Federal Way Family Dentistry – Useful Facts

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Baking Soda Instead of Toothpaste?

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Some people will use baking soda in the place of toothpaste. Indeed, some toothpastes even advertise that they contain baking soda, so how bad could it be? If you’re wondering whether baking soda actually can serve as a viable substitute for your regular toothpaste, our Federal Way dentistry clinic has the answer.

You can get a lot out of a baking soda that you need out of a toothpaste. It’s good for neutralizing harmful acids, killing bacteria, and scrubbing harmful plaque away from your teeth. The big problem with pure baking soda is that it is too abrasive when compared to a proper toothpaste, inflicting unnecessary damage to your gums. So, while it may be a functional alternative if you are out of proper toothpaste, you would do well to not make regular use of baking soda.

Baking soda toothpastes give you all the benefits of baking soda without the same abrasiveness. Such products represent a good option for your teeth, and one that many shoppers appreciate for their strong cleaning powers, their lower prices, and the fresh feeling they leave you with after brushing.

The Dangers of Bleachorexia

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“Bleachorexia” is the name given to a phenomenon wherein people develop an unhealthy fixation on whitening their teeth. Such people, or “bleachorexics”, are in danger of inflicting serious harm to both the appearance and health of their teeth, and our Federal Way dental clinic wants to advise you against succumbing to the practice of over-whitening.

The chemicals in your tooth whitener are highly abrasive and, though you’re unlikely to see any side effects with a reasonable whitening routine, a failure to allow for enough time between whitenings can do serious damage. Your gums will become irritated and start to break down. Your tooth enamel becomes compromised, leaving your teeth brittle and sensitive. Eventually your teeth may actually take on a translucent or blue appearance. It is for these reasons that you want to take care when whitening your teeth, and preferably seek out professional in-office treatments like those available at Bella Dental for your whitening needs.

The Ramifications of Heart Attacks on your Dental Care

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Once you’ve had a heart attack, you’re going to need to take special care of yourself for a while. This extends logically enough to a heart-healthy diet and watching your stress levels, but it also has implications for your dental care as well. Be sure to tell your Federal Way dentist if you have suffered a heart attack, as this will affect any upcoming appointments you may have.

After a heart attack, you should wait at least six months before undergoing any dental treatments. You may not be strong enough to handle the anxiety that so often goes along with dental procedures, and the heart medication you may be taking could interact poorly with your treatment. When it comes time to return to the dentist, supply your dentist with a list of all medications you are taking, along with their dosages. It also helps to provide the contact information of your doctor, in the event that anything should go wrong during your dental appointment.

The Importance of Tongue-Scraping

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Are you brushing and flossing every day? That’s a good start for a healthy mouth, but you should never forget that your oral bacteria is growing on more than just your teeth and gums. This is why our Federal Way dental clinic advises that you remember to scrape your tongue as a regular part of your oral hygiene.

Your tongue has as much potential to harbor the microbes that cause tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath as your teeth do. Fortunately, cleaning away this bacteria is a simple matter. You can clear away this bacteria by gently brushing at your tongue with your toothbrush. Most people find the brush uncomfortable on the tongue, particularly when trying to reach the back, so you may want to get yourself a proper tongue scraper. Such scrapers are available in many dental care sections, and are designed to clean your tongue with the even pressure that you can’t get with a normal brush. A good antibacterial mouthwash can also serve to kill off bacteria on your tongue, but a tongue scraping is the only way to clear off the detritus and dead cells that are gathering on your tongue surface.

Oral Cancer Warning Signs

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Though you can benefit from a regular oral cancer screening when you visit our Federal Way Dentistry, it always pays to be vigilant throughout the year.  Keep an eye out for the following warning signs of this deadly cancer, and alert your dentist if you have any concerns.

  • Unusual lumps, or rough, eroded, or crusty areas on the lips, in your neck, or inside your mouth.

  • Velvety red or white patches in the mouth, or a speckled red and white patch.

  • Bleeding in the mouth.

  • Pain, tenderness, or loss of feeling in the face, mouth, neck or ear.

  • Sores in the face, neck or mouth that bleed easily and don’t heal on their own within two weeks.

  • A sore throat, or a feeling that you have something caught in the back of your throat that doesn’t go away.

  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing, or a decreased mobility in the jaw or tongue.

  • Persistent hoarseness, slurred speech or other vocal problems.

  • A change in how your teeth fit together.

  • Unexplained weight loss.

Obviously, any one of these could be something entirely harmless or a symptom of an entirely different condition.  In any case, it is best to bring it to your dentist and spare yourself the worst.

Who is at Risk of Oral Cancer?

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Our Federal Way Dentistry is about more than just cleaning your teeth and giving you a bright smile.  We can also help protect you from the ravages of oral cancer.  Though this cancer accounts for a small percentage of cancers in the US, it has a disproportionately large death rate compared to many of the more common cancers.  Take a look at this list of oral cancer risk factors to see what kind of threat you might be facing:

  • 70% of oral cancer cases occur in men, with men over fifty being at the greatest risk.

  • Tobacco increases your oral cancer risk by a huge degree, whether it is smoked or enjoyed in a smokeless form, like chewing tobacco or snuff.

  • Smoking marijuana puts you at a high risk of oral cancer.

  • Excessive alcohol is linked to oral cancer, particularly if the drinker is also a smoker.

  • A diet deficient in vitamin A, and other poor dietary habits, can increase your oral cancer risk.

  • Unguarded exposure to the sun can bring about oral cancer in the exposed regions of your lips.

  • As cancer can be linked to the HPV virus, engaging in oral sex can raise your risk factor.

  • A family history of cancer is always a sign of an increased cancer risk.

The most important key to surviving oral cancer is detecting it at an early stage.  If you’re a high risk for oral cancer, be sure to get your regular cancer screenings with your dentist.

What Causes Dry Mouth?

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Saliva is an important part of preventing decay and infections in your mouth.  When your mouth is too dry, it invites harmful cultures of bacteria and fungi to flourish throughout your teeth and gums.  It is for this reason that our Federal Way family dentistry wants you to be on the lookout for dry mouth, and be mindful of the many forces that may contribute to this unfortunate condition.

  • Smoking and tobacco-chewing can dry out your mouth.

  • Chronic mouth-breathing releases moisture from your mouth faster than it can be replaced.

  • Many medications, both prescription and nonprescription, have dry mouth as a side effect.  This also includes many sedatives, muscle relaxants, and antihistamines.

  • A lot of diseases cause dry mouth.  Common examples include AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, anemia, hypertension, mumps, rheumatoid arthritis, and strokes.

  • Certain medical treatments can cause damage to your salivary glands, like chemotherapy.

  • An injury to the head or neck area may result in nerve damage that causes dry mouth.

  • If you are dehydrated, your body is likely to sacrifice saliva in favor of more important functions.  Dehydration can come from fever, excessive sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of blood, or simply a failure to drink enough water.

Talk to your dentist to learn more about dry mouth, and how you can get rid of it.

Dental Care and Diabetes

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Be sure to tell our Federal Way Dentistry if you suffer from diabetes, as this is a condition with many unfortunate implications on your oral health. Diabetes impairs your body’s ability to battle infections while simultaneously giving you a more sugar-rich saliva, and this adds up to an increased chance of periodontal disease. Furthermore, in the event that you are afflicted with gum disease, this will in turn aggravate your diabetes; it’s a vicious cycle that you must be careful not to fall into.

To avoid complications, you must be particularly mindful of your oral health. Keeping your blood sugar under control is a good way to stave off gum disease. You probably spread your eating out more throughout the day, and this is harder on your teeth; rinse out your mouth more to get rid of the harmful acids caused by your frequent meals. Keep your dentist updated on the status of your diabetes with every dentist, as well as the medication you are taking and the contact information for your diabetes doctor.

What’s Staining My Teeth?

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The unfortunate truth is that it’s nearly impossible to avoid substances that stain your teeth.  After a whitening, even a professional one performed at our Federal Way family dentistry, it’s really just a matter of time before your teeth lose that sparkle once again.  With that in mind, take a look at this list of common tooth-stainers, and be mindful of how you might reduce the impact they have on your pearly-whites.

  • Smoking: Tobacco, marijuana, and any other variety of smoke has a strong ability to leave its impression on your smile.  Don’t smoke.

  • Colorful Drinks: A lot of juices, sports drinks, and sodas have a bad combination of acids and pigments that can weaken your enamel and leave them susceptible to discoloration.  Try drinking them with a straw more often, to help them bypass your teeth on their way down your throat.

  • Berries: Though highly nutritious, many berries and other richly colored fruits have strong pigments that can show up in your teeth.  Try rinsing out your mouth after eating berries or berry-related pies, pastries, or red wines.

  • Sauces: Colorful sauces like tomato sauce and soy sauce are big tooth-stainers.  Consider using white sauces more often.

  • Coffee and Tea: Not only do the darkly colored coffees and teas stain teeth, but even herbal tea and white tea can contribute towards weakening your enamel and letting colorful pigmentation in.

  • Candy: As always, candy is not the friend of your teeth.  Many have tooth-staining colors added to them, so add that to your list of reasons to cut back.

Bad Breath: Are Your Teeth to Blame?

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A lot of times, bad breath can be a good sign that you need to get to your Federal Way family dentistry. It’s common knowledge that gum disease and tooth rot are some of the best ways to make your friends want to stand upwind of you when you talk. However, if your brushing and flossing routine is immaculate and you still have people complaining about your breath, it may be time to consider a different source. After all, contrary to popular belief, halitosis does not always point to a problem in your mouth.

The first thing to do is to consider your diet. Certain things you eat, or fail to eat, can release bad-smelling substances into your lungs and spoil your breath at the source. Garlic and onions, though otherwise very healthy for you, are some of the bigger offenders here. Diets rich in meat and fat, alcohol, and certain kinds of fish, can also contribute. There is even a phenomenon called “hunger breath” that happens when you diet or aren’t getting enough protein; as the body needs to digest the proteins stored in your fat, it releases foul odors in your lungs.

If you’ve considered all of these, and you still can’t pinpoint the source of your room-clearing exhalations, then it might be time to see a doctor. In some of the worse cases, halitosis can point to an infection in the lungs, liver, or kidneys that you will need to have checked out by a medical professional.

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