Dr. Travis Howey and his team of hygienists have the experience and credentials you should look for when considering a new dentist for your regular checkups and dental hygiene.
Dedicated to life-long learning, Dr. Howey has averaged 50 continuing education credit hours (per licensing period) throughout his career; the minimum requirements for the state of Washington are 20 continuing education credit hours per licensing period!
“I have been a client of KFD since 1998 , always happy with my care , I love that they go overboard to work with you an any needs.. Great Job Dr. Howey and team!!!”
Dr. Travis Howey, with a high-tech dental office located in Klahanie, is always educated and informed on the latest and greatest dental hygiene technologies and trends.
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Checkups & Teeth Cleaning
Every patient should visit the dental office regularly for professional cleanings. These appointments are crucial to maintaining oral health and preserving any dental restoration the patient might have.
The American Dental Association advises an average patient to have dental cleanings at least every six months. However, in many cases, these appointments should be even more frequent than that. That’s why you should ask your dentist to evaluate your smile and suggest how often you need professional cleanings. If Dr. Howey and his experienced team recommend you to have cleanings every 3 or 4 months, it’s to take care of your dental and overall health. It is important to follow that suggestion to prevent dental problems like decay and periodontal disease.
What can I expect during my dental cleaning appointment?
During a cleaning visit, the dental hygienist will first check the patient’s gums through an exam known as periodontal probing depths. With this information, the dentist can determine whether the patient has gum disease or not. In patients with no infection, the hygienist will perform a preventive cleaning, also known as prophylaxis or “prophy”. For this cleaning procedure, the professional will use ultrasonic instruments to remove any plaque and tartar build-up from the surface of the teeth. Then, teeth are polished with high-performance brushes to remove any remaining staining. And finally, the hygienist will floss and ask the patient to rinse with a fluoride mouthwash. In some cases, the dentist will also apply fluoride to help prevent potential decay.
On the other hand, the cleaning procedure is different for those patients with gum disease. In this case, a prophylactic cleaning won’t be enough to heal the gums and remove the tatar below the gumline. To do so, the dentist will recommend additional periodontal therapy, possibly including scaling and root planing. This treatment is more extensive, and it’s known as “deep cleaning.”
Video 01:00 | Brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and eating balanced, healthy meals are important to maintaining a healthy smile. Regular dental visits are also extremely important to prevent and treat oral disease.
How often should patients visit the office for cleanings?
The minimum number of appointments recommended for a patient with healthy gums is twice per year. However, for those patients who have been diagnosed with gum disease, dentists might suggest three to four cleaning appointments per year. The actual number of visits will vary depending on the severity of the disease and how well the patient maintains his oral health through flossing and brushing.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis can be defined as the inflammation of the gums. It represents the earliest stage of periodontal disease, as, if left untreated, it can progress and cause further damage to the bone tissue that anchors teeth.
Every patient who notices any bleeding when brushing or flossing his teeth should schedule an appointment to check their gums. During the visit, Dr. Howey will evaluate their smile and suggest treatment if he detects any sign of Gingivitis. It is essential to know that this condition is treatable and reversible when caught in its early stages.
How is Gingivitis treated?
Gingivitis can result from many factors, but it is usually caused by dental plaque build-up along the gum line. This plaque leads to the inflammation of the gums, which causes the bleeding.
The most common approach to clearing the inflammation is both professional cleanings and daily home care (brushing and flossing with a proper technique).
However, sometimes that approach is not enough, and the dentist needs to use other resources like dental laser and antimicrobial rinses to help eliminate all the bacteria and reduce the inflammation.
It is crucial to treat this disease in its early stages. Untreated Gingivitis is likely to progress to periodontal disease, a condition that causes irreversible damage to the periodontal tissues.
What are the most common signs of Gingivitis?
The primary and most frequent sign of Gingivitis is bleeding gums. Most patients see this bleeding while brushing or flossing, but it can also happen spontaneously. Another common symptom is persistent bad breath or halitosis (breath doesn’t stay fresh for too long after brushing).
If you notice any bleeding, recurrent bad breath, or if your gums look swollen and tender, make an appointment at Klahanie Family Dentistry. Dr. Howey will evaluate your oral health and suggest proper treatment.
Video 01:00 | If your gums are tender, swollen or bleed easily when flossing, you may have gingivitis—the early stage of gum disease. Fortunately, gingivitis can be prevented by following a good oral health care routine and by regularly visiting a dentist. Find out more about how to reduce the risk of gingivitis and, if needed, how to treat it.
What happens when patients don’t treat Gingivitis?
As mentioned before, the earliest a patient deals with Gingivitis, the easiest it is to revert its consequences. However, overlooking these initial stages will likely result in the development of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease occurs when the bacteria causing Gingivitis move forward to the tooth’s root, damaging periodontal tissue and bone. This advanced stage of gum disease is more challenging to treat, and the patient will need to visit the office several times for extensive cleaning appointments (“deep cleanings”).
Patients who might be suffering from this condition should visit the dental office as soon as possible. Non-treated periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.
Periodontal Therapy: Scaling and Root Planing
When a patient is diagnosed with periodontal disease, the chosen course of treatment is a deep-cleaning procedure called scaling and root planing (SRP). This treatment cleans and polishes the roots of the teeth to remove dental plaque and fixed tartar deposits. Two or more appointments are usually required for SRP, and sometimes, the areas will need to be numbed to make the procedure more comfortable for the patient.
In some cases, the dentist will also need to use a dental laser and further resources like antibiotic therapy or medical rinses to eradicate bacteria from the roots and surrounding gum tissue.
How to treat late-stage periodontal disease?
The later stages of periodontal disease are more difficult to control. By then, a significant amount of bone tissue has been lost around the root of the tooth. Eventually, if the disease keeps progressing, the only viable alternative is to extract the tooth and replace it with a dental bridge or an implant.
One of the most frequent causes of tooth loss is periodontal disease. At Klahanie Family Dentistry, we understand the importance of gum disease because:
We encourage our patients to visit our dental office regularly and develop healthy home care habits to control the disease in its earlier stages, avoiding potential significant problems.
Video 01:00 | Gums that are red, tender or swollen may indicate periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. Because you can have periodontal disease without knowing it, it’s important to visit your dentist for periodontal screening.
Can periodontal disease be cured?
While Gingivitis can be cured, periodontal disease, unfortunately, can only be managed. Once the disease has affected the supporting bone around the teeth, there is virtually no way of going back. It won’t regenerate.
Dr. Howey can manage the progression of periodontal disease and slow down its consequences. But the treatment of this condition also requires active cooperation from patients. They must follow a strict daily oral care routine and visit the dental office regularly for professional cleanings. During these periodontal maintenance cleanings, the dentist will focus on keeping the roots clean and the surrounding tissue as healthy as possible. Periodontal maintenance cleanings will be needed every three to four months to keep this chronic disease under control.