Higson Dental Group

Top 4 Reasons Why You Should Be Thinking About Getting Dentures

Dentures are a very cost effective solution for missing teeth. When properly cared for, a quality pair of dentures can last you for up to 10 years. If you’re missing one or more of your natural teeth, then it is definitely time to start thinking about artificial teeth and how they could benefit you. The top four reasons why you should get dentures from a Grande Prairie dental clinic such as Higson Dental Group are:

1) To protect your natural teeth

When you lose a tooth, the surrounding teeth have to pick up the slack. You begin to rely on them more for chewing, which places more pressure on them over time and may cause them to drift. False teeth can help by taking the stress off those teeth and distributing the force of chewing throughout the entire mouth.

Dentures available in Grande Prairie, Spirit River, Valleyview, Beaverlodge, Fairview Alberta

2) To improve your speech

Your teeth play a big role in your ability to properly enunciate words. The pronunciation of “s” and “t” sounds becomes especially difficult for people who are missing their front teeth. Dentures can work with your tongue just as well as natural teeth would, allowing you, with some practice, to improve your speech.

3) To help with chewing and digestion

As mentioned above, dentures can restore your ability to chew properly. This is important not only for your dental health, but for your digestive health as well. Your mouth is the beginning of your entire digestive system, and food that is not broken down in the mouth as it should be can lead to digestive issues.

4) To boost your self-confidence

Smiles are often the first things that people notice about each other. Having one or more missing teeth can give you some anxiety about your smile, and may even lead to a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem. Artificial teeth can help restore your confidence and let you enjoy smiling again.

 

If you live in the Grande Prairie area and you feel that false teeth are a good choice for you, then get in touch with the Higson Dental Group. Our dental professionals can provide you with partial or complete dentures, and, with regular visits, we can help you keep them in tip-top shape for a long time to come as well.

Dental Implants: Are they right for you?

Not everyone is blessed with perfect teeth. Many people would tell you they lack the smile they’ve always wanted due to genetics, disease, and sometimes even accidents. Fortunately, we have a solution. With dental implants, you will no longer feel self-conscious about your smile; but rather delight in having a new and improved grin!

Grande Prairie Clinic Dental ImplantsWhat are dental implants?

Technically, dental implants are replacement roots for missing teeth. First, the implant, a titanium screw, is inserted into the jawbone. Next, a removable or permanent replacement tooth is attached to the top of the implant to mirror the appearance of your natural teeth. Currently, over 3 million people worldwide have dental implants and the technology has reached a point where each procedure has a 98% success rate.

Why should I get dental implants?

Beyond simply improving the appearance of your smile, dental implants include many other benefits:

  • Oral health: Unlike other restorative procedures, dental implants do not necessitate the reduction or alteration of neighboring teeth, thus resulting in improved oral health overall. Additionally, dental implants do not interfere with access to neighboring teeth, so it is no harder to brush or floss.
  • Longevity: While other dental aides such as dentures and bridges inevitably require replacement, dental implants are extremely durable, lasting many more years and in some cases even a lifetime!
  • Convenience: Dental implants do not ever need to be removed for activities such as eating, drinking and brushing, and do not require adhesives. They act, look and feel just like natural teeth!

How much do dental implants cost?

Dental insurance does not always cover the cost of dental implants. However, in the long run, dental implants are usually cheaper than other restorative procedures. Because they do not need to be replaced, the initial investment for implants is well worth the price.

Dental implants are becoming a popular trend in the world! Call us to set up an appointment to upgrade your smile!

All Oral Bacteria are Not Equal

The mouth harbors a diverse and plentiful microbial community due to its hospitable environment. It is warm, nutrient-rich and maintains an ideal pH balance. The highly diverse microflora inhabits the various surfaces of the normal mouth- gums, teeth, tongue, and cheeks. What many people don’t realize is that most of the bacteria are beneficial organisms and live in harmony with each other and the human body.

All Oral Bacteria Is Not Created EqualThe “Bad Guys” of Dental Bacteria

Interestingly, a new born baby’s mouth does not contain bacteria, but becomes colonized rapidly in the early stages of life. Nobody knows for sure how many different bacteria species there are. Estimates in the oral cavity alone vary between 500 to 650 different species. Only a few specific species are believed to cause dental caries, including Steptococcus mutans, considered the most important bacteria involved with tooth decay. However, the type of bacteria varies according to the progress of tooth destruction.

This harmful bacteria collects around the teeth and gums forming a sticky, creamy-colored mass called plaque. Some areas of the mouth collect plaque more commonly due to less salivary flow, such as grooves in molars and between teeth. The oral cavity actually contains the only known part of the human body that does not have a regulated system of shedding surfaces: the teeth. This allows plaque to adhere to the surface of teeth for long periods of time. At first, plaque is soft enough to come off easily with a toothbrush. However, it starts to harden within 48 hours. After about 10 days, the plaque becomes dental calculus, called tarter, and is now difficult to remove.

Villains Love Carbohydrates

Sugars from candy, soft drinks, and fruit juice can play a significant role in tooth decay. When sucrose (table sugar), the most common of sugars, coats the surface of the mouth, some intraoral bacteria interact with it. The result is lactic acid, which decreases the pH in the mouth. This demineralization allows for greater bacterial invasion deep into the tooth.

Carcinogenicity, or the extent to which tooth decay is likely, depends heavily on how long the sugar remains in the mouth. Surprisingly, it is not the amount of sugar ingested but the frequency of sugar ingestion that is the most important factor in tooth decay.

Bacteria’s Kryptonite

Oral hygiene is key to battling the bacteria “bad guys”. Brushing your teeth twice a day will reduce dental plaque and food particles collecting around your teeth. Additionally, it is imperative to floss daily to wipe all your enamel surfaces free of plaque to discourage bacterial growth. Good general oral-health habits can usually prevent enough bacterial growth to keep tooth decay from starting.

Traveling and Oral Health: Tooth Tips for the Holidays

We don’t have to tell you: the winter holidays mark one of the busiest seasons of the year. With shopping, parties and vacations jam-packed on the calendar, it’s no wonder that many people take shortcuts when it comes to oral health maintenance during this time. If you are traveling during the holiday season and you want to avoid a January surprise cavity (or worse), here are some simple tooth travel tips to help you keep your smile intact.

  1. Dental Care while Travelling out of Grande PrairieDon’t leave home with a toothache! If you suspect you have any lurking problems in your mouth, schedule an appointment prior to your travel date so that you don’t end up with a tooth emergency while out of town. Research emergency dental clinics in your destination city and have those numbers handy to ensure that your time off is as relaxing as possible.
  2. No one ever regrets buying travel-sized gear. Keeping a travel toothbrush, floss and toothpaste on hand in addition to trial sizes of your favorite toiletries reduces your packing time, and not just during the holidays.
  3. Splurge on probiotics! Diseases and germs run rampant in buses, airports and other communal places that you might encounter during your trip. Researchers believe that probiotics are not only good for the gut; they may help maintain optimal oral health too!
  4. Toothbrushes don’t last forever! Generally, dentists recommend that you buy a new toothbrush every two to three months when at home. However if you are traveling, your toothbrush is exposed to even more bacteria. It’s best to toss it when you return home and swap it for a fresh brush, even if it hasn’t hit the three-month mark yet.
  5. Chewing gum is a limitless oral-health-on-the-go tip! Bringing sugar-free gum with you has multiple benefits; not only does it taste good and make your breath smell fresh, but the gum can help remove food that may be stuck in your teeth as well, acting as a secondary toothbrush.

Dental Implants: Five Things You May Not Know

How much do you know about dental implants? With the increasing popularity and availability of dental implant surgery worldwide, patients are gaining more and more knowledge about dental implants every day.

Dental Implant eBut did you know these five important facts?

  1. Dental implants are appropriate for almost all ages. Not just for the elderly, dental implants are frequently placed even in the mouths of young adults. As long as the jaw has stopped growing (after puberty; age 16 for girls and age 18 for boys), a dental implant can be placed with great success.
  2. The titanium post actually fuses (osseointegrates) with the natural jawbone. They grow together to form a stronger foundation for replacement teeth. So dental implants actually improve the bone structure in the jaw, they don’t just fill it in.
  3. The “dental implant” is actually just the titanium post, one of three parts of the whole process. Other parts used in the full procedure that we think of as “dental implant surgery” are known as the abutment (the connector) and the actual replacement tooth itself (the crown).
  4. Dental implants preserve jawbone, whereas other teeth replacement options can lead to bone deterioration. Bone is similar to muscle in that it must be used in order to maintain its mass. When a tooth goes missing and the site is left untreated, the jawbone underneath tends to deteriorate. Dental implants eliminate this problem by securing a natural-like tooth right into the jawbone and thus utilizing (and preserving) that area of bone.
  5. Dental implants protect their neighbors. By contrast, a traditional, tooth-supported bridge involves the grinding away of the teeth on either side to act as a hammock for the bridge. With dental implants, the jaw is the anchor and support for the artificial tooth.

The bottom line? Dental implants offer a safe and manageable alternative to traditional tooth replacement methods.

Calming Your Nerves Before Dental Procedures

Almost everyone has some feelings of nervousness when thinking about visiting the dentist.  We hear it all the time from our patients.  But don’t worry (I know, easier said than done).  It is totally normal to have a bit of anxiety (or even a lot of anxiety) before you come to our office.

Grande Prairie Dental Clinic helps calming Your NervesIn our office, we have many years of experience in dealing with nervous patients.  So to help you out, we’ve compiled this quick yet effective set of tips for dealing with those inevitable nerves before your dental procedure.

  1. Let us know!  Sometimes just saying the words, “I’m a little bit nervous” can help by normalizing the nervousness itself a little bit, which instantly releases some of that stress that has the tendency to build up in your system. It also alerts us, which is great!  In fact, we might just be able to help by doing procedures a little bit differently than we normally would or even just by offering some words of encouragement and reassurance.
  2. Music – Ask us to turn up (or down) the music in your exam room if that helps.  Or, depending on the procedure, you may even be able to listen to your own MP3 player while we work away.  Ask us ahead of time to be sure the procedure will allow for this.
  3. Breathe – Did you know that consciously taking a breath instantly calls to action your parasympathetic nervous system which is the part of the brain responsible for calming you down?  The good news is that you always have your breath with you, so don’t forget to use it!  Just by paying attention to your breath, for example, how it feels coming in and going out and the other sensations it creates, you can access the calming center of your brain.  An easy breathing exercise that can be used anytime, anywhere, including in the dental chair is to breathe in for 4 counts, then out for 4 counts.   You will instantly feel better.

We hope you find these tips helpful in dealing with your dental fears.  Just remember, you are not alone.

Can My Dental Implants Get Cavities? And other common questions…

In my practice, I hear dozens of questions every day about dental implants from concerned (or simply curious) patients.  Every one of those questions is a good question and I always try to provide an equally good answer.  To help you better understand an upcoming dental implant procedure, we’ve compiled a top-five list of the most common questions about dental implants that we field in our office every day:

Can My Dental Implants Get Cavities Grande Prairie1.  Can dental implants get cavities? 

No.   Because the implant-restored crown is an artificial (not natural) material, it cannot grow cavities, phew!  However, you still need to have regular gum care and cleanings around the implant site just like you would for a natural tooth.

2.  Can implants slip or fall out like dentures?

No.  The artificial tooth (crown) is attached to the permanent titanium post that is set in the jaw.  They will not slip around or fall out like you may have experienced with dentures.

3.  Can I sleep with my dental implants in?

Yes!  They are practically “permanent”, unlike dentures.  You do not need to remove and soak them overnight.

4.  Aren’t dental implants more expensive than bridges and dentures? 

It depends.  If you are talking about just a few teeth, implants may be cheaper over time than bridges because they last longer.  However, if you need a whole row of teeth replaced, dentures may be a less expensive option for you.  Each case is unique, however, so be sure to call us for a proper consultation.   We are here to help you understand your costs and benefits so that you can make an informed decision.

5.  How long will my dental implants last?

If implanted and cared for properly, dental implants can last for many decades or possibly even a lifetime.  Some implants have been in patients for over forty years!

Don’t see your question on our list?  Contact us today for quick answers! 

What Good Oral Health Means when you are Pregnant

If you are pregnant, you probably already know how important it is to take care of your body during this exciting time.  A good, nutritious diet, regular moderate exercise and adequate sleep help protect both your health and the health of your baby.  But what you may not already know is how important your oral health is during pregnancy also.

What good oral health pregnant 2Recent research has suggested that women with periodontal disease may have a higher risk of unwanted childbirth complications, such as pre-term labor and low birth weight of the baby.   However, luckily, the opposite is also true!  A thorough exam by your oral health professional may decrease the chance that you will have these pregnancy and labor problems.

Now we may have you wondering, “What exactly is periodontal disease?”  Simply put, it is “gum disease”, a chronic inflammatory condition in the gums that is caused by the presence of bacteria.

So what can you do about it?  To ensure the best health outcome for you and your baby, in addition to receiving regular medical care from your obstetrician, be sure to see your oral health professional on schedule during your pregnancy as well.  And, as always, practice good dental hygiene at home with routine brushing and flossing.

These simple steps that we all should be doing anyway might just save you and your baby from potentially serious complications when the birthday comes!

Chomp! Fun Facts about Teeth

As children, we are obsessed with our teeth.  Counting them, watching them fall out and grow back in.  Waiting for the tooth fairy’s surprise.  And as adults, we are still obsessed with them, but maybe in a different way (as in “why do they always hurt and why aren’t they white anymore?”)  So just for fun, and to further indulge in this fascination with teeth (See?  It’s not just dentists that are obsessed with them), here are some fun facts about teeth.

chomp!This is a great article to share with your children!  How many of these facts did you already know?

Sharks don’t get cavities.  Why?  Because their teeth are coated in fluoride.  That combined with the fact that they have rows and rows of replacement teeth, ready to go at a moment’s notice, give them an unfair advantage over humans when it comes to oral health.

You are lucky!  You have three types of teeth:  (1) Incisors to bite pieces off, (2) Canines to hold and tear, and (3) molars to grind food.  This allows you to eat a wide variety of foods.  Some animals, like crocodiles, aren’t so lucky, they only have sharp teeth to grab and kill, which greatly reduces their restaurant choices.

Enamel is the hardest material in the human body.  It is considered the last line of defense for your tooth.  Normal wearing down of enamel does occur over time and is simply a part of aging.  But bacteria can cause this breakdown to accelerate, which is why we brush and floss regularly.

Taste buds only live for about 10 days, or 2 weeks if they are lucky.  They go through a life cycle just like every other cell renewal processes in the body.

Sharkskin is covered in teeth.  Don’t believe me?  Both sharks and their cousins, rays, are covered in what are called dermal denticles.  Although they look like scales they are actually just modified teeth, with an enamel coating and all!  These protect them and also help them swim faster, but enough about sharks.

The jaw muscle, called the “masseter”, is the strongest muscle in the body if we are talking about strength based by weight.  When all of these muscles work together, the jaw exerts 55 pounds of weight on the incisors and 200 pounds on the molars.  This is why we take jaw disorders like teeth grinding, TMJ and bruxism very seriously – that’s a lot of force!  Call us today if you suspect you might be a teeth grinder.

Did you know any of these fun facts about teeth already or did we surprise you?

Considering an Upgrade to Dental Implants?

Have you been thinking of upgrading your current tooth replacement strategy but aren’t sure where to start?  This is a great time of growth in modern dentistry, especially when it comes to replacing missing teeth!  With the evolution of dental implants, patients don’t have to suffer some of the pains of the past when older, traditional tooth replacement methods were used.

Considering an upgrade to dental implantsTraditionally, missing teeth were always “fixed” with bridges or dentures.  And while both of those procedures are still in use by dentists and do still serve an important purpose, they often cause unintended problems in the mouth that modern dental implants may be able to alleviate, or avoid completely.

What is a dental implant, you may be asking?  At the most basic level, a dental implant is simply a prosthetic tooth that is mounted to a metal post which is screwed into the jaw bone.  The procedure is typically done in two visits.  During the first procedure, a titanium screw is inserted into the jawbone, where it is allowed to “settle in” and bond, a process that takes about six to eight months.  After that, the dentist creates a prosthetic tooth and attaches it to the titanium post for a fully functional (yet fake) tooth!

The benefit of dental implants is that, unlike dentures, they are almost unnoticeable by the patient.  Anyone who has had dentures knows that they tend to slip and wear down and sometimes even cause mild pain or discomfort.  With dental implants, you will not even know they are there.  They function just like a natural tooth in your mouth, no slipping, movement or separate cleaning required.  Similarly, patients who are used to receiving bridges may benefit by an upgrade to an implant as bridges have a tendency to invite bacteria and infection, requiring additional replacements.

Whatever your concerns about dental implants are, we are here to help.  Give us a call today to see if dental implants might be right for you!