Bellingham Dentist

Why and How You Should Fight Mouth Germs

Mouth Germs

We have been told that our mouths are one of the dirtiest places in our bodies. The thought that all sorts of microorganisms live in the mouth – good and bad ones together – can make you feel very uncomfortable. Harmful bacteria feed on the food debris – sugar, starch, etc – left on our tooth surfaces, in between teeth and even under the gum line to cause plaque, eventually. Plaque is acidic and can boar into tooth enamel to cause cavities and decay and some serious gum disease.

Fortunately, we know the answer, but it requires effort, discipline, even dedication in everybody who continues to eat and drink to survive. We might not be able to rid our mouths of all forms of inhabitants that cause harm, in fact we have to keep the good ones and some bad ones also to maintain the normal balance. So, here are some of the most acknowledged, efficacious and tested means to fight mouth germs.

Daily Healthy Habits

Regular tooth brushing is a powerful tool to combat mouth germs. Brushing twice daily at least, for at least two minutes using gentle brush strokes is recommended. All surfaces of teeth should be covered, even along the gum line and to also include the tongue surface. Toothpaste with fluoride is essential as the mineral strengthens tooth enamel against cavity formation.

Be sure to also keep your toothbrush clean as bacteria can flourish on your bristles. Clean your brush well as to not leave any small debris behind. Switch to a new toothbrush after 3 to 4 months or when you see that the bristles are worn or frayed already. Change to a new one as well after an illness. Don’t keep toothbrushes in closed containers but rather in open air to dry, as damp moisture attracts bacteria.

Daily flossing is another important way to keep your mouth clean and healthy. Flossing can help to remove plaque from places that your toothbrush can’t reach. Slide your floss in between the teeth. Also clean at the base of each tooth, removing plaque and food debris from underneath the gum line.

Are you on a healthy diet?

What you eat can also help to support a healthy mouth. Cut down on diets rich in sugar and starch as they are irresistible magnets for bacteria. Snack on fresh fruits and veggies instead. Whole grains are also healthy for teeth and gums.

Regular dentist visitations are also essential in fighting mouth germs. At least see your dentist every 6 months for oral examination and in-office teeth cleaning. You need professional cleaning regularly for plaque and tartar that you will be unable to remove by yourself. Your dentist will also check for the presence of cavities or gum disease that you won’t recognize on your own.


Does My Child Have Bad Breath?

Causes of Children’s Bad Breath

Did you notice a time you smelled your little child’s breath and it was terrible? You might suspect that it can be due to an assortment of things the child puts in his/her mouth from time to time. Nonetheless, you cannot be complacent especially when the odor is like that which you’ve never smelled before. Could it be oral hygiene? Nonetheless there can be other causes that need a different solution. Here are five surprising causes of bad breath in children and how to deal with them.

Sinus Infection

You might have your child complain about a stuffy nose or a sore throat. The child may have a sinus infection, the throat may be inflamed and a noticeable post nasal drip. Also, the child’s breath can smell really bad. This is something that tooth brushing or mouth washing cannot treat. It’s time to see the doctor and antibiotics may be prescribed.

Swollen Tonsils

If the child complains that the back of his mouth hurts or has difficulty swallowing, take a look at his tonsils. Do you see them swollen, red, inflamed, or have white spots? This could also cause bad breath. That’s because bacteria has collected in the pits of the swollen tonsils. Again, a trip to the doctor can fix the issue with a close examination and an antibiotic prescription.

Foreign Objects

Curious kids can easily get into trouble. There are times they’d like to stick in objects that fit inside their noses. It could be food, beads, beans, small toys, or other small objects. When an object gets lodged in a child’s nasal passages it can create a nasty smell. If you suspect so, then you’ll have to see the doctor who will help check your child’s nasal passages and remove the object.

Dry Mouth

Active children tend to run around and engage in tireless play. If you’ve got super active kids, be sure to always have them stay hydrated since they don’t care to remember to drink. If children play sports and they have a smelly breath, that means they don’t get enough water. Less hydrated kids will produce less saliva for washing away odor-causing bacteria. It can also lead to more cavities. Hence, lots of water.

Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

Children can have odorous breath from a range of dental issues – decay from cavities, gum disease, mouth sores and other mouth infections. You can prevent them from spreading but tooth brushing and flossing cannot heal them. It’s time to bring your child to the dentist. You will certainly be advised by the dentist that after the appropriate treatment, the oral hygiene routine must be instilled and maintained.


Children’s Oral Health

Whether if it’s bad breath, tooth aches or other dental issues, visit your Bellingham dentist to seek professional assistance and to maintain good oral health for your child and family.

Are You Brushing Your Teeth Right?

Our tooth brushing habits are deeply ingrained in childhood and have not changed much. In fact, for most of us, it’s been like that, and any new research might be ignored or be difficult to get across. If you think about who taught you how to brush your teeth, they probably have dental issues already; and those who taught them, ended up with having no teeth left.

Do you brush your teeth before or after breakfast?

The official NHS advice is to brush your teeth for about two minutes last thing at night before you go to bed and on one other occasion every day. You need to clean your teeth before breakfast. It’s about the pH levels in the mouth. When you eat breakfast and introduce acidic foods, like orange juice or sugary cereal, the acid attack leaves teeth more vulnerable for about an hour afterwards. Brushing beforehand means your teeth have that extra protection against decay before you eat.


Using an interdental brush or flossing before cleaning with a toothbrush is recommended. You clean only 60% of your teeth (the surfaces) when you brush. The remaining 40% are between your teeth, so expect bacteria to be left there. An interdental brush such as TePe will remove it. You’ll want to use a toothbrush afterwards so that bacteria doesn’t remain on the other parts of your teeth.


While toothpaste with fluoride is essential, more important is the concentration of fluoride parts per million (or ppm) which should appear on the container or box. Most brands carry it in small print on the back. 1,000 fluoride ppm is recommended for children under 3 years old. Older children and adults need between 1,350ppm and 1,500ppm. If you’re a high-risk patient, ask your dentist to prescribe you one.

One other really important advice is not to rinse your mouth out once you’re done brushing. You have to leave some amount of fluoride behind, not get rid of it entirely after applying it for two minutes. Fluoride left behind will remineralize your enamel, offering it protection and strength.

Then you forgot to brush your teeth before going to bed. You must have eaten a starchy or acidic meal and got one drink too many. Did you know that it takes 24 hours for the gum disease process to start? Hence, it’s essential to go for the toothbrush when you wake up and before breakfast. The final word is: clean with an interdental brush first, then brush with fluoride. Then spit it out but don’t rinse. We are guaranteed better oral health than the generation before us.


Disinfecting Advice for Your Toothbrush

A Clean Toothbrush For A Clean Mouth

Do you realize that your toothbrush can harbor all sorts of germs?

The bristles can be a breeding ground for germs. Your bristles are coated in water, toothpaste, food debris and mouth bacteria each time you brush your teeth. Should you have the flu or cold, you would have added the virus into your toothbrush. What should you do? You must disinfect and clean your toothbrush regularly to keep them clean and fresh. After an illness, do the same to your brush, or better, replace it with a new one. This way you can help prevent germs from spreading to the rest of your family.

What does the American Dental Association advice on toothbrush care?

You should clean your toothbrush every time you use it. Microorganisms from our mouths and the environment grow on toothbrushes after we use them. They can cause ill health so toothbrush care means to remove all toothpaste and food debris after you brush your teeth by rinsing the bristles thoroughly in clean water. When the toothbrush is clean, stand it on its handle end and make sure it’s not touching other toothbrushes to allow it to air dry. Don’t cover toothbrush bristles that won’t allow them to dry out, and definitely don’t share toothbrushes. You should also replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or earlier if the bristles are frayed or worn.

After recovering from a respiratory illness, clean and disinfect your toothbrush to help get rid of a cold or flu that you don’t want to catch again or pass around your family. Here’s a range of options for disinfecting toothbrushes that might be contaminated with flu germs:

  • Swirl the bristles in antibacterial mouthwash for 30 seconds.
  • Dissolve 2 teaspoons of baking soda in a cup of water and soak the toothbrush in the solution.
  • Dilute 1 teaspoon of 3 percent strength hydrogen peroxide in 1 cup of water and swish the toothbrush bristles in the solution before brushing.
  • Soak the bristles in vinegar overnight once per week.
  • Dissolve a denture cleansing tablet according to the instructions on the label and soak the toothbrush bristles in the solution.

Remember to not soak your toothbrush in mouthwash longer than 15 minutes. And don’t reuse any mouthwash used for cleaning. Putting your toothbrush in a microwave or dishwasher can destroy the plastic your toothbrush is made of. It can take less than a minute’s worth of effort to leave your toothbrush fresh and clean.


Essential Oral Health Habits

Easy Tips to Stay Mouth Healthy

If you are self-quarantined, here are some dentist tips to stay healthy in this time of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Is your diet healthy? Dental experts advise to avoid excessive snacking. Stress and boredom can easily enable us to overindulge – inherent in self-quarantining. Frequent snacking on starchy foods or drinks can overwhelm our teeth with acid, softening and weakening our enamel. It is also recommended to avoid non-fiber carbohydrates which behave like sugar and contribute to plaque buildup. If possible, avoid processed foods. Taking up a Paleo-type diet is commendable.

Dentists agree that good hydration is also important. Drink plenty of water to hydrate the mouth, more especially if you have dry mouth syndrome. Water washes everything down your throat and any virus present is exterminated in the acidic environment of the stomach.

Precautions to Take

To manage your stress, get rid of unhealthy habits like overindulging in smoking and drinking. Smoking impedes blood supply to your gums and increases the risk for gum infections. High exposure to alcohol can dry out your cheeks and gums. Chewing on ice, pen caps, or fingernails can cause the teeth to chip or break. Avoiding hard foods that can crack a tooth or damage fillings like popcorn, peanut brittle, and sticky candy is also encouraged. Be careful when you floss, it may pull out a filling.

Think about how long you’ve been using your toothbrush. It is recommended to change your toothbrush every 3-4 months. Toothbrushes are very sensitive for transmitting viruses.

Many times, our toothbrushes and other toiletries are just inches away from the toilet bowl. Flush with the lid closed. Floss, brushes, and tongue cleaners should be covered. Make sure to keep them clean and disinfect them.

Scientific evidence shows that the immune response is closely related to the health of your gums. During a pandemic, the goal is to optimize your immune system.


Can You Really Prevent Gingivitis?

Knowing the Key to Prevention

If proper plaque control is practiced, gingivitis can be reversed in nearly all cases. Where proper plaque control is concerned, it means daily brushing and flossing and at least twice a year professional cleanings Yes, proper oral hygiene is essential, however, there are other risk factors that can influence whether or not you get gingivitis. Some of them are beyond our control, like advancing age. Others can be managed with good commitment to oral hygiene including diabetes, tobacco use, viral and fungal infections, decreased immunity, substance abuse and poor nutrition.

Did you know that plaque forms on your teeth every single day?

The food we eat and left over in our mouths attract bacteria. They especially prefer sugar. Plaque typically forms within 24 hours, so it is extremely important to brush every day. If the plaque is left to harden, it becomes tartar, a layer of protection for bacteria. This buildup can lead to gingivitis.

The following are steps you can take to prevent gingivitis and also at the same time, treat it. Brush twice a day to remove bacterial plaque. Regular toothbrushes are good options, though studies show that in general, electric toothbrushes decrease more plaque and gingivitis than manual toothbrushes. After three months of use, plaque was reduced by 21% and gingivitis by 11%.
Use an anti-gingivitis or anti-plaque toothpaste containing fluoride to strengthen teeth and prevent bacterial damage in plaque that builds up on teeth throughout the day.

Antibacterial mouthwash after brushing helps fight plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath. A good mouthwash covers those hard-to-reach areas where bacteria can hide.

At least floss once a day to remove food particles and plaque between teeth. Do not ignore those back teeth either. Your gums may bleed for time. However, it is important to keep brushing and flossing.

Improve your diet by adding more calcium. It’s good for your bones and beneficial to gums, too. Increase your intake of essential vitamins, particularly B12.

Go to your dental appointments for professional cleaning regularly; at least once every 6 months or more frequently if you have related risk factors. It’s not just for cleanings but for checkups if there are issues you may have or are not aware about.


Preventing Gingivitis in Bellingham

For your other concerns regarding gum health, please come by Dr. Tetrick’s clinic in Bellingham. We look after gum health all the time with our expertise and tips-to-go.

Knowing the Dangers of Gingivitis

Causes, Risk Factors and Symptoms of Gingivitis

Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums. It’s mild and very common with a tendency to increase in severity as people age. However, gingivitis is most commonly seen in late adolescence. It is most often unaddressed and without disturbing symptoms, like pain. However, gums with gingivitis are red, irritated and swollen. Under the umbrella of gum diseases, gingivitis is an early stage. If it goes on untreated, it can lead to the more destructive and severe form – periodontitis – which is a major cause of tooth loss in adults.

What causes gingivitis?

It is commonly caused by plaque buildup. Plaque is an extremely sticky, colorless to pale yellow deposit of bacteria that regularly builds up on teeth if not brushed regularly. The bacteria produce acids that attack tooth enamel and can damage the gums.

Risk Factors for Gingivitis

The most common is poor oral hygiene. Habits of irregular and improper tooth brushing and flossing definitely are poor oral hygiene practices. Apart from this are certain disease conditions notably diabetes and HIV/AIDS which impede the immune system in battling inflammation and infection. Pregnancy can alter hormone levels and leave gums defenseless in fighting infections. Certain medicines can trigger gingivitis, also like oral contraceptives, steroids, anticonvulsants, calcium channel blockers, and chemotherapy. Smoking or chewing on tobacco is another risk factor. Situations like crooked teeth, broken fillings and poorly fitting dental appliances are still others. Some people are genetically prone to gum disease.

How do you know you may have gingivitis?

As mentioned, redness, swelling and irritation may be present. Bleeding and bad breath might be noted. You can easily ignore these symptoms, but remember the risk factors. You might not recognize the signs or you are worried about seeking care from a dental professional, your condition will probably get worse. Untreated gingivitis progresses to periodontitis. The gums begin to pull away from the teeth, creating small pockets where bacteria can get trapped. Bacteria in these pockets destroy the bone supporting the teeth. That’s how you can lose your teeth.


Seeking Professional Dental Care in Bellingham

If you notice any of these signs and symptoms see your Bellingham dentist right away and get a proper assessment. If these symptoms persist, talk to us to determine the best treatment.

A Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Baby Teeth

The Short Journey of Baby Teeth

Parents and young children who want to understand their teeth may find this simple guide an easy first step into the world of dentistry. It will make for easy understanding as to what happens or what to expect as your baby gets older

Firstly, when you look at a child’s mouth with a complete set of teeth, you’ll find 20 in all. You would like to refer to them as baby teeth. In dental parlance, they are called deciduous teeth, meaning they are teeth that will be shed later on. They happen to be the first set, so they are also called primary teeth.

The teeth come in sets of 4s. So from the upper arch first, starting from the front, you have 4 central incisors – two on each side of the midline. These are followed in the same order and position by 4 lateral incisors, 4 cuspids or canines, 4 first molars, and 4 second molars. What you find on the upper arch or upper jaw are the same set of teeth on the lower jaw.

When do teeth come out?

Eruption times vary from child to child. Generally, the first teeth begin to break through the gums at about 6 months. The two lower central incisors are the first. And then the top four front teeth emerge. Other teeth slowly begin to fill in, usually in pairs – one each side of the upper or lower jaw – until all 20 teeth (10 in the upper jaw and 10 in the lower) have come in by the time the child is 2 ½ to 3 years old. You’ll find the complete set of primary teeth in the mouth from the age of 2 ½ to 3 years to 6 to 7 years of age.

You will note that as a general rule of thumb, every 6 months of your baby’s life, approximately 4 teeth will erupt. Lower teeth usually erupt before upper teeth, upper and lower teeth usually erupt in pairs – one on each side of the mouth. Primary teeth are smaller and whiter than the permanent teeth that will follow. And girls generally precede boys in tooth eruption.

After your toddler is past age 4, the jaw and facial bones begin to grow, creating spaces between the primary teeth. This provides the necessary space for the larger permanent teeth to emerge. Between the ages of 6 and 12, a mixture of both primary and permanent teeth are in the mouth.

When do you expect the primary teeth to grow?

That varies again from child to child, but generally, both upper and lower central incisors fall out at 6 – 7 years old, lateral incisors at 7 – 8 years, the cuspids or canines go by 9 or 10 to 12 years of age. The first molar falls out at 9 – 11 and second molar at 10 to 12.


Counting Baby Teeth in Bellingham

Let’s help you understand and learn more about your baby’s teeth and how you can better take care of their fragile oral health.

The Dilemma of Back Teeth

Causes of Back Teeth Problems

Anybody who brushes his or her teeth knows that the posterior teeth or the teeth furthest at the back of the mouth are more difficult to reach via tooth brushing or flossing. By design, your back teeth have grooves and ridges that enable you to chew your food. The problem is, these are the same spaces that trap food. If they are not brushed well enough, the food bits are attacked by bacteria and can turn to plaque. Plaque increases risk of cavities which leads to decay and also gum disease.


The back teeth are called molars. They are the biggest and strongest teeth in the mouth. Adults have 12 molars, in four groups of three at the back of the mouth. The third, rearmost molar in each group is called a wisdom tooth. It is the last tooth to appear, breaking through the front of the gum at about the age of 20, although this varies from person to person.

The large surface area of molars have either four or five cusps each, which are elevations on the surface. Their purpose is to help grind up food. When you eat, your tongue pushes food to the back of your mouth. Then, your molars break up the food into pieces small enough for you to swallow. However, the cusps create grooves and pits on the surface area where food entrapment happens. If cleaning the back teeth is done half-heartedly food debris can build up.

Decay most often occurs in your back teeth, that includes molars and premolars. These teeth have lots of grooves, pits and crannies, and multiple roots that can collect food particles. As a result, they’re harder to keep clean than your smoother, easy-to-reach front teeth.

Though tooth decay doesn’t happen overnight. However, bacteria can convert fermenting carbohydrates (sugars in cooked, starchy foods) into plaque within 20 minutes. So clean around the back teeth with your toothbrush and dental floss every day. If you allow plaque build-up by not flossing properly over many years, bacteria and acids they produce will break down enamel. Tooth decay can progress inward and affect the pulp nerves. Progressive decay can cause pain and swelling symptoms and, in extreme cases, tooth loss.

To remove bacteria and plaque, it’s important to floss around the back teeth. If it is hard for you to reach this area, consider using a flosser, an electric flosser or a water flosser.


More Helpful Tips for Back Teeth in Bellingham

Need to know more about back teeth and how you can keep them in tip-top form? See our Bellingham dentist for an appointment soon.

Choosing Between Bridges and Dental Implants

Considerations for Missing Teeth

If you have a missing tooth, or teeth for that matter, there are a couple of options you can consider. Dental bridge or dental implant, each of which has its advantages. Both restore the function of missing teeth, as well as bring back the aesthetics of a complete set of teeth. Let’s look at what they offer, their differences, and discover which is best in addressing your unique mouth condition.

Dental Bridge versus Dental Implant

Firstly, how are they constructed? A bridge is made of a false tooth suspended between two crowns that the dentist cements onto prepared natural teeth on either side of the gap. An implant is a false tooth attached to a titanium post inserted in the jaw bone the periodontist or oral surgeon has prepared. The color of the false teeth in both appliances matches the surrounding natural teeth. However, a bridge may be slightly more noticeable because, unlike an implant, the false tooth of a bridge isn’t embedded in the gum.

When deciding between a bridge or implant, the location of the missing tooth is another important consideration. A bridge that replaces a missing tooth at the front of your mouth may not look so natural, unlike if it replaces one toward the back of the mouth. You will be able to smile with more confidence, if so. In fact, the ADA recommends implants for restoring a natural, attractive smile that looks like nothing has been replaced.

Then, unlike bridges, implants also help prevent the jaw bone from deteriorating. We know that the absence of the biting and chewing forces on the bone where a tooth once was there, will cause the inactive bone to shrink and deteriorate. With implants, the titanium post embedded into the jaw will encourage integration and bone growth that will support the false tooth. However, the false tooth in a dental bridge doesn’t contact the jaw bone, so there may be bone loss.

Time and Cost of Treatment

Another consideration is the time and the cost of treatment. If you have the budget for an implant, it might be better. However then, a bridge may take over two visits within a few weeks, but the waiting time for an implant is longer – something like three to six months for the jaw bone to integrate around the implant post. On the other hand, a dental bridge may be better for your budget. Maintenance-wise, both options should be cared for similarly. Good oral hygiene prolongs the life of both options.

Deciding What’s Best For You in Bellingham

Let us help you decide the best option for you when you come see us at Tetrick Family Dentistry. Whether you choose a bridge or implant, what counts is whether your smile is happy and confident.