Your Smile Dental Care

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Losing your Health Care Benefits

Where did the years go?

The first time we saw Maria (not real name)  was 25 years ago, when we first opened our Oshawa practice. She was fortunate enough to have a job that had a great health care insurance program and she made sure that she took advantage of those benefits, faithfully attending to her oral health care needs at home and at our office over the years.

06-04-2015 3-50-50 PMWith her retirement quickly approaching and no healthcare package being offered after retirement, she told us of her concern over losing her dental benefits. We were happy to tell her that, at 60 years of age, she had what we would call an above-average state of oral health. Aside from a small amount of age-related bone loss and wearing down of biting surfaces, she has preserved her teeth remarkably well over the years.

No one has a crystal ball and we cannot not anticipate all future problems that our patients will have, but we know that a lifetime of good oral health will keep future dental care to a minimum. We had the opportunity to discuss common, age-related dental issues  and encouraged her to maintain her 4 month cleaning schedule to help keep her future dental costs to a minimum.

She is more happy than ever that she took care of her teeth and gums over the years.

Preparing for tomorrow TODAY!

06-04-2015 3-37-37 PMMany Canadian employers do not offer retiree benefits. In fact, over the years we have noticed an increasing trend of employers not offering any benefits to their employees. Another issue to consider is that, inevitably, your aging children will one day no longer be insured under your dental plan. And with the economy still trying to recover, many families are still in a situation where they must use what little disposable income they have judiciously.

How can people keep the dental portion of their health care costs down? What is the best advice we can give to our patients?

Take care of your teeth!!!!!

An ounce of Prevention … it’s a tale as old as time, but it will pay off!

We have seen first hand that there tends to be less stress related to the loss of the dental benefits by those patients who have faithfully cared for their oral health over the years. For those who opt to  purchase a private dental plan after retirement and ask our advice about which level of coverage to choose, we can’t always tell them with certainty what their future will hold. We find, however, that those people who have cared for their teeth meticulously over the years will likely experience less of the “unexpected” that some aging mouths have to deal with.

If you were to implement the tips below, your future self will thank you. It’s as easy as remembering your…

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Adopt of new way of thinking. Dental care is not expensive – dental neglect is! Although your years may pass quickly, the road of health can be a rocky one if you do not live well. Among the things that we have control over in our lives, dental care is one of them. It takes so little of your time, but has one of the biggest impacts down the road.

Willie Nelson once said, “If I had known I’d live this long, I would’ve taken better care myself.” We’ve heard this same pain of regret from patients over the years concerning their teeth, and if they had the chance, they would give their left eye tooth, er … anything to do life all over again knowing what they know now.


The best bang for your buck! There is very little cost associated with buying a new toothbrush every 3 months and using it 3 times a day. Floss and toothpaste should last a month, if you are maximizing the time you use them. Remind your children often how important home care is.

We had one patient who told us that their 35 year old son never appreciated her tooth brushing reminders until he had a family of his own and no dental insurance. His wife required extensive restoring of her decaying teeth and it was an ongoing source of stress on their household expenses. In parenting his own children, he hears the echo of his own mother’s words coming out of his own mouth with a renewed appreciation.


See your dentist at least twice a year for an examination and cleaning. It may sound counter-productive to your dentist’s income, but they really do want their patients to have healthy mouths. The frequency of re-evaluation examinations and cleanings depend largely on your level of tartar build up and your risk for dental disease.

On average, our adult patients who come in for regular 4 month cleanings, have very little, if any, dental problems. We think this is because they tend to be the kind of people who are already committed to a healthy lifestyle for their overall well being and approach their dental home habits and diet with the same level of commitment and care.


Today there is sugar in almost everything we eat because manufacturer’s use it as an inexpensive filler. It is almost impossible to avoid sugar. So how do you get around it? Meal frequency. No more snacking all day long! No more grazing. No more little meals all throughout the day. Eat 3 meals a day leaving 4 to 5 hours in between each. This will allow your saliva to repair your teeth from the sugar attacks they received at each meal. Cut down on processed foods and educate yourself on foods that are more kind to teeth than others.

School snacks at recess time were never the norm years ago. How did it make it’s way into our daily school routine? Childhood cavities are on the rise! Make sure your child has a nourishing breakfast that will stay with them until they begin to feel hungry again just before lunchtime. Hunger is the body’s way of telling you that it is time to eat. Hunger is normal! Learn how to pack a nourishing lunch for your child and collaborate with your child’s physician and dentist if they have a health condition that necessitates more than 3 meals a day.


…is for Smoking. Smoking does so much damage to your teeth and gums. It is one of the worst things you can do to your body and one of the best things you can do for health is to stop using tobacco products. If you have thought about quitting, you’re one step closer to being smoke-free!

The sooner you become smoke-free, the sooner your body can start to recover and it doesn’t take long to see the effects.

Within one year of quitting, your added risk of coronary heart disease is cut in half than that of a smoker.
– Within 5 years, your risk of having a stroke will be nearly that of a non-smoker.
– Within 10 years, the risk of dying from lung cancer is cut in half.
– Within 15 years, your risk of coronary heart disease will be similar to that of a non-smoker. courtesy of


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


Signs that you may need Root Canal Treatment

Problems like disease, decay and injury can threatened the health of your teeth and ruin your smile. But thanks to advances in treatment and technologies, many teeth can be saved before they reach the point of disrepair. One way which a tooth can be saved is with a procedure called “Root Canal Therapy.”

When Teeth Need Root Canal Treatment

Your tooth is a very solid structure that is made up of different hard tissue layers that differ in amount of hardness (calcification) and one soft, pulpal layer that is composed of a blood, lymphatic and nerve supply. This soft layer in located within a canal inside the tooth that runs from the crown to the tips of the roots with a hole at the end of each tooth root that allows these tissue to enter and exit. We called this area of the tooth the pulpal tissue and it plays a nutritive, protective, sensory and cell formation role for the tooth.

This pulp can become damaged if has sustained injury or becomes inflamed due to dental decay and large fillings. You can appreciate that there is no room for inflammation within the confines of a hard, calcified structure and as pressure builds up the nerve portion of the pulpal tissue reacts and sends pain sensations. If enough damaged has been sustained the pulpal will continue to breakdown and becomes necrotic. Infection will form which can extend out of the tooth root and form a pool of infection at the root tips. If left untreated, the infection will continue to spread and destroy surrounding bone,

With the infection at the end of tooth root, chewing can become painful as you push the tooth down into this area with each bite. The goal of a dentist would be to remove the tissue that is essentially rotting inside the tooth and seal off these canals by plugging the holes at the end of each tooth root with a dental material called gutta percha to protect the tooth from future bacterial contamination.

What can cause damage to the pulpal tissue?

  • Cavities that have grown and reached this pulpal area.
  • Teeth that have chipped or broken into this area
  • Injury or hard “hit” to the tooth cause the pulpal tissue to become inflamed and bleed
  • Bacteria associated with gum disease can enter into the pulpal area by way of the main holes at the end of the root tips or through tiny “extra” canal openings that sometimes exists along the root surface.

The Signs You Need a Root Canal

While there are some distinct signs and symptoms that most people are familiar with, there are also other less obvious ones that only your dentist can detect. Pain can vary from person to person and can range from slight discomfort to extreme, throbbing pain.

Signs you will notice


  • can range from a slight discomfort that may come and go or an extreme pain that can continue for prolonged periods of time.
  • can be a throbbing ache that makes sleeping and difficult.
  • may or may not be relieved by medications depending on the severity of the damaged nerve
  • can occur when eating hot or cold foods/drinks and will often linger on afterwards. 
  • can radiate into your jaws, ears or temple areas.
  • can lessen or intensify as you change your position.
  • can happen when you bite down or press on the tooth due to inflammation at the root tip. (like when you press down on an inflamed pimple)

Darkening of the tooth caused by the dying nerve

Swelling of the cheek, lips or face.

Pimple (fistula) or sore on the gum above the tooth in question. Pus may drain from the pimple and have a foul smell or unpleasant taste.

Swollen/red gums


Foul taste in mouth

Bad Breath

Swollen neck glands

Sinus pressure/pain

Difficulty opening mouth

A general feeling of unwellness

Signs your dentist will notice:

  • No Signs: Many times, a patient may come in for a routine visit with no signs or symptoms of a dying tooth. The dentist may notice some redness and swelling along the gum or the problem is picked up on a check-up x-ray.
  • Vague Signs: There are patients who come in with discomfort in an area and the dentist must conduct a series of tests to determine the source and nature of the pain and the health of the pulp. An x-ray may help identify the tooth in question, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, even after the tests, a dentist may still have difficulty locating the source of the discomfort and recommend that the patient see a specialist for further testing
  • Acute Signs: Other times a patient will come in with obvious signs of an abscessed tooth, in which case an x-ray will help determine the extent of damage.

Curious about what goes into a root canal procedure?

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As is often the case for ailments of the body, the signs that you may need a trip to the doctor/ dentist is not always obvious. Damage to the root canal portion of your tooth can be one of those “silent” diseases that you are not even aware exists. This is why we always recommend that our patients keep up with their regular check-up visits. In doing so, we can detect problems early to minimize the amount of damage a tooth will suffer.

Root canal treatment is one way in which Dr. Sam Axelrod & Associates can prolong and preserve the life of a tooth and the sooner treatment is begun the greater the chances of saving the tooth!

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


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Your Smile Before You Retire

20-07-2015 2-51-10 PMRecently, one of our staff member’s spouses retired from General Motors. In fact, earlier this year GMC offered retirement incentives to eligible employees at it’s Oshawa Plant, so we will see hundreds of General Motor employees retire soon.

While financial advisors suggest that we “practice retirement” for at least a year before our actual retirement date, many GM employees, who were not thinking about retiring for another few years, had only a month to reconsider and decide on a retirement package.

We had a front row seat to the great deal of preparation that goes into an unexpected retirement as many of our own patients were among those that chose early retirement. When there is suddenly a significant reduction in health and dental benefits, or worse, a loss of benefits, your present and future dental health becomes an essential consideration as you transition into retirement.

Our Oshawa patients are fortunate to retire with benefits, but they are significantly reduced and must be used with discretion. So, if you have the luxury of time before you retire, updating your vision ware, hearing aids, orthotics etc is a great idea while you still have the level of benefits that you are accustomed to.

Having a thorough dental check-up and cleaning then attending to any treatment recommendations will allow you to get your dental health in order before your level of benefits change. This is especially important for more complex, time-consuming treatments that may need to be scheduled in such a manner that allows you to maximize your full benefits now.

Some retirees transitioning to retirement benefits are often surprised to learn that their new level of coverage does not cover routine dental care or more complex procedures. And for patients hoping to purchase an individual commercial plan, they soon realize that it can be very expensive to buy a plan with the same level of coverage that they once had or that many procedures are not covered.

The lack of suitable dental benefits and a lower, limited income are the primary reasons why seniors do not maintain regular dental visits or neglect dental problems until they can no longer manage the discomfort. This is unfortunate since it is at a time in their lives when they may see their oral and overall health beginning to deteriorate.

Many of our patients are also entering their retirement years with all, if not most, of their own natural teeth. And, although how your teeth age depends largely on how well you have cared for them over the years, advancing age and associated health issues does put many retirees at risk for a number of oral health problems.

Ideally, we’d like to see you begin your retirement with a clean bill of oral health and help you avoid future complications and unnecessary costs. Unfortunately, we see our share of patients with issues that should have been dealt with years ago, let alone weeks before they retire.

Here’s to the best job you’ll ever have!

20-07-2015 2-46-08 PMOur recommendation is that you care for your teeth meticulously throughout your life. Your future self will thank you for brushing three times a day, flossing before bedtime, and reducing your meal frequencies and sugar/acid laden beverages. This requires virtually no cost at all and takes little effort. Visiting your dentist at least once per year as you do your vision, hearing and primary physician will allow you to get your teeth scaled and stay on top of problems before they grow into bigger, more complicated issues.

Consider including your dental health in your retirement arrangements and schedule a full dental examination well before beginning your new life. With careful planning, your teeth can stay healthy for the rest of your life.

We’ll give you an honest assessment of the present condition of your teeth so that you can make an informed decision moving forward. And here’s to a happy, well-deserved retirement. We hope it will be the best job you’ve ever had!

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Happy Retirement,
The Your Smile Dental Care Team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533