• Eating with Dentures

    The decision to get dentures doesn’t just improve your smile – it also opens the door to eating all your old favorites, like chewy steak, crisp corn on the cob and gooey pastries. But something unexpected might be setting you back: chewing with your dentures feels different than before, and your mouth reacts to this “foreign object” by producing more saliva.

    These problems will subside after a little while, but in the meantime, use these tips for eating with dentures so you can confidently join your friends for all-you-can-eat ribs.

    • Prepare for temporary loss of flavor: Your brain is focused on your new dentures, which can overpower the signals it receives from your taste buds about the food you’re eating. Once you get used to your dentures, your mind will turn its attention back to your taste buds, and flavors should return to normal.
    • Use caution with hot foods and drinks: New dentures can make it difficult to sense hot temperatures, so be careful not to burn your mouth on a steaming bowl of soup or cup of coffee.
    • Hold off on the steak for now: There’s no doubt you can eventually enjoy any food you want, but eat soft items for starters, such as pudding, eggs, cooked vegetables, fish and ground meat.
    • Ease into chewier foods: When you feel ready to try something like steak, cut your bites into extra small pieces to make chewing easier.
    • Divide and conquer: Separate the contents of each bite so you chew half on the right side and half on the left. This keeps the pressure even on both sides of your dentures.
    • Try denture adhesive: If your dentures don’t feel secure while eating, talk to your dentist about using adhesive. Your two primary options include paste and powder, either of which may work well for you.

    Zen Dental Center is your home for custom-fit removable dentures. This could be your best option if tooth implants aren’t right for you. Whether you need full dentures or partial dentures, we’ll outfit you with the restorative dental products you need to smile confidently and enjoy the foods you love. Our custom-fit options ensure a comfortable appliance tailored precisely for your mouth. If for some reason you ever require a denture adjustment or repair, we also provide these services at our Seattle office.

    To learn more about our restorative dentistry options, or to schedule a consultation, please contact Zen Dental Center by calling 206-324-1100 today.

  • 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.

  • Dental Issues Associated with Diabetes

    The American Diabetes Association explains that the relationship between diabetes and gum disease goes both ways. Not only are you more susceptible to gum disease if you have diabetes, but, like all infections, gum disease may cause your blood glucose levels to rise and contribute to the progression of diabetes.

    Fortunately, by learning which dental issues are associated with diabetes, you can take steps to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible despite your diagnosis.

    How Diabetes Affects Your Oral Health

    If you have sore or bleeding gums, get infections often, or have lingering bad breath, these are signs your diabetes is affecting your oral health. Some dental issues facing diabetes patients include:

    • Gum disease: Poorly controlled blood sugar puts you at risk of developing severe gum disease called periodontitis. At this advanced stage, your gums start to pull away from your teeth, leaving pockets where germs and pus accumulate. You may need gum surgery to save your teeth. If you do nothing, the infection will attack the bone, and your teeth may loosen or fall out.
    • Dry mouth: High blood sugar causes dry mouth in some patients, which worsens existing gum disease, promotes plaque buildup and leads to cavities. Untreated dry mouth can also cause soreness, ulcers and soft tissue infections.
    • Thrush: This is a yeast infection that can develop in the moist areas of the body, including the mouth. People with diabetes are more likely to develop thrush because high sugar levels lead to ideal growing conditions for yeast.

    Tips for Diabetes Patients to Decrease Dental Issues

    The trick to a healthy mouth for people with diabetes is two-fold – control your blood glucose levels and take good care of your teeth and gums. Here’s what you should do:

    • Follow suggestions from your general practitioner to keep your blood sugar under control. This step alone can relieve many of the dental issues associated with diabetes.
    • Brush your teeth morning and night.
    • Floss and rinse with antiseptic mouthwash once a day.
    • If you wear dentures, remove and clean them daily.
    • Visit the dentist for a cleaning and check-up every six months. Tell your dentist and hygienist that you have diabetes and alert them to any changes in your condition or the medications you’re taking.
    • If you smoke, quit.

    At Zen Dental Center, we care about your oral health! If you have any questions or concerns about the dental issues your diabetes might be causing, please contact Zen Dental Center at 206-324-1100 and schedule a check-up with our Seattle dentist right away.

  • What to do if You Need Emergency Dental Care While Traveling

    When you plan a vacation, you expect to have a fun time with family and friends visiting new places and making memories to last a lifetime. You don’t expect to deal with a dental emergency. If you crack a tooth or lose a filling while traveling, you may need emergency dental care .

    How to Prevent Dental Emergencies Away from Home

    It’s best if you can prevent an emergency in the first place. Here’s how:

    • Take care of dental problems before your trip: If you’ve been putting off a procedure, or it’s nearly time for your six-month exam and cleaning, see your dentist before you leave town.
    • Make wise choices on your trip: Don’t chew on ice, use your teeth as tools or do anything else that could cause dental problems.

    How to Handle a Dental Emergency Away from Home

    Even with the proper precautions, you might still need emergency dental care while traveling. To mitigate potential damage to your smile, follow these tips:

    • Get coverage: Obtain travel insurance and make sure dental treatment is included.
    • Pack emergency supplies: Bring clove oil as a natural tooth pain remedy and dental wax to relieve discomfort from broken braces. Also, have your dentist’s contact information handy in case you need advice.
    • Call around: Before an urgent situation strikes, make sure you find a dentist in the city you’re traveling to who can provide you with emergency dental care.

    Handle Dental Emergencies Wisely Until You Can Receive Treatment

    Various dental emergencies can strike when you least expect them. Here’s how to ease some of the most common tooth problems until you can receive emergency dental care.

    • Toothaches: Rinse with warm water and floss gently around the achy tooth to remove debris. If the pain doesn’t subside, see an emergency dentist.
    • Broken/cracked tooth: Rinse with warm water and apply a cold compress to your cheek. Contact a dentist for more help.
    • Knocked out tooth: Place gauze over the empty socket and bite down gently. Rinse the tooth with warm water or milk and place it back in the socket. If that’s not possible, place it in a container of milk, salt water, or saline solution. Seek emergency dental care immediately to save the tooth.
    • Lost dental filling: Stick a small piece of sugarless gum in the hole left by the filling and visit a dentist to have the filling replaced.
    • Tooth abscess: Rinse with salt water to relieve pain and schedule an emergency dentist appointment as soon as possible.

    Zen Dental Center is an emergency dentist in Seattle. Our team is happy to provide emergency dental care for our regular patients as well as those visiting the area. Whether you knocked out a tooth or are experiencing excruciating pain from a mysterious toothache, please call us at 206-324-1100 to set a same-day appointment with our emergency dentist.

  • Finding Delta Dental Dentists in Seattle

    You’re new to Delta Dental, and now you need to find an in-network dentist in the Seattle area. This is an important decision that could shape your family’s oral health for many years to come, so you must make your selection carefully. Here’s how to find a Delta Dental dentist:

    Define Your Basic Requirements

    Before you get serious about reviewing Delta Dental dentists in Seattle, decide what basic criteria are most important to you. For example:

    • Do you need the office to be in a particular location? It’s easiest to make dentist appointments a priority if the office is close to home, work or your child’s school.
    • What specialties do you need your dentist to provide? A family dentist offers treatments for patients of all ages, an important consideration for people with children.
    • Are you picky about office hours? You need a dentist who can accommodate your schedule.
    • Do you require a specific spoken language? Zen Dental Center has staff members who can speak English, Spanish and Japanese.
    • Do you need a handicap-accessible office? This is a critical consideration for anyone in a wheelchair or with other accessibility restrictions.

    Use the “Find a Dentist” Tool on the Delta Dental Website

    Once you know what you’re looking for in a Delta Dental dentist, you can begin your search. The Delta Dental website offers a handy “Find a Dentist” tool , which allows you to search for providers by name, specialty or location. This helps you narrow down the dentists who accept Delta Dental in your area.

    Interview Delta Dental Dentists in Seattle

    After you find a few candidates, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Visit each dentist’s website to find out if they meet your basic criteria. If they do, give them a call to ask more specific questions, such as:

    • What is your educational background and credentials?
    • How many years have you been in the business?
    • What special in-office technology do you offer?
    • How do you handle dental emergencies outside regular business hours?

    Visit Dentist Offices for a Tour

    If you like the answers you receive from a few potential dentists, the final step is to visit the office in person. While you’re there, assess the courtesy of staff members and pay attention to the way they treat you. A courteous, knowledgeable team reveals how your future visits will go. If possible, speak with the lead dentist as well. He or she should make you feel invited and comfortable.

    Request a tour of the office before you leave. As a staff member guides you around, evaluate the cleanliness of the exam rooms and the overall condition of the building. You should feel confident about your choice after following these steps.

    At Zen Dental Center, we accept many types of dental insurance , including Delta Dental. Call us at 206-324-1100 for additional information or to schedule an appointment.

  • Compare Your Teeth Whitening Options

    Everyone wants a brighter smile, but how do you choose between all the teeth whitening options out there? Consider your choices, listed here in order from least to most effective.

    Whitening Toothpaste

    Toothpaste contains mild abrasives that act like tiny scrubbers to remove surface stains. Whitening toothpaste features an additive such as hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, so it not only removes surface stains but also lightens the color of your teeth a few layers deep. Still, even the most effective whitening toothpaste only lightens your teeth by one shade.

    Over-the-Counter Whitening Rinses

    The purpose of all mouthwash products is to freshen your breath and fight gum disease by killing bacteria. Whitening rinses provide the added bonus of lightening your teeth. Hydrogen peroxide is a common ingredient to accomplish this. However, most manufacturers say it takes 12 weeks of daily use to see the teeth whiten just one shade, which comes as no surprise because the whitening agent is only in contact with your teeth for 60 seconds at a time.

    Over-the-Counter Whitening Strips

    Drugstore shelves are lined with over-the-counter teeth whitening solutions, including thin, flexible strips coated in peroxide-based gel. Consumers apply these strips to their teeth for 30 minutes per day or as directed on the package. After a few days, the teeth should whiten by two to three shades with results lasting for about four months.

    Over-the-Counter Whitening Trays

    This option is similar to strips, but users wear a mouthguard-style appliance filled with a peroxide bleaching agent while they sleep. Depending on the level of tooth stains and desired whitening effect, daily use may be required for up to four weeks or even longer.

    Prescription-Grade Whitening Trays

    Stronger whitening products are also available from your dentist. Zen Dental Center offers Philips Zoom NiteWhite take-home treatment consisting of 22 percent carbamide peroxide for quick, safe results.

    In-Office Teeth Whitening

    Zen Dental Center also offers Philips Zoom in-office teeth whitening , the number one patient-requested professional whitening brand available today. This solution uses advanced LED light-activated technology to whiten your teeth up to eight shades in a single 45-minute procedure!

    To enjoy the best results, choose Philips Zoom in-office teeth whitening at Zen Dental Center in Seattle. Then, maximize the effects by using Philips Zoom NiteWhite take-home whitening after your in-office treatment. These treatments can whiten your smile by a combined average of 11 shades!

    To learn more, or to schedule a teeth whitening appointment, please contact us today at 206-324-1100.

  • Benefits of Seeing a Family Dentist

    Are you tired of taking various family members to different dentist offices around Seattle? If so, it’s time to find a family dentist who can care for everyone in your family, from the youngest child to the oldest adult. Here are some of the benefits of seeing a family dentist.

    Convenience

    While you know regular dentist appointments are critical to your family’s oral health, it can be difficult to fit in visits around your kids’ soccer practices, dance classes and other extracurricular activities, not to mention your own busy work schedule.

    With a family dentist, there’s no need to set up appointments with different providers on different days – everyone can come in together and receive dental care at the same time. This convenience simplifies your family’s life.

    Extensive Service Offerings

    Most family dentists offer the basics – including teeth cleanings , dental exams, and x-rays – as well as more advanced procedures, such as dental implants , periodontal care , and root canals . The chance to take advantage of a wide range of services in one office eliminates the need to travel between providers to receive the oral care you need.

    Personal Relationship

    Choosing a family dentist gives your children the unique opportunity to see the same dentist for many years, even as they grow into adults. This facilitates a personal relationship between your family and your dentist, which helps your children feel comfortable with receiving teeth cleanings and exams instead of dreading their time in the dentist chair.

    Tracking Dental History

    For some children, jumping from a pediatric dentist to a general dentist when they turn 18 is problematic. Most people find it beneficial to stick with the same dentist into adulthood.

    Not only does this keep your child’s dental history in one place, but seeing the same family dentist as your children makes it easy to identify hereditary tooth and gum problems. This allows your dentist to provide the best possible care for your children by keeping an extra close eye on potentially problematic areas.

    Setting a Good Example

    When it comes to encouraging good behavior in your children, it’s best to lead by example. Visiting a family dentist together allows your children to see the priority you put on your own oral health.

    It’s also less frightening for young kids to watch their parents receive an oral check-up first. Then, when it’s their turn in the chair, they know Mom and Dad have just received the same treatment. This encourages good lifelong habits in your children by alleviating any fear of the dentist at a young age.

    Clearly, finding the right dentist can make all the difference in your family’s oral health. To work with a dedicated, patient-focused family dentist in Seattle, please contact Zen Dental Center at 206-324-1100.

  • Are X-Rays From Your Local Dentist Safe?

    When most people think of reasons to get an X-ray, they picture broken bones and a trip to the emergency room. But X-rays from your local dentist are far more common. Why do dentists X-ray your teeth, and is this procedure safe?

    Reasons to Have Dental X-Rays

    The purpose of a dental X-ray is to examine parts of the mouth that aren’t visible to the naked eye. People of all ages can safely receive X-rays from their local dentist. Here are the top reasons X-rays are recommended for dental patients:

    • Observe how permanent teeth are developing in a child’s mouth before they erupt through the gum line.
    • Determine if the patient has room for wisdom teeth to come through. If not, an extraction may be recommended.
    • Figure out if the patient has any extra or missing teeth that could affect their dental care.
    • Identify the presence of cavities, infections, cysts, tumors or abscesses that aren’t visible from the surface.
    • Prepare the patient for braces.

    Why Dental X-Rays are Considered Safe

    Radiation exposure is the biggest concern people have about receiving X-rays. However, the American Dental Association points out that the dose of radiation from a dental X-ray is only 2.5 percent of the total radiation patients are exposed to from receiving regular medical X-rays. The levels are so low that radiation exposure from natural sources such as soil and radon are far higher.

    How to Make Dental X-Rays as Safe as Possible

    While there is little concern that the minuscule amount of radiation from a dental X-ray could cause a patient any harm, your local dentist should still take the following precautions to minimize your exposure as much as possible:

    • Require patients to wear a leaded apron to protect the chest, abdomen, and pelvic area from radiation. Offer leaded collars for patients with thyroid conditions.
    • Train staff members to use X-ray machines safely.
    • Use the latest digital X-ray equipment, which minimizes radiation exposure compared to older technology that develops images on film.
    • Allow pregnant patients to opt out of receiving dental X-rays.

    At Zen Dental Center, we use advanced digital dental X-rays to help us see what’s going on under the surface. We highly recommend this quick, painless procedure as part of your routine dental care, but you can always opt out if you wish. To schedule your next dental exam and X-ray with a reliable local dentist, please call our Seattle office at 206-324-1100 today.

  • 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!