What is Periodontal Disease? | 98226 Dentist

Dentist in Bellingham, WA

Periodontal disease ranges from a mild inflammation of the gum tissues to periodontitis, a major oral disease that can result in soft tissue and bone damage. Periodontitis is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the United States.  

One of the major causes of gum disease is practicing poor oral hygiene habits. Daily brushing and flossing and regular professional exams and cleanings are essential to maintaining optimal oral health. When these practices are not followed, plaque can form on the teeth and along the gumline. If this plaque is not properly removed, it may harden over time and become tartar. Once that occurs, only a dental professional can remove the tartar from teeth. 

If gum disease is not treated in a timely manner, tartar may continue to build unchecked. When this occurs, the gum disease may advance to gingivitis. In this stage, gums redden, swell, and become prone to bleeding from normal activities, such as brushing or eating. Some other common symptoms include: chronic halitosis (bad breath), sensitive teeth, and difficulty or pain with chewing. At this point, professional periodontal treatment is needed to prevent the gingivitis from advancing to periodontitis. 

When gingivitis is not treated in time, it may become periodontitis. Periodontitis is the most advanced form of periodontal disease. With periodontitis, gums begin to pull away from the teeth, creating small “pockets” along the gumline. These spaces are highly difficult to clean without professional intervention and can lead to rapid worsening in overall oral health. Without prompt and thorough treatment, bone, gums, and soft tissues may be destroyed by periodontitis. 

Some of the most common factors that contribute to periodontal disease developing include poor oral hygiene habits, diabetes, smoking, and hormonal changes in women. Some medications can cause gum tissue to grow abnormally, which can increase difficulty in proper cleaning of the teeth. People who are receiving treatment for AIDS are also at increased risk of developing periodontal disease. 

Many recent studies have found that untreated periodontal disease may negatively impact other aspects of your overall health, especially for patients with cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Periodontal disease can also increase the risk of developing certain pregnancy complications, such as low birth weight or premature birth. 

Our doctor has the training and experience to diagnose and treat every stage of periodontal disease. If you have symptoms of periodontal disease, contact our office to schedule a consultation.

Love Dentistry
Phone: (360) 752-1600
4101 Eliza Ave., Bellingham, WA 98226

Changing Your Spots: White Areas on Teeth | Dentist in 98226

Dentist in Bellingham, WA

White spots on your teeth can be irritating and affect how you feel about your smile. The good news, however, is that they are preventable and rarely cause for concern. Here are things you should know about what causes white spots, how to prevent them, and what options are available should you already have them. 

What causes white spots on teeth? 

1.       Dental Fluorosis This can happen when a child consumes or is exposed to too much fluoride during the development of their teeth. While undesirable, this is harmless and can happen before teeth even emerge. The most common cause of fluorosis in the US is the use or ingestion of too much toothpaste. 

2.       Poor Dental Hygiene – Forgetting to brush regularly can cause white spots to develop. 

3.       Braces – Wearing braces for an extended time can affect the coloration of your teeth and create white spots.  

4.       Acidic or Sugary Foods – These foods can damage your teeth as well as change the color of their enamel. Rinsing your mouth after you consuming acidic or sugary items can help negate these effects. 

How can I prevent them from appearing? 

Following a proper oral hygiene regimen is the best way to prevent white spots on teeth. Ensure your child uses the correct amount of toothpaste – children under 3 should use a smear the size of a rice grain, and children over 3 should not use more than a pea-sized amount. It is common for children to accidentally swallow or fail to spit out toothpaste, so be sure to supervise your child as they are learning. 

What are options for treatment? 

If you are already dealing with white spots, you have options. Whitening or bleaching can make the coloration of your teeth more uniform. Dental veneers can restore the entire appearance of your teeth, solving not just the problem of white spots. In some cases, topical fluoride or enamel microabrasion upon the white spots themselves can do the trick.  

Our doctor will recommend the optimal solution for treating white spots on your teeth. Contact our office for a consultation today.

Love Dentistry
Phone: (360) 752-1600
4101 Eliza Ave., Bellingham, WA 98226

Saving Your Smile During COVID-19

Dentist in Bellingham, WA

One morning this past September, I noticed something strange: my front tooth was chipped. It wasn’t an extreme chip, just a little notch in the corner, but it created a jagged edge I could feel with my tongue and that was noticeable up-close.  

I didn’t think much of the chip. I figured I’d cracked it on a popcorn kernel, or while absentmindedly chewing on a pen cap. It didn’t seem like a big deal, until I visited the dentist a few weeks later.  

I was there for a routine cleaning, but as soon as I opened my mouth, the dental hygienist asked me a question I’d never been asked before: Did I grind my teeth? 

I told her that, as far as I knew, I had never ground my teeth.  

“Have you been waking up with headaches?” she asked.  

I answered yes, because I had been waking up with headaches, but had ascribed them to the general stress of living in a pandemic in the wake of a momentous presidential election.    

“You’re probably grinding your teeth,” the hygienist said, and then showed me, with a mirror, all the places where I had ground away at my canines and molars. I was mortified, not only that I had done so much damage to my own teeth, but that I had done it without even noticing.   

Grinding, Clenching, and Mask-Mouth 

As it turns out, my story is reflective of a larger trend. Dr. Aimée Werremeyer of Love Dentistry in Bellingham has seen a huge increase in chipped and fractured teeth since the pandemic began — in fact, it’s been the number one thing people call in about. Some weeks she sees a new tooth fracture every day. She’s even seen cases of lock-jaw. The culprit? Teeth-grinding and jaw clenching, known technically as bruxism.  

“Everyone is under so much stress, we’re taking it out on our teeth and don’t even know that we’re doing it,” says Dr. Werremeyer. 

While stress is a primary cause of bruxism, additional factors also come into play. A New York Times article about the recent uptick in tooth fractures noted poor posture from at-home work stations and lack of sleep as two other contributing causes.  

Another concern among dentists is something referred to as “mask mouth.” While masks are mandatory and essential to slowing the spread of COVID-19, they also interfere with our normal mouth behavior.  

When we wear a mask, Dr. Werremeyer explains, we open our mouth wider than we normally would, in an attempt to breathe and talk better. This leads to issues with our jaw, but also mouth dryness, which causes a slew of nasty side effects.  

Saliva plays a critical role in oral health. It fights bacteria, cleanses teeth, and neutralizes acid in the mouth, thus preventing gum disease and decay. When our mouth is dry, saliva isn’t doing this work, leaving our teeth and gums vulnerable to harmful bacteria. Symptoms of mask mouth include gingivitis, tooth decay, halitosis (sour breath), receding gum lines, and bruxism. While bad in their own right, gum disease and periodontal disease can also contribute to heart disease and stroke.  

“Our mouths are connected to our whole digestive track,” Dr. Werremeyer explains. “If your mouth has yucky bacteria, that gets into your digestive system…and weakens your immune system.” 

Protecting Your Smile 

Luckily, there’s a lot one can do to maintain oral hygiene during the pandemic.   

When it comes to grinding and clenching, Dr. Werremeyer suggests buying an occlusal guard, such as a nightguard or daytime splint. You can find versions of these at your local pharmacy, or have your dentist create a custom mold. A custom-made mold from your dentist will be thinner and less likely to irritate you at night. 

While occlusal guards prevent you from damaging your teeth, it’s also important to address the cause of the grinding, namely stress and anxiety. Dr. Werremeyer’s suggestion is simple but poignant: Take care of yourself.  

“I think self-care is huge right now, so that we can destress, finding those things that make us happy and make us feel good about ourselves,” Dr. Werremeyer explains. 

In some instances, Dr. Werremeyer has also referred patients to physical therapists and massage therapists, to address tension in the temporomandibular joint.  

Since masks are non-negotiable given the times, here are some things you can do to avoid the effects of mask mouth: 

  • Drink more water  
  • Try to breathe through your nose when wearing a mask  
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which are dehydrating 
  • Use alcohol-free mouthwash (those with alcohol, like Listerine, can dry out your mouth) 
  • Use a humidifier, especially in your work place or in you room while sleeping 
  • Scrape or brush your tongue 
  • Avoid smoking, which dries out the mouth 

See Your Dentist 

One of the best things you can do for your dental health is visit the dentist. A daunting task under normal circumstances — in a 2018 survey, more than 40% of American reported not seeing the dentist as frequently as they would prefer — maintaining oral hygiene is more important than ever.  

“As much as patients are scared to go to the dentist, it’s also what will help increase our immune system,” Dr. Werremeyer says.  

Those wary of visiting a place that traffics in open mouths can take comfort knowing most dental offices are going above and beyond to make sure their clinics are safe and clean.  

At Love Dentistry, Dr. Werremeyer has implemented various safety protocols and equipment. Her office has begun using air purifiers, extra oral vacuums to pick up aerosols, and a mouth rinse that kills localized bacteria and viruses. Staff is required to change into new clothes between each patient, clean the bathroom after every use, and undergo daily screenings and temperature-checks. Check-in occurs in the parking lot and anyone in the waiting room must wear a mask. 

These precautions must be working; according to recent data, no COVID-19 transfers have occurred in a dental setting in the U.S.  

“Find your favorite dentist, and ask for help, and make sure that you’re preventing any of these things from causing irreversible damage,” Dr. Werremeyer says.

Attention School District Employees!

Dentist in Bellingham, WA


Under the School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB) Program, starting January 1, 2020 you will be able to choose from up to three of the following dental plan options, depending on where you live:

  • DeltaCare Plan (Delta Dental of Washington);
  • Uniform Dental Plan (Delta Dental of Washington); and
  • Willamette Dental Plan.

The difference between these dental plans may be difficult to recognize, especially because two of the plans offered are by Delta Dental of Washington. Below is a brief summary of certain differences between the DeltaCare Plan, the Uniform Dental Plan and the Willamette Dental Plan.

DeltaCare Plan

The DeltaCare plan is a managed care dental plan. Under this plan, you are required to receive all your dental care from an assigned primary care dentist from the DeltaCare network. There is no annual deductible or maximum under this plan. Instead, you pay some copayments for dental services.[1]

Uniform Dental Plan

The Uniform Dental plan is a preferred provider organization (or, PPO) plan. Under this plan, you are allowed receive your dental care from any licensed dentist. The annual maximum is $1,750 for the plan year, and the deductible is $50/person, $150/family.[2]

Willamette Dental Plan

The Willamette Dental plan is a managed care dental plan. Under this plan, you are required to receive your dental care from a Willamette Dental Group dentist. There is no annual deductible or maximum under this plan. Instead, you pay some copayments for dental services.[3]

For more details regarding each plan’s coverage and your benefits as a school employee, please visit the Washington State Health Care Authority’s website:


For your information:

  • Love Dentistry currently participates in the Uniform Dental plan.
  • I not a DeltaCare network dentist. Please note that, under the DeltaCare plan, you must visit a dentist from the DeltaCare network.
  • I am not a Willamette Dental provider. Please note that, in order to receive care under a Willamette Dental plan, you must receive your care from a Willamette Dental Group dentist.

Bellingham Dentist | 9 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About the Tongue

Dentist in Bellingham, WA

We use our tongues every day to talk, taste, and swallow, yet we rarely take time to think about this flexible organ. Here are 9 things you may not know about the tongue:


  1. The longest recorded tongue was more than 3.8 inches from back to tip; the widest measured over 3” across.
  2. The human tongue contains 8 separate muscles intertwined.
  3. A blue whale tongue weighs about 5,400 pounds and is roughly the size of an adult elephant!
  4. Tongues come in many shapes and have varying numbers of taste buds. This makes a human tongue imprint as unique as a fingerprint.
  5. The average person has about 10,000 taste buds in their mouth.
  6. A single taste bud contains between 50 and 100 taste cells, which may have sensors for multiple tastes.
  7. No individual taste cell can identify both bitter and sweet flavors.
  8. 1 milliliter of saliva contains about 1,000,000 bacteria.
  9. Using a tongue scraper to clean your tongue is proven to help prevent osteoporosis, pneumonia, heart attacks, premature births, diabetes, and male infertility.


Health issues involving the tongue are most commonly caused by bacteria or tobacco use. Proper cleaning of the tongue can help prevent these conditions from developing. However, if you notice sores, discoloration, or other symptoms, contact our office.


Some tongue-affecting illnesses include:

  • Leukoplakia – excessive cell growth characterized by white patches in the mouth and on the tongue. It is not dangerous, but can be a precursor to oral cancer.
  • Oral thrush – an oral yeast infection common after antibiotic use, often characterized by cottage-cheese like white patches on the surface of the tongue and mouth.
  • Red tongue – may be caused by a deficiency of folic acid and/or vitamin B-12.
  • Hairy tongue – black and/or hairy-feeling tongue can be caused by build-up of bacteria.
  • Canker sores – small ulcerous sores on the tongue, often associated with stress. These sores are not the same as cold sores and are not contagious.
  • Oral cancer – most sore tongue issues are not serious. However, if you have a sore or lump on your tongue that does not heal within a week or two, schedule a screening.


For more information about the tongue or to schedule a screening with our doctor, contact our office.

Resource: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/

Love Dentistry
4101 Eliza Ave. Bellingham, WA 98226
(360) 752-1600

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Dentist in Bellingham, WA

What is Periodontal Disease? | 98226 Dentist

January 15, 2024

Periodontal disease ranges from a mild inflammation of the gum tissues to periodontitis, a major oral disease that can result in soft tissue and bone […]

Read More

Changing Your Spots: White Areas on Teeth | Dentist in 98226

January 9, 2024

White spots on your teeth can be irritating and affect how you feel about your smile. The good news, however, is that they are preventable […]

Read More