We all value a beautiful smile. You know the one! That wonderful look of a full set of straight, white teeth! A beautiful smile gives us confidence and allows us to display a more dynamic personality.

However, many people who do not have such straight teeth are reluctant to flash a big, confident smile. They become concerned about how their smile will be perceived and constantly strive to hide their teeth. Rightly or wrongly, they can be misjudged as not being friendly or being shy.

The improved confidence that comes with a more cosmetically appealing smile is one very good reason to correct crooked teeth. However, cosmetics are not the only concern. Crooked teeth can also have profound oral health implications.

For example, when teeth are not properly aligned, there is a tendency to develop an improper bite. When eating, the normal chewing motion can cause the teeth to grind against each other in an unnatural way. Over time, this can erode the enamel surface of the tooth, leaving that tooth more susceptible to decay.

Another factor to consider is that crooked teeth can be more difficult to keep clean. The bacteria that can lead to tooth decay or gum disease are microscopic and can fit just about anywhere.

But your toothbrush and dental floss, the essential tools to keep your teeth clean, are much larger. Quite simply, no amount of brushing or flossing can clean what cannot be reached. If crowding is preventing you from properly cleaning your teeth, bacteria will accumulate and you can expect this to result in oral health problems.

Crooked or misaligned teeth can also lead to problems with the temporomandibular  joint. This can result in muscle pain and tension that produces headaches. The longer you allow this situation to continue, the more problematic it can become. So correcting it as early as possible can, quite literally, save you lots of headaches!

As you can see, it is not just for cosmetic reasons that we recommend you address crooked teeth. The exact nature of the required intervention can depend upon the cause and severity of the problem as well as the age of the patient. Your dentist may be able to correct the situation with relatively minor intervention. On the other hand, more serious cases may have to be referred to an orthodontist.

And while it is preferable to address these situations when a patient is young, do not assume that you have to accept your crooked teeth just because you are an adult! You might be pleasantly surprised at how your dentist can help no matter what your age!

The key is to fix the problem…not just for the cosmetic improvement that will result. Crooked teeth can create serious oral health concerns and correcting them  is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Bao Nguyen

Dental Surgeon

It seems strange to think that the time you spend in a spinning class or moving those weights around could be good for your oral health. But some studies have suggested that it is not just your legs, hips and waste that can benefit from a little sweat equity!

One study in particular out of Case Western University in the United States is quite interesting. It found that individuals who participated in regular exercise routines, maintained a healthy diet and kept their weight within a normal range were 40% less likely to suffer from gum disease.

It should obviously be pointed out that exercise alone was not responsible for the improved oral health. Individuals who performed well in this study also had a tendency to eat better. Proper nutrition is instrumental to overall health as well as oral health.

For example, healthy eating habits help build up the body’s defenses against disease. The better your nutrition, the more capable your body is to fight off common ailments such as a cold or the flu.

However, proper nutrition may also reduce the risk of gum disease by reducing the amount of plaque biofilm on the teeth. Biofilm is a build-up of bacteria. Researchers concluded that a healthy body that has been fed a nutritious diet may be better equipped to fight off the invasive bacteria in biofilm just like it would a cold or flu virus.

Exercise can also be beneficial for your oral health on a number of different levels. Firstly, exercise is vital to maintain a healthy bone density, particularly as we age. This is obviously a concern to prevent broken hips or limbs from falls.

However, good bone density also helps keep the jaw bone strong. The stronger the jaw bone, the more capable it is of supporting your teeth and keeping them in place.

Secondly, exercise has been cited as a contributing factor to reducing what is known as C-reactive protein in the blood. This protein is associated with inflammation in the heart. It is also associated with periodontal disease. In other words, what reduces the risk of heart disease may also reduce the risk of gum disease.

Obviously, eating right, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight will not be sufficient on their own to properly look after your oral health. You will still need to brush and floss daily and visit your dentist regularly.

Still it is interesting to consider how the body is so interrelated. All that fattening, high sugar food that we use to say “goes over the lips and onto the hips”? Now we can see how burning it off the hips looks after our lips!

This is just one more reason to add balance to your life with healthy eating and exercise. Because maintaining that balance is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. David Lui

Dental Surgeon

We never like to dwell on the negative when considering your oral health. As the great Louis Armstrong once sang, we prefer to “accentuate the positive” and “eliminate the negative”!

But we do not suggest eliminating those negatives by ignoring them and hoping they go away! Rather, when some of the negative signs of poor oral health appear, we believe in being proactive and eliminate them through healthy dental care.

So what are some of the common signs of potential oral health issues?

Let’s start with consistent bad breath. This is not the type that you can have after certain meals. Rather, it is the type of bad breath that seems to be there no matter what you eat or drink. If regular brushing and flossing cannot alleviate the condition, you should consult your dentist.

The culprit behind your bad breath could be the bacteria associated with gum disease. This could be improved simply with better oral care procedures at home combined with more regular visits with your dentist. Your dentist can advise you as to whether more aggressive intervention might be required.

Bad breath may also be the sign of a more serious, underlying health condition. Your dentist may recommend that you see your doctor is s/he is suspicious you may have such a condition.

If you notice that your gums bleed regularly when you brush or floss, you should mention this to your dentist. This again may indicate a problem with gum disease. However, bleeding can also be a sign of much more serious problems. For instance, if you also notice numbness in your mouth, red or white patches, or sores that do not heal; you may be looking at oral cancer.

As part of your regular check up, your dentist should be looking for the early signs of oral cancer. Like any other form of cancer, early detection is the key to successful treatment. So regular dental check-ups can help ensure such a condition is caught early.

Mouth soreness can be caused by any of a number of situations. It may be a poor bite that can be corrected with a night guard or bite splint. Perhaps it is the result of some form of trauma that may not have caused any serious damage at first glance. Either of these situations is worth looking into.

The bottom line is that these are warning signs of potential oral health issues that your dentist can usually correct. However, your dentist can only help you if you take the time to visit your dentist!

So take that time! Life is too short to put up with painful or unpleasant oral health issues! Correcting these situations is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Wayne Perron

Dental Surgeon

Tobacco and Oral Health

June 30, 2011 | Posted Education


Tobacco

  • tobacco products include cigarettes, cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco and SNUS
  • tobacco-use is the number one cause of preventable disease, disability and death in Canada
  • cigarette smoking causes about 30 per cent of cancer deaths in Canada
  • there are over 4,000 chemicals in a cigarette, cigar or pipe, 69 of which are known or suspected to cause cancer
  • there are over 3,000 chemicals in spit tobacco, 28 of which are known or suspected to cause cancer

Oral Cosmetic Effects of Tobacco Use


Tobacco use causes:
  • persistent bad breath
  • discoloured teeth

 

Oral Health Effects of Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is linked to an increased risk of:
  • tartar build-up
  • gum and bone disease (smoking increases risk by four times)
  • jaw bone loss
  • shifting teeth
  • oral cancers – tongue, mouth, gums, tonsils, pharynx
  • mouth sores
  • cavities
  • altered sense of taste and smell
  • delayed wound healing
  • sinusitis

 

You can quit! We can help.

Smokers’ Helpline has proven tips and tools to help you quit tobacco use and increase your chance
of being successful. For free, personalized and non-judgmental support, advice and information
connect to quit today.
  • Call toll-free 1 877 513-5333
Ready to talk about quitting? Call a Quit Coach for free, confidential one-to-one
support. Quit Coaches can help with making a quit plan, coping with cravings and
quitting methods. They can connect you with services and resources in your
community.
  • Register online at SmokersHelpline.ca
Free 24/7 access to a supportive community and self-help program. Features include
discussion forums and your own Quit Meter that provides personalized feedback about
financial and health gains.
  • Sign up for text messaging at SmokersHelpline.ca
Interactive text support with helpful messages for up to 13 weeks, depending on your
quit date. (Standard text messaging rates apply). You can choose your message
schedule and text back for additional support.
All services are available in English and French. Interpreter service available by phone in over 100 languages.

Sources: Canadian Dental Health Association : College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario : World Health Organization : Canadian Cancer Society

With summer coming, we like to think that life might slow down a bit. The kids are out of school…your summer vacation plans are coming up and you are excited about that.

For most of us, our work schedules slow down in the summer. Unfortunately, that is not a situation that applies for all of us. And even if we enjoy less stress in the summer, before you know it, fall will be here bringing back a full schedule of events…and stress!

While some stress can be good for us, most of us are aware that too much stress can have a negative impact on our hearts or blood pressure. However, what you may not be aware of is that too much stress can also impact your oral health.

Stress can affect your oral health in either a direct or indirect manner. For instance, one indirect affect is that people under stress are more likely to neglect their hygiene routines or make unhealthy food choices.  Either of these can have a negative impact upon oral health.

For instance, a failure to properly brush and/or floss on a regular basis can leave behind more food particles on the teeth and gums. This can attract bacteria and lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

With respect to food choices, highly stressed individuals tend to choose foods of convenience. That usually means more processed foods with higher sugar or starch content. Unhealthy eating habits like this can also compromise your oral health.

These indirect affects show how stress can impact our lifestyle choices. However, stress can also have a direct impact on the well being of your mouth. For instance, people who experience higher levels of stress are more susceptible to a condition known as bruxism.

Bruxsim refers to the grinding of the teeth, usually at night while sleeping. It can lead to headaches, earaches, chronic facial pain and even the uneven wearing of the teeth. Many people suffering from bruxism wear night guards while they sleep to help alleviate the symptoms.

Stress has also been linked to dry mouth by affecting the ability to produce saliva. Saliva is very important to keeping the mouth clean and people with dry mouth are also more likely to suffer other oral health care concerns, including bad breath.

Canker sores are also more common with stress. The link between cankers and stress is not clearly understood. And while cankers are usually harmless, they can be painful.

Of course, stress can compromise your immune system. And when immune systems are not working efficiently, gum disease can become a problem as you are less able to deal with the bacteria that can build up in your mouth. A strong, unstressed immune system can be one of your best defenses against gum disease.

So if you think stress is causing you to suffer from any of these conditions, talk to your dentist. These problems might only add to your stress and your dentist wants to help alleviate it. Because alleviating stress is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. George Parry

Dental Surgeon

You know the test! Things look ok but something still does not “feel” right to you. You might use the expression that it does not pass the “smell” test.

Well, as unpleasant a thought as it may be, your mouth may be in a similar state of health. All your teeth are there and they appear to be nice and white. But that “smell” test is emitting an odour that says something is wrong.

Truth be told, one in four Canadians suffers from bad breath that cannot be controlled with regular brushing, flossing or dental treatments. Of course, mouthwash or breath mints do little more than cover up the problem for a very brief period.

These people might be surprised to learn that their bad breath may indicate a more serious, underlying health issue. Perhaps some form of local infection in the respiratory tract might be the cause. However, it may also be a sign of sinusitis, bronchitis, untreated diabetes or kidney or liver issues. All of these medical conditions need to be treated by a physician.

In most cases, however, bad breath is the result of poor oral hygiene. If you are not brushing and flossing on a regular basis, food particles can be allowed to build up between your teeth. These particles attract a lot of bacteria. Keep in mind that your mouth is a nice, warm moist home which bacteria naturally finds very attractive! Add in some decaying food particles and you will have some very happy bacteria!

Of course, this can lead to further more serious oral health issues. The build-up of bacteria can penetrate the gums resulting in gum disease, also known as periodontitis. This can result in gum recession, tooth loss and even bone loss in the jaw. More seriously, these harmful bacteria will have an easy access route to your blood system and may spread their infections to other parts of the body, including the heart and lungs!

So don’t be afraid to see if your breath passes the “smell” test. Just cup your hand over your mouth so that your breath is directed toward your nose. Then exhale. If something does not smell right, you might have to pay greater attention to your brushing and flossing habits.

The best news is that good oral hygiene practices, including regular visits to your dentist, will usually be sufficient to alleviate your breath problems. You may find that is all you need to do to turn your unpleasant odour into something that passes any smell test. Of course, if you are a smoker, quitting that habit may also be necessary to improve your breath.

Anyway you look at it, getting rid of bad breath is good for your confidence and also good for your health. So make sure you are not having trouble with the “smell” test. Because eliminating bad breath is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Peter Georgopoulos

Dental Surgeon

Life never stays the same! In fact, we all familiar with the concept that the only constant in life is change. That truism is applicable to your dental needs as well, perhaps even more for women than men.

The fact is that dental needs for women change dramatically at different times in life. It probably would not come as much of a surprise to learn that these changes correspond with the biological changes women experience along the way.

For instance, when a young woman enters puberty, her body undergoes dramatic hormonal changes. Some women notice that this can affect the health of their gums. There can be a tendency for their gums to become more inflamed and prone to bleeding.

The concern at this stage is that inflamed gums are more likely to be penetrated by the bacteria that are always found in the mouth. This can increase the risk of developing periodontal disease. If the bacteria enters into the bloodstream, it may cause or aggravate more serious  health conditions, such as infections, heart conditions, diabetes or even oral cancer.

The good news is that puberty does pass! However, young adult women are not out of the woods. If you are using birth control to reduce the risk of pregnancy, you should be aware that inflammation of the gums is also a side effect of some forms of birth control.

For women who are pregnant, the hormonal changes can again inflame the gums, leaving you susceptible to periodontal disease and bacterial infections. However, it is not just your own health that could be at risk now. The health of your developing baby can also be compromised.

Woman who are in poor oral health during pregnancy are more likely to experience a premature delivery. Babies born prematurely have significant more health challenges, some of which could affect them for their whole lives!

Then when you think you have survived all the tough stuff and the golden years of retirement are just around the corner, along comes menopause! Many post-menopausal women suffer from decreased bone density. This can increase the risk of tooth loss as well as broken or chipped teeth.

Despite all of this, the good news is that most of the negative effects can be offset by a good oral health care regime. That means regular brushing and flossing, as well as visiting your dentist as least twice per year. Your dentist may recommend more frequent visits if your oral health care needs require it.

If you notice that your gums or your daughter’s gums remain inflamed for  prolonged periods, schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss this fact. You do not need your dentist to tell you that hormonal changes can play havoc with a woman’s body. Making sure you look after your oral health during these challenging times is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Bao Nguyen

Dental Surgeon

Making the right choices with the food we eat is beneficial on so many levels. But just because the snack you choose is otherwise healthy, do not assume it is always good for your teeth!

The fact is that even healthy snacking can cause tooth decay! The choice is not always what you are eating. When you are eating it and how often are also relevant considerations.

The reality is that most foods, even healthy ones, contain some sugar and/or starches. When these foods come into contact with the bacteria we routinely have in our mouths, they will begin a reaction that produces acid. This can cause acid erosion of the teeth.

Some foods, including healthy fresh fruit choices, are notorious for having a high acid content. The higher the acidic level in the food, the greater the likelihood that you could experience acid erosion if you consume that food too often.

That brings up one of the points. Frequent snacking can be detrimental to the health of your teeth! Every time an acid producing food is consumed, you place your teeth at risk.

And it is not as if the acid build-up will be short lived. In fact, your teeth become susceptible to the effects of acid erosion for as long as 20 or 30 minutes after you have finished your snack! That is a long period of time in which a significant level of damage can occur.

You might think you can curb the effects by brushing right after your snack. However, brushing at that time could cause more damage. When your mouth is in the midst of an acid build-up, the enamel is temporarily softer. Brushing at that time could cause further damage to the enamel, wearing down your defenses to the acid you are trying to protect against!

Obviously we are not suggesting you refrain from brushing. Just keep in mind that when you brush can be very important to the health of your teeth!

And so too can how often you snack. If you are the type of person who keeps snacks in the desk at work and nibbles a little bit all day, you may be constantly exposing your teeth to the forces of acid erosion.

A wiser course of action would be to plan your snacks in conjunction with meal schedule. Your snacks should obviously be healthy and we are not suggesting you make them so large as to dramatically increase your caloric intake.

But snack sizes should be sufficient to fill you up to the next meal. You do not want to fall into the trap of constantly eating small snacks all day, thereby maintain high levels of acid in your mouth.

If you are noticing unusual sensitivity in your mouth, talk to your dentist. It just may be that your snack schedule is compromising the health of your teeth!

In the meantime, keep in mind that healthy eating habits can include what and when you eat. So take the time to plan both. Because planning your meals is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Wayne Perron

Dental Surgeon

While spring has been wet and cool, the promise of warmer weather for the summer seems just ahead. And as the summer clothes come out, teens and young adults bring out their new fashions, complete with tattoos and piercings that might make some of us parents a tad squeamish.

It may be hard for us to remember, but we probably did the same thing to our parents. Guys with long hair and pierced ears caused quite a furor when many of us were younger. Today, a pierced ear on a guy seems so tame!

Perhaps that is part of the issue and we as parents have to accept that our kids have a desire to push the envelope, just as we did. But as parents, we have a responsibility to educate our kids to make wise choices, just as our parents tried to.

And when it comes to piercings, there is a lot more to think about other than just how cool it looks. Particularly if we are talking about piercings of the lips, cheeks or tongue.

It may not be pleasant to think about it, but the tongue is prime breeding ground for bacteria. Millions of these organisms make their home in this small little area of the body. In fact, as much as 70% of the bacteria found in the mouth make their home on the tongue.

Bacteria build-up on the tongue can cause serious health concerns. Bacteria are live organisms. They like to grow and they like to move. Just because they start at the tongue does not necessarily mean they will stay there. They may easily move to the teeth and gums. And bacteria at the gum line it can cause periodontal disease.

More serious problems, such as infections, can occur if the bacteria find its way into the bloodstream. These infections may not necessarily remain in the mouth. Blood flows throughout the body and it can transport those bacteria wherever it goes.

Keeping your tongue clean by brushing it is always important. If you are thinking of getting your tongue or lips pierced, you have even more reason to keep your tongue clean. The piercing creates an open wound that gives easy access for the bacteria to get into the blood stream. Just think of the infections that could result!

Even if you manage to avoid any infections from the piercing, you have created a great place for bacteria to accumulate. People with pierced tongues who fail to properly clean around the piercing are more likely to have bad breath that those without piercing.

We certainly recommend against piercings, but we recognize that the desire to be edgy and cool may trump good health advice. Should that be the case, it is vital that you keep the area around the piercing as clean as possible.

Regular visits to your dentist can help in this regard. S/he will be able to let you know if there are any early signs of infection around your piercing. Because avoiding the spread of infection is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Martin LaBoissonniere

Dental Surgeon

Your Teeth Are What YOU Eat!

May 25, 2011 | Posted Education

You know the old saying “you are what you eat”? You might be surprised to learn that it applies to your teeth as much as the rest of you!

A healthy diet is of utmost importance for your teeth. Just as an unhealthy diet can have an unflattering affect on your physique, it can be just as unflattering to your teeth.

Most of us grew up quite aware that sugary, processed foods and candies were not good for our teeth. It is no secret that sugar is a major contributor to decay.

We have also been learning more recently about the detrimental impact acidic foods can have. High acid levels in food can erode the enamel of the teeth leading to decay.

Of course, sticky foods are a major concern as well. Whether natural (think of raisins) or processed (candies). The longer foods remain affixed to the teeth, the more time any sugars and acids have to break down the enamel.

But simply avoiding sugars and acids is not sufficient to create healthy teeth. Healthy teeth require healthy food. And one of the biggest impediments to a healthy diet can be… dieting. Crash diets in particular are not only a poor way to maintain a healthy weight. They are also a poor way to maintain healthy teeth.

People on crash diets deny themselves the important nutrition their body needs. These people commonly have reduced levels of vitamins D, B-12 as well as calcium.  Other minerals and proteins that are important for the health of the teeth and gums may also be missing in crash dieters.

Today, this problem is often aggravated by the use of diet pills. Along with many other potential unhealthy side effects, many diet pills reduce the flow of saliva in the mouth leading to dry mouth.

People who suffer from dry mouth tend to experience inflamed gums. They also tend to maintain higher levels of acid as the saliva is not present to dilute or even wash away acid that otherwise builds up on the teeth and gum line. As a result, they may experience greater levels of tooth decay and gum disease.

If you are considering going on a diet to help trim off a few extra pounds, you need to make sure that you still ingest the vital nutrients your teeth require. Don’t be afraid to talk to your dentist about your plans. You might be surprised to find out just how much of an information resource your dentist can be in this regard.

So take the steps to improve your diet. Healthy eating can improve your physique, making you look better and feel better. Feeling better makes you smile more. And since that healthy diet is also good for your teeth, smiling more will show off a healthy set of pearly whites!

All in all, eating the right foods is a healthy habit …and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. George Parry

Dental Surgeon