I am a Dentist in Kitchener, ON, and each week I like to explore a question that I commonly get at my Family Dental office. This week, I'd like to discuss how often to change your toothbrush and the disadvantages of keeping the same brush for too long.

Your toothbrush is a tool for removing plaque from your teeth. You can also use your toothbrush to lightly brush your tongue. This helps to turn over the surface of your tongue and deprives odour-causing bacteria of the dead cells they need to thrive. But can your toothbrush be a hazard to your health?

Let's talk about a couple of ways that your toothbrush can harm you as well as what you can do to maximize the benefits associated with using one.

Bacteria, Viruses and Your Toothbrush

Toothbrush bristles and bristle heads harbour bacteria and viruses. The point where each bristle inserts onto the toothbrush head provides another nook where bacteria can grow and viruses can hide. Translucent brush heads are healthier overall because light can pass through them and this disrupts the growth of pathogens to some degree.

When you're sick, you seed your toothbrush with pathogens causing your illness. If your brush comes into contact with a partner's toothbrush, you can transmit disease. Also, if you suffer from cold sores caused by viral herpes, virus particles can stay on your toothbrush to increase the frequency of future flare-ups.

To better clean your brush, you can use a natural castile soap or sterilize your brush using boiling water.

Damage to Your Teeth

Your toothbrush bristles are designed to disrupt plaque and remove it from around your teeth. The bristles are polished on a new toothbrush but they become rougher over time. If you use the same toothbrush for more than 2-3 months, you end up gouging tooth enamel and dentin in small amounts. Of course, these effects accumulate over time. In fact, the damage done by using a frayed brush can be significant in people who use a lateral scrubbing technique when brushing their teeth.

So, how often should you change your toothbrush?

Ideally, you should change your toothbrush every 2 months. This will prevent you from using a toothbrush that is home to large amounts of bacteria and virus particles. It will ensure that your toothbrush bristles are kind to your teeth while being effective at removing plaque and tartar.

I would also recommend changing your toothbrush after a bout with cold sores even if it is not 2 months old.

Thank you for reading today. I hope the article has provided some clarity about how often to change your toothbrush.

By Dr. Kyle Hornby, Dentist in Kitchener

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

As a Kitchener Dentist, I often field the following question: "Will my dental insurance cover implants?"

One of the main factors determining treatment plan acceptance by patients is whether or not their insurance will cover a recommended procedure. Some dental insurance plans cover only basic or routine procedures like cleanings, check-ups, dental fillings, extractions and root canal treatments. Others will cover "major" or "prosthetic" procedures like dental crowns and bridges, but the percentage covered may be much lower. For instance, many insurance plans that cover dental crowns will do so at a 50% reimbursement rate (compare with a reimbursement rate of 80 - 100% for dental fillings).

But, what about dental implants?

"Will dental insurance cover implants?"

Discussing insurance coverage for Dental Implants is a bit complex. Specifically, most insurance plans won't cover dental implants. The good news? What a dental insurance provider will typically do is cover some portion of the cost of a bridge that would replace the missing tooth/teeth.

Here's an example:

A patient is looking to replace a single tooth and their insurance company determines that a dental bridge costing about $3,500 would adequately serve this purpose. If the insurance plan covers the dental bridge at 50% (or $1,750), they will typically allow for the patient to use this same amount toward a dental implant procedure.

Now, given that a dental implant crown has a price range of about $4,000 - $6,000, depending on who provides treatment, that same 50% of the comparable bridge cost will prove to cover a far smaller portion of an implant crown procedure.

What can also make predicting implant costs and insurance coverage tricky is the fact that implant therapy is provided by a number of practitioners. Specifically, Family Dentists, Prosthodontists (Dental Prosthetics Specialists) & Periodontists (Gum Specialists) can all provide dental implant therapy. And, all of these providers follow different fee guides which results in a wide range of treatment prices.

Dental Implant Costs: Other Considerations

While Dental Implant Crowns are costly, there are additional "pre-surgical" procedures that are commonly necessary to improve treatment success. These procedures include:

So, make sure to discuss possible supplementary procedures with your Kitchener Family Dentist. This will help you to understand all treatment costs related to implant therapy. Some additional pre-surgical procedures may not be covered by your dental insurance plan.

Thanks for reading today!

By Dr. Kyle Hornby, Kitchener Dentist

If you would like to arrange a No-Charge Meet & Greet consult or gain a second opinion about tooth replacement options, give us a call at (519) 576-8160 or request a consult 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 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.

Wisdom tooth removal is a common procedure for teenagers between 12 and 18 years of age. A small percentage of adults will have their wisdom teeth removed in their 20s or 30s. I see a lot of patients at our office for wisdom tooth assessment and the most common question is, "does it hurt?".

Wisdom teeth come in two varieties: erupted and un-erupted (a large percentage of these un-erupted teeth are, or will become, impacted). This is important because erupted wisdom teeth are fairly easy to remove and post-operative healing is comfortable and predictable. In contrast, un-erupted wisdom teeth must be removed surgically. Post-operative healing from this procedure can require medication for pain management to ensure patient comfort.

To understand what you might feel after wisdom tooth removal, let's briefly discuss the healing process.

What happens after wisdom tooth extraction? (Wisdom Tooth Extraction Recovery)

After wisdom tooth removal, the socket or "hole" where the tooth was must fill in with bone. Additionally, your gums must heal to cover the site. This process can take 2-6 weeks.

During this period, you will likely need to manage your diet to avoid sharp or brittle foods that can irritate healing sites. Salt water rinsing on a regular basis helps to clean the site. Additionally, your Family Dentist may provide you with rinsing syringes to access healing sites for proper cleansing.

Comfortable Wisdom Tooth Removal

When patients ask about pain, they want to know if the procedure is painful and they want to know if post-operative healing will be painful. Your Dentist will come up with a pre-treatment game plan to ensure you stay comfortable and happy.

oral surgeon kitchener-waterloo

Wisdom tooth removal should never be painful. Proper numbing with local anesthetic will keep you comfortable during wisdom tooth removal. Unfortunately, local anesthetics do not block pressure sensation. Patients do feel pressure during tooth removal. For many patients, this is not unpleasant to them. For some, the pressure makes them feel uncomfortable. Importantly, dental sedation is available to enhance patient comfort during treatment.

So, now, on the the topic of post-treatment discomfort...

Your Family Dentist or Oral Surgeon in Kitchener will be the best judge regarding how much post-treatment discomfort you are likely to feel. Accordingly, they will prescribe a pain control regimen to keep you comfortable. Sometimes this will involve pain control medications. I commonly make a post-operative care call to patients following wisdom tooth extraction. I also provide patients with my personal cell phone number so they can reach me if they need to. This allows for open communication during the healing process. Importantly, it ensures that we can respond to help patient who are uncomfortable.

Simple Home Care Tips for Minimizing Discomfort

  1. Consider frequent cold compresses against healing sites. Use a bag of frozen corn or peas to diminish swelling. The more you control inflammation following wisdom tooth removal, the less pain you will feel!
  2. Follow your Dentist's pain control recommendation. If you receive a prescription, try to follow the instructions as closely as possible to ensure your own comfort.
  3. Avoid sharp foods. Avoid acidic and salty foods. All of these things have the potential to cause irritation of healing sites as well as stinging pain.
  4. Combat potential jaw stiffness by attempting to do light stretches periodically through the day. Consult with your Family Dentist about this.

In Dentistry, planning is everything. If you are fully numb, wisdom tooth removal should be painless. Additionally, a well outlined post-treatment plan will minimize the likelihood that you feel discomfort during healing.

I hope that you have found this article useful and thank you for reading!

Written by Dr. Kyle Hornby, Kitchener Dentist

If you would like to request a consult with me regarding wisdom tooth removal, please click 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.

Enjoy a fresh start.
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