Why wait until you have a toothache, bleeding gums, bad breath, or other problems to decide it’s time to start focusing on your oral health? Your mouth and your whole body can benefit from maintaining good oral health. Here is some simple advice that will help you along the path to a healthy smile.
Brushing and flossing
Tooth decay and gum disease are both preventable with proper brushing and flossing. Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, using a circular motion. It’s best to brush after every meal, but twice a day should be the minimum. Gently floss your teeth daily to remove food particles and bacteria between your teeth.
Focusing on eating foods from each food group will aid your oral health in addition to your overall health. Not getting essential nutrients in your diet increases your risk of gum disease, and also makes it more difficult for your body to resist infection. Eat low fat dairy items, lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Look for foods low in sugar, which can lead to tooth decay. Avoid snacking too much during the day when you aren’t going to brush your teeth afterwards, and drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Seeing your dentist
Visit your dentist at least twice a year for checkups. During these appointments, your dentist will look for problems and professionally clean your teeth. Delays in treatment of some conditions can cause them to worsen to the point that treatment may be more painful, difficult, or costly. Your dentist will help you keep your teeth and gums healthy so that you can keep smiling as long as possible.
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Each year, more than 30,000 Americans receive an oral cancer diagnosis. Unfortunately, less than 57 percent will live beyond five years. In fact, the death rate for oral cancer is higher than cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s disease, brain cancer, and liver cancer. Usually seen in older patients, oral cancer in individuals under 40 is on the rise.
Fast Facts about Oral Cancer
• Early detection increases the survival rate to almost 90 percent.
• Initially, oral cancer patients may have few obvious symptoms of the illness.
• Certain factors, such as gender, lifestyle choices, and age can increase your risk of developing oral cancer. An estimated 25 percent of oral cancer patients, however, have no risk factors for the disease.
• Famous people who have battled oral cancer include Michael Douglas, Roger Ebert, Aaron Spelling, Humphrey Bogart, Eddie Van Halen, and Babe Ruth.
• Signs of oral cancer include a sore that does not heal after two weeks, color change in oral tissue, hoarse or scratchy throat, and difficulty with chewing or swallowing.
• Side effects of oral cancer may include chronic discomfort, loss of oral function, and difficulty in chewing, swallowing, or speaking.
• Research suggests that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables decreases your chances of developing cancerous lesions.
• Routine dental visits allow your dentist to look for signs of oral cancer, which can lead to early detection if there is a problem.
• Tobacco and alcohol use can result in a 75 percent chance of receiving an oral cancer diagnosis.
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A number of serious health problems like cancer are linked to smoking, but your oral health is also at risk from using tobacco. Your teeth can be severely stained, turning them yellow or brown, and your lips can become darker too. Smokers have a higher risk of tooth decay, and bad breath is nearly inevitable. The negative outcomes of smoking continue to worsen the longer you keep doing it, so it’s highly advisable to kick the habit. However, as most smokers can attest, giving it up is not easy. Here are some tips that may help you quit smoking.
Make a list
Create a list of the reasons you’d like to quit smoking, and look at it often to remind you of your goals and the benefits you’ll achieve. These may include things like improving your overall health, restoring your smile, making loved ones proud of you, and even saving money.
Choose a date
Select a date on the calendar to stop, and stick to it. Having a concrete target can help you focus on the challenge ahead.
Ask for help
The support and encouragement from others can be a huge part of quitting smoking. Tell your family and friends about your goal, and allow them to play a part in accomplishing it.
Occupy your mouth
Sucking on sugarless candy or mints can keep your mouth busy, so you’ll be less inclined to put a cigarette in it. Chewing sugar-free gum is another great remedy for the urge to light up.
Try to find things to occupy your time and mind so that you aren’t constantly thinking about smoking. Take up a new hobby that involves both your mind and your hands so that you are busy with other, more beneficial, activities than puffing on a cigarette.
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Brush and brush and brush, but you probably will not be able to get rid of all the plaque on your teeth. Even with regular brushing, some amount of plaque will build up on your teeth and turn into a hard substance called tartar. It simply can’t be removed without professional help.
What is tartar?
Tartar is a hard, yellow or brown deposit that forms on your teeth both above and below your gum line. Any food particles remaining in your mouth after eating will breed bacteria, which creates a thin film on your teeth called plaque. Any plaque that isn’t removed with brushing and flossing will harden to create tartar.
Is it harmful?
Tartar makes the surface of your teeth rough, which attracts food particles and therefore accelerates tartar formation. If you allow tartar to continue building up, your teeth will become discolored and your gums will be at risk. You will likely develop gingivitis, in which your gums become swollen and red. They will bleed easily and become painful, and eventually can lead to tooth loss. Advanced gum disease is even linked to higher risks of stroke, heart attack, and lung disease.
How is it removed?
Tartar is too hard and stubborn to be removed with regular brushing. The only effective way to eliminate tartar is by visiting your dentist and having it removed using professional equipment. This procedure is commonly called scaling.
Can I prevent tartar buildup?
Regular brushing at least twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste can help reduce tartar formation. Unfortunately, even with proper dental hygiene, plaque buildup is inevitable over time and will become tartar. Schedule regular checkups with your dentist to have professional cleanings performed.
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If you have severely damaged, diseased or injured teeth, your dentist may recommend crown and bridge treatment. A crown is a dental restoration that fully covers a tooth and becomes the tooth’s new outer surface. A bridge is also a dental restoration that is anchored to natural teeth. However, a bridge replaces and fills the gap left by multiple missing teeth. Both crowns and bridges are made from a variety of materials and can be matched to the color of your natural teeth. Unlike removable dental devices like dentures, crowns and bridges are permanently affixed to existing teeth or implants allowing them to look and function similarly to natural teeth.
In addition to restored function and appearance, crowns and bridges offer a host of additional benefits including:
- Dental crowns protect and strengthen the natural tooth, helping you to avoid extraction.
- Crowns are the final step in root canal treatment, protecting the tooth from bacteria that could re-infect the treated tooth.
- Crowns and bridges restore missing teeth and support the remaining teeth.
- Your natural bite is restored and maintained with crown and bridge treatment.
- Placement of crowns and bridges improve your speech, smile and chewing function.
- Adjacent teeth are prevented from shifting and tilting with crown and bridge treatment.
- Crowns and bridges are long-lasting, predictable and durable.
- Placement of crowns and bridges is quick and can usually be completed in as little as two appointments.
- Alternatives to crown and bridgework, like dental implants, are usually more invasive requiring surgery and possibly bone grafting to place the implant.
Consult with your dentist to find out more about the advantages of crowns and bridges and how they can help to restore your healthy smile.
Our dental office is located in Ottawa
There are few things more irritating than having a painful, swollen sore in your mouth. It bothers you while eating, talking, and even just sitting around. There are a number of types of mouth sores with different causes. Some are infections from bacteria, viruses, or fungus. Or they can be a result of an ill-fitting denture, broken tooth or filling, or loose orthodontic wire. Mouth sores can also be a symptom of a medical condition. Here are some details about common mouth sores.
These small sores occur inside your mouth, and are white or gray with a red outline. They aren’t contagious, but are recurring and can happen one-at-a-time or several at once. Experts believe that lowered immune systems, bacteria, or viruses are risk factors. Canker sores often heal by themselves in about a week, and topical anesthetics or antibacterial mouthwashes may provide relief.
Also called fever blisters, these sores occur outside of your mouth around your lips, nose, or chin. These blisters filled with fluid are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1, and are extremely contagious. Once you have been infected with the herpes virus, it remains in your body and occasionally flares up. Cold sores usually heal in about a week on their own. Topical anesthetics may help, and your dentist might prescribe antiviral medications to reduce outbreaks.
Also called oral thrush, candidiasis is a result of the yeast Candida albicans reproducing in large quantities. It usually happens to those with weakened immune systems, and is common with people wearing dentures or with dry mouth syndrome. Candidiasis is also linked to taking antibiotics. Controlling candidiasis is done by preventing or controlling the cause of the outbreak. Ask your dentist for advice.
Common with tobacco users, leukoplakia are thick white patches on the inside of your cheeks, gums, or tongue. In addition to tobacco use, they can also be caused by ill-fitting dentures or continual chewing on the inside of your cheek. Leukoplakia is linked with oral cancer, so your dentist may advise a biopsy if the patch looks suspicious.
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