FAQs

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions patients have about dentistry and oral health issues. If you have any other questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, we would love to hear from you.

Orthodontics

What is Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry specializing in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of jaw, face and bite irregularities (malocclusions*). Orthodontic treatment is provided by an oral health care provider known as an orthodontist, who has completed two to three years of additional training beyond dental school.

When should I see an Orthodontist?

You should see an orthodontist any time you have a question about the alignment of your teeth, or the quality of your bite. Sometimes, a problem in this area is painfully obvious. For example, you may have difficulty biting, chewing or speaking, or some of your teeth may be clearly protruding, crowded or misplaced. If that’s the case, then it’s time to consult with our office — an orthodontist has the special skills and training needed to diagnose and treat the problem.

Other conditions may not be as obvious. Mouth breathing, clenching or grinding your teeth, and the inability to comfortably close your lips may be signs that orthodontic treatment is needed. Likewise, if your jaws seem to frequently shift in position or make sounds as they move, or if you find you’re unintentionally biting your cheek or the roof of your mouth, you may have an orthodontic issue.

Teeth that meet abnormally can even cause a facial imbalance (asymmetry), meaning that some facial features aren’t in proportion with others. This is a problem that can often be corrected by orthodontic treatment.

What is Malocclusion?

A malocclusion is an incorrect relationship between the maxilla (upper arch) and the mandible (lower arch), or a general misalignment of the teeth. Malocclusions are so common that most individuals experience one, to some degree. The poor alignment of the teeth is thought to be a result of genetic factors combined with poor oral habits, or other factors in the early years.

Moderate malocclusion commonly requires treatment by an orthodontist. Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in the treatment of malocclusions and other facial irregularities.

Who can benefit from Orthodontics?

Orthodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry that is concerned with diagnosing, treating and preventing malocclusions (bad bites) and other irregularities in the jaw region and face. Orthodontists are specially trained to correct these problems and to restore health, functionality and a beautiful aesthetic appearance to the smile. Though orthodontics was originally aimed at treating children and teenagers, almost one third of orthodontic patients are now adults. A person of any age can be successfully treated by an orthodontist.

A malocclusion (improper bite) can affect anyone at any age, and can significantly impact the individual’s clarity of speech, chewing ability and facial symmetry. In addition, a severe malocclusion can also contribute to several serious dental and physical conditions such as digestive difficulties, TMJ, periodontal disease and severe tooth decay. It is important to seek orthodontic treatment early to avoid expensive restorative procedures in the future.

Do braces hurt?

One of the most commonly asked questions about dental braces is whether placing them causes any pain or discomfort. The honest answer is that braces do not hurt at all when they are applied to the teeth, so there is no reason to be anxious. In most cases, there is mild soreness or discomfort after the orthodontic wire is engaged into the brackets, which may last for a few days.

There are two common types of fixed dental braces used to realign the teeth: ceramic fixed braces and metal fixed braces. Both types of fixed appliances include brackets which are affixed to each individual tooth and an archwire the orthodontist fits into the bracket slot to gently move the teeth into proper alignment. Elastic or wire ties will be applied to hold the wire in place. Some orthodontists may use self-ligating brackets which do not require a rubber or wire tie to secure the wire.

Fixed dental braces are used to treat a wide variety of malocclusions, including overbite, underbite, crossbite, and overcrowding. If the orthodontist has determined that the malocclusion has been caused by overcrowding, it is possible that teeth may need to be extracted to increase the amount of available space to properly align the teeth.

Why straighten teeth?

Straighter teeth perform chewing, biting and speaking functions more effectively than crooked teeth. In addition, a straight smile boosts confidence, is aesthetically pleasing to look at, and can help stave off a wide variety of dental ailments.

There are several types of malocclusion including overbite, underbite, crossbite, and overcrowding. Each of these alignment problems negatively impacts the functionality and cosmetic appearance of the teeth.

What is Invisalign?

It is simply the invisible way to straighten teeth without braces. Invisalign uses a series of nearly undetectable aligners instead of brackets and wires. So even up close it’s really hard for people to tell you are wearing Invisalign. This treatment can give you the smile you’ve always wanted without the braces you’ve always avoided.

Prosthodontics

What is Prosthodontics?

Prosthodontics is the dental specialty pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment planning, and rehabilitation of patients whose dental conditions are associated with missing or deficient teeth.

Missing or defective teeth can be extremely detrimental to self-esteem and self-confidence. Teeth that were lost previously can cause changes such as increased spacing between the remaining teeth, a change in angulation of the adjacent teeth and the reduction of space available for the replacement of future missing teeth. Natural teeth can be worn down due to tooth grinding, clenching or abrasive wear. Often issues like gum disease and decay or the poor alignment of the teeth need to be controlled before prosthodontic treatments can commence.

A prosthodontist formulates a comprehensive treatment plan based on several diagnostic tests and informs the patient as to what options are available to them for the restoration of their teeth.

When should I see a Prosthodontist?

There are many reasons why a patient might seek a consultation from a prosthodontist:
• Replacement of missing teeth with partial or full sets of dentures.
• Replacement of missing teeth with dental implants.
• Desire to improve the aesthetics of the smile with crowns or veneers.
• Treatment of worn teeth
• Temporomandibular joint problems
• Alleviating severe snoring and managing sleep apnoea
• Reconstruction of the mouth following oral cancer treatments

Endodontics

What is Endodontics?

Endodontics is a specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the etiology, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases and injuries affecting the human dental pulp and the surrounding apical tissues. The dental pulp is the inner soft tissue of the tooth, containing both nerve and blood supply.

Chemical, mechanical, and/or microbial injury to the tooth can initiate inflammatory changes, resulting in the necrosis or death of the pulp. To preserve the health and function of the tooth and the adjacent tissues, the infected pulpal tissue must be removed. A non-surgical root canal treatment involves removing the injured inner soft tissue, cleaning, shaping, and disinfecting the canal system, followed by filling and sealing the prepared space. Apical infection associated with previously endodontically treated teeth may be addressed by non-surgical retreatment, surgical intervention, or a combination of both modalities.

When should I see an Endodontist?

It is important to see an Endodontist if you:

• Have teeth in extreme pain
• Have a previously treated root canal that needs retreatment
• If your dentist refers you to an Endodontist

Periodontics

What is Periodontics?

Periodontics is the specialty of prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists are experts in the treatment of oral inflammation and receive extensive training in these areas, including three additional years of education beyond dental school. They are familiar with the latest techniques for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, and are also trained in performing cosmetic periodontal procedures.

When should I see a Periodontist?

There are several ways treatment from a periodontist may be sought. In the course of a regular dental check up, if our general dentist or hygienist finds symptoms of gingivitis or rapidly progressing periodontal disease, a consultation with a periodontist may be recommended. However, a referral is not necessary for a periodontal consultation.

If you experience any of these signs and symptoms, it is important that you schedule an appointment with a periodontist without delay:

• Bleeding while eating or brushing
• Bad breath
• Loose teeth and gum recession
• Gangrene in the tissues

Children's Dentistry

How does baby bottle tooth decay start?

Acid-producing bacteria in the oral cavity cause tooth decay. Initially, these bacteria may be transmitted from mother or father to baby through saliva. Every time parents share a spoon with the baby or attempt to clean a pacifier with their mouths, the parental bacteria invade the baby’s mouth.

The most prominent cause of baby bottle tooth decay however, is frequent exposure to sweetened liquids. These liquids include breast milk, baby formula, juice, and sweetened water – almost any fluid a parent might fill a baby bottle with.

When sweetened liquids are used as a naptime or bedtime drink, they are a heightened risk because they remain in the mouth for an extended period of time. Oral bacteria feed on the sugar around teeth and emit harmful acids. These acids wear away tooth enamel, resulting in painful cavities and pediatric tooth decay.

Infants who are not receiving an appropriate amount of fluoride are at increased risk for tooth decay. Fluoride works to protect tooth enamel, simultaneously reducing mineral loss and promoting mineral reuptake. Through a series of questionnaires and examinations, the pediatric dentist can determine whether a particular infant needs fluoride supplements or is at high-risk for baby bottle tooth decay.

Can Fluoride prevent tooth decay?

Fluoride fulfills two important dental functions. First, it helps staunch mineral loss from tooth enamel, and second, it promotes the remineralization of tooth enamel.

When carbohydrates (sugars) are consumed, oral bacteria feed on them and produce harmful acids. These acids attack tooth enamel – especially in children who take medications or produce less saliva. Repeated acid attacks result in cavities, tooth decay, and childhood periodontal disease. Fluoride protects tooth enamel from acid attacks and reduces the risk of childhood tooth decay.

Fluoride is especially effective when used as part of a good oral hygiene regimen. Reducing the consumption of sugary foods, brushing and flossing regularly, and visiting your dentist biannually, all supplement the work of fluoride and keep young teeth healthy.

How does my child's diet affect their teeth?

A child’s general level of health often dictates his or her oral health, and vice versa.  Therefore, supplying children with a well-balanced diet is more likely to produce healthier teeth and gums. A good diet provides the child with the many different nutrients he or she needs to grow. These nutrients are necessary for gum tissue development, strong bones, and protection against certain illnesses.

According to the food pyramid, children need vegetables, fruits, meat, grains, beans, and dairy products to grow properly.  These different food groups should be eaten in balance for optimal results.

How often should children have dental check-ups?

The Canadian Dental Association recommends parents to make biannual dental appointments for children, beginning approximately six months after the first tooth emerges.

These two important yearly visits allow the dentist to monitor new developments in the child’s mouth, evaluate changes in the condition of teeth and gums, and continue to advise parents on good oral care strategies.

The dentist may schedule additional visits for children who are particularly susceptible to tooth decay or who show early signs of orthodontic problems.

How do I prevent cavities?

Biannual visits with the dentist are only part of the battle against cavities.  Here are some helpful guidelines for cavity prevention:

1. Analyze the diet – Too many sugary or starchy snacks can expedite cavity formation.  Replace sugary snacks like candy with natural foods where possible, and similarly, replace soda with water.
2. Cut the snacks – Snacking too frequently can unnecessarily expose teeth to sugars.  Save the sugar and starch for mealtimes, when the child is producing more saliva, and drinking water.  Make sure they consume enough water to cleanse the teeth.
3. Lose the sippy cup – Sippy cups are thought to cause “baby bottle tooth decay” when they are used beyond the intended age (approximately twelve months).  The small amount of liquid emitted with each sip causes sugary liquid to continually swill around the teeth.
4. Avoid stickiness – Sticky foods (like toffee) form plaque quickly and are extremely difficult to pry off the teeth.  Avoid them when possible.
5. Rinse the pacifier – Oral bacteria can be transmitted from mother or father to baby.  Rinse a dirty pacifier with running water as opposed to sucking on it to avoid contaminating the baby’s mouth.
6. Drinks at bedtime – Sending a child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup is bad news.  The milk, formula, juice, or sweetened water basically sits on the teeth all night – attacking enamel and maximizing the risk of cavities.  Ensure the child has a last drink before bedtime, and then brush the teeth.
7. Don’t sweeten the pacifier – Parents sometimes dip pacifiers in honey to calm a cranky child.  Do not be tempted to do this.  Use a blanket, toy, or hug to calm the child instead.
8. Brush and floss – Parents should brush and floss their child’s teeth twice each day until the child reaches the age of seven years old.  Before this time, children struggle to brush every area of the mouth effectively.
9. Check on fluoride –When used correctly, fluoride can strengthen tooth enamel and help stave off cavities.  Too much or too little fluoride can actually harm the teeth, so ask the pediatric dentist for a fluoride assessment.
10. Keep to appointments – The child’s first dental visit should be scheduled around his or her first birthday.  Keep to a regular appointment schedule to create healthy smiles!

What is the best toothpaste for my child's teeth?

Evaluating the many brands of oral products claiming to be “best for children” can be an overwhelming task. Selecting an appropriately sized toothbrush and a nourishing, cleansing brand of children’s toothpaste is of paramount importance for maintaining excellent oral health.

Why brush primary teeth?

The importance of maintaining the health of primary (baby) teeth is often understated. Primary teeth are essential for speech production, chewing, jaw development, and they also facilitate the proper alignment and spacing of permanent adult teeth. Brushing primary teeth prevents bad breath and tooth decay, and also removes the plaque bacteria associated with childhood periodontal disease.

What differences are there among toothpaste brands?

Though all toothpastes are not created equal, most brands generally contain abrasive ingredients to remove stains, soapy ingredients to eliminate plaque, fluorides to strengthen tooth enamel, and some type of pleasant-tasting flavouring.

The major differences between brands are the thickness of the paste, the level of fluoride content, and the type of flavouring. Although fluoride strengthens enamel and repels plaque bacteria, too much of it can actually harm young teeth – a condition known as dental fluorosis. Children between the ages of one and four years old are most at risk for this condition, so fluoride levels should be carefully monitored during this time.

Be aware that adult and non-ADA approved brands of toothpaste often contain harsher abrasives, which remove tooth enamel and weaken primary teeth. In addition, some popular toothpaste brands contain sodium lauryl sulfate (shown as “SLS” on the package), which cause painful mouth ulcers in some children.

So which toothpaste brand should I choose?

The most important considerations to make before implementing an oral care plan and choosing a toothpaste brand is the age of the child. Home oral care should begin before the emergence of the first tooth. A cool clean cloth should be gently rubbed along the gums after feeding to remove food particles and bacteria.

Prior to the age of two, the child will have many teeth and brushing should begin. Initially, select fluoride-free “baby” toothpaste and softly brush the teeth twice per day. Flavoring is largely unimportant, so the child can play an integral role in choosing whatever type of toothpaste tastes most pleasant.

Between the middle and the end of the third year, select an American Dental Association (ADA) accepted brand of toothpaste containing fluoride. The ADA logo is clear and present on toothpaste packaging, so be sure to check for it. Use only a tiny pea or rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, and encourage the child to spit out the excess after brushing. Eliminating the toothpaste takes practice, patience, and motivation – especially if the child finds the flavoring tasty. If the child does ingest tiny amounts of toothpaste, don’t worry; this is perfectly normal and will cease with time and encouragement.

Dental fluorosis is not a risk factor for children over the age of eight, but an ADA accepted toothpaste is always the recommended choice for children of any age.