• What is Gum Disease?

    Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the soft tissues surrounding your teeth. Tens of millions of American have this dental problem, many of whom don’t even know it. Learn more about gum disease so you can seek periodontal care in Seattle if necessary.

    Stages of Gum Disease

    Dental professionals divide gum disease into three stages:

    • Gingivitis is characterized by gum inflammation. At this early stage, you can reverse gum disease because connective tissues and bone have not yet been affected.
    • Periodontitis is the second stage of gum disease. Pockets begin forming between your teeth and gums where germs feed on food particles and plaque builds up. The damage to the supporting fibers and bone is irreversible, but with proper care, you can prevent further damage.
    • Advanced periodontitis is the final and most severe stage of gum disease. By now, the supporting structures around the teeth have been destroyed, and the teeth begin shifting and loosening. Without aggressive treatment, some teeth may fall out while others may require extraction.

    Causes of Gum Disease

    These factors increase your risk of developing gum disease:

    • Failing to brush and floss daily, which leads to plaque buildup at the gum line
    • Smoking
    • Never seeing the dentist (a professional cleaning is the only way to remove tartar, the hard substance that plaque turns into if not removed promptly)
    • Having diabetes or certain illnesses such as AIDS
    • Experiencing hormonal changes
    • Taking medications that decrease saliva flow
    • Having a genetic predisposition

    Symptoms of Gum Disease

    You might have gum disease if you experience these warning signs:

    • Red, swollen gums
    • Receding gum line
    • Lingering bad breath
    • Tender gums that bleed when you brush or floss
    • Sensitive or loose teeth
    • Painful chewing
    • Pus in the pockets between your teeth and gums

    Treatments for Gum Disease

    Your dentist may recommend a combination of treatments to reverse or control your gum disease:

    • Keep up with good daily oral hygiene to prevent plaque buildup, including brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once daily.
    • Quit smoking.
    • Schedule more frequent dental check-ups to ensure your condition doesn’t worsen.
    • Have intensive cleaning procedures performed called scaling and root planing. This cleans excess tartar deposits below the gum line and restores the shape of your gums to protect the roots of your teeth.
    • Schedule gum surgery involving skin and bone grafts to treat advanced periodontitis and help save your teeth.

    You can treat your gum disease at Zen Dental Center, a leading provider of periodontal care in Seattle! Our expert team of tooth and gum care professionals will diagnose and expertly treat your condition for the best results possible. We also accept most forms of dental insurance, including Aetna, Delta Dental and Premera.

    To speak with a friendly member of our staff about your oral health concerns, please contact us by calling 206-324-1100 today.


  • How to Teach Your Kids Good Dental Hygiene

    Of all the dental problems that can affect a child, which one do you think is the most common? You guessed it – cavities. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 50 percent of children have one or more cavities by the time they turn five.

    You may shrug at this finding with the false assumption that baby teeth don’t matter because they fall out anyway. However, decayed baby teeth can negatively affect the growth and eruption of permanent teeth. Plus, if your child doesn’t have good habits at a young age, he or she is more likely to suffer dental problems in the future.

    Now that you recognize the importance of good dental hygiene in children, here’s how to instill healthy behaviors that reduce the chance of cavities.

    Teach Proper Tooth Brushing Techniques

    As soon as your child’s first tooth erupts, make it a habit of brushing every morning and night. For infants, this means rubbing a clean, wet washcloth over your child’s teeth.

    Starting at age three, you can begin using a pea-sized amount of kid’s fluoride toothpaste on a child-sized toothbrush. Encourage your child not to swallow the toothpaste, but know that ingesting this small amount won’t cause any harm.

    Help your child hold the toothbrush and demonstrate how to brush the front, top and back of each tooth. Continue to supervise tooth brushing until your child can do it alone, usually between six and eight years old.

    Teach Which Foods Cause Cavities

    Diet is a significant factor in your child’s overall dental health. Teach that sticky, sugary foods linger on the teeth for hours and wear away at the enamel, causing cavities. You can use this information to encourage your child to eat healthier. After indulging in caramel, toffee, gummy bears, juice or soda, teach your child to brush as soon as possible or at least swish with water to wash away the sugar.

    Teach About the Importance of Dental Checkups

    At-home dental care is important, but nothing compares to a professional cleaning at the dentist’s office. Strive to take your child to a kid-friendly dentist starting at age one. Then, return once every six months or as recommended by the dentist for on-going check-ups and cleanings.

    Practice What You Preach

    The best way to get your child on board with these dental hygiene tips is to lead by example. If you expect your child to brush every morning and night, you had better do the same. If you serve apple slices explaining that candy is bad for your teeth, don’t sneak candy when your child isn’t looking. And if you require your child to visit the dentist every six months, you should follow suit.

    If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s dental hygiene, or if it’s time to schedule a dentist appointment for anyone in your family, please contact Zen Dental Center in Seattle by calling 206-324-1100. As a family dentist, we provide excellent oral care to kids and adults alike.


  • Different Types of Toothbrushes

    Every time you meander down the dental care aisle, you might be overwhelmed by your options. There are so many types of toothbrushes – how do you decide what’s best? Learn more about your options and which ones we recommend here are Zen Dental Center.

    Manual Toothbrushes

    Hand-operated manual toothbrushes are the mainstays of the dental care world. Hundreds of varieties from dozens of manufacturers are available today. You’ll find toothbrushes with the following classifications:

    • Bristle hardness: Soft bristles are appropriate for most people, but medium- and hard-bristled toothbrushes are also available. The advantage of using a harder toothbrush is that it clears away more plaque, but it may irritate your gums and even wear away your enamel if you brush too hard.
    • Head shape: Conventionally shaped toothbrush heads are rounded or squared off. Diamond-shaped toothbrushes tend to be better at reaching the back and sides of your molars.
    • Bristle pattern: Several different bristle patterns are effective at cleaning teeth. Common varieties include wavy, crisscross, tapered and bristles with polishing cups. Your choice should depend on your dental needs and what feels the most comfortable.
    • Handle design: The four broad classes of toothbrush handles include straight, contra-angle, non-slip grip and flexible. The handle you choose should allow you to comfortably reach every tooth surface, including the very back of your mouth.

    Electric Toothbrushes

    Battery-operated toothbrushes take the effort out of brushing. Simply press the button, and the head starts oscillating, rotating or vibrating to clean your teeth effortlessly. Some even have built-in timers to make sure you brush evenly in all four quadrants of your mouth for two minutes of total brushing time.

    There are several types of electric toothbrushes:

    • Rotating brush heads spin all the way around.
    • Oscillating brush heads move from side to side.
    • Dual-head electric toothbrushes combine a rotating and oscillating brush head on a single handle.
    • Counter oscillating brush heads feature bristles that move from side to side in opposite directions.
    • Sonic and ultrasonic electric toothbrushes vibrate at incredibly high speeds with thousands or even millions of oscillations per minute.

    How to Choose a Toothbrush

    Here at Zen Dental Center, we recommend using an extra soft-bristled toothbrush with a diamond-shaped head to help clean those hard-to-reach places. Manual toothbrushes can be effective, but we may recommend an electric toothbrush if you have problems with dexterity or grip strength, or your teeth are prone to staining. Choose the other characteristics of your toothbrush based on personal preference or recommendations from your dentist. And remember to change your toothbrush (or your electric toothbrush head) every three months to significantly reduce plaque buildup.

    Your oral health is important to us! If you have any other questions about choosing a toothbrush, or if it’s time for your next dentist appointment, please contact our Seattle office at 206-324-1100.

  • Six Benefits of Routine Teeth Cleaning

    Good dental health is important no matter your age. That’s why we recommend visiting the dentist for a checkup and teeth cleaning twice a year or as often as recommended by your dentist. Here are six ways regular teeth cleaning visits benefit you:

    Prevent Tooth Decay and Cavities

    The number one reason people visit the dentist is to prevent cavities. These holes form when plaque begins eating away at the outer layer of your teeth called the enamel. Plaque is a sticky white deposit of bacteria that clings to your teeth. Brushing and flossing daily helps to prevent plaque buildup, but a professional cleaning every six months is even more effective.

    Avoid Gum Disease

    Plaque doesn’t just decay your teeth – it also damages your gums when it builds up below the gum line. If allowed to advance, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. Fortunately, regular teeth cleanings reduce plaque buildup and greatly reduce the chance of this happening to you.

    Remove Stains

    Common habits – such as drinking coffee, tea and wine and using tobacco products – leave stains on your teeth. Brushing removes some of this, but thorough teeth cleaning and polishing from your dentist is necessary to truly brighten your smile.

    Freshen Your Breath

    Good oral hygiene habits are the best way to prevent halitosis or chronic bad breath. Brushing and flossing is a good start, but if you have an underlying dental problem such as tartar buildup – a hard, crusty deposit that stains your teeth and traps bacteria – you may struggle with bad breath despite taking good care of your mouth. Scaling, which is a technique dentists use to remove tartar buildup from along the gum line, is necessary to freshen your breath and restore your confidence.

    Improve Your Overall Health

    Your mouth affects the rest of your body more than you probably realize. It sounds odd, but regular teeth cleaning visits can help lower your risk of heart attack and stroke . This is because the chronic inflammation associated with gum disease can lead to hardened arteries, which can, in turn, cause a heart attack or stroke. Many other seemingly unrelated medical conditions, from kidney disease to diabetes, can be detected in their early stages simply by visiting the dentist.

    Save Money on Restorative Dentistry

    One of the biggest reasons people skip routine teeth cleanings is to save money. However, the cost to clean and polish your teeth is far less than the restorative dentistry required to fill a cavity or treat periodontal disease. As it turns out, a bit of preventive care helps you avoid unpleasant and potentially costly problems in the future.

    If it’s time for your next teeth cleaning appointment, or you have other dental needs, please contact Zen Dental Center at 206-324-1100.

  • 5 Signs a Toothache Is More than a Toothache

    An oral health guide from our Capitol Hill, WA, dental professionals

    Toothaches are no fun for anyone. Not only can the pain be difficult to endure, but it can also signify more serious dental issues. Having a hard time pinpointing your type of pain? Concerned you might be suffering from something more serious? This comprehensive guide from our team at Zen Dental will help you understand your tooth pain symptoms and determine if your toothache signifies a more serious underlying dental complication. Read on to learn about the 5 most important signs a toothache is more than a toothache, and give us a call at (206) 324-1100 to schedule an appointment with our dental professionals today!

    Sharp tooth sensitivity

    This type of tooth pain is only felt when your teeth are exposed to temperature changes, such as eating cold foods or drinking a warm beverage. In the more severe instances, exposure to cold air can even cause symptoms to flare up. The sensation feels like a stabbing pain and can typically mean a cavity or an abscess, but can also be a result of gum recession or brushing your teeth too harshly.

    Sporadic jabbing pains

    If you notice your toothache is less of an ache and feels more like random stabbing pains within one or several teeth, this is usually a telltale sign your pain is due to more than a minor toothache. This pain is usually felt in response to a stimulus or action, such as opening your mouth, eating cold foods, and other activities. The sensation comes and goes, but when it occurs, it is very painful. Almost always an indication of something more than a simple toothache, this type of pain is typically caused by a cavity, crack, or abscess of the teeth.

    Pain when eating

    In cases where you feel pain in your teeth only when you are eating, you most likely are suffering from either a dental fracture or tooth decay. This pain can be subdued by over-the-counter medication, but you do not want to wait too long to see a dental professional, as a damaged tooth will only get worse over time without the help of a professional. Schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to determine the cause of the pain and treat your tooth.

    Dull tooth pain

    Dull pain can be described as a radiating or throbbing sensation in your tooth and the surrounding area, and can range from mild to extreme in severity. Dull toothaches are typically caused by cavities or, in more serious cases, gum disease. This type of pain can make everyday functions like chewing a lot more difficult.

    Pain felt at the back of the jaw

    Feeling pain at the back of your mouth is not as typical as other kinds of toothaches, because it likely indicates you have an impacted wisdom tooth, which is a very common situation. An impacted wisdom tooth means your tooth has been blocked in trying to push through your gums and into your mouth. When your tooth becomes impacted, the gum on top of it can become infected and lead to serious health issues if left untreated. If you are experiencing this type of pain, it is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist right away.

    Suffering from a toothache? Call our dental team today!

  • Why You Should Visit Your Hygienist Twice a Year

    A guide from our Capitol Hill, WA, family dentistry professionals

    We all know dental care is good for us, but a lot of us find it hard to make time to schedule appointments. Although a busy schedule makes it more difficult to get into the dental office, having regular dental check-ups is extremely important not only for your health, but for disease prevention. According to the National Dental Association, it is necessary to visit your dentist at least twice a year. Through this informative article, our team at Zen Dental will walk you through the importance of biannual dental appointments and why they are necessary for maintain excellent overall oral health. If you want to learn more or would like to schedule an appointment, give us a call at (206) 324-1100 today!

    Preventive treatment

    Biannual dental appointments are ideal for preventing any unnecessary dental complications and keeping your dental health in check. During your appointment, your hygienist will conduct normal teeth cleaning and check everything from your teeth and gums to your jaw to identify any warning signs or health concerns. Your hygienist will take care of plague and tartar buildup to prevent gum disease and cavities from developing in your mouth. If it has been a while since your last appointment or if you are a new patient, X-rays may be required to ensure there are no issues with your teeth and jaw.

    Serious dental complications

    Visiting your dentist once every six months is crucial to your overall health — especially if you are at particular risk for serious dental health complications. Oral hygiene is not only important for your teeth and gums, but also has a significant impact on the rest of your body. Not only do regular dental checkups ensure your teeth stay plaque- and cavity-free, they also are critical to preventing and catching more serious dental issues, like gum disease or oral cancer. Studies show three out of four adults are affected by gum disease at some point throughout their life. With the chance of disease and other serious dental issues being so high, regular dentist visits are crucial to keeping your oral health up to date, and giving you the care you need should serious complications arise.

    Creating healthy dental habits

    In addition to keeping your mouth healthy and clean, regular dental appointments help you establish effective home hygiene routines to maintain your dental health. From regular flossing and mouthwash usage to recommended toothbrush changes and suggested brushing time, your dentist is there to help you develop effective and preventive personal dental care for your at-home routine.

    To schedule your biannual dental appointment, call (206) 324-1100 today!

  • A Guide to Understanding Family Dentistry

    Helpful information from our Capitol Hill, WA, dentistry team

    As a parent, you may find yourself feeling constantly busy scheduling appointments for everyone in your family. From choosing individual dental specialists for each family member to commuting back and forth between appointments, providing individual dental care for everyone can seem like more trouble than it’s worth. Family dentistry is the perfect solution to your woes. Through family dental groups , your family will be given expert care from dentists who are trained in oral health and dental hygiene for patients at every stage of life. In this comprehensive guide, our family dentistry team here at Zen Dental Center explains the many benefits of family dentistry and how to find a family dentist that is right for you and your family. Continue on to find learn more about family dentistry, and contact our Capitol Hill, WA, family dental center at (206) 324-1100 to schedule an appointment with our team today!

    What is family dentistry?

    Family dentistry is branch of dentistry that focuses on comprehensive dental care for the whole family. Children and adults have very different dental needs, and finding a professional who can address both age groups allows you and your family to share an expert dentist you all can trust. Similar to general dentistry, family dentistry involves the care and specialization of oral hygiene and the health of your teeth. What sets family dentists apart from general dentists is their unique ability to cater to both pediatric care and adult dental care at the same office. Another bonus is your children won’t have to switch to a new dentist when they get older, making it easier to keep them with a professional who is already familiar with their medical history.

    What to look for when choosing a family dentist

    When searching for a dental office for your family, you need to make sure you are working with not only a practitioner you can trust, but also one who suits all your family needs. When you schedule your consultation with your prospective dental professionals, be sure to ask about the services they provide, and take a tour of their office to get a good idea of the facilities. It is also important to check with your insurance carrier and the dental group to confirm coverage for certain treatments and services. The best way to do this is to plan ahead of time, making sure you find a family dentist who not only matches your preferences, but works with your insurance plan. Another resource to consider would be the American Dental Association (ADA) Mouth Healthy site, which can help you find a family dental group specific to your needs, desired services, and insurance terms, and located in your area.

    Want to learn more about family dentistry? Call us today!

  • Different Causes of Toothaches

    Pain is not a natural state for your body to be in. However, you have somehow become accustomed to your teeth hurting every time you take a bite of food or drink something cold by chalking it up to having sensitive teeth. So, you switch toothpastes and start eating and drinking everything at room temperature.

    But that may only be a temporary fix for a much larger problem. Sometimes, a toothache is more than just temporary tooth pain. Here are several possible causes of toothaches that should be addressed by an emergency dentist right away.

    Tooth decay

    Tooth decay is the most common cause of a toothache. When you eat carbohydrates like bread or candy, the bacteria in your mouth turns them into acids. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and your saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to teeth and starts dissolving the outer coating (enamel). Cavities form when tooth decay has created a hole in the enamel, which exposes the inner layer of dentin and can potentially reach down into the sensitive, nerve-filled pulp.

    Abscessed tooth

    If tooth decay is severe enough, it may lead to an abscess, a painful infection at the root of the tooth or between the gum and the tooth. Symptoms of an abscessed tooth include fever, bad breath, pain when chewing, red or swollen gums, or an open sore on the side of the gum. The toothache may stop if the root of the tooth dies, but the infection may continue to destroy the underlying tissue.

    Fractured or broken tooth

    If you have a chipped or broken tooth, you may be in for some serious pain. The hard enamel and a thin layer of dentin are all that stand between bacteria and the blood vessels at the center of your tooth. If these protective coatings are fractured, it could lead to a dental infection or other health problems.

    Infected gums

    Swelling, bleeding, or redness in the gums are often indicators of gum disease. The early stage of disease (gingivitis) is relatively painless and can most often be remedied by regular brushing or flossing. However, gingivitis can lead to a serious and painful infection (periodontitis). As the disease progresses, you may start to lose gum tissue and bone, which is the leading cause for tooth loss in adults.

    Repetitive motions

    Constant gum chewing or nightly teeth grinding can also be major causes of tooth pain. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can exert so much pressure that the teeth actually fracture. Chronic grinding can not only loosen teeth or wear them down to their stumps, but affect your jaw as well by causing or worsening TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder).

    There is no need to suffer from a toothache when you can take advantage of the gentle, yet effective dental treatments at Zen Dental Center. Our state-of-the-art facility utilizes the latest diagnostic equipment and pain management techniques to ensure that you leave smiling at the end of your visit.

    Call Seattle’s best dental team at (206) 324-1100 to schedule an appointment!

  • What Can Happen to Your Teeth if You Skip Dental Appointments

    For as long as you can remember, you have been told that a visit to the dentist every six months for a routine teeth cleaning is the key to long-term oral health. However, you are unconvinced. You brush your teeth twice a day, floss after every meal, drink fluoridated water, and avoid eating sticky candies and popcorn seeds to keep your teeth in perfect health.

    So, regular checkups with the dentist are completely unnecessary, right?

    Nope, try again!

    Here are just a few things that could go wrong if you skip your dental appointments

    Cavities develop in your teeth

    Cavities are small holes in tooth enamel that are caused by tooth decay. While brushing your teeth each day helps get rid of bacteria and plaque, there will inevitably be some spots that get missed. What once started as a small cavity will continue to grow, destroying tooth enamel and exposing the sensitive, nerve-filled dentin below. Once the infection has spread, all that’s left to do is schedule a root canal and kill the tooth. A routine dental cleaning prevents this from happening by using special tools to get in between teeth, behind those hard to reach molars, and underneath the gum line to completely remove harmful plaque and bacteria.

    Gum disease sets in

    Your gums protect your teeth and help keep them firmly rooted in place. As tooth decay progresses untreated, however, more and more bacteria get underneath the gumline and invade the dental pulp. The resulting infection, known as gingivitis or periodontitis depending on severity, can spread all the way down to the tip of the root, causing inflammation, bleeding gums, and gum recession. You could end up with a tooth abscess or your teeth may start loosening in your gums and falling out altogether. If you had gone to your regular checkup, the dentist would have pointed out the early stages of gum disease, performed a thorough cleaning to minimize the damage, and recommended treatments to start you on the road to recovery.

    Missed early diagnosis of oral cancer

    The key to treating oral cancer is to catch it at the earliest possible stage. If caught early, survival rates are good, but they drop rapidly the longer the cancer is left unchecked. Early signs of oral cancer may include unexplained bleeding, lumps or rough spots inside the mouth, ulcers that don’t heal after 14 days, or even ear pain. Only a dentist would be able to recognize the signs and get you the treatment you need to ensure the best results.

    Long-term ramifications of skipping dental appointments

    •Teeth become severely stained without regular cleaning/polishing

    •Existing dental work like implants, crowns, and bridges start to fail

    •Deep root planing and scaling may be needed to save teeth

    •What Can Happen to Your Teeth if You Skip Dental Appointments Calcified deposits may change the way teeth fit together, making them crooked or crowded

    •Oral surgery may be required to reconstruct the teeth and gums

    All in all, skipping your dental appointment is a bad idea. If you want to keep your smile looking healthy and beautiful for many years to come, contact the experts at Zen Dental Center for a thorough dental exam and cleaning today!

    Don’t skip your next dental appointment! Call (206) 324-1100!

  • Are You Brushing Your Teeth the Right Way?

    Good dental hygiene is an essential step in preserving your natural teeth, and it isn’t hard to do. Your dentist will be happy to demonstrate the right technique and help you overcome any challenges you have. For instance, your dentist may recommend that you use an electric toothbrush if you have problems with dexterity or grip strength.

    When you watch this video, you’ll learn that dentists recommend brushing for at least two minutes at least twice daily. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle pressure to brush in short strokes. Remember to replace your toothbrush regularly and choose fluoride toothpaste that carries the ADA seal of approval.

    At Zen Dental Center, your health and comfort are our top priorities. Call our family dentistry practice in Seattle, WA, at (206) 324-1100 to schedule a check-up and professional cleaning .