Preventive Oral Care Saves Time & Money - AB. Dental Assoc. - Mar 30, 2010
yourself if you think neglecting your teeth and gums won’t have any consequences.
“It’s easy to treat a small cavity or gum disease in the early stages,” said Dr. Tara
Habijanac, a Calgary periodontist, “and much better for the patient. If you neglect your
oral health, the long term outcomes are not as good.”
tooth decay can become extensive and painful, and so can the treatment. Root canal
treatment can take several hours and may require two visits. Adding a crown also
requires several hours over two visits. If the deterioration of teeth or gums is severe, one
or more teeth could be lost. Though bridges and dentures offer two solutions for lost
teeth, tooth implants are becoming a preferred option. They require several surgeries with
long waiting periods for healing in between; the entire procedure may take a year.
“As for gum disease, many people don’t see any symptoms or feel pain, so there is a risk
of the condition becoming severe. Over time, the infection can also cause tooth loss or
other complications,” said Dr. Habijanac. “This is especially true of smokers who are
among those at greater risk for periodontal disease.”
Preventive care is key to good oral health. It is always wise to have an annual dental
check-up so problems can be caught early. Good oral hygiene and good nutrition also
help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
“For some people, preventive care may require long term maintenance of a different
sort,” said Dr. Patrick Pierce, an Edmonton periodontist. “Some people have trouble with
their bite, which can cause clenching or grinding teeth at night. This can cause teeth to
wear down or chip, and crowns or caps to fall off. These individuals need to wear a night
guard – it may not be sexy but you get used to it very soon, like a comfortable pair of
slippers. If your bite is bad and you don’t wear one, you may be doubling the time and
money you spend to have a new crown or cap put on.”
In the long run, it boils down to choice. According to Dr. Pierce, some people choose not
to have corrective repairs because they are afraid of dentists or don’t want to spend the
money for dental work; they’d rather wear dentures. “The dentist’s role is to lay out the
options so the patient can make an informed decision.”
For today’s consumer, the more common choice is to try and save teeth. “It’s about
quality of life,” said Dr. Habijanac. “Neglecting your gums and teeth can lead to massive
infection and loss of teeth. Loss of teeth without any dental intervention can lead to
difficulty in eating, which can, in turn, lead to other health problems. And then there’s
esthetics; most of us want to have an appealing smile and that requires teeth!”
So don’t be a fool on April 1 or any day of the year. Remember the old adage: an ounce
of prevention is a pound of cure, and practice good oral health habits.
Five steps to good oral health (see details at www.cda.com):
1. See your dentist regularly.
2. Keep your mouth clean.
3. Eat healthy food; avoid sugary and acidic foods
4. Check your mouth regularly – see your dentist is anything unusual appears.
5. Avoid tobacco products.
For further information on oral health, talk to your dentist or go to the Alberta Dental
Association and College website www.abda.ab.ca.
Kimberly McDonald , Director
Alberta Dental Association and College
Phone: (780) 432-1012 or toll free 1-800-843-3848
5 Steps to Good Oral Health
1. See your dentist regularly
• Regular checkups and professional cleanings are the best way to prevent problems or to
stop small problems from getting worse.
• Your dentist will look for signs of oral disease. Oral diseases often go unnoticed and may
lead to or be a sign of serious health problems in other parts of the body.
• Only your dentist has the education and training, skill and expertise to diagnose and treat
oral health diseases and to meet all your oral health care needs.
2. Keep your mouth clean
• Brush your teeth and tongue at least twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush and
fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque and bacteria that cause cavities and periodontal
disease (gum disease).
• Floss every day. If you don’t floss, you are missing more than a third of your tooth
• Your dentist may also recommend a fluoride or antimicrobial mouth rinse.
3. Eat, drink, but be wary
• Healthy food is good for your general health and your oral health. The nutrients that
come from healthy foods help you to fight cavities and gum disease.
• Limit how much and how often you consume foods and beverages that contain sugar.
Sugar is one of the main causes of dental problems.
• Limit your consumption of foods and beverages that are high in acid. The acid may play
a part in causing dental erosion.
4. Check your mouth regularly
• Look for warning signs of tooth decay. Possible warning signs include teeth that are
sensitive to hot, cold, sweetness or pressure.
• Look for warning signs of periodontal disease (gum disease) such as red, shiny, puffy,
sore or sensitive gums; bleeding when you brush or floss; or frequent bad breath.
• Look for warning signs of oral cancer. Warning signs include unexplained bleeding,
open sores that don’t heal quickly, white or red patches, numbness, small lumps, etc.
5. Avoid all tobacco products.