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drymouth

The technical term for dry mouth is xerostomia (ZEER-oh-STOH-mee-ah)

What do I need to know about dry mouth?

Everyone has a dry mouth once in a while—if they are nervous, upset or under stress. But if you have a dry mouth all or most of the time, it can be uncomfortable and can lead to serious health problems.

Dry mouth…

• can cause difficulties in tasting, chewing, swallowing, and speaking
• can increase your chance of developing dental decay and other infections in the mouth
• can be a sign of certain diseases and conditions
• can be caused by certain medications or medical treatments

Dry mouth is not a normal part of aging. So if you think you have dry mouth, see your dentist or physician—there are things you can do to get relief.

What is dry mouth?

Dry mouth is the condition of not having enough saliva, or spit, to keep your mouth wet.

Symptoms include:

• a sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
• trouble chewing, swallowing, tasting, or speaking
• a burning feeling in the mouth
• a dry feeling in the throat
• cracked lips
• a dry, tough tongue
• mouth sores
• an infection in the mouth

Some people feel they have a dry mouth even if their salivary glands are working correctly. People with certain disorders, like Alzheimer’s disease or those who have suffered a stroke, may not be able to feel wetness in their mouth and may think their mouth is dry even though it is not.

Why is saliva so important?

Saliva does more than keep the mouth wet.

• It helps digest food
• It protects teeth from decay
• It prevents infection by controlling bacteria and fungi in the mouth
• It makes it possible for you to chew and swallow Without enough saliva you can develop tooth decay or other infections in the mouth. You also might not get the nutrients you need if you
cannot chew and swallow certain foods.

What causes dry mouth?

People get dry mouth when the glands in the mouth that make saliva are not working properly. Because of this, there might not be enough saliva to keep your mouth wet. There are several reasons why these glands (called salivary glands) might not work right.

• Side effects of some medicines. More than 400 medicines can cause the salivary glands to make less saliva. Medicines for high blood pressure and depression often cause dry mouth.
• Disease. Some diseases affect the salivary glands. Sjögren’s Syndrome, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease can all cause dry mouth.
• Radiation therapy. The salivary glands can be damaged if they are exposed to radiation during cancer treatment.
• Chemotherapy. Drugs used to treat cancer can make saliva thicker, causing the mouth to feel dry.
• Nerve Damage. Injury to the head or neck can damage the nerves that tell salivary glands to make saliva.

What can be done about dry mouth?

Dry mouth treatment will depend on what is causing the problem. If you think you have dry mouth, see your dentist or physician. He or she can try to determine what is causing your dry mouth.

• If your dry mouth is caused by medicine, your physician might change your medicine or adjust the dosage.
• If your salivary glands are not working right but can still produce some saliva, your physician or dentist might give you a medicine that helps the glands work better.
• Your physician or dentist might suggest that you use artificial saliva to keep your mouth wet.

What can I do?

• Sip water or sugarless drinks often.
• Avoid drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and some sodas. Caffeine can dry out the mouth.
• Sip water or a sugarless drink during meals. This will make chewing and swallowing easier. It may also improve the taste of food.
• Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless hard candy to stimulate saliva flow; citrus, cinnamon or mint-flavored candies are good choices.
• Don’t use tobacco or alcohol. They dry out the mouth.
• Be aware that spicy or salty foods may cause pain in a dry mouth.
• Use a humidifier at night.

Tips for keeping your teeth healthy

Remember, if you have dry mouth, you need to be extra careful to keep your teeth healthy. Make sure you:

• Gently brush your teeth at least twice a day.
• Floss your teeth every day.
• Use toothpaste with fluoride in it. Most toothpastes sold at grocery and drug stores have fluoride in them.
• Avoid sticky, sugary foods. If you do eat them, brush immediately afterwards.
• Visit your dentist for a check-up at least twice a year. Your dentist might give you a special fluoride solution that you can rinse with to help keep your teeth healthy.

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People used to think that as you got older you naturally lost your teeth. We now know that’s not true. By following easy steps for keeping your teeth and gums –healthy plus seeing your dentist
regularly—you can have your teeth for a lifetime!

Plaque: What is it?

Plaque is made up of invisible masses of harmful germs that live in the mouth and stick to the teeth.

  • Some types of plaque cause tooth decay.
  • Other types of plaque cause gum disease.

Red, puffy or bleeding gums can be the first signs of gum disease. If gum disease is not treated, the tissues holding the teeth in place are destroyed and the teeth are eventually lost.

Dental plaque is difficult to see unless it’s stained, You can stain plaque by chewing red “disclosing tablets,” found at grocery stores and drug stores, or by using a cotton swab to smear green food coloring on your teeth. The red or green color left on the teeth will show you where there is still plaque—and where you have to brush again to remove it.

Stain and examine your teeth regularly to make sure you are removing all plaque. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist if your plaque removal techniques are o.k.

Step 1 – Floss

Floss Use floss to remove germs and food particles between teeth. Rinse.

floss-steps

Step 2 – Brush Teeth

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Use any tooth brushing method that is comfortable, but do not scrub hard back and forth. Small circular motions and short back and forth motions work well. Rinse. To prevent decay, it’s what’s on the toothbrush that counts. Use fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is what protects teeth from decay. Brush the tongue for a fresh feeling! Rinse again. Remember: Food residues, especially sweets, provide nutrients for the germs that cause tooth decay, as well as those that cause gum disease. That’s why it is important to remove all food residues, as well as plaque, from teeth. Remove plaque at least once a day—twice a day is better. If you brush and floss once daily, do it before going to bed.

Another way of removing plaque between teeth is to use a dental pick— or a thin plastic, metal, or wooden stick. These picks can be purchased at drug stores and grocery stores.

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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

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