It is a sad reality but the fact is that, traditionally, men have not taken as good care of their oral health as women. The reason for this may not be entirely clear. However the fact is that this reality has manifested itself in many different ways.

In the first place, men have not been as diligent in daily home care of their teeth and gums. In a number of surveys, more men have reported that they do not brush their teeth more than once per day, nor do they floss regularly or use mouthwash.

All of these practices are beneficial to your oral health. Yet men who fail to follow them have nothing but excuses to justify their inaction. Some men erroneously believe that once per day is sufficient. Others simply claim that they do not have the time to brush twice, floss once and rinse.

The reality is that teeth need to be cleaned at least twice per day. The faster you remove biofilm from the surface of your teeth, the less likely you are to experience plaque build-up. That means you reduce the chances of tooth decay, gingivitis and periodontal disease!

As for time, it only takes approximately 5 - 6 minutes per day to look after your teeth! Two minutes to brush in the morning, two in the evening and then add a minute or two for flossing and rinsing and you are done!

Of course, you can feel free to brush more often! But even following this minimum level should help immensely! Plus, it should not be that difficult to find 5 minutes in a day to look after your health.

Other areas where men fall short in their oral health include visits to the dentist. Men are more likely to believe that they do not need to visit the dentist twice per year. Even if they do believe this to be necessary, they are also more likely to feel that they do not have the time to visit the dentist.

The reality is that, today, many women are just as busy, if not busier than many of us men. So if they can find the time, why can’t the men?

The reality is that twice yearly check-ups are vital to ensure that your oral health remains in good condition. A lot can change in 6 months and your dentist wants to make sure any potential problems that develop are addressed before they become much larger!

Fortunately, some dentists are reporting that more and more men are placing a higher priority on oral health. This may be due to an increased importance that is placed on male appearance and grooming today compared to yesterday.

Today, it is not just women who recognize the importance of looking your best. And that means making sure your oral health is top notch so that your smile is the best it can be!

To those men who have not joined the movement, it is never too late. Because taking care of your teeth is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Wayne Perron

Dental Surgeon

Can you believe how close we are to the end of another summer? Before you know it, we will be sharing the roads with school buses once more. And along with the ritual of back to school, autumn brings with it the return of another Canadian ritual: hockey!

Like you, we are fans of this great, Canadian game. But I am sure most of us have that nagging concern in the back of our minds…what if our child gets hurt?

The truth is, you spend a lot of money on the best hockey equipment you can find, all in the hope of providing your son or daughter with as much protection from injury as possible. That means you look for the best shoulder pads, elbow pads, gloves. The better the protection they offer, the happier you are.

However, one area that many parents fall short on is the mouth guard. Now, all kids have them as the league’s usually require them to wear one. So it is not that the kids lack a mouth guard. What they lack is a top quality mouth guard.

Most parents simply purchase an over-the-counter mouth guard that they find in their local hockey equipment store. Some of these products are fairly good and, when heated in boiling water, can be molded somewhat to fit your child’s mouth.

However, they are no substitute for a custom-fitted mouth guard!

Your dentist can take a mold of your child’s mouth so that a mouth guard can be fitted that specifically takes into consideration how his/her teeth come together. That way, you can have a mouth guard specifically designed to reduce the risk of dental trauma for your child, rather than a one-size fits all solution.

It does cost more to have a custom-fitted mouth guard. But if you are prepared to invest in the best shoulder protection, why not adopt the same approach to protecting your child’s teeth!

The beauty is if your child is a multi-sport athlete, s/he can use the mouth guard for other sports. Like hockey, football usually mandates that mouth guard be worn by all players.

If you watch a lot of professional basketball, you see a lot of players there wearing mouth guards. If it is good enough for the pros, we believe it is good enough for your children!

So invest in getting the best mouth guard – talk to your dentist about a custom fitted one to maximize your child’s protection from sports related dental trauma.

Then you need to take proper care of it! Simply rinsing it under water after a game is not sufficient to remove the germs and bacteria that accumulate on a mouth guard. We recommend brushing it with a toothbrush and toothpaste after every use. You should also soak it in a bacteria fighting mouthwash. Afterall, protecting the teeth from bacteria is just as important as protecting them from trauma.

So take a moment to contact your dentist and talk about a custom-fitted mouth guard. Because protecting young smiles from sports trauma is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Martin LaBoissonniere

Dental Surgeon

One of the greatest challenges faced in the dental profession is something of an offshoot to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy. Many people simply think that if there is no pain or discomfort, nothing is wrong. So why bother seeing a dentist?

On a certain level, this is understandable. Other than our annual physical or other routine medical examinations, most of us do not visit our doctor when we are feeling great. So why should we be any different with our dentist?

To answer that question, let’s focus on a key statement in the previous paragraph. We stated that “Other than our annual physical or other routine medical examinations”. Right off the bat, that tells you that the wise and healthy course of action to looking after your health is to have those examinations, even when you feel perfectly healthy.

Well dentistry is no different. Looking after your dental health is a vital component of looking after your overall health. And that means the healthy choice is to visit your dentist at least twice per year, even if you are not experiencing any dental pain.

The unfortunate truth is that a lack of pain today does not mean problems are not developing. You may be developing periodontitis, gingivitis or cavities without experiencing even the slightest discomfort. All of these conditions can allow potentially harmful bacteria easy access into your body where they can do much more damage to your mouth and beyond!

You have probably heard the stories of an acquaintance feeling perfectly fine one day but waking up with a swollen, painful abscess the next! And one of the most common themes for these occurrences is dental neglect. When you investigate, you often discover that the patient does not brush or floss regularly or that their last visit to the dentist was 3 years ago.

The result…an oral health condition that could have been easily treated without any discomfort is now causing immense pain and might even require surgery to treat. All of this can happen because somebody thought “it ain’t broke”!

One thought we would like to leave you with is that oral health conditions are amongst the most common, chronic health problem in the world today. In some parts of the world, poverty is the main culprit. People in these regions are malnourished and lack the resources they need to look after their oral health.

In Canada, most of us are fortunate enough that this is not a problem. We have the resources and education we require to look after our oral health. We just have to use them.

So when it comes to your oral health, never mind the “if it ain’t broke” philosophy. Work on the truism that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”! Because maintaining that ounce of prevention is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. George Parry

Dental Surgeon

Well, if you blinked, it seems like you might have missed the better part of this summer. Back to school is only a matter of a couple of weeks away! Whatever you did this summer, we hope you enjoyed your time with family and friends.

Of course, back to school does mean taking the time to purchase those essential school supplies. We certainly agree that this is an important task. Well, in the midst of all the paper, pens, binders and backpacks, may we suggest you squeeze in a bit of time to bring your children to the dentist for a back to school check-up?

Think about it…you rush around to get all the right supplies for your kids so they can start the school year off right. Have you ever thought that starting the school year off right also means making sure they start it in good oral health?

There is a good reason to take the time to visit the dentist before school starts. Amongst school-aged children in North America today, oral health has become one of the greatest health care issues. It may not get the same publicity as other health issues, such as childhood obesity. And while we certainly do not want to downplay the seriousness of inactivity and obesity amongst our children today, oral health care is just as important an issue in our opinion.

The reality is that dental care issues are one of the biggest reasons children miss time from school. The pain associated with tooth decay and gum disease is very real and can keep children at home. Kids who miss more class time tend to have lower marks.

Even if the pain is not keeping your child home from school, any level of oral discomfort will likely affect your child’s ability to concentrate. And poor concentration also leads to poor marks!

A check up before school starts will allow your dentist to diagnose any early signs of oral health care issues. This means you can address them before they become a more serious issue and before they interfere with your child’s performance in school.

And if tooth decay or gum disease are not problems for your child, perhaps orthodontics may be in the future. Discussing this with your dentist and starting treatment before school begins can help avoid missed class time.

So start the school year off right by including a visit to the dentist to make sure your children have a clean bill of dental health. By booking now, your dentist may still have the time to deal with any problems before the school year starts.

That means you can be confident that your child is heading into the school year without the worry of missing classes. Because getting to class and achieving good marks in school are healthy habits…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr.  Peter Georgopolous

Dental Surgeon

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