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Archive for the ‘Dental Tips’ Category

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spring cleaning

The best-kept secret in dentistry actually has to do with insurance. The general assumption is that your dentist appointments are covered once annually, and most people will only book as many cleanings as their benefits will accept. Some benefit plans actually allow for teeth cleaning on a schedule less than twelve months, with many choosing to offer three- to nine-month cycles. We always recommend making the most of your dental insurance plan and booking as often as possible! Spring is a great time to fit in one of your two recommended annual cleanings and checkups.

Why Spring?

As the weather warms up, so does the social life! Spring is the season that kicks off many important events. You’re bound to be taking part in a wedding, graduation, or backyard barbeque – and that means the photo ops will be abundant. A cleaning will boost your confidence and brighten your grin. If you want to get even more camera-ready, it’s quick and simple to add a teeth whitening service to your appointment.

Spring is also a great time of the year to do something refreshing that will get you out of the rut of winter. What better way to feel fresh and new than to start with polishing your smile? As a bonus, the change in the landscape serves as a cheery reminder to smile – and book a dentist appointment.

Routine Checkups

Checkups are a great way to ensure your teeth and gums are in good health. They’re also important to ensure any prior dental work is maintained, and that minor vulnerabilities are caught before they become costly, painful complications.

Even if you are diligent with the floss and toothbrush, it’s important to let a hygienist do a deep clean regularly. Toothbrushes are good at removing soft, sticky plaque but can’t remove hard, stuck-on tartar build-up.

We can help you keep your smile in tip-top shape.

Book a Spring Cleaning!

Should I Still be Flossing?

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As I’m sure many of you saw, the media recently touted a dental study suggesting there was no need for flossing anymore. For the patients out there who are already avid flossers, I don’t believe this study has made much of a difference in their oral health care routines.

However, for the majority, news of this study’s claim that flossing is not scientifically supported was probably welcomed with open arms. Let’s face it, for most people, flossing is a chore; a chore that we don’t enjoy but did because we had to. So is this the end of an era? No more flossing? Well, the short answer is not quite yet. The main point of the study suggested that there is low evidence for the efficacy of flossing… if you’re not doing it correctly.

A universal recommendation for all patients to floss is not supported by the evidence. However, it is our job as dental professionals to assess our patients on their flossing abilities to ensure effective flossing is an achievable goal. When effective flossing is not an achievable goal, we recommend other interdental tools to help with cleaning in between your teeth.

As a refresher, here is the American Dental Association’s visual guide to correct flossing:

 

Flossing step 1

 

Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.

 

 

 

 

 

Flossing step 2

 

Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

flossing step 3

 

Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flossing step 4

 

When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.

 

 

 

 

 

Flossing step 5

 

Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth. 

Once you’re finished, throw the floss away. A used piece of floss won’t be as effective and could leave bacteria behind in your mouth. 

                                                                                                                                               

Source: American Dental Association website

The Myth Behind Mouth Rinses

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mouth rinse being poured into a cap

To begin, a mouth rinse does not replace your daily oral hygiene care routine of brushing and flossing. It is an adjunctive therapy that can be beneficial for your overall oral hygiene. There are a few different types of mouth rinses: a fluoride rinse, an antibacterial rinse, and a desensitizing rinse. Choose one based on your specific needs, although many combine some of these effects.

A fluoride mouth rinse is used for people who are at greater risk for cavities. The additional exposure to fluoride can help fight cavities by increasing the amount of fluoride on the enamel surfaces of your teeth. Generally, this type of rinse is used when advised by your dentist or hygienist.

There are many different types of antibacterial mouth rinses on the market. They have different active ingredients that use various methods for the same goal – to fight gingivitis. Some of the active ingredients include triclosan, thymol, cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), and chlorhexidine gluconate. All have been proven to be effective against fighting bacteria that cause gingivitis. Some people prefer the taste of one type of rinse over another, or like or dislike the “burn” associated with some rinses. Choose an antibacterial rinse that is best for you based on what you prefer.

Desensitizing mouth rinses can be an effective adjunctive therapy for people with very sensitive teeth. These rinses use different active ingredients, including arginine, potassium citrate, potassium nitrate and sodium fluoride, to desensitize the teeth. If you have sensitive teeth, you can use this type of rinse in addition to a sensitive toothpaste, or on its own. Talk to your dentist or hygienist about what would be best for you.

The most important factor when using a mouth rinse, whichever type you use, is to use it correctly. This will ensure you maximize the beneficial effects of the rinse. Read the directions on the bottle and ensure you use the correct amount and rinse for an adequate amount of time. Using a mouth rinse as an additional part of your home care routine can be very beneficial health wise and can leave you feeling fresher!

Contact our office in downtown Edmonton if you have any questions or want to learn more about mouth rinses.

Alia
Dental Hygienist

How To Get Into The Habit Of Flossing

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Flossing-Habit

Most people understand the benefits of flossing and know they SHOULD be doing it more often. So what stands in people’s way? I think one of the biggest reasons people don’t floss is because it just never became part of their daily routine the way tooth-brushing did. They’ve never gotten into the habit. So how can we change this? How do we turn something into a habit?

I’m not a behavioural expert; so of course, I had to Google it. What I discovered is the 3 R’s of Habit Change  – a simple 3-step framework for changing or creating new habits. Hey, it can’t hurt to try (plus, I’m a sucker for a good acronym).

The 3 R’s are as follows:

  • Reminder (a trigger)
  • Routine (a behaviour)
  • Reward (a benefit)

So how can we apply this method to flossing?

Reminder: Try sticking a post-it note to your bathroom mirror as a reminder. Or, try placing floss right next to your toothbrush so you can see it every time you brush. You can also make things easier by having floss stashed in multiple places, like your desk, your purse, your car, your gym bag, etc. Seeing it in all these places will not only serve as a visual cue, but the convenience of having it right there will make it more likely that you’ll use it.

Routine: Once you’re reminded to floss, DO IT! Once you start flossing on a regular basis, it will naturally evolve into a habit. And who knows, you might even start to LIKE flossing and how it makes your teeth and gums feel.

Reward: This is the tricky part. While there’s no doubt flossing has rewards, they’re not always immediate or obvious. Over time, you might notice changes: your gums will bleed less; they’ll be pink and healthy, and your breath will be fresher. You might even get fewer cavities between your teeth! However, those things take time. The article recommended simply telling yourself “good job” or saying “success” once you’ve achieved your goal. They even had the example “floss one tooth, “Victory!’”. It’s pretty silly, but I think the important thing is that we give ourselves credit. Self-acknowledgment is still acknowledgement, and different things motivate different people. Try using whatever rewards you can think of for yourself.

Start small and work your way up. Even if you go from flossing once a year to once a week, it’s a “Success!”. Hope this helps 🙂

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

How Dental Implants Work

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Dental Implants Edmonton

One of the worst things I have to tell a patient is, “we’re going to have to pull that tooth”. It’s heartbreaking to have to tell someone that they’re going to lose a tooth, no matter what the reason is. And, it can be very traumatizing for the patient. I’m happy, however, to say that with the advancements of dental implants, losing a tooth is not what it once was.

First, let me give a brief explanation of how dental implants work. A dental implant, for lack of a better image, looks like a screw. It is inserted into the area of bone where the root of the tooth used to be. That bone heals and integrates itself around the implant, making it very stable. Once everything is fully integrated, that implant is ready to be crowned. An impression is taken, and a custom crown is made to fit over that implant. If planned and executed properly, the results of an implant can very closely mimic the form and function of a natural tooth. (Here is a little video to further illustrate the process:

I know that this might sound like a scary procedure for some, but let me assure you that I’ve never heard a patient describe it as being a painful experience. In fact, most patients are amazed at how simple the procedure is. Financially they are an investment, but dental implants have an extremely high success rate (>90%). As long as they are taken care of properly, it is unlikely to have problems down the road. Speaking of which, taking care of an implant is basically the same as taking care of your teeth. All they require is regular brushing and flossing, and scaling from your dental hygienist.

Also, what people may not know is that you can do more than just replace a single tooth with an implant. You can replace long spans of missing teeth with implant-supported bridges. You can even use implants to anchor and support dentures! This means no more loose dentures that fall out when you talk or sneeze and no more annoying denture adhesives. Dental implants have been a complete game changer in how dentistry is done nowadays.

So while saying goodbye to a tooth is never an easy thing, hopefully patients can take comfort in knowing that there is a fantastic alternative out there to give them back their smiles. Give us a call at 780-428-2331 or book an appointment online now to discuss your dental implant needs.

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

Oral Piercings: Fashion Statement or Harmful Trend?

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Tongue-PiercingsOral piercings have been around for years. It’s a trend that is still very popular, particularly among young adults. One study reported that close to one fifth of young adults has had at least one type of piercing in or around their mouth. People get oral piercings for a variety of reasons, but shockingly, most of them are unaware of the dangers associated with mouth piercings.

The tongue, lips and cheek are the most common sites for oral piercings. Several studies have been conducted to examine the harmful side of oral piercings. One study showed that 87.83% of piercings had some form of early complication. The most prevalent complications were swelling and bleeding at the piercing sites, followed by dental defects, such as fractured/chipped teeth and receding gums. The prevalence of dental defects is greater for tongue piercings than for lip piercings, and the incidence of gingival recession appears similar for both tongue and lip piercings. Other studies have shown that oral piercings can lead to an increased concentration of periodontal pathogenic bacteria at the pierced site, leading to increased periodontal disease. They have also been linked to an increased incidence of Candida Albicans (a fungus, yikes!) colonization.

Severe, even life-threatening, complications can also arise from oral piercings such as:

  • Hemorrhage
  • Nerve damage
  • Infection and swelling that can lead to airway obstruction
  • Infectious diseases (e.g. HIV, hepatitis, tetanus)
  • Ludwig’s angina
  • Cerebral abscess
  • Endocarditis

While getting oral piercings can be fashionable and a way of showing individuality, people must use caution when getting them. Ensure the place you go to get the piercing is a reputable shop. Proper sterilization and infection control are paramount when choosing a piercer. Also, pay attention to the site you choose to get pierced; some areas are more prone to recession or chipping/cracking teeth. And if you do decide to get one, try not to play with the piercing – many people who have oral piercings report that playing with the piercing caused dental defects. Bottom line is DO YOUR HOMEWORK and ensure you are informed of the potential local and systemic risks of the piercing.

The Problem I Have With Whitening Toothpaste…

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Whitening Toothpaste

More and more, people are chasing after that bright white Hollywood smile. It’s no wonder. Pick your favourite celebrity, or any celebrity these days, and chances are they have a sparkling white smile. We are constantly being bombarded with ads featuring 3D or Optic or Iceberg or Fill-in-the-adjective White! And I get it – we all want to feel confident about our smiles. We want them to look their best. Consequently, more people are searching for a cheap and easy option for achieving this. The most obvious choice people are turning to is whitening toothpaste, and there are heaps of them on the market these days to choose from.

Whitening toothpastes are designed to remove surface stains from your teeth on a daily basis. How? They use abrasive particles to scrub and clean the surface of your enamel, getting rid of the stain while brushing. Sounds innocent enough, right? Wrong. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming) If only it were that simple.

First, I should mention that the efficacy of whitening toothpastes has been met with mixed reviews. While I believe products should do what they claim to do, that is not the main problem I have with these products. I don’t actually even want to discuss if they do in fact whiten your teeth.

My biggest issue is that they may be causing more harm to teeth and gums than people realize. Because they are more abrasive than regular toothpastes, over time, they can actually wear down and cause damage to the enamel, which is the hard, protective outer layer of your tooth. This can dramatically increase tooth sensitivity and even the potential of getting cavities. And thin enamel, ironically, can even make the teeth look darker or yellower. The abrasiveness of whitening toothpaste can also increase gum recession. What people may not realize is that once the damage to the enamel is done, there is nothing you can do to easily fix it.

Not all toothpastes are created equal; some are less abrasive than others. If you are concerned about the colour of your teeth, you would be better off to use a lower abrasion toothpaste along with special whitening products. That way, you can get the white teeth you want without potentially irreversibly damaging your teeth in the process.

If you have a question regarding your current toothpaste, ask you dental professional to shed some light on which products are best suited for you.

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

What on Earth is Gum Disease?

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Gum Disease

A lot people wonder, “Why do I need to get my teeth cleaned? Is it really that important?” The short answer is YES! Getting your teeth cleaned on a regular basis is important, not only for your oral health, but your overall health as well.

So what exactly is gum disease?

It is an infection of your gums and supporting tissues that evolves over time. Gum disease includes two stages: a reversible stage and an irreversible stage.

The initial phase of gum disease is called gingivitis and is reversible. Gingivitis is identified by bleeding gums and tender, red, swollen gums. Gingivitis generally develops when plaque and tartar sit on the teeth and infect the gums. A professional cleaning and daily brushing and flossing can reverse the effects of gingivitis, leaving you with a healthy mouth. Brushing and flossing can remove soft plaque, but scaling is needed to remove hard tartar from the teeth.

The second stage of gum disease is called periodontal disease, which is irreversible. Periodontal disease is classified as Early, Moderate or Advanced. The signs of periodontal disease are bone loss, moving teeth, exposed roots, and possible tooth loss. The second stage of gum disease develops when the first stage – the reversible stage – is left untreated. The infection, that started in the gums, spreads into the supporting tissue and bone around the teeth, leading to loss of bony support. Once the process of bone loss starts, you cannot grow the bone back. Moreover, the progression of bone loss can continue if left untreated.

This is where the importance of dental cleanings comes in. With the help of frequent, regular dental hygiene visits, and excellent home care, you can stop the infection and prevent further bone loss. “But I don’t have bone loss,” you may say. “Why do I need to get another cleaning?” Regular dental hygiene care is a preventative therapy to ensure patients do not develop periodontal disease. The best and most effective treatment of gum disease is PREVENTION. If we can prevent a patient from losing bony support, we can ensure they will not develop periodontal disease. The reason why the second stage of gum disease is considered irreversible is because once you develop periodontal disease, you have it for life. The damage from the infection to your bone cannot be reversed. The only thing we can do is prevent further damage with regular hygiene visits, which includes scaling and root planing. This is why prevention is key to treating gum disease. So be sure to come in every 6-12 months and see your hygienist! I’m sure you’ll have a new appreciation for why she asks about brushing and flossing every time!

Dental Hygienist Alia

The Worst Foods for Staining Your Teeth

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The Worst Food For Staining Your Teeth

We all know how important a bright, white smile is. And while we all know that a daily routine of brushing and flossing is key to keeping those pearly whites white, there are certain foods to keep in mind that can actually stain your teeth. Actually, many of the worst “foods” are actually beverages.

Basically, anything that can stain a white tablecloth can also stain your enamel, and the more intensely coloured a food is, the more staining potential it has. The colour of these foods and beverages comes from chromogens – highly pigmented molecules that latch onto the enamel of your teeth to cause stains.

The acidic level of the food or beverage is another factor to consider. When your teeth are exposed to acid, it softens the enamel and allows the stain to penetrate more deeply into the tooth. So foods that are highly-pigmented AND acidic are likely to cause stain. Finally, if a food is high in tannins – a food compound that increases the choromogens’ adherence to tooth enamel – it boosts a food staining ability. So foods that are highly-pigmented, acidic, AND full of tannins…well, you get the idea.

Here’s a list of the worst offenders (and I do apologize about No. 1 on the list):

  1. Red wine: Ding, ding, ding. This one scores high on all the categories listed above. Interestingly enough, white wine, due to its acidity, contributes to staining as well. If you were to drink white wine and follow it by eating/drinking something that’s intensely pigmented, it makes your teeth more susceptible to picking up that color. (That goes for anything that’s acidic).
  2. Tea: Not only is tea highly-pigmented, it’s also rich in tannins. Note: herbal, green, and white teas are less likely to stain than black teas.
  3. Coffee: Definitely a major culprit for most of us, but believe it or not, it may not be as bad as tea is for staining. Coffee is high in chromogens, but lower in tannins.
  4. Cola: This is one that people may not generally think of, but it’s chromogen-rich and VERY acidic.
  5. Sports drinks: Mostly due to their high-acidity, they soften the enamel and set the stage for staining.
  6. Berries: If you eat a lot of intensely-coloured fruits, your teeth can take on their coloring.
  7. Sweets: Candies, popsicles, gum, etc. that contain food colouring agents can easily stain your teeth. Just think, if your tongue turns green from eating a hard candy, that same colour can stain your teeth.

However, many of these foods (not including soda, sports drinks or candy) have many health benefits and are high in antioxidants, so you may not want to eliminate these foods from your diet completely. Enjoy everything in moderation. You can use straws to limit the exposure of certain drinks in your mouth. And you should avoid swishing or holding things in your mouth too long – the longer foods/drinks stay in contact with your teeth, the more chance they have to stain them. Also, try rinsing with water afterwards. In fact, it’s best to hold off brushing your teeth for 30 minutes after eating acidic foods, since brushing can be too abrasive against the softened enamel.

If you suffer from stained teeth, don’t worry. Ask your dental professional about different whitening options to get rid of the stain and restore your dazzling smile.

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

My “Not-So-Related-To-Easter” Easter Blog: A Discussion About Causes And Treatment For Dry Mouth

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Dry mouth

Sometimes I try to relate my blogs to whatever’s happening at the moment. This week, trying to think of a topic, my train of thought went something like this: Easter Bunny…Cottontail…Cottonmouth…Ah ha, dry mouth!

Dry mouth isn’t something that just happens when your mouth’s been open too long. Dry mouth, aka xerostomia, is a condition that people suffer from due to a decrease in the amount of saliva they produce. Without proper lubrication in the mouth, these individuals are susceptible to many different problems. In milder cases, it may just be an irritating nuisance, but in severe cases, people may experience difficulty eating and swallowing, sores, inflamed gums, or an increase in cavities – all which can majorly affect their quality of life.

Unfortunately, dry mouth is a common side effect of literally hundreds of medications (which is the main cause of dry mouth in most people). And for the vast majority of people, the benefits/necessity of staying on these medications outweigh the problem of dry mouth, so eliminating the source isn’t really an option. Dry mouth can also be caused by medical conditions that decrease their saliva production, such as the autoimmune disease Sjogren’s syndrome or HIV/AIDS. People undergoing cancer therapy may also experience a change in their salivary production.

So what can people do to mitigate their symptoms? There are products that you can use, such as special moisturizers, that act as artificial saliva, which can help alleviate discomfort. There are special toothpastes and mouth rinses available as well. Because dry mouth also increases one’s susceptibility of getting cavities, it may also be recommended to use fluoride trays or rinses more regularly to help prevent further decay. It is also crucial to visit your dentist more regularly so they can keep a close eye on things, and of course, your daily oral hygiene routine needs to be top-notch.

If you’re a sufferer of dry mouth, I hope this helps. Happy Easter!

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky