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Posts for: May, 2017

By Kirkland Smiles Dental Care
May 25, 2017
Category: Oral Health
ArtificialSweetenersareByandLargeaSafeAlternativetoSugar

Refined sugar is a prime food source for disease-causing oral bacteria. As bacteria consume sugar they produce high levels of acid that over time can erode enamel and leave a tooth vulnerable for decay.

The solution to stopping this vicious process is simple: cut back on eating refined sugar. The reality, though, is a bit more complicated. Many of us seem genetically hard-wired with a “sweet tooth,” perhaps a remnant of our early ancestors' sense that sweet foods were a safe means to obtain energy.

Food manufacturers likewise don't help with making this dietary change — the number of items with added sugar has ballooned over the last several decades. We can trace a lot of this back to the unintended consequences of past government guidelines that called for removing fat from processed foods. But this also removed flavor, so manufacturers began adding sugar (under a myriad of names) to compensate.

Sugar consumption is now a hot health topic for its suspected connection with inflammatory diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as dental health. We now have a love-hate relationship with sugar — we want to show it the door but we can't quite bring ourselves to let it go.

The situation has created a market for artificial sweeteners. The amount and types of sugar alternatives has exploded since saccharine first emerged in the early 1960s. With these increased choices, though, there have also been increased concerns over their health impact, including in the mouth.

This concern has prompted numerous research studies. The conclusion: artificial sweeteners don't adversely affect the health of most people. And, from a dental perspective, artificial sweeteners can have a positive impact on teeth and gum health because unlike refined sugar they don't promote oral bacterial growth.

In fact, one particular sweetener may be even more beneficial to your teeth: xylitol. This sweetener, which comes from a sugar alcohol that oral bacteria can't digest, is often found in chewing gums, hard candies or mints.  In effect, xylitol “starves out” bacteria to help prevent tooth decay.

From a dental perspective, replacing sugar with an artificial sweetener (especially xylitol) can be advantageous. And less sugar could mean more good news after your next dental checkup.

If you would like more information on artificial sweeteners, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Artificial Sweeteners.”


By Kirkland Smiles Dental Care
May 11, 2017
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: braces   orthodontics   invisalign  

If you have gapped, misaligned or crowded teeth, you can achieve a straighter smile without metal braces. Invisalign is an innovative invisalignalternative for straightening your smile that utilizes removable, clear trays that are practically invisible. There are no uncomfortable and unsightly metal brackets and wires. Invisalign trays can be custom made for you at Kirkland Smiles Dental Care. There, Dr. Bernard Pak, your Kirkland, WA, dentist, will create a mold of your teeth that will be used to create custom Invisalign trays just for you.

How Invisalign Works

Invisalign straightens and aligns the teeth with soft, flexible trays. One tray is placed over the top row of the teeth and another along the bottom row. The trays gently guide the teeth toward the desired position. Patients receive a new set of trays every few weeks. Each new set is slightly different from the previous one, which helps the teeth continue moving into position. The average length of time needed to straighten the teeth with Invisalign is between nine and fifteen months. While wearing Invisalign, you’ll see your Kirkland dentist every six weeks.

Advantages of Invisalign

There are several advantages to choosing Invisalign for achieving a straighter smile. Instead of the metal brackets and wires of traditional braces, Invisalign trays are soft and flexible. The trays are composed of a soft plastic material so there are no uncomfortable metal wires poking the mouth or brackets rubbing against the gums. Additionally, the trays are clear, which means they are barely noticeable. Metal braces, on the other hand, are silver and readily visible.

One of the most significant advantages of Invisalign trays is that they are removable. They can be taken out to eat, drink, brush and floss. Since they can be removed to eat and drink, there is no worry of food particles becoming trapped in the trays. With traditional metal braces, food particles are easily trapped between brackets and wires. Further, removing the trays to brush and floss makes it easier to thoroughly clean the teeth and maintain good oral health.

With Invisalign, you can achieve a straighter smile without metal braces. The many advantages of Invisalign make it an easy choice. The soft trays are comfortable and you can straighten your teeth discreetly since they are clear. To find out if Invisalign is right for you, schedule a consultation with Dr. Pak, your dentist in Kirkland, WA, by calling Kirkland Smiles Dental Care at (425) 893-9500.


By Kirkland Smiles Dental Care
May 10, 2017
Category: Oral Health
AnyTimeAnyPlaceCamNewtonsGuidetoFlossing

When is the best time to floss your teeth: Morning? Bedtime? How about: whenever and wherever the moment feels right?

For Cam Newton, award-winning NFL quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, the answer is clearly the latter. During the third quarter of the 2016 season-opener between his team and the Denver Broncos, TV cameras focused on Newton as he sat on the bench. The 2015 MVP was clearly seen stretching a string of dental floss between his index fingers and taking care of some dental hygiene business… and thereby creating a minor storm on the internet.

Inappropriate? We don't think so. As dentists, we're always happy when someone comes along to remind people how important it is to floss. And when that person has a million-dollar smile like Cam Newton's — so much the better.

Of course, there has been a lot of discussion lately about flossing. News outlets have gleefully reported that there's a lack of hard evidence at present to show that flossing is effective. But we would like to point out that, as the saying goes, “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” There are a number of reasons why health care organizations like the American Dental Association (ADA) still firmly recommend daily flossing. Here are a few:

  • It's well established that when plaque is allowed to build up on teeth, tooth decay and gum disease are bound to follow.
  • A tooth brush does a good job of cleaning most tooth surfaces, but it can't reach into spaces between teeth.
  • Cleaning between teeth (interdental cleaning) has been shown to remove plaque and food debris from these hard-to-reach spaces.
  • Dental floss isn't the only method for interdental cleaning… but it is recognized by dentists as the best way, and is an excellent method for doing this at home — or anywhere else!

Whether you use dental floss or another type of interdental cleaner is up to you. But the ADA stands by its recommendations for maintaining good oral health: Brush twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste; visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups; and clean between teeth once a day with an interdental cleaner like floss. It doesn't matter if you do it in your own home, or on the sidelines of an NFL game… as long as you do it!

If you would like more information about flossing and oral hygiene, contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.