How does a sealant help protect my child’s tooth?

Dental sealants can be very effective at preventing cavities in children. Typically applied to the back teeth (molars and premolars), sealants are a thin plastic coating that is painted on the chewing (occlusal) surface of the tooth. The sealant material provides a protective seal over the enamel of the tooth by bonding with the grooves and depressions of the teeth. Sealants alone, however, are not enough to prevent tooth decay or gum disease. Brushing twice a day, flossing, and visiting the dentist twice a year are just as important, especially to make sure the sealant is still intact. When taken care of properly, sealants can last several years.

Most insurance plans offer coverage toward sealants for children so it can be an affordable and quick way to help prevent tooth decay. If your child doesn’t have sealants yet, ask your Dentist if they are a candidate. Click for more information from the American Dental Association.


6 Things that could be causing your Bad Breath

Do you ever get that horrible feeling that you have bad breath? It is something most of us are self-conscious and embarrassed about. While a lot of bad breath can be attributed to coffee, cigarettes, or garlic, there are other factors that can give your breath a bad odor.

  • The majority of bad breath results from something occurring in your mouth—in addition to the food you eat, bad breath can be caused by gum disease, trapped food particles or an infection/abscess in your mouth. Bad breath can also be caused by tonsil stones–debris that gets trapped in your tonsils and calcifies to become small white formations. You may be more susceptible to tonsil stones if you have routine inflammation of your tonsils. Contact your dentist if you have pain, swelling, bleeding gums, cracked teeth or suspect you have tonsil stones.
  • Respiratory tract infections—chronic bronchitis, strep throat and other respiratory tract infections can be attributed to bad breath. Once you are prescribed medication by your physician to treat the infection, the bad breath should lessen.
  • Chronic acid reflux or GERD—Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease is a digestive disorder that results in reflux, a condition where the stomach’s contents come back up into the esophagus. In addition to its common symptom of heartburn, this condition can also produce bad breath. If you suffer from chronic acid reflux or GERD, your doctor may suggest dietary changes or medication to improve your symptoms.
  • Dry Mouth—certain medications can reduce the saliva in your mouth and cause bad breath. This is similar to “morning breath” in that when you are sleeping, your saliva is lessened and dead cells stick to the roof of your mouth and cheeks, leaving an odor. Another lesser known producer of dry mouth is alcohol. If you have dry mouth, there are some potential remedies for you. Try chewing sugarless gum, limit caffeine, stop tobacco use and avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol. If that doesn’t help, contact your dentist who may recommend a specific product.
  • Certain diets—if you are on a specific diet that limits the variety of food you eat such as a very low carb diet, you may notice bad breath as a result. After you digest, foods enter your bloodstream and are carried to the lungs which ultimately affect your breath. Cutting carbohydrates produces ketone molecules and one particular ketone called acetone is excreted, causing bad breath or “keto-breath”. It typically goes away after a few weeks or even months and the best advice is to eat a more balanced diet or drink more water to minimize the impact.

Other internal medical conditions—diabetes, liver disease and kidney disease have also been shown to produce poor smelling breath. If you notice that your breath is unusually bad and you can’t attribute it to anything else, contact your doctor to look at some other possible causes.

Shane Company

Refer a Friend and Enter to Win a $500 Jewelry Gift Card!

Happy January! Speaking of January, did you know that February is less than a month away? That also means that Valentine’s Day is rapidly approaching…

If you want to avoid the last minute rush and give your loved one an amazing gift (or if you just want to treat yourself), we might be able to help! Simply refer a friend or family member to Willow Creek Dental in January and you will be automatically entered to win a $500 Shane Company gift card! We’ll draw the lucky winner on February 1st.

Click here for the official rules of the program. Good luck and thank you for your referrals.



New Year

Happy New Year!

As we start 2016, many of us may have set some pretty ambitious resolutions. A new year brings a fresh start and it often gives us a chance to feel like we can get our life back on track—both personally and professionally.

According to a study done by The University of Scranton, the top 3 resolutions are to lose weight, get organized and spend less/save more. Their research shows that 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions however only 8% are successful in achieving them.

While big goals are great, we often fail because we set an all or nothing approach and have unrealistic expectations. Try your best not to let this happen–you are only human and it will take time for you to get into a routine. Another solution is to set some smaller goals that may seem more achievable and can still yield incredible results. This can be as small as flossing your teeth once a day. Set a goal to get yourself into this routine and pretty soon it will become a habit. Here are some other dental and health related suggestions:

  • Brush your teeth for 2 minutes twice a day–most electric toothbrushes have a self-timer that will shut off after 2 minutes has passed.
  • Wear your nightguard–many of us have one because we clench and grind our teeth however choose not to wear it. You’ll be grateful if you start getting into the habit.
  • Get on the books–schedule regular check-ups with the dentist, eye doctor and general practitioner for you and your family.
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day–not only will your teeth thank you but you’ll also notice a ton of other health benefits.

So for 2016, set goals of all sizes and do your best to achieve them. If you make a misstep, make a resolution to cut yourself some slack and get back on track.


Do I really need a Deep Cleaning?

Have you ever gone to the dentist for a regular cleaning but been told that you need to have a special, deep cleaning instead? You may have thought it was a way for your dentist to get more money from you however it is actually your periodontal health they are concerned about.

If you haven’t gone to the dentist regularly or perhaps have a factor that pre-disposes you to periodontal disease, your hygienist and dentist may recommend that you have scaling and root planing (aka a deep cleaning). Scaling and root planing cleans between the gums and the teeth down to the roots and is an effective treatment against gum disease before it gets more severe.

You probably know your mouth is a dirty place and plaque builds up on your teeth every day. Plaque is a clear, sticky film that is full of bacteria and is removed when you brush your teeth. While you may do your best to clean your teeth it is inevitable that you may not get all of the plaque off near your gum line. Plaque eventually hardens to become tartar, also known as calculus. When you go for your 6 month cleaning, this is what the hygienists are working to remove with their special instruments.

If you don’t go for regular cleanings, however, this calculus sits untouched below your gum line and your body starts to fight against it. Your gums may start to get red, swollen and bleed easily. This is called gingivitis and is an often reversible form of periodontal disease. If left untreated, however, the bacteria begins to cause the gum to pull away from the tooth and causes pockets to form.

Think about your last cleaning for a second. Do you recall the hygienist checking your gums and calling out numbers (“three, five, four, three…”). Well they are actually measuring the depth of your gum pockets. A measurement of 3mm or less is healthy, 4mm is borderline and 5mm or above is of concern. These measurements help indicate the type of cleaning you need.

So is it really all that big of a deal? Your gums probably look okay to you and may not hurt. In reality, though, it is a very serious problem. If you ignore it, the pockets will continue to deepen and the bacteria will start to destroy your bone. As you lose more and more bone, your tooth may become mobile and ultimately may need to be removed.

Scaling and root planing is often the first step at treating your periodontal disease. If it progresses, patient options include more costly gum surgery or new advanced treatments such as LANAP™ (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure).

So when the hygienist or dentist tell you that they can’t or won’t do a traditional cleaning for you, listen to them. They know that a regular cleaning won’t stop your periodontal disease from worsening.  Don’t feel pressured to have it done that day–take the time to ask more questions, understand how severe it is and do your own research. They have your health as their priority and want to make sure you are comfortable with all of your treatment recommendations.