Federal Way Family Dentistry – Useful Facts

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Bruxism in Children

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Between 15% to 33% of children will suffer from bruxism at some point. For the most part, this is caused by the pain that occurs during the eruption of new teeth. The habit will generally fade after the discomfort passes, but sometimes the grinding will persist. In such an event, our Federal Way dentistry clinic offers the following advice for your young one:

  • Sometimes your child could be grinding without realizing it, often while they sleep. If he or she complains of headaches or a sore jaw, listen for a grinding sound during the night.
  • A lot of grinding is caused by stress. Work on ways to reduce your child’s stress, particularly before he or she goes to bed.
  • Instruct your child to massage his or her jaw muscles to relax them.
  • Dehydration can contribute to bruxism. Assure that your child is getting enough to drink.
  • Consult your dentist about your child’s bruxism. We can help to pinpoint the source of the problem. Your child may require some form of dental care to reduce discomfort and overcome his or her tooth-grinding.

Don’t Wait Until You are Feeling Pain!

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Preventive Care

There is an unfortunately common idea out there that you don’t need to go to the dentist if you’re not feeling any pain. If there is one thing that our Federal Way Dentistry clinic wishes to impress on you, it’s that there is really no way of knowing whether or not you are suffering tooth decay unless you maintain a proper dental check-up schedule. Putting it off until your teeth actually start to hurt is a dangerous practice that can lead to serious, costly damage.

What you need to realize about tooth decay is that it can get pretty far into your teeth before it hits anything that can feel pain. You have a cavity the moment your oral bacteria manages to make a tiny hole in the razor-thin enamel at the surface of your tooth. Once this happens, it’s still free to dig through the tough, rigid dentin of your tooth before it reaches the soft pulp at the middle. This is the first time it interacts with one of your nerves and, once it reaches this point, you’re looking at a root canal.

Only by catching a cavity before it gets this far can you spare the tooth with a simple filling. And so, armed with this knowledge, be sure to come into Bella Dental in Federal Way every six months to give your teeth the proper check-up they need.

Taking a Bite out of TMD’s

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The health of your teeth is closely related to the health of your jaw.  Dental and periodontal problems, left unchecked, can have disastrous effects on your jawbone, and vice versa.  This is why our Federal Way family dentistry wants you to be on the lookout for the warning signs of Temporomandibular Disorders, or TMD’s.  These warning signs of TMD/TMJ can include the following:

  • Pain or a tender feeling in the face, jaw joint, neck, or shoulders, particularly when you are exercising the jaw.

  • If you grind your teeth, this may either be a cause or a symptom of a TMD.

  • A decreased ability to open the mouth wide.

  • Jaws that lock into position.

  • Clicking, popping, or grating in the jaw when you open and close your mouth.

  • Tired facial muscles.

  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together.

  • Swelling on either side of the face.

  • Toothaches.

  • Headaches.

  • Dizziness.

  • Earaches, hearing problems, or tinnitus.

If you suspect that you might have a TMD, consult our dentist at our Federal Way dentistry.

How to Limit Sugar’s Impact on Your Teeth

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It shouldn’t be news to you that sugar is bad for your teeth. However, our Federal Way family dentistry frequently finds that people don’t know what to do with this information. Many instinctively want to think that consuming less sugar in their daily diets is going to lead to a healthier mouth, but this is not exactly the case. Though this makes perfect sense from a nutritionist standpoint, the name of the game for a dentist is less about eating less sugar and more about controlling when sugar is eaten.

The first thing to understand is that the real enemy of your teeth is carbohydrates, of which sugar is only one. These are virtually unavoidable, and it would be inadvisable to try cutting them entirely out of your diet. So instead of cutting down on what you eat, try cutting down on how often you eat. Eating three large meals a day and not snacking at all in the interim time is healthier for your teeth than eating the exact same food in tiny portions throughout the day.

It’s not just the sugar that is harmful for your teeth

The reason this works is because, when you eat, the bacteria in your mouth is eating as well. This allows it to produce harmful acids which weaken your teeth. Your mouth is under attack by these acids for about twenty or thirty minutes after you finish eating, but it will continue to be thusly attacked if you continue to eat.

Imagine, for example, that you have a single eight-ounce soda. If you drink the entire soda in one minute, you’re subjecting your teeth to acids for a mere half hour. However, if you nurse this same soda by taking a single ounce every half hour, you are keeping your oral bacterial fed and subjecting your mouth to a four-and-a-half-hour assault. This adds up quickly.

The Right Way to Brush

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Are you brushing correctly?  It may not be as simple as you think.  Some improper brushing technique can do more harm than good, so take the advice of your dentist in Federal Way and follow these simple steps to keep your teeth healthy and white:

  • If you’re flossing, do so before you brush.
  • Do not brush too soon after eating!  Acids in your food can weaken your tooth enamel such that your brush can strip this thin layer away and expose you to tooth decay.
  • Start by moistening your brush and applying a thin layer of toothpaste.
  • Approach your teeth with your brush at a forty-five degree angle, brushing in a circular motion so that you gently massage your gums while you remove the plaque from your teeth.  Don’t brush too hard, or you can break down your delicate gum tissues.
  • Work your way around the front surface of all your teeth, the back surface, and the tops of your molars.  Try to change where you begin your routine every day, so that no one area is getting all your attention.
  • Clean your tongue with a tongue scraper, or brush it normally with your brush.
  • Rinse out and follow up with a good mouthwash, if desired.
  • Brush twice a day, for two minutes at a time.  Ideal times include after you wake up and before you go to sleep, as your mouth is less able to defend against plaque during the night.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to make an appointment with our Federal Way dentist.

Dental Emergencies

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Accidents happen. No matter how well you treat your teeth, you’re never entirely immune to a cracked tooth, a broken jaw, or even a severe toothache of unknown origin. If you experience any such emergency, call our Federal Way dentist immediately. Do not put any aspirin or other painkillers on the gums, as this can burn gum tissues. Clean out your mouth with warm water and put a cold compress on anything that appears to be broken or swelling.

If a permanent tooth comes out, you may be able to save the tooth if you act quickly. Handle it only by the crown when you pick it up, and never touch the roots. Rinse it off gently if necessary, but do not scrub or disinfect it so as to preserve any tissues that may still be on the root. If you can, try putting it back in the empty socket. If this isn’t possible, store the tooth in water, milk, or saliva until you can get to a dentist. Simply holding it in your mouth may suffice, but be delicate with it.

Depending on the nature and severity of your emergency, you may wish to instead go to your hospital’s emergency room. Use your discretion.

The Trouble with Sugar-Free Soda

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It’s old news that soda is bad for your teeth. As a high-sugar beverage, sodas are obviously a big contributor to cavities and gum disease. With that in mind, some people think that they can evade this problem by drinking only sugar-free sodas. Unfortunately, this is not the easy fix that you may think it is. Our Federal Way dentistry clinic cautions you to take just as much care with sugar-free sodas as you should with your favorite sugary beverages.

What you need to remember is that it’s not just the sugar in soda breaks down your teeth. Any drink with carbonation is highly acidic, and this acid weakens your tooth enamel. In many drinks, it’s this acid that is doing your teeth the most harm. Try minimizing this damage by following an acidic beverage with a bit of a calcium-rich drink, like milk, and stick to drinking water between meals as much as you can.

What is the Difference Between Plaque and Tartar?

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When our Federal Way dentistry clinic discusses the detrimental build-up that needs to be cleaned from your teeth, the two words you’re going to hear a lot are “plaque” and “tartar”. Some people make the mistake of thinking that these are interchangeable terms. However, though they are quite similar, there is an important distinction to be made between plaque and tartar that has a big impact on how you should be addressing them.

Plaque is a bacterial film that collects throughout your mouth. This is the substance that you are clearing away with your toothbrush and floss. Tartar, also known as calculus, is what happens when you fail to clear this plaque away. This is when the plaque has hardened into a resilient shell on the surface of your tooth. At this point, it can no longer be cleared away with normal brushing; you will need to have your dentist remove it.

Does Whitening Break Down My Teeth?

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There are some fears that a professional whitening treatment, like the kind you might get at our Federal Way dentistry clinic, might be doing more harm than good. After all, since these are harsh bleaching chemicals, couldn’t they break down the delicate gum tissues and tooth enamel in your mouth? If you share these trepidations, a recent study has some good news for you.

This study is coming to us from the São Leopoldo Mandic Institute and Research Center in Brazil. Researchers observed a set of participants who each underwent different levels of in-office-style bleaching gels. After examining the tooth enamel of participants, it was determined that there was no discernable difference between those who had gotten a full whitening and those who had received no whitening.

It should be noted that this only applies to professional, in-office treatments. Certain home whitening products have been found to be more harsh on your mouth. So, when you lose the lustre in your pearly-whites, count on Bella Dental to give you the whitening you need.

After Your Wisdom Tooth Extraction

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If you need to have a wisdom tooth extracted, our Federal Way dentistry clinic can make the experience quick and convenient for you. After your extraction, though, you will need to take certain measures to maximize your comfort and minimize your recovery time. Here are some tips regarding what to expect and what to do in the days following the removal of your tooth:

  • Under normal circumstances, your recovery period shouldn’t last more than a few days. During this time, you will probably want to take painkillers or apply an ice pack to the outside of your mouth to reduce your pain and swelling.
  • Avoid smokeable products of any kind. Your sensitive gum tissues are easily aggravated by the smoke.
  • Favor softer foods, like soup and pudding. Reintroduce yourself to solid foods gradually as your condition improves.
  • As you sleep, prop your head up with pillows. Laying flat on your back can encourage bleeding.
  • Avoid using a straw, or any other activity that involves sucking. This can loosen your blood clot.
  • Relax. An increased heart rate can encourage bleeding.
  • After the first twenty-four hours, try rinsing your mouth a few times a day with salt water. You can make an appropriate salt solution by mixing one teaspoon of salt with eight ounces of warm water.
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