We all wish kids came with a user manual; it would take out much of the improvisation that comes with parenting. But your kids are individuals, and as such, have their own needs. Luckily, when it comes to oral health, there are a few guidelines that simplify the process of teaching your little ones about tooth care. Dr. Jaleel, your Ottawa-Nepean Dentist, has been practicing children dentistry for over 20 years. Through these years, she has learned a lot about helping children keep their teeth in the best condition.
You might wonder if your disciplinary methods are working, or how to instill common manners, but good oral hygiene can actually consist in this handy parent guide to children’s teeth:
BABIES AND TODDLERS
Most babies start teething around six months of age, which is when oral health should be a priority. Dr. Jaleel suggests parents should start brushing their children’s teeth as soon as those first pearly whites emerge. You can use a little toothpaste on a soft-bristled brush, but keep the amount to about the size of a grain of rice. Don’t forget that your child should have his first dentist appointment by his or first birthday.
“I can do it myself!” might as well be the motto for preschoolers everywhere. As your once-toddler grows into a curious preschooler, it’s the ideal time to encourage healthy oral habits. He or she may even look forward to brushing, so build on that enthusiasm: Let your child pick out a new toothbrush and a great-tasting toothpaste. Kids that take the lead are more likely to make daily brushing a personal habit.
Even though your preschooler might want to fly solo when it comes to brushing and flossing, you’ll still need to supervise his technique and help ensure that the teeth are cleaned at least twice daily.
Between catching the school bus, homework and soccer practice, your elementary-aged child might have a tight schedule. Two things can result in poor oral health during these crucial years: forgetting to brush and indulging in sugary treats. Help out by setting a timer or alarm to keep your child on top of these things.
Kids at this age also start losing their primary teeth – usually between the ages of five and seven. But just because these teeth are on their way out doesn’t mean kids can eat with impunity. Dr. Jaleel suggests making a habit of offering healthier options and limiting sugary sodas, juices and candy as well. A reusable water bottle can help remind kids to stay hydrated – encouraging saliva production – whereas treats like trail mix or sliced veggies make for a nice lunch side dish or after-school snack. The occasional sweet won’t hurt, but they should be balanced with healthy foods to ensure the adult teeth develop properly.
Slip a dollar under their pillow from the Tooth Fairy, but don’t forget to schedule regular checkups with your dentist to detect any complications during this process.
Smart, moody and fun, your teenager might raise an eyebrow to your oral health advocacy. Instead, approach it from a self-image angle: It’s important to brush and floss to look your best. Nonetheless, don’t be surprised if your teen sleeps in and then races out the door without even looking at his or her toothbrush. You can help, of course: Arranging for regular dental checkups can help remind your teen to keep brushing.
The teenage years are also a great time to discuss orthodontia for a straighter and more confident smile entering adulthood. From traditional brackets to plastic liners, an orthodontist can design a treatment plan that puts your teen on a path to aligned teeth by graduation. Ask your dentist for a recommendation.
Naturally, your kids’ needs depend on their personal health and age, but a parent guide to children’s teeth can keep you informed on what to expect over time.
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Braces create a beautiful smile, but the retainer maintains it while encouraging better oral hygiene long after its use goes away. Although retainers for teeth are most commonly used to hold straight teeth in place after braces, the advantages for your kids in wearing their retainers correctly go beyond that. Did you know wearing a retainer can also help iron out speech problems? More than likely, though, the hardest part of having a new retainer is losing it, commonly to the trash can in the school cafeteria. Getting kids into the habit of wearing their retainer correctly and keeping it safe isn’t easy, but knowing its advantages and how to make sure your kids embrace their retainers will help your whole family navigate the process with less stress – and higher marks from your orthodontist.
Why Wear a Retainer?
Retainers for teeth are mostly used as the last phase of orthodontics treatment. After the braces have been removed, teeth can shift back to their original position. So, retainers worn overnight (if not longer) can help maintain the position of straightened teeth.
Chew Away Bacteria
Straighter teeth are easier to clean, cut down on plaque buildup and reduce the chance of cavities, according to American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). But there are other reasons you may not be aware of. Straight teeth, along with a correct bite, help kids chew their food more effectively. By chewing better, they get more nutrients from their food. One benefit of being able to chew food thoroughly, is an increase in saliva production. And more saliva means more digestive enzymes to cut down on plaque buildup and decrease cavities.
Helps Simplify Diabetes
When kids – and adults – wear their retainers correctly, it helps keep teeth aligned, offsetting the risk of poor general or oral health, per the International Journal of Dentistry. And according to the American Diabetes Associations (ADA), poor oral health can exacerbate the blood-related effects of diabetes. So wearing a retainer correctly, in addition to flossing, brushing and rinsing, can help counteract diabetes-related ailments.
A lesser-known advantage is that for some kids, retainers can help their breathing. Special types of retainers, according to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, are used to not only help straighten teeth or align jaws, but for trouble with snoring or breathing at night.
Helps with Speech Impediments
Some kids wear retainers to help their speech as well. KidsHealth states that retainers can help to adjust tongue placement so kids can form sounds correctly as they develop their vocabulary.
Getting in the Habit of Wearing a Retainer
Know that the time it takes to form a new habit is different for everyone, so making it fun for your kids can make it easier. Here are some tips for getting in the habit of wearing a retainer and not misplacing it:
- Pick up a bigger carrying case and keep the retainer case in this one. Whether it’s a bag with their favorite action hero or a purse that’s their favorite color, your child is less likely to forget a big bag over a small, plastic case.
- Write a note and put it in your child’s retainer case. It can be fun for your child to read and acts as a reminder for them to put their retainer away.
- Just like keys, keep the retainer case in the same spot. And a brightly colored case is less likely to be overlooked or misplaced during a busy part of the day.
- Your kids may have outgrown the tooth fairy, but the fun of waking up to small gifts under their pillow for a full night of wearing their retainer in the first week never hurts.
It can be hard for your kids to consistently wear a retainer correctly and for long periods of time. But after a while, it will be a part of your kids daily life – just like the compliments they’ll receive from their well-maintained smiles.
All orthodontic patients must know how to clean braces, regardless of age. Orthodontic care is a serious investment of a family’s time and finances. By learning about proper orthodontic home care in advance, patients will be prepared for the time commitment necessary to maintain oral health during and following orthodontic care.
What Gets Caught around Braces
Each type of orthodontic hardware, including wires, bands, brackets, expanders, springs, elastics and screws, poses its own unique challenges for the patient when it comes to cleaning. All this hardware provides additional surfaces for food debris, plaque biofilm and acids to adhere and collect in these areas of the mouth that are very difficult to clean.
The tiny germs first find an effective place to hide around orthodontic hardware and between teeth, growing into larger colonies of plaque biofilm. As readily available food particles are digested by the germ colonies, the plaque biofilm masses process the food debris. Acid is the by-product of this germ digestion process. These acids etch around the brackets and bands, creating the white chalky orthodontic spots often shown to patients before they pursue braces. The good news is that these spots can be prevented if a patient is taught how to clean braces properly.
Cleaning Braces at Home
The proper removal of food debris, biofilm and acids from around the braces will protect the teeth and gums from being affected by oral care diseases. Patients must be reminded before the placement of orthodontics that a higher level of at-home care will help decrease the incidence of tooth decay. Specialized equipment is recommended for cleaning teeth with braces. The standard tools for cleaning braces at home include a high-quality toothbrush, floss/interdental cleaners and an at-home oral irrigation system.
Toothbrushing: Whether manual or electric, a toothbrush with soft bristles and a compact head is best for cleaning teeth with braces. Always remember to remove elastics before brushing so hooks and wires are not disturbed.
The following are some toothbrushing instructions to assist you in cleaning your braces:
1. The toothbrush should be held at a 45-degree angle at the gum line and brushed back and forth and then swept toward the biting surface of the teeth.
2. Brush the top and bottom surfaces of the brackets to remove plaque and food debris as well as the front of the bracket and wires. It may be beneficial to physically hold back the lip with one hand and brush the bracket areas.
Fluoride Treatment and Germ Killers
Although topical fluoride is very important to use regardless of whether you have braces, fluoride becomes even more important during and immediately following orthodontic care. Since braces make teeth tougher to clean, the risk for tooth decay increases with braces. A fluoride rinse can decrease this risk.
The delight of having your braces taken off to reveal a beautiful smile can often be overshadowed by a diagnosis of cavities throughout the mouth, but these cavities can be prevented. Don’t let them happen to you! By learning how to clean braces effectively before their placement, both patients and parents can be proud of a newly aligned smile.
What is X-Ray?
Dental X-rays, also known as dental radiographs, are images of the internal structure of our teeth and bones. X-rays are a form of energy that travels in waves; when these waves travel through solid objects, the object either absorbs the waves or they pass through the object. Our teeth and bones are dense, so they absorb X-rays. Our gums are less dense, so X-rays pass through them. As a result, X-ray images allow dentists to spot problems below the surface of
the teeth and gums such as the location of impacted wisdom teeth, cavities, abscesses and tumours.
Visual exams give us an overview of the mouth’s surface. Dr. Jaleel, your Ottawa dentist can assess the colour, texture and form of the soft tissues, as well as the surface integrity of the tooth structure visible to the eye, but this is only a fraction of what we may need to know. A wonderful analogy is that visually, Dr. Jaleel can see the tip of the iceberg, and the radiographs help dentists like Dr. Jaleel assess what lies beneath the waterline.
Are X-rays harmful?
To put it simply, dental X-rays are safe. However, they do require very low levels of radiation exposure, which makes the risk of potentially harmful effects very small. Dental X-ray equipment and techniques are designed to limit the body’s exposure to radiation, and every precaution is taken to ensure that radiation exposure is as low as possible. To protect patients, a leaded apron is placed on the abdomen during an X-ray, and a leaded thyroid collar is recommended for women of child-bearing age, pregnant women and children. The technology of radiographs has changed markedly over the past decades, resulting in significantly lower exposure levels.
How often does my dentist need to take X-rays?
It depends on a patient’s present oral health, age, risk for disease and any signs or symptoms of oral disease. Dr. Jaleel will review your history, examine your mouth and then discuss with you her recommendations for X-rays.
A History of the X-Ray
In 1905, Dr. Wilhelm Reöntgen discovered the X-ray in Württemburg, Germany. Months later, Dr. C. Edmund Kells of New Orleans installed the first X-ray apparatus in his office, where he exposed the first dental radiograph in the Western Hemisphere. Dr. Frank D. Price, who worked in Toronto from 1892 to 1935, built the first dental X-ray machine in Canada within a year of Dr. Reöntgen’s discovery. By this time, dentists had become aware of the dangers of radiation; Dr. Price and his brother developed a process of adding lead salts to rubber to make protective aprons and gloves. By the late 1930s, dental X-ray equipment was becoming essential to dental practices. The technology appeared around the time when it was recognized that diseases of the mouth might have an effect on general health.
Really, your dentist can help?
Many of us know someone who is or was a chronic smoker. Many of us also know people who have tried to quit smoking. Often times, it never occurred to people to ask their dentist for help. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Your dentist, Dr. Jaleel, probably sees you more frequently than your doctor (most people visit their dentist 3 times a year), she knows everything there is to know about your oral health (including whether or not you smoke) and she can prescribe the same smoking cessation medications a doctor can. Dr. Jaleel, your Ottawa dentist is in an ideal position to speak with patients who smoke and inform them of the effects on their health. She has the expertise and training to help patients understand how smoking affects not only their oral health, but also their overall health, and to help them quit. She also has the skills to detect early signs of oral cancer in patients during routine dental examinations.
The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that smoking is responsible for 30 percent of all cancer deaths in Canada. Tobacco is number one on the list of risk factors for oral cancer for people over the age of 50. This too-often fatal condition has a higher mortality rate than both breast cancer and prostate cancer. Tobacco use is also associated with heart disease and/or stroke, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, periodontal disease and tooth decay. Smoking wreaks havoc on more than your health; it also affects your appearance. Cigarette smoking can accelerate the aging process, causing wrinkles and skin damage, stains your pearly whites and can irritate gum and mouth tissue, causing unsightly and uncomfortable mouth sores or lesions. Not a pretty picture. Research shows that the majority of adult smokers (62 percent) intend to quit within the next six months, but tobacco use is one of the most difficult addictions to break. That’s where your dentist can help — by advising you about different ways to stop smoking and the resources available. To kick-start your efforts, Dr. Jaleel has put together a seven-step action plan adapted from the Canadian Dental Association and the Lung Association.
Start the conversation
The first step is to come in so we can start you on the step to quitting. Book an appointment so you can talk to Dr. Jaleel about developing a strategy to quit. There are lots of options, and we can help you choose the one that will work best for you. For example:
- Nicotine replacement therapy. A nicotine patch or inhaler, or nicotine gum or lozenges will replace some of the nicotine you usually get from cigarettes and make nicotine withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, difficulty concentrating and hunger, easier to manage.
- Prescription medicines, such as bupropion (Zyban and Wellbutrin SR), an antidepressant which makes smoking less enjoyable, or varenicline tartrate (Champix), which works at the level of your brain receptors, where the nicotine attaches.
- Individual counselling in person or by phone, or quit smoking support groups.
Oral cancer screening
Ask Dr. Jaleel to screen you for early signs of oral cancer or periodontal disease. An oral cancer exam during a routine exam is fast, easy and painless — and it could save your life.
Gradually change your routines
Anticipate tobacco triggers (situations or places where you’re tempted to smoke) and prepare strategies on how to avoid them.
Keep track of the money you save from quitting
Use some of the money you’ve saved by not buying cigarettes (more than $3,000 a year for a pack-a-day habit!) to reward yourself. Go out for dinner and a play, or treat yourself to a new spring outfit.
Keep your hands busy
Chew sugarless gum and drink water when cravings hit. And make sure you stock up on healthy snacks, such as carrots, fresh fruit, popcorn, nuts and sunflower seeds.
Start working out
Build exercise time into your weekly routine to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms and to help with weight control.
Take a walk, call a friend, head to the playground with your kids or book a tennis game with a buddy. Nicotine cravings only last about three to five minutes, and they become fewer and farther apart the longer you stay tobacco free.
Women experience unique and varied hormonal changes at different life stages that may influence their oral health; pregnancy is no exception. During such an exciting and overwhelming time, your oral health may be neglected. Understanding these changes — combined with regular dental examinations and preventive care—is the best way to practise good oral health habits during this time. Today, Dr. Jaleel and the rest of the Ottawa Fairlawn Dental team compile a Q and A for all you need to know about how to take care of your teeth while pregnant.
Why should I tell my dentist I’m pregnant?
The dentist is a patient’s best source of advice on how to achieve and maintain optimal oral health at all times, and especially when a patient is pregnant. It’s important to remember normal pregnancy is not an illness; it’s a temporary condition. Remember, good oral health and habits in the mom are the best first steps in baby’s oral health.
Why are my gums bleeding more?
Hormone levels change considerably during pregnancy. The most common thing dentists notice in pregnant patients is that their gums can become inflamed and bleed more easily. This is due to changes in mouth bacteria that feed on the extra hormones secreted during pregnancy, and in the overall increase of fluid levels in the body as the pregnancy progresses. Regular professional dental cleanings are an important part of reducing the inflammation that can occur during pregnancy — as well as the patient’s own daily home care. Ask our Ottawa dental team about what type of solutions fit your needs. If you continue to have problems with your gums post-birth, book an appointment and talk to Dr. Jaleel.
At what point in my pregnancy should I schedule a dental exam with my dentist?
The Public Health Agency of Canada suggests scheduling an examination by your Ottawa dentist during the first trimester to have your oral health diagnosed. Sometimes, the six-month routine visit (which included scaling, polishing and a fluoride treatment) may be doubled – every three months instead of every six. Dr. Jaleel wants to ensure you have healthy gums the whole way through my pregnancy.
Should I have a dental X-ray taken while pregnant?
It’s safe to have dental radiographs taken during pregnancy; although, dentists tend to avoid them, except in the
case of a dental emergency. If a patient has an acute infection (such as an abscess), it’s important this be treated promptly. Emergency care during pregnancy is not only safe, it’s also essential. There are certain types of local anesthetics that are avoided during pregnancy, as well as certain prescription pain medication and antibiotics. If you require X-rays, you and your baby will be shielded from the low dose of radiation by a lead apron.
Can vomiting during pregnancy cause problems with my teeth? Will my frequent ‘morning’ sickness have an effect on my enamel or gums?
Stomach acid can damage the surface of your teeth and promote tooth decay. Rinse your mouth with water after throwing up and don’t brush your teeth right away, since doing so tends to brush the acids into the teeth. If vomiting is really severe, you can rinse with a neutralizing rinse made by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to room-temperature water and swishing, then spitting it out.
Is it true a woman loses one tooth for every pregnancy?
No, that’s an old spouses’ tale. The calcium needed to make your baby’s teeth comes directly from your diet, not from your own teeth. However, if you don’t get enough calcium while pregnant, your body will provide this essential mineral from the calcium in your bones, putting your bones at risk. Even though the best source of nutrients is a well-balanced diet, with a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and dairy products, many pregnant women find it difficult to achieve this if they are suffering from pregnancy related nausea and vomiting. Ask you obstetrician or physician, or nutritionist what additional supplements may be needed.
A dental examination is the foundation for optimal oral health
A dental exam is not just a checkup — it is a comprehensive assessment that can identify problems at the start, before they become serious. Prevention and early detection are the key components for good dental health. The most important sensation our teeth detect is pain. Often, when a patient experiences pain, the cause may be a variety of conditions. When pain appears, it may be too late for conservative treatment. By then, instead of just a cavity, for instance, you may need a root canal or even a tooth extraction. A dental exam is the greatest way to save money and protect your health.
Why is a complete dental exam important?
Regular brushing, flossing, good nutrition, not smoking and healthy behaviours are all important in reducing the risk of cavities and gum disease. But a dental exam can identify and diagnose problems early, before they become more serious and even irreversible. A dental exam encompasses a x-ray and clinical exam, including assessing your teeth, gums and other oral soft tissues, and a visual and palpation exam of the head and neck to detect dental decay, gum disease and other oral conditions, including dry mouth, and oral cancer assessments. We examine all of our patients for oral cancer; early detection can make a huge difference in treatment outcomes. Your dentist may also provide advice and assistance that will help you reduce or eliminate lifestyle risk factors such as smoking. At the very least, Dr. Jaleel recommends a dental exam at least once a year.
What you need to tell Dr. Jaleel
Each patient is different, of course, so the specific components of the dental examination will vary based on your specific concerns, your current oral and general health, lifestyle factors and frequency of professional dental cleanings. First of all, however, you need to be open with Dr. Jaleel and the rest of the staff, informing them of any medical conditions, medications, including any vitamin supplements and herbal ones, and the use of tobacco products. Remember to mention anything unusual such as any soreness, sensitivity to heat or cold or any loose teeth. Tellus when you are booking the appointment if you’re anxious when you visit. Talking over your concerns may help you feel more at ease, and new technologies and procedures can make some treatments more comfortable
The dental exam and your overall health
There are more than a hundred systemic medical conditions that can be detected orally. Many of them are conditions that we are trained to observe. For example, a sudden onset of chronic bleeding gums, despite excellent oral hygiene, could be a sign of leukemia. In the future, a dental examination may become even more important as newer tests are developed and we gain improved knowledge of the links between oral health and overall health. This is all very exciting, as we always knew the oral cavity is a gateway to our overall health. But, the best overall benefit to seeing a dentist regularly is maintaining your oral health.
We all like to eat, taste and socialize, but when our oral health is impaired, some of the things we enjoy doing can be quickly taken away due to pain, loss of teeth, poor-fitting dentures, dry mouth or taste change. And that can truly alter your quality of life.
Your child’s first dental visit
The Canadian Dental Association recommends that infants see a dentist within six months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age. The first visit is also your opportunity to ask questions about anything you are unsure about. Some children get anxious, as they don’t know what to expect. Read our previous blog where Dr. Jaleel offers valuable tips on taking your child to the dentist for the first time.
Post-Surgery Day One
Dr. Jaleel will provide you with a care package for you to take home. It will contain after-care instructions, extra gauze and perhaps some pain relievers. You will leave the office with some gauze wads that have been folded and placed over the surgery sites to help stop the bleeding. Be sure to bite down gently but firmly on this gauze to make sure they remain in place – your other teeth should not be touching. Continue to apply pressure without “chewing” on the gauze. Try not to change them for the first hour unless the bleeding can not controlled.
Avoid: Using a straw, a wind instrument, whistling, cigarettes (smoke and smokeless varieties), blowing your nose or sneezing can all cause enough pressure to dislodge a forming blood clot. Try to avoid these activities for at least 72 hours. If you need to sneeze, do so with an open, relaxed mouth and throat.
Swelling of the surrounding mouth and face tissues is normal after surgery. You can minimize the effects of swelling with anti-inflammatory medications and by using ice packs. Cold packs can be purchased at most pharmacies or you can fill a zip-lock type of plastic baggie with ice. Wrap the ice pack in a small tea or hand towel and apply it firmly to your face or cheek adjacent to the surgery area. Do this in a 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off fashion for the first 48 hours after surgery. After 48 hours, we recommend that you switch from ice to moist heat and apply it to the same areas. If your dentist has prescribed you medication for the control of swelling, be sure to take it as directed.
Unfortunately, you may experience some degree of discomfort and swelling over the next 36 hours. If your dentist has prescribed any medication, have it filled by your pharmacy as soon as possible and begin taking it before your anaesthetic has had a chance to wear off. Some offices will call in your prescription to your pharmacy ahead of time so that it will be ready when you arrive after your appointment to pick it up. Ibuprofen products have anti-inflammatory characteristics and will help to reduce the swelling that usually intensifies pain. Most severe discomfort happens within the first 8 hours after the dental freezing has worn off. You can manage your pain by taking your medication as directed and refraining from activities that increase blood pressure.
You will probably just want to lie down and rest for the first day after surgery and this is the recommended post-operative protocol. Avoid all strenuous activities like exercise, heavy lifting or extended walking for the first 24 hours and limit your talking. When you rest, make sure that you recline in a position that allows your head to be elevated above your heart to help reduce bleeding and swelling. Using an extra pillow should take care of this. Protect your pillow from blood and saliva by placing a towel over it before you rest your head upon it. Do not fall asleep with gauze in your mouth.
Whether you return to work or school after 24 hours will depend on your health, recovery and how complicated your procedure was. Be sure to speak with your dentist about this and if you require an absentee note make sure you ask for one before your leave the office.
Any nausea that you may experience after surgery can be caused by the strong medications you are taking, hunger or by anxiety. You may not feel like eating, but some pain medications, such as ibuprofen, requires that you consume a small amount of soft food 15 minutes before taking them to avoid any stomach upset. Take your medication with an adequate amount of water and try to avoid dehydration as much as possible with clear liquids or non-carbonated soft drinks. Contact your dentist if your nausea or vomiting gets progressively worse.
Wait until you are alert and the numbing affect from the dental anaesthetic has worn off before you eat or drink anything to prevent choking or accidently biting your tongue, lips or cheek. Maintaining an adequate and nutritious diet is very important in your healing process and should not be avoided. Eat any nourishing food that can be taken with comfort, but remember to remove any gauze that you may still have in your mouth. Your diet during the first 48 hours following surgery should be restricted to liquids or pureed foods, such as creamed soups, puddings, plain yogurts, milkshakes, liquid meal replacements, etc. Avoid very hot foods and any type of smaller food items, like nuts, seeds, fruits with pectin/seeds, popcorn, etc. that can become lodged inside the surgery site.
Your level of comfort and tolerance will improve over the next several days allowing you to progress to more solid foods. It can take up to 7 days before you feel comfortable eating a regular diet. If you are diabetic, it is important for you to maintain your regular eating habits as much as possible and consult your family doctor about your insulin schedule.
What medications should I avoid during pregnancy?
Many over-the-counter drugs may have warning labels that alert you to the use of the product before, during and even after pregnancy. We encourage you to consult with your doctor and dentist to discuss any of the risk vs. benefits of the medications.
- Antibiotics – are prescribed with caution to prevent or treat infections. Only those that are known to be safe such as penicillin, amoxicillin, and clindamycin should be used during your pregnancy. There is also an antibiotic called tetracycline that is routinely avoided since it can cause permanent staining to your baby’s developing teeth.
- Chlorohexadine – is a germicidal mouth rinse that is used to treatment gingivitis or gum disease. It is considered safe to use throughout pregnancy.
- Lidocaine – is an anesthetic used to numb your mouth tissue and can be safely administered during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Only the lowest amount necessary will be used to make you comfortable enough during treatment. Although some dentists may consider the use of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) safe, we do not use it for expecting mothers.
It is a good idea to to consult with your OB/Gyn before your dental appointment. Take note of any special medications or caution your OB.GYN prescribes. This will decrease the likelihood of drug-drug interactions come your dental treatment with Dr. Jaleel.
Can I whiten my teeth during pregnancy?
There is not a enough reliable data available yet concerning the use of products to whiten your teeth during pregnancy. Until we know more about whether it poses a significant risk to your baby, we advise against teeth whitening during pregnancy and the breastfeeding period.
Are x-rays safe during pregnancy?
Today’s advances in technology have made the new dental digital x-rays much safer. In fact, the radiation exposure is so low that you can take 1 digital x-rays for every 10 of the old, paper-type dental film. Dentists will usually hold off taking any x-rays until after your pregnancy, however, in the event of a dental emergency or infection, an x-ray may be necessary.
Safety precautions will be taken, and, if possible, the dentist may wait until your second or early part of your third trimester to take an x-ray or begin treatment. The use of a lead dental apron with thyroid collar is a standard practice in dentistry, so make sure one is used and is fastened snugly.
Word of Caution…
According to several studies that have been published in the Journal of Periodontology, there is evidence that women with gum disease are more likely to have premature or low birth weight infants. Gums that are free of disease are important in having a healthy mouth and a healthy body.
By practicing a few healthy steps you can help reduce the likelihood of dental problems during your pregnancy:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day
- Flossing at least once daily
- Rinsing and gargling with an antiseptic mouth rinse recommended by your dentist.
- Reducing the frequency of snacking in between meals.
- Maintain a well-balanced, health diet avoiding sugary snacks as much as possible.
- Maintain regular dental hygiene care.
Can I get dental treatment done during my pregnancy?
If possible, arrange to visit with Dr. Jaleel, one of the top family dentists in Ottawa, for an examination before you become pregnant. In doing so, any treatment or cleanings that are advised can be done before conception. The second trimester is the safest time for a routine check-up/cleaning and any recommended, non-invasive treatment.
When routine and preventive dental care is avoided, dental emergencies are more likely to occur. Through good, preventive care most dental problems associated with pregnancy can be minimised or avoided.
What is Tooth Sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity is a common name for dentin hypersensitivity or root sensitivity. If hot, cold, sweet or very acidic foods and drinks, or breathing in cold air, makes your teeth or a tooth sensitive or painful then you have sensitive teeth.
Is Tooth Sensitivity Common?
Tooth sensitivity is very common and it has been estimated that approximately half the population experiences tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity can come and go over time.
Why does Tooth Sensitivity (Dentin Hypersensitivity) Happen?
Tooth sensitivity is usually caused by dentin on root areas exposed due to receded gums or periodontal disease. Receded gums are very common and up to four fifths of people have gum recession by the time they are 65.
When the root of a tooth becomes exposed, it leaves the dentin of the root exposed. Overzealous brushing or using a very abrasive toothpaste can also cause abrasion of the tooth’s enamel surface and expose dentin. A very acidic diet – for example a diet with a lot of citrus food, pickles or sodapop — can cause tooth erosion and dissolve the tooth surface, exposing the dentin.
Can I Prevent Tooth Sensitivity?
You can reduce your chances of getting tooth sensitivity by keeping your mouth as healthy as possible with good oral hygiene to help prevent receding gums and periodontal disease. Brushing and flossing properly as recommended by your dentist or hygienist and using a low abrasion toothpaste can help reduce the chance that you will have tooth sensitivity. A diet that is not acidic also helps prevent tooth sensitivity. Read our article on nutrition tips for healthier teeth for more details. Ignoring your sensitive teeth can lead to other oral health problems, especially if the pain causes you to brush poorly making you vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.
What Can I Do if I Have Sensitive Teeth?
It is important to notify us of your sensitive teeth. We can help you and see what the best treatment is. It is also important to tell Dr. Jaleel or a member of our team in case the cause is not dentin (root) hypersensitivity and the tooth is sensitive due to a more serious problem.
- In Office Procedures:
- Fluoride varnish can be applied to exposed areas, strengthening the enamel and dentin
- Fluoride foam or gel can be placed into a mouth tray; you then sit with this in your mouth for 3-5 minutes, providing the teeth with a high concentration of fluoride to strengthen the areas
- Bonding agent, the material used to stick tooth colored restorations to teeth, can be used to seal the dentin surface and provide a barrier to the stimuli that cause sensitivity
- At Home:
- Use a very soft bristle tooth brush, with low abrasive tooth paste
- Brush correctly and do not over brush
- Use a tooth paste specially formulated to soothe the nerve endings in the tooth
- Use a high concentration fluoride toothpaste (given to you by the dental professional) to strengthen the tooth surface
To treat tooth sensitivity, Dr. Jaleel may recommend that you use a low abrasion toothpaste specially made for sensitive teeth — a desensitizing toothpaste. These toothpastes make the teeth less sensitive if you brush with them twice a day and also contain fluoride to help protect your teeth against decay. Alternatively, we may prescribe a brush-on fluoride gel or a fluoride rinse, or a high fluoride level toothpaste that is specially formulated to make your teeth less sensitive and provides extra protection against decay. These treatments happen at home when you are brushing your teeth and are inexpensive.
If you are experiencing teeth sensitivity, feel free to give us a call and book an appointment with Dr. Jaleel, your Ottawa dentist. She will be happy to address your concerns and provide you with a list of alternatives. We’re conveniently located across Carlingwood Shopping Centre at the Fairlawn Dental Clinic.
2194 Carling Avenue, Unit 1
Ottawa, ON K2A 1H3
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