Archive for April 2011

It may be hard to realize that you may have a health issue when you are as healthy as almost everyone else. However, the truth is that sometimes, you do not want to be just as healthy as the next person. You want to be healthier!

That is definitely the case when it comes to your oral health. You may not want to be part of the majority of the population. The reason is simple. It is estimated that 80% of Americans suffer from some form of periodontal disease.

While we can appreciate that these are American statistics, it is highly likely that the Canadian numbers may be similar. From the standpoint of a dentist, we certainly would take little comfort in knowing that one person’s oral health is no worse than the next person’s when so many people are suffering from a potentially serious condition.

And why is periodontal disease such a serious health issue? First of all, there is a growing body of evidence that links periodontal disease to poor cardiovascular health. Bacteria associated with periodontal disease are often found in people suffering from heart or lung disease. And when we are talking about heart disease, we are talking about one of the number one killers of North American men and women.

For those already suffering from diabetes, periodontal disease can prove to be a serious complication. Studies have shown that diabetics with gum disease have more difficulty controlling their blood sugar. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, it is imperative that you follow a strict oral health routine that includes regular visits to the dentist, to be certain that your condition is not exacerbated by poor oral health.

Pregnant women should be aware that the health of your baby could be compromised by periodontal disease.  This condition in the mother increases the risk of a premature birth. Premature babies are less developed and have a lower birth weight, making them more susceptible to various other health risks.

So these are just some of the health risks you may expose yourself to if you are content to be part of the majority who suffers from periodontal disease. When you think of it in those terms, you realize it is not just your gums and teeth that suffer!

The best way to protect yourself is to make sure you brush your teeth at least twice each day, for two minutes each time! And feel free to brush more often! You should also floss at least once per day.

But do not assume that is sufficient. Visit your dentist regularly to be certain that your oral health care routine is having the desired effect. Your dentist can conduct the thorough examination you need to make sure you either get a clean bill of oral health or the treatment you need!

So don’t settle for an oral health condition that is just as good as the majority. Because avoiding periodontal disease is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives!

Dr.  Martin LaBoissonniere

Dental Surgeon

If you celebrate Christmas, you know how excited your kids can get as the time for Santa’s visit draws near! We will soon be seeing a similar excitement for many children as the prospect of the Easter Bunny and all those Easter chocolates approaches!

Well, many kids get just as excited about a visit from the Tooth Fairy – particularly that first visit! It can be quite fun to share in your child’s excitement as you move from having that wiggly tooth right up to the moment when it finally comes out. It is such a special milestone in the growth of a child, it is no wonder that many people save their child’s first tooth!

But with all the magic associated with losing that first tooth, it is easy to forget that you need to make sure that you treat it, and lose it, in the right way! That means you should resist the temptation to pull it out.

To understand why you should avoid this, you need to understand how the tooth loosens in the first place. A baby tooth becomes loose as its root dissolves. Once the root is sufficiently dissolved, there will really be nothing holding it in and it can be removed simply by wiggling it back and forth.

If you were to pull it prematurely, that would mean the root has not sufficiently dissolved. The pulling action will create a larger wound. A larger wound means easier access for bacteria and a greater risk of your child developing an infection.

It is important to keep in mind that even when the tooth is allowed to come out naturally, you are leaving behind a space that bacteria can use to access your child’s bloodstream. Therefore, it is important to emphasize good oral health care practices as the new, permanent tooth grows in!

This means you should continue to brush and floss around the area of the lost tooth. You may need to be more gentle immediately after the tooth has fallen out as your child may find the area to be more sensitive. Teaching your child to rinse properly can also help to keep the area clean. The key is, do NOT assume that, because there is no tooth, there is no need for oral health care!

And as the new tooth takes its place, do not be concerned if it looks disproportionately large compared to what you were used to. The adult teeth usually grow in at full size. Unlike your child’s jaw, they do not continue to grow. Over time, your child’s new tooth will likely settle into place and look perfectly natural in doing so.

The key is to make sure you bring your child to the dentist regularly to monitor the development of his/her teeth in relation to the jaw. If there is an issue with crowding, your dentist can discuss treatment options with you as your child grows.

In the meantime, enjoy the magic of watching a child lose a tooth…and the excitement of a visit from the tooth fairy. It is a wonderful experience that all kids look forward to, as they should! You will be surprised how much fun it can be for you too…because sharing your child’s excitement is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives!

Dr.  Bao Nguyen

Dental Surgeon

We have just turned the calendar into April. As we head into spring, many of us think of the promise of spring and all it has to offer. April is a great time to come out of our winter hibernation and get ready for a wonderful summer.

April also brings about Daffodil Days for the Canadian Cancer Society where fundraising and cancer awareness find an important meeting place. Cancer awareness is, increasingly, becoming an area of greater concern for all health care practitioners, including your dentist.

It is with this thought in mind that we believe April is an ideal time to raise awareness of oral cancer. Oral cancer does not receive the same amount of attention as other forms of cancer, perhaps due to the fact that it is not as prevalent.

However, with that lower awareness comes a greater danger. Compared to cancers such as breast or prostate cancer, oral cancer has a much higher mortality rate. It is estimated that 35,000 Americans will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year. Approximately half of them will not survive the next five years.

The reason for this is the lack of early detection. And early detection usually requires a visit to your dentist for a thorough examination. Simply visiting your doctor for a routine physical usually will not be sufficient. A complete oral cancer check will involve a visual examination of the entire mouth, both top and bottom, gently moving the tongue to the side to examine underneath and using fingers to search for lesions on the gums.

When was the last time anyone other than your dentist conducted such a thorough examination of your mouth?

This is the type of examination you should receive from your dentist at least every six months…perhaps more frequently if you are a smoker or otherwise at higher risk to develop oral cancer. The good news is that, like most other cancers, oral cancer is highly treatable when detected early.

Unfortunately, with at least one-third of North Americans failing to visit their dentist on a regular basis, early detection is what is missing for so many people. Since the mouth provides such an easy access to so many other areas of the body, it is easy for oral cancer to metastasize and spread. Once that occurs, treatment becomes more debilitating and, sadly, less likely to succeed.

So we urge you to use April to help in the fight against cancer. If a volunteer for the Canadian Cancer Society offers you a daffodil, buy it! Consider it an investment in your health! And after you do so, call your dentist and schedule an appointment so that you can be screened for oral cancer.

Because early detection of oral cancer is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives!

Dr.  George Parry

Dental Surgeon