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Keep Your Teeth Healthy While You Keep Fit!

January 25th, 2024

Whether you’re defending the goal, shooting hoops, or practicing tricks on your skateboard, sports and exercise are a great way to keep fit and healthy. Let’s make sure you keep your smile fit and healthy, too, with a few easy ideas you can use whenever you work out.

  • Eat Tooth-Friendly Snacks

Most activities use lots of energy. One simple way to keep up your energy when you’re on the go is with snacks.

And one simple way to protect your teeth from cavities when you’re working out? Cut down on snacks like dried fruits, granola bars, and chips that can have a lot of sugar and/or stick to your teeth. Sugary and sticky foods feed the bacteria in plaque, and plaque causes cavities.

There are lots of tooth-friendly choices when it comes to recharging your energy levels. Fresh fruit slices and vegetable sticks are an easy-to-carry, vitamin- and mineral-packed snack. Bring some peanut butter for dipping or add some plain nuts for protein and crunch. Whole grain crackers and hard cheeses are another tasty choice. And drink some water after snacking to rinse away food particles.

  • Drink Water When You Exercise

And, speaking of water, our bodies can’t work without it! Healthy hydration means drinking the right amount of water every day—not too little, not too much—to help every cell in your body keep going strong.

But when you’re working out, breathing harder, and sweating, your body is losing water. That’s why athletes always keep a water bottle handy.

Of course, you can hydrate with other liquids besides water, and flavored sports drinks and energy drinks are popular with a lot of people—but not with dentists! If you look at their labels, you’ll often discover lots of sugar in these drinks. And they can also be very acidic, which can make your tooth enamel weaker.  

Bring your own water, and you’ll be hydrating, protecting your teeth, and helping to keep the planet healthy with your reusable bottle.

  • Wear Your Mouthguard

You don’t play contact sports without protective gear—and part of that gear should be a mouthguard. Sports like hockey and football are obvious contact sports, but, if you think about it, baseball, soccer, biking, skateboarding, and many other activities can bring you into contact with another person, a piece of equipment, or the hard ground!

One way to make sure that any contact is easier on your teeth and mouth is to wear a mouthguard. You can get these ready-made, or in a kit which lets you mold the mouthguard around your teeth, or you can have one made at our Kingston, ON office, which will fit your teeth perfectly and provide the best protection (especially if you wear braces).

Keep your smile strong and healthy while you keep fit with these simple additions to your work out routine. And for even more good ideas for taking care of your smile, ask an expert—Drs. Tom Holmes, Gordon Lansdown, Karen Nesbitt, Nick Cosman, Brett Empringham, and Patrick McDonough!

Healthy Teeth and Healthy Gums Make a Great Team

January 17th, 2024

You know a lot about taking care of your teeth. You brush carefully twice each day, you floss, you (mostly!) eat healthy foods, and you see Drs. Tom Holmes, Gordon Lansdown, Karen Nesbitt, Nick Cosman, Brett Empringham, and Patrick McDonough for checkups and cleanings. Good for you! These are some of the very best ways to make sure you don’t get cavities.

But it takes more than taking care of your teeth for good oral health. It also means taking care of your gums, because your teeth and gums are a team.

Clean and healthy gums and teeth work together. Our gums fit snugly around our teeth to help protect them from bacteria and other germs. And clean, plaque-free teeth are important for healthy gums. How? Let’s take a look.

Plaque forms all day long, and sticks to our teeth unless we brush and floss it away. The bacteria in plaque create acids. These acids make our tooth enamel weaker, which can lead to cavities. We don’t want cavities, and so we brush and floss to get rid of plaque.

But that’s not the only reason we clean our teeth well. Plaque is double trouble, because the bacteria in plaque also irritate our gums.

How do our gums react when they’re irritated? They turn darker pink or red, or they get swollen or sore, or they even bleed a bit when you brush. All these signs are symptoms of gingivitis, which is how gum disease begins. (And sometimes people can have gingivitis without any big symptoms at all.)

So, how do you make sure you keep your gums healthy? Just remember to include your gums while you’re doing all the things you already do to take care of your teeth!

  • Brush Well

Lots of people, including kids, get gingivitis, because it doesn’t take long for plaque to build up when we don’t brush often enough or carefully enough. Make sure to brush twice each day, and don’t forget to angle your toothbrush to gently brush along the gum line where your teeth and gums meet.

Gentle brushing is all you need for daily tooth cleaning. Rough brushing and hard bristles can hurt even tough tooth enamel, so you know they’re not good for your gums!

  • Floss Well

Flossing gets plaque that your toothbrush can miss. After all, it’s hard for bristles to squeeze in between those tight teeth. And flossing is especially important for your gums, because it removes plaque that is hiding near the gum line.

But figuring out the best way to floss teeth can be hard even for adults! Luckily, you have an expert to help you find out just how to use floss and just the right floss to use—your dental hygienist. When you have your teeth cleaned at our Kingston, ON office, ask about the easiest and best ways to floss for your own special teeth and gums.

  • Eat Well

All of the foods which are good for your teeth—milk, cheese, yogurt, fruits, vegetables—are good for your gums, too! And the foods which aren’t so great for your teeth—sticky, sugary foods—aren’t great for your gums, either. Sugar feeds the bacteria in plaque, and plaque irritates gums.

This doesn’t mean no treats ever. It does mean that it’s important to brush well after enjoying desserts, or chips, or candy, or any food that sticks around your teeth and gums after eating. And if you can’t brush, a drink of water helps wash away bits of food which are still hanging around.

  • See Your Dentist Regularly

Regular visits to Cataraqui Dental Centre can catch any gum problems before they become more serious. And, if you’ve been missing any spots when you brush and floss, your dentist or hygienist will let you know.

If you notice any signs of gingivitis—puffiness, redness, bleeding, or pain—tell a grownup right away. One of the fantastic things about the way our gums work is the fact that careful brushing and flossing are often all you need to make them healthy again! If you need more help, your dentist is the person who can treat gum problems to keep your smile feeling and looking great.

Work together with Drs. Tom Holmes, Gordon Lansdown, Karen Nesbitt, Nick Cosman, Brett Empringham, and Patrick McDonough to make sure your teeth and gums are their healthiest. Just like healthy teeth and gums are a great team, you and your dentist make a great team, too!

Gum Disease in Children

January 10th, 2024

When it comes to gum disease and your child, it’s a good news/bad news situation. The very good news is that children rarely suffer from advanced gum disease, or periodontitis. The not-so-good news? Early gum disease, called gingivitis, is unfortunately an all-too-common childhood problem.

  • What does gingivitis look like in children?

Childhood gingivitis has the same causes and symptoms as the adult version. Healthy gums are firm and pink. When bacteria and plaque accumulate on the teeth, your child’s gums become irritated and inflamed. Call our Kingston, ON office right away if you notice any of these symptoms of gingivitis: bleeding gums, puffiness, redness, gum tissue receding from the teeth, or bad breath even after brushing.       

  • How to Prevent Gingivitis

The most common cause of gingivitis is poor dental care. Creating a regular dental routine is the best way to prevent gingivitis from ever developing! Brushing and flossing with your child for two minutes twice a day from the very beginning helps make healthy cleaning a lifelong habit. Care should be taken to gently brush teeth at the gum line to make sure plaque doesn’t get a chance to build up there and cause gum irritation. And when your child comes in for regular cleanings, Drs. Tom Holmes, Gordon Lansdown, Karen Nesbitt, Nick Cosman, Brett Empringham, and Patrick McDonough can be sure that any plaque that might remain on the teeth is removed.

Two additional notes: as your child approaches adolescence, hormone fluctuations can make gums more sensitive and easily irritated. This is a time to really emphasize careful and gentle brushing and flossing. Also, some medical conditions may make children more pre-disposed to gum problems, so be sure to make us aware of your child’s medical history.

  • Uncommon Gum Diseases

While gingivitis is very preventable with proper dental hygiene, there are some rare gum conditions that can occur around the time of puberty that are quite different from gingivitis. Aggressive Periodontitis can cause severe bone loss around the first molars and incisors, even without any kind of plaque build-up, and Generalized Aggressive Periodontitis leads to inflammation of the gums, heavy plaque, and, eventually, loose teeth. Again, these conditions are rare, but if you have a family history of these diseases, let us know. Checkups and cleanings are a great way to catch any potential gum problems, so be sure to bring your child in for regular visits.

Almost all childhood gingivitis is preventable. With careful brushing and flossing at home, and visiting us regularly for checkups and cleanings, your child can enjoy healthy gums and teeth now and learn habits that will keep those gums and teeth healthy for a lifetime. And that is a good news/great news situation!

Three Reasons We're Fans of Fluoride

January 3rd, 2024

Why all the fuss about fluoride? Your pediatric dentist recommends it, your child’s toothpaste is formulated with it, and most of our drinking water contains it. Just what is it about this mineral that makes dental professionals sing its praises? Read on for three good reasons why fluoride is a healthy choice for healthier teeth.

  1. Fluoride Works!

Fluoride is an attractive option for protecting your child’s teeth—and we mean that literally. Fluoride protects the surface of teeth by working on a molecular level to attract minerals that strengthen enamel and help prevent cavities.

Our tooth enamel is mostly made from calcium and phosphate ions. These elements combine to form hydroxyapatite, strong crystals which make up about 95% of our enamel. Hydroxyapatite is so strong, in fact, that tooth enamel is the hardest part of our bodies. What can go wrong?

Acids. Acids created by the bacteria in plaque and the acids in our diet strip away the calcium and phosphate ions in enamel, weakening the surface of the tooth. This process is called demineralization. Over time, weak spots become bigger as acids eat through enamel to the inner tooth, causing decay and cavities.

So, what can fluoride do?

First, fluoride helps remineralize tooth enamel. Fluoride is attracted to the tooth’s surface and bonds with its minerals. It also attracts the calcium and phosphate ions which are found in our saliva to restore any minerals which have been lost. This process helps repair any weak spots which might have begun to form.

But fluoride does more than restore and repair tooth strength—it improves it! Fluoride ions join with calcium and phosphate to form fluorapatite crystals, which are larger and stronger than hydroxyapatite crystals. Even better? These new crystals are more resistant to acids.

  1. Fluoride Is Doubly Effective

Fluoride works both externally and internally. We just looked at how fluoride helps keep teeth strong when applied to the outside of the teeth. This is called a topical application. Systemic benefits come the fluoride we consume in our diets.

Fluoride isn’t found in many foods, but it is found naturally in lakes, rivers, and other water sources. When the local water’s fluoride level is low, many communities add fluoride for its proven ability to prevent cavities. Water fluoridation is safe, has been studied for decades, and has been shown to reduce the risk of cavities by 25% or more for both children and adults.

Systemic fluoride is important for baby teeth, as fluoride joins with minerals in adult teeth while they grow and develop. This creates stronger, more cavity-resistant teeth even before they erupt.

When your child’s permanent teeth come in, fluoride is still at work! When your child drinks fluoridated water, they increasing the amount of fluoride in their saliva. Just like fluoride toothpaste, saliva bathes the teeth with fluoride ions, remineralizing and strengthening the tooth surface and helping repair weak spots in enamel.

  1. It’s Easy to Get Fluoride Protection

Because so much of our drinking water is fluoridated, most of us really don’t have to think about how to get the recommended amount of fluoride in our diet each day. If your community’s water is low in fluoride, Drs. Tom Holmes, Gordon Lansdown, Karen Nesbitt, Nick Cosman, Brett Empringham, and Patrick McDonough can help you. Prescription fluoride rinses, gels, supplements, and other treatments are available at our Kingston, ON pediatric dental office to make sure that your child’s teeth are well protected, wherever you may live. We will let you know which products are best for your child and how often to use them.

Fluoride isn’t, of course, the only way to look out for your dental health. Proper brushing and flossing are still essential for removing plaque. And sealants provide long-lasting protection for chewing surfaces. But when it comes to a proven cavity-fighter that’s simple to use, effective, and easily available—is it any wonder we’re big fans of fluoride?