Posts Under Dental Health
How Fast Food
Impacts Your Dental Health
Fast food has become a staple of modern life. Busy schedules, long commutes and convenience make it easier to pick up something on the run versus preparing a meal at home. Unfortunately, fast food is not necessarily the healthiest option.
Can Rob You of Your Smile
One of the most common dental problems we see in our patients is gum disease. In most cases, gum disease develops slowly and without pain. Without regular dental checkups, it is possible to not really know how serious the disease is until your teeth and gums are severely damaged, resulting in teeth having to be extracted.
Gum disease affects people of all ages, not just the middle-aged or elderly.
The first stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. The cause: poor oral hygiene that fails in removing the germs and bacteria that build up on teeth every day. That’s why daily brushing and flossing are so important, as it helps remove this buildup.
Gums afflicted by gingivitis are often swollen, red and bleed easily. Remarkably there is often little pain or discomfort at this stage of the disease.
In addition to poor oral hygiene, factors that contribute to gingivitis include; smoking, stress, diabetes, aging, pregnancy, poor nutrition, hormonal fluctuations and certain medications.
If you’re told by your dentist that you have gingivitis, the good news is that it can be reversed with professional dental treatment and careful brushing and flossing by you at home.
The bad news, if untreated, gingivitis evolves into periodontitis, a much more serious form of gum disease.
Periodontitis is caused by a significant buildup of germs and bacteria which over time are not removed with daily brushing and flossing. Eventually, this plaque buildup turns into tartar. Plaque is hard and cannot be removed by brushing. Over time, the plaque and tartar spread below the gum line. There, sight unseen, bacteria produce toxins that irritate the gums. The toxins also cause inflammation and trigger the body’s immune system to turn on itself. The result, tissue and bone that hold teeth firmly in place are broken down and destroyed. Small pockets form as gums separate from teeth. These pockets in turn become infected resulting in more tissue and bone loss. As with gingivitis, there may be little or no pain or discomfort. Left untreated, teeth can become loose and may need to be removed. Serious gum disease results in losing teeth.
A 2010 study found that 47% of adults in the US suffer from mild to severe periodontitis. The numbers are similar in Canada.
There’s a good chance that if you haven’t been brushing and flossing regularly, you may have gingivitis or even periodontitis.
The Canadian Dental Association recommends that you Check Your Gums on a regular basis for gum disease.
- a change in the colour of your gums
- gums that are red around your teeth
- gums that bleed every time you brush or floss
- bad breath that will not go away
- a taste of metal in your mouth
- shiny, puffy or sore gums
- teeth that are sensitive for no reason
If you experience any of these symptoms, call to schedule a dental appointment. The good news is that proper dental treatment can help reverse the early stages of gum disease.
Every day, germs and bacteria build up on your teeth. We encourage you to brush and floss daily to remove the build-up of this invisible film that left untreated, over time will have a very negative impact on your dental health.
If you do have dental insurance, it’s important that you know what your coverage includes.
When you require dental treatment, a dentist’s role is to provide a treatment plan based on your oral health needs. These needs may be different from what is covered by your dental insurance plan.
Coverage provided by dental insurance policies vary and it’s up to you to check with your insurance carrier to know what dental procedures are covered. Due to Canada’s privacy law, we are not permitted to make inquiries about your insurance or discuss with your carrier what is covered and why.
Of course, it is your decision to go ahead with any treatment, whether the treatment is covered by dental insurance or not.
There’s much more to know about dental insurance and your responsibilities. It would be a mistake to assume that all dental procedures are covered by your policy without first checking with your insurance carrier.
I encourage you to read the dental insurance article on our website that explains in more detail how dental insurance coverage and payments are handled. Patients and dental offices need to follow the claim procedures as defined by the insurance companies.
Our flossify is to help you make the most of your dental coverage.
What is a Dental or Rubber Dam?
This is the dental term for the small sheet of rubber we place over teeth when we do fillings. It is often referred to by children as a “raincoat” or a “trampoline” and these nicknames are fairly accurate. Just as with a raincoat, the rubber dam is designed to keep a tooth dry while we work on it, and similar to a trampoline, our dam is a stretchy piece of rubber!
Why do we use it?When working on teeth most of the filling materials we use must be placed into a tooth in a completely dry and clean work area. Saliva is not only moist, but it also contains certain materials that would contaminate the surface of the tooth to which we are gluing a filling. When we are bonding white fillings onto teeth, any contamination from either saliva or blood will result in the filling not lasting anywhere near as long as it is designed to.
Although the rubber dam was initially designed to help a dentist achieve excellent restorations, it is also there to make the patient’s experience in our chair more comfortable. Once the dam is in place, it stops water spray and little tooth bits or filling materials from falling into the back of a patient’s throat or being swallowed. It also blocks many of our bad tasting dental products from ever reaching the patient’s tongue.
One of the benefits for dentists is that it provides us with much better visibility to work on a tooth as it holds the tongue and cheeks out of the way and also eliminates the problem of having saliva bubbles cover the tooth and prevent us from seeing what we are doing. These are just some of the ways that we are able to ensure that dental procedures are done in a safe and effective way.
There is also an infection control aspect to using a rubber dam. Saliva contains a lot of bacteria. When we use a high-speed hand piece (a dental drill), aerosols containing bacteria are produced. These aerosols float into the air that everyone in the room breathes. By using the rubber dam, drilling takes place without any saliva contamination. The infectious component to these aerosols is reduced by over 95%. The use of a dental dam has been likened to wearing latex gloves during dental treatment with a similar impact on cross-infection. And, speaking of latex, for those that have sensitivity or an allergy to latex products, a ‘non-latex’ version of the rubber dam is available. Please advise us if you require a non-latex version.
Many patients that have not seen a rubber dam prior to arriving in our office will ask if this is something new. In fact, dental dams have been around in some form or another for over 150 years. It was first described in the dental literature in 1864 when a Dr. Barnum from upper New York State punched a hole in an oil-cloth and tied it around the tooth he was working on. This kept saliva out of the way and allowed him to place the filling.
The popularity of rubber dams has gone up and down based on current theories of dental practice. There was a resurgence in the 1950’s for doing root canals when it was understood that the bacterial contamination from saliva was causing infections during treatment and reducing the success rate of treatment. Its use for routine fillings became popular again in the 1970’s with the start of bonding procedures and the use of the white composite filling materials. Through trial and error it became understood that without proper isolation, fillings were falling out after just a few years unless they were placed in a dry and contamination free environment.
Over the years the quality of the rubber has improved until today we have very thin and easy to work with latex sheets.
In order to have the dam fit over teeth, we punch holes in it to match the teeth that need to be isolated. The dam is then held in place in the mouth by placing a small metal ring called a ‘clamp’ onto the back tooth and sliding one of the holes that we have punched in the dam over the clamp. The other holes are then flossed between the teeth until all that shows through on our side of the dam are the teeth that make up our work site.
One downside of having a rubber dam is that it is harder for a patient to speak to us while we are working on a tooth. But, through a variety of non-verbal noises and handsigns we are able to meet most of a patient’s requests. Also, based on our years of experience, you would be surprised as to just how much-garbled speech from underneath the dam we are able to understand!
Although there are other ways to keep a mouth dry while we are working, such as placing absorbent cotton rolls or gauze combinedwithvacuum like suction systems, none are as effective or as successful as using the rubber dam. The way that it provides us with a combination of a clean and dry work area with greatly improved visibility allows us to achieve excellent and long lasting results with the fillings that we take pride in placing in your mouth.
Achieving excellence with all of our dental procedures is our ultimate goal, and our use of the rubber dam makes this task much easier.
If you have any questions on the rubber dam or on any of our dental procedures, please feel free to contact us for an explanation.
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Are Whiter Teeth Possible?
Coffee. Tea. Red wine. Cranberry juice. Pasta sauce. Even blueberries. All of these common foods can stain your teeth. Brushing well will definitely help, but some of us are more prone to long term changes in the color of our teeth than others, even if we are good brushers. Also, as we age, the enamel of our teeth may get a little thinner allowing the darker colored dentin layer below to show through a little bit more giving our teeth a darker appearance.
What can we do about it?
First there are whitening toothpastes. You cannot go far in the toothpaste aisle at the pharmacy without being bombarded with all sorts of speciality tooth pastes offering you a dazzling white smile if you use their product. Many of these products do work well to help breakdown and remove many surface stains that build up from the things we eat and drink. They do have much success at removing the deeper stains within the tooth that are often the reason for seeking whiter teeth.
Whitening gels are the most common form of what is referred to as “take home” bleaching. These are either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide based products that penetrate into the enamel and break down the stain molecules to remove them leaving your teeth a brighter color. These gels can be applied to your teeth either on a special strip such as Crest White Strips, or in a customized tray much like a sports mouth guard. This allows the bleaching gel to stay in contact with the enamel for the desired amount of time to allow the gel to whiten the teeth. Depending on the brand of product, these trays or strips will be applied for 30 to 60 minutes or in some cases overnight while you sleep. The advantage of the customized tray system is that it allows for a more accurate delivery of the gel to the tooth surface with less of the gel being wasted or spreading up onto the gums where it may cause the gums to be irritated.
Will all teeth whiten with equal success? Unfortunately the answer to this question is “no”.
Certain colors of teeth will whiten more successfully than others: Yellow teeth will brighten the best. Brown based stain will improve to a lesser extent and bluish grey teeth will show the least improvement.
Any tooth which has darkened as a result of medication taken during childhood or which have darkened following a trauma will not likely change color to a desired level. Any tooth that has a restoration on it such as a crown, veneer or basic filling will not change color because these materials are not susceptible to the bleaching process. This does not stop you from whitening your teeth, it just means that, once you are finished whitening, you will have to replace the restorations on these teeth to match the new color of the rest of your teeth.
For these reasons it is always best to discuss your individual case with your dentist before you start just to be sure that you are indeed a good candidate for whitening.
“In office” whitening is another option in which a bright light or laser is used to activate a special whitening gel that is applied to the teeth. While this provides an initial “jump start” to your whitening process, in most cases a follow-up treatment with take-home trays is necessary to achieve successful long-term results.
The process of whitening is best done under the supervision of your dentist so that if issues such as sensitivity of either the gums or the teeth develop, you will be in good hands to solve the problem.
The process of “take-home” whitening involves two short office visits. The first visit is when we assess your individual condition and discuss your expectations. Once it is determined that you are a good candidate for the procedure, we will take impressions of your mouth so that we can build a set of custom-made trays. On the second visit, three or four days later, your dentist will ensure the trays fit perfectly and then show you how to apply the gel in a predictable and safe manner. It’s easy and fast to learn how to apply the gel and insert the trays. Before you leave, we want to ensure you’re comfortable with how the trays feel and we’ll answer any questions you have about the whitening process.
After a week or so of home whitening we invite you to drop in so we can assess your short term results and be sure that you are following the steps properly.
If you think you would like a whiter, brighter smile and want to know if you are a good candidate, we welcome you to call our office at 514-484-0521 and set up a consultation appointment so that we can discuss your individual case.
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More Than Just a Black and White Image
Dental health includes not just your teeth, but also, the gums and jaw.
Since a dentist can only see the visible portion of your teeth, X-rays play an important role in helping to find hidden problems. Problems include:
• decay between teeth and under fillings;
• bone loss that cannot be seen during a visual examination;
• cysts (an infection)
• tumors and
• hidden wisdom teeth.
When your dentist recommends an X-ray it’s because additional information is needed on which to base a treatment. If you’ve had a dental X-ray at our clinic within the last 2 years, you likely noticed that we’ve left the world of film behind and gone digital. Digital X-rays provide an immense leap forward, providing a dentist with detail not possible with film. The result: a better treatment plan.
There are some procedures that can be treated without an X-ray. An example: certain types of cavities on the front teeth. In these cases, the dentist will not request an X-ray.
There are three different types of digital X-rays. The examination process determines what type of X-ray is required.
1. Bitewing radiograph
Taken every 18-24 months
To identify decay between the teeth and decay under old fillings.
Bitewing X- rays provide a detailed look at decay that would require a filling.
These radiographs also allow the dentist to monitor the level of the bone around the tooth. This is important in determining the health of the bone and gums should the patient be developing periodontitis (gum disease).
To take this X-ray, we place a sensor onto a holder that is then placed in your mouth beside the tooth to be X-rayed. This sensor is connected to the computer. The image appears immediately on the dentist's screen for diagnosing.
2. Periapical X-ray
Taken when required to provide a full Image of one or two teeth. A periapical X-ray takes an image of the top (crown) and roots as well as the bone around the tooth.
This X-ray is taken if a bitewing X-ray shows us any problems or a patient exhibits certain symptoms.
A sensor is placed in a holder and then placed in the mouth adjacent to the problem tooth. The holder is different from that used for bitewings. This holder allows us to position the sensor farther down on the tooth.
A Panorex is typically taken every 5-7 years. A Panorex image shows the full surfaces of all the teeth plus the upper and lower jaw, all in one image.
As a result of this technology, your dentist can find problems that are developing down in the roots of the teeth or in the jaw. Examples of problem areas only visible with a Panorex include: identifying cysts (an infection), tumours (cancerous and benign) and wisdom teeth. These types of issues cannot be seen with the other two types of X-rays.
As always we welcome your questions. When an X-ray is recommended feel free to ask your dentist about why a certain X-ray is being recommended.
By using the best in digital imaging technology, we are able to achieve accurate X-rays with the least possible dose of radiation.
We believe in educating our patients so that they can make informed decisions.
Be Proactive With Your Oral Health
Most of us realize that diet and exercise play an important part in keeping us healthy. But did you know that a healthy mouth is also an important part of a healthy body?
Poor oral health can affect a person's quality of life. Oral pain, missing teeth or oral infections can influence the way a person speaks, eats and socializes. These oral health problems can reduce a person's quality of life by affecting their physical, mental and social well-being.
Oral disease, like any other disease, needs to be treated. A chronic infection, including one in the mouth, is a serious problem that should not be ignored. Yet bleeding or tender gums are often overlooked.
Research has shown there is an association between oral disease and other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, respiratory illness in older adults, as well as pre-term and low-birth-weight babies. Although researchers are just beginning to understand this relationship, evidence shows that oral disease can aggravate other health problems and that keeping a healthy mouth is an important part of leading a healthy life.
Be proactive with your oral health. It’s easy when you follow these 5 Steps to a Healthy Mouth, as put forward by the Canadian Dental Association.
1. Keep your mouth clean
- Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
- Wait at least 20–30 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth.
- Floss every day.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
- Limit foods and beverages containing sugar or carbohydrates.
- Ideal snack foods: cheese, nuts, vegetables, and non-acidic fruits.
- Look for oral care products with the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) Seal.
2. Check your mouth regularly
Look for signs of gum disease:
- Red, shiny, puffy, sore or sensitive gums
- Bleeding when you brush or floss
- Bad breath that won't go away
Look for signs of oral cancer:
- Bleeding or open sores that don't heal
- White or red patches
- Numbness or tingling
- Small lumps and thickening on the sides or bottom of your tongue, the floor or roof of your mouth, the inside of your cheeks, or on your gums
3. Eat well
- Good nutrition helps build strong teeth and gums.
- Munch on mouth healthy snacks like cheeses, nuts, vegetables, and non-acidic fruits.
4. See your dentist regularly
- 48% of Canadians who haven't seen a dentist in the past year have gum disease. Regular dental exams and professional cleanings are the best way to prevent and detect problems before they get worse. Has it been a while since you last saw a dentist?
- You can now schedule an appointment with one of the dentists at Dr. John Drummond & Associates online or call us at (514) 484-0521.
5. Don't smoke or chew tobacco
- Smoking and chewing tobacco can cause oral cancer, heart disease, gum disease, and a variety of other cancers.
Source: Canadian Dental Association
The Surprising Impact Diabetes has on Dental Health
What do brushing and flossing have to do with diabetes? It’s easy to think they’re unrelated, but surprisingly diabetes has a big impact on dental health.
Diabetes affects your body’s ability to process sugar. In Type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t make enough insulin, a hormone that carries sugar from your blood to the cells that need it for energy. In Type 2 diabetes, the body stops responding to insulin. Both cases result in high blood sugar levels, which can cause problems with your eyes, nerves, kidneys, heart and other parts of your body including your mouth.
If you or a family member has Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, managing blood sugar level is very important. The higher your blood sugar level, the higher your risk of:
- Tooth decay (cavities). Your mouth naturally contains many types of bacteria. When starches and sugars in food and beverages interact with these bacteria, a sticky film known as plaque forms on your teeth. The acids in the plaque attack the surface of your teeth and this can lead to cavities.
The higher your blood sugar level, the greater the supply of sugars and starches — resulting in more acid attacking your teeth.
- Early gum disease (gingivitis). Diabetes reduces your body’s ability to fight bacteria. If you don't remove plaque with regular brushing and flossing, it will harden onto your teeth into a substance called tartar (calculus). The longer plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more they irritate the gingiva — the part of your gums around the base of your teeth. In time, your gums will become swollen and bleed easily. This is gingivitis. Because swollen gums bleed easily when you brush, there is a tendency to brush less thoroughly and the problems will worsen.
- Advanced gum disease (periodontitis). Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to a more serious infection called periodontitis, which destroys the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth. Eventually, periodontitis causes your gums and jawbone to pull away from your teeth, which in turn causes your teeth to loosen and possibly fall out.
Periodontitis tends to be more severe among people who have diabetes because diabetes lowers the ability to resist infection and slows healing. An infection such as periodontitis may also cause your blood sugar level to rise, which in turn makes your diabetes more difficult to control. Preventing and treating periodontitis can help improve blood sugar control.
The good news is that prevention is in your hands. Learn what you're up against, and then take charge of your dental health. To help prevent long term damage to your teeth and gums, you must take both your diabetes and your dental care seriously:
- Make a commitment to manage your diabetes. Monitor your blood sugar level, and follow your doctor's instructions for keeping your blood sugar level within your target range. The better you control your blood sugar level, the less likely you are to develop gingivitis and other dental problems.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Brush in the morning, at night and, ideally, after meals and snacks. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste that contains fluoride. Avoid vigorous or harsh scrubbing, which can irritate your gums. Consider using a good electric toothbrush such as a Braun Oral B or a Sonicare. Be sure to change your toothbrush at least every three months or whenever the bristles are out of line.
- Floss your teeth at least once a day. Flossing helps remove plaque between your teeth and under your gumline. If you have trouble getting floss down between your teeth, use the waxed variety as the extra lubrication allows it to slide in and out more easily.
- Schedule regular dental visits. Visit us at 12 Brock Avenue North at least twice a year for a thorough exam and a professional cleaning.
- Make sure your dentist knows you have diabetes. Besides informing us of any changes in your medical conditions including the current state of your diabetes, make sure that we also have the contact information for your doctor who helps you manage your diabetes.
- Look for early signs of gum disease. Report any signs of gum disease — including redness, swelling and bleeding gums — to those of us on your dental team. Also mention any other signs and symptoms, such as dry mouth, loose teeth or mouth pain.
- Don't smoke. Smoking increases the risk of serious diabetes complications, including gum disease. If you smoke, ask your doctor about options to help you quit.
Managing diabetes is a lifelong commitment, and that includes proper dental care. Your efforts will be rewarded with a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. We are here to help you deal with the complications and side effects of your diabetes and to help educate you about what is involved with maintaining your mouth in a healthy state.
With help from the Mayo Clinic website
Originally Published Jan 26, 2016
An important aspect of the dental exam is the periodontal probing.
It is an examination that allows the dentist to evaluate the health of the gums and the bone supporting the foundation around the tooth.
A tooth consists of a crown (visible part) and the root (not visible part) which is anchored in the bone. In a healthy state the whole root should be covered with bone. Sometimes, an accumulation of tartar/calculus causes the bone to dissolve away. In fact, calculus is not only ugly but it also contains bacteria which are quite harmful to your gums and the bone supporting your teeth. The loss of supporting bone structure and the infectious process associated with it is called periodontal disease. This condition can lead to tooth mobility, bleeding, infection, sensitivity and in extreme cases the loss of a tooth.
Originally Published November 24, 2015
Unless you’re in the 4% of the population that hasn’t had a dental cavity by age 65, you’ve experienced the dreaded feeling when your dentist has told you “…there’s a cavity starting…”.
It’s not what you or I want to hear (yes, Dentists also get cavities) when we go in for our dental appointments.
The cause of a lot of cavities starts with the way our molars are shaped. Tiny pits and grooves on the surface of the chewing surface are difficult to clean with brushing alone. Toothbrush bristles cannot reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque.
Fortunately, there’s a painless solution that lasts for years.
Dental sealants are a dental treatment that give teeth extra protection against decay and help prevent cavities.
Sealants are easy to apply and painless.
Applied by a dentist, the sealant is painted into the grooves of the tooth with a small brush where it bonds directly to the enamel of the tooth and hardens. This plastic resin bonds into the depressions and grooves of the chewing surfaces of back teeth. The sealant is a barrier, protecting enamel from plaque and acids. As long as the sealant remains intact, the tooth surface will be protected from decay starting on the chewing surfaces. Sealants hold up well under the force of normal chewing and will last many years before a reapplication is needed.
The likelihood of developing tooth decay begins early in life, so children and teenagers are obvious candidates. But adults can benefit from sealants as well. The main teeth that require sealants are the back molars that erupt at age 6 and 12. By the time these teeth are fully grown into the mouth, usually by ages 7 and 13, they are ready to seal.
Sealants are a proactive method of beating tooth decay and finishing up a dental appointment with your dentist telling you “…that’s great, no cavities…”.
It gives you another reason to smile and a goal to join the lucky 4% of the adult population who have never had a cavity.
P.S. Are sealants right for you? Or do you have questions about sealants? Be sure to ask on your next dental appointment.
P.P.S Interested in seeing how dental sealants are applied? There’s a short one-minute animated video on our website showing the procedure.
Originally Published October 28, 2015
As a parent of a child who plays a sport, or an adult who plays in a recreational league have you ever wondered about the effectiveness of mouth guards?
Does a mouth guard really provide protection?
Accidents can happen during any physical activity. The advantage of using a mouth guard during sports is that it can help limit the risk of mouth-related injuries to the lips, tongue, and soft tissues of the mouth. Mouth guards also help prevent chipped or broken teeth, nerve damage to a tooth, or even tooth loss.
Should a player take a blow to the chin causing the teeth to slam together, it’s possible for this force to be transmitted to the brain, and if violent enough could lead to a concussion. A mouth guard can help reduce the chance of a concussion by cushioning the force of the teeth slamming together.
Two types of dental mouth guards are available
Boil and bite mouth guards, available for $15 to $40, are adequate for most participants in recreational sports with little or no contact.
However, as the level of competition and contact increases, custom-made mouth guards will increase the protection of one's teeth and jaw. A custom-made mouth guard is particularly valuable in sports like martial arts, rugby, football, basketball, soccer and hockey. In fact, mouth guards are becoming increasingly mandatory for hockey and ringette at all levels in most communities throughout Canada.
Hockey Canada states:
Although the face mask does prevent dental injuries, it is still recommended that all players who play hockey wear an internal mouth guard. Dental injuries still occur despite the use of a face mask. Properly fitted mouth guards have been shown to significantly reduce dental and oral injuries in hockey.
Custom-made mouth guards are sized, fit and provided by our dental office. Two short visits are required.
During the first visit, an impression of the athlete’s mouth is completed by one of the dentists in our office. Colours for the mouth guard are chosen at this time. Most of our patients choose to have their mouth guards made to match their team colours.
The impression is sent to a dental lab where the custom mouth guard is made.
About 10 days after the first visit the athlete returns to our office to have the mouth guard adjusted for comfort and fit.
Having the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’ve provided the best protection available makes it possible to really enjoy the game.
If you have questions about custom-made mouth guards or wish to schedule an appointment for a fitting call our office at 514-484-0521.
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