Johns Family Dentistry

October is National Dental Hygiene Month

October is National Dental Hygiene Month, an effort to celebrate the work dental hygienists do and to help raise awareness on the importance of good oral health. Easily, we all know that our hygiene team hear at he practice – Nicole, Megan, Heidi and Jillian are four of the best around!

This year, the awareness is focusing on four routines that can help people maintain healthy smiles: brush, floss, rinse and chew. According to, the ADA’s consumer website, the ADA recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes, with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of the brush should fit the mouth allowing you to reach all areas easily.

The proper brushing technique is to:

  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gums.
  • Gently move the brush back and forth in short (tooth-wide) strokes.
  • Brush the outer surfaces, the inner surfaces and the chewing surfaces of the teeth.
  • To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several up and down strokes.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and keep your breath fresh.

Although recent news reports have questioned its benefits of cleaning between your teeth, it is still an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums, according to The ADA recommends cleaning between your teeth once a day to remove plaque that is not removed by brushing. Plaque can eventually harden into calculus or tartar.

Because teeth alone account for less than half of the mouth, rinsing can help eliminate biofilm and bacteria that brushing and flossing cannot. Rinsing often, along with brushing and flossing, may help reduce the chance of dental decay and infection. However, avoid rinses that have alcohol in them, according to

Lastly, clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. The chewing of sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva, which washes away food and other debris, neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and provides disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth, according to

As always, feel free to ask any of the Johns Family Dentistry hygiene team for tips!

Fall into a Routine

September is here and with the arrival of the cooler crisp air and changing colors we are adjusting to getting back into the comfort of familiar routines. Bedtimes, back to school schedules, sports, all make our personal time minimal. When will you get a chance to go to the fair? It is important to take the time to stop and breathe, slow your mind down and ask yourself, “What is important now?” By doing this you will be able to establish your priorities and in return you will dine it easier to organize your responsibilities. If you take time to set yourself up for success, everything else tends to fall right into place.

Take Five              

Perform the following each morning upon rising and again in the evening before you lay your head down:

  • Take two minutes to reflect and set your priorities and goals for the day.
  • Take two minutes to schedule it – in you outlook, planner, or whatever you used to track your daily appointments. The most important step is writing it down and scheduling.
  • Take one minute to affirm it by stating your priorities and goals out loud.

Fall is a perfect time to start your healthy routine. Exercising, flossing, simply making the time for your health.

Success comes down to working towards your own best. You must remember your definition of success is up to you.

Fill the Canoe School Supply Drive 2018

For the past 6 years, Johns Family Dentistry have proudly partnered with Red Canoe Credit Union and Puyallup – Communities In Schools, to collect school supplies for all 32 schools in the Puyallup School District.  For every pound that is donated, Red Canoe Credit Union will match on the dollar!  

We believe that every child deserves the chance to start the school year with the right tools to succeed.   With the generous donations provided by our patients, together we can make this philanthropic event successful.

Please drop off your new school supplies to our office now until Thursday, August 23.  As an added bonus you will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win tickets (2) to see Toby Keith at the Washington State Fair on September 15, 2018.

The supplies that are considered high needs are the following:

  • 2-3 inch binders
  • Dividers
  • Highlighters
  • Sharpies
  • 3 Ring Pencil Pouches
  • Colored Pencils

All of us here at JFD appreciate your giving hearts and support.  Thank you!

Great Dental Ideas for a Happy 4th of July


Holidays are often the stressful times for our health and especially our teeth. We tend to feel free to temporarily forget the careful health guidelines and routines we’ve set up for our families. And why not? It’s OK to relax and take a break once in a while, especially on holidays like July 4th when we are already celebrating our freedom!

But you don’t have to totally abandon care for your teeth in order to have a good time. Here are three great ideas to keep you smiling this July 4th weekend.

Eat this not that.

While it can be tempting to go for chips or candy to snack on, try choosing options that are both fun and healthy. The patriotic parfait pictured is made with plain Greek yogurt which is a dental super food. And the berries provide just the right amount of sweetness to tame the celebration sweet tooth. Getting kids involved in making these treats is a sure-fire way to get them excited about eating healthy and can be a great activity to keep little hands busy.

Don’t forget the water (for more reasons than you think).

July 4th often means plenty of time spent outside, whether that’s watching fireworks or enjoying a family kickball game. Choose water as your number one cooler choice. It’s better for teeth than sodas and sports drinks and it helps keep you hydrated. Even more, when you’re out on a picnic and a toothbrush isn’t available, a quick rinse with water after meals can be the next best thing. Water helps rinse away food particles trapped in teeth and limits the growth of bacteria.

Travelling? Give everyone their own “tooth-care bag”.

Just because you’re away from home doesn’t mean that you have to neglect your family’s brushing routine. Be sure to pack everyone’s toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. A great way to get small kids excited about brushing while on vacation is to create their very own “tooth-care bag”. Purchase a fun new toothbrush along with travel-sized toothpaste and floss and use a zippered pencil pouch for each child. Children also enjoy using craft supplies to decorate their own tooth kit. You may be surprised when you find them excited and looking forward to brushing time.

7 Things Your Tongue Says About You….

Who knew that saying “Ahhh” could be so educational? You might think that a symptom on your tongue—such as an unusual color or texture—is no big deal, but what happens in your mouth can often be a helpful glimpse into your overall health. Sometimes symptoms that show up on your tongue can signal other health conditions, such as diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, and even scarlet fever.

White Patches
If you notice this discoloration, “first try brushing your tongue each morning and evening for a week or two to make sure it’s not an oral hygiene issue,” says Dr. Johns. If it lingers, it might be an overgrowth of candida (a.k.a. yeast or thrush). You’re at a higher risk of developing this condition if you’re on antibiotics, have diabetes, are on chemotherapy, inhale steroids to treat asthma or COPD, or have a compromised immune system. Candida is usually very treatable with an anti-fungal swish-and-spit liquid or pill. White patches could also be a sign of leukoplakia, which is often caused by tobacco or chronic alcohol use. Oral cancer can sometimes develop on or near these patches; if your doctor is concerned he’ll perform a biopsy.

A Webbed or Striped Look
An appearance like this could signal a chronic condition called oral lichen planus, which occurs when the immune system attacks cells in the mouth. Middle-aged women are most commonly affected. If you’re not experiencing pain, a doctor probably won’t treat it, but he will likely monitor your symptoms, because you might be at higher risk of developing oral cancer in those areas. If you’re experiencing pain, you might be given a drug, such as a corticosteroid, a retinoid, or an immunosuppressant.

Ridges or Indentations
Does your tongue have scalloped edges all of a sudden? These ridges may simply be due to the way your teeth press into your tongue, which often happens while you sleep. Those types of ridges are no big deal and will go away on their own, says Dr. Johns. You might also see ridges if you have a fissured tongue. What’s that? It’s a long crack down the middle of the tongue, and it’s just something you’re born with. “You can also have radiating fissures going perpendicular to the long axis,” says Dr. Johns. “It’s normal; the problem is that sometimes food can get stuck in the fissures if they’re deep enough.” So don’t forget to brush your tongue when you brush your teeth and avoid sticky foods when possible.

Seeing red? A rosy tongue can sometimes go hand-in-hand with a sore throat. “You could have scarlet fever, which is a bacterial condition that occurs in some people who have strep throat, and develop a strawberry tongue. This is usually associated with a really high fever and has to be treated with antibiotics,” says Dr. Johns. A red tongue could also be caused by atrophic glossitis (a.k.a. lost taste buds) due to a vitamin deficiency in folic acid, B12 or iron—in this case, the tongue is usually shiny. If your doc determines that’s the problem, taking supplements that contain those particular nutrients may lead to an improvement of the condition. Another possible trigger: “We often see red tongues in people who have very dry mouths,” says Dr. Johns. “The tongue can feel sensitive and tender. For that, I recommend any over-the-counter product for saliva replacement, sipping on water often, and using sugar-free lozenges.”

“Toward the back of your tongue there are taste buds that are bumpier and larger than the ones that hang out in front,” says Dr. Johns, and they’re not usually a cause for concern. “Sometimes taste buds can be temporarily inflamed and get bigger if you eat something hot.” Other common causes of bumps include canker sores and herpes (cold sores), both of which go away on their own but can be treated to speed healing and ease discomfort. For canker sores, you can use an over-the-counter ointment, avoid spicy and acidic foods, and gargle with baking soda and water. For herpes, a prescription anti-viral pill is needed. If you bite your tongue repeatedly, a lump called a fibroma could develop, which needs to be removed by a doctor. Any ulcer that sticks around and is firm could be a cancerous legion and should be biopsied. The good news is that more and more dentists are now monitoring patients’ mouths for potentially cancerous lesions.

Black and Hairy-Looking
Take a deep breath: This alarming-looking condition is actually benign. It’s sometimes associated with antibiotic use, a yeast infection, diabetes, cancer therapies, or poor oral hygiene. It happens when “the cells on your tongue grow faster than your body can shed them,” says Dr. Johns. But rest assured that this condition generally goes away on its own. And don’t worry—you don’t have to shampoo your tongue. “The tongue isn’t actually hairy. It just looks hairy,” says Dr. Johns.

Some people have a geographic tongue, which looks like a mixture of red and white spots (and sometimes like continents on a world map, hence the name). And these people will likely have it for life. “You have areas on your tongue where some taste buds have been worn down,” says Dr. Johns. “The spots might even seem to move, but it’s not anything to get concerned about. There’s no treatment for it, and it’s actually pretty common.” Some medical research has shown an association between geographic tongue and celiac disease, a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the small intestine when it ingests gluten—a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

The Link Between Medications and Cavities

You may wonder why you’re suddenly getting cavities when you haven’t had them in years. As we get older, we enter a second round of cavity prone years. One common cause of cavities in older adults is dry mouth. Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. However, it is a side-effect in more than 500 medications, including those for allergies or asthma, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, pain, anxiety or depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. This is just one reason why it’s so important to tell your dentist about any medications that you’re taking. Dr. Johns and your dental hygiene team can make recommendations to help relieve your dry mouth symptoms and prevent cavities.

Here are some common recommendations:

Use over-the-counter oral moisturizers, such as a spray or mouthwash.
Consult with your physician on whether to change the medication or dosage.
Drink more water. Carry a water bottle with you, and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. Your mouth needs constant lubrication.
Use sugar-free gum or lozenges to stimulate saliva production.
Get a humidifier to help keep moisture in the air.
Avoid foods and beverages that irritate dry mouths, like coffee, alcohol, carbonated soft drinks, and acidic fruit juices.
Dr. Johns may apply a fluoride gel or varnish to protect your teeth from cavities.

Gum Disease

Many older adults have gum, or periodontal disease, caused by the bacteria in plaque, which irritate the gums, making them swollen, red and more likely to bleed. One reason gum disease is so widespread among adults is that it’s often a painless condition until the advanced stage. If left untreated, gums can begin to pull away from the teeth and form deepened spaces called pockets where food particles and more plaque may collect. Advanced gum disease can eventually destroy the gums, bone and ligaments supporting the teeth leading to tooth loss. The good news is that with regular dental visits gum disease can be treated or prevented entirely.

Mouth Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, there are about 35,000 cases of mouth, throat and tongue cancer diagnosed each year. The average age of most people diagnosed with these cancers is 62. During dental visits, Dr. Johns will check for any signs of oral cancer. Regular dental visits are important because in the early stages oral cancer typically does not cause pain and early detection saves lives. Some symptoms you may see include open sores, white or reddish patches, and changes in the lips, tongue and lining of the mouth that lasts for more than two weeks.

Paying for Dental Care after Retirement

Many retirees don’t realize that Medicare does not cover routine dental care. Begin to plan for your dental expenses in advance of retirement so you don’t have to let your dental health suffer once you’re on a fixed income.  Johns Family Dentistry has recently introduced a voucher system in our practice that allows patients without traditional dental insurance a way to proceed with dental care at a very reasonable cost.

Do I Need to Take an Antibiotic Before a Dental Procedure?

At times physicians and dentists recommend that a patient take antibiotics before certain dental procedures. This is called “antibiotic prophylaxis.” But why do healthcare providers suggest this extra step?

We all have bacteria in our mouths, and a number of dental treatments—and even daily routines like chewing, brushing or flossing—can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream (bacteremia). For most of us, this isn’t a problem. A healthy immune system prevents these bacteria from causing any harm. There is concern, however, that for some people bacteremia can cause an infection elsewhere in the body.

Antibiotic prophylaxis is recommended for a small number of people who have specific heart conditions. The American Heart Association has guidelines identifying people who should take antibiotics prior to dental care. Learn more about them here.

Antibiotic prophylaxis guidelines have also been revised for people with orthopedic implants such as artificial joints. Learn more about why the ADA and American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons updated the recommendations and no longer recommend antibiotics for everyone with artificial joints.

Talk with Dr. Johns if you have any questions about antibiotic prophylaxis.

Caregiving for a Disabled or Elderly Loved One

You may have a parent, spouse or friend who has difficulty maintaining a healthy mouth on their own. How can you help? Two things are critical:

Help them keep their mouth clean with reminders to brush and floss daily.
Make sure they get to a dentist regularly.
These steps can prevent many problems, but tasks that once seemed so simple can become very challenging. If your loved one is having difficulty with brushing and flossing, talk to a dentist or hygienist who can provide helpful tips or a different approach. There are dentists who specialize in caring for the elderly and disabled. You can locate a specialist through the Special Care Dentistry Association’s referral directory. For those who wear dentures, pay close attention to their eating habits. If they’re having difficulty eating or are not eating as much as usual, denture problems could be the cause.

When you’re caring for someone who is confined to bed, they may have so many health problems that it’s easy to forget about oral health. However, it’s still very important because bacteria from the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs and cause pneumonia.

If you are a representative for a nursing home resident who needs dental care and is enrolled in Medicaid, there is a regulation, called an Incurred Medical Expense, that may help pay for medically necessary care as determined by a dentist. The Medicaid caseworker at the nursing facility and the dentist providing care can work together to apply the Incurred Medical Expense to pay for needed dental benefits.

What is it about April that dentists love?

Don’t be mistaken, dentists love every day of every month of the year they get to fight off the cavity creeps for their trusting patients.  But they seem to favor a couple few months that really drive home the dental health awareness message.  Now that Spring is upon us here in the upper half of our planet, April gives dentists two more oral health topics to discuss with patients, team members, blog readers, & just about anyone who is willing to listen.

April Is Oral Cancer Awareness Month.  

When it comes to identifying potential warning signs of oral cancer, dentists are often the first ones to notice any abnormalities.  Oral cancer screenings are performed during your normal six month dental checkup, which is just another in the long list of reasons to see your dentist on the regular.  April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, in addition to April 13th-19th being National Oral, Head, and Neck Cancer Awareness Week. Dentists love this opportunity to educate their patients & local communities by promoting education and awareness about how dangerous (but preventable) oral cancer can be…and they rally at the chance every time April rolls onto the calendar!



April Is National Facial Protection Month

In the United States, dentists bring the dental health message with both barrels during the month of April.  Parents, athletes, teachers, coaches, referees, umpires, athletic directors, insurance agents, school administrators, or any other participants either directly or indirectly involved with youth sports understand the need to protect our children from injury.  They all come together every April to drive home the National Facial Protection Month message.  Thanks to the Academy for Sports Dentistry, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Association of Orthodontists — and our trusted local dentists for helping spread the word.  In these days when most kids under 12 years old seem to be walking around with $800 iPhones, dentists love the opportunity they get every April to mouth-off about one of the most important pieces of protective athletic equipment – a properly fitted mouthguard.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask Dr. Johns at your appointment.


Nutrition and Your Dental Health

Did you know that March is national Nutrition month?  

Let’s talk about your oral health and nutrition.  The single most important cause of dental caries is the frequency with which sugar-containing foods and drinks are consumed. The nutritional advice offered in relation to oral health should be based on the reduction of between-meal snacking of sugary foods and drinks. The 1995 Food and Nutrition Policy guidelines for Ireland recommend that frequent consumption throughout the day of foods containing sugar should be avoided, especially by children. These guidelines further recommend that while a high energy intake is required for growth by adolescents (and this increases meal frequency), this should not be associated with frequent consumption of foods/drinks high in sugar throughout the day. The WHO recommendation is that the intake of “free sugars” – this term does not include sugars naturally present in whole fruits, vegetables and milk – should be less than 10% of total energy intake (which equates to<15-20 kg/person/year) and that frequency of intake be limited to four times or less a day.

Key Points
Frequent consumption of sugar-containing foods and drinks is the most important cause of tooth decay.
Twenty-three percent of 8-year-olds and 40% of 15-year-olds consume sweet snacks or drinks between normal meals three or more times a day10; half (48%) of all adults snack between meals, most commonly on biscuits and cakes.
More than 8 out of 10 adults (86%) consume at least three servings a day of foods high in fats and sugar. The Food Pyramid recommends that these foods are best avoided and limited to “no more than 1 serving a day maximum and ideally not everyday.”
Poor nutrition is a “shared common risk factor” for cardiovascular diseases, cancer, obesity and oral diseases.
A healthy diet for oral health should be promoted as part of general nutrition advice.
The 2002 National Oral Health Survey reported that 23% of 8-year-olds and 40% of 15-year-olds consume sweet snacks or drinks between normal meals three or more times a day.10 The 2007 Lifestyle and Nutrition Survey (SLÁN) also reported that half (48%) of all adults snack between meals, most commonly on biscuits and cakes.

So by all means, enjoy life….eat the cake, taste the chocolate, but they key is moderation.

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

Because developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental visits helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums, the American Dental Association sponsors National Children’s Dental Health Month each February.

Now in its 63rd year, this month-long national health observance brings together thousands of dedicated dental professionals, health care providers and others to promote the benefits of good oral health to children and adults, caregivers, teachers and many others.

Parents and teachers can help kids celebrate and learn more about the importance of a healthy smile. The ADA offers free downloadable information, kid-friendly oral health worksheets and games on, the ADA’s consumer website.  There are also teaching guides that adults can use at home, in the classroom or in other community-based settings. also offers a variety of tools to help consumers learn more about oral health or address their concerns, including the new ADA Dental Symptom Checker. This new tool is designed to understand what your dental symptoms may mean so that you can make informed decisions about your dental health. Dental disease can lead to difficulty eating, sleeping, paying attention in school and smiling. The ADA urges parents to make sure their children brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, eat a balanced diet and see their dentist regularly to address tooth decay in its earliest stages.

Feel free to ask Dr. Johns or one of our hygienists, Heather, Nicole and Megan any questions you may have.

How to help pediatric patients overcome obstacles to adequate home care

HELPING PATIENTS ACHIEVE THE BEST ORAL HEALTH is often challenging but even more so when it comes to our youngest patients. Young children often lack the dexterity to perform adequate brushing and flossing, and many fail to brush long enough to do a thorough job.

Today, there are numerous products on the market designed specifically for younger patients. Finding a product that appeals to a younger patient can go a long way in helping establish an oral care routine for life. It’s important that the parents buy in since they will be integral in helping their child develop oral care habits.

Due to the taste or even the texture, toothpaste is often a factor when kids fail to brush regularly. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that children under the age of three use a fluoride-containing smear of toothpaste no bigger than size of a grain of rice. (1) For children ages three to six, a pea-sized amount is sufficient. (1) Older children can use a larger amount, generally no more than small ribbon of paste. (1) Several companies make child-friendly toothpastes that are ADA-accepted.It is not uncommon for children to lack the skills to use a manual brush effectively. Children often do not brush long enough to thoroughly remove plaque. Having a parent or caregiver assist with tooth brushing can help with overcoming this. Yet school-age children who are independent may not feel they need “help,” despite their potential inadequacy at plaque removal. A child-friendly power toothbrush can be helpful for improving plaque removal in these situations. There are many choices—from rechargeable brushes to battery-operated—to fit any budget.

An important factor to consider when recommending a power brush is how to increase brushing time. Often a simple timer is not enough. Two companies make brushes that play music during brushing: the Oral-B Stages line and the Arm & Hammer Tooth Tunes line.Another way to increase brushing time is with an app. Apps can provide some incentive for kids and feedback for parents. The Oral-B line comes with the Disney Magic Timer app, and the Philips Sonicare for Kids comes with Bluetooth wireless technology that connects to an app.Most children need to clean between their teeth. Flossing is often too difficult for small hands. Unless a parent will commit to flossing the child’s teeth on a daily basis, a water flosser may be an easier and more effective alternative.

The Waterpik Water Flosser for Kids is customized for children ages six to 11. For older children, or for children whose parents want them to water floss in the shower, the Waterpik Cordless Advanced Water Flosser is fully waterproof. It comes in four fun colors. Both products have been awarded the ADA Seal of Acceptance for their safety and efficacy in removing plaque along the gumline and between teeth and for helping to prevent and reduce gingivitis. The Water Flosser is an ideal companion to toothbrushing because it can help remove plaque that might be missed during toothbrushing.Helping children develop good oral hygiene skills and habits is integral to promoting oral health for a lifetime. From toothpaste to power brushes to water flossers, there are safe, effective, and fun tools that help younger patients improve their oral health.

Questions?  Our hygienists, who are all mothers, are the professionals for you!  Ask Nicole, Heather or Megan for tips!