Everything You Need to Know About Preventative Dental Care

So much of our daily lives are impacted by oral health. For many of our Edmonton patients, having a healthy smile provides encouragement and improves confidence. By taking daily preventative measures to improve your oral health you may be able to avoid serious complications like cavities, gum disease or dental emergencies.


What is Preventative Dental Care?

You’ve probably heard it time and time again: brush and floss daily! But that’s only part of the preventative care picture. There are steps you can take daily, monthly and even yearly to ensure your smile is healthy. Preventative dentistry is a combination of routine dental checkups and daily habits like brushing your teeth, flossing, and using mouthwash. 


Tips for Preventative Dental Care at Home

Better oral health begins at home! The good news is that the time and effort required to practice proper daily hygiene is not as daunting as you might think. For some patients the most difficult part is establishing a routine. Once you understand the steps and frequency of proper daily oral hygiene, you can begin to practice a routine that will soon become a healthy habit.


Brush at Least Twice Daily

Frequent brushing is one of the most important and effective preventive measures you can take on a daily basis. Brushing your teeth removes bacteria and plaque that can quickly build up between meals and overnight. Brushing frequently can help prevent cavities and gum disease. You should brush at least twice a day, but it is recommended that you also brush after every meal.

Use a soft bristle brush and brush in a  semi-circular motion. Do not apply a lot of pressure or brush too vigorously, or you may damage your gums.


Floss at Least Once Daily

Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease, and brushing alone can’t reach every nook and cranny of your teeth and gums. Flossing can reach the spaces that toothbrush bristles can’t. By flossing at least once a day, you can avoid the build up of tartar in hard to reach places between your teeth and in the gumline. 

Looking for even more reasons to floss? It can help prevent bad breath!


Use Mouthwash

Some patients don’t like the taste or sensation of mouthwash, and may opt not to include it in part of daily preventative dental care. There are numerous over the counter mouthwashes available, and even some prescription mouthwashes for use in specific cases. Dr. Li can help you choose a mouthwash that will work best for your dental health plan.


How Can a Dentist Help Me Improve My Dental Health?

Preventative dentistry gives you and your dentist insight into dental health throughout the year, so that complications like cavities can be caught before they become more serious. As part of a preventative dental care plan you may receive:


Dental X-Rays

Dental x-rays help identify hidden cavities or other problems lurking deep within your teeth and gums. Dr. Li uses digital x-rays, which are a fast and convenient alternative to traditional dental x-ray machines. Every patient’s care plan is different, so the frequency of getting dental x-rays will vary depending on your unique situation.


Routine Teeth Cleaning

Teeth cleaning is typically performed by a dental hygienist who will remove tartar and plaque from your teeth using various dental instruments. Teeth cleaning is an important part of preventative dentistry because it gives our care team an opportunity to closely examine your oral health and reduce build up between cleanings. 

We recommend that patients have their teeth cleaned once a quarter, every 6 months, or at least once a year depending on your clinical condition and current oral health.


Regular Dental Examinations

Regular dental examinations allow your dentist to track your oral health and identify potential problems year over year. Dental checkups may be performed during the same appointment as a routine teeth cleaning, but might be scheduled separately if your dentist wants to take a deeper look into your oral health. If you feel pain in your mouth or suspect there is a sudden problem with your teeth or gums, please contact us for an examination. 

Being proactive about your dental health is a team effort! Dr. Li and her staff can help you achieve your dental health goals through our preventative dentistry program. Contact our friendly care team today to schedule a consultation. Dr. Li will evaluate your oral health and create a preventative dental care plan that fits your unique situation. Call us at 708-705-9866 or click here to contact us online.

Is Invisalign Worth It? A Guide To Invisalign Treatment

Invisalign has risen in popularity as a convenient and discreet aligner that straightens your teeth without the need for braces or more complex orthodontic treatment. Invisalign is an alternative to traditional orthodontic braces.

Dr. Li is a licensed Invisalign vendor and has offered Invisalign to Edmonton patients for many years. Patients often have many questions about Invisalign and if it will work for their unique situation. Here are some of the most common questions about Invisalign to help you understand the benefits of this revolutionary tooth realignment system.


How does Invisalign work?

Invisalign clear braces are a convenient alternative to metal braces and can correct most minor and moderate teeth alignment problems. Invisalign can even treat certain severe issues like malocclusion, overbites and underbites. Most people choose Invisalign to help correct teeth alignment problems, gapped teeth and protruding teeth.

Invisalign aligners are created from a 3D model of your teeth. Dr. Li takes x-rays and impressions of your teeth to create a 3D image which is then used to map the movement of the teeth in order to achieve alignment. This helps Dr. Li predict how your teeth will move, and allows her to create the many subsequent sets (called trays) that you will swap in and out as part of your treatment plan.

In the beginning patients are issued a custom clear aligner created from the 3D model. The aligner puts pressure on your teeth to slowly move them into alignment over time. A new aligner is provided every two weeks until the desired result has been achieved.


How long does Invisalign take?

The average patient will wear Invisalign for 12 to 18 months. Initial results may be observed in as few as 10 weeks. Some patients need only minor corrections to their smile and may only need to wear Invisalign for six or seven months. The average adult patient can expect to wear Invisalign for about a year. 

Your teeth are as unique as your fingerprint, and your treatment plan will be carefully tailored to your exact needs.

Can Invisalign fix an overbite?

It was once thought that Invisalign can’t fix overbites, and in the early days of Invisalign that may have been true, but Invisalign technology has come an incredible way and modern Invisalign treatment may fix certain overbites. Each patient’s overbite is unique and the extent of the treatment required may or may not be solved with Invisalign. There are a couple of key factors in determining if Invisalign can help with your overbite:

  • The patient’s age
  • How severe of an overbite the patient has.

For patients 12 and under Invisalign can help direct and correct the patient’s bite. Using Invisalign Mandibular Advancement we can pull a patient’s lower jaw in small increments over time, which can help correct an overbite.

In teen and adult patients the mandibular advancement can no longer correct the overbite, but there are other treatment options. Elastics can be utilized in tandem with Invisalign aligners to gradually move the bottom teeth forward while moving upper teeth back.

In cases of a severe overbite, alternative treatments may be necessary to correct the position of the teeth. Dr. Li can evaluate your overbite to determine if Invisalign is the right aligner for you.


Can you eat with Invisalign?

Invisalign works by straightening your teeth with pressure in order to push them into alignment and proper position. It’s important that your Invisalign trays stay in a fixed and stable position in order to work properly. Mealtime can be tricky because you don’t always know when or for how long you will be eating. If you frequently snack or take a long time to eat, you run the risk of not wearing your Invisalign for the required 20 to 22 hours a day.

One of the benefits of Invisalign is that you can remove them anytime and have the freedom to eat or drink whatever you want, which is a luxury not afforded to those who wear traditional metal braces. However, it’s important to remember that you need to remove your Invisalign trays anytime you eat or drink. You may leave your Invisalign trays in while drinking water, but all other foods and beverages must be consumed in a timely manner, and while you are not wearing Invisalign.

We recommend planning your meals ahead of time so that you can budget the amount of time you will have the trays out of your mouth. Remember, you must wear your Invisalign 20 to 22 hours a day, so keep snack and meal times to a minimum. 

You must also avoid gum while wearing your aligners. Never chew gum while using Invisalign! 

After every snack or meal, be sure to brush your teeth before putting your Invisalign trays back on. You do not want to trap food or drink particles in your teeth, where they can damage your Invisalign trays or cause cavities. Be sure to practice proper daily oral hygiene. 

If you have additional questions about Invisalign, contact our care team or click here to contact us now for a personal consultation and treatment plan.

Understanding dental implants and dental implant surgery

Patients often have a negative perception of dental implants and think that because dental implants involve placing metal into your jaw, that the procedure must be painful and frightening. You will be relieved to learn that dental implant surgery is a safe procedure that can be less daunting than dental extractions or other major dental surgeries. 


What are dental implants?

Dental implants are artificial replacements for missing teeth. Many patients seek dental implants to help restore confidence in their smile and improve their ability to eat and drink normally. Dental implants can also help reduce the risk of bone loss and prevent surrounding teeth from drifting or moving into the empty space once occupied by a tooth.

During dental implant surgery the roots of a missing tooth are replaced with screw-like metal “posts” that are placed into the jawbone. These metal posts support an artificial tooth that looks and functions like a natural tooth. Because the implant is placed directly into the jawbone, dental implants offer superior protection against slippage that commonly occurs with dentures. 

You may be surprised to learn that dental implant surgery is not a single procedure, but is performed in stages, typically over the span of several months. The time between each step in the implant process allows your body to heal and grow new bone tissue.

During your initial dental implant consultation, Dr. Li will perform a comprehensive dental exam that may include x-rays and advanced photography or modeling to get an accurate “picture” of your jaw. We will also conduct a thorough review of your medical history to determine if you are a candidate for dental implant surgery, and to evaluate your tolerance to any prescription pain medications that may be prescribed after the procedure.

Local anesthesia, general anesthesia, sedation or a combination of pain control techniques may be used during surgery. Dr. Li will work with you to find the best anesthesia option to help you feel comfortable and stress-free during the procedure. Depending on the type of anesthesia chosen for the dental implant surgery, our care team will provide you with detailed pre-operation and post-operative care guides that will explain what you can eat or drink before and after surgery.


Are dental implants painful?

While dental implant surgery may sound frightening, many patients report a high degree of satisfaction with the procedure and cite only mild discomfort in the days following. Dr. Li will prescribe pain medication to help ease the symptoms during recovery. Symptoms may include facial swelling, soreness around the cheeks or implant site, and bruising or minor bleeding. 

During the procedure Dr. Li will monitor your comfort to ensure you cannot feel any aspect of the surgery. If you are exceptionally nervous about being awake during dental implant surgery, Dr. Li can discuss if sedatives or general anesthesia might be the right fit for you.


How long do dental implants last?

Dental implants are designed to last many years, with some studies indicating implants that have lasted up to 20 years! The “lifespan” of your dental implant depends on many factors including lifestyle, hygiene and overall health.

Patients who smoke have a higher risk of damaging their dental implant. People who have diabetes or cancer are also at an increased risk of dental failure. Implants may also decline over time depending on the location of the implant. For example, implants near the back of the mouth may wear out faster due to the high impact of chewing.

Dr. Li will perform a thorough evaluation of your health and inform you if you are at an increased risk for dental implant failure.

To protect the integrity of your dental implant, be sure to practice daily and thorough oral hygiene. Regular flossing and brushing will help ensure your investment in a dental implant pays off for years to come.


How much do dental implants cost?

Dental implants are typically priced individually, since most patients only require one or a few implants at a time. The price for a single implant can cost anywhere from $900 to several thousand dollars depending on a patient’s specific dental needs. 

Dr. Li and the care team at Ellerslie 66 Dental Clinic strive to make dental care affordable and accessible to all of our patients. We will work with you to find a dental implant treatment plan that works for your financial situation.

If you have questions about dental implants or dental implant surgery, our compassionate care team can help you understand all of your options. Contact us now or give us a call at (780) 705-9866.

What to Expect When You Return to the Dentist After a Long Lapse

Many younger adults forego regular dental checkups during their 20s and 30s. This leads to major complications later in life, when those poor habits earlier in life can lead to oral health problems that are difficult and expensive to remedy.

Yet, more than one in three adults in Canada and the United States have not visited a dentist in the last year! This is a serious public health issue; regular dental checkups not only benefit your dental hygiene but can also help in detecting other undiagnosed medical issues such as sleep apnea and the risk issues related to heart disease. 

It’s literally true that seeing your dentist regularly could potentially save your life.

If you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, it’s probably something that is lingering in the back of your mind. You know you need to go in and establish a regular dental care routine with your dentist, but you are anxious about the fact that you haven’t been in a while and you aren’t sure what to expect when you return to the dentist office. 

This primer will help you understand what a routine dental process looks like, as many who haven’t been to a dentist since childhood don’t remember exactly what to expect.

Just how often should I go to the dentist?

Most experts recommend that people visit their dentist for a routine checkup every six months. This is recommended so that patients stay up to date on your oral hygiene and avoid the need for emergency services that may or may not be covered by your insurance. Seeing the dentist at scheduled intervals can aid in early detection of gum disease, oral cancer and other potential diseases. 

Pregnant women may want to have checkups more frequently during their pregnancy due their heightened vulnerability to gum disease and tooth decay during that time. 

Regular visits to the dentist can not only help you detect serious health issues, regular cleanings can actually prevent the development of such conditions. A correlation has been found between heart disease and severe forms of gum disease — 91 percent of patients with heart disease report a severe form of gum disease. Studies show inflammation in the mouth causes inflammation throughout the blood vessels, which could raise blood pressure and cause a severe heart attack. Regular visits can help you to avoid the onset of gum disease and the associated potential health risks.

Is my medical and dental history important?

Yes it is very important. At the beginning of an appointment with a new dentist, you can anticipate a thorough survey about your personal and family medical history. This will offer your dentist further insight into issues that they should be on high alert for. For example, if you note that you are a consistent snorer in your sleep, it will tip off to your dentist to discuss snoring mouthpiece options with you during your exam or screen you for potential sleep apnea.

What to expect in the initial dental exam?

In addition to your medical history, your dentist will gather further information through a series of tests and examinations. When your dentist asks you to open your mouth and say “ah”, they are looking for inflammation in your tonsils, any health indicators present on your tongue, and any other potential abnormalities.

Will I need to have an X-ray?

Likely X-rays are very important to a a thorough dental exam. They enable your dentist to see what is happening inside your mouth that is not visible to the naked eye. X-rays can show decay, cavities, impacted teeth, and even signs of cancer.

There are many different types of x-rays that your dentist might conduct depending on what features they would like to focus on:

  • Cone Beam Computerized Tomography: Provides a 3D display to better inspect the spacing of teeth and bones.
  • Bitewing: An x-ray film is placed between the teeth to visualize the crowns of the upper and lower teeth.
  • Periapical: Used to see the entire tooth and the surrounding bone.
  • Panoramic: Gives the dentist a broad view of the entire mouth.
  • Occlusal: Aids in evaluating how the upper teeth and corresponding lower teeth fit together when your jaw is closed.


What can I expect during a dental cleaning?

Dental cleanings are an opportunity for your dental hygienist to remove any tartar and plaque build up. Plague is the leading cause of tooth decay due to its acidic nature. It can eat away at the tooth’s enamel and cause cavities to form. If the plaque and cavities go untreated, the plague can travel down to the bone of the tooth and cause it to loosen and fall out. If you are a consistent coffee, black tea or red wine drinker, regular cleanings can also help to reduce the amount of staining that such beverages can cause.


Will I receive an oral cancer screening?

Typically, during the dental cleaning you will also go through an oral cancer screening. There are two steps to the oral cancer screening. The first step is conducted by the dentist feeling the soft spots of your throat, neck and lymph nodes for any abnormalities. The second step uses a technology called a VELscope. A VELscope is a blue light that is shone into your mouth and illuminates any unhealthy tissues.


What is a dental health plan and do I need one?

A thorough dental exam is the gateway to a healthy smile. After a thorough examination, you and your dentist will design a treatment plan to address any issues that may have been found. Perhaps you may need a couple of cavities filled or a bridge repaired. A patient can only withstand so much dental work in one appointment. Making a plan to establish a timeline for repairs, treatments and regular cleanings you are putting your health first and possibly prolonging your life. 

5 Principles of Children’s Dental Health

Most adults with good oral hygiene picked up the habits instilled that were instilled in them as reluctant children. Similarly, adults with poor oral hygiene are suffering from bad habits they picked up as kids.

If you have small children, it’s up to you to keep their teeth clean for now, or teach them how. Of course, this requires time and effort on your part. But later in life, your children will thank you and it will be worth it.


Account for children’s sensitive teeth

Young children have sensitive teeth that they are still learning how to use. They can’t take all the wear and tear you no doubt put on yours when you chew extra hard things, and they may not even have the muscles developed for that anyway.

It is best to treat sensitive teeth very carefully. Start out with softer toothbrushes (or your finger for infants), childrens’ toothpastes, and if you can afford to, try and get your child in for the occasional dentist visit. It’s also wise to give them fluoride tablets here and there, especially if your tap water does not include fluoride already. Fluoride helps to make teeth stronger.


Bad Gums Can Occur Early in Life

“[Plaque] can cause soreness, swelling, and bleeding in your gums” WebMD writes. This is doubly important for a child. You need to be brushing your child’s teeth frequently, and flossing as well.

Of course, this includes brushing your child’s gums too. Food particles and plaque can still get on their actual gums, and a rinse isn’t good enough to get it all out. So take care of their whole mouth, not just their teeth. Teeth and gums operate together and independently of each other on some level, and they need to be treated accordingly.


Don’t Wait Too Long to Get Braces

Understand that when we use the word “early,” we don’t necessarily mean too early for your child to have braces. But don’t wait too long once you know they are needed.

Braces aren’t just for straightening teeth, they help with overbites and underbites as well. With an overbite or underbite, your child’s jaw could grow wrong and they may have permanent problems with their mouth. This is also where semi-regular dentist visits come in. The dentist will let you know if and when your child needs braces, retainers, headgear, and the like. So the more you’re able to see the dentist, the better you’ll be able to prevent these sorts of things from happening.


Cavities Can Be A Problem At Any Age

When it comes to dental disease and cavities in children, the parents actually play a bigger role than you might think. According to the WDA, infants are at risk if their mothers don’t take good care of their own teeth, due to transmission of germs. It’s also good for parents to keep sugary things away from them, at least in large.

Of course at any age, children’s teeth can get cavities, so maintaining proper oral hygiene for your child is very important from that angle alone. Maintaining a careful stance on sugar, as well as regular brushing and flossing, should follow them as they grow up, so when they’re of age to start doing these things themselves they can carry those habits on.


Reinforce Positive Attitudes about Dental Care

According to WebMD, most children lack the coordination to brush and floss their own teeth until they’re about 6 or 7. But as early as you feel is reasonable, teaching them to take the reigns sooner than later may be a good idea.

Colgate’s website has an interesting and unusual piece of advice, but insightful nonetheless: don’t instill fear. Since some children are reluctant to oral care, many parents have been known to tell stories of scary dental procedures and surgeries.

However, as Colgate writes, “Making the dentist a source of fear can even lead to an unhealthy avoidance of dental appointments in adults.” Rewarding kids for the right actions will work better than scaring them for the wrong ones.