Dental Signals You Should Never Ignore

Too often, serious dental conditions go unnoticed. Not only does this force patients to experience serious dental pain for longer than necessary, it also requires much more invasive care in order to restore our patients’ smiles to optimal health. If you’re experiencing any of the following conditions, be sure to schedule a visit with our Spokane dentist today.

Bleeding, Red or Tender Gums
While easy to dismiss, bleeding gums or bright red gums are the earliest indicator that your gums are under attack from gingivitis. Left untreated, this inflammation can quickly evolve into gum disease. Also known as periodontal disease, this condition quickly causes the gums to recede, leaving tooth roots exposed and vulnerable to infection. In its most severe state, gum disease can even cause tooth loss.

Protect your smile from gum disease by scheduling a visit with Dr. López as soon as you notice that your gums are bleeding, are tender, or have become a brighter red than their natural pink color.

Tooth Sensitivity
Do you have a tooth that only hurts when exposed to extremely hot or extremely cold foods/drinks? Do you chew on one side of your mouth because a tooth on the other side hurts too much? If so, chances are you’ve had a deep cavity that has exposed the inner chamber of your tooth to infection. While it may be easy to ignore this sensitivity and “bite through the pain”, getting the tooth properly treated is in your best interest. If left untreated, severe tooth decay can require full extraction and eventual replacement. Visiting our dentist in Spokane as soon as you start experiencing tooth sensitivity ensures that your smile gets the care it deserves.

Jaw Pain or Grinding
Do you wake up in the morning with your teeth clenched? Are the tops of your teeth worn down? Do you experience jaw pain when you bite, chew, or speak? If you answered yes to any of these, chances are that you are experiencing temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMD. Rather than describing one specific issue, this condition refers to any side effects caused by damage or deterioration in the jawbone. Common health issues that result from this condition include bruxism, bite misalignment, and muscle pain, all of which have a domino-like impact on the rest of the smile. Visiting your Spokane dentist for treatment can help prevent these conditions from compromising your oral health.

Loose Teeth
Unless you’re losing baby teeth, there is absolutely no reason that healthy teeth should be loose in your smile. However, it is not an uncommon occurrence. Dental accidents, gum disease, and bone loss caused by missing teeth are all factors that can lead to an otherwise healthy tooth become loose.

Treatment for this oral health issue varies from patient to patient and in some, may require extraction and replacement with a dental implant.

Always Being Parched
Staying hydrated throughout the day isn’t just good for your overall wellbeing – it’s important for your oral health. High saliva production is another important part of achieving and maintaining a healthy smile. Both help wash away bacteria after meals and limit how much plaque sticks to teeth.

If you find yourself frequently parched, you may be showing signs of dry mouth, a condition caused by insufficient saliva flow. If dry mouth is left untreated, patients face complications like constant sore throat, difficulty speaking and swallowing, and an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

At Summit Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, our mission is simple – keep patients with healthy, beautiful smiles for as long as possible. If you’re experiencing any of the above conditions or have gone more than six months since your last dental cleaning or exam, it’s time to schedule a visit with Dr. López today!

Do-It-Yourself Orthodontia May Do More Harm Than Good

emergency dental treatmentMany consider the emergence of the Internet and The Information Age a largely good thing, and it is — for the most part. U.S. adults may have access to endless information, but it is also important for users to assess and process what’s out there, knowing that sources may be ill-informed or altogether incorrect.

In fact, many family dentists, cosmetic dentists, and emergency dentists fear for the future of their patients’ smiles, particularly when they take everything they may see or read online at face value.

YouTube Users Start Troubling Trend
While it began with preteens and teenagers and may have required a one-on-one talk with Mom or Dad, there are now YouTube videos with adults teaching others how to close conspicuous spaces between teeth using rubber bands. This method can be dangerous and unsanitary, no matter how old, meticulous, or careful you might be, dentists warn. “These so-called ‘gap bands’ can work themselves under the gum and lead to tooth loss,” a Feb. 1 New York Times article reports. There has been a notable increase in emergency dental treatments, thanks to do-it-yourself (DIY) dental fixes, such as gap bands, and resulting gum inflammation and infections. Approximately 2.3 million Americans already require tooth replacement options, like crowns or removal dental bridges. Don’t contribute to these numbers with ill-advise, at-home dental procedures.

Are Braces Through The Mail Safe?
Unfortunately, the best dentists agree: the answer is no. While a few companies are cropping up, inviting customers to try Invisalign-like trays and straightening options at lower costs, dentists say that the process can be potentially dangerous. During more traditional orthodontia treatment, a professional will monitor patients’ progress and dental and oral health throughout, making any adjustments as necessary. At-home or by-mail alternatives may not address serious problems, like an increased risk for gum disease and oral infections.

Children already miss 51 million school hours owing to dental problems. Adults similarly miss significant work hours, also to seek routine or emergency dental treatment. Keep these numbers at bay by avoiding risky, at-home orthodontia solutions.

Two Common Myths About Dental And Oral Care

find a dentistWhen is the best time to find a dentist? The answer is right away — and for a multitude of different reasons. First and foremost, the state of American dental and oral health is not good, and it’s not going to get any better unless people of all ages make an effort to do something about it. A good start is choosing a reliable family dentist, visiting dentist offices at least twice per year, and clearing up some common misconceptions about dental hygiene and teeth cleaning. Here are just a few of the most common myths about your health and your teeth.

Myth: There Isn’t A Right Way And A Wrong Way To Store Your Toothbrush
All over the world, just about all adults have at least one cavity — or more. Not to mention, children and teens are missing 51 million school hours owing to illnesses that can be traced back to poor dental health. Part of the problem is a general lack of knowledge. Although the best dentists recommend brushing at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste and regular flossing, practicing good dental hygiene does not stop there. Americans also need to carefully store their toothbrush. You should always keep toothbrushes in an upright position, and rinse with hot water after using them. Never let your toothbrush touch someone else’s. It’s also necessary to replace toothbrushes every three months, or after you have been sick. If you fail to do these things, bacteria can (and will!) buildup and lead to more cavities, more dental decay, and ultimately a greater chance of periodontal disease.

Myth: It’s All About Your Teeth
In the U.S., 178 million Americans are missing one tooth. Before it comes to choosing between implants and bridges, there are plenty of preventative measures you can take. First, know that it’s not just about keeping your teeth clean. It’s about keeping your entire mouth clean — and that includes your gums. Drink plenty of water to flush out remaining food particles that may get stuck in the gum line, and avoid microbead toothpastes. These toothpastes will be off shelves in a few months. For now, the small beads can get lodged in your gums and cause inflammation and/or infection.

Don’t wait. Find a dentist now. Take action to carefully clean your teeth and gums, and make certain that you are using a clean and sanitary toothbrush.

Is Drinking Fruit Juice Bad for Your Teeth? The Answer May Surprise You

family dentistIt’s commonly known that sugary drinks like soda and sports drinks are some of the biggest causes of tooth decay and gum disease, two things that sometimes require emergency dental treatment or a cosmetic dentistry procedure. And when tooth decay is the top chronic childhood disease in the world, avoiding drinks like these is a no-brainer for your family’s dental health.

But what about juice?

Many people and their family dentists may think that drinking juice is just as bad for teeth as other sugar-laden beverages, because they contain just as much sugar even though they’re a bit more natural.

And that’s true — because many of the juices we drink are actually “juice drinks,” which aren’t 100% juice but rather fruit juice diluted with water and likely containing added sugar and other ingredients like citric acid, which slowly eats away at the teeth.

But when it comes to 100% fruit juice, drink away — because a new study has found that it has no negative effects on teeth.

According to a Dec. 1 Rochdale News article, newly-released data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reveals that children who drink four to six ounces of 100% fruit juice every day didn’t experience tooth decay because they drank the juice.

Nor has research yet found any relationship between drinking 100% fruit juice and obesity, another health issue becoming increasingly common among American children, Forbes reports.

So if you want to make your family’s teeth healthier — and your family dentist happier — be sure to buy only drinks labeled as containing 100% fruit juice from the grocery store. And if you’re not sure if a beverage is 100% juice or not, a quick glance at the ingredients label should let you know.

What do you think about these findings? Share your thoughts along with any other questions you may have about teeth cleaning and the dentist office with us in the comments below.

Four Signs That Indicate You Probably Have a Dental Emergency on Your Hands

emergency dentistSome dental concerns can wait until the next time you visit your dentist office — but others should never be ignored.

In fact, neglecting to seek emergency dental treatment as soon as you know you have an emergency can result in lifelong effects to your dental health and the appearance of your teeth — and no one wants that!

Could you have a real dental emergency on your hands? Find out with this list of the top four signs that indicate you need to see an emergency dentist as soon as possible:

A chipped or cracked tooth
If you’ve chipped or cracked your teeth, you will need to see a dentist right away. To ensure the chipped-off tooth can be repaired, you should keep it in either a cup of milk or your own saliva to preserve it until you can get to an emergency dental clinic.

A knocked-out tooth
Losing one of your adult teeth can happen after a number of circumstances — but no matter what caused it, you’ll need to see an emergency dentist right away if you want to have your tooth salvaged. Usually, your own tooth can be re-placed in your gums if you see a dentist within two hours of it being knocked out.

A dental laceration
If you get a cut inside your mouth that won’t stop bleeding, you should seek help at an emergency dental clinic to get the wound stitched up. Until you can see an emergency dentist, you should keep a piece of gauze over the wound to help stem the blood flow a bit.

A toothache that won’t go away
Chronic toothaches aren’t just bothersome — they are also likely to be an indicator of a worse problem looming inside your mouth. If your tooth has been hurting for more than a few days, you could have a dental abscess or another serious condition, so it’s important to seek out emergency dental services as soon as you can.

Have you ever needed to visit an emergency dentist? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Drinking Soda More Damaging to Teeth Than Previously Thought

teeth whiteningBy this point, you probably know that drinking sugary beverages like soda and fruit juice doesn’t do wonders for your teeth.

But new research has revealed that these sugar-laden beverages are causing more damage to our teeth than previously thought.

According to an August 14 International Business Times article, a recent study from the Craniofacial Biology Research Group at Australia’s University of Adelaide found that drinks with high levels of sugar and acid are responsible for immediate and permanent tooth decay.

“Our research has shown that permanent damage to the tooth enamel will occur within the first 30 seconds of high acidity coming into contact with the teeth. This is an important finding and it suggests that such drinks are best avoided,” Dr. Sarbin Ranjitkar, the study’s corresponding author, wrote in a release. “If high acidity drinks are consumed, it is not simply a matter of having a child clean their teeth an hour or 30 minutes later and hoping they’ll be OK — the damage is already done.”

The news comes as little surprise — as tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in the world, and almost 100% of adults have had a cavity at some point in their life. If left untreated, tooth decay can cause tooth loss, which requires costly dental implant surgery to fix.

Sugary drinks, especially soda, are responsible for tooth discoloration, as well, which prompts Americans to spend millions on teeth whitening strips and kits each year. Typically, a professional teeth whitening session with a cosmetic dentist is the most effective way to reverse tooth discoloration.


What do you think about this news? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Singer Michael Buble Undergoes Emergency Dental Procedure Before New Hampshire Concert

emergency dentistA dental emergency nearly kept pop singer Michael Buble from arriving onstage at his July 11 tour stop.

According to a July 17 Express article, Buble accidentally dislodged a crown while trying to open a ketchup packet with his teeth hours before the Manchester, N.H. stop of his “Crazy Love” tour was scheduled to begin.

Buble’s tour manager enlisted the help of an emergency dentist, who cancelled his dentist office’s appointments for the day to make room for Buble’s emergency dental treatment.

To repay for the emergency dental services he provided, Buble gave the emergency dentist two front-row tickets to the concert at Verizon Wireless Arena that night, according to Express. Buble also took photos with the dentist and the rest of the emergency dental clinic staff.

During a break in between songs, Buble shared the story of his almost-disastrous dental mishap with the audience, according to Express.

“(Buble) stopped the show and he said, ‘Just want to tell you what happened today,’ and he told everybody what happened. He said, ‘This guy right down here took care of me,'” according to Express.

Buble visited an emergency dentist earlier this year, as well — at a May 14 concert in Sydney, Australia, the crooner accidentally knocked out one of his teeth with his microphone, Express reports.

The singer is far from being the only person to suffer from the occasional dental injury. Each year, students are kept out of school for more than 51 million hours because of urgent dental illnesses, and Americans between 20 and 64 years old have an average of 3.28 damaged, decayed or missing teeth, research has shown.

Have you ever had to visit an emergency dentist? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.

Residents of Southern U.S. Least Likely to Visit the Dentist, Poll Shows

teeth cleaningA new Gallup poll has found that residents of the American south are least likely to visit their dentist office regularly, with only 60% of Southerners reporting they visited the dentist for teeth cleanings in the last 12 months.

In addition, a Bloomberg Visual Data survey showed that four of the five worst dental health offenders in the United States are located in the deep south; the fifth is West Virginia.

The news comes even as economic conditions have improved in the south, along with the growth of a more health-conscious cultural mindset. So what’s at stake for southerners, and anyone else, who has neglected their dental health?

Numerous studies show that skipping regular teeth cleaning appointments can have dire consequences. About 23% of adults aged 20 to 64 have untreated tooth decay, 92% of people in this age group have had dental caries, and at least half of all Americans have some type of periodontal, or gum, disease as a result.

The fact that gum disease is now more common than the common cold has concerned many family dentists. Periodontal disease, when left untreated, can result in tooth decay and loss — more than 35 million Americans are missing all their natural teeth — as well as diabetes and heart disease.

Ultimately, untreated periodontal disease in its latest stages will require you to visit an emergency dentist or cosmetic dentist to help reverse the damage done to your teeth, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars in some cases.

The only guaranteed way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease is to receive regular teeth cleanings. Experts recommend that you go to your dentist for a teeth cleaning procedure twice a year.

Five Fascinating Facts About Cosmetic Dentistry

cosmetic dentistAs Americans. we place an amazing amount of value on the appearance of our teeth. Numerous studies have shown that having a healthy, good-looking smile is essential to both our social and professional success. Because of this, the field of cosmetic dentistry has boomed in the last few years, with more and more people undergoing procedures to make their teeth look their best. But do you know as much as you think you do about cosmetic dentistry?

Here are five of the most interesting facts about cosmetic dentistry that you might not have known:

1. Cosmetic dentistry has been in practice for thousands of years
 The idea of improving the look of one’s teeth probably seems like an invention of the modern age. And while it’s true that most of our current cosmetic dental technology, like porcelain veneers, has been developed in the last few years, people have known that oral hygiene is vital for a good-looking smile since the time of the ancient Romans. Sometime around 700 BC, the Etruscans crafted dentures made from ivory and bone to replace missing teeth. They also practiced cosmetic dentistry by using gold for crowns and fillings.

2. Soda is one of the leading causes for tooth decay and discoloration
Teeth whitening and permanent dentures are good ways to help prevent and reverse tooth discoloration or decay, but one of your daily habits might be negating any cosmetic dental procedures you undergo. Research has shown that those who drink three or more glasses of soda daily will have 62% more tooth decay and tooth loss than those who don’t.

3. Veneers for teeth can protect your teeth’s natural enamel
 Veneers are thin ceramic caps that are placed over the teeth and can be fitted for your teeth by a cosmetic dentist. While tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, your enamel can be worn down by a variety of environmental factors. That’s why veneers from a cosmetic dentist are a good way to preserve your enamel while making your teeth look naturally beautiful.

4. An hour-long teeth whitening session with a cosmetic dentist can whiten teeth dramatically
 In fact, your teeth can be lightened by up to 10 shades in one whitening session.

5. Dental bridges were invented to conceal a missing tooth
 If you’re looking for a more permanent solution to a missing tooth, you should speak to a cosmetic dentist about a dental implant procedure.

As Whitening Industry Booms, Americans’ Mouths Full of Cavities

teeth whitening kitsCosmetic dentistry may involve the addition of a dental material for bonding, porcelain veneers or caps, tooth removal, teeth straightening and/or teeth whitening. But more and more consumers are increasingly implementing home whitening kits to avoid their cosmetic dentist altogether. They are apparently also cutting back on visits to their dental practitioner as well.

With an estimated 92% of adults ages 20 to 64 with dental caries in their permanent teeth, teeth whitening kits are the least pressing dental item consumers need. Your oral health does not start with your dentist. It starts with you maintaining home health, including flossing, brushing and antiseptic use on a daily basis.

Properly cleaning your teeth on a daily basis lets you avoid caries and the need for dental replacements and fillings. A pressing issue, given an estimated 2.3 million implant supported crowns are made and the number of people undergoing dental implant procedures increases by about 500,000 annually across the US.

With the estimated US market for dental implants is $1 billion, one could conclude that oral hygiene products are taking a backseat to teeth whitening kits. The teeth whitening industry has been able to achieve low growth of .9% annually from 2007 to 2012. Discretionary items like teeth whitening kits, which typically include teeth whitening gel and a tooth tray, are growing in the face of a growing denture and dental implant industry, suggesting white teeth are more important to Americans than healthy teeth.