Archive for October 2012

So you have become increasingly concerned about the importance of maintaining good oral health. You understand that a healthy mouth is often a sign of a healthy body. And you have read a lot about periodontal disease, but perhaps are not 100% sure what it is.

Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria are allowed to build up on your teeth, particularly at the gum line. When this occurs, they can form into plaque and even harden into tartar.

This is a sign that you have a very active colony of bacteria that is doing its best to feed off of your gum tissue and even the underlying bone structure of your jaw and the connective tissue found therein. This can obviously lead to tooth loss.

One of the more interesting aspects of periodontal disease is that it can be quite painless. You may not be aware that there is a problem developing. This is one of the most common problems we have as dentists in treating periodontal disease. Because there may be no pain or discomfort, many patients find it hard to believe that there is actually a problem.

It is important that you not be fooled by the lack of pain or discomfort. In fact, by the time you begin to notice any pain, that is usually sign that your periodontal disease is quite advanced. This can result in you having to face treatment options that are far more invasive, time consuming and, unfortunately, costly.

In its earlier stages, periodontal disease is often characterized by inflammation of the gums. Your gums may be purple or red in colour, or they may have a shiny appearance. They also may be tender or prone to bleed easily.

If you visit us at Rideau Dental Centre, you will notice that we will look for signs of periodontal disease by probing your gums to determine what we call pocket depth. What we are doing is literally measuring how much separation there is between your teeth and your gums. The bigger the pockets, the more advanced we consider your case of periodontal disease to be.

Pockets of 1 to 2 millimeters are quite normal and not a cause for concern. We start to become more concerned when we see a lot of 3 millimeter pockets. If you have a lot of 4 millimeter pockets or more, we will recommend that you visit us at Rideau Dental Centre more frequently in order to bring your periodontal disease under control.

The reason for this is straightforward: it is very difficult to keep your teeth for life if you have periodontal disease. As the mouth can be a significant window into your overall health, we think keeping your teeth for life is a worthwhile goal.

If it is a goal you share, make sure you talk to us if you notice any of the early signs of periodontal disease we mentioned.  Because keeping your teeth for life is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Martin LaBoissonniere

Dental Surgeon

One of the greatest challenges we face at Rideau Dental Centre is patients who feel the need to limit their treatment to what is covered by their insurance.

We understand how this can be a concern. In today’s uncertain economic climate, some of you are worried about your job security. Even if you feel reasonably secure in your employment, you want to make certain that any treatment is covered by insurance before you proceed. Otherwise, you are concerned about spending money on dental treatment that you feel can wait.

This is increasingly becoming a problem as insurance companies are also looking to save money. One of the ways they have been doing this is by cutting back on their dental coverage. That can mean fewer procedures are covered, the percentage they are prepared to cover has been reduced, or that they will not provide coverage for as many visits to the dental office as in the past.

Unfortunately, we often see patients whose oral health needs do not coincide with their insurance coverage. Often, the most common issue is patients who have periodontal issues which may require more frequent visits for treatment. Insurance plans will usually cover periodontal visits every six to nine months. Only a few will cover visits more frequently.

However, patients who suffer from periodontal disease may need to receive treatment every three months. If they do not, bacteria may continue to build up on their teeth, and even under the gum line. When this happens, there can be deterioration of bone and tissue that may result in tooth loss.

If insurance is not prepared to cover the cost of this treatment, it is the patient who has to assume responsibility for the professional fee. This may lead some patients to conclude that they would be better off saving their money and limiting their treatment to what their insurance provider is prepared to cover.

However, our professional obligation as dentists is to recommend treatment that is consistent with your oral health needs, not your insurance coverage. And at Rideau Dental Centre, we take the obligation seriously! Regardless of your insurance benefits, we will present you with all of your treatment options and will give our recommendation on what the optimal treatment would be for your oral health needs.

Just remember, when you come to the dentist, we treat you, not your insurance company. We understand that temporary financial concerns may result in your having to make some difficult choices. But our recommendations will always take into consideration your health first.

Because treating your oral health rather than your insurance is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives!

Dr.  George Parry

Dental Surgeon

The Need for Fluoride

October 24, 2012 | Posted Education

Most of us today have grown up using fluoride as a routine weapon in our fight against cavities. Its use has become so common that it may seem difficult to believe that fluoride was not always used this way.

In Canada and the U.S., fluoride was first introduced into drinking water in the 1940’s. The conclusion at the time was that doing so significantly reduced the incidence of dental cavities. As a result, a number of communities added fluoride to their drinking water.

Some people have questioned the need to add fluoride to drinking water. To get a better understanding of this controversy, it is important to understand the role that fluoride plays in oral health.

Fluoride works in a couple of different ways to protect our teeth. Primarily, it inhibits the ability of bacteria to eat away at the minerals in our teeth. Bacteria accumulate in the plaque that can build up in our teeth, particularly around the gum line.

If left unchecked, the plaque will continue to grow and become more difficult to remove. The bacteria located in the plaque works with other organisms in the mouth to produce acids that can literally dissolve the structure of the tooth. Thus, a cavity is born!

However, fluoride can inhibit the ability of the bacteria to produce acid. The result is a reduction in the very activity that causes cavities.

Another benefit of fluoride is that it literally strengthens the teeth. In the process of cavity development, the acids developed by the bacteria in plaque can leech the minerals out of our teeth, thus sapping them of their strength.

However, as a naturally occurring element, fluoride can actually remineralize our teeth. Remineralizing acts like reinforcements as the teeth now have new troops to battle the invading acids! With this added mineralization, our teeth are made stronger and better able to fend off the affects of bacteria and plaque.

Given how effective fluoride has been at in the fight against cavities, most dentists recommend the continued use of public tap water as a great way to quench your thirst and protect your teeth. Visiting us at Rideau Dental Centre at least twice per year and receiving a fluoride treatment here is also a wise choice.

Not only do such fluoride treatments benefit children and their developing teeth, many adults with exposed roots due to receding gums are also well-served by fluoride. So make sure you receive your fluoride treatments from your dentist. Because using fluoride to fight cavities is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Peter Georgopoulos

Dental Surgeon

Life is certainly busy enough with lots of activities that can keep us from getting the sleep that we need. Do you ever wonder how that lack of sleep affects your overall health?

Sleep is a vital component to a healthy lifestyle. While you sleep, the body is regenerating; recharging and recovering from all the stress, hustle and bustle you put it through for the previous 16 hours. If your body is not getting the quality sleep it needs, you are not recovering and getting ready to do it all again the next day!

Most of you know that a lack of sleep will affect your energy. There are also studies that connect lack of sleep with weight gain due to its impact on the metabolism.

What many people may not be aware of is that some studies have linked lack of sleep to periodontal disease! In fact, when you remove poor brushing and flossing habits, these studies suggest that lack of sleep is second only to smoking as being a contributing factor to periodontal disease.

When you think about it, it does make a lot of sense. If you are not getting enough sleep night after night, your body’s energy levels will suffer. When your energy declines, your bodies defense mechanisms also decline. That can allow all forms of bacteria more freedom to run rampant throughout your body – including the bacteria associated with periodontal disease!

Unfortunately for some people, no matter how early they get to bed, they just cannot get enough quality sleep to look after their health. For some, the problem may be simple snoring, which can affect their sleep as well as that of their partner! Other snorers may actually suffer from sleep apnea.

While we may not be able to help severe cases of sleep apnea at Rideau Dental Centre, snoring may be something we can help with. You may find that a custom fitted night guard is all that you need to sufficiently open your mouth and throat, thereby eliminating the tendency to snore!

More and more people are discovering that a night guard can be the difference between a sluggish day and a great night sleep – for themselves as well as their partners! So if you know that snoring is a problem for you, mention it to us at your next appointment.

You need that quality sleep to keep your bodies’ defenses working at their best! It can keep your entire body healthy, and that includes your gums and teeth! So if you want to feel better all around AND reduce your risk of periodontal disease, doing what you can to sleep better may be vital to you.  Because good sleep is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr.  Bao Nguyen

Dental Surgeon

Undoubtedly, you have heard high blood pressure described as the “silent killer”. The reason for this rather dubious distinction is that most people who suffer from it are not aware of their condition. 

In fact, many people are only made aware they have high blood pressure during a routine visit with their family doctor. However, if you are among the 26% of the local population without a family doctor, you may justifiably question how you might discover if high blood pressure is a problem for you.

Due to this concern, a number of dental offices, including us at Rideau Dental Centre, have started to take the blood pressure of our patients before commencing treatment. If we consider that your blood pressure is too high, it may be unsafe to proceed with your appointment at that time.

We understand that for some patients, visiting your dentist can result in some anxiety.  That may be sufficient to raise your blood pressure. If your blood pressure does return to normal after a short wait in our office, we can safely complete your appointment. However, your health is our number one priority! If we feel it may be compromised by providing dental treatment we will advise against doing so at that time.

Once you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is important that you keep us apprised of your condition. We  need to know what medication you may be taking to control it. This is due to the fact that your medication can have an impact on your oral health.

A common side effect of blood pressure medication is dry mouth, which is the result of the medicine reducing the production of saliva. This can result in periodontal disease or acid erosion of the teeth.

We may have to make some recommendations with respect to your treatment that take into consideration your medication. However, we can only do this if you inform us as to what medication you are on.

It might seem strange at first to have your blood pressure taken at the dental office. But when you understand how your blood pressure, and your medication to treat that blood pressure, can have an impact on your oral health, it actually makes a lot of sense. Because understanding the oral health implications of your high blood pressure is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr.  David Lui

Dental Surgeon