5 Reasons You Should Think About Avoiding Corporate Dental Practices

Today’s dental patient has a lot of options when it comes to choosing a dentist. We appreciate the opportunity to serve the Tacoma community, and we take pride in the work we do. As a small, privately owned dental practice, we feel that corporate dental practices might not be the best choice for all patients. In fact, we believe that small and privately owned establishments offer more to the community at large. Here’s why:

trust written in the sand

1. Business Is Personal

At Spanaway Family Dentistry, we are committed to providing customized service for every patient. We’ve been told again and again by our patients that we create a comfortable and caring atmosphere that eases stress. We can do this, in part, because we are not a corporate dental practice. We aim to design an environment that feels like home. Some corporate offices might feel like just that- a corporate office. For us, business is personal. And you’ll feel that when you come in for a routine cleaning or an urgent visit.

2. Clinical Autonomy Means Custom Care

Because we are not a corporate dental practice, we can create custom care for each of our patients. We seek to provide an experience that exceeds your expectations. Not being a part of a larger corporate model means that you can expect prompt, on time scheduling, minimal paperwork, hassle free check-in, and the best in customized care.

3. Support Local Businesses

In an ever-expanding globalized economy, it’s becoming more rare to have the opportunity to support local businesses. We are one example of the benefits that come from patronizing a local business. Dr. Lee envisioned a different kind of dental practice, one that gathered experts in the field of dentistry who were focused on going above and beyond to ensure that each patient is confident in our care. When you buy local, you’re supporting hardworking families in your area and putting money back into your community. You won’t get that with corporate practices.

4. We Value Your Time

Because we are independently owned, we can offer extended hours, ready to serve you anytime between 8am-7pm. We ensure prompt, easy check-in and honor your scheduled appointment time. Many large and corporate practices won’t go out of their way to do this.

5. Flexible Financing

We care deeply about the dental health of you and your family and we’ll do everything in our power to make it work so that you can see us when you need to. We work with each patient to find financing options that suit each individual’s needs. Corporate dentistry will be less inclined to meet you where you need to be in this way.

If you have any suggestions for how we can continue to go above and beyond as a small business, please let us know. We want you to feel a sense of community and care when you are with us. Contact us to schedule your next appointment, and please pass our information along to any friends who may be looking for quality dental care in a small business setting! We appreciate you for choosing Spanaway Family Dentistry.

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How to Reduce Dental Waste at Home

A hand holds a green orb representing the world with green leaves on top

Our beloved Spanaway is home to some breathtaking parks. All of the nature around us is one of the best parts of living in our area of Pierce County! Just this July, Washington State-based coffee giant Starbucks announced their plans to eliminate the use of single-use plastic straws by the year 2020. Since we have such incredible reminders of the natural world surround us, all of us at Spanaway Family Dentistry are aware of our environmental footprint.

You can make a difference with regard to dental waste every time you brush! Consider these environmentally friendly options the next time you need to replace your toothbrush, run out of dental floss or toothpaste.

Toothpaste:

Although magazine ads and television commercials for toothpaste often show a whole toothbrush loaded with product, this is definitely not how much you need! Most toothpaste directions only call for a “pea-sized” amount on the brushing surface of a toothbrush. By using only as much toothpaste as you need you are extending the life of your toothpaste tube and limiting the number of toothpaste tubes that you throw in the garbage each year. Some toothpastes are sold in metal tubes (like David’s) which are recyclable.

Whatever eco-friendly toothpaste choice you make, Drs. Lee and Kim encourage you to select a toothpaste that bears the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. *Be very careful about zero-waste toothpastes, homemade or DIY, made with baking soda. Baking soda is too abrasive for everyday use on your teeth and will erode the teeth’s enamel. Once enamel is worn away, you can’t get it back.

Floss:

The general rule of thumb for how much floss to use is 18-inches. Most dental floss is waxed petroleum-based nylon and cannot be reused, recycled, or composted. To reduce waste in terms of dental floss, you can opt for silk floss. Natural silk floss, like Radius, is completely biodegradable. Look for nylon and plastic-free floss options in order to limit your dental waste when it comes to floss. You can also look for floss that does not come in a plastic container, like Eco-Dent (There are other options available!).

Toothbrush:

Drs. Kim and Lee recommend replacing your toothbrush at least every three months. Most toothbrushes are made of non-recyclable plastic and by following dentistry recommendations patients contribute to plastic waste that goes straight to the landfill. Here are your options on how to reduce the impact of your toothbrush-related waste:

  • Buy a plastic toothbrush made from recycled materials.
    Preserve offers toothbrushes made from recycled yogurt containers. These toothbrushes can then be sent back to the company for repurposing!
  • Buy a biodegradable toothbrush.
    Check out Radius, Brush with Bamboo, or Bogobrush! Brush with Bamboo brushes are made from bamboo, Bogobrush uses compostable bioplastic (and has a humanitarian component!), and Radius biodegradable toothbrushes are made of cellulose (plastic generated from wood) and vegetable-based nylon bristles. Do some internet research and check reviews so that you choose a toothbrush that will be right for you.
  • Buy an aluminum toothbrush.
    The Goodwell Company makes a toothbrush handle from recycled aluminum that is guaranteed to last for life. The replaceable heads are also biodegradable.
  • These options to help you reduce dental waste are not perfect, but each little step can add up to a big difference in the grand scheme of things. If you are thinking about making changes to your dental hygiene routines to make it more environmentally friendly, consult with the team at Spanaway Family Dentistry! We’re here to help you make the right choices for the environment and your smile.

    If you’ve already started your journey towards less dental waste, tell us about your experiences in the world of eco-friendly dental hygiene the next time you come in for your biannual checkup and cleaning!

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What Is Organic Toothpaste?

Partially squeeze blue collapsible tube of toothpaste with a white corrugated top against a white background

We all know that there are a variety of organic products on the market, ranging from foods to dish soaps to cleaning agents to toothpastes. However, most people don’t really know what organic means, what ingredients are left out of organic products, how they differ from the regular product, and what benefits they can have. So, when it comes to choosing between regular and organic toothpaste, we’ll give you the scoop so you can make a well-informed decision about which toothpaste is right for you and your family!

What Is Organic Toothpaste?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, organic means that a product is, “relating to or derived from living matter.” So an organic toothpaste is made with all-natural ingredients. These ingredients often include mint (a natural breath freshener), spearmint and peppermint oil, which both have antibacterial properties, and a variety of herbs. While regular toothpaste is safe and American Dental Association (ADA) approved, some people choose organic toothpaste because they prefer natural, holistic products that don’t have any manufactured chemicals in them.

White pot holding a cluster of green mint leaves used in organic toothpaste

Regular toothpaste contains sodium lauryl sulfate and saccharin. Sodium lauryl sulfate is what makes the toothpaste foam and is known for being a skin irritant for some people. Saccharin is a chemical used to create the sweet flavor of toothpaste, which organic toothpastes can achieve without a man-made ingredient.

Does Organic Toothpaste Work?

It’s important to note that toothbrushes are actually what do most of the teeth cleaning and toothpaste is for freshening your breath and eliminating bacteria—which organic toothpaste can easily do. If you choose to use organic toothpaste, you’ll still get the same effect as regular toothpaste, so you won’t have to worry about bacteria lingering on your teeth and causing cavities or getting too close to someone when you speak because of bad breath!

Ask Us for Recommendations!

Whether you’re looking for a new toothpaste for your family or yourself, it’s important to weigh your options and do some research on which one is right for you. If you have any questions about organic toothpaste, contact our office and one of our knowledgeable team members will be happy to discuss your questions.

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Why Do Teeth Turn Yellow?

If you’re unhappy with a discolored smile, there are quite a few reasons why you may have yellow teeth. Here are six of the top reasons why teeth turn yellow—some of them may surprise you!

1. Diet

Many foods and drinks can actually harm your enamel, making it easier for your teeth to stain. Acidic foods like citrus, candy, berries, and even pasta sauce, as well as drinks like soda and coffee, can all cause wear on your teeth over time. Additionally, sweet and sticky foods promote acid production since that is what plaque feeds on. Consider limiting your intake of these foods and drinks to prevent yellow teeth.

White cup containing brown coffee that stains teeth with a swirl of cream on a white saucer with a silver spoon

2. Fluoride

Fluoride is excellent for your teeth. In fact, it’s necessary to expose your teeth to fluoride in order to have a healthy smile. Fluoride from your toothpaste, drinking water, and mouthwash are enough to protect your teeth from decay. However, if you were exposed to excessive fluoride as a child before your teeth erupted from your gums, you may have stains on my teeth from fluorosis. Make sure your own children don’t swallow their fluoride toothpaste!

3. Certain Medications

Tetracycline and other medications have been known to stain teeth. If you think your medicine is the cause of your tooth discoloration, speak with your doctor.

4. Smoking

Smoking is harmful to your health, and the toxins in cigarettes cause stains on your teeth. Moreover, because smoking suppresses your immunity, it makes it easier for plaque to develop on your teeth and release damaging acid.

Closeup of man smoking an addictive cigarette that causes oral cancer, bad breath, and tooth discoloration

5. Weak Enamel

Many of us just have weak enamel. This makes the dentin, a yellow substance underneath the enamel, appear more clearly, causing your teeth to look slightly more yellow.

6. Genetics

Sometimes the color of your teeth boils down to simple genetics. If your parents or grandparents have discolored teeth, chances are yours are discolored for genetic reasons.

Professional Teeth Whitening

Teeth can turn yellow for a variety of reasons, but no matter what has caused your teeth to have a stained appearance, we have a few ways you can brighten your teeth safely here at Spanaway Family Dentistry. We offer take-home whitening trays, as well as KoR® bleaching that can whiten your smile dramatically in just an hour. We invite you to utilize these outstanding cosmetic dentistry services today. Contact us to schedule your appointment!

Yes, I Want a Whiter Smile!

The Benefits of an Electric Toothbrush

Headshot of a smiling young woman with brown crimped hair wearing a white Ralph Lauren sweater and a 2-strand necklace

Haven’t used an electric toothbrush yet? Here’s what you need to know about them, and if they really make more of a difference for your oral health than a manual toothbrush.

Electric Toothbrush Basics

An electric toothbrush is a chargeable brush that can pretty much do all of the brushing work for you! Although there are many different types of electric toothbrushes available these days, some mimic the functions of the tools your dentist uses during your cleanings and examinations, and many come with different functionalities such as polishing, cleaning, and whitening all in one brush.

PROS of an Electric Toothbrush

  • Many dentists believe that electric toothbrushes are safer and more effective than a manual toothbrush when cleaning your teeth. After all, proper brushing technique can make or break the state of your oral health, and electric toothbrushes are designed to brush your teeth using small, quick circles and to not be harsh on your gums.
  • Using an electric toothbrush may not guarantee a clean bill of oral health depending on your lifestyle, but it can help you brush your teeth more accurately every time. Most have timers so that you know you’ve brushed your teeth for two minutes at a time!
  • Electric toothbrushes are great options for children and elderly patients who may have a hard time adhering to a proper brushing technique or who experience difficulty gripping a manual toothbrush.

CONS of an Electric Toothbrush

  • Electric toothbrushes are understandably more expensive than manual toothbrushes, but there are different types out there to fit your needs and budget so do your research before buying one. Although some may cost more than you’d like to spend, remember that it’s better to prevent oral health issues than to spend money fixing them in the future.
  • If you travel frequently, you may find it difficult to take your electric toothbrush everywhere with you, but again, there are so many different types of electric toothbrushes available that you may find one that is perfectly portable. If not, you can always take a manual toothbrush when traveling.

Consult with Our Expert Team

If you’re thinking about switching to an electric toothbrush but don’t know where to start, our team at Spanaway Family Dentistry is here to help you find the perfect toothbrush for your smile. Contact us for help improving your oral hygiene routine, or to schedule your next dental cleaning and checkup!

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What Causes Cavities?

Jar overflowing with marshmallows, caramel, Oreos, ice cream, and chocolate bits next to a pink striped bag of popcorn

Cavities aren’t just a problem that younger kids face—in fact, most American adults actually have cavities! What is a cavity, how is it treated, and how can it be prevented?

Causes of Cavities

Cavities are small holes of decay in your teeth. This decay can form for a variety of reasons, the most common of which are neglect and diet. Eating sugary and starchy foods and drinking sweet and acidic beverages (think candy, dried fruit, pastries, coffee, and alcohol) can leave your teeth vulnerable to decay since the bacteria on your teeth release tooth-eroding acid when they break sugars down. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth after eating, you’re increasing your chances of harboring harmful bacteria on your teeth.

Symptoms of Cavities

You may not be able to see small, dark holes on your teeth, but if you have bad breath, coupled with tooth pain and sensitivity, you may have a cavity. See your dentist as soon as possible for an examination!

Treatment for Cavities

The primary treatment for cavities is a filling, which is a quick and painless procedure. Your dentist will flush out any remaining decay in the cavity, and then fill the hole with a tooth-like resin for a natural look. No one will ever be able to tell that you had a cavity!

What Happens When You Leave a Cavity Untreated

It’s not a good idea to leave a cavity untreated because as more bacteria collects in the cavity site, the deeper the decay will grow into your tooth. If you let the decay progress, you may need a root canal or a tooth extraction altogether! Aside from decay, you can expect intense pain and sensitivity, making it hard to eat, drink, smile, and talk.

Prevention of Cavities

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time
  • Floss at least once a day
  • Drink fluoridated water
  • Visit us twice a year for dental cleanings and checkups to confirm you’re cavity-free

Is It Time for Your 6-Month Checkup?

At Spanaway Family Dentistry, we’re here to help you have your best smile no matter what type of treatment you may need. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!

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Are Mints Good for My Teeth?

Dark-haired woman smiles while wearing a rust-colored shirt and a necklace

Popping a mint is as close as you can possibly get to having candy that’s good for your teeth and breath, but not all mints are created equally. Keep this handy guide in mind for your next shopping trip.

Sugar

Do your favorite mints contain sugar? If you want to freshen your breath and keep your teeth clean, avoid sugar at all costs. When bacteria on your teeth feed on sugar, they release acid that breaks down enamel. Once your enamel is worn down, your teeth can stain and develop cavities more easily. This defeats the purpose of freshening your breath and promoting good oral health completely!

Alternatives to Sugar

Mints that contain sugar aren’t good for your teeth, but mints that contain xylitol are! Xylitol is a natural sweetener that can actually curb the effects of mouth bacteria. Best of all, mints that have an ADA (American Dental Association) seal on the packaging are certified as good for your teeth, so it’s easy to tell which ones your dentist would recommend at the store.

Benefits of Mints

Aside from freshening your breath, the act of sucking on a mint encourages saliva production, which when paired with the benefits of xylitol acts as double duty in eliminating bacteria and germs from your mouth and helping prevent tooth decay. Who knew that something that looks and tastes like candy could actually help protect your teeth!

Mints & Oral Health

While mints add a nice boost to your oral health regimen and are great on the go, they should by no means replace twice daily brushing and flossing. Taking consistent care of your teeth yields amazing long-term benefits and can prevent painful side effects in the future. Don’t forget to schedule twice yearly exams with your dentist, too! At Spanaway Family Dentistry, we offer convenient and comfortable care for the whole family. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

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Are Dental X-Rays Safe?

A panoramic dental X-ray

There is some concern about the safety of X-rays, but you shouldn’t worry! First, let’s go over what X-rays are. These common imaging tests are used by physicians to see inside your organs and bones. Getting an X-ray is a quick and painless test that sends a beam of radiation through your body, so your dentist or doctor can see dense bones and softer tissues, such as muscles and fat.

Purpose of X-Rays

Your physician will recommend an X-ray so that they can check for health issues throughout your body. For example, your doctor will request an X-ray of your chest to examine for signs of lung infection, blocked blood vessels, and even breast cancer. Dentists utilize X-rays to check for cavities and tooth decay, as well as other dental issues that may not be visible to the naked eye.

Dental X-Ray Process

A dental X-ray is taken in your dentist’s office. An X-ray technician will position your mouth so that the X-ray can take the necessary images. You are often given a smock made of lead to place over the rest of your body to reduce your already limited radiation exposure. Dental X-rays are often ready in just a few minutes but could take longer depending on the type of machine and the number of images taken.

X-Ray Safety

Now that we’ve given you a thorough overview of X-rays, let’s discuss safety. Dental X-rays are both a safe and necessary imaging test that aids your dentist in diagnosing an ailment. People often think that X-rays emit high levels of radiation when in fact, they emit very small amounts. However, if you are pregnant you should tell your dentist before getting an X-ray.

Dental X-Rays are a necessary tool for reaching diagnoses, so we hope this helps to put your mind at ease. If you have any more questions about the safety of X-Rays, give us a call. We are dedicated to providing you with the best and safest care, and we always want you to feel comfortable.

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What to Do in a Dental Emergency

Woman with her eyes closed holding her cheek from tooth pain

Everyone knows they should visit the dentist at least twice a year for routine care, but not many people know what to do when they’re faced with a dental emergency. If you’re experiencing severe tooth pain or another serious dental concern, don’t let it go untreated. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can treat the problem before it potentially causes permanent damage. Our office strives to see you the same-day you call so you don’t have to wait to get your problem treated.

Types of Dental Emergencies

There are many reasons you may require emergency dental services. If you have any of the following issues, we recommend that you call our office immediately so we can see you as soon as possible.

  • Chronic Tooth Pain
  • Chipped or Cracked Tooth
  • Knocked-Out Tooth
  • Lost Filling
  • Lost or Broken Dental Crown
  • Abscess on Gums
  • Broken Dentures or Implants

Needing Emergency Dental Care?

If you’re currently dealing with a dental emergency, call our office to inform us of your situation and to schedule your same-day visit. While we have a convenient contact form on our website, we strongly recommend that you call our office directly so we can get you into our office as quickly as possible. Are you unsure if your dental issue is an emergency? We encourage you to still give our office a call and one of our knowledgeable team members will assist you.

If you don’t need urgent dental care at the moment, keep our number in an easily accessible location in case of an emergency, such as on your fridge or in the contacts on your phone. While dental emergencies are unexpected, you can expect us to be there for you if one occurs!

Call us ASAP if you have a dental emergency!

What Foods Are Good for My Teeth?

milk being poured into a glass sitting on a dark table

You eat foods that are good for your body and your overall health, so why not do the same with your teeth? There are plenty of foods out there that can strengthen your teeth and give you a brilliant smile. These are just a few of our favorites.

Dairy

Milk, cheese, and yogurt are all jam-packed with calcium. Not only that, but dairy lowers the acid levels in your mouth. Since acid is what eats away at your tooth enamel and causes decay, foods that can balance out the pH levels in your mouth are good dietary choices.

Leafy Greens

Kale, spinach, and other leafy greens are full of calcium, just like dairy. But they also contain folic acid and other vitamins and minerals that are great for dental health. In particular, folic acid reduces gum inflammation, cutting down on gum disease and tooth decay.

Crunchy Fruits & Veggies

Crunchy foods like apples, celery, and raw carrots are not only satisfying snacks, but they’re also excellent for your oral health. They are high in fiber, and their crisp, fibrous texture makes them good at scrubbing your teeth while you chew. Speaking of chewing, the simple act of chewing these foods increases saliva production, essentially rinsing out your mouth.

Nuts

Nuts are full of antioxidants and protein, and studies have shown a link between eating nuts and lower cholesterol, lower cancer risk, and even lower risk for heart disease. Some of the best nuts for your smile and your body include almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts.

Water

Staying hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your smile. Drinking water helps to wash away food particles left behind after meals and snacks. It also helps you avoid dry mouth, which can lead to bad breath. When you drink water, you increase your mouth’s production of saliva, and since saliva is a great defense against tooth decay, more saliva leads to better oral health.

Of course, the best way to keep your smile in tip-top shape is through good at-home care and keeping up with your regular dental exams and cleanings. Whether it’s been a while since you visited the dentist or it’s simply time to schedule your next six-month appointment, call the team at Spanaway Family Dentistry today!

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