Dr. Kim’s Blog
Welcome to my blog! This blog is a product of my love of dentistry. I dedicate it to all the patients I have served so that they may better understand my craft. The information here will give you and others the power to maintain and protect one of your most priceless gifts ... your SMILE. Happy reading!
How does our world view dental care? Pop culture hasn't exactly given dentists the best reputation. Think about the last dental professional you saw portrayed in a movie, book, or TV show - we're betting it was a scary, over-the-top performance. In reality, dental care should be a wonderful and comfortable part of your preventive healthcare. Dr. Kim Okamura and her staff are always looking for ways to help patients fall in love with dentistry. Read on to learn more about a few of the ways we show appreciation to our patients, and work to improve their experiences in the dental chair.
Seattle In-Office Dental Insurance
Dental insurance can be a tricky beast. Sometimes the dental plan available to you through your work insurance isn't in line with what your teeth really need. Everyone has personal dental needs, and your insurance should reflect that. For this reason, we offer in-house insurance plans that are tailored to different types of patients. Browse your options to see if one applies to you:
- Gold Level - For new patients we're welcoming into the office, this package offers 12 months of preventive dental care. After paying a one-time fee, your year's cleanings, x-rays, exams, and fluoride treatments will be covered.
- Silver Level - This plan meets the needs of patients with recurring periodontal issues. You'll need ongoing monitoring to ensure that your gums remain healthy. The silver plan is right for patients with low risk periodontal involvement, and covers tissue management.
- Bronze Level - The bronze level is for existing patients seeking simpler dental coverage. If you don't currently have access to a dental plan, this one will require just a single fee to see a year's worth of preventive care (exams and all they entail).
Thank You Program for Patient Referrals
We're so grateful when our patients bring their friends, family members, and coworkers into our dental community. When you recommend our office to someone new, we like to show our thanks. We'll send a gift card to the business of your choice in return. We appreciate all that our current patients do to help our practice grow.
Making Your Dental Treatment More Comfortable
In addition to patient-friendly programs, we strive to make treatment itself as comfortable as possible. The technology and tools used by Dr. Okamura allow her to provide superb dentistry while putting patients at ease. A few of these practices include:
- Dental sedation - Sedation dentistry soothes patients' nerves to make treatment go smoothly. Even those with dental anxiety find that sedation transforms their experiences and helps them see dental procedures in a new light.
- Digital x-rays - Digital x-rays create clear, detailed images while exposing patients to a lower amount of radiation. They have the added benefit of being more easily shared and enhanced, for explanation and coordination of treatment.
- Laser dentistry - Dental lasers are easy on tissues while getting to the root of your dental problems. Laser periodontal treatment helps cut down on your healing time and stimulate new cell growth.
- Patient-dentist communication - You should be an active part of your dental treatment. Whether providing restorative, cosmetic, or preventive care, Dr. Okamura and her staff will always keep you in the loop. We hope to provide you with the resources you need to build healthy teeth for life.
We are always accepting new patients, and would be thrilled to welcome you into our community. Ready to learn more about treatment with Dr. Okamura? Please, get in touch today! Contact us online or at (206) 362-3200.
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Being an adult doesn’t necessarily correspond with having straight teeth. Countless individuals were unable to receive orthodontic treatment as children, experienced bite shift as they aged, or recently decided they would like to change their smiles. Unfortunately, wearing braces as an adult leaves something to be desired. Invisalign treatment is a welcome alternative. The main difference between the two treatments is simple: where braces restrict activities, Invisalign strives to give you free reign. Life with Invisalign is life as usual!
Metal Braces vs. Invisalign Treatment
The factors that best encompass the differences between the two types of orthodontic treatment include:
- Fixed vs. Removable – Metal braces must be bonded to your teeth in order to function. The brackets and bands will remain on your teeth for the duration of treatment, with your orthodontist replacing the attached wires each month. You will need to alter your daily life to ensure that you take proper care of your braces. Your diet will change, and your oral hygiene will become more time-consuming and complicated. Invisalign aligners are fully removable, leaving your life as is. No need to strain to clean and floss around braces, or cut sticky and chewy foods out of your eating habits.
- Obvious vs. Subtle – The moment you open your mouth, those around you will notice your metal braces. The dark brackets and colored bands can’t help but stand out. Invisalign aligners are made of clear plastic, and designed to blend in with your teeth. Only those paying the closest attention will notice that you have anything covering your smile.
- Sharp vs. Smooth – Brackets, bands, and wires tend to poke patients’ cheeks and tongues. This can lead to the need for wax or in-office adjustments. Smooth, plastic Invisalign trays sit comfortably in your mouth. Eventually, you won’t notice them throughout the day.
- Delicate vs. Durable – Metal braces are composed of a series of delicate pieces. These must be well cared for and cleaned in order for them to remain in place and straighten successfully. Invisalign trays are not only hardier, they’re replaced every few weeks. Your orthodontia will always be in top shape.
- Professionally controlled vs. personally controlled – When wearing braces, you’re required to visit your orthodontist every four weeks for new wires and monitoring of progress. While Invisalign also requires office visits, they’re less frequent – only needed every 6 weeks – because you are able to switch to new trays on your own. This allows your work and social schedules to remain more fluid even while you’re straightening.
Seattle Invisalign Provider on the Treatment Process
Life with Invisalign is very different from life with braces, and aims to please where traditional orthodontics frustrate. That being said, there are still some Invisalign care and wear tips to keep in mind. If you follow instructions, your treatment will be over as quickly as possible. During your time in Invisalign, remember the following rules:
- Brush and floss before replacing your aligners. Oral hygiene is always important, but especially crucial during Invisalign treatment. You need to remove food particles from between your teeth before putting your aligners back in. This will help prevent cavities and gum disease. We want your post-Invisalign smile to be a healthy one.
- Keep your appointments. Don’t forget to visit our office! If you miss one of your check-ins, it may take time to reschedule and could throw your progress off track.
- Wear your aligners 20-22 hours per day. If you don’t wear your aligners long enough each day, your teeth won’t be ready for the next set. Stay on schedule to see speedy results.
Ready to get started? Contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Kim Okamura, one of Seattle's Invisalign Premier Providers.
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How Cosmetic Dentistry Improves Confidence, Capability, and Charm
A smile accomplishes much more than you think. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of dental investment, your smile is telling the world about you every day. Whether you consider your teeth to be nothing more than snacking tools or are obsessive about your whitening upkeep, your teeth play the same role in personal expression. Have you considered exactly how a beautiful smile affects your life? Possessing a smile that you find satisfying will change the way you interact with the world - and whether the world smiles back.
Your Perfect Smile and Your Confidence Level
Clothes don't make the man - the smile does. Sure, we're biased, but it's truly remarkable to consider just how much your smile communicates. Countless people cite the smile as the first thing they notice about someone - and a basis of the first impression that follows. If you don't feel comfortable with your smile, you won't show it off in the first place, depriving yourself of the positive message that a smile offers.
On the other hand, when you smile looks exactly the way you want it to, your confidence level soars. This not only prompts you to smile more freely, but affects every area of your life. A boost in self esteem makes you into a more take-charge person. You'll feel comfortable voicing your opions and moving toward what you want, achieving ultimate fulfillment. All this from pretty teeth? It sounds excessive, but it's true.
A recent New York Times blurb about awards season lends credence to this teeth-as-powerful-tools idea. Jonah Hill, a star of The Wolf of Wall Street, wore large, white false teeth to help him imitate the real-life trader he played. Now Oscar-nominated for the role, he cites the prosthetic teeth as an aid in his performance. Your smile can drive you in so many ways. While we may not all be up for Oscars, we all have the same oppportunity to make our smiles into something special.
What a Great Smile Tells Others About You
A beautiful, happy smile presents those around you with a window to your inner self. The smile is the simplest way to show genuine emotion. When others see you smiling, they're more likely to feel comfortable with you and value the interaction. Moreover, a gorgeous smile communicates health and personal capability.
How Smiling Improves Your Life
The mere act of smiling can have remarkable effects on your daily life. Consider the way flashing a grin enhances the following:
- Mood - While the old adage that smiling makes you feel happier may seem like a myth, there's actually research that supports it. Smiling and avoiding frowning will make you feel better (and prevent forehead lines to boot).
- Social skills - Entering a party or any kind of social setting with a smile on your face will smooth your interactions and make you feel more comfortable. People will gravitate towards your friendly expression.
- Professional performance - The confidence and capability that a beautiful smile lends your entire self will help you improve your work performance. You'll feel at home being the center of attention and taking the lead on projects.
Still Seeking A Satisfying Grin?
Dr. Kim Okamura and our team will work with you on an individual basis to determine the treatment that suits your aesthetic goals. Your final smile will not only make you happy, but leave a lasting impression on those with whom you share it. Get in touch with our practice to begin discussing cosmetic dentistry. Don't spend another day with teeth that don't truly represent you.
While nutrition is most important during tooth formation, it remains a quintessential part of your oral health. Your teeth draw the nutrients they need from the foods and drinks you choose to put into your body. Are you making the right choices? It can be tough to keep everything you’re “supposed to” be eating in mind. Fortunately, many of the nutrient-rich foods that are so beneficial for teeth are also great for the rest of your body. Read on for some healthy produce and proteins that you’ll have no problem incorporating with your diet.
Nutrient-Rich Foods Great for Teeth
- Dairy products, for Calcium – Calcium is incredibly important for your teeth, as it helps to strengthen and rebuild the dentin. Dairy products of all kinds will provide calcium – make sure to drink plenty of milk, and eat yogurt and cheese (both of which also help to neutralize the mouth’s pH and help prevent acidic damage).
- Milk, egg yolks, fatty fish for Vitamin D – Vitamin D helps keep phosphorous and calcium in the bloodstream, which supports strong teeth. Many brands of milk are vitamin D-fortified, and eggs yolks and fatty fish (like salmon, tuna, and sardines) are also good sources.
- Broccoli, spinach, and peppers for Vitamin C – A healthy immune system helps prevent gum inflammation and unhealthy bacterial growth. We know that the common vitamin C-affiliated food is citrus, but citrus fruit is acidic and can cause enamel wear. Indulge in oranges and juice occasionally, and choose leafy greens, bell peppers, broccoli, and strawberries for your Vitamin C.
- Liver, leafy greens, orange produce for Vitamin A - Vitamin A helps to heal gum infections and prevent periodontal disease. Carrots, sweet potatoes, and other types of produce are A-rich.
- Nuts, seeds, legumes for Magnesium – Magnesium helps maintain a balance of calcium and phosphorous in the teeth so there isn’t a deficiency. Non-meat sources of protein are usually high in magnesium – try to eat nuts, seeds, and beans.
Diet and Your Oral Health
If you'd like to discuss your personal oral health as it relates to your diet, we'd love to have that conversation. Simply get in touch!
There are concerns about the safety of standard x-rays. But x-raying is an indispensible part of diagnosing and treating disease. How can we keep our patients' best interests at heart without compromising our evalution of their health? Digital x-rays are one tool that allow us to do so. These diagnostic tools offer even clearer, easier-to-read results than traditional x-rays without the same potential harm.
Why Are X-Rays Important?
X-rays are our primary diagnostic tool in determining oral disease. There's only so much visible to the naked eye, and subtle signs of oncoming problems won't be noticeable without x-ray imaging. The problem with x-rays has long been the amount of radiation patients are exposed to during the process. Digital x-rays address this as just one of their aims, and go on to improve many other aspects of x-raying.
Why Dr. Okamura Uses Digital X-Rays
- Lowered radiation - Digital x-rays require less patient exposure to radiation. This allows patients to have x-rays taken more frequently, offers patients long-term health benefits, and takes some stress out of the diagnostic process.
- Immediate availability - Traditional x-rays need to be developed before the images are available. Digital x-rays are immediately available to Dr. Okamura, streamlining your treatment planning.
- Lack of a physical file - Standard x-rays must be stored physically, adding to office paperwork and consuming resources. Digital files are more securely stored and do not take up space or film.
- Easy sharing and enhancement - Digital x-rays are more accessible to both patients and other dental professionals who may be involved in complex treatment cases. We can easily enhance areas of the x-rays to illustrate points of treatment to patients, and this simplifies the planning process. We're also able to digitally send images for referrals and insurance claims.
Ready for your first digital x-ray experience? You'll appreciate the improved dentist-patient communication and the simplified treatment planning, and your body will appreciate the lowered radiation. Contact us at (206) 362-3200 to learn more!
A cavity or a case of gingivitis impacts more than just your mouth. There's an undeniable link between your oral health and the state of your entire body. Superb oral health will not only support your teeth for many years to come - it can also improve your systemic health. At the same time, health problems present elsewhere in the body often manifest early on in your mouth - giving us clues as to the coming problems. This blog post explores the link between your teeth and gums, and other parts of your body. By learning more about oral signs of systemic disease (and oral complications resulting from systemic problems), you can take action before your health begins to suffer. The mouth is a clearer window to the body than you may expect!
Health Problems and Their Oral Signs
A number of systemic diseases take a toll on the mouth - often before symptoms occur elsewhere in the body. This is just one more reason why you should take pains to schedule regular dental exams. If you're in a higher risk category, your exams may need to be more frequent than those of other patients. Check with your physician and with Dr. Okamura to learn more about how often you should visit our office. Diabetes, oral cancer, heart disease, and even respiratory disease will display oral symptoms.
Systemic Disease and Its Effects on the Mouth
Some diseases will put you at a higher risk of decay or periodontal disease. Diabetes is an especially dangerous offender. Your body isn't able to fight off bacteria as effectively, and your gums are more likely to become inflamed and infected. Our comprehensive periodontal treatment and monitoring program will help us keep your gums healthy and strong.
Please get in touch with any questions! Your oral (and whole body) health is so important to us - and prevention is always key.
With the end of the year coming to a close, we're taking a look back on what our website has offered. Dr. Okamura and our staff hope to use this site as a communication point between our practice and our patients. Below, we've listed a few of the blog posts that we thought brought something special to our site content. Read on for a rundown of what we had to say in 2013!
Most patients are aware of the longer-standing use of Botox as an aesthetic aid. But its muscle-relaxing qualities also make it right for soothing chronic pain. Whether you're clenching your jaw, suffering from a TMJ disorder, or even experiencing myofascial pain, Botox could bring relief.
Dentures oncec meant putting up with the discomfort of ill-fitting dental restorations. Our modern era has provided the tools, materials, and techniques necessary to create and fit dentures that look and feel natural. This post elaborates.
Laser periodontal treatment is our way of returning your gums to health - as quickly and comfortably as possible. A soft tissue laser accompanies traditional scaling and root planing to ensure that disease is thoroughly, effectively addressed. Lasers can even help regenerate tissue growth to repair your smile.
Once you've whitened your teeth, you're interested in maintaining your fresh, new smile. With some tips for home care, you'll be able to do just that. Visit this post for more information!
Paying for the dental work you need shouldn't be a trial. Dr. Okamura offers in-office insurance plans and financing to make the payment process simple. Peruse the details of available plans to decide what's right for you.
If anything on our blog our services pages has intrigued you, we hope that you'll get in touch with us to learn more!
Pregnancy affects every part of your body. While taking great care of your teeth while pregnant may not seem like a priority, it's vital that you give your teeth and gums special treatment to avoid dental problems. Healthy teeth, disease-free gums, and proper tooth-friendly nutrition will help build your baby's strong teeth and bones, and ensure a smoother delivery. Surprised by the strong pregnancy and oral care connection? Read on to learn why it exists, and bone up on a few specific practices to embrace during this special time.
Oral Hygiene & Diet During Your Pregnancy
Gingivitis during pregnancy is an incredibly common occurrence (in fact, about half of all pregnant woman experience it). The hormonal increase that takes place leads to exaggerated tissue reactions to plaque and bacteria, causing the gums to swell and become tender. Gum inflammation isn't a serious problem if it's dealt with in its early stages. But if it's allowed to progress, it can lead to full-blown gum disease - and more significant issues that affect you and your baby. Soothe your gums and prevent disease by engaging in preventive care:
- Visit your dentist regularly. It's likely that you'll need to visit more frequently while pregnant, so that we may monitor your gums for signs of infection. Dr. Okamura will talk to you about how often you should visit during your pregnancy.
- Floss thoroughly. Flossing is a wonderful defense against plaque at the gum line. If your gums are very sensitive, we'll help you find soft floss or a waterpik that you feel comfortable using.
- Eat right. Diet during pregnancy can be a stressful thing (so many recommendations and things to remember!). Keep nutrients like calcium, phosporous, protein, and vitamins A, C, and D in mind (and in your diet) to see strong teeth and bones - for both you and your baby.
- Snack wisely. While you may be battling cravings, it's important that you clean your teeth after eating and avoid overly sugary snacks. Rinse with water whenever brushing isn't possible.
Dental Resources for Your Pregnancy
Get in touch with our Seattle practice with any questions. We hope to guide you through your pregnancy while keeping your smile healthy and happy!
Dr. Kim Okamura and her team have high standards for the cosmetic treatments they provide. We're not happy with anything less than totally natural work. Your dental restorations should look and feel no different from your own teeth. Only a skilled dentist, careful personalization, and stellar materials can make this level of dental perfection possible. And porcelain dental restorations have provided us with that material. Read on to learn about why dental porcelain is so spectacular, and what you can expect from veneers and crowns once they're a part of your smile.
4 Superior Aspects of Porcelain Veneers and Porcelain Crowns
Veneers and crowns are two sides of the dental restoration coin. Both are appropriate for damaged but still structurally sound teeth, but crowns are heftier and provide more substantial restoration. Depending on your needs, we may recommend either or both. No matter the type of restoration, its porcelain material will make it stand out. Porcelain dental restorations are remarkable for their:
- Thinness. Porcelain allows restorations to be thinner while still providing great durability. This means that less tooth preparation will be necessary in order for the restoration to fit over your natural tooth. You'll enjoy less drilling, less anesthesia, and the retention of more natural tooth - all while beautifying and strengthening your smile.
- Aesthetics. Natural enamel is a beautiful thing - and it can be hard to imitate. Porcelain reflects like in the way enamel does, making it impossible to distinguish. Your restorations will be matched to the shade of your surrounding teeth, and won't stick out in any way.
- Durability. Porcelain restorations have been shown to last decades with good oral care. Refrain from using your teeth as tools or grinding your teeth to help their lifespans!
- Natural feel. Dental porcelain will feel no different from your enamel, and you'll eventually forget that you have dental work in your mouth at all.
Getting Your Dental Restorations
Change your smile and your life - get in touch with our Seattle practice for a crown or veneer consultation today.