News from our Scarborough Dental Care Office

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Stress is a fact of life- there’s no getting around it. Most adults experience some kind of stress every day either from the larger stressors that can come from our jobs, our family lives, or a time of crisis, little run-of-the-mill stressors such as sitting in traffic or an annoying phone call.


Some people manage their stress in healthy ways such as through exercise and positive visualization and others in less healthy ways such as through over eating or smoking. But no matter how people handle their stress during their waking hours, how their bodies experience stress during sleep is a whole other story.


When we’re asleep, our bodies often continue to experience the residual stress leftover from the day. One of the most common ways our bodies experience stress during sleep is through teeth grinding or pressing our teeth together.


The repetitive or compulsive act of moving the jaw or grinding or pressing the teeth together in sleep is called bruxism. Bruxism is very common but also slightly unpleasant- rather than awake feeling refreshed, we often get up in the morning with a mild headache or feeling tension in the jaw, the hinge of the jaw, or even in the neck.


Bruxism is a sneaky condition; because the grinding or pressing happens almost entirely in sleep, not everyone knows she’s doing it. For those of us who lead busy lives, when we wake up, we spring into our day and often don’t pause to notice the signals our body is giving us. We might feel a tightness in the jaw or a stiff neck, but we rub the area and keep going.


For most adults, bruxism is mostly annoying, though if left untreated it can cause a wearing of the dentition, which opens us up to a host of other future issues. Fortunately during regular hygiene appointments, your dentist will notice any wear and can identify signs of bruxism easily. Bite plates can be worn during sleep, and these are very effective in helping protect the teeth against further wear. Other treatments are available that address the source of the grinding and the body’s response to it: therapy, exercise, meditation, deep breathing and visualization are some excellent stress reducers that can safely and effectively reduce stress and the body’s need to find an outlet during sleep.


Interestingly, even though children don’t have the same stressors as adults, they are equal candidates for bruxism, particularly those who are six years old or younger. In their case, however, bruxism isn’t typically due to stress; rather, the grinding or pressing is largely their body’s response to physiological issues. For example, if their growing adult teeth are causing some discomfort below the gum line as they make their way down toward the surface, or if the adult teeth are pressing up against the existing baby teeth, children may grind their teeth to alleviate whatever pain they may be experiencing. Children also have narrow air passages and grinding may simply be their body’s way of making more room for air.


Children may not be able to verbalize a tightness in the jaw or headache as well as an adult, and often if they do experience bruxism, it is identified either when the parents happen to hear or see the child grinding in sleep, or by the dentist during a routine exam or hygiene appointment. When the dentist does notice effects of bruxism, she will identify that the child’s baby teeth look work down, and while it is often a surprise and source of worry for the parents, it is treatable.


While the causes for bruxism in children are well known, documented, and researched, some controversy still exists in the dental community as to what the best course of action is for treating the condition. Bruxism in children is typically due to physiological factors, yet it can still occasionally be caused by stress. The source of the grinding first needs to be identified in order to best treat the condition. If there is obvious stress or anxiety in the child’s life, it is important to get the child some help from a therapist or psychologist trained in stress and anxiety in children. Talking through the anxious situations or fears with a professional can usually help the child find alternative and healthy ways to help himself feel less anxious and more in control. The child may not even be aware that he is feeling stress, and speaking to a mental health professional could help the child explore his life and find productive ways to feel about his circumstances.


As far as the child’s future tooth health, it is best to continue to regularly visit the dentist to ensure that the damage is being managed and no further wear is occurring. In some situations, the dentist may recommend other courses of action, particularly if the occlusion in the child is imbalanced. It is often the case in children that the neuromuscular system is simply not mature and needs more time to organize its movement. Your dentist will listen to your concerns and check your child’s dentition while paying attention to how the child breathes through the mouth. The dentist may also ask you to observe the child in sleep to see if you are able to detect any abnormalities of breathing or other physical issues such as tossing and turning or nail biting which would indicate stress as the most probable cause for the grinding.


It is important to remember that bruxism is extremely common and also quite treatable, especially in children. The sooner it is identified the better, which is why it is important you continue to visit your dentist regularly for check ups and hygiene appointments. Doing this will ensure healthy teeth and a healthy, relaxed body for a lifetime.

News from our Scarborough Dental Care Office

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When you visit your dentist for the very first time and are asked to fill out a questionnaire regarding any pre-existing conditions you have or whether you’re taking any medications, the dentist isn’t simply being curious- she’s trying to keep you safe, healthy, and out of harm’s way.


Certain procedures or aspects of treatment, such as local anaesthetic, can cause problems for those with heart conditions due to the active ingredients in the anaesthetic. Medications can also interact with other prescribed medications.


For these reasons, it is highly recommended that you answer your dentist’s questionnaire fully: the more your dentist knows about your medical history, the more she can protect you. Once she is aware of any condition you have, she can then find suitable alternative ways to treat you, preventing any complications or side effects that could arise from her typical course of treatment.


Local anaesthetic, for example, has been commonly used during a variety of dental procedures since its development nearly 200 years ago. This pain management agent is injected into the area or areas of the mouth to prevent any localized pain that could occur from the procedure.


If you have a heart condition, however, you may be at risk for complications if you receive local aesthetic. Local anaesthetic, commonly called Lidocaine, which is the modern replacement for Novocane, contains vasoconstrictors. These vasoconstrictors affect heart rate, stroke volume and blood pressure. In otherwise healthy patients, these vasoconstrictors have little or no systemic effect apart from their intended effect of numbing the oral area from pain, but if you have any condition that affects the heart, you may experience an interaction that could jeopardize your health. In such a case, the dentist will discuss alternate treatment options with you before beginning any course of treatment.


Further, if you have recently experienced a heart attack or stroke, disclosing this is imperative as any elective dental care such as cleanings, fillings, gum surgery, or other more invasive procedures such as root canal treatment, should be postponed and then undertaken at a later date under advisement of both the dentist and your primary care physician.


Unstable angina may require that you have additional physician care present during your treatments in case of emergency. In this situation, depending on your exact situation and the severity of the angina, your dentist may confer with your physician to determine whether it is safe to proceed with the treatment as planned or delay it until a later time. If dental treatment is necessary and you’re able to undergo the procedure, the dentist may in this case arrange with your doctor to see you in a medical facility where you can be safely attended by additional medical personnel.


Lastly, detailing for the dentist any medications you’re taking can prevent unpleasant side effects, inefficacy, and even death. Medicines commonly interact, and listing those you’re taking allows the dentist to prescribe only those that are safe to take in combination with those you’re currently taking.


In all cases, your dentist is trained to help you if anything unexpected were to happen during your treatment, but every necessary precaution should be taken to ensure your safety and wellness. Preventing interaction and complication from medications or local anaesthetic is entirely possible.


Revealing your full medical history to your dentist is in your best interests of staying safe and healthy. Medicines commonly interact, but if your dentist is aware of everything you’re taking, she can prescribe only those medications that are safe to take in conjunction with those you’re already taking. Should you have heart disease or any heart condition, rather than administer local anaesthetic, your dentist will recommend alternative treatment options and will ensure your health and wellness by working closely with your primary care physician.


Receiving the dental care you need is always an option. Being upfront with your dentist will enable her to help you find the best- and safest- way to have healthy, clean teeth, and to keep them for a lifetime.

News from our Scarborough Dental Care Office

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It’s easy to think that our oral healthcare is separate and distinct from our overall healthcare. Even the health insurance companies in Canada distinguish between the two, putting an emphasis on overall physical care and categorizing dental care as an extra benefit, which results in many people overall healthcare coverage but not dental. This does an enormous disservice to the population: oral health and overall health are not only inextricably linked, they’re reliant on the other, most importantly with regard to early detection of developing problems.


Dental care, for example, isn’t only related to issues in and of the mouth. If a disease or illness is in its early stages of development in a person’s body, long before symptoms begin to manifest in the body, many times signs become apparent in the mouth. It’s not uncommon for dental professionals to be the first physicians to notice something awry in a patient that suggests a systemic problem. For this reason, the mouth is often referred to as “the window to the body.”  In addition to regular check ups and cleanings being important for your oral health, they’re also beneficial insofar as should anything irregular show up during your exam, the dentist can determine what may be wrong. Catching illness or disease so early on increases the chance of treating that illness before it worsens or becomes widespread.


Erosion on the teeth can be an indicator for several different problems that warrant further exploration. If the patient is vomiting regularly due to bulimia, stomach acid may be wearing down the tooth enamel. If the disease is left untreated, it could ultimately cause deterioration of the enamel, inflammation of the esophagus and chronic acid reflux in addition to a host of other ailments, some of which may permanently damage the body or even cause death. GERD is another commonly diagnosed condition from enamel erosion. GERD, or Gastroesophageal reflux disease, can greatly affect the condition of the teeth due to excess acid coming up into the mouth. The condition is treatable with medication, but the patient should then be under a physician’s supervision to prevent long-term damage. Acidic erosion may also simply stem from too many acidic or sugary drinks such as pop or juice. And wear on the enamel in certain patterns shows the dentist that there patient grinds or presses her teeth together at night. If there are accompanying headaches, tooth sensitivity, gum recession and a feeling of fullness in the ears, the dentist may recommend the patient be fitted with a night guard and try relaxation techniques before sleep to reduce the behaviour and prevent further wear. In all cases, after seeing such indicators, the dentist can assess the patient’s overall health and honestly and candidly work to resolve the issue with the patient before it becomes worse.


Alternatively, if you have an existing condition, revealing it to your dentist will allow her to be on alert for specific oral issues that tend to plague those with that condition. Certain conditions leave patients more vulnerable to gum disease or cavities; for example, diabetes sufferers are commonly affected by far greater instance of gum disease, abscesses and root caries. These patients are advised to see the dentist more frequently to keep these issues under control. All in all, being aware of any pre-existing conditions will enable the dentist to take extra care and precaution with regard to those side effects that arise from any disorder or disease.


Oral health and overall health are not mutually exclusive; the body is a system in which each part works organically with the others and affects the others. Caught early enough, these situations are either preventable or treatable. If you maintain your regular dental visits, see something unusual happening to your teeth, gums, tongue or throat, or just have a suspicion that something isn’t quite right, please see your dentist. She is equipped with the knowledge and training to catch these and other issues early on, saving you further difficulties down the line.

News from our Scarborough Dental Care Office

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As with everything in life, there are risks. Certain things have an extremely high degree of risk: cliff diving, jumping from airplanes, or hiking Mount Everest. Other things we do in our daily lives have a very low degree of risk, such as eating a salad, taking the car to work, or going for a walk yet these too have some associated risk as well. Life is a risky business, and in every case, from extremely high to extremely low, even if every precaution is taken, unexpected things can, and do, happen. After all, as Mark Twain famously said, “Necessity is the mother of taking chances.”


It goes without saying then that there would invariably be some risks associated with dental treatments. Some procedures are low risk and daily practice for the dentist and hygienists, and others are more invasive and involve higher risks. There is also the particular combination of an effective and tested procedure, the industry-approved materials used for that procedure, and each patient’s particular biology. By and large, all procedures from large to small are expected to yield specific outcomes; however, even with every precaution that is taken, the variable of individual biology can occasionally throw in a curve ball and a problem may occur.


For example, following a filling, infection has been known to develop, which if it goes undetected or remains untreated, can necessitate root canal treatment. Teeth can become sensitive after a whitening treatment, a common side effect. If one is predisposed to dryness in the lips, they may crack from the mouth having to be open during a cleaning, and the basic removal of plaque could cause gums to bleed slightly or become temporarily sore.


With every procedure you encounter in the dentist’s office, the dentist explains your options and makes recommendations based on your particular oral health and your overall health. She can talk to you about alternatives and other options in addition to the standard recommended procedures. She will also inform you as to what you can expect during and after your treatment or procedure and lay out any risks that have been noted to occur in association with the treatment or procedure as well as how to take care of your oral health and what your home care should entail.


To minimize the risk of any possible problems flaring up after a treatment, it’s wise to follow the dentist’s instructions for post care, and on an ongoing basis, practice good oral hygiene at home, maintain your regular check ups, and continue to see your dentist for cleaning appointments as recommended. If you have any concerns or questions, it’s always best to contact your dentist right away to discuss your situation. Nowadays it’s easiest to dash to the computer and self-diagnose from surfing medical websites, but that can open a can of worms you just don’t need. The best thing to do is chat with your dentist directly. She knows you and your particular oral situation and if you are experiencing uncertainty or discomfort or simply want some advice, she can speak to your concerns specifically and give you a personalized course of action to follow. The peace of mind you’ll get from such a consultation and problem solving session is invaluable.

News from our Scarborough Dental Care Office

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Investing in dental insurance is investing in your peace of mind. Insurance premiums may seem expensive when you look at the lump sum you’re required to pay at the beginning of the term; however, over the year, those premiums tend not only to pay for themselves, but fund a good deal more than your initial investment. If you or your family require anything beyond your twice-yearly check-ups such as a filling for a cavity, X-rays, or any other treatment, those costs can add up quickly. When you’re insured, you know that no matter what life throws at you, you’re covered.


It’s worth looking into different types of insurance plans depending on your family’s particular needs. From comprehensive coverage to flexible plans, out-of-province protection or protection for those over sixty-five, you can determine ahead of time for what eventuality and to what degree you want to be covered.


Even if you take excellent care of your teeth at home and see your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings, cavities, gum recession, or any other issue affecting the teeth, tongue, gums, lips or throat could arise at any time, throwing you for a financial loop when faced with having to pay for the treatments out of pocket, or worse, making it so you have to skimp on care, or avoid treatments altogether, which could cause far greater health problems down the line.


Those who have children receive extra financial benefit from having insurance; each member of the household is allotted an amount by the insurance company for which he is reimbursed. From basic hygiene appointments to more specific costly treatments such as fillings, root canal, crowns, or anything you may need to keep your mouth healthy, your insurance will cover the bulk of the costs. Over the term of the insurance, a family can save a great deal.


While your dentist’s primary job is to provide the best possible treatment for your overall oral health, she will always be glad to discuss options with you and recommend various possible treatments that may work with your financial situation, the time you want to spend on treatments, and your expectations of the outcome. It is best to discuss these options with your dentist before beginning any treatment plan, as her recommendations will likely help you decide whether getting dental coverage prior to beginning any treatment is beneficial.


It isn’t always necessary to have insurance, but in the event a larger treatment becomes necessary, not having to pay a big portion out of pocket is a huge relief. It is worth the time to investigate plans that are right for you and your family’s particular needs and budget. We at Dental Care for You do what we can to help make things as easy for you as possible by submitting claim forms to your insurance company for you, leaving you free to take care of what matters: you and your family.

News from our Scarborough Dental Care Office

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When it comes to visiting the dentist, you may not always know what kind of exam you need. Whether it’s preventative, an emergency, or an issue requiring the services of a specialist, a visit to your dentist can help you get- and stay- healthy.

General Maintenance

Maintaining our oral health is an essential part of our all-over health. The mouth is the window to the body, and as early signs of disease or other irregularities developing in the body commonly first appear in the mouth, it’s that much more important to see your dentist twice a year for cleanings, and once a year for a full check-up.

The Ontario Dental Association strongly recommends an annual check-up as this exam screens for all issues of oral health as well as for issues affecting your overall health. In this exam, the dentist checks all areas of the mouth, neck, and jaw, including the jaw joints (TMJ), lymph nodes, intraoral tissue, gums, the pockets around the teeth, and teeth mobility recession. The dentist also investigates instances of decay, checks bone levels, looks for conditions that may affect the jaw, throat or tongue, and screens for any abnormalities, signs of cancer or other systemic disease that may present in areas not otherwise visible to the patient.

In addition to our getting an annual check-up, the ODA also strongly recommends we get a complete series of X-rays every three to five years depending on our age and our overall oral and medical condition. X-rays show the dentist areas of the mouth that are imperceptible to the naked eye and point to any cavities or problem areas in the tooth, gum or root of the teeth.

Emergency Exam and Specific Exam

Should you require an emergency visit to the dentist due to pain or discomfort in the mouth, jaw, or neck, your dentist will talk to you about your specific concerns and ask questions related to your overall health, oral habits, and expectations for the treatment, and will present a treatment plan that meets those expectations and best addresses the problem.

Referrals to Specialists

If a dentist believes you require the services of a specialist, she will refer you so you receive the care you require for your specific area of concern.

Making sure we take the time for dentist visits in all ways ensures best overall health.

News from our Scarborough Dental Care Office

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It can happen to anyone: pain in a tooth. If you’ve had this in the past, you knew that the pain probably meant you had a cavity, which meant just getting a simple filling and being on your way. A dentist, however, has special and specific tools at her disposal to make sure that the pain you’re experiencing is in fact a simple cavity. Cavities can range from mild to severe. A mild cavity is indeed treatable with a filling, but more advanced decay may require other measures such as root canal treatment.


Fillings are a dentist’s typical response to smaller amounts of decay, but they’re not always what’s needed to fix the problem. Deeper decay is a bacterial infection, and if it is significant or not treated appropriately, it could spread to adjacent teeth and ultimately affect the root, causing infection at the bone level. And once the bone is compromised, a tooth cannot be saved.


While we all want the easiest and quickest solution, infection in a tooth is serious business. The decay must be thoroughly examined by the dentist so she can provide the best course of action. An additional visit or scan isn’t always convenient, but in the end, these extra steps could mean the difference between saving the tooth and losing it forever.

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Many people experience some nervousness when they visit their dentist because they are afraid of pain or discomfort. This is entirely normal and the dentist is well trained to take every step to make these actions as painless as possible and put her patients’ fears at ease.

But if you find you are more than a little nervous; for example, you shake or sweat or find reasons to cancel your appointments, you may benefit from sedation. Trying to endure your appointment despite having greater anxiety could in fact sabotage your diagnosis or treatment as the dentist may begin to worry that you are unable to withstand the work she must do.

There are aspects to all dental appointments- from a simple cleaning to more significant treatments- that feel or sound unusual and as a result can seem unpleasant. If you find that you aren’t able to tolerate these issues when you’re in the chair, it’s worthwhile to discuss general anesthetic or IV sedation with your dentist prior to your appointment. The dentist needs to operate with full confidence that she’s able to do her job, which may require drilling or administering a shot of Novocain. A patient who is relaxed and comfortable helps her do her job to the fullest extent.

News from our Scarborough Dental Care Office

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Body piercings have long been used among different ethnic groups as a means of identification, for beauty, or to express one’s status. Nowadays, piercings are commonplace amongst people of all ages, genders, and cultures. Youth culture and alternative groups in particular have broadened the concept of piercing for beautification and being unique; we now see people piercing nearly all areas of their bodies.


As a result, dentists see many patients with studs or rings through their tongues and lips, piercings in the cheek, or tongues that have been split into two. As these piercings or techniques are becoming more accepted, it’s that much more important for those who are considering getting pierced to take extra care before and after getting the new jewelry to avoid any complications.


Prior to getting the piercing, make sure you’re not allergic to any metals, which could cause a rash or another local or even systemic reaction. After getting the piercing, since the mouth is rife with infection-causing bacteria, it’s essential to tend to the wound often and keep the site clean. And because a piece of metal so close to the teeth could cause chipping, or the jewelry were to come loose, could damage the lips, tongue, mouth tissue, or even be a choking hazard, it’s important to make sure the piercing is secure and check it often.


Piercing is a personal choice. It’s important to do it responsibly so it enhances your appearance rather than detracts from it.

News from our Scarborough Dental Care Office

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Pregnancy causes changes throughout the entire body, and your mouth is no exception. Because during this important time your mouth is susceptible to more issues such as infection, your dentist may suggest that you see your hygienist for cleaning every three to four months. During the pregnancy your dentist will check your gums and look for cavities. X-rays can be harmful to the unborn child, so it’s essential you inform your dentist if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant. Your dentist also won’t want to do any invasive treatments during this time if they’re avoidable, so she will assess what can wait until either the second or third trimester or until after the child is born and will treat only what is truly necessary such as any emergency concerns.


One of the most common oral issues pregnant women face is pregnancy tumours.  As the body changes and hormones fluctuate, the gums become more sensitive and responsive to bacteria in the mouth. Where during normal function a woman’s body can handle the number of bacteria, during pregnancy, her gums are more sensitive and can react to the bacteria, becoming inflamed and irritated. Occasionally a “pregnancy tumour” grows from this inflammation, typically at the gum line. They can be quite annoying and bleed.


It’s imperative during this time to brush and floss diligently and maintain quarterly check-ups with your hygienist, which will reduce any potential issues and help make your pregnancy just a little bit easier.