What does smoking do to your teeth?

Oral health risks 

For all the attention that respritory health receives when it comes to smoking, we must not forget to take care to mitigate oral health risks as well. The use of nicotine and tobacco may incite the development of serious dental issues. Firstly, smoking these substances weakens bones in the mouth. Tobacco and nicotine restrict blood flow to gum tissues, reducing the amount of oxygen in the tissues. This impedes the circulation of nutrients needed to maintain healthy bone structure. One of the outcomes is that healing takes longer after oral surgery. Smoking also weakens your teeth by contributing to enamel wear, making your teeth even more vulnerable to bacteria and toxins.

Secondly, smoking reduces your mouth’s ability to protect itself. It’s common for smokers to experience mouth dryness. This can be problematic as saliva is used to help wash away harmful bacteria that may cause infections. As a result, bacteria, tartar, or calculus buildup can occur more quickly in a smoker’s mouth. Left unattended, tartar or calculus buildup can cause gingivitis.

All of the above factors contribute to gums getting weaker and, eventually, tooth loss. You may notice tenderness, redness, a receding gum line, pain when chewing, loosening of teeth, and change in how your bite aligns. If you notice these symptoms, let your dentist know as they may indicate that you have gum disease. Symptoms of gum disease are not always noticible before it has become advanced, so even if you do not notice symptoms, it is especially important to have regular dental checkups as a smoker. Your dentist may be able to identify symptoms before you are able to find them at home. Other risks of smoking include oral cancer and leukoplakia, which is identified by white patches inside the mouth.

How to minimize damage 

The best thing to do to prevent the above issues is to stop smoking cigarettes and stop the use of other tobacco products. Given this is not a viable solution for many people, here are some tips on how smokers can protect their teeth.

  • Bacteria is able to develop more easily in a smoker’s mouth due to dryness, so the first step is to brush and floss regularly to remove the bacteria and prevent the buildup of calculus.
  • Make sure that your toothpaste has fluoride.
  • It is very helpful to use a mouthwash that can help kill any remaining harmful bacteria.
  • Take care to preserve tooth enamel by avoiding acidic foods and excessive aggravation to the surface of teeth.
  • There has not yet been a consensus on the topic, but some claim that e-cigarettes may be less harmful to oral health than cigarettes.
  • Lastly, let your dentist know if you smoke. During your check-up they can look for signs of gum disease, oral cancer, and other issues common for smokers.

What’s Living In Your Mouth

Did you know that the average person has 100 to 200 species of bacteria living inside their mouth? There is no need to be alarmed, as these bacteria usually have very little impact on our health. For the average person the only observable effects of these bacteria will be the build up of plaque on the surface of teeth and bad breath. Bacteria in the mouth thrive when food is left to build up for an extended period of time. When this is allowed to happen, the bacteria begins to erode teeth. This is especially true for foods containing carbohydrates, such as sugars and starches. The way to protect yourself from tooth erosion and other oral infections is to maintain proper oral hygene.

Over 700 different species of bacteria have been identified to be living inside human mouths. Every person has a different make up of bacteria in their mouth. In addition, certain species of bacteria tend to prefer to concentrate in different locations in the mouth. It is interesting to note that recent research has shown that the presence of certain bacteria inside a mouth can be an early indicator of certain infections. As research in this area progresses, oral ecology testing may become more prevelant. But in the meantime disturbing the organization of the bacterial colonies by brushing and flossing is essential for good oral hygiene.

Teeth Whitening

Teeth Whitening: Professional Treatment

If you are looking to whiten your teeth with fewer treatments and achieve long lasting results, then you may want to consider professional teeth whitening. Compared to home kits, the bleaching chemicals and techniques used by your dentist are stronger and more effective.

The second reason you may want to have a professional whitening done is because fillings, uneven tooth discoloration, crowns and root canal treatments respond differently to bleach. For example, a filling may bleach more quickly than the rest of the tooth. It’s best to consult your dentist to determine the best treatment for you.

Dentistry on Ellesmere offers Zoom whitening, the most popular and effective bleaching system in Canada. Find out more here.

Teeth Whitening: Home Whitening Kits

Teeth whitening is a very popular cosmetic procedure that involves applying a bleaching chemicals to your teeth to get rid of stains. Over time, teeth will yellow naturally due to the enamal thinning to reveal the yellow-tinted inner layer of the tooth, dentin. Food and drinks with strong colouring such as coffee or red wine can also contribute to discolouration. You may whiten your teeth using home kits or by having a dentist professionally whiten your teeth. Here we will describe some of the benefits and drawbacks of home whitening kits.

You can purchase home whitening kits from a drugstore or grocery store for around $50-$200. Some of the kits available include whitening strips, standard sized trays or custom mold trays. These options are convenient for most people as they can be done in the comfort of your own home. Most home teeth whitening can be completed in under two hours per treatment. However, the concentration of bleaching chemicals is low in home kits relative to those used in professional bleaching sessions. Consequently, more treatments will be required. The main drawback for home bleach kits is that fillings, crowns and variations of teeth colour may react to bleach differently. If you have these, ask your dentist about your options to make sure you get the desired result. Finally, when you are using home bleaching kits, make sure to follow the instructions for using the product safely.

How Human Teeth Have Evolved

You can tell a lot about a species from the shape of its teeth. For example, you can see that a dog or cat has two long pointed teeth in the front. These are called canines. In the wild, the shape of canines is optimal for tearing meat. Human teeth are designed to eat both meat and plants. Our canines are smaller than cats’ or dogs’, but they serve the same purpose. The flat teeth located in the back of our mouths, the molars, are optimal for chewing plants.

Throughout human history how we have used our teeth has changed. With the advances in technology, we have been able to place less and less strain on our teeth. Over time we developed methods of cooking that made food softer, built tools that break food into smaller pieces and created processed food so that is easier to eat. As a result, strong jaws and teeth became less and less essential for survival. While the need for strong teeth was diminishing over thousands of years, human teeth and jaws gradually became smaller. This is one of the reasons why there is often not enough room for wisdom teeth to grow in properly. Thankfully, the progress of modern technology has allowed us to safely treat this issue and maintain a higher level of oral hygene than our predecessors.

How is Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth Different?

If you have sensitive teeth, you are not alone. According to The Journal of the American Dental Association, one in eight people have sensitive teeth. There are a variety of factors that could contribute to teeth sensitivity including eating acidic food, teeth grinding, brushing too aggressively, or anything else that erodes enamel. When enamel thins as the result of these activities, the nerves in the teeth are more vulnerable to painful stimulation such as hot or cold. Luckily, sensitive toothpastes are offered by many popular brands.

But what does sensitive toothpaste actually do for your teeth? Unfortunately, sensitive toothpaste can’t make enamel grow back. However, sensitive toothpaste can strengthen enamel, protecting it against more wear. Desensitising toothpaste can also reduce pain by preventing nerves from receiving painful stimulation and blocking the transmission of pain. Not all toothpastes offer the same qualities, so it is worth looking into which one is best for you.

Early Stages of Tooth Development

The story of your teeth starts at the eariest stages of life. Before a baby is even born, two sets of teeth have already begun forming under the gums. However, it is not until age 3-7 months that baby teeth first break through the gums. This is known as “teething.” It can take up to 3 years for all baby teeth to fully grow in. Babies and todlers need help learning to take care of their teeth.

Over the next few years, the jaw will grow and make room for adult teeth. At around age 6, baby teeth will begin to fall out. Occasionally, an adult tooth can partially grow in before the baby tooth has fallen out yet! This is perfectly normal. The last baby tooth has usually fallen out by around age 12.

Throughout your life, everyday use will wear down the outer layer of your teeth. This process can be slowed down by following advice from your hygenist and dentist. If taken care of properly, adult teeth can stay strong for your entire life!

What You Need To Know About Wisdom Teeth

What are wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth are the four molars located furthest back in the mouth. They usually grow in at around age 17-25, but some people do not grow wisdom teeth at all. Wisdom teeth often cause problems that are most easily solved by removing them. There are a couple of reasons why you might need to get your wisdom teeth removed.


When do wisdom teeth need to be removed?

The first potential problem is that there may not be enough room for additional teeth. A person with a small mouth is more likely to have problems with this. Not having enough room for the tooth to grow could cause an impacted wisdom tooth. This is when the wisdom tooth grows in sideways and impacts the tooth next to it. The wisdom tooth may be partially visable or hidden entirely under the gums.


What happens if you don’t remove problematic wisdom teeth?

It’s not easy to clean molars properly since they are not very accessable. When wisdom teeth do not grow in properly, it is even easier for food and bacteria to become trapped. As a result, the area may become infected causing discomfort and pain.


Next steps

As always, make sure to floss and brush your teeth, even when they’re hard to reach. X-rays taken at your check-up can show if your wisdom teeth might not grow in properly.

The Worst Food For Your Teeth

Acidic food: 

When teeth are in prolonged exposure to acidic food enamal begins to erode. This will increase the risk of getting cavities and stained teeth. Some of the most acidic foods are lemons, grapefruit,  white wine, sour candy, pop (even diet soda) and vinegar.


Sugary food:

It’s easy to identify food with high sugar content as this information is usually available on packaging. However, you also have to watch out for food that is high in natural sugar such as fruit.


Simple carbohydrates:

You may not immediately think of bread and chips when you hear the word “sugar,” but the startch found in these foods is broken down into sugar by saliva in your mouth. It is important to make sure these foods do not get stuck in your teeth.


Sticky food:

Two of the biggest culprits for sticky food are soft candy and dried fruit. Compared to fresh fruit, dried fruit has a higher sugar content and more easily sticks to teeth. It is a good idea to brush or rinse your mouth after eating these.


Drying food:

Foods and drinks that dry out your mouth enable plaque to produce more acid. A dry mouth can be worsened by alcohol, soda and salt.


Food colouring

Artificial and natural colour in foods and drinks can stain teeth over time. This is commonly seen with soda, coffee and red wine.


A good rule of thumb is rinse your mouth with water after consuming these foods. Do be careful to not brush immediately after eating acidic food as brushing may damage the weakened enamel.  Wait at least an hour before brushing. In the meantime, just rinse with water.

What is Enamel?

What is enamel?

Enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth that protects the sensitive inside layers from decay. It is the hardest substance in the human body. Since enamel is made up of mostly minerals, it is brittle and cannot regenerate.


What can harm enamel?

Enamel can be damaged by decay and cracks. Decay occurs when enamel is in contact with the acidic plaque that forms on the surface and between teeth. Plaque is caused by bacteria feeding on the sugars and starches in food. Cracks in teeth can be caused by biting hard objects such as candy, using your teeth to open things, sports related injuries and more.


How can you protect it?

It’s easy to protect tooth enamel. Decay can be prevented by brushing your teeth after eating, especially after eating foods with a high sugar content, and by following proper oral hygiene techniques including brushing twice a day, flossing and visiting your dentist regularly. You can reduce the risk of cracking a tooth by avoiding biting hard foods or objects.