How Important Can Flossing Really Be?

I used to ask myself this question each time I visited the dentist. I’ve been a very diligent brusher, but flossing was not an important part of my day, or even week. Good genetics and a balanced diet saved me from a mouth-full of cavities as a child. But now, I wonder how many of my patients ask themselves the same question. Of course, the choice to floss, or not to floss, is entirely up to you! But here’s a few reasons why you might want to give it another chance.

Flossing Isn’t Just About Cavities!

Before I went to dental school, I rationalized that I didn’t need to floss because I didn’t get cavities. And I cannot believe how wrong I was! Even the best toothbrush can only reach 60% of your tooth surfaces on a good day, which means you are leaving a lot of disease-causing bacteria behind. Floss was designed as a way to clean those areas between the teeth and below the gumline.

While flossing is crucial for preventing cavities between the teeth, it’s also important in preventing gum disease. If plaque is not removed, it hardens into tartar below the gumline. The body sees this as an infection, which leads to inflammation called gingivitis. If left untreated, this inflammation can eventually erode the bone and gums supporting the teeth. Good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing, together with your regular dental cleanings, helps prevent and treat this disease.

We also know that reducing the number of bacteria in the mouth also lowers the risk of developing diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Flossing only takes a few minutes everyday, but it can have huge implications for your long-term health.

How to Start Flossing

The gold standard for oral hygiene is still dental floss. However, not all floss is created equal! There are ribbon-styles for tight teeth, expanding-floss for big spaces, and a variety of flavours and textures. Take some of our samples and find what works for you!

The biggest reason for not flossing is FORGETTING! We’re all busy and tired at the end of the day. So, try switching things up:

  • Keep your floss in the shower;
  • Floss in the morning, or after dinner, instead of before bedtime;
  • Set an alarm;
  • Floss as a family!

But if you really can’t stand flossing, here are some alternatives:

  1. Proxibrushes – small “tree-shaped” nylon brushes that fit between teeth
  2. Soft Picks – very small brushes that act like toothpicks, but cause less damage to the gums;
  3. WaterPik – when used correctly, the WaterPik will flush plaque away from the teeth and is very effective for people wearing braces or with bridges that are difficult to floss around.

*Follow the links as these tools are available online for purchase through Walmart, Amazon, Costco, and other sites*

Our team at Horizon Dental is dedicated to helping people achieve optimal oral health. We are excited to be accepting new patients, you can call us at (778) 765-3928 or click here. You can also find us on Facebook and Instagram!

Canada’s New Food Guide and Oral Health

April is National Oral Health Month and I felt it was a great opportunity to celebrate Canada’s new Food Guide, the first re-write since 2007! The foods we choose to eat and how often we eat them have a profound impact on our overall health. Nutrient-rich foods support good oral health and help fight infection and disease. We all know that sugar-filled pop and processed foods contribute to cavities and gum disease but it can be hard to know what to eat! That’s why I’ve read through Canada’s Food Guide and have some suggestions to help you create a balanced diet.

Healthy Eating Recommendations

Health Canada has some excellent online resources with tips and recipes based on the new Food Guide. They also emphasize that healthy eating is more than just the food we eat!

I recommend practicing mindful eating, cook
at home whenever possible, eat meals with friends and family, and don’t forget
to enjoy your food. Taking the time to plan a meal and involving others in
preparing and eating is a great way to connect with people.

It’s also important to eat a variety of foods each day! One of the biggest changes to the new Food Guide is to choose protein foods that are plant-based. The idea is to avoid saturated fats found in animal products. Medical News Today lists the best plant-based proteins as: tofu, edamame beans, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts, almonds, quinoa, and dark leafy green vegetables among others.

I’m also very pleased to see how the Food
Guide emphasizes replacing juice and other sugary drinks with water, as we know
that these drinks can cause cavities.

But don’t forget your about calcium! Dairy products no longer have their own group in the new Food Guide and have been included in the “protein” section. Calcium is essential for the development of bones and teeth but is not easily absorbed from plant-based proteins like tofu or beans. So, don’t forget to add sources of calcium and vitamin D to your day, either from supplements or milk products like cheese and yogurt!

Connecting Oral Health to Overall Health

Not only is good oral health critical for healthy teeth and gums, it also lowers your risk of bigger diseases. Diabetes is a disease that affects your entire body, and modifying your diet is often a key step in managing blood sugar. Oral inflammation can also play a role in clogged arteries and blood clots. The Heart and Stroke Foundation reports that 80% of premature heart disease and stroke can be prevented through lifestyle changes, including following Canada’s Food Guide!

Our team at Horizon Dental is dedicated to helping people achieve optimal oral health. We are excited to be accepting new patients,You can contact us by clicking here!

Does Having a Cold and Flu Hurt my Teeth?

Cold and flu season is in full swing in Kamloops. Many of us have experienced sleepless nights with a cough that won’t stop, a stuffy head that makes breathing impossible, and a runny nose that has us constantly reaching for tissues. We are all aware of how the common cold and flu can wreak havoc on the body, but did you know how these bugs affect your oral health? Read on to learn how to deal with these issues and protect your teeth.

Nasal Congestion and Dry Mouth

The cold and flu bugs have taken up residence in your sinuses, so when you finally lay down to rest, you’re too stuffed up to breathe through your nose. Instead, you have to breathe through your mouth, leaving you feeling parched all night.  Cold and flu symptoms are a major cause of dry mouth, but medications such as decongestants may make it worse. And when the mouth is dry, bacteria grow faster, increasing your risk of gingivitis and tooth decay.

To combat dry mouth during a cold or flu, continue using decongestants as indicated, they will help in the long run. But make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Humidifiers are also crucial, especially in a dry climate like Kamloops. They add moisture to the air and help soothe dry tissues.

When cold and flu symptoms start, I also recommend using a nasal rinse such as the NeilMed Sinus Rinse products available at any drugstore. Make sure you use previously-boiled or distilled water with the saline packets. Nasal rinsing significantly reduces congestion, as well as post-nasal drip which often causes sore throats.

Sinus Pain and Toothaches

cold and flu

Don’t be fooled, cold and flu symptoms often mimic tooth pain! The telltale sign is when the pain isn’t limited to just one tooth. Other symptoms include pain and pressure around the face and eyes and nasal congestion. Acute sinus infections often resolve on their own, but sometimes require antibiotics. Please keep in mind, your dentist isn’t able to prescribe those antibiotics as the infection isn’t tooth-related, so speak to your family doctor.

Keep on Top of Your Oral Hygiene

gingivitisAlthough you might not feel up to it when sick, keep up with your oral care. Allowing plaque to build-up not only puts you at risk for gingivitis and tooth decay, but also encourages bacterial growth. This means a slower recovery from the cold and flu because your immune system is dealing with your mouth instead of fighting the cold or flu. Stick with your regular brushing and flossing routine. And if you really don’t have the energy, try a soothing mouth rinse.

Our team at Horizon Dental would be happy to help you achieve optimal oral health and we are happily accepting new patients. You can contact us by clicking here or visit our Facebook and Instagram pages for updates and fun contests.

Cannabis And Your Oral Health

As of October 17, 2018, cannabis is legal in Canada! Estimates say that 15% of Canadians use cannabis (marijuana) for recreational or therapeutic purposes and it can be consumed by smoking, vaporizing, within food, or as an extract. Smoking marijuana typically has a more immediate, short-lived effect, whereas “edibles” exhibit effects more slowly that often last longer. So how does cannabis use affect your oral health?

Whether or not you use cannabis for fun or as part of a comprehensive medical treatment, there are several oral health effects I think we should all be aware of:

  • Dry Mouth (Xerostomia): Saliva is our natural mouth-cleaning system – it dilutes and washes away food and acids that cause erosion and cavities. Cannabis reduces saliva production, putting you at a higher risk of tooth-wear or erosion and tooth-sensitivity, and sometimes results in bad breath and difficulty swallowing.
  • Periodontal (gum) disease: Inflammation caused by smoke inhalation (tobacco or cannabis) can damage the bone and tissue attachments of teeth over time. Also, higher levels of plaque and tartar (often related to poor oral hygiene and dry mouth) is frequently seen in cannabis users.
  • Cannabis Stomatitis: Chronic inflammation of the soft tissues (lips, tongue, cheeks, palate) may predispose some patients to oral cancer, although the true relationship between cannabis and cancer is still unclear.
  • Cavities: THC is an appetite stimulant, which often leads users to engage in regular snacking. Snacking combined with more plaque and less saliva is the perfect environment to develop lots of cavities in a short period of time. This may also cause existing fillings, crowns, and other restorative work to fail.

In addition, using cannabis prior to receiving routine dental treatment can result in complications, such as:

  • Higher risk of dry socket and infection after surgery due to smoke inhalation.
  • Bad reactions to local anesthetic that may increase blood pressure or make the heart race.
  • Bad reactions to prescription medications, such as pain-killers or sedatives.
  • Impairment resulting in the inability to properly consent to dental treatment – meaning your dentist may have to cancel your treatment if you are deemed “unfit” to make decisions.

As always, I recommend talking openly with your dentist about any drug use! Some ways we can help manage the oral effects of cannabis include:

I hope this post got you thinking. If you have any questions or comments I’d love to hear from you. If you like what you see, please share with your friends and follow me on Google +, Facebook, or Instagram!

And if you’re looking for a dentist in Kamloops, we are happily accepting new patients! You can contact us by clicking here!

Call Now