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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 Happens if I Lose a Filling?

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Even with all the advances in dental technology, no filling is completely invulnerable. A filling will occasionally pop out of your tooth, possibly after a sharp impact, possibly while you are chewing on a sticky substance, possibly for no discernable reason. When this happens, it’s important to get to your Federal Way dentistry clinic as soon as you can in order to replace this filling and protect the vulnerable insides of your tooth again.

If you swallow your filling, don’t worry. Modern fillings are non-toxic, and should pass harmlessly from your system. There are some cases of a filling going down the wrong pipe and getting stuck in the lungs, though, which represents a problem for your doctor to take a look at.

One thing to remember when you lose a filling is that you can’t necessarily blame the taffy that yanked it out, or the baseball that knocked it loose. Chances are good that there was a pre-existing problem with your filling; maybe you had some decay or weak tooth structure underneath the filling that allowed it to fall out. With this in mind, you can look at your lost filling as an important opportunity to address what might have been a more serious problem down the line.

The Consequences of Acid Reflux on Your Teeth

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Acid reflux is a difficult problem to live with.

This condition describes when your stomach acid leaks up into your esophagus, where it burns your throat and causes a lot of pain. Some of this acid may also make its way into your mouth, which can break down your teeth and fragile soft tissues. Our Federal dentistry clinic advises that you take measures to manage your acid reflux for the sake of your dental health.

You can reduce your acid reflux symptoms by controlling your diet. Many foods bring about excess acid in your system, contributing to your acid reflux. These include alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, coffee, tea, onions, garlic, dairy products, citrus, tomatoes, spicy foods, mint, and fatty fried foods. Avoid eating these a while before going to sleep, and try propping up the front legs of your bed a few inches so that your throat is above your stomach. This will go a long way towards sparing your tooth enamel the ravages of stomach acid.

The Problem with Whitening Toothpaste

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Have you ever considered whitening toothpaste as an alternative to a professional whitening treatment from our Federal Way Dentistry? If you have, you may want to think again. The truth is that so-called “whitening” toothpastes may in fact be doing far more harm than good.

If you have a toothpaste that identifies itself as a whitener, take a close look at the package. It probably says that it whitens your teeth “by removing surface stains”. Essentially, this means that it’s wiping away the staining agents on your teeth that have not yet become stains. This is all well and good, but it will leave you stuck with the stains you already have. To remove actual stains, you need strong whitening agents that cannot come in toothpaste form; any bleach in a toothpaste get rinsed away too quickly to have any effect, and ultimately only serve to make your paste more abrasive on your sensitive gums. Do the right thing for your teeth, and have them whitened at Bella Dental.

Green Tea Protects Your Teeth

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Green tea has many strong benefits to offer to your body, and your mouth is no exception. According to a research team, green tea features antimicrobial substances that kill off the harmful bacteria in your mouth that are responsible for tooth decay and gingivitis. In a study, participants between the age of forty and sixty-four who reported drinking a cup of green tea every day were 19% less likely to lose their teeth as they aged.

Part of the benefit derived from drinking tea can be attributed to the effects of washing the mouth out with warm fluid. However, not all warm beverages give you the same benefits. Oolong tea, while featuring some of the same antimicrobial catechins, was found to have a weaker effect. Green tea sweetened with sugar loses much of its positive effect on your teeth. Coffee, meanwhile, has demonstrated no benefits for your teeth, and sweetened coffees can apparently be highly detrimental.

For more tips on keeping your mouth clean, contact our Federal Way dentistry clinic.

Dental Care Following a Stroke

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There are many problems associated with suffering a stroke, and your dental hygiene is one that can easily be overlooked. Not only may it be more difficult for you to properly brush and floss, but you will likely experience dry mouth as an aftereffect of your stroke or a side effect of your medication. With this in mind, take special care following your stroke to save yourself from unnecessary decay.

Firstly, be sure to tell our Federal Way dentistry clinic of whatever medication you may be taking as a result of your stroke. Of particular concern are anticoagulants, since they encourage excessive bleeding during your procedures. Further, if you are suffering from memory loss, you may benefit from having your dentist write your your instruction down for you following your treatments.

At home, consider getting new products to accommodate your weaker grip. An electric toothbrush or a flossing tool may be helpful for you. In some cases, you may only need to wrap some extra padding around your existing toothbrush.

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