Archive for May 2012

It is one thing to have that feeling of a dry, parched mouth during vigorous exercise. This is usually an indication that some water is in order and that will frequently improve the situation.

However, some people suffer from dry mouth on a more regular basis. The truth is that many people may suffer from dry mouth without fully realizing their condition.

So what exactly is dry mouth?

As the name would suggest, dry mouth occurs when there is a reduction in the level of saliva produced by our salivary glands. This might not seem like a serious condition at first glance. But saliva performs an important function in our bodies.

It coats the inside of the mouth and teeth and protects them from various bacteria, chemicals and even food or drink that is too hot or cold. Without saliva, the risk of developing oral infections is quite a bit higher. This can result in damage to the tissue in the mouth and to dental decay.

People with mild cases of dry mouth may not even consider that they have a problem. They may experience periodic difficulty with swallowing food, but will simply drink more water to help in the process. Most people do not start to realize there may be an issue until their flow of saliva is reduced by 50%.

Moderate sufferers will experience a more consistent, dry sticky feeling in their mouths. To combat this, they will usually drink more liquids. They may also suck on more candy, hardly something most dentists would recommend!

In severe cases, we will often notice that our patients have high levels of plaque, tartar and decay. They may also have ulcers in the mouth, blisters, cracked lips and sores on the tongue. Fungal infections are also quite common. As you can imagine, these are quite serious conditions.

Dry mouth can be caused by certain types of medication, for instance, anti-depressants, beta-blockers and diuretics. At Rideau Dental Centre, we always ask that you update us on any medications you may be taking because this can help us understand why we may observe certain conditions.

Unfortunately, the simple process of aging can result in reduced flow of saliva. Given that more and more of us are that much closer to those “golden years”, this might be something to monitor as time goes on! Of course, we would be happy to help keep track of this with you!

One of the symptoms of diabetes is a dry mouth. If you have not been diagnosed with diabetes but are experiencing dry mouth, you may want to talk to your doctor about getting tested.

People with cancer also report experiencing dry mouth. It can either be the cancer itself or the treatment that is the cause. If you have been diagnosed, it is important to have this issue addressed as you do not want to risk any sort of infection while your immune system is already compromised!

So if you think you might be experiencing a reduction in the flow of saliva in your mouth, come in and talk to us about it! At the very least, we will want to monitor the situation to protect your oral health. We may also be able to talk to you about some potential solutions that could improve the situation. For instance, you may need to come into the office for more frequent cleanings to prevent plaque from building up! Because protecting yourself from dry mouth is a healthy habit…and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. David Lui

Dental Surgeon

Most of you have probably seen the various toothpaste commercials that talk about the need to remove plaque and tartar build-up from your teeth. And while that may be enough to convince you that plaque is a bad thing (and it is!), it may still leave you wondering what exactly is plaque?

Quite simply, plaque is a sticky, colourless film of bacteria that can build up on our teeth. The bacteria in plaque continue to grow by finding their nutritional needs from the foods that we eat and even our own saliva. In the process, they create an acidic compound that can erode the enamel of our teeth. That is how plaque contributes to tooth decay!

In the early stages, plaque tends not to be a hard substance. However, if it is not removed in a timely manner, it can harden into what is called tartar. Just because it has hardened does not make it less dangerous to our teeth. The bacteria that are active in plaque continue to be quite active in tartar. So you want to make sure you have tartar removed from your teeth as well.

To keep plaque and tartar build-up under control, you need to brush and floss regularly. It takes approximately two minutes of thorough brushing to remove as much plaque as possible. But you still need to floss! Even the best electric toothbrush cannot get at all the surface areas between the teeth. If you are not flossing, approximately 30% of the surface area of your teeth is not being cleaned!

Even with the most diligent oral health habits, you will still need regular visits with us at Rideau Dental Centre to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. A thorough cleaning by our professionals is vital to protect your teeth from decay.

And while perhaps you have been good at following these three vital steps to look after your oral health, maybe you are not so confident that your kids have been quite so diligent while they were away at college or university! As much as they are young adults and feel they can do a lot to fend for themselves, scheduling appointments with the dentist just may not fit into their priorities between studying and…socializing!

The good news is that many of them are back home now so you can take matters into your own hands! This is the time of year we recommend that parents take the initiative and book an appointment for their returning prodigal son or daughter! In fact, it is best to get them into our office as early in the summer as possible. That way, if plaque and tartar have caused some damage, we know we have time to deal with it before they leave for another academic year.

So if you are concerned that perhaps your own student may not have been as diligent in looking after their oral health as you would like, call us now to schedule an appointment. Because controlling plaque and tartar build-up by visiting the dentist is a healthy habit…and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. Martin LaBoissonniere

Dental Surgeon

I am sure we are all familiar with the idea that quality output requires quality input. Perhaps we are more familiar with the expression “garbage in, garbage out”! However, since we are talking about the health of our mouths, I prefer to put a more positive spin than you would associate with the use of terms like “garbage”.

Regardless as to the terminology, the bottom line is that if you are looking for good oral health as your output, you have to be mindful of the foods you put into your mouth as your input!  Good nutrition affects the entire body, including your mouth! So improving your diet is a good first step to improving your oral health.

So what constitutes a healthy diet? One thing to be mindful of is that you are maintaining a healthy balance of essential vitamins. Many patients can be quite surprised at how we at Rideau Dental Centre can see the signs of diet that is deficient in certain vitamins.

For example, lack of vitamin B can lead to such symptoms as difficulty swallowing, inflammation of the tongue, discolouration of the gums and even damage to the inner cheeks.

Similarly, a lack of vitamin C can lead to bleeding of the gums and gingivitis. This is due to the fact that vitamin C slows the synthesis of collagen which is a vital component for the build-up of many tissues in the body. Just think back to your grade school history classes and all the problems early European explorers had with scurvy until they discovered how it could be prevented with vitamin C!

Vitamin D is essential to maintain strong bones. People who lack this vitamin tend to be more likely to have periodontal issues. This can be compounded by a weaker jaw structure. Imagine if your periodontal condition resulted in tooth loss, but you were not a suitable candidate for implants because your jaw bone was no longer strong enough to support them!

The anti-oxidant effects of vitamin E not only benefit the rest of the body, they are essential to good oral health as well. Vitamin E can eliminate certain harmful chemicals in the body, or “free radicals”, that can do damage to the rest of our cells we want to keep healthy.

When you take into consideration these examples, it is easy to see why a healthy diet is vital to good oral health. The trick is to know what foods to eat in order to make sure you are getting the nutrients you need.

While our recommendations are hardly exhaustive, you can look to leafy, green vegetables, bananas, eggs, milk and nuts as great sources of vitamin B. Similarly, vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes and dark green vegetables.

Most of us are aware that a little bit of sunlight goes a long way for our vitamin D. You obviously need to be mindful of the effects of overexposure, but some sunlight is good for us. Various fish liver oils, eggs and milk or milk products are also good sources of vitamin D.

Finally, look to various vegetable oils or nuts as great sources of vitamin E.

Of course, even people with the healthiest of diets still need to come and visit their dentist at Rideau Dental Centre to make sure their oral health is where it needs to be.

After all, eating well may reduce your likelihood of developing oral health conditions. That does not mean it eliminates that likelihood. A healthy diet, good brushing and flossing routines, combined with regular dental visits all work together to keep you oral health at its best. And keeping your oral health at its best is a healthy habit…and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. George Parry

Dental Surgeon

Whether we like it or not, there comes a time for many people when the trip to the dentist is about more than just a quick examination or even a filling. Sometimes, oral health conditions are such that major restorative work is required.

The good news, of course, is that at Rideau Dental Centre, we can help look after you. If you have wisdom teeth that need to come out or implants that need to go in, we can do much of that work here in our office.

Due to the fact that these are surgical procedures, you will need to be prepared for them. In the course of preparing you for the surgery, you will be administered an IV sedation to keep you relaxed during the procedure.

Some people refer to dentistry performed while a patient undergoes IV sedation as “sleep dentistry”. In reality, you will not be asleep during the procedure. It does not act as an anesthetic. You will be very much awake and able to respond to questions from your dentist.

However, IV sedation does put you into a state of very deep relaxation and it can produce some memory loss for the period of time it is effective. These factors have led some people to refer to it as “sleep dentistry”.

While it is not an anesthetic, we find that it is ideal to put our patients in just the right state for dental surgery. But one other factor to keep in mind is that IV sedation is not a pain killer. While it may dull your senses, you will still require freezing before we proceed with your surgery.

Some offices will offer IV sedation to patients who are not undergoing surgery, but are simply extremely nervous about going to the dentist. This is certainly a viable alternative for a very small number of patients. However, at Rideau Dental Centre, we use IV sedation strictly for some of our surgical treatments.

The reason is that most nervous patients can be treated with nitrous oxide, sometimes in conjunction with oral sedation, rather than an IV. We usually combine our use of nitrous oxide with another oral sedative that you can swallow. This will put nervous patients in a relaxed state and is usually sufficient to allow us to treat them successfully.

Both IV and oral sedation have their advantages and disadvantages. They are both easy to administer and we can easily control the amount we supply depending upon how much you need. They are fast acting so you will feel the effects very quickly. With IV sedation, you may remain in a deeply, relaxed state for a slightly longer period of time. That makes it ideal for surgical procedures.

It also makes it essential to have someone accompany you to our office on the day of your surgery as you will be unable to operate your own vehicle. In fact, for your own safety, we insist that you arrive with an escort and that the escort remain on site, in our waiting room, during your procedure. We are so concerned about your safety that we usually insist upon the same even for oral sedation.

The key is doing what is necessary to obtain the treatment you need! And if some form of oral surgery is required, we are happy to provide our patients with that service, complete with the benefits of IV sedation. Because providing you with the oral surgery you need is a healthy habit…and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. Peter Georgopoulos

Dental Surgeon