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new westminster oral health

Oral Health in New Westminster: Which Symptoms Shouldn’t be Ignored?

No oral symptom should be ignored – ever! Every oral health symptom is a warning that something abnormal is happening in the oral cavity and, if that warning isn’t heeded, it could lead to something far more serious. The important thing to be aware of here is that what happens in the mouth is not just limited to the teeth and gums – and far too many people aren’t aware of that fact. Because many oral health issues, such as gum disease and infected root canals, can dramatically affect overall health, not to pay attention to the early oral warning signs is to literally put your overall health at risk. So let’s look at some of the more common oral symptoms you should know about.

Pain – pain of any kind; mild, moderate, severe, occasional, sharp, aching, dull, deep – is not normal and is an indication that something is wrong, possibly seriously wrong. Pain can be an indicator of decay, a possible root canal infection, an abscess, a jaw infection, or gum disease. Pain is a wake-up call and even if it goes away you should make an appointment and have it diagnosed by a dentist. (Exceptions to this is if you bite your tongue or lip, or eat something that is too hot and burns your lips or palate.)

Sensitivity – to heat, cold, acidic foods, even brushing is another warning sign that should not go unattended. It can indicate decay, exposed root surfaces due to gum recession, a leaky filling, and even gum disease.

Bleeding – a little, a lot, occasionally, consistently, only when brushing or flossing and eating, or for no apparent reason – isn’t normal and never should be considered to be so. Bleeding is usually an indicator of gum disease but can indicate other oral problems, such as an abscess. As with any oral symptom, the determination of its cause and severity should always be done by a dentist. Self-diagnosis should never be attempted by the patient nor should the dental appointment be put off.

bleeding gums vancouver

Swelling – any lumps, or bumps, ridges, pimples, or any other type of swelling – anywhere in the oral cavity (lips, gums, or any other area of the mouth and face) is definitely a warning signal. There could be many causes of this and only the dentist can diagnose it. This should be dealt with ASAP.

Ulcerations and Discolorations – any ulceration, discoloration, redness, or sore spot on the lips, tongue, inside of the mouth, face or neck must be considered as not normal and checked out by a dentist, especially if it doesn’t resolve itself within 10 days to two-weeks. (For example, an ulceration such as herpes may show up suddenly, heal itself within two-weeks and may not need to be treated by a dentist.) There could be many causes to consider, some benign but others could be much more serious. This is not a symptom to put off until tomorrow!

Loss of Feeling – loss of feeling in any area of your mouth or face can be cause for concern as it could indicate nerve damage. This must be looked at by a dentist immediately.

Persistent Coughing or Difficulty in Swallowing – Either, or both, of these symptoms could be related to an oral health issue but could also be an indicator of a more serious medical issue. This should be dealt with by a dentist or a health practitioner if it persists for more than a week and there doesn’t seem to be an obvious cause, such as a cold.

Other Diseases of the Mouth – There are over 20 other health/medical issues whose early signs and symptoms can be found in the oral cavity. These can range from a drug reaction to serious cancers, such as oral cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, and leukemia. Any of the symptoms listed above could also be related to a medical problem and you should be acutely aware that any oral symptom, whether listed here or not, that appears and stays should be examined by a dentist and if necessary referred to the proper medical specialist. Early detection of these signs is also the reason why everyone, even if free of dental disease, should have a complete oral examination at least once a year.

Oral Health Problems without Symptoms

Please don’t think that if you don’t have an oral symptom you don’t have an oral problem! There are also a number of oral health problems that can exist even before a recognizable symptom appears. Far too many people believe that they couldn’t possibly have an existing oral problem if an observable symptom doesn’t manifest itself. This belief has led to an untold number of dental emergencies that could have easily been avoided by regular dental check-ups. The main thing to consider here is that many oral health problems may reach a serious stage before a symptom appears, such as pain.

For example, in many people decay can progress deeper into the tooth before pain shows up. So can gum disease and an infected root canal, even an abscess. Thus, while you should be aware of the various signs and symptoms of oral problems – if you wait for them to appear you could be putting your teeth and overall health at risk – unnecessarily.

Of course if a symptom appears, or whether it comes and goes, or seems to have gone away (however minor you think it is), you must schedule an appointment to have it professionally diagnosed and treated. If you are one of the tens of millions who haven’t had regular dental check-ups you cannot afford to wait until an emergency situation is created. For those of you who have put off regular dental treatment –  for whatever reason – the only way you are going to be able to know what is going on in your mouth and catch something before it becomes serious, is to schedule an examination with the dentist.

Prevention – Prevention – Prevention

People find many reasons for putting off going to the dentist. Fear, no time, the expense, and a host of other seemingly legitimate reasons. Yet there is no doubt that no matter what excuse you use, the longer you put off a dental examination, or treatment for any existing problems, the more it will end up costing you in time, suffering and money! Given the direct relationship of oral health to overall health – the medical costs incurred because of untreated oral health issues will only add to the total cost. There can be no doubt; ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!’

Do your mouth a favour and book an appointment with Sapperton Dental Clinic where our highly skilled dental professionals can examine your oral cavity and make recommendations so you can have a healthier mouth. Our Dentist and Dental Office is located in Fresno, CA. To schedule your next appointment, please call: (604) 544 0894.

Educational Video for your Kids

new westminster dental x ray

New Westminster Dentist Addresses Dental X-Rays

For immediate concerns regarding our x-ray procedures and machine, feel free to contact Sapperton Dental in New Westminster at: (604) 544 0894 to speak with one of our dentists.

1. What are Dental x-rays?

Dental x-rays are a form of imaging test that dentists use to learn more about the health of your teeth. A dentist can discover a lot about your teeth and gums simply by examining them with the naked eye. However, dental problems such as tooth decay and infections can often only be properly diagnosed by looking beneath the surface. x-rays use small amounts of radiation to create images on the film called radiographs. As x-rays pass through the mouth, they’re absorbed by the tissue. Some tissue, as well as denser objects, absorb more x-rays than others. Teeth appear in lighter shades on a radiograph, while cavities and tooth decay show up in darker patches. These images help dentists to identify problems with the teeth.

2. What is Digital x-rays?

Digital radiography (digital x-ray) is the latest technology used to take dental x-rays. This technique uses an electronic sensor (instead of x-ray film) that captures and stores the digital image on a computer. This image can be instantly viewed and enlarged helping the dentist and dental hygienist detect problems easier. Digital x-rays reduce radiation 80-90% compared to the already low exposure of traditional dental x-rays.

3. Who needs dental x-rays?

Dental x-rays are just another tool in the oral care arsenal. The cleaning and visual examination of your teeth, gums, and the rest of your mouth serve to keep the exposed portions of your mouth healthy.

However, a lot can go on beneath the gum line or inside of teeth themselves that dentists cannot see without x-rays. While you might wonder why you need x-rays when there’s no outward indication that something is wrong, this tool can provide early warning of potential problems (like small cavities), allowing for treatment before they become much bigger issues.

4. How often should patients get x-rays?

The frequency of x-rays varies by dental office and by the patient. Some patients may only need x-rays annually, while others need them every six months, or even more frequently, depending on developing conditions.

Frequency depends on the current condition of your mouth and your dental history. Do you frequently get cavities? If you answer yes, then you may require x-rays annually. If you haven’t had a cavity in five years, then you can go years between x-rays.

Dentists make careful assessments about if and when patients need x-rays, carefully weighing the benefits and potential risks before deciding on any tests or courses of treatment. If x-rays are recommended, it is likely with good reason.

5. Who will need x-rays every 6 months?

Children – Many children need x-rays every six months, depending on age, because they are highly likely to develop caries and the nerve inside their teeth is much larger than an adult. This means that a very small amount of decay can cause large problems very quickly. X-rays also help monitor tooth development.

Adults with extensive restoration work, including fillings. Previous dental work indicates high risk for new decay.

Anyone who drinks sugary sodas, chocolate milk or coffee or tea with sugar – Even mildly sugary beverages create an environment in the mouth that’s perfect for decay, so anyone who drinks these beverages regularly will need to have more regular x-rays.

People with periodontal (gum) disease – Periodontal treatments may need to be stepped up if there are significant or continuing signs of bone loss.

People who are taking medications that lead to dry mouth, also called xerostomia – Saliva helps keep the acid levels (pH) in the mouth stable. In a dry mouth, the pH decreases, causing the minerals in the teeth to break down, leaving them prone to caries. Medications that can decrease saliva are those prescribed for hypertension, antidepressants, antianxiety drugs, antihistamines, diuretics, narcotics, anticonvulsants and anticholinergics.

People who have dry mouth because of disease, such as Sjögren’s syndrome, or because of medical treatments that damaged the salivary glands, such as radiation to the head and neck for cancer treatment.

Smokers, because smoking increases the risk of periodontal disease.

6. Should patients be worried about radiation?

This is a concern for many patients, but the amount of radiation involved in dental x-rays is minimal and patients are provided with all possible protections, including a lead-lined apron to cover portions of the body that could be exposed to x-rays. Plus, you’ll only receive x-rays when necessary so as to avoid undue risk.

Many countries have adopted the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) recommendation of 20mSv per year.

Digital x-rays produce a very low level of radiation and are considered safe. The average person gets 3mSv per year, which is well below the average recommendation for a safe level. Half of this radiation comes from background radiation, such as natural radiation from radon in the air.

7. What are the types of X-rays?

There are a few different types of dental x-rays, each with different benefits. You may need multiple types of x-rays in order to create a complete assessment of your oral health.

Bite-wing x-rays are the most common, and they are so called for the plastic wing you bite on to hold the film in place while the x-ray is taken. This type of x-ray shows hard-to-reach molars and bicuspids, where cavities are most likely to form.

There are also periapical x-rays that show an entire tooth all the way to the root; panoramic x-rays that display the entire mouth, including both jaws; and a variety of other x-rays with specific purposes.

8. Is it safe for Children to have dental X-rays?

Many parents are concerned about the impact of dental x-rays on children. Children are more sensitive to radiation. However, the amount of radiation in a dental x-ray is still considered safe for a child. As children’s jaws and teeth are continuously changing, it’s important to keep an eye on their development. These x-rays perform many important purposes for young patients. They help dentists to:

  • Make sure the mouth is large enough to accommodate incoming teeth
  • Monitor the development of wisdom teeth
  • Determine whether primary teeth are loosening properly to accommodate new permanent teeth
  • Identify decay and gum disease early
  • It’s important for children to visit the dentist regularly, and to get x-rays as recommended by the dentist. The exact schedule for these x-rays will vary depending on the child’s individual needs.

9. How often should a child have dental x-ray films?

Since every child is unique, the need for dental x-ray films varies from child to child. Films are taken only after reviewing your child’s medical and dental histories and performing a clinical examination, and only when they are likely to yield information that a visual examination cannot.

In general, children need x-rays more often than adults. Their mouths grow and change rapidly. They are more susceptible than adults to tooth decay. For children with a high risk of tooth decay, our New Westmisnter Dentists recommends x-ray examinations every six months to detect cavities developing between teeth. Children with a low risk of tooth decay require x-rays less frequently.

10. Why should x-ray films be taken if my child has never had a cavity?

X-ray films detect more than cavities. For example, x-rays may be needed to survey erupting teeth, diagnose bone diseases, evaluate results of an injury or plan orthodontic treatment. x-rays allow dentists to diagnose and treat conditions that cannot be detected during a clinical examination. If dental problems are found and treated early, dental care is more comfortable and affordable.

11. Is it safe for pregnant women to have dental x-rays?

Pregnant women are generally advised to avoid dental x-rays. Though the radiation is minimal, it’s best to avoid all exposure when possible for the health of the developing fetus. For this reason, it’s important to tell your dentist if you are or may be pregnant.

However, there are some instances where pregnant women should still have dental x-rays performed. If you have a dental emergency or are in the middle of a dental treatment plan, you may still need x-rays during your pregnancy. Discuss the issue with your dentist to determine the best way to proceed. It’s crucial that you balance both your dental and prenatal health. Women with periodontal disease are at a higher risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, so you should not neglect your teeth during pregnancy.

Your dentist can take greater precautions, such as using a leaded apron and thyroid collar, for all x-rays taken during your pregnancy if the procedure is deemed necessary. Keeping your dentist informed at all times is the best way to proceed.

oral health in new westminster

Can Oral Health affect Other Health Issues?

Oral health can no longer be separated from overall health. Unless you are free of dental disease, particularly gum disease – and the other oral health issues that harm overall health – you can never be truly healthy.

Gum Disease

Gum disease can increase the risk and severity of many more serious health problems, including heart disease. Thus, you must be clear about this; the effect of dental disease on overall health is far more serious than its relationship to teeth and gums. In fact, moderate to severe gum disease can;

  • Severely stress the immune system
  • Lower resistance to other infections
  • Increase the severity of diabetes
  • Contribute to respiratory disease
  • Contribute to low preterm birth weights
  • Interfere with proper digestion
  • Actually reduce life expectancy

If gum disease is not acknowledged as an obstacle to achieving overall health, any efforts to treat other existing diseases, improve health, and extend life will not be effective and will fall short of desired goals. Every person who cares about his or her health and every dentist in New Westminster, BC who wants to successfully treat patients must understand this important relationship. The reality is that ‘you cannot be healthy without healthy gums and teeth!’

Other Oral Health Issues that can Harm Overall Health

Along with amalgam fillings and gum disease, there are other oral health issues that can negatively affect systemic health, including:

  1. Infected root canals
  2. Jawbone infections
  3. Non-biocompatible dental materials

The impact of these oral health issues on overall health is determined by the seriousness and duration of each, and how many are present in an individual.

The fact is that is that a large percentage of the population is affected by some, or all of the above oral health problems. For example, an individual could have periodontal disease (the most serious form of gum disease), suffer from chronic mercury poisoning, have an infection from a failed root canal, a jawbone infection, and allergic reaction to dental materials – all present at the same time. Of course, many variables exist, as someone can have advanced gum disease and only have a few amalgam fillings. In that scenario, the effects of gum disease on overall health would be much greater than the effects of mercury. I’m sure you can imagine all of the possibilities that exist – none of them good.

But what is important to consider here is that if you are dealing with any, some, or all of the oral health issues that can damage overall health you should let your New Westminster dentist know about them as he or she may be looking for other causes of your health problems than those related to these oral health issues. That can be frustrating for both you and your dentist. Although there is no way of knowing exactly how much these oral health issues are contributing to your medical problems but that isn’t the point – as there is no doubt they are contributing to them to some degree. If you want to do all you can to improve your oral and overall health it means that you will have to take the necessary steps to work with your dental office in New Westminster, BC to eliminate these oral health problems and repair the damage done by them.