To understand what happens when your teeth decay, it’s helpful to know what’s in your mouth naturally. Here are a few of the elements:
- Saliva — Your mouth and teeth are constantly bathed in saliva. We never give much thought to our spit, but this fluid is remarkable for what it does to help protect our oral health. Saliva keeps teeth and other parts of your mouth moist and washes away bits of food. Saliva contains minerals that strengthen teeth. It includes buffering agents. They reduce the levels of acid that can decay teeth. Saliva also protects against some viruses and bacteria.
- Plaque — Plaque is a soft, gooey substance that sticks to the teeth a bit like jam sticks to a spoon. Like the slime that clings to the bottom of a swimming pool, plaque is a type of biofilm. It contains large numbers of closely packed bacteria, components taken from saliva, and bits of food. Also in the mix are bacterial byproducts and white blood cells. Plaque grows when bacteria attach to the tooth and begin to multiply. Plaque starts forming right after a tooth is cleaned. Within an hour, there’s enough to measure. As time goes on, the plaque thickens. Within two to six hours, the plaque teems with bacteria that can cause cavities and periodontal (gum) disease.
- Calculus — If left alone long enough, plaque absorbs minerals from saliva. These minerals form crystals and harden into calculus. Then new plaque forms on top of existing calculus. This new layer can also become hard.
- Bacteria — We have many types of bacteria in our mouths. Some bacteria are good; they help control destructive bacteria. When it comes to decay, Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacilli are the bacteria that cause the most damage to teeth.
How Your Teeth Decay
The bacteria in your mouth need food to live and multiply. When you eat sugary foods, or even starches such as rice, the bacteria use them as food, too. The bacteria then produce acids that can dissolve tooth enamel (outer layer of the tooth).
It’s not just candy and ice cream we’re talking about. All carbohydrate foods eventually break down into simple sugars. Some of this process begins in the mouth.
Foods that break down into simple sugars in the mouth are called fermentable carbohydrates. These include the obvious sugary foods, such as cookies, cakes, soft drinks and candy. But they also include pretzels, crackers, bananas, potato chips and breakfast cereals.
Bacteria in your mouth turn the sugars in these foods into acids. These acids begin to dissolve the mineral crystals in teeth. The more times you eat each day, the more times your teeth are exposed to an acid attack.
This attack can lead to tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities. First, the acid begins to dissolve calcium and phosphate crystals inside a tooth. A white spot may appear on the enamel in this weakened area. But the loss of minerals develops beneath the surface of the enamel. The surface may still be smooth.
At this stage, the tooth can be repaired with the help of fluoride, proteins and minerals (calcium and phosphate) in the saliva. The saliva also helps reduce the acid levels from bacteria that attack the tooth.
Once the decay breaks through the enamel to cause a cavity, the damage is permanent. It is important to get immediate treatment with Dr. Jaleel. Left untreated, the decay will get worse. It can destroy a tooth all the way through the enamel, through the inside dentin layer and down to the pulp or nerve of the tooth. That’s why it is important to treat caries at a very early stage, when the process can be reversed.
Do you or your family members get cavities often? Dental research has found out that certain factors can affect your risk of tooth decay. These factors include:
- The current number of decayed or filled teeth
- Your fluoride exposure, including fluoride in drinking water, toothpaste and rinses, and fluoride treatments in the dental office
- Parents or siblings with dental decay
- How well you take care of your teeth
- The amount of saliva and the balance of minerals, enzymes and buffering agents it contains
- How often and what types of foods you eat
Ask Dr. Jaleel, your Ottawa dentist about the best ways to reduce your risks and limit dental decay.
To prevent your teeth from decaying, you can do three things:
- Strengthen your teeth’s defenses with fluoride, sealants and agents that contain calcium and phosphate ions.
- Have Dr. Jaleel or one of our dental hygienists place sealants on your back teeth.
- Reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth.
Most importantly, visit Dr. Jaleel regularly at the Fairlawn Dental Clinic in Nepean. We can find any decay early, when it can be treated and reversed.
When the holiday season comes around, there seems to be no shortage of candy and dessert around the house. Although it may be overwhelming and impossible to avoid all of these treats, there are plenty of safe and tasty snacks to satisfy young taste buds without interfering with your oral health. In fact, when preparing fun holiday treats with your child, you can include numerous healthy options that build strong teeth at the same time. Dr. Jaleel, your dentist in Ottawa is here to provide you with some tips and advice.
Treats to Avoid
When supermarket shelves are full of brightly packaged treats for the holidays, it’s hard not to fill your cart. But for the sake of your child’s braces, you still need to scoot past the hard, chewy and sticky foods. Children with braces should avoid caramel, licorice, lollipops, bubblegum, popcorn, taffy, jelly beans and hard pretzels. How come? Biting hard foods can bend or even break your child’s metal brackets.
Stick to Your Favorites
It’s hard to get away from sweet treats during the month of December. There’s the candy dish at the office, Aunt Mary’s triple-chocolate brownies, sugary hot beverages, tray upon tray of homemade cookies and even people handing out candy canes while you’re out running errands. Be picky when offered a goodie. Skip the items that are available throughout the year, such as store-bought cookies and M&Ms, and go for more special yummies guilt-free. Your teeth — and waistline — will thank you.
Clean your teeth after every sugary treat; perhaps consider a new toothbrush. This will help keep your mouth cleaner by reducing plaque buildup. Make it a household rule that candy, cookies, hot cocoa and other delicious foods are allowed only on condition that teeth be brushed immediately after the treats are eaten. Then make sure that everyone sticks to the rule, including Mom and Dad! This one step will go a long way toward teaching the whole family how to prevent cavities while keeping the season sweet.
Carry Oral Hygiene Tools with You
Lots of sweets are eaten outside of the home while shopping, visiting or attending parties. Pick up extra toothbrushes and small tubes of toothpaste for everyone in the family to carry with them. Trial sizes of mouthwash and dental floss complete the portable dental care package.
Chew Sugar-Free Gum
Chewing gum produces saliva. This helps to wash away bacteria. It’s also easier to resist treats when you have a piece of gum in your mouth. There is a wide range of sugar-free flavors on the market, including mint chocolate chip, cinnamon roll and apple pie à la mode.
Make Less Sticky Choices
Problems occur when the sugary coating remains on the teeth. Plaque loves the acids in sugar and other carbs. Choosing goodies that don’t leave a sticky coating, especially when you are not able to brush right away, reduces the risk of tooth damage. Enjoy a fresh fruit salad instead of a muffin for breakfast or pound cake instead of chocolate fudge for dessert.
Having a cavity is a serious dental health issue. Unfortunately, many people choose to avoid a visit to the dentist until a cavity begins to hurt. The problem is that cavities may not be painful, but they are still a very serious issue. Cavities are caused by bacteria that can eventually get into the tooth root and gums, leading to more extensive dental work being needed. If you know or suspect you have a cavity, it’s important that you don’t wait. Call your Ottawa dentist, Dr. Jaleel and schedule an appointment to have a dental filling put into place right away.
Dental fillings are the most commonly known and performed dental procedures. You most likely already have a dental filling yourself, or know someone who has one. When a tooth becomes decayed, a small hole known as a cavity can form. The dental filling is used to replace the decayed area of the tooth. They may also be used to repair a tooth that is cracked, broken, or worn down as well. While traditional dental fillings were made from dental amalgam like silver or mercury, Dr. Jaleel utilizes composite fillings that is more naturally tooth-colored. This makes the filling virtually unnoticeable once it is in place, and avoids the use of any mercury or other metals.
The difference between amalgam and composite fillings
What is involved in getting a dental filling?
When placing a filling, Dr. Jaleel will use a local anesthetic to numb your tooth and the area around it to ensure you are as comfortable as possible throughout the procedure. Dr. Jaleel will then remove any decayed tooth matter from the area, and rise the tooth carefully. The filling will be prepared and then put into place. Afterward, the filling will be polished to remove any sharp edges or extra material, and to ensure a natural shape and feel. Placing a dental filling generally only takes one short office visit, though multiple fillings may require additional visits. If a second visit is required for multiple fillings, a temporary filling will be put into place to prevent any further decay or damage from taking place.
How do I care for my dental filling?
Once in place, your dental fillings will not need any special care beyond normal oral hygiene practices. You will need to keep your regular bi-annual visits with Dr. Jaleel and the rest of the team so the filling can be checked periodically to ensure that it isn’t becoming loose. In time your dental filling may need to be adjusted or replaced, however, it is typically many years before this becomes necessary if regular care procedures are followed.
Temporary fillings may require a slight change in your ordinary dental routine. Your dentist may request that you brush a bit more carefully, and avoid flossing for a few days. You may also need to avoid eating foods that are overly crunchy or sticky such as popcorn and caramel. These restrictions will be lifted once your permanent filling is put into place.
IF you are haunted by a cavity and would like your old smile back, contact us today to book an appointment. Sit down with Dr.Jaleel and she can help determine whether composite fillings are for you. Our dental clinic is located across from the Carlingwood Shopping Centre in Ottawa, easily accessible by bus or car.
2194 Carling Avenue, Unit 1
Ottawa, ON K2A 1H3
Having ended 2013 with the passing of Halloween and Christmas, ringing in 2014 with the continuation of (edible) holiday delights, and Easter right around the corner, children’s teeth witness a lot of sugary goodness passing through year-round. While their spry metabolisms and healthy, energetic bodies have no time processing these delicious treats, children’s teeth are unfortunately the most prone to cavities compared to their older counterparts.
Kids have sweet teeth that need protecting!
Think of it this way: to a child’s imagination, your teeth are the caped-crusaders, saving the day and allowing them to eat their yummy food. Gingivitis and plaque are the villains. Just like any saga goes – it’s a constant battle between good and evil!
Beginning at the ripe age of just 6 months, and continuing into toddlerhood, children develop their first set of pearly whites. Right off the bat, the difficulty is not only keeping them white, but also more importantly, keeping them cavity-free.
Just when the “terrible twos” pass and all that teething is beginning to pay off, children start to loose those baby teeth. Between the ages of 6 and 12 children – with the financial encouragement of the tooth fairy – replace those baby teeth with permanent teeth that will be with them for the rest of their adult life.
These two periods – each time your child has sprouted a new, complete set of teeth – illustrate the perfect opportunity to use dental sealants on the pits and fissures of your children’s teeth.
The crevices on the molar’s surface help break down food, but are also vulnerable to food particles to get stuck in and decay.
The tops of teeth aren’t flat. Teeth tops are actually grooved like hills and valleys (pits and fissures) to facilitate the crushing and deterioration of food so to be suitable to swallow. Being the omnivores we are, some teeth are best suited for tearing off food, while others are ideal for chewing and grinding. These grinding teeth are the best candidates for dental sealants, as they have the most irregularities in surface texture. By filling the crevices with sealants, this prevents the evil plaque and gingivitis from giving your children cavities.
The procedure is short, simple and non-invasive. After teeth are cleansed, an adhesive and the sealant itself are painted on the teeth. A light may be used to help harden the sealant, but overall it only takes about a minute for the sealant to form a protective shield. Sealants are virtually invisible, and are unnoticeable when a child talks or smiles. A couple minutes in your Ottawa dentist chair with a sealant application could protect your child’s teeth for as long as 5-10 years!
Dr. Jaleel is warm and friendly and invites your kids to get a great start to oral health and valuable habits. Dr. Jaleel wants your child to know that dentist trips can be fun and are beneficial to their well-being. Instilling healthy habits young will secure a lifetime of prosperity. Bring your family to your Ottawa dentist to seal the deal on their oral health.
Ahhh, February 14th. Love is in the air and spring awakening with the sound of lovebirds is just around the corner. This Valentine’s day, the Ontario Dental Association is endorsing an activity outside of their usual health regime suggestions. Following suit, your Ottawa dentist wants you to get involved in this too. What is that exactly?
Well, the results can be memorable – hopefully positively, although you will always remember when you received a poor or sloppy one. They can stand out as something monumental in your mind, especially the first one ever, or the first one from a particular receiver.
“Planting one”, “tonsil hockey”, “snogging”, doing the “tongue tango”, or the “o” in “xo’s”…Whatever you like to call it, it’s kissing.
As many of you know, kissing is a great activity – but for more reasons than you probably realize. Kissing increases the feelings of closeness and intimacy; It’s a great gauge of potential compatibility; Kissing reduces blood pressure; It is a natural pain reliever – especially for headaches and cramps through the dilation of blood vessels; It’s inherently mood-elevating since it releases a happiness hormone elixir or serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin (the same ones which are released when you are in love, from exercising, or eating chocolate); Kissing burns calories if you’re fully engaged (and especially if you make a make-out session of it); And, just like burning calories at the gym does- it boosts your self-esteem!
But the benefits your Ottawa dentist will be most pleased about (although I’m sure they’ll be thrilled that you had a great date night!) is the ability kissing has to fight cavities.
As the less pleasant terms for kissing like “swapping spit” remind us, kissing really does “get the juices flowing” so to speak. When you’re kissing, you secrete more saliva, which works as a natural mechanism to flush away food particles that can lead to plaque, which in turn causes cavities. The increase in saliva also has antibacterial properties that fights bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease. The mineral ions in saliva can even promote the mending of small abrasions in tooth enamel.
If you don’t have someone to kiss this Valentine’s Day, don’t worry. You can get saliva flowing by chewing sugarless gum to experience the same benefits. If you are seeing a special someone, you can pop a piece of chewing gum to freshen up beforehand. Just don’t let bad breath ruin your odds of a health-benefiting kiss! Always remember that the only way to truly address an issue of bad breath, is through a healthy regime of flossing and brushing. If you want someone to kiss you, those healthy habits are a prerequisite!
Kissing is a cheap way to good health!
Happy Valentine’s Day from your local Ottawa dentist, Dr. Jaleel and her team!