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5 Misconceptions About Oral Health

Maintaining good oral health is as simple as brushing and flossing two to three times a day and scheduling regular cleanings with a dentist. There are, however, a few misconceptions about oral health that have cropped up over the years that might be leading you or your loved ones astray.

Myth #1: The More Sugary Treats You Eat, The Higher the Risk of Cavities

There is no direct correlation between the amount of sugar consumed and the probability of getting a cavity. While it is true that sugar coverts to acid which erodes the tooth enamel, the quantity of sugar eaten is irrelevant. Eating one cookie is just as damaging as eating two cookies where tooth decay is concerned. The key to avoiding cavities is brushing and flossing on a daily basis, particularly after consuming sugary foods.Oral Health

Myth #2: No Pain Means Healthy Teeth

Tooth pain is usually a pretty indication that the teeth or gums are suffering from some kind of ailment that needs medial attention. In which case, no pain should mean that everything is happy and healthy, right? Not quite. In the early stages of tooth decay, pain is usually not a symptom because the decay has yet to reach the nerve under the tooth. This is why regular check ups and cleanings are an absolute must. During a regular cleaning, dentists have the opportunity inspect the teeth and gums for any sign of an impending health concern.

Myth #3: If the Gums Begin to Bleed, Stop Brushing

As mentioned earlier, bleeding gums is often an indication of poor oral hygiene. It may seem logical to stop brushing at the first sign of blood, but in reality the best course of action is to continue brushing and follow up with flossing. With regular and proper oral care the gums should cease bleeding.

Myth #4: Tooth Sensitivity Indicates Decay

Not all tooth pain is a result of decay. Occasionally, other health issues like a sinuous infection or environmental factors can cause temporary tooth sensitivity. Discuss options– like toothpaste for sensitive teeth with a dentist– to discover a possible solution.

Myth #5: Bleeding Gums is Nothing to Worry About

Given the earlier tidbit on bleeding gums it might be tempting to shrug off bloody gums as nothing to be concerned about. On the contrary, though bleeding gums can be a sign of neglected oral care, depending on how long proper care has been neglect it could be an indicator of a more serious health problem like gingivitis. If bleeding gums persist or the gums are tender to the touch, see a dentist immediately.

What Makes Gums Recede?

Gums are the tissue lining the roots of your teeth and surrounding bone. When healthy, it’s a barrier from bacteria attacking your teeth. The bone and root are firmly attached to each other. The gums can withdraw over time exposing your teeth to bacterial buildup. Because the gums withdraw gradually, it is difficult to spot. Receding gums can compromise dental hygiene, so it’s important to spot recession early on. Your dentist will have recommendations to address the problem, and some are discussed below.

Dental causes

Poor habits such as insufficient care in brushing and flossing teeth can contribute to receding gums. The position of your teeth and bite alignment as well as teeth grinding from stress encourages gum recession. The force applied by teeth clenching may be more stress than your gums can handle. Overcrowding of teeth leaves the gums spread thinly at the root. Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a bacterial attack that is detrimental to your gums’ health. If you suffer from receding gums, your dentist may ask you to visit frequently to monitor and perform a deep cleaning of your mouth.

Take care to avoid overcompensating by brushing teeth using too much force or for too long. Doing so will cause trauma to the gums, which will have the effect of causing your gums to pull back. Flossing using too much strength has a similar effect.

Lifestyle choices that affect your gums

The tobacco in cigarettes adheres to the surface of your teeth. This sticky material attracts bacteria and is not easily removed with regular brushing. Bacteria in your mouth encourages tooth decay and gum disease.

Lip and tongue piercings have ends that introduce a hard material to the soft tissue in your mouth. When speaking or eating, the piercings rub against your tongue and gums, causing the tissue to wear away.

Predispositions to gum loss

The hormones present in the body can actually affect the gum line. Times like puberty, pregnancy, or menopause are linked to periods of gum recession. Similarly, those who suffer from diabetes are more prone to receding gums. Finally, the steps taken for good dental hygiene may not do much to prevent gum recession. A study has shown that up to 30% of receding gums are actually genetic. Some of us are born with gums that provide insufficient coverage and cannot tolerate everyday stresses.

What can you do to Treat Dry Mouth?

Dry mouth is when salivary glands don’t produce a normal amount of saliva to lubricate the tissues of your mouth. When the mouth is too dry, teeth are more susceptible to decay, lips are more likely to dry, and sores or ulcers can develop in the mouth. There are many causes contributing to dry mouth, many of which are connected to side effects of medication.


Dry mouth can be triggered in a number of ways:

  • There are hundreds of medicines that have documented dry mouth as a known side effect. Speak to your doctor to switch to another medicine that doesn’t produce the same effects.
  • Dehydration is also linked directly to dry mouth. High-intensity exercise or water loss through the expulsion of bodily fluids (like diarrhea) are temporary. Dehydration may or may not be treatable simply by drinking more water.
  • Infection of the glands can reduce the amount of saliva produced. A doctor can prescribe antibiotics for resolving the infection.
  • Mouth breathing, either through habit or because of compromised nasal passages and sinuses, will speed up the evaporation of moisture in the mouth. Consider speaking to your doctor who will recommend a regimen for recurrent stuffy noses.
  • Some other causes are more complicated to treat, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, obstructions blocking the salivary flow, compromised nerve endings in the face, AIDS, cerebral palsy, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, hormonal changes, and lupus.

There are dental care products designed for people who suffer from dry mouth. Look for toothpaste and mouthwash that provide temporary relief. There are also prescription substitutes that wet the mouth to be used under a doctor’s supervision.

Non-medical prevention measures

You can encourage the production of saliva by monitoring your diet.

  • Drink water and eat foods with high water content, such as fruit and vegetables or soup.
  • Chewing triggers the mouth into salivating, so chewy foods and the gum will get your glands going.
  • Smoking, drinking, caffeinated drinks, and spicy foods actually increase dry mouth. If you’re thirsty, drink water instead of coffee.

Addressing the symptoms

Dry mouth may not be completely resolved by medication and diet. There are steps to take to relieve the effects:

  • Chapped lips will be soothed using dedicated balms or chapstick.
  • Take care in oral health to prevent tooth decay.
  • Reduce your sugar intake to protect teeth and gums.
  • Soft foods will aggravate mouth ulcers less, unlike brittle or hard foods.

How to Instill Dental Health in your Kids

Tooth decay affects children and adults alike, and although children lose their baby teeth, their mouths will have new teeth along with old ones. It is important to prevent tooth decay from the start. Furthermore, a child should learn dental health care habits early for a lifetime of good oral health.

Daily habits

Children should brush and floss, and the most important brush is the one before bedtime. Between brushing teeth before bed and going to sleep, children should not consume food, especially ones containing sugar. In fact, sugar in general should be avoided in children’s diets, including fortified or natural juice. For parents looking to feed their kids healthy and balanced meals, juice should only be used as a treat instead of a replacement for hydration.

Community involvement

Ideally, your child should see or have seen a dentist by their first birthday. Have your dentist or hygienist explain how to brush and floss teeth. Community health fairs are available in some areas, and visiting the booths is a good way to refresh memories on dental hygiene as explained by healthcare professionals. Your school may hold contests or educational days having to do with dental health, so it is important to mark these days on your calendar. Pay attention to the messages as your child may need a further explanation at home. The importance of having good teeth will be emphasized between dentist appointments.

Parental oversight

Kids do not gain the motor skills to properly brush teeth or floss until rough ages 6 and 10 respectively. Your oversight will be needed until then. For even younger children, you will be the one handling the toothbrush. Use a soft cloth to wipe the teeth of a baby, and floss when two teeth appear side-by-side. Avoid sugary foods and medicine, as children will not have the maturity to make these decisions.


Brush your child’s teeth early enough before he or she becomes too tired during bedtime but late enough that the child isn’t hungry. Allow your child to make decisions involving their dental health, like choosing their toothpaste or toothbrush. However, avoiding brushing is not an option. Choose a child-friendly dentist, preferably one with other children as clients. Ask your dentist for tips on encouraging dental health or for brightly coloured children’s materials explaining hygienic concerns and habits. Non-food related rewards can be used to encourage positive efforts.

Expert Tips for Freshening up your Breath

Personal hygiene is an important complement to interpersonal skills. Sharing space with coworkers, friends, clients, and partners can leave us feeling insecure about personal odours. To check whether you are affected by halitosis or bad breath, you can lick a clean area of your hand or palm and check its odour.

Alternatively, take a clean finger and scrape the tongue in an area close to the throat. If the smell is unpleasant, consider taking steps to improve your breath.


There are actually many health conditions that can contribute to halitosis. Diabetes and acid reflux are some of the non-oral diseases that can affect your breath, but most likely causes relate to dental hygiene or temporary issues. Other observed conditions associated with bad breath include infections of the sinus, nose, throat, and lungs. If the problem of bad breath persists in spite of good eating and dental habits, consult your doctor for further assistance.

Garbage in, garbage out

The scent of strong smelling foods doesn’t disappear after consuming them. Small pieces of garlic, onion, and herbs get trapped between your teeth and in the corners of your mouth. Smells from cheese and fish coat your tongue and throat. Avoid pungent foods, and opt for lighter fare that won’t smell as bad. Coffee drinkers and cigarette smokers often suffer from bad breath as a result.

Practice dental hygiene

Decaying teeth, plaque, and bacteria are the most common reasons for bad breath. Brush your teeth twice a day to remove bacteria from your teeth. Flossing between meals will remove food, plaque, and gum disease. There are dental tools that scrape the tongue, which cleans off bacteria that are removed manually. Rinse your mouth with an anti-bacterial mouthwash. Finally, visit your dentist regularly.

Temporary boost to your breath

Drinking lots of water hydrates your mouth and chewing gum activates salivary glands. Dry mouth has been shown to promote bacterial growth which leads to foul-smelling breath. Gum and mints mask odours but avoid consuming too much sugar, which is bad for teeth. Rotting teeth emit unpleasant smells. Alcohol can also lead to dry mouth, so be sure to stay hydrated while drinking.

Peroxide and fluoride mouth rinses are suggested as well, although you should consult with your dentist who knows your dental needs. Light foods such as yogurt, celery, parsley, can even improve the smell of your breath. Remember that one solution is not a substitute for another. Having good teeth will not do much to combat the smell of strong foods and alcohol.

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Our governing College, Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) has advised dentists that they strongly recommend that all non-essential and elective dental services should be suspended immediately. Public safety is our number one concern. We need to put our patients’ interests and the safety of the community, first. Ontario has declared a state of emergency, and the Canadian government is strongly urging all Canadians to practice social distancing.

Dental hygiene services in a time of a "pandemic" are not considered emergency or essential services. Our College has advised that we postpone all appointments for Hygiene scaling/cleanings until further notice. We may however, be open for EMERGENCIES. We ask that you call one of our offices to schedule this, and to be pre-screened.

What is the definition of an essential service?

In dentistry, a “true emergency situation” includes oral-facial trauma, significant infection, prolonged bleeding or pain which cannot be managed by over-the-counter medications.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we are here for you and want to help. Please call our offices to speak with one of our representatives who will be able to screen and advise you accordingly.  CONSULTATIONS OVER THE PHONE will be available with the Doctor, if needed.

This strong recommendation to suspend non-essential services, is being followed in interest of the public, our patients and our Team. We all need to act in a socially responsible manner. The College will revisit this recommendation in the first week of April. We will continue to keep you up to date.

Stay safe, and healthy.

Drs. Jim Argyropoulos, Robert Polese, Ari Voudouris & Associates