Understanding Your Oral Health

People often come to the dentist only when they are in severe pain. It is better to be alert to changes in your mouth and come in for a thorough examination at your dentist and treat conditions before they become too severe. Early treatment, regular cleaning and a daily hygiene routine are important not only to the health of your teeth and gums but also to your overall health and wellness.

Our group of practices would like you to be informed about your dental care. In the following pages, you will find answers to some of the questions we hear most often from our patients. Please keep in mind that the information provided on this site is for general information only; please call or come in and see your dentist for information and answers specific to your concerns regarding the following topics and more:

  • Plaque
  • Toothache
  • Gum disease
  • Bad breath
  • Fluorosis
  • Oral cancer
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Teeth grinding

What Is Plaque?

You know that fuzzy feeling of unbrushed teeth? That’s plaque, a sticky coating of bacteria that grows on the residue that sugary or starchy foods leave on your teeth. The acids produced by these bacteria erode tooth enamel, causing tooth decay (cavities). If plaque is not removed regularly by brushing and flossing, it can also harden into tartar. Your dental hygienist can perform scaling to remove hardened plaque below the gum line. To prevent plaque build-up, limit sugary foods, brush at least twice a day, floss at least once every day and schedule regular visits to our group of practices for professional cleaning.

What Causes Toothache?

Toothache can stem from a variety of causes. Often, toothache indicates a cavity (a breach of the tooth’s enamel caused by tooth decay) or abscess (infection of the interior of the tooth with a dead nerve). Prompt treatment for cavities (by filling) and abscesses (by root canal therapy) prevents tooth loss and the spread of infection to the gums and other parts of the body.

A number of other conditions may cause toothache, including TMJ, sinusitis, earaches and even angina. Regardless of the cause, it is best to have the professionals at our group of practices do an examination to determine the cause. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential.

Is Gum Disease Treatable?

Plaque build-up can lead to inflammation of the gums, a condition called gingivitis. Gingivitis is common, and, in its early stages, can not only be treated, but reversed. Left untreated, it can become periodontal disease, spreading into the tooth and bone and eventually leading to tooth loss. The bacteria and infection can spread even further, causing heart disease and stroke.

Regular brushing and flossing can prevent gum disease. Professional cleaning and scaling can help treat and reverse gum disease. If the infection has spread further, your dentist may recommend further surgical procedures to graft tissue to receding gums and rebuild deteriorating bone.

What Can a Dentist Do about Bad Breath?

Chronic bad breath could be a sign of inadequate dental hygiene, more serious dental problems or even some underlying medical conditions. Most often, it is caused by bacteria on the tongue or in the gums, so your first line of defense should be brushing at least twice a day, paying special attention to cleaning the tongue; floss thoroughly.

Dry mouth is a frequent cause of bad breath. A large number of prescription medications can cause dry mouth which can be alleviated by frequent sips of water or by chewing gum.

If these at-home solutions don’t help, schedule a cleaning at our group of practices and a thorough dental examination to rule out any other causes for bad breath. Your dentist can also recommend special toothpastes and antibacterial mouthwashes to control the bacteria that cause bad breath.

What’s Fluorosis?

Fluorosis is caused by young children ingesting too much fluorine from fluoridated toothpaste, supplements or fluoridated water. Don’t put too much toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush and supervise to ensure that they’re not swallowing it. Mild discolouration from fluorosis can be removed at our dental office with teeth whitening techniques. Darker stains can be covered with bonding or veneers.

Do I Need Oral Cancer Screening?

Oral cancer can occur in any part of the mouth, including the tongue and lips. Your dentist will look for signs of oral cancer during your dental examination. During your examination, please alert your dentist if you smoke or chew tobacco, or if you have felt any changes in your mouth such as pain, difficulty in chewing or swallowing or a change in your bite. Early detection is key to the treatment of oral cancer.

Why Do My Teeth Feel Sensitive?

The sensitive inner part of the teeth is shielded by enamel, the hardest substance produced by the body. The sensitive roots of your teeth are sealed from exposure to harmful substances by your gums. When the enamel is worn or when gums recede, the sensitive parts of your teeth react when exposed to heat, cold or even touch.

Your dentist can help with sensitive teeth! A filling, crown or dental bonding can replace worn enamel. Your dentist can also treat the gum disease that cause gums to recede and instruct you on correct brushing techniques since improper brushing can also lead to receding gums. We can also recommend special toothpastes to alleviate sensitivity.

Can Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) Be Treated?

The causes of teeth grinding have not been completely determined, although stress or anxiety have been linked to the problem. Since it most frequently happens at night, your partner may be the first to notice it as a noise you’re making unconsciously. The constant grinding can cause enamel to erode, leading to sensitivity and even changes in the shape and size of your teeth. If you are prone to clenching your teeth, you may experience headaches, earaches, pain in the temporomandibular joint of the jaw and muscle fatigue.

Visit one of our nearest dental offices and talk to your dentist about any symptoms you have. Apart from recommending lifestyle changes to reduce and relieve stress, we can also prescribe a custom-fitted appliance to wear when you sleep; the appliance won’t stop the tooth grinding, but it will protect your teeth from wearing against each other.

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