Archive for the ‘Dental Tips’ Category

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

If you HATE flossing, TRY THIS!

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If you hate flossing

There’s about a million and one reasons why people don’t floss.  And no matter how much we tell people they need to floss, we know that there are still a large number of people simply won’t.  Well, FINALLY I’m giving my patients an alternative.  They’re called Soft-Picks.

Soft-Picks are a product made by GUM™ – they look like teeny-tiny pine trees, and are designed to be used like a toothpick.  They’re better than toothpicks, however, because they have small bristles that work to clean off plaque, and they’re softer and more flexible.  By simply inserting it between each of your teeth and gently moving it in and out, it removes the majority of plaque between your teeth (essentially doing the same job floss does).

They’re also great for people with bridges, orthodontic braces, or other dental appliances because they can squeeze between tight spots and get to those hard-to-reach places.  They are super easy to use, and more discreet than regular dental floss, so they’re handy if you’re out in public and have something stuck in your teeth.  It’s something you can even do while you’re sitting on the couch watching TV.

Check out this link to learn more.  I think they’re great and definitely worth a try!

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

Are you a Bruxer?

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Are you a Bruxer

I see bruxers every single day in my practice. Bruxers are people who habitually clench/grind their teeth. Quite often people are bruxers without even realizing it because most people grind their teeth in their sleep. So how do you know if you’re a bruxer?

POP QUIZ

a) Do you ever wake up with a clenched jaw?
b) Do the muscles around your jaw ever feel sore or tight?
c) Do you have a lot of worn/flat edges on your teeth?
d) Are any of your teeth chipped? Have you ever chipped or broken a tooth?
e) Do you get frequent headaches originating from the temple region?
f) Do you have sensitive teeth?
g) Has anybody every told you they could hear you grinding your teeth in the middle of the night?
h) Do you suffer from a lot of stress?

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, there is a very good chance that you are a bruxer.

Now, you may be wondering why stress was a question. Stress is a major contributor to how much people grind their teeth. Think about when people are stressed; they carry a lot of tension in their shoulders and neck. That tension can carry all the way up into the jaw area. When patients come to our office, we will ask them these types of questions and examine the condition of their teeth, and from that we can normally determine if they do clench or grind. Bruxing can lead to all kinds of problems:

  • Teeth that are chipped, broken, worn, flattened, and uneven. I have even seen teeth split in half from heavy-duty grinding. In other severe cases, people can wear off all the enamel on the edges of their teeth, exposing the dentin underneath.
  • Sensitivity. Sometimes people think they have a cavity or even an abscess from the level of discomfort they‘re experiencing, but sometimes it’s simply due to the heavy load and stresses they’re placing on their teeth as they grind.
  • Aesthetic issues. Teeth can become shortened over time from continual grinding, or have a chipped/jagged appearance, both of which can affect a person’s self-image and confidence about their smile.
  • TMJ issues. Bruxing places a lot of pressure on your jaw joints, and over time people can develop conditions related to their TMJs, such as clicking or lockjaw.
  • Muscle tension or soreness. These muscles are highly active during clenching/grinding, which can lead to soreness and fatigue.

What can you do about it? We often prescribe night guards (aka splints) for patients to wear at nighttime. This prevents further wear and tear to the teeth and can also help relieve stress on the muscles and TMJ. Some people are day-bruxers, and for those people I mostly just tell them they have to make a conscious effort to avoid doing it. Massage, chiropractic, and physiotherapy are all useful modalities to help relieve stress in the muscles as well. Bottom line, if you think you might be a bruxer, talk to your dentist to do something about it.

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

What’s the Deal with Oil Pulling?

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What's the deal with Oil Pulling? Has everyone heard of this? Oil pulling is an Indian therapy that is used by its practitioners to improve oral and systemic health. While it may be new to most of us, it’s actually ancient, dating back to over 3000 years ago. Basically, you use an oil, such as sesame, coconut, or sunflower, and swish it around in your mouth for 15 – 20 minutes and then spit it out, like a mouthwash. By moving the oil between your teeth, it’s supposed to “pull” the bacteria into the oil, reducing the harmful bacteria in your mouth that lead to cavities, plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath. There are also many other claims that have been made as to how oil pulling can benefit your health, including helping with problems such as migraines, asthma, and even diabetes. While those claims might seem far-fetched, there are proven relationships that link oral health and systemic diseases, so if oil pulling improves oral health, who knows… it might help those conditions as well. The fact is, we don’t know. Like most pseudo-scientific home remedies, there is little research to back any of these claims. However, some recent pilot studies have shown that oil pulling can reduce the amount of harmful bacteria in the mouth responsible for tooth decay, gingivitis, and bad breath, which is a start. Some patients have asked me if they should do it, and I have no problem with it. So far in my research, I haven’t found any indication that oil pulling could negatively impact your health. It is not a substitute, however, for brushing and flossing. Sorry ☺ But, if you use it as an adjunct to your normal daily hygiene routine, it sounds like it does make a difference. As more and more people look for natural ways to treat different health problems, oil pulling seems like the new trend in dental care. To be honest, I LOVE a good natural home remedy (I might even give this one a try). Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

The Toothbrush Redesigned

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ISSA

You know how when you’re watching a video on YouTube, there’s usually an advertisement that pops up before your video plays? And then you’re forced to watch 5 seconds of it until the “SKIP AD” button appears (and like most people, my finger hovers over that button so that in the instant it appears I’m on it). However, the other day, a product ad came across the screen that actually surprised and intrigued me. Whether it was the bright colours that caught my attention or the fact that it looked like something Apple could have designed, my curiosity was peaked. It was called the ISSATM.

The what? The ISSATM  is “a revolutionary new toothbrush”. Why is this exciting news (other than the fact that I’m a dentist, and I’m a geek about this stuff)? Well, there hasn’t been a real breakthrough concept for toothbrushes in decades. The Chinese are believed to have invented natural bristled toothbrushes way back in the 15th century. Nylon bristled toothbrushes were developed in 1938. The big advancement after that was soft nylon bristled toothbrushes in the 1950s. And then, the first electric toothbrushes came along in the 1960s. So yeah, it’s kind of a big deal.

Check out the ISSATM by Foreo so can see for yourself what this product is and how it claims to be different: To be 100% honest, I don’t know much about it other than what you can read up on the Internet. It claims to be gentle on teeth and gums (good), made out of a super hygienic silicone (good), provide excellent cleaning and polishing capabilities (good), plus some other really cool features – really everything a good toothbrush should be. But does it deliver on all these claims? Again, I don’t know, but I’m very curious.

My biggest concerns would be these:

  • Is it gentle enough? Gum recession and tooth abrasion can happen quite easily if the toothbrush you’re using isn’t soft enough. Although, I will say that you can still do damage with a soft nylon bristled toothbrush if you are using it improperly (i.e. brushing too hard).
  • Does it clean well? Even with the electric pulsations, those bristles still need to make physical contact with the areas that you want to clean. Remember, plaque is sticky and adheres to the surface of teeth. I haven’t felt or tried the ISSATM, but I see the size of those bristles. I wonder if they can fit into all the nooks and crannies in order to provide a really thorough cleaning.

Is it reinventing the wheel, or does it actually bring something new and better to the table other than just fancy shapes and colours? TBD. I’d love to try it out myself, and if I do, I promise I’ll let you know in a future blog post how it worked for me. If you’re thinking about getting one, I would recommend having a conversation with your dental professional before you do.

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

Brushing 101… for kids!

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Brushing 101 for kids

Brushing your teeth is the foundation of good oral hygiene, and we believe that good habits should start as early as possible. Even before your little one sprouts their first tooth, you can use a damp washcloth or soft gum brush to gently massage the gums to promote good oral hygiene (I think that tip is for the extra-keen parents out there J). But once that first tooth comes in…. start brushing!

Every child is different, but until the age about 6 their fine motor skills are… hmmm, how should I put it… somewhat lacking. So Mom and Dad, it’s your job to get in there and do the job properly. Lots of times, kids want to brush their teeth on their own (which is great), but it’s a good idea to let them to do it first, then you can sneak in after and get the spots they missed. And even after they’ve mastered the art of brushing, it’s a good idea to supervise your kids for a while, just in case.

Toothbrushes come in all shapes and sizes. So for kids, it’s best to use toothbrushes that are made specifically for them. These brushes tend to be smaller for easier access and are super soft so the bristles are gentle on their teeth and gums. Plus, they have fun characters on them – I mean, what kid wouldn’t want to brush with a Spiderman toothbrush (or Cinderella if that’s their thing).

When it comes to toothpaste, there are some important things all parents should know. Fluoride in toothpaste has been proven to reduce cavities, but because young children aren’t really able to spit out the toothpaste, they end up swallowing it. Ingesting too much fluoride at a young age can lead to a cosmetic condition called fluorosis, which affects the appearance of their permanent teeth. The severity can range from barely visible white spots on the enamel to dark brown staining and bumpy surfaces of the teeth. To help prevent this, there are recommended guidelines as to how much toothpaste parents should use on their kids:

  • Under 3 years old: Visit your dentist to determine whether or not your child is at a greater risk of getting cavities. If your child is low risk, then you can simply use a toothbrush and water to brush your teeth, but if your child is higher risk, then a fluoride toothpaste might be recommended. No more than a smear of toothpaste or the size of a grain of rice should be used.
  • Between ages 3 to 6: No more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste should be used, along constant supervision of an adult.
  • After the age of 6, the amount used is less of a concern because kids are able to spit out most of the toothpaste anyways, and the permanent teeth have already developed. However, it’s still important to supervise to make sure they’re not swallowing too much of it.

There are fluoride-free formulas on the market as well. They wouldn’t give you the cavity-fighting benefit of fluoride, but you could use them instead of brushing with plain water on children under 3, just to get them used to the idea of toothpaste. Plus, they come in some pretty delicious flavours.

Just remember to keep it FUN!

Sensitive Teeth

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32Dental Sensitive Teeth

Brrrrrr…. it’s cold outside. Winter is here, and every year as the temperature starts dropping, patients start noticing more tooth sensitivity as they’re breathing in that cold air. They often ask us what causes this and what can be done to fix it.

Sensitive teeth are a common problem. For some, it’s just one or two teeth, but for others ALL of their teeth may be sensitive. Most often the cold is the trigger, but sometimes heat or sweets can trigger sensitivity in teeth. Why does this happen?

Below the outer layer of hard enamel, which covers and protects the crowns of our teeth, is a softer inner layer called dentin. Dentin contains thousands of teeny tiny tubules that lead to the inner core of the tooth (the pulp) where the nerve is. So, if dentin is exposed to cold, for example, the cold travels down these tubules, where it reaches the nerve and leads to the pain you feel. On parts of your teeth where the enamel is thinnest, you may notice more sensitivity, but very often areas of gum recession tend to be most sensitive for people. Gum shrinks away from these areas, leaving the roots of your teeth exposed, with no enamel protecting them.

There are many things that can contribute to increased sensitivity. Basically, anything that causes wear or thinning of the enamel, such as brushing too hard, clenching and grinding, acidic foods, or even abrasive whitening products, can exacerbate the issue. Or it might be something more, like tooth decay, gingivitis, a cracked tooth, or possibly an infection.

Here are a few things you can do that might help:

  • First, visit your dentist to determine WHY you’re having the sensitivity (only then will you know how you can fix it).
  • Always brush and floss regularly – if plaque sits on these areas too long, it can increase sensitivity too.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush.
  • Try using toothpaste for sensitive teeth – there are lots of brands out there, so find one that works for you.
  • If you grind your teeth, try your best to avoid it and wear a protective night guard while sleeping.
  • There are special products, like fluoride varnishes, that can be placed over these sensitive areas to reduce discomfort as well.

Remember, nothing is ever too small to bring up with your dentist, so just ask us and we’ll do our best to help. Stay warm!

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

The Bad Breath Dilemma

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The Bad Breath Dilemma

Everyone suffers from bad breath at one time or another. Sometimes it can be caused by what you eat; for example, everybody knows to avoid garlic or onions on a first date. But quite often, bad breath comes from the same bacteria that cause plaque in our mouths. These bacteria release sulphur compounds, which create a foul-smelling odour and lead to bad breath. Most people turn to a mouthwash, such as Scope or Listerine, to freshen their breath, but do they really work?

First of all (and I can’t stress this enough!) mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing and flossing. Most over-the-counter mouthwashes are developed to reduce the amount of bacteria or neutralize odour-releasing compounds. In order to significantly reduce the bacteria in your mouth, you need to use mouthwash after brushing and flossing as a part of your oral health routine. Mouthwashes like these, however, are just a quick fix for bad breath and only last a few hours.

While a mouthwash can be a good adjunct to freshen your mouth, there has also been some debate as to whether consistent use of certain mouthwashes can do more harm than good and even cause more bad breath. Many over-the-counter mouthwashes contain alcohol, which is a drying agent that can reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth. Saliva acts like a natural mouthwash, as it lubricates your mouth and protects your teeth against bacteria. If your mouth is dry, the bacteria are able to grow more rapidly, which can lead to an increase in plaque, gum disease, tooth decay, and ultimately more bad breath. A proactive option may be to use alcohol-free mouthwashes, which are also available these days.

It’s also important to point out that some people suffer from chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis, which can’t be masked by a simple mouthwash. Halitosis can be caused by bigger problems, such as tooth decay, gum disease, dry mouth, sinus or stomach conditions, or other systemic problems. If you are concerned that you have halitosis, you should consult your dentist.

Overall, I can’t say I’m a strong advocate for using over-the-counter mouthwashes on a daily basis. The benefit to your oral health is pretty minimal, and again, the most important thing is to have a proper brushing and flossing routine. However, in a pinch, or to give you that extra boost of freshness once in awhile, go for it!

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

Healthy Teeth That Look Great Too

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As dentists, our number one priority for our patients has and will always be good oral health. However, for more and more of our patients, the way their teeth look is just as important as how they feel. Aesthetic/cosmetic dentistry has become a regular part of general dentistry, and due to that, most dental offices now offer tooth whitening as a cosmetic service to their patients. Tooth whitening is a safe, easy and non-invasive way to enhance and brighten your smile.

Teeth can become stained over time, mainly due to different foods in our diet (ie. coffee, tea, red wine). Sometimes, these stains can be removed with special whitening toothpastes or polishing, but because the enamel is porous, stain can seep into the actual tooth structure, making it impossible to brush or polish off. In order to remove these stains, teeth whitening products must be used to breakdown these stains and whiten the enamel. There are many different systems, but most use a type of peroxide as the whitening agent.

A lot of people ask if whitening is harmful to your teeth. Occasionally, some patients will experience increased tooth sensitivity or slight irritation to the gums or soft tissues around the teeth, but normally this stops shortly after the patient is finished the procedure. Always inform your dentist if either of these occurs.

Our patients also ask us how long the whitening effects will last. There is no exact answer to this question, as there are many factors that will affect how quickly your teeth accumulate stains. Also, some people like to do “touch-ups” more frequently than others to maintain a bright white appearance. We generally recommend bleaching your teeth no more than once every 6 months.

There are a couple things you should be aware of before you whiten. It’s also important to have a dental professional evaluate your teeth before you start. First, if you have any fillings, crowns, or veneers, these will not lighten as you bleach, so they will likely not match the shade of your teeth afterwards. Also, some people have naturally darker teeth due to the color of their dentin (this is the layer of tooth below the enamel), or due to the transparency of their enamel. These patients may not be able to achieve as white a smile as they may have hoped for.

But if you are looking to get a brighter, whiter smile in a short amount of time, then tooth whitening may be right for you. Interested? Give us a call, we’d love to help you keep your smile healthy and looking its best.

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky