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Blog of Cawthra Dental

Want A Healthy Smile? Follow These Tips!

Your oral health plays a significant role in your overall well-being. A healthy smile boosts your self-confidence, indicates good hygiene, and prevents oral health issues.

Neglecting your oral hygiene can lead to problems such as cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and even systemic health issues. Therefore, adopting a proactive approach and implementing preventive measures is crucial to keep your teeth and gums in excellent condition. Let’s explore some essential tips on how to prevent oral health issues and maintain a radiant smile.

Brushing and Flossing

The foundation of good oral health begins with regular brushing and flossing. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth at least twice daily, preferably in the morning and before bedtime. Use fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean the surfaces of your teeth and gums gently. Make sure to brush for at least two minutes, covering all areas of your mouth.

Flossing is equally crucial as it removes plaque and food particles from areas your toothbrush cannot reach. Incorporate flossing into your daily routine, ideally after brushing. Gently slide the floss between your teeth and along the gum line, being careful not to snap it against your gums. If you’re wondering if you should brush or floss first, it is ideal to floss first to loosen plaque and stuck food, then brush it away after.

Regular Dental Check-ups

Visiting your dentist for regular check-ups is essential in preventing oral health issues. Dental professionals can detect and address problems early on, preventing them from worsening and becoming more challenging and costly. Aim for at least two dental visits a year, or as your dentist recommends, to ensure your teeth and gums are in optimal condition.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

What you eat dramatically impacts your oral health. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary and acidic foods and beverages, as they contribute to tooth decay and erosion. Opt for a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Calcium and vitamin-rich foods like dairy products and leafy greens support strong teeth and bones.

Limit Snacking and Sipping

Frequent snacking and sipping on sugary or acidic drinks throughout the day expose your teeth to continuous attacks from bacteria and acids. Try to limit snacking and opt for water as your primary beverage. If you indulge in treats, try to consume them during meals, as increased saliva production during meals helps neutralize acids and wash away food particles.

Quit Tobacco Products

Tobacco products, including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco, harm oral health and increase the risk of gum disease, oral cancer, and tooth loss. Quitting tobacco use benefits your oral health and significantly improves your overall health.

Use Topical Fluoridated Products

Fluoride helps strengthen tooth enamel and protects against tooth decay. Use fluoride toothpaste and consider using a mouthwash containing fluoride as part of your oral care routine. Be cautious not to swallow excessive amounts of fluoride-containing products, especially in children, as it may lead to dental fluorosis.

Protect Your Teeth During Physical Activity

If you participate in sports or physical activities that pose a risk of dental injuries, wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth and mouth. Mouthguards can help prevent chipped teeth, fractures, and other dental emergencies.

Address Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding, or bruxism can cause significant damage to your teeth and jaw. If you notice signs of teeth rubbing, such as worn tooth surfaces or jaw pain, consult your dentist. They can recommend a custom-fitted nightguard to protect your teeth while you sleep.

Preventing oral health issues requires consistent effort and a proactive approach. By following these essential tips, you can maintain a healthy smile and prevent common problems such as cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.

Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups are the pillars of good oral hygiene. Coupled with a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle choices, you can enjoy a beautiful smile and overall well-being for years. Prioritize your oral health today, and your future self will thank you. Contact us to schedule your dental visit today.

Benefits of a Night Guard

Did you know that one of the most common dental conditions is something most people don’t even know they have? Dental clenching, also called “bruxism,” is a condition in which a person subconsciously bites down hard, clenching their teeth together.

It is considered a subconscious habit because it is mostly experienced during sleep. Unfortunately, since the pandemic, more and more patients are reporting signs and symptoms of clenching. Around 5x more patients are coming into dental offices with broken teeth! 

Signs and symptoms of clenching 

  • Headaches and jaw aches in the morning 
  • Sore muscles in the cheeks and neck 
  • Sore or sensitive teeth 
  • Gum recession 
  • Notching in the teeth at the gum line 
  • Wear on the biting surfaces of the teeth 
  • Difficulty or pain when opening the jaw

As stated above, when experiencing bruxism, you may or may not know you have it. You may have some of the signs and symptoms or none at all, depending on the severity. It is essential to see your dentist for routine check-ups so they can check for any signs and symptoms and fit you for a night guard before the condition worsens. Unfortunately, some of the repercussions of clenching, such as tooth wear and gum recession, are irreversible. 

What is a night guard?

As the name suggests, a night guard is a guard you wear over your teeth at night to protect from the wear and tear of clenching. There are a few different versions of the traditional night guard, but they are all used for the same goal, to protect your smile.

Some night guards are cushy and absorb clenching forces, while others have bite blocks to prevent you from clenching your teeth altogether. Some night guards are worn on the top teeth, while others are worn on the bottom. It is important to talk with your dentist about which night guard is right for you. 

How is a night guard made?

The process of receiving your night guard is easy and straightforward. You will be booked in for two visits. During the first visit, impressions will be taken of your teeth and sent to a lab. During your second visit about a week later, your night guard will be fitted and adjusted if needed. You will be given instructions for care. 

Caring for your night guard

A night guard is an easy appliance; it just takes some getting used to. Depending on your guard type, you may need to warm it up first so it’s comfier to put it. Use warm water in a bowl (not hot!) and leave it there for a minute or so. This will make the night guard more pliable and, therefore, more comfortable to put in.

In the morning, when you take your guard out, be sure to use a separate toothbrush to brush the night guard under running water gently. Store in a dry container. Here’s a handy tip: Bring your night guard in for your routine dental cleanings to have it cleaned too. Your dental office has special tools and cleaners to get your guard back feeling brand new. 

Night guards don’t last forever. If you notice your guard cracking or chipping, it’s probably time for a new guard. Night guards should last 3-5 years, so if you see chipping within a year or 2, you probably need the next guard to be made out of a stronger material. 

If you have any questions about night guards or believe you may need one, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.

The Importance of Addressing Dental Pain Immediately

Dental pain can be a distressing experience that affects your overall well-being and daily activities. While ignoring or postponing dental pain is tempting, seeking immediate attention from a dentist is crucial for your oral health. Here are some reasons why dental pain should never be ignored and why prompt dental care is essential.

Identifying the Underlying Issue

Dental pain is often a symptom of an underlying dental problem. Ignoring the pain may lead to the condition’s progression, making it more challenging to treat in the future. By seeking immediate dental care, a dentist can accurately diagnose the cause of the pain and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Early intervention can prevent further complications, whether it’s a cavity, an infected tooth, gum disease, or another oral health issue.

Preventing Further Damage

Untreated dental pain can lead to additional oral health problems. For instance, a small cavity that initially causes mild discomfort can become a severe tooth infection if left untreated. The condition can spread to surrounding tissues, leading to abscesses, bone loss, and even tooth loss. Addressing dental pain promptly can prevent further damage and preserve your natural teeth.

Alleviating Discomfort and Restoring Function

Dental pain can significantly impact your quality of life. It can make eating, drinking, speaking, and even sleeping difficult. Seeking immediate dental care allows a dentist to relieve the pain and restore the normal function of your teeth and mouth. With appropriate treatment, you can regain your ability to eat comfortably, speak clearly, and engage in daily activities without discomfort.

Avoiding Emergency Situations

Ignoring dental pain can result in dental emergencies. When left untreated, dental issues can worsen rapidly and lead to severe pain, swelling, and infections. These dental emergencies often require immediate intervention, which can be more complex, time-consuming, and costly. By addressing dental pain early on, you can prevent the need for emergency dental care and avoid unnecessary complications.

Preserving Oral Health & Overall Well-being

Dental pain is not only confined to your mouth; it can significantly impact your overall well-being. Chronic dental pain can affect your ability to eat nutritious foods, leading to poor nutrition and subsequent health issues. Additionally, untreated oral infections and inflammation have been linked to systemic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory infections. By promptly addressing dental pain, you’re taking a proactive step toward preserving your oral health and overall well-being.

Long-Term Cost Savings

Seeking immediate dental care for dental pain can save you money in the long run. Early detection and treatment of dental issues are generally less complex and less expensive than advanced procedures required for advanced cases. By addressing dental pain promptly, you can avoid more extensive and costly treatments, such as root canals, extractions, or dental implants.

Dental pain should never be ignored or delayed. Don’t let dental pain linger—take proactive steps to address it promptly and maintain a healthy, pain-free smile. Seeking immediate attention from a dentist when experiencing dental pain is crucial for identifying the underlying cause, preventing further damage, relieving discomfort, and preserving your oral health. Additionally, early intervention can save you from dental emergencies, protect your overall well-being, and save you money in the long term.

Please contact us if you have any questions or if you have a dental issue that requires assessment and treatment.

Pregnant? Learn About Pregnancy Gingivitis

Congratulations, you’re expecting! You’re already well aware that you’ll likely experience symptoms such as nausea, food aversion and general discomfort during your pregnancy. But did you know that you might also be susceptible to a particular type of gum inflammation called pregnancy gingivitis that might make your gums bleed?

Although pregnancy gingivitis is a lesser-known effect of pregnancy, it affects upwards of 70% of all pregnant women. Much of the population already has some form of gingivitis, and the risk of pregnancy-related gingivitis might be even greater in those who already have it. 

What is pregnancy gingivitis?

We know that gingivitis is a form of gum disease where the gum tissue becomes inflamed. This is caused by bacteria in the mouth called plaque. But other potential factors may also cause gingivitis. During pregnancy, there is a shift in hormones – particularly estrogen and progesterone. The changes to these hormones are to blame for the increased inflammation of gum tissue. Your body’s response to oral bacteria will be heightened. That’s why it’s essential to maintain optimal oral health during pregnancy. Pregnancy gingivitis may appear at any time during pregnancy and even nursing but is most common during the second and third trimesters. 

What are the signs and symptoms of pregnancy gingivitis? 

Pregnancy gingivitis displays the typical signs and symptoms of regular gingivitis. You may experience red, puffy, swollen gums. Your gums may bleed easier, such as when flossing or brushing teeth. You may also experience a “pregnancy tumour,” which is a scary-sounding term for a very swollen spot of gum tissue, usually localized between two teeth.   

How do you treat and prevent pregnancy gingivitis?

Pregnancy gingivitis is common and will go away on its own in most cases. To prevent it (or reduce the symptoms), be sure to be diligent with your oral health. That means brushing twice a day and flossing once or twice a day.

An electric toothbrush is convenient during pregnancy, especially if you are experiencing a heightened gag reflex which is common in pregnancy. Ensure a nutritious, well-balanced diet containing all essential vitamins and minerals.

You can also add an anti-bacterial mouth wash to your daily routine. Lastly, it is vital to maintain regular dental visits during your pregnancy. Your dentist may even recommend seeing you more frequently for dental cleanings to maintain good gum health. 

Please contact us if you have any questions about pregnancy gingivitis. 

Learn All About Dental Crowns

Sometimes referred to as a “cap,” a dental crown is perhaps the second most commonly used dental restoration behind a dental filling. Crowns are incredibly versatile and can improve a tooth’s durability, longevity and appearance. There are a wide variety of reasons why a dental crown may be recommended. 

What is a dental crown?

A dental crown is a full coverage cap, typically made of porcelain but can also be made from metal, gold or ceramic, that gets fitted and bonded on top of your natural tooth and root. A crown encircles the entire tooth, covering the top, front, back and sides down to the gum line. A dental crown will look and function like your natural enamel. 

Are dental crowns necessary? 

Due to the versatility of dental crowns, they are recommended and used for various reasons. 

To improve the appearance of a tooth or teeth 

Like dental veneers, dental crowns can change a tooth’s shade, shape and size, improving its appearance. Crowns are often used in “smile makeovers” to give you the smile of your dreams. 

For tooth chips/cracks/fractures 

When a tooth has been damaged in some way, a dental crown may be recommended to add stability. 

For teeth with large cavities or failing fillings 

If a cavity gets close to the nerve of a tooth, sometimes a dental filling just won’t cut it, and a crown will need to be used. Teeth with large cavities and dental fillings are also more fragile and prone to breaking. 

For teeth with root canal treatment 

If a tooth has been restored with root canal treatment, the nerve of the tooth is essentially “dead,” causing the tooth to be more fragile and susceptible to breaking. A dental crown will be recommended to add stability and prevent the tooth from breaking. 

What is the dental crown procedure? 

Because a dental crown gets bonded on top of your natural tooth and root, some of your enamel will have to be polished away to make space for the crown. Any decay and old filling material will also be removed. Impressions will be taken once the tooth is polished down and sent to a lab, where the crown will be fabricated. It will be made specifically for your mouth to act and function like your natural tooth. While the permanent crown is being made (which typically takes a week), a temporary crown will be placed. After a week, the permanent crown will be fit in, bonded on and adjusted as necessary. 

How to care for a dental crown

Be sure to maintain excellent oral hygiene. Teeth with crowns can still get cavities around the margins, so be sure to brush and floss it just like your other teeth. You can also use an antibacterial mouthwash to prevent gum inflammation and cavities. The life span of a dental crown is around ten years, but it could be longer when proper oral care is provided.

If you have any questions about dental crowns or believe you may be a candidate for one, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Why You Shouldn’t Forget To Clean Your Tongue

In addition to brushing, flossing and mouthwash, did you know that cleaning your tongue daily is also part of a healthy oral care routine?

Your tongue is a muscle that does lots of work when it comes to speaking and eating, and it requires routine cleaning, just like your teeth and gums. 

The top of your tongue is a rough surface comprised of thousands of tiny taste buds called “papilla.” When observed under a microscope, these taste buds give your tongue the texture of hills and valleys, and bacteria can quickly accumulate in the crevices. Even if you do an excellent job at brushing and flossing, the bacteria from your tongue can travel to other parts of your mouth, possibly contributing to gum disease and cavities. 

Here are the signs and symptoms of bacteria on your tongue:

  • Persistent bad breath or halitosis
  • A bad taste in the mouth 
  • Decreased or subdued taste 
  • A white or cream-coloured coating on the tongue 

Cleaning your tongue using your toothbrush: 

The first option for cleaning your tongue is to use your toothbrush. You can use the bristles of your toothbrush to scrape from the back of your tongue to the front. Do this several times, and rinse the toothbrush between each scrape. Some toothbrushes may also have a rough surface on the flip side of the bristles. If available, you can use this surface to scrape the tongue instead of the bristles. 

Cleaning your tongue using a tongue cleaner: 

Your second option for cleaning your tongue is to use a tongue cleaner. This dental tool is separate at most drug stores, explicitly designed to clean your tongue. Some tongue scrapers have bristles, while others are comprised of corrugated plastic. You use a tongue scraper, like your toothbrush, to clean your tongue. Drag the tool from the back of your tongue to the front several times, rinsing in between. You will be shocked at what you might be able to see come off your tongue! 

If you have any questions about cleaning your tongue or how to do it, we encourage you to contact us to book an appointment today

What To Know About Mouthwash

Mouthwash is an antiseptic-based rinse used to kill harmful bacteria in your mouth. While it can help kill oral bacteria, it is essential to understand the limitations of mouthwash.

Mouthwash cannot manually remove all plaque from your tooth, gum and tongue surfaces, and not all mouthwash can fight against gum disease or dental decay. Therefore, the use of mouthwash cannot replace the need to brush your teeth twice daily and floss once daily. Not all mouthwash is created equal. Some have better and more medicinal ingredients than others. Be sure to look for a mouthwash that is either approved by the CDA (Canadian Dental Association) or the ADA (American Dental Association.)

When to Use Mouthwash 

As stated above, mouthwash cannot remove all plaque from your teeth and gums. It can only help kill bacteria. Be sure to brush and floss your teeth first to remove as much bacteria manually as possible.

If you use a toothpaste containing fluoride, wait 30 minutes before using mouthwash to ensure the fluoride takes full effect. Also, be sure not to rinse your mouth with water after using toothpaste. After 30 minutes, you can use mouthwash. You don’t need to fill your mouth with mouthwash. A few teaspoons are enough if the liquid can access all tooth surfaces and tissues.

Swish the liquid back and forth fur the duration of the rinsing time. Be sure not to swallow any of it! Rinse the liquid for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then spit the contents into the sink.

You can use mouthwash as part of your morning or evening routine or in a pinch if you don’t have access to a toothbrush or have enough time to brush and floss your teeth. General guidelines are to use mouthwash once to twice per day and that it does not replace the need for brushing and flossing. 

Does Mouthwash Work?

Mouthwash helps as an antiseptic to help kill bacteria, but since it cannot remove bacteria colonies on your teeth or gums, it plays a small role in preventing gum disease. If the mouthwash contains fluoride as an active ingredient, it can help to prevent cavities. It may be that people who use mouthwash also take better care of their teeth, so it’s difficult to prove in a study that the simple use of mouthwash helps to prevent gum disease.  

Mouthwash Considerations

It is crucial to avoid swallowing mouthwash, particularly when it contains fluoride or alcohol. Alternatively, there are many brands of mouthwash that do not contain alcohol, which also helps reduce the “burning” sensation that we usually remember when we think about mouthwash. 

Children should be monitored while using mouthwash until they are trusted not to swallow– around 6. 

In short, mouthwash can be a supplemental aid to help with a complete oral hygiene routine, but it likely doesn’t help significantly prevent gum disease or gum inflammation. If the mouthwash contains fluoride, it can help with preventing cavities. Mouthwash works best when used in conjunction with adequate brushing and flossing. Please call us today to book an appointment if you have questions about mouthwash. 

 

What You Need To Know About Dental Fluorosis

There have been many debates and mixed opinions on the use of fluoride in recent years. Mixed opinions range from whether or not it should be in the municipal water supply and consumed systemically, and also whether it should be used topically at the dentist or in products such as toothpaste. Although fluoride has ample benefits, it is toxic when ingested in significant amounts. 

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been proven to reduce cavity risk in children and adults by strengthening the outer layer of our teeth, called the enamel. Fluoride accomplishes this by making the structure more ridged. Fluoride has been added to many municipalities’ water supply in low doses to help reduce the cavity risk of entire populations. It is also added to products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash, to be used topically to achieve the same outcome.

What is dental fluorosis?

Dental fluorosis occurs when there is too high an intake of fluoride. Too much fluoride can cause brittle teeth and bones by altering the integrity of the organic structures in our bodies. Dental fluorosis can be caused by too high an amount of fluoride in the drinking water or by swallowing products that contain fluoride, such as toothpaste. Fluorosis typically affects the adult teeth because a child will begin using products containing fluoride around three years old until the adult teeth start erupting. 

Fluoride in municipal water 

Adding fluoride to the municipal water supply started when it was observed that natural drinking water in Colorado contained higher amounts of naturally occurring fluoride, and the surrounding communities had lower rates of cavities. At first, many municipalities added too much fluoride to the drinking water, leading to many cases of fluorosis. Since then, fluoride has been reduced to a level that will not cause fluorosis. 

Signs of dental fluorosis 

The teeth will appear discoloured and have white, yellow, or brown notches. These discolorations can range from mild to severe, depending on the level of fluorosis. The enamel will be rough, pitted and not smooth. Teeth with fluorosis will be more susceptible to chipping, breaking and wear. 

Preventing dental fluorosis 

Drinking water is safe to consume in most municipalities, as the fluoride content has been greatly reduced. Children should be monitored while using products containing fluoride until at least the age of 6 to make sure they aren’t eating or swallowing it. 

Treating dental fluorosis 

Treatment may be required to repair the teeth’ surfaces, including dental bonding, veneers or dental crowns. 

If you have questions about dental fluorosis, we encourage you to contact us today.

Most Common Oral Conditions

Let’s review the most common oral conditions that patients experience, the signs and symptoms associated with these conditions, and ways to help prevent and treat these conditions. 

Cavities 

Cavities are one of the most common dental conditions in children and adults. They are holes in the tooth’s structure caused by bacterial accumulation called plaque. Cavities can occur on the biting surfaces, gum lines or between the teeth, leading to infection and tooth loss if left untreated. Cavities are treated with dental fillings, which are used to fill in and replace the decayed tooth structure. To prevent cavities, maintain good oral hygiene and use toothpaste containing fluoride. Also, be sure to limit your exposure to sugars. 

Gum Disease 

Another prevalent oral condition is gum disease. Gum disease starts out as gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums. When left untreated, gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, an infection of the bone and ligament surrounding the teeth. Signs and symptoms of gum disease include bleeding/ tender gums, bad breath, gum recession and loose teeth. Good oral hygiene and regular dental visits are vital to preventing gum disease. 

Staining/Discolouration

Tooth staining and discolouration can happen for many reasons and sometimes occurs with time and age. There are two types of staining, external staining (caused by dietary choices such as coffee and tea or smoking) and internal staining (caused by factors such as health, trauma and past dental work.) Internal staining can be removed at a simple dental cleaning and is easier to prevent. To remove internal staining, whitening products containing hydrogen peroxide should be considered. Prevent staining by maintaining good oral care, rinsing your mouth after coffee, tea and red wine, and quitting smoking.  

Chipped Teeth 

A chipped tooth occurs when a portion of the enamel, and sometimes even the underlying structure called the dentin, chip off due to trauma. This may occur for many reasons, such as a blow to the face, clenching or grinding or biting on something hard. Chips are challenging to prevent but can usually be fixed with dental fillings. 

Impacted Teeth 

The most commonly impacted teeth are the wisdom teeth. These are the 3rd molars that tend to erupt around 18 years old if there is space for them. If no room exists for these molars to erupt, they are considered impacted and may need to be extracted. Impacted wisdom teeth can lead to pain, infection and even cavities on neighbouring teeth. 

Sensitivity 

Tooth sensitivity is a common oral condition experienced by most patients at some point. It isn’t always possible to identify why sensitivity occurs, but it can be related to aggressive brushing, gum recession, tooth erosion, or wear. The best course of action is to use sensitivity toothpaste twice daily for prevention. 

If you have any questions or concerns about these common oral conditions, we encourage you to contact our office today to schedule an appointment.

How Peg-Shaped Teeth are Treated

Peg-shaped teeth, often referred to as “peg laterals,” are a dental condition that affects the size and shape of the upper lateral teeth, which are the second from the centre. It occurs when the teeth do not fully form and erupt smaller in size and sometimes pointier. It may affect both or just one of the upper lateral teeth. The condition may be mild, not affecting the size of the tooth very much, or severe, causing a large discrepancy in size and shape.

Treatment for peg-shaped laterals will depend on size, shape, cost of treatment, recommendation by your dentist and your preference. Listed below are treatment options for peg-shaped teeth. 

No Dental Treatment

Of course, the first option we will discuss is no treatment. If a patient isn’t concerned with the appearance of these teeth and there is no functional problem, they can certainly be left as is. 

Dental Bonding

If the peg laterals are large and strong enough, your dentist may be able to use filling material to bond to the front, edge and side portions of the teeth to build them up and modify their appearance. This is a very cost-effective solution but may not last as long as a more permanent solution such as dental crowns or veneers. Bonding may chip and wear with time and need to be touched up.

Dental Veneers 

A veneer is made in a dental lab and is created to precisely fit your teeth and preferences, changing the tooth’s size, shape and colour. A small portion of the tooth’s outer structure is sanded down, and the veneer is bonded to the front surface. Veneers are a more permanent and lasting solution than dental bonding, but they will also be more expensive. In addition, there has to be enough natural tooth structure to bond the veneer, and if there isn’t, a crown is the only option. 

Dental Crowns 

A crown is the best solution for a peg-shaped tooth’s structural integrity, function, aesthetics and longevity. It is a full coverage cap that gets cemented onto the tooth once it is sanded down. Like a veneer, it is fabricated in a dental lab suited to your mouth to your specifications. Because it is the best and most lasting option, it is also the most costly. 

Call us to book an appointment today to discuss the treatment of your peg-shaped teeth.

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