123 Dentist Dental Care FAQs
Do you have questions about your teeth and dental care? 123Dentist is here to help you find the answers you need. Browse through our frequently asked questions or reach out to one of our dentists near you to receive one-on-one advice and care.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is a routine dental procedure that dentists perform on teeth with infected roots. An infected tooth is often accompanied by pain or heightened sensitivity in the tooth. Cracks or trauma to a tooth can also lead to root infections.
The root canal process involves:
- Drilling through the tooth to reach the roots.
- Cleaning out the root canals.
- Filling the empty space
- Sealing off the area for protection.
In most cases, a root canal procedure helps preserve the natural tooth, protecting the alignment of the surrounding teeth and integrity of the jaw. Once a root canal procedure is complete, a crown is often recommended to support the remaining natural tooth and restore your natural bite. Root canal procedures are typically performed in-office and may require an additional appointment to fit the crown. In complex cases, you may be referred to an endodontist (a dental specialist with expertise in root canal procedures) for a root canal procedure.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a mineral found in our natural environment. It is present in fresh and saltwater, soil, plants, air, and numerous foods. Dentists have found that fluoride helps strengthen the outer layer of teeth called enamel, which protects teeth from decay. Fluoride can also reverse mild amounts of tooth decay, preventing the development of cavities and the need for treatments such as fillings.
Fluoride can be gained in several ways. Fluoride is often added to municipal drinking water to help fortify teeth and prevent cavities, especially in children. During regular dental hygiene appointments, your dentist may offer a fluoride treatment, either in the form of a rinse or gel. Most kinds of toothpaste also contain fluoride to help remove bacteria, fight the deterioration of the tooth from acids in food and drink, and defend against tooth sensitivity. Brushing twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste can help fight cavities and make your teeth stronger.
What is a periodontist?
A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in diagnosing and treating the soft tissue of the mouth. Most commonly, periodontists are called on to help prevent, diagnose, and treat gum disease, also called periodontal disease. Gum disease is a persistent inflammation of the gums and bones of the teeth.
Advancing gum disease and implants are the most common reasons your dentist will refer you to see a periodontist. However, you could see a periodontist for any of the following procedures: scaling and root planing (cleaning the tops of the tooth root), root surface debridement (removal of damaged root tissue), as well as cosmetic periodontal procedures, such as gum grafting or implants for cosmetic reasons.
Periodontists have an additional three years of training beyond dental school. While your regular dentists will treat mild problems that fall under the category of periodontics, you will most often be referred to the specialist for complex cases of gum disease, or dental implant procedures.
What is orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that specializes in correcting the improper alignment of the teeth and jaw, such as overbites, underbites, or crossbites. Orthodontics also treats improper spacing of teeth, such as overcrowding, gaps between teeth, and crooked teeth. The most common orthodontic solutions are traditional braces, aligners, and retainers. Newer products such as Invisalign® and other clear alignment tray brands are also gaining in popularity. Orthodontic treatments are not just for children and teenagers. Adults who have their natural teeth can have orthodontic treatment at any age.
Orthodontics can be used to correct problematic teeth positioning that make it difficult to chew, bite, or speak. They can also be used for cosmetic reasons, to straighten a smile or perfect a bite. Depending on your dental clinic, there may be an in-house orthodontist, or you may be referred to a specialist. Orthodontists are dentists with additional, specialized training to focus on teeth and jaw alignments.
How to clean your tongue
The tongue is often an overlooked area of the mouth, but it needs cleaning as much as your teeth and gums do. When you drink acidic beverages such as coffee or wine, you may see discolouration on your tongue. When you eat sugary foods, you might even feel a film over your tongue. Not brushing your tongue as part of your oral hygiene routine can allow food bacteria to grow and potentially cling to your teeth and gums, leading to tooth decay and, eventually, cavities or gingivitis.
We recommend cleaning your tongue twice a day or every time you brush. The easiest method is to use your toothbrush to clean your tongue after you’ve finished brushing your teeth and gums. It can be helpful to use a tongue scraper or to purchase a toothbrush with a built-in tongue scrubber to clean excess food and bacteria off your tongue. Mouthwashes can also help clean your tongue and rinse out your entire mouth.
What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge is a type of dental restoration that literally “bridges” a gap between your teeth. Your dentist will typically recommend this solution when one or more of your teeth are missing or have been removed. The bridge consists of the false tooth, called a “pontic,” and anchors that attach to teeth on one or both sides of the gap, called “abutment teeth.” The pontic can be made from porcelain or Zirconia Oxide to better resemble natural teeth, or it can be made from metal alloys or gold.
Dental bridges are permanent restorations that can help restore your natural bite, allowing you to chew normally and prevent further drifting of teeth into the existing spaces. A dental bridge can also improve or restore your speech, depending on the location of the missing teeth. Depending on how many teeth are missing and the health of the surrounding teeth, your dentist may recommend one of several types of bridges available.
Why are my teeth yellow?
Many people wonder why their teeth appear yellow, and there are several possible reasons. The first reason is a natural progression with age. Over time, the enamel of your teeth will wear down, causing your teeth to look yellow in colour. Some people are more prone to yellowing teeth than others, depending on their genetics.
Another common cause of yellow teeth is a diet with food and drink that stains your teeth or damages the enamel. Highly acidic food is more prone to wear the enamel of your teeth away faster, such as citric fruits, tomatoes, and vinegar. Beverages can also wear down the enamel of your teeth and stain your teeth, including coffee, juices, sodas, and both red and white wines.
Finally, yellow teeth may be the result of nicotine in cigarettes and other tobacco products, an excess of fluoride exposure, consumption of antibiotics at a young age, trauma to the teeth, or teeth grinding that wears down and strips away the tooth’s enamel. In many cases, professional teeth whitening can be effective in removing staining and correcting discolouration. Teeth Whitening, whilst can be done at any age, is less effective the older the patient is. The use of porcelain restorations have tipped the scale towards the whiter side of acceptable results by the public.
How can I become a dentist?
Pursuing a career in dentistry comes with a fair number of challenges, but when you succeed, the career is rewarding in all respects. The first step is to take the Dental Aptitude Test (DAT) administered by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA). Most Canadian university dentistry programs require your scores from this test to be accepted. The next step is to apply to one of the several universities in Canada that offer dentistry—it’s essential that you check each school’s requirements for admission, as they can vary from province to province. Once you have been accepted to a school, the dentistry program is typically four years long and ends with official examinations and the licensing process.
Dental professionals that receive their training in another country may follow the procedures outlined by the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB). This process involves a series of tests, verifications, and exams for licensing. For individuals who do not qualify for equivalency approval, you may apply for a bridging program at one of Canada’s dental schools.
What are dentures?
Dentures are artificial teeth and gums that replace your natural teeth. Depending on how many teeth need to be replaced, they come in full or partial sets. Each set of dentures is designed specifically for your unique mouth and closely resembles the look and function of your natural teeth. Even though dentures are false teeth, they require consistent oral care.
Although many older adults with decaying teeth choose to wear dentures, anyone can require dentures at any age. There are several reasons why an individual may need dentures. An injury or trauma to the mouth may cause teeth to fall out or sustain significant damage. If enough teeth are missing or removed, the best option for restoration might be dentures.
What is tooth enamel?
Tooth enamel is an amazing mineral substance that exists naturally in the human body. Your tooth enamel forms the outer, protective layer of your teeth, shielding the sensitive inner layers from damage, decay, and discolouration. Your enamel also insulates the inner portion of your teeth from extreme temperatures. Even though your tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body (even harder than bone), your teeth are still vulnerable to demineralization and enamel erosion.
The biggest threats to your enamel are acid erosion and physical wear and tear. Food and beverages that are high in sugar or acids are the most serious threats to your enamel. Avoiding foods that contain those ingredients can help protect your teeth over time. Overexposure to fluoride at a young age can also damage the enamel of your adult teeth, although proper amounts of fluoride can actually protect and build the enamel.
Why does my jaw hurt when I open my mouth?
There are several reasons why your jaw might hurt when you open and close your mouth. The top reasons include dental problems, stress, TMJ disorders, headaches and migraines, and sinus infections. Some of the above symptoms are exacerbated by a Sleep Breathing Disorder which needs attention by a Sleep Physician.
Because your mouth is attached to your joint and muscular network, it can feel sore for various reasons, and not all of them are dental problems. Stress often causes your jaw to clench while you are awake or asleep, causing muscle and joint tension. Headaches, migraine, and sickness also contribute to jaw pain as the sinus congestion delivers pressure down to your teeth and jaw. TMJ disorders affect the temporomandibular joint in the jaw and are often caused by grinding or clenching the teeth. Dentists can often diagnose TMJ and dental issues related to the jaw, as well as prescribing dental devices and lifestyle changes to relieve the pain. Once again, the underying issue maybe a Sleep Breathing Disorder. If you’re not sure what might be causing your pain, talk to your dentist for advice.
How to remineralize teeth
The hard outer shell of your tooth includes tooth enamel, which protects the more sensitive insides of the teeth from damage. When tooth enamel wears down, it may be referred to as “demineralization.” The enamel of your tooth naturally loses its mineral content due to wear and tear with age, exposure to food and beverages, and the elements. While constant demineralization can potentially leave your teeth vulnerable and fragile, the process of remineralization helps to counteract that loss.
Your saliva, exposure to fluoride, and consumption of dairy products and vitamin D all contribute to remineralizing your teeth. Having a clean mouth allows your enamel to repair itself while using fluoride toothpaste, which is why a consistent oral hygiene routine is essential. Drinking fluoridated water also helps provide replacement phosphate and calcium ions.
Why do gums bleed?
If your toothpaste is tinged with pink or red when it hits the sink, it’s likely that your gums are bleeding. As troubling as blood in your mouth may seem, bleeding gums are not always a cause for panic. There are several common causes of bleeding gums, some of which are serious and some of which can be easily reversed.
The most common reasons why your gums might be bleeding include gingivitis (gum disease), flossing or brushing too hard, injury to your gums, pregnancy, or poorly fitting dentures. There may be other reasons why your gums are bleeding, but these are five of the most common causes. If your gums continue to bleed for an extended period of time, bleed in large amounts, or bleed regularly outside of brushing, be sure to consult your dentist right away.
How do dentists fix a cavity?
A cavity is a hole in your tooth caused by tooth decay. When the tooth enamel breaks down, bacteria can begin to eat into the tissue of the tooth, causing cavities. Dentists fix cavities by cleaning the holes out and filling them in. This is what happens when a dentist performs a dental filling.
When dentists fix a cavity, they will typically provide a patient with local anesthesia to numb the mouth and surrounding nerves so the cavity can be comfortably cleaned out using a drill. Once your tooth is cleaned, the dentist will fill the cavity with a composite resin or metal alloy, shaping the material to fill in the space and align with the natural bite. Dental fillings are common procedures in general dentistry and are an important part of preventative dentistry.
What to do when your teeth hurt
Nobody enjoys having pain in their teeth. While there are many methods to relieve pain in your teeth, there are also many possible causes of pain in your teeth. Causes of tooth pain can include cavities, TMJ disorders, teeth clenching, periodontal disease, inflammation, sinus infection, pregnancy, and oral cancer.
Some at-home remedies for tooth pain include using a cold compress for twenty minutes at a time, rinsing your mouth with salt water, using sensitive toothpaste, and taking oral pain medication. Your best solution is to discover why your teeth hurt, and the easiest way to do this is by visiting your local dentist for a dental examination. Once your dentist has checked your teeth and diagnosed an issue, he or she can recommend a treatment plan to relieve the pain and remedy the cause.
How does dental insurance work in Canada?
In Canada, public health care is available to cover a wide range of health services. However, dentistry is excluded from public health care, which means patients are responsible for paying for dental services and procedures. Many patients choose to offset the costs of regular dental care by purchasing a health and dental insurance plan. These often pay out a percentage of oral health care services, lowering the overall costs of the services. Or, they may cover certain services in full.
There are a variety of providers and plans available. Some people may be eligible for plans paid for by their employers or government-funded plans. However, those without coverage, or those with lower levels of coverage, can also purchase their own insurance coverage. Choosing the right plan for you can help ensure that your visits to the dentist are affordable, even when the unexpected happens.
How does fluoride help teeth?
Fluoride is a useful mineral that helps make our teeth and bones strong. In dentistry, the most beneficial thing fluoride does is help to remineralize teeth with calcium and phosphate ions. Over time due to wear, diet, and other factors, your enamel naturally loses its minerals, leaving your inner tooth vulnerable to damage and discolouration.
You receive safe doses of fluoride through fluoride treatments at your annual check-up, in fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinses, and sometimes in your municipal water supply. If you live in Canada, there is a good chance there is fluoride in your municipal tap water to boost your fluoride exposure and promote healthy teeth. To find out whether your town or city uses fluoride, you can reach out to your local government or health officials to learn more. You may also gain fluoride from toothpaste or from fluoride treatments offered by your local dentist.
What to do when you have a toothache
When you have a tooth that aches, pain relief is always top of mind. If you are suffering from a toothache, you can take over-the-counter pain medication until it resolves or until you can see your dentist. Rinsing with saltwater and flossing the teeth around the painful one can also help to relieve any superficial causes of the pain, such as food caught in your teeth.
If your pain is excruciating or does not ease over time, you should call your dentist immediately and explain that it is a dental emergency, in which case you may be able to book a last-minute dentist appointment. If your pain subsides or comes and goes, you can schedule an appointment in advance and allow your dentist to investigate the problem. Pain in your tooth could be a warning sign of an abscess or cavity forming, so be sure to have it looked at by a dentist.
Why do we have wisdom teeth?
Our wisdom teeth are a leftover relic of a time when ancient humans ate a very different diet than we do today. Wisdom teeth, or third molars, allowed ancient humans to chew large quantities of plants, nuts, seeds, and tough meat. Today, we don’t need our wisdom teeth for eating. In fact, our mouths have shrunk compared to our ancient ancestors, leaving little to no room for our wisdom teeth to come in without causing problems. The is new evidence today which leads us to believe that our jaws do not grow as large as they used to due to our “modern lifestyles”. These modern lifestyles include reduced breast-feeding for babies, allergies and pollution that leads to mouth breathing rather than the more normal nose breathing and finally eating of soft foods which leads to poor eve;opment of the jaw muscles. All these realities lead to poor jaw development. This lack of jaw growth is also the reason why a large percentage of humans have crowded teeth and in many cases resort to orthodontic treatment.
Most dentists will recommend wisdom teeth extraction even before the teeth erupt. Preventative measures can be less painful and less expensive than waiting to see how much damage or pain the arrival of wisdom teeth will cause. Dentists will keep a close eye on the developing mouth of youth between the ages of 17 and 21 to watch for the first signs of wisdom teeth erupting.
How are teeth numbered?
Dentists worldwide use different systems to number and identify the teeth in the human mouth. In Canada, dentists typically use one of three different numbering systems. They might use the Palmer Notation, the Universal Numbering System, or the FDI System to communicate or work with international dentists.
The Palmer Notation and the FDI System divide the mouth into four quadrants. The Palmer Notation uses a symbol to denote the different quadrants, while the FDI System assigns a number (1-4) to each quadrant. Both systems then number the teeth 1-8, starting at the front of the mouth, working to the back position of where your wisdom tooth would be.
The Universal Numbering System is simple. It numbers all the teeth in the mouth, starting with the upper right wisdom tooth position as number 1 and ending with tooth 32 on the bottom right wisdom tooth.
Learn More About Tooth Numbering
How does toothpaste work?
Toothpaste cleans your teeth and does a host of other things to boost your oral health because of a list of specific active ingredients in the paste. Almost all kinds of toothpaste have the same five components: abrasive, foam, texture, preservatives, and tasting agents. The type of toothpaste you need will depend on your top dental priorities. If you are concerned with the colour of your teeth, you’ll want to purchase a whitening toothpaste that targets surface stains on your teeth. If you have sensitive teeth, you’ll want to look for a toothpaste that numbs and protects your nerves.
If you prefer to make your own toothpaste or try alternative pastes, you’ll want to watch out for the abrasive ingredient. Coarse charcoal powder or salt can harm your enamel rather than whiten the surface. With alternative toothpaste, you’ll also want to handle it with care to prevent contamination or bacterial growth between brushing.
Learn More About Toothpaste
How does charcoal whiten your teeth?
Activated charcoal powder is used in toothpaste and other beauty products as an abrasive and cleansing ingredient. When it comes to your teeth, the fine powder helps remove surface stains from your tooth enamel by gently scraping the surface to help make your teeth look whiter.
Charcoal is made from burning materials such as wood, peat, bones, or other carbon-based substances. When used in toothpaste, the charcoal powder is typically fine enough to cause whitening without damage. However, in home remedies or alternative pastes, it’s important to avoid coarse charcoal powders, as those can cause damage to your enamel by wearing it away, exposing the inner portion of your teeth and resulting in yellowing of the teeth.
Why do I get cavities so easily?
Tooth decay and plaque build-up are the leading causes of bacteria on your teeth and gums, which in turn leads to tooth decay and cavities. If you get cavities easily, it may be the result of several factors. The most common reasons why people get cavities are poor oral hygiene, diet, weak tooth enamel, the composition and consistency of your saliva. Brushing and flossing diligently every day can help remove plaque and prevent cavities in your teeth. Meanwhile, eating lots of sugary food and drinks, such as sodas, fruit juices, energy drinks, candy, and other high-sugar products, can increase your risk of developing cavities.
Weak tooth enamel also increases your chance of developing a cavity. Your enamel protects your tooth from decay, but many lifestyle factors, including smoking, drinking, and diet, can increase the rate at which your enamel wears away, exposing your teeth to damage. Less runny saliva and a less production of saliva can also increase the incidence of cavities.
What to Do When You Have a Toothache
Toothaches are common dental ailments, the causes of which can range from minor issues to major dental problems. Aching teeth can also vary in the quality of pain they generate. You may feel anything from radiating or pulsing pain in your tooth to a dull, continuous ache. An aching tooth can make it difficult to concentrate on anything else in either scenario. A constant toothache can disrupt your sleep, leave you feeling stressed and overtired. Let’s discuss the possible causes of toothaches and review how to care for them at home and when to see the dentist.
What Can Cause a Toothache?
Food Caught in Your Teeth
Something as small as a piece of food trapped between your teeth or along your gum line can cause an intense toothache. If you’ve ever had a bit of popcorn stuck in your teeth, you may already know how uncomfortable it feels. The simplest way to fix this type of toothache is to floss your teeth or gently use a toothpick to remove the piece of food. If you can’t remove it yourself, see your dentist or dental hygienist.
Toothaches can be a sign of a cavity developing. Poor oral health often leads to plaque build-up and tooth decay, causing cavities and gum inflammation, which in turn leads to toothaches. You probably won’t be able to see the cavity in your bathroom mirror, so you’ll want to have your dentist look your teeth over instead.
A cracked or broken tooth can also cause unexpected tooth pain. Your teeth can break in various circumstances. Biting down on a hard object, like a popcorn kernel, can crack or damage your teeth, exposing the inner dentin layer or nerves. Fracturing your tooth can cause heightened sensitivity and tooth pain until the dental problem is fixed by a dentist.
If you are between the ages of 17 and 21, your toothache could be caused by your wisdom teeth erupting. As the wisdom teeth make their way to the surface of the gums, they can push into your surrounding teeth, causing pain in those areas. It’s also possible that you have impacted wisdom teeth, meaning they are not appropriately aligned. Their angled eruption can also cause tooth pain. A dentist can typically diagnose wisdom tooth issues by taking dental x-rays.
Similar to a fractured tooth, if your filling becomes damaged or falls out, it can expose the inside of your tooth, causing sensitivity and pain. A damaged filling cannot be repaired without the skill and expertise of your dentist.
Bacteria along your gum line can cause irritation, inflammation, and even infection. Plaque and bacteria will build up when you neglect your oral hygiene, leading to toothaches, or worse, gum disease and infections.
An abscessed tooth is a bacterial infection in the center of the tooth. This type of infection can cause sharp tooth pain along with redness and swelling along the gums. Your tooth may also be extra sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Abscessed teeth are created by root infections or physical damage to the tooth.
Symptoms of a Toothache
There are other symptoms that are related to toothaches that you might not readily recognize. Aside from the pain and discomfort you feel when you have a toothache, you might also experience swelling around the tooth that hurts. You might even suffer from a fever or headache. Your toothache could also cause a bad taste in your mouth or create a bad odour on your breath. Each of these may be signs of the cause of the toothache, so be sure to tell your dental team about any symptoms you experience.
How to Relieve a Toothache
Toothaches can be treated and relieved by home remedies, over-the-counter medicine, and a trip to your nearest dental clinic.
Apply a Cold Compress
Your toothache can be soothed with a cold cloth or compress held to the affected area for about twenty minutes. The cold temperature helps reduce swelling and inflammation and numbs the pain. Every few hours, you can repeat the process to help with the pain if it endures.
Rinsing your mouth with salt water kills the bacteria in your mouth, treats inflammation, and can reduce your pain and sensitivity. A saltwater rinse can also loosen debris caught between your teeth, eliminating the possible cause of your toothache.
Diluted hydrogen peroxide can clean and offer temporary relief to inflamed gums. Simply dilute the hydrogen peroxide in water and apply it with a cotton ball to your gums. If your toothache persists or gets worse in two days, you’ll want to check with your dentist. We recommend mixing 3% solution hydrogen peroxide with equal parts of water. It’s also essential that you only rinse with the solution and do not swallow it.
If your pain is intolerable, you can take an oral anti-inflammatory medicine to ease the pain. When taking medication, always follow the directions on the packaging.
When to See a Dentist for a Toothache
If your toothache continues beyond two or three days, or if the severity increases, we recommend making an appointment to see your dentist. At-home remedies can offer temporary pain relief, but they won’t last forever, and pain medication should only be used temporarily. Your dentist can examine your mouth and find the root cause of your pain to prescribe a dental treatment to fix the issue. If your pain is sharp or severe, call your local dentist to learn if they offer dental emergency services so they can see you soon as possible. If you need to find your nearest dentist in Canada, browse the 123 Dentist network to find a clinic near you.
What to Do When Your Teeth Hurt
It can be hard to think about anything else when your teeth hurt. Sometimes tooth pain comes and goes in short, sharp bursts, while other times, your teeth or a single tooth may hurt continuously. And sometimes, your teeth feel pain under specific conditions, such as extreme temperatures or from pressure.
So, how do you know whether to see a dentist or whip up simple at-home remedies instead? Keep reading to learn more about the common causes of tooth pain and recommended solutions.
Common Causes of Teeth Pain
Sensitivity in your teeth could be causing your teeth to hurt. The most common triggers of pain for sensitive teeth are extreme temperatures and types of food. When you eat or drink something icy or very cold, your teeth may react with pain. The same reaction can occur when you eat or drink hot foods, such as tea or soup.
Teeth can also be sensitive to certain types of food, such as high-sugar items or acidic foods and sauces. If you suspect sensitivity is the root cause of your pain, try to keep a journal of what you’ve been eating or drinking at the time of your tooth pain. Your notes can help you narrow down the possible causes, avoid those particular foods, and help you explain the issue more thoroughly to your dentist.
Your teeth may feel tender or extra sensitive when your gums are inflamed due to over brushing, rough flossing, or foods you’ve been eating. Chronic gum inflammation is also an early sign of gum disease. Home remedies may offer temporary pain relief, but if the pain continues, you’ll want to ask for your dentist’s advice.
Clenching Your Teeth or TMJ Disorders
Are you a teeth clencher or grinder? If you tend to bite down on your teeth either subconsciously due to stress or while you sleep, your teeth may hurt afterward. This pain is typically felt as an aching across several teeth or concentrated pain on one side of your mouth or jaw. The pain can also lead to headaches.
The pressure in your sinuses caused by illness, allergies, or sinus infection can cause pressure to build in your mouth and behind your nasal passages. This pressure along your jaw and teeth causes aches and tooth pain. Once your sinuses clear up, the pain in your teeth should go away. If you continue to feel aches and pains among your teeth, book an appointment with your dentist.
When you’re pregnant, your teeth and gums will naturally become more sensitive and easily irritated. You’ll also be more prone to gingivitis and cavities during pregnancy, making it essential to take extra care in your oral health routine during this time. If your teeth continue to hurt post-pregnancy, you’ll want to check with your dentist that there are no other underlying causes to be concerned about.
Your teeth may constantly hurt if your diet is high in sugar or acidic foods. Both types of food contribute to the breakdown of tooth enamel, which protects your teeth. Drinking more water, eating fewer acids and sugar, and brushing and flossing your teeth regularly after meals can all help reduce your tooth pain.
Oral cancer is not the most common cause of all tooth pain, but if it is present in your mouth, it will cause your teeth to hurt, as well as your gums and jaw. Regular dental check-ups mean you’ll be checked for cancer by your dentist annually, helping to catch warnings of oral cancer early while they are most treatable.
Remedies for Tooth Pain
Applying a cold compress can help as a temporary pain reliever and provide a natural numbing effect when your teeth hurt. We recommend applying ice or a cold cloth to the painful area for twenty minutes to feel the maximum impact. If the pain continues, you can repeat the process as often as necessary.
Several brands make toothpaste specifically designed to treat teeth sensitivities. This type of toothpaste uses active ingredients that help build up your resistance and tolerance for common sources of sensitivity, including hot and cold and sugar. Sensitivity toothpaste works best when used regularly and as part of complete oral hygiene practice.
Salt Water Rinse
Rinsing your mouth with a mixture of warm water and salt helps to clean away any food particles or bacteria clinging to your teeth or gums. It’s also a soothing concoction for inflamed gums, helping to reduce both swelling and pain.
Oral Pain Medication
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen are over-the-counter oral medications that can provide effective relief from tooth pain. When taking pain medication, it’s important to always follow the instructions on the label. This solution can help you reduce your pain so you can go about your day or get a good night of sleep. If your pain is ongoing for more than two days, we recommend making an appointment with your dentist.
See Your Dentist
If your teeth hurt for more than a few days, it’s important to consult with your dentist. Your dentist has the tools and ability to look for any serious underlying issues causing your pain. For example, gum disease, root infections, or injuries may cause prolonged tooth pain that requires further dental attention to heal or repair.
Find a Dentist Near You
Why Do Gums Bleed?
As troubling as blood in your mouth may seem, bleeding gums are not always a cause for panic. There are several common causes of bleeding gums that can help you determine whether your case is typical and can be reversed or whether you ought to seek the professional help of your dentist or periodontist.
Five Leading Causes of Bleeding Gums
One of the first clues that your gums are bleeding is a pink or red tint to your saliva after you spit while brushing your teeth. The sight might feel alarming, but there are several possible causes of your bleeding gums that are routine and reversible. However, even if one of the following five causes fits your case, you can still discuss your situation with your dentist to receive personalized, expert advice.
Red, irritated, and sensitive gums that bleed often turn out to be gingivitis, a mild form of periodontal disease (gum disease). While gingivitis can evolve into a more serious periodontal problem, there are actions you can take to stop and reverse it and improve your oral health. If you brush and floss regularly, you can help rid your gums of bacteria and sensitivity.
More serious forms of periodontal disease require the expertise of a dentist or periodontist. If you suffer from pain and bleeding in your gums or your gums are thin or receding, be sure to book an appointment with a dentist near you.
Flossing and Brushing Too Hard
If your gums bleed during your oral care routine, the cause may be irritation rather than inflammation. Bleeding gums can result from flossing or brushing along the gum line too hard. If this is the case, you can try flossing with extra care not to rub or hurt your gum line. You can also try switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush to help you brush with greater care. When you visit your dental clinic for your next appointment, you can ask either your hygienist or dentist to show you some better techniques for both flossing and brushing that won’t cause your gums to bleed.
Injury to Your Gums
Another reason why your gums might be bleeding is if you’ve sustained an injury of some kind to the soft tissue. It could be caused by a sharp piece of food that gets stuck between your teeth, causing a mild bleed. If you receive a scratch, jab, or impact on your gum line or teeth, it may also cause bleeding. The best solution is to apply a wet, clean cloth to the bleeding area to get it to stop. Afterward, you can rinse your mouth with warm, slightly salted water to clean away the site of the injury. If the bleeding stops and there is no serious injury, the problem is likely resolved. However, if the bleeding won’t stop or there is further damage, such as a dislodged tooth, then we recommend seeking an emergency dental appointment as soon as possible.
The hormonal changes in your body while pregnant can lead to swelling and inflammation in your gums, which can cause them to bleed. Pregnancy can also increase plaque build-up on your teeth, which leads to inflamed gums and what is sometimes called “pregnancy gingivitis.” The good news is that your inflammation should go away with good oral care once your pregnancy is over.
Dentures That Fit Poorly
Do you wear dentures? Do they fit securely and comfortably in your mouth? Sometimes, dentures that are too tight or fit poorly can rub against your gums, causing irritation and redness that can lead to bleeding. Loose dentures can also cause bleeding as food gets trapped between the denture and gum, fostering bacterial growth and possible infection of the gums. If your dentures don’t fit comfortably, it’s a good idea to speak with your dentist about getting new dentures or other restorative options.
How to Avoid Bleeding Gums
The best way to prevent or stop your gums from bleeding is to take good care of your teeth and oral hygiene every day. Start by brushing your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day, making sure to cover your gum line. You’ll also want to floss carefully once a day to remove plaque from your gums. Rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash can also help to keep your mouth fresh and free from bacteria. An excellent oral health routine and routine dental visits should help prevent or stop your gums from bleeding and can prevent periodontal disease.
When to See a Dentist for Bleeding Gums?
If you have an excellent oral health routine and your gums still bleed, or if your gums bleed excessively, then we highly recommend you seek the expertise of your dentist or periodontist. There may be another underlying cause that cannot be treated at home. If you need to find a new dentist, our easy-to-use 123 Dentist directory will help you find a clinic near you.
How Teeth Are Numbered
You may be familiar with teeth categories, including terms like molars, premolars, bicuspids, and incisors. But did you know your teeth are also numbered according to codes that help dentists refer to specific tooth positions in the mouth? If you’ve ever heard a dentist talk to their assistants or hygienists, you’ve probably heard them refer to your teeth by a series of digits. Internationally there are some 32 different systems for labelling your teeth, but in Canada, there are three primary numbering systems used:
- Palmer notation
- Universal numbering system
- FDI World Dental Federation notation
The Palmer notation divides the mouth into four quadrants: upper right, upper left, lower right, and lower left. Each quadrant has eight teeth, beginning with the number 1 at the incisor in the front of the mouth and progressing to 8 at the back of your mouth. Each tooth has a code that corresponds to the quadrant and the number.
If you’re counting along, you might be wondering where the eighth tooth is. All numbering systems account for wisdom teeth, whether you have them or not. The notations correspond to the spot where your tooth should be, even if you’ve had that tooth removed.
Because children’s teeth are fewer and not permanent, Palmer Notation uses a slightly different labeling system for the primary teeth. With the Palmer notation, teeth in children follow the same order of quadrants, but instead of using numbers, the letters A-E are used to label teeth. The letter A always starts with the first tooth at the front of the mouth.
Universal Numbering System
The universal numbering system does not use quadrants like the Palmer Notation. Instead, it numbers all your teeth from 1 to 32, starting with your wisdom tooth position on the upper right corner of your mouth, working across to your upper left wisdom tooth, position 16. Next, you’ll start at the lower-left portion of your mouth, at the wisdom tooth, position 17, and work across your lower teeth to the lower right wisdom tooth, position 32.
With the Universal system, children’s teeth used to be numbered from 1 to 20 with a lowercase “d” added to the end to denote it was a deciduous or primary tooth and not an adult tooth. Now, most dentists have switched to a lettering system for primary teeth. The letters start with A and end with T, following the same directional pattern as adult teeth.
FDI Tooth Numbering System
Internationally, dentists use the World Dental Federal notation system to communicate teeth positions. Similar to the Palmer notation, the FDI divides the mouth into quadrants and associates a number to each quadrant.
- The upper right quadrant is 1
- The upper left quadrant is 2
- The lower left quadrant is 3
- The lower right quadrant is 4
The code uses two numbers for each position: the quadrant code and the tooth position number. The front tooth is number 1 and the wisdom tooth or third molar is number 8. For example, your upper right bicuspid would be 13 (1 for the quadrant, 3 for the position).
Book Your Next Dental Appointment
Now that you understand how these systems work, you’ll be more informed the next time you visit your dentist. If you are looking for a nearby dentist, you can easily search the 123 Dentist network to find a dental clinic near you.
Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?
Although there is a group of teeth called the “wisdom teeth,” most people have them removed and many others don’t get wisdom teeth at all. It may seem strange, but human wisdom teeth had a purpose at one time in history.
Wisdom teeth usually show up between the ages of 17 and 21, which is a relatively late age for permanent teeth. This late arrival when we’re supposedly “wiser” is why they were given the name of “wisdom” teeth. In more official dental terms, your wisdom teeth are also known as your third molars. Now that you know why your third molars are sometimes called your wisdom teeth, let’s discuss why we have third molars in the first place and why dentists often remove them.
Evolutionary biologists believe that humans still get wisdom teeth based on the dietary habits of our ancient ancestors. Those past humans dined primarily on uncooked or dried meat, nuts, seeds, berries, and other chewy plants. Having a third set of molars made chewing, swallowing, and digesting those types of food easier. Over time, the need for those third molars diminished as we learned to cook our meat and developed techniques to refine and process our food.
Today, some people never develop wisdom teeth, while others get 1, 2, 3, or all 4. Most people who do get them have their wisdom teeth removed due to complications in their development or eruptions. Very few people have all four wisdom teeth erupt without problems.
Impacted Wisdom Teeth
Only a portion of the population gets wisdom teeth, and those that do get them often suffer from impacted wisdom teeth. Our ancient ancestors benefitted from the third set of molars because they helped them process their interesting diet. As humans evolved to no longer need the third set of molars, our jawbones and mouths also shrank, making it increasingly difficult for wisdom teeth to grow correctly.
As you approach the age of 17, your dentist will monitor the progress of your wisdom teeth to see how they are developing. If it seems they will erupt too close to your second molars or in any position other than the natural vertical position, your dentist will keep a close eye on their development. When your wisdom teeth cannot erupt cleanly, this is referred to as “impacted wisdom teeth.” In this case, your dentist will suggest extraction as a preventative solution to avoid damage to the surrounding teeth.
Why Do Dentists Remove Wisdom Teeth?
It’s not often that you’ll meet someone who has wisdom teeth. Even when an individual has had theirs erupt without problems, dentists will still suggest extraction for several reasons. While there may not be any initial issues, having the third set of molars poses long-term oral health risks.
One risk is overcrowding. Our mouths can comfortably hold a complete set of 28 teeth (not counting four wisdom teeth). Squeezing in an extra set of large molars can overcrowd your surrounding teeth. Crowded teeth are more difficult to floss and brush effectively, increasing the risk of plaque and bacteria building up on your gums and teeth. Your chances of developing cavities, gingivitis, or other gum diseases increase when brushing and flossing become more difficult.
Another problem caused by wisdom teeth overcrowding the mouth is alignment issues. If your wisdom teeth don’t push the nearby teeth out of the way at the start, they can slowly shift them out of alignment over time. If your other teeth move out of place, they will require a more dramatic procedure to fix them, such as braces or other orthodontic treatments.
Preventative Dental Care
Most dentists advocate for the removal of third molars as a preventative measure. For most people, it is preferable to undergo teeth extraction to remove their wisdom teeth rather than risk any damage to the mouth or teeth in the future.
Wisdom Teeth Removal
Tooth extraction is a process that requires two or more visits to the dentist’s office. The first visit involves removing the tooth. You’ll receive a local anesthetic or general anesthetic to ensure you are sufficiently numb and comfortable throughout the procedure. Your dentist may put you into a sleepy state to make the process smoother for you, especially if you’ll be having all four teeth removed.
Removing the wisdom teeth requires cutting the tooth out of the gums and removing the roots before cleaning and sealing the area. After your molars have been extracted, you’ll require time for your gums to heal. After the procedure, your dentist will give you detailed instructions for how to properly care for your gums after the extraction to keep your gums and the back of your mouth clean and free from infection.
Wisdom Teeth Removal Consultation
If you experience pain or discomfort in the area behind your second molars and you haven’t had your wisdom teeth removed, it could be due to an impacted wisdom tooth. We recommend scheduling an appointment with your dentist or with one of our 123 Dentists in our Canada-wide network. You can use our convenient directory to find a dental clinic near you.
How Do Dentists Fix a Cavity?
Cavities are the leading dental problem that Canadian dentists fix each year. There are many reasons why cavities are so common. The first factor is our increasingly high-sugar diets that lead to plaque build-up and tooth decay. Another factor may be barriers to accessing oral health care supplies or regular dental check-ups. For others, no matter how excellent their oral health routine is, they are still prone to cavities due to genetics or weakened tooth enamel.
Cavities can grow in any tooth and require different techniques to repair and restore the tooth, depending on the location, depth, and severity of the tooth decay. Let’s look at some of the most common types of restorations.
Dental fillings are the most common and simple treatments for cavities. This procedure usually requires one appointment and is completed by your general dentist. You’ll receive local anesthesia to ensure your gums, nerves, and tooth are numb to pain throughout the procedure. Next, your dentist will drill around the cavity, clean out the decay and bacteria, then fill in the cavity with a durable filling. The filling may be made from a composite resin or a metal alloy, depending on the location of the filling and your budget. A dental filling will stay intact for roughly 15 years with good care and oral hygiene.
Inlays and Onlays
If your cavity is a substantial size, your dentist may recommend an inlay or onlay instead of a filling. Inlays and onlays allow you to keep most of your natural tooth while removing the decay to prevent further damage to the tooth. The procedure for inlays and onlays begins the same way as a dental filling does, the main difference being that for inlays and onlays, two or more appointments are necessary to complete the treatment because the inlay or onlay needs to be created in a dental laboratory.
During the first visit, your dentist will administer local anesthesia before cleaning and preparing the tooth. An impression will be made of your prepared tooth and sent away to a dental laboratory, where a custom-made inlay or onlay will be made for you. Your dentist will fit you with a temporary filling to protect your tooth while you wait.
An inlay is a small piece of resin that sits in between the cuspids of your teeth to cover and protect it. In contrast, an onlay covers the cuspids and the biting surface of the tooth. Once your inlay or onlay is ready, your dentist will call you back for the second appointment, at which time they will install the permanent restoration on your tooth and secure it in place.
A dental crown is a dental restoration that might be suggested if your tooth has had previous fillings or if your cavity has weakened the tooth’s structure beyond what an inlay or onlay can repair. Your dentist will need to see you over two appointments for a dental crown procedure. Dental crowns are also custom-made in a dental lab and can take up to two weeks to create.
To prepare for a dental crown, your dentist will reduce your tooth to a size that the dental crown can fit over, removing any decay in the process. This method allows you to keep your natural tooth, roots, and nerves while creating a solid surface to bite down on.
While you wait for your custom dental crown to arrive, your dentist will give you a temporary crown to protect your natural tooth and allow you to eat normally while you wait. When your dental crown comes from the dental lab, your dentist will call you back to remove the temporary crown and secure the permanent one. Once it is cemented into position, your dentist will make any last-minute adjustments to ensure the bite is comfortable and natural. Dental crowns can be made from composite resin, porcelain, metal alloys, and even gold.
Your dentist will be determined to save your natural teeth whenever possible. Only in complex situations will a cavity require a tooth extraction. An example of a complex cavity would be a cavity in a tooth that has previously had restorations, with too little of the natural tooth remaining for a new restoration. Another problematic case may be a tooth with a root infection that requires a full root canal or complete extraction. In these cases, your dentist will explain what treatment is needed and discuss your options to remove and restore your tooth.
Find a Dentist Near You
Are you worried you may have a cavity? Do you have questions about dental restorations? Ask your general dentist during your next visit or find a 123 Dentist near you with our convenient cross-Canada dental directory.
Why Does My Jaw Hurt When I Open My Mouth?
Jaw pain is a serious matter. At best, jaw pain can be uncomfortable, distracting, and spread further discomfort, including headaches, neck pain, and shoulder stiffness. At worst, the ache in your jaw can be debilitating, especially if you’re not sure why you are experiencing pain in the first place. There are several possible reasons your jaw hurts when you open your mouth to speak, eat, yawn, or even breathe—let’s look at some of the potential causes of jaw joint issues.
Several dental problems can cause jaw pain and discomfort. Dental conditions such as an untreated cavity, a cracked tooth, a root infection, or gum disease can lead to jaw pain. If you’re unsure whether your teeth are the cause of your jaw joint problems, we recommend calling your dentist to make an appointment. Dentists have the tools and skills to detect underlying dental issues that could be causing your jaw pain. They’ll also have effective solutions to relieve you from discomfort.
The Solution: Dental conditions are treatable by your general dentist and can alleviate your pain when attended to promptly. If your discomfort is unmanageable, we recommend making an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
Your jaw pain might be the result of stress rather than a physical issue. Stress can cause your body to tense up, causing aches and pains throughout your muscles, body joints, and jaw. Stress can also lead to clenching your teeth and jaw, either subconsciously during the day or while you sleep and are not aware that it’s happening. The only sign is waking up with pain in the jaw joint. You’ll usually notice the pain most while opening and closing your mouth, such as when yawning or chewing.
The Solution: Treating the root cause of your stress is the most effective means of eliminating your jaw pain. However, that is not always an easy or feasible option. Wearing a dental night guard can help protect you from clenching your teeth at night and help to relax your muscles by providing support between your teeth. After you see your dentist or doctor for a diagnosis, you may also be able to pursue other treatment options. For example, massage therapists can target sore jaw, neck, and shoulder muscles related to jaw joint discomfort.
TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorders, are also common causes of jaw pain. The temporomandibular joint is the hinge-like connector between your jawbone and skull. You use it whenever you talk, sing, chew, or yawn. Humans have two temporomandibular joints—one on either side of the jaw. The typical causes of TMJ disorders are genetics, arthritis, or injuries.
TMJ disorder symptoms include a tender jaw, pain while chewing, difficulty opening your mouth, a clicking or popping sound when opening your jaw, and pain along your neck and ears. Bruxism (grinding or clenching your teeth) can also accompany or cause TMJ disorders.
The Solution: Seek help from your dentist for TMJ disorder. There are ways to reduce your pain and discomfort using dental devices, such as a night guard. If arthritis is the culprit, a medication that eases your joint pain may also help relieve your jaw pain. You might want to seek the advice of your doctor if your pain persists or if your jaw becomes so tense that you have difficulty opening and closing your mouth.
Headaches and Migraines
Headaches and migraines can sometimes lead to jaw pain. If your jaw pain subsides as your headaches go away, then it’s likely that the two are related. However, if your jaw pain continues or worsens after your headache fades away, there may be another underlying cause.
The Solution: If your headaches are frequent, consult with your doctor about a treatment plan to mitigate their impact on your health. Once your headaches have resolved, your jaw pain should also subside. If the pain remains, you’ll want to discuss other possible causes with your doctor or dentist.
Finally, your jaw pain may be a symptom of pressure in your sinuses. The clues that your sinuses might be causing your discomfort could include other symptoms, such as dizzy spells, pressure in your forehead and behind your nose, and a post-nasal drip.
The Solution: Seek medical attention from your doctor. If your sinuses are the reason for your jaw pain, you’ll notice a speedy recovery with the proper sinus infection treatment plan.
Get Advice on TMJ Disorders and TMD
If you’re suffering from jaw pain and think it might be related to TMJ disorders (or TMD), we recommend booking an appointment with your dentist to discuss your options. Your dentist will know what signs to look for and will be able to refer you to a TMJ specialist if needed. Don’t have a dentist? Find one near you by searching the 123 Dentist network.
How Does Toothpaste Work?
Toothpaste in some form or another has been around for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians made toothpaste combining powdered ashes of strange ingredients such as ox hooves, burnt eggshells, and pumice. Thankfully the ingredients and flavours have advanced since then, but the goal remains the same. People want to have clean, fresh teeth that stay healthy.
The Ingredients in Toothpaste
While numerous ingredients can be found in toothpaste, we can split those ingredients into five main components: abrasives, foam, texture, preservatives, and tasting agents.
Almost all toothpaste will contain an abrasive ingredient to help remove tooth surface stains and plaque. The challenge is to find an abrasive material that is gentle on tooth enamel but strong enough to polish and freshen up your teeth.
The foam component is the ingredient that causes your toothpaste to form a lather as you brush. This foam action helps dislodge food particles, plaque, and bacteria from your teeth and gums.
Texture refers to the ingredients in toothpaste that prevent the paste from drying out and help the paste stick to your brush as you brush your teeth.
A preservative is necessary to prevent bacteria from growing in your toothpaste. One tube of toothpaste can last several weeks, and you need your paste to be clean and sanitary the entire time.
The tasting agents are the flavour portion of the toothpaste. There are a variety of toothpaste flavours targeting different tastebuds. The goal is not to encourage eating or swallowing the toothpaste but to promote fresh breath and an enjoyable experience.
Types of Toothpaste
In addition to the basic breakdown of toothpaste, specialized kinds of toothpaste target specific dental issues. Toothpaste varieties may target teeth sensitivity and whitening or a combination of issues.
Sensitivity toothpaste works by using ingredients that block pain sensors in your nerves that respond to heat, cold, and even sugar. Three key ingredients in toothpaste that heal sensitivity are potassium nitrate, stannous fluoride, and strontium chloride. With regular use, these ingredients support the ability of your teeth to build up a tolerance to pain triggers.
Whitening toothpaste or combination whitening and anti-cavity toothpaste will contain gentle abrasive ingredients or chemicals to dissolve stains on the tooth surface. The power of these whitening ingredients is mild and will take anywhere between two and six weeks to make a noticeable difference in your smile.
Toothpaste that contains activated charcoal powder is another type of toothpaste that can whiten your teeth. This type of paste has activated black charcoal powder, an ingredient used in beauty products to remove chemicals and polish tooth surfaces. Dentists recommend caution when using alternative toothpaste with charcoal. The quality of charcoal in toothpaste should be gentle enough to protect your tooth enamel yet strong enough to provide whiter results. If the powder is too coarse, it may cause damage to your tooth enamel rather than polish.
Fluoride is a mineral known to help fortify your teeth and strengthen your tooth enamel. While most toothpaste varieties contain fluoride, pro-enamel toothpaste contains a specially activated formula designed to repair and build up damaged and worn tooth enamel on your teeth. While anti-cavity toothpaste works well, if your tooth enamel is weakened, then your risks for cavities are much greater.
Some brands of toothpaste market their product as natural, but do they really clean your teeth? Several ingredients in natural toothpaste can make a difference for your teeth, but they’re not all-encompassing when it comes to whitening, cleaning away bacteria, and replenishing tooth enamel. Here are a few alternative ingredients that are often promoted for teeth cleaning and what to be aware of when using them.
Baking soda is a popular ingredient in many homemade remedies and cleaning solutions. While baking soda can help clean and whiten your teeth, it’s another abrasive product that can damage your enamel more than it can whiten. Baking soda does not kill bacteria, so while it may whiten your teeth, it is not adequate for preventing cavities.
Some natural brands of toothpaste promote clays as natural cleaners and pH balancers. Two of the more popular ones are bentonite clay and kaolin clay.
Cinnamon is an ingredient that is both anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. Many DIY toothpaste recipes call for cinnamon, as well as drugstore toothpaste brands. The cinnamon powder gently cleans your teeth and kills bacteria; however, too much exposure to cinnamon can cause painful sores in your mouth. If you’re making your own concoction, be cautious about how much cinnamon you use to prevent discomfort or injury.
Using sea salt to clean your teeth may seem strange, but the abrasion can help clean and whiten your teeth. Using salt can also temporarily create an inhospitable acidic environment in your mouth, which can help kill bacteria. However, salt on its own won’t do much to freshen your breath.
If you’re using a DIY toothpaste or a natural power, we recommend being cautious in the process you use to apply your toothpaste to your toothbrush. Natural products do not contain the same amount of preservative ingredients. For example, dipping your brush into a powder can contaminate the remaining powder with bacteria that will grow in between brushing.
How to Choose the Best Toothpaste
Finding the right toothpaste depends on your goals for brushing your teeth. Are you more concerned about teeth whitening, repairing your enamel, treating your sensitivity, or a combination of concerns? You can carefully read the labels on the toothpaste brands or ask your dentist for their recommendations during your next exam. Find a dentist near you with the 123 Dentist network.
How to Remineralize Teeth
The outer layer of our teeth, known as enamel, is made of minerals. Tooth enamel is the hardest mineral substance in the human body. However, just because it is a hard substance does not mean it is invincible. On the contrary, tooth enamel is vulnerable to substances such as abrasives, acids, and bacteria-causing sugars. It can also be chipped or cracked from impact or constant teeth grinding. One other factor that everyone encounters when it comes to the health of their teeth enamel is age. As humans get older, our tooth enamel naturally wears down, leaving our inner layers of teeth more prone to tooth decay and sensitivity. Yet, with all these factors working against our tooth enamel, there are several methods we can use to remineralize our teeth and make them stronger.
The Power of Saliva Production
Your saliva is a natural protector of your healthy teeth because human saliva produces essential components that our tooth enamel needs to remineralize, including calcium and phosphate. Your saliva also helps to neutralize harmful acids from the foods you eat and the beverages you drink. Three simple ways to help your mouth stay hydrated include eating and drinking enough water and liquids in a day, wearing lip moisturizers, and chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on sugar-free candies.
If you experience symptoms of dry mouth or feel your saliva production could be improved, you can talk to your dentist or doctor about your concerns. They will be able to recommend products that help increase saliva production, such as toothpaste and mouth rinses specifically designed for dry mouth.
Fluoride is a mineral that helps fortify your enamel by adding calcium and phosphate back into your teeth. You’ve probably noticed that most toothpaste brands contain fluoride and that your dentist sometimes applies fluoride treatment directly to your teeth at the end of your professional teeth cleaning appointments. Improving oral health is why so many communities in North America also add safe fluoride levels to their municipal water supplies. Of all the methods to help remineralize teeth, fluoride toothpaste and fluoride treatments are the most effective options, so be sure to brush regularly and see your dentist at least once a year.
Brushing and Flossing
Maintaining good oral health is key to helping the remineralization process. Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time can help remove plaque and bacteria that eat away at your tooth enamel. Regular flossing also helps remove those stubborn food particles that hide between your teeth. When your mouth is clean and fresh, your enamel can replenish its minerals without obstruction.
Causes of Demineralization
Demineralization and remineralization are processes that happen in your mouth regularly. The demineralization process occurs when your teeth lose minerals from your enamel. Different elemental factors can contribute to and speed up this process. The remineralization process happens when you slow down or eliminate the elements that erode minerals from your teeth and instead apply fluoride that adds minerals back to your teeth.
Foods and Drinks
What you put in your mouth affects the mineral balance of your teeth. Highly acidic foods and drinks or foods that are full of sugar can hamper the mineral balance. The acid contributes to stripping away the outer enamel layer of your teeth, while the sugary foods release bacteria that break down the enamel to get at the inner layer. If you want to change your diet to help protect your healthy teeth, you can start by reducing the sugary foods in your diet. You can also make simple switches, such as choosing sugar-free gum or candies.
Eat More Dairy Products
Continuing on the topic of foods and drinks, dairy is a category of food that can help support the remineralization of your enamel. Dairy products are full of calcium and vitamin D, the two essential nutrients that build up strong bones and healthy teeth. In addition to contributing minerals, cheese has been found to neutralize harmful bacteria in the mouth, helping to prevent cavities.
Find a 123 Dentist Near You
Are you concerned about your saliva production? Do you suffer from symptoms of dry mouth? Our 123 Dentist network can help you find a clinic near you. Our dental professionals can offer advice to help your teeth remineralize naturally and recommend a treatment that best suits your unique needs if your oral health requires additional support.
How Does Charcoal Whiten Your Teeth?
Charcoal is a popular beauty trend. You’ve probably seen various cosmetic products on the shelves containing the fine black powder. It’s in everything from toothpaste to soaps, shampoos, face masks, and even oral supplements. Typically, charcoal has been used to treat upset stomachs and treat oral poisoning. Even hospital emergency rooms keep a supply on hand to treat drug overdoses. While the powerful effects of charcoal as a poison antidote are well-known, the question many people have is whether activated charcoal toothpaste really gives you a whiter smile.
What Is Activated Charcoal Powder?
Charcoal is typically made from burning wood, peat, bones, cellulose, or other carbonaceous substances. To activate charcoal, it must be heated in the presence of a gas, which opens up pores in the charcoal that attract and trap chemicals. Some experts claim that activated charcoal is only effective when used within hours of activation, while others claim that it can help whiten teeth and improve the look of your skin long after activation.
Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Stains on Teeth
An intrinsic stain is a discolouration that lies on the underlayers of your teeth or the dentin. The dentin sits below your tooth enamel. The staining of the dentin cannot be scraped or brushed away. They require dental-grade bleaching agents that can seep under the tooth enamel, which can only be provided in your dentist’s office.
Extrinsic stains are discolourations on the surface of your teeth, on the enamel layer. These stains on your teeth can be improved or removed by brushing, professional teeth cleaning, and other over-the-counter whitening treatments.
Activated Charcoal Toothpaste
If you are concerned about stains on your teeth, your best strategy would be to talk to your dentist first. During your exam, your dentist will be able to determine whether your stains are below or above the enamel layer. If you have extrinsic stains on your teeth, activated charcoal toothpaste could be effective for you. We recommend using it for short amounts of time. Tooth powders are far more abrasive than regular toothpaste and can cause damage to your enamel layer if used for extensive periods.
Other Home Remedies
Another popular home remedy for teeth whitening is baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. We recommend treating these remedies with the same caution as activated charcoal powder. Baking soda is an abrasive substance that can damage your tooth enamel, causing further yellowing and making your teeth vulnerable to decay. Meanwhile, hydrogen peroxide can corrode your teeth if used too much and for too long.
How to Prevent Teeth Stains
When you notice your teeth becoming visibility whiter, you can follow these tips to help keep them white and prevent further stains on your teeth.
- Brush and floss your teeth daily to remove all food remnants from your teeth and gums.
- Brush your teeth gently for two minutes, twice a day.
- Avoid or reduce your consumption of foods that are known to stain your teeth, such as berries, white and red wine, beets, coffee, tea, and vinegar.
- When possible, drink teeth-staining beverages, such as fruit juices, with a straw.
- Drink water after you eat or drink foods that are known to stain your teeth. This will help to wash away some of the colour before it clings to your teeth.
- Quit smoking cigarettes.
Dental Whitening Treatments
The safest and most effective way to remove surface stains on your teeth is dentist-approved teeth whitening treatment. Most of the dentists in our 123 Dentist network offer professional teeth whitening treatments at their clinics or sell take-home kits that you can use in the comfort of your home. Browse our Canada-wide dental clinics to find a location near you and get whiter teeth with professional products.
What Is Tooth Enamel?
Tooth enamel is an amazing mineral substance in the human body. Enamel forms the outer layer of your teeth, protecting the sensitive inner layers from damage, decay, and discolouration. Even though your tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body (even harder than bone), your teeth are still vulnerable to demineralization and enamel erosion. The biggest threats to your enamel are acid erosion caused by food particles and plaque left on your teeth and physical wear and tear. Protecting your teeth and enamel is part of the reason why following a consistent oral hygiene routine is extremely important to long-term oral health.
What Is the Function of Tooth Enamel?
We already know that tooth enamel is a sturdy, protective mineral substance that keeps your tooth healthy, but what else does it do? For starters, the enamel is a natural insulator of your teeth, protecting the inner dentin and nerves from sensitive temperatures such as hot and cold. When you notice increased sensitivity in your teeth, it may be because your enamel wears away on specific teeth in your mouth.
Another function of tooth enamel is to protect your teeth from everyday usage. Think about how often you bite, chew, and grind your teeth in a twenty-four-hour period. Your enamel provides a protective barrier so your inner tooth does not feel the impact.
How to Protect Your Enamel
While enamel is a strong substance, it can chip, break, and crack over time or from impact. You can help protect your enamel by being aware of the items and actions in your daily life that can damage your teeth. With a few simple steps, you can help protect your teeth and your enamel for a healthier smile.
Fluoride is a mineral that is scientifically proven to help repair enamel. The various ways fluoride helps protect your teeth from decay and make them stronger is why it is present in toothpaste, mouth rinses, and your municipal water supply. If you’ve ever had a professional tooth cleaning at your local dental office, then you’ve probably had a fluoride gel or varnish treatment. Fluoride applied directly to your teeth helps add minerals back to your enamel, strengthening your teeth against wear and tear and erosion.
Prevent Acid Erosion and Acid Reflux
Many foods contribute to the breakdown of your tooth enamel. These include citrus fruits and juices, vinegar, pickled foods, sodas, high-sugar foods, and candies. While it might not be possible to avoid these foods altogether, you could try to reduce how much of them you eat and how frequently. Another tip to help protect your enamel is to drink water after consuming these foods to help wash away the acids before they damage your teeth with acid erosion.
Dental devices can also help protect your enamel from damage caused by impact to your mouth and the grinding of your teeth. If you play contact sports, you could wear a mouth guard for protection in the event you are hit in the face and mouth. Dental night guards are also helpful to protect your enamel while you sleep if you tend to grind your teeth at night. Your dentist can fit you for custom-made, dental quality teeth guards that are more effective and comfortable to wear than the generic drugstore variety.
The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene
A good oral hygiene routine can dramatically help protect your tooth enamel. Our dentists recommend brushing for two minutes twice a day to clear away food particles from your teeth and gums. In addition to brushing, they recommend flossing at least once a day to catch those stubborn particles and clear away any plaque build-up from the spaces between your teeth. And, of course, an excellent oral hygiene practice would not be complete without regular check-ups and professional teeth cleaning appointments with your dentist.
Book Your Next Teeth Cleaning Appointment
What better way to keep your teeth sparkling and healthy than with professional teeth cleaning? 123 Dental Clinics are located across Canada in dozens of cities, offering complete dental services, including professional cleanings and teeth whitening treatments. Find a 123 Dentist near you and book your next appointment today.
How to Become a Dentist?
Children are often asked what they want to be when they grow up. Most of the time, kids will choose professions they’ve encountered, such as a teacher, firefighter, athlete, or dentist. While most people change their minds multiple times about their career path from what they dreamt about as a child, some people just know they were destined to be dentists. Others who choose dentistry as a profession find their way to the career in their high school years or during young adulthood. Whether you are pursuing your childhood dream or have just decided to become a dentist, the path to graduation and certification is both challenging and rewarding. In this article, we will give you some steps you can take to become a dentist in Canada.
Planning Your Career in Dentistry
In Canada, dental schools are not open to applicants directly out of high school. All dental students must first complete between two and four years of an undergraduate degree before applying to dental school. The first few years of your undergraduate degree allow you time to decide if practicing dentistry is the profession for you. This time also allows you to round out your education before specializing. It doesn’t matter which area of study you choose for your undergraduate degree, but looking into specific dental school requirements before beginning is always wise.
Each dental school has different admission requirements. You can assume that the higher your grade point average is, the better your chances of acceptance will be, but that might not be the only factor that gets you into the program. We recommend reading each school’s specific admission guidelines on their website. You can also contact admission officers for personal advice on what your school looks for in its candidates.
Aside from good grades in academic classes, many competitive professional schools will look at your extracurricular record. Participating in school clubs, sports, or other activities can help you stand out. Also, volunteering and being active in your community can help create a positive impression in your application. Finally, letters of recommendation will help increase your chances of admission and help paint a better picture of who you are as a person.
Dental Aptitude Test
In addition to general school requirements and specific program admission standards, most Canadian dental schools require you to submit your scores from the Dental Aptitude Test (DAT). The DAT is administered by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA). When you decide to pursue general dentistry, one of your first steps will be to register and take the test.
Apply to Dental School
The next step is to apply to one of the universities in Canada that offers an accredited dentistry program—it’s essential that you check each school’s application process and requirements for admission, as they can vary from province to province. Once you’ve been accepted, the general dentistry program in Canada is typically four years long (or longer if you choose to specialize).
Possible dental specialties include:
- Dental Public Health
- Oral Medicine and/or Oral Pathology
- Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
- Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
- Pediatric Dentistry
You’ll also want to be aware of the rising cost of dental school in Canada and plan accordingly for how you will support yourself through your dental education process. If you attend a school outside of Canada, you’ll need to make calculations as an international dental student.
Accredited Dental Schools
The simplest education path to become a dentist is to attend an accredited school recognized by the National Dental Examining Board of Canada (NDEB). There are currently ten dental schools in Canada and several schools in other countries that offer accredited dental programs that are also recognized in Canada (including in the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Saudi Arabia). Attending one of these schools will make your transition to examination and licensing smooth and straightforward.
If you choose to attend a non-accredited dental school, you will be required to complete additional steps to be certified to practice in Canada. This process may take longer and cost more money.
Licensing for Dentists in Canada
In Canada, dentistry is a regulated profession requiring certification in each province or territory you wish to practice. To obtain your provincial license to practice, you must first write the exam administered by the NDEB and complete the Objective Structured Clinic Examination (OSCE). Once you book your exams, pay your fees, and pass, you’ll receive your NDEB official certification. From there, you can apply to your province or territory for licensure.
Individuals who are already established dental professionals but received their training and experience in another country may follow the procedures outlined by the NDEB for recognized equivalency. This process involves a series of tests, verifications, and exams for licensing, and the duration of the process will vary on a case-by-case basis. You may apply for a bridging program at one of Canada’s dental schools for individuals who do not qualify for equivalency approval. The bridging programs allow you to gain credit for some of your dental education and proceed with Canadian programming without starting over completely.
Deciding on a Career in General Dentistry?
The next time you’re in your dentist’s office for an appointment, ask your dentist about their professional journey. They might offer you advice or recommend a dental school. Practicing dentistry can be a very rewarding profession, knowing you’ll be helping hundreds of customers have healthy teeth and beautiful smiles. Find a 123Dentist dental clinic near you to learn more.
What Is a Dental Bridge?
Dentistry has advanced leaps and bounds over the past several decades, and nowhere is this more evident than with the modern options for dental restorations. Artificial teeth resemble natural teeth so closely it can be hard to notice a difference at first glance. New materials and innovations have made dental materials more durable and comfortable than ever before. The dental bridge is an example of an old dental solution that remains the same in principle today, but with advanced materials and updated designs.
Just like a physical bridge crosses over water or a ravine, a dental bridge spans the empty space made by one or more missing teeth. The dental bridge consists of a pontic (false tooth) and two anchors that fit over or around the two abutment teeth on either side of the space. Your dentist will recommend this type of solution when one or more of your teeth are missing or have been removed by a dentist. Dental bridges are permanent restorations that help repair your natural bite, allowing you to chew comfortably and normally. A dental bridge can also improve or restore your speech, depending on the location of the missing teeth.
What Is a Dental Bridge Made From?
The bridge consists of the false tooth, called a “pontic,” and the anchors that fasten to the adjacent teeth (also called the “abutment teeth”). Porcelain, metal alloys, and gold are the most common materials used to make the pontic. Porcelain is usually the most popular choice because it closely resembles the look of natural teeth and will blend in better with your surrounding teeth. Some people will choose a metal alloy, especially if the tooth is less visible in the back of their mouth because metal alloys tend to cost less than porcelain or gold. Other individuals may choose a gold pontic because they want it to stand out.
Your dentist will explain your options and discuss the benefits of each choice so that you understand what your options are. Then you can decide which material is suitable for your smile.
Types of Dental Bridges
The purpose of a dental bridge is to replace missing teeth and restore your ability to bite, chew, and speak without difficulty. There are a few distinct types of dental bridges to choose from. Your dentist will recommend the best option for your dental situation.
The traditional bridge is the most common type of bridge used for patients with missing teeth. A traditional bridge uses the teeth on either side of the gap to anchor it in place. Dental crowns are then installed over those natural teeth to act as sturdy anchors for the pontic. The pontic is usually made from porcelain fused to metal or ceramics. While porcelain looks like a natural tooth, it is not as strong as your natural teeth and requires extra care when biting and cleaning.
Another type of dental bridge is the implant-support bridge. This type of dental structure is used when the abutment teeth are not sturdy enough to support a crown or are missing entirely. This style of dental bridge requires surgically inserted dental implant posts in the position of the anchor teeth. Dental crowns are then to attached to the implants and fused to the pontic for a sturdy hold and natural fit.
The third type of dental bridge, and the least common option, is the cantilever bridge. The cantilever bridge only has one anchor that supports the pontic. This design is more prone to damage and places stress on one single abutment tooth as an anchor. Because of this, your dentist probably won’t suggest this type of bridge when implant-support bridges are a better, longer-lasting option.
Find a 123 Dentist Near You
The 123 Dentist network has dentists located in cities across Canada. If you’re in need of dental treatment, you can browse our directory to find a clinic near you. Our dentists are happy to answer any questions you may have about dental bridges and other restoration options.
How to Clean Your Tongue
Good oral health plays a significant role in maintaining your body’s overall health. You might already be brushing your teeth twice a day with the latest electric toothbrush on the market and diligently flossing carefully every day. But many people miss an important area where bacteria loves to gather in your mouth. We’re talking about your tongue! Let’s find out why it is essential to clean it every time you brush your teeth.
Why Cleaning Your Tongue is Important
Think about those moments when you eat or drink something full of flavour, sugar, or fat. You can feel the remainders of those foods clinging to your teeth, leaving a coating that begs to be brushed away. Those same lingering food particles are also sticking to your tongue, and if you forget to brush them away, they can contribute to plaque build-up inside your mouth. Think of how cakes, cream sauces, wine, food dyes in icing, and candy colours your tongue. This discolouration of your tongue is not just something to marvel at but visible evidence of food particles and bacteria living on your tongue that need to be brushed just like your teeth and gums.
Plaque and tarter are caused by remaining food particles growing bacteria in your mouth. When those particles are not brushed away, they can eat at the enamel of your teeth, creating holes called cavities. Once a hole is made in your tooth, it is nearly impossible to reverse. Typically, a cavity will grow until the tooth structure is compromised, the tooth becomes extra-sensitive, or your gums become inflamed. This destruction to your teeth requires dental treatments such as fillings to repair the holes. Brushing and flossing and cleaning your tongue is just one part of a good oral hygiene routine that helps prevent cavities and tooth decay from happening. If you have small children, it’s helpful to start them in the habit of brushing their tongues so that as they get older, it is second nature in their oral hygiene routine.
What Tools to Use
Many brands of toothbrushes come with built-in tongue scrapers. If you’re not sure whether yours has one or not, just look at the back of your brush for a rubber patch with ridges or nobs on it. This convenient feature is there so that when you finish brushing your teeth, you can simply flip the brush over and give your tongue a gentle cleaning. Other people may prefer to buy a specific dental tool to scrape their tongue. If you choose to buy a tongue scraper, we recommend choosing one made of stainless steel for easy cleaning and sanitizing. If you’re travelling and forget to bring your tongue scraper, you can also use a clean, damp cloth to wash the film of remaining food off your tongue.
It doesn’t matter whether you brush your tongue or scrape your tongue after you finish brushing and flossing; either way, you’ll be reducing your chances of developing cavities or gum disease. Not cleaning your tongue can also lead to bad breath. You’ll also notice that your whole mouth feels cleaner and fresher when you add this step to your oral hygiene routine.
How to Care for Your Tongue Scraper
When you finish scraping your tongue, rinse the scraper off under warm water to wash away any food particles or bacteria. Next, dry it off with a clean cloth or towel. To keep your tongue scraper as sanitary as possible, we recommend that you don’t share it with anyone else. Travel covers for tongue scrapers are available so you can carry them with you on trips and keep them clean and safe from damage. If you’re concerned your tongue scraper is dirty, you can always check the original packaging to see if it is dishwasher safe. You can also place your tongue scraper in boiling water to sanitize it as an alternative.
Find a Dentist Near You
Are you up to date on your oral hygiene appointments and professional cleanings? Find a 123 Dentist near you for your next dental hygiene appointment. Our network of dentists across Canada is committed to supporting your oral health. During your visit, our dentists and hygienists will share tips for better brushing techniques as well as methods for cleaning your tongue. Use our directory to find your local dentist.
What Is Fluoride?
If you’ve been to the dentist, you’ve probably received a fluoride treatment during your annual dental hygiene visits. If you have young children, you might have researched which brand of toothpaste has the optimal level of fluoride for their age and brushing ability. And if you pay attention to the news, you’ve probably seen a news story cover the discussion around whether it is still a good idea to add fluoride to public drinking water. But what is fluoride? What does it do, and why do we need it? Let’s take a closer look at fluoride and its uses related to dentistry.
Fluoride in Nature
Natural calcium deposits found in phosphate rocks give off fluoride. The fluoride then leaches into groundwater systems and is carried through our natural environment. Fluoride is found in both fresh water and saltwater, the air around us, plants, and as a result, in many of the foods we eat regularly. Since fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral, it can also be extracted from phosphate rocks for specific purposes. Many products we use daily contain some form of phosphate rock, creating an excess of fluoride. The available fluoride is then sold to other companies or governments for toothpaste, mouth rinses, dental products, and water fluoridation.
What Does Fluoride Do?
Fluoride helps protect your teeth from decay during the natural process of demineralization and remineralization that occurs on a regular basis inside your mouth. What does this mean? Well, plaque found on your teeth contains bacteria that feed on sugars and other carbohydrates found between your teeth and along your gums. As this bacteria feeds, it releases acids that weaken the enamel on the surface of your teeth. This stage is called demineralization. When your mouth is clean and the bacteria is not releasing high levels of acid in your mouth, your teeth will remineralize to restore the damage. Fluoride helps to replenish calcium and phosphate to strengthen teeth and protect your enamel during this remineralization process. When this balance between depletion and restoration falls out of alignment, your teeth can start to decay, causing cavities.
Is Fluoride Necessary?
The link between fluoridated water and strong, healthy teeth was established by dental health researchers in the 1930s in the United States. Soon after, many American communities began implementing water fluoridation practices based on those studies. Brantford, Ontario, was the first Canadian city to adopt fluoridated water in 1945. Since then, many other Canadian communities have switched to fluoridated water supplies, dramatically increasing overall oral health amongst Canadians.
Most dentists and health professionals agree that fluoride is necessary to keep teeth healthy and strong. The correct fluoride concentration is key to keeping your teeth healthy while preventing negative health impacts from too much fluoride exposure. Scientific studies determined that low doses between 0.7 and 1.2 parts per million are ideal for municipal drinking water supplies. Higher concentrations are known to increase the fragility of bones, discolour teeth (also known as dental fluorosis), and impact mental health.
Where Do You Encounter Fluoride?
To find out if your community puts fluoride in your tap water, you can ask your dentist, contact your local government representative, or ask your local public health officials. If the answer is “yes,” the next thing to consider is whether you use a water filtration system in your home. Some water treatment systems will filter out or remove fluoride from the water. These include reverse-osmosis, steam distillation, and some activated carbon filters containing activated alumina. Most charcoal and carbon filters do not remove fluoride. If you are concerned about the fluoride level in your home water, you might want to have a sample tested.
If you rely on well water for your drinking supply, you might also want to have your water tested to determine the fluoride concentration. Your fluoride levels may be lower than the recommended amounts, but they may also be higher than is recommended. If your water does not contain enough fluoride, options are available to supplement your intake. We recommend talking to your dentist or doctor about fluoride supplements. If your fluoride levels are high, filtration systems can help reduce the concentration. Testing your well water will give you peace of mind and help you decide what action to take.
Dental Benefits of Fluoride
Dental health studies show that fluoride exposure in safe amounts helps prevent tooth decay and prevent cavities from forming. Fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel on the surface of your teeth. Fluoride can also reverse mild amounts of tooth decay, preventing the need for treatments such as fillings.
When you visit your dentist for your annual teeth cleaning, they will also give you a fluoride treatment. You may have a choice between varnish, gel, or foam. The fluoride treatment you receive at the dentist’s office is a stronger concentration than what is found in drinking water or in your toothpaste. This strong dose helps to boost the remineralization of your tooth enamel. To allow the fluoride to work its magic, your dentist will recommend that you don’t eat or drink anything for half an hour to an hour after applying the fluoride.
Your dentist will recommend brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste to help keep your teeth healthy between visits. Most toothpaste brands contain fluoride to help remove bacteria, fight the deterioration of the tooth from acid in food and drink, and help with teeth sensitivity. Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes each time can help fight cavities and make your teeth stronger.
Fluoride Safety for Kids
For young children and youth between 6 and 16 years of age, fluoride use and exposure are helpful to create strong and healthy teeth development. Yet, this age group, especially younger kids, must be carefully supervised when they brush their teeth and handle fluoridated products to prevent ingestion. Many kinds of fluoride toothpaste for young children come in delicious flavours, enticing young children to swallow the paste rather than spit it out into the sink. Dentists recommend using only a pea-sized amount of paste on their toothbrushes to minimize the amount that will be swallowed.
Find a Dentist Near You
Are you due for a dental hygiene appointment? You can use our 123Dentist directory to find a dental health clinic near you for yourself and your family. Our dentists are located across Canada and are happy to answer any of your fluoride or dental care questions.
Why Are My Teeth Yellow?
Your teeth are front and centre to your appearance. People notice them when you smile, when you talk, and when you eat. For some people, their smile builds their confidence, so it’s natural to be concerned about the appearance and colour of your teeth. Whether you’ve experienced tooth discolouration before or if your tooth enamel is only recently starting to wear thin and reveal stained teeth, there are several whitening solutions to choose from.
If you’ve noticed a discolouration in your teeth or a visible yellowing to them, you may wonder why that is. The answer is that there are several possible common causes of discoloured teeth, as well as several solutions to reverse or undo the progress of discolouration.
Causes of Teeth Discolouration
Age and Genetics
One inevitable factor of teeth discoloration is age and genetics. As we grow older, it’s natural for our tooth enamel to wear away. Decades worth of biting, chewing, and the elements can cause tooth enamel to grow thinner, causing our teeth to appear more yellow. This process happens sooner and more noticeably for some individuals due to their genetics.
Foods and Drinks
The most common culprits of stained teeth are beverages such as coffee, tea, and wine—both red and white wine. Other foods and drinks can also cause tooth discolouration, such as berries, beets, curry sauces, and soy sauce. Basically, any food you fear will stain your clothes if it is splashed on the fabric will also stain your teeth to an extent.
Not only do foods stain your teeth, a specific category of foods and drinks will also break down your tooth enamel, such as acidic foods, citric fruits, tomatoes, sodas, and vinegar (including in salad dressings). While it might not be realistic to avoid all these foods and drinks, knowing which ones are worse than others can help you be aware. You may want to brush your teeth extra well after consuming these items or limit your consumption in some way.
Trauma or Injuries
An accident or injury to your mouth can scrape away the enamel. Routine wear and tear from grinding your teeth at night can also weaken and damage your tooth enamel, making them vulnerable to staining and discolouration. While you cannot always avoid accidents, you can ask your dentist about a dental night guard to protect your teeth from grinding while you sleep. You can also talk to your dentist about custom-fitted sports mouth guards to help protect your teeth during contact sports.
Nicotine and Cigarettes
The nicotine contained in cigarettes and other tobacco products will progressively strip away the enamel of your teeth and cause stains on the surfaces of your teeth. If the colour of your teeth is a concern for you and you are an active smoker, quitting will not only stop the discolouration of your teeth but will also improve your overall health.
How to Whiten Your Teeth at Home
You can try several methods at home to get whiter teeth without scheduling a professional whitening appointment with your dentist. You can start by brushing your teeth with whitening toothpaste or try over-the-counter whitening strips. Good oral hygiene can help maintain healthy-looking teeth once you do brighten your teeth. You can also try home remedies containing baking soda and hydrogen peroxide; however, many kinds of toothpaste contain these ingredients and can help whiten your teeth easier than mixing your own.
Professional Teeth Whitening
If typical at-home whitening methods aren’t working for you, then professional teeth whitening services can help. Many dental clinics in our 123 Dentist network offer professional teeth whitening services, both in-office treatments and take-home kits. You can browse our list of dental offices to find a dental clinic near you.
What Is a Root Canal?
Teeth are like trees, and below the surface of your gums, the roots of your teeth grow, intertwining with nerves and soft connective tissue that holds each tooth in place. These roots are contained inside canals surrounded by soft connective tissue. When these roots and tissue become inflamed or infected, a root canal is the necessary dental procedure to treat the problem. At a glance, a root canal procedure is when the dentist or endodontist drills through your tooth to clean out the infected roots inside the canal. Afterwards, the canal is filled and sealed.
What Happens During a Root Canal Procedure?
A root canal procedure may sound like a major and invasive treatment, but it’s actually a routine dental procedure your general dentist will perform in-house. Only complex or severe cases are referred to a specialist or endodontist.
Root canal treatments begin with local anesthesia applied by a needle to ensure the nerves throughout the area are completely numbed. You will likely feel some pressure during the appointment, but you won’t feel any pain or sensitivity. To gain access to the root canal of your tooth, your dentist will drill through your tooth. Next, they will clean out the infected tissues and fill in the remaining empty space. Once the canal is cleaned, it is filled with a dentistry-safe rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Finally, after the canal is filled, your dentist will seal the area and fix the outer portion of the tooth.
What Happens After a Root Canal?
After drilling through your affected tooth, you will require some form of restorative treatment to give your remaining tooth extra strength and protection. Your dentist may recommend various dental procedures or restorations, depending on the condition of your tooth after the root canal. A reasonably healthy tooth may only require a filling or even an inlay or onlay to fill in the drill hole and reshape the tooth.
If the infected tooth has had previous fillings, the integrity of the tooth may be compromised. In these cases, your dentist will likely suggest putting a crown over the remains of the natural tooth. If this is the treatment you select, your dentist will grind your tooth down in preparation to fit your mouth with a crown.
Every mouth is unique. Therefore, your dentist will take impressions or a mould or a detailed 3D scan of your mouth to create a crown that fits your tooth and bite. You’ll be given a temporary one so that you can eat comfortably while you wait for the more durable, custom-fitted crown to arrive from the dental labs. The last step in the process is to install the permanent crown to your mouth and fine-tune any adjustments to correct your bite.
When Is a Root Canal Necessary?
You’ll know that you have an infected tooth because it is often accompanied by severe pain or heightened sensitivity that cannot be ignored or tolerated for long. Because root infections extend deep into the roots of the tooth, the only way to treat them is by drilling into the canal. In most cases, a root canal procedure helps preserve the natural tooth, protecting the alignment of the surrounding teeth and integrity of the jaw.
How Can I Prevent Getting a Root Canal?
Would you rather avoid a root canal treatment? The best way to prevent infected roots is by maintaining good oral hygiene. We recommend seeing your general dentist once or twice a year for professional cleaning and check-ups for the best results. Regular dental visits can also help detect warning signs of gum disease and root infections early.
You can support your oral health in between dentist visits by brushing twice a day and flossing to help keep your teeth and gums clean of plaque and tartar. If your teeth are prone to collecting plaque, you may want to try an electric toothbrush or add a mouth rinse to your routine.
Even with the best oral care, there are still unexpected events that might cause a root infection. Trauma to your teeth, such as breaks, chips, or cracks, can cause or increase your chances of a root infection developing. Contact sports, physical contact, or an automobile accident are all incidents that have led to root infection in dental patients.
Find a Dentist Near You
Are you experiencing tooth pain? With our Canada-wide network of 123 Dentists, you can find a clinic near you to book an appointment today. Enter your location to see a list of dentists available in your city.
What Is a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a dentist that is often referred to as a gum specialist. Periodontists specialize in the health of the supportive structures in the mouth, such as gums, connective soft tissue, and the jaw. They are best known for diagnosing and treating gum disease (also called periodontal disease).
Healthy and strong gums are essential! They hold your teeth in place and protects the roots. Weak gums can lead to tooth loss and a host of other dental problems.
In Canada, periodontists have the same basic education as general dentists, plus an additional three years of specialized training. During their extra years of education, periodontists receive extensive training on gum and tooth health and learn how to perform dental implant procedures, jaw surgery, gum surgery, and treat gum cancer. While your regular dentist will treat mild problems that fall under the category of periodontics, they will most often refer you to a specialist for complex cases.
What Does a Periodontist Do?
The primary job of a periodontist is to examine your teeth and gums and make recommendations to help protect your gums, connective soft tissues, and jawbones. Periodontists also perform dental procedures such as:
- Root canals, scaling, and root planing (cleaning the tops of the tooth root)
- Root surface debridement (removal of damaged root tissue)
- Cosmetic periodontal procedures such as gum grafting or implants
These professionals work on many parts of the mouth that you don’t often think about but use all day, every day. For example, the part of your jawbone that supports your teeth is called the alveolar process. This part of the jaw holds teeth in position and could lead to tooth loss if injured or damaged. When your alveolar process deteriorates or breaks, you’ll need the expert care of a periodontist to reset it and secure your teeth in place.
A periodontist also focuses on catching severe oral health problems early when treatment can be most effective to save and protect your natural teeth. While prevention is a key part of a periodontist’s job, they are also the ones to perform oral surgery when needed, giving them a reputation as “the plastic surgeons of dentistry.” Diagnosing and treating gum recession is another aspect of periodontics. In some cases, gum grafting is needed to rebuild receding gums. The periodontist also performs this surgical procedure.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a persistent inflammation of the gums and bones of the teeth. When it is left untreated, gum disease can cause damage to your gums that lead to tooth loss, infections, or in the worst-case scenario, damage to your jaw. The advanced stages of gum disease can be troubling. In some cases, gum disease is an early warning sign of cancer, especially in adult males. If your general dentist feels concerned over the health of your gums, they will likely refer you to the periodontist to perform some tests to rule out cancer. When detected early, the chances of overcoming mouth and gum cancer increase dramatically.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Some individuals are more prone to gum disease due to their genetics. For others, their gum troubles may be caused by impact, trauma, or an accident that has damaged their teeth, gums, or jawline. In many other cases, gum disease is caused by poor oral health. This last cause is a preventable scenario. Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, scheduling regular teeth cleanings, and eating well are all actions that can help rid your mouth of plaque and tartar and reduce your chances of developing gum disease.
Cosmetics and Periodontics
If you’re at risk of losing one or more teeth, your dentist may also refer you to the periodontist for a restoration and cosmetic consultation. Because periodontists have expert knowledge of the bone structure and supportive soft tissues, they can better analyze your mouth shape and recommend a treatment option that best hides or repairs the missing teeth.
A common referral to a periodontist occurs when a patient requires a dental implant to support a dental appliance. During the initial consultation, the periodontist will examine the jawline and gums, take necessary x-rays and create a plan for the placement of dental implants. The next step will be to schedule the surgical procedure with the periodontist so that the implant posts can be placed.
Find a Periodontist Near You
A periodontist is an essential type of dentist, even though you may never visit one unless you have specific oral health challenges. However, if you need a periodontist and have a general dentist, you’ll receive a referral to a specialist near you. If you’re looking to make your own appointment, the 123 Dentist network can help you find a periodontist or dentist in your area.
What Is Orthodontics?
Orthodontics is a division of dentistry specializing in correcting the improper alignment of teeth. An orthodontist is a dentist who attended additional schooling to specialize in orthodontics. When you think of orthodontics, the first image that might pop into your mind might be a teenager with a mouth full of metal braces and rubber bands. While traditional braces work well to straighten out misaligned teeth, the devices used in orthodontics today have advanced to provide greater comfort while delivering the desired results. The orthodontic treatments available today can also fix spacing issues such as overcrowding or gaps between teeth, even for cosmetic reasons.
Orthodontic procedures include traditional braces, aligners, retainers, Invisalign®, and other brands of alignment trays. The orthodontic treatments available to you will depend on what is available through your orthodontist or dental clinic. While the idea of braces may not be pleasant, orthodontic procedures are increasing in popularity with adults who desire a straighter smile and finally have the budget or insurance coverage to cover the treatment. Modern braces are also a great deal more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing than they have been in the past.
How Does Orthodontics Work?
Orthodontic treatments work by slowly repositioning problematic teeth into the desired position. Traditional braces work by affixing metal brackets to teeth and gradually tightening them over time to move the teeth into their desired place. Aligner trays are removable appliances that have a similar process to braces. Instead of tightening brackets and wires, the wearer progresses with a series of custom-fitted trays after a set amount of time to slowly guide teeth into a new position. Depending on the nature of your orthodontic problem, your orthodontist will recommend a solution that will help you achieve your perfect smile.
Orthodontists typically treat problems related to the position, alignment, spacing of teeth, and the bite’s quality. Common orthodontic problems include crooked teeth, bad bites, misaligned bites (cross bites, overbites and underbites), and significant gaps between teeth. A misaligned bite is not just a cosmetic concern, but often means the individual suffers from chewing challenges and possible jaw pain. The spacing of teeth or crooked teeth can make proper dental hygiene a challenge, leading to poor oral health, tooth decay, and gum disease.
What Are the Benefits of Orthodontics?
There are many benefits of orthodontic treatments. Many recipients of orthodontic treatment who fully follow the guidelines and take good care of their oral health during their treatment feel confident in their newly aligned smiles. Those that had trouble eating or had their speech affected by their bite are often able to eat comfortably and speak better than before. The benefits of orthodontics can range from improving the cosmetic appearance of your smile to making it easier to chew or speak. It can also significantly improve your overall oral health.
How Do You Know if You Need an Orthodontic Treatment Plan?
The first step to receiving orthodontic treatment usually begins with your regular dentist. Your dentist can tell if you require orthodontic work or not. They will review your oral history and discuss your options with you. If you decide to learn more, your dentist will refer you to an orthodontist to assess your teeth and recommend a treatment plan that best suits your unique needs. Your orthodontist will provide you with specific instructions along with your treatment for you to get the best results.
Find An Orthodontist Near You With 123Dentist
Within our 123Dentist Network, we have dentists and orthodontists to help you with any of your treatment needs. Our dentists would be happy to answer any questions you may have about orthodontic treatment options that are best for you and your family.