Your Smile Dental Care blog


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Genetics and Soft Teeth

 

01-06-2015 10-53-45 AMIt happens all the time! The one child in a family who is dental, health and food conscious is the one who gets all the cavities whereas the sibling who never brushes their teeth and snacks all the time is the child who gets to enter their name into the “Cavity Free” Club.

Even people with similar oral hygiene behaviours may have completely different rates of developing tooth decay.

So, is there really such a thing as soft teeth? Can being cavity-prone be inherited or are you just unlucky?

While it is true that your dental health depends on a combination of good oral hygiene and genetics, how much of a role does heredity and luck really play?

When a patient comes to see us with a history of tooth decay and missing teeth we begin by collecting some family history to determine if there are any possible contributors to their poor dental health. There are quite a few dental abnormalities that can be caused by defective genes, but these conditions are rare. And while genes do play a role in food preferences, type of saliva, ph-level of the mouth and how susceptible a person may be to tooth decay, true genetic abnormalities that affect teeth are rare and seldom seen.

Is there really a genetic disorder that causes soft teeth?
Can soft teeth be inherited?

Over the years, we have had many patients claim that the poor condition of their teeth was caused by the soft teeth they inherited from a parent or grandparent. While there truly is a genetic condition that can result in imperfectly formed teeth, it is a rare condition and is seldom seen. It’s characteristics are easily distinguishable from the type of soft teeth that are caused from our choices.

01-06-2015 11-24-23 AMThe truth is, sometimes it’s easier to blame genetics either because it saves us from the shame we feel or it saves us from being held accountable for our health conditions. But, we know that when patients tell us that they have soft teeth, they truly believe it.

While we never rule out the possibility of soft teeth, if, after examination, we find that their teeth are perfectly normal, we then have to find what is causing their poor teeth.

If not inherited, then what can cause teeth to soften?

Enamel is the hardest substance in the body – twice the hardness of bone, however, there are all kinds of damaging substances and actions that are capable of weakening it over time. It’s easy to understand this process if you think of how running water is capable of smoothing rough rock over time.

Things like….

Acid Reflux/Bulimia – The acids in our stomach are very strong and corrosive making them capable of softening enamel. Frequent exposure to these acids can and will cause the enamel to breakdown. Over time, the weakened areas will start to take on a whitish, chalky look and eventually get larger and darken over time as they progress into cavities.

Enamel Fluorosis – Teeth can erupt with weakened, less mineralized areas as a result of ingesting excess fluoride during development. This can happen from swallowing too much fluoridated toothpaste, eating foods with high fluoride content, taking fluoride supplements or drinking well water that has a high fluoride level (greater than 1 part per million). This  example of soft teeth will quickly be identified by the dentist when the teeth first erupt because of it’s distinctive colouration. If severe enough, fillings can replace these weakened areas on the tooth, otherwise home care instructions are given and the tooth is monitored over it’s lifetime. Ironically, once the tooth is fully developed it is no longer susceptible to fluorosis and future fluoride treatment will actually help to harden these areas.

Bacteria – There are certain germs in the human mouth that produce an acid that has a corrosive affect on teeth. The goal is to reduce the amount of sugar these bacteria can consume through your sugary diet and by exercising good oral hygiene through brushing, flossing and using anti-bacterial mouth rinse.

Childhood Fever – A child’s fever can reach such a degree that it can interfere with the cells that mineralize the enamel causing hypomineralization (areas where less minerals were deposited into the enamel). This occurs, most commonly, with the first adult molars and front teeth. This can occur in vitro during the last trimester of pregnancy and the first four years of life and it is likely that other factors such as oxygen starvation combined with a low birth weight, respiratory problems, calcium and phosphate metabolic disorders may also be involved.

Food/Drink Acids – The frequent consumption of highly acidic foods and drinks can have an eroding affect on your teeth and weaken them over time. Be especially aware of the damage that highly acidic sport drinks, sodas and juices can do to your teeth. Your child’s teeth can be at risk for softening if they make frequent use of a bottle or sippy cup containing anything other than water.

08-06-2015 9-08-53 AMNutrition – With nutrition it’s all about moderation. If you are constantly eating foods that are high in sugar and/or acids then your teeth are frequently exposed to the damaging effects. Eating three, well-balanced meals is a start. Switching to a diet that includes more fruits and vegetables, water as your choice of beverage, limiting your sugar intake and eliminating snacking between meals will benefit you both your teeth and body. Recent studies have shown that eating cheese after your meal has an anti-cavity affect by increasing saliva production and lowering the mouth’s ph to a level that bacteria are less active in. Eating the cheese before a meal may help by coating the teeth making bacterial penetration and adhesion more difficult.

Oral Hygiene – Not brushing and flossing your teeth allow bacterial plaque to accumulate and deposit acid onto the teeth enamel. Because your saliva production decreases during sleep, it is very important that you brush and floss your teeth before bedtime so that your bacteria will have nothing to snack on while you sleep.

Brushing Habits – Brushing your teeth with too much force or using a hard-bristled toothbrush can wear down enamel and the other tissues of the teeth over time. Small crevices will start to form in the surface of teeth into which food and bacterial plaque can accumulate. Just be careful on how hard you are scrubbing while you are brushing and be sure to always use a soft or super soft toothbrush only. If you use an electric toothbrush you only need to guide the brush while it preforms it’s own cleansing actions. In fact, some of the newer types of electric toothbrushes are designed to stop if you apply too much pressure. Your dental hygienist is trained to check for any signs of toothbrush abrasion, but you can ask them to check just to be sure at your next dental check-up appointment. See our Your Smile Dental Care Instructions

08-06-2015 9-24-20 AMMedications – Not only can our mouth become drier as we age, but there are also many types of medications that can cause your mouth to become drier than normal. Without salvia to naturally clean bacteria and food debris away from your tooth surface, the enamel will be susceptible to the cavity process and begin to weaken. Also, because your mouth becomes acidic when eating, try to avoid food at least one hour before bed to give your saliva time to neutralize these acids.

Radiation/Chemotherapy  – The salivary glands can become damaged during radiation and chemotherapy treatment. As a result, your saliva flow can decrease and become thicker making it’s cleaning action less effective. Improvement in the quality of saliva may return within a few months or may there may be long-term impairment.

Immune Diseases – Your salivary glands can be attacked by some auto-immune diseases causing the quality and quantity of saliva to be compromised.

Cross contamination – Believe it or not, cavity-causing bacteria can be passed from person to person by way of saliva exchange. This can happen through kissing, sharing food utensils/cups/food, sneezing and sharing toothbrushes. Mother’s must be especially careful not to pass these germs on to their children.

Just because your parents and grandparents had “bad teeth”
doesn’t mean that you have to.

01-06-2015 11-12-48 AMTooth decay is the most common chronic disease in the world, but is also one of the most preventable. Do “soft teeth” run in your family? Not likely, unless there is a true genetic disorder present. The number of people with true “soft teeth” is very low. It’s easy to blame genes for poor dental health, but we encourage our patients to take an honest look at their diet and oral care. If there is room for improvement then together we can find the solutions you need to move forward to help you keep your teeth for a lifetime.

Do you get a lot of cavities? Do you suspect that maybe your teeth have become weak over the years?

If you feel that you are getting your fair share of cavities speak to your dentist or hygienist about your concerns.  At Your Smile Dental Care, we believe that healthcare should be a partnership between patient and doctors – a trusting relationship where we work together to find solutions. Having a better understanding of your dental health will help you stay informed so you can make healthy choices and better decisions regarding your dental treatment.

Your Smile is our top priority!
Dr. Sam Axelrod & Associates

23-03-2014 10-21-20 11AM


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Improving Your Overall Health

It seems these days that more people than ever are trying their best to make wiser choices when it comes to a more healthy lifestyle.

30-03-2015 1-45-49 PMPersonal social media sites are full of friends sharing healthy ideas concerning our food, exercise, grocery shopping, food labelling, relationships, minds, etc…

We know that happiness and healthiness is important to our over wellbeing and many of the motivational quotes we see posted are both inspirational and timeless.

Dental Health is also an essential part of body fitness. It’s not just about having a great looking smile for appearance sake. Having an understanding of the intimate connection between your oral health and your overall health will help you appreciate why obtaining and maintaining good oral hygiene habits is so essential.

The Body/Mouth Connection

10-03-2014 2-45-27 PM - CopyOur mouths are teeming with all kinds of germs. Our job is to keep these bacterial levels under control so that we can avoid conditions like tooth decay and gum disease. Problems with your mouth can contributes to and complicates other serious conditions of the body like heart disease and diabetes. If dental disease is left untreated, it can progress into infections that can spread into our bodies and cause serious life threatening situations.

We are living longer and keeping our teeth longer. Gone are the days when people reached an age where they had their diseased teeth replaced with full dentures. We have to include the health of our teeth and gums when we are thinking about implementing healthy lifestyles for long term living.

Your Mouth – The Window to your Body!

A visit to your dentist for a complete physical exam of your mouth is just as important as the annual physical exam you schedule with your physician for your body. Perhaps, you have never realized that when we exam your teeth and gums, we also inspect the health of your mouth. Our exam is much more than a simple, “Say ah” with a tongue depressor. Using our small dental mirror, we explore everywhere in the mouth looking for suspicious or abnormal areas that can be indicators of more serious health conditions that such as cancer, HIV, Crohn’s disease, and osteoporosis.

DO SOMETHING

Help Us Help You…

This is also why we have you update your medical history forms often and make enquires about your medications. The more we know about your overall health, the more effective we can be in understanding and addressing what we see in your mouth.

What conditions may be linked to oral health?

  • Endocarditis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Premature birth and low birth weight.
  • Diabetes
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Immune system disorders

Get the facts!

One of our goals at Your Smile Dental Care is to increase awareness of how your mouth, teeth and gums can  help improve and affect the your overall health. We believe that taking care of your oral health is an investment in your overall health.

If you think it’s time for a complete assessment of your Oral Health, give us a call today…you’ll be glad you did!

30-03-2015 1-04-02 PM

 

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

 

 

 


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First Aid for Children’s Teeth and Mouth Injuries

We’d like to share this important Fact Sheet From Alberta Health Services which outlines how to handle teeth and mouth injuries in children.


 

22-12-2014 12-03-57 PMCheck your child for all signs of injury and treat the worst injury first. Forces that knock out teeth or injure the mouth may also cause a head injury and other trauma.

See a dentist right away to help manage pain, look for signs of infection, and talk about any treatment your child might need.

Injuries to teeth can include a broken tooth, a cracked tooth, a tooth pushed up into the gums, a tooth knocked out of position, or a tooth knocked out of the mouth.

Injuries to the inside of the mouth, such as cuts, punctures and bites can look like they are bleeding heavily, usually because the blood mixes with saliva. Gently clear away blood so you can see how bad the injury really is. The face may also swell and bruise.

Dental injuries are always unexpected. You can lessen a child’s fear and pain with calm and quick action. Wash your hands before and after giving first aid for teeth and mouth injuries.

Broken Tooth

Find the pieces of the tooth and bring them with you to the dentist. It will help your dentist check for pieces that may be left in a wound, swallowed, or inhaled.

Knocked Out Tooth

Avulsed tooth non graphicUse light pressure with clean gauze to control bleeding. Have your child bite down on the gauze to hold in place.

Take your child and the tooth to the dentist as soon as possible. The dentist will check to see if the whole tooth came out and if there are any other injuries.

Don’t try to re-plant a baby tooth because it may damage the developing tooth.

Your dentist may be able to replant an adult tooth. For best results the tooth should be replanted within 30 minutes. Success is limited after 2 hours.

Hold the knocked-out tooth by the enamel only, not the root.

Rinse the root in clean water without touching it.

If you can, try (gently) to put the tooth back in the socket. Have your child close gently on a piece of gauze to hold the tooth in place. Only put the permanent tooth back in the socket after you have rinsed it and if there is no risk of the child swallowing or choking on it. Otherwise, put the permanent tooth in milk or water when you take it to the dentist.

Cuts or Other Injuries to the Mouth

Put pressure on cuts using a clean cloth or gauze moistened with cold water for up to 15 minutes if you can or have your child suck on ice or a popsicle. Don’t give objects to suck on if there is a chance your child could choke.

Choose bland foods while the cut is healing (spicy, salty, or citrus foods might sting).

If your child can, have him or her rinse with warm water after meals to wash away foods that might stick in the healing cut. Most healing takes about 3 to 4 days.

Toothache

Take your child to the dentist as soon as possible. In the meantime, try to have your child rinse out his or her mouth with warm salt water for about 30 seconds then spit. Your child can do this several times.

Treat a swollen cheek with a cold compress. Don’t put heat right on the gum or an aching tooth.

Object Stuck Between Teeth

Gently slide floss between the teeth.

Try to remove the object as you remove the floss. Sometimes it is easier to pull the floss through the teeth, rather than back out from between the teeth. Pull the floss slowly and gently so it doesn’t cut the gums.

Use waxed dental floss as it is less likely to fray.

Reduce Pain and Speed Healing

Use a cold compress or bag of frozen vegetables on the area to control pain and swelling.

Always use a cloth between the ice and the skin.

Apply for up to 15 minutes at a time but no longer.

Ice three times a day for the first day or two.

Your child may take acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol®) for pain as long as he or she isn’t allergic to it and doesn’t have liver disease. Follow the instructions on the package for the correct dose.

Because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome, don’t give children under 18 years aspirin or products that have aspirin in them. Don’t put an aspirin on the injury as it can make the injury worse.

Preventing Dental Injuries

kids playgroundMouth and teeth injuries are common in children. Most injuries to baby teeth happen between 2 and 3 years because children begin to move more and are developing co-ordination. Falls cause the most injuries to children’s permanent teeth, followed by traffic accidents, violence, and sports.

To avoid dental injuries:

  • be aware of where furniture is placed when children are learning to walk
  • don’t let children run with objects in their mouth
  • use safety restraints to prevent collisions and falls
  • use toys and activities that are appropriate for your child’s level of co-ordination and movement
  • use the right gear for sports: helmets, face protection, and mouth guards

Author: Oral Health, Alberta Health Services
January 8, 2013