November 22nd, 2017
Cavities are the reason why most people fear going to the dentist. But they’re also the reason you should be visiting Drs. Wallace and Solhaug on a regular basis.
Specifically, cavities are the breakdown of teeth caused by acid from food, bacteria, and plaque that inhabit the inside of the mouth. While many people simply think that cavities only form on top of a tooth, Drs. Wallace and Solhaug and our team at Wallace & Solhaug Family Dentistry want you to know they can actually form on the sides along the gum line and between the teeth, too. This acid will eat away at the tooth, forming a soft hole.
Anybody, either children and adults, can get cavities. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S. alone about 16 percent of all children ages six to 19 have untreated cavities, and about 24 percent of adults 20 to 64 years old have them. This is detrimental to overall oral health, because cavities have a tendency to grow over time, potentially spreading to other teeth and causing increased oral pain, possibly even affecting the nerve.
That's why it's important to ensure that you're visiting Wallace & Solhaug Family Dentistry at least once every six months, so that cavities can be found and filled before they become too problematic and painful. Typically, they're found by doing a routine teeth cleaning, though X-rays or further examination may be necessary to determine the full extent of a cavity. Cavities are treated by removing the area of the tooth where decay has set in and rebuilding the tooth with a metal filling. If the cavity is too large, however, more extreme measures may be necessary, such as placing a crown or performing a root canal.
As we noted above, cavities are why people dread going to the dentist, but also the reason everyone should see the dentist every six months. Additionally, brushing twice daily, flossing, and cutting down on sugar-packed foods can reduce the risk of developing cavities.
For more information on how to best care for your teeth and why it's important to visit the dentist twice a year, please give us a call at our convenient Seattle, WA office today!
November 15th, 2017
Remember all the things your parents would tell you when you were growing up to scare you away from doing something? Like how lying might make your nose grow, misbehaving meant you wouldn’t get money from the tooth fairy, and swallowed chewing gum would build up in your stomach and stay there for years?
Maybe that last one stayed with you well beyond your teens, and occurred to you every time you accidentally (or purposely) swallowed a piece of gum. We don’t blame you. It’s a scary thought.
But is it true?
We hate to take the fun out of parental discipline, but swallowing a piece of chewing gum is pretty much like swallowing any other piece of food. It will move right through your digestive system with no danger of getting stuck for months, let alone seven years.
This doesn’t mean you should start swallowing all your gum from now on, but if it happens accidentally now and then, there’s no need to panic.
Another common gum myth is that sugar-free gum can help you lose weight. Although it is preferable to choose sugar-free gum over the extra-sweet variety, no studies have show that sugar-free gum will help you lose weight.
If you pop a piece of gum in your mouth after dinner to avoid dessert, it could help you avoid eating a few extra calories every day. But the consumption of sugar-free gum without any other effort will not help you shed pounds.
If you really enjoy chewing gum, we strongly encourage you to select sugarless gum, because it lowers your risk for cavities. Many brands of sugarless gum contain xylitol, a natural sweetener that can, in fact, help fight bacteria that cause cavities and rinse away plaque.
So if you can’t kick the gum habit altogether, sugar-free is definitely the way to go!
If you have any questions about chewing gum, feel free to contact Drs. Wallace and Solhaug at our Seattle, WA office.
November 8th, 2017
Temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) refers to a diverse range of disorders that relate to muscular function in the jaw and face — the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). That could mean difficulty opening your mouth, pain in the jaw or face, or any sort of problem with the jaw joint.
TMD can be difficult to diagnose because of the varied causes. Whatever the case, an accurate diagnosis from Drs. Wallace and Solhaug helps make treatment as successful as possible.
Most often, jaw problems will resolve themselves within several weeks or months. Surgeries like arthrocentesis, arthroscopy, and open-joint surgery should be a last resort. More conservative and reversible treatments should come first and are in fact the most critical step in the treatment of TMD.
Less invasive treatments like acupuncture and splints can be helpful, but that will depend on your particular case. It’s worth your while to speak with Drs. Wallace and Solhaug at our Seattle, WA office to learn about solutions that could work for you.
A combination of treatments will most often produce the greatest relief for TMJ patients. It’s a good idea to avoid activities that overuse the jaws, such as chewing gum or clenching your jaws.
You can be proactive in finding relief for TMD by trying the following remedies at home:
- Eat soft food: When you eat soft and/or blended food, your jaw gets an opportunity to rest. Avoid chewy and crunchy food, and food that requires you to open your mouth wide, like apples or corn on the cob.
- Apply moist heat: A hot water bottle wrapped in a moist towel can help reduce symptoms.
- Apply ice: Applying an ice pack wrapped in a cloth or towel for no longer than 15 minutes may also reduce pain and promote healing.
- Do jaw exercises: A physical therapist can help identify the exercises that will work for you. Jaw exercises have been shown to be an effective treatment method that can be performed at home.
- Relaxation: Actively try to relax the muscles of the face and lips, and let your teeth come apart. Many find meditation, yoga, and slow, deep breathing to be helpful for reducing stress and tension.
- Avoid wide yawns: Keep your fist under your jaw when you feel a yawn coming on, to keep your jaw from opening too widely.
November 1st, 2017
The average adult has 32 teeth, a combination of molars, canines, and incisors. By middle age, however, most adults are missing at least one tooth due to an injury, decay, or gum disease. Though many people choose to forgo tooth replacement, Drs. Wallace and Solhaug and our team at Wallace & Solhaug Family Dentistry will tell you that every tooth is important. Each plays a vital role in the structure of the mouth and in relationship to the remaining teeth. Leaving the space where a tooth once stood can have serious consequences. There are many reasons why severely decayed or missing teeth should be replaced as quickly as possible.
- Speech: A missing tooth can negatively affect the way you speak, depending on its location.
- Bite changes: The loss of one or more teeth can cause the redistribution of bite pressure onto other teeth. Over time, this can cause the teeth to shift and move into the space the tooth once held.
- Gum disease: Shifting teeth can make it easier for plaque to accumulate in hard-to-reach places. This can increase the risk of gum disease, which can lead to additional tooth loss.
- Bone loss: The teeth are place-holders in the jaw. When one falls out and is not replaced, the bone that once surrounded it begins to deteriorate and wear down.
- Aesthetics: A missing tooth leaves a visible gap between the teeth and can be a source of embarrassment and insecurity.
Advancements in modern dentistry have made it easy to replace missing teeth using natural-looking and functioning prosthetics. Dental implants are permanent solutions for replacing missing teeth with the use of special rods that are anchored in the jaw bone. These implants serve as artificial tooth roots that fuse with the jaw over time. When cared for properly, most dental implants can be fitted to last a lifetime.
To learn more about dental implants, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Wallace and Solhaug, please give us a call at our convenient Seattle, WA office!