Dr Hardeep Bhatta & Dr Allen Friesen
Suite 205 - 1465 Salisbury Ave
Port Coquitlam, BC V3B 6J3
(604) 239-5954

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Posts for tag: oral hygiene

BeyondBrushingandFlossingConsiderOtherRiskFactorsforToothDecay

Tooth decay is a primary cause of tooth damage and loss, with annual treatment costs in the billions of dollars. It arises mainly from oral bacteria, which proliferates in the absence of effective oral hygiene. There are, however, other risk factors besides poor hygiene that could make you more susceptible to this disease.

Many people, for example, have genetically inherited deeper grooves (fissures) and depressions (pits) than the average tooth anatomy. These may be harder to reach with a toothbrush and can become havens for bacterial plaque. Others may have health conditions that indirectly affect the mouth: bulimia or anorexia, psychological conditions that involve self-induced vomiting, or GERD, gastro-esophageal reflux disease, in which stomach acid could regurgitate into the mouth. These conditions could result in a highly acidic mouth environment.

Some medical and — ironically — dental treatments could also increase your tooth decay risk. Some medications can reduce saliva flow, which inhibits acid neutralization and re-mineralization of enamel. Retainers, braces, bite guards or other dental appliances may also reduce the saliva wash over teeth, and can make brushing and flossing more difficult.

There are also risk factors that result from our lifestyle choices. Eating a lot of foods rich in sugars and other carbohydrates, for example, or acidic beverages like soda, energy or sports drinks contributes to the rise of bacteria in our mouths.

There are ways to reduce the effects of these risk factors. In addition to a daily habit of effective brushing and flossing, you should also include semi-annual cleanings and checkups at our office a part of your routine. If you have genetic, medical or dental issues that are out of your control, we can discuss solutions, such as alternatives to medications or different techniques for cleaning around dental appliances. For lifestyle-related factors, you should consider removing the habit or modifying it: for example, snacking at specific times or drinking acidic beverages only at mealtime.

While tooth decay is a serious, destructive disease, it is highly preventable. Addressing all your risk factors, not just hygiene, will reduce your chances of having it.

If you would like more information on tooth decay prevention, 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 “Tooth Decay: How to Assess Your Risk.”

ProfessionalCleaningsHelpyouMaintainHealthyTeethandGums

Every good oral hygiene regimen has two parts — the part you do (brushing and flossing) and the part we do (professional cleanings and checkups).

But what’s involved with “professional cleanings” — and why do we perform it? The “why” is pretty straightforward — we’re removing plaque and calculus. Plaque is a thin film of bacteria and food remnant that adheres to tooth surfaces and is the main culprit in dental disease. Calculus (tartar) is calcified plaque that occurs over time as the minerals in saliva are deposited in bacterial plaque. It isn’t possible for you to remove calculus regardless of your efforts or hygiene efficiency. Ample research has shown that calculus forms even in germ-free animals during research studies, so regular cleanings are a must to keep you healthy.

The “what” depends on your mouth’s state of health and your particular needs. The following are some techniques we may use to clean your teeth and help you achieve and maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Scaling. This is a general term for techniques to manually remove plaque and calculus from tooth surfaces. Scaling typically encompasses two approaches: instruments specially designed to remove plaque and calculus by hand; or ultrasonic equipment that uses vibration to loosen and remove plaque and calculus, followed by flushing with water and/or medicaments. Scaling can be used for coronal maintenance (the visible surfaces above the gum line) or periodontal (below the gum line).

Root planing. Similar to scaling, this is a more in-depth technique for patients with periodontal disease to remove plaque and calculus far below the gum line. It literally means to “plane” away built up layers of plaque and calculus from the root surfaces. This technique may employ hand instruments, or an ultrasonic application and flushing followed by hand instruments to remove any remaining plaque and calculus.

Polishing. This is an additional procedure performed on the teeth of patients who exhibit good oral health, and what you most associate with that “squeaky clean” feeling afterward. It’s often performed after scaling to help smooth the surface of the teeth, using a rubber polishing cup that holds a polishing paste and is applied with a motorized device. Polishing, though, isn’t merely a cosmetic technique, but also a preventative measure to remove plaque and staining from teeth — a part of an overall approach known as “prophylaxis,” originating from the Greek “to guard or prevent beforehand.”

If you would like more information on teeth cleaning and plaque removal, 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.”

By Smiling Creek Dental
January 24, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral hygiene  
FiveGuidelinesforImprovingYourYoungstersOralHealth

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.”

By Smiling Creek Dental
November 07, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral hygiene   cleaning  
MoreThanaCleanFeeling-ProfessionalCleaningEnhancesOralHealth

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.”

By Smiling Creek Dental
July 08, 2013
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral hygiene  
WhichisBetterforCleaningYourTeethUltrasonicorHandTools

Dental plaque (a film of bacteria that forms on your teeth) is known to be the main cause of periodontal (gum) disease. When the bacteria settle on your teeth they form a whitish film called biofilm. Those that are not removed cause formation of “pockets,” areas of separation between the teeth and their surrounding gums, in which plaque hardens into deposits known as calculus or tartar. The purpose of having your teeth cleaned regularly by a trained professional hygienist is to remove deposits of plaque and calculus. Removal of hard deposits on your teeth is called “scaling.” This can be done either by using hand-held scalers or by newer technology: ultrasonic power scalers.

Let's take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of both types of instruments.

Power Scalers

How they work: These instruments use the energy of ultrasonic vibration to crush and remove hard, calcified deposits of calculus. They also create shockwaves that disrupt bacterial cells. Use of these tools includes washing and flushing the pockets and any exposed root surfaces with water.

Pros: They are as effective as manual instruments for calculus removal in shallow gum pockets and significantly more effective in pockets greater than 4mm. They are very effective in removing calculus from root surfaces and from within periodontal pockets. Their small tips can penetrate deeper into periodontal pockets than manual instruments and are more comfortable to experience, and they are more effective for cleaning difficult nooks and crannies. Coolant sprays flush the area and remove bacteria and their by-products. They require less time than manual instruments.

Cons: A contaminated mist may form so that the hygienist needs to wear protective equipment. The vibration of the ultrasonic instruments may make it difficult to feel if the root surface is completely smooth and free of calculus. Power scalers affect some heart pacemakers.

Conventional Hand-held Scalers

How they work: These depend on the skill and knowledge of the hygienist to manipulate them and scrape away calculus (tartar) from teeth and within pockets.

Pros: They are equally effective for plaque and calculus removal from shallow gum pockets. They do not interfere with electronic equipment like heart pacemakers. They can be used more easily on teeth in which there are areas of demineralization (areas where minerals have been removed from the tooth's enamel, making it more vulnerable to decay). They are easier on the tooth's surface and are thus better for use with porcelain or composite restoration, or sensitive teeth.

Cons: They take longer to complete a cleaning. Sometimes they cause more discomfort than ultrasonic scalers.

In most cases the choice of scalers is not really an either/or situation. Most experts say that the best results come through using both types of instruments. As a result, cleanings can be done with effective and efficient outcomes and greater patient comfort.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about dental cleanings. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article, “Dental Cleanings Using Ultrasonic Scalers.”

MoreThanaScalingButNotPeriodontalSurgeryItsRootPlaning

Root planing is a procedure that allows us to achieve your — and our — basic goal in dentistry: healthy, clean gums and teeth.

At a level in between scaling by your hygienist and periodontal (from peri, around and odont, tooth) surgery, root planing is a conservative treatment that attempts to eliminate the need for gum surgery.

The Problem:
Plaque is a film of bacteria (a biofilm) that adheres to your teeth at the gumline. This is what you try to remove with daily brushing and flossing. Plaque that is not removed can form a hard coating called calculus or tartar. These substances irritate your gums and cause inflammation, which in turn causes your gum tissues to lose their attachment to your teeth. The resulting gaps between the teeth and gums are called pockets, and they act just like pockets in your clothing.

Your teeth are fastened in your jaws by a combination of bone and soft tissue including the gums and the periodontal ligament, tissues that holds each tooth in place. When pockets form and bacteria move into them, the bacteria and the toxins they emit can become ingrained into the surface of the roots of your teeth (the bottom parts that are below the gumline) and cause further inflammation and infection. This can lead to loss of attachment of the gum tissues and bone that anchor your teeth. In the worst cases you can lose the teeth.

The Solutions:
1. The first level of defense is your own daily brushing and flossing. Ask us to check your technique to make sure you are effectively removing plaque.

2. Second, your dental hygienist can remove superficial collections of calculus by scaling, using hand tools or a sonic scaler.

3. Third, root planing actually planes the surface of the roots of your teeth, in the same way as a carpenter planes a piece of wood. It removes calculus, bacteria and toxins ingrained into the root surfaces so that the infected gum tissues can heal.

Root planing is usually done using local anesthesia to numb the teeth and surrounding soft tissues. The planing may be done first with an ultrasonic device that cleans by vibrating particles off the root surfaces and simultaneously flushes the pockets with water. The root planing is finished with delicate hand instruments called curettes. The area may then be flushed with antibacterial medication to fight infection.

The response to root planing is usually evaluated three to four weeks later. The gum tissues are checked for healing, and probing measurements of the pockets are retaken. Depending on the results, additional root planing may be needed.

4. Finally, in cases of the worst periodontal infections, you may need periodontal surgery. Each person's situation is unique and should be based on an examination and evaluation.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about dental hygiene and root planing. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor article, “Root Planing.”

By Smiling Creek Dental
January 15, 2013
Category: Oral Health
ImportantWarningSignsOfGumDisease

Periodontal or gum disease is an often silent disease that can cause significant damage to the health of your teeth and body. The reason it is so often classified as a silent disease is because it is chronic or longstanding and often without any symptoms or pain that most people associate with a disease until it may be too late.

If you think you may have gum disease, here is what to look for:

  • Bleeding gums — probably one of the most common and overlooked early warning signs that most people ignore is thinking that the bleeding is being caused by brushing their teeth too hard. The truth is that you would have to brush extremely hard to cause healthy gum tissues to bleed.
  • Bad breath — something everyone has experienced; however, it can also be a warning sign of periodontal disease. This is especially true for people who hate or refuse to floss their teeth, thereby trapping literally billions of bacteria where they love to collect in the protected areas between the teeth.
  • Redness, swelling, and/or receding gums — all signs of gum disease often accompanied by sensitivity of the gum tissues around the teeth.
  • Chronic inflammation — long-standing gum inflammation is a sign that your gum tissues are not healing properly. Periodontal disease exhibits periods with bursts of activity followed by periods where the body tries to recover.
  • Loose and/or moving teeth — that seem to be drifting into a new position, are visible signs that you are highly likely to have periodontal disease.
  • Abscess formation — late stage gum disease is characterized by painful, swollen, red pockets of pus, which denotes an acute localized periodontal infection.

If you have any of these signs, you need to make an appointment for a thorough evaluation. Otherwise, you could end up losing your teeth to the second most common disease known to man after tooth decay. To learn more about gum disease, continue reading, “Warning Signs of Periodontal (Gum) Disease.” Or, contact us today to schedule an appointment.

By Smiling Creek Dental
January 07, 2013
Category: Oral Health
CommonQuestionsAboutBadBreath

Considering that over 90 million Americans suffer from chronic bad breath and everyone else has dealt with some form of it at one time or another, we want to address some common causes and cures so you are prepared if it happens to you.

What are the most common causes of bad breath?

Halitosis or bad breath most often occurs when you have poor oral hygiene and/or routinely consume odorous foods and drinks. In fact, 90% percent of mouth odors come from the food you eat or bacteria that’s already there, according to the American Dental Association. Other causes for halitosis include:

  • Excessive bacterial growth in the mouth and especially on the tongue
  • Known and characteristically odor producing foods and drinks such as onions, garlic, coffee, tobacco and alcohol products
  • Diabetes and diseases of the liver and kidneys
  • A poorly hydrated body (and mouth) from not drinking enough water everyday

What should I do if I feel (or people tell me) I have chronic bad breath?

Contact us to schedule an appointment for a proper diagnosis and plan of action for returning your mouth to optimal health.

What are some tips I can do to prevent occasional bad breath?

In most cases, bad breath is totally preventable when you follow the tips below:

  • Brush your teeth in the morning and at bedtime using a fluoride toothpaste and a proper (and gentle) brushing technique.
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day.
  • Clean your tongue after brushing your teeth with either a scraping tool you can purchase at a drug or discount store or by gently brushing it with your toothbrush.
  • Keep your mouth moist by drinking plenty of water during the day.
  • Be prepared by having some mouth cleaning tools (floss, a toothbrush, toothpaste or some sugar free gum) handy to freshen your mouth after consuming bad smelling foods, drinks or using tobacco or alcohol.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables to increase saliva production in your mouth and help remove food particles that can lodge between teeth.
  • Maintain regular dental check-ups.

Want to learn more?

Contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment. You can also learn more about halitosis by reading the Dear Doctor article, “Bad Breath — More than Just Embarrassing.”