CANDY! CANDY! CANDY! I can hear the refrain already. Halloween is a fantastic
holiday with the crisp fall air, costumes, decorations and parties. I even love
that slightly scared feeling with all the spookiness about; the sudden rush of
adrenaline that lifts the hair on the back of my neck and goose bumps run down
my spine. But the Halloween candy is really it, isn’t it? It’s the thing that
the kids are most excited about. There is no staying away from it, we all get a
little sugar rush going for the start of November. I know once that chocolate hits my front doorstep my resolve weakens. As a dentist there are some things at this time of year I do a little differently than most. I know my kids and I are going to indulge in Halloween candy, that’s part of life and part of the fun. Just the approach is a little different. Understanding how and why cavities form helps to avoid them at this and all times of the year.
Halloween Candy: Knowledge is Power
A cavity is as it sounds, a simple hole. But how does the hardest structure in the human body develop a hole? The answer is acid. Bacteria in your mouth produce acid from sugar and carbs. This acid erodes the enamel. As teeth lose mineral content and the enamel gets weaker, eventually it becomes is so weak it collapses and a cavity is left. When it comes to eating sugar, duration, frequency and consistency impact decay.
Binge is Best
Duration is really about how long you are eating for. Guzzling back a root beer is better than sipping it over an hour. Same goes for your morning coffee with sugar. Lollipops, hard candies and jaw breakers have staying power and break the duration rule. The idea of your kids consuming a whole lot of candy at once might seem counter-intuitive, but it is probably better to set a time limit on a candy binge than a number limit.
Think about how often the Halloween candy is eaten also. Eating three pieces of candy spaced out in the day is worse than three pieces at once. It takes close to 20 minute for your saliva to buffer the acid after eating sugar back to a normal level. So if you are eating every half hour your teeth are spending more time in a decaying state than not. If you space it out instead, the enamel can regain the strength in between.
While we want to limit how much Halloween candy kids eat, don’t dole it out a bit at a time, dragging it out over days and weeks.Carbs Count
Consistency is something we don’t often talk about. However, it is easy to imagine that foods that stick to teeth are in the mouth longer and more likely to cause decay. Gummy candies and tootsie rolls come to mind, but parents often forget the residue left by cracker and muffins. Because breads are not ‘sugar’ they don’t share the same blame that candy does for cavities but are the larger culprit in most diets. Digestion starts in the mouth. Saliva breaks carbs down into sugars. This feeds the bacteria that produce acid.Halloween Candy Helpers
Simple things like drinking lots of water can help rinse sugar away. Chewingsugar-free gum stimulates saliva flow doing much the same thing. A strong mineral foundation promoted by toothpastes and rinses containing fluoride or recaldent help to prevent the loss of minerals as well. If kids aren’t brushing after lunch then that might be a good time to use a rinse, even if only on the weekends. And of course, be mindful about cleaning after eating Halloween candy.
White spot lesions are an early sign of decay that your dentist can help you identify. And whether you’re eating a lot of Halloween candy or not, visiting your dentist for regular exams and cleaning will help your kids’ teeth stay healthy. Dr. Maureen Piché HB.Sc, D.M.D. is a practising general dentist in Richmond, B.C. She is a graduate of the University of British Columbia and a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentists. Her practice is centered on individualized patient oral health, function and aesthetic. She’s also a wife and mother of a three year old girl and nine month old boy. Kids under two are seen free in her clinic or by donation to Operation Smile. She maintains a blog on family dentistry and preventative focused care at www.harmonydentalstudio.com.
Time for a change... Teeth are more dynamic than static. We often think of them as non-changing structures but all kind of forces, habits and overall health affect them much like the rest of the human body. This patient has kept his initial veneers in good shape for around 20 years. Before the original veneers were place there was a sizable space between the front two teeth which was effectively closed.
After gum recession the edges of the veneers are visible, and there is a black space where the gum no longer fills in between the front two teeth. Color match is now poor after some custom take home whitening treatments.
With Jim from Impression Dental Studio ceramic work and custom shading we were able to achieve a natural aesthetic.
And the winners are...
Thanks for all the great entries! It was so much fun to see fresh pictures every day. They are proudly on display in our front window if you happen to stroll by.
It is fun for other kids to see these pictures as it encourages their own oral care habits. I am a strong believer in preventative medicine. In dentistry this included good hygiene habits, a sound diet and early regular dental care. Childhood caries is the most common disease our children face. Having a sound primary dentition sets them up to have a healthy adult mouth.
I like to start seeing children as early as one year old. I advocate so strongly and my personal mission is to remove barriers to care financial and educational. All children have complimentary exams in my office until their 3rd birthday. Healthy kids also covers children's dental care for families on MSP premium assistance.
The United Bates’ of America show isn’t part of my usual reality show guilty pleasure line-up. In case you haven’t seen the show it is a spin-off of 19 Kids and Counting; the Bates family also has 19 kids and the show profiles their lives. I did catch a recent episode where some of the children were visiting a dental
office and had some cavities. I'm a dentist and a true tooth nerd. The best way for any television program to get my full undivided attention is to air anything tooth related.
In the episode they reported that the family had been cavity free for a long time until recently with the younger children. So how do they go 20+ years with no decay and suddenly have dental appointments filling their schedule?
· Their drinking water- They openly discuss using natural spring water from their property as drinking water and that they have started to use fluoride supplements to combat the decay. Fluoride is a naturally occurring element and is sometimes present in ground water. It is often added to community water source as a public health measure, the practice is under much debate. Here in Richmond BC our municipal water is NOT fluoridated.
· Supervised brushing – With 19 children I doubt that every child has a parent supervise their brushing and bush areas they are missing. The older children could be helping the younger ones, but knowing how teenagers care for their own mouths I wouldn’t be too keen on putting them in charge of the care. Children tend not to have enough manual dexterity to properly brush for themselves until 10 years of age. Good signs to look for are nice printing and coloring within the lines as developmental milestones.
· Snacks and diet – It is not only what you eat but how often you are snacking that promotes decay. Frequent snacking subjects your teeth to enamel dissolving acids. People often blame fruit juices and candy as cavity culprits but forget that even healthier choices contain carbohydrates that convert readily to sugar.
· Education and attitude – As a family with so many children they cannot all do to the dentist together (check out my previous post for benefits of attending as a family). They would fill the appointment roster for the whole day! Getting the whole family on board with an oral care approach
and routine and problem solving any at risk behaviours could eliminate future problems.
Your dental check-up is a good opportunity to talk to your dental care experts about your life and how oral care fits into it. We all have different needs and behaviours. Every person deserves a healthy mouth for a lifetime of eating, speaking and smiles!
Brush to Win, Community Care Day, Free Exams for Senior, Preschool Tours...
April is a busy month at the office. Every day our primary goals are centered around improving oral health but it is normally on the individual level. Designating April as 'Oral Health Month' is an opportunity to extend our preventative care model to the community at large.
Here is a preview
of what we have going on in the month to come. Find a way for you or your family to take part and post your
comment here or on the office Facebook page
. Your teeth (and your dentist) will love you for it!
Brush to Win
The BCDA runs this contest every year for kindergarden to Grade 5 students. They can win money for their school (and for themselves!) just by brushing their teeth. The link on the left directs you to the site that has the calendars to be submitted at the end of the month. There are also lesson plans for teachers and resources for parents. I have some of the word searches and coloring pages in the office waiting room.
Community Care Day
We are inviting uninsured low income adults to FREE dental care. Good oral health is a fundamental part of overall health but unfortunatly because of the cost associated it is often one of the first expenses cut when funds are lacking. We realize many people live in pain and discomfort because of dental conditions. I am lucky enough to have a great team who have VOLUNTEERED their time to help me help those in need. On our treatment day we will provide one of: an hour of dental hygiene, an area of pain control, dental restoration or extraction. Appointments are booking already and we just released flyers yesterday! If you are aware of anyone in need or anyplace that should receive a flyer, please let us know.
Free Dental Examinations for Seniors
Not only are there more seniors than ever before, there are more seniors with teeth than ever before! Growing older does not mean loosing your teeth and needing dentures. Older adults do face many barriers to good oral health and represent an at risk population.
"While British Columbians are enjoying longer and healthier lives, increased age will inevitably bring a higher incidence of oral disease, such as dental caries
(tooth decay), periodontal (gum) disease and oral cancer, and increase the risk of losing natural
teeth. This has a negative impact on comfort and quality of life and threatens general
For folks that are 65+ for the month of April I will do exams at no cost (or by donation to Smiles Foundation). Good oral health is a fundamental part of good overall health and quality of life.
Steveston Community Centre
Preschoolers from the Moonbeams class will be visiting our office for tour. We love having school groups in. They come and see how the office looks and get familiar with what a dentist does and what the tools are for and what happens when you have an appointment. We talk to them about caring for their teeth and tooth healthy foods. They each leave with a new tooth brush and other goodies from the office.
Every month we send out welcome letters to our new patients. The kids that have their first visit with us also get their picture and a magnet frame. I love seeing their smiling faces so proud sitting in the dental chair.
I see children as young as 1 year old. First visit are more of an orientation, chair ride and chance to chat about how to care for your childs teeth. They quickly become familiar with us and we often get a thorough exam and polish their teeth when they are two.
I see children for FREE until their 2nd birthday. I feel very stongly that establishing a dental 'home' early on is crucial in preventing decay. Tooth decay is the most common childhood disease and it is completely preventable. It is the most common reason for a child to require general anaesthetic.
Please spread the word about our office, pass our name on to your friends, share and tweet! We are welcoming patients young and old.
Having your wisdom teeth (or 3rd molars) out has become a dental right of passage for the late teenager or early 20 something patient. Taking them out has become so routine that we barely give pause to the suggestion.
While every mouth is different the problems that plague those notorious molars are fairly consistent. Here are the top 5 problems I see with wisdom teeth;
#1 - Not enough room for proper eruption. Most mouths simply don't have the room for the teeth to align in the arch. They are often visible on X-ray at an angle and even completely horizontal. These impacted teeth can cause jaw aches, headaches and TMJ disorders. #2 - Part way in. No matter what angle they come in on, sometimes they just don't come all the way through. Impossible to clean they sit in boggy inflammed gum tissue causing pericoronitis, an inflammation of the surrounding gum tissue. They can become infected and cause facial swelling. #3- Decay. Tucked away in the back corner of the mouth is a hard place to brush and floss properly. Food and sugars can accumulate there as saliva does not wash the teeth well. In a person who has no other cavities in their mouth I've often found decaying wisdom teeth. #4 - Damage to other teeth. Occasionally the 2nd molar roots and/or tooth are resorbed by the erupting 3rd molar. I often see the 2nd molar is damaged and cannot be repaired simply because the other tooth was left in place too long. #5 - Crowding. Wisdom teeth are associated with shifting teeth even after orthodontic work.
Removing wisdom teeth at a young age prevents these issues. It is also favourable because the roots are less formed making them easier to remove and healing time is much faster.
With or without your 3rd molars, preventative care of your oral and overall health is wise!
The best bathroom in Steveston...or so we are told.
Welcoming your pit stops since 2010!
You don't need an excuse to come in and check out the clinic. Please feel free to stop in anytime. We don't bite!
Located in the heart of Steveston village next to the Royal Bank and across the street from the Post office museum and the Cannery Cafe.
I'm always on the lookout for items to make my office a fun place to visit. I do alot of treatment that essentially is repair work. I fix broken or decayed teeth all day long but I also have a strong preventative focus in the practice. Oral health education need not be that too common refrain "you need to floss". Smile by Raina Telgemeier is an engaging graphic novel about her experience with dental trauma and subsequent treatment.
I wouldn't suggest it for the dental anxious patient since Raina unfortuanly went through a real "worst case scenario". But if you have even a mild medical/dental interest it is a cute quick read appropriate for early teens and up. I really enjoyed the 80's references.
Stop in and borrow our copy anytime!
At Harmony Dental Studio, Dr. Matt Witt is available for Orthodontic treatment on Fridays.
He doesn't have a moustache as this cartoon strip suggests. He is however a great local resouce for children and adults who want to align their teeth. Straight teeth not only look nice they are functionally important and healthier. People with straight teeth tend to have better oral health, less cavities and less periodontal disease.
Children should have an orthodontic assesment by 7 years of age. Most will not start treatment this early but it is a ideal time to start to observe jaw and tooth positions and intercept any major issues while they still have lots of bodily growth remaining.