New Year, New Resolutions

As we bid farewell to 2017 and prepare for a new beginning in 2018, our list of New Years resolutions continues to grow. Improving your oral health is a big item to add to the list! Big resolutions are difficult to maintain, but we have the tips to breakdown this big resolution into bite-sized details to help make it more attainable. Here are the smaller resolutions to try, as well as preparation ideas to make sure you’re ready to go come Jan 1st.

Resolution #1: Floss once per day

We’ve written a number of blog posts about flossing and why it’s important, but it never hurts to emphasize that flossing once a day is one of the best things that you can do for the health of your teeth and gums. Check out more in our post on preventing gum disease.

2017 Prep: Ensure that you’re stocked up on dental floss. Make sure that flossing will be at the top of your mind by storing the floss in a visible area by your toothbrush and toothpaste.

Resolution #2: Go for regular dentist visits

Going to the dentist regularly is crucial for oral hygiene and illness prevention. Check out an in-depth summary of the importance of regular dentist visits here.

2017 Prep: If you haven’t already scheduled your next appointment, call your dentist office to schedule one for the new year.

Resolution #3: Minimize teeth discolouration from foods and drinks

While getting regular cleanings will help combat the effects of teeth discolouration, you can get longer lasting white teeth through prevention techniques. It doesn’t have to mean completely abstaining from foods and drinks that are known to stain teeth. Check out this post for an in-depth overview of prevention and treatment ideas for teeth discolouration.

2017 Prep: Purchase straws and put them in the kitchen to be readily available for when you’ll be drinking teeth-staining liquids (including coffee, tea, or red wine). For staining foods, you can minimize discolouration by drinking water after you’ve finished eating.

Happy new year everyone, and best of luck for keeping those resolutions!

How to Make Your New Year’s Flossing Resolution Stick

We all know it’s good for us. Ideally, we would like to do it every day (twice even)! Yet, we inflate, exaggerate, and lie about how often we do it. That’s right folks – we’re talking about flossing. The all too familiar sense of dread creeps in as your dentist appointment approaches. Maybe you begin flossing a whole week before your visit, or maybe you pull out the floss you received at your previous visit The Night Before your trip to the dentist. You march your puffy, sore gums into the reclining chair and, through garbled speech, profess that you have been flossing regularly. ‘Mhmmmmm…At least a couple times a week?’.

With the gluttony that December brings, many of us will find ourselves looking forward to the fresh start that January 1st promises. Lists will be drafted, lofty health goals will be created, gym memberships purchased, and low fat Instant Pot recipes will be Pinned a-plenty. Yet, while 2018 will begin with the best of intentions, most of us will drop our New Year resolutions before the end of the month. This year, we hope you will consider adding ‘floss regularly – for real’ to your list of new year resolutions. To set your up for success we offer you our top five suggestions on making this the resolution that sticks for the whole year (or at least until your next dentist appointment).

  1. Go buy some new floss. The floss you already have clearly isn’t working for you, so spend some money on something that clicks with you – maybe you’d like to try something that promises to be silky smooth on your gums, something especially minty, or some of those pre-threaded floss sticks. Whatever your tool, you are more likely to use it if you purchase it with your own money.
  2. Place your *new* floss front and center. ‘Out of sight out of mind’, they say, so don’t tidy your floss away into that medicine cabinet.
  3. Be realistic about your expectations. If you barely make the time to brush your teeth in the morning, then don’t expect you’ll start flossing adequately then either (unless you’re prepared to get out of bed a couple minutes earlier than normal). Instead, plan to floss when it suits your schedule best, be it first thing in the morning, on a lunch break, when you walk in your door, or before you head to bed. The perfect time to floss is when you will floss, so don’t overthink it.
  4. Tell people about your flossing resolution. Tell your roommate, your partner, you family members, and/or that one friend you know who actually does floss their teeth every day – and ask them to hold you accountable.
  5. Set yourself a daily reminder. Maybe a friendly Post-it that says ‘Floss :)’ on your bathroom mirror is the gentle kind of persuasion you need, or for those that live and breathe by their smartphones, may we suggest a calendar reminder that irritates you into action.

To truly set yourself up for success, plan to make the effort to floss every single day from January 1st to January 21st. Three consecutive weeks of daily flossing will go a long way in creating your new, healthy habit. After January 21st you will find flossing has become an effortless part of your daily routine. Your gums will feel great and pain-free, your breath will be vastly improved, and you will smile brighter knowing you will end 2018 with at least one resolution fulfilled.

What your jaw could be telling you

If you feel pain in your jaw joint, temples, or ear, it could be a sign of TMD, or Temporomandibular joint disorder. This can often be treated with home remedies, but more severe cases may require surgery.

The TMJ or Temporomandibular joint is what connects the jaw to the skull. Injury to this joint causes the disorder of nerves and muscles, which is diagnosed as TMD. Your TMJ may be injured because of several possible reasons, inclding:

  • Issues with bite
  • Teeth grinding
  • Bad posture
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Excessive gum chewing
  • Enduring a heavy blow or whiplash

A more comprehensive list of symptoms include:

  • Jaw joint pain
  • Ear ache
  • Head ache
  • Pain in the temples
  • Still or sore jaw muscles
  • Locking of the jaw
  • Clicking or popping sounds from the jaw
  • Popping or ringing sounds in the ears
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw
  • Blurred vision
  • Pain at the base of the tongue

The best thing to do when you encounter these symptoms is to let your dentist know so that they can examine the source of the pain and provide a diagnosis. For less severe cases, home remedies can help to treat the symptoms. These include:

  • Putting an ice pack on the area of the joint
  • Gently massaging or stretching the jaw and neck muscles
  • Taking over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs and pain-relievers, such as Advil, aspirin, or Tylenol
  • Eating soft foods and avoiding gum
  • Taking steps to reduce and avoid stress

If home remedies are not enough to ease the symptoms, more drastic measures available to provide short term and long term relief. These include:

  • Dental splint
  • TMJ arthroscopy surgery
  • Joint replacement surgery

There are many possible causes and treatments for your jaw pain. Make sure to address symptoms with your dentist to get a diagnosis and learn what treatment options are best for you.

The problem with bites

Most people associate bite issues, or occlusions, with less attractive smiles. However, they can also cause issues such as jaw pain and premature wearing down of the teeth. Below are a list of common bite issues, the problems they cause, and corrective options. For the majority of bite issues, early detection and correction will help to make treatment easier and less costly.

Crossbite
In a crossbite, one or more of the upper teeth will sit on the inside of the lower teeth. As a result, people with crossbits usually have to close their mouth by moving their lower jaw forward or to the side. Crossbites can wear down the teeth prematurely, lead to incorrect chewing patterns and asymmetrical jaw development, as well as cause gum disease, bone loss, and jaw joint dysfnction (TMJ).

Correction:
Depending on the number of teeth affected, treatment may include retainer, braces or palate expander.

Overbite
Occurring at the front of the mouth, overbites are when upper teeth protrude excessively over the lower teeth so that the teeth are effectively not touching. Also known as a deep bite, overbites can prematurely wear down the lower teeth, cause the front teeth to function improperly, and lead to periodontal problems since the lower teeth constantly bite into the gums of the upper teeth.

Correction:
Through orthodontic levelling of the front and/or back teeth, teeth will be properly realigned to come together.

Underbite
Underbites occur when the front lower teeth close over the front upper teeth. This can wear down the teeth prematurely and cause jaw or joint problems that lead to jaw joint dysfunction (TMJ).

Correction:
Depending on the severity of the issue, treatment may include jaw growth modification, teeth extraction, palatal expansion, or surgical jaw correction for severe cases.

Openbite
In an openbite, the front upper and lower teeth do not overlap properly, causing the front teeth to literally be open when biting down. Openbites result from small habits in small children such as finger sucking and tongue thrusts, as well as uneven jaw growth. This can prematurely wear down the back teeth, cause incorrect chewing patterns, and lead to pain later on through jaw joint dysfunction (TMJ).

Correction:
Openbites are the most time sensitive of all bite types since corrective action results depend heavily on early treatment. Treatments include jaw growth modification, teeth extrusion, braces, or jaw surgery. Since this type of bite directly depends on oral habits, it is important to stop actions such as finger sucking and tongue thrusts to completely correct the issue.

If you’re concerned about your or your child’s bite, please let us know so we can determine the issue and look into treatment options.

Trick or Treat! How to enjoy sugary Halloween treats without ending up with zombie teeth

Halloween: a time of dressing up, delicious treats, and fun for all ages. A glorious holiday in which sugary and acidic foods and drinks tempt us from all sides. Spookily delicious cocktails and lattes entice pedestrians from every street corner, and mounds of candies and chocolates shout their welcome as soon as the tempted shopper steps foot inside a grocery store. For anyone with a sweet tooth, this is heaven. Bulk-bought, discounted, time-limited heaven. But how to indulge without ending up with a mouth full of rotten teeth?

For one, brushing timely will help to reduce the damage. After consuming treats high in sugar but low in acidity (such as chocolate), brushing right away will help get rid of bacteria before they start attacking the enamel. However, this is not the case for foods or drinks high in acidity (such as anything in the citrus family). These types of treats will weaken the enamel as they are being consumed, and brushing right after will instead attack the enamel while it’s down. In this case, it is best to wait at least half an hour before brushing. Drinking and swishing around water instead will help to clean the mouth without hurting the enamel.

In between indulging in treats, chewing sugar-free gum will help to further protect the teeth. This increases the production of saliva in the mouth, which helps to wash out any sugar that may be coating the teeth.

As always, continue to practice the daily oral hygiene routine. If you know you won’t be in the mood to floss at the end of the night, do it in the morning and save yourself the trouble. No matter how difficult it may be to garner the self control to brush after a fun night, this will minimize the damage from all that indulgence and help keep teeth healthy and beautiful.

How to make dental hygiene fun for children

Practicing good oral hygiene is a lifelong skill for a healthy mouth. Starting while a child is young will help instill this practice as habit and avoid problems down the line. This may seem like a daunting task for many parents, but there are ways to make practicing oral hygiene fun.

Doing it together
The daily oral hygiene routine can easily become a fun tradition. Your child will try to mimic what you do and the best way to teach them proper oral care is to demonstrate it yourself on a daily basis. For this reason, it’s also important for the adult to show that brushing and flossing can be fun and exciting. If that’s just not how you feel…time to dust off those acting hats!

Using fun toothbrushes and toothpastes
How many children would turn down a teeth brushing party with Spongebob or Elsa? Not many. Buying a cool toothbrush and toothpaste can feel like picking out a present and can make children excited to clean their teeth, at least while the novelty lasts.

Using a musical timer
On average, it is recommended that everyone brushes twice a day for two minutes each time. Using a fun song that lasts around two minutes will help the time to go by quickly and add fun to the routine.

Cooking together
One of the biggest threats to a healthy mouth is sugary and starchy foods. Unfortunately, sugary and starchy foods are just what children crave and are reminded to crave. It is possible and important for parents to instill a love of certain foods in children- the healthy kind of food that doesn’t cause cavities. A great way to do this is by cooking together with healthy ingredients.

Giving rewards for dentist visits
Going to the dentist is not always fun for a child. In fact, it can be quite the ordeal for some. However, the trip can always be made better with a stop at the playground or a favourite treat after.

Help a child to start from the beginning with good oral hygiene habits will save them from problems later on that may be painful or costly. It is a worthy investment of a parent’s time and energy, and can become fun times that turn into sweet memories.

Teeth discolouration: causes, prevention, and treatment

Many people think that teeth discolouration means yellow stains caused by consuming certain foods and drinks, but this is only a part of it. In truth, discolouration can be caused by both external and internal factors. Here are the three main types of causes and the prevention techniques available for each.

Extrinsic Causes

The enamel, or outer layer of the teeth, is stained by something you consume. Examples include coffee, tea, wine, berries, and smoking. Creating an acidic environment in the mouth by not practicing good oral hygiene also makes the enamel more vulnerable to staining.

    Prevention:

  • Use a straw when drinking beverages that can stain the teeth.
  • Drink or swish water after eating or drinking.
  • Brush twice a day and after meals, and floss every day to keep the acidity level low.
  • Get regular dental cleanings.
    • Intrinsic Causes

        The dentin, or inner structure of the teeth, gets discoloured due to factors that can be either controllable or uncontrollable:

        • Too much exposure to fluoride in early childhood, causing white spots on teeth.
        • Trauma such as a fall or sports injury during childhood that impacted a growing tooth while it was still below the gum. This may have damaged the enamel, which provides a white coating to the tooth, before it was fully formed.
        • A rare birth condition (dentinogenesis imperfecta) that some are born with, causing grey, amber, or purple discolouration on the teeth.
        • Use of antibiotics in the tetracycline family during childhood (causing discolouration in your teeth) or during pregnancy (potentially causing future discolouration in the child’s teeth).
          • Because intrinsic causes are largely uncontrollable, little can be done in ways of prevention- especially for adults. However, parents can avoid exposing small children to too much fluoride until the enamel is formed and fully coats the teeth.

            Time-based Causes

              Your teeth will naturally discolour as you age:

            • Dentin yellows over time while enamel thins, causing the yellow of the dentin to show through.
            • The more you age, the more foods and drinks you’ll consume that discolour teeth over time.
              • Prevention:

              • Wear nighttime applicances like mouth guards to avoid grinding and wearing down enamel.
              • Continue practising prevention techniques for extrinsic causes.
                • Even if prevention techniques are not available for all causes, there are treatment options to reverse or hide the effects of discolouration:

                • Bleaching- there are various ways to bleach your teeth. Dentists can do power bleaching that will whiten teeth within 30-40 minutes or give patients a weaker form of bleaching gel to be used at home, which will take 2-4 weeks for results. There are also over-the-counter whitening products that use bleach, such as teeth strips, but these are weaker than the bleaching gel that you can get from the dentist and won’t fit as well over your teeth. As a result, over-the-counter products will take longer to have a noticeable effect.
                • Laser whitening treatments
                • Crown or veneer- for intrinsic causes that are not reversible, patients can opt to get a crown or veneer to cover the tooth and hide the effects of discolouration.
                  • Teeth discolouration is not a medically serious issue, but it can have a large effect on your confidence. There are many options out there for people seeking treatment- your dentist is your best resource for determining which treatment is the best for you.

                    How to prevent gum disease

                    Gum disease is caused by the bacteria in plaque, a sticky and colourless film that builds up on teeth. There are two stages and severity to gum disease, with the most severe case of periodontitis being the leading cause of tooth loss within adults in developed countries.

                    The two stages of gum disease are:

                    Gingivitis

                    • Symptoms include gums that are inflamed, tender, red, swollen, and prone to bleeding. Persistent bad breath that lingers no matter how much you brush or use mouthwash is also a symptom, caused by bacteria in the mouth.
                    • At this stage, symptoms are reversible.

                    Periodontitis

                    • Symptoms include gums that are starting to separate and recede from the teeth. This gives an opening for plaque to move towards the bones, roots, and fibers that support the teeth. As the disease progresses, the bacteria will attack and destroy the fibers and bones holding teeth in place, impacting bite and leading to the necessary removal of loose teeth.
                    • Damage is irreversible, but steps can be taken to reduce damage and heal.

                    Because symptoms may seem mild or even unnoticeable, it’s possible for the disease to reach severity without large warning signs. The best thing to do is to actively prevent gum disease.

                    Here are the steps you can take for gum disease prevention:

                    • Floss at least once a day. It doesn’t matter when you do it, as long as it’s taken care of.
                    • Brush twice a day.
                    • Get regular dentist cleanings that include periodontal check ups. These are to remove the plaque and tartar (plaque buildup that have hardened) that you will likely miss while brushing or flossing. The dentist will also check for signs of gum disease that may be otherwise unnoticed.
                    • Avoid smoking. It weakens the immune system, making it more difficult to fight off gum infection and for damaged gums to heal. Tobacco also contains chemicals that can slow down the healing process.

                    As periodontitis worsens, special procedures like scaling and root planing or even surgery may be done to try to reduce the damage. People who have had periodontitis are also more at risk to getting it again, so more cleanings and checkups will be needed. Save yourself future cost, pain and hassle by actively preventing gum disease. Practicing good oral hygiene at home and keeping an eye on the health of your teeth and gums are essential for prevention. Regular trips to the dentist will help take care of the bacteria that you aren’t able to tackle at home, as well as help keep an eye on any possible indications to gum disease.

                    While gum disease is common, there are actions that everyone can take to prevent it.

                    The importance of regular trips to the dentist

                    In a busy world of packed schedules, it can be easy for trips to the dentist to fall off the calendar. However, there are more reasons than you might expect for going to the dentist regularly- it’s not just about whiter teeth and brighter smiles.

                    You may notice that your dentist examines not only the health of your teeth, but also your gums, mouth overall, and throat. This is because they are checking for issues that you may not even be aware of, beyond the obvious ones that may already be giving you pain. The symptoms they see may indicate early signs of oral cancer, diabetes, tooth decay, and Gingivitis/gum disease. Early detection can make all the difference in prevention, successful treatment, and decreased pain, as well as lessen the amount of future problems. This also means lowering the potential cost and frequency of treatments since symptoms are less severe and easier to treat when caught early on.

                    On average, patients are recommended to visit the dentist once every 6 months. Because everyone’s situation is different, the frequency of recommended visits should be determined on a case by caste basis. In addition to regular visits, it’s also important for patients to inform their dentist of any pain or deterioration in their oral health between visits. For example, bloody and swollen gums can indicate plaque build up that may cause Gingivitis or gum disease if left untreated. Letting the dentist know as soon as symptoms are caught rather than waiting until the next appointment will save future pain and troubles.

                    Remember to determine the optimal frequency for you with your dentist and in the meantime, practise good oral hygiene!

                    The world of dentistry (pt. 2)

                    As promised, here’s part 2 of your introduction to the dentistry team!

                    When an invasive procedure is needed,
                    Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons step up to the plate.
                    Complications and difficulties will go unheeded
                    With all levels of sedation to take away the aches.

                    When symptoms need a specialist’s care
                    Or when surgeries you’d prefer to forego,
                    The diagnosis and treatment they handle with flair.
                    The specialists in Oral Medicine & Pathology will know.

                    Imaging tools like CTs and MRIs
                    Are daily used by these pros.
                    The little things won’t escape their eyes.
                    True diagnostics will Oral Radiologists propose.

                    When the going gets tough, you know who they’ll call.
                    The Prosthodontist will diagnose, plan, and oversee.
                    This expert and leader will hold them all in awe.
                    To succeed in a complicated treatment, they hold the key.

                    And that’s the full dentistry team! Feel free to reach out for any questions.