Teeth

October is National Orthodontic Month

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Summer flew by this year, as usual, and now we’re quickly diving into Fall! The trees are starting to turn those beautiful autumn colours and storefronts are starting to get into the Thanksgiving and Halloween spirit. Meanwhile, the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO) and, of course, we here at Wellington Village Orthodontics are excitedly preparing for National Orthodontic Month in Ottawa!

October is here and it is our favourite month, because it is recognized in Canada and the U.S. as National Orthodontic Month, sponsored by the AAO, where we get to celebrate your beautiful, healthy smile – the biggest benefit of your orthodontic treatment! Plus, with Halloween at the end of the month, October also provides us the opportunity to raise awareness regarding orthodontic care, which plays an important role in dental health and overall physical health. Not only that, but it actually contributes to the movement of your teeth during your orthodontic treatment. Clean teeth respond much better (and as intended) to the gentle force from orthodontic wires, whereas braces that are covered in sticky candy or plaque make it much more difficult for teeth to move, as they cause increased inflammation in gums.

The most obvious concern of Halloween are the treats. We made a list of Back to School Snacks, which also has information on what to avoid, including an excessive amount of sugars or even raisins! To help minimize sugary residue on teeth and to reduce risk of a broken bracket, it’s a good idea to stay away from the following snacks, due to an increased chance of pulling a wire or bracket:

  • Super chewy candy, like taffy and caramel

  • Beef Jerky and other leathery food treats

  • Liquorice

  • Bubble Gum

  • Jelly Beans

  • Hard candies like candy canes and lollipops

  • Popcorn and nuts

Don’t worry, we aren’t here just to tell you what not to eat! We understand that Halloween is an exciting time to dress up and celebrate with friends and family – and of course, delicious treats. Throughout the month, orthodontists across the continent will be sharing several tips, tricks, and treats for you to enjoy! We will be writing an extensive list of braces-friendly Halloween treats and recipes, but for now, you can prepare early by checking out all the great information from AAO. The American Association of Orthodontics website provides a cornucopia of information regarding your teeth, including a list of creative Halloween-themed, orthodontic-friendly treat recipes like Goblin Goodies and Black Cherry Fruit Bats and Citrus Orange Pumpkin Fruity Cutouts! Plus they have a quick-reference Halloween treat guide which gives you a lot of information in an easy-to-read (and printable!) format. They recommend sweets like:

  • Soft, melt-in-your-mouth chocolates

  • Peanut butter cups

  • Milk shakes

  • Gelatin

  • Peeled, thinly sliced apples

  • Ice cream

With Thanksgiving coming up soon as well, it’s important to keep these tips in mind when you plan your family feast. If you normally make a dessert with walnuts, consider leaving them out of the recipe this year, for the sake of those with braces. Maybe try to add a new recipe into the mix, using orthodontic-friendly treats. Stay tuned for our next blog post for more information and great recipe ideas to keep your Thanksgiving and Halloween celebrations fun and tasty for everyone, including those with orthodontics. Thanks for reading, and have happy National Orthodontic Month!


Packing a Healthy Lunch for Healthy Teeth

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Whether you’re brimming with excitement, or filled with dread, it’s that time of year again: Back to School. You’re probably right in the thick of back-to-school shopping and preparations, but we can’t forget school lunches! Whether you pack your children’s lunches or they do it themselves, it’s important to have healthy snacks on hand, not only for their overall health and energy, but also for maintaining good oral health. We all know that soda pops and fizzy drinks are linked to tooth decay, but even some fruits, cereals, and breads contain sugars and starches that can be harmful to our oral health.

No need to add any more stress to the back-to-school preparations, here is a quick reference guide for packing a healthy lunch for healthy teeth:

 

Keep the Sugary Snacks to a Minimum

We all know kids love candy, and it might be unrealistic to eliminate sweets altogether from your child’s daily routine. Try to pack only “healthy” treats per lunch; like a granola bar, dried fruits or yoghurt. Each time kids eat a sugary snack, bacteria from the mouth produce damaging acids which affect their teeth for almost a half an hour before they are neutralized and can’t do any more harm. So, the more sweets they consume during the day, the more often bacteria is fed the fuel they need to cause plaque and tooth decay.

Watch Out For Hidden Sugars

Candy isn’t the only culprit when it comes to sugar. Foods such as pizza, breads, and cereals may also contain sugars. To avoid these, simply check the Nutrition Facts panel on the package for information on the quantity of sugars and fats in the product.

 

Don’t Overdo Acidic Foods

Not only do sugary foods threaten tooth decay, but we often overlook the harm that acidic foods can cause to out oral health. Although oranges and grapefruit are considered a healthy treat, they are high in acid which erodes teeth over time. Limit these acidic foods just as you would limit sugary foods.

Snacks to Limit or Avoid

Citrus Juice (Grapefruit, Orange)

Contains high levels of acid, creating a high erosion potential. These juices are fine on occasion, but not for every day, due to the continual acid attack on teeth. “If you want to drink fruit juices or any other acidic foods, try to eat something alkaline such as cheese or milk afterwards which can neutralise the acid effects of sugar in your mouth.” Read more hereNot only that, but boxed juices generally also contain a lot of sugar (sucrose, glucose, fructose, etc.).

 

Raisins & Dried Fruit

Not only are these treats sticky and chewy (not good for braces!), and more difficult to wash away with saliva, they are often consumed in high quantities. In it’s purest form, dried fruit is simply fruit with the water content removed, but the sugar and fat contents stay relatively the same. Unfortunately, we (and our kids) tend to eat with our eyes, consuming far more of these than we should. If you want to pack dried fruit, just watch the serving size: 1 cup of fresh fruit is close to about ¼ cup of dried fruit. It is also important to read the labels on dried fruits, as many contain added sugars or colours.

Snacks to Pack

 

Meat, fish, Tofu

Loaded with phosphorus, another important mineral that can protect tooth enamel.

 

Carrots, celery, raw pear

Sometimes teeth require a little work to stay strong. Crisp, crunchy, foods that contain a large quantity of water (and require more chewing) are great for maintaining oral health because they can help to gently “brush” teeth, and stimulate the flow of saliva. Saliva contains good enzymes that combat those acids present in food and help to clean bits of food between teeth.

 

For more snack do’s and don’ts check out:

http://dentistry.about.com/od/childrensdentistry/a/kidsnutrition.htm

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-113900/The-snacks-harm-teeth.html

http://greatist.com/health/healthy-teeth-foods

http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/d/diet-and-dental-health


Tooth Trauma: What To Do In An Emergency

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We would all love if everything went as planned, and if we never got hurt. Unfortunately, sometimes accidents happen. Trauma to the face or teeth can be caused by any number of activities, from a baseball game to a car accident. Significant head trauma should be evaluated and treated in hospital emergency rooms, and when trauma occurs to your teeth, it’s important to know what to do to save your smile. Any dental injury will require an immediate examination by a dentist to diagnose the extent of trauma and provide treatment. It is possible for neighbouring teeth to suffer injuries that may go unnoticed, which will be detected by a thorough dental exam.

 

If you’re in an emergency situation, and your tooth comes out completely, don’t panic – we’ll help you through it!

 

1. Find your tooth and pick it up only by the crown (the white part), and be sure to avoid touching the root.

2. Clean the Area

No matter the degree of trauma to the tooth (a crack, chip, or loss of tooth), it’s important to clean both your face and the oral cavity with water or saline. This cleaning will make you feel more comfortable, help protect you from infection, and will facilitate the examination when you get to your dentist. If the tooth itself is dirty, wash it (for approximately 10 seconds) under cold running water.

 

3. Reposition the Tooth

One of the most important variables affecting the success of your tooth re-implantation, is the amount of time that the tooth is out of its socket. If you can, try to replant the tooth, then hold it in position by biting down on a cloth. If you are unable to replant the tooth, place it in a storage medium, such as a glass of milk or a special storage formula for avulsed teeth – Avoid storage in water! You can also transport your tooth in your mouth, just be careful to keep it between your molars and the inside of your cheek. Warning: For children, this method produces a risk of swallowing the tooth, so it is advisable to have them spit in a container and place the tooth inside.

 

4. Seek emergency dental treatment immediately.

 

Click here  for more detailed information on tooth trauma.

 

Braces can actually “strengthen” your teeth while in treatment!

We have had a few patients with braces that had accidents, but their teeth stayed in even if there was a big trauma! Thankfully, the braces kept them all attached together! The impact was distributed on several teeth instead of only one, and the roots all remained in place!

If your tooth has been knocked out, fractured, or displaced, it is best to contact your Ottawa family dentist first, as we may not have the materials or anesthesia required to treat these injuries. If your appliances get displaced or dislodged due to trauma, we will need to either adjust or replace the appliances as soon as possible, after you have seen your general dentist, depending on your comfort level. We always tell our patients, don’t worry about your appliances, we will fix them after, save your teeth first!


Common Dental Myths

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It’s no myth that going to the dentist can bring on some anxiety, and with so much stress and stigma surrounding dentists and orthodontists, it’s not surprising that myths about teeth abound. Perhaps you’ve considered whitening your teeth, but you’ve been warned of harmful effects of using bleaching agents; or you’ve avoided chewing gum because you heard it will rot your teeth. Maybe you never had a chance to ask your dentist or orthodontist—that can be a difficult thing to do when your mouth is full of instruments!

Fear not! Here are three of the most common dental myths, and the realities of dental health:

1. “Bleaching will weaken your teeth.”

We’d all like to have that bright, pearly white smile, and sometimes regular brushing and flossing just doesn’t cut it. Luckily there’s a myriad of whitening products available over the counter or from your dental professional to help make your teeth look whiter. Yet some people worry that using bleaching products on their teeth is harmful or destructive, weakening the teeth. The main thing to remember is that you’re not rinsing your mouth out with Javex — teeth-bleaching products are harmless if used according to the directions.

Clinical studies support the safety and effectiveness of home-use bleaching gels when used correctly and appropriately. Tooth sensitivity and irritation to soft tissues can occur during bleaching treatment, but these effects are transient, and there’s no need to fear that using bleaching products will weaken your teeth. Bleaching only affects the color of the teeth, not their strength or health. Bleaching works by removing some of the pigmentation in the tooth, and if you bleach too often, your teeth might begin to appear translucent if you’ve removed too much of the natural pigmentation. Don’t mistake this translucency for weakening of the enamel or damage to the teeth — it’s just a change of color.

2. “If you eat that, your teeth will fall out.”

Sound familiar? Many of us can recall being told that if we drink too much soda, snack on too much taffy, or eat too many cookies, they will destroy our teeth. While all these foods are bad for your teeth (and ultimately your general health), dried fruit, fruit juice and honey all contain natural sugars that can cause tooth decay. But did you know that the amount of sugar you eat is not the deciding factor in tooth decay?

The bacteria in your mouth feed on carbohydrates, like sugar, and produce an acid that eats away at the enamel of your teeth. The longer the sugar is in your mouth, the longer the bacteria can feed and produce acid, and the longer the acid can work on the enamel. In other words, it’s not about the amount of sugar you eat, it’s about how long the sugar is in contact with your teeth.

This means that eating a whole cake then immediately brushing your teeth is less harmful to your dental health than eating one slice without brushing. Sipping on sugary drinks all day, or snacking on slow-dissolving candies like lollipops, allows sugar to hang around your teeth for a long time — not a good idea.

So enjoy the sweets, but make sure you brush right after!

3. “Chewing gum is bad for your teeth.”

This one isn’t exactly a myth — more like a misconception. Chewing gum of any kind increases saliva production, which is a good thing for your oral health. Besides having enzymes that digest carbohydrates, it has antibodies that fight decay-causing bacteria, it contains buffers that neutralize the acids that eat at your teeth, and it contains minerals that help rebuild parts of your teeth that have been attacked by decay acid.

The problem arises when the sugar found in some gum feeds the bacteria in your mouth. So whether gum is good for you or not depends on whether it’s sugar-free or not. Of course, avoid chewing any type of gum if you have braces; gum chewing actually bends the wire (in extreme cases, it can actually break a bracket off completely) and the teeth will then move to the bent wire, instead of following the originally straight wire in your braces.

The key to debunking dental myths is to rely on the experts. There’s no need for stress when you head to your Ottawa orthodontist; we’re here to answer any questions or concerns you may have, and help demystify the topic of dental health. If you’re ever wondering about the realities of dental health, just give us a call at 613-722-8500 or e-mail us at info@bracesinottawa.com!