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Frequently Asked Questions about Oral Hygiene

Oral health is important to everyone, yet it’s a topic that doesn’t regularly come up in casual conversation. So, quite naturally, many of our patients have questions about their oral health that they were too embarrassed to discuss with friends and relatives.

We have listed some of the most frequently asked questions we receive at Giggles Dental World FAmily Dentistry. Like you, we value your oral health, so if your question isn’t answered on this page, we invite you to give us a call and schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns.

A: Bad breath (halitosis) can be an unpleasant and embarrassing condition. Many of us may not realize that we have bad breath, but everyone has it from time to time, especially in the morning.

There are various reasons one may have bad breath, but in healthy people, the major reason is due to microbial deposits on the tongue, especially the back of the tongue. Some studies have shown that simply brushing the tongue can reduce bad breath by as much as 70%.

What causes bad breath?
Morning Time —Saliva flow almost stops during sleep and its reduced cleansing action allows bacteria to grow, causing bad breath.
Certain Foods — Garlic, onions and other foods with odour-causing compounds enter the blood stream and are transferred to the lungs, where they are then exhaled.
Poor Oral Hygiene Habits — Food particles remain in the mouth where they promote bacterial growth.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease — Colonies of bacteria and food debris reside under inflamed gums.
Dental Cavities and Improperly-Fitted Dental Appliances — These may also contribute to bad breath.
Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) — May be caused by certain medications, salivary gland problems or continuous mouth breathing.
Tobacco Products — These products dry the mouth, causing bad breath.
Dieting — Certain chemicals called ketones are released in the breath as the body burns fat.
Dehydration, Hunger and Missed Meals — Drinking water and chewing food increases saliva flow and washes bacteria away.
Certain Medical Conditions and Illnesses — Diabetes, liver and kidney problems, chronic sinus infections, bronchitis and pneumonia are several conditions that may contribute to bad breath. Keeping a record of what you eat may help identify the cause of bad breath. Also, review your current medications, recent surgeries or illnesses with your dentist.

What can I do to prevent bad breath?
Some of the ways to prevent bad breath include:

Practice Good Oral Hygiene — Brush at least twice a day with an ADA®-approved fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush. Floss daily to remove food debris and plaque from between teeth and under the gum line. Brush or use a tongue scraper to clean the tongue and reach the back areas. Replace your toothbrush every two to three months. If you wear dentures or removable bridges, clean them thoroughly and place them back in your mouth in the morning.
See Your Dentist Regularly — Get a checkup and cleaning at least twice a year. If you have or have had periodontal disease, your dentist may recommend more frequent visits.
Stop Smoking/Chewing Tobacco — Ask your dentist what they recommend to help break the habit.
Drink Water Frequently — Water will help keep your mouth moist and wash away bacteria.
Use Mouthwash/Rinses — Some over-the-counter products only provide a temporary solution to mask unpleasant mouth odours. Ask your dentist about antiseptic rinses that not only alleviate bad breath, but also kill the germs that cause the problem.

In most cases, your dentist can treat the cause of bad breath. If it is determined that your mouth is healthy, but bad breath is persistent, your dentist may refer you to your family physician to determine the cause of the odour and prescribe an appropriate treatment plan.

A: Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental diseases.

Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay. Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing periodontal (gum) disease.

Plaque formation and growth is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing and the use of other dental aids.

Toothbrushing — Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) with an ADA®-approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste. Proper brushing practices include:

Brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums, gently using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
Brush the outer, inner and biting surfaces of each tooth.
Use the tip of the brush head to clean the inside front teeth.
Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and are very efficient in removing plaque. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.

Flossing — Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gum line. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it also disrupts the buildup of plaque colonies, preventing damage to the gums, teeth and bone. Here are a few flossing suggestions:

Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gum line. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.

Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

Rinsing — It is important to rinse your mouth with water after brushing and also after meals. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to ask your dentist or dental hygienist if it’s an appropriate method for you.

A: Over the years, there has been some concern as to the safety of amalgam (silver) fillings. An amalgam is a blend of copper, silver, tin and zinc, bound by elemental mercury. Dentists have used this blended metal to fill teeth for more than 100 years. The controversy is due to claims that the exposure to the vapour and minute particles from the mercury can cause a variety of health problems.

According to the American Dental Association® (ADA), up to 76% of dentists use mercury-containing amalgams to fill teeth. The ADA® also states that silver fillings are safe and that studies have failed to find any link between mercury-containing amalgams and any medical disorder.

The general consensus is that amalgam (silver) fillings are safe. Along with the ADA®’s position, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, the FDA and others support the use of silver fillings and find them to be safe, durable and cost effective. The U.S. Public Health Service says that the only reason not to use silver fillings is when a patient has an allergy to any component of this type of filling. The ADA® has had fewer than 100 reported incidents of an allergy to components within silver fillings and this is out of countless millions of silver fillings over the decades.

Although studies indicate that there are no measurable health risks to patients who have silver fillings, we do know that mercury is a toxic material when we are exposed at high, unsafe levels. For instance, we have been warned to limit the consumption of certain types of fish that carry high levels of mercury in them. However, with respect to amalgam fillings, the ADA® maintains that when the mercury combines with the other components of the filling, it becomes an inactive substance that is safe.

There are numerous options to silver fillings, including composite (tooth-coloured), porcelain and gold fillings. We encourage you to discuss these options with your dentist so you can determine which is the best option for you.

A: You should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year, though your dentist or dental hygienist may recommend more frequent visits.

Regular dental exams and cleanings are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. At these visits, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities.

Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent and maintain your dental health. These include:

Medical History Review — Knowing the status of any current medical conditions, new medications and illnesses gives us insight into to your overall health and also your dental health.
Examination of Diagnostic X-Rays (Radiographs) — Essential for detection of decay, tumours, cysts and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
Oral Cancer Screening — Check the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, tissues and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
Gum Disease Evaluation — Check the gums and bone around the teeth for any signs of periodontal disease.
Examination of Tooth Decay — All tooth surfaces will be checked for decay with special dental instruments.
Examination of Existing Restorations — Check current fillings, crowns, etc.
Removal of Calculus (Tartar) — Calculus is hardened plaque that has been left on the tooth for some time and is now firmly attached to the tooth surface. Calculus forms above and below the gum line and can only be removed with special dental instruments.
Removal of Plaque — Plaque is a sticky, nearly invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (poisons) that inflame the gums — the first sign of periodontal disease.
Teeth Polishing — Removes stains and plaque that are not otherwise removed during brushing and scaling.
Oral Hygiene Recommendations — Review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed (electric dental toothbrushes, special cleaning aids, fluorides, rinses, etc.).
Review Dietary Habits —Eating habits and nutrition play a very important role in your dental health.

As you can see, a good dental exam and cleaning involves quite a lot more than just checking for cavities and polishing your teeth. We are committed to providing you with the best possible care, and to do so will require regular checkups and cleanings.

A: Four out of five people have periodontal disease and don’t know it! Most people are not aware of it because the disease is usually painless in its early stages. Unlike tooth decay, which often causes discomfort, it is possible to have periodontal disease without noticeable symptoms. Having regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important and will help detect if periodontal problems exist.

Periodontal disease begins when plaque, a sticky, colourless film of bacteria, food debris and saliva, is left on the teeth and gums. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that inflame the gums and slowly destroy the bone. Brushing and flossing regularly and properly will ensure that plaque is not left behind to do its damage.

Other than poor oral hygiene, there are several other factors that may increase the risk of developing periodontal disease:

Smoking or Chewing Tobacco — Tobacco users are more likely than non-users to form plaque and tartar on their teeth.
Certain Tooth or Appliance Conditions — Bridges that no longer fit properly, crowded teeth or defective fillings that may trap plaque and bacteria.
Many Medications — Steroids, cancer therapy drugs, blood pressure meds and oral contraceptives. Some medications have side effects that reduce saliva, making the mouth dry and plaque easier to adhere to the teeth and gums.
Pregnancy, Oral Contraceptives and Puberty — Can cause changes in hormone levels, causing gum tissue to become more sensitive to bacteria-related toxins.
Systemic Diseases — Diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV, AIDS, etc.
Role of Genetics — Some patients may be predisposed to a more aggressive type of periodontitis. Patients with a family history of tooth loss should pay particular attention to their gums.

Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Some of the signs or symptoms of periodontal disease include:

Red and Puffy Gums — Gums should never be red or swollen.
Bleeding Gums — Gums should never bleed, even when you brush vigorously or use dental floss.
Persistent Bad Breath — Caused by bacteria in the mouth.
New Spacing between Teeth — Caused by bone loss.
Loose Teeth— Also caused by bone loss or weakened periodontal fibres (fibres that support the tooth to the bone).
Pus around the Teeth and Gums – A sign that an infection is present.
Receding Gums – Loss of gum around a tooth.
Tenderness or Discomfort – Plaque, calculus and bacteria irritate the gums and teeth.

Good oral hygiene, a balanced diet and regular dental visits can help reduce your risk of developing periodontal disease.

A: Brushing your teeth removes food particles, plaque and bacteria from all tooth surfaces, except in between the teeth. Unfortunately, toothbrushes can’t reach these areas that are highly susceptible to decay and periodontal (gum) disease.

Daily flossing is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gum line. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it also disrupts the buildup of plaque colonies, preventing damage to the gums, teeth and bone.

Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible film that forms on the teeth. It is a growing colony of living bacteria, food debris and saliva. The bacteria produce toxins (acids) that cause cavities and irritate and inflame the gums. Also, when plaque is not removed above and below the gum line, it hardens and turns into calculus (tartar). This will further irritate and inflame the gums and also slowly destroy the bone. This is the beginning of periodontal disease.

How to Floss Properly
Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gum line. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.

Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss. Daily flossing will help you keep a healthy, beautiful smile for life!

A: If you’re feeling somewhat self-conscious about your teeth, or just want to improve your smile, cosmetic dental treatments may be the answer to a more beautiful, confident smile.

Cosmetic dentistry has become very popular in the last several years, not only due to the many advances in cosmetic dental procedures and materials available today, but also because patients are becoming more and more focused on improving their overall health. This includes dental prevention and having a healthier, whiter, more radiant smile.

There are many cosmetic dental procedures available to improve your teeth and enhance your smile. Depending on your particular needs, cosmetic dental treatments can change your smile dramatically, from restoring a single tooth to having a full mouth makeover. Ask your dentist how you can improve the health and beauty of your smile with cosmetic dentistry.

Cosmetic Procedures
Teeth Whitening — Bleaching lightens teeth that have been stained or discoloured by age, food, drink and smoking. Teeth darkened as a result of injury or taking certain medications can also be bleached, but the effectiveness depends on the degree of staining present.

Composite (Tooth-Coloured) Fillings — Also known as “bonding,” composite fillings are now widely used instead of amalgam (silver) fillings to repair teeth with cavities, and also to replace old defective fillings. Tooth-coloured fillings are also used to repair chipped, broken or discoloured teeth. This type of filling is also very useful to fill in gaps and to protect sensitive, exposed root surfaces caused by gum recession.

Porcelain Veneers — Veneers are thin, custom-made, tooth-coloured shells that are bonded onto the fronts of teeth to create a beautiful individual smile. They can help restore or camouflage damaged, discoloured, poorly-shaped or misaligned teeth. Unlike crowns, veneers require minimal tooth structure to be removed from the surface of the tooth.

Porcelain Crowns (Caps) — A crown is a tooth-coloured, custom-made covering that encases the entire tooth surface, restoring it to its original shape and size. Crowns protect and strengthen teeth that cannot be restored with fillings or other types of restorations. They are ideal for teeth that have large, fractured or broken fillings and also for those that are badly decayed.

Dental Implants — Dental implants are artificial roots that are surgically placed into the jaw to replace one or more missing teeth. Porcelain crowns, bridges and dentures can be made specifically to fit and attach to implants, giving a patient a strong, stable and durable solution to removable dental appliances.

Orthodontics — Less visible and more effective brackets and wires are making straightening teeth with orthodontics much more appealing to adult patients. Also, in some cases, teeth may be straightened with custom-made, clear, removable aligners that require no braces.

Thanks to the advances in modern dentistry, cosmetic treatments can make a huge difference in making your smile shine!

A: Porcelain veneers are very thin shells of tooth-shaped porcelain that are individually crafted to cover the fronts of teeth. They are very durable and will not stain, making them a very popular solution for those seeking to restore or enhance the beauty of their smile.

Veneers may be used to restore or correct the following dental conditions:

Severely Discoloured or Stained Teeth
Unwanted or Uneven Spaces
Worn or Chipped Teeth
Slight Tooth Crowding
Misshapen Teeth
Teeth that are Too Small or Large

Getting veneers usually requires two visits. Veneers are created from an impression (mould) of your teeth that is then sent to a professional dental laboratory where each veneer is custom-made (for shape and colour) for your individual smile.

With little or no anesthesia, teeth are prepared by lightly buffing and shaping the front surface of the teeth to allow for the small thickness of veneers. The veneers are carefully fitted and bonded onto the tooth surface with special bonding cements and occasionally a specialized light may be used to harden and set the bond.

Veneers are an excellent dental treatment that can dramatically improve your teeth and give you a natural, beautiful smile.

A: Since teeth whitening has now become the number one aesthetic concern of many patients, there are many products and methods available to achieve a brighter smile.

Professional teeth whitening (or bleaching) is a simple, non-invasive dental treatment used to change the colour of natural tooth enamel, and is an ideal way to enhance the beauty of your smile. Over-the-counter products are also available, but they are much less effective than professional treatments and may not be approved by the American Dental Association® (ADA).

As we age, the outer layer of tooth enamel wears away, eventually revealing a darker or yellow shade. The colour of our teeth also comes from the inside of the tooth, which may become darker over time. Smoking, drinking coffee, tea and wine may also contribute to tooth discolouration, making our teeth yellow and dull. Sometimes, teeth can become discoloured from taking certain medications as a child, such as tetracycline. Excessive fluoridation (fluorosis) during tooth development can also cause teeth to become discoloured.

It’s important to have your teeth evaluated by your dentist to determine if you’re a good candidate for bleaching. Occasionally, tetracycline and fluorosis stains are difficult to bleach and your dentist may offer other options, such as veneers or crowns, to cover up such stains. Since teeth whitening only works on natural tooth enamel, it is also important to evaluate replacement of any old fillings, crowns, etc. before bleaching begins. Once the bleaching is done, your dentist can match the new restorations to the shade of the newly whitened teeth.

Since teeth whitening is not permanent, a touch-up may be needed every several years to keep your smile looking bright.

The most widely used professional teeth whitening systems include:

Home Teeth Whitening Systems — At-home products usually come in a gel form that is placed in a custom-fitted mouthguard (tray), created from a mould of your teeth. The trays are worn either twice a day for approximately 30 minutes or overnight while you sleep. It usually takes several weeks to achieve the desired results depending on the degree of staining and the desired level of whitening.

In-Office Teeth Whitening — This treatment is done in the dental office and you will see results immediately. It may require more than one visit, with each visit lasting 30 to 60 minutes. While your gums are protected, a bleaching solution is applied to the teeth. A special light may be used to enhance the action of the agent while the teeth are whitened.

Some patients may experience tooth sensitivity after having their teeth whitened. This sensation is temporary and subsides shortly after you complete the bleaching process, usually within a few days to one week.

Teeth whitening can be very effective and can give you a brighter, whiter, more confident smile!

A: With many state-of-the-art dental treatments and prevention options available in dentistry today, there are fewer reasons for having to extract (remove) teeth. When something does go wrong with a tooth, we try to do everything possible to restore the tooth to its original function. Removing a tooth is the last option because we know that removal may lead to severe and costly dental and cosmetic problems if the tooth is not replaced.

Losing a tooth can be a very traumatic experience and it’s very unfortunate when it does happen. Injury, accident, fracture, severe dental decay and gum disease are the major reasons for having to remove a tooth. If teeth are lost due to injury or have to be removed, it is imperative that they be replaced to avoid cosmetic and dental problems in the future.

When a tooth is lost, the bone material that helped to support that tooth begins to atrophy, causing the teeth on either side to shift or tip into the open space of the lost tooth. Also, the tooth above or below the open space will start to move towards the open space because there is no opposing tooth to bite on. These movements may create problems such as decay, gum disease, excessive wear on certain teeth and TMJ (jaw joint) problems. These problems and movements do not result immediately, but will eventually appear, compromising your chewing abilities, the health of your bite and the beauty of your smile.

Options for Replacing Missing Teeth
Removable Bridges — This type of bridge is a good solution for replacing one or more missing teeth, especially in complex dental situations where other replacement options are not possible. They are usually made of tooth-coloured, artificial teeth combined with metal clasps that hook onto adjacent natural teeth. Removable bridges are the most economical option for replacing missing teeth, but may be the least aesthetically pleasing. This is because the metal clasps on the appliances are often impossible to completely conceal.

Fixed Bridges — This type of bridge is generally made of porcelain or composite material and is anchored (cemented) permanently to the natural teeth adjacent to the site of the missing tooth. The benefit of this type of bridge is that it is fixed (not removable) and it is very sturdy. The disadvantage is that in order to create a fixed appliance, two healthy, natural teeth will have to be crowned (capped) to hold the bridge in place.

Dentures — This type of tooth replacement is used when most or all of the natural teeth are missing in one dental arch. Dentures are removable artificial teeth that are made to closely resemble the patients’ original teeth.

Implants — Implants are a great way to replace one or more missing teeth. They may also be great to support ill-fitting dentures. A dental implant is an artificial root that is surgically placed into the jaw bone to replace a missing tooth. An artificial tooth is placed on the implant, giving the appearance and feel of a natural tooth. Implants are very stable, durable and are the most aesthetically-pleasing tooth replacement option.

If you are missing teeth, ask us if they need a replacement and what options are available to you. Together, we will select the best replacement option for your particular case. Prevention and early treatment are always less involved and less costly than delaying treatment and allowing a serious problem to develop.

A: Most of us have fillings in our mouths that date back many years and some may have even been placed during our childhood. These fillings may now be old, dark and unattractive, making us feel self-conscious when we smile, laugh and talk. Old fillings are not only unattractive, they may also be defective. When a filling is old, the margins (space between the tooth and filling) may eventually open and allow bacteria and food debris to enter, potentially causing dental decay.

Your dentist can check your fillings and evaluate if they are defective and need replacing. Also, if you simply want to replace fillings that are unattractive, you and your dentist can decide which ones should be replaced first and what replacement options would best suit you. There are many state-of-the-art dental filling materials and procedures available today that are quick, painless and cost effective for replacing old, unattractive or defective fillings.

Options for Replacing Old, Unattractive or Discoloured Fillings
Composite (Bonding) Fillings — These are tooth-coloured fillings that can be closely matched to the colour of your existing teeth. They are particularly well suited for use in front teeth or visible parts of teeth and are one of the best ways to improve the health and beauty of your smile.

Crowns (Caps) — This type of restoration is used when a tooth is too damaged and cannot be repaired with a filling or other type of restoration. A crown is a covering that encases the entire tooth surface, restoring it to its original shape and size. A crown protects and strengthens the remaining tooth structure and can be made of gold, porcelain or other tooth-coloured materials.

Inlays/Onlays — These restorations are custom-made fillings. They can be made of composite resin, porcelain or gold and are made by a dental laboratory and placed by a dentist. Inlays/onlays are usually best for the posterior chewing surfaces of teeth and are utilized to conservatively repair teeth that have large, defective or unattractive fillings, or those that have been damaged by decay or trauma.

Porcelain Veneers —Veneers are very thin shells of tooth-shaped porcelain that are individually crafted and permanently cemented to the front surface of teeth. They are a great solution for fixing discoloured, pitted, chipped, malformed or slightly crooked teeth. Veneers are also used if you have unwanted spaces. Veneers are very durable, natural looking and do not stain. This makes veneers a very popular solution for restoring a smile impaired by old, unattractive fillings.

As you can see, there are various options for replacing old, unattractive fillings. These treatments will provide strong, natural and long-lasting replacement solutions to enhance the health and beauty of your smile.

A: Many people are unaware that having periodontal disease (the destruction of gum tissue and bone that hold our teeth in place) can affect your overall health. Periodontal disease is one of the most common infections and is often more prevalent than the common cold! Periodontal disease is not only the number one reason people lose teeth; it can also affect the health of your body!

Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection, and in its earliest stages, it’s called gingivitis. It starts when an accumulation of plaque (a colony of bacteria, food debris and saliva) is not regularly removed from the gums and teeth. The bacteria in plaque produce toxins and acids that irritate and infect the gums and eventually destroy the jaw bone that supports the teeth. When periodontal disease is not treated it can eventually lead to tooth loss!

There are numerous studies that have looked into the correlation between gum disease and major medical conditions. These studies suggest people with periodontal disease are at a greater risk of systemic disease and indicate that periodontal disease may cause oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and travel to major organs and begin new infections. Research suggests that periodontal bacteria in the blood stream may:

Contribute to the Development of Heart Disease
Increase the Risk of Stroke
Compromise the Health of Those that Have Diabetes or Respiratory Diseases
Increase a Woman’s Risk of Having a Preterm, Low-Birth Weight Baby

Researchers conclude there is still much research to be done to understand the link between periodontal disease and systemic diseases, but enough research has been done to support that infections in the mouth can play havoc elsewhere in the body.

To ensure a healthy, disease-free mouth, we recommend the importance of regular dental checkups and cleanings, which include a periodontal evaluation. Also, diligent home care and a proper diet can help reduce the plaque and bacteria in the mouth.

Remember the mouth-body connection; taking care of your oral health may contribute to your overall medical health!

A: Although thorough brushing and flossing remove most food particles and bacteria from easy-to-reach tooth surfaces, they do not reach the deep grooves on the chewing surfaces of teeth. More than 75 percent of dental decay begins in these deep grooves, known as “pits” and “fissures.” Toothbrush bristles are too large to clean most of these areas. This is where sealants play an important role.

A sealant is a thin plastic coating that covers and protects the chewing surfaces of molars, premolars and any deep grooves or pits on teeth. Sealant material forms a protective, smooth barrier covering natural depressions and grooves in the teeth, making it much easier to clean and help keep these areas free of decay.

Who may need sealants?
The following groups should be considered for sealants:

Children and Teenagers — Sealants should be considered as soon as the six-year molars (the first permanent back teeth) appear, or any time throughout the cavity-prone years of 6-16.
Infants — Baby teeth are occasionally sealed if the teeth have deep grooves and the child is prone to cavities.
Adults — Adults that have tooth surfaces without decay, sealants should be applied to help in cleaning the deep grooves and depressions on tooth surfaces.

Sealants are easily applied by your dentist or dental hygienist and the process only takes minutes per tooth. After the chewing surfaces are roughened with an acid solution that helps the sealant adhere to the tooth, the sealant material is “painted” onto the tooth surface, where it hardens and bonds to the tooth. Sometimes a special UV light will be used to help the sealant material harden.

After sealant treatment, it’s important to avoid chewing on ice cubes, hard candy, popcorn kernels or any hard or sticky foods. Your sealants will be checked for wear and chipping at your regular dental checkup.

Combined with good home care, a proper diet and regular dental checkups, sealants are very effective in helping prevent tooth decay.

A: We’re all at risk for having a tooth knocked out. More than five million teeth are knocked out every year! If we know how to handle this emergency situation, we may be able to actually save the tooth. Teeth that are knocked out may be possibly re-implanted if you act quickly, calmly and follow these simple steps:

● Locate the tooth and handle it only by the crown (chewing part of the tooth), not by the roots.
● Do not scrub or use soap or chemicals to clean the tooth. If it has dirt or debris on it, rinse it gently with your own saliva or whole milk.
If that is not possible, rinse it very gently with water.
● Get to a dentist within 30 minutes. The longer you wait, the less chance there is for successful re-implantation.

Ways to Transport the Tooth
The sooner the tooth is replaced back into the socket, the greater the likelihood it has to survive and possibly last for many years. So be prepared and remember these simple steps for saving a knocked-out tooth:

Try to replace the tooth back in its socket immediately. Gently bite down on gauze, a wet tea bag or on your own teeth to keep the tooth in place. Apply a cold compress to the mouth for pain and swelling as needed.
If the tooth cannot be placed back into the socket, place the tooth in a container and cover with a small amount of your saliva or whole milk. You can also place the tooth under your tongue or between your lower lip and gums (not recommended for small children). Keep the tooth moist at all times. Do not transport the tooth in a tissue or cloth.
Consider buying a Save-A-Tooth® storage container and keeping it as part of your home first aid kit. The kit is available in many pharmacies and contains a travel case and fluid solution for easy tooth transport.

You can prevent broken or knocked-out teeth by:

Wearing a Mouthguard when Playing Sports
Always Wearing Your Seatbelt
Avoiding Fights
Avoid Chewing Hard Items such as Ice, Popcorn Kernels, Hard Breads, etc.

Once your baby’s teeth begin to appear, you need to take extra care that these new teeth do not develop cavities. Babies can develop teeth cavities through “nursing bottle mouth,” which is caused by extended nursing on milk, formula or juices, especially at bedtime or naptime. You should not use a feeding bottle as a pacifier. If you must give your baby a bottle at bedtime or naptime, make sure it contains plain water. You should not give a baby a pacifier that has been dipped in honey or sugar.

Good dental health should begin at birth. After each feeding, gently wipe the baby’s gums with a soft, clean and damp washcloth or gauze pad.

The discomfort of teeth coming into the mouth can cause your baby to become irritable. You can ease some of the discomfort by lightly rubbing the baby’s gums with a clean finger or a wet, soft cloth. A cool teething ring can also help to soothe your baby’s tender gums.

When the first teeth appear, begin using a children’s soft-bristle toothbrush to clean them on a daily basis. Give your baby regular oral cleanings after each meal to make dental health care a habit.

Teeth begin forming in your baby even before birth. Here is when you can expect to begin seeing them:

Central incisor (front two upper and bottom teeth): 6-12 months

Lateral incisor (the two teeth flanking the upper and bottom front two teeth): 9-16 months

Canines (pointy teeth in the upper jaw): 16-23 months

First molars (upper and bottom back teeth): 13-19 months

Second molars (upper and bottom back teeth): 22-33 months

All 20 primary teeth — also called baby teeth — are present in the jawbones at birth. The lower two front teeth are usually the first to erupt.

This most often occurs somewhere around 6 months after birth. Do not be concerned if your baby is a little late. The numbers here are only an average. By age 3, all 20 primary teeth should be present.

Enamel, the hardest substance in the body, is the outermost layer of the tooth and protects the tooth from decay and cavities. Fluoride, a naturally occurring substance, can strengthen tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay. Some sources of fluoride that help prevent cavities are fluoridated drinking water, fluoride-containing toothpastes and fluoride mouthwashes. Your dental professional or physician may recommend or prescribe additional fluoride treatments for your child’s dental health. Be sure to follow his/her instructions. Too much fluoride can change the structure of tooth enamel, resulting in discoloration.

Your child should visit a dental professional by age 1. You can make the first visit to the dental office enjoyable and positive. Before the visit, tell your child that someone will look at and clean his or her teeth. Allow the dentist and other members of the dental staff to introduce other dental health procedures. Your dental professional will examine your child’s mouth for early signs of cavities or other dental health problems. He or she will also tell you many of the things you’ll need to know about helping your child grow up free of cavities.

A good way to encourage your child’s dental hygiene is by using a pleasantly flavoured fluoride toothpaste. The taste and appearance of a toothpaste can make brushing a more enjoyable experience, so children are more likely to brush twice each day and brush for longer periods of time. Appropriate brushing can help prevent cavities, gum disease and other dental health issues. Children age 6 or less should brush twice a day using no more than a pea-sized dab of toothpaste and a soft-bristle brush to remove plaque and provide fluoride protection. Before age 2, children should not use toothpaste that contains fluoride.

Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. Many snacks that children eat can lead to the formation of cavities. Try to limit your child’s snacks. If your child must snack, choose nutritious foods such as vegetables, low-fat yogurt and low-fat cheese.

You should start flossing your child’s teeth as soon as two teeth touch each other. As they develop dexterity, you can help them learn to floss. To stress the importance, floss for them regularly until they’re able to do it themselves. Use floss, like Glide® ;, that doesn’t hurt their teeth and is comfortable on their gums.