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Dental Management for the Pregnant Patient in Federal Way

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Understanding the Pregnant Dental Patient

The female patient’s physiology undergoes may alterations when she is pregnant, much different from those who are not anticipating. These changes affect her cardiovascular, hematologic, respiratory, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, and endocrine systems, that all adjust to the presence of the baby in her womb. Hence, when she needs dental treatment, extra precautions are in order.

For example, in a 2nd and 3rd trimester pregnancy, if a woman lies on her back (supine position) for too long, she can experience a decrease in blood pressure and cardiac output causing her to be dizzy, nauseous, or might even faint. This may be relieved if she lies on her left side. The patient can also hyperventilate (over-breathing) during the 1st trimester worsening up until her late pregnancy, or complain of difficulty breathing (dyspnea); some may experience hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in the blood). Her circulatory system will also undergo changes, such as physiologic anemia, maximal by 30 to 32 weeks, and an increase of some blood elements, like clotting factors that can cause blood clots. Her chances of a highly risky thromboembolic event (blood vessel blockage due to a clot) are five times higher than non pregnant women.

About half of patients will experience acid reflux of their stomach contents; two thirds will complain of nausea and vomiting, peaking at the end of the first trimester. During dental procedures, the patient should be seated in a semi supine or comfortable position, and any procedure has to stop immediately if patient experiences nausea. There is also iron deficiency and a condition called preeclampsia. It is a liver dysfunction manifesting 3 ways – hypertension, edema and proteinuria (excess protein in urine). Also, pregnant women tend to urinate more frequently and are prone to urinary tract infections that can become serious if left untreated. However, just prior to any dental procedure, the patient has to empty her bladder first.

Next, find out about oral changes in pregnant women in our next blog issue.

Dental Care for the Pregnant Mom in Federal Way

If you are the pregnant patient seeking dental treatment, do consult with our dentist in Federal Way. At Bella Dental, we advise our pregnant cases about options open to them, including the need to not do simple or complex procedures if so warranted. Come for a visit and let’s find out together what we can do.

The Dentist and Non-dentist Dilemma

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Going to a Dental Therapist for Tooth Extraction?

There’s this buzz among a handful of states in the US and in many countries outside North America about considering dental therapists and hygienists to do a dentist’s job. Some public health advocates are looking to non-dentists, who are however advanced in their hygiene and therapy practices, to fill in the gaps where very few dentists are found. These are in the areas of dental care for low-income people, and those who are disabled and elderly. It is also occurs in some areas that many dentists do not accept Medicaid disability benefits for dental care owing to low reimbursement rates. Where do these folks go to if they need quality professional attention for their oral issues?

From out of Boston, Ma, dentists there, through their lobbyists, are willing to consider the concept for the first time – looking at competent and well-trained hygienists and therapists to do dental procedures that are normally a dentist’s domain. Naturally so, many other dentists oppose this view based on concerns over safety and supervision. Boston says that it recorded about 36,000 ER visits in 2014 alone of preventable oral issues that cost $36 million for the health care system. It would have been tremendous savings if dental hygienists/therapists been able to directly deal with the issues.

Massachusetts dentists filed a bill in January allowing limited use of public health dental practitioners in this regard. Practitioners will be required to have at least two years of post-graduate level training and restrict them to serving only Medicaid patients or residents of “underserved” counties with a documented shortage of dentists. It also provides that a dentist be on hand for supervision in delicate cases, such as tooth extractions.

From all over the country, we have Alaska that has allowed dental therapists to work in tribal areas since 2004; two other New England states, Maine in 2014 and Vermont in 2016, have since joined Minnesota in authorizing statewide programs. Proposals also are being considered in Arizona, Connecticut, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio and Texas.

Maybe Washington state will embrace the concept soon as well. In the meantime, if you are around Federal Way, you’ve got a complete complement of dental staff practicing excellent Federal Way dentistry.

Sealants: Sealing Out Tooth Decay in Federal Way

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Benefits of Sealants for Children

Did you know that school-age children who do not have sealants applied to their teeth have three times more cavities than children with sealants? That’s according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which said in October 2016 that only 43% of children 6 to 11 years of age have sealants.

While brushing and flossing are great ways to prevent cavities, the back teeth do not always get the best out of brushing and flossing. Because of their posterior position, molars and premolars are not always easy to clean, and besides, their uneven top surfaces provide attractive places for food debris to lodge and get colonized by bacteria. Fluoride in toothpaste and in drinking water protects the smooth surfaces of teeth but the back teeth need extra protection.

A safe and affordable safety net can be provided by sealants. Painted as liquid on the surfaces of molars, this thin, almost translucent coating made from plastic sticks to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth and then quickly hardens via light curing. You have actually provided a physical barrier against food debris and bacterial attack.

Sealants can last many years and save time and money in the long run by avoiding fillings, crowns, or caps used to fix decayed teeth. Children and adults can benefit from sealants, but it is best to start early, like around the age of 6 through 12. Both primary and permanent molars benefit from sealants. Adult teeth can have sealants too, provided their back teeth are still carries-free and without fillings.

How safe are sealants? Unless it’s an allergic reaction, sealants have no known other ill-effects.

Federal Way Dentistry endorses Sealants

Like we use to say, where dental health is concerned, it is better to start early. Have your kid’s molars protected from tooth decay by way of sealants. It’s safe, painless and affordable, a preventive measure in oral care by your Federal Way dentist.

Implants: Places for Missing Teeth

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Are Dental Implants for Every Missing Tooth?

An artificial root that is embedded into an empty space between teeth is an implant; it holds a replacement tooth or a tooth that is part of a bridge to occupy that space. Implants are necessary options to replace teeth that have been lost. But implants are not for all empty spaces in the dental arch. It depends on the health of mouth tissues, the amount of stress it will receive, and the chances of successful integration between the implant and the bone structure. Good planning and positioning contribute to a long lifespan of the dental implant.

A good candidate for an implant are healthy gums with no periodontal disease. This condition can support one, to several , to all missing teeth in which case a full denture can replace all the missing dentition. If there is not enough bone structure or bone is too soft, a bone graft can be done; If there is not enough gum tissue, a soft tissue graft. Implants are non-removable and are not anchored to other teeth which make them highly stable in the mouth.

Do I need an Expert to do My Implants?

You can find such a dentist in Federal Way, here at Bella Dental, whose expertise is dental implants. The procedure may look daunting to you but our expert’s knowledge and experience should be able to put you at ease. Our Federal Way dentist will still remind you about meticulous oral hygiene and regular dental appointments. You will also be advised to avoid chewing on hard foods or objects particular to dental implants.

Feeling Natural with Teeth Fillings

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Is it as Good as Gold or Silver?

Those fillings that are identical to the natural color of teeth are called composite resins. They are incredibly strong and durable, able to bear the stresses applied daily on teeth. They are insoluble and easy to manipulate, and best of all, no one will guess that you’ve had a restoration for they mimic the color of your teeth.

These tooth-colored fillings have been compared to silver-mercury amalgam, still being used these days, though sparingly, but whose strength and staying power are legendary. In aesthetics, composites are far superior to amalgam, coming in various shade models to match existing teeth color. Composites, unlike amalgam, spares the tooth from further drilling and removal of normal structure just to fit in. Composites bond excellently with tooth material; they have versatile applications and the added value of safety, for they don’t involve mercury.

But do they last as long as amalgam fillings? Since no filling lasts for all time, composite restoration’s longevity is comparable to amalgam’s depending on dentist’s skills and techniques, type and location of tooth concerned and certain patient characteristics.

Natural Smile Anytime

Federal Way dentistry goes for natural, same-colored tooth fillings, as more and more patients opt for that natural look. We, at Bella Dental, will still use amalgam restorations where absolutely necessary for a patient’s situation. Composites may be costlier than silver fillings, though, because of the time requirement and technique in preparation and application. But if you prefer that seamless look in your front or back teeth, composites are the way to go.

Using Night Guards While You Sleep

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Who wears Night Guards?

A nightguard is a mouth protector worn by those who can’t help grinding or clenching their teeth while asleep at night. The condition is called bruxism, a forceful and consistent clenching or grinding of the biting surfaces of upper and lower teeth that, over time, can lead to tooth wear, tooth crack, hypersensitive teeth, misalignment, damaged restorations, and even tooth loss. Grinding produces those noises that tend to awake partners, while both grinding and clenching (which may be inaudible) involve the forces that cause headaches, muscle tenderness, and temporomandibular joint pain.

The cause is largely unknown and thought to be multi-factoral. This condition can be potentially serious to warrant a nightguard that provides protection especially during the early stages. Nightguards are of acrylic, either hard or soft, and usually worn over the lower teeth only, though both sets can have each a guard if warranted. It may be a partial guard or one for the whole arch.

You might not even know

Your Federal Way dentist says the goal for wearing nightguards is to protect your dentition from the forces applied to them, though will not treat bruxism itself. The condition is still subject to research and treatment options need further evaluation to determine long-term efficacy.

However, nightguards are still widely used to also protect the joints and ease muscle strain, constrain the pattern of damage, distribute the forces, stabilize teeth and prevent changing of positions, and to also evaluate the extent of the condition. And because bruxism may have a strong psychological association, your dentist in Federal Way may prescribe anti-anxiety medication at some point, recommend relaxation techniques or stress management.

Find out if you have this condition you might not even know about. Keep your next dental visit in mind.

Foods and Drinks that Stain your Teeth

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Can my favorite food stain my teeth?

Some food and drinks leave stains behind – on your tongue, including your teeth. Your dentist can very well tell your eating habits and food preferences by simple oral examination. If your teeth aren’t as white as they used to be, you might want to take a closer look at what you put inside your mouth.

As one ages, the outer enamel of teeth develop very fine lines across the surfaces, very much like lines on maturing facial skin. Stains tend to burrow into these depressions and over time, simple brushing just won’t do. Certain foods like berries contain pigments that stay behind.

Red wine, tea, coffee, and all sodas cause discoloration; the same with tomato sauce, beets, curry, as well as soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. They also have acids that bathe teeth and cause the enamel to soften and become brittle, and hence, attract more pigments to stick to them.

Is there some way to both enjoy your favorites and at the same time protect your pearly whites?

Federal Way Dentistry says…

Don’t leave remnants behind. Brush with toothpaste right away. If that is not possible, drink lots of water to keep the mouth hydrated. Rinse or use a gargle, just don’t let the smell or taste linger in the mouth. All these are proactive tips to keep your whites stay white. Also, stay faithful to your dental appointments to maintain that bright healthy smile all year round.
As far as teeth already stained or discolored, your best bet is to drop by your Federal Way dentist at Bella Dental for an in-office teeth whitening. We use the best whitening products combined with technology to give you back that confident smile.

Dealing with Cold Sores

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The mouth can be the site for many different bumps, lesions, and sores, and the cold sore is one of the more obnoxious.  Should you or your family members become afflicted with one, our Federal Way Dentistry advises that you take the following precautions in order to expedite recovery, minimize pain, and keep the virus from spreading:

  • Cold sores are caused by a herpes virus, and therefore cannot simply be cured.  However, there are over-the-counter drugs that can be very effective in reducing the pain of the sores, reducing cracking, and speeding up the healing process.

  • Cold sores can be aggravated by a bacterial infection, so keep the area clean.  You can wash a sore gently with soap and water as needed.

  • Apply a sunscreen to your face and lips if you are to experience any prolonged exposure to the sun.

  • Don’t spread the virus to others!  Wash your hands after touching a sore, don’t kiss anyone, and don’t share utensils, drinks, or anything else that comes into contact with your mouth.

  • Also, remember that you can spread the virus to other parts of your own body.  Particularly vulnerable areas include your eyes and genitals.  Wash your hands before touching other parts of your body, or you could develop blindness or genital herpes.

  • Replace your toothbrush, and don’t let your infected brush mingle with other people’s brushes.

Remember that your sores will remain contagious until they crust over completely.  Cold sores generally heal by themselves within seven or ten days.

The Dangers of Sleeping With Your Mouth Open

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Do you often breathe through your mouth while you sleep? This is a problem that can put your teeth at unnecessary risk. According to a research team at the University of Otago, Dunedin, in New Zealand, leaving your mouth open while sleeping is subjecting your tooth enamel to dangerous levels of acid. Participants wore a device that monitored the acidity of their mouths during the night, and it was found that sleeping with your mouth open brings your pH down as low as 3.6. When you consider that your enamel begins to break down at a pH of 5.5, this is a truly problematic figure.

The problem is that your mouth needs saliva to defend it from decay and, while your saliva production is already down when you sleep, it dries out all the more if you let your mouth hang open. So, if you frequently wake up with a dry mouth or a sore throat, you may want to look for ways to keep your mouth closed. Talk to our Federal Way dentistry clinic to learn more about how to defend your mouth from decay.

On the Lookout for Bruxism

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Have you ever heard the word “bruxism” before? Chances are good that you’re aware of the condition, even if you don’t know it by its proper name. This is the technical term that our Federal Way family dentistry uses to describe chronic tooth-grinding.

Not only is grinding an irritating and generally painful habit to get into, but it also spells bad news for the health of your teeth and jaw. To make matters worse, you might not even be aware that you have bruxism. Keep an eye out for these signs of bruxism, and you could be saving yourself from some disastrous dental problems:

Since a lot of grinding occurs while you sleep, you might be able to ask your spouse or roommate if they hear you grinding during the night. You might also find yourself waking up with headaches or a sore jaw every morning. If the grinding goes on for too long, you might notice that the top surfaces of your teeth are getting worn down, or even chipped. Get to your dentist right away if you discover bruxism, and we can help you to prevent further damage to your teeth.

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