Rotting pumpkins and rotting teeth: Halloween candy 2 weeks later

 

The snow in the forecast, combined with the rotting pumpkin on your neighbour’s doorstep may fool you, but Halloween was a meagre 2 weeks ago. If anyone in your household did the trick or treating rounds on October 31st, chances are good that there remains a stash of boxed raisins, powdered sugar rockets, and maybe even some of the good milk chocolate stuff, too.

Far from handing out toothbrushes instead of candy, we do want to take this opportunity to remind our readers what some of the major Cavity Culprits out there are:

Cavity Culprits:

  • Hard candy that dissolves slowly, like lollipops and Jaw Breakers.
  • Gum (not the sugar- free variety) that is chewed and chewed…and chewed.
  • Soft, sticky (and sneaky) candy that gets stuck in teeth. Think: toffee, caramels, jujubes, etc.
  • Dried fruit in all its varieties include high concentrations of fructose that stick to teeth

To prevent your *ahem* children’s teeth from going the way of your neighbour’s pumpkin, we’re here to suggest some techniques to keep them smiling:

  1. Lead by example – allow them to indulge in their loot after eating a healthy meal. The extra saliva in our mouths that appear when we sit down for a meal will go a long way in flushing the plaque building sugars away.
  2. Encourage them to drink water with their treats. Milk may be chocolate’s best friend, but water is the best sugar free option available out there.
  3. The Candian Dental Association reminds those who wear braces to be extra careful around “nuts, popcorn, tortilla chips, hard candy, caramel and other chewy candies to keep their braces safe and intact”
  4. Emphasize good oral hygiene: this the time of year to brush up on your kid’s brushing and flossing routine.
  5. Consider inviting the ‘Switch witch’ to your home to free yourselves of the oodles of less-than-best treats that remain. Never heard of her? Read on below!

Switch Witch:

 

As the story goes, the Switch Witch swoops in when invited in order to trade unwanted treats for a tangible gift or an experience. She even comes with her own storybook poem:

 

‘My name is Switch Witch

From the land of Moonlight

I come to trade candy

On Halloween night!

With my black cat “Zoom”

I ride on my broom

Swooping here and there

Looking for a child who will share

I switch your candy for a toy

That I know you will enjoy’

 

On that note, we hope you enjoy your treats and remember to brush and floss throughout this holiday season!

Anatomy of a tooth

This week, we bring you some fall themed dental art created by illustrator Rachel Ignotofsky as a fun and educational tool to help you better understand the anatomy of a tooth. Be sure to impress your dentist and hygienist at your next visit by asking about the health of your cementum and/or dentin. You could even have some fun with it by turning the hot seat around: quiz them on the location of your periodontal ligament!

  • Crown: the anatomical area of teeth covered by enamel.
  • Enamel: the normally visible part of the tooth, covering the crown.
    • Fun fact: Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body and contains the highest percentage of minerals (1)
  • Dentin: a calcified tissue covered by enamel. Since enamel is translucent and dentin in yellow, it is the dentin that can affects the colour of a tooth.
  • Pulp Cavity: the central chamber of the tooth
  • Root canal: naturally occurring anatomic space within the root of a tooth.
  • Cementum: calcified substance covering the root of the tooth.
  • Periodontal Ligament: connective tissue that joins the cementum to the jaw bone
  • Root: the part of the tooth composed of dentin, found under the gum line. Molars can have up to four roots, whereas canine teeth have just one.

And now for the scary version of a tooth – discover what can happen without proper oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist (definitions and explanations from the Canadian Dental Association):

  • An artificial crown: (AKA a cap), is a hollow, artificial tooth used to cover a damaged or decayed tooth. The crown restores the tooth and protects it from further damage. Crowns can also be used to cover a discoloured or misshapen tooth. A tooth that has been fixed with a crown looks and works very much like a natural tooth.
  • Cavity: a very small hole that forms on the surface of a tooth. Cavities are caused when sugars in the food we eat and bacteria in our mouths mix together, producing a mild acid that eats away at outer layer of our teeth (called enamel).
  • Infected pulp: When bacteria (germs) enter your tooth through deep cavities, cracks or flawed fillings, your tooth can become abscessed. An abscessed tooth is a tooth with an infection in the pulp. If pulp becomes infected, it needs to be removed.
  • Plaque: clear and sticky substance that contains germs (or bacteria). It forms on a daily basis, at the location where your teeth and your gums meet. If plaque is not removed every day by brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar (also called calculus).
    • Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and flossing.
  • Gum tissue inflammation: In the early stages, gum disease is called gingivitis. Your gums may be a bit red and bleed when you brush, but you may not notice anything. As gingivitis gets worse, tiny pockets of infection form at the “point of attachment.”
  • Abscess: An abscessed tooth may cause pain and/or swelling. Your dentist may notice the infection from a dental x-ray or from other changes with the tooth. If left untreated, an abscessed tooth can cause serious oral health problems.
  • Swollen gingiva: Gum disease affects the attachment between gums and teeth. Gum disease begins with plaque

 

Rachel Ignotofsky is a New York Times Best Selling author and illustrator, who finds inspiration in both science and history. Her work turns dense and clunky information into fun and accessible illustrations for all audiences to enjoy.

(1): Ross et al., p. 485

Dental jokes, trivia, and cartoons, oh my!

For teachers, students, and parents alike, September marks a new beginning. Early morning wake ups followed by the establishment of new routines can be stressful, to say the least. In this blog post we have compiled some of the best (and most groan-worthy) dental jokes from the World Wide Web, in the hopes that we can inject some humour into your day.

Read on for a chuckle or two – and hey, you might just learn some useful facts to dazzle your peers at your next Trivia night.

Jokes to share with all the dads in your life:

Q: What did the vampire say after the dentist finished checking his teeth? A: Fang you very much!

Q: Why did the male deer visit the orthodontist? A: He wanted to get his buckteeth fixed!

Q: When the dentist went to the fair, what did she like even better than the roller coaster? A: The fluor “ride”!

Q: What has teeth but cannot eat? A: A comb.

Q: What did the werewolf eat after he had his tooth fixed? A: The dentist.

Q: What do you call a worm with no teeth? A: A gummy worm!

Fun facts to whip out at Trivia night:

  • A mosquito has over 40 teeth
  • A snail has 25 teeth… on their tongue
  • An elephant’s tooth can weigh three kilograms (that’s heavier than a big jug of milk!)
  • Even though whales are very big, some of them don’t have any teeth. Instead, they have rows of stiff hair like combs that take food out of the ocean.
  • Snails are very small but they can have thousands of tiny teeth all lined up in rows.
  • Minnows have teeth in their throat.
  • Rabbit teeth never stop growing. They are worn down by gnawing on bark and other hard foods.
  • A shark has around 40 sets of teeth in their lifetime
  • Lemon sharks grow a new set of teeth every two weeks. They grow more than 24,000 new teeth every year!

 

Top 5 tried, tested, and true tips for brushing your toddlers teeth

Toddlers are independence asserting, uncoordinated, loud, dirty, mumbling balls of energy and sweetness. All of this can combine to make everyday routines (from getting dressed in the morning, to bath time in the evening) a marathon of negotiations, pleading, demonstrating, and doing for their ever-doting parents/guardians.

Unquestionably included in the list of mundane yet difficult daily tasks is the dreaded tooth brushing. As you approach with the toothbrush, they wince as though you’re threatening to burn them with hot coal. They purse their lips, they shake their heads left and right, some attempt to launch their tiny bodies from your aching arms, other go floppy in hopes to fall right through to the floor. There may be screaming, and likely one or both of you is crying at some point during the whole ordeal.

Oh toddler, why don’t you understand that this is for your own good? We’re just trying our best to offer you the best start. You can’t go to bed with those burrowing milk sugars coating your teeth – sugar is the major Cavity Culprit after all!

In this blog post we offer some tried, tested and true tips on how to get through toddler tooth brushing feeling a little lighter, a little more successful, and a little less drained:

  1. Accept screen-time into the routine
    • There are several videos that are geared towards little ones that encourage proper brushing. Sometimes all it takes is pandering to their love of all things Elmo, or the soothing tunes of Raffi to distract/encourage them and put a fun spin on things. Here are our two favourite videos:
      • Sesame Street: Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me: Brushy Brush PSA
        • Consider yourself warned that you’ll have ‘Brush brushy brush brushy brush brush – ah!’ stuck in your head every time you brush your own teeth
        • Enjoy the moment when Bruno Mars makes a guest appearance (0:24)
      • Brush your Teeth by Raffi
        • If you’re a sucker for nostalgia, then why not go old school and play this Raffi classic instead. The ear-worm isn’t quite as offensive, either.
  2. Brush your teeth together
    • Toddlers are the original monkey-see, monkey-dos. Make tooth brushing part of the routine for the whole family and they are sure to want to join in on the fun.
    • A step stool or ‘learning tower’ in the bathroom will bring them up to sink level and feel a part of the team.
  3. Give them a turn
    • Allow your toddler to brush their own teeth, but be sure to take over and ‘check’ their work afterwards as they are guaranteed to have missed most (all) teeth and may only limit themselves to chewing on the bristles instead.
    • Some parents find success by allowing their toddlers to brush the ‘teeth’ of the favourite stuffed animal, or even of their parents*, at the same time.
  4. Make it a game
    • Use your imagination and have fun with it. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed they will be.
      • We suggest a game of ‘search and find the sugar bugs’ in their mouths. Don’t rest until you have found them all
      • This can also be a great occasion for tickle-time. The bigger the laugh, the easier to get to those new molars!
  5. Let them select their gear
    • Take your toddler to the store and allow them to select their own toothbrush and toothpaste (fluoride-free until they know how to spit!)**. Sometimes all it takes is a Peppa Pig themed toothbrush to get your toddler to open wide.

And there you have it – our top 5 tips on getting your toddlers to open wide and ensure a good start to oral hygiene. If you have any questions about your toddler’s dental health, your local family dentist would be thrilled to discuss more.

*Desperate times, desperate measures!

** Check with your dentist if your toddler is a good fit for fluorinated toothpaste. If they are at high risk of tooth decay, your dentist may recommend using such toothpaste in a tiny, rice-grain size amount.

 

Have toothbrush. Will travel.

 

Our previous blog post discussed some of the most common dental emergencies and what to do if you find yourself suffering from one of them. Generally, it is advised to call your dentist and have then see you immediately. But things aren’t so easy when you’re, say, overseas. This post will provide some helpful tips on how to reduce the chances of suffering a dental emergency while abroad, and will also suggest what to do in the unfortunate situation you experience a dental emergency away from home.

 

  1. Prevention is your first step to help reduce the chance of needing to deal with a dental emergency abroad.
    • Like with a car, regular check ups help ensure you won’t experience any issues related to decay, cavities, gum disease, and overall poor oral hygiene.
    • Booking a check up shortly before your departure is also a good idea. Make sure to mention your trip to your dentist, as they can let you know before you go if you have any areas to keep an eye on.
      • A common cause of extreme tooth pain while flying is when the change in air pressure irritates a pre existing crack in a tooth. Your dentist will be able to fix any for you before you fly.
    • Avoid more complex procedures (like a root canal) right before you go, since you don’t want to be mid-recovery while away from home.
  2. Check your insurance policy to ensure dental emergencies are covered. If they aren’t, strongly consider adding them on.
  3. Be prepared. Like any good girl scout, ensure you have all the necessary toiletries packed in your carry on:
    • Toothbrush
    • Toothpaste
    • Floss
    • Over the counter pain medication
  4. Avoid the following, which increase your likelihood of damaging teeth:
    • Contact spots without a mouth guard
    • Chomping down on hard candy
    • Eating sticky candy like taffy

 

And if all of the above measures still don’t help you from preventing a dental emergency, then make sure you address your issues as soon as you can. A good tip is to seek advice from a hotel concierge in the area who should be a wealth of information and able to point you in the right direction. Remember to read our tips here, too, to help you out in the meantime.

How to respond to dental emergencies

There are a variety of dental emergencies that can occur regardless of your age or activity level (you don’t have to be a contact athlete to knock out a tooth!). The following list describes common dental emergencies (as detailed by The Canadian Dental Association) in descending order of consequence, and includes helpful tips on what to do if you find yourself in such positions.

  1. When a tooth gets knocked out (dislodged): This injury requires immediate action. It is possible for a dislodged tooth to re-root and survive if it is replaced shortly after coming out. The best results occur if replaced within 10 minutes. Less than half an hour, and the odds are still in your favour. If you wait 2 or more hours after the tooth falling out to replace it, then the likelihood that it will re-root is low. Before you pick your tooth off a dirty soccer pitch and shove it back into place, you’ll need to clean it. Make sure not to damage any of the root by grabbing it by the crown. Avoid wiping it with a cloth or tissue for this same reason. To clean the tooth, you’ll want to rinse the tooth well with clean water. If you have difficulty replacing the tooth, then find yourself a cup of cold milk and store the tooth in there while you make your way to your dentist office. Outside of the hole from which it fell, a cup of milk is the second-best way to preserve the vitality of the tooth. In all cases with a dislodged tooth, seek immediate dental care.
  2. When you break or crack a tooth: the severity of consequence here depends very much on the degree of damage to the tooth and root area. Small chips and breaks can often be filled with white filling (same as is used to fill cavities) in order to repair the tooth. A crown may be needed for more serious damage to the surface of the tooth. Damage that extends to the root may require a root canal. Be sure to call your dentist and explain what happened when you break, chip, or crack a tooth. They will want to see you shortly thereafter in order to make the necessary repairs.
  3. When you lose a filling: your dentist should be able to replace a lost filling with ease. To protect the portion of tooth that is now exposed, you can stick a small piece of chewing gum in the affected area. Remember, though, that sugar is a cavity culprit, so do yourself a favour and opt for a sugar-free variety.
  4. When you have a severe toothache: treat the pain with a combination of over the counter pain medication that you know is safe and effective for your body, and cold. Try holding a cold pack to the side of the mouth that hurts, as the cold temperature will help to take down any swelling. Do not try alternating cold with hot, as heat will not help bring down any inflammation and may exacerbate the pain. Schedule an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible.
  5. When you have a badly bitten lip or tongue: try and stop the bleeding yourself by applying pressure with a clean cloth. If bleeding cannot be stopped, then you may need stitches. Go to your local emergency department at the hospital for immediate attention.
  6. When you have something stubborn stuck between your teeth: If you simply cannot get the item out by flossing gently, then you may need help from your dentist. Avoid poking at your teeth and gums with shard objects, as these can cause more damage then help.

Unfortunately, dental emergencies are not reserved for when you are close to home. Next week we will offer suggestions on what to do if you find yourself with a dental emergency while traveling abroad.

Take-home kit versus in-office teeth whitening treatments

Our last blog post helped illustrate how teeth become discoloured over time, and offered suggestions on how to counteract some of the most stain-inducing foods and drinks out there.

This post will help you navigate the different whitening options available to you after you have decided you want to up the shine factor of your smile.

Dentists typically offer two professional, safe, and gentle approaches to tooth whitening: take home kits and in office treatment.

  1. Take-home kit: a custom fit tray is made in-office, and the office provides the professionally designed gels that you take home, apply to the trays, and wear for a few minutes to a few hours over the course of a few weeks until you obtain the results you are happy with.
  2. In-office: Your initial visit involves a proper diagnosis and vetting to make sure you are a good candidate for teeth whitening. Your second visit lasts approximately 90 minutes in the chair, where you dentist will isolate your teeth before applying the much stronger and more powerful gel, often triggering the process with laser or special lighting.

The table below illustrates the main similarities and differences between your two choices:

  Take home In office
Looks like
Active ingredient Peroxide Peroxide
Strength Mild Strong
Results Brighter whiter teeth Brighter whiter teeth
Length of time A number of weeks, depending on desired change and frequency wearing Often, just one 90 minute visit
Costs $$ $$$
Safety Relatively safe as long as you follow the instructions. Done in a controlled setting, less risk of damage to surrounding tissues, more controlled results, can stop treatment if you experience any discomfort or sensitivity.

 

While over the counter whitening strips and/or toothpastes are a tempting way to DIY, dentists often do not recommend them. Their ingredients can be uncontrolled and may lead to abrasion of the teeth causing sensitivity.

To hear Dr. Hatamian speak to the professional whitening services he offers, watch the video.

The staining effects of tomatoes and turmeric on your teeth

Last week we reminded our readers to spring clean their mouths by heading to the dentist for regular smile –maintenance.

This post will delve into the intricacies of maintaining that squeaky clean smile and what to do to reduce staining.

If you are a regular human who eats and drinks through their mouth, then chances are your teeth have experienced some degree of staining. We all know that our daily coffee/tea drinking habits cause some tooth discolouration, and one doesn’t have to stretch the imagination to appreciate the staining effects of red wine, but these life sustaining drinks aren’t the only robbers of your lustrous smile. Here is a list of some of the lesser-known culprits that are also guilty of turning the lights off in your mouth:

  • Food and drink with high acidity content. Acid works against our teeth by wearing away the shiny white enamel, exposing the yellow dentin underneath. Some foods and drinks are a double threat because they are both acidic and deeply pigmented (*):
    • White wine
    • Fruits and berries, including blackberries and blueberries*
    • Tomatoes*
    • Balsamic vinegar*
    • Soft drinks*
    • Energy drinks
    • Curries
    • Turmeric
    • Any candy/food colouring that stains your tongue will also likely stain your teeth
      • On that note, the harder the candy, and the more time it spends in your mouth, the more damage it can do

While we hardly suggest you eliminate all tooth staining food from your diet, there are simple maintenance tricks you can do to reduce the damage to your chompers. When drinking your coffee, you can try using a lid or a straw, but swigging swiftly will be the most helpful in keeping the time for staining low. Always rinse your mouth with water after consuming any of the offenders above, and try and brush your teeth shortly after ingestion.

Despite our best efforts, stains creep up on us, and it only takes one simple trick to see how far your teeth have fallen from their original shine. By comparing your Chiclets to something white (say, a tissue), you can determine or yourself if you’d like to up the shine factor for a more confidant smile.

Our next post will detail the two professional, safe, and gentle approaches to tooth whitening offered by your dentist: take home kits versus in office treatment.

The one thing you missed during spring cleaning

Spring has officially sprung. The cherry blossoms have bloomed, beckoning the hoards of spectators who flock to the parks. The threat of Fourth-Wave-Winter has nearly been extinguished, and our parkas have bravely marched into storage for their short retirement.

As buds continue to unfurl with the promise of summer in the air, so too blossoms an instinct to engage in Spring Cleaning. Deep within us explodes an urge to get on hands and knees and scrub away the dinge that has collected all year. Places previously untouched by the feathers of a duster are tickled anew.

Hands up if your to-do list looks something like this:

  • Vacuum baseboards behind the couch
  • Scrub bathroom grout until it sparkles
  • Mop floors until they shine
  • Polish stove top back to it’s original glare
  • Wash glass doors until so clear that the family dog walks into it (OK maybe not the last one, but you get it)

And so, while you engage in the ancient ritual of spring-cleaning your home, we are here to remind you of the one big thing you’re missing: your mouth! Here are some delightful stock images to help your to internalize some of that same zest for spring-cleaning:

Fresh air < fresh breath

Sparkling mirrors < sparkling teeth

Stains scraped from grout < plaque scraped from your gum line

Polished white tiles < polished white teeth*

No spring-cleaning will truly be complete until you have the smile to match.

*To learn more about the benefits of professional whitening services, stay tuned for our next blog post. Sneak peek here.

Queer Eye: The mainstreaming of the water flosser

If you’re one of the millions of viewers of the wildly successful Netflix remake Queer Eye, chances are you caught every dentist’s favourite episode: Season 1, episode 6 ‘The Renaissance of Remington’. In this episode, fan favourite grooming expert Jonathan Van Ness (or JVN) tackles young entrepreneur Remington’s flossing routine (or lack thereof).

With a few short minutes to educate Remington on the importance of regular flossing, JVN introduces him to a water flosser (aka oral irrigator). JVN successfully mainstreams an otherwise clunky and unknown dental tool unlike any dentist ever could.

Here is a transcript of the hilarious exchange (emphasis our own):

JVN: This is the biggest moment: One of the things that I took away from this is that you are completely gorgeous and stunning but when I asked about our floss game I was like, “Honey, no”. Cuz, we wanna floss, but sometimes it’s like, “who really wants to floss?

So I hooked you up with a big-girl water pick. I use them once in the morning, and once at night. All we’re talking about is you just wanna get the crap out from between your teeth. So what you do is just turn it on, mind the overspray – hello!

A fine mist of water showers over Remington

 Yes, and that’s what you do. So you just

Points pick into his mouth, gestures the technique, grunts twice.

Do you wanna try it?

R: OK

JVN: Point it right between your teeth – you can get all friendly with yourself.

R: Tries it, sprays everywhere

JVM: yes, Queen, that’s how you do it! And do it methodically, too.

R: more spray

JVN: clapping Yes, Queen. Yes! Yes, Yes! Yes, Yes!

R: OK

JVN: Do you feel it?

R: No I do, I feel it.

JVN: All right. Lets get you on to gorgeous Tan.

 End scene.

If your curiosity has been piqued, then read on to understand more about the tool, and how it can compliment your oral hygiene routine.

  • The what: Water flosser, oral irrigator, brandname: Waterpik
  • The how: Shoots a thin stream of water at a high velocity, strength can be turned up and down
  • The why: When used correctly, removes food particles from between the teeth and at the gum line, can even work away at plaque build up
  • The cons: Needs to be plugged in, has a tank of water, not exactly pocket friendly, takes up coveted bathroom counter space
  • The pros: Excellent for people with braces, dry mouth, and those that just seem to get a lot of food stuck in their teeth

If you find yourself in the minority of the population that flosses their teeth daily, then a water flosser likely isn’t for you. If you are in the majority that can’t seem to get into a regular flossing routine, then this  gentle, novel tool that leaves your teeth feeling squeaky clean is an excellent option. Flossing with regular floss is the absolute best for healthy gums and teeth, but a water flosser can compliment this routine beautifully.