Regular dental cleanings are a super-critical part of keeping your oral and overall health on point. Unfortunately, we can't reach very far under our gums with toothbrushes, floss and other tools we use at home. Over time, harmful, pro-inflammatory food debris, plaque and bacteria build up under the gums.

We see a lot of new patients and some note that they've always found dental cleanings uncomfortable. In fact, discomfort keeps a significant percentage of people from keeping on schedule with their dental cleanings. We can usually make a few simple tweaks to the dental cleaning and home care routines to maximize comfort during dental cleanings. You don't need to suffer through dental cleanings any longer!

1. Request "numbing" for your Dental Cleanings!

You can release that breath you've been holding because I'm not talking about the kind of freezing that requires needles and injections. You know that numbing gel that your Kitchener Dentist places on your gums before the dreaded injection? Well, it's pretty powerful stuff! Your Kitchener Dental Hygienist can apply a small amount of that to the gums wherever they're working and you'll immediately notice a mild numbing that eliminates discomfort during your cleaning. And, the best part? It wears off quickly so you're not numb for an hour after your appointment.

2. Start using an Anti-Sensitivity toothpaste before Dental Cleanings.

Most people have heard about products like Sensodyne or at least seen the TV commercials. Well, if you find that regular dental cleanings are a grind, consider using a desensitizing toothpaste. The toothpaste contains a mild sedative that helps to settle down tooth nerves. So, while your Dental Hygienist scrapes contaminants and bacteria from your teeth, you can relax knowing that you won't feel a thing!

3. Listen to music.

For some people, the mild sounds you hear in a Family Dental Office are unpleasant. At our office, we love chatting with our patients throughout appointments. But, we also understand that, for some, decompressing with a good musical distraction can be invaluable! Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself and let your Kitchener Dental Team know that you'd really like to listen to music during your appointment. Bring some headphones or earbuds along with your favourite songs and you'll be able to drown out the sounds that work you up during your regular cleanings.

4. Hold your own "Tryouts".

Every Dental Hygienist has their own style and their own technique. Some hygienists err on the side of being gentle but may not be comfortable doing what is necessary to provide a thorough cleaning. Others may have a technique that you find to be "a bit too much". Rest assured, there are Hygienists out there that can deliver an exquisitely thorough cleaning without you feeling a thing. If you're new to a Family Dental Clinic, try out their different Hygienists to see who you are most comfortable with. You'll increase the likelihood of finding somebody that can deliver your perfect dental cleaning!

I hope these tips will help you to improve your comfort level during Dental Cleanings.

Thank you for reading today's post!

Written by Dr. Kyle Hornby, Kitchener Dentist

If you would like to arrange a Meet & Greet consult with me, give us a call at (519) 576-8160 or request an appointment here.

Our Kitchener Dental Clinic is conveniently located in Downtown Kitchener and we are a short drive away for families in Waterloo, Breslau & St. Jacobs. Our central location means we truly offer family dentistry near you!

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Kitchener Dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a dental condition or treatment.

When a patient breaks a tooth, often (but not always) a crown is needed to properly repair it. "But, can't you just fill it?", or "just use your best cement..." are questions and comments I often hear. Generally, the need for dental crowns depends on a few things. They are:

  1. The amount of remaining natural tooth structure. The break might be more of a "chip", but if it's tooth structure you've lost and there isn't much of that good natural stuff to work with, you're probably going to need a crown.
  2. The size and location of the broken piece. You know those mounds of enamel on molars and premolars? Those are called "cusps" and they're a real strong point on our tooth. If your cusp has broken off, you'll probably need a crown.
  3. Habits. Do you grind your teeth? Your Kitchener Dentist is less likely to achieve a durable, long-lasting repair if you grind and clench your teeth heavily. Dental crowns protect teeth against heavy grinding forces.
  4. Previous Root Canal Treatment. Root canal treatment is a risk factor for tooth fracture. If you've broken a root-canal-treated tooth, you'll definitely need a crown if you hope for a long-lasting repair.

How do Dental Crowns work?

Dental crowns act like helmets. A dental crown protects your tooth and holds it together, preventing future fracture. Can't you just repair future fractures? Not always. Teeth can split or break far under the gum line in a way that is not restorable. This means you cannot repair or salvage the broken tooth and it will require dental extraction.

Your Kitchener-Waterloo Dentist prepares your tooth for a dental crown and then bonds the crown to your tooth at the insert or delivery appointment. Dental crowns are not removable. Most patients often forget which teeth are crowned because there is no special maintenance for dental crowns.

What is involved in the Dental Crown procedure?

Pursuing a Dental Crown in Kitchener? Here's a quick breakdown of the process: First, your Kitchener-Waterloo Dentist prepares your tooth by removing any decay or weaker areas. During this preparation, the Dentist shapes your tooth so that the crown can fit properly over top of it. We then take a highly accurate impression to capture the shape of the tooth. Next, the Dentist places a temporary crown on your tooth to protect it until your second (crown insert) appointment. 

At your second appointment, your Kitchener Dentist removes the temporary crown, and seats the permanent crown for a “try-in”. The try-in allows your Dentist to ensure that:

If the crown fits well and looks great, the Dentist bonds it to your tooth. Excess cement is cleaned from around the crown and your gums. Your Dentist will typically recommend that you avoid hard or sticky foods around the crown for 48 hours. They will also recommend that you avoid flossing for 36-48 hours. This minimizes the likelihood that you loosen the crown as cement continues to set.

Are Dental Crowns Safe?

Dental crowns are very safe. The only safety concern with dental crowns (or any prosthetic material inside the mouth) would be allergic reaction. Some Dental Crowns, such as Porcelain-Fused-To-Metal (PFM) crowns, contain exposed metal alloy which may contain Nickel. Nickel is a very common allergy.

If you are embarking on Dental Crown treatment with your Kitchener-Waterloo Dentist, make them aware of any allergies (especially metal allergies) you have.

How much does a Crown cost?

Crowns can be made of a number of different materials and so there is minor variability in cost between options. Generally, your Kitchener Dentist will provide a Dental Crown costing between $1,000 - $1,200. Most patients assume that gold crowns will cost much more than other types of crowns but this is, in fact, not the case. The reason for this is that gold alloys are easy to heat and shape so making these crowns takes less processing time work, overall.

How long can I wait to get my Dental Crown?

In Dentistry, there are some things that are not time-dependant. However, with dental crowns, once your Dentist recommends one you should try to get it done sooner rather than later. But why? Lots of things accumulate wear and tear over time (think about cracks in your car bumper after a minor accident). Generally, as these things continue on without repair, cracks become larger and eventually a more major problem can occur.

This is the reason why you'd want to be timely about proceeding with a dental crown. Sooner rather than later is best. I have had patients tell me "well I'll wait until it breaks more to crown it". You can certainly do that but you increase the likelihood that the tooth breaks down to a point where it cannot be properly crowned. Or worse still, the next break could be a split or root fracture that your Kitchener Dentist cannot properly repair.

Dental Crowns: Maintenance and Longevity

Dental Crowns are non-removable. They don't change the shape of your tooth or alter access for cleaning. Therefore, you can brush diligently and floss daily around your dental crown to maximize longevity.

How long do crowns last? Most dental research follows different treatments (i.e. dental bridges, implants, dentures) for 10 years. Dental crowns have a high survival rate at 10 years. The most common reason for failure is tooth decay or "a cavity" near the gum line. This is the area where the crown-tooth interface is. If the cavity is in an area that your Family Dentist can access, they will be able to repair it with a simple bonded dental filling. If, however, the cavity is in between teeth, repair will not be possible. Under these circumstances, a replacement crown will be needed.

My goal was to keep it brief today. I hope that reading these few paragraphs can help you to understand what crowns do and why they're important. If you'd like to read a more in-depth article about Dental Crowns, please check out my Definitive Guide to Dental Crowns.

Thanks for reading today!

By Dr. Kyle Hornby, Kitchener-Waterloo Dentist

If you would like to arrange a No-Charge Meet & Greet consult or gain a second opinion about solutions for a broken tooth, give us a call at (519) 576-8160 or request a consult here. We provide Dental Crowns in Kitchener, ON as well as a variety of other restorative services.

Our Kitchener Dental Clinic is conveniently located in Downtown Kitchener and we are a short drive away for families in Waterloo, Breslau & St. Jacobs. Our central location means we truly offer family dentistry near you!

This article is meant to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Accordingly, always seek the advice of your Kitchener Dentist or other healthcare provider regarding a dental condition or treatment.

Patients usually note how smooth their teeth feel after dental cleanings. Additionally, if they tend to accumulate stain on their teeth, the increased whiteness after a cleaning is a desirable outcome as well. However, much of the benefit of a dental cleaning happens in areas we don't even see. Below, I will discuss the benefits of a dental cleaning as well as how often we should be having them.

What does a Dental Cleaning consist of?

During a dental cleaning, a Registered Dental Hygienist will remove plaque and tartar from under your gums. This is called "scaling" and it comprises the majority of time taken during a cleaning appointment. "Scaling" typically involves use of both hand tools and a power washer or "Cavitron". A hygienist also polishes your teeth during a cleaning.

Where necessary, a Hygienist may recommend application of fluoride to make your teeth more resistant to cavities. They may also measure the depth of your gum pockets at a cleaning appointment. If you are due for a checkup, your Family Dentist will examine your teeth.

How much does a Dental Cleaning cost?

The cost of a dental cleaning can vary greatly. The reason is that scaling and polishing are billed according to the amount of time (or number of "units") taken to provide complete service. Units are 15 minute packets of time. If a hygienist scales your teeth for 30 minutes, that is 2 units of time. Some people build more tartar and hard plaque between cleanings. Consequently, they would require a great number of units of scaling compared to a patient with little tartar on their teeth.

With respect to polishing, a patient that builds more stain on their teeth between cleanings would typically require more polishing time to remove all stain. Thus some variability exists between patients in terms of how much scaling and polishing they require at dental cleanings.

A unit of scaling in the 2019 Ontario Dental Association (ODA) Fee Guide is $57. 2 units of scaling costs $114. An additional half unit of scaling costs $29. The most commonly billed number of units scaling for an adult cleaning is 2.5. If we call that a cleaning for the average adult, you are looking at a cost of $143. With a unit of polish ($31) added on, you are looking at approximately $174.

Other items that may add cost to a cleaning appointment include dental x-rays, fluoride application, and a checkup or recall exam.

The amounts I provide above are meant as a guideline. I cannot guarantee that your Kitchener Family Dentist follows the ODA Fee Guide (and they are certainly entitled to set their own fees). Your best course of action is to get a cost estimate from your Dentist for these services.

What are the benefits of regular cleanings?

Regular dental cleanings have a number of benefits. They remove stain, brighten your teeth, and make everything feel smooth again. However, there are other massive benefits that you may not be able to see or feel:

  1. Removal of plaque and tartar from your gum pockets. You can't feel the plaque and tartar buildup underneath your gums, but it's there. It takes about 90 days after a cleaning for bacteria to buildup at the bottom of a gum pocket. These bacteria cause inflammation and can result in deepening of gum pockets. Cleaning these pockets keeps inflammation down. This helps to prevent deepening of gum pockets.
  2. Improvements to your systemic health. There is an abundance of evidence that bacteria can enter your circulatory system through your gums. These bacterial deposits have been linked to circulatory problems like atherosclerosis. With regular dental cleanings, you keep bacteria loads in proper balance. Even though you don't feel it, the cleanings are making your whole body much healthier!
  3. Regular surveillance. Cleaning appointments allow for you to request a checkup by your Family Dentist. Additionally, your Dental Hygienist can advise you if they see any areas for concern. This might be a cavity (requiring a dental filling) or gum recession where treatment or a change in your home care can make a big difference! When you do not go for regular cleanings, you don't know if certain areas are deteriorating. Sometimes a simple change in home care habits is all it takes to prevent a major problem.

How often should I have a Dental Cleaning?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors. Generally, a patient that brushes 2-3 times daily while flossing 1-2 times daily can wait 6 months between cleanings. This is the most common "recall" or "re-care" interval. However, if you are in a high-risk group for cavities, gum disease, or both, you should see your Family Dentist more frequently (typically every 3-4 months). High-risk groups include:

Importantly, the recommended dental cleaning interval may change for a single individual through their lifetime. Consult your Kitchener Family Dental Clinic to find out what interval would best suit you.

Thank you for reading today's post!


Written by Dr. Kyle Hornby, Kitchener Dentist

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Kitchener Dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a dental condition or treatment.

Teeth whitening is kind of a big deal. Many of our new patients tell us that they'd love to have a whiter, brighter smile. Most patients are so "all in" on teeth whitening that they rarely ask if it is safe for their teeth. Well, there are some helpful bits of information and a few tips that can make your tooth whitening experience a full success! I hope you'll enjoy the article below.

Is Teeth Whitening safe?

Yes. The ingredients in a standard whitening gel are safe for your teeth. Hydrogen peroxide in whitening gels can have harmful effects in high concentrations over long periods of time. However, these effects have never been demonstrated in humans following standard tooth whitening protocols. In fact, a study of patients using excessive whitening protocols for over 6 months did not show any harmful effects even 7 years later. A useful article on whitening safety by Whitening Guru, Dr. Harold Heymann can be found here. The best advice is to follow your Dentists instructions and to minimize or avoid contact between the whitening gel and your gums.

Teeth whitening will make your teeth more sensitive for a short period of time. But, this is not related to any change in your tooth enamel.

How can I minimize tooth sensitivity during whitening?

Most of the current tooth whitening gels contain a sedative ingredient to offset some of the sensitivity you feel during whitening. However, it also helps to get ahead of the sensitivity. The best way to do this? Start brushing with a Sensodyne or Colgate Anti-Sensitivity toothpaste 2-3 weeks before you initiate tooth whitening. This will help you to pre-condition your teeth against the possible sensitivity that arises during the whitening process.

How does Teeth Whitening work?

Peroxides! Typically, hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. When a whitening gel makes contact with saliva, it releases molecular oxygen. This oxygen moves through your enamel loosening particles that contribute to stain and discoloration. Whitening gels, therefore, work like those old carpet cleaning solutions you'd see advertised on the shopping channel. In fact, you may remember those commercials touting "the power of molecular oxygen!". Well, whitening your teeth works on the same principle.

It's important to keep in mind that peroxides whiten tooth enamel but not dental fillings or porcelain on crowns, bridges and implant crowns. Therefore, you may find your teeth surpass the brightness of these synthetic materials during whitening. Also, if you are planning on having dental work done, you may want to whiten first. This will allow you to shade match your fillings, crowns and dental bridges to brighter natural teeth!

Is "In-Office" whitening the best method?

No. In-office whitening protocols typically involve 45-60 minute whitening time with a "light-activator" or "light-accelerator". These tend to be the most expensive whitening treatments. In fact, the special light functions only to heat and dehydrate your enamel. Because dehydrated enamel looks whiter than hydrated enamel, this serves to increase the overall whiteness of your teeth. However, your enamel will re-hydrate within 45-60 minutes and the extra whiteness will vanish. So, the whitening from the peroxide gel will last but the "extra" whitening from tooth dehydration will last only for an hour.

Whitening Guru, Dr. Harold Heymann, has written a useful paper discussing whitening protocols and effectiveness. Generally, all whitening products use the same peroxide chemistry to whiten teeth. Concentration and contact time can increase or speed results. However, all methods can reach the same maximum result or "ceiling" they may simply differ in the amount of time taken to get there.

Will my insurance plan cover teeth whitening?

I have yet to see a dental insurance provider cover teeth whitening. This is because it is a purely esthetic procedure with no functional benefit. The cost of whitening varies from office-to-office. Costs, typically range from free whitening to $500 for in-office treatments. Ask your Family Dentist for treatment costs.

I hope you have found this article helpful. Thanks for reading!

By Dr. Kyle Hornby, Kitchener Family Dentist

If you would like to meet with me to discuss tooth whitening, please call (519) 576-8160 or request a consult here.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Kitchener Dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a dental condition or treatment.

Navigating coverage and reimbursement for your dental care doesn't have to be a headache. The problem is, for most, their dental plan is a "black box". Specifically, they go to the Dentist, and don't know what to expect when they get to the front desk for billing. There are 5 really simple things that you can find out about your insurance coverage. This will eliminate stress and frustration for you. Further, knowing these things will help you get the most out of dental care!

Key Dental Insurance Plan Details

  1. Yearly Maximum. Most plans have a maximum amount of coverage per year. For some the maximum is $1000. For others the maximum is $3500. Occasionally, a dental plan will not have a yearly maximum. It's really easy to find out what your maximum yearly coverage is. In fact, most employers will give you a booklet outlining your benefits details. Write the number down and remember it - it's really important!
  2. Interval Period. For most dental insurance plans, the yearly maximum is according to the calendar year (January 1st to December 31st). In other cases, the interval period is set according to when you started working for your employer. Specifically, a person who starts with a new employer in April might have an interval period from April 1st to March 31st. Again, this is super important to know so check with your benefit provider.
  3. Covered Expenses. The insurance world categorizes dental treatment as either BASIC or MAJOR. Basic care typically includes cleanings, fillings, root canal treatments and extractions. In contrast, major care includes crowns, bridges, dentures and other prosthetic treatments. Some plans cover only basic expenses. Others will cover both. It's critical to know how comprehensive your plan is!
  4. Reimbursement Percentage. Reimbursement rates differ for BASIC dental expenses and MAJOR dental expenses. The most common reimbursement rate for basic expenses is 80%. The most common reimbursement rate for major expenses is 50%. However, plans differ and so it makes good sense to find out these 2 numbers from your provider.
  5. Direct Billing Support. Most dental plan providers support direct billing. This means that your Family Dentist can bill your provider and collect funds from them directly. If there is a co-payment or deductible to be collected from the patient, they pay only that at their appointment. This arrangement allows you to avoid paying entire treatment costs out-of-pocket. There are still dental plan providers that require patients to submit claim forms for reimbursement. Specifically, a patient pays the entire treatment cost up front and then collects reimbursement from their plan provider later. Unfortunately, you can't change this but it helps to know if you will be paying large amounts out-of-pocket at your appointments. You will also want to confirm that your Dentist can provide Direct Billing as some clinics do not.

Knowing a few key details about your dental insurance coverage can make your life easier. You can also ask your Dentist to send pre-determinations to your provider. A pre-determination allows your provider to evaluate a possible claim or expense and notify you about coverage in advance of treatment. Your plan provider may take up to 4-6 weeks to give you a response. In cases where immediate treatment is required, you might not have the luxury of waiting for a pre-determination response. In these cases, it is especially critical to know the basic details surrounding your coverage.

Thank you for reading. I hope you have found this article helpful!

By Dr. Kyle Hornby, Family Dentist in Kitchener

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Kitchener Dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a dental condition or treatment.

I have published my Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Family Dentist but it's fairly comprehensive. If you are hoping for some helpful tips in a much shorter article, look no further! Below I discuss some simple but invaluable strategies for ensuring your next Dentist in Kitchener is a great fit for you!

When looking for a new Dentist in Kitchener, you'll want to think about a few things first. You need to know what is important to you. Here are a few variables:

Treatment Capabilities/Referral Tendencies. Many dentists do not provide treatment to kids. Others won't do root canal treatments, surgical extractions, or dentures. These dentists are still fantastic at what they do but seeing them may mean more visits to see a specialist and with elevated treatment fees. Most Dentists will list all dental treatments and services on their website but it doesn't mean they perform all at their office. You may want to reach out to a candidate dental office to ask if they perform complex extractions or provide denture fabrication. Having a Dentist that can perform lots of advanced techniques can save you extra time and money.

Perks. This is probably the factor least related to dentistry but patient comfort matters. Sometimes, these "little things" can keep an anxious patient calm during treatment. For instance, some people like being able to watch TV at their dental appointment. Others appreciate having a cup of organic coffee in the waiting area. If these added perks are important to you, check out in-office photos on a candidates website when looking for your new dentist in Kitchener.

Finding YOUR Best Dentist in Kitchener

Everybody prioritizes different things when looking for a service provider. This article is designed to help you find the Dentist you think suits you best. People used to rely heavily on "word of mouth" referrals from family and friends. This still happens. However, people are increasingly reliant on online reviews. Use the source(s) with which you are most comfortable. Use sources that you feel are trustworthy.

Again, most people are looking for a good dentist near their home or work. You can perform a search in Google or Yahoo using the popular search strings "dentist near me" or "best dentist in Kitchener". Search engines will usually respond to the terms "best" or "top-rated" by providing Dentists with a higher than average rating. This is certainly not a perfect or fool-proof approach, but it can be helpful. I would then encourage you to read online reviews to get a sense of what, in particular, people enjoyed about a particular Dentist in Kitchener. You can learn quite a bit this way.

You can also use the factors listed above to come up with search strings that will deliver better matches for you. "Direct billing Dentist Kitchener" or "Dentist with evening hours" will help you to locate offices that better meet your needs.

It is probably a good idea to start with 4-5 offices that meet your preliminary criteria. From there, look at their website. You may be able to see how their office looks. Most dental websites include a statement of philosophy about the care they provide. For example you might read something like: "we aim to deliver affordable dentistry in a calm and comfortable environment". You may also be able to read patient testimonials on their website.

From there, you may decide to reach out to a few of these offices. If I were looking for a new Dentist in Kitchener, I would ask the following questions:

Once you decide on a dentist, make sure you keep lines of communication open. Do let them know your priorities. This way, they have a fair shot at tailoring the care they deliver to your preferences where possible. Give them the opportunity to keep you happy as a long-term patient!

If you would like to have a Meet & Greet consult with Dr. Kyle Hornby to see if Enamel Republic Family Dentistry will be the right dental home for you, please feel free to request a consult here.

Written by Dr. Kyle Hornby, Kitchener Dentist

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your Kitchener Dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a dental condition or treatment.

Enjoy a fresh start.
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