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What is a Periodontal Screening?

Does your smile pass the Test?

No doubt, you have heard how important it is to take care of your gums for the health of your teeth, but it can also affect your overall health. Gums, also known as gingiva, is a barrier tissue that covers and protects your teeth and the bone that surround and support your teeth.

When gums become tender, swollen and begin to bleed, it is usually a sign that the body’s immune system has been triggered.

Our mouth is home to a complex ecosystem of microorganisms. While much of the bacteria is our mouth are beneficial in preventing disease, there are some that are harmful if allowed to take over. The proper balance of these germs is critical for a healthy mouth. Certain processes take place everyday to keep this balance from being disrupted so that a response from our immune system is not triggered.

Some patients become aware that something is going on when they begin to notice bleeding when they brush their teeth. Others have had progressive gum disease for a long time and are surprised to learn of it.

Periodontal Screening

Watchful Eyes

Your dentist and dental hygienist are trained to not only help you maintain healthy mouth and teeth, but they are always monitoring your mouth for signs of the onset of gum disease. By routine – usually once a year – they will perform a gum evaluation called a periodontal screening.

During this screening, they are assessing the health of your supporting gum and bone structures and evaluating the look of your gums.

Healthy gums are pink and firm. Unhealthy gums are red, swollen, spongy-looking and may bleed. They also look for signs of gum loss (recession) and use a tiny instrument called a probe to measure the depths of the pockets between the teeth and gums. The pocket is a free space located around each tooth. In between each tooth it is where your floss enters for cleaning.

In a healthy mouth, this free space becomes attached gum about 2-3 mm of the way down. When bacteria is allowed to accumulate in this space inflammation occurs that triggers the immune system to send white blood cells. Unfortunately, the WBC not only destroys bacteria but gum tissue also. When the attachment portion of the gum tissue gets destroyed, the pocket become deeper and more bacteria, dental plaque and food can accumulate.

If left untreated or unnoticed, this pocketing will lead to bone loss. Eventually, enough bone is lost that the tooth becomes loose and cannot be saved.

Early detection is key

This is why it is important to identify this pocketing early in order to prevent further gum and bone loss. There are various treatment options available for gum disease and your dentist may refer you to see a gum specialist (Periodontist) for ongoing care.

Unfortunately, gum disease is called a “silent disease” that often goes unnoticed until a significant amount of damage occurs. This is usually the case for people who do not see a dentist routinely where the health of their teeth and gums can be monitored on a regular basis.

Periodontal disease has long been the leading cause of tooth loss in adults which is why every patient should have a periodontal screening performed annually. Early detection is key and can make all the difference.

The good news is that gum disease is an easily preventable disease. By simply brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and attending to regular dental check-ups and cleanings you are already helping your mouth and teeth.

To keep them in tip-top shape you need to start looking at your other habits:

  1. Meal frequency – Reduce snacking in between meals to allow your saliva to repair damage done by acid attacks. Read here
  1. Do not sip on sugary drinks or coffee/tea with milk, cream and/or sugar frequently or all day long.
  1. Use an antiseptic mouth rinse once a day
  1. Ensure that other medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease is monitored by your physician regularly and is under control.
  1. Consider a smoking cessation program as smokers are almost three times as likely as nonsmokers to have periodontitis
  1. Eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet that  helps to control inflammation.

Suggestions:

  • green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collards
  • fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges
  • fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines
  • nuts and legumes
  • olive oil
  1. If you suspect gum disease, never ignore the signs and see a dentist.

Signs:

  • red, swollen gums
  • tender and/or bleeding gums
  • loose gums that have pulled away from your tooth
  • sensitive teeth
  • pain when eating
  • receding gums; tooth appears longer
  • spaces between tooth and increased food impaction
  • loose fitting partial dentures
  • persistent bad breath

 

Keeping your gums healthy and strong is the simplest way to maintain your overall health and help to ensure you keep your teeth for life. If it has been a while since you have been to the dentist for a check-up or suspect you may be having problems with your gums please contact our office today at 905 – 5SMILES (905.576.4537). You’ll be glad you did!

Your in better dental health,
The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
www.yoursmiledentalcare.com


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The Sudden Appearance of Cavities

The Tooth Sleuth…

 

20170123_122329Why does tooth decay suddenly begin in patients who have had no history of multiple cavities?

This is actually a common question that is not generally an age-specific misfortune as much as it tends to be a lifestyle occurrence. It is understandable why someone becomes frustrated and very concerned about the sudden appearance of tooth decay when they have had great teeth their whole lives with little or no decay.

Cavities can occur at any age and without warning. Some factors we can control, while others are a more complicated set of circumstances. The sudden appearance of cavities depends on someone’s individual situation, so it often becomes a fact-finding mission for both the dentist and the patient.

 

You may not think of dentists as detectives, but it is one of the many roles we assume as healthcare practitioners

 

Narrowing down the cause can be tricky, but here are a few of the most common culprits:

 

Cavities under fillings – Like anything that is man-made and designed to replace something that is natural, there are limitations. Fillings can wear down, chip or lose their marginal seal with the tooth allowing bacterial acids to seep in and cause cavities under fillings. Maintaining regular dental check-ups allow us to monitor the integrity and health of teeth and their existing restorations.

Orthodontic treatment – Wearing braces, especially the new Invisalign type of braces, give food and plaque more places to hide making it more difficult to see and remove them. Your food choices and attention to the detail when tooth brushing becomes very important to reduce your likelihood for tooth decay. Your orthodontist will warn you of the higher susceptibility for cavities when wearing braces and make recommendation that should be followed diligently.

Dietary change – A sudden change in what and how often you eat and drink can have a huge impact on the health of your teeth, Ideally, you should allow 4-5 hours in between food intake so that your saliva can repair (remineralize) the damage from the acid attacks that occur during meals. If you have acquired a new habit such as frequent snacking, sipping coffee all day, chewing sugar gums/candies, drinking more pop/juices/alcohol, or using throat lozenges you may be putting your teeth at risk for more tooth decay.

Nutritional Deficiencies – The quantity and quality of our saliva is impacted greatly by nutrition. The immunoglobulin, proteins and minerals in saliva help to protect and repair our teeth, so any deficiencies in our food intake or health can and will affect the efficiency of saliva.

Dry Mouth – Saliva plays an important reparative, cleansing, buffering and digestive role in our mouth. A disruption in the quantity and quality of saliva  can put you at risk for more cavities. Illness, medications, medical treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, stress, weather, alcohol-based mouth rinses, and even the addition of exercise can affect the character of your saliva and it’s ability to do it’s job efficiently. Never ignore dry mouth. Read all about dry mouth here.

Medication – Did you know that there are hundreds of medications that can affect the quality and quantity of your saliva and impact the health of your teeth? Even over-the-counter products such as anti acids, antihistamines, and cough syrups can be harmful to your teeth with prolonged use. Check with your pharmacist about your medications to help narrow down the ones that can cause dry mouth. Perhaps, they can then suggest an alternative and check with your physician about a change in prescription.

Vomiting – When stomach acids make frequent contact with your teeth it can lead to the eroding away of the enamel eventually resulting in a mouth full of cavities. Frequent acid refluxing, prolonged illnesses and eating disorders that use the elimination of meals just eaten, are serious matters that cause nutritional deficiencies and cause an increase in cavities.

Teeth Whitening – We believe that the frequent use of teeth whitening products can eventually cause the wearing away of protective enamel. Moderation is key here and your dentist will advise you as to what is considered a safe, but effective whitening regime for your specific-to-you situation.

Oral Hygiene – Have you changed your oral care routine? Changing toothbrushes, eliminating fluoride, slacking off with brushing and flossing, brushing too hard or excessively and even choosing a natural oral care product can all lead to more cavities. We had one patient who switched to an electric toothbrush but did not know that they were missing the entire gum line area resulting in cavities all along this area. And, as popular as some homemade and natural remedies are, care must be taken to choose a product that is both effective and gentle on teeth and gums.

Fluoride Intake – Fluoride is actually an element that is found in rocks, soil, fresh water and ocean water. Over 70 years ago, it was discovered that populations living and ingesting naturally occurring fluoride had significantly better teeth – in both health and appearance – than those who did not. Many municipalities decided to add 1 part/million fluoride to community drinking water. Today, we still see the evidence of better oral health in fluoridated areas.

Relocation – Sometimes, just moving from one geographical location to another can lead to significant lifestyle changes in terms of habits and access to health and healthy choices. Students who move away from home may find it difficult to maintain healthy habits and make wise nutritional choices. People who move to an underdeveloped area may struggle accessing good nutrition and healthcare. Even a lack of fluoridated water has been shown to impact oral health.

Receding Gums – When your gums recede, the soft root of the tooth is exposed, making it more susceptible to decay and the scrubbing action of your toothbrush. The tissue covering the root is half the hardness of protective enamel. Root exposure and the eventual cavities and abrasion crevices cavities is a common dental problem, especially in older persons and those who use a hard toothbrush or brush to harshly and in in those.

Medical treatments – As unavoidable as they are, some medical treatments affect your oral health and result in unexpected tooth decay. Medical treatments can cause altered taste, saliva changes, mouth irritations, damaged tissues, sensitivity, vomiting, difficulty eating and swallowing, delayed dental treatment, and can disrupt home oral hygiene. All can play a role in an increased likelihood of cavities. At Your Smile Dental Care, we suggest a pre-treatment examination to record baseline charting, identify and treat dental problems and provide oral hygiene education before your medical treatment begins.

Sharing Salvia – Dental disease is an infectious disease. You can be contaminated with the saliva from another person through kissing, sharing a toothbrush or eating utensil. Is cross-contamination capable of actually causing tooth decay ? Saliva is laced with germs and some people have more of the tooth damaging bacteria than others. It is thought that mother’s can pass on bacteria to their children and, in turn, increase the likelihood of decay in the child when they share spoons, so it stands to reason that this is not the only situation where one’s mouth germs can directly affect the quantity and types of germs in another’s mouth. Sometimes, sharing is not caring!

Work Routine – Even something as seemingly insignificant as a change in your work time hours, such as switching from days to nightshift, can affect the way you prioritize and approach your oral care and eating habits. Exhaustion, insomnia, stress, a hurried life can all impact your usual routine and put you at risk for additional tooth decay. Scour the internet to find some great practical tips on how to manage work shifts better.

Don’t make cavities part of your future…

These are all examples of some of the changes that can occur in your life that you may want to consider and review if you notice that you are suddenly being diagnosed with more cavities, more often than usual. A solid review of your nutritional, dental and medical history may reveal something that could account for the high incident of tooth decay. Hopefully, by process of elimination, you and your dentist will be able to narrow in on one or a few of your risk factors and implement some changes in your life now so that tooth decay will not become a recurrent problem.

 

 

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Yours In Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care Team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
www.yoursmiledentalcare.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Alzheimer’s Drug in Dentistry

Alzheimer’s Drug may be sinking it’s teeth into dental care!

 

Needless to say, tooth aches have plagued humans for years, but a recent discovery may soon sink it’s teeth into this age old problem.

 

Scientists have been looking for ways to repair rotten teeth for years. Now it seems that a team of researchers at Kings College in London may have found a way to regenerate tooth dentin using a drug that is usually used to treat people with Alzheimer’s.

 

wearing-timeThe outer layer of the tooth, called enamel, is the hardest substance in the human body. It is very densely calcified and contains no stem cells. Currently, the only way to repair enamel is to hope that a person’s mineral-rich saliva can reverse the very early stages of enamel demineralization cause by bacterial acids.

 

There is always a daily battle during and after meals between the mouth bacteria and our mineral-rich saliva. Simply put, the bacteria metabolize the sugars we eat and create a erosive acid that can dissolve and break open enamel rods allowing minerals to leech out. Our saliva plays a reparative role by then depositing minerals into this surface damage to try to harden the weakened area of the tooth. This repair process takes upwards of 4-5 hours in between meals which is why frequent eating/snacking interferes with our saliva’s reparative ability. Unfortunately, when the amount of demineralization far outweighs the restorative work of saliva and the damage is deep enough, repair is irreversible and the tooth must be cleaned out and filled with a dental material.

 

the-toothHowever, researchers at Kings College were concerning themselves with very large areas of decay – cavities that ate through the enamel and into the next tissue called dentin. Dentin is roughly 50% less harder (calcified) than enamel, but unlike enamel, it  is capable of some regeneration to protect the pulp. Just like bone, dentin is able to acquire more calcified tissue in the event of repair. We call this secondary or reparative dentin and the stem cells needed to produce extra dentin comes from the pulp. That repair is limited, however.

 

Until now….

 

Dentistry already has dental products that attempt to soothe and protect the more vulnerable pulpal tissue from deep tooth decay, but it can only do so much,  especially if the decay is very close or has reached into the pulp. What these scientists have done essentially is found a more natural way for dentin to repair itself. Using a biodegradable collagen sponge soaked with the Alzheimer’s drug called “tideglusib”, they placed it on the dentin where the decay had reached the pulp.

 

Essentially, Tideglusib switches off an enzyme called GSK-3, which is known to prevent dentin formation from continuing.  The testing was done using mice, but the results were very promising. Not only did their body defence systems begins growing natural dentinal tissue, but testing showed the damaged tissue replaced itself in as little as six weeks – much more quickly that the body’s current natural ability. And, unlike the dental materials currently used in dentistry that remain after placement, the sponge eventually dissolves over time after the new dentin replaces it.

 

A Great Step Forward

Image B shows exposed dentin. When drilling continues the pulpal tissue is eventually reached as in Image C. CREDIT: KING’S COLLEGE

This discovery is exciting because, not only do we, as dentists, try to repair decayed teeth, we try to stop it in it’s tracks before it reaches the pulpal tissue. Once the pulp chamber is exposed to the oral environment, we use dental materials designed to cap the exposure and encourage the growth of dentinal stem cells to preserve the health of the pulp, but it’s success rate is not what we’d like it to be.

Many factors play into the repair process and if the body does not cooperate and form a sufficient layer of dentin to seal the pulp, then the vitality of the pulpal tissue will become compromised and eventually begin to rot. Once this happens root canal treatment is necessary to save the tooth from extraction. In addition, tideglusid is not a new pharmaceutical. It has undergone testing and is already being used as a drug for patients with Alzheimer’s.

 

“In addition, using a drug that has already been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease provides a real opportunity to get this dental treatment quickly into clinics.”

Professor Paul Sharpe, lead author of the study
Dental Institute of King’s College,  London  UK

 

At Your Smile Dental, we know that, “Not all that glitters is Gold”, but with more than 30 years of dental experience, we also know that many of the technologies we use today in dentistry were the impossible dreams of yesterday. The dentin is a very important protective layer between the enamel and the vital centre of the tooth. Once decay gets into this layer, it can advance quickly. Finding a way to regenerate this tissue faster, before it poses a threat to the nerve, will be a great step forward in the treatment of dental disease.

 

It may not be the end of fillings since enamel cannot grow back, but we’re happy to stick around a little longer to help you with all of your dental care needs!

 

Your Smile - Copy

 

The Your Smile Dental Care Team
(9050 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
www.yoursmiledentalcare.com

 


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Hopeless teeth

The Audacity of Hope…

types-of-fracturesMost dentists will tell you that the last thing they ever want to have to do is to remove a permanent adult tooth. In fact, they will fight tooth and nail to try to save one (sorry, tacky pun?)

When a patient presents us with a tooth that has severe decay, infection, badly broken down restorative work or has been injured from trauma, the first thing we must do is evaluate the health of the remaining portion of the tooth and its surrounding supportive bone.

To us, it’s not so much what we can see above the gum line that determines treatment options, but the quality and health of what is remaining below the gum line. To that end, our goal is to preserve what remains then develop a sound treatment plan to replace what is missing.

Although treatment may also involve healing nerve and gum tissue, patients are always amazed to learn that as long as their tooth has sound root structure and enough supporting bone surrounding it, we can save it!

12-5-2016-4-38-27-pmSurvial

Without the benefit of a crystal ball, there will always be uncertainties, but a good dentist makes treatment recommendations based on all the clinical and x-ray evidence concerning the compromised tooth while giving considerable thought to predicting the likelihood of long-term survival.

At Your Smile Dental Care, we also know from experience that a patient who is willing to care as much about and for an affected tooth as we do is more likely to keep the tooth for as long as possible. Many conditions that the patient may regard as “hopeless” can actually be fixed and the tooth can last for many more years once successfully treated.

Sometimes, a patients will ask us to remove their teeth because they are tired of frequent discomfort and wish to avoid future dental maintenance and associated costs. Others, surprisingly enough, have told us that they’d rather have false teeth (dentures) than have to deal with ongoing dental problems. While no two cases are ever alike and each patient has their own unique set of circumstances, we are bound to explain that removing teeth unnecessarily does not solve the issue of discomfort and dentures bring with them their own assortment of issues.


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Removing a tooth may bring immediate relief from pain, but, unless you replace it with a suitable alternative tooth, a silent breakdown process begins that starts to destabilize the dynamics of the mouth (Dental Collapse).

 

But what happens when a tooth cannot be saved?

The hopeless tooth…

Sadly, there are times when conventional therapies fail or a tooth  is so badly infected, fractured or is so loose from inadequate bone support that we must decide if the dentition is better off without it.

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We call this prognosis hopeless. Nowadays, however, modern dentistry has treatment options that can replace your tooth with one that looks and functions almost as well as healthy, natural ones do. Dental implants have revolutionized the way we replace missing teeth without having to resort to dentures or remodeling adjacent teeth to accommodate a fixed bridge.

Helping our patients understand the thought process that goes into our treatment recommendations is crucial so that they can weigh the information and make well-informed decisions.

If you think that your teeth are in a “hopeless” state of disrepair, you may be surprised to learn that you have more options than you think.

Give us a call at (905) 5SMILES to book a consultation today!

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Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
www.yoursmiledentalcare.com

 

 


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Signs of a Healthy Mouth

Do you know the difference between a healthy and unhealthy mouth?

Our patients at Your Smile Dental Care look to us to keep them up to date on all the advances in modern dentistry and to educate them on how to get their mouths and teeth as healthy as possible. Today, people know that they CAN keep their teeth for a lifetime and want to be aware of the first signs of trouble.

 

Gums

20-10-2014 1-32-21 PMHealthy gums are pale pink and firm. They are not white, red and puffy nor do they bleed when you brush or floss. Healthy gums also are not tender or sore and do not have pus filled pimples on them which may be signs of infection. One way we help patients gain a new perspective on the idea of bleeding gums, is to ask them if they would be concerned if they had persistent bleeding elsewhere on their body? Chances are they would answer yes and bring it to the attention of their physician immediately for a diagnosis and treatment.

There is also a triangular portion of gum tissue that should extend between adjacent teeth that ends in a point and has a free space (depth) of about 2-3 mm where your floss would slide for cleaning. As the gums recede due to unhealthy conditions, this triangular shape becomes more blunt and the space becomes deep, forming a pocket into which more bacteria, plaque and tartar can accumulate. Your dentist or hygienist monitors the health of your gum and will routinely measure the depth of these pockets.


Teeth

04-04-2016 3-08-02 PMObviously, healthy teeth should be cavity free, but when your dentist or hygienist checks your teeth, they are looking for many others signs of health also. They examine for any erosion, staining, chips or cracks, disease, failing dental work, looseness, missing teeth, crookedness, sensitivity, etc.

If teeth have had repair work done on them in the past such as fillings, crowns, or root canal treatments, they are checked to ensure that these restorations are holding up under the wear and tear that the chemical and mechanical forces of the mouth and jaws can place on them. Intact restorations have a good fit/seal against the tooth to prevent bacteria from getting in underneath and causing tooth decay. We look for signs of leakage, cracks, chips, movement and tooth decay.

Healthy teeth also do not appear longer as you age. When gums recede due to disease, the crown portion of the teeth will begin to look longer.

Case Scenerio

A patient comes into the dental office because their cap has fallen off of one of their teeth. The dentist notices immediately that not only has the cap come off the tooth, but the crown of the tooth has broken off at the gumline and is still inside the cap. Upon closer examination, they can see and feel with their instruments that both the part of the tooth that is in the cap and the portion that is still in the jawbone have rotted  from tooth decay. Bacteria has gotten in underneath the cap and diseased the hard tooth structure to the point that it crumbled enough for the tooth to break in half. It had been almost 7 years since their last exam. Maintaining regular dental checkups would have allowed the dental staff to monitor the marginal integrity of the cap and periodic x-rays would have detected signs of tooth decay when the cavity was small enough to be repaired.

 

Fresh Breath

Hidden Smile - CopyA healthy mouth does not have persistent or significant bad breath (halitosis). Early morning breath can have an odour after a long night of  bacterial action and growth when there is very little saliva production.

Most often, bad breath is caused by an accumulation of bacteria and their odours and sulphur smelling gases. It is also one of the first signs of gingivitis that can lead to gum disease, worsening mouth odour, the loss of teeth and other complications for the body. Smoking, dieting, dehydration, illnesses, diseases, unclean denture and appliances, tonsil stones, nutritional deficiencies and foods all can cause bad breath.

Wonder if you have bad breath? If you can’t already taste or smell it yourself then you can smell your floss after use or scrape some plaque off your teeth or tongue to smell. Alternatively, you can ask someone to smell your breath and give an honest answer. Most importantly, do not ignore bad breath or just try to mask it with gums, mints or mouthwash. Your physician or dentist can usually help you get to the underlying cause when good oral hygiene does not solve the problem.


Pink, Clean Tongue

You may not realize this, but we also examine your tongue for signs of health. A healthy tongue is pink and covered with tiny nodules we call papillae that help you perceive taste. The overall surface should be flat, smooth and clean looking. The surface papillae can and do harbour bacteria that, if left to accumulate, can grow to unhealthy levels. Keep your tongue clean with a tongue scraper as part of your regular oral hygiene.
Tongue Scraper

A discoloured or painful tongue can be an indicator of trauma, smoking or canker sores, but can also be signs of more serious conditions including a nutritional deficiency, auto immune disease, allergic reaction, Kawasaki syndrome, anemia, diabetes or even cancer. White coatings, lines, or patchy areas should not go ignored.

There is a condition known as “geographic tongue” whereby the top surface of the tongue presents with a map-like pattern of reddish spots that sometimes have a white border on them. It is usually a benign and harmless condition that requires no treatment except topical medications if it becomes sore or uncomfortable.

Medications and menopause can also cause the tongue to become painful or even drier than normal. Always consult your physician if you notice something unusual about your tongue, especially any lumps or sores that do not go away.

 

Proper Bite

25-04-2016 11-19-29 AMIdeally, in a healthy mouth, your upper and lower teeth fit together in an even manner so that the forces of chewing are equally distributed and shared amongst all teeth throughout the jaw.

Teeth rely on one another for support and uneven bites, open spaces or teeth that are crooked, crowded, displaced or missing can hinder the performance, appearance and health of the teeth and can impact breathing, speaking, digestion and oral hygiene. Misaligned and crowded teeth can make teeth more difficult to clean and keep healthy and can cause jaw problems leading to clenching, grinding, head/neck/ear/sinus aches and TMJ disorder.

Pain Free

A healthy mouth is not painful, dry nor sensitive. Yes, we may temporarily cause it trauma through injury or hot foods or have the periodic canker sore show up, but overall, a healthy mouth is pain free. There are products and treatments to help with minor sensitivities and the source of dry mouth situations can be investigated. However, you should be aware and not ignore any changes, pain or afflictions in the mouth and it’s tissues that can be a sign of breakdown or disease. The rule of thumb is to have anything that lasts more than 7-10 days examined.

Lastly

Just because you may brush and floss everyday, does not mean that your mouth is healthy. The phrase, “Your mouth is the window to your overall health” is a reminder that caring for your oral health is an investment in your overall health.

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Yours in Better Dental Health,
The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 576-4537
(416) 783-3533
http://www.yoursmiledentalcare.com/


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You Don’t Need to Fear the Dentist!

 

Avoiding the Dentist?

Covering mouthIf the mere thought of going to the dentist causes your heart to race and your hands to sweat you are not alone. While many people will choose to make dental health care one of their New Year priorities, according to Statistics Canada more than 40% of Canadian will give the dentist the brush-off because of dental anxiety.

Although there has been many significant advances in dental techniques and technology, many people still feel uncomfortable in a dental office. This is because the body is simply amazing! It is designed for self-preservation and is equipped with an incredible internal response system when it senses danger. Even when you brain attempts to rationalize and calm your fears, your body may already be sending you the strong urge to escape.

It’s no wonder people avoid coming to the dentist or cancel their dental appointments. Trying to reason with such a strong fight/flight/freeze mechanism can be challenging. You may not be able to eliminate all of your fears, but you can learn to manage them despite your body’s physical reactions.

If you are determined to make your health and well-being a priority this year here’s what:

You Can Do…

1. Admit your fears – If you are already thinking about going to the dentist you are likely already feeling anxiety. Discuss you concerns with a trusted, empathetic person. Avoid speaking to someone who may intensify and reinforce your fears by recalling their own fears or experiences. We are also here to listen and help make your visits to us as comfortable as possible.

laptop-and-cellphone-1269437-m2. Look for a new dentist – If you do not already have a dentist , email or call around to look for a dental office to call home. Convey your fears and concerns to them then review their responses. Did they respond? Did you feel rushed on the phone? Did the staff sound informative and sympathetic? Although time-consuming, this will help you narrow down your search which will save time in the long run. Perhaps you would like to visit the dental office first and meet the staff. If taking a tour will help, a good office will be proud to show off their practice. Finding an office that is willing to help you become more comfortable right from the get go will most likely be there to help you cope with your fears and concerns in the future. If you think you have found the right place schedule an exam then proceed to a cleaning.

3. Know your fear – Let us know what you like or dislike. Is it the noises? Fear of the needle? Water in your mouth? A past experience? Perhaps you prefer to be in control or like distractions. If you can identify the source of your fear or already know what puts you at ease then communicate this to us and together we can find a solution. Everyone prefers anxiety-free surroundings – even us!

4. Know the facts – Although, we always explain what we are doing to our patients, some people need more information in order to feel in control of a situation. If however, knowing too much will aggravate your fears, let us know and we will inform and assure without alarming you further. Everyone has their own comfort level. Let us know yours.

5. Don’t hurry – If you are not in need of immediate dental care then why hurry? You’ve waited this long, so go slow and face your fears one step at a time. Start off with an examination. Once you have completed this stage and are ready you will be better prepared to move on to the cleaning appointment. If all goes well and you are in need of further care then we can take baby steps together!

29-12-2014 6-30-52 PM6. Be realistic – Your dental health is as individual and personal as your are and your treatment will be specific to your situation. Comparing dental treatments with friends is like comparing other health conditions. No two people are the same. Diagnosis and treatment recommendations depend on your pre-existing dental and health conditions. Short and long term prognosis depends on many factors such as severity of conditions, patient cooperation, health history, body response, maintenance, other conditions of the mouth, age and lifestyle. Understanding your current state of dental health will help you make informed decisions moving forward. Your dentist should be open to answering all of your questions, and if possible, offering treatment alternatives.

7. Control your imagination – Our imaginations can both amaze and terrify us and it is easy to conjure up all sorts of scenarios that will likely never occur.  Learning to tame your thoughts so that they do not interfere with your emotions will help empower you so that you can attend to your needs.

8. Find closure – Previous traumatic experiences or conditioning can severely immobilize a person and prevent them from ever moving forward. Speak with your family doctor or regional health department about your situation and ask them to refer you to a professional who deals specifically with these types of fears so that you can begin to take your first steps towards recovery.

04-08-2014 11-54-04 PM9. Bring a friend – Sometimes, bringing along a friend or family member or even a stuffed animal can put you more at ease. If you wish, you can appoint them as your advocate who can help ask questions and communicate your fears and concerns. If having them in the treatment room helps perhaps you dentist will allow you to have this support as long as they do not aggravate an already anxious situation.

10. Bring your own music – Although we have music in our operatories, sometimes people would rather bring their own devices and listen to their own music. Whatever helps!

11. Be a good role model – If you do not want your children living a life of fear you must help them develop positive and responsible attitudes. Studies have shown that most children are more likely to pattern their future choices and behaviours after their parents and carry the habits they learn as children into adulthood and throughout their lives. Your positive remarks and optimistic outlook about dental care will empower your children and help to ensure that they will continue to benefit from your great example!

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We Can…

29-12-2014 6-35-38 PMWelcome you – At Your Smile Dental Care we strive to make you feel comfortable and valued from the warm welcome that greets you at each visit to the high degree of personal attention we offer you throughout your treatment. We understand the importance of gentle dental care and always encourage open communication. Most of our new patients found us by word of mouth. We appreciate the care entrusted to us and consider these referral from family and friends the greatest compliment a dentist can receive.

Provide sympathy – We do more than just work on teeth. First and foremost, we recognise these teeth are attached to a person who deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. We all have fears. Dealing with patient fears is what we are trained for and being afraid means different things to different people. A person’s true feelings can manifest themselves in a whole host of ways. Some people react physically with tense muscles, rapid breathing or heart rate, nausea, sweating, and dizziness, while others become angry, silent, or talkative. We must always be sensitive to the fact that, in a dental setting, a person may have difficulty conveying their thoughts, feelings and opinions. Patience with our patients is key while we strive to reduce their anxieties and allay their fears while providing painless, quick treatments.

Stay up to date – A good dentist and staff continually strives to provide the best possible care for their patients so that they have the option to choose the best treatments available today. Staying current on all the latest techniques and technologies helps a dentist to obtain and maintain a level of care that meets or even exceeds industry standards. Ask your dentist and staff what they do to stay up to date. They should be proud to tell you!

shaking-hands-1097209-mEstablish trust – We believe that clear and concise communication is the cornerstone of trust in dentistry. The patient/dentist relationship depends on a solid foundation of trust. We know that if a patient has had trust issues in the past with a dentist or other healthcare provider it will influence how likely there are to trust another dentist. These past experiences sometimes makes it difficult for another dentist to gain a patient’s trust let alone form a lifelong partnership. We have seen firsthand that patients are more likely to follow through with advice and treatment and achieve optimal oral health when they trust their dentist.

Communicate – Patients appreciate clear, honest, and straightforward communication. Your dentist should face you when speaking, use plain, everyday language and avoid using terms that are too technical. It is important that you are asked if you understand the information being presented and be given the opportunity to ask questions or seek clarification. Most dental offices will have pamphlets or printed material on hand for you to take home for further reading. If you have further questions or concerns once you leave the office, do not hesitate to call your dentist.

Listen – We all know that communication involves being an active listener as well. Oftentimes, being a good listener requires that you pay attention to other cues and signals that a person may be giving. Anxiety and stress can make a person afraid to ask to have information clarified or cause a person to shut down making it further difficult for them to absorb information. We may explain a treatment plan and ensure that a patient has had the chance to ask questions and gather additional information, but we must always appreciate that sometimes information is still being digested by a person long after they have left the office. We aim to make certain that our patients understand their oral health care needs. This may require additional guidance by encouraging our patients to make further inquires if necessary.

Accommodate – We can schedule your appointments at a time and date that is best for you. Early morning appointment usually work best so that you are not worrying about your visit all day long. Perhaps spacing out your treatment over a series of shorter appointments or over an agreeable and suitable period of time will help you cope and manage your visits better. We offer a wide range of services for all ages including cosmetic, implant and emergency dentistry. We are wheel chair accessible and are able to move our dental chairs to accommodate most wheelchairs.

music-to-my-ears-40789-mProvide lifelines – Different people cope and manage their stress in different ways. Some people need distractions such as movies, music and periods of rest, while others need to feel in control at all times and like to watch using a hand held mirror. We allow our patients to stop treatment at any time by raising their hand. Sitting up briefly, going for a short walk or having a responsible and trusted family member or friend present in the room can also be beneficial. We offer conscious sedation in the form of laughing gas to calm fears and we have throat spray to help alleviate gagging.

Professional – As stated earlier, every patient deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. We never make our patients feel ashamed or embarrassed about the condition of their teeth or that they have not attended to regular dental care in the past. We are all about moving forward. If you made it through our doors and into the dental chair that is incredible progress which we believe is cause for celebration. We treat all patients equally, while offering personalized, individual care. In return, all we ask is that our patients respect our time  and commitment also by honouring the appointment times we schedule for them or informing us of appointment changes well in advance so that we can care for another patient in need. Maintaining regular oral care visits will also help us to detect problems early so that we can help you avoid repeated crisis situations.

Follow up – Don’t be surprised if we provide some TLC with an after care telephone call just to see how you are managing. It’s our way of letting your know that we care for you and your health long after you have left our office. This also allows you to make further inquires or gage the progress of your recovery.

Offer payment plans – If the cost of your treatment is the source of your stress, you can discuss your payment options with our friendly staff. If you qualify, we can help you set up a committed repayment schedule that allows you to achieve oral health sooner than later.

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Your First Step

The first step to successfully managing anxiety is learning to understand and recognize it. Although your body is designed to become anxious around perceived threats, it becomes a problem when you cannot control your fears when there is no real danger. We understand that your fears are real, but when they prevent you from taking charge of your dental needs conditions will only worsen causing you further grief.

This year resolve to make dental care a normal part of your life. Dr. Axelrod and his team of caring professionals at Your Smile Dental Care have helped thousands of people conquer their dental fears, take control of their oral care and achieve optimal oral health. As you get to know and trust us, you will soon find that your fears will lessen and your anxiety levels will become more manageable.

Remember…you are not alone!

Yours in better health,

The Your Smile Dental Care team
(905) 5SMILES (576-4537)
(416) 783-3533


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Back to School Dental Care

Making a list and checking it twice?

22-08-2016 4-19-56 PMThis is the time of year that we begin turning our attention away from the lazy hazy days of summer and back towards the upcoming new school year. Getting back into routine in terms of sleeping, eating and grooming is the perfect time to remind your children about the importance of oral care.

And although a dental check-up may be the last thing on your mind as you go through your child’s back-to-school checklist, you may want to reconsider. We now know that dental problems, including cavities, leads to more absences from school which can result in poorer academic performances.

Many parents do not realize that dental decay spreads through baby (primary) teeth much more quickly than in permanent teeth. Early detection can help prevent small issues from growing into much larger and more painful problems.

 

Prevention Tips:

Implementing just a few changes in the way we approach our children’s oral health can go a long way in preventing cavities.

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  1. Frequency – This is the #1 most important cavity prevention tip. Teeth need 4 to 5 hours to heal after an acid attack caused by eating/drinking. Mineral rich salvia is our body’s natural defence against cavities, but you have to allow it the time it needs to remineralize affected enamel.
  2. Diet – Any food that has natural or added sugars and starches in it can be used by bacteria in the mouth that then excrete damaging acid onto tooth surfaces. Highly acidic foods will also eat away at enamel. Decreasing the amount of sugars in your child’s diet, choosing water as their preferred beverage, eliminate snacking and choosing foods that help buffer against the acidic nature of other foods all go a long away in helping to prevent cavities.
  3. Xylitol gum – Chewing gum in school is probably still a no-no, but perhaps you can speak with your child’s teacher and explain the benefits of xylitol. It is found in some sugarless gums and is effective in controlling the amount of acidity in the mouth. This, in turn, helps to reduce the bacterial population and their damaging activity.
  4. Cheese – Pack some cubes of cheese in your child’s lunch and encourage them to eat if before and after their meals. Cheeses not only coats and protects enamel during meals and helps to balance the ph-levels in the mouth during acid attacks, but also contains minerals and casein which have anti-cavity properties.
  5. Water – Water is the preferred beverage of choice for a healthy mouth. Encouraging your child to also rinse with water following a meal when they cannot brush will help dilute acids in the mouth and wash away food debris.

 

Other Tips to Consider:

  • 22-08-2016 4-03-23 PMNo Snacking – The health of the oral cavity depends on the spacing out of meals. Hunger is the body’s way of letting us know that it’s time to eat, but snack time during school is now deeply entrenched in our school system. Educating yourself about the correlation between meal frequency and tooth decay will help you begin an open and honest conversation with your school’s administrator about the harmful effects of recess snacks not only on teeth but on classroom behaviour also. Good Luck!
  • School Insurance – We have seen many dental emergencies over our 30+ years in the dental business. Many of these accidents occur at school. We have a number of patients that benefitted from having had enrolled in the school insurance program that is offered. One patient, in particular, is still having ongoing dental treatment 20 years after the initial injury to his tooth. His parents certainly did not expect to ever have to use the policy, but are now glad that they enrolled in the program. The long-term prognosis for this particular tooth suggests that this patient will have ongoing maintenance costs for the rest of his life.
  • Sports guard – We can never emphasise enough the importance of protecting teeth during sports and playful activity. Again, we see many accidents caused during activity and the school ground is the most popular place for injury. No child probably wants to be the only students wearing a sports guard, but we do encourage it’s use.
  • Oral Hygiene at School – You may want to consider buying a travel-sized toothbrush and toothpaste for your child to use at school. Perhaps you can approach like-minded parents with children in the same classroom about this idea to help make this in-school routine more appealing to your child.
  • Plan Ahead – Life is busy we know, but setting sufficient time aside to plan healthy meals will help you avoid scrambling during the precious minutes in the morning to pack your child’s lunch.

 

Attending Post Secondary School?

Even young adults beginning their post-secondary studies should take the time now to see their dentist before school begins, especially if they are still on their parent’s dental benefits. With so many new changes happening during this exciting new academic experience, the stresses can build up.

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During exam time we get an increased number of emergency calls to our office from students complaining of pain, not only throughout the oral cavity, but also around the jaws, ears, head and neck. Oftentimes, it is due to the increased forces of grinding and clenching (a side effect of stress), while other times it is due to the swelling associated with the emerging wisdom teeth.

Another common problem is a sudden increase in the rate of decay amongst young adults in post-secondary school with no past history of serial cavities. Most times we can attribute this to a change in diet, especially the frequency at which snacks and beverages such of coffee/tea/sodas are consumed. Our recommendation is to always be vigilant when it comes to oral hygiene care and the numbers of meals/snacks/beverages eaten throughout the day. Give you teeth the healing time it needs!

A thorough check up before going away to school will help to take care of any dental issues that may arise during the school year.

Lastly, if you are thinking about having a check-up when you come home during winter break, it is important to reserve your check-up appointment well in advance as many students are thinking the same thing you are!


If it’s been a while since your children have had their teeth checked and cleaned, give us a call today.  We’ll make sure your child’s teeth are looking sharp and ready for school!

 

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