companies cover non-dental related mouth and jaw problems. Most insurance companies have an exclusion clause which rules out benefits for jaw or non-dental related mouth problems.

Dr. Su has no relationship with any insurance company. Treatment in our office cannot be performed contingent on insurance reimbursement. Medical or dental insurance is a contract between the patient and their insurance company. We will provide claim forms for most types of insurance if you believe you have coverage.

Why is Dr. Su not in any network of insurances?
Dental and medical insurance companies choose to cover the treatments most frequently required by their customers, and do not generally cover non-dental related mouth and jaw problems. These are relatively uncommon in the general population, but the pain and dysfunction that the patients are suffering from can be disabling. In order to focus on the highest standard of care for the patients, Dr. Su chooses not to be a provider for any insurance plan and she has also opted out of Medicare.
How much does such a specialty service cost?
Because no two patients have exactly the same problems, we do not charge the same fee for every patient. Therefore, it would not be possible to quote a total treatment fee prior to evaluating a patient. However, our patients are given a fee estimate after the exam, and before treatment begins. The fees are commensurate with the level of complexity of the patient’s problems and the length of required treatment.
Will the office help file my insurance claims?
Yes, we will help you file forms with your private or group insurance (excluding Kaiser, Medicare, Medi-Cal and HMOs). Any reimbursement of benefits paid from an insurance company (dental and/or medical) will be paid directly to you. In case a check is mailed to our office from an insurance company by mistake, a refund will be issued within three to five business days.
Do you bill Medicare for me?
Dr. Su has opted out of Medicare, meaning that she is not a Medicare provider. Medicare will not reimburse claims for services performed by our practice. Under Medicare regulations, we cannot bill Medicare on your behalf. However, we can file claims for your secondary insurance on your behalf if your secondary insurance covers services that Medicare denies.

If you wish to see Dr. Su and you are Medicare beneficiary, you must complete a Medicare Opt Out form

Billing policy and other questions for lab pathology patients

“The lab pathology patients” are the ones who are not seen by Dr. Su in our office, but whose biopsy specimens have been submitted to our lab for diagnosis by their dentists, oral surgeons, periodontists, endodontists, or other dental and medical specialists.

What is your billing policy?
You will receive a statement directly from us for the lab service, which is separate from the fee charged by your doctor who performed the surgery. In the case of multiple samples or biopsies, each biopsy will have a separate fee. Decalcification of hard tissue such as bone, evaluation of margins, and special stains entail additional charges.

As a courtesy to you, we can bill medical or dental insurance companies for reimbursement to you for our services. Please forward an enlarged copy of the front and back of your medical and/or dental insurance ID cards. In this way, we have correct, complete information to bill your insurance for direct reimbursement to you, thereby minimizing frustration and delays in insurance billing. Please be aware, that it is the responsibility of you for providing our office with complete and accurate insurance information to bill on your behalf.

Claims can ONLY be submitted when complete and accurate insurance information is received. HMO or Kaiser plans do not cover our charges. We can only bill secondary insurance for Medicare patients, because Dr. Su has opted out of Medicare, meaning that Dr. Su is not a provider for Medicare. Payments from other types of medical plans vary depending upon your coverage and benefits. Roughly less than half of dental plans will pay a portion of our charges. Most insurance companies will reimburse you directly, since we are not in network of any of the preferred provider networks.

You are responsible for this account and it should be paid promptly regardless of your insurance company’s decisions. If a check is mailed to our office from an insurance company, a refund will be issued within three to five business days.

We accept personal and certified checks, as well as Visa and Mastercard. Please do not send cash. We can process the credit card payment over the phone during the office hours.

Do I have to send in full payment even though an insurance claim is being processed?
Yes, in general we do not receive payments from insurance companies. Most of the time insurance payments are made directly to our patients. Therefore, it is important that we receive payment from our patients on a timely manner.
Did the doctor who performed surgery send my insurance information?
In most time, the doctor’s staff may not provide us with your insurance information. With your billing statement, we provide instructions for you to mail or fax copies of your insurance card(s). It is a good idea for you to have photocopies of your insurance card(s) on hand so you can mail them to us quickly. We will process your claim as soon as we receive your insurance information. In the meantime, you are responsible for paying the bill in full. Most insurance plans will reimburse you directly for all or part of the bill depending upon your coverage.
How long will it take to process my biopsy report?
Processing of routine biopsy specimens begin upon arrival in our office. Usually, the specimen is ready for the pathologist’s review the next day. The biopsy report is finalized on the same or next day. The report is faxed to the doctor upon completion. The original report is mailed to the doctor the same day it was faxed.

In summary, biopsy reports usually arrive at the doctor’s office within three days of our receiving the specimen. This time line may be extended if the doctor taking the biopsy does not immediately mail the specimen or if special processing is necessary.

What is the diagnosis of my biopsy?
We do not release the diagnosis directly to our lab pathology patients. The doctor will usually know of the diagnosis at the time you return to him/her for a follow up visit.