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

 

 

What Exactly is Biofilm?

May 18, 2011 | Posted Education

Some of you might have seen certain toothpaste commercials on television talking about what appears to be the latest threat to your oral health…biofilm!

If so, you might have wondered what biofilm is.

The first thing to be aware of is that biofilm is not a new oral health issue! In fact, most of you are probably familiar with another term for biofilm as it relates to your oral health…namely, plaque!

The reality is that the plaque that forms on your teeth is a form of biofilm. As such, there is no need to feel that biofilm is some brand new form of mutated superbug that did not previously exist. It was always there! We simply did not have the technology to recognize it! More importantly, we did not understand how it develops and grows.

The good news is that today, we have that understanding. And that means we are better able to control and eliminate it!

Now that you know that biofilm on the teeth is essentially plaque, you may still be wondering what is biofilm?

Biofilm is a complex community of bacteria that has adhered to some sort of surface, such as a tooth. It is protected by an exterior surface of, for want of a better word, slime.

Believe it or not, beneath this slime is a well organized community of bacteria. As part of that organization, it is interesting to note that different types of bacteria will thrive in different locations within the biofilm.

For instance, deep within the biofilm, where it is harder for air to reach, you will find bacteria that survive better with less oxygen. Conversely, as you move to the exterior surface, the bacteria you find there need higher levels of oxygen to thrive. These different types of bacteria have found a way to meet their individual needs while surviving together in the same colony.

The colony also has an elaborate system for eliminating its own waste products. From our standpoint as dentists, the exterior slimy surface as well as the ability of these bacteria to adhere to teeth makes them difficult to remove. Antibiotics are ineffective at killing them while rinses cannot eliminate them.

Fortunately, biofilm bacteria can be wiped off the surface of your teeth. And that means regular brushing and flossing. Brushing has to be for at least two minutes each time in order to be effective at removing biofilm. It is such a sticky substance that casually wiping the surface is not enough to remove it from your teeth.

And even if you maintain good brushing and flossing habits, biofilm will grow underneath the gums where the brush and floss cannot reach. Regular trips to the dentist are essential to clean the biofilm from the area of the teeth beneath the gum line.

So there you have it. Next time you see that commercial, you will know that biofilm is nothing new. However, we now understand it better. That means we are in a better position to know how to eliminate it. Because understanding how to remove biofilm is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives!

Dr. Wayne Perron

Dental Surgeon

Nobody likes to have braces to correct an overbite or a crossbite. So often, the age when people have braces is right in the middle of those awkward teenage years. Already feeling self-conscious about their appearance, most teenagers dread the thought of having braces.

But if a crossbite or overbite develops, it really is in their best interest to have the issue addressed. And the earlier it is looked after the better. That means if you see the signs of developing bite problems in your child, the sooner you have them looked after, the quicker they can be corrected.

There is no one single cause for a child to develop problems with his/her bite. It may be a hereditary issue. Sometimes, adult permanent teeth erupt before the baby teeth have fallen out. The jaw may respond by slipping in a different direction to accommodate the extra row of teeth.  The longer this situation is allowed to persist, the greater the likelihood of your child developing a crossbite or overbite.

Children who are mouth breathers are more likely to develop problems with their bite. Normal breathing through the nose allows the tongue to rest in its normal position along the roof of the mouth. When mouth breathing occurs, the tongue falls away from this position and the lateral development of the jaw is adversely affected.

Often, enlarged tonsils can be the cause of mouth breathing. If that is a problem for your child, you may need to have it addressed before treating the bite. In fact, you may have to consider removing the tonsils before treating the bite.

A similar problem occurs in children who suck their thumbs. Thumbsucking also affects the lateral development of the jaw and can result in problems with a child’s bite. Many children find thumb sucking to be comforting and a difficult habit to break. But if you can find a way to break your child’s habit, they will thank you down the road!

Bite problems usually do require orthodontic treatment. The severity of the problem will determine the nature of the treatment. Minor problems may be dealt with far more easily than you might expect!

Regardless, we strongly recommend that you obtain whatever treatment you require. Not only are there the obvious cosmetic concerns about crossbites and overbites. There are very real health issues as well.

People with a poor bite may find it difficult to chew some of the more nutritious, whole foods, such as fruits and vegetables. As a result, they may elect not to eat these foods, thereby denying themselves of the health benefits they provide. Bite problems can also lead to serious TMJ problems, with persistent headaches.

So if you notice your child’s teeth are not coming together the way you think they should, mention it to your dentist. The sooner you address bite problems, the easier they are to correct. And maintaining a proper bite is a healthy habit…and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. Bao Nguyen

Dental Surgeon

 

 

We all know how unpredictable life can be. The best laid oral health care plans and practices can seemingly be undone by an accident or trauma that leads to a dental emergency.

Dental emergencies can come in many forms. Accidents can result in people biting their tongues or lips. They may lead to broken or chipped teeth, or even to teeth being knocked out.

Prompt action in all these circumstances can be highly beneficial. In fact, you might be surprised to discover that it can even save a tooth you might otherwise have given up on!

If some form of trauma leads to you biting either your tongue or your lip, you will want to keep the area as clean as possible while controlling the bleeding. Use a cloth to try to clean the area, and then apply a cold compress to control the bleeding.

This will usually be sufficient to deal with minor cuts. However, if the bleeding proves difficult to control, you may require medical attention. You should get to an emergency clinic, hospital or dentist as soon as possible as you may require stitches to close the wound.

A cracked or chipped tooth can also benefit from prompt attention. Again, you will want to ensure that the area is kept clean and that a cold compress is applied to deal with any swelling. Once you have dealt with those immediate needs, get to your dentist right away!

Treatment options will vary depending upon the severity of the crack. Minor ones may be sealed quite easily. More serious cracks may result in the need for a root canal and crown to protect the pulp or living portion of the tooth. Let your dentist make the assessment and discuss the treatment options with you.

If a tooth is knocked out, you might be surprised to know that you still might be able to save it! The first ten minutes from the time it is knocked out are crucial. If you can replace the tooth into the socket within ten minutes, there is a good chance it will take root again. The more time passes, the less likely you will succeed in saving the tooth.

When handling a knocked out tooth, try to touch only the crown. Do not touch the roots. If the tooth is dirty, rinse it in water to clean it. You can then try to replace the tooth into the socket.

If you are unable to do this yourself, or you are concerned that the tooth might be swallowed, place the tooth in a glass of milk. You then need to seek the help of a dentist immediately.

Of course, sometimes we have to accept that an accident does mean the end of that tooth. However, it does not mean the end of an attractive smile or a healthy mouth. With options such as implants, crowns and bridges, nobody needs to ever know that you have had a tooth replaced.

Regardless of the outcome, the best way to protect your oral health in the face of an emergency is to make sure you take quick action and get to your dentist. Because acting quickly in an emergency is a healthy habit…and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. Peter Georgopoulos

Dental Surgeon

 

 

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