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All Posts in Category: Oral Care

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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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!


If you have persistent bad breath, it's probably time for a check-up! Call us to book your next appointment and we'll help you treat any gum health issues quickly and affordably.

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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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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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5 Tips for Effective Brushing

5 Tips for Effective Brushing

You’re probably already well aware of how often you should be brushing your teeth (at least twice a day), but are you aware of how you should be brushing your teeth?

Not all brushing strategies are created equally. In order to maximize your oral health and hygiene and ensure those pearly whites are in tip-top shape, be sure to check out these five tips for effective brushing.

1. Pick the right brush.

Just like all brushing strategies are not created equally, not all toothbrushes are created equally. First and foremost, make sure your toothbrush is the proper size.

“If you are straining to open wide enough to let the brush in, the brush is probably too big,” explained Richard H. Price, DMD, consumer adviser for the American Dental Association.

Fresh, firm bristles are important, but go for something on the softer side. Bristles that are too stiff can hurt and cause recession of your gums.

You will also want to ensure that you are changing your toothbrush on a regular basis and that you thoroughly rinse your brush after each cleaning to get rid of any grime or germs.

2. Choose your toothpaste wisely.

Try to avoid harsh toothpastes, such as products that boast whitening power or tartar treatment.

“An increase in whitening particles can be harmful and sand away tooth structure,” explained Michael Sesemann, DDS, the former president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

3. Time yourself.

Swishing a toothbrush around your mouth for a mere twenty seconds quite frankly just isn’t going to cut it. Ideally, you need to be brushing two to three times per day for at least two minutes. That should total between four and six minutes of brushing on a daily basis. With that being said, you don’t want to overdo it. Too much brushing can actually be bad for your oral health, putting too much wear and tear on your gums.

Investing in a good electric brush that has a timer built into it can be a useful tool to ensure you not only get a good cleaning, but you spend enough time brushing both your top and bottom teeth.

4. Practice good technique.

Pay attention to the way that you are brushing. Long, side-to-side strokes can scrape your gums. The best method is to hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gum line, then use short, up-and-down strokes. Be sure to pay special attention to hard to reach places like molars, as plaque will accumulate in out-of-reach spots if you aren’t careful.

5. Aim for an even cleaning.

The goal of brushing is to evenly clean all sections of your mouth. Again, this is where an electric toothbrush, with soft bristles, can be handy.

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Are You Flossing Correctly

Are You Flossing Correctly?

Unfortunately, your toothbrush can’t reach between your teeth. That is why flossing is so important. It helps to dislodge any food particles stuck between your teeth and under your gums. If these food particles aren’t dislodged, they can lead to cavities, bad breath, and gum diseases.

The bottom line?

Flossing is crucial to your overall oral health. Ideally, you should aim to floss after every meal.

“Do that and your mouth will be absolutely immaculate,” says Dr. Rocky, Victoria Dental Group's resident dentist with advanced training in tooth replacement and restoration. “But we know that’s not practical for most people — so we hope our patients floss once daily.”

But remember when it comes to flossing, it’s not just about quantity, it’s about quality.

If you aren’t using proper technique, you aren’t harnessing the full potential of flossing power. How do you know if you are flossing correctly? The next time you reach for the floss, be sure to keep the following tips and tricks in mind.

Opt for a waxed ribbon floss.

Good flossing technique starts out when you are in the hygiene aisle of your local supermarket. You will likely be confronted with a number of different choices:

  • Waxed vs. un-waxed?
  • Flavoured vs. unflavoured?
  • Ribbon floss vs. fine floss?

In general, you will want to opt for a waxed floss, as it tends to be much easier to slide between your teeth, and it is harder to shred. Ribbon floss is also the better option over fine floss, as it covers a larger portion of your teeth and subsequently does a better job cleaning. When it comes time to choosing flavour, that’s up to you — although there is nothing like a bit of mint to leave your mouth extra fresh!

Wind and glide.

Once you have chosen an appropriate floss, you will want to take approximately 18 inches of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of each hand, keeping roughly 2 inches of taut floss between each finger.

Next, use your index fingers to glide the floss between your teeth, starting in the upper left hand side of your mouth and working your way across to the right hand side.

Once you’ve finished the top, work your way along your lower teeth. Effective flossing will typically take approximately 1 minute.

Be gentle!

Always be gentle when flossing. You should gently move the floss between your teeth in a zigzag fashion, being careful not to snap the floss against the teeth. If you are new to flossing, your gums might feel a bit sore afterward and will likely bleed a bit, but you should adjust quickly. Healthy gums that are flossed regularly will not be sore anymore and will not bleed.

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