Do your body a favour. Go to the dentist. Research shows there may be a link between oral disease and other health problems such as diabetes, respiratory disease, heart disease, and stroke, as well as premature and low-birth-weight babies. Although scientists are only just beginning to understand this link, dentists are encouraging people to make oral health care a regular part of a healthy lifestyle. If you are a parent of infants or small children, you are encouraged to start teaching your children about good oral health as early as possible, and have them assessed by a dentist within 6 months of the eruption of the first tooth or by one year of age.

Good health requires good nutrition, but if you don't have strong teeth and healthy gums, your ability to eat properly is diminished. Your choice of foods becomes restricted, and you may have difficulties getting all the nutrients you need.

And it only makes sense that chronic infections in the mouth, as are common with people with gingivitis or gum disease, put strain on the body's immune system.

To help people learn more about preventing oral disease, the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) urges Canadians to talk to their dentist during National Oral Health Month, which occurs every year in April.

Special thanks to the Canadian Dental Association for their help with this article.

Prevention of gum and tooth problems

For your mouth as for your car, it makes good sense to do some maintenance on a regular basis rather than let a problem grow out of hand from neglect. Follow the Canadian Dental Association's Five-Point Prevention Plan to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Five-Point Prevention Plan

  1. Brush your tongue and teeth twice a day.
    It takes about 2.5 to 3 minutes to do the job right.
  2. Floss your teeth daily.
    Flossing cleans those areas your toothbrush simply can't reach between the teeth and under the gumline.
  3. Eat, drink, but be wary.
    Eat a well-balanced diet! Avoid sweet foods and drinks, especially between meals. And please don't smoke. Smoking can promote serious dental problems like gum disease and oral cancer.
  4. Check your gums.
    Check regularly for these signs of gum disease, the leading cause of adult tooth loss: red, puffy or tender gums; gums that bleed even slightly when you brush or floss; persistent bad breath. See your dentist if any occur.
  5. Don't wait until it hurts.
    See your dentist for preventive checkups and professional cleanings. Regular visits are the best way to prevent trouble and unnecessary expense.

Special thanks to the Canadian Dental Association for their help with this article.

Gum disease

7 out of 10 Canadians will develop gum disease at some time in their lives. It is the most common dental problem, and it can progress quite painlessly until you have a real problem. That's why it is so important to prevent gum disease before it becomes serious.

Signs of gum disease include:

  • gums bleeding from brushing or flossing your teeth
  • teeth moving or loosening
  • pain, redness, or swelling of the gums
  • persistent bad breath

Gum disease begins when plaque adheres at and below the visible edge of your gums. If plaque is not removed every day by brushing and flossing, it hardens into tartar (also called calculus).

There are two main kinds of gum diseases: gingivitis and periodontitis. If you have gingivitis, your gums may be slightly red, or you may notice nothing at all. In cases of more advanced gingivitis, your gums may become puffy and bleed during brushing. Periodontitis is a more serious form of gum disease involving the bone that supports your teeth. Over time, as a result of the bone loss caused by periodontitis, you may be at risk of losing one or more teeth

Prevention is the most important factor in the fight against gum disease. It is essential to keep your teeth and gums clean. Brush your teeth properly at least twice a day and floss at least once every 24 hours. Also, avoid smoking or chewing tobacco.

Using proper brushing and flossing techniques is equally important. Be sure to see your dentist regularly for professional cleaning and checkups so that he or she can detect any early signs of gum disease and provide appropriate treatment.

Special thanks to the Canadian Dental Association for their help with this article.

Cosmetic dentistry

Wishing you had a dazzling white smile? Tired of your stained, crooked, or chipped teeth, or want to remove a mouthful of metal? More and more people are making cosmetic changes to their teeth. But before you commit, you need to understand your options.

There are many dental procedures that can be done for cosmetic reasons, including bleaching, crowns, veneers, and orthodontics. Choosing what's right for you starts with getting more information. And the first place you should go is to your dentist.

Your dentist can make sure that you start with healthy teeth and gums that are free of cavities or other problems that could prevent you from getting the results you want from your cosmetic procedure. Some dentists perform cosmetic procedures as part of their practices and others will refer you to an appropriate dentist to perform the work.

Most cosmetic procedures are not covered by employer dental plans. You need to find out the cost of the procedure up front and determine how you will finance it. Ask your dental office if they offer financing packages.

Before the work starts, find out how long it will take and how you will feel during the procedure. And make sure to check whether there is more than one way to get the final result. Some procedures, such as tooth bleaching or whitening, can be done in the dentist's chair, or you may be able to whiten your teeth at home using a special tray the dentist will make that will fit your teeth exactly. Home bleaching of the teeth can take 1-2 weeks, and the amount of time the bleaching solution has to remain on your teeth also varies.

You'll also need to know whether there will be any pain or sensitivity associated with the procedure. Some people find that the bleaching process can cause increased sensitivity to hot and cold. Ask the dentist if there are ways to prevent and manage this effect.

You also need to have reasonable expectations as to the results of treatment. Ask to see pictures of actual patients and find out how long your newly beautiful smile will last. Most procedures will eventually have to be redone at intervals that maybe be as short at 6 months to a year for bleaching or as long as 10 to 15 years for crowns


Special thanks to the Canadian Dental Association for their help with this article.