Specific Oral Concerns

Everything in our bodies is connected.  Like a well oiled machine, the body works as a unit to keep us walking, talking and breathing.  This means what goes on in our mouth can affect the rest of our body.

Dentistry and your Medical Health

Poor oral health can cause, contribute or increase the risk of serious diseases such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, osteoporosis and respiratory and digestive diseases.  We often ignore infection in our mouths, while an irritation or pain elsewhere in the body would mean a trip to the doctor.  Regular dental checkups are the best way to make sure your gums and teeth stay healthy.  Your dentist is trained to look for anything unusual in your mouth, throat and neck, including symptoms of diseases, infections, early signs of gum disease and dental decay – the most critical being early detection of oral cancer.

Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer is one of the few types of cancer that hasn’t experienced a significantly reduced mortality rate over the past few decades.  Traditionally, the majority of oral cancer victims smoke or use chewing tobacco, consume alcohol and are over age 40, however, the highest growth rate incidence of this disease is striking younger people who do not fit this “at risk” profile.  It is estimated that one North American dies of oral cancer every hour of every day.

The problem is that oral cancer is discovered in late stages about 70% of the time, and often that is just too late!  As a result, health care professionals recommend annual oral cancer screening for all adults ages 18 or older.  If you smoke or use chewing tobacco, screenings are recommended every six months.

Fortunately, the survival rate for oral cancer discovered at early stages is extremely high, and for that reason, our practice has purchased a state-of-the-art device called the VELscope Oral Cancer Screening System.  Along with our conventional oral screening exam, which includes looking inside your mouth for any lesions that might be visible to the naked eye and feeling your neck for any suspicious bumps, we can use the VELscope to literally see beneath the surface to detect potentially dangerous growths we might have otherwise missed.
The VELscope exam takes about two minutes as part of a regular hygiene check- up, involves no pain or inconvenience and is completely safe.  There is an additional cost for this exam but we think it is well worth the peace-of-mind that the screening can provide.

If you have any questions about oral cancer or the VELscope exam, please let us know.  Your oral health is the key to your overall health, and we want to help you in any way we can.

Oral Piercing

The dental community as a whole is very concerned about tongue piercing as damage to the tongue, teeth and health can result.  Having your tongue pierced is a type of surgery and carries with it certain risks.  Conditions such as hemophilia (a blood disorder) and medications such as blood thinners can cause uncontrolled bleeding.  Immune system disorders such as Hepatitis C, HIV or chronic liver disease, may mean that body piercing should not be done.  Allergies to metal or other materials can also cause problems.  Persons with pathological heart murmurs may require antibiotics prior to having piercing.  In the case of tongue piercing the entire thickness of the tongue muscle will be pierced and presents a risk of nerve or blood vessel damage.  If you are considering piercing, tongue or otherwise, it is advisable to consider all possible complications prior to proceeding.

Women’s Dental Health

Women’s oral health often depends on the different stages of life.  For many women, changes are directly related to surges in hormone levels through times of puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, lactation and menopause.  Pregnant women with periodontal disease may be at risk for preterm, low birth-weight babies.  During menopause women can experience dry mouth, a burning sensation and changes in taste.  Women are also more likely to be diagnosed with TMD/TMJ, myofacial pain, eating disorders and Sjogren’s syndrome (which causes dry mouth).

Dentistry and Aging

Often a result of producing less saliva as we age, dry mouth is also often a side effect of medication.  Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you if your medication may be a cause.  If your mouth feels dry, do something about it – your mouth needs saliva to wash away food debris and help prevent tooth decay.  Mouthwashes and prescription oral moisturizing gels are available, and chewing sugarless gum can also stimulate more saliva.  It’s also good (for general health as well as your mouth) to drink plenty of water each day even if you don’t feel thirsty.
Aging can contribute to tooth decay for two reasons.  One is that the gums tend to recede, exposing the roots of the teeth to plaque – the sticky substance that forms on teeth and causes decay.  Another problem is that fillings in teeth weaken with time, allowing bacteria to creep in and cause decay.
The advantage to keeping our teeth into old age is that it makes it easier to chew fresh fruit and vegetables which contain important nutrients and fiber that help prevent may diseases.  When older people who have difficulty chewing only eat soft, processed foods, their overall health may suffer as a result.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening sleep disorder characterized by repeated pauses in breathing during sleep.  Breathing pauses can last anywhere from several seconds to minutes, and can happen as often as 30 times or more per hour.  Ongoing disrupted breathing causes an imbalance between the carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the bloodstream, as not enough carbon dioxide exits and not enough oxygen enters the body.

Sensing this imbalance, the brain sends a message to the body, telling it to wake up to restart the breathing process. People with sleep apnea will partially awake as they struggle to breathe, and this is often accompanied by loud snoring or choking sensations. Because people with sleep apnea don’t always completely wake up during the episodes, they are often unaware that they have a sleeping disorder and it can remain undiagnosed.

A sufferer can completely stop breathing numerous times per hour, and this can quickly turn into a deadly situation. Sleep apnea has been linked to a series of serious heart-related conditions, and should be investigated by the dentist at the earliest opportunity.  Dr. Amos Kahane will conduct tests in order to investigate, diagnose and pinpoint suitable treatment. The dentist can offer many different types of treatment options which depend largely on the exact diagnosis and health of the patient.

Dr. Kahane can set you or your spouse with a custom-fit snoring appliance to ensure you both have a sound sleep.  These appliances can be used to treat snoring alone, even if you do not suffer from sleep apnea.  Please contact our office if you suspect you, or someone you would like to help, may be suffering from sleep apnea or snoring.

Sports Guards – Are Your Family’s Teeth at Risk?

It has been estimated in studies that millions of teeth are lost annually across North America during sporting activities.  These injuries can occur at any age: child, teenager or adult.  When one considers a single lost tooth can cost thousands of dollars over a person’s lifetime, a well-made mouthguard is a very affordable alternative.

A mouthguard should be worn during any activity where contact can be made or a fall may occur.  There are no “safe” sports or athletic activities.  While the potential for heavy contact is not the same in all sports, this does not mean that the possibility of tooth loss or serious injury is eliminated.

Your preference and desires are always an important element of consideration.  However, the ultimate choice of which mouthguard is best for you or your family must lie with the one who knows you and your teeth best:  your dentist.  Call us to discuss which alternative is right for you!

Bruxing Guards

A bruxing guard is an appliance made of processed acrylic that is also often referred to as a night guard or grinding appliance.  It is often suggested by the dentist to be used as a diagnostic tool when a patient is showing signs of TMD/TMJ or signs of wear on the biting edge of their teeth.  Once it has been used by the patient for a period of time, if there are no changes in the signs or symptoms the patient is experiencing, then the dentist may refer the patient to another professional to determine the source of the problem.  This would be no different than having a blood test and getting a negative result.  It is still a very useful exercise.

If, in fact, it does prove helpful, it now becomes a therapeutic device that is worn in order to reduce the common signs and symptoms associated with bruxing.  Although it would be our intention to wean a patient off of this appliance at some point, it may be worn indefinitely.  It should be checked frequently and may require modification or replacement, if you have any subsequent dental work done.  In that case, it may no longer fit over the teeth.

A bruxing guard will generally have two effects. First, it may help you stop bruxing while wearing the appliance or, second, in the event that you continue to brux on the appliance, due to the mechanical design of the appliance, it will lessen the destructive forces of bruxing as well as reduce the wear and stress on the teeth, muscles and jaw joints. It is important to note that, in most cases, bruxing guards are tolerated with little or no problems.  In fact, many patients will refuse to sleep without it.

Your Child’s Dental Health

How teeth grow

All 20 baby (or primary) teeth come in by the time your child is 2 or 3 years of age.

E Second Molar 24-33 Months 38-48 Months
B Lateral Incisor 7-9 Months 20-22 Months
D First Molar 12-17 Months 27-32 Months
A Central Incisor 7-9 Months 20-22 Months
C Canine 17-22 Months 30-35 Months
A Central Incisor 6-8 Months 18-20 Months
B Lateral Incisor 7-9 Months 20-22 Months
C Canine 17-22 Months 30-35 Months
D First Molar 12-17 Months 27-32 Months
E Second Molar 24-26 Months 38-48 Months

Tooth growth is only complete after the root is fully formed.

If your child is getting his or her teeth and seems to be in pain you can rub the gums with a clean finger or the back of a small, cool spoon.

Cleaning Your Child’s Teeth

You should start cleaning your child’s mouth even BEFORE your child has teeth.  It gets both you and your child into the habit of keeping the mouth clean, and it gives baby (or primary) teeth a clean place to come in to.  The goal is to wipe ALL parts of the gums and teeth.
As your child gets older you should help them with cleaning their teeth until you are satisfied that they can do the job properly on their own.  If you are attempting to brush your young child’s teeth and they want “squirm” away from you, you may want to try this technique:

  • Let the child stand in front of you, facing away from you
  • Tip his or her head back against your stomach.  This lets you control the “squirms”.  It also lets you see both the upper and lower teeth.
  • Use a child size toothbrush.  Brush the same way you would brush your own teeth.
  • Use a TINY dab of fluoride toothpaste (about the size of a pea).
  • Make sure your child spits the toothpaste out.
  • Use a soft bristled toothbrush and change it every 3 – 4 months.

A child’s teeth should be brushed right before bed.  If you don’t get rid of the germs (bacteria) and sugars that cause cavities, they have all night to do their dirty work.  Plus when your child is asleep, he or she does not produce as much saliva.  Saliva helps keep the mouth clean.  So brushing at bedtime is VERY important.

Many parents question the value of filling, repairing or replacing primary teeth.  Some of those baby teeth will be in your child’s mouth until age 12.  Broken teeth or teeth that are infected can hurt your child’s health and the way your child feels about him or herself.  The primary teeth hold the space for the permanent or adult teeth to come in to the correct position.  Taking care of small cavities may prevent the need for more expensive dental treatment such as space maintainers or orthodontic treatment in the future.

At age 6 or 7, the first adult teeth come in.  They are also known as the “first molars” or the “6-year molars”.  These do not replace any primary teeth.
Also around this age, children start to lose their primary teeth.  The roots slowly get weak, and the tooth falls out.  Children can lose primary teeth until they are about 12 years of age.  It’s okay for children to “wiggle” a loose tooth out, but force should not be used to pull out a tooth.  When a tooth comes out at the right time, there will be very little bleeding.  By about age 13 all the permanent teeth should be in except the wisdom teeth, which generally erupt between the ages of 15 to 18.
If you have any questions with regard to your child’s dental health please call our office.

Dental Emergency


  • Rinse our mouth vigorously with warm water
  • Use dental floss to remove any food trapped between teeth. If there’s swelling, place cold compresses on the outside of the cheek.  Do not use heat or place aspirin on aching tooth or gums
  • See dentist as soon as possible

Object Wedged Between Teeth

  • Try to remove object with dental floss.  Guide the floss carefully to prevent cutting gums
  • If you can’t remove the object, see a dentist as soon as possible
  • Do not try to remove the object with a sharp or pointed instrument

Knocked-out Tooth

  • If the tooth is dirty, rinse it gently under running water.  Do NOT scrub it.
  • Do not try to pack a baby tooth back in the socket.  Place in cool milk or water
  • For a permanent tooth, gently insert it its socket.  If this isn’t possible, place the tooth in a container of milk or cool water.
  • Immediately, go to your dentist
  • Don’t forget to take the tooth with you!

Broken Tooth

  • Gently clean dirt or debris from injured area with warm water
  • Place cold compresses on the face, in the area of the injured tooth, to minimize swelling
  • Go to the dentist immediately!
  • Apply direct pressure to the bleeding area with a clean cloth

Bitten Lip or Tongue

  • Apply direct pressure to the bleeding area with a clean cloth
  • If swelling is present, apply cold compresses
  • If bleeding continues, go to a hospital emergency room