Frequently Asked Questions…

Your smile says so much about you. Why not make it the best it can be?

Every day in our office we speak with our patients to answer any questions that they may have regarding the health and maintenance of their oral condition.

Listed below for your reference are some of the commonly asked questions. If you would like to discuss any of these in more detail or if you have dental questions of your own, we invite you to call us 604-597-8333

1.    Why is it important that I visit my dentist every 6 months?

We recommend that patients visit our office at least twice each year to ensure their optimal oral health and to help avoid serious and costly future problems. In addition to cleaning and polishing all the visible and hidden surfaces of your teeth, we also check for many potential problems. Tooth decay, oral cancer and periodontal (gum) disease are just a few examples of problems that can have serious consequences if left undetected. In certain cases, we may even recommend 3 or 4 visits per year in order to properly treat conditions that require more regular attention.

2.    How can I help myself to prevent bad breath?

According to recent studies, almost half the population of adults in North America suffers at least occasionally from bad breath (halitosis). The most common cause of bad breath is bacteria in the mouth and on the back of the tongue. These bacteria produce a volatile sulfur compound, which in turn produces a smell similar to “rotten eggs”. (Other non-dental causes of halitosis include certain foods, smoking, alcohol, hormonal changes or simply being hungry.)

If the halitosis is of oral origin, the treatment usually begins with ensuring meticulous hygiene of the mouth. Your dentist or dental hygienist will check for gum disease and, if necessary, prepare a detailed treatment plan. Tongue scraping should also become an important part of daily home care and part of your regular tooth brushing routine.

3.    How is a mouth guard from my dentist different from one I buy at a sporting goods store?

High-speed collisions that occur during the play of sports like hockey, football, soccer and basketball can cause serious tooth damage. A professionally fitted mouth-guard is the best defense for any athlete against this. The mouth guards provided in our office are custom-made to perfectly fit the wearer’s teeth which can result in a more comfortable and secure fit. In addition, we use a heavier mouth guard material selected based upon each patient’s individual needs. The boil and bite mouth-guards that you purchase in retail stores simply can’t provide the same level of protection.

4.    How effective are current dental sterilization procedures?

In this era of concern over infectious diseases, patients can rest assured that the sterilization methods used in dental offices are thorough and comprehensive.

Staff members are fully trained in safety and sterilization protocols. Between visits, all surfaces in the treatment room are cleaned and decontaminated. Equipment that cannot be re-used – like tips for certain tools, and needles – are disposed of properly.

Dental professionals use the latest technologies to clean and sterilize re-usable equipment. Instrument washers (which resemble dishwashers) use hot water and detergent to clean instruments. Ultrasonic cleaners use sound waves to form oscillating bubbles that work along with specialized detergents to remove debris from instruments.

To sterilize instruments after cleaning, dental offices use a steam autoclave. The autoclave’s high heat kills microorganisms. The autoclave includes specialized packaging for each instrument. When the sterilization procedure is complete, the packages are sealed and are not opened again until needed in the treatment room, and then only by a gloved hand.

5.    What are Dental Implants and what does the procedure involve?

Dental Implants are ways to replace missing teeth. They are virtually indistinguishable from your natural teeth. These implants are titanium posts, that are surgically placed under your gums. They then fuse to the bone of your jaw and act as roots. Replacement teeth, called crowns are made of porcelain, are then attached to the implant They will fit securely to your mouth because they are held in place by your bone, allowing them to look and function just like natural teeth.

Once the implants are in place, your dentist will typically wait a few months to proceed with crowns – temporary appliances are available for you to wear while you wait.

Give us a call today to set up an appointment to find out if dental implants are right for you.

6.    What are Dental Veneers and are they right for me?

Dental veneers are an exciting dental treatment alternative recommended for teeth that are cracked, chipped, worn, or slightly crooked, and can be used to close unsightly gaps.

Veneers are thin, custom-made porcelain laminates that cover and transform the front portion and most visible area of your tooth. A single veneer or a set of them is custom made to the exact specification of your smile. Along with holding a perfect size and shape, veneers are also made to exactly match the color of your teeth. Within the span of a few days, you can have an entirely new smile and an entirely new look, thanks to this simple procedure.

Dental veneers may be the solution you’ve been looking for. If you would like to explore the possibilities with your smile, we invite you to call our office for more information.

7.    I’ve heard about the ZOOM! Teeth Whitening System – What is it and what does it involve?

You may have seen the ZOOM! Teeth Whitening System on ABC’s hit television series Extreme Makeover. ZOOM! has become a highly recognized brand for delivering brighter smiles instantly. The ZOOM! Teeth Whitening System is a treatment performed in our office in one appointment.

The system is made up of a scientifically formulated pH balanced Hydrogen Peroxide gel that, with the ZOOM! Light, gently penetrates the teeth to remove deep stains and discolorations. With this treatment, teeth will become 3-8 shades whiter and in most cases, teeth may get even whiter the first few days following the procedure.

If you’re a busy individual looking for immediate results, the ZOOM! Teeth Whitening System is a safe, effective option for you. We invite you to call our office if you have any questions. You can also visit the ZOOM! Teeth Whitening System Web site at www.zoomnow.com.

Frequently Asked Questions… For Kids

Why are The Primary Teeth so Important?

It is very important to maintain the health of the primary teeth. Neglected cavities can and frequently do lead to problems which affect developing permanent teeth. Primary teeth, or baby teeth, are important for (1) proper chewing and eating, (2) providing space for the permanent teeth and guiding them into the correct position, and (3) permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles. Primary teeth also affect the development of speech and add to an attractive appearance. While the front 4 teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until age 10-13.

Innumerable studies and research have concluded on the importance of starting children early in their lives with good dental hygiene and oral care. According to research, the most common chronic childhood disease in America is tooth decay, affecting 50 percent of first graders and 80 percent of 17-year-olds. Early treatment prevents problems affecting a child’s health, well-being, self-image, and overall achievement.

The National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research estimates that children will miss 52 million hours of school each year due to oral health problems and about 12.5 million days of restricted activity every year from dental symptoms. Thus, there is such a significant loss in their academic performance.

Parents are responsible for ensuring their children practice good dental hygiene. Parents should introduce proper oral care early in a child’s life – starting in infancy.

Eruption of Your Child’s Teeth

Children’s teeth begin forming before birth. As early as 4 months, the first primary (or baby) teeth to erupt through the gums are the lower central incisors, followed closely by the upper central incisors. On average, all 20 primary teeth usually will have erupted by age 3, the pace and order of their eruption varies between individuals.

Permanent teeth begin to erupt around age 6, starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until approximately age 21.

Adults have 28 permanent teeth, or up to 32 including the wisdom teeth.

Dental Radiographs (X-Rays)

Radiographs (X-Rays) are a vital and necessary part of your child’s dental diagnostic process. Without them, certain dental conditions can and will be missed.

Radiographs detect much more than cavities. For example, radiographs may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate the results of an injury, or plan orthodontic treatment. Radiographs allow us to diagnose and treat health conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental treatment is much less traumatic and more comfortable for your child and more affordable for you.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends radiographs and examinations every six months for children with a high risk of tooth decay. On average, most pediatric dentists request radiographs approximately once a year. Approximately every 3 years it is a good idea to obtain a complete set of radiographs, either a panoramic and bitewings or periapicals (x-rays that show the roots of the teeth) and bitewings.

With the advent of digital x-rays which minimize the exposure of their patients to radiation. With these contemporary safeguards, the amount of radiation received in a dental X-ray examination is extremely small. The risk is negligible. In fact, the dental radiographs represent a far smaller risk than an undetected and untreated dental problem. Lead body aprons and shields will protect your child. Today’s equipment filters out unnecessary x-rays and restricts the x-ray beam to the area of interest. Special and high tech digital x-rays sensors and proper shielding assure that your child receives a minimal amount of radiation exposure.

What’s the Best Toothpaste for my Child?

Remember, children should spit out toothpaste after brushing to avoid getting too much fluoride. If too much fluoride is ingested, a condition known as fluorosis can occur. If your child is too young or unable to spit out toothpaste, consider providing them with fluoride free toothpaste, using no toothpaste, or using only a “pea size” amount of toothpaste.

Many toothpastes, and/or tooth polishes, however, can damage young smiles. They contain harsh abrasives which can wear away young tooth enamel. When looking for toothpaste for your child make sure to pick one that is recommended by the American Dental Association. These toothpastes have undergone testing to insure they are safe to use.

Does Your Child Grind His /Her Teeth At Night? (Bruxism)

Parents are often concerned about the nocturnal grinding of teeth (bruxism). Often, the first indication is the noise created by the child grinding on their teeth during sleep. Or, the parent may notice wear (teeth getting shorter) to the dentition. One theory as to the cause involves a psychological component. Stress due to a new environment, divorce, changes at school; etc. can influence a child to grind their teeth

The majority of cases of pediatric bruxism do not require any treatment. If excessive wear of the teeth (attrition) is present, then a mouth guard (night guard) may be indicated. The negatives to a mouth guard are the possibility of choking if the appliance becomes dislodged during sleep and it may interfere with growth of the jaws. The positive is obvious by preventing wear to the primary dentition.

The good news is most children outgrow bruxism. The grinding gets less between the ages 6-9 and children tend to stop grinding between ages 9-12. If you suspect bruxism, discuss this with the dentist.

 Thumb Sucking

Sucking is a natural reflex and infants and young children may use thumbs, fingers, pacifiers and other objects on which to suck. It may make them feel secure and happy or provide a sense of security at difficult periods. Since thumb sucking is relaxing, it may induce sleep.

Thumb sucking that persists beyond the eruption of the permanent teeth can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and tooth alignment. How intensely a child sucks on fingers or thumbs will determine whether or not dental problems may result. Children who rest their thumbs passively in their mouths are less likely to have difficulty than those who vigorously suck their thumbs.

Children should cease thumb sucking by the time their permanent front teeth are ready to erupt. Usually, children stop between the ages of two and four. Peer pressure causes many school-aged children to stop.

Pacifiers are no substitute for thumb sucking. They can affect the teeth essentially the same way as sucking fingers and thumbs. However, use of the pacifier can be controlled and modified more easily than the thumb or finger habit. If you have concerns about thumb sucking or use of a pacifier, consult your pediatric dentist.

A few suggestions to help your child get through thumb sucking:

  • Instead of scolding children for thumb sucking, praise them when they are not.
  • Children often suck their thumbs when feeling insecure. Focus on correcting the cause of anxiety, instead of the thumb sucking.
  • Children who are sucking for comfort will feel less of a need when their parents provide comfort.
  • Reward children when they refrain from sucking during difficult periods, such as when being separated from their parents.
  • If these approaches don’t work, remind the children of their habit by bandaging the thumb or putting a sock on the hand at night. Your pediatric dentist may recommend the use of a mouth appliance.

What is Pulp Therapy (Baby Root Canal Treatment) ?

The pulp of a tooth is the inner central core of the tooth.  The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue and reparative cells.  The purpose of pulp therapy (baby root canal)  in is to maintain the vitality of the affected tooth (so the tooth is not lost).

Dental caries (cavities) and traumatic injury are the main reasons for a tooth to require pulp therapy.  Pulp therapy is often referred to as a “nerve treatment”, “children’s root canal”, “pulpectomy” or “pulpotomy”.  The two common forms of pulp therapy in children’s teeth are the pulpotomy and pulpectomy.

A pulpotomy removes the diseased pulp tissue within the crown portion of the tooth.  Next, an agent is placed to prevent bacterial growth and to calm the remaining nerve tissue.  This is followed by a final restoration.

A pulpectomy is required when the entire pulp is involved (into the root canal(s) of the tooth).   During this treatment, the diseased pulp tissue is completely removed from both the crown and root.  The canals are cleansed, disinfected and in the case of primary teeth, filled with a resorbable material.  Then a final restoration is placed.  A permanent tooth would be filled with a non-resorbing material.

What is the Best Time for Orthodontic Treatment?

Developing malocclusions, or bad bites, can be recognized as early as 2-3 years of age. Often, early steps can be taken to reduce the need for major orthodontic treatment at a later age.

Stage I – Early Treatment: This period of treatment encompasses ages 2 to 6 years. At this young age, we are concerned with underdeveloped dental arches, the premature loss of primary teeth, and harmful habits such as finger or thumb sucking. Treatment initiated in this stage of development is often very successful and many times, though not always, can eliminate the need for future orthodontic/orthopedic treatment.

Stage II – Mixed Dentition: This period covers the ages of 6 to 12 years, with the eruption of the permanent incisor (front) teeth and 6 year molars. Treatment concerns deal with jaw malrelationships and dental realignment problems. This is an excellent stage to start treatment, when indicated, as your child’s hard and soft tissues are usually very responsive to orthodontic or orthopedic forces.

Stage III – Adolescent Dentition: This stage deals with the permanent teeth and the development of the final bite relationship.