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Ottawa Dental Clinic & Cosmetic Dentistry Blog

Correcting Deep Bites

By Pamela Li, in Articles, on June 23, 2014 | Comments (0)

Ottawa InvisalignOttawa, Ontario – A deep bite is when the upper teeth cover an excessive amount of the lower teeth and can be harmful because it not only causes teeth to be misaligned, but it can result in additional problems that can be painful and send you running to your Ottawa dentist.

“Deep bites can cause serious problems,” says Ottawa Invisalign provider Dr. Pamela Li. “The lower teeth will be in constant contact with the upper gums. This contact will harm the gum tissue, and over time, the roots of the teeth can be exposed from the gums being rubbed away. Likewise, the constant rubbing on the bottom teeth can cause those teeth to wear down over time.”

That means that after Dr. Li has treated their orthodontic issue, her patients may also require additional cosmetic dentistry procedures from her, such as crowns or veneers.

But the good news is there are several options available to treat deep bites. Deep bites are best treated at an early age to prevent additional damage being done. It is important that parents take their children for their first orthodontic consultation by the age of seven. Waiting too long for orthodontic treatment can result in needing surgery to properly correct any issues that may be present. But by beginning orthodontic monitoring at a young age, the orthodontist can determine when the best time to begin treatment is, and craft the perfect treatment plan to create the most beautiful and functional smile for a patient.

There are several options available to treat deep bites, with surgery typically being a last resort. A good orthodontist or dentist will create a custom treatment plan for each of his or her patients. Even if presenting with a similar problem, every mouth is different, so every treatment plan must be unique. The treatment will first begin with a diagnosis, which will involve a comprehensive examination. The dentist will need X-rays and photos to clearly see the issue and then determine the best course of action to treat it.

In some instances, the treatment may involve what is known as a bite plane. Made of acrylic, this appliance will be anchored into the mouth with bands that are placed in the upper, permanent molars. A piece of acrylic will rest on the upper front teeth, and the appliance works to allow the back teeth to come together. The typical treatment time using a bite plane is six to nine months.

In most cases, however, braces will be required to correct the bite. Because a deep bite causes poor angulation for the teeth, a large amount of force is typically needed to move the teeth to better positions. This may have been a deterrent for some patients, especially adults, who didn’t want the hassle of dealing with metal braces and all the annoyances that can go along with their wear. But now there is some exciting news for patients looking to correct their deep bites.

“Invisalign, the clear aligner braces technology, now offers a new aligner designed specifically to correct deep bites,” says Dr. Li. “That means even more patients can now enjoy the ease and functionality of Invisalign.”

At the end of 2013, Align Technology announced Invisalign G5, the exciting new technology that will allow deep bite patients the ability to correct their smiles more comfortably, efficiently and less noticeably. Align Technology designs and manufactures the revolutionary clear aligner system that has been improving smiles since 1998. Patients love the aligners because they are almost totally invisible and completely removable, allowing patients to discretely straighten their teeth without altering their lifestyles dramatically. The Invisalign product family includes numerous technologies to give patients perfect smiles, but until now, patients with deep bites were not as predictable with their treatment.

But all of that has changed with Invisalign G5. It has been specifically engineered to achieve better outcomes for deep bites and offers a few comprehensive features to help dentists correct these bites.

“Invisalign G5 has added new SmartForce attachments and pressure areas,” says Dr. Li. “These are designed to improve the control of tooth movement to create a more predictable treatment. There are also new precision aligner bite ramps that help to further improve the efficiency of the treatment.”

Invisalign G5 marks the first time Align Technology has created a product to specifically enhance treatment for one type of malocclusion. With deep bites affecting an estimated 45 percent of teen and adult patients, the company saw the need and created an innovative solution to better assist dentists and orthodontists.

Invisalign is a more modern approach to straightening teeth. Recent research has shown that eliciting constant, gentle force on teeth is more effective in moving them to their proper locations. And Invisalign G5 with its SmartForce innovations does just that. These new features allow the dentist to use advanced virtual modeling to deliver the proper level of force for each individual tooth. This is something that simply can’t be done using standard metal braces.

Invisalign involves the wear of a custom set of aligner trays. During the course of treatment, each tray will be worn for two weeks. Each tray is custom made for the individual patient, based on the exact movements your dentist has planned for you. And with Invisalign G5, the dentist now has the ability to plan out the movement for each individual tooth, so he or she can specifically target the teeth that are causing your deep bite.

Best of all, this is done gently and without people knowing it is even happening. There are no pesky wires and brackets to worry about, and because they are removable, there is no need to alter your diet or oral care habits. Invisalign provides excellent results, and dentists like Dr. Li are thrilled to be able to use the technology to help even more patients smile wider.

© 2014 Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.

Maintain Good Oral Health this Summer

By Pamela Li, in News, on June 12, 2014 | Comments (0)

Ottawa, Ontario – The summer months are upon us once again and fun in the sun is just around the corner. But while you’re playing, don’t forget to maintain proper dental care or come fall, you may regret it.

Ottawa dental Care

“Summer is a time when we want to be carefree and we often indulge in treats such as popsicles, ice cream and the like,” says Dr. Pamela Li, who operates an Ottawa dental clinic that serves patients of all ages. “While we are having fun, we also have to remember to brush and floss properly so our oral health doesn’t deteriorate.”

It’s important that even when you’re on vacation, you brush twice a day and floss once a day. Be sure you change your toothbrush regularly, and always store it properly.

If you currently wear braces, maintaining a good oral care routine is very important. Don’t let the hard work your mouth is putting in now go to waste because you didn’t brush your teeth regularly. Also, if you’ve recently had your braces removed and wear a retainer, follow your dentist’s guidelines for the wearing the retainer. Even forgetting to wear it for a few days can alter the position of your teeth. The purpose of a retainer is to keep the teeth in their new locations until they are properly trained to “remember” those locations.

Another common issue that arises during summer months is tooth sensitivity. Eating ice cream and drinking cold, ice filled drinks can bring about tooth sensitivity, even in people who may have never experienced it before. Tooth sensitivity affects millions of people, so you aren’t alone if you wince in pain when sipping a cold glass of iced tea. Dr. Li offers the following tips if you are among this number:

  • Take it easy on your teeth. Using a hard bristled tooth brush or brushing too hard can remove the protective layers of enamel. If the bristles of your toothbrush are completely flattened, or pointing in numerous directions, that’s a big sign you’re brushing too hard. This can then expose the sensitive areas of your teeth, making it painful to eat or drink very cold foods.
  • Consider changing your brand of toothpaste. Some toothpastes, such as those that whiten, are more abrasive to remove stains. Consider switching to Sensodyne or another sensitive toothpaste that will help control the sensitivity.
  • Limit the number of acidic foods and drinks you ingest. This is important because too much acid can lead to erosion of your tooth enamel.

“Tooth enamel is the strongest substance found in our bodies,” says Dr. Li, whose Ottawa dentistry office works with patients on preventative care. “It protects the teeth from the daily wear and tear involved in biting and chewing and the temperature extremes your teeth face each day when we eat and drink. The enamel guards against erosion, but over time, that enamel can wear down, leaving the dentin underneath susceptible to decay.”

So what causes enamel erosion? There are several things dental patients should be aware of.

Drinking too many soft drinks or fruit drinks is a major area of concern. Bacteria thrive on sugars, and then produce high acid levels that eat away the enamel.

Sour foods and candies are also highly acidic, leading to erosion of enamel. During the summer months, we often turn to drinks such as lemonade to cool us off. But the combined sugars and acids can actually be harming our teeth.

Dry mouth can adversely affect our teeth, as well. Saliva works to wash away the harmful bacteria and neutralizes acids by washing them away. A lack of saliva means these harmful things stay on our teeth longer.

To prevent enamel erosion, cut down on the acidic foods and drinks in your diet. Drink fewer carbonated beverages and eat fewer citrus fruits. Rinse your mouth right after eating or drinking highly acidic items. Switch to drinking through a straw so the acid can bypass your teeth. Drink milk to neutralize the acids or chew sugar-free gum that contains xylitol. Drink plenty of water and wait at least an hour to brush teeth after ingesting anything with high acidity.

Keeping these tips in mind will ensure a healthy summer and keep you out of the dentist’s chair come the cooler months. And remember, if you have regularly scheduled maintenance appointments set up for the summer, don’t skip those. If you have any concerns with your oral health, schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.

© 2014 Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.

Choosing the Right Toothbrush

By Pamela Li, in Articles, on May 22, 2014 | Comments (0)

brushing teethOttawa, Ontario – Do you know how to choose the right toothbrush to keep your mouth healthy? There are so many options from which to choose – electric, manual, and so many brands of each. Dr. Pamela Li, an Ottawa cosmetic dentist, offers her top picks and explains what you should look for in a toothbrush.

“It’s best to look for a brush that has a small head so that it can be moved around your mouth more easily,” says Dr. Li, who is also a general dentist, serving patients of all ages. “Be sure the bristles are soft and that it fits comfortably in your hand.”

Dr. Li prefers electric toothbrushes. It is important to remember that electric toothbrushes are not the same as battery-powered ones. A battery-powered toothbrush is similar to a manual brush, but a battery makes it vibrate slightly, allowing you to clean a bit better than with a standard brush. An electric brush, on the other hand, will be rechargeable and will come with many different features. They can oscillate, vibrate, rotate or even use sonic technology to guarantee the best cleaning for your teeth. Features may include special modes for sensitive teeth, to massage your gums, or for whitening. Some models even have pressure sensors to alert you when you brush too hard, or reminders to alert you when you should replace the head of the brush.

To maintain the best dental care, Dr. Li recommends SoniCare and Oral B electric brushes. She explains that, as with most other things, you get what you pay for. While these brands may be more expensive, they are also the best to keep your teeth and gums clean and healthy. The good news is, while the initial investment may seem like a lot, they might actually save you money in the long run because they don’t need to be replaced as often as manual brushes.

Dr. Li also recommends the use of a waterpik, especially for patients who have braces or bridges. Also referred to as an oral irrigator, a waterpik uses a stream of pulsating water to remove food debris and plaque from between the teeth and below the gum line. It is very effective in flushing out debris around braces and bridges.

Other products that can help remove plaque include the Proxabrush and Softpicks. The Proxabrush is a specially designed brush system that can access hard to reach places between the teeth that tooth brushing alone may miss. It can be used on natural teeth, as well as around crowns, bridges, dental implants and orthodontic appliances. Likewise, a Softpick can dislodge food from between teeth, remove plaque and massage the gums. And for that hard to reach place in the back of your mouth behind your last tooth, there is the Sulcabrush. Invented by a Canadian dentist, this specialized brush can not only effectively clean the back of your last tooth, it can also easily get in between teeth to remove plaque build-up.

There are some patients who may have special needs requiring their toothbrush to be adapted so it can be handled better. For patients who have difficulty controlling their hands, arm or shoulder movements, Dr. Li offers a few ideas on how to adapt their standard toothbrush.

  • The handle of the brush can be enlarged using a bicycle grip or other like material to allow the patient a bigger surface to grip.
  • Use a rod to lengthen the toothbrush.
  • If the patient has problems gripping, attach the brush to the hand using Velcro straps or a hand brace.
  • Buy a brush whose handle can be bent to allow a better holding surface.

No matter what type of toothbrush you use, it is important to properly care for it. Toothbrushes should be allowed to dry in between uses. Bacteria grows in moisture, so a wet toothbrush can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Because of this, brushes should never be covered as this won’t allow them to ever fully dry.

Wash your brush thoroughly after each use, and be sure to wash your hands before brushing to remove any bacteria that could move from your hands to the brush.

Always store your toothbrush upright and never share a toothbrush with anyone, including family members. Bacteria can jump from one toothbrush to another, so never store brushes touching each other.

Replace your manual toothbrush every three months, or immediately following an illness. While the chances of becoming sick from a toothbrush are slim, continuing to use the same brush after an illness may transfer those germs back to you.

If you’re worried about bacteria growth on your toothbrush, there are several products on the market that claim to kill germs. There are sprays, rinses and UV light products that can eliminate the number of germs on your brush.

But perhaps most important is to use your brush, floss, and other products properly and often.

“Always brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day,” says Dr. Li, whose dental clinic is located in downtown Ottawa. “This can prevent tooth decay and gum disease, but only if you are also brushing and flossing properly.”

Brush for two to three minutes a day, avoiding scrubbing too hard. If you are too rough with your teeth, you can start to break down the enamel that is the protective layer of the tooth. Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle, brushing gently in short strokes from the gum line to the top of the tooth. Brush all surfaces of the tooth, paying special attention to reach all of the crevices on the chewing surface. And don’t forget to brush your tongue to remove bacteria and help freshen your breath. Tongue scrapers are also effective in cleaning the surface of your tongue.

If you have question about which toothbrush is right for you, or have concerns about proper brushing and flossing technique, call Dr. Li’s office for advice. She and her staff can assist you with all of your dental questions. And remember to maintain regular, twice-yearly appointments with Dr. Li to ensure your mouth is healthy.

© 2014 Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.

Ottawa Dentist Uses Latest Technological Advances

By Pamela Li, in News, on May 10, 2014 | Comments (0)

Dental care in OttawaOttawa, Ontario – When you’re looking for a dentist, you want to be sure you are looking for one who provides the greatest quality of care, and that means one who utilizes the latest advances in dental technology. As a Las Vegas Institute trained dentist, Dr. Pamela Li combines superior care with a commitment to technology to ensure her patients receive the best dental care available.

LVI is a world-renowned training facility for dentists. It uses a comprehensive and rigorous training program to better equip dentists with the knowledge and technology they need to treat all aspects of dentistry, with a focus on cosmetic dentistry and TMD disorders.

“As an LVI trained dentist, I am committed to providing high quality care that incorporates the use of technology to provide the best diagnoses and treatment options for my patients,” says Dr. Li, who has been an Ottawa dentist since 1994. “My office features state-of-the-art technology so that you can receive the best care possible.”

From digital radiography to Tens Units to computerized mandibular screening, Dr. Li uses the latest technological advances because she knows it results in the best care possible for her patients.

Her office uses only digital radiography, utilizing the award-winning Dexis system. This system exposes patients to 70-80 percent less radiation than traditional X-rays, so it is much safer. Not only that, images appear instantly and the dentist can magnify images. That results in a better picture of what is going on in the mouth, allowing the dentist to make a more accurate diagnosis. And if that’s not enough, digital radiography is better for the environment because there is no need for developer or fixer chemicals.

Neuromuscular problems can be treated with a Tens Unit. The low-frequency transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation unit works by delivering a small electrical impulse to the muscles that are responsible for jaw movement. These impulses will relax the jaw, resulting in increased blood flow to flush away any toxins. In as little as an hour, patients can experience a more relaxed jaw that is able to find a more optimal position.

Other alignment issues can be diagnosed with a K7, or computerized mandibular scanning unit. The K7 will record proper alignment of the jaw, range of motion and the opening and closing trajectory of the jaws. It can also measure muscle activity to determine a physiologic rest position of the jaw. Using a sonograph that measures the sounds in the jaw joint, Dr. Li can also determine if a patient’s jaw is damaged and to what extent.

“Another technology that benefits my patients is my experience with soft tissue lasers in periodontal therapy,” says Dr. Li. “I use soft tissue lasers in gum recontouring, crown lengthening, frenectomies and a host of other procedures. Laser technology offers so many benefits to my patients, including extreme precision, minimal bleeding and less discomfort and trauma to the area I’m working on. That means minimal healing time and limited or no scarring for my patients.”

Additionally, Dr. Li uses the latest technological advances to screen and treat snoring and sleep apnea. The Medibyte by Braebon is a portable polysomnograph unit that patients can use in the comfort of their own bed and home instead of going to a sleep clinic or hospital.  The data recorded can be sent to a certified sleep physician for diagnosis. By staying dedicated to the latest technology, Dr. Li can provide the best care and treatment options for her patients.

© 2014 Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.

Managing Severe Dry Mouth

By Pamela Li, in Articles, on April 20, 2014 | Comments (0)

Ottawa dentistryOttawa, Ontario – You might not stop to think about the effect saliva has on your mouth and oral health, at least not until you experience a lack of it. Saliva is needed to moisten and clean our mouths and assists in digestion. Saliva can also assist in oral health by washing away harmful bacteria.

For geriatric dentistry patients, and patients with certain conditions or who are on certain medications, experiencing cottonmouth might be a common occurrence. Dr. Pamela Li regularly treats patients who suffer from xerostomia and has some tips for understanding and living with it.

“Severe dry mouth can be extremely annoying,” says Dr. Li, who is an Ottawa dentist. “Your mouth might feel like it is burning all the time, or you can experience difficulty speaking or swallowing. It can even cause your face to swell and can disturb your sleep habits. But there is good news – there are ways dentists can help ease your xerostomia.”

Xerostomia can be much more than annoying – if left untreated, it can disrupt your entire life. Dentists see an increase in dental caries in patients who suffer from dry mouth, and there is a higher risk of infection, as well as an increase in plaque formation. For some patients, dry mouth can be caused by certain medications they may be taking and for others it can be an unwelcome side effect of another medical condition they have. It is extremely important to discuss your complete medical history, including any medication or herbal supplements you may take, with your dentist. That way, the dentist has a clear picture of your overall health, and can understand what may be causing your dental issues.

There are many medications that can cause xerostomia. Both prescription and over the counter medications can cause the condition. If you take medications to treat depression, anxiety, pain, allergies, colds, obesity, acne, hypertension, diarrhea, nausea, psychotic disorders, incontinence, or asthma, you may suffer from dry mouth. Muscle relaxers and sedatives can also lead to the condition. Discuss any medications, or changes in medications, with your dentist.

Additionally, there are some medical conditions that can lead to xerostomia. AIDS and HIV patients regularly suffer from the condition, as do patients undergoing radiation therapy. Bone marrow transplant patients and patients in renal dialysis or with chronic active hepatitis may also suffer from dry mouth. Diabetics also routinely suffer from it.

“There are so many medications and conditions that can also have an effect on your mouth,” says Dr. Li. “Our bodies are so intricately related that it is so important to keep your dentist apprised of other things going on in your medical life. You may not realize that your periodontal disease or increase in cavities is a result of another medical condition that has led to your dry mouth, but your dentist will.”
Symptoms of dry mouth include a sticky or dry feeling in the mouth, frequent thirst, sores in the mouth, a burning or tingling sensation in the mouth or on the tongue, a dry and raw tongue, hoarseness, bad breath and difficulty in chewing, swallowing and speaking. Additionally, dry mouth increases the risk of periodontal disease, tooth decay and mouth infections such as thrush.

The good news is, there are several options to combat dry mouth for dental patients. Dr. Li recommends Oral Balance Moisturizing Gel or Liquid most often. The moisturizing gel is best for nighttime use while the liquid is for daytime use.

There are also saliva stimulant products that can assist in relieving dry mouth. Dentiva, OraMoist, Sal-Ese, Smart Mouth Mints and Xylemelts can provide temporary relief for sufferers of dry mouth. SalivaSure tablets are the most highly recommended as they have no adverse reactions or drug interactions.

The best toothpaste to use is Biotene as it is specially formulated for dry mouth sufferers.  It is very gentle and does not contain sodium lauryl sulfate, an irritant commonly used in toothpastes as a foaming agent.  It has a mild flavor and also contains fluoride, which is important for decay prevention.

It is important to sip cool water throughout the day and let ice chips melt in your mouth to keep the mouth moistened.  If it is difficult to swallow food because of the dryness, try drinking 2% or whole milk with your meals.  The fat content in the milk moisturizes the mouth and helps with swallowing.

Avoid caffeinated beverages because caffeine is a major cause of dry mouth. Use a cool air humidifier in the bedroom. Start the humidifier one to two hours before bedtime and let it run all night.

Try to avoid alcohol and alcohol containing mouthwashes as alcohol can irritate oral tissues. Suck on sugar free candy or chew sugar free gum to stimulate saliva production.  Look for products that contain Xylitol, a sugar substitute that does not cause cavities and may even help prevent cavities. Acidic candies and foods can also a cause sore mouth, so avoid those.

For dry lips, use hydrous lanolin USP (Lansinoh) or Banana Boat Aloe with vitamin E lip balm. Chronic use of Vaseline is drying and should be avoided.  If possible, sleep on your side to help avoid mouth breathing.

The best thing for you to do, however, is schedule an appointment with your dentist to determine what course of action may be needed to help your condition. Be prepared for your dental visit by writing down any symptoms you have been experiencing, including any that you may think are unrelated. Write down any personal information that could be contributing to your condition, including recent stresses or life changes. Keep an accurate list of all medications, vitamins, supplements and even over the counter medications you are taking.

If you believe you suffer from xerostomia, now is the time to visit your dentist. While you may think your dry mouth is just annoying, it could be doing permanent damage to your teeth and gums. Schedule a visit with your dentist today and get relief before any more damage is done.

© 2014 Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.

Ottawa Dentist and Staff to Attend LVI Course

By Pamela Li, in News, on April 6, 2014 | Comments (0)

Healthy teethOttawa, Ontario – Ottawa dentist Dr. Pamela Li is committed to staying up to date with the latest procedures and technologies. That’s why she and her staff will be attending a course given by the prestigious Las Vegas Institute at the end of the month.

The course will cover neuromuscular dentistry and TMJ disorder and how proper occlusion can aid patients. During the course, Dr. Li and her staff will further learn about the importance of recognizing malocclusion issues in their patients, and the need for establishing neuromuscular care to properly treat patients. They will learn how to better educate their patients about their dental and occlusal issues, and discuss the use of the TENS unit and K7 technology to help treat TMD and neuromuscular issues.

“We are very excited to attend this course,” says Dr. Li, who also practices cosmetic dentistry. “Any time we attend a course given by LVI, we walk away with a wealth of new knowledge that benefits our patients. We treat many patients who suffer from pain, due to neuromuscular and TMD issues, and this course will enable us to help make them better.”

Neuromuscular dentistry provides an evolution in thinking about occlusions. Dentists are able to assess the teeth and jaw joints as well as the muscles and nerves of the face and jaws. This gives a more comprehensive approach based on scientific protocols.

During the course, Dr. Li and her staff will learn how the missing pieces of the occlusion puzzle can create pain, see how the pain develops, and learn how that occlusion can create problems in the entire body from the fingers to the lower back. The instructors will offer practical methods to support optimal occlusion and end chronic and debilitating pain. The science behind proper occlusion will be studied, which will lead to how best to restore the mouth. A mentor will guide the participants as they discover the knowledge and techniques that will help them provide optimal health for their patients.

The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies is a postgraduate training center for dentists. LVI offers many courses that include topics such as neuromuscular, advanced diagnostic and aesthetic dentistry. LVI is dedicated to a deeper understanding of the art and science of dentistry and offers hands-on clinical and interactive lectures combined with live patient treatment to give dentists a training opportunity they can’t find anywhere else.

Finding a dentist who is committed to their ongoing education is a crucial part of selecting the right dentist for your care. While every dentist had to follow a similar program in order to become a dentist, not every dentist follows the same path throughout their career. It is important to find a dentist like Dr. Li who is committed to continuing her education and training by seeking out the best courses provided by the best educators. And LVI provides just that experience for dentists from around the world.

“I’m committed to seeking out the best treatment options for my patients,” says Dr. Li. “My staff and I always strive to provide the best and most comprehensive care possible, and continuing our educations through LVI courses is one of the best ways we can ensure that continues.”

The course will take place in Toronto on the weekend of March 27-29.

Oral Health Care Issues Facing the Elderly

By Pamela Li, in Articles, on March 16, 2014 | Comments (0)

Ottawa geriatric dentistOttawa, Ontario – As the population of the world ages, there are unique challenges our senior citizens face. Their oral care is one of them, as aging is associated with issues such as muscle weakness and a higher risk for dental caries.

“There are so many issues that face our seniors that many people may not stop to think about how aging affects our teeth and mouths,” says Ottawa geriatric dentist Dr. Pamela Li. “But as we age, our bodies change, affecting our oral health, as well. Additionally, medications senior citizens take can cause issues such as dry mouth, and the dentin on the teeth can wear down, leading to cavities and decay.”

Dr. Li, who as a family dentist has the unique opportunity to serve members of a family from the youngest to the oldest, explains what those over the age 60 should be on the look out for.

As we get older, our mouths become more prone to cavities. One common cause of this is dry mouth. While some may associate this with aging, it is not a regular part of aging, but is mostly the cause of taking certain medications. In fact, over 500 medications, from those for asthma to high blood pressure to high cholesterol, can all cause this condition. This makes it crucial for patients to disclose any medications they may be taking to their dentists. The dentist will then be able to adjust you care, keeping this in mind.

People with severe dry mouth may have difficulty swallowing or speaking due to dry tissues.  They may have a generalized burning sensation in the mouth, oral abrasions and ulcerations and disturbed sleep patterns.

“There are some things you can do to ease your dry mouth,” says Dr. Li. “Your physician may be able to alter your medication dose, but you can do things such as chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production. Avoid foods and drinks that contribute to dry mouth, such as coffee, alcohol and citrus fruits. Use a cool air humidifier at night which will help with sleep.  For dry lips, use lanolin instead of Vaseline. There are products to help ease the symptoms of dry mouth. Biotene makes a nice gentle toothpaste, gum and mouthrinse.  Oralbalance and Saliva Sure are also helpful.”

Dry mouth is a cause for concern because saliva act as a natural barrier to tooth decay. After you eat or drink, your saliva will work to wash away the sugars and bacteria that will otherwise stick to the teeth, and over time, lead to decay. Root decay especially is a big problem in the elderly. Fluoride is still the best way to prevent cavities.

Periodontal disease is also a concern for senior citizens. Gum disease is caused by bacteria and results in swollen, red, bleeding and irritated gums. Many seniors may not even know they have it until it reaches its advanced stages. But if left untreated, a patient’s gums will begin to pull away from the teeth, created pockets where food and bacteria particles can collect. Over time, the gum disease will destroy not only the gums, but also the bone and ligaments that support the teeth. Advanced periodontal disease can also lead to tooth loss. This is why it is so important for our seniors to maintain regular dentistry check-ups so gum disease can be treated at the first sign of appearance.

But periodontal disease might not just affect your mouth. The workings of the body are all closely inter-related and patients who suffer from severe periodontal disease double their risk of fatal heart disease and increase their chance of stroke.

That means visiting your dentist could save your life. And regular visits to their dentist can also lead to early detection of mouth cancer. During a regular check-up, your dentist will check for signs of mouth cancer, which mostly affects people over the age of 62. The disease is not painful in the beginning, so early detection can help save lives. If you notice open sores, white or red patches, or changes to your lips, tongue or inside of your mouth, call your dentist immediately.

Elderly patients also face unique challenges that can make regular care of their teeth more difficult. Severe arthritis can make even holding a toothbrush or dental floss difficult, and as we age, it may become harder and harder to stand at a sink, even for the few minutes it takes to brush our teeth.

“That’s when family members become so important,” says Dr. Li. “Just as you would remind your older family member to take their heart medication, you also need to remind them to properly care for their teeth and gums, too. If your loved one is having difficulty brushing or flossing, call my office and we can talk about different ways we can help. If your loved one wears dentures, pay close attention to how the dentures fit. Over time, they may require new dentures, but poor fit may lead to difficulty eating.”

If you help care for a loved one who is confined to bed, be sure to continue to maintain their oral health by helping them brush and floss each day. Not only is poor oral care associated with a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, bacteria from the mouth can also enter the lungs and cause pneumonia.

The average Canadian man has a life expectancy of 79 years, while the average woman will live to 84. More than 80 percent of Canada’s elderly population has some sort of chronic health condition, which could include arthritis, back pain, cardiovascular disease. That means it is all the more important for these patient to receive regular, quality dental care.

A recent article posted by the Canadian Dental Association states that, while all Canadian citizens have prepaid access to a health care plan administered by the government, these plans don’t cover dental services. And that means many seniors may simply go without this important service.

The article reports that while older patients may claim to brush and floss regularly, they still had untreated caries and periodontal pockets. Some interviewed for the survey reported avoiding certain foods due to mouth pain while eating, while others reported persistent mouth pain. This may be because many avoid the dentist, or declined treatment because the cost was too much.

“This is something we as dentists all need to be aware of,” says Dr. Li. “Because taking care of your teeth is so important to your overall health, we need to ensure easy access with affordable payments are available to all our citizens. With proper care, we’re seeing more and more adults enter their senior years with their natural teeth still intact.”

Learning proper oral care needs to begin at a young age, but that care needs to continue into our senior years, as well. As we age, we face many issues, but poor oral care and the issues associated with it do not have to be among them. With proper brushing and flossing, maintaining a healthy diet and keeping regular visits to the dentist, our seniors can ensure healthy mouths for their entire lifetime.

Dental versus Cosmetic Reasons for Braces

By Pamela Li, in News, on March 6, 2014 | Comments (0)

BracesOttawa, Ontario – Do you think your teeth are crooked and you could benefit from wearing braces? For many patients, braces are a medical necessity to improve the mouth function and ensure proper dental care. For some others, they are purely a cosmetic enhancement. Which type of patient are you?

“The reasons for choosing braces are as different as the patients who wear them,” says Dr. Pamela Li, an Ottawa dentist. “For patients who suffer from malocclusions, such as overbites or underbites, braces are needed to improve the function of their teeth and jaws and prevent future dental issues. But for others, they simply may think their gap or crossed over teeth are a bit unsightly.”

The way your teeth fit together is known as occlusion. Some people suffer from malocclusions, which is misalignment of the teeth. There are three types of malocclusions. A Class I malocclusion is the ideal relationship between the upper and lower teeth. While the teeth function properly, there can still be crowding or spacing present. A Class II is commonly referred to as an overbite. The patient will present with lower molars positioned posterior and the upper jaw will appear to protrude forward. A Class III is referred to as an underbite. The lower molar will be positioned anterior and the lower jaw will protrude forward.

While some patients may have an ideal bite, they may still have some degree of crowding or spacing that they deem unattractive. In these instances, braces may not be as necessary, but a cosmetic dentist may still work with the patient to help them achieve their ideal smile.

“There are many reasons why our teeth become crowded looking,” says Dr. Li. “Sometimes a mouth isn’t quite large enough to accommodate all of the permanent teeth. Losing baby teeth too early or too late can also be a factor, because this can inhibit the growth of the permanent tooth, forcing it to erupt in an incorrect position. Sometimes the jaws don’t develop properly due to bad oral habits such as mouth breathing, thumb sucking and other bad oral habits. This will result in constriction of the jawbones, crowding and a bad bite.”

There are also as many reasons for spacing in the teeth as there are for crowding. Small teeth or jaw size can contribute to spacing issues. While many people, such as pop star Madonna, choose to embrace their spacing, still others might find it unsightly and would like the gap closed.

For patients who suffer Class II or III malocclusions, braces are deemed more of a dental necessity to ensure their jaws work properly. Crowded teeth aren’t able to be cleaned as well, which leads to decay. Over time, if these problem aren’t fixed, malocclusions can lead to other serious dental issues, such as decay and periodontal disease. Additionally, improper bites can lead to wear of the teeth and eventual breakage.

The good news is, no matter what your reason for choosing braces, there is now a straightening option for everyone. Dental technology is rapidly progressing, so patients have a variety of options to choose from. Invisalign allows patients to comfortably and discretely achieve a better smile. Lower profile options, such as self-ligating and lingual braces, also give patients a more aesthetically pleasing way to straighten their teeth.

If you feel you could benefit from braces, now is the time to schedule an appointment with your cosmetic dentist and get the smile you deserve.
© 2014 Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.

Things to Think About This Valentine’s Day

By Pamela Li, in Articles, on February 23, 2014 | Comments (0)

Chocolates for Valentine's DayOttawa, Ontario – Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. While we’re running to get our last minute gifts, Dr. Pamela Li, an Ottawa dentist, has some tips for people to keep in mind when celebrating the holiday.

“Valentine’s Day is the day of love, and often chocolate and other sweet, delectable treats,” says Dr. Li, who has a family dentist practice. “But we also need to remember to maintain our oral health during this holiday, and not let bad habits creep in that can damage our mouths and teeth.”

Did you know that American spend roughly $345 million dollars on Valentine’s candy each year, and consume nearly 58 million pounds of chocolate on the holiday? All of that can spell disaster for your oral health!

The bacteria in plaque create acid when it comes into contact with sugar. This acid then attacks your teeth, working to destroy the protective enamel coating. The bacteria that causes cavities thrives in sweets, so it is especially important to pay close attention to your oral health when you consume sweets. And some sweets are worse on the teeth than others. Sticky treats, as well as those that dissolve slowly, such as lollipops, hard candies, toffee and taffy can wreak extra havoc on teeth. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t partake this Valentine’s Day, says Dr. Li.

“Eating candies in moderation, paired with a healthy oral care regimen, is fine,” says Dr. Li. “Always remember to brush and floss twice daily, and pay special attention to your teeth if you’ve indulged in particularly sweet or sticky treats.”

Another thing to remember is that bacteria doesn’t just come from the food and drinks we consume – it comes from other places as well, such as the mouth of our partner. And that leads us to another important dental care tip – never share your toothbrush with anyone, even your spouse or children. Just like kissing on the lips, sharing your toothbrush with others can introduce harmful bacteria to your mouth that could lead to tooth decay or other oral diseases.

There are several issues that arise when sharing a toothbrush. For some people, brushing can cause their gums to bleed. That means if you share a toothbrush with someone with bleeding gums, you are exposed to their blood and any diseases found in their bloodstream, such as hepatitis. Even if there is no bleeding, other viruses like the flu or cold sores are very contagious, not to mention the bacteria that cause cavities and periodontal disease.

Valentine’s Day is the day of love, but did you know that kissing can also introduce bacteria that can result in tooth decay? It’s true – just like sharing a toothbrush with the one you love, kissing can also introduce harmful bacteria into our mouths. To decrease the odds that harmful bacteria enters your mouth while kissing, maintain a good oral care regimen and avoid kissing on the lips while one of you is sick.

Kissing may also be a factor in spreading the most common sexually transmitted disease, the human papillomavirus, which in some cases can lead to oral cancer.

You may not realize it, but often times your dentist may be the first line of defense against serious illnesses such as cancer. In fact, checking for early signs of oral cancer is part of a regular dental check-up. During your routine visit, your dentist will check your gums, the inside of your cheeks and your tongue, as well as the roof and floor of your mouth very carefully. She is looking for the following signs that could indicate cancer:

  • Red or white patches,
  • Sores that bleed easily or do not heal,
  • Thick, hard spots or lumps,
  • Roughened or crusted areas.

Additionally, your dentist will ask if you have been experiencing numbness, pain or tenderness, or a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down. It is important to always disclose any issues such as these to your dentist.

Tobacco use and heavy drinking can be contributing factors to oral cancer, as can infection with some forms of HPV. HPV is a virus that infects skin and wet surfaces of the body, like the mouth and genitals. While there are more than 100 different types of HPV, the most common form appears as warts. High-risk HPV types may also cause a form of throat cancer, called oropharyngeal cancer. Studies show that nearly seven percent of the population may have oral HPV, while one percent may have the type that can result in oropharyngeal cancers.  Oral HPV is three times more common in men than in women.

There aren’t a lot of studies that have determined how people contract HPV, and the ones there are often contain conflicting information. Some suggest that HPV may be contracted during oral sex and open-mouthed kissing, however. Some experts believe that increasing numbers of people are engaging in sexual activities with multiple partners, and as a result of oral sex practices, may be contracting HPV in the head and neck region. This is then leading to an increased rate of oral cancer.

“This topic isn’t a pleasant one to talk about, especially around Valentine’s Day,” says Dr. Li. “But I take my job of screening and detecting oral cancer and other pathologies very seriously. I’m not only interested in your teeth, but in how to help you achieve and maintain optimum health in all areas of your life. While I cannot diagnose cancer, I can identify suspicious looking areas of the mouth that require further evaluation, and counsel you on life habits that may be dangerous to your health.”

Because you should see your dental care expert twice a year, he or she may be the best to locate evidence of HPV. Through a visual and tactile exam, as well as an oral history that takes into account signs and symptoms you may have experienced, he or she can determine if you may need further screening.

“HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease and is the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancers,” says Dr. Li. “It’s extremely important to maintain regular visits with your dental and health care providers, and to discuss any lingering issues with them. If you notice abnormal growths, tenderness, discoloration or bleeding, it’s important to contact me right away.”

While Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate love, it is also important to remember the dangers that can be lurking around the corner. From tooth decay to serious diseases, such as oral cancer, there are very real risks associated the day of love. If you think you may be at risk for oral diseases or especially if you fear you may have cause to be concerned about oral cancer, make an appointment with your dental or health care professional today.

© 2014 Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.

Oral Health Issues Specific to Teens

By Pamela Li, in News, on February 11, 2014 | Comments (0)

Teenager with bracesOttawa, Ontario – For most of us, we can remember the teenage years very well – and all the agony that can go along with it. Teens face unique challenges to fit in, and with bullying reports at an all-time high, teens face enormous pressure to fit in. Don’t let their oral health be one of those.

“Teenagers face immense pressure to fit in,” says Ottawa dentist Dr. Pamela Li. “From having the right clothes and shoes, to being involved in the right activities, they are bombarded every day. Bullying is at an all-time high. Don’t let your child’s poor oral health be a contributing factor.”

Did you know that halitosis, or bad breath, is a fairly common occurrence during the teen years? This is often due to improper oral health care and poor diets. And in addition to causing breath that makes no one want to get near them, this can also lead to a higher risk of tooth decay.

Dr. Li reports that nearly 21 percent of children ages 6 to 11 have some sort of decay, and that number increases to a whopping 67 percent during the teen years, 16 to 19.

The best way to avoid bad breath and tooth decay is to start an oral care regimen at an early age, as well as maintain regular visits to a dentist. Teens need to take special care to brush their teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss at least once per day. The tongue can hold a lot of plaque and bacteria because of its rough surface. It is important to clean the surface of their tongue every day with a toothbrush or a special tongue scraper.  Teenagers can also become dehydrated from sweating and exercise so they must keep themselves hydrated by drinking plenty of water.  A dry mouth can lead to increased inflammation and bad breath.

Dental sealants provide a coating that acts as a barrier for the tooth, protecting it from cavities. They are typically applied to the tooth’s chewing surface and cover the pits and grooves found in the teeth. Sealants can be put on by a family dentist, and provide great protection against decay. They hold up well over time, but just because you have a sealant that doesn’t mean you can skimp on your oral health care!

Fluoride is another important aspect of any good dental care regimen. Fluoride strengthens the enamel of the teeth to make them strong enough to fight against decay.  Dr. Li uses a fluoride varnish that is very effective.  The sticky varnish sticks to the teeth for several hours so the fluoride has a longer time to remineralize the tooth surface.

Crooked or misaligned teeth are another problem teens face. When their baby teeth begin to fall out and be replaced by permanent ones, the results can be less than perfect. And for many teens, this can lead to teasing and embarrassment. The British Dental Journal recently published a report on bullying and schoolchildren and found that certain dental characteristics, such as dental malocclusions, can lead to increased instances of bullying. This can then lead to a decrease in self-esteem and a downward spiral into negative oral health care.

But there is a great answer that can help teens achieve a better and healthier smile, without getting teased about having a metal mouth. Invisalign Teen is a clear, comfortable, removable teeth straightening option. The teen simply wears a set of aligners and replaces them with new ones every two weeks. Over the course of treatment, the aligners elicit a gentle yet effective force that guides the teeth into their ideal locations. Because the aligners are virtually invisible, Invisalign allows teens the discreteness they may desire. And because they are also removable, they can eat and drink as usual as well as maintain their standard oral care regimen.

Teens need to be sure they use mouthguards to protect their teeth and mouths while involved in sports. Most teens are aware of the risks when playing some sports such as hockey or rugby but they are not aware of the risks of some other sports such as basketball, volleyball or soccer. Mouthguards work to cushion blows to the face that could result in lip or tooth injuries, jaw fractures, TMJ problems and concussions. Your dentist can help you determine which mouthguard is right for you.

The most important thing for teens to remember during these years is that visits to the dentist are just as important to maintain as their get-togethers with their friends. Without realizing it, skipping dental visits or skimping on their oral care regimen can do lifelong damage to their teeth. Patients should see a dentist at least every six months, and follow all care instructions as provided by the dentist. With a little extra attention, oral health issues don’t have to add to the already long list of things our teens worry about.

© 2014 Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Dr. Pamela Li are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.

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