What have we learned by screening applicants for the Ottawa Makeover Project?

Healthy Gums!

Those of you following the progress of this first year of the Ottawa Makeover Project have likely read our blog several weeks ago describing this project.  Basically, we are a group of local business owners providing one lucky Ottawa resident a life makeover including services like hair/makeup/spa treatment, financial advising, fitness/massage/nutritional advice, skin/body treatments, special gifts, and a smile makeover. The generosity and spirit of the businesses involved is amazing, and I’m proud to be a part of this project.

As the Ottawa Makeover Project Founder, our office has taken the responsibility of the initial applicant screenings in our office.  We looked at every application and watched every submitted video (some more than once) to first select only applicants we felt would be best served by all of the offered services.  As well, we needed to be certain that all of the dental needs could be well-managed during the six-month Project.  This screening left us with about 20 great candidates, and the decision will be difficult, but will be made by all of the business owners as a team over the next short while.

This blog is not about the Ottawa Makeover Project, but of our overwhelming findings while completing free dental examinations for many of our applicants.  Our dental team was quite surprised to find the large number of applicants with significant gum disease and/or significantly crowded teeth.  Interestingly enough, many of these people (although not all) have the benefit of dental insurance to assist them with basic dental care, and yet have not done so. Some of the people we examined in fact had been seen somewhat regularly by a dentist and yet had no idea about the overall condition of their teeth, sometimes quite surprised when we told them of our findings.

What should we know about gum disease (periodontal disease)?

Gum disease is, for the most part, preventable. If your gums EVER bleed when brushing or flossing, guess what…YOU have gum disease. As far as dental care goes, the prevention of gum disease, and even the treatment of gum disease, remains one of the least expensive and yet most beneficial parts of the routine maintenance of oral health.  If there is dental insurance to assist in payment, usually the insurance rebates 80-100%, or close to 80-100% of the cost of treatment.  Most people with dental benefits will receive reimbursement for a dental cleaning 3-4 times per year, a fact that insurance companies usually don’t make very clear. Anyway, allow a dental hygienist to teach you the best way to clean your teeth…and then keep them that way!  At home, a great investment is a good electric toothbrush (we llike Sonicare) and a Waterpik.  Yes, the electric toothbrushes are expensive, but think of it as a great investment in your oral health.  Your whole family can even share one electric toothbrush, each person can have their own brush head to use.

Why should adults with crowded/crooked teeth straighten them?

Crowded teeth are certainly a more expensive condition to treat.  The thought of seing an orthodontist and paying several thousand dollars can feel very overwhelming and out-of-reach for many people.  However, orthodontic treatment is usually paid on a monthly basis over the entire time of treatment, and is much more affordable when looked at in this way.  Some adult patients are uncomfotable with the idea of metal braces, and sometimes Invisalign can be a great option to straighten teeth without metal brackets.  Straight teeth are typically healthier teeth…easier to keep clean, easier to prevent cavities.

One of the more important questions is about how teeth get crooked in the first place! Contrary to popular belief, it is the RARE patient that actually has teeth that are too large for their jaw.  More commonly, the jaw didn’t grow widely enough during childhood, often due to mouth breathing.  That’s right…mouth breathing.  Sound confusing?  You can read more about that subject here. It’s important while straightening teeth to evaluate what caused the crowding in the first place, and treat that as well. Also, many orthodontic patients should continue to wear retainers at night forever.  It truly is the best way to keep those teeth as straight for life (much better than a wire bonded to the front teeth), and that small step is a great investment for your overall dental health.

For more information about prevention and treatment of gum disease, or straightening crooked teeth in adults, please contact us for a consultation at 613-271-7091 or info@drandreastevensdentistry.com. You can also ask a question in the comments section below…if you are wondering, someone else probably is also!