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Coffee Decay

Your task buddy. Your sidekick.

The faithful companion that keeps you alert and company as you write that research paper, prepare your taxes or hop from arena to arena, class to class. It helps wake you up, keep you up, and accompanies you everyday, everywhere.

2-23-2015 1-13-32 PMYou may even have a pet name for it like Joe or Juan or Brewster. Love it or hate it we all know of that someone who cannot function without their beloved cup of magic beans – COFFEE!

But, is it really the faithful, take along friend you’ve come to rely on anyplace, anytime or is it robbing you of one of your most precious and attractive facial features? Your teeth!

After decades of declining numbers, it appears that the incidence of decay is on the rise again. We’re not talking 1-2 cavities either. We’re seeing six to 10 cavities, or more in patients who have never really had a history of dental decay.

Various studies point to a variety of factors that are causing this upswing in decay such as meal frequencies and the amount of low nutrient, highly processed foods that are available to us. If you feel that you are getting more than your fair share of cavities, despite a good oral hygiene routine, you may want to rethink the way you consume your favourite comfort fuel.

23-02-2015 9-32-48 AMLiquid Comfort

We’re Canadians and we love our Timmys or McDs or Starbucks. And for a new generation of consumers, it is the energy drinks that are providing the extra octane needed. While 2 or 3 cups of java a day, and a caramel latte here and there may not seem harmful enough to cause any great health concern it’s more a matter of HOW we drink our coffee.

When you sip, sip sip, every last drip, drip drip All…Day…Long, you set the perfect stage for cavities to occur. Constantly feeding the germs in your mouth sugar, milk and cream is like “Baby bottle decay“, but in adults.

We’ve blogged before about how the cavity process works. We cannot emphasize enough the importance of allowing time in between your meals/drinks to allow your saliva to heal the damage of an acid attack. This includes excessive coffee consumption. For an increasingly health-conscious population, that message is still not getting out.

The Natural Way…

Acid attacks and remineralization can live in harmony and dental disease prevented if the body’s natural defences are kept in balance. The old saying, “Everything in moderation” is true when it comes to our consumption of foods/drinking containing sugar.

ClockThe cycle of damage and repair that occurs with our teeth is a natural process that happens all throughout the day. The goal is to minimize the degree of destruction and keep this system in balance by allowing the salvia the necessary time to remineralize damaged enamel so that decay does not get the upper hand.

One of the most important ways to accomplish this is to keep your meals/drinks spaced out at regular 4-5 hour intervals. For some this may seem impossible and perhaps even an unhealthy manner of eating. We have to remember, however, that hunger is a natural process and is our internal clocks way of  telling us, “It’s time to eat.”

In fact, rarely do our children go more than 180 minutes without eating! Some parents tell us that their children literally never stop eating … it’s one snack after another from the time they open their eyes until the time they go to bed. It’s only when we explain that how often food is eaten is just as important as what is eaten that they begin to understand why their children are getting so many cavities despite diligent tooth brushing habits.

Here’s a typical child’s weekday:

Breakfast – Recess snack – Lunch – Recess snack – After school snack – Dinner – Bedtime snack

Day's Meal
That’s 7 meals and possibly 7 acid attacks/day! If there is the additional consumption of drinks other than water then there’s more damage being done than you realize – despite all your good efforts to help your children keep their teeth brushed and flossed.

Even if you are keeping your meals spaced out, but are sipping beverages throughout the day, you are interfering with your body’s ability to keep your teeth cavity-free.

Other Factors

“We are what we eat”

Making sure that you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need to create healthy, decay-fighting saliva is also an important component of this process. Your body’s ability to repair your teeth is dependent on your current health and nutrition status.

Your Smile - CopyAt Your Smile Dental Care, we know that you like your teeth and we presume that you probably want to keep them. We also understand the love affair with coffee and why it an important part of people’s lives. Our job is to help our patients understand the benefits and risks associated with their eating choices and help them make some adjustments in their consumption habits.

If your liquid therapy is an important part of surviving your day try…

1. Water. Keeping a glass of water with you and alternating between coffee and water throughout the day. This will help wash out your mouth and prevent your saliva from becoming too sugary and eating away at your teeth.

2. Using a straw. Consider sipping from a straw to help the liquid bypass your teeth. To keep the sugar out of your saliva you’ll still need to drink water in between sips.

3. Timing your drink. Consider having your beverages during meal times or at least consume your drink within 15 minutes.

4. Brushing. Introduce the idea of brushing your teeth at work or school. Wait 30 minutes after you eat to brush your teeth however, since your teeth may still be in a “softened” state of damage from the acid attack it just received.

5. Stop the Snack Attacks. Reconsider snacking in between meals to allow your body to recover from your last eating episode. Unless you’re diabetic or have another health condition that obliges you to eat more frequently, non-stop grazing should not go on throughout the entire day.

6. Gum. Chewing sugar-free gum after your drink will help stimulate your saliva flow which will in turn help rinse and neutralize the acids in your mouth.

7. Know your limits. The proper size and quality of your meals should keep you satisfied until your next meal. If your body have become accustomed to snacking, it may take a few weeks for your body to adjust, but it will and you may enjoy your meals more. Know your body needs and consume healthy calories according to your activity level and you keep your energy between meals. The athlete in training has a different set of nutritional requirements than the average person does.

Lastly,
2-23-2015 2-07-11 PMLike us, our children look forward to the little  “pick me up” they get at recess. We wonder sometimes if recess snacks aren’t what is “distracting” some kids. Your child will be more likely to eat their dinner if they are not offered too many options for eating too often. A healthy and nutritious breakfast will carry them through until lunch and still keep their brains capable of learning. If a recess snack is necessary consider a food item like cheese that will coat teeth or crisp fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots and celery that stimulate saliva flow and help clean plaque from teeth.

No one is saying that you have to give up your beloved coffee, but if you have been experiencing your fair share of cavities lately, it may be one area of your life that needs further investigation. We’re here to inform and help you in any way we can on your journey to better dental health. Like the rest of your body, your teeth depends on good food choices to stay healthy.

If you would like additional information on snacking, please visit the Ontario Dental Association for more Nutrition Sites.

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Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care Team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533

 

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You rinsed with WHAT?????

The Importance of Labelling Bottles

I got a strange emergency voice mail on St. Patrick’s Day. A long time patient of mine described a horrible mistake she had made and needed my immediate assistance. Of course, I was happy to help and returned her call immediately.

23-03-2015 2-32-59 PMApparently, she had accidently offered a bottle of mouthwash to her sister, which unfortunately, turned out to be nail polish remover! The solution only made contact with the inside of her lips before she spit it out, but not before she experienced a burning sensation that she described as the scalding one might experience with drinking a very hot cup of coffee.

She rinsed her mouth immediately, but when she ran her finger along the affected area some of the tissue lining this place began to slough (peel) off. After a few minutes, the burning sensation subsided and she was left with that burnt mouth feeling.

Since she was at a restaurant and wanted to stay to enjoy her family and the night’s festivities, there was plenty of ice cubes available and she placed some in her mouth to soothe the burn. I advised her to use some salt water rinses over the next few days, and that she could come in to see me to exam the area. We were all relieved to see that the area did not blister and was quickly on it’s way to healing the next morning. It could have been worse if she had gargled with it.

So how did something like this happen?
Well, apparently, the nail polish remover was the exact same colour as a common mouth rinse that the person always kept in her purse in a sample-sized container. She had went on a trip to Cuba just a few weeks prior and had put a number of personal hygiene products into some see-through plastic bottles as is often the case when following airline rules about liquids. When she had left her house earlier that evening she grabbed what she thought was mouth rinse that had been placed in one of these carry-on bottles. She offered it when her sister complained of bad breath.

This is an example of an accident that perhaps could have been avoided had the bottle been labelled properly.

30-03-2015 11-19-01 AMWe have had a number of patients see us over the years with burned mouths. Sometimes it’s a hot food item like pizza or soup while other times it’s hot chocolate or coffee. You can barely enjoy the rest of your meal/beverage when the burn is severe enough. The damage inside the mouth can range from blisters to red, puffy and raw to white patchy areas where burned. When the inside of the mouth, tongue or gums are scalded, the superficial layer of skin burns and, if severe enough will peel off immediately. Depending on the severity, usually these types of burns will heal in 3 to 7 days.

Relief

Fortunately, the mouth is one area of the body that heals very quickly. Here are some tips that you can use to help find relief and initiate the healing process:

Ice Cubes – Sucking on ice cubes for as long as possible will help soothe the area and reduce inflammation.

Milk – Placing milk in your mouth and letting it sit there a few minutes will help to coat the area and provide some cold relief. Milk also contains a protein that helps dissolve the bonds of the spicy substance in some foods.

Orabase – Colgate has a product called Orabase which you can purchase over the counter. It contains 20% Benzocaine that provides pain relief for mouth sores.

Anti-inflammatory – An ibuprofen like Advil or Motrin will help reduce the inflammation that is often associated with injured tissues.

Vitamin E – This vitamin comes in oil form in capsules that can be opened. Spread the oil over the affected area to help soothe the tissue and stimulate healing.

Coconut Oil – This is an oil that you can buy in paste form and has both anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. You can put a generous amount of the paste on a Q-tip and place it over the affected area. Reapply several times throughout the day.

Oral Hygiene – It is important to keep the area clean to avoid bacterial accumulation that can further interfere with the healing process. You may have to use a much more gentle action when you brush your teeth to avoid further irritating the area. If the toothpaste stings, then just stick to water until the area heals. Of course, avoid mouth rinses for the time being.

Warm Salt Water Rinses – Rinsing with warm water containing salt will hep soothe the area as well as reduce inflammation and help keep the area clean. Dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water and gently rinse for about a minutes 3-4 times/day.

Yogurt – Yogurt helps to balance out the bacteria in your mouth and is a healthy and effective way to help reduce bacterial plaque.

 


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Avoid:

– Spicy foods

– Citrus foods

– Crunchy foods

– Brushing your teeth too harshly

– Toothpastes with strong minty or menthol

– Mouth rinses

– Alcohol

– Touching the area with your fingers or tongue

Hurt So Good…

23-03-2015 2-38-55 PMThere are some people that can tolerate burning sensations in the mouth more than others. We have one patient that finds ketchup too hot and others who complain about the stinging feeling of most toothpastes and mouth rinses. Still, there is a select part of the population who live by the motto, “The hotter, the better.”  And who knows? Maybe they would probably love to show the skin peeling off of their mouth as a kind of “Badge of Honour.”

We’re probably not going to convince the die-hards, but would, nonetheless, like to remind everyone that the tissues that line the inside of the mouth and throat are delicate and easily burned. Microwaved foods are often more hotter on the inside than the outside so you have to be careful with that first bite.

Always know what you are putting in your mouth, and, if in doubt, leave it out!

Poison Control

We’ve checked with the Poison Control Centre who tell us that nail polish remover containing acetone is a product that some people who have substance abuse issues actually drink on purpose. In adults, accidentally swallowing small amounts of nail polish remover is unlikely to harm you.  It can cause stinging of the mouth/throat, nausea, stomach pains and vomiting. If enough is ingested, you could experience drowsiness, difficulty breathing and coma. With children you should seek medical assistance immediately. They also warn that you should never force a person to throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.

For expert poison advice 24 hours a day call:
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Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care Team,
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533

 

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The Uncooperative Child

It Happens…

05-08-2014 12-08-32 AMTo a child a dental office can be a pretty scary place. Sometimes a child’s fear is due to a previous dental experience, perhaps they overheard someone else recounting an unpleasant visit, or maybe they just have a fear of the unknown that intensifies when  they see any frontline healthcare worker.

With some children, no amount of persuasion can convince  them to cooperate during their dental care visits – not even a few sleepless nights of pain. Even a seasoned dentist, using all of their trusted strategies, may eventually meet their match. To protect their long-term mental health, the dentistry of today does not forcefully restrain a child in order to deliver care.

Usually the use of Nitrous Oxide “laughing gas” is all that is needed to provide safe and effective dental treatment to a child. In emergencies cases, however,  your dentist may recommend a specialist or prescribe a pre-treatment medicine to sedate your child. Some children need to be put under general anesthesia (G.A.) in order to accomplish treatment. There is always a risk when using G.A. so it is used with caution and as a last resort.

Establishing Trust

Sad 2Dealing with children effectively while creating a positive experience can be challenging. A skillful practitioner needs to be able to accurately evaluate a child’s developmental level, temperament and coping skills then use the appropriate balance of patience and firmness all within a child’s first visit. They must be careful not to trigger more fear since they know that most children will shut down further and become more unmanageable.

Forming a bond of trust with the child, no matter how little, is key to laying down the foundation for their future care and building self-confidence in a child. Sometimes it take many short, positive visits – each interaction an opportunity to tear down the walls of mistrust and fear – before a child becomes comfortable with a new dentist and their staff. Each step forward deserves recognition and should be rewarded with positive reinforcements.

United We Stand

Central to the process of cooperation is the dentist/parent alliance.  By showing a united front, the dentist and parents can stand together in the best interests to the child.

03-11-2014 2-40-24 PMWe always suggest to the parent that they defer their child’s questions about dental treatment to us. They may frame their responses like this: “I’m not sure. Let us ask the dentist when we visit next.” or “Perhaps we should ask the dentist that question.” Even the most well-intentioned parent can include too many details that may raise even more questions, give false hope or accidently mislead their child which may create more mistrust.

In return, you should expect that all members of a dental team be capable of proving a positive experience for your child in a pleasant and caring environment. If you feel that your child would benefit from a pre-visit to the dental office or their website, it may be an great opportunity for your child to become familiar with the office which may, in turn, help reduce some of their anxiety.

Parental Presence VS Absence

Some children do not need to have their parent accompany them into the dental operatory, while others cooperate better when they have a parent along for support. It is important, however, to let the dental staff perform their exam and speak to the child without interference. It is difficult for a child to listen AND follow instructions if there is distraction or more than one person is speaking to them. Most dentists who are experienced with children will speak clearly and choose their words carefully in an effort to make a positive first impression and establish trust.

Here are some simple tips to help your child establish a healthy attitude towards dental visits:

1. Start dental visits before a child’s first birthday to help establish trust and routine early in life. The goal is to hep your child establish a healthy relationship with their family dentist before any dental problems arise.
2. Conversations about dental visits should be simple, positive and age-appropriate.
3. Never pass on your own fears to your child.
4. Teach your child that regular dental visits are an essential part of a healthy lifestyle.
5. Choose your child’s dentist carefully and know ahead of time what your dental office’s expectations are for your child and how they handle fearful or uncooperative children.
6. Reconsider taking your child to your own dental appointment. What the hear and see as a spectator to your treatment may be a very different experience than the “kid-friendly and fun” visit the dentist intends for them.
7. Help your child become familiar with what goes on in a dental office by reading positive and informative children’s dental storybooks with them. Stay away from books that have storylines about more complicated treatments such a tooth extractions or pain.
8. We believe that children should have positive reinforcement available to them after well-behaved dental visits. A simple, single toy from our “treasure chest” and a new toothbrush is all that is necessary. Leave the money to the tooth fairy.
9. Establish good oral care routines at home and allow dental visits to be an extension of this home care in order to help strengthen the bonds of trust and form a lifelong partnership between your child and their dental team.

Healthy Teeth for Life

my-boy-732736-mLearning to take responsibility for their health and well-being is a part of every child’s growth and development and it takes more time for some children than others. How you and your dental team approach this milestone will help your child make a successful transition from fear and immaturity to trust and responsibility. Each visit forward is another opportunity to prepare your child for the day that they will eventually manage their own health care as adults.

Together we’re Better,
The Your Smile Dental Care Team
(905) 5SMILES

 

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