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All Posts in Category: Health Basics

Everything You Need to Know About Dental Sealants

Today we’re focusing on one the most important ways you can prevent cavities in your children’s teeth. Despite modern technology and the number of dental care products on the market, cavities are the most common chronic disease for children ages 6-19 according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

The good news is that cavities are almost completely preventable with the proper care.  While the first step is instilling healthy brushing and flossing habits early on, parents can also give their children an advantage by talking to your dentist about sealants. Let’s walk through everything you need to know about sealants and provide answer to some of the most common questions we receive.

What is a Sealant?

While flossing and brushing can help control plaque, our molar teeth have deep grooves that help us grind our food.  While this is great for enjoying our favorite foods, debris can get stuck in these areas making teeth vulnerable to decay and cavities.   Dental sealants are a coating that is applied to the surface or occlusal of the teeth to provide a barrier to protect teeth from food and future decay.

Do Sealants Really Make a Difference?

Yes, they do! According to recent research published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, sealants on permanent molars are shown to reduce the risk of cavities by 80%. Since kids don’t always brush as thoroughly as we would like them to, sealants are a great first line of defense to protect your children from cavities.

How are Sealants Applied?

Since most sealants are applied to children, the process is designed to be quick and painless.  To achieve the greatest benefit from sealants, they should be applied shortly after permanent teeth arrive. For most children, this occurs around age 6.  The dentist or hygienist begins by polishing each tooth to prepare it for the sealant application. Once it is free of any plaque or debris, they apply a liquid material that fills into the valleys of the tooth.  After a few minutes, the material has set and after final inspection, your child will be able to eat immediately after their appointment.

Glass Ionomer Sealants and their Benefits

There has been recent concern regarding the potential health impacts of Bis-Phenol A (BPA) found in resin sealants.  Research has shown that only trace amounts of BPA are found in resin sealants – including less than in the air we breathe.   The ADA’s infographic below illustrates exactly low the risk is.

Our practice uses glass ionomer sealants that do not contain Bis-Phenol A (BPA) or Bis-GMA.  The sealants are part of the GC America’s family of products that met strict ISO quality standards.  Additionally, GC America’s products have the CE mark in Europe, are registered with Health Canada, and have received FDA Pre-Market Notification clearance for sale in the United States under section 510(k) of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Glass ionomer sealants have several advantages including:

  • The ability to be placed on a partially erupted tooth for earlier protection than a resin sealant
  • Moisture-tolerant which allows for easy placement
  • High release of fluoride – which provides additional protection against decay
  • Quick setting – the glass ionomer sealants only take a few minutes to set making for a shorter appointment to get you and your child on your way

We hope this information answers any questions you had about sealants. If you have additional questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at (425) 354-3138 and we’d be happy to chat more about them!

Dr. Amanda McCauley, DDS

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Ideas and Quick Tips to Get You Started Flossing

Over the course of my career as a dental hygienist, I constantly hear from patients that they don’t enjoy flossing. I tell them I don’t care what you use between your teeth as long as you use something! I realize flossing isn’t everyone’s favorite activity but research has suggested a link between oral and heart health. When your mouth is healthy, so is your heart.

In people with periodontal disease, brushing can release bacteria into the bloodstream. It’s also possible that inflammation in the mouth can lead to inflammation throughout the body including hardened arteries, also known as atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition that makes it hard for blood to flow to the heart. This condition is a serious concern and puts you at greater risk for heart attacks and strokes. If you’re curious to learn more you can find additional information at http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/heart-disease-oral-health.

Even if you haven’t been an avid flosser, it’s never too late to start! I have always preferred using Listerine Woven floss because it gets out so much food and plaque caught in between my teeth. I enjoy hearing that squeaky noise as I floss my teeth because it means I’m disrupting the colonization of bacteria.

Below are three additional interdental tools that will also help remove food and bacteria:

  • Soft picks – They come in two sizes, original and wider spaces. I like them because they fit so easily in your purse and they are perfect for life on the go!
  • Gum Proxabrush– comes in a variety of sizes (ultra-tight, tight, moderate, severe). These are great for people who have wide spaces between their teeth and get that extra impacted food that floss just won’t reach.
  • Floss holders – Although not my preferred first choice because adaptability around the tooth is limited, but they are a wonderful tool for children and believe or not, men with large hands.

I hope these help give you some other ideas to help keep your gums healthy! If you are wondering which tool might be best for your mouth ask me at your next appointment.

Tiffany Washburn, RDH

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Soda Free August

Soda Free August

Participating in Soda Free August (‪#‎SodaFreeAugust‬) is a great choice for your teeth which will avoid all the sugars found in sodas. If you’re still looking for a carbonated beverage – check out the top picks from Food52’s recent taste test for some of the best sparkling water options out there!

Food 52 Taste Test

Food52 tested six sparking waters (Whole Foods Italian Sparkling Water, Poland Spring, Mountain Valley, La Croix, Voss, and San Benedetto), five seltzer waters (Boylan, Polar, Fairway brand, Hal’s, and Adirondack), two club sodas (Whole Foods 365, Q-Club), and four carbonated mineral waters (Perrier, Gerolsteiner, San Pellegrino, and Selters). Everyone agreed the drinks tasted different, but the testers couldn’t agree on how they tasted! If you don’t have tooth sensitivity, try drinking the water at colder temperatures to improve the taste.

Dr. McCauley’s choice for Soda Free August

Dr. McCauley’s prefers Refreshe, sold by Safeway, even though it didn’t make the cut in the taste test. Since Dr. McCauley doesn’t often drink soda, she likes to have Refreshe as a refreshing alternative. The carbonation is a good alternative if you’re trying to cut back on soda. Remember that flat or distilled water is still the best option for healthy teeth!

Sparkling water isn’t only for the rich and famous

Good sparkling water doesn’t have to break the bank. One taste tester thought the more cost-effective Whole Foods 365 brand tasted more expensive. Surprisingly, the more expensive waters like Perrier and San Pellegrino didn’t stand out. In that case, Dr. McCauley recommends giving a grocery store brand a try!

Call us today (425) 354-3138, fill out an appointment request on our website http://mccauleydentistry.com or ZocDoc, or email us at [email protected].

Dr. Amanda McCauley, DDS

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Keep Your Family Happy and Healthy this Summer

Summertime is finally here! For many families that means school is out and kids are home on summer break.  While most parents prepare for summer activities with sunscreen, bug spray, and first aid kits, it’s important to consider your child’s dental health as well.  Below are some tips for keeping your kids’ smiles healthy this summer.

Keep up Good Oral Hygiene Amidst Schedule Changes 

With schedules changing from school days to time at the beach, pool, summer camp, and vacation, it can be easy to fall out of our usual dental care routines.  Encourage your children to keep up their healthy habits despite the shift in schedules.  It’s ok if that’s at 7:00 am before swim practice or at 9:30 pm after enjoying s’mores as long as they are brushing twice and flossing at least once per day!

You can also put our office goodie bags to good use by pulling together the travel size dental essentials (toothpaste, floss, toothbrush, mouthwash) and creating a portable travel bag for your children that can easily be transferred from their swim bag to overnight bag as needed.

On a long road trip without a brushing opportunity on the horizon?  Be sure to drink water instead of sugary drinks and sodas and try to rinse after eating to help remove any starches or acids from your teeth.

The Beginning of Summer is the Best Time to Schedule Your Child’s Check-up

According to a 2015 survey conducted by Delta Dental on U.S. students, more than 30 percent of parents said their children between the ages of 6 and 12 had to miss school due to an oral health problem.   Make life easier and schedule dental check-ups during summer vacation when you don’t have to coordinate with their academic calendar.

Many parents wait until August to schedule their children’s check-ups before the start of the school year, the beginning of the summer is actually the best time to get your kids scheduled.  By having Dr. McCauley clear your children of any issues before the start of summer, you can relax knowing you won’t have any dental surprises during a weekend camping trip or while you’re out of town.   If there are any issues to address, it’s easier to take care of them during the summer instead of when you’re getting organized for a new school year.

Prevent Dental Emergencies

We know summer means more time outside playing basketball, baseball, swimming, biking, and enjoying other outdoor sports.  While all these activities are part of the fun of summer, they can unfortunately result in a dental injury. Here’s some tips to prevent some common accidents.

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, many summer oral injuries are the result of a pool accident.  Your kids may roll their eyes at the pool rules of “no running on the deck” or “no excessive horseplay” but slippery decks and hard ledges present two opportunities to chip or knock a tooth loose.  Remind your children why the rules are in place and encourage them to play and swim safely.

Feel like you’ve spend your summer at the pool?  Don’t be surprised if you notice discoloration on your children’s teeth. Swimmers who spend more than six hours a week in chemically treated water may be at risk for developing stains on their teeth.  Pool water contains chemicals that give the water a higher pH than saliva.  As a result, salivary proteins break down quickly and form organic deposits on teeth. These hard, brown deposits, known as “swimmers’ calculus,” appear most frequently on the front teeth.  Parents should be aware but not alarmed; swimmers’ calculus can normally be removed by a professional dental cleaning.

Know how to React When Accidents Happen

Despite our best efforts, accidents happen!  It’s important to know what to do in case of a dental emergency to minimize your child’s pain, chance of infection, and increase their chances of a quick recovery.  If your child chips or loses a tooth, first clean the area with warm water and apply an ice pack to reduce the swelling.  Apply gauze to stop any bleeding, clean the tooth of any debris, check the orientation of the tooth, and try to replace a lost permanent tooth back in the mouth.  If that’s not an option, use saltwater or milk to keep it moist for the ride to the dentist.  It’s important to get to the dentist’s office as quickly as you can so they can assess the tooth and take immediate action.

I also recommends a dental emergency kit to take with you on your summer adventures.  It can be as simple as a bag that includes gauze, a small container with a lid, ibuprofen, and our office contact information (425) 354-3138 or [email protected]. Enjoy your summer and comment below to let us know about your summer travels!

Dr. Amanda McCauley, DDS

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Teeth Brushing Basics to Save You Money – 2 Minutes Twice a Day

Your Morning Routine

What does your morning routine look like? You wake up, stretch, think about the day ahead and remember the dozens of things you have to do before you leave the house. Even on your most hectic days, your teeth, your dentist, and your wallet will thank you if you remember your teeth brushing!

If you’ve ever felt an uncomfortable texture on your teeth or in your mouth, chances are it was related to plaque build-up. Plaque is a sticky film of germs and food that forms on your teeth and gums after eating and even while you sleep! Leaving plaque on your teeth by not brushing twice a day and flossing once a day can lead to cavities and gum disease, not to mention bad breath. Bacteria thrives on plaque and food particles and processes the sugar, carbohydrates, and starch, converting them to acid.  You want to protect your healthy tooth structure for your whole life, and good oral hygiene is the way to do that.

If you remember teeth brushing, you’ll leave the house feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day!

Teeth Brushing Basics:

  • Use a soft toothbrush. This will be kind to your enamel and gum tissue.
  • Place a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste on your brush.
  • Place your tooth brush at an angle toward your gums.
  • Move the brush in an elliptical motion gently and in short strokes.
  • Brush the tops and the sides of the teeth.
  • Count to thirty for each quadrant. You should be brushing a total of 2 minutes. The electric toothbrushes are timed to last the full 2 minutes so you don’t have to count!
  • Remember to brush your tongue to remove germs and freshen your breath!

Your Evening Routine

Before heading to sleep after a long day, it’s tempting to skip brushing and hop right into bed.  Between cooking dinner, catching up with family, wrapping up emails, and heading to the gym – we know there’s not much energy left!  Try to think about what you’ve eaten over the course of the day (three meals, snacks, and drinks).  By not brushing, you’re allowing bacteria in your mouth to start turning those carbohydrate and starches into cavity-causing sugars.  It only takes a couple minutes to STOP the bacteria in its tracks and remove the plaque before it damages your teeth!

An extra two minutes in the morning and two minutes at night will save you money on dental work and trips to the dentist. Remember to schedule your 6-month professional cleaning and check-up to ensure problems are caught when they are small and easy to fix!

Just realized it’s time for your next visit?  We have convenient early morning, late evening, and weekend hours that simplify scheduling without any need to take time off from work or school.

Call us today (425) 354-3138, fill out an appointment request on our website http://mccauleydentistry.com, or email us at [email protected]

Dr. Amanda McCauley, DDS

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Kids Toothpaste Basics

Even though those teeth are tiny, it’s important to begin dental care as soon as possible! The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends starting your child’s dental care as early as a few weeks after birth.  At this point you don’t need kids toothpaste but can clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush or cloth and water. After their first baby teeth appear, switch to brushing twice daily with a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush.

Children under three years of age only need a small amount of toothpaste – think as small as a grain of rice. For children 3 to 6 years old, the amount should be increased to a pea-size dollop.  By dispensing the toothpaste, you’re preventing them from swallowing too much. Little ones don’t have the ability to brush their teeth effectively on their own so it’s important for parents to help out and encourage healthy habits your kids will continue for a lifetime.

Children’s toothpastes come in a variety of fun flavors and packaging but be sure to make sure the one you pick has fluoride and the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.  Happy Brushing!

Dr. Amanda McCauley, DDS

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The Science Behind Cold Sensitivity and Tips on How to Reduce and Relieve It

Baby It’s Cold Outside! As winter approaches and temperatures decrease, I hear from patients more often that the cold air outside makes their teeth hurt. Cold sensitivity, or dentin hypersensitivity, is very common in patients. In fact, 67% of people experience pain when eating cold food or drinking cold drinks, and 51% of people experience pain when breathing in cold air*. Instead of enduring the occasional wince, it is better that you understand why your teeth are sensitive and what you can do to relieve the sensitivity!

What exactly causes cold sensitivity? There are several possible causes of tooth sensitivity including the following:

  • Tooth decay (cavities)
  • Fractured/broken teeth
  • Worn fillings
  • Gum disease
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Exposed roots

Percentage image

Healthy teeth have a layer of enamel that protects tooth structure above your gum line. It is the hard outermost surface of a tooth. Under the gum line, a layer called cementum protects your tooth root. Below the enamel and cementum layers is a tooth layer called dentin. Dentin is porous and contains microscopic canals with nerve endings in them. When dentin loses its protective covering, the nerve endings are exposed to the external environment, allowing cold to reach the nerves inside the tooth. This results in a short, sharp nerve pain in the tooth. All of the causes of sensitivity listed above damage the protective layer of enamel or cementum in different ways, exposing the underlying dentin layer and making you occasionally wince!

Your dentist can examine your teeth and recommend possible treatments. A variety of treatments could be suggested based on the underlying cause, including the following:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste.Toothpastes like Sensodyne have potassium nitrate in them which help block the transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve. It usually requires two weeks (14 days) of daily use before the sensitivity is reduced.
  • Fluoride trays. Your dentist can make you take home trays that you can use to bathe your teeth in prescription fluoride gel. The fluoride will strengthen your tooth enamel and reduce sensitivity.
  • A filling, inlay, or crown. These can be used to restore cavities, worn fillings, or fractured/broken teeth, correcting the flaw that has been causing your sensitivity.
  • Surgical gum graft. If you have gum recession and exposed root surfaces, your dentist may recommend a gum graft to protect your root and reduce sensitivity.
  • Root canal. If cold sensitivity is prolonged and/or constant, you may require a root canal to eliminate the problem.

Holiday graphic #2

Be proactive and protect your enamel so that your sensitivity does not worsen! Here are some ways to be proactive in protecting your teeth:

  • Don’t brush too hard. Use a soft toothbrush and brush in tiny circles (not sideways which can expose root surfaces). Brushing vigorously can eventually wear down tooth enamel.
  • Avoid grinding or clenching your teeth. Grinding wears away your protective enamel. Ask your dentist about a mouth guard for nighttime or daytime use!
  • Practice good oral hygiene. Brush and floss twice a day properly to prevent periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease can cause recession in your gums and expose your root surface.
  • Schedule your professional teeth cleaning. Your dentist will provide recommendations and advice on reducing your dentin hypersensitivity.

To schedule an appointment, call our office at (425) 354-3138 or visit our website http://mccauleydentistry.com.

Amanda McCauley, DDS

*Source: http://us.sensodyne.com/sensitive-teeth-and-gums/sensitivity-triggers.aspx

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Avoiding Acid Erosion During the Holidays

Thanksgiving is right around in the corner!  In preparation for the start of the holiday season, we’re sharing information on acid and alkaline content in many holiday foods and providing tips to keep your teeth healthy and strong.

Enamel is the protective armor of our teeth. Preventing damage to the underlying dentin and nerve layers, our enamel acts as a first line of defense from hazards including trauma, bacteria, habits like nail or pen biting, and acid erosion. Acid erosion is caused by frequent consumption of foods and drinks with a pH below 5.0-5.7. Although holidays are a time of eating, drinking, and general merriment, it is important to not overwhelm our teeth with an acidic challenge during these feasts. Aside from dental erosion, acidic foods can also trigger heartburn. Where’s the merriment when you are suffering from heartburn?!

cropped cheese graphic

High Acid Content: Fruit juices (especially orange and apple juice), sports drinks, wine, beer, carbonated sodas, dried fruit, beef, chicken, eggs, pork, shellfish, cheese, artificial sweeteners.

Moderate Acid Content: Ketchup, mayo, butter, apple, apricot, banana, blackberry, blueberry, cranberry, grapes, mango, orange, peach, papaya, pineapple, strawberry, brown rice, oats, rye bread, wheat, wild rice, ocean fish.

Mild Acid Content: Black beans, chickpeas/garbonzos, kidney beans, cantaloupe, fresh dates, nectarine, plum, sweet cherry, watermelon, soybeans, freshwater wild fish, rice and soy milk, brazil nuts, pecan nuts, hazel nuts.

Mild Alkaline Content: Artichokes, asparagus, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, carrot, chives, zucchini, leeks, new baby potatoes, peas, rhubarb, watercress, grapefruit, coconut, buckwheat, quinoa, lentils, tofu, goat and almond milk, most herbs and spices.

Moderate Alkaline Content: Avocado, pepper, cabbage, celery, collard/spring greens, endive, garlic, ginger, green beans, lettuce, mustard greens, okra, onion, radish, red onion, rocket/arugula, tomato, butter beans, soy beans.

High Alkaline Content: Himalayan salt, grasses, cucumber, kale, kelp, spinach, parsley, broccoli, sprouts (soy, alfalfa, etc.), sea vegetables (kelp), all sprouted beans.

Veggies_final

Don’t worry! You can follow these rules to help prevent acid erosion:

  • Don’t swish or swirl your acidic holiday beverage in your mouth.
  • After consuming highly acidic foods or drinks, rinse thoroughly with water.
  • If you can, bring a soft toothbrush and travel-size toothpaste to your feast so that you can brush 30 minutes after eating! You may even end up eating less at the party, also saving you from heartburn.
  • If you cannot brush during the party, chew sugar-free gum to help dislodge food particles and produce saliva to naturally neutralize acids in your mouth.
  • If you drink soda, use a straw to prevent direct contact of carbonated soda with your teeth.
  • Remineralize your teeth with a fluoride mouthwash or paste.
  • Acid erosion yellows, dulls, thins, and weakens teeth. When your protective enamel layer is slowly dissolved over time by a highly acidic diet, you may begin to notice visible changes. Once the underlying dentin layer is exposed, you may also notice sensitivity. Being proactive at reducing your acid-rich diet can save your armor and ultimately your beautiful, strong, pearly white smile!

Our team at McCauley Family and Cosmetic Dentistry wishes everyone a great start to the holiday season!  Still looking for recipes for Thanksgiving?  Check out our Facebook page as we’ll be sharing our favorite recipes between now and Thanksgiving.

 

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Back to School! Here Are 5 Tips To Help Your Child Like The Dentist

Here are some great tips to help your child like the dentist!

New backpacks, books, and teachers. As children begin another year at school, it is important to make sure they are healthy and strong so that they can excel academically. While they require doctor’s check ups as they grow or perhaps the yearly sports physical, make sure that trip to the dentist is not overlooked! Dental exams are crucial every six months, especially since adult teeth are erupting from elementary school through high school. Protecting teeth properly in the first few years will lead to a full set of chompers your whole life.

Some children may love the dentist, but not mine! I’ve found that the majority of children develop a fear of the dentist if mommy or daddy also has dental anxiety. Even if you are apprehensive about your own dental appointment, make sure not to cancel last minute or postpone having work done. Children can smell our fear! If you are not a fearful parent, their fear may result from the big chair that leans back, the noise of the spinning toothbrush, or opening wide enough to have someone look at their teeth. Whatever the cause, hopefully these 5 tips can help you turn your children’s frowns upside down when they have their next dental appointment!

  1. 6-Month Cleanings. Prevention is the first step toward combating dental anxiety in children, and frequent dental check-ups are the first step in prevention. At six month cleaning appointments, we can catch cavities when they are small, protect teeth with sealants before cavities form, and help teach you where your child needs more help brushing his/her teeth. If a cavity is found when it is small, it can be repaired in a shorter amount of time and with less anesthesia required. No long procedures. No pain. No Fear!
  2. Oral Hygiene. At-home care is step two of prevention, but it is equally as important as frequent dental check ups when it comes to reducing dental anxiety in children! When they are wee, help them to brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time. When they are old enough to brush on their own, some electric toothbrushes even have songs that play for the advised two-minute length while they brush! A child with great oral hygiene will have shorter dental appointments, making it more enjoyable. blog2
  3. Diet. You guessed it! Step three of prevention cannot be overlooked. You’ve hear the sugar saga before – an unlimited supply of sugar will lead to more cavities. Bacteria love sugar and carbohydrates. You already knew that! If your child IS occasionally enjoying a treat, make sure he/she brushes soon after. Also, keep juice out of the sippy cups as much as possible. Teeth cannot stay strong if they are bathed in sugar all day. Water in sippy cups is your friend! High water content fruits and veggies like apples and carrots also help to naturally cleanse teeth.
  4. Practice When They’re Young. Sometimes the big chair that leans back, the noise of the spinning toothbrush, or opening wide enough to have someone look at your teeth can all be very overwhelming. If you have young children, have them lay down on the couch with their head in your lap. Practice brushing their teeth and having them open wide like and alligator! Count their teeth out loud touching each one with the toothbrush. If they know what to expect, they’ll act like a pro in the dental chair!
  5. Be an Example. At our family dental practice, we can schedule your child at the same time, before, or after you! If your children are anxious, it can help to have them watch you have your teeth cleaned and checked before it’s their turn, so they feel better about their experience. If you are brave and strong, they can be too!blog4

No Bribes Necessary. You shouldn’t have to bribe your child with a post-cleaning ice cream trip to be brave at the dentist. If you’re doing as much as you can at home to prevent decay and they know what to expect, it should be a fun outing with some cool gadgets, a few teeth tickles, an awesome ride in the big chair, a dental joke or two, a goodie bag, a trip to the toy chest, and maybe even their favorite show on the big screen TV! Remember that your child should see a family dentist or pediatric dentist when the first tooth appears or no later than his/her first birthday!

Dr. Amanda McCauley, DDS

[email protected]

To help your child like the dentist a little bit more today, call (425) 354-3138 or fill out an appointment request on mccauleydentistry.com

 

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18323 98th Ave NE #2, Bothell, WA