A little history – Long ago, dentistry was performed by barbers, country doctors and anyone with crude tools and a strong stomach. Back then, the only choices were to pull teeth when they hurt and make dentures once too many teeth were missing. Little knowledge existed about what caused tooth decay or tooth loss and no knowledge of proper oral health and dental care existed.
Today, advancements in technology and professional dentistry techniques, offer advanced solutions to preserving your natural teeth and maintaining healthy gums. A skilled dental professional can virtually create the smile of your dreams. Regular dental checkups, partnered with the practice of good oral hygiene, can improve your quality of life, prevent serious illness and keep a brilliant smile throughout your life.
These Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) were created to educate, inform and guide individuals of all ages in maintaining optimal dental health. It will cover most topics that patients should know about. It will also outline the importance of seeking professional dental help to establish and maintain healthy teeth and gums for life.
- tooth ache - #1 reason – many people wait until there is a problem before seeing their dentist
- maintenance - cleaning and inspection
- tooth repair or replacement (restoration)
- alignment and spacing correction – braces, Invisalign
- injury restoration
- bite correction
- sensitivity to cold or heat
- cosmetic appeal – whitening, straight smile
- sports related injury protection (mouth guard)
- Self esteem improvement, self confidence building
- Improving personal appearance, younger look
- Important event coming up (wedding, milestone in life, birthday)
- Improving presentation (job interview, promotion)
- Starting fresh and need a personal boost, rejuvenation
- Thorough brushing and flossing can keep the visible surface of the tooth clean but only a professional dental cleaning can get at the plaque and tartar build-up in hard to get at spots such as below the gum line.
- Recommendations vary but most suggest a visit as early as with the first tooth or at 12 months. This is to ensure the first teeth are coming in properly and to get the child used to the dental visits early.
- If the child sleeps with a bottle or soother or sucks their thumb, they should start with the first tooth to monitor the growth and ensure there is no distortion of the growth of the teeth.
- Talk positively about the dental appointment. If you know who will be working on them, refer to them by name so they will associate the dental appointment with visiting a friend.
- Don’t mislead the child by not telling them where they are going. The surprise may trigger a negative reaction.
- Tell your dentist about any previous bad experiences or fears the child has had.
- DO NOT threaten the child with the “dental visit”. It will create fear that it is a punishment which will make the next visit much more difficult for the child, the dentist AND YOURSELF.
- Try to wait in the waiting room if possible to allow the child to connect with the dentist.
- Try not to bring other siblings along to the appointment. This might agitate them before the visit. Attention should be on the child having the appointment.
- On the way to the appointment, do not focus on the visit, talk about things the child enjoys and activities planned for after the visit.
- Avoid using words such as “pain”, “hurt”, or “be brave”. This will alarm the child and frighten them before the visit.
- Be positive. If the previous experience was not a good one, don’t remind them of it.
- Tell them the dentist is a friend who is there to take good care of them.
- Ask your dentist to explain to the child, what they are about to do.
- Before the appointment, have your child look at their teeth in the mirror and look for anything that they would like the dentist to look at. Empowerment diffuses any anxiety they may have.
- Brush your teeth with the child before leaving for the visit. It will set a good example for the child.
- Keep other siblings or family members from scaring the child before the visit.
- It is recommended to start flossing at the age of 3 to 4 and then teaching the child to floss on their own at the age of 8 to 10.
- Wisdom teeth are part of the third and final set of molars that most people get in their late teens or early twenties. Sometimes these teeth can be a valuable asset to the mouth when healthy and properly aligned, but more often, they are misaligned and require removal. When misaligned, they can angle inward or outward, crowd adjacent teeth and cause bacteria and plaque to be trapped in hard to reach places. They sometimes do not have room to come out and remain entrapped in the soft tissue and become “impacted” resulting in pain, swelling and jaw stiffness.
- Tongue and lip piercing can cause chipped teeth, cause recessed gums and/or nerve damage
- Piercing in the mouth creates an open wound allowing bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
- Can also cause Fatal infections such as Ludwig’s angina, an infection of the floor of the mouth which causes swelling, blocking the airway
- Another serious risk is endocarditis, an infection of the heart
- Most body piercers are unlicensed and unregulated and are not trained in medical emergencies. Unclean piercing equipment can cause other infections such as Hepatitis.
- Cavities, gum disease and abscesses can affect your health
- Untreated gum disease (gingivitis) can progress to periodontitis, a much more serious form of gum disease. Periodontitis can cause tooth loss and may even increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. What's more, women with periodontitis are far more likely to give birth to premature babies than are women with healthy gums. Periodontitis is also linked to osteoporosis, diabetic complications and respiratory diseases. See www.perio.org for more information on associated health risks.
Plaque is an invisible, sticky film composed mainly of bacteria. Plaque forms on your teeth when starches and sugars in food interact with bacteria normally found in your mouth. Brushing your teeth removes plaque. But plaque re-forms quickly, usually within 24 hours.
Plaque that stays on your teeth longer than two or three days can harden under your gumline into tartar (calculus). Tartar makes plaque more difficult to remove and acts as a reservoir for bacteria. What's more, you usually can't get rid of tartar by brushing and flossing — you need a professional dental cleaning to remove it.
The longer that plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more they irritate the gingiva, the part of your gum around the base of your teeth. In time, your gums become swollen and bleed easily. If not corrected, it could result in the loss of teeth or serious health problems.
Maintaining your regular preventative dental visits is very important during pregnancy and is perfectly safe. Pregnancy can cause swelling and/or bleeding of the gums. Cravings for sweets during pregnancy expose your teeth to more risk of cavities and trapped foods which can irritate your gums and cause infection. Maintaining good oral and general health during pregnancy is critical to preventing serious health risks such as premature birth.
- General inspection for any abscesses, sores, bleeding, lumps, redness, discolouration, infection, plaque and tartar build up, signs of cancer, cavities, loose fillings, loose teeth, signs of gingivitis or other infections.
- Cleaning of tooth surface, removal of plaque or tartar build up under the gum line.
- Tooth sensitivity can be caused by a variety of reasons. It could be a sign of gum disease, receded gums exposing the root of the tooth or eroded enamel on the tooth itself. Sometimes specific fluoride treatments can reduce or eliminate the sensitivity. Regular use of a toothpaste made specifically for tooth sensitivity can reduce this discomfort. Rubbing a bit of this toothpaste on the gum line and leaving it on for a while can help reduce the sensitivity as well. It is very important to talk to your dentist or dental hygienist about your tooth sensitivity. They will be able to identify the cause of the problem and recommend a solution to help manage the sensitivity.
- You can just use a soft, clean washcloth to clean the first teeth. A small dab of regular toothpaste can be used on the washcloth. It is important not to use much toothpaste as the small child can’t rinse and spit out the excess.
- As the child gets older, chose a fluoride toothpaste but just use a peas sized dot to make sure the child does not swallow a large amount of fluoride.
- Even though kids’ toothpastes are pleasantly flavoured to encourage the child to brush, you should teach your child not to swallow the toothpaste after brushing as this could make them ill. A good way to get them to remember to spit it out is to tell them that it contains all the “gross stuff” they just brushed off their teeth.
- Fluoride is necessary to the development and protection of the teeth. If your child drinks tap water, they will get the fluoride they need from it. Well water, bottled water and some filter systems, filter out the fluoride. In that case, using a fluoride toothpaste will go a long way to protecting the teeth.
- Sensitivity to cold and hot temperatures may be caused by gum disease, erosion of the enamel on the tooth or exposed root nerve. Gums may recede over time exposing the root or nerve.
- The sensitivity can be helped by using toothpaste for sensitive teeth, rubbing a bit of the toothpaste on the gum and leaving it on.
- Fluoride treatments can also reduce the sensitivity.
- Regular inspection and professional cleaning is critical in maintaining oral health
- Even if you brush and floss regularly, you still can’t get into the gum line and back teeth to get all the plaque. A build up of plaque can cause gum disease such as gingivitis or periodontitis.
- Can also detect serious health problems before they get too far
- Poor oral health habits, no brushing or flossing
- Smoking and chewing tobacco
- Older age
- Compromised immune system (leukemia or HIV/AIDS)
- Certain medications
- Certain viral and fungal infections
- Dry mouth
- Hormonal changes, such as those related to pregnancy
- Poor nutrition
- Substance abuse
- Ill-fitting dental restorations
Gingivitis is a very common and mild form of gum (periodontal) disease that causes swelling (inflammation) of your gums. You may not be aware that you have the condition. If your gums are swollen and bleed when you brush, you may have gingivitis. The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. Good oral health habits, such as daily brushing and flossing, can help prevent gingivitis.
Signs and symptoms of gingivitis may include:
- Swollen gums
- Soft gums
- Occasionally, tender gums
- Gums that bleed easily when brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
- A change in the color of your gums from a healthy pink to dusky red
The sooner you seek care, the better your chances of reversing damage from gingivitis and its progression to more serious problems.
Did you know that you could have pain in your jaw or headaches causes by a misaligned bite? It can also impair chewing, speech and grinding of your teeth at night or injury to your inside cheek tissue.
- If you smoke, STOP. Smoking damages teeth and can cause serious gum infections and tooth loss. Smoking can also cause numerous other health risks such as lung cancer, high blood pressure, mouth cancer and stroke.
- Get regular dental check-ups so underlying problems can be detected early before they get serious.
Helpful links for more information
- Canadian Dental Association – www.cda-adc.ca
- Dental Information for all ages – www.simplyteeth.com
- Dental information – www.dentistry.about.com
- Dentistry Canada Fund – www.dcf-fdc.ca
- Health Canada Dental Information – http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/iyh-vsv/diseases-maladies/gum-gingivales-eng.php
- American Academy of Periodontology – www.perio.org