Dentistry Best Practices
I’ve listed the things that we are trying to create in our office in the About Us section. Please visit and read if you haven’t already. We’re assuming that you are coming to us seeking the best treatment for your mouth. If this is the case, here is a list of four points you should remember (click to expand):
Don’t Get Caught Up in the Glare of TechnologyDental Gadgets and materials will always improve; some if it is even beneficial. However, the healthiest mouths never see any of it because they don’t need anything more than basic treatment! Yes, we try to keep current on technology, but only if it is of proven benefit to the patient. Two examples:
- I try to use a surgical microscope whenever possible, because microscope-enhanced dentistry allows me to see things in the teeth and gums that the human eye cannot. This technology is useful because I can operate in smaller areas, see teeth more clearly, create smaller openings in teeth, find small landmarks more easily, and ultimately, produce a better fit of any dental filling or prosthesis. Plus it saves my back. Everybody wins, and my fees are no higher for using it.
- More than 99% of our fillings are bonded white fillings, so it’s important for us to ensure we are providing the best chemical bond we can. Accordingly, we use air abrasion (think gentle sandblasting) to ensure a clean bonding surface, selective enamel etching with a benzalkonium chloride additive to minimize dentin degradation, and a self-etching high performance adhesive. The result is as strong as a bond as is possible, less bond degradation over time, and less sensitivity! This takes extra time and care, but again, no extra cost.
Dental Insurance is Not Looking Out for Your Best InterestsThere are more than 50 000 different dental plans in Ontario, each of them subject to change without us knowing. The problem is that current dental plans, regardless of coverage, have absolutely nothing to do with the actual dentistry you need. It is not in their business plan to care either. For the most part, the coverage you have is nothing more than what an employer decided to provide for its employees. On the contrary, our role is primarily to look after your needs. It stands to reason then, that the recommendations we make should not be influenced by your insurance. When we examine your mouth, we’re going to tell you what we see and whether you could benefit from any treatment. Would you want it any other way? So, in answer to the question “is it covered by my insurance plan?”, the answer can only be “we don’t know, but whatever your coverage is, it will not change our recommendations.” We can help you find out by way of estimates before treatment is begun, if it is your desire, but we often find that mouths with treatment dictated by insurance do not benefit from the full scope of modern dentistry.
Comprehensive Dentistry is the Best DentistryWhat is comprehensive care? And is there any other kind of care? Comprehensive dental treatment is becoming the norm, and for good reason: it gives you the best long-term results. In the past, dentistry was more accurately described as patchwork or break-and-fix dentistry. If you had a problem with a tooth, you fixed it (or had it extracted), and that was it. There was very little attention paid to factors like: what caused the problem in the first place, how to prevent it from happening to other teeth (for example, extracted teeth were often not replaced. This allowed drifting of surrounding teeth and mutilation of the bite.) It was very much a tooth-by-tooth mentality. Comprehensive dentistry aims to take into account all factors relevant to the long-term health of the teeth. It is no longer enough to merely ask if there is any decay or gum problem. We will also examine:
- Environmental factors that can affect the teeth or gums (acid reflux, oral hygiene)
- Factors that may affect the health of the jaw joints or muscles (uneven bites)
- Factors that affect tooth position (missing teeth not replaced, thumbsucking habits)
- Factors that may cause premature tooth fracture (heavily filled or root-canalled teeth) as well as many not listed here.
The point is this: with a thorough database and your input on what you would like for your mouth, we can provide a more stable, more beautiful smile than could be provided by looking one tooth at a time. The analogy is this: if you examine the wheels of a car and find nothing wrong with each wheel, and conclude that the wheels are OK, that is tooth-by-tooth dentistry. By also looking at wheel alignment as well as driving conditions and habits, that is more characteristic of comprehensive care. One caveat: current insurance plans are geared for tooth-by-tooth 1950’s –style dentistry. Although you may have coverage for many basic procedures, many of the available options for maintaining long-term dental do not enjoy full coverage. If you didn’t read my note about insurance (above) please give it a glance.
Good Oral Hygiene is Key to Good Oral HealthThe mouth is a harsh environment – there are all sorts of forces exerted on teeth and periodontium (gums) that contribute to breakdown. They have to tolerate physical challenges such as chewing, grinding and tearing, and chemical challenges such as acidic foods and drink. All in a wet environment laden with bacteria. Fortunately, your mouth is adapted for this environment and will function properly. The same goes for dental materials, although we have no material that is as good as the real thing. If the oral environment is changed, then teeth, periodontium, and dental materials will not last as long. That’s why general dentists are so insistent that people keep their teeth clean – we are the ones who see your mouth over the long term, and we see that if there is heavy plaque and bacterial buildup, everything breaks down more quickly. Even the best dentistry. Even perfectly healthy teeth. So, a good regimen of home dental care plus regular visits to a dentist is your best protection against oral disease. We’re not asking for much. Two minutes of quality brushing at least twice a day, daily flossing, and a diet that minimizes snacking. If you have any further questions, we’re more than happy to dispense advice.
Preventive Dentistry Tips for Children and Adults
At any stage in life, it’s important for both young children and adults to take proactive measures in protecting their teeth and gums. Through simple but effective dental care habits, you can increase oral hygiene significantly, thus preventing dental problems in the future. At our Barrie dental office we are big promoters of prevention, as these measures invariably lead to longer-lasting teeth at a lower cost.
Dental Care Tips for Babies and ChildrenWithout proper dental hygiene, babies and children can be at risk of dental health issues down the road; this may include trouble with eating, drinking, or even teething. From a young age, it’s strongly recommended that parents teach their children how to care for their teeth properly, as well as regular monitoring (especially at a young age) to ensure they are brushing and flossing their teeth correctly. Like anything, instilling positive habits at a young age will help to reinforce these healthy routines as one begins to age.
Babies and Children can prevent future dental problems with the following oral health tips:
- When teeth begin to come in, as a parent you should clean your baby’s gums and teeth following every feeding, with either a wet gauze pad or by using a soft child-appropriate toothbrush.
- Prior to using toothpaste with fluoride on your baby’s teeth, it’s strongly recommended consulting with a dentist first.
- Once a baby reaches the age of 1, regular dental visits at least 6 months apart is standard. These are important for the monitoring of growth and development, not just the teeth!
- Be wary of the sugar content in juice or sugary beverages your child is consuming. If they have sugary drinks, have their mouth rinsed out with plain water afterwards; this will help remove some of the sugar remnants. Limit the frequency and duration of these drinks in order to prevent decay.
- Once a child develops teeth, flossing should be implemented at least once daily. This will help to reduce dental plaque which leads to gingivitis and cavities. Small mouths may be easier to floss with flosspiks (those small plastic handles with a short length of floss attached).
- As soon as it is possible, teeth should be brushed twice a day. Remember not to allow any food or drink other than water after bedtime brushing.
- Eat wisely. Keep snacks that contain sugar and starches to a minimal. Fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber contribute to salivary flow, preventing early stages of tooth decay.
- Visit the dentist often. Check-ups can identify, prevent and, in some cases reverse early conditions of oral health problems. Teeth cleaning done by a professional dentist is important in deterring oral problems.
Dental Care Tips for Adolescents and AdultsTooth loss is usually an occurrence caused by gum disease and tooth decay. Once you’re an adolescent or adult, protecting your teeth is of even greater importance, because unlike a child, there are no secondary teeth coming in down the road. It’s vital to take good care of your teeth at every stage in life but it becomes crucial as you reach adulthood. The teeth you now have will be the ones you have for life!
Adolescents and Adults can prevent future dental problems with the following oral health tips:
- At least twice a day, teens and adults should be brushing their teeth with fluoride toothpaste, as well as flossing daily.
- Toothbrushes should be replaced approximately every 3 months, or when it’s evident that bristles are beginning to bend.
- Rechargeable electric toothbrushes are highly recommended. They provide excellent plaque removal, and leave the teeth feeling very clean.
- To help protect gums and prevent gingivitis, using an essential-oil or antibacterial mouthwash can provide some benefit. This is not mandatory, and is not a substitute for flossing and brushing.
- If there are signs of bleeding gums and it persists, see a dentist as soon as possible; this could be a early sign of periodontal disease
- Limit your levels of smoking and alcohol intake, as these can increase the risk of gum infections and tooth decay.
- Reduce the frequency and duration of sugary and acidic foods like soda, candy, and coffee.
- Try to refrain from eating at bedtime; nighttime food is more likely to cause cavities because there is less saliva generated to neutralize acids
For a customized examination of your oral health status, solutions for your dental concerns, or answers to your mouth questions, contact us! We’d love to be your dentist in Barrie.
New Patient Exam
Don’t know what to expect? Here’s a summary. For those new to the Barrie dentist office, your first appointment will be our opportunity to get to know each other. We get to know about your health and your mouth, and you get to know a bit more about us. When you arrive, this is what happens:
- You complete a health questionnaire
- We discuss your health, goals, and priorities.
- Photographs are taken as required.
- Radiographs (x-rays) are taken as required.
- We examine your mouth – this constitutes the largest portion of time. We examine outside the mouth (e.g.: jaw joints and lymph nodes), and inside (soft tissue pathology, oral hygiene, periodontal (gum) status, individual tooth health, as well as overall tooth-to-tooth alignment and function.)
- We will give you a summary of our findings, and make recommendations for treatment. Keep in mind that in comprehensive dentistry, the recommendations are not geared towards only immediate problems, but also to prevent future problems that we forecast are likely to occur.
We want you to feel that all your questions are answered, so please do not feel intimidated to ask. While we can’t predict the future with absolute certainty (I’d be playing the lottery for a living if we could), we will give you our best answers and advice. IMPORTANT: If you have specific concerns about the appearance of teeth or missing teeth, feel free to download and complete our “Aesthetic and Reconstructive Worksheet” and bring it in to the office! It is critical information that we will use in planning your next steps (download below)
Any new patient to our office will be given these forms; they are a first step towards a precise, accurate understanding of your oral status. Each of the questions must be answered carefully. These deceptively simple forms enable us to identify, and focus on the priority areas in your mouth. If you suffer from jaw problems, these are also the forms for you.
For those who have concerns about the appearance of their teeth or larger reconstructive needs, we have devised a multi-step process that helps guide you (and us) from start to finish. This .pdf download is step 1. If you’re looking at this, we probably asked you to download the form and complete it for us. If you’re curious, please ask us about it.