Northern Dental Care blog covers topics from dental health to overall health and well-being. Please feel free to share posts you find useful.

Why Do I Have a Dry Mouth?


by: Dr. Ian Gray

Having a dry mouth can be uncomfortable and cause a host of problems within the oral cavity. It is important if you have dry mouth to seek suggestions from your oral healthcare professional to help manage it.

Dry mouth is also called Xerostomia and is caused by diminished saliva production by the salivary glands of the oral cavity.

Dry mouth can be caused by a variety of factors;

  • A common side effect of prescription medications
  • Due to systemic illnesses such as diabetes, eating disorders, sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis -Compromised immune system
  • Dehydration
  • Smoking
  • Aging (can cause the salivary glands to shrink)

Dry mouth can cause a host of effects in the mouth. It can put a person at a much higher risk of developing tooth decay, gingivitis, periodontal disease, halitosis (bad breath), burning tongue syndrome, mouth ulcers, and cracks at the corner of the mouth. Oral bacteria accumulate when a lack of saliva exists because saliva is the natural way a mouth cleans itself. As well, saliva is important as it has enzymes in it that help with food digestion.

What can you do to help dry mouth and prevent oral effects;

  • Biotene products are excellent for dry mouth as they have enzymes in them that replace the missing ones and soothe the oral cavity.
  • Fluoride rinses that are alcohol-free are recommended for daily use to prevent tooth decay
  • Sipping water throughout the day is important to keep the teeth clean and the mouth hydrated
  • Sugar-free gum and candies, such as Sorbees, are good to stimulate the salivary gland’s production of saliva and to keep the mouth moist
  • Brushing at least 3x a day to remove plaque
  • Floss twice a day to remove plaque that accumulates below the gum line

As you can see dry mouth can have many effects on the oral cavity. Though it may not to be resolved through the remedies suggested, it can be managed.

By |2019-07-03T14:52:30+00:00July 4th, 2019|blog|0 Comments

You Only Get Two Sets of Teeth

Newmarket Dentist

by: Dr. Ian Gray

Everyone is born with two sets of teeth; their primary (baby) teeth and their permanent (adult) teeth. Typically a complete set of primary teeth have 20 and a complete adult set (with wisdom teeth) have 32. Both sets of teeth serve a purpose and if lost prematurely may cause problems with the rest of the mouth such as; bite/TMJ issues, shifting/hyper-eruption of other teeth, bone loss and ultimately loss of other teeth in the mouth.

The baby teeth typically start erupting by 6 months of age with the lower central incisor teeth. This eruption process though is not carved in stone and can vary for each child. It is imperative that the baby teeth are kept until the adult teeth are ready to come in. It is a fallacy that baby teeth serve no purpose and if a problem occurs just to remove them. Premature loss of the baby teeth can cause shifting of adjacent teeth thus when the adult tooth starts to erupt it may have no room to grow into and either may fail to erupt or come in an odd way. If a child develops a cavity, fracture or damage to a baby tooth due to injury it is imperative to try and keep the tooth until it naturally exfoliates. At times it may not be at all possible to keep a baby tooth due to extreme damage, in this circumstance a space maintainer may be recommended to keep the space open for the adult tooth to erupt into in the future.

The permanent/adult teeth typically start to erupt around the age of 6, but as with baby teeth this is not carved in stone and may vary. When the adult teeth start to move upwards towards the gums it starts to dissolve the root of the baby tooth and ultimately the tooth falls out. When an adult tooth first erupts in the mouth it is not fully mineralized/full strength and may take a few years for the enamel to become its strongest. It is in this time period that the tooth needs fluoride exposure, as fluoride is what helps mineralize/strengthen the enamel of the tooth. Without fluoride, exposure to cavity-causing bacteria and carbohydrates, the tooth may become prone to dental cavities/decay. As a dental professional the goal is to prevent any decay before it starts; teaching good oral homecare habits and application of fluoride both in the dental office and at home in toothpaste is imperative for prevention. Many communities also have fluoridated water which helps in prevention of decay. Unfortunately, not all of them are. Supplemental fluoride is recommended to prevent decay; this can be discussed with your oral healthcare provider.

Premature loss of a baby tooth or loss of an adult tooth should try to be avoided at all costs. A missing tooth may seem like no big deal but it can have a tremendous effect on your oral cavity. A missing tooth can put extra stress on the remaining teeth, think of it like a fence with a missing picket, ultimately the other pickets will have to do the work of the missing one, ultimately weakening will occur. When extra stress is put on the remaining teeth due to loss, they can weaken causing fracture, loss of bone surrounding the teeth and shifting/tipping/hyper eruption into the space. A missing tooth can also alter your bite (how your teeth meet together) and may also cause TMJ (jaw) joint problems. When a tooth is lost or extracted, discussion of replacement of the tooth is priority to prevent these problems. Remember to take care of all of your teeth, primary or permanent because you only get the two sets!

By |2019-06-26T16:15:18+00:00June 30th, 2019|blog|0 Comments

Sensitive Teeth?

Newmarket Dentist

by: Dr. Ian Gray

Teeth can be sensitive due to a variety of reasons but most of the time it is usually due to an irritation to the nerve of the tooth. A tooth or teeth that are sensitive can alert you to a problem that is going on and it is important to have it checked at your dentist.

When teeth are or become sensitive it means that the pulp-the inner portion of the tooth where the nerve is-has been stimulated/excited by something.

In the case of dental decay, the nerve may become irritated or inflamed due to bacteria. When a cavity initially forms it usually starts in either the enamel, when it travels through the enamel it meets the dentin and ultimately the pulp. When the pulp has become irritated due to bacteria a person may be sensitive to cold, hot, sweet or biting force.

Teeth can also be sensitive due recession which exposes the root of the tooth. The root of the tooth is made of soft cementum and is not made to be exposed to the oral cavity. The root is much more susceptible to cavities; as well it contains small tubules which run perpendicular to the pulp of the tooth. Each time someone consumes something cold, occasionally hot or sweet this causes the tubule to constrict and it puts pressure on the pulp. This constriction makes the tooth sensitive.

In the case of dental decay, sometimes a sedative otherwise known as a temporary filling may work to calm the nerve and allow the dentist to apply a filling at a later date. If the nerve of the tooth becomes irreversibly irritated then a root canal to remove the pulp and nerve may be necessary.

If the root of the tooth is exposed due to recession then a two options exist for coverage to protect the soft root surface. At times a white filling may be an option to cover an exposed root to prevent sensitivity though it is not an optimal one as long term stability on the tooth can be poor. The gold standard to cover an exposed root is gum grafting. Gum grafting can either be done with the patient’s own tissue which is taken from the palate or with a dermal matrix such as alloderm.

By |2019-06-19T14:59:32+00:00June 24th, 2019|blog|0 Comments

Gum Recession and Periodontal Disease

newmarket dentist

by: Dr. Ian Gray

Many people ask me what exactly is gum recession and what causes it. Gum recession is when the gums pull downwards from where they would naturally be connected to the tooth structure. Gum tissue ‘should’ connect to the tooth surface at the interface of the root and crown of tooth. When it pulls down from this area, the soft root is exposed.

Sometimes recession can be caused by things that can be corrected, for example in the case, if someone was using a hard toothbrush with poor brushing technique. In many cases, though, it can be a combination of many factors.

Recession of the gums can be caused by malocclusion/poor bite, which means that there are teeth meeting together in a fashion that is traumatic to the teeth, the tissues of the mouth and possibly even the jaw joint (TMJ). Over time, malocclusion may lead to recession of the gums. When teeth are not in proper alignment or certain teeth are hitting harder together than others, the first thing that may happen is gum recession.

Grinding and clenching the teeth may also cause gum recession. Once again, it comes back to trauma. The excess forces that the teeth and jaw endure due to grinding and clenching can cause the gums to pull away from the natural gum line and move downwards. When you grind or clench your teeth, a dentist would typically recommend a night guard to be worn while you sleep. A night guard can help prevent jaw strain and excess forces to the teeth/gums.

Yet another example of what causes gum recession is bacteria. Just as bacteria in the mouth can cause cavities and gum infections, recession can also be bacterial-related. When bacterial plaque is left behind on the tooth and below the gum line, certain types of bacteria can cause inflammation and infection thus causing the gums to withdraw from the bacterial trauma, thus they recede. When the gums recede due to bacteria, it is called periodontal disease.

In some circumstances, gum recession may be due to a tight or low lying frenum attachment. A frenum is a small band of tissue that connects the lip or cheek tissue to the gum tissue of the jaw. Occasionally the frenum is very tight or it connects quite low, adjacent to the gums around the teeth. When it connects very close to the gum line of the teeth, it can put stress on the gum and causes it to recede. A situation likes this may warrant altering how the frenum attaches to the gum tissue, in which case a laser would be used to painlessly separate it. This is called a frenectomy.

Gum recession can be a hazard to your teeth. When the gums recede away from their natural level they move downwards and start to expose the root of the tooth. The root of the tooth is made of what is called cementum and this cemenutm is soft and susceptible to being worn away. This cementum does not replenish itself; so when disappears, it is gone for good. The problem with cementum being exposed is; increased risk of developing cavities, sensitivity of the teeth to cold/hot/sweets because there is no protection to the interior pulp and possible wearing away of the cemental surface (abrasion and abfractions). Simply put, the cementum should not be exposed.

To protect exposed roots, a few things may be recommended. At some times, coverage of the root may be done with white bonding/filling material, which can protect the cementum surface from the toothbrush, stimulus and may prevent decay from occurring on the surface. At other times coverage of the exposed roots may be done with tissue grafting. This tissue may come from the patient’s own mouth (palatal tissue) or may be from an acellular dermal matrix (Alloderm). When gum grafting is performed, the hope is to achieve full coverage of the root and return the appearance of the tooth back to ‘normal.’ Before any of these procedures are performed it is essential that elimination of other factors as described above; malocclusion, grinding/clenching and bacterial infection is taken into account. These factors need to be corrected prior to bonding or grafting so either treatment has a chance to succeed.

A full assessment is needed prior to any treatment recommendation and should be fully evaluated by a dentist. At Dr. Ian Gray, Dental Group we offer alloderm gum grafting and other periodontal services.

By |2019-06-12T16:33:27+00:00June 17th, 2019|blog|0 Comments

Superfoods That Help Prevent Cavities

Super foods

by: Dr. Ian Gray

It is well known that one of the main factors that encourages tooth decay is sugar. Many people try to limit their intake of sugar, but did you know many carbohydrates that we snack on can also raise your risk of developing a cavity?

Certain types of carbohydrates can also increase the chance of tooth decay because as they are chewed they stick onto and in between the teeth where bacteria waits to digest them. Some carbohydrates are better than others. Those carbohydrates that are unrefined like fruits, vegetables and whole wheat/grain products are not as likely to cause decay as refined carbohydrates. Unrefined carbohydrates are more likely to be complex molecules which are harder for the oral bacteria to breakdown.

Unlike unrefined carbohydrates, refined carbohydrates are those that are broken down easily in the mouth by bacteria which in turn causes increased acid production. Refined carbs may include; white bread, rice cakes, white rice, pancakes, waffles, pasta, crackers, granola bars, potato chips and cereals.

Tooth decay needs a few factors in order for it to commence, sugar/refined carbohydrates + cavity-causing bacteria= drop in pH which can initiate the breakdown of the tooth. This equation is the total sum of the tooth decay process.

There are a few superfoods and beverages that can help prevent tooth decay. It is recommended to include these when snacking between meals as they may actually help prevent tooth decay.

Cheese- The fat content of many cheeses provides an invisible fat barrier on the teeth and prevents penetration of cavity-causing acid. As well, the calcium content helps to buffer the mouth and chewing hard cheese may stimulate salivary flow. Hard cheeses are best such as cheddar, Monterey Jack and Mozzarella.

Fruits and Vegetables- The majority of fruits are complex unrefined carbohydrates. The crunch of most produce can help stimulate saliva which buffers the mouth and neutralizes pH. Good choices are apples, carrots, and celery. Avoid dried fruits for snacks as they can stick to the teeth and may raise pH.

Tea- Contains catechins and polyphenols, which can inhibit cavity-causing bacterial growth. As well, drinking tea may help wash sticky food out of the teeth and neutralize the oral pH.

Water- Naturally washes food from the mouth and buffers the pH of the mouth. If water contains fluoride, it is even more beneficial as fluoride can help strengthen teeth and remineralize the tooth structure. In many areas water is non-fluoridated so you will not reap the benefits of fluoride. If you drink bottled water, Nestle is one of the few that have fluoride in it.

Dark Chocolate- High quality dark chocolate may actually help prevent decay. Theobromine, a content of dark chocolate is antibacterial and can actually destroy certain cavity-causing bacteria.

As you can see these types of superfoods can help prevent decay. Eating these foods on a regular basis may help minimize your chance of developing cavities.

By |2019-06-05T15:05:35+00:00June 11th, 2019|blog|0 Comments

Dental Lasers Can Help Heal Cold, Canker and Denture Sores

dental lasers

by: Dr. Ian Gray

Dental lasers are amazing. There are many types of dental lasers, some used for soft tissue, hard tissue or both.

Dental lasers that are used on soft tissue can assist in healing oral diseases like gingivitis and periodontal disease by destroying bacteria and initiating healing. Lasers can also remove excess oral tissue like tongue-tie or tight lip attachment, with small amounts of freezing with minimal to no bleeding.

One huge benefit of dental lasers is they can assist with healing painful cold, canker and denture sores. Cold sores are a viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. It is common for people to seek treatment from their physician who prescribed an anti-viral medication or over the counter ‘numbing’ gels. Canker and denture sores are also painful and can make eating, drinking and talking uncomfortable. Canker sores can take 1-2 weeks to heal and denture sores usually will not disappear until the source of irritation is eliminated.

A cold, canker or denture sore is treated quite similarly with a dental laser. No freezing is necessary and the patient feels only warmth on the site while being treated. The sore is treated until it is no longer sore, this is the way we know that we have initiated healing of the lesion. A patient will leave the dental office and by the next day the sore will be on its way to healing.

Since cold sores are caused by viruses, if you continuously develop a sore in the same area it shows that the virus is active at that nerve ending. By treating the same area each time with the laser, by 2-3 times we will help prevent it from coming back. A theory of how a dental laser works to help permanently reverse cold sore formation is biostimulation by the laser ‘burns’ the virus out, thus eliminating repeat sore formation.

By |2019-06-05T15:04:37+00:00June 3rd, 2019|blog|0 Comments

Acid Reflux Disease and Your Oral Cavity

by: Dr. Ian Gray

For those that live with acid reflux disease they are all too familiar with the painful burning sensation that occurs when stomach contents come back up into the esophagus. Acid reflux disease otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may also have others symptoms such as; persistent heartburn, hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, bad breath, regurgitation, sour taste in the mouth and nausea. The high acidity level of the stomach contents has the potential to cause irritation and damage to the lining of the esophagus when reflux occurs. As well, the increased acidity can also affect the oral cavity.

Tooth enamel can start to dissolve at a pH of 5.5. When the acid level increases in the mouth and the pH lowers, the enamel on the teeth can start to deteriorate. If enamel is exposed to a lower pH repeatedly, complete enamel breakdown may occur. Changes in the acidity level in the mouth can occur due to food consumption, decreased salivary flow, eating disorders, medications and acid reflux. Acid reflux is also common in those who have untreated sleep apnea.

The acid in the stomach has a pH of around 2. When acid comes up the esophagus into the mouth it drops the oral pH and enamel degradation can occur. When this occurs repeatedly the teeth can become eroded, exposing the non-protective inner portion of the teeth.

Symptoms of tooth erosion 

-Sensitive teeth

-Teeth that are painful

-Teeth appear darker

-Teeth may become thinner and more translucent

-Sharp edges on the teeth

-Teeth are becoming shorter

The first step is obtaining a diagnosis and treatment from your physician. It is important to find a treatment modality that prevents recurrent acid reflux into the mouth prior to repairing tooth erosion because the repair may not last if reflux continues. Depending on the severity of tooth erosion dental repair may include; fillings, bonding, veneers and/or dental crowns (caps).

Tips to care for your teeth if you have reflux 

-Do not brush your teeth after a reflux episode, wait at least 60 minutes because this can move the acid around.

-After a reflux episode rinse with water or use a sugar-free antacid.

-Use non-abrasive toothpaste made for sensitive teeth.

-Avoid mint flavoured oral products as it has been shown mint can relax the stomach valve and may allow reflux to occur.

-See your dentist on a regular basis to monitor your oral cavity.

By |2019-05-22T18:41:18+00:00May 22nd, 2019|blog|0 Comments

Dental Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular Health Dentist

Many factor’s go into determining a person’s odds of having a heart attack and stroke.

These are two factors you may not be aware of.

Sleep Apnea is a breathing disorder that occurs at night while you sleep and may put you at increased risk of both heart attack and stroke. How are these two things connected? At night when a person falls asleep the soft tissue in the upper airway (tongue and soft palate) collapse when you relax into sleep and prevent air from traveling to the lungs which causes the person to arouse from sleep. This can happen hundreds of times per night and decreases oxygen saturation in the bloodstream. Sleep apnea can also raise adrenaline (the fight or flight chemical produced by the body) when your brain needs to wake you up as your airway obstructs – if this happens many times every hour as in moderate-severe apnea, it’s like running a marathon every night and if you have any underlying cardiac condition, this will increase your risk of heart attack.

Patients who have symptoms of sleep apnea such as; snoring, daytime fatigue, morning headaches or arouse during sleep frequently should see their physician. At Dr. Ian Gray, Dental Group we work hand and hand with our patients and their respective physicians to ensure that we screen our patients and refer accordingly for treatment. Depending on the severity and other factors, a dental appliance may even be an option for you.

Periodontal Disease may increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. When you eat, food becomes trapped between your teeth and gums. When this food sits it is consumed by oral bacteria and turns into soft dental plaque. The bacteria and the toxin laden plaque lies against the soft tissue in the mouth which irritates it and infection/inflammatory response begins. The inflammatory response brings many types of blood cells to the site to start fighting the “infection” that is present and in turn inflammation in the body is increased which raises the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

To reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease floss daily. Brushing can remove plaque above the gum line, but it cannot reach the harmful plaque and bacteria that is lodged underneath the gums-it is this plaque that is the most harmful to the gums, bone and other supporting structures of the teeth. It is recommended to have harmful plaque and tartar removed in a minimum of 2-3 times per year in a healthy mouth, if diseases such as gingivitis or periodontal disease is present it is recommended to have teeth cleaned by the dental hygienist 3-4 per year.

By |2019-05-02T14:21:31+00:00May 2nd, 2019|blog|0 Comments

Do you have bad breath?

Bad breath otherwise known as halitosis can affect anyone at one time or another. In most circumstances it is a temporary condition and due to food or beverage that was consumed prior. In other situations bad breath becomes a chronic condition and can be due to a variety of factors such as; digestive problems, dry mouth due to medications and aging, poor oral hygiene, mouth breathing, a diet high refined carbohydrates, smoking, enlarged/infected tonsils/adenoids/sinuses and untreated oral infections.

With simple bad breath a few tips can help to keep your breath fresh between professional dental visits.

-Brushing 2-3x day -Brush the top of your mouth and tongue

-Floss 1x day -Replace your toothbrush every 2-3 months

-Use saliva-producing sugarless gum or candies

-Drink water or plain tea throughout the day

-See your dentist for professional cleaning a minimum of twice a year, regular visits are the best defense against bad breath

If bad breath continues after using these tips consistently, then further investigation may be warranted by both the dentist and physician.

By |2019-04-03T16:10:28+00:00April 8th, 2019|blog, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Why Wear a Sports Guard When Playing Sports?

by: Dr. Ian Gray

Wearing a sportsguard while playing sports is important to prevent dental and jaw related injuries. When a sportsguard is worn (and fits properly), it helps provide protection for the hard (teeth and jaw) and soft (lips, cheeks, gums) tissues of the mouth by absorbing and redistributing the forces generated by traumatic blows.

I recommend a custom made sportsguard when playing any type of sport where contact is involved. Custom sportsguards are regarded as the most protective and comfortable type of guard. Therefore, the athlete is more likely to wear their sportsguard. Custom sport guards only fit the athlete it was made for and the athlete is still able to speak quite clearly.

Boil and bite sportsguards are not recommended as they do not fit properly, move around and the athlete must clench their teeth together to keep it in. Protection is minimal. Often you will see athletes with the guard half in and half of out their mouths.

For the following sports, it is imperative a custom made sportsguard is worn for maximum protection; football, boxing, hockey, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, basketball, water polo, martial arts and wrestling. As well, athletes in sports such as; skateboarding, baseball, racquetball, volleyball, tennis, gymnastics and skiing are also at risk for injury and a sportsguard is also recommended.

Check out our website for more information about custom made sportsguards for athletes.

By |2019-02-07T15:05:28+00:00April 1st, 2019|blog|0 Comments
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