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.

                    The world of dentistry (pt. 1)

                    The world of dentistry can be confusing to navigate but here’s something that should help. Introducing the dentistry team!

                    Your General Dentist is always here
                    Helping to restore, preserve, and maintain.
                    For all oral woes they’ll lend you their ear
                    And specialists’ aid they’ll help to attain.

                    For everything inside your pearly whites,
                    The complicated canals of blood vessels and nerves-
                    These are an Endodontist’s delight
                    Your teeth they will preserve.

                    Experts of the bite and jaw,
                    Orthodontists do more than just braces.
                    From imperfect smiles to other flaws,
                    They ensure all are in their rightful places.

                    The biggest threat to your natural teeth
                    Isn’t cavities, but gum disease.
                    The master of the gums is the one you’ll need
                    The Periodontist will provide care with ease.

                    From infancy to teenage years,
                    The Pediatric Dentist provides specialized care.
                    Able to soothe all cries, bites, and tears,
                    You’re in good hands in a Pediatric Dentist’s chair.

                    Stay tuned for part 2!

                    What to expect when you’re expecting

                    Pregnancy is a miracle, but it’s a miracle that comes with its own bag of complications. This goes for oral health as well: changing hormones increase the severity of the body’s reaction to various stimuli (like plaque), a more sensitive gag reflex gets in the way of the usual oral hygiene regimen, and everything comes at a time when oral health is the last thing on an expecting mother’s mind. Routine check ups at the dentist are crucial at this time, as well as having overall awareness and alerting the dentist early to any changes to your oral health. These will help to prevent complications, and early action will help to keep any symptoms from worsening.

                    The following are common concerns during pregnancy.

                    Gingivitis

                    • Symptoms: bleeding, swollen gums
                    • Cause: hormonal changes make the mouth more irritable to plaque, causing gums to swell.
                    • Prevention: practice good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day and flossing daily. Stay on schedule with professional cleanings and alert dentist of any pain.

                    Pregnancy Tumor/pyogenic granuloma

                    • Symptoms: Lump/growth on gums that frequently will bleed and may be painful
                    • Cause: hormonal imbalance makes gums more easily irritated. Despite the scary name, Pregnancy Tumors are not cancerous nor contagious.
                    • Prevention: practice good oral hygiene. In most cases, Pregnancy Tumors disappear upon the baby’s birth and the dentist may choose to leave them alone. If the lump does interfere with eating, the dentist may advise for it to be directly removed through a safe process or for the stimuli that cause the lump to be removed.

                    Increased risk of tooth decay

                    • Symptoms: cavities
                    • Cause: hormone changes; morning sickness exposing mouth to more acid which eats away at the enamel.
                    • Prevention: practice good oral hygiene. Rinse mouth with baking soda and water after throwing up from morning sickness (mix 1 tsp baking soda to 1 cup water).

                    Loose teeth

                    • Symptoms: moving or wobbly teeth
                    • Cause: increased levels of progesterone and estrogen can affect ligaments and bones that support the teeth, making them feel looser than usual.
                    • Prevention: practice good oral hygiene. Symptoms should go away with birth, but alert the dentist especially if teeth are still loose after birth.

                    The most important things to remember during pregnancy are to keep your dentist updated on any changes or discomfort, continue with routine visits, and maintain good oral hygiene. Your dentist will help ensure that oral complications are not a part of everything you need to worry about during pregnancy.

                    How to prepare for wisdom teeth extraction

                    Getting your wisdom teeth removed can be a nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing procedure for many people, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips to help ensure you’re making the right decision and that you’ll be going into the procedure stress-free.

                    • Ask questions before saying yes. Not everyone has to get their wisdom teeth removed. Some people have enough space in their mouth that their wisdom teeth are able to grow in without affecting their overall oral health. If your dentist is recommending that you get your wisdom teeth removed, you deserve to know the reason behind the decision.
                    • Take notes from your dentist. What should you consume or not consume for 24 hours before your procedure? What type of anaesthesia will be used? What kind of foods should you stock up on for your recovery period? Are there any dangers to the procedure? Should you prepare any pain medication ahead of time?
                    • Check with your insurance company. This is not an inexpensive procedure and it isn’t covered under all insurance plans. While your dentist office would like to help you out with your insurance company, the easiest way to find out whether this procedure will be covered and by how much is to call your insurance company directly.
                    • Prepare in advance for a safe ride home. If general anaesthesia will be used, then you will need someone to drive you home. Make sure to have a ride prepared ahead of time.
                    • Take time to rest after. You will still be under the effects of the anaesthesia for the full day after your surgery, so make sure that no one (except your couch or bed) will be expecting you. It would be best if you can stay in the comfort of your home for a day or two after the surgery as well, since you will experience discomfort with eating and your cheeks may be puffy. If this is an option, make sure to prepare ahead of time.

                    It’s important that you feel comfortable and safe going into this procedure. Make all the necessary preparations and ask the right questions before going in, and you’ll have a stress-free experience.