Dr Hardeep Bhatta & Dr Allen Friesen
Suite 205 - 1465 Salisbury Ave
Port Coquitlam, BC V3B6J3
Teeth are composed of layers of different types of tissue. The main inner layers — the pulp and dentin — help the teeth respond and adapt to external forces. But they’re vulnerable to decay and quite sensitive to environmental extremes. They are protected from all these by a coating of enamel, made of the hardest material found in the human body.
But while enamel is strong, it’s not invincible — it can soften and dissolve (de-mineralize) if the mouth environment becomes too acidic. While de-mineralization occurs normally whenever the mouth becomes too acidic after eating or drinking, saliva helps neutralize the acid (buffering); in fact, saliva can restore to the enamel some of the calcium and other minerals it has lost (a process called re-mineralization).
If the acidic level remains too high for too long it can overwhelm saliva’s buffering ability and cause permanent mineral loss to the enamel. This erosion leaves teeth more susceptible to decay and disease and could lead to tooth loss. With this in mind, here’s some ways you can help preserve your enamel:
Following these tips, along with effective oral hygiene, will go a long way in protecting your teeth’s enamel coating — and preserving your teeth in the long run.
If you would like more information on enamel erosion and how to prevent it, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “6 Tips to Help Prevent the Erosion of Tooth Enamel.”
Local anesthesia has emerged over the last half century as one of the most effective tools in dentistry. Its use has literally revolutionized pain control and led to a new description of care known as comfortable dentistry.
The term “local” indicates that the numbing agent is applied only to the area affected by the procedure to temporarily block nerve sensation while the patient remains conscious. Some topical anesthetics are applied to the surface of the lining tissues of the mouth with a cotton swab, adhesive patch or spray to immediately numb the area. While topical anesthetics are sometimes used to increase comfort during teeth cleaning, they’re most often used to block the feeling of the needle prick of an injectable “local” anesthetic. Injectable “local” anesthetics provide a deeper numbing of the teeth, gums and bones.
Along with other calming or sedative techniques, local anesthesia is especially helpful in lowering a patient’s anxiety and stress levels during treatment. It’s a necessity during treatments like decay removal, deep root cleaning, fillings, tooth extractions or gum surgery because the nerve-rich tissues of the mouth are especially sensitive to pain. There are some treatments, however, that don’t call for anesthesia such as enamel removal or shaping (unless the more sensitive dentin below the enamel layers has been exposed).
One common complaint about local anesthesia is the lingering numbness a patient may continue to feel even a few hours after their visit. This inconvenience can be reduced by using different types of anesthetics, and there are now agents that can be applied after a procedure to reverse the effects of an anesthetic.
Local anesthesia benefits both you the patient and your dental professional — you’re more comfortable and less stressful during your visit, and your dentist or hygienist can work more effectively knowing you’re at ease. A pain-free, anxiety-free treatment atmosphere contributes greatly to your long-term dental health.
If you would like more information on the use and benefits of local anesthesia for dental procedures, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Local Anesthesia for Pain-Free Dentistry.”
Oral cancer is not as uncommon as people think. In 2008 an estimated 34,000 cancers of the mouth and throat were diagnosed. In order to minimize your risk of developing oral cancer, be aware of habits that increase your risk.
Early signs of oral cancer can mimic harmless sores that occur in the mouth such as canker sores, minor infections, or irritations that occur from biting or eating certain foods. Cancers in the lip area can easily be mistaken for harmless sores.
It is important to have regular oral examinations to detect signs of oral cancer. Although 90 percent of oral cancers occur in people who are over 40, it is becoming more prevalent in younger people, particularly those who adopt risky behaviors: smoking, drinking and oral sex.
It is important not to let a suspicious sore go unchecked. If detected and treated early, while a lesion or growth is small, survival rates can exceed 80 percent. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about oral cancer. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”
Young children are like sponges, soaking up patterns of behavior they will later apply in many circumstances throughout life. In this learning process, they often look to family members for guidance. Some good habits, like saying “please” and “thank you,” can be taught verbally. Others are best learned by example.
Developing good habits early will benefit your children for a lifetime — especially where their health is concerned. Fortunately, it isn't hard to instill good oral hygiene behavior in a young child; for example, most all children are successfully taught to brush their teeth at an early age. What follows are some tips that might not be as obvious, but will help your children build healthy routines for maintaining optimum oral hygiene.
1) Teach your children how to check the cleanliness of their own teeth.
How? By running their tongue over the tooth surfaces! If the teeth feel nice and smooth, they're likely to be clean, too. Remember to give kids a soft brush, and tell them to use gentle strokes in brushing.
2) Avoid transferring your own oral bacteria to your children.
Children aren't born with decay-producing bacteria — they get them from others! That's why sharing baby's spoon or licking a pacifier clean aren't really good ideas. (Neither is pre-chewing a baby's food, despite what some birds and celebrities do. Trust us on this.)
3) Set an example of healthy eating habits for your children.
Follow common-sense guidelines (like those in www.choosemyplate.gov) for maintaining a balanced diet, eating plenty of vegetables and whole grains, drinking lots of water and getting moderate exercise.
4) Limit sugary treats to mealtimes, not snack times — if you allow them at all.
Oral bacteria utilize sugar for energy and when they metabolize it, they produce harmful acids. These acids attack the teeth and cause decay. The more sugar, the higher potential for stronger acids. Saliva helps neutralize these acids — but not if sugar is constantly present in the mouth. Try to limit sugary treats to mealtimes, and serve a healthier snack between meals.
5) Encourage your children to stop sucking thumbs and pacifiers by age 3.
Thumb sucking is a normal, comforting habit that may begin in the womb. Most kids stop on their own between ages 2 and 4. But long-term sucking on fingers or a pacifier can lead to tooth and jaw-development problems. We can help you find ways to gently encourage children to stop when it's time.
If you would like more information about instilling good oral hygiene habits in children, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health.”
One of the top concerns in healthcare is the interactions and side effects of medications. Drugs taken for separate conditions can interact with each other or have an effect on some other aspect of health. It's important then that all your health providers know the various medications you are taking, along with other lifestyle habits. That includes your dental team.
Calcium channel blockers (CCBs) are one type of medication that can have an effect on your oral health. CCBs are used primarily to control hypertension (high blood pressure), and to treat other cardiovascular conditions like angina or abnormal heart rhythm. They work by dilating blood vessels, which makes it easier for the heart to pump.
CCBs are now recognized as a contributing factor in the development of a condition known as gingival hyperplasia in which the gum tissues “overgrow,” extending in some cases abnormally over the teeth. This abnormal growth can be painful and uncomfortable, and can make oral hygiene more difficult to perform. The overgrowth of tissue can also be socially embarrassing.
There's also a secondary factor that can increase the risk for tissue overgrowth in patients taking a CCB — poor oral hygiene. In the absence of a good hygiene routine, a layer of bacterial plaque known as biofilm can build up on tooth surfaces and lead to various forms of gum disease, including hyperplasia. The overgrown tissue contributes in turn to this disease process by inhibiting effective oral hygiene.
If you've already developed gingival hyperplasia or some other form of gum disease, it's important for you to receive periodontal treatment for the disease as soon as possible. Once we have the condition under control, it's then a matter of regular dental checkups and cleanings to reduce the risk of disease, including gingival hyperplasia. We can also help you develop effective hygiene practices that inhibit this condition while you are taking a CCB.
If you would like more information on the effects of medication on oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Blood Pressure Medications.”
That “squeaky clean” feeling on your teeth might be the most noticeable result of a professional cleaning performed by a dental hygienist. Rest assured, though, there's more to it — regular professional cleanings yield long-term benefits to your oral health.
A basic procedure known as coronal cleaning removes plaque (bacteria and leftover food deposits) on the crowns, the visible portion of the teeth. If you are showing signs or are at risk for gum disease (a bacterial infection of the gum tissue) your hygienist may also initiate cleaning below the gum line with a procedure called scaling. This common technique removes plaque and tartar (hard deposits) above and below the gum line using either a traditional set of hand instruments (known as curettes) or an ultrasonic scaler, a device that uses vibrations from ultrasonic frequencies and water to remove plaque and tartar.
Root planing takes the cleaning even deeper, using curettes to remove plaque and tartar adhering to tooth roots. This is typically necessary for patients with advanced gum disease, and may need to be repeated over a number of visits as inflammation subsides.
Polishing is another common hygienic procedure performed both above and below the gum line. It's the procedure you most associate with that feeling of smoothness after a cleaning. The hygienist will typically apply to the teeth polishing paste held in a small rubber cup attached to a motorized device. As the motor rapidly rotates the rubber cup, the paste works into the teeth to remove surface stains and bacterial plaque. While it's considered a cosmetic procedure, it's more accurately defined as a prophylaxis, a dental term derived from the Greek meaning to guard or prevent beforehand.
Professional cleaning performed by a dental hygienist is only one half of an overall hygiene plan; the other half is your own daily habit of brushing and flossing. Both your daily hygiene and regular dental checkups and cleanings will go a long way toward preserving your teeth as they were meant to be — for a lifetime.
If you would like more information on teeth polishing, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Polishing.”
If you have to ask why anybody would voluntarily endure the pain of receiving a tongue piercing — then maybe you're just too old to understand. But seriously: no matter where you stand on the aesthetics of the issue, you shouldn't ignore the real health risks that go along with the installation of oral piercings.
According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, the most common sites for intraoral piercing are the tongue and the lip. In the case of the so-called “tongue bolt,” several significant short-term and long-term risks have been identified; most also apply to other types of oral piercings as well.
The tongue is primarily composed of muscle tissue, along with a rich supply of associated blood vessels and nerves. This explains why accidentally biting your tongue can be so painful — and bloody. Installing a tongue bolt involves piercing a small hole through the tongue, and attaching the ornament through the hole.
In rare instances — such as the case of a teenager who experienced severe pain and the sensation of electrical shocks — nerve irritation and damage may occur soon after a tongue bolt is installed. (Fortunately, her symptoms cleared up shortly after the bolt was removed.) More often, the symptoms are less severe, but the health issues are chronic.
Tongue bolts are known to cause problems with the teeth, including increased sensitivity and pain. Teeth are also prone to chipping due to contact with the ornament. These are among the reasons why you are likely to need more frequent dental checkups if you have an oral piercing.
Additionally, periodontal (gum) problems can develop in individuals with oral piercings. These frequently appear as gum recession, inflammation and infection. Eventually, bone loss may occur as well.
The good news: removing an oral piercing is generally easy, and the area is quick to heal. If it doesn't seal up by itself, the hole left behind can be closed with only minor surgery. And removing the piercing immediately reduces your health risk — thus instantly improving your overall oral health.
Thinking of getting — or removing — an oral piercing? Talk to us. No matter what you decide to do, you owe it to your health to become informed about the issues surrounding these body ornaments.
If you would like more information about oral piercings, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “How Oral Piercings Affect Your Oral Health,” and “Body Piercings and Teeth.”
Ninety percent of people have noticed bleeding from their gums when they brush or floss their teeth at some time or other. You may wonder if this is a result of brushing too hard — but that's not usually the case.
If your gums don't hurt — even if they bleed easily — you may think the bleeding is normal, nothing to worry about, or you're brushing too hard.
Bleeding from your gums is not normal!
It is an early warning sign of gum disease. In fact ten percent of those who start with bleeding gums go on to develop serious periodontal disease affecting the support for the teeth leading to tooth loss.
The way you brush your teeth is indeed a factor! Bacteria that normally reside in the mouth (in fact you need them to stay healthy) collect along the gum line in a biofilm. When the biofilm is not removed effectively on a daily basis, over time the gums become inflamed and bleed when touched. Other signs of inflamed gums — gingivitis — are redness and swelling, and even recession.
SO — the problem is not that you are brushing too hard, but that you are not brushing and/or flossing effectively. Both are important.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about bleeding gums. Bring your toothbrush and floss with you to our office and ask us to demonstrate proper oral hygiene techniques. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums: A very important warning sign of gum disease.”