Whitening and Hygiene

How To Take Care of Your Teeth And Why?

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Some basic elements

If you want your mouth and teeth to be healthy and your smile always glowing, it is essential to maintain good daily hygiene: brushing teeth and using dental floss. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day, morning and evening or after each meal. If you maintain good hygiene of the mouth, you will avoid the risks of oral problems such as:

  • cavities,
  • gingivitis,
  • halitosis (bad breath),
  • and so on.

We will give you some tips for you to start creating good habits:

  • how to choose a toothbrush,
  • how to brush your teeth,
  • how to floss and why do a professional cleaning at the dentist.

This information will allow you to keep your smile bright for as long as possible.

Why have good oral hygiene?

You must maintain good oral hygiene for various reasons. A nice smile and fresh breath are always appreciated by everyone we meet.

Some people think that the best solution is to use toothpicks and fresheners for the mouth such as “TicTac”, chewing gum, mouthwash, and so on. Unfortunately, theses only mask underlying issues.

A more serious but less obvious problem related to our gums and teeth is plaque. Dental plaque is composed of microscopic food residues and bacteria. Bacteria develop with these residues and with saliva or certain foods (such as sugar). They produce acids and other chemicals that will affect your teeth and gums and perhaps lead to caries and gingivitis.

If left unchecked, the dental plaque hardens and produces tartar. It’s difficult to remove tartar by brushing your teeth It should be cleaned by a dental hygienist. Plaque and tartar can inflame the gums leading to gingivitis.

Your defense tool: the toothbrush

The toothbrush is the first tool you should use to defend yourself against these diseases and oral infection. But to be effective, it must be of good quality and used properly. If you use a toothbrush that worn down, it will not do its job. It is therefore necessary that your toothbrush meet these criteria:

  • The head must be compact and rounded so that it can reach all surfaces of all teeth;
  • It should have an ergonomic handle so that it fits comfortably in your hand;
  • The bristles of the brush should be soft or extra flexible so as not to damage the tooth enamel and gums;
  • If the tip of the toothbrush has deformed bristles or if there is a whitish deposit at the base of the bristles, you should replace the toothbrush;

Dentists recommend replacing the toothbrush every 3 months.


National Oral Health Month

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ZahnspangeEven if October is the month that brings us Ghosts and Trick or Treaters, it’s also the perfect time to focus on Orthodontic Health – as October is National Orthodontic Health Month. It’s the perfect time to share important information regarding orthodontic treatment and how to take care of your orthodontic braces.  Making sure your orthodontic braces and appliances stay clean not only impacts your oral health but also contributes to the movement of teeth during orthodontic treatment.

Why is good oral hygiene with braces so important? Food and plaque can get trapped in the tiny spaces between braces and wires, causing decay and enamel stains. Food can also react with the bacteria in your mouth and the metal in the braces to produce a bleaching effect, which can cause small, permanent light spots on the teeth.

How should teeth and braces be cleaned? You should brush after every meal and use a floss threader or special orthodontic floss (available at drug stores) at least once a day to clean between braces and under wires. Check your teeth in a mirror to make sure all food particles are gone. If you don’t have your toothbrush with you, rinse your mouth vigorously with water.

What food should be avoided? Keep in mind that while wearing braces, you need to be mindful that some foods can loosen, bend, or break your orthodontic appliances. The following foods should be avoided: hard, sticky candy, corn on the cob, popcorn, nuts, and hard foods like taco shells and chips. Chewing gum and ice can also cause problems. Cutting hard foods like raw carrots and apples into small bites prevents damage.

Hard foods are another no-no. Even otherwise healthy foods, such as raw apples and carrots, can be problematic because their hard texture can damage the wires. To eat crunchy foods, cut them into small, bite-size pieces.

What can you eat? When you wear braces, you need to be more aware of what you eat. Eating too many sugary and starchy foods can cause plaque to build up around the brackets, which can cause staining of the teeth, causing cavities or leading to gum disease. You should especially avoid sticky and chewy foods, such as dried fruits, caramel, taffy, corn on the cob and chewing gum, all of which can become stuck and be hard to remove from braces.

During the Halloween season, brushing and flossing your teeth is even more important due to the fact that teeth usually receive more exposure to sweets and sugars that can cause cavities. During this month of sticky, crunchy, hard, chewy and sweet treats it’s important to remember keep your orthodontic braces and appliances clean! You may think that not brushing might not have an effect, but it does! Teeth and braces that are covered in plaque and sticky residues cause increased inflammation in the mouth which makes it harder for teeth to move!


Can I Use Mouthwash Instead of Flossing?

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It is essential to remember that no mouthwash is a replacement for the regular oral care routine of twice-daily brushing and daily flossing. While mouthwash goes a long way in improving your oral care, it is not a substitute for flossing. Mouthwashes and flossing provide different benefits that you should understand. So, even if you are using mouthwash on a daily basis, you still need to follow your complete oral care routine to maintain good dental health.

Mouthwashes can help in preventing cavities, bad breath and gingivitis when used with brushing and flossing. Some oral rinses may be able to soften up plaque and kill microorganisms but neither of these effects is fractionally as effective as flossing. Only mechanical debridement (scrubbing and scraping) can adequately remove dental plaque from a tooth’s surface. So, you still need to floss on a regular basis!

Types of floss

Floss is available in a thin string form or a tape. It can be waxed or unwaxed. If you find flossing difficult, you might want to try a different type of floss. You can buy bulk floss in containers or purchase the disposable type with a plastic handle attached. This style can be easier for many individuals to use. Interdental picks are available for bridgework or other situations where regular floss cannot be used.

Flossing is what removes the plaque accumulation before it can harden and become calculus. While a rinse reduces buildup, only flossing will fully remove plaque, especially between teeth. The bristles on a toothbrush do not get between teeth completely. If plaque is not removed, the acidity produced by the bacteria in it will start causing decalcifications and cavities underneath. The gums around the teeth will also get irritated and this is when gum disease can start.

Floss is designed to help you to get to those hard-to-reach places, allowing you to clean the areas that can’t be reached by the toothbrush. This habit helps you get to the surfaces that are located between the teeth and near the gum line.

One common misconception is that you can use mouthwash instead of flossing. The truth is that mouthwash might help to reduce the bacteria present in your mouth, but it won’t be able to get rid of biofilm (white and pasty looking) that can accumulate on the teeth.

If you use mouthwash, then it is important to make sure that you are also flossing on a regular basis. Mouthwash is not a sufficient alternative to flossing.


Caring For Your Teeth – Things To Avoid

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You might not realize it but some of your everyday activities could be ruining your teeth. Teeth are more fragile than you’d think so it’s important to take good care of them while you still can.

Start ‘em off young

Let’s start at the beginning, do your children a favour and start them off on the right foot. Never send your child to bed with a bottle whether it be milk or juice. The sugar will sit on your child’s teeth all night and will eat away at the enamel. Also, avoid thumb sucking at all costs. It’s normal for small children to want to suck on their thumbs but once their adult teeth start coming in, help your child to break this habit as thumb sucking can cause misalignment in teeth.

Chipping away at your teeth

Next, here are some habits that can chip your teeth: chewing on ice, using your teeth to open things, grinding your teeth, clenching your jaw, nail biting, and biting on pens. Even tongue and lip piercings can damage your teeth if you bite down on them hard enough.

Foods that are ruining your smile

It’s common knowledge that sugary foods can eat away at your enamel, cut down your consumption of candy, soda, sports drinks, fruit juice, and even cough drops, which are full of sugar and are often overlooked. If you do indulge in these sugary items make sure to brush your teeth after.

You may have never considered that snacking on food in general is damaging your teeth. When you snack on foods frequently rather than having larger meals your mouth is actually producing less saliva, which is leaving more food residue between your teeth, this of course is bad for them. Similarly, alcohol consumption dehydrates your mouth and if you drink frequently you’ll begin producing less saliva, which could cause tooth decay.

Sticky foods are bad for your teeth because well, they stick to your teeth. It’s not good to let anything sit on your teeth for a long period of time so wash these foods down with water.

Brush carefully

While brushing your teeth is a crucial part of your dental health, brushing immediately after consuming acidic foods can actually harm your teeth. The acid
softens your teeth making them much more sensitive when you start brushing. Also, surely everyone’s heard of not brushing too hard, while it’s important to brush away all of the plaque you don’t want to harm your enamel, try a soft toothbrush instead that’s recommended by the Canadian Dental Association.


Proper Braces Hygiene

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Can you believe it? 2014 is almost over already! We hope all of you in Ottawa had wonderful holiday celebrations with your friends and families, and wish nothing but the best for 2015. With the new year right around the corner, people all over the capital city are learning from their experiences this year and looking forward to more success in the upcoming year by creating New Year’s resolutions. You’ve may have heard a friend resolving to be more frugal or take up a new hobby. Maybe your sister has vowed to go to the gym everyday, or perhaps you’ve even thought of a resolution for yourself, to further your career or live a more healthy lifestyle. Although it takes a lot of determination to change your routine for the whole year, a resolution to live healthier is actually a great way to start the year off on the right foot.

girl with braces cleaning teeth

For those Ottawans with braces, if your New Year’s resolution involves healthier living, why not try an easy change to your routine, like an upgrade to your teeth-cleaning regimen? Don’t worry, we’re not here to give you a lecture, but if you’re planning to get your braces off next year, it is important to understand that if proper brushing techniques are not executed, you can be left with undesired discoloring, cavities on your teeth, or even swollen and infected gum tissue. You don’t have to panic, though, because we are here to help!

Following these steps while brushing your teeth will help you achieve proper braces hygiene and that perfect smile at the end of your orthodontic treatment:

  1. Rinse your mouth with water to remove any loose food particles.

  2. Using a regular bristle toothbrush and your favourite toothpaste, brush back and forth at about a 45 degree angle from your teeth on top of and below the wires.

  3. Make sure to brush not only the brackets, wires and front of your teeth, but also the chewing surface, sides and back of the teeth, as well as the roof of your mouth, the insides of your cheeks, your tongue and  your gums!

  4. Some tooth brushes are labeled “orthodontic” but really any tooth brush work just fine.  The orthodontic ones makes it a little easier to brush since they are smaller, double-ended brush with a cone shape on one end, and a tuft on the other designed to clean hard-to-reach areas. Each of these ends can also be found as individual brushes.  They can de used to clean between brackets and behind the wires with the cone brush, upwards from the bottom of the tooth, and from the gum line downward. Use the smaller end for tight, over-crowded areas.

  5. Rinse your mouth once again, this time swish mouthwash around and try to be as thorough as possible, swishing around each tooth.

For a demonstration of brushing and cleaning techniques with braces, check out this video, or ask us at your next appointment – we would be happy to show you. All it takes to achieve your goal of well-being is just a little more commitment to your own oral hygiene, not only for a New Year’s resolution, but for your overall health.

Teen girl with braces and doctor with patient in background.

We wish you luck with your new routine and your 2015 New Year’s resolution! Happy New Year, Ottawa!


Toothbrush Buying Guide

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When taking care of your oral hygiene, the most essential daily activity you can do is brush your teeth. When brushing your teeth it is important to purchase one that will effectively and properly get the job done. Look for the Canadian Dental Association’s seal of approval to ensure that an independent body of scientific experts has evaluated the product. Additional considerations come down to making sure the design of the brush is effective by making your experience comfortable, efficient and personalized.

Manual vs. Powered

An alternative to manual brushes is a rechargeable electric toothbrush that can help you maintain the health of your teeth and gums. The brushing action of these “power” brushes is very different from the manual variety. The electric brush provides the movement and you only need to guide it. It might take a while to get used to, but the trick is simply moving it properly over the surface area of your teeth.

Electric brushes aren’t necessarily better for your teeth but they can make it more convenient for your brushing routine. Additionally, young children might find brushing with an electric brush more fun than with a manual one. If you have difficulty brushing with a manual toothbrush it might be worthwhile to give it a try and see if you find it more comfortable or easier. Essentially this distinction is simply a matter of choice and preference so try both and see which one you prefer.

Size

An important decision when considering a purchase is the size of the toothbrush head. For best results and comfort, it is essential that this portion of the brush be properly sized for maneuverability and be capable of reaching every corner of your mouth. Make sure that you can properly reach to the sides and backs of your molars as well as having it fit comfortably in the palm of your hand. For ease of use, small-headed brushes are preferable over larger ones. When it comes to handle size, type and shape this is simply a matter of personal preference and you should pick the one that suits you best. Ask your dentist if you need a little more guidance on what size of toothbrush is best for you.

Bristle Variety

When visiting the drugstore you are presented with quite a few options when selecting bristles for your brush: soft, medium or hard nylon bristles. For most people the safest and preferred choice is soft bristles. When brushing too vigorously with medium or hard bristles you can compromise the strength of your teeth, damaging the gums as well as the root surface.

The shape of bristles can customize your tooth brushing routine even further. Available options include a cup shaped design to better accommodate the shape of your teeth, diagonal patterns to better clean the sides of your teeth or there might be slightly longer bristles intermixed that serve to get in between teeth while brushing. Look for brushes that features bristles with rounded tips for additional protection.

Toothbrush Care

Seeing as the primary use of a toothbrush is to eliminate bacteria from your mouth, you should take care that it is sanitary and bacteria-free. When going on a vacation or a trip you should cover it or keep it in a container to avoid the accumulation of dirt and harmful bacteria. When you are at home you should do the exact opposite and only store your toothbrush in vertically and in open air. This is to ensure that the moisture in the bristles can evaporate, which is important in the constantly humid environment of a bathroom.

You can explore using “toothbrush sanitizers” but there is no solid evidence that they work any better than rinsing with water and letting dry in open air. Do not attempt to sanitize your toothbrush with your oven or microwave; excessive heat will damage the brush. There is also no need to panic about a minimal amount of bacteria, which can be present on your toothbrush. The human body is constantly exposed to unfriendly microorganisms; the body is normally capable of defending itself through a variety of mechanisms inherent to how our body functions. With proper care by simply rinsing and air-drying, there is no adverse effect due to the bacteria on toothbrushes.

Each individual in your household shoÍuld have a personal toothbrush that shouldn’t be used with others. Sharing will cause an exchange of bodily fluids and microorganisms that might be harmful to everyone using the brush. With use, the bristles will become more worn and frayed which can lead to it being less effective in removing bacteria. To ensure good oral hygiene, replace toothbrushes every 3-4 months.

Brushing with Braces

Your routine when brushing remains the same while you have your braces. You continue to use the same brushes. You maintain a routine of brushing the fronts, sides, backs, chewing surfaces of your teeth. Continue to brush the tongue and roof of your mouth for a full two minutes. You can ask your dentist to prescribe you fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay even further. When your braces are nice and shiny with the brackets clear and clean, you’ve done a great job! If you need help, feel free to ask your Ottawa orthodontist for any recommendations.


Don’t Forget To Floss!

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Every January, many of us make resolutions to be healthier or set out to achieve exciting new goals. Unfortunately, by halfway through the month we have may already abandoned these promises to ourselves. The problem is not always that we don’t have the desire or willpower to stick to our resolutions, but that we simply get caught up in our regular routine and forget to incorporate positive new habits.

A very important resolution that we recommend everyone make is to floss every day. For those who already floss regularly, way to go! Keep it up! Flossing is easy to do and only takes a few minutes each day, but it can make a really positive impact on your oral health. The most challenging part of flossing is often just remembering to do it. Here are some of our suggestions for fun and easy ways to remember to floss:

Visual Cues

Tying a string around your finger to act as a reminder used to be a common practice. For an update on this tradition, try adding a bright ribbon to the handle of your toothbrush that will signal it’s time to floss when you feel it against your hand or see it in the mirror. You could also buy or create a decorative “Remember to Floss” sign for your bathroom and place it somewhere you will see it every day such as above the sink. If you prefer to keep it simple, a sticky note on your mirror would also do the trick!

Digital Reminders

For the technology lovers out there, we suggest using your smartphone as a tool for reminding you to floss everyday. The simplest way to enforce a flossing habit using your phone is to set an alarm with a label such as “Floss Your Teeth!” We recommend selecting a time you know you will be at home or able to access dental floss so there are no excuses. Try setting an alarm for shortly after you wake up in the morning or around the time you normally get ready for bed. There are also several apps you can try that are designed to digitally help people form habits, including one called Floss.

Buddy System

Finally, as with many other goals, it is easier to stick to a flossing habit if you have someone to hold you accountable. Find a friend or family member around Ottawa who is also trying to floss more regularly and agree that you will check in with each other once per day. You are more likely to floss if you know someone will be asking you and you will also want to make sure you’ve flossed before asking your accountability partner.

Making flossing a part of your daily routine is an important step in improving overall oral health. We hope one of our tricks for remembering to floss works for you! What are your best tips for creating a habit or keeping a resolution?


Tips for Maintaining Oral Health During the Holidays

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The holidays are fun and exciting, but from sleeping habits to nutrition many people’s healthy routines are thrown out the window around this time. It’s important to treat yourself once in a while, but maintaining balance can be difficult. Here are our tips for how you can enjoy the holidays without negatively impacting your oral health.

 

The first thing we recommend is keeping a strict schedule when it comes to your oral cleaning regimens. Eating more sweets than usual makes it even more imperative that you properly care for your teeth. Unfortunately, a busy social calendar means oral hygiene is not always a top priority. Try to do your more intensive cleaning including flossing and any orthodontic maintenance in the morning. You’re more likely to forget, skip or rush through your brushing routine after getting home late from a party or staying up to wrap gifts, so don’t put it off!

 

Speaking of parties, junk food and celebrations always seem to go hand in hand but they don’t need to. If you’re attending a potluck, why not bring a healthier alternative like a veggie tray? Crunching on carrots and celery will not only help you to resist snacking on sweets, they also act as a natural cleaner while you chew. When hosting a holiday gathering, be sure to add water to your drink menu. Sipping water after a glass of red wine or dark soda may help to prevent your teeth from becoming stained.

 

For the younger set of party goers, include a fun toothbrush and a new flavour of toothpaste in stockings to get them excited about brushing their teeth. The novelty of a special toothbrush may not last forever, but it should be enough to encourage children to keep brushing their teeth throughout the busy, candy-filled days until the New Year. There are plenty of options for kids’ toothbrushes from ones featuring their favourite cartoon character to ones that play music.

 

Our final tip is to not skip any dental or orthodontic appointments during the holiday season. If you don’t think you or your family members will be able to attend appointments, be sure to reschedule. Checkups, cleanings and adjustments are an important part of overall oral health and missing them altogether or delaying them for long periods of time can have a negative impact on your smile.

 

We hope you find our tips for maintaining oral health during the holidays helpful! Remember to be kind to your teeth during this busy time. What are some of your favourite ways to stay healthy while enjoying the festive season?


Three Things to Avoid for White Teeth

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They say prevention is better than cure and we agree, especially when it comes to white teeth. While teeth naturally begin to yellow with age, there are several things you can do that will help to slow down the process. Specifically, we recommend you avoid these three things to keep your smile as bright as possible:

1. Darkly Coloured Drinks

Avoiding dark drinks such as coffee, tea, red wine and cola is probably one of the most well-known tips for keeping teeth white. When you sip one of these drinks from a cup, the liquid hits your front teeth before you swallow it which can leave behind stains. There are a few options for those who want to enjoy their favourite beverages without staining their teeth. The first step is to try and find a light coloured alternative. For example, if you normally drink black tea you could switch to an herbal variety, or if you often have a glass of red wine you could trade it for a glass of white. If you aren’t able to find another option or really can’t give up your favourite treat, drinking it through a straw should help to reduce the amount of liquid that hits those front teeth.

2. Smoking

Smoking is another infamous culprit when it comes to yellowing teeth. You have probably seen a package of cigarettes with an image of a smoker’s unattractive smile on the back. It is so important to avoid smoking for your overall health and your smile is just one more part of your body that is negatively affected by smoking cigarettes. Smoking products are made up of a variety of poisonous chemicals which leave behind a sticky residue on the teeth. Stains begin to form with even just one inhalation and continue to build the more often you smoke. The only way to effectively prevent these stains is by completely avoiding all smoking products including cigarettes, pipes and cigars.

3. Sticky/Sugary Foods

You’ve probably been told since you were a child that too much sugar leads to cavities, but did you know it can also discolour your teeth? The same properties of sweets and candy that cause tooth decay can also result in discolouration. When you eat super sweet foods, bacteria in your mouth produce acids in order to break down the simple sugars and these acids erode tooth enamel, making your teeth more yellow as the layer underneath the enamel begins to show through. Sticky or gummy candies only make the problem worse by clinging to your teeth and making it more difficult for saliva to wash them away. If you need a sweet treat, we suggest you stick to pieces of fruit or try chewing a piece of sugarless gum.

A few small changes in your daily habits can really make a difference when it comes to maintaining white teeth. It may be difficult at first, but avoiding the three items mentioned above is an investment in your smile that will definitely pay off!

 

Illustrations from: 
http://www.dpcdsb.org/FCTIP/Events/Candy+Drive+Nov.1-8.htm
http://seniorjournal.com/NEWS/Nutrition-Vitamins/2010/20100208-JustACouple.htm