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Willow Smiles Dentistry
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Can Kissing Cause Cavities?
By Dr. Nikolina Arthur on February 24, 2015 in Patient Education
Sorry to say, it can. In fact, anything involving contact with saliva—a kiss, parents tasting their babies’ food, sharing of tableware and toothbrushes—can transmit decay-causing bacteria.
Soon after birth, infants start to get those bacteria that inhabit the mouth and cause cavities. These germs are usually transferred by the babies’ mothers or other family members.
When one so innocent can be SO susceptible, we need to provide our mouths with the best defense against the enemy. Brushing and flossing are a good beginning, as they interrupt the growth of bacterial plaque. Getting teeth straightened can help, because straight teeth are better able to resist cavities. Less frequent snacking and diets low in sugary foods reduce the amount of bacteria acids on teeth. Sealants applied to the biting grooves can prevent germs from adhering to teeth.
Regular checkups are crucial. If we detect decay in its earliest stages—and you keep your mouth plaque-free—tooth enamel can actually remineralize and harden up again. Otherwise, you may want to give up kissing.

Facts on Flossing

Plaque is a sticky layer of material containing germs that accumulates on teeth, including places where toothbrushes can’t reach. This can lead to gum disease. The best way to get rid of plaque is to brush and floss your teeth carefully every day. The toothbrush cleans the tops and sides of your teeth. Dental floss cleans in between them. Some people use waterpiks, but floss is the best choice.
Should I floss?
Yes. Floss removes plaque and debris that adhere to teeth and gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces, and controls bad breath. Floss is the single most important weapon against plaque, perhaps more important than the toothbrush. Many people just don’t spend enough time flossing or brushing and many have never been taught to floss or brush properly. When you visit your dentist or hygienist, ask to be shown.
Which type of floss should I use?
Dental floss comes in many forms: waxed and unwaxed, flavored and unflavored, wide and regular. Wide floss, or dental tape, may be helpful for people with a lot of bridgework. Tapes are usually recommended when the spaces between teeth are wide.
They all clean and remove plaque about the same. Waxed floss might be easier to slide between tight teeth or tight restorations. However, the unwaxed floss often makes a squeaking sound to let you know your teeth are clean. Bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss, but does tear more than waxed floss.
How should I floss?
There are two flossing methods: the spool method and the loop method. The spool method is suited for those with manual dexterity. Take an 18-inch piece of floss and wind the bulk of the floss lightly around the middle finger. (Don’t cut off your finger’s circulation!) Wind the rest of the floss similarly around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger takes up the floss as it becomes soiled or frayed. Maneuver the floss between teeth with your index fingers and thumbs. Don’t pull it down hard against your gums or you will hurt them. Don’t rub it side to side as if you’re shining shoes. Bring the floss up and down several times forming a “C” shape around the tooth being sure to go below the gum line.
The loop method is suited for children or adults with less nimble hands, poor muscular coordination or arthritis. Take an 18-inch piece of floss and make it into a circle. Tie it securely with three knots. Place all of the fingers, except the thumb, within the loop. Use your index fingers to guide the floss through the lower teeth, and use your thumbs to guide the floss through the upper teeth, going below the gumline forming a “C” on the side of the tooth.
How often should I floss?
At least once a day. To give your teeth a good flossing, spend at least two or three minutes.
What about floss holders?
You may prefer a prethreaded flosser or floss holder, which often looks like a little hacksaw. Flossers are handy for people with limited dexterity, for those who are just beginning to floss, or for caretakers who are flossing someone else’s teeth.
Is it safe to use toothpicks?
In a pinch, toothpicks are effective at removing food between teeth, but for daily cleaning of plaque between teeth, floss is recommended. Toothpicks come round and flat, narrow and thick. When you use a toothpick, don’t press too hard as you can break off the end and lodge it in your gums.
Do I need a waterpick (irrigating device)?
Don’t use waterpicks as a substitute for toothbrushing and flossing. But they are effective around orthodontic braces that retain food in areas a toothbrush cannot reach. However, they do not remove plaque.
Waterpicks are frequently recommended for persons with gum disease when recommended by your dentist. Prescription solutions containing antibacterial agents like chlorhexidine or tetracycline can be added to the reservoir.

What You Need to Know About a Root Canal
By Dr. Nikolina Arthur on January 14, 2014 in Restorative Dentistry
It’s understandable that you might feel a bit afraid when you hear “root canal,” but with modern anesthetics you’ll rarely be in any pain and it is a necessary procedure to save your tooth. Below we answer some of the frequently asked questions associated with root canals.
What is a root canal?
Underneath your tooth’s outer enamel and within the dentin is an area of soft tissue called the pulp, which carries the tooth’s nerves, veins, arteries and lymph vessels. Root canals are very small, thin divisions that branch off from the top pulp chamber down to the tip of the root. A tooth has at least one but no more than four root canals.
Why does a toothache cause pain?
When the pulp becomes infected due to a deep cavity or fracture that allows bacteria to seep in, or injury due to trauma, it can die. Damaged or dead pulp causes increased blood flow, and this pressure cannot be relieved from inside the tooth. Pain in the tooth is commonly felt when biting down, chewing, or applying hot or cold foods and drinks.
Why do I need root canal therapy?
Because the tooth will not heal by itself. Without treatment, the infection will spread, bone around the tooth will begin to degenerate, and the tooth may fall out. Pain usually worsens until one is forced to seek emergency dental attention. The only alternative is usually extraction of the tooth, which can cause surrounding teeth to shift crookedly, resulting in a bad bite. Though an extraction is cheaper, the space left behind will require an implant or a bridge, which can be more expensive than root canal therapy. If you have the choice, it’s always best to keep your original teeth.
What is involved in root canal therapy?
First, you will probably be given a local anesthetic to numb the area. A rubber sheet is then placed around the tooth to isolate it. Next, a gap is drilled from the crown and any affected tissue is cleaned and reshaped. Medication may be inserted into the area to help fight bacteria. Depending on the condition of the tooth, the crown may then be sealed temporarily to guard against recontamination, or the tooth may be left open to drain, or the dentist may go right ahead and fill the canals. If you’re given a temporary filling, it’s usually removed at the next visit and the canal(s) are filled. Once filled, the area is permanently sealed and a gold or porcelain crown is placed over the tooth to strengthen its structure and improve appearance.
What happens after treatment?
Swelling may cause discomfort for a few days, which can be controlled by an over-the-counter pain killer. A follow-up exam can monitor tissue healing. From this point on, brush and floss regularly, avoid chewing hard foods on the treated tooth, and see your dentist regularly.

Need a New Year’s Resolution?
By Dr. Nikolina Arthur on January 7, 2014 in Preventative Dentistry
Give Those Teeth More T.L.C.!
Here are some New Year’s resolutions you’ll find easy to make. Just keep all five in mind and, chances are, you’ll enjoy a year free of avoidable tooth emergencies!
Let those teeth do the job they were meant for—chewing food. Too many people use their teeth to cut thread or fishing line, crack nuts, pull staples, and tear open packages.
It’s not nice… to make teeth crush ice! Exposing teeth to the hard, cold surface of an ice cube can cause microscopic cracks in the enamel, which eventually weakens the tooth’s entire structure.
Help the tooth team survive the Sporting Life… by being fitted for, and then wearing, a mouthguard during contact sports like boxing, football, and hockey.
Spare those molars “brittle breakdown.” Biting directly on hard foots (peanut brittle is a prime example) can be very stressful to teeth.
Get more picky… about eating “sticky.” Caramels, dried fruit and taffy can be tough on teeth, especially if you wear braces.
Have a healthy and happy 2014


Metal Free Fillings
By Dr. Nikolina Arthur on November 19, 2013 in Cosmetic Dentistry
Amalgam FillingsAre Yours to Choose!
The esthetic result is beyond compare: your teeth will look as fresh, white, and natural as when they first grew in.
Chewing puts incredible stresses on teeth. That’s why, in the past, filling cavities and restoring damaged teeth involved a tradeoff—usually between strength and good looks. You don’t have to be a dentist to know that gold or silver is not a natural component of teeth.
Today, you have a choice of restoration options. The most dramatic is composite, or “white” fillings. They’re a mixture of resin and finely ground glasslike particles that are as strong if not stronger than amalgam (you know it as “silver”). We can now use these new composites virtually everywhere, from repairing a minor defect to restoring a decayed tooth.
Amalgam will continue to be an option, as it has been for more than a century. It’s durable, easy to use, and a cost-effective way of filling cavities. However, “silver” it is not. Dental amalgam is typically mercury mixed with tin, copper, silver and a trace of zinc. It’s not natural in appearance and, frankly, mercury isn’t something most of us would prefer in our bodies “24/7”. But it’s a better way to go than tooth extraction and, ultimately, dentures.
When you make an appointment we’ll be glad to discuss the exciting new options you can choose from today.


Dental Implants to Restore Your Teeth
By Dr. Nikolina Arthur on November 5, 2013 in Restorative Dentistry
Dental Implant ExamEsthetic, Strong, Lasts a Lifetime
Modern dentistry has done wonders in the area of missing teeth, and dentists believe that everybody should have both the confidence that comes with a great looking smile, as well as the functionality provided by a strong, full set of teeth.
Perhaps you have had an accident in which a front tooth was lost. In this case it can be a blemish on your appearance, and impede your ability to bite and enjoy food. Teeth that are less visible (such as molars) may not affect your appearance, but their absence will still seriously affect how you chew.
In either of these situations there are conventional options such as a bridge or even a partial denture. And, though you will have to meet with your dentist to determine which option is best for you, the strongest, most permanent treatment for missing teeth has proven to be dental implants.
A dental implant is basically an entire replacement tooth, right down to the root. This replacement ‘root’ is actually a titanium implant that is anchored in place. After this portion of the procedure, patients occasionally experience temporary pain (which can be treated with pain killers), but many have zero to very mild sensitivity. Then, usually at a second appointment, a porcelain dental crown is securely bonded over the top of the implant.
Your brand new tooth will have all the appearance and bite of the real thing (it is actually even stronger), and many people find themselves forgetting that it is not their natural tooth!
You deserve the best that dentistry can offer, so don’t neglect your own well being any longer… please contact us for a consultation if you think you may be a candidate for dental implants.

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Come in and try Zoom Whitening and see how many shades of white your smile can get!
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A Brighter Smile With Teeth Whitening
By Dr. Nikolina Arthur on September 3, 2013 in Cosmetic Dentistry
Teeth Whitening Puyallup, WA
You’ve lived this long, you’ve earned it…
Man with white teethNo doubt about it. We’re living longer, we’re living better. All that effort put into diet and exercise is paying off. And while you’re going through your paces on the treadmill, do consider another part of you that might need a bit of improvement: your smile.
With age, one of the first things to go is the freshness of your smile. At about thirty, tooth color begins to dim. There is a natural tendency for dentin—just beneath the enamel—to yellow. And if you smoke or overindulge in coffee or cola, darkening can be dramatic. Exercise and low-fat foods count for less if your smile gives you away.
But just as our health habits have improved, so has cosmetic dental technology. Now we have the tools and techniques to perfect the color—and so the healthful look—of your teeth.
Teeth whitening systems take many forms. There are gels and solutions accelerated by light; the laser is coming into use to “jump-start” the whitening process. We can change color fast or over time.
In any case, the result is visible in days and, with touch-ups, will last as long as you do.
While perfect thighs are next to impossible, a perfect smile is within everyone’s reach. Go for it—don’t let your smile age faster than the rest of you.


In Case of A Dental Emergency!
By Dr. Nikolina Arthur on September 24, 2013 in Patient Education
Dental Emergency
Emergency Dental Care Puyallup, WA
Toothache
•Rinse mouth vigorously with cool water.
•Floss to remove food that might be trapped between teeth.
•DON’T use heat or place aspirin ON the aching tooth or gum.
•Call us as soon as possible.
Broken Fillings
•Gently rinse your mouth with lukewarm water to remove debris.
•If tooth is sensitive, protect it with orthodontic wax or a wad
•of sugarless gum (be careful while chewing).
•Call us as soon as possible.
Broken Denture/Partial
•Save all the pieces.
•Don’t try to repair it yourself with “fix-it-kits” or glue. Amateur repairs can ruin your dentures.
Lost Crown or Temporary
•Temporarily replace crown with a paste of Vaseline mixed with a lot of baby powder.
•Beeswax or tissue paper can keep tooth away from air if the crown doesn’t stick. Call us to recement the temporary.
Knocked-Out Tooth
•DON’T clean the tooth root—avoid damage to delicate nerves.
•Keep tooth moist by gently placing it inside your cheek.
•If this isn’t possible, place tooth in a glass of milk or water.
•See us immediately—within 30 minutes. Don’t forget to bring the tooth!
Irritation From Wearing Braces
•If it’s wire, cover the end with wax or a piece of gauze. See the orthodontist as soon as possible.
•If wire is embedded in cheek or gums do not attempt to remove it. See the orthodontist immediately. If part of your braces has broken off, take them with you.
Painful Teething For Baby
•Try teething gels and ointments.
•Sometimes small pieces of ice relieve pain.
Painful Infected Tooth
•Tooth sensitivity to temperature and pressure along with fever, swelling, and pain may indicate a tooth infection or abscess.
•This problem will never go away by itself.
•Call us immediately if you suspect an abscess.

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