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6 Surprising Things That Put You at Risk for Cavities

woman looks at teeth in mirrorWe all know that following a proper brushing and flossing routine at home can go a long way in protecting your smile against cavities. But even if you always brush twice a day and floss daily, there are still some things that may be putting you at risk for cavities. Join our Mill Creek dental office as we cover a few of the surprising ways you may be damaging your teeth.

Alcohol & Drug Use

Alcohol in particular poses two potential threats to oral health. First, it’s naturally drying and can lead to dry mouth. Second, its acidity wears away enamel. Dangerous, hard drugs such as methamphetamine traditionally cause tooth rot and many other oral health and whole-body health concerns.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders affect teeth in different ways. One way is by keeping you from getting the proper amount of nutrients, such as calcium and phosphorus, that your teeth need to stay strong. Another is by damaging tooth enamel through purging. While not all eating disorders involve purging, it’s a common practice in those with bulimia.

Genetics

Like your overall health, your genetics also play a role in your oral health. Whether your genes cause you to have higher amounts of bacteria in your mouth or they make you more likely to have soft or brittle teeth, they may put you at increased risk for cavities.

Getting Older

It’s a known fact that our bodies change as we get older. Our oral health is no different. Aging tends to weaken tooth enamel, which increases risk for decay by leaving teeth exposed to damaging bacteria. But the worries don’t end with tooth enamel. Gum recession is also common in older people, giving bacteria yet another place to attack.

Tobacco Use

Both smoking and using chewing tobacco can make you more susceptible to cavities since they contain nicotine, and nicotine is known to dry out mouths. Using any form of tobacco can also lead to yellow, discolored teeth.

Fillings

Even though fillings are meant to fix and treat cavities, having one that’s a bit large can put you at risk for developing more cavities. Large fillings can cause bacteria to get trapped underneath, which becomes impossible to remove with a toothbrush. If this is the case, your dentist in Mill Creek will need to fix the filling or perhaps use a dental crown instead.

Besides making sure you brush and floss regularly, visiting our dental office in Mill Creek bi-annually can help reduce your chances of getting a cavity. If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental check up, call to schedule an appointment today.

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What is Charcoal Toothpaste and Does it Work?

charcoal toothpasteChances are you’ve seen all the social media posts raving about using charcoal toothpaste to whiten your teeth. Its popularity has soared over the past few years, and many people are raving fans of it. But what is this gooey black stuff that everyone seems to be using? Does it actually work? Our dental office in Mill Creek wants to help get your questions answered.

Question 1: What is Charcoal Toothpaste?

When you first think of charcoal, we’re willing to bet you envision a gray rock that’s typically used for grilling food at the annual family picnic. Charcoal toothpaste isn’t made of that, but rather from activated charcoal. Activated charcoal is a form of carbon that’s been processed to have tons of tiny pores. In relation to oral health, it’s believed that these pores can absorb stains, tartar, and bacteria that may be lingering on teeth.

Question 2: Is Activated Charcoal Safe to Put in Your Mouth?

Activated charcoal has been used for over 2,000 for a variety of healthcare reasons including dental uses. In fact, the ancient Romans’ toothpaste consisted mainly of charcoal powder. As time progressed, activated charcoal was used to help victims of poisoning. Some hospitals may still utilize this technique today.  

Question 3: Does Charcoal Toothpaste Whiten Teeth?

It turns out that the claims about charcoal toothpaste are in fact true. Charcoal toothpaste can be effective at giving teeth a whiter appearance by removing surface stains. However, if the staining is deeper, activated charcoal toothpaste probably isn’t your answer.

Question 4: Should You Use Charcoal Toothpaste?

Essentially it’s your decision to use or not to use charcoal toothpaste. But the American Dental Association (ADA) warns against is repeated use. The abrasive texture of charcoal toothpaste can wear away tooth enamel and leave your teeth exposed to bacteria. Diminished enamel may also cause teeth to appear more yellow or darker, which probably isn’t the look you’re going for.

Alternative Ways to Whiten Your Smile

Despite the charcoal toothpaste craze, there are safer and more effective ways to get whiter teeth such as:

  • A smile whitening treatment from your dentist in Mill Creek
  • A whitening toothpaste that’s earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance
  • A cosmetic dentistry treatment including dental veneers

If you’re looking for the best way to whiten your teeth, give our Mill Creek dental office a call to schedule an appointment. We’d be happy to have you!

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Top 4 Ways to Get a Better Smile

woman embarrassed by her smileWhen you look in the mirror and smile, what do you see? Are you happy with the way your smile looks, or are your teeth not quite white enough, not quite straight enough, or just overall not quite what you’d like? If you’re looking for ways to improve your smile’s appearance, look no further than our dental office in Mill Creek.  

Cosmetic Dentistry Treatments to Transform Your Smile

Professional Teeth Whitening

The most common form of cosmetic dentistry is a professional smile whitening treatment. An in-office or professional strength at-home tooth whitening product from your dentist in Mill Creek can brighten a dull and discolored smile better than their over-the-counter alternatives. These professional whitening solutions are also often more customized for your needs and your teeth.

Dental Veneers

While professional whitening can be really successful for many people, there are times when it’s just not enough to transform a stained grin. In these situations, dental veneers can work wonders. Dental veneers are usually made from ceramic, and are custom-crafted for each patient to match their natural tooth shape. They’re also effective at creating a straighter smile, fixing cracked teeth, or eliminating gaps between teeth.

Composite Bonding

When it comes to covering up and fixing darkened decayed teeth or chipped teeth, composite bonding is an easy and effective solution. The process is simple. Your dentist removes the decay, covers the area with the safe composite material, and artfully molds it into shape to match the rest of your smile. The composite is then hardened and the transformation is complete.

Smile Makeover

A more comprehensive approach to a smile transformation is typically considered a smile makeover. After an in-depth discussion with your dentist to address all of your concerns, your smile makeover may consist of a combination of cosmetic dentistry treatments to give your smile the appearance you’re looking for.

As we ring in the new year and focus on the self-improvement resolutions that tend to come with the celebration, commit to giving yourself a smile that you’ll be proud to show off. Call our Mill Creek dental office today to get started!

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Wine & Oral Health

holiday dinner with wineWe are all aware that there are certain foods your dentist in Mill Creek just isn’t a big fan of. These foods typically include super sweet candies and treats, popcorn with hidden damaging kernels, and of course sugary sodas and juices. But there may just be one more to add to that list: wine.

How Does Wine Affect Oral Health?

Let us start by saying that we aren’t here to tell you that you shouldn’t enjoy a glass of wine after a stressful day or with a nice dinner. As long as you enjoy it responsibly and in moderation, go ahead and treat yourself. However, we do want to let you know about a few oral health problems that can happen as a result of too much wine.

Dry Mouth

Any alcoholic beverage has the tendency to dry out the mouth, and the rest of the body. However, in relation to oral health, a dry mouth is the perfect place for bacteria to flourish and decay to occur as a result. Normally our mouths produce a lot of saliva. This saliva rinses away bacteria before it has a chance to work on decaying teeth. Without it, teeth are at increased risk for cavities.

Calcium Reduction

Wine contains a lot of acid, and acid is bad news for teeth. When we eat or drink highly acidic foods or beverages, the acid begins to attack tooth enamel, first softening it. As enamel softens, some of the calcium within it leaks out and weakens it. Once enamel is weak, it leaves teeth exposed to bacteria, decay, and cavities. If it continues to diminish, tooth roots and nerves may begin to surface, causing painful sensitivity.

Tooth Discoloration

Loss of enamel has even more additional negative side effects, including tooth discoloration. As the enamel weakens, the inner part of the tooth becomes more visible. This inner tooth, or dentin, has a dark, yellowish color. Without the white, calcium rich enamel, teeth can appear dull and yellow. What’s worse is the color of red wine can cause your teeth to take on a reddish hue. Usually this discoloration can be reversed through professional smile whitening or cosmetic dentistry.

Don’t Panic

Before you get bummed out at the thought of ditching your nightly glass of vino, our dental office in Mill Creek has a bit of potentially good news. Several studies have suggested that red wine, or at least elements in red wine, may actually help protect teeth against decay by getting rid of mouth bacteria. But more research is definitely needed to support the claim.

Whether you’re a wine drinker or not, if you happen to notice signs of tooth discoloration, an unusually dry mouth, or have any other dental concern, we always welcome you to call our Mill Creek dental office to schedule an appointment.

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Bad Breath Remedies

kiss under the mistletoeBad breath is an embarrassing ailment that affects many people. Sometimes bad breath is a temporary side effect of especially stinky food, other times it’s a chronic issue that never seems to go away. At our dental office in Mill Creek, we have a few helpful tips that may help remedy bad breath with a little bit a time and diligence.

Brush Up on Your Brushing

Brushing our teeth has been a habit since we were young. And when we do something that’s so simple for so long, it’s easy to skimp on doing a thorough job. Start brushing with a purpose, paying attention that you’re cleaning each surface of every tooth using gentle circles. Two minutes of proper brushing twice a day can do wonders for fighting bad breath.

Drink Plenty of Water

Being properly hydrated isn’t only great for your body, it’s incredibly beneficial for your mouth too. A hydrated mouth helps rid your mouth of bad breath germs and bacteria by washing it away.

Quit Smoking

Immediately following a cigarette, bad breath is guaranteed. However, this ‘smoker’s breath’ can last hours after smoking. The lungs and the throat can hold on to stinky smoke particles, releasing them into the air with every breath. Quitting isn’t only a great way to get fresher breath, it’s best for your overall health.

See Your Dentist

Regular visits to your Mill Creek dentist are they best way to combat bad breath. Professional dental cleanings remove stuck on tartar and bacteria that can’t be touched with at-home brushing. You should see your dentist twice a year, perhaps more if you need more thorough, deep cleanings.  

When Bad Breath Gets Serious

You can try every trick in the book to alleviate bad breath, and even then it may not disappear. If this is the case, it may be a sign of something more. Bad breath could be a symptom of:

  • Gum Disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Sinus Infection
  • Diabetes
  • Liver or Kidney Problems

If you’ve been living with the embarrassment of bad breath and are ready to fix it, start by scheduling an appointment at our Mill Creek dental office. We’ll work with you to determine its cause and talk about the best way to get you back to freshness.

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Show Your Teeth Some Appreciation This Thanksgiving

woman expresses thanksThanksgiving is day dedicated to giving thanks for all that we have in our lives. The typical thankful sentiments of life, health, family, and friends usually top the list. This Thanksgiving, the team at our Mill Creek dental office wants to give you one more thing to be thankful for, something that’s typically overlooked: your teeth.

We know it may sound silly to give thanks for your pearly whites, but trust us, after we list the top reasons you should appreciate your teeth, you’ll be praising them in no time.

Your Teeth Are One of Your Most Defining Features

According to a study conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), your smile is one of the first things someone notices about you. It can also impact your life and others’ perceptions of who you are. In fact, the same AACD study concluded that 74% of those who took the survey believe an unattractive smile can negatively affect someone’s career. But don’t worry, if you’re not proud to show off your grin, cosmetic dentistry from your Mill Creek dentist will transform your smile and maybe even your life.

They Help Us Communicate

Teeth are an essential part of speaking. Without them, we’d have difficulty pronouncing certain letters and sounds such as ‘f,’ ‘v,’ ‘s,’ ‘th,’ and so many more. Go ahead and give it a try. Can you say a full sentence without touching your teeth together or bracing your tongue against them? We’re guessing it was a bit challenging. Those who struggle to pronounce sounds correctly can benefit from seeing a dentist, undergoing orthodontics, or working with a speech therapist.

Teeth Allow Us to Eat All of the Delicious Thanksgiving Treats

One of the teeth’s main purpose is to help us break down foods into more manageably sized pieces so that we can swallow easier. Different types of teeth have a different jobs when it comes to aiding in eating. For example, incisors (the front four teeth on top and front four on the bottom) help us bite bits of food while the molars and premolars are responsible for mashing and chewing the food.

They Can Improve Digestion

Also related to eating, there’s more that the mouth does to help prepare food for proper digestion other than simply chewing. As we chew, our saliva production increases to help further break down the food particles. The saliva contains enzymes that kick start the digestion process. If we don’t chew well or fully, proper digestion can’t happen.

We hope our few reasons to be thankful for your teeth this Thanksgiving, and all year around, makes you appreciate a healthy smile. If there’s any concern about your smile, whether it’s cosmetic or functional, we welcome you to call our dental office in Mill Creek.

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Top 7 Ways to Protect Yourself This Flu Season

couple with the fluNobody enjoys the threat of the flu lurking everywhere this time of year. But with the right precautions you can protect yourself and your family and reduce your risk of contracting the flu. Our dental office in Mill Creek has put together a guide to help you avoid the flu and keep you healthy all year long.

Wash Your Hands Often

Using warm water and soap, scrub your hands before preparing food, after eating or using the restroom, and after shaking hands. If soap and water are unavailable use an alcohol-based sanitizer.

Keep Your Hands Away From Your Face

Germs spread easily through the eyes, nose, and mouth. If your hands get in contact with flu germs and you rub your eye, itch your nose, or bite your fingernail, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll get sick.

Drink Plenty of Water

Your body functions optimally if it’s hydrated. This includes its ability to fight off germs. Not to mention, a well hydrated mouth is a healthy mouth, and that’s sure to make your dentist in Mill Creek happy.

Eat a Well Balanced Diet

Fueling your body with fruits, veggies, whole grains, and proteins is crucial in helping your body stay healthy. Proteins, in fact, have been proven to support the immune system so make sure you’re getting your fair share.

Clean Your Home and Your Office

Sanitize the areas you or others use most. Think about the items that get touched often like doorknobs, toilets, elevator buttons, or your computer mouse. A good rule of thumb to follow is to clean it even it doesn’t look dirty.

Take Care of Your Toothbrush

Toothbrushes can hold a lot of bacteria and if not taken care of properly could make you sick. Make sure you rinse the bristles thoroughly after each use, store family members’ brushes far away from each other, and consider sterilizing them once a week in hot water.

Avoid People Who Are Sick

Although this seems obvious, it’s not always simple. If a co-worker comes to the office sniffling and sneezing, it’s difficult to avoid them and everything they touch. Try to communicate via email instead of face-to-face meetings, carry alcohol-based hand sanitizer with you, and again, always wash your hands and avoid touching your face.

If you do happen to get sick, try your best to stay home to help prevent the illness from spreading to others. Our dental office in Mill Creek also encourages you to find sugar-free medications so as you’re working on feeling better, you’re not doing damage to your oral health.

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Are Root Canals as Scary as they Sound?

root canal modelRoot canals have an unnecessarily bad reputation of being painful, which causes many people to be afraid of the treatment. However, the team at our dental office in Mill Creek wants to ease any concerns you may have about root canals and hopefully relieve any apprehension.

Do Root Canals Hurt?

There’s been a lot of talk surrounding just how terrible a root canal is when, in fact, advancements in dental technology have made them virtually pain free. If your dentist in Mill Creek recommends a root canal, it’s most likely because you’re experiencing pain caused by deep decay or a severe infection. A root canal treatment can actually make that pain go away so you can finally get relief.

So, What Exactly is a Root Canal?

The name of the treatment itself isn’t necessarily descriptive of the actual procedure, so let’s take a look at how a root canal is typically done. Your dentist will:

  • Numb the area to reduce any discomfort.
  • Make a tiny hole in the tooth.
  • Gain access to the inside of the tooth. This is where the the pulp chamber and canals are located. Inside the canals, nerves, pulp, and blood vessels are found.
  • Clean out all of the canal contents.
  • Seal the pulp chamber and canals.
  • Place a dental crown restoration to protect the tooth.

Signs You May Need a Root Canal

Besides the obvious sign of tooth pain, there are other symptoms that may warrant a root canal including:

  • Gum pain and swelling
  • A pimple-like bump on the gums by the painful tooth
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Worse pain when chewing or applying pressure
  • Hot/cold sensitivity that doesn’t go away once the food or drink is removed

Notice any of the symptoms listed above? We encourage you to call our dental office in Mill Creek to schedule an appointment. A thorough examination by our caring and gentle dental team will help us identify the cause of your problem and recommend the best treatment for you. If the appropriate solution is in fact a root canal, we assure you that you have nothing to fear.

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The Halloween Candy Guide for Those with Braces

halloween teensWith Halloween just around the corner, we hope all of our patients and neighbors are ready for a night of ghouls and ghosts, witches and wizards, and tricks or treats. When it comes to those treats, the team at our dental office in Mill Creek has a few pointers for what may be best left behind, especially for those who wear braces. Check out our guide to braces-friendly candy below.

Best Choices

  • Chocolate Bars – You can’t go wrong with some pure, delicious chocolate. Whether you choose a candy bar or perhaps a Hershey’s Kiss, chocolate dissolves quickly and is safe for braces. If you’re lucky enough to score a full-size candy bar, we encourage you to cut it up into smaller pieces to reduce the risk of damaging the braces on your front teeth as you bite into it.
  • Peanut Butter Cups – Another scrumptious yet safe option for braces are peanut butter cups. Their smooth consistency makes chewing very easy with really no concern of breaking a bracket or wire.
  • Milky Ways – Although these candy bars contain caramel (more on that in a bit), Milky Ways are still soft enough for braces wearers to enjoy.

Important Note: All of these options are safe as long as they’re not frozen. Frozen chocolate bars and peanut butter cups make the texture too hard to bite and chew safely.

Worst Choices

  • Hard Candy – Candy that falls under this category can be both all right for braces and potentially damaging. Hard candies that allow you to suck on them over time, reducing their size and making them less dangerous for braces, may be ok to enjoy. However, it increases the time your teeth are exposed to the sugar which may put you at greater risk for decay.
  • Gooey Gum – When you first got your braces you were probably told to avoid gum. That rule doesn’t change during Halloween. Chewing gum can bend your wires, and that’s particularly concerning. When a wire is placed by your doctor, it’s put on in such a way that gently moves your teeth into the desired position. However, if the wire bends, your teeth tend to follow the direction of the wire instead of its original path. This can actually prolong treatment.
  • Sticky Sweets – Things like caramels, gummies, taffy, and similar candies are almost sure to cause some trouble. Sticky sweets and their tacky consistency not only tend to bend wires, they’re also bad for your teeth in general. The stickiness allows the sugars to stay attached to teeth longer, again increasing your risk for decay.

Important Note: When in doubt, if it’s sticky, hard, or super chewy, it’s best to choose another option.
In order to keep your braces in tip-top shape and to avoid any broken brackets, bent wires, or other complications, it’s wise to listen to your dentist in Mill Creek about which foods are safe for braces. Halloween candy is no exception. Following the guide of braces-friendly candy can protect your braces and help you avoid an emergency dental appointment.

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What You Do At Work May Be Harming Your Teeth

workspace covered in snacksWhen we spend as much time as we do at work doing similar responsibilities every day, we are bound to develop habits. Some workplace habits like diligently checking emails or reserving a block of uninterrupted time to get work done can be beneficial and make for an efficient employee. However, other things we tend to do at work can be harmful to our teeth. Our dental office in Mill Creek would like to highlight a few of the most common workplace habits that may be damaging your smile.

Taking Smoke Breaks

Smoking, as well as using smokeless tobacco, can lead to very serious health problems. Some of which can be life threatening. These habits can also contribute to several oral health concerns ranging from minor problems like tooth discoloration and bad breath to very serious issues including gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer. Smoking can be a very difficult habit to break, but instead of stepping outside to light up, consider chewing sugarless gum and talk with your doctor about ways to quit.

Not Brushing Your Teeth

We believe that everyone should keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in their desk drawer for use in between snacking and lunchtime. When we eat, the bacteria that live in our mouths begin to feed on the tiny foodstuffs left behind. As a result, these bacteria release acid. When the acid isn’t rinsed away by either saliva or through a proper brushing, it’s left to eat away at enamel. Enamel is designed to protect teeth from decay and once it’s gone, we’re left at increased risk for cavities.

Chewing on Pens

Chewing on the tips of pens or pencils is incredibly common among office employees and even children in school. We typically put pens in our mouths during times of intense thought, boredom, or stress. Sometimes we aren’t even aware we’re doing it. But nibbling on these tough writing utensils can cause some serious damage. Biting on pens or pencils has a tendency to lead to cracked, chipped, or broken teeth that will require restorative dentistry treatment from your Mill Creek dentist to fix.

Not Using the Right Tools for the Job

Whether you’re trying to open packaging that may be sealed a bit too well, or you need to rip a piece of tape off the roll, you should always use tools meant for these purposes like scissors, not your teeth. Teeth are meant to help us chew food to make it easy to swallow and digest. They aren’t designed to grab and rip or cut. Using teeth as tools can result in damage like cracked or broken teeth.

Recognizing the habits that can lead to tooth damage can help us realize when we’re putting our smiles at risk. If you find yourself doing any of the habits, our Mill Creek dental office is here to help you stop or fix any problems you may have as a result.

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