An estimated three out of every four Canadians visit the dentist at least once a year. Unless you’re at high risk for dental disease, then you may go every three to four months. However, it is more common to have one yearly appointment. If you’re fortunate, that is all you will need. However, what should you do if your suspect a dental issue may be developing in between appointments for yourself or a family member? What about tooth sensitivity, or when a child loses their first tooth? You’re not alone in having questions. In fact, you may be surprised at how many people have similar concerns.
Whether you’re old or young, cutting your first tooth or needing dentures, there are always questions to be had about your teeth and gums. Here are eight common dental concerns of average Canadians throughout their lives.
1. Baby Teeth
The Canadian Dental Association recommends that you take your child to the dentist within six months of cutting their first tooth, or before they turn one year old. As your child grows, it is imperative to maintain a routine for dental appointments. You can find out if your cleaning routines are working, your dentist will be more able to identify and resolve potential complications, and, perhaps most importantly, you are teaching your child that going to the dentist is a normal part of life.
2. Losing that First Tooth
Losing their first tooth is a rite of passage for children. It can be exciting and nerve-wracking. The best course of action for the parent is to let the tooth come out naturally (a little wiggle here and there with their tongue or using a clean cloth or tissue is acceptable). Pulling the tooth out or using the old doorknob method can cause excessive bleeding, may break a fragment of the root off inside the gum, or possibly infect the socket. If the child is experiencing extreme discomfort, use a topical anesthetic or children’s ibuprofen to alleviate the pain.
Cavities, or dental caries, occur when the bacteria in your mouth feed on simple or complex carbohydrates (sugars and starches) trapped inside your mouth. The bacteria produce acids which eat through the enamel and into the softer, sensitive insides of your teeth. While anyone can get cavities, as we age, we become more susceptible, as our enamel naturally thins with time.
You can reduce or avoid cavities through proper brushing technique, using a soft-bristled toothbrush twice daily; flossing regularly; and eating (and drinking) healthily, including limiting your sugar intake.
No one’s teeth are perfect. Crooked teeth, crowded teeth, over- and under-bites are all common bite misalignment issues that braces can correct at any age. Any misalignment increases your risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and other health complications. Difficulty flossing between teeth can help harmful bacteria build up. Braces bring your bite back into alignment, creating lasting effects. There are several types of braces. Talk to your dentist about your optionsdo if you think you could benefit from braces.
5. Wisdom Teeth
Your wisdom teeth (the third, rearmost molars) are the last teeth you will grow. Wisdom teeth can become impacted when there isn’t enough room in your mouth for them to fully break through the gums. If they only break through partially, food can get trapped in flaps of gum tissue, causing painful swelling and potential infection.
What to look out for if you’re experiencing tooth pain at the back of your mouth:
- One or more teeth are coming in at the wrong angle
- The tooth not coming through the gums with a clean break
- A fluid sac or cyst forming around an impacted tooth
If any of these conditions occur, you may need the wisdom tooth extracted. For some, this can be a relatively simple procedure, akin to any other extraction; for others, it may require oral surgery. Consult with your dentist if you have concerns about your wisdom teeth.
6. Sensitive Teeth
Sensitive teeth are typically caused by worn tooth enamel or by exposed tooth roots. Both can be the result of excessive and vigorous brushing. Tooth whitening strips and whitening toothpaste (that whiten by abrading away stained enamel) can also contribute to sensitive teeth. Tooth sensitivity often manifests itself when eating, or drinking hot or cold foods, breathing in cold air, or exposure to sweet or acidic foods.
To prevent sensitive teeth, or to reverse the beginnings of tooth sensitivity, you should switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush, and brush gently for two minutes, twice a day. If you grind your teeth at night, talk to your dentist about a mouthguard or other options. Avoid drinking red wine, fruit juices, pop, and other acidic drinks; or drink a glass of water immediately after to rinse your mouth clear of the acids.
7. Root Canals
A root canal is required when the soft tissue inside the root of the tooth becomes inflamed or infected. Severe pain when eating or drinking hot (or cold) foods, or lingering pain long after eating can be signs you should speak to your dentist.
The goal of the root canal is to preserve the tooth by removing the dead nerve and pulp and other infected matter. This is replaced by a rubber-like material to seal the interior of the tooth from further decay, and then the tooth is filled with a temporary filling while the permanent crown is being made. The permanent crown is fitted shortly after, usually within a week or two.
8. Gum Disease
Periodontal disease, otherwise known as gum disease, is a bacterial infection of the gums and occasionally the jaw bone. Gum disease can affect one or several teeth. Initial stages of gum disease include red or swollen gums or gums that bleed with brushing or flossing.
- Gingivitis – is the initial and mildest form. Redness and swelling of the gums
- Chronic Periodontitis – Receding gums that create pockets between the gums and teeth. It most commonly affects those over 35.
- Aggressive Periodontitis – Excess plaque, bleeding gums, pus and bad breath. Can be seen in children as young as three. If not treated, patients can lose their teeth by age 20.
- Necrotizing Periodontitis – or acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, it destroys ligaments, tissues, and bones in the mouth. This is more commonly found in those with a compromised immune system, or with smokers.
All people worry about their health from time to time. Children will often have many concerns about going to the dentist for the first time. Adults have a new set of potential issues to mull over, especially with those over 50. Developing a strong relationship with your dentist will help alleviate apprehension about your dental health and making those appointments. Feel confident that your dentist’s office is filled with people who are passionate about teeth and how to keep them – and you – at your best.
Whatever age you are, Cosmo Dental Center has the skills, tools, and the people, to help you with your dental hygiene needs. If you’re in the London area, contact Cosmo Dental Centre. www.cosmodentalcentre.com 373 Clark Road London Ontario M5W 5G4 (519) 659-2767.