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dental-hygiene-2

Ask your dental hygienist.

The recent surgeon general’s report on oral health confirms the importance of oral health to total health.

babyPremature, Low-Birthweight Babies

Studies have found that expectant mothers with periodontal (gum) disease are seven times more likely to deliver premature, low-birthweight babies than women who don’t have the disease.

cancerHeart disease

Cardiovascular disease affects 57 million people in the 5.3. And kills almost a million people each year. Recent studies have shown that a patient with periodontal (gum) disease is twice as likely to develop heart disease as one without the condition.

Untitled-4Oral cancer

Cancer is more common than Leukemia; Skin Melanoma; Hodgkin’s disease; and Cancers of the brain, liver, bone, thyroid gland, stomach, ovaries, and cervix; and is typically caused by long-term use of tobacco products and alcohol. One of the most important parts of a regular oral health exam is a thorough oral cancer screening.

diabetesDiabetes

Periodontal disease is one of the major complications of diabetes. In fact, approximately 95 percent of Americans who suffer from diabetes also have periodontal disease.

October of this year will be national dental hygiene month – a great time to visit your registered dental hygienist for a thorough mouth exam and to learn more about how oral conditions affect your overall health.

Content courtesy adha.org

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Each member of your dental health care team plays an important role.

Dentist

As the leader of your oral health team, your dentist brings years of specialized education to understanding your oral health. Only dentists can examine your teeth, gums and mouth, and recognize any problems that could affect your overall health.

They have the training and skills to:

  • examine and diagnose your oral condition;
  • recommend and carry out treatment;
  • look for signs of oral cancer—and often be the first to spot them;
  • help you understand oral health care and its importance, helping you to keep your teeth healthy and comfortable for your entire lifetime;
  • inform you about postoperative care options; and
  • perform emergency or required procedures—and help you determine a long-term treatment plan that meets your needs and circumstances.

Dental Therapist

In some jurisdictions, dental therapists work with dentists to provide community-based preventive oral health programs. They also perform basic dental treatment and preventive services as well as providing patient assistance and referrals.

Dental Hygienist

The dental hygienist is registered and trained to clean your teeth and to help you develop a home-care routine tailored to your needs.

Regulations vary from province to province, but a dental hygienist’s work often includes:

  • taking x-rays;
  • taking dental impressions; and
  • cleaning, polishing and applying fluoride to your teeth.

In some jurisdictions, the dental hygienist may also be allowed to perform a basic exam.

Dental Assistant

This is the team member who prepares you for treatment, sterilizes instruments, assists your dentist and helps keep your mouth dry during procedures. In some jurisdictions, a dental assistant may also take x-rays and dental impressions, and polish and apply fluoride to your teeth.

Receptionists and Business Staff

Receptionists maintain the dental team’s schedules and allow the office to run smoothly. The receptionist is usually your first point of contact and may often provide you with general information about your appointment and billing.

To meet learn more about your Westway Dental health care team, click here.

Content courtesy cda-adc.ca

Oral_Health_small

Most of us realize that diet and exercise play an important part in keeping us healthy. But did you know that a healthy mouth is also an important part of a healthy body?

Poor oral health can affect a person’s quality of life. Oral pain, missing teeth or oral infections can influence the way a person speaks, eats and socializes. These oral health problems can reduce a person’s quality of life by affecting their physical, mental and social well-being.

Oral disease, like any other disease, needs to be treated. A chronic infection, including one in the mouth, is a serious problem that should not be ignored. Yet bleeding or tender gums are often overlooked.

Research has shown there is an association between oral disease and other health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, respiratory illness in older adults, as well as pre-term and low-birth-weight babies. Although researchers are just beginning to understand this relationship, evidence shows that oral disease can aggravate other health problems and that keeping a healthy mouth is an important part of leading a healthy life.

5 Steps to a Healthy Mouth

Oral Heath Good for Life title image

1. Keep your mouth clean

  • Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Wait at least 20–30 minutes after eating before brushing your teeth.
  • Floss every day.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Limit foods and beverages containing sugar or carbohydrates.
  • Ideal snack foods: cheese, nuts, vegetables, and non-acidic fruits.
  • Look for oral care products with the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) Seal.

2. Check your mouth regularly

Look for signs of gum disease:

  • Red, shiny, puffy, sore or sensitive gums
  • Bleeding when you brush or floss
  • Bad breath that won’t go away
Look for signs of oral cancer:

  • Bleeding or open sores that don’t heal
  • White or red patches
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Small lumps and thickening on the sides or bottom of your tongue, the floor or roof of your mouth, the inside of your cheeks, or on your gums

3. Eat well

  • Good nutrition helps build strong teeth and gums.
  • Munch on mouthhealthy snacks like cheeses, nuts, vegetables, and non-acidic fruits.

4. See your dentist regularly

  • 48% of Canadians who haven’t seen a dentist in the past year have gum disease. Regular dental exams and professional cleanings are the best way to prevent and detect problems before they get worse.

5. Don’t smoke or chew tobacco

  • Smoking and chewing tobacco can cause oral cancer, heart disease, gum disease, and a variety of other cancers.

Find a Dentist

Don’t wait for a toothache or a dental emergency to look for a dentist. Ask for recommendations from friends, family, neighbours, or co-workers. If you’re moving, ask if your current dentist can refer you to a dentist in your new area.

Content courtesy: cda-adc.ca

diabetes1

Diabetes can cause serious problems in your mouth. However you can do something about it.

If you have diabetes, make sure you take care of your mouth. People with diabetes are at risk for mouth infections, especially periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease can damage the gum and bone that hold your teeth in place and may lead to painful chewing problems. Some people with serious gum disease lose their teeth. Periodontal disease may also make it hard to control your blood glucose (blood sugar).

Other problems diabetes can cause are dry mouth and a fungal infection called thrush. Dry mouth happens when you do not have enough saliva—the fluid that keeps your mouth wet. Diabetes may also cause the glucose level in your saliva to increase. Together, these problems may lead to thrush, which causes painful white patches in your mouth.
If your diabetes is not under control, you are more likely to develop problems in your mouth. The good news is you can keep your teeth and gums healthy. By controlling your blood glucose, brushing and flossing every day, and visiting a dentist regularly, you can help prevent serious problems in your mouth.
Take steps to keep your mouth healthy. Call your dentist when you notice a problem.

If you have diabetes, follow these steps:

  • Control your blood glucose.
  • Brush and floss every day.
  • Visit your dentist regularly. Be sure to tell your dentist that you have diabetes.
  • Tell your dentist if your dentures (false teeth) do not fit right, or if your gums are sore.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking makes gum disease worse. Your physician or dentist can help you quit.
  • Take time to check your mouth regularly for any problems. Sometimes people notice that their gums bleed when they brush and floss. Others notice dryness, soreness, white patches, or a bad taste in the mouth. All of these are reasons to visit your dentist.
  • Remember, good blood glucose control can help prevent mouth problems.

Content courtesy: www.nidcr.nih.gov

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Do not brush until 30 minutes after eating if your food was acidic: brushing too soon actually accelerates any acidic erosion.

As Alisa Hrustic points out on womenshealthmag.com, most of us know that coffee, red wine and soy sauce are among the consumables that, over time, can make your teeth less than sparkling white. But she asks cosmetic dentists Nancy Rosen of New York and Karoush Maddahi of Beverly Hills about other “sneaky teeth-stainers.” Some of their answers:

Lemonade: The acidity can erode tooth enamel, revealing the next layer, the dentin, which has a yellow colour.

White wine: It can be trouble when combined with certain foods — say a glass of followed by pasta with tomato sauce. “It’s almost like opening up the pores of the teeth for the stain to actually be sucked in,” says Rosen.

Green juice and smoothies: “Anything that really stains your clothes, that’s really difficult to get out, stains your teeth as well,” says Maddahi. Those super-nutritious smoothies are often packed with bright berries and vegetables that have teeth-tainting qualities. Suggestion: Drink through a straw.

Pools: Speaking of things that are both good and bad for you, the pool you’re swimming laps in can actually stain your teeth. “A lot of times you keep your mouth open or let water into the mouth, and those chemicals that treat the pool can actually cause a brown stain in the mouth,” says Rosen. You have to spend at least six hours on pool time a week for this to happen, but that’s not hard to do in the summer.

One general piece of anti-staining advice is to brush after eating. But Maddahi warns you should not brush until 30 minutes after eating if your food was acidic: brushing too soon actually accelerates any acidic erosion.

Content courtesy thestar.ca

apnea

Does your bed partner complain about your snoring? Are you unusually sleepy during the day and don’t know why? These are two of the most common symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a sleep related breathing disorder that can cause you to stop breathing dozens or even hundreds of times each night.1 According to The Canadian Lung Association, these breathing episodes usually last for 10 to 30 seconds not long enough to fully wake you up but enough to prevent you from enjoying the restful sleep your body needs to recharge its batteries and stay healthy.

A Canadian Community Health Survey conducted in 2009 by the Public Health Agency of Canada found that an estimated 858,900 Canadian adults, 18 years and older, reported being told by a health professional that they have sleep apnea.2 breathe properly all night.

“Only a physician can diagnose obstructive sleep apnea,” says Dr. Deborah Saunders, a dentist practising in Sudbury, Ont. Dentists do not diagnose OSA.

However, a dentist may see patients who they suspect may be at risk and will refer them to their family physicians for further diagnostic followup.

As they do with discussing tobacco intervention or oral cancer with patients, dentists have advantages over other health-care professionals in identifying patients at risk of OSA, because dentists generally see their patients on a more frequent and consistent basis. As well, because the jaws and related structures may influence OSA, dentists play an important role in identifying patients who should be assessed [by a physician] and helping to institute treatment in selected

Treatment options

The most effective treatment for mild or moderate sleep apnea, says The Canadian Lung Association, is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). With CPAP you wear a special mask attached to a CPAP machine. A steady stream of air is blown though the mask, into your nose and down your throat. The pressure helps keep your airways open so you can lifestyle changes such as losing weight, avoiding alcohol and sedatives and sleeping on your side, not your back.

Your doctor may also recommend that you use a dental (or an oral appliance) that fits over your teeth and prevents your tongue and jaw from blocking your airway. In comparison to CPAP devices, these appliances are sometimes regarded as a convenient, silent and more bed partner-friendly choice, says Dr. Alan Lowe, Professor and Chair of the Division of Orthodontics, University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Dentistry.

There are more than 80 different oral appliances currently available.6 These should only be prescribed by your family physician, who may refer you directly to your dentist, says Dr. Saunders.

A cautionary note from Dr. Saunders:

Some patients who have been diagnosed with sleep apnea may be curious about ordering prefabricated devices over the Internet. “Think twice,” she says. “You may end up with jaw pain or other problems. That could be significant and serious.”

For more information on sleep apnea including a quiz to help identify the main symptom of sleep apnea, daytime sleepiness — visit The Canadian Lung Association’s website at www.lung.ca.

Other signs and symptoms of sleep apnea may include:

• high blood pressure

• irritability

• gasping or choking during sleep

• depression

• problems concentrating

• morning headaches

• memory problems/memory loss

If you have any of these symptoms and think you may have sleep apnea, you might want to discuss them with your family doctor.

chewinggum

Go ahead, have a piece of (sugarless) gum and make your dentist happy!

Chewing gum is thought to be the world’s oldest candy — we’ve been chomping down on it for more than 5,000 years! But what do dentists think of all that chewing? While the people who care for our teeth aren’t usually fans of candy, when it comes to sugarless gum, most dentists give it the nod.

“Chewing sugarless gum is a great way to help stimulate saliva flow in patients with dry mouth,” says Dr. Deborah Saunders, Your Oral Health.ca’s Editor-in-Chief. That salivary stimulation also helps protect your teeth from decay-causing bacteria, so if you aren’t able to brush your teeth after eating, chewing sugarless gum can help.

Dr. Rick Caldwell, ODA President (2013-14), agrees. “Chewing sugarless gum can help freshen breath in the short term; although gum doesn’t bleach the teeth, it can help remove some surface stains.”

Who shouldn’t chew gum? “Patients with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD) shouldn’t chew gum as this may make their condition worse,” says Dr. Saunders, Medical Director of the Dental Oncology Program at Northeast Cancer Centre in Sudbury, Ont. (See TM-what? for more on TMJD.)

Adds Dr. Caldwell, a general practitioner in New Liskeard, Ont., “With TMJD problems, the joint requires rest, not extra use. Also, people with facial muscle spasms shouldn’t chew gum, and, for those with sensitive teeth, depending on the source of their sensitivity, chewing gum can be quite uncomfortable.”

One last point: If you’ve had orthodontic work done, such as implants, or if you wear a denture, you may want to talk to your dentist before opting to chew gum, since some gum will stick to orthodontic and acrylic work.

Xylitol 101

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener used in many foods, including chewing gum. Unlike sugar and other sweeteners, says Dr. Saunders, xylitol cannot be digested by the plaque-causing bacteria in our mouths, which, in turn, reduces the amount of plaque on our teeth. For best results, she recommends looking for gum that contains at least one gram of xylitol per piece. But, Dr. Saunders also has a few warnings:

• Xylitol can be toxic to dogs, so keep your chewing gum away from Fido.

• When starting to chew xylitol, meeting the recommended five to 10 grams per day should be done gradually over a period of several weeks, to allow the gastrointestinal system time to adjust.

• Since it can cause diarrhea and intestinal gas, people with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as irritable bowel syndrome or Crohn’s disease, should avoid xylitol.

chipped-tooth-smile

If you have a chipped tooth, you might not feel any tooth pain unless the chip is large enough to expose the nerves in the inner layer of the tooth. If a chipped tooth exposes the nerves inside a tooth, you might notice increased tooth sensitivity and pain when chewing or when the chipped tooth is exposed to very hot or very cold food and beverages. A chip on one of the pointed chewing surfaces of the back teeth is called a broken cusp. This type of chipped tooth is rarely painful, but it should be examined by a dental professional. You might need a crown or a dental onlay to restore the shape of the tooth and prevent further damage or decay.

Causes Of A Chipped Tooth

The possible causes of a chipped tooth include:

  • Falling and hitting your mouth
  • Biting on a hard object or food, such as a hard candy or a bone
  • Suffering trauma to the face from a sports injury or accident
  • Cavities which can weaken the teeth and predispose you to a chipped tooth

Immediate Care For A Chipped Tooth

If you have a chipped tooth, make an appointment to see your dental professional as soon as possible. Meanwhile, follow these steps:

  • Rinse: Rinse your mouth with warm water.
  • Press: If there is any bleeding in your mouth as a result of a chipped tooth, use a piece of gauze to apply pressure to the area.
  • Cover: If you can’t see a dental professional the same day that your chipped tooth occurs, cover the chipped tooth with dental cement (available at most drugstores) to protect the remaining tooth until your appointment.

Professional Care For A Chipped Tooth

Treatment of a chipped tooth depends on the size and severity of the injury:

    • Small: If the chip in your tooth is very small, your dental professional might simply smooth and polish the chipped tooth, and no additional treatment will be needed.
    • Medium: If your chipped tooth involves minor damage to the tooth enamel, your dental professional will probably place a filling, crown, or cap over the chipped tooth to restore its normal appearance and function and to protect the inner layers of the teeth from irritation and infection.
  • Large: If your chipped tooth is large enough to expose the tooth nerve, you will likely need a root canal to remove the damaged nerve, plus a crown or cap to replace the chipped tooth. (1), (2)

Your Dental Care After A Chipped Tooth Treatment

After treatment for a chipped tooth, it is important to maintain a regular oral care routine.

Content courtesy crest.com

dental inspection

The dental exam is critical to your ongoing oral health—and only your dentist can perform this.

The exam consists, in part, of the dentist looking inside your mouth. In the past, you may not have ever realized an exam was taking place. Perhaps you thought the dentist was checking the work the hygienist had just completed.

Not so. The dentist actually looks in your mouth for things that can affect your oral—and your overall—health. Many of these are things you can’t see on your own, but that a dentist is trained to detect. Here is some of what your dentist is looking for during a dental exam:

  • damaged, missing or decayed teeth
  • early signs of cavities
  • condition of your gums, such as periodontal pockets, inflammation or other signs of gum disease (which can lead to tooth and bone loss)
  • to see how previous dental work such as root canals, fillings and crowns are holding up
  • early signs of mouth or throat cancer, such as white lesions or blocked salivary glands
  • other suspicious growths or cysts
  • position of your teeth (e.g., spacing, bite)
  • signs that you clench or grind your teeth (a treatable problem that can cause headache or sore jaw and can, if serious, lead to hearing loss and tooth loss)
  • signs of bleeding or inflammation on your tongue and on the roof or floor of your mouth
  • the overall health and function of your temporomandibular joint (which joins the jaw to skull), checking for signs of disorders that can cause pain or tenderness
  • the general condition of the bones in your face, jaw and around your mouth

The dental exam can catch problems early—before you see or feel them—when they are much easier and less expensive to treat.

As well as the visual inspection of your mouth, the exam includes:

  • a complete medical history so the dentist knows about any health conditions that may affect the success of dental treatments or procedures or that may be associated with oral health problems.

It may also include:

  • an examination of your neck area, with the dentist feeling the glands and lymph nodes for possible signs of inflammation that could indicate general health problems; and
  • dental x-rays, if necessary. These can show such problems as cavities under existing fillings, fractures, impacted wisdom teeth, decay under your gum line and bone loss caused by gum disease.

Your dentist may explain what’s happening during the exam and give you a summary of the findings. If not, be sure to ask. As patient, you are a full partner in your oral health care.

Checklist

Be Sure to Tell Your Dentist

The more your dentist knows about your overall health, the more effective they can be in addressing your oral health care needs. Be sure to mention:

  • any new medical conditions you’ve been diagnosed with since your last visit, such as diabetes or AIDS, even if they don’t seem pertinent. Your dentist needs to know to properly manage your treatment and prevention program.
  • any new medications you’re taking (side effects can often include dry mouth and overgrown gums)
  • if you’re pregnant
  • if you have any allergies
  • any changes you’ve noticed in your teeth, such as changes in colour, looseness or position
  • any changes you’ve noticed in your gums, such as bleeding when you brush or floss, or changes in appearance
  • any increased sensitivity to heat, cold or sweets
  • whether your floss catches on rough edges, causing it to shred
  • any colour changes in the skin on the inside of your mouth
  • if you smoke or chew tobacco (which increases the likelihood of oral cancer)
  • if your neck or jaw muscles are tight or if you’re aware of clenching or grinding your teeth
  • if you’re nervous about going to the dentist—new ways of doing things have made modern dentistry more comfortable for patients, and talking to your dentist may reassure you and help you feel more relaxed

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