Implant Dentistry

October 11th, 2016

AIC (Advanced Dental Implant Research and Education Center) is coming to the Tacoma/Lakewood area this week and next with a Level 1 Dental Implant Training, and our very own Dr. Kevin Kim will be one of the instructors. This hands-on, four-day course will allow doctors to learn the ins and outs of implant dentistry with an emphasis on anatomic considerations, prosthetic techniques, and treatment planning. The training will culminate in a live surgery here at Dental Health Associates during which course participants will perform simple implant placement under instructor supervision. We are proud of Dr. Kim and honored to be a part of this educational opportunity. Best of luck to all those involved! For more information on AIC visit

Canine Teeth

August 27th, 2015

How many canine teeth do you have? If you have a dog, you have more than just the four in your mouth! National Dog Day was this week, so just for fun we're sharing some of the similarities between human and dog teeth.

Dog Smile

Puppies teethe just like babies. Puppies are born with their teeth just below the gums like people. Their needle-sharp puppy teeth erupt between two and three weeks. And, just like babies, puppies "teethe" and chew on anything and everything to help those puppy teeth come through.

Puppies lose their puppy teeth. A dog's puppy teeth (deciduous teeth) will fall out to make room for it's larger permanent teeth. Puppies have 28 teeth while dogs have 42 teeth. That's more teeth than humans! Human babies only have 20 teeth while adults have 32.

Dog teeth need brushing, too. Roughly 85% of dogs over 4, or 35 in human years, have some form of gum disease.  Gum disease is an infection of the gums that causes pain and discomfort. And, just like in people, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. That's why it's extremely important to care for your dog's teeth. In addition to brushing, feeding them dry food and giving them tartar-control treats will help prevent gum disease.

Dogs DON'T have cleaner mouths than humans. Your dog's tongue picks up all the germs and bacteria our hands do throughout the day. Dogs use their mouth to carry everything from their favorite toy to...other not so clean things. Just like with humans, brushing your dog's teeth also helps remove bacteria.

Dog licks are like kisses. Dogs lick each other and your for a lot of reasons. Mostly, it's a sign of affection and respect - just like a human kiss. Don't worry if your dog gives you a big, wet kiss. Dog licks can be a safer bet than kissing another person because most cavity-causing bacteria are species specific.

Info from Seattle's very own Pacific Science Center

Diabetes and Gum Disease

August 6th, 2015

Over the weekend Dr. David Stevens and his family participated in the 2013 Walk to Cure Diabetes to support a family friend who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was just 8 years old.

Diabetes affects your body’s ability to process sugar. The resulting high blood sugar can cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of your body - including your teeth. Diabetes can lower your resistance to infection and slow the healing process, so people with diabetes have a decreased ability to fight germs that invade the gums and are twice as likely to develop serious gum disease.

Gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. In the early stages, gum disease is reversible so make sure you go to the dentist immediately if you have any symptoms - whether you have diabetes or not! You can prevent gum disease by brushing twice daily, flossing daily, and going to the dentist at least every six months. Don't leave out those dental visits just because your teeth feel fine - sometimes gum disease is painless.

We are grateful for those who choose to smile despite living with diabetes - they are an inspiration!

Originally posted May 2013

The Power of Sugarless Gum

August 5th, 2015

Did you know that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay? That's because the act of chewing increases the flow of saliva in your mouth, which helps neutralize and wash away cavity-causing acids and bacteria. Look for chewing gum with the ADA Seal to be sure it can help prevent cavities.

How wise are you?

August 5th, 2015

Does Keeping your wisdom teeth really make you any wiser? Probably not, but by the time you get them in your late teens or early twenties, we sure hope you're a little wiser than when your first teeth came in! Wisdom teeth are a type of molar that is found in the very back of your mouth, and while removing them has become quite common, not everyone needs to have them removed.

Each patient's situation is unique, and your dentist will take x-rays and discuss your particular needs with you. If your dentist recommends removal of your wisdom teeth, it is best to have them removed sooner than later. As a general rule, wisdom teeth are removed in the late teens or early twenties because there is a greater chance that the teeth's roots have not fully formed and the bone surrounding the teeth is less dense. These two factors can make the extraction easier.

The condition of your mouth changes over time, so wisdom teeth that are not removed should continue to be monitored since potential for developing problems later on still exists. Visit our Dental Health Associates web page for even more wisdom {on} teeth!

What is Gingivitis?

August 1st, 2015

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth and is caused by plaque. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults.  Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it.  This is one of the reasons that seeing your dentist regularly is so important - you may be able to avoid gum disease just by seeing your dentist regularly!

Here are some warning signs that can signal a problem:

  • gums that bleed easily
  • red, swollen, tender gums
  • gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • persistent bad breath or bad taste
  • permanent teeth that are loose or separating
  • any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • any change in the fit of partial dentures

If you have gingivitis, your gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by a professional cleaning at your dental office, followed by daily brushing and flossing.

Advanced gum disease can lead to the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth and it may become more severe over time. If it does, your teeth will feel loose and start moving around in your mouth. It usually gets worse slowly, but there can be periods of rapid progression.

Remember, you don't have to lose teeth to gum disease! Brush twice daily, floss daily, and make sure you visit your dentist every six months for a lifetime of healthy smiles!

Burgers and Crowns

July 30th, 2015

Crowns abound at Burger King, but this is not a promotional post. Crowns also abound in our dental office, which connection you've likely already made. But burgers? How does that fit into the dental realm?

Consider for a moment that you are in the mood for a hamburger. You have several options available to you. If you went to Burger King and asked for a cheeseburger you would get this:

This would set you back about $1 here in Lakewood, Washington.

If you went to Red Robin and asked for a cheeseburger, you would get this:

This would cost $9.79 (and comes with unlimited fries). Would you complain that it costs more, or would you accept the fact that the higher price is for an item of better quality and would satisfy you longer? Of course this is an extreme comparison to make a point. The fact is, you get what you pay for when it comes to burgers...and teeth.

Some people would argue that you can get a crown elsewhere for less money than at our office. Just as not all hamburgers are created equally, not all crowns are created equally. At Dental Health Associates, we have high standards of quality in the care we provide and the materials we use. We never compromise in the materials, lab, or workmanship of the crown just so we can offer a lower price (though we do try to keep our prices low)! This enables us to provide excellent fit, comfort, and longevity of crowns for our patients.

Unfortunately that means that we can't charge Burger King prices for the work we perform. We understand that with the current state of the economy many of our patients are on tight budgets or a fixed income. We provide different treatment options that fall within any budget, and offer financing when needed. To schedule an appointment, give us a call or schedule an appointment online so we can keep your smile looking its best!

How to Brush Your Teeth...In Space

July 29th, 2015

NASA logo.svg

On this day in 1958, NASA was established. Have you ever wondered how astronauts brush their teeth? Well here's a video that shows how!

Sense and Sensitivity

July 28th, 2015

No, this is not a poor spin off of Jane Austen novel. Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem, and if hot or cold foods make you wince, you don't have to read a novel-just this article! There are several causes for sensitive teeth including tooth decay (cavities), fractured teeth, worn fillings, gum disease, worn tooth enamel, and exposed tooth rooth.

Sensitive teeth can be treated. It is important to consult your dentist about your tooth pain because treatment is based on the cause of your sensitivity. Treatment options may be as simple as using a desensitizing toothpaste or more complex depending on the cause of your sensitivity. Some treatment options include the following:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste. This contains compounds that help block transmission of sensation from the tooth surface to the nerve, and usually requires several applications before the sensitivity is reduced.
  • Fluoride gel. An in-office technique which strengthens tooth enamel and reduces the transmission of sensations.
  • A crown, inlay or bonding. These may be used to correct a flaw or decay that results in sensitivity.
  • Surgical gum graft. If gum tissue has been lost from the rooth, this will protect the root and reduce sensitivity.
  • Root canal. If sensitivity is severe and persistent, and cannot be treated by other means, your dentist may recommend this treatment to eliminate the problem.

Proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing sensitive-tooth pain. Brushing and flossing daily, using fluoridated toothpaste and mouthwash, and visiting your dentist regularly are important steps in preventing sensitive teeth. Ask your dentist if you have any questions about your daily oral hygiene routine or if you have concerns about tooth sensitivity.

What is Gingivitis?

July 28th, 2015

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth and is caused by plaque. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. This is one of the reasons that seeing your dentist regularly is so important-you may be able to avoid gum disease just by seeing a dentist regularly!

Here are some warning signs that can signal a problem:

  • gums that bleed easily
  • red,swollen, tender gums
  • gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • persistent bad breath or bad taste
  • permanent teeth that are loose or separating
  • any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • any change in the fit of partial dentures

If you have gingivitis, your gums may be red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by professional cleaning at your dental office, followed by daily brushing and flossing.

Advanced gum disease can lead to the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth and it may become more severe over time. If it does, your teeth will feel loose and start moving around in your mouth. It usually gets worse slowly, but there can be periods of rapid progression.

Remember, you don't have to lose teeth to gum disease! Brush twice daily, floss daily, and make sure you visit your dentist every six months for a lifetime of healthy smiles!

Nature's Cavity Fighter

July 28th, 2015

This week on our Facebook page, we've mentioned fluoride a few times, but what is fluoride and why should you take it? Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in all water sources, including oceans, lakes and rivers. Fluoride is called "nature’s cavity fighter," because it helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay can be seen. Research also shows that fluoride strengthens your teeth.

Adults and children can get fluoride simply by using fluoridated toothpaste and drinking water. Many water supplies have fluoride added to them, but if yours doesn't you can buy fluoridated bottled water. Children may benefit from fluoride supplements if their drinking water is not fluoridated. If you aren't sure whether or not your water is fluoridated, call our office - we have a list of local areas that have it added and those that don't. Worried about the additional cost of prescription fluoride? Fluoride is relatively inexpensive, but some insurance companies consider fluoride a preventive treatment and cover it at 100% with no copay or deductible, so check it out!

Originally posted January 2013

How to Save Your Tooth

July 27th, 2015

The weather here in Lakewood this past week has definitely brought us into fall! While the weather won't typically knock out your teeth, do you know what to do if you fall and knock out a tooth? Knowing what to do if your tooth falls out in an emergency can make the difference between saving and losing your tooth!

For a knocked-out permanent or adult tooth, keep it moist at all times.  If you can, try placing the tooth back in the socket without touching the root. If that's not possible, place it in between your cheek and gums, in milk, or use a tooth preservation product that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance.  Then, get to your dentist's office right away.

For your convenience, all of our dentists are available after hours during an emergency. This helps ensure that you will receive excellent care from your dentist any time an emergency strikes!

Info from

Originally posted October 2013

How to Brush Your Teeth

July 24th, 2015

Ever wonder if you are brushing your teeth the "correct" way? Check out these illustrated step-by-step instructions from the American Dental Association to help you out! You can even print this and hang it in your bathroom for future reference.

Step 1 – Place brush at 45 degree angle to your gums

Step 2 – Move the brush gently back and forth

Step 3 – Make sure to brush the inside, outside and top of each tooth

Step 4 – Clean the inside of your top front teeth by making short up and down strokes

Step 5 – Lastly, brush your tongue to keep your breath fresh and to remove and bacteria on your tongue.

Dental Rewards Program

July 23rd, 2015

Ever wish you could be a kid again? If you've ever seen the rewards we give to kids in our no cavity club and wished you could get a gift card too, I have good news! You can earn $25 gift card to your favorite restaurant, Nordstroms, Home Depot and many more of your favorite places.

All you have to do is refer a friend or family member who doesn't live with you. When they come in for their appointment, just have them put your name down as the person who referred them and you'll get a $25 gift card!


July 23rd, 2015

Seahawks green and blue have been surfacing all over our office this football season! Before game days we've been wearing our Seahawks gear. Kate, Raychel, and Kim are posing in front of an amazing work of art created by one of our patients.

During games we've noticed a flash of bright green from an unusual place on the field...the mouth! That's right, some of those Seahawks have been sporting bright green mouthguards.
Imagine what it would be like if you suddenly lost one or two of your front teeth. Smiling, talking, eating—everything would suddenly be affected. When it comes to protecting your mouth, a mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear that should be part of your standard equipment from an early age. In fact, studies show that athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth if they’re not wearing a mouthguard.
Mouthguards, also called mouth protectors, help cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to your lips, tongue, face or jaw. They typically cover the upper teeth and are a great way to protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining.
There are three types of mouthguards:

  • Custom-fitted. These are made by your dentist for you personally. They are more expensive than the other versions, but because they are customized, they usually offer the best comfort and protection.If you'd like to sport your school colors or favorite team colors, our office can customize your mouthguard in a variety of colors!
  • Stock. These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.
  • Boil and bite. These mouth protectors can be bought at many sporting goods stores and drugstores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They are first softened in water (boiled), then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth. These are bigger and more bulky than custom mouthguards, and often come in many different color assortments.

The best mouthguard is one that has been custom made for your mouth by your dentist. However, if you can’t afford a custom-fitted mouthguard, you should still wear a stock mouthguard or a boil-and-bite mouthguard. If you wear braces or another fixed dental appliance on your lower jaw, your dentist may suggest a mouth protector for these teeth as well.

Originally published February 2014.
This information was adapted from the American Dental Association's For more information on mouthguards, including tips on taking care of them, visit their website.

Dental Sealants

July 21st, 2015

Dental sealants are a great way to help stop cavities before they they start!  Brushing and flossing help remove food and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth, but toothbrush bristles can't reach all the way into the depressions and grooves. Sealants protect these areas by "sealing out" plaque and food, and as long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay. Sealants are painless and easy for your dentist to apply. The sealant is painted onto the teeth and hardens, acting as a barrier to protect the enamel from plaque and acids.  Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing  and may last several years before they need to be reapplied.

While sealants help prevent cavities, you should still brush twice a day, floss daily, and continue to see your dentist regularly. At your regular dental visits, your dentist will check your teeth to see if you need another sealant application.

Ask your dentist if sealants would be a benefit to you. In the meantime, happy brushing!

How to Floss

July 20th, 2015

If you're not used to flossing, you may feel discomfort when you first start, but don't give up! With daily brushing and flossing, that discomfort should ease within a week or two. If your pain persists, talk to your dentist. Here are some tips on flossing:

For more information on flossing, visit the American Dental Association.

How to Store Your Toothbrush

July 17th, 2015

In addition to brushing your teeth twice a day, The American Dental Association has some recommendations for storing your toothbrush and keeping it clean.

You should rinse your toothbrush with tap water after brushing to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris. Store the brush in an upright position if possible and allow it to air dry until using it again. If more than one toothbrush is stored in the same location, keep the toothbrushes separate to avoid cross-contamination. Do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers. A moist environment, such as a closed container, is more conductive to the growth of microorganisms than the open air.

Here are some fun ways to store your toothbrushes!

New Toothpaste Guidelines for Kids

July 17th, 2015

How much toothpaste should you be using for your kids? To help prevent children's tooth decay, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth comes in. Caregivers should use smear of fluoride toothpaste (or an amount about the size of a grain of rice) for children younger than 3 years old and a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste for children 3 to 6 years old.

The ADA previously recommended using water to brush the teeth of children under two. They have changed their recommendation based on a review of scientific evidence. For half a century, the ADA has recommended that patients use fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities, and review scientific of scientific research shows that this holds true for all ages. The new guidance is intended to provide children with the full benefit of cavity protection while limiting their risk of developing fluorosis, which is a mild discoloration of teeth usually appearing as faint lines. Children should spit out toothpaste as soon as they are old enough to do so.

To fully prevent tooth decay, the ADA also encourages caregivers to take their child to the dentist when the first tooth appears or no later than the child's first birthday. Happy Brushing!


July 13th, 2015

Did you know that thumbucking is one of the top ten concerns of people who visit the American Dental Association's website, Thumbsucking is a natural reflex of children. Sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other objects may make babies feel secure and happy and help them learn about their world. Young children may also suck to soothe themselves and help them fall asleep.

After the permanent teeth come in, sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth. Some aggressive thumbsuckers may develop problems with their baby teeth so be sure to go in for regular dental visits and check with your dentist if you notice changes in your child's primary teeth, or are concerned about your child's thumbsucking.


  • Praise your child for not sucking
  • Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure or needing comfort. Focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety and provide comfort to your child.
  • For an older child, involve him or her in choosing the method of stopping.
  • Your dentist can offer encouragement to your child and explain what could happen to their teeth if they do not stop sucking.

If the above tips don't work, remind the child of their habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock on the hand at night. Your dentist or pediatrician may prescribe a bitter medication to coat the thumb or the use of mouth appliance.

A Smile fit for Royalty

July 10th, 2015

If you want a smile fit for royalty, a crown may be a good option for you. Perhaps not one with jewels, but one made of porcelain.

Crowns are a cosmetic restoration used to improve your tooth's shape or to strengthen a tooth.

Crowns are "caps" cemented onto an existing tooth which fully cover the portion of your tooth above the gum line. In effect, the crown becomes your tooth's new outer surface.

Crowns are most often used for teeth that are broken, worn, or have portions destroyed by tooth decay. To learn more about crowns, visit our webpage or make an appointment to see if a crown is a good option to help improve your smile!

Root Canal

July 10th, 2015

This month marks 100 years since the opening of the Panama Canal. While the Panama Canal is integral to worldwide shipping, a root canal can be integral to your everyday comfort.

Sometimes a cavity is just too deep to be fixed and may require a root canal. Root canals are necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or diseased. The pulp contains the blood vessels and the nerves of the tooth, which run like a thread down into the root. The pulp tissue can die when it’s infected or injured. If you don't remove it, your tooth gets infected and you could lose it. During a root canal treatment, the dentist removes the pulp, and the root canal is cleaned and sealed off to protect it. Your dentist may then place a crown over the tooth to help make it stronger and protect it.

Causes of an infected pulp could include:

  • a deep cavity
  • repeated dental procedures
  • a cracked or broken tooth
  • injury to the tooth (even if there’s not a visible crack or chip)

If you continue to care for your teeth and gums with daily brushing and flossing your restored tooth could last a lifetime. However, regular checkups are necessary; a tooth without its nerve can still develop cavities or gum disease. Most of the time, a root canal is a relatively simple procedure with little or no discomfort involving one to three visits. Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile!

Originally posted August 20, 2014

Chewing Tobacco and Baseball

July 9th, 2015

It's summertime and baseball is in full swing! Many boys begin using chewing tobacco when they join baseball teams, particularly in high school. Researchers believe that boys are influenced by watching pro baseball players chew.

It is a myth that chewing tobacco is healthier than cigarettes. Half of high school boys who use chewing tobacco develop white pre-cancerous white patches in their mouth. Chewing tobacco can harm your health because it contains toxins, which can cause gum disease. Other possible oral health impacts of tobacco products include: Stained teeth and tongue; dulled sense of taste and smell; slow healing after a tooth extraction or other surgery; difficulties in correcting cosmetic dental problems; and oral cancer.

Baseball is much more fun without oral health problems. Skip the tobacco and hit a home run for your health!

Top Foods That Damage Your Teeth

July 8th, 2015

Ever wonder which foods do the most damage to your teeth? According to the American Dental Association, these are the top nine foods that damage your teeth. We also have some good alternatives if you are partial to some of these delightful yet damaging treats.

Hard Candy

Hard Candy puts your teeth in constant exposure to sugar. They can also trigger a dental emergency such as a broken or chipped tooth. Looking for a better alternative? Try chewing sugarless gum.


Ice is made of water and doesn't contain any sugar or other additives, but chewing on hard substances can damage the enamel on your teeth. There's also a risk of chipping a tooth any time you chew on hard substances. Advice? Break the habit and enjoy water in its liquid form.


Frequent exposure to acidic foods can erode enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay over time. So even though a squeeze of lemon or lime can turn a simple glass of water into a fun beverage, it's not always the best choice for your mouth. Citric fruits can also irritate mouth sores. Make sure to drink plenty of plain water!

Coffee and Tea

Frequent drinks of coffee and tea may stain your teeth. Caffeinated coffee and tea can also dry out your mouth. If you do consume, make sure to drink plenty of water and try not to add a lot of sugar.

Sticky Foods

Sticky foods are your mouth's worst nightmare! When it comes to picking healthy snacks, many people put dried fruit at the top of the list. But many dried fruits are stick and can damage your teeth since they tend to stay on the teeth longer than other types of food. If you find yourself eating dried fruits or trail mix often, make sure to rinse with water after and to brush and floss carefully.

Starchy Food

Who doesn't love the nice, satisfying cruch of a potato chip? Unfortunately potato chips are filled with starch, which tends to get trapped in your teeth.  If you choose to indulge in snacks like these, take extra care when you floss that day to remove all the food particles that lead to plaque build-up.


When you eat sugary foods or sip sugary drinks for long periods of time, plaque bacteria use that sugar to produce acids that attack your enamel (the hard surface of your tooth). Most carbonated soft drinks, including diet soda, are acidic and therefore bad for your teeth.  Caffeinated beverages, such as colas, can also dry out your mouth.  If you do consume soft drinks, try to drink alongside a cup of water.


Alcohol causes dehydration and dry mouth.  People who drink excessively may find their saliva flow is reduced over time, which can lead to tooth decay and other oral infections such as gum disease.  Heavy alcohol use also increases your risk for mouth cancer.

Sports Drinks

They sound healthy, don't they? But for many sports drinks and energy drinks, sugar is a top ingredient.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, while sports drinks can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged vigorous physical activities, in most cases they are unnecessary.  Before your next sip, check the label to make sure your drink of choice is low in sugar. Not sure? Drink water instead!

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