COVID-19 Precautions

Oh, how we have missed you! We hope this finds you and your family in good health. Our community and country has been through a lot over the last few months, and all of us are looking forward to resuming our normal habits and routines. While many things have changed one thing has remained the same: our commitment to you and your safety!


Infection control has always been a top priority for our practice and you may have seen this before, during your visits to our office. Our infection control processes are made so that when you receive care, it’s both safe and comfortable. Our office follows infection control recommendations made by the American Dental Association (ADA), the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupations Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). We follow the activities of these agencies so that we are up-to-date on any new rulings or guidance that may be issued. We do this to make sure that our infection control procedures are current and adhere to each agencies’ recommendations.


You may see some changes at your next appointment. We’ve made these changes to help protect you. For example:

  • Our office will communicate with you beforehand, to ask some screening questions. You’ll be asked those same questions again when you arrive.
  • You will be offered hand sanitizer as you enter and leave the office. It will also be displayed throughout the office, for your use.
  • Your temperature will be recorded in your health care record, when you arrive.
  • You may see that there will no longer be magazines, children’s toys and so forth, in our waiting room. These items are difficult to clean and disinfect.
  • Appointments will be scheduled to minimize congestion. This means that we may need to modify your appointment time.
  • Our waiting room capacity has been reduced.
  • If you have a face mask that you are wearing in public, we invite you to wear it to the office.


We look forward to seeing you again and are happy to answer any questions you may have about the steps we take to keep you, and every patient, safe in our practice. Thank you for being our patient. We value your trust and loyalty and look forward to welcoming you back — our patients, neighbors and friends. Thank you for your help!



Dr. Chris Chaffin, DDS

Dr. Topher Chaffin, DDS


Does it feel like you’re living in a 4th graders story? — Spring time came and the world was warming up. There was a virus, it got people real sick. Stores ran out of toilet paper. Then the world shut down. And then it was Friday the 13th and it snowed.


On a more serious note,  thank you for taking the time to review this blog post about the emerging novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) and COVID-19 (coronavirus disease- 2019), and how to deal with it.

Here’s what we know about the spread of the coronavirus, from the CDC (link):

  1. There’s no vaccine. Prevention is the best way to not get sick.
  2. It spreads by person. You must either be within 6 feet of a cough/sneeze, or touch a surface that still has the active virus on it, then it has to get into your eyes, nose or mouth, then into the lungs.
  3. The novel coronavirus is very easy to kill. Soap and water is the best defense, next is hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
  4. The virus can last up to 2-3 days on a hard surface, but lasts only minutes in direct sunlight (UV rays). If you eat it, it won’t infect you.
  5. The virus is more contagious than the flu, but less than the measles, zika, or HIV.
  6. Social distancing and quarantining is essential. This means you should stay 6 feet away from other people, if possible. Only wear a mask if you are infected, or are healthy and caring for an infected person.
  7. A person will stay contagious for approximately 2 weeks, with 80% experiencing only a mild flu-like sickness.
  8. It is a concern because of the high chance of pneumonia in older or immune-compromised individuals. It is easily treatable, if there is medical help available. The potential high death toll will be due to the lack of available medical help, if there is a sudden surge of severe cases.


The CDC, OSHA, WISHA and the ADA guidelines, before 2019, and generally speaking, guidelines for dental offices are to treat each patient as if they already have a contagious disease. This includes cleaning dirty surfaces, and sterilizing all instruments after use, washing hands thoroughly, and wearing personal protective equipment appropriate for the task at hand.

We are happy to inform you that we have followed all of these guidelines for many years now, and as such, we have been in compliance with these standards in order to protect all of our team as well as patients even since even before the current Corona virus pandemic.

We encourage you to let us know if you have a fever, cough or possible exposure and we can reschedule for a future date.  However, in the event a patient by chance may happen to be a carrier but not have any symptoms yet, we are still continuing to protect,  disinfect and sterilize our environment and working surfaces so that all future patients continue to be safe.

How to Safely Remove a Piece of Food that Is Stuck Between Your Teeth

There’s a few things in life that you completely dread, and when it happens, you know you won’t be able to stop thinking about it until it’s gone. For me, that’s getting food stuck between my teeth. It’ll usually happen at that moment, on a trip, when I’m away from my beautiful home bathroom, and I’m left stranded with a piece of meat or popcorn kernel that my tongue won’t stop playing with. Oh the agony! Here’s what your friends might say to do, and what your dentist will say, and why:

What Friends might say to do:

A recent survey* of 1,005 adults asked Americans how they “remove that piece of food stuck between their teeth”. They found that 61% will use their fingernails, 40% will fold paper, 21% will use a knife or fork, 14% will search for a safety pin, and 7% will use strands of hair. A second survey reports that people have used twigs, matchbooks, toenails, wires, screwdrivers and pocket knives… yikes! Even though these people may have gotten out the food, 42% reported pain directly from using these obscure objects.

What’s the big deal?

One of the biggest concerns for using these foreign objects is not only the damage that you can do to your gums, but the spaces you can create by forcing these things between your teeth, called open contacts. Teeth should be lightly touching their neighbors. When they do, floss should snap through this space, also known as a closed contact. When foreign objects are wedged in-between teeth, to get food out, these contacts spread, and over time, become open contacts.

One way to measure an open contact, is if one piece paper (0.05mm) fits between two teeth. That’s what you don’t want, since food will get stuck in an open contact. Thin human hair is between 0.04-0.06mm, with thick hair being 0.08-.1mm thick. And, an average toothpick is 2mm thick. So, anything .05mm or bigger will separate your teeth and cause gaps

How do you safely remove food without damaging your gums or moving your teeth?

You’ll want to use something that can easily slip past two teeth sitting closer than 0.05mm apart. Here are some options:

1. Salt water rinses or antiseptic mouthwash (alcohol or alcohol free) definitely can do the job, but often the power created from swishing is not enough for those stubborn pieces of food.

2. Waterpiks and water flossers are a great choice too, having enough power to dislodge any free-floating piece of food.

3. Using a toothbrush can create a physical removal of debris, but the bristles can’t reach in-between teeth very well.

4. An interproximal brush aka sulcabrush or end-tuft brush is like a toothbrush, but is a small point of bristles. This has the physical features of a toothbrush, but in a more compact design, made for those in-between spaces.

5. Dental toothpicks aka stimudents, plastic toothpick, the toothpick end of a flosspick, interproximal brushes or proxabrushes are the best for getting the embrasure space (the space just under or above the contact point of two teeth). They are not designed for the contact point, since they are often thicker than a piece of paper. Still, with a curved thin end of a dental toothpick, you can maneuver the stubborn food out.

6. Flossing with either floss, or a floss pick is the gold standard. The fibers are often waxed to slip between those tight contacts, and get to the in-between space. Flossing creates a physical removal of debris and, if used right, can clean debris from even underneath the gum line.

Dr.Topher - Chaffin Dental Care - Dentist Spokane Washington

For more information, contact the author, Dr. Topher Chaffin. He’s a family dentist at Chaffin Dental Care, in Spokane, Washington

*Statistics were pulled from this ADA article

Mouth Guards, Function and Style

Have you noticed those colored plastic ornaments that athletes wear in their mouths? Have you seen NFL players spit them out of their helmets? Or NBA superstars take them out in between plays? As cool as they look all decked out in team colors and mascots, they are actually taking action to protect their teeth from possible serious oral injury. Do you or someone you know play a contact sport? If you play football, mouth guards are most likely already required. You may be surprised that the ADA is adding other low impact sports to the list of sports that now require mouth guards. Sports such as track, biking and cross training, just to name a few, are starting to see more regulations. Did you know you can get a personalized mouth guard, just like the pros have, here at Chaffin Dental Care?

We use a product called “TekFit” which uses a custom fit soft plastic to create the best guard for your teeth. You may be thinking, “Haven’t I seen generic mouth guards in the store?” Yes, yes, you have but the key word here is “generic”. You can buy “boil and bite” or a “stock” model. These may seem like an easier option because they are at the store, but the reality is that they are not nearly as protective. These options are not custom fit by professionals, so they often have excess material left on them. This begins to cause problems with clenching, talking and even sometimes, in the worst cases, problems with breathing. It might be more convenient for you to pick one up at the store on your way home from work or school, but, in the long run, you are better off with one that is custom made for your mouth and your needs. Not only is it better for talking and breathing without all that extra materiel, but we modify it so you can also easily speak with it. Buying from the store you would also not be able to have the customization options. Could you imagine if mouth guards were like shoes?

Getting a mouth guard at Chaffin Dental Care ensures that you are getting a fit that meets your personal and unique needs. Did you know that 80% of sports related dental injuries happen with the upper front teeth? Many people are embarrassed by having a chipped front tooth. Be sure to take the precautions of wearing a mouth guard while playing contact sports. Whether you are involved in high contact sports such as hockey, or even a low impact sport like biking, wearing a mouth guard can be the difference between a full smile verses a holey smile. Mouth guards are great for preventing serious mouth or jaw injuries but at the same time, they look great too! You can show off your team spirit with the Tek-Fit app we use, where you can make all the customizations you want. From color to design, you can make it your own. Check out the app and give us a call on what you want made, Steph can make it happen!

Published By: Sarah Steele

Happy Visits, your Child’s First Dental Visit

Are you expecting your first child? Or maybe you are already a new parent? (Congrats!) With becoming a new parent comes about a billion questions, we know! What products are best for your child’s health? How should you care for this new tiny human being? Not to mention, trying to balance work and family with the new addition. To say you have a lot on your plate is an understatement! One of the questions that will eventually arise is when you should start taking your kids to the dentist. Well, I am here to help put your mind at ease.
Children’s teeth typically start to erupt out of the gums between 4-7 months old (some are even born with them!) and then they continue to grow their full mouth of baby teeth until they are about 2-3 years old. I don’t know about you, but when I hear “4-7 months old” I think that is too young to even think about bringing them to the dentist. But, I was wrong. New born babies visit the doctor’s office for their checkups just weeks after they are born. So, why not start taking care of their teeth from the very beginning too? Here is a fact that shocked me, 1 in 4 children in the US has had at least one cavity by their fourth birthday. There are many reasons for this, including sipping on fruit juice all day, to parents not supervising their children brushing their teeth, twice a day, for a whole two minutes. For many reasons, brushing our own teeth seems like second nature to us adults. With that being said, it turns into a whole different ball game when you have to be responsible to clean your “can’t sit still for more than 3 seconds” child’s teeth. If you are struggling with cleaning your wiggly child’s teeth, you are not alone!
One of the benefits of bringing your children in for their appointment is that Dr. Topher and Dr. Chaffin can answer all your questions about your child’s oral hygiene. Also, they can share with you helpful techniques and tricks for making sure you are thoroughly cleaning your children’s teeth. The very first dental visit we call a “Happy Visit”. We like to make it a happy place where your child can feel safe and a happy experience for parents and kids alike. The main goal of the first few visits is to get your child used to being in the chair and having the dentist’s hands in their mouth. We want to make this a comfortable and safe place for your child. Feeling comfortable and safe in this new environment encourages less traumatic experiences later on. One of the biggest reasons for adults avoiding the dentist is fear related to a traumatic experience. If we can avoid those traumatic experiences, then your child is set up for a higher chance of a happy mouth for their adult life, which can then be passed on to their kids, your grandkids! It is very important to bring your child to the dentist as soon as their teeth start erupting. As soon as there are teeth present, there are risks for cavities, and it is time to establish a happy dental home.
Do you have children who have teeth but have not been seen by a dentist yet? Call us today! We would love to help you schedule their first visit! We have a safe, welcoming environment that will put your mind at ease and it will be a fun experience for your little one too!

Published By: Sarah Steele

Leave the Paper Age in the Trash!

Do you remember walking into your childhood dentist’s office and staring at all the charts behind the front office staff? I remember thinking it looked like they went on for miles and miles. I really wondered how they managed to keep them all organized. I don’t know about you, but I am one who is all about a clean and organized work space. I can’t imagine having all those charts and files hoovering over me all day! Have you noticed that going into Chaffin Dental Care now, all those charts and files have magically disappeared? That is because we worked our magic to become chartless! Let me tell you why this is a huge benefit for not only us in the office, but for you as well.

Going chartless has created a much more organized work space. Not only is it neater, but now our staff can be looking at a patient chart at the same time while in different rooms! This is great for us because before, with only one copy of a paper chart only one person could view it at a time. This would sometimes hold up the process of getting new patients seated, or sometimes even getting procedures started. Now, by simply typing in a patient’s last name we are able to see all their notes, x-rays and charts. This is so much easier than fumbling through a thousand plus of charts.

The biggest benefits of going chartless, besides creating an organized space, is that it corresponds greatly with HIPPA regulations. Now that all our patient charts and files are all on our dedicated database, we are able to regulate better who has access to these important files. Isn’t it a little disheartening to know anyone can grab a chart off the shelves and see your personal information? Granted, we would always have them behind locked doors when we weren’t manning them, but still, it is easier to pick a lock than having them encrypted by passcodes and authentications. Not to mention that there are off-site encrypted backups. If we were to have a disaster (Heaven forbid!) such as a fire in our office, before, we would have lost all of our records. They would just go up in flames! Now, we may lose our computers but all our patient records would still be able to be accessed since we have a backup off site away from the “fire”. So, in the rare case that something horrific would happen, we don’t have to start from ground zero. Going chartless is not only beneficial to give our office staff a cleaner place to work, but it is also great for your privacy and protection.

When you are set in your old ways sometimes it is hard to keep an open mind and to be excited about updated ideas or new ways of doing things. We understand sometimes it is scary to jump into new things, we’re with you! We are going through this change with you, we are adapting and learning with you as well. So far, we have had great feedback and positive patient compliments. Now that we are 100% chartless, our next goal is to become paperless! We are excited to go through all these changes with you. I am excited to update our practice and to continue to keep up with the times.

Published By: Sarah Steele

Dental Anxiety, You are not Alone!

When you hear the word “Dentist”, what is your first thought? Do you think of pearly white teeth and getting treasure chest toys growing up? Or, does it bring you back to a terrible experience you had as a child, which makes you cringe and start sweating by just hearing the word “Dentist”? If you associate this word with a traumatic experience, you are not alone! You are one of 40 million people who are afflicted by dental anxiety!

Growing up, I looked forward to going to the dentist. I loved leaving with sparkling clean teeth, and getting to choose a prize! I thought everyone loved going to the dentist just as much as I did. As an adult, I’ve come to learn that this is not always the case! A lot of people come in with some of the most bizarre stories about what has happened to them during dental procedures, leaving them extremely hesitant to visit a dentist again. Many stories include childhood dentists ignoring patients and telling them to “be quiet and hold still!”
Here at Chaffin Dental Care we listen. We want to make sure every time you visit that you leave happy and pleased with everything you had done at your appointment. The moment you walk into our office you will arrive to a smile, rain or shine. The mere fact that you’ve made it to the office means that you are winning the war against the dental anxiety monster! At your first appointment, we will chat with you about what your desires, needs and goals are. We also want to know about which dental demons haunt you and how we can help defeat them!

As your dental home, we give you all the love without all the headaches of family. We understand sometimes love isn’t enough, this is why we offer different levels of comfort and sedation to help you get through your appointments with ease and peace. We have pillows and blankets, movies and music, local anesthetic, nitrous oxide and even oral conscious sedation! The best part about conscious sedation is that you remember the beginning and the end, and very little in-between!

Whether it be that the dental office is your absolute favorite semi-annual appointment to come to, or you dread it due to past experiences, we want to hear your story! We want to know you and what you expect from your dentist and dental visits. If you feel anxious, worried or even terrified when it comes to dental procedures, just remember, you are not alone! We see several patients that are terrified to come to the office that we help to leave their appointments smiling and laughing. Seeing how happy they are when they leave, you would never guess they had hesitations about going to the dentist. If you are thinking about coming in, give us a call! We can help put your mind at ease by answering any questions or concerns you may have. Call or text us today at [phone]!

Published by: Sarah Steele

Dental Office Gone Beach Party, All for Charity

Do you ever have those days at the office where you can’t stop day dreaming about being on the beach? Me too! This is where we got inspiration for our new Smiles for Life music video. From March to June, we are offering in-office and at-home whitening for a discounted price, plus, the best part is 100% of the proceeds goes to charity and all of it is tax deductible! Yes, you read that right, 100%! Each year we donate half the proceeds to the Smiles for Life Foundation (an amazing children’s charity), and we donate the other half to a local charity. This year is especially close to our hearts because it will be donated to a close Chaffin Dental Care family friend, Mackenzie Madsen. She even graduated from Mount Spokane High School with Dr Topher! Mackenzie has Pulmonary Veno-Occlusive Disease (PVOD) where she has to be on oxygen twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Only one in six million are diagnosed with this. She currently lives in San Francisco where she is waiting for a double lung transplant. Although Mackenzie is going through this hardship, she still stays positive, strong in her faith and is hopeful for what is to come. Her attitude is as bright as the San Francisco sunshine.

This year I was thinking, how can we bring attention to our Smiles for Life campaign? So we started brainstorming… we thought what better way than to do a lip sync music video and fill it with sunshine? To bring the beach warmth to us, we had everything from beach attire and a cooler with lemonade in it to a blow up palm tree and an actual sand castle! Believe it or not, gathering the props was the easy part, the hard part was the actual filming. We all had to step out of our shells to successfully turn our dental office into a fun and festive beach party.

For your entertainment, Dr. “Count” Chaffin has a guitar solo, Dr. Topher dances on a chair and Mary teaches us how to hula dance! Just to name a few of the fun skits you can look forward to watching. Luci was the architect behind the gorgeous sand castle in our video! She decked it out with a sand bucket, shovels and a starfish. You had better watch closely to see all the detail she put into that amazing castle! Images leading up to the video are showcased on our Instagram page. We had such a great time bonding as a team to create this fun video for you to watch. We hope it gives you many laughs and that you watch it over and over again. Make sure to call our office before the end of June to ensure your payment goes to charity and that you receive the discounted prices. Let me know what you think of our video after you check it out! Should we have more in the future?

Published By: Sarah Steele

A Fluoride Treatment Can Improve the Health and Strength of Your Tooth Enamel

Tooth enamel is the very hard biological substance that gives your teeth the strength to chew and profess the foods you eat. Its mineral density prevents bacterial decay from developing within the tooth enamel, thus preserving your oral health and function.

If you routinely struggle to maintain good oral hygiene habits, or if you consume acidic products on a regular basis, it could deplete the mineral strength of your teeth. This will significantly increase your chances of developing cavities and tooth sensitivity complications.

One easy and effective way to strengthen tooth enamel and maintain healthy teeth is to have Dr. [doctor_name] administer a basic fluoride treatment. This will help bolster the mineral density of your teeth to help restore their overall strength.

To do this, Dr. [doctor_name] will pour a concentrated fluoride gel into a tray that is inserted in your mouth and held there for a few minutes. You should avoid eating or drinking for at least a half an hour to allow the fluoride to deeply penetrate the enamel of your teeth.

Going forward, you might want to consider cutting back on acidic foods and beverages. Brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste will also be helpful.

If you live in the [city], [state], area and you have concerns about the health and strength of your teeth, you should call [phone] to schedule a checkup with fluoride treatment at [practice_name].

Zap Away Tooth Decay with Laser Dentistry

Zap away tooth decay with laser dentistry. With lasers, precision oral health treatments can be given safely and accurately to improve and enhance your smile. Lasers have been around since 1994, but have been experiencing a surge of popularity in the dental community, specifically for teeth whiteners, which have boomed in recent years.

Teeth whitening treatments can be found everywhere these days, including your local grocery store. However, many of these products go unregulated and thus may contain ineffective ingredients, or potentially harmful ones capable of destroying tooth enamel or bleaching your gums. With professional teeth whiteners, you can have a treatment applied directly from the hands of an experienced dentist. Lasers are often used in professional whiteners to activate the gels on your teeth safely and effectively.

Lasers are also used to prepare teeth for dental fillings and root canal therapies. If any tissue or bacteria needs to be removed or zapped away, lasers can do the job effectively. If gum tissue needs to be removed and used for a cancer biopsy, one of the easiest ways to accomplish this is with the use of a laser.

If you would like to learn more about laser dentistry or to book a professional cleaning or oral exam with [practice_name], contact us at our dentist office in [city], [state]. Our number is [phone]. Dr. [doctor_name] and our entire team look forward to seeing you soon.

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