Archive for the ‘Dental Tips’ Category

Dentistry 101: What is a Cavity?

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It’s a fairly simple question that most people assume they know the answer to, but if you stop to really think about it, do you actually know what a cavity is? Or how it forms? Most people understand there’s a link between eating sugar and getting cavities, which is true, but it’s not the full story.

What actually happens is this: Millions of bacteria live on the surfaces of your teeth in that sticky substance known as plaque. When you eat any type of sugar (this includes sucrose, lactose and fructose), the bacteria also feed on this sugar and produce an acid by-product. The acid then sits on your teeth and slowly eats away the protective hard enamel of your tooth, causing it to lose minerals. The more sugar the bacteria have to eat, the more acid they produce, causing the enamel to lose more and more minerals. Over time, these demineralized areas become visible as white spots on the enamel. This is an early sign of tooth decay. White spots have the potential to be stopped or reversed at this point by using minerals from saliva, fluoride, or other sources. However, if the demineralization continues, the decay gets worse and actual holes form in the enamel – aka cavities.

Once the cavity breaks through the enamel, it allows bacteria access into the dentin of the tooth. Dentin is the material that makes up the inside layer of your teeth, and because it is much softer than enamel, tooth decay spreads rapidly in it. At this point, to prevent further spread, a dentist must remove all the decay and place a filling in the tooth. If, however, it goes untreated, the decay will spread until it reaches the pulp of the tooth – the inner hollow core of the tooth, which contains the tooth’s nerve and blood supply. Once bacteria are allowed to enter the pulp, they will multiply inside the tooth and eventually cause the tooth to become abscessed or infected, leaving a root canal as the only treatment option to save the tooth.

But let’s not end on a sad note – there’s good news. By maintaining good oral hygiene, limiting your sugar intake at home, and visiting your dental office at least once a year for check-ups, these cavities can be caught at an early stage, before they become real problems. These simple steps will keep your mouth happy and healthy.

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

When Should I Start Bringing My Child to the Dentist?

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It’s a popular question we hear time and time again.

The answer is surprisingly simple – your child’s first visit to the dentist should occur by age 1, or within 6 months of eruption of the first tooth.

This practice is supported by the Canadian Dental Association as the best way to prevent/reduce early cavities in children.  While children’s oral health has improved significantly in the past few decades, many children are still getting cavities at a young age, and in severe cases, it may lead to treatment under general anesthesia.  In fact, a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information states that dental surgery to treat these early cavities accounts for about one-third of all day surgery for preschoolers.

Parents may think one year is too early to bring in their little ones, but good habits start early and good oral health will impact the overall health of your child for the rest of their lives.

To start the journey off right, we work with you to help get your child used to the idea of coming into our office.  We’ll try to keep everything short, sweet, and fun so that your child’s first visit to the dentist is a positive experience.

Don’t worry, we also know that the dentist can be scary the first few times, so even if we can’t get a look at your child’s teeth the day you bring them in, it’s still a great opportunity to make sure mom and dad are doing the right things at home.  We provide parents with tips on how to properly brush teeth and gums and understand which foods and drinks are good for children’s new teeth.

Make an appointment with us today and get your child off to a strong start!

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

The HARD Facts about Tooth Brushing

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I believe there is a common misconception out there – People think the harder they brush their teeth, the cleaner and healthier they will be. Or when it comes to deciding between a hard and a soft toothbrush, lots of people think a harder toothbrush must do a better job. In all fairness, I can see why they would think that. It makes sense that people would think they’re doing a good job by scrubbing their teeth as hard as possible when brushing; unfortunately, they may actually be causing more problems by doing so.

The fact is that when you brush too hard, not only are you removing unwanted food and plaque, but you also risk damaging the teeth and gums. Over a person’s lifetime, years of hard, aggressive tooth brushing will physically wear the enamel off of teeth. This can lead to sensitivity, discolouration, and cavities along the gum line. In addition, brushing too hard can cause or worsen any gum recession, which can negatively impact the supportive structures around the teeth. In severe cases, gum grafting may even be required to correct the damage.

So what should you do? First of all, (if you are a patient at our office, there is a good chance you’ve heard this before) switch to a soft or extra soft toothbrush. Even if you are a very gentle brusher, hard and even medium bristles are too abrasive. This goes for both manual and electric toothbrushes. Some electric toothbrushes now even have built in sensors that alert you to when you are pressing too hard.

How do you know if you’re brushing too hard? When you brush, the bristles of your toothbrush should bend very little. If you look at your toothbrush at home, you should see nice, straight bristles. Bristles that are bent in every which way are a good indicator that you’re brushing too hard.

Finally, you should be gentle, but thorough. Most people remember to brush the tops of their teeth, but often miss the area right along the gum line, where most of the plaque accumulates.  When you brush along the gum line, place half the bristles on the teeth and the other half on the gums, move the toothbrush back and forth, and it should feel like the bristles are gently massaging the gums.

Soft bristles, along with regular care, are an important part of your oral health routine.

Happy tooth brushing!

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

HELP! My tooth came out… What do I do?

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I’m not talking about what to do if a baby tooth falls out.  That’s easy.  Place it underneath your pillow and wait for the Tooth Fairy to arrive…. everybody knows that.  I’m talking about what to do if, heaven forbid, you should ever have a tooth knocked out- like in a rough game of hockey.  This is a dental emergency, and what dentists refer to as an “avulsed tooth”.  We always advise wearing protective mouth guards while playing any sport to minimize the risk of such incidences occurring, but as we all know, accidents happen.

If this happens, there are a few steps you can take which might make saving that tooth possible (believe it or not).

  1. Remain calm.  Losing a tooth would be a bit traumatizing for anybody, but the calmer you are, the more clearly you can think.
  2. Look for your tooth.  Is it in your mouth? Is it on the ground lying next to you?  If you find it, make sure you try to pick it up by the crown, and avoid touching the root as much as possible.
  3. Replant the tooth in the socket if possible.  This will give it the best chance for survival.  If the tooth is dirty, wash it with cold running water for about 10 sec.  Try to hold it steady in the socket (biting down on something may help).
  4. Or place the tooth in a suitable storage medium, e.g. a glass of milk, Hanks balanced storage medium (which is made specifically for avulsed teeth), or saline. Avoid storing the tooth in water!  The tooth can even be stored in the mouth, between the molars and the inside of the cheek, but it is not recommended if the patient is very young, as he/she could swallow it.
  5. Seek emergency dental treatment immediately.

Keep in mind that these recommendations are only for permanent teeth – baby teeth should not be re-implanted into the mouth if they’ve been knocked out.  There are different factors that will affect the prognosis of the tooth, and it will have to be closely monitored by your dentist from here on out.

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

4 Easy Tips for Keeping your Teeth Healthy This Summer

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Okay, we’re all excited about summertime – it’s easy to get distracted by ice cream cones and volleyball and forget about your teeth.

Here are my summertime tips for your teeth (and mouth)!

1.Your Teeth Are Not Tools

Many people feel that their teeth can substitute for tools and use them to open bottles, wrappers, and chew ice. Save yourself an emergency trip to our office for a broken tooth, and avoid this potentially unpleasant habit.

2. Use Mouth Guards During Sports

Wearing a mouth guard during your sports activities can easily protect your teeth. Mouth guards are fairly inexpensive and serve to ensure your teeth do not crack, chip or damage your lips, cheeks and gums in the event of an accident or foul while you are playing sports. We recommend having a custom fit mouth guard to provide the best possible comfort and protection for your teeth while playing summer sports.

3. Don’t Go Crazy On The Ice Cream, Slushies And Soda

Here’s where the downer dentist starts to come out, but it’s important you keep this in mind. I know summer and ice cream kind of go hand-in-hand but high volumes of sugars can cause cavities, plaque and loss of enamel if over consumed. Bacteria loves sugars and converts this into acids that can strip away the enamel of your teeth causing sensitivity issues. So keep the soda and ice cream cone consumption in-check and brush regularly after eating your summer treats.

4. Be Sure To Wear Lip Balm With An SPF Of At Least 15

Your lips are more susceptible to burning than most parts of your body, yet many people don’t think about protecting them from the sun. A quick application of lip balm will go a long way in protecting your lips from the sun’s harmful rays.

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

Better Late Than Never

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A lot of people feel embarrassed to make a dentist appointment if a long time has passed since their last check-up or if they’ve never been back to the dentist since they were children.

Don’t worry. This is a really common circumstance for a lot of people, especially people who are afraid of the dental chair.

I know so many people who have avoided going to the dentist for years simply because they hadn’t been there in a while and were afraid of being judged or criticized for neglecting their oral health.   They think the dentist or hygienist is going to take one look in their mouth and be appalled at what they see.

Let me tell you, that’s not the case.  As health care providers, our primary goal is to make sure your mouth is healthy. We want to make sure you are disease-free and out of any discomfort.  We are not here to scold, pass judgment, or make fun of you and we do not think any less of somebody if they require a filling, a root canal, or an extraction.  Remember, most people, including most dentists, have had some form of dental treatment at one time or another themselves.

So don’t be embarrassed to come in and don’t wait until it becomes an emergency.

Remember that if you do have a problem, the longer you wait to have it checked-out, the worse it is likely to get.  Don’t let your fear of being judged stand in the way of getting the proper care you and your mouth deserves.

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky

Could Bottled Water Be Giving You More Cavities?

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Although bottled water is a convenient way to keep you hydrated throughout the hot summer months, it might mean that you’re missing out on the benefits of fluoride in tap water.

Like many cities across our country, Edmonton adds fluoride to the water supply to help prevent tooth decay. Fluoride gets absorbed into the enamel – strengthening it and making it more resistant to cavities. This is especially important in children, whose teeth are still developing. There has been a noticeable increase in tooth decay amongst children in recent years, and although we can’t determine causality from an increase in drinking bottled water over fluoride infused tap water (as pop, candy, and a reluctance to brush and floss are also major contributors), we can’t help but wonder how much of a role it’s playing.

Here are some things to keep in mind about getting more fluoride this summer:

  •  If you drink tap water but pass if through a filtration system (like Brita), some systems do not remove fluoride from the water, so you still may be receiving the benefits of fluoride in your tap water.
  • Some bottled water brands actually contain fluoride – so check the label.
  • If you are concerned you may not be getting enough fluoride, there are some other ways to add it to your diet, but ask your dental professional what will work best for you.

Dr. Jaimee Buchkowsky