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Posts for: June, 2016


For most dental procedures you’re usually back to your regular routine in no more than a day or two (or even hours) afterward. For the most part, the mouth heals rather quickly.

But there may still be a short period of discomfort after tooth extraction, gum surgery or similar invasive procedures. The good news is you will most likely have no need for strong narcotic painkillers — milder, over-the-counter pain relievers are usually sufficient to manage your discomfort.

The most common of these are known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). This group of pain relievers — which include aspirin and ibuprofen — block the release of substances in the body known as prostaglandins that stimulate inflammation that increases pain in damaged tissues. They’re much preferred for mild to moderate pain because they don’t have the side effects of steroids or narcotics like morphine or codeine. They also tend to be less costly than these other prescription drugs.

But while they’re reasonably safe, they can cause problems if you exceed the recommended dosage or use them for prolonged periods. Their blockage of certain chemicals reduces the clotting mechanism in blood leading to a blood-thinning effect. Not only will this increase bleeding, it can also damage the stomach lining and cause ulcers if used over a period of weeks. Improper dosage of NSAIDs has also been linked to miscarriages and repeat heart attacks, which is why they’re not recommended for use during pregnancy or with patients with a history of heart or intestinal problems.

But if taken as directed by your physician or dentist — usually no more than 2,400 milligrams a day and only for a few days — such side effects are quite rare. The benefit is much more common: about five hours of pain relief from a single dose for most people. With the help of ibuprofen or similar drugs, you’ll be on your feet after your dental work in no time. 

If you would like more information on managing pain after a procedure, 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 “Treating Pain with Ibuprofen.”


A few days before the Oscars, Vanity Fair magazine asked Academy Awards host Neil Patrick Harris to name his most treasured possession. Was it his Tony award statuette for best leading actor in a musical? His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? The stethoscope he wore while playing teenaged doctor Doogie Howser on TV? No, as it turns out, the 41-year-old actor’s most treasured possession is… his wisdom teeth. Yes, you read that correctly. “Oddly, I still have my four wisdom teeth,” Harris said. “I refuse to let them go or I’ll lose my wise parts.”

How odd is it for a 41-year-old to have wisdom teeth? Actually, not that odd at all. While it is true that wisdom teeth are often removed, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to this. It all depends on whether they are causing problems now, or are likely to cause problems in the future.

The trouble wisdom teeth cause is related to the fact that they are the last molars to come in, and that molars are large in size. By the time wisdom teeth appear between the ages of 17 and 21, there often is not enough room for them in the jaw. Sometimes it’s because you may have inherited a jaw size that’s too small for your tooth size; and generally speaking, the size of the human jaw has evolved to become smaller over time.

If room is lacking, the adjacent molar (that came in earlier) can interfere with the path of eruption — causing the wisdom tooth to come in at an odd angle. The wisdom tooth can hit up against that other tooth, possibly causing pain or damaging the adjacent tooth. This is known as “impaction.” Sometimes the wisdom tooth breaks only partway through the gum tissue, leaving a space beneath the gum line that’s almost impossible to clean, causing infection. A serious oral infection can jeopardize the survival of teeth, and even spread to other parts of the body.

If a wisdom tooth is impacted, will you know it? Not necessarily. A tooth can be impacted without causing pain. But we can see the position of your wisdom teeth on a dental x-ray and help you make an informed decision as to whether they should stay or go. If removal is the best course of action, rest assured that this procedure is completely routine and that your comfort and safety is our highest priority. If there is no great risk to keeping them, as Neil Patrick Harris has done, we can simply continue to monitor their condition at your regular dental checkups. It will be particularly important to make sure you are reaching those teeth with your brush and floss, and that you keep to your schedule of regular professional cleanings at the dental office. All healthy teeth are indeed worth treasuring.

If you would like more information about wisdom teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Wisdom Teeth” and “Removing Wisdom Teeth.”

The importance of a good dental hygiene routine

The dental hygiene routine you practice every day is the most important step toward maintaining your good oral health. When you have oral hygienegood oral habits, you are ensuring the health of your smile and helping your overall health. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, an unhealthy mouth has been linked to:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Diabetes

Your family dentists at Penny Creek Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Mill Creek, Washington want you to know all about how to take great care of your teeth and gums. They want you to know why good oral habits mean good oral health.

The goal of your oral hygiene program should be to thoroughly remove plaque from your teeth as often as you can. Your plaque contains millions of harmful bacteria which produce toxins that can destroy the hard and soft tissue of your mouth.

Your family dentists at Penny Creek Family & Cosmetic Dentistry want you to remember to add these simple tasks to your daily dental hygiene routine to ensure plaque removal:

  • Brush after each meal and before you go to sleep with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste; you can also use sonic or electric toothbrushes to effectively clean your teeth.
  • Floss at least once per day; using a piece of floss is best because you can wrap around tooth surfaces, ensuring you clean thoroughly in between your teeth, however, you can use tools like floss threaders or picks if they help you.
  • Fluoride rinses can also be used but be sure to not rinse or eat afterward; fluoride works best if it is allowed to remain on your teeth as long as possible.

Don’t forget to visit your family dentists at Penny Creek Family & Cosmetic Dentistry regularly. It’s best to visit every six months for a professional cleaning, and at least yearly for an exam and x-rays.

You can prevent many dental problems if you practice good oral habits; however, there are some dental issues which only your dentist can diagnose. That’s why it’s important to combine good oral habits with professional dental care. It’s time to partner with your dentists at Penny Creek Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Mill Creek, Washington. Ensure your good oral health by calling today!