Benefits of Accelerated Orthodontics

Want to straighten your smile, but hate the idea of spending the next few years of your life wearing braces? Here at Spanaway Family Dentistry, we have a solution for you. In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits of the accelerated orthodontics now offered at our office.

About Six Month Smiles®

Six Month Smiles® is a revolutionary tooth-straightening technology. With this method, tooth-colored or clear titanium wires are used to shift the teeth into place. Rather than targeting your whole mouth full of teeth, the Six Month Smiles® method focuses on straightening the teeth that are seen when you smile or speak.

Benefits of Accelerated Orthodontics

Six Month Smiles® is quickly becoming a popular option, especially for adults, and here’s why:

  • Cost Effective. Compared to traditional braces and clear aligners, Six Month Smiles® is an affordable option. So, this is a great option for people looking to improve their smile on a budget.
  • Quick & Easy. Perhaps the most appealing feature of this method of teeth straightening is the fact that patients will see results by the time of their next visit. Traditional braces typically need to be worn for a year to two years–accelerated orthodontics can cut that time in half, or more!

Six Month Smiles at Spanaway Family Dental

If you’re looking to perfect your smile quickly and affordably, without the cost and effort of traditional metal braces or clear aligners, Six Month Smiles® might just be for you. Give us a call to set up a consultation. A member of our team will evaluate your smile and we’ll let you know what accelerated dentistry can do to improve it. We’ll also be able to talk cost, letting you know what you can expect to pay and helping you find a payment method that’ll work for you.

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You Can Have Quality Dentistry Without Needing Dental Insurance

If you don’t have dental insurance, you’re not alone. In fact, more than 74 million Americans (around 23% of the population) do not have dental insurance. However, if you think that just because you don’t have dental insurance, you can’t afford quality dental care, you’re wrong! While we do accept dental insurance, we offer several other financing and payment options to help dental care fit into your budget.

pink piggybank spilling out coins for affordable dental care

Dental Savers Plan

Because Dr. Lee and our team want our patients to have access to affordable dental care, we’ve created a Dental Savers Plan to help you and your family care for your oral health. For an annual fee of just $120 for an individual or $220 for a family (including children under 18), you can take advantage of our in-house alternative to dental insurance.

What Are the Benefits of the Dental Savers Plan?

Once you join our Dental Savers Plan, you’ll save between 30-50 percent on all dental procedures. From fillings to root canals to porcelain crowns, our Dental Savers Plan delivers substantial savings. You’ll even save on routine cleanings, exams, and X-rays: normally, these six-month visits cost $284, but with the Dental Savers Plan you’ll pay just $84. Even better, there’s no annual maximum, deductible, or waiting period. To get started, just talk to one of our team members during your next visit!

Other Financing Options

In addition to the Dental Savers Plan, we also offer financing through CareCredit. CareCredit is a program similar to a credit card for medical expenses. Once your application is approved, you can break down your treatment into affordable monthly payments. CareCredit offers different payment plans so you can find one that fits your budget.

To ask us any questions about the variety of payment options we offer or to schedule your next visit, contact us today!

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3 Foods That Cause Tooth Discoloration

Are you doing a good job of taking care of your teeth but still wondering why they sometimes look a little bit discolored? It could actually be the foods you’re eating! You may know that tea and coffee can cause stains, but certain foods also have staining properties, which can leave your teeth looking not as pearly white. Here are three big culprits to watch out for:

mixed blueberries, raspberries and blackberries


Berries like blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, and raspberries are highly pigmented (you may hear this referred to as being full of chromogens) and high in tannins, which can lead to discoloration. This applies to berries in all forms, be it juice, jam, or eaten whole. If you’re snacking on berries or something with berries, you can drink some water or at least rinse your mouth with water afterwards.


If you’ve ever worked with curry powder, then you’re probably familiar with the yellow stains that it can leave on your fingers. Curry has quite a lot of pigment, which means that dishes with it can leave your teeth with stains. Try loading up your curry with plenty of vegetables to help combat this effect.

Tomato Sauce

Have you ever left some food with tomato sauce in a plastic container, only to find a reddish-orange tint left on the plastic once you take the food out? Prone to leaving stains, tomato sauce is another food that can cause tooth discoloration. Pairing your tomato sauce dish with a nice salad of healthy greens is a good bet.

If you need some help boosting the whiteness of your smile, give us a ring at Spanaway Family Dentistry. We provide professional teeth whitening that can enhance your smile whether you need a simple touch-up or a big transformation. Contact us today to set up your consultation!

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Effects of Long Term Teeth Whitening

Do you wish you had a whiter smile? Have you considered teeth whitening? Here, we’ll explain what teeth whitening is, what your options are, and the effects of long term teeth whitening.

woman's bright smile from dental teeth whitening

What Is Teeth Whitening & Why Would You Need It?

Teeth whitening is a dental treatment to make your smile whiter and brighter. Yellow, stained teeth make most people feel insecure and can actually make you look older. There are a number of foods and beverages that stain teeth and over time this can cause your teeth to appear dull and yellow. If you are a smoker, the tobacco will stain your teeth brown or yellow. You might also want tooth whitening if your teeth appear yellow or discolored for reasons other than surface stains. Some of these other causes could be a side effect of a certain medication, an infection in your tooth, trauma that a tooth has suffered, or even a childhood illness that has left your teeth dull.

What Are the Options for Teeth Whitening?

There are two main options for teeth whitening. The first is teeth whitening that involves using products that are available over-the-counter. These include products such as whitening strips and gels, as well as whitening toothpastes. The toothpaste is straightforward, but the gels and strips are products that you apply directly to your teeth and have small amounts of hydrogen peroxide, a whitening agent.

The second option for teeth whitening is to get a professional whitening kit. These kits are so simple and can be used in the comfort of your own home. You’ll get custom trays that are made specifically for your teeth and fill them with a whitening gel prescribed by your dentist. You’ll then insert the gel-filled trays into your mouth and leave them on for a specified amount of time. While both methods will whiten your teeth, the more effective and safer option is professional whitening kits because the whitening agent is more powerful and works faster and the whole process is overseen by your dentist whereas you’re on your own with the over-the-counter products.

What Are the Effects of Long Term Teeth Whitening?

The long term effects of teeth whitening are that you now have a smile that you can be proud of. Teeth whitening will give you the confidence to be your best self and not shy away from social interaction. However, if you are whitening your teeth without the supervision of your dentist, you may be at risk of developing tooth sensitivity, which means that your teeth hurt when you eat or drink something hot or cold because the enamel has worn away from the whitening agent and exposes tiny canals and tubes that reach the tooth’s nerve ends. Additionally, if you’re whitening your teeth without a dentist’s help, you could experience gingival irritation, which happens when your gums come into contact with a whitening agent. This is why it’s always safer to whiten your teeth with your dentist’s help.

If you have any other questions about teeth whitening or want to come in for a consultation, contact us today!

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How to Care for Your Teeth After Major Dental Surgery

When having any dental procedure done, it’s important to know how to best care for your teeth following your appointment. If you’ve got an upcoming dental surgery scheduled, proper care for your wounds and teeth will be extremely important for speedy and proper healing. Here are a few things we’d like you to know if you’re preparing for dental surgery.

woman with ice pack on her jaw after oral surgery

Caring for Teeth After Surgery

Make sure you have everything you need at home to help you recover. This includes an ice pack to reduce pain and swelling, soft foods that are easy on your mouth, plenty of liquids to hydrate, and any prescribed medication. If you smoke or use tobacco, you’ll need to stop for at least 24 hours. If you have an extraction, refrain from using straws. Clean your wound exactly how we advise, taking gentle care when brushing and making sure to rinse well around the area that is affected. Be sure to rest and not overexert yourself. Rest, nutritious foods, plenty of liquids, and medication will help you heal faster and be back to your normal self in no time.

When to Call

We’d like you to call us after surgery if you have any questions about medication dosing or any other topics relevant to healing. You should feel yourself within a few days. It’s extremely important that you call us right away if you have a fever for more than 24 hours, notice pus or a lot of bleeding, or if you have throbbing pain that doesn’t go away with medication. Contact your emergency room if you’re having trouble breathing or swallowing. We want to know if you’re having any major or distressing issues. You’re in the best hands with us and we have performed oral surgeries multiple times without complications. If problems do arise, however, we want to know.

Contact us today if you have any questions about what to expect after your upcoming surgery. We know that surgery can cause some to feel nervous. Don’t be. We are here to answer any questions you may have and will do everything in our power to make you comfortable and give you the smile you deserve.

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Are Water Picks Worth the Cost?

Thinking of switching to a Waterpik, but not sure if it’s worth your money? We’ve done the research for you! Read on for a quick comparison between the water flosser and the traditional string floss that’ll help you decide which is the best fit for you.

waterpik vs traditional dental floss, what is best?

Strengths Of A Water Flosser

Water flossers usually run anywhere between $20 and $100. There are many models on the market, coming from different brands and offering different functionalities. The Waterpik®, in particular, has earned an American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance, making it a trusted choice. There are a variety of reasons why people are choosing to incorporate this technology into their dental care routine. Some benefits include:

  1. Effectiveness
  2. Studies have shown that Waterpik can and does work to remove plaque and reduce gingivitis by cleaning between the teeth. Some studies have also shown that it can reach deep areas that traditional floss can’t get to.

  3. “Fun” Factor
  4. For those people who just can’t stick to a flossing routine, this device can change that. Many feel that a water flosser is easier, more interesting, and even fun to use compared to traditional floss.

  5. Ease of Use
  6. For people with braces, bridges, implants, crowns, or limited mobility and dexterity, string floss can be difficult and even impossible to maneuver. Water flossing is a simple method that keeps the hands out of the mouth while still cleaning out all the nooks and crannies in your mouth.

Why Stay with String Floss?

Listed here, the benefits of a water flosser look pretty good, but that doesn’t mean that traditional string floss is completely eclipsed. This manual method is still effective, and it’s price-point and portability make it an appealing option. For whatever reason, if you decide against the addition of a Waterpik to your bathroom shelf, you can still feel good about using string floss. And if you do add a water flosser to your routine, it’s always a good idea to keep string floss on hand.

Our Team At Spanaway Family Dentistry Can Advise

We’re here to help you choose the best interdental cleaning method for your personal needs. If you’re thinking about adding a Waterpik to your dental cleaning arsenal but you’re on the fence, talk to us! We can help you decide whether or not it’ll be a worthwhile investment for your personal dental needs.

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What Is Phantom Tooth Pain?

Have you ever felt pain in your tooth, but that tooth is no longer there? If you’ve experienced this sensation, you may have phantom tooth pain. Here, we’ll explain what phantom tooth pain is, what the symptoms are, what causes it, how to diagnose it, and how you can treat it.

girl holding her jaw with both hands experiencing phantom tooth pain

What Is Phantom Tooth Pain?

Also known as atypical odontalgia or atypical facial pain, phantom tooth pain is the chronic, constant pain in your mouth where you have recently had dental work done, specifically if you’ve had a tooth extracted or pulled and there is no longer a tooth there. As time goes on you could even feel pain moving to other parts of your mouth or jaw. This sensation is most commonly associated with a phantom limb syndrome, where people who have had a limb amputated still feel pain where their limb used to be. Phantom tooth pain is a similar sensation and is a neurological issue, not a physical one.

What Causes Phantom Tooth Pain?

As mentioned above, phantom tooth pain is thought to be a neuropathic pain disorder and occurs when a patient undergoes an extraction, root canal, or other similar dental procedure. It is believed that, even when the tooth is removed, nerve endings continue to send messages that it feels pain to the patient’s mind. Without treatment, the error in processing between the brain and nerves mean that phantom tooth pain will remain.

What Are the Symptoms of Phantom Tooth Pain?

A persistent aching or throbbing tooth pain at the site of an extraction or other dental work is the main symptom of phantom tooth pain. This can be a mild pain to a severe one and can spread throughout your mouth and even to your jaw. Phantom tooth pain is different than normal tooth pain because with normal tooth pain there is a specific cause for the pain such as a knocked out tooth, gum disease, or tooth decay, and can be overcome with a simple treatment by a dental professional.

How Do You Diagnose Phantom Tooth Pain?

With phantom tooth pain there are no external signs of pain and there is no one identifiable cause for the pain so it can be difficult to diagnose it. The only real way to determine whether the pain is associated with phantom tooth pain is by a dental professional observing the patient over a period of time and working through other issues to make sure it’s not caused by any other underlying dental issues. It is not uncommon for those with phantom tooth pain to experience misdiagnosis.

What Is the Treatment for Phantom Tooth Pain?

Because it is not a physical issue, phantom tooth pain is often treated with medication such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants, narcotics, and NMDA receptor antagonists. Your dental professional might also suggest other treatments like nerve stimulation and acupuncture.

If you think you’re experiencing phantom tooth pain, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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Can Dental Implants Cause Headaches?

If you’re considering having one or more teeth restored, dental implants might be a great option for you. Some patients ask about possible disadvantages to getting this treatment done, including the myth that they may cause headaches. We want to give you a breakdown of information on this common and effective procedure. No one should miss out on a gorgeous smile because of misinformation!

hands holding dental implants demonstration model

What’s a Dental Implant?

We offer many services at Spanaway Family Dentistry, including dental implants, and we are enthusiastic to offer you this choice for improved confidence and dental health. This standard procedure is a great way to get your smile back. A titanium post will be placed in the space of your missing tooth. Dental implants fuse with the bone to become permanently fixed. This creates a strong, sustainable tooth that feels as natural as your own teeth. There are several advantages to having dental implants. They are attractive and look more natural than removable fixtures. With proper care, they should last you a lifetime, without needing updates or repairs. They are also a healthier choice than leaving empty root space, which can lead to dry sockets and bone loss.

The Facts

Dental implants should not cause headaches. Having an experienced dentist will ensure proper placement of the implant, and the titanium rod should integrate nicely into the structure of the mouth because of its biocompatibility. Titanium is the metal commonly used in prosthetic surgeries and has proven to be safe and strong. However, it is possible for those with metal allergies to have a reaction. This may cause a headache, among other symptoms. Please let us know if you’re allergic to any type of metal before undergoing this procedure.

Other causes for a headache might be TMJ, or a chronically tight jaw. With any surgery, there are risks. If you have a headache or fever after your surgery, this could be a sign of infection, and we’d like you to let us know. But chronic headaches are not a result of getting dental implants. Please don’t let this scare you from improving your smile. We are extremely familiar with this surgery, and you are in great hands if you choose to get implants with us.

If you’re interested in learning more about getting dental implants, contact us today to schedule a consultation! It’s time to get your smile back!

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How to Reduce Dental Anxiety

Many people are troubled with dental anxiety. Somewhere between 9 and 20 percent of all adults suffer from dental anxiety so severe that it extends into the territory of being a phobia. Those with dental phobias might even avoid going to the dentist!

At Spanaway Family Dentistry, we never want our patients to experience dentophobia, fear of dentists, so we have compiled a list of suggestions for you to manage your dental anxiety before it becomes a paralyzing phobia.

girl with dental anxiety

How to Reduce Dental Anxiety:

1. Talk to the Team!

The sooner you let the friendly team at Spanaway Family Dentistry know that you’re feeling anxious about your appointment, the sooner that we can work together to help you feel more at ease. Drs. Lee, Kim, and the whole team are happy to explain every step of your dental treatment. As in any relationship, good communication is the basis of trust.

If your case of dental anxiety is extremely serious, our office is proud to offer sedation options to help you manage your anxiety, from oral sedation to nitrous gas, otherwise known as laughing gas.

2. Distract Yourself

If the noise of a traditional dental appointment causes anxiety, consider wearing headphones to give yourself something else on which to concentrate. Our Spanaway office equips all of our treatment rooms with televisions; this entertainment helps the time fly by! Try keeping your hands occupied with a stress ball or a small board game. Use visualization techniques to imagine yourself in your happy place to help you feel more relaxed.

3. Mindfulness

The trend of mindful meditation has swept the corporate world, and whether or not you’ve encountered it in your work life, at Spanaway Family Dentistry we believe it has a place too! Start this technique by counting your breathing; inhale and exhale for the same number of counts and repeat this five times. This will help you to center your focus and concentrate less on your anxieties.

Mindfulness experts also recommend a mindfulness exercise called the body scan. This method involves concentration and awareness on each of the separate body systems, like the respiratory system, with its breath, lungs, and rhythm, as well as the senses. As your attention moves from one area to the next, focus on releasing the tension by way of exhaling slowly.

Whether your dental anxieties are causing you to avoid your bi-yearly checkups with Spanaway Family Dentistry or you would like to feel more comfortable with your more mild dental anxiousness, don’t wait.

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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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