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When Should I See an Endodontist?

June 24th, 2020

Your teeth generally give you no reason to complain. In fact, brushing and flossing regularly for tooth and gum health, getting good check-ups, and appreciating your beautiful smile in your latest selfie are all very positive experiences. But sometimes, a tooth demands attention in a less than positive way.

When exposure to hot and cold foods causes discomfort, or your gums are swollen and tender around a tooth, or when you can’t bite down without pain, it might mean that the pulp or roots of your tooth have been injured or infected. If your regular dentist suspects there is a problem inside your tooth, he or she might recommend that you see an endodontist, like Drs. Kris Swanson, Richard Swanson, and Brad Jonnes.

“Endodontic” means “inside the tooth,” and refers to the pulp and roots within each tooth that hold tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. While all dentists receive some endodontic training in dental school, to specialize in this field, endodontists receive two or three years of additional advanced training. Here they concentrate on the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries that affect the inner tooth and its supporting tissue.

Damage to the tooth’s pulp can be the result of an injury, such as a blow to the mouth. A chip, a crack, or a deep cavity can leave an opening for infection. Whatever the cause of injury or inflammation, once the pulp and roots have been compromised, treatment needs to take place to prevent further infection, pain, and even tooth loss. Endodontists work to save injured teeth with a variety of procedures, including root canals, treatment of injuries caused by trauma, and endodontic surgeries.

If you have a compromised tooth, or if you have oral or facial pain that is difficult to find an explanation for, talk to Drs. Kris Swanson, Richard Swanson, and Brad Jonnes about specialized endodontic treatment at our Bellevue, WA office. Saving a tooth is, after all, one of the most important ways to preserve our smiles. And that’s nothing but positive!

Common Wisdom Teeth Problems

June 17th, 2020

Have you ever wondered why people have wisdom teeth? These are a third set of molars that come in behind the rest of all your other teeth, usually during early adulthood. Scientists and anthropologists believe that wisdom teeth are a result of evolution, because our ancestors needed these extra teeth to handle their primitive diets. Nowadays, the average diet consists of fewer hard-to-chew foods, which renders wisdom teeth largely superfluous.

Most people begin to experience wisdom teeth pain between the ages of 17 and 25. Our ancestors nicknamed them wisdom teeth because they appeared at a time in life when we supposedly grew wiser.

If you’ve already had your wisdom teeth removed, you know how painful they can become if they aren’t taken care of promptly. If not, watch out for discomfort in the back of your mouth and let Drs. Kris Swanson, Richard Swanson, and Brad Jonnes know right away if you think your wisdom teeth are coming in.

In some cases, people do not experience any problems or discomfort with their wisdom teeth. These patients may keep their wisdom teeth intact if there’s enough room in their jaw to fit them properly. But this is generally not the case, so wisdom teeth can cause several concerns, depending on which direction they grow.

Common problems include:

  • Damage to surrounding teeth due to the pressure from the emerging teeth
  • Infection that causes the surrounding gums to swell and become painful
  • Tooth decay due to the lack of room to clean the teeth properly
  • Impaction (when the tooth is unable to break through the skin)
  • A cyst that may damage the jaw, the surrounding teeth, and nerves

If you haven’t had your wisdom teeth removed yet, there are many symptoms to watch out for when they begin to grow. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain or stiffness in the jaw
  • Tooth irritation
  • Swelling of gum tissue
  • Crowding of other teeth
  • Spread of tooth decay or gum disease on nearby teeth

If you’ve noticed these symptoms, schedule an appointment at our Bellevue, WA office. Don’t forget: This is a common procedure that will take some time to recover from. Allow your mouth to heal, and then you’ll be able to get back to a normal routine quickly and be free from pain!

Understanding Dental Insurance Terminology

June 10th, 2020

If you have a hard time understanding your dental insurance plan, particularly the treatments and services it covers, you’re not alone. That’s why Drs. Kris Swanson, Richard Swanson, and Brad Jonnes and our team have put together a cheat sheet to help you through them.

It’s common for patients to get lost in the morass of the terms and phrases that surface when you’re dealing with a dental insurance plan. Knowing the commonly used terms can help speed up the process and enable you to get the most out of your coverage.

Common Terms

Annual Maximum: The most your policy will pay per year for care at Swanson Dental Associates. It is often divided into cost per individual or per family.

Co-payment: Typically, a small amount the patient has to pay at the time of service before receiving care, and before the insurance pays for any portion of it.

Covered Services: A list of all the treatments, services, and procedures the insurance policy will cover fully under your contract.

Deductible: An amount you must pay out of pocket each year before the insurance company will contribute for any treatments or procedures. The amount can vary according to your plan.

Diagnostic Services: A category of treatments or procedures that most insurance plans will cover before the deductible, which may mean services that occur during preventive appointments with Drs. Kris Swanson, Richard Swanson, and Brad Jonnes, including X-rays or general screenings.

Exclusions: Dental services not covered under a dental benefit program.

In-Network: An insurance company will usually cover a larger portion of the cost of the care if you see an in-network provider for treatment.

Out-of-Network: If you visit someone who is not a part of your provider’s network, the insurance company may pay for a portion of the care, but you will be responsible for a significantly larger share out of your pocket.

Lifetime Maximum: The most that an insurance plan will pay toward care for an individual or family over the entire life of the patient(s).

Limitations: A list of all the procedures the insurance policy does not cover. Coverage may limit the timing or frequency of a specific treatment or procedure, or exclude some treatments altogether.

Member/Insured/Covered Person/Beneficiary/Enrollee:  A person who is eligible to receive benefits under an insurance plan.

Premium: The regular fee charged by third-party insurers and used to fund the dental plan.

Provider: Drs. Kris Swanson, Richard Swanson, and Brad Jonnes or other oral-health specialist who provides treatment.

Waiting Period: A specified amount of time that the patient must be enrolled with an insurance plan before it will pay for certain treatments.

It’s essential to understand the various insurance options available to you. Knowing what your insurance covers can save you major costs in the future.

Drs. Kris Swanson, Richard Swanson, and Brad Jonnes and our dental staff hope this list of terms will help you understand your dental insurance plan better. Be sure to review your plan and ask any questions you may have about your policy the next time you visit our Bellevue, WA office.

Water Features

June 3rd, 2020

Heading for the beach! Hiking to the lake! Keeping cool with a tall, frosty glass of ice water in a foreign bistro, or taking a refreshing gulp from the fountain in the park! Hot weather has arrived, and water is something we’re more conscious of now than most other times of the year. Even so, water as a dental feature? Glad you asked!

  • Recreation

Whether you want to bask in the heat or escape it, heading out for a day in or on the water works. And while you’re protecting your skin with sunscreen, think about protecting your teeth and mouth as well. With one small slip, any physical water sport—water skiing, water polo, surfing—can result in damage to your teeth or jaw. Bring—and use—the mouthguard you wear for sports like basketball or biking, and make sure you have a summer of smiles ahead of you.

  • Refreshment

Summer has a beverage menu all its own. Iced coffee and iced tea, a cooler full of sodas, fresh lemonade, fruity cocktails—so many refreshing ways to beat the heat! And we would never suggest that you turn down every frosty summer temptation. But do be mindful that dark beverages like tea, coffee, and sodas can stain teeth, sugary and acidic ones are damaging to your enamel, and alcoholic drinks can be dehydrating. Water, on the other hand, is always a healthy choice. It’s helpful for keeping your mouth and teeth clean, it often contains the fluoride that helps fight cavities, it’s hydrating—and, it has no calories! Be sure to make water a significant part of your summer beverage menu, and your body will thank you for it.

  • Rinse & Restore

Water’s importance to our bodies can’t be overstated! From major organs to individual cells, we need water. And one major benefit of proper hydration is healthy saliva production. Why is that important? Saliva plays a vital role in preventing cavities. It washes away the food particles that oral bacteria feed on, reducing their ability to produce the acids that lead to enamel erosion and cavities. Saliva even helps neutralize acids already in the mouth. Finally, saliva contains important calcium, phosphate and fluoride ions which actually help restore enamel strength after it has been exposed to oral acidity.

Summer goes by all too quickly. Protect your teeth during these warm, active months with a mouthguard. And whether you spend your free time outdoors, or visiting people and places, or keeping cool at home, be mindful of dental-friendly beverage options and always stay hydrated. You’ll be ready to greet fall with a beautiful smile and healthy teeth. “Water Features”? Perhaps a better title would be “Water Power”!