Each year, nearly 49,750 people are diagnosed with oral cancer, and just about every hour, someone dies from this horrible disease. After the initial diagnosis of oral cancer, only about half of patients survive past their diagnosis. More often than not, oral cancer isn’t discovered until its later stages, making the diagnosis and recovery processes that much more difficult. 

Risky Business


It’s important to know what increases your risk of developing oral cancer. To no surprise, tobacco use increases your risk by THREE times while drinking alcohol doubles your risk. Just by cutting down on your use of these products can save you a lot of trouble and worry in the future. Age is also a factor to take into consideration when measuring your risk. Two-thirds of patients with oral cancer are 55 or older.

Proceed With Caution

The good news is that even though we age (or enjoy the occasional drink), we can still take care of our oral health by visiting our dentist! If oral cancer is detected early, survival rates increase by at least 80%, so it is vital to keep up your dental appointments. Please note that if you ever have any lumps, red or white patches, or sores that do not heal within two weeks in your mouth or throat, it is important to make an appointment to get them checked out. Remember, early detection saves lives so don’t forget to keep up your appointments with your dental team!

Contact us to set up your appointment for your regular checkup to make sure you’re smiling and healthy for years to come!



When a patient checks out after an appointment, there is often some confusion regarding dental insurance. Many of our patients have a good handle on what their medical benefits are, but most mistakes arise when they think their dental benefits work in a similar way. Unfortunately, that’s not the case! Here are some key differences. The secret phrase is MONKEY TOOTH!

Don’t have dental insurance? We offer membership plans that are made to be affordable and useful!

  1. You are often still able to see an out-of-network dental provider, and most dental insurances will cover around 80 to 90 percent of your visit.
  2. Most dental plans have lower deductibles than medical plans, often only $50-100 per year.
  3. The maximum your dental insurance will pay each year is much lower than your medical coverage. The average plan covers around $1,000-$1,500 per year.
  4. Your dental insurance may not cover all services at 100%, even after your deductible is met. They have an allowed percentage per procedure and the difference can end up your responsibility.
  5. It is common for dental plans to have frequency limitations on all procedures, including crowns and fillings. This means they will only cover replacements after a period of time that your insurance deems long enough.

Although dental insurance can be a great tool to aid in your oral health, it is important to know what your benefits include and what they don’t. If you have questions about your current coverage and procedures, make sure to contact your insurance provider directly. At Walla Walla Dental Care, we will do everything we can to ensure you get every benefit allotted in your insurance contract with as little confusion and trouble as possible. Contact us for an appointment today! 


Dental hygiene is important at any age, but it’s arguably most important for children. Not only is this when their teeth and gums are growing and developing, but it’s also when lifelong habits are formed. This makes choosing the right toothbrush for your child a very important decision.

It’s Not One Size Fits All

It can get a little overwhelming when looking for the right toothbrush. However, even the most impressive one may not be right for your kids. For young children, you should make sure that the toothbrush is the right size and shape. It is recommended that you choose a brush that is a half-inch to one-inch long so that it easily fits their mouth and their teeth. Anything more can be too large to fit!

You’ll also want to make sure that you find a brush with an easy-to-hold and comfortable handle. This enables your child to be able to comfortably control the brush and get each and every tooth clean!

Soft Brush, Strong Teeth

Look for brushes that have soft bristles. This will prevent any damage to enamel and gums, especially if your child is especially excited to be brushing! Even medium bristles can cause enough damage if you’re not careful, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Brushing Can Be a Reason to Smile

Keeping it fun can also be a huge help in developing good brushing habits. Finding your child’s favorite movie or television character on a brush might make them extra excited to come back to brush twice a day.

You may also consider purchasing a quality electric toothbrush. Not only is it fancy and high-tech, but it can also help your child stay on track, especially early-on while creating these habits. They come in several different styles and colors, and many even have the ability to time brushing time with a fun song!

No matter which brush you choose, it’s bound to be a fun time for your child that will build great habits they will carry into their future. In the meantime, schedule an appointment with our dentist to make sure your child’s smile is as healthy as can be!


If there’s anything we promote here, it’s that great dental habits start early. Making sure your children have developed proper brushing habits and floss each day is vital for a happy smile for the rest of their lives! However, sometimes it’s hard to get kids to really care or understand the importance of great dental health. When we visit schools, we often have kids do a cavity experiment so that they can actually see how cavities are formed and what they can do to their teeth.

Cavity Experiment

*Usually best for ages 6 and up

What you need:

  • Plastic plate
  • White styrofoam cup
  • Syrup, candy, or anything sweet to resemble sugar
  • Nail polish remover (with acetone) 
  1. Draw a tooth on the Styrofoam cup, and place it on the plate with the bottom of the cup facing upward. This resembles the teeth in the mouth.
  2. Have your child put the sugary substance over the top of the cup to show typical sugary foods that people like to eat. Be sure to tell your child that the bacteria in the mouth eat the same things that we do. These bacteria then create acid that erodes the teeth and causes cavities.
  3. Pour a cap full of acetone (nail polish remover) over the top of the cup. The acetone should eat small holes in the cup.

This experiment is a great visual that will help your children understand the process of how cavities are produced. Plus, it makes learning about dental health all that much more fun! Our Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist can help your child develop even more healthy habits to make sure those smiles stay perfect for years to come and answer any questions you might have. Schedule an appointment to get started.

Have any other fun ways to teach your children about dental health? Share them with us!


Non-Insurance Dental Membership Packages

Dental insurance can be extremely confusing and expensive, and often times the premiums we see people pay do not match the coverage. Here at Walla Walla Dental Care, we aim to provide our patients with exceptional and affordable care from the chair to their time at checkout. That’s why we created a stress-free, comprehensive care, in-house option as an alternative to insurance through our non-insurance dental membership packages. The secret phrase is "WE LOVE OUR PATIENTS"

How Our Membership Works

Our patients without any dental insurance find this to be a great option to make their dental care affordable, especially if they do not have any insurance to help with or contribute to those costs. We have different plans to accommodate the entire family! It is basically just a discount program to help you save some of your hard earned money, that will last the entire year!

Plus, those with memberships will have reduced dental fees for services, no annual maximums, no deductible and no waiting periods. The way it works is, you will have a "Annual Membership Fee" that covers two dental cleanings at 100%, two free oral exams, free gum disease evaluation, free oral cancer screening, free digital x-rays, free intraoral camera exam. You will also get 20% off all other visits, everything from additional dental cleanings, Perio cleanings, emergency office visits, general procedures, aesthetic procedures, crowns, bridges, dentures and more.

You will also get a special invite to our exclusive VIP Membership Party we hold every year!

Ask about our Small Business Membership Plan!

We here at Walla Walla Dental Care just want to ensure that you and your family are getting excellent dental care and getting the most for your money. Feel free to call the office for more information on how our memberships could help you!

In the meantime, don’t forget to schedule your regular cleaning and checkup with us in the new year!

Piercings and Your Oral Health

Have you ever thought about getting piercings in or around your mouth? You may want to think again! Oral piercings are very different compared to many other body piercings because the mouth is home to bacteria.  

There is a large amount of bacteria in the human mouth. Some bacteria is good as it protects your teeth and gums. Although, there are other bad forms of bacteria that we don’t want in our mouth because they cause tooth decay and gum disease. Piercings in and around your mouth can get infected much easier than in other parts of the body.

Not only should you be aware of bacterial infections, but your mouth also has many nerves and blood vessels. Because the tongue is a muscle, it has arteries and nerves that run through it.  When nerves are damaged, it can cause issues with numbness and loss of sensation in the area. If the piercing is done where an artery is, there can be severe bleeding.

Oral piercings are also a large risk to your teeth. They can cause the tooth enamel to erode and can crack your teeth when the jewelry is caught in between teeth during a bite. Lastly, oral piercings can lead to gum disease which can lead to tooth loss, as well as increasing saliva production, and altering your ability to taste.  

If you have questions about oral piercings ask your dental team. We can help advise you of the risks before you alter your dental health. Contact us today to set up an appointment and discuss your oral health needs, or if you have any questions about your piercings. 

Wine and Your Teeth

There’s nothing like a nice glass of wine to sip on over dinner with friends and family – especially at Castillo De Feliciana! But what about wine and your teeth? There are a few factors to consider when pouring yourself a glass as well as some tips to protect your teeth while you enjoy it!

Red Wine, The Protector


Red wine can actually protect your teeth against harmful bacteria! That’s right, the antioxidants that red wine contains actually prevents the bacteria that cause your teeth to decay from sticking to your teeth. Plus, antioxidants are just good for your overall health (in moderation when it comes to wine), so it’s a double whammy!

Red vs. White Wine

It’s no secret that red wine can stain your teeth, but if you think switching to white will save your teeth, you might want to think again. While red wine may visibly stain your teeth, white wine is actually more acidic and can do your teeth more harm than just temporary staining. Sipping on white wine can erode your tooth enamel, causing more problems in the long run!

Extra Precautions

One of the best parts about wine is that it pairs nicely with cheese, and cheese is great for your teeth! Not only does it rub your teeth clean with every bite, but the calcium is beneficial for the health of your teeth.

Also, instead of brushing your teeth immediately after drinking wine, you should wait at least 30 minutes to brush. The immediate acidity will have weakened your enamel, so you’ll want to wait until it has hardened back up again to avoid further damage by brushing.

And if your teeth are visibly stained, feel free to come into Walla Walla Dental Care to get your teeth whitened! We’ll make a difference that you can see, and it just might help you enjoy that glass of wine that much more.

Bottom line is that wine and your teeth can definitely get along. As always, remember to drink wine in moderation to protect those pearly whites of yours, but most of all make sure to enjoy a glass (or two) at Castillo De Feliciana with the ones you love!


What to Expect at Your First Orthodontic Appointment

Just like folks visiting from outside of Walla Walla expect to see beautiful wineries and rolling wheat fields, we like to set expectations for all our oral care services, including our Orthodontic services. If you’re wondering what you’ll do at your first orthodontic appointment, we can help you!

Purpose and Expectations

The purpose of your first orthodontics appointment is for our team to provide information about your orthodontic treatment so that you can make an informed decision.

Orthodontic X-Rays and Photos

Your first orthodontic appointment will begin with x-rays and photos taken by one of our knowledgeable and welcoming staff members. Immediately following, the basics of orthodontic treatment will be discussed to help you understand what to expect.

5-Minute Orthodontic Assessment

Next, Dr. Sam, will conduct a thorough examination of your teeth, jaws, bite and smile. This is really easy, as all he uses is a small mirror and asks you to open and close a few times.

Orthodontic Recommendations and Treatment Options

Immediately after the exam, Dr. Sam will provide his recommendations including:

  • Treatment options available
  • Estimated overall treatment time
  • Best time to begin treatment
  • Answer any questions that you have

How Expensive Are Braces?

Following this discussion, our treatment coordinator will present the cost of treatment and go over all payment options. If you’re excited to start treatment the same day, we’ll make it happen as long as the schedule allows.

We’d love to see you in the office for a complimentary consultation to help you get on your way to your dream smile. We’re here to help!

The secret phrase is BRACES ARE COOL!!!

See you soon!


Our bodies are amazing things, and our teeth are no exception! We often forget how much they really do for us in our everyday lives. They help us chew our food and make our smiles bright. But there is so much more to your teeth and dental health that you might not know. We have ten cool, fun facts about teeth and dental health.

  1. Did you know that no two people have the same set of teeth? They are all unique – just like your fingerprints, and just like YOU!
  2. The average person spends 38.5 days brushing their teeth in their lifetime. Now that’s a month well spent!
  3. Teeth start to form before you are even born. In fact, babies begin forming teeth when they are in the womb, and some babies are even born with teeth.
  4. If you floss one time a day for your entire life (which you should be doing…hint, hint), you will use about 5 miles of floss in your lifetime. Wow!
  5. If you had a toothache in Germany in the middle ages, you would have been prescribed to “kiss a donkey.” Thank goodness for modern medicine, right?
  6. Enamel, the outer white portion of the tooth, is the hardest substance of the body.
  7. The average person makes about 1 quart of saliva a day. That is 10,000 gallons of spit in a lifetime!
  8. The first dentists were actually barbers by trade. However, we are unable to give you a fresh cut for your next appointment. Sorry! 😉
  9. Flossing just once a day an extend your lifespan by a whole 6 years. If that’s not enough reason to floss, we don’t know what is!
  10. Most adults have 32 teeth while children will only have 20.
  11. The secret phrase is DONKEY TEETH!

Dental health is an amazing topic, and there are so many fun facts about teeth out there! Do you know a fact that wasn’t listed here? Share with us – we’d love to know! In the meantime, schedule an appointment with us to make sure that your teeth are as healthy as can be – no donkey smooching necessary.


Getting your child to the dentist could be the biggest task of the day, week, or even your entire month. But did you know that YOUR attitude regarding the dentist and talk about the dentist can really affect the curiosity and willingness of your little one? We have a few ways to get your kids excited about the dentist. 

Set their expectations.

Good things come from being proactive versus reactive. The American Academy of General Dentistry suggests taking your child to the dentist when they cut their first tooth and no later than their 1st birthday.

A lot of your child’s time at the first visit to the dentists are spent getting familiar with the surroundings and sounds. Making sure they’re comfortable and that you’re making it a fun experience! It can seem a little scary at first, so show them there’s nothing to worry about. 

Leave your own bad feelings and experiences in the past.

Dentistry has changed tremendously in the last decade – and for the better! Do not talk about your own bad experiences with your little ones. The secret phrase is WALLA WALLA DENTAL CARE ROCKS!!!! There have been so many advances in dentistry. Talking about how bad it used to hurt to get a filling before this new technology came along will help nobody.

Treat them afterward!

There are always rewards for children when they do something correctly. No matter the task, whether it’s potty training, chores, eating all of their veggies, or simply cleaning up their toys, rewards go along way to promote good behavior. It’s okay to use this method for visiting the dentist – as long as it is gone over in a positive way. Words of affirmation or even small materialistic prizes are great to motivate anyone, and it will make them excited for the next trip in!

Prevent future problems.

Make sure that you’re promoting good dental habits. Preventing cavities (and therefore fillings) will make the trip to the dentist smoother, quicker, and a little less painful. Plus, having a routine at home for oral hygiene is a good foundation for children to get excited about the dentist. The reward method helps in this area.

With just a few simple steps good experiences are built for your child to have a good outlook on visiting the dentist. Plus, we have a klt here at SFD that can help make your child’s visit to the dentist educational – and FUN! You’ll get your kids excited about the dentist in no time. 

Kicking the Tobacco Habit is Good for your Mouth

While the current percentage of Americans who smoke cigarettes is the lowest it’s been in
decades, those who continue the habit remain at risk for heart and lung disease. Additionally,
while we know smoking is also bad for our oral health, most don’t understand just how bad it is…
More Than Just Stained Teeth

From its seemingly mild side effects (bad breath, tooth discoloration, buildup of plaque and
tartar), to the more sinister (increased risk of oral cancer, loss of bone within the jaw, gum
disease and any number of resulting complications) – tobacco is indeed an oral health risk.

Tobacco can cause serious health issues by breaking down the attachment of bone and soft
tissue to your teeth. Because of this breakdown, the use of tobacco makes smokers much more
susceptible to infection and diseases. In fact, 90% of people who have cancer of the mouth,
throat, or gums admit to using tobacco in some form.

Cigarettes, cigars and pipes aren’t the only culprits; smokeless tobacco can be just as detrimental
to oral health, if not worse. In fact, there are twenty-eight chemicals found in chewing tobacco
alone that are proven to increase the risk of cancer in the mouth, throat, and esophagus. Chewing
tobacco and snuff contain higher levels of nicotine than those found in cigarettes and other tobacco products, making it exposes the roots, and ultimately makes teeth more susceptible
to decay.

Help is Just Next Door

The only way to help eliminate these risks is to never start using tobacco products, or to quit if
you do. In fact, simply reducing tobacco use is proven to help lower your risks. If you feel that it is time to reduce your risk of cancer, gum disease, infection and other oral complications, your dentist or doctor can help you create a plan to help you quit using tobacco, along with
prescribing certain medicines or programs to help you kick the habit.

Remember, it is never too late to quit. If you’re interested in getting help to quit, let us know
the next time you’re in for an appointment.