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How Oral Health Affects Brain Health

How Oral Health Affects Brain Health

You might not think of your teeth as affecting your overall health. You probably especially don’t connect the state of your teeth with your brain. But the plain truth is that your oral health absolutely does affect your brain health. The way you take care of your teeth can affect how your brain functions. That’s even more reason to make sure you’re brushing and flossing, as well as going to the dentist for regular cleanings.

So, what are the ways that your oral health affects your brain health?

Believe it or not, there’s medical evidence to suggest that the way you take care of your teeth may affect whether you get Alzheimer’s disease. Preliminary studies have shown that there is a link between gum disease and the amount of brain decline in the early progression of Alzheimer’s. Research is still being conducted, but the current theory is that those with gum disease have higher levels of bacteria in their bloodstream (absorbed through the unhealthy gums). Their brain is continuously exposed to these bacteria, accelerating deterioration.

And it’s not just Alzheimer’s disease. It’s any type of cognitive disease that affects memory and cell deterioration. It’s a compelling reason to make sure you avoid gum disease at all costs!

Losing teeth due to inadequate oral hygiene also has effects on the neuroplasticity of the brain. Adults who have lost several teeth have higher rates of anxiety and depression and often experience emotional fluctuations and other emotional issues. The way the brain processes emotions and experiences changes as a result of tooth loss. It seems like an amazing claim, and the fact is, science hasn’t yet discovered conclusively how this works exactly. But research does show that tooth loss and gum disease can influence the way the brain functions in regard to emotion and memory.

All of this is a particularly timely subject. Brain Awareness Week, an international effort focused on the ongoing research in brain disease and function, occurs every year in mid-March. Oral health would be a great subject for this year’s conferences. There is certainly a need for more research to establish stronger, more defined links between tooth decay, tooth loss, gum disease, and brain function.

Brain Awareness Week began in the mid-90s as an effort in the United States to discuss current scientific neurological research. A quarter of a century later, the event has spread to all corners of the globe. Conferences and other events will happen all over the world as people come together to discuss important topics. But it’s not just for experts: Brain Awareness Week events can also include school children, government officials, seniors, businesses, and many more.

Some events feature tours of neuroscience laboratories or museums for school trips. Others include lectures on neuroscience or public awareness campaigns on related topics. Perhaps a good awareness campaign this year would be on the importance of using good oral care, including brushing, flossing, and going to regular dental check-ups to keep your mouth in top shape.

How Oral Health Affects Brain Health
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How to Brush Your Teeth for Cavity Prevention - National Dentist’s Day

How to Brush Your Teeth for Maximum Cavity Protection

You might not think there’s a right or wrong way to brush your teeth, but there is! Brushing properly can keep your teeth and gums healthy and help you avoid cavities. If you already have some minor cavities, adjusting your brushing technique could even slow the spread of the decay. That means you will need less dental work and have fewer health problems in the long run.

So, what exactly is the best way to brush your teeth to avoid getting those nasty cavities?

1. Use toothpaste with fluoride.

There are plenty of kinds of toothpaste nowadays that try to market themselves as healthier or more natural because they don’t contain fluoride. However, fluoride is a pro at battling tooth decay and is important for keeping your teeth healthy and strong. There are dozens of options for fluoride toothpaste that will help strengthen your enamel and stop decay in its tracks.

2. Use a circular motion to brush.

That’s right, there is actually a best motion with which to brush your teeth, and it’s not just side to side. Instead, move the head of your toothbrush in small circles. You should also brush away from the top of your gums to loosen food particles and bacteria that are lodged along the gum line.

3. Brush for at least two minutes.

You heard that right: Two minutes is the proper amount of time to brush your teeth. It may seem like a long time, but it’s essential to give your whole mouth a good brush to make sure your teeth and gums are really clean. You can set a timer if it helps you or try singing a song for each section of your mouth. There are also toothbrushes that are equipped with timers that vibrate or light up when your time is up. Many of them are made for children, but there’s no reason why you can’t use them, too!

4. Remember that your teeth aren’t the only things that need attention.

When cleaning your mouth, it’s important to remember that your teeth are only one part of the process. It’s also a good idea to clean your tongue, cheeks, gums, and the roof of your mouth. Some parts of your mouth can be sensitive, so remember to go easy: brush in small, gentle circles. This will not only reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth, but also freshen your breath.

5. Finish with a refreshing mouthwash.

If you don’t like mouthwash, you can always use plain water, but you should wash your mouth in some manner after brushing your teeth. This helps kill more bacteria and flush germs out of your mouth. Just swish a small amount around your mouth for 30 seconds, making sure to get your cheeks and all sides of your teeth. Then, spit it out and enjoy your fresh breath – and your lowered risk of tooth decay!

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National Tooth Fairy Day

Interview With the Tooth Fairy

Victoria Dental Group: It’s Feb. 28, National Tooth Fairy Day, and for us, that means that we’re sitting down with the one and only Tooth Fairy herself! Tooth Fairy, welcome and Happy You Day!

Tooth Fairy: Thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here.

Victoria Dental Group: So, Tooth Fairy, why don’t you tell us a little bit about the day and what it all means?

Tooth Fairy: Well, everyone knows what I do. Whenever a child loses a baby tooth, they hide it under their pillow. Then it’s my job to sneak in, collect the tooth, and put a reward in its place. It’s a fair trade, right?

Victoria Dental Group: Sounds like it to us. So, how exactly do you decide what to leave behind?

Tooth Fairy: Well, it’ll take far too long to explain my system, but let’s see if I can summarize. To make a long story short, we have a very specific conversion formula at Tooth Fairy Headquarters. The healthier the tooth, the more it’s worth! That’s why it’s so important to brush regularly, floss, and avoid foods that damage your enamel.

Victoria Dental Group: What does your ideal tooth look like?

Tooth Fairy: It’s a tooth that gets brushed twice a day, flossed at least once a day, and isn’t exposed to a lot of foods and drinks like caramel, juice, pop, and so on. Oh, and it’s a tooth that also grew in healthy gums. It’s important not to forget to brush those too.

Victoria Dental Group: How long should you brush your teeth?

Tooth Fairy: You should brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day.

Victoria Dental Group: Some people tell us that two minutes is too long. Do you have any advice we can pass on to our patients?

Tooth Fairy: It might seem like a long time, but it’s very important. Brushing for two minutes makes sure that you get all the harmful plaque off your teeth. You should brush in small circles and make sure to get along your gumline. Of course, you should also check in with your dentist regularly to get an even more thorough cleaning than you can give yourself at home. Honestly, seeing teeth that are treated like that? Those are the real moneymakers when it comes to tooth-fairying.

Victoria Dental Group: What about foods and drinks? How do those affect your teeth?

Tooth Fairy: Foods and beverages can affect your teeth in ways you might not even realize. Even chewing on ice can risk chipping a tooth, which is incredibly painful. Hard candies, citrus, caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea, and anything that sticks to your teeth — even healthy foods like dried fruit — can cause decay because they sit on your enamel for a long time. So, take care of your teeth by choosing healthier foods.

Victoria Dental Group: Finally, we have to ask: what do you do with all those teeth?

Tooth Fairy: Sorry, pal. Now you’re verging on Top Secret Tooth Fairy information!

Victoria Dental Group: Haha, ok! Thanks for joining us, and Happy National Tooth Fairy Day!

Bonus!

Use these free resources for Tooth Fairy day to delight your child the next time they lose a tooth:

Free Printable Tooth Fairy Certificate:

National Tooth Fairy Day Free Printable Tooth Certificate

Courtesy of: momdot.com

Free Printable Tooth Fairy Letter Templates:

 

Free Printable Tooth Fairy Letter Template

Courtesy: toothfairyletter.net

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4 Tips to Prep Your Kids for a Trip to the Dentist

No child likes a stranger poking around in his or her mouth (and neither do most adults, for that matter). But while your son or daughter’s first jaunt into the dentist’s chair might be a bit uncomfortable, there is absolutely no reason that it has to be traumatic.

Children can develop a healthy attitude toward dental care and oral hygiene with a bit of guidance from mom or dad. Prep your kids for a smooth and happy visit to a dentist with these four simple tricks.

1. The earlier, the better.

The earlier you can acclimate your child to regular trips to the dentist, the better. The Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child should be taken to the dentist when his or her first set of teeth starts to come in, typically around 1 year of age.

2. Talk to your child beforehand.

Before you head to the dentist’s office, make sure to have a conversation with your child. Clearly explain what is going to happen and why it is necessary. It is also a good idea to go over the basics of dental hygiene and practicing brushing your teeth together. Explain that the dentist helps to prevent cavities and keep smiles looking beautiful. With that being said, don’t explain things in too much detail. Doing so will only raise more questions, and adding more information could just generate unnecessary anxiety.

3. Watch what you say.

Avoid using words like “hurt,” “pain,” or “shot.” And most definitely avoid telling any of your dentist “war stories.” Steer clear of filling kids in on the gory details of fillings, cavities, etc. This will also generate anxiety and cause your child to become afraid.

Instead, keep things positive. Use words and phrases like “clean,” “strong,” and “healthy teeth.”

Should any kind of issue or problem arise, let the professionals introduce their own vocabulary to children to guide them through difficult or potentially painful situations.

4. Be prepared for some fussing.

It is natural for a child to cry or fuss a bit. Remember, this is anything out of the ordinary, and the staff is well equipped to deal with this kind of thing. Most experts recommend not using any kind of bribery to coerce good behaviour, as doing so can only exacerbate apprehension. Instead, once the visit is over, praise the child for his or her bravery and cooperation.

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TV Shows and Books to Help Prep Your Kids for the Dentist

Most kids understandably have a bit of anxiety about a stranger poking and prodding around in their mouth. However, regular visits to the dentist are absolutely crucial to overall oral health and hygiene, especially in childhood, so it is important that moms and dads help to alleviate this anxiety.

Check out these iconic characters from beloved TV series and books that can help to prepare your child for the dentist:

“Dora the Explorer”

Luckily for parents of “Dora the Explorer” fans, there is an entire episode of this series dedicated to the dentist. Dora visits the dentist and has an excellent experience, learning tons of useful things she never new about her teeth. It is a great way to not only alleviate a child’s dentist anxiety but to actually get him or her excited about an upcoming cleaning.

“Sesame Street”

This highly educational kids’ series actually has a whole online tool kit that can help parents to prepare kids for a visit to the dentist. The toolkit, called “Healthy Teeth, Healthy Me,” comes complete with videos featuring the “Sesame Street” characters, helpful articles, fun songs, and much more.

“Berenstain Bears”

This iconic children’s book series boasts a special book dedicated to the dentist. Brother Bear and Sister Bear must pay a visit to the dentist for tooth removal. While they are initially pretty scared, they end up having a great experience and look forward to their next visit. It is a great pre-dentist bedtime read.

“SpongeBob SquarePants”

Most kids will instantly recognize this iconic yellow sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea. While there isn’t a “SpongeBob Squarepants” episode dedicated to the dentist, there is a SpongeBob book that addresses the topic, in which SpongeBob heads off for his six-month annual checkup (even sponges need to practice good oral hygiene).

“Dr. Rabbit and the Tooth Kingdom”

Colgate has put out a whole video series chronicling the adventures of Dr. Rabbit and Dr. Brushwell, featuring characters who transform into Super Dentists and Tooth Defenders in order to protect Tooth City from Placulus and his evil plaque monsters. These 10 mini-episodes are guaranteed to get kids excited about fighting plaque and visiting the dentist.

Other honourable mentions:

Arthur

Dudley Visits The Dentist

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5 Things You Never Knew About Your Teeth

You probably already know that you need your teeth to talk and eat. But did you know these five surprising facts about your teeth?

1. They’re totally unique.

Your teeth are kind of like an oral fingerprint. They are completely unique - your dental records can even be used to identify you. Thanks to different patterns of wear and identifying marks, no two people have the same set of teeth.

2. Brushing is important — very important.

OK, so you probably already knew this one. But the next time you are thinking about skipping a brushing session, think about this:

There are more than 300 different species of bacteria living in your plaque (we’re guessing you probably didn’t know that!).

Remember, dentists recommend that you brush your teeth 2 to 3 times per day for approximately 2-3 minutes for optimal oral health and hygiene. The average person only brushes for approximately 48 seconds on a given day, so chances are you probably need to up your brushing time. One effective way to ensure you're brushing long enough is to invest in an electric toothbrush with a timer.

3. They need saliva — and lots of it.

The average person produces a staggering 100,000 gallons of saliva in his or her lifetime. Saliva is good, as it helps to keep teeth clean and healthy. Saliva production tends to slow as individuals age, which makes older people more prone to dental disease. And while you can’t do anything about decreased saliva production, you can practice good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist, to mitigate the risk of dental disease and tooth decay.

4. Sour things are bad for oral health.

You’ve probably heard that sugar can do a lot of damage to your teeth. But did you know that sour things are just as much of an enemy? You see, low-pH foods tend to be highly acidic, and acid damages your teeth. Try to avoid overindulging in low-pH foods, such as soft drinks and fruit juices. And those ultra-sour, ultra-sticky candies, like Warheads? They’re your teeth’s worst nightmare!

5. They’re extremely hard.

Did you know that the hardest substance in your entire body is the enamel of your teeth? This part of the tooth, which comprises its visible part, is actually even harder than your bones. Tooth enamel contains an incredibly high percentage of minerals, including hydroxyapatite, a type of crystalline calcium phosphate.

Although your enamel might be hard, it is, perhaps paradoxically, somewhat easy to break. Believe it or not, ice, popcorn, and tongue piercings can all actually chip your enamel. So think twice before you chomp down on that popcorn kernel!

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6 Tips for Fresh Breath

Whether you are preparing for an important meeting at work or getting ready for a first date, nothing can be more damaging to your confidence than a case of bad breath. Some people are more prone to bad breath than others, but luckily you don’t have keep your mouth closed out of fear of contaminating the room you’re in forever.

There are a number of things you can do to freshen up your breath and get your confidence back. Here are 6 tips for fresh breath you can implement immediately:

Take your brushing and flossing routine up a notch.

As you are probably already well aware, you should be brushing and flossing at least twice a day. And if you’re constantly battling bad breath, you may want to up it to three times a day. Insufficient brushing is one of the primary causes of bad breath. Plaque, that sticky buildup in your mouth that is a bacteria breeding ground, will build up in your mouth when you don’t brush. And lots of plaque translates into bad breath. Keep in mind that it also helps to add an antibacterial mouthwash to your brushing and flossing routine, as it helps to reduce any plaque-causing bacteria.

Scrape your tongue.

That coating that forms on your tongue over the course of the day is also major culprit of bad breath. That’s because that like plaque, this coating is home to a host of gross-smelling bacteria. The trick to fresh breath is scraping this layer off of your tongue using either a toothbrush or a tongue scraper, a device specifically designed to remove bacteria, food debris, and dead cells from the tongue (something that brushing alone can’t do).

Drink more water.

A dry mouth will inevitably cause tooth decay and promote bacteria growth, both of which cause bad breath. Drink more water to avoid cottonmouth. As an added bonus, staying hydrated is also good for your overall health. If you truly struggle with a dry mouth, try popping a piece of sugar-free gum every now and then. Gum will stimulate saliva production. More saliva translates into better breath, as it is the body’s natural defence mechanism against plaque acids.

Avoid notorious bad-breath offenders.

Foods like garlic and onions are notorious for causing bad breath. And you can’t just brush the problem away because as the substances in these foods are broken down, they make their way into your bloodstream, which then travel to your lungs, where you breathe them out.

Make sure your gums are healthy.

Gum disease is an incredibly common cause of bad breath. When gums are suffering from decay, bacteria gathers in pockets at the back of the teeth, generating a host of bad odours.

Stop smoking.

Smoking is one of the major causes of bad breath. Remember, smoking raises your risk of a number of diseases, including cancer, and also damages your gum tissue and stains your teeth. So don’t just quit for your breath, quit for your health!

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Cosmetic Treatments to Improve Your Smile

Did you know that the majority of Canadians believe that an attractive smile is an important social asset? There is nothing worse than feeling reluctant to smile in public because you are feeling self-conscious about your teeth. Whether it is a chipped tooth or an unsightly stain, even a small imperfection can breed major insecurities.

Luckily, there are a number of different cosmetic treatments out there that can help you to improve your smile and regain your confidence.

Bleaching:

In-office tooth bleaching procedures are an excellent way to brighten your smile and remove unattractive stains from your teeth. In-office bleaching procedures offer improved results over home-based bleaching kits. Typically, in-office bleaching will lighten the teeth between three and eight shades over the course of several 30- to 60-minute sessions.

Bonding:

Dental bonding is actually one of the quickest and easiest cosmetic dental treatments and is an ideal option for individuals who have chipped, uneven, discoloured, or gapped teeth. Essentially, this procedure involves the application of resin, a putty-like substance, to the surface of the tooth in order to fill in any chips or gaps or colour over any discolouration. After it has been applied, the resin is smoothed to the desired shape and then trimmed and polished. The dental bonding process typically takes less than an hour per tooth.

Crowns:

A crown is a type of dental restoration procedure that is used in order to replace the exterior portion of a tooth. This helps to restore the original function of the tooth in the case that it has been damaged, decayed, or worn down, and also helps to improve the tooth aesthetically.

Contouring & Reshaping:

Contouring, or reshaping, is an incredibly easy and effective way to eliminate minor imperfections in your teeth. Essentially, the process involves removing small parts of the tooth enamel in order to alter the shape, length, or surface of the tooth. Although the imperfections being eliminated might be minor, the results can have a huge impact on your smile. Slight changes can make a surprisingly big difference. Believe it or not, even a few millimetres of reduction can dramatically alter the appearance of your smile.

Veneers:

Veneers are essentially thin shells that can be placed over a tooth in order to change the tooth’s size, colour, shape, or length. They can typically be made from either porcelain or resin. While porcelain veneers are more stain-resistant, resin veneers better mimic the actual surface of a tooth and are thinner. Veneers are an excellent solution to fix teeth that have been worn down or chipped, or teeth that are poorly shaped or misaligned.

All in all, there are a variety of different cosmetic procedures out there that can help you easily and affordably improve your smile. Contact us to learn which procedure is right for you.

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3 Tips to Keep Your Teeth Whiter, Cleaner, and Healthier in 2019

Looking to improve your smile in 2019? These three New Year’s resolutions are bound to make your smile both whiter and brighter!

1. Cut back on the coffee.

While you might love a cup of steaming coffee to start off your morning, your teeth don’t. Coffee stains your teeth’s enamel, meaning that your smile isn’t as white or as bright.

Of course, we’re not cruel enough to tell you to cut out coffee 100 percent. But it is a wise idea to cut back in the interest of your dental hygiene.

So if you’re known to chug down three or four cups of coffee over the course of your day, try to cut it back to one or two. If you find yourself craving more, try reaching for a cup of green or herbal tea instead.

If you can’t seem to bring yourself to cut back, at least be sure to brush your teeth thoroughly after drinking a cup.

2. Floss daily.

Flossing is absolutely critical to your oral hygiene. So if you’re not a flosser, 2019 is the year to start!

Flossing removes the plaque particles between your teeth, which reduces the risk of cavities and gum disease. Of course, it also keeps your teeth looking white and beautiful. For optimal results, you want to aim to floss twice a day. But if twice a day is too much, at least flossing once a day - at nighttime before bed to prevent food and debris from remaining in the crevices of your teeth overnight - is still better than not flossing at all.

As we say in our clinic: #flossdaily

3. Eat more seeds.

Scientists believe that our Paleolithic ancestors had amazing teeth (in relation to the harsh living conditions and lack of medical care).

The reason?

Anthropologists suspect that, in part, this can be attributed to their high consumption of seeds, which fend off plaque and help to build tooth enamel. Furthermore, many seeds contain high calcium levels, which work to preserve the bone around your teeth and gums.

The bottom line?

If you’re in search of a better smile in 2019, amp up your seed consumption. They can easily be sprinkled across fresh salads, ground into smoothies or grab a handful for a quick, healthy snack.

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Common Pediatric Dental Problems and What to Do About Them

Common Pediatric Dental Problems and What to Do About Them

Most children will experience some kind of dental problem at one point or another. Check out these four common pediatric dental problems and how you can address them.

Thumb Sucking

Why it’s bad:

Thumb sucking can be one of the more comforting aspects of childhood, but unfortunately this seemingly benign habit can actually wreak havoc on teeth, interfering with proper growth of the mouth and interfering with the correct alignment of teeth. Aggressive thumb suckers, particularly, are prone to dental problems.

How to handle it:

The good news is that thumb sucking isn’t always a cause for alarm. It’s natural for babies to suck as it helps them relax and the majority of children will habitually stick a finger or thumb in the mouth from a very early age (thumb sucking even starts in the womb).

Even better news is that according to the Canadian Dental Association, the majority of children will outgrow thumb sucking between the ages of 2 and 3. If after three years of age, your child still wants to suck, switch to using a soother (pacifier)*. This is better than their thumb because it will give you control as to when your child sucks. However, if thumb sucking continues once a child's permanent teeth come in, it could cause problems with how the jaw and teeth grow. This is time for parental intervention.

*Never put sugar, honey or any type of syrup on a soother. These can cause cavities.

Canker Sores

Why it’s bad:

Also known as aphthous ulcers, these small open sores can generate a significant amount of pain and discomfort for a child.

What to do about it:

Canker sores will typically heal on their own in roughly three to four days. However, there are ways to reduce pain.

Your child should avoid eating abrasive foods, avoid using sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) mouthwashes and toothpastes, and avoid salty, spicy, or acidic foods.

Furthermore, it should also be noted that measures can be taken to prevent canker sores. They include avoiding potentially irritating foods (including citrus fruits, acidic vegetables, and spicy foods) and brushing and flossing regularly.

Grinding

Why it’s bad:

While grinding, also known as bruxism, is quite common in children, it can do serious damage to the teeth, causing dental or muscular pain and wearing away primary teeth.

It’s especially problematic once a child has lost his or her baby teeth, as grinding from a young age can do permanent damage to adult teeth as they come in, wearing down enamel, chipping teeth, and causing increased temperature sensitivity.

How to handle it:

You’ll need to evaluate why the child is grinding his or her teeth. If it is an involuntary response to stress or anxiety, the root emotional cause of the grinding needs to be addressed. The good news is that, while between two and three out of every ten children grind their teeth, the majority of kids outgrow it.

Over-retained Primary Teeth

Why it’s bad:

An over-retained primary tooth is a baby tooth that is still in position when an adult tooth is trying to erupt. It can cause painful complications.

How to handle it:

Treatment is required to properly deal with an over-retained primary tooth. However, the specific treatment will depend on the condition of the primary tooth, as well as the surrounding structures. In some cases, the tooth may need to be extracted, though in other cases it can be retained. If this is a concern for you and your child, contact us to discuss treatment options specific to your child’s situation.

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