Looking after your oral health definitely does require good brushing and flossing habits as well as regular visits to your dentist. However, if you do not take care of yourself by maintaining a healthy diet, brushing, flossing and your dentist may only delay the inevitable major restoration your mouth may require some day.

A good diet is vital to prevent such harmful conditions as periodontitis. In particular, foods that are high in anti-oxidants may help improve your periodontal health. To understand how anti-oxidants can help, you must first understand what they are up against.

Our bodies are constantly being exposed to dangerous free radicals. These free radicals are toxins that damage our bodies at the most basic cellular and DNA levels. Left unchecked, they can contribute to such chronic conditions as periodontitis, heart and lung disease and diabetes.

Sources of free radicals include cigarettes, sunlight, stress, pollution, certain medications, food additives and household cleaners, just to name a few. As you can see from this list, it is virtually impossible to avoid the sources of dangerous free radicals.

However, anti-oxidants help protect our cells by combating the effects of these free radicals. One of the benefits anti-oxidants provide is their ability to improve the health of patients suffering from periodontitis.

People with periodontitis usually experience swelling of the gums, pockets between the teeth and connective gum tissue of 5 millimeters or more, and bleeding of the gums. Increased levels of anti-oxidants have been found to reduce swelling and pocket depth while virtually eliminating bleeding. In other words, combined with improved oral health care practices, anti-oxidants can have a dramatic affect on reducing periodontitis.

This begs the question then as to how one can increase the level of anti-oxidants in the body. While there can be a number of sources, the best way would be to increase the amount of fresh fruit and vegetables you consume. Many people may also require appropriate vitamin supplements to attain optimal levels.

Of course, many of you will have heard reports about the anti-oxidant benefits of red wine and dark chocolate! While we certainly would not advocate some indulgence in these areas, it is quite apparent that overall health would be better served by looking for anti-oxidants in other sources!

Once again, the moral of the story is that there is a strong link between your oral health and your nutrition. Talk to your dentist if you have any questions in this regard. We can be found at www.rideaudental.ca and would be happy to help.

In the meantime, increase those fruits and vegetables in your diet. Because increasing your level of anti-oxidants is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr.  Bao Nguyen

Dental Surgeon

The Ever Important Dental X-Ray

November 17, 2011 | Posted Education

If you have visited your dentist regularly, you will have had an x-ray. It has been an essential element to complete dental treatment for years.

The x-ray has been around so long, we might take its technology for granted. Yet it continues to be an amazingly useful diagnostic tool for dentists. It operates by sending out waves of energy that can pass through solid objects. The more dense the object, the more the rays are absorbed.

Teeth are quite dense compared to your cheeks and gums. As a result, your teeth will absorb more x-ray energy, which is why they show up lighter in colour on the x-ray film. Existing fillings are denser than teeth and appear lighter on the film. However, since cavities are areas of the teeth which have decayed, they appear much darker than the rest of the tooth.

This simple contrast in the darkness of the x-ray image enables your dentist to see things that cannot be observed with the naked eye. For instance, your dentist can use x-rays to spot early signs of decay between teeth, under the gum line or beneath an existing filling. An x-ray can also reveal bone loss associated with periodontal disease, locate signs of infection or the fact that a nerve beneath the tooth has died, which can be a precursor to root canal.

The value of the x-ray is its ability to help your dentist find these potential problems as early as possible. When found early, treatment may be much easier and less intrusive.

The question that remains is how often you should have an x-ray. Unfortunately, there is no one simple answer to this question. Your dentist will want you to have x-rays as often as your dental health requires. Some people may only require x-rays every year or two. Other patients may need them more frequently, perhaps as often as every six months.

For instance, people with periodontal disease, those with a number of fillings, or who suffer from dry mouth or who smoke may benefit from having x-rays every six months. More frequent x-rays bring into question the health concerns associated with x-ray radiation.

Patients should feel confident that dental x-rays subject you to very small levels of radiation. Furthermore, your dentist will take all of the necessary precautions to ensure your exposure is kept to a minimum.

If you continue to have any concerns about x-rays, you should speak to your dentist about it. You need to be comfortable with the treatment you receive. This means balancing any concerns about x-ray radiation with the benefits of early detection of dental problems. Because finding dental problems early is a healthy habit… and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Wayne Perron

Dental Surgeon

As dentists, we are strong believers in YOUR power to control so many aspects of your oral health, as well as your life! Taking positive steps with diet, exercise, dealing with stress as well as regularly brushing and flossing your teeth can all improve your oral health.

Unfortunately, even the strongest, healthiest teeth may fracture as a result of an unforeseen accident. This may require that you seek some form of dental treatment. Of course, the nature of the required treatment may vary depending upon the manner of the fracture.

For instance, cracks in the teeth can be treated with different options, depending upon the severity of the crack. Very minor surface cracking of the enamel may be treated with a simple polishing of the affected tooth.

However, if you notice the appearance of a crack on your teeth, you should not assume it is minor in nature. Have your dentist take a look. The crack may be indicative of a more severe fracture that goes through the entire tooth.

You may not be experiencing any pain yet, but such a crack can leave your root exposed. It could require a filling, a crown or possibly a root canal if the root or pulp of the tooth has been damaged.

Many people active in sports may chip a tooth. Again, the severity and location of the chip can determine the ideal treatment. A very minor chip may require little more than filing away any sharp edges created.  If the shape is not cosmetically appealing, veneers may prove an attractive option to get that tooth to, once again, look…attractive!

However, larger chips may leave a root exposed and require more intrusive intervention. Again, a crown could be the option best suited to this situation.

If you experience a serious break, you will know it. Such a break will usually be the result of a strong trauma, and it will usually be accompanied with very noticeable pain, bleeding and often swelling. You will have to see your dentist immediately.

In some instances, the fracture may be so severe that your dentist might suggest implants as the best alternative. Implants are wonderful options as they look and perform just like a natural tooth. Patients who have had them have been thrilled with the results!

For all the hard work you do to take care of your teeth, we hope you never see your efforts undone by an accident that leaves you with a fractured tooth. However, if this should be the case, visit your dentist as soon as possible. Even if you think it is a minor break, x-rays may reveal a potentially more serious problem than you might think.

Let your dentist determine how severe the damage is and provide you with treatment options. Because treating fractures as early as possible is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr.  Martin LaBoissonniere

Dental Surgeon

It is easy to see that some people might look at the title of this article and feel they are attending a meeting of Dental Phobics Anonymous! That is certainly not the intent here. You will not be asked to stand up, say your name and admit you do not visit your dentist!

However, there is a good chance that many of you do not visit your dentist on a regular basis. Some studies have indicated that, in North America, as little as 45% of the population visits their dentist at least once per year. On a more local level, only 45% of local Ottawa seniors reported visiting the dentist at least once per year.

As dentists, we consider that a rather alarming statistic. First of all, due to the potential for your oral health to change rapidly, we recommend that you visit your dentist at least twice per year. For those individuals experiencing specific dental issues, such as periodontitis, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits.

We understand that there are a number of factors that interfere with your ability to make it to the dentist. Work days seem so much longer than ever before as technology seems to have us permanently linked to the office. Single parents or two income families often struggle to balance work life with getting their kids to whatever activity they have that night.

Even if you want to go to the dentist, life can be so busy it just seems to get in the way!

It is certainly not our place to lecture anybody about the importance of good oral health. That being said, we would be remiss if we did not, at the very least, remind you just how important regular dental visits are!

Your mouth is truly a window into your overall health. People in poor oral health tend to be more likely to experience poor overall health as well! The bacteria that builds on the teeth can penetrate into your bloodstream and cause infections to spread, or result in cardiovascular diseases!

Sometimes, an underlying health condition that may not seem to be linked to oral health can be spotted by your dentist. For example, some dentists have spotted signs of undiagnosed diabetes in patients. Imagine how their health could have been further compromised without that dental visit!

Then, of course, there is the potential life saving diagnosis your dentist may provide through early detection of oral cancer! Visiting even once per year is not sufficient to increase the likelihood of early detection. You need to get to the dentist at least every six months to provide your dentist with the best chance to catch oral cancer as early as possible.

We understand that this may seem like a large investment in time. But it is your health we are talking about. And if one of your children has to miss one hockey practice because you have a dentist appointment, we think that beats the option of discovering oral cancer when it is too late!

So invest the time to see your dentist. Because regular dental visits are a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. George Parry

Dental Surgeon

Do you or anyone in your family find it hard to sleep at night? Are you waking up irritable in the morning due to that lack of sleep? Have you ever considered the possibility that the problem may be the way that you breathe?

Specifically, the problem you may be facing is that you are a mouth breather!

For some people, the first task to work past when dealing with mouth breathing is the attitude that it is not a big deal. Breathing through the mouth for a short time period after physical exertion may not be problematic.

However, regular, prolonged mouth breathing is a real problem!

For instance, consistent breathing through the mouth can result in the facial muscles developing in an abnormal way to accommodate the breathing style. This stress on the muscles can cause headaches in the short term, and can even lead to facial deformities over an extended period of time.

People who breathe through the mouth are more likely to have inflamed tonsils. This can cause something of a vicious circle as the more inflamed the tonsils become, the more they close the airway for the mouth breather, possibly resulting in further disruptions to the breathing pattern.

Mouth breathing can also cause inflammation of the gums. This may result in gingivitis or bad breath.

Of course, sleep disorders may be the most serious problem associated with mouth breathing. Proper sleep is vital to allow our body time to heal and repair itself. If mouth breathing is impairing your sleep, your body may not be getting the rejuvenation it requires from a good night’s sleep.

When we are looking at young children, lack of sleep can lead to developmental issues and behavioural problems. The behavioural issues in some such children have been mistaken for ADHD and children have been prescribed unnecessary medication as a result.

Your dentist may be able to spot the signs of mouth breathing. Inflammation of the tonsils or gums may be a sign that you or your child suffer from this problem. A referral to an ear, nose and throat specialist may be necessary to determine if tonsils may have to be removed.

Otherwise, your dentist might be able to solve the problem with an appliance that will encourage more healthy breathing through the nose. The exact remedy you require will vary depending upon the severity of the problem. You can discuss this with your dentist and any other appropriate health care professional.

If you suspect mouth breathing may be a problem for you, discuss it with your dentist. It may be quite simple to correct and the sleep you get as a result will be well worth it. Because a good night’s sleep is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Peter Georgopoulos

Dental Surgeon

Very soon, schools, streets and houses will be filled with ghosts, ghouls and goblins, all trying their best to spook, startle and scare us! It is a scary time of year as all sorts of vampires, zombies and other fiendish characters will be wandering the streets looking to satisfy their thirst for…sugar!

Halloween can bring great fun. But as a parent, the prospect of our children consuming such large quantities of sticky, sweet, sugary candy is quite frightening! After all, when was the last time you heard anything about the positive health benefits of processed sugar!

Getting children to eat healthier is always a challenge. Many schools have been helping by removing chocolate bars, chips or soft drinks from vending machines on their property. But children still have no trouble finding sugary, starchy foods. And we spend Halloween literally giving these foods away!

We know that candies, candy bars and other similar confections have contributed to the increasing epidemic of childhood obesity.

But they are also contributing to the increasing problem of tooth decay amongst young children. In fact, conditions associated with tooth decay are one of the most common causes for children of all ages to miss school! Given that missing too much school can result in lower grades, it is understandable that we approach Halloween with some fear and trepidation!

Still, not everything about Halloween and all that candy should make your hair stand on end! Moderate amounts of treats can usually be overcome by proper cleaning of your little vampire’s fangs!

So encourage your children to brush after eating. Remember, the longer sugary foods are allowed to remain on their teeth, the more damage they can do. Brushing after every meal and snack can often be your best defense. Two minutes per session is the recommended amount of time. And do not forget to floss at least once per day!

So let’s all have a frightfully, scary Halloween. Let your children enjoy some sugar, but do your best to make sure it is a moderate amount.

Because limiting the amount of sugar your kids eat is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Bao Nguyen

Dental Surgeon

 

For the last couple of years now, we have been dealing with such negative economic news. Many people feel the pinch of this news as they either face layoffs from their jobs or there is a threat of such layoffs persistently hanging overhead. And this can be stressful!

Most of us are aware that stress can affect our hearts and our blood pressure. But many of you may not be aware that stress can also affect your oral health.

The impact of stress on oral health may be indirect. For instance, people under stress are more likely to neglect their hygiene routines or make unhealthy food choices.  Bad eating habits can creep in as we search for “comfort foods”. Unfortunately, comfort foods tend to be high in sugar which is never friendly for our teeth.

When those sugary foods are combined with the tendency of individuals under stress to forgo regular brushing and/or flossing, more sticky food particles can be left on the teeth.  This can attract the bacteria that lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Individual under stress are also more likely to grind their teeth, particularly while they sleep. This is known as bruxism and 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.

Even dry mouth and cankers can result from stress. Cankers tend to be harmless, albeit rather painful. As for dry mouth, the loss of the cleansing effects of saliva can result in bad breath and other more serious oral health issues, such as biofilm, tartar and the gum disease they can produce.

Of course, stress can compromise your immune system. And when immune systems are not working efficiently, gum disease can become a problem. Your body needs to be operating efficiently in order to combat the bacteria that attacks it from all directions, including the mouth. The stronger your immune system, the more ready you are to do battle with the multiple species of bacteria that find the mouth to be a wonderful home!

Just remember that smiling is one of the simplest ways to help alleviate stress. But if poor oral health has left you with a smile you would rather not show off, you are less likely to take advantage of this form of stress relief. So talk to your dentist if you are experiencing any of these conditions due to stress…and let your dentist help you put on a smile that will keep that stress away!

Because alleviating stress is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. David Lui

Dental Surgeon

Have you ever been to your dentist office and perhaps listened while your dentist or a hygienist called out a series of numbers to someone else who would write those numbers down? Have you ever wondered exactly what they are doing?

What they are doing is called “perio-probing” and it is one of the most important functions your dentist office can provide during an examination. So if it is so important, you may be wondering what exactly is “perio-probing”.

Perio-probing is a procedure whereby your dentist or hygienist will measure the depths of the pockets around your gums and teeth. S/he will place a specific dental instrument against the tooth and gently press it down to see how far or deep your pockets are.

Ideally, the healthier the gums, the smaller the pocket depth will be. The optimal situation would have pockets no deeper than 3 millimetres. This is a sign that your gums are snug to your teeth providing good support and less room for bacteria to build up below the gum line.

At 4 or 5 millimetres, your dentist may recommend that you return for more frequently than twice per year, which is normal for someone in good dental health. The reason for the more frequent visits is simple. The larger the pockets, the easier it is for plaque and bacteria to build up below the gum line.

When that happens, you could be dealing with a situation where the health of your gums continues to deteriorate. The longer the bacteria are allowed to remain, the more damage it will do to the gum tissue. Visiting your dentist more frequently to remove this build-up will provide better protection for your gums.

If gum disease is allowed to progress, more and more of the tooth and the underlying root, ligaments and jaw bone exposed to greater levels of bacteria.  When the bacteria gains even easier access to those areas, the amount of damage it can do will increase.

As it attacks these structures which support the teeth in place, their hold on your teeth will become weaker. Gradually, the teeth will become loose until they ultimately fall out or need to be removed.

And it might interest you to know that this is not a rare occurrence. Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults over 25 years.

In addition to increasing the frequency of your dental visits, improved oral health care practices at home may be necessary. Your dentist can provide you with some tips on this front. Regular brushing and flossing are vital to ensuring healthy gums. And having healthy gums is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Martin LaBoissonniere

Dental Surgeon

Technology has changed so much of what we do in our everyday life. Think of the speed at which we can access information on the internet or the manner in which we watch television in high definition, streamed feeds. Thirty years ago, these sorts of technology simply did not form part of our everyday lives.

Dentistry has also been dramatically affected by technology. New materials and techniques better enable your dentist to deliver services that simply did not exist in the past. Furthermore, with the computer technology provided in some offices, you can receive that treatment far more quickly and efficiently than in days gone by.

One of the most dramatic technological developments is commonly known as CEREC or E4D. CEREC or E4D can be used for a number of dental procedures, including crowns and veneers. It allows your dentist to photograph your tooth and the surrounding area from multiple angles. The images are stored and a digital, three dimensional model is created.

Then the marvel really begins. The CEREC or E4D software will take that 3D model and design the crown or veneer that will best fit your tooth! Not only does it create an ideal fit for the restored tooth – it is able to consider the ideal shape to best function in YOUR mouth!

Your digitally designed restoration will be stored and then sent wirelessly to a milling machine specially designed for the CEREC or E4D system. The milling machine is like having a dental lab in your dentist’s office, meaning you do not need to take an impression on one visit and then return for a second or third time in order to allow an external lab the time to create your restoration. Within minutes, a crown or veneer can be created out of a modern, ceramic material.

Most patients are thrilled with the results. The digital technology, combined with minor adjustments by your dentist, work to create a tooth that fits and functions in your mouth like your natural tooth. And the ceramic material used can create such a close match with your surrounding teeth; nobody will suspect you have a crown.

All this can be achieved with one simple trip to the dentist! So if you have been putting off the crown your smile needs because you do not have the time to visit your dentist two or three times, ask your dentist if s/he uses CEREC or E4D.

If so, invest in your smile by scheduling that appointment. When you see that youthful smile in the mirror, you will be glad that you did. Because smiling keeps us feeling young, energetic and it is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. George Parry

Dental Surgeon

Now that the kids have been back to school for a couple of weeks, it does feel like we are settling back into a routine. Part of that routine may include more running around, shuttling kids to their various activities.

It often means less time to perform some of the most basic, but important functions we may have as parents…such as ensuring our kids are eating healthy snacks and lunches. And never mind just the kids! We may find ourselves too rushed to put together a well balanced meal for ourselves too!

All too often, this can result in us just passing money to our kids to buy a lunch while we do that same at work. So off to the local cafeteria, corner store or fast food restaurant we go. And to go along with that meal, many of us will wind up buying a soft drink!

Many of you might think it is such a minor “sin” that it is hardly worth correcting. The fact is soft drinks are notorious for the negative impact they have on our teeth.

We all know that soft drinks contain huge quantities of sugar… and sugar has long been known to be the enemy of good oral hygiene. Sugar feeds the plaque that builds up on our teeth. The bacteria in the plaque can convert the sugar to acid which can break down the enamel. Thus we have the beginnings of tooth decay.

Many people might think switching to diet soft drinks might solve this problem as they are lower in sugar. However, what they lack in sugar they more than make up for with higher levels of acid. In particular, diet soft drinks tend to have higher levels of citric acid, which is detrimental to tooth enamel.

If you are drinking soft drinks, you should use a straw. This decreases the amount of the soft drink that comes in contact with the teeth, which, of course, is where you find the plaque. That reduces the chance for the bacteria to convert the sugar into enamel-destroying acids.

You should also finish the drink quickly rather than letting it linger. Finishing a drink in 10 minutes usually means the acid build up will continue for 30 minutes. However, if you take 60 minutes to finish your drink, acid will continue to be produced for 90 minutes afterwards!

And of course, you always need to brush. This helps keep the plaque under control as well as reducing the amount of sugar in your mouth. A good electric brush is more effective than a standard brush and we encourage you to consider investing in one.

Finally, regular visits to the dentist are also required to make sure you avoid the build up of plaque. A thorough cleaning at your dentist’s office is essential to offset the negative effects of soft drinks.

Still the best solution is to look for healthier alternatives. Replace the soft drinks with nice, cold, tap water…no sugar and a great source of fluoride! Water is definitely a healthier option…because drinking fewer soft drinks is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Peter Georgopoulos

Dental Surgeon

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

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

Did you know that some studies have shown that the average person only brushes his/her teeth for 37 seconds at a time? If you are one of those people, we have to ask you to think about how clean you can get your teeth in 37 seconds?

Odds are, anything you clean around the house, you spend more than 37 seconds doing it. Certainly many people will spend more time than that cleaning their kitchen sinks and counters. Of course, we know it is important to make sure you do not allow bacteria to build up in those very areas you will be preparing your food.

So based on that logic, you should also be just as concerned about removing bacteria from the area of that mouth the food enters  into your body. In fact, we recommend nothing less than two minutes should be spent brushing your teeth.

Then you need to remember that brushing, no matter how thoroughly, is simply not sufficient to ensure that you have properly cleaned your teeth. In fact, the best job you can do brushing your teeth will only succeed in cleaning, at most, 65% of the surface area of your teeth.

The reason for this is simply. Approximately 35% of the surface area of your teeth is found in the spaces between your teeth. Your toothbrush simply cannot access these areas effectively. To make sure you get at this 35% of the tooth, you need to make sure you take the time to floss every day!

Think about it…you need not feel good preparing your meals on counters that were only 65% clean. Imagine all the potential bacteria that could get into your food that way.

Now think about the bacteria that will build up on your teeth if you leave 35% of the surface area unclean. No matter how effectively you clean the rest of the tooth, bacteria will build up between them. The longer it is allowed to remain, the more damage it will do.

Plaque will develop and it will spread.  Bacteria will attack the gums, likely leading to gum disease which is a leading cause of tooth loss amongst adults. You might even develop more serious health complications, including infections in the bloodstream, asthma, or even heart disease.

The simple act of adding flossing to your regular oral health care routine, combined with brushing for at least two minutes, is all that you need to do in order to reduce the risks of these serious health complications. We understand that we are asking you to commit more than 37 seconds to your routine. But you have to ask yourself…isn’t your health worth it!

We believe it is! We believe YOU are worth the investment! You deserve the best in oral health care for yourself! That means proper brushing and flossing. It also means regular visits to the dentist to confirm your oral health in being properly maintained.

So invest the time in yourself! Because recognizing you deserve the best in oral health care is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Bao Nguyen

Dental Surgeon

Many of you might have heard of the concept of an “abscessed” tooth. However, you may not really be sure as to what that means.

In its simplest terms, an abscess of the tooth is an infection. Like any infection, it can be so mild that you may not even be aware it is there. On the other hand, it can become quite painful as puss may accumulate around the pulp of the tooth, resulting in pressure on the nerve.

Also like any other form of an infection, it can spread to other parts of the mouth or throughout the body. Given the potential health consequences associated with a spreading infection, an abscessed tooth is not something to be taken lightly even if it is not causing you any discomfort.

Aside from pain around a tooth, other potential signs of an abscess include fever, pain when chewing, bad breath, bitter taste in the mouth, swelling in the gums or neck and an open sore.

If your dentist concludes you have an abscess, the first thing that must be done is that the infection must be drained. The most common way to achieve this is through the process known as a root canal.

Given an infection was involved, your dentist may prescribe anti-biotics to prevent it from spreading. In addition, pain medication, such as ibuprofen, may be needed to alleviate any pain that you may still be experiencing.

In addition to dealing with the infection itself, you may also have to deal with the tooth. As a result of the infection, the pulp of the tooth may actually have died off. If that is the case, you will have to consider different treatment options. It may be that the best option for you is an implant. For some patients, crowns are best. This is a matter that you will need to discuss with your dentist before making any final decision.

Like most other dental conditions, the best way to treat an abscess is through prevention! The two primary causes of an abscess are decay and trauma.

Preventing decay means following a good oral health regime. This means brushing at least twice per day for a minimum of two minutes each time. It also means flossing at least once per day. Adhering to a healthy diet is also recommended, as are regular visits to your dentist.

Following such a plan can reduce the likelihood of your enamel being compromised. If the enamel is in good shape, it is harder for bacteria to penetrate the tooth and start an infection.

Even healthy teeth are susceptible to infections after some form of trauma. If your teeth have experienced such a trauma, you should consult your dentist to make sure that they are not cracked. Just because YOU cannot see a crack does not mean there is not one there! Let your dentist take a closer look to make sure there are no small fissures that bacteria might be able to slip through.

It is never pleasant to have an abscess. An abscess is an infection and infections can have troubling consequences. That is why prevention is the best solution. Because preventing an infection is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Peter Georgopoulous

Dental Surgeon

As anyone who visits their dentist on a regular basis is likely aware, one of the number one goals we have is to ensure you keep your natural teeth for as long as possible…all of them! There can be one exception. Wisdom teeth.

Wisdom teeth are the third and last set of molars that will develop for most of us. They usually come in during the teenage years. However, it is quite common for them to first erupt in people as late as the mid-twenties.

When wisdom teeth erupt fully and are properly aligned, there is no reason to remove them. Unfortunately, many people find their wisdom teeth are not so well aligned or that they fail to fully erupt from the gum line.

Poorly aligned wisdom teeth can cause many problems. First and foremost, they can result in crowding. This can affect the bite and may result in uneven wear and tear on teeth throughout the mouth. Some people will experience strain in the muscles around the mouth which, in turn, may result in frequent headaches or general pain in the jaw joint.

Even chewing with misaligned teeth can prove difficult, sometimes painful, and this can have an impact on nutrition. Nutritious foods, such as raw fruits and vegetables, that are hard to chew may be passed over for less healthy, but easier to chew, alternatives.

Crowding also makes all teeth harder to clean. It makes it more difficult to get at trapped food particles with conventional brushing and flossing. Consequently, plaque may accumulate on both the wisdom teeth and the adjacent teeth that are affected by the crowding. With increased plaque build-up, the risk of decay is increased.

Crowding may still be a problem even if your wisdom teeth have not erupted. They may be under the surface of the gum line, still putting pressure on the adjacent teeth.

Moreover, partially erupted wisdom teeth provide an opening that makes it easier for bacteria to make its way to the bloodstream. This can lead to serious health complications, including infections or even heart disease.

Your best bet is to have your dentist monitor the development of your wisdom teeth. By using x-rays, your dentist can usually determine if your wisdom teeth are likely to make a proper and beneficial appearance or if problems are likely to be just around the corner.

If you are the parent of a university student who will soon be returning home after another school year, now may be the perfect time to schedule an appointment to check out how those wisdom teeth are doing.

Talk to your dentist if you are concerned about your wisdom teeth. S/he will recommend keeping them if it is possible. However, if keeping them is not in the best interests of your oral health, it is usually easier to remove them sooner than later…because ensuring the proper development of ALL of your teeth is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. David Lui

Dental Surgeon