December 1st, 2015

What’s The Best Age For Braces?

A question parents frequently ask is "When should my child get braces?”

Often the answer isn’t that simple. 

2 equally qualified orthodontists will likely give you a different answer. To complicate matters more, they may differ on their treatment plans as well. 

So why this disparity? 

And what should you do?

While there is no ‘perfect age’ for braces, there are some factors to help determine when your child is an ideal candidate for them. 

Orthodontic Screening

The first thing you should do is book an evaluation with your orthodontist. Orthodontists specialize in diagnosing and correcting problems with the teeth and face, and will be able to assess whether your child needs braces. 

The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children should be evaluated by the time they’re age 7.  However, some circumstances may require earlier intervention, such as:

Excessive overcrowding of teeth

Open bites: when the upper and lower front teeth fail to meet 

Overbites: when the upper teeth protrude past the lower teeth

Underbites: when the lower teeth protrude past the upper teeth

Crossbites: when the upper and lower jaw fail to line up

Phase 1 & Phase 2 Treatment

The phase 1 treatment (also known as early intervention treatment) starts before all the permanent teeth have grown out (often when the child is 6 to 10 years old). This treatment is usually recommended to make more space for developing teeth and correct oral problems, such as overbites and cross bites. Phase 1 treatment often involves limited dental hardware, such as expanders and partial braces. 

Phase 2 treatment (also known as comprehensive treatment) begins when the child is older (age 11 to 13) and when all their permanent teeth have grown in. This treatment usually involves full braces.

Whether your child will need phase 1 or 2 treatments will depend on the state of their teeth and if the orthodontist feels earlier intervention is required. 

Why early examinations are beneficial

Having your children examined earlier (before age 7) has numerous benefits, including:

Long-term treatment can be properly determined

Oral problems can be identified earlier

Teeth can be more easily guided for braces, reducing the time they have to be worn

Talk to your orthodontist and together you can come up with the best treatment plan for your child. Braces not only help straighten teeth, they also enhance your child’s self confidence by improving their smile. 

At Shops at Don Mills Dentistry, our orthodontists are qualified and experienced to help you determine when your child is ready for braces. Contact our office today for more information. 

October 30, 2015

Fluoride: Is It Really Good For You?

For decades, it’s been the dental credo that fluoride is an essential part of preventing cavities and building stronger teeth. But when it comes to our overall health, its status remains less clear. Water fluoridation remains a heated topic of debate.  

While medical establishments urge people to educate themselves about the benefits of fluoride, others are more wary.  Some vocal groups argue that even if fluoride has helpful properties, the dangers of it are too risky for a beautiful smile. We’ll take a closer look at the controversy surrounding this substance.

So what is fluoride?

Believe it or not, it’s a naturally occurring mineral that can be found in the food we eat and the water we drink. However, the natural fluoride level for these things can vary greatly, and thus why people are debating whether adding fluoride to drinking water is safe.

There’s solid evidence that shows fluoride is beneficial for your teeth. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that fluoridated water reduces tooth decay over a person's lifetime by 25 percent.   A study in the Journal of Dental Research also supports these claims. The researchers analyzed data from almost 3800 adults who participated in the 2004 to 2006 Australian National Survey of Adult Oral Health.  Based on their results, they found subjects who lived in communities with fluoridated water had significantly less tooth decay – up to 30 percent less – when compared to subjects who lived in unfluoridated communities. 

But that’s not the whole story.  While fluoride helps fight tooth decay, ingesting extreme amounts of it can be dangerous. Young children can also develop fluoride toxicity by ingesting large amounts of fluoride.  In fact, getting too much fluoride can increase the risk of fluorosis – a condition that stains the teeth. 

But don’t be alarmed – you would have to drink 5,000 to 10,000 glasses of fluoridated water in one sitting to reach unsafe levels. Basically any substance can be considered toxic if over consumed. A great example is alcohol. In small quantities, it’s been shown to have health benefits, like reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes.  But if you’re taking 10 shots of vodka in 30 minutes, you’re going to find its pretty lethal stuff. 

Like any substance, it’s the dose that makes the difference.  Fluoride in small amounts has been shown to be effective in preventing cavities and tooth decay.  People of all ages can benefit their oral health by exposing their gums and teeth to fluoride.  Fluoride helps to rebuild your tooth enamel which can be worn-down from acidic bacteria by the foods we eat. Fluoride also makes it more difficult for plaque to stick to your teeth.

The easiest way to get fluoride is by simply drinking water. Health Canada monitors safety levels and has deemed drinking water in Canada among the safest in the world. You can also use fluoridated toothpaste, mouthwash or oral supplements. These few fluoride sources are more than enough to keep your decay at bay.

In the end, you shouldn’t be worried about fluoride. In fact, the fluoridation of drinking water is one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century. So sit back and enjoy that refreshing glass of water. Your teeth will thank you for it.

September 30, 2015

How to Instantly Cure Bad Breath

Imagine, you’re sitting at the restaurant with your gorgeous new date.

You’re both laughing and having a great time.

Everything is going perfectly.

When it suddenly hits you…

Your breath smells!

Maybe it was the onions you ate for lunch.

Or the maybe it was the coffee you had after work.

But you know at this moment, you have to get rid of the stank before your date realizes and runs for the hills.

So what can you do?

Here are some tips to quickly freshen your breath – and maybe also save your date.

Tip 1: Moisten your mouth

Bad breath can often be caused by a dry mouth, so you want to keep your mouth moist and wet. Drinking water helps fight bad odor since it washes away food debris and bacteria in your mouth. In fact, you should be drinking 6 to 8 glasses a day.

Ask for a glass of water with a lemon. Squeeze the lemon into your water and mix it.

Lemons contain citric acid, which will help mask the odor.

To get the best benefit, eat the pulp too.

Tip 2: Use salt

Salt is a great way to kill bacteria in your mouth.

Saltwater rinses have been around for ages. References appear as early as 2700 B.C., where the Chinese used it to treat gum disease. It was a common part of the oral hygiene routine for the upper classes during the Roman Empire.

Grab some salt (there should be some on the table), if you can take it without your date noticing. Another option is to leave for the bathroom and ask the waiter for some salt and a glass of water.

Gargle it for 5 to 10 seconds to kill off some of the bacteria.

If your date asks, you can always just say you have a sore throat.

Tip 3: Eat something crunchy

Order a salad that comes with apples, celery, or carrots.

The fibrous nature of these foods promotes saliva production and maintains healthy pH levels in your mouth.

They’re high fibre content also has the added benefit of gently massaging your gums while freshening your breath.

Tip 4: Munch on parsley

Parsley is a fantastic natural breath freshener.

It contains chlorophyll to fight bad breath and neutralize internal body odors before they leave your body. The herb is also rich in calcium and fluorine, which helps to strengthen tooth enamel.

Ask for a dish that comes with parsley for instant breath refreshment. Be sure to excuse yourself after to check if any of the herb is stuck in your teeth.

Tip 5:  Clean your tongue

Did you know that as much as 50% of the bacteria in your mouth live on your tongue? Yuck. And it’s these particular bacteria that cause bad breath.

The best way of removing bacteria on your tongue is by scraping it off.

• Sneak a spoon into the bathroom and moisten it (this makes it easier to wash the scraped off gunk).

Turn the spoon upside down, stick out your tongue, and gently scrape your tongue from back to front.  Don’t forget the sides. Also try to relax or you will gag.

Once you’re done, rinse your mouth. You’ll be surprised with how much cleaner your mouth will feel.

Practicing Good Dental Hygiene

To keep your breath smelling fresh, it’s important to brush your teeth, floss, and use mouthwash. Good oral habits also keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Bad breath can be caused by variety of things, including dry mouth, gum disease, smoking and medications. If bad breath is a persistent issue, you should check with your dentist or doctor for any underlying problems.

September 18, 2015

5 Home Remedies To Soothe A Toothache

A toothache is a terrible thing to endure. 

If you’ve been unlucky enough of having one, you know how painful they can be.  

The numbing throbbing pain you can feel in your jaw and just about every other part of your body. 

They also have a knack of hitting you at the worse possible times – when it’s late at night and your dentist’s office is closed. Talk about frustrating!

So why do we get toothaches?

Toothaches happen when the central portion of the tooth, the pulp, becomes inflamed. The pulp contains nerve endings that are highly sensitive to pain. Inflammation to the pulp can be caused by various reasons such as cavities, trauma, and infection. 

It’s important that if your tooth aches you should see a dentist as soon as possible. There’s a chance it could be infected and if left untreated it can lead to bigger health problems beyond the affected tooth.  

These 5 home remedies should hold you over until you can visit the dentist:

Salt water

This is probably one of the best ways for soothing a toothache. Mix ¼ to 1/2 tsp. of salt in a glass of warm water. Gargle it for 5 to 10 seconds, spit it out and repeat. The salt water helps kill the bacteria in the affected area and reduce the pressure on the nerve endings. 

Note: Don’t swallow the salt water.


Painkillers provide quick, effective relief for minor toothaches. Having a sore tooth can make it difficult to eat, speak and even sleep, so an over-the-counter pain medicine can help ease the pain. 

Note: Don’t place the aspirin on the gum of the affected tooth. Aspirin is an acid and will burn your gums. Swallow the aspirin instead.


Clove Oil

Clove oil, also known as Eugenol, is a common ingredient found in dental products. Cloves have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant and anesthetic properties that help ease tooth pain and fight infection. 

Mix 2-3 drops with olive or cooking oil and apply the mixture on the sore tooth. You can also dab a cotton ball in the oil mixture and rub it on the affected area. 

Note: You can find clove oil at most drug stores

Ice Pack

Fill a Ziploc bag with ice, wrap a cloth around it, and hold it over your cheek where it hurts. The cold temperature will numb the pain.  

Note: Don’t apply the ice directly on the affected tooth. Teeth inflamed by toothaches are sensitive to hot and cold temperatures, so this will only increase the pain. 

Hard Liquor

Alcohol is an antiseptic and an astringent and can help ease the pain of a toothache. Swoosh a bit of whiskey, scotch or vodka. Another option is pouring some it on a cotton ball and applying it to the sore tooth. 


Note: A strong mouthwash with alcohol will also work.

August 31, 2015

7 Foods That Will Naturally Whiten Your Smile

Some foods can seriously harm your teeth…

…they can turn a beautiful white smile into a grossly dark sight.   

Coffee, tea, and red wine are common stain offenders.  But it’s not all bad news.  There are also foods that can help get your teeth whiter. 

What are they?

Here are 7 of the best foods to brighten your smile:


Strawberries may stain your shirt, but are great for your teeth. The red fruit contains malic acid, which removes surface stains and discolorations.  The berries’ texture also helps to polish your enamel, making it smoother and whiter, while its antioxidant properties help to prevent gum infections.  


Your mom was right – Drink milk and you’ll be big and strong. But she forgot 1 thing: It will strengthen your teeth as well.

Milk is loaded with calcium, vitamin D and phosphorous, which help make tooth enamel stronger and whiter. It also promotes saliva secretion to help balance your mouth’s pH level and fight against bacteria. 


Eating cheese with your meal can help fight cavities.  Like milk, it contains calcium, phosphate and also casein, which help keep your teeth and gums healthy. 


Not like many vegetables, broccoli rarely gets stuck in teeth, so won’t cause staining. It contains fiber and iron, which help to reduce inflammation and protect your teeth against bacteria that can cause cavities. 

Tip: The best way to eat broccoli is raw.  The florets (the flowery part) will polish and clean your teeth while you chew. 


Chewing this hard fruit will keep your choppers in tip-top shape.   The apple’s crispy texture scrubs your teeth and gums, while its high malic acid content helps to remove stains while increasing saliva production 

Remember, an apple a day keeps the cavities away. 


Carrots are a fantastic natural teeth cleaner. Similar to apples, its crunchy abrasive texture polishes teeth and removes surface stains.  Carrots also encourage saliva production to protect teeth against cavity-causing bacteria. 


Don’t be fooled by its small wrinkly appearance. Research shows that bran cereals with raisins are more effective at cleaning the mouth than the same cereal without raisins.  


Like many of the other foods on this list, munching on raisins promotes saliva production, which helps fight stains and plaque. 

August 20, 2015

Oral Health And Mental Health – Is There A Connection?

Good oral health not only improves your overall health, it enhances your self-image and quality of life. 

But does your oral health also impact your mental health? And vise versa?

Is there a correlation?

The answer isn’t so simple.

Research shows people with mental health problems are less likely to focus on their oral health due to other issues they’re facing, such as depression and trauma. But people with poor oral health are also more likely to have emotional and self-image problems.

It’s safe to say the oral-mental health relationship is complicated. 

We’ll examine this matter more closely now… 

How Mental Illness Drugs Affect Oral Health

People who suffer from mental health problems are likely prescribed drugs to treat their symptoms. However, one common side effect of most mental illness drugs is increased dry mouth. This can impact oral health by increasing the risk of dental caries, gum disease, oral infections, and even salivary gland inflammation. 

Medication-induced dyskinesia is another worrying consequence of long term anti-psychotic drug use.  This condition is characterized by continuous muscle contraction that appears shortly after taking antipsychotic medication. Any of the body’s muscles can be affected, such as the jaw, throat, and tongue. When the throat muscles are affected (a condition known as acute laryngospasm) it can be very serious, since it can impair breathing.  

Lifestyle-Socio-Economic Factors and Barriers

People with mental health problems are more likely to have lifestyle and socio-economic challenges that can contribute to poor oral health. These may include: 

    •    Lack of understanding about oral diseases and how to prevent them

    •    Unhealthy eating habits

    •    Poor life style choices (binge drinking, smoking and drug use) as a way to deal with problems.

    •    Bad past experiences with dentists

    •    Fear and anxiety about dental treatments

    •    Poor housing conditions (including homelessness) and lack of privacy for personal hygiene

    •    Mental illnesses, such as dementia, which can affect a person’s ability to think clearly and take care of him/herself

Any of these factors can hinder someone with mental health problems to get proper oral care. It’s important to address these issues to make oral health care more within reach for these individuals. 

How to Improve Oral Care for People with Mental Health Problems

Finding ways to make oral care more accessible and providing better education about dental hygiene are the best ways to improve oral health for people with mental health problems. Mental and dental health are closely linked since physical wellbeing has an impact on mental wellbeing and vise versa. Promoting and ensuring good dental habits is especially vital because mental health problems can seriously impede daily function.

Advice on healthy eating and importance of proper lubrication to alleviate the dry mouth symptoms are crucial to relieve the unpleasant oral side effect caused from mental medications. Highlighting the harmful effects of smoking, heavy drinking and drug use will also help people to make healthier life style choices. 

More collaboration between dental care, mental health, and social care segments is needed. This will help dental professionals to understand the major diagnostic conditions and how to better treat people with mental health problems. This will also help them feel more comfortable receiving dental treatment. 

Simply put, more needs to be done to ensure everyone is getting proper dental care. Because everyone deserves a healthy beautiful smile. 

Do you have any suggestions yourself? 

We’d love to hear them in the comment section below.


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Shops at Don Mills Dentistry
Dr. Bill Lam
6 Maginn Mews
Suite 213
Toronto, Ontario M3C 0G9

P. 416-447-3131