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Get Dental Benefits Through the Canadian Dental Care Plan!

Struggling to afford dental care? Help is here!

The Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP) helps ease the financial burden of oral health care. If you do not have a dental plan, you may be eligible to receive benefits that can help you afford the dental care you and your family need. 

Do You Qualify?

To qualify for the Canadian Dental Care Plan (CDCP), you must meet all the eligibility criteria. These are:

  • You don’t have access to dental insurance
  • You have an adjusted family net income of less than $90,000
  • You must be a Canadian resident for tax purposes
  • You must have filed your tax return in the previous year

If you do have dental coverage, but that coverage is through a provincial, territorial or federal government social program, you may still be eligible for CDCP. 

If you meet all the eligibility criteria, your coverage will be coordinated between the plans to ensure there are no duplication or gaps in coverage.

Benefits for Children Under 12

If you have a child under the age of 12, you may already be eligible for the Canada Dental Benefit. But HURRY! This benefit is only available until June 30, 2024. You can find out more about this benefit here

Canadian Dental Care Plan

How Everyday Acids & Bases Affect Oral Health & Human Homeostasis

Oral Health and Human Homeostasis

Human saliva has been linked to general health & wellness ever since Aeschylus, the ancient Greek tragedian penned, in 455 BCE, “I have learned to hate all traitors, and there is no disease that I spit on more than treachery.”  When everyday acids erode your teeth and cause cavities, it feels like treachery!  It causes sufferers to wonder if they’re cursed somehow; all their brushing and flossing seems to be in vain as regular check-ups continually discover new issues.  Well of course they are not cursed, or destined to suffer regardless of their efforts, these people may have chemically imbalanced mouths and for the reasons we discuss below, they have slipped out of their natural homeostasis.

What is Homeostasis?

Walter Cannon, Homeostasis

Walter Cannon -1926, The Wisdom of the Body

The concept of the regulation of the internal environment was described by French physiologist Claude Bernard in 1865, but the word homeostasis which we still use today, was coined by American physiologist Walter Cannon in his ground-breaking 1926 book, The Wisdom of the Body. He defined the term as the human body’s ability to regulate certain factors like its own internal temperature and the concentration of lubricating substances like tears and sweat.  At Archer Dental we look for signs the body is manufacturing enough saliva, the lubrication for teeth, and whether or not it exists at the correct pH balance. Measuring and regulating the pH level of tears, tissue, hair, urine and saliva can yield important insights into patients’ medical heath.  Each of these fluids, including your blood, can tell stories about what’s happening inside your human body.  At Archer Dental we’re concerned primarily with your oral heath, but in a more holistic perspective we do try to make ourselves aware of each patient’s general homeostasis.

In biology, homeostasis is the state of steady internal physical and chemical conditions maintained by living systems. This dynamic state of equilibrium is the condition of optimal functioning for the organism and includes many variables, such as body temperature and fluid balance, being kept within certain preset limits (homeostatic range). Other variables include the pH of extracellular fluid, the concentrations of sodium, potassium and calcium ions, as well as that of the blood sugar level, and these need to be regulated despite changes in the environment, diet, or level of activity. Each of these variables is controlled by one or more regulators or homeostatic mechanisms, which together maintain life.  The connection between oral health and general health has been proven.  In the year 2000, the U.S. Surgeon General declared that oral health reflects general health and is essential to achieve a state of wellness.

What Makes A Healthy Mouth?

There are lots of bacteria and other things alive in your mouth.  That’s a fact. Even after a thorough brushing and swishing with mouthwash, some some of these tiny organism will always remain. New research into the dental microbiome expands what we know about bacteria on teeth. New scientific studies show how how unhealthy mouths may be implicated in non-oral health outcomes such as heart disease and stroke.  A lot of the science explores the energy and growth environment available to the tiny organisms, and how humans inadvertently make it so easy for malign forces to multiply in their otherwise healthy mouths. The enemy thrives in acid.

acid base beverages

Tap water is pH level 7 which is exactly neutral; water is neither an acid nor a base.  As the numbers get smaller than 7, the substance becomes more acidic, and as they get larger than 7 (up to 14), it becomes more alkaline or basic. Saliva in a healthy mouth can range anywhere from pH 6.4 to pH 7.6. These numbers vary widely when eating foods and drinking liquids. Even a normal meal has wide pH level variances.  Cooked lean meat is quite acidic, while steamed broccoli and egg plant are very alkaline – good meals balance pH loads!  Coca cola is quite acidic, while carrot juice is the same strength alkaline.

Studying the pH level of saliva important to oral health care and there are plenty of everyday acids that we put in your mouths that can erode our teeth.  Healthy human saliva has a pH of 7.4, just like blood.  When acidic foods and beverages are consumed, the pH is tipped, creating an imbalance that demineralizes tooth enamel.  This happens when the pH levels in the mouth drop below 5.5.

Studies show, and the video embedded below chronicles in real time, how the pH level of your saliva can drop below 5.5 when drinking acidic beverages. When this happens, the acids in your mouth start to demineralize (break down) tooth enamel. If the tooth enamel becomes too thin, the dentin is exposed. This can lead to discomfort when consuming hot, cold, or sugary drinks  When teeth experience demineralization, this erosion causes a thinning of the enamel, exposing the dentin.  Dentin is bone-like, but it contains microscopic tubules that lead right to the pulp, where the nerves are.  If tooth enamel is eroded, consuming hot, cold, or sugary drinks can become quite painful.

Everyday Foods and Beverages that Affect pH Balance of Saliva

Our teeth are exposed to acid everyday. When you eat or drink something sour and it tastes tart, then you are tasting the acid.  Even when you cannot taste it, after you consume something sugary or starchy, oral bacteria eats whatever food remains in your mouth after meals and produces acid as a waste product.  Also people who suffer from strong acid reflux or who vomit regularly also expose their teeth to their own strong stomach acid, which can increase tooth decay.

acidic soft drinks, alkaline soda pop

Notice that when one drinks soft drinks (pH 3) or white wine (pH 4) it feels like there are socks on the teeth, or they feel fuzzy.  That is because the pH in the mouth is not balanced. It is acidic, causing de-mineralization of the enamel.

Naturally acidic foods include citrus fruits of course, and strawberries, but you may be surprised to learn that, according to the US Food and Drug Administration, some vegetables can also be quite acidic, like green cabbage (pH 5.5) and also everyday foods like cheddar cheese (pH 5).  Cherries are particularly acidic as they register at pH 4 raw, and they’re even more acidic when frozen (pH 3.32). You can read more in a recent Archer Dental blog post about healthy snacks that are surprisingly bad for your teeth.

Alkaline mineral waters can decrease bone resorption and even lower parathyroid hormone levels which regulate the release of calcium from bone. An alkaline diet is one that incorporates foods that can increase the pH levels. Interestingly, an alkaline diet is associated with an increase in growth hormone which can burn fat, improve libido, and help people retain a general sense of well-being.  Alkaline foods are harder to identify – they are not sweet or sour or tart. The best examples of alkaline food you might choose to eat are nuts, cheese, oatmeal, mangos, melons, bananas, apples, eggs, vegetables, brown rice and whole grain cereals.  We’ve blogged about the Dental Diet last summer.

Tooth Enamel

CGI inside human mouthTeeth, and more specifically tooth enamel is the hardest substance produced by the human body.  Its harder than bone and claws (fingernails and toenails) and kidney stones. But unlike other body parts, it’s highly susceptible to acid erosion.  All it takes is a prolonged environment of pH 5.5 or lower for the enamel on your teeth to begin dissolving.  This happens all the time, in tiny electrochemical assaults every time we put food in our mouths and eat a meal.  Once tooth enamel is damaged, it cannot be easily repaired. However, weakened enamel can be restored to some degree by improving its mineral content, and this is done by improving your diet and taking mineral supplements.  Toothpastes and mouthwashes can never rebuild teeth, but they can contribute to the body’s own remineralization process.

Enamel and hard tooth structures demineralize at pH of 5 or 5.5. During the demineralization process, calcium ions from our teeth leave enamel and make them weak or porous. That is until saliva can assist saturating the enamel back to its original form.  This is another good reason why you should drink water with your meal and make sure you rinse your mouth thoroughly at the end of the meal with water and not wine or beer.  The pH level of wine ranges from 2.5 to 3.5, being quite acidic.

Saliva: The First Line Of Defense

The best natural defense our teeth have against acids is saliva, which has a pH slightly above 7. Saliva washes food particles away and helps keep oral bacteria populations in check. This is why dry mouth is such a dangerous problem for oral health. The less saliva we have, the more vulnerable our teeth are.

Sipping soda or snacking throughout the day is also a problem for our teeth, because saliva needs time to neutralize our mouths afterward, and constantly introducing more acid makes that much harder. Behavioral factors can explain why some folks have great teeth and others suffer.  Poor choices and bad eating and drinking habits lead to the excessive consumption of acids. The lifestyle and biological factors like composition of saliva, flow rate, buffering capacity, dental and soft tissue anatomy, pellicle formation, dental and soft tissue anatomy, tooth composition, can all modify the erosive process. If you are incorrigible soda pop consumer, then you really should tell your dentist. This is one of the criteria included in a recent blog post about things you should tell your dentist.

A More Alkaline Diet Will Help Your Teeth

A great way we can help out our saliva in the fight to protect our teeth, aside from the usual methods of daily brushing and flossing and regular dental appointments, is to eat fewer acidic foods and trade them for alkaline ones. That means adding in more fruits and veggies and leaving off some of the breads, dairy, and meats.

Some Things You Should Tell Your Dentist

intake form at dentist office Toronto

During your first visit to a dental clinic, when you meet your new dentist for the first time, he or she should transform into a mini health detective already at work on their next big case, your teeth.  Dentists can gather a lot of clues all by themselves, just by looking in your mouth.  But if they ask you questions when you’re sitting in the chair, well there are some things you really cannot lie about as they can easily check for themselves.

Generally speaking, your dentist won’t ask about your love-life like your hairdresser does, or about your driving habits like your mechanic does, nor will they pry into your private life like your personal doctor. But they do ask important questions about your medical history and possibly your diet, and they may ask about your lifestyle if they see you have mouth piercings.  That’s good. It proves they are professionals who care about your overall health.  If they’re asking odd questions, then you should probably give honest answers.  There are some things your dentist should know.

Dentists and Medical History Forms

Raymi filling out forms at the dentist

Filling out medical forms at the dentist

Nobody likes writing about themselves, or filling out medical forms filled with personal details. Why is all this information even necessary? You may wonder where all the data ends up, and what about identity theft?  Don’t worry.  At Archer Dental, all information you provide on your medical history questionnaire is kept strictly private, and is protected by doctor-patient confidentiality. It will not be shared with anyone outside our office without your permission. Every field on Archer Dental’s intake forms has been included for a reason as your information helps dentists better understand your over-all health.

Medical history forms at the dental office may request for info that doesn’t specifically relate to your mouth, but you have to trust the process, and understand that your dentist needs background data and especially medical details as they relate to your general health and any medications you’re using.  Just about every medicine can have dental health implications, and certain health conditions also require notification; diabetes, leukemia, oral cancer, pancreatic cancer, heart disease, and kidney disease are all ailments that need to be disclosed to your dentist.

Diabetes, for example, increases risk of gum disease.  Heart problems and digestive problems and medicines to remedy these conditions can also have dental related side-effects.  Are you taking birth control pills? If you are taking birth control and your dentist gives you antibiotics, that medication can render your birth control ineffective.  If you’re on a blood thinner and you need a tooth removed, a conversation about the medication you are taking is absolutely necessary, as you may experience excess bleeding following the dental surgery. Blood clotting can be affected by many conditions, such as liver disease. Medications, including aspirin and even some herbal preparations, can also interfere with normal blood clotting.

testosterone vials - drugs with steroids

Vials of testosterone medication, Frank Rumpenhorst / dpa / AP file

Some modern pharmaceuticals have steroids which can reduce the effectiveness of your immune system.  Patients who are using such remedies need to take preventive antibiotics before certain dental procedures are performed. For example, patients with an artificial heart valve may need to take an antibiotic prior to certain treatments to help prevent a serious infection from occurring.  Are you on any pain medications? Do they make your mouth feel dry? Some medications cause dry mouth, which can increase your chances of getting a cavity as the drug restricts the flow of cleansing saliva in your mouth.  If you tell you dentist this, you can have a conversation that could yield remedies for better long term care.  It’s your responsibility to make sure your dentist is aware of all medical concerns before any treatments begin. Information about the medicines you are using is vital to your oral health.

When Dentists Ask About Your Life

After your first initial visit, let your dentist know whenever there is a change in your current health status.  Examples of changes in your health status might include becoming pregnant, or starting any new medications, new allergies, or maybe increased smoking.  It’s important to keep your medical record up to date so that your dentist can provide you with the best care possible.  Make a point to bring it up before the session really begins as you can hardly talk them when they have their fingers in your mouth. But questions should get answers all the same.

There are even some foods that should be discussed.  Are you passionate about your afternoon teas and morning coffees?  Medical studies always say these beverages, in moderation, have positive effects on our body, but when it comes to our teeth they actually weaken and stain them at any level of consumption. Of course, if you’re eating too many sweets, or prefer synthetic foods or drink soda pop everyday, well this can have more of an effect on your oral health, and your mouth will likely require a deeper cleaning when you go to the dentist.  Tell them your habits so they can tackle the problem immediately.

Tell Your Dentist about Strange Pains and Discomforts

Rob in dentist's chair with natalie archer dentist Toronto

One on one with dentist Dr Natalie Archer

Have you ever experienced discomfort in your teeth or gums, but it disappears after a few days, and so you forget to mention it to your dentist. This could be a big mistake.  Its true you only visit the dentist a couple of times a year, and remembering things like that might require writing them down.  But any mouth pain and even unusual sensitivities is certainly something worth mentioning. Make sure to point out strange sensitivity, odor, pain or any change in your mouth.  Sometimes your oral health can be a caution-light blinking a warning about serious disease, or a related health issue, and other times it may be that your body’s battle with illness is affecting your oral health.

Are you Scared of the Dentist?

filling medical forms dentistIf you are feeling particularly anxious, or scared, well this is also something else you should discuss with your oral health care providers. If they know you’re an anxious dental patient, they can prepare a calmer environment, and select sleep dentistry and laughing gas to really put you at ease. Sometimes dental patients can receive pain medication before major surgeries as well as afterwards during recovery.

Sometimes your dentist may wish to speak with your family doctor or medical specialist to get more details about your medical situation. If your dentist needs to consult with your doctor or another health-care provider, this will be discussed with you first. It is very important for your dentist to understand as much as possible about your past and current health condition. It also means that it is important for your dentist to take an initial complete medical history, and to keep it up-to-date by checking with you on a regular basis. As you can see, your medical health and your dental health are closely linked. You and your dentist are partners, working together to provide you with the best possible dental care.

Tooth Floss Threads Dental Medical History in Canada

cute guy tooth floss bathroom

‘Don’t be a savage’ is what well-mannered folks might say when they see their friends picking their teeth with business cards or any bits of paper handy on the table after a meaty dinner.  But Early Man didn’t have anything so fine as paper or thread. The best oral device that a savage could hope for was a sharp pointed hardwood splinter or fractured bone. Whoever came up with the idea of tooth floss?

Levi Spear Parmly, an American dentist in Canada invented tooth floss.

Levi Spear Parmly, a practical guide to the management of teeth

The man credited with inventing tooth floss was an American dentist named Levi Spear Parmly who was a prolific traveler and writer of medical dentistry books.  It was Parmly who introduced the idea of using waxen silk thread as dental floss.

That may not be the first-ever use, but it’s the first time the idea appears in print, in his book, A Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth.  In this text he stated that the silk thread should be run “through the interstices of the teeth… to dislodge that irritating matter which no brush can remove, and which is the real source of disease.”

Levi Spears Parmly, incidentally, also wrote Canada’s first dentistry book.  At some point in those two turbulent decades at the beginning of the 1800’s (there was a War in 1812 remember) he traveled from Vermont to Montreal, and after a short stay there he moved up river to Quebec City where he wrote and published the 65-page Summum Bonum in 1815.  The name is a Latin expression meaning “the highest good”, a Classical idea that was first introduced by the Roman philosopher Cicero. The book was published by John Nielson, a Scots-Quebecer politician and the editor of the newspaper La Gazette de Québec (The Quebec Gazette)  in what was then Lower Canada.

Although historians credit Parmly with the invention of modern dental floss, the first patent for dental floss was granted in 1874 to Asahel M. Shurtleff for An Improved Pocket Thread Carrier and Cutter that resembled modern floss packages.   Shurtleff was a partner in a Massachusetts medical devices company called Codman & Shurtleff which made and sold tooth floss comprised of unwaxed silk thread.  The business was not terrifically successful as dental floss didn’t become popular right away.  This medical supplies firm was acquired by Johnson & Johnson ninety years later in 1964.

What is modern dental floss?

close-up dental patient uses tooth floss to clean between teeth

Today we know dental floss as an impossibly strong cord nylon filament that’s used to remove food and dental plaque from between teeth in areas a toothbrush is unable to reach. Tooth floss is a relatively new medical product because there wasn’t suitable materials for widespread adoption until the invention of nylon thread. Ordinary household sewing thread (cotton thread) wasn’t strong enough to withstand the wear and tear of passing between teeth, and the stronger silk dental floss was hard to obtain in North America because it was a luxury item and too expensive to use as a utility textile. Plus the public demand wasn’t there yet. Training people to use tooth floss would take another half century.  In July 1898 Johnson & Johnson patented and marketed waxed silk floss in 12 and 24 yard spools. It was initially packaged in flat round metal containers, and then that evolved into more practical cylindrical tins that held a small amount of floss with a built-in sharp edge that allowed consumers to cut specific lengths, much like today.

Flossing teeth with nylon thread is the modern refinement of a very old idea.

monkey, chimp uses human hair as tooth flossWhile we don’t know the exact beginnings of tooth flossing, but it looks like as long as food has been getting stuck in our teeth we’ve used some type of inter-dental cleaner. Discoveries have been made that suggest cleaning between teeth was practiced as early as the Prehistoric period.  The act of tooth flossing can be observed in higher primates living in nature, as more than one species of monkeys practice flossing. The phenomenon has been most prominently observed in Thailand where Long-tailed macaque monkeys have been known to pull out hair from their human visitors and use it as floss. They have also been observed flossing with coconut fibers or twigs, and mothers have been observed showing children how to do it properly.

Despite being introduced at the beginning of the 19th century, tooth flossing didn’t catch on right away. Victorian’s were more interested in using fancy toothpicks rather than touching their teeth. Gold and ivory handled toothpicks were a status symbol to flash after fancy dinners and the Victorians loved knick-knacks.

Tooth Flossing Went Mainstream When New Materials Lowered Prices

It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that flossing became more widespread and that was due entirely to the high price of silk in the United States and Canada. It wasn’t cheap. During World War II it was especially precious and conserved as a strategic resource.  Right after the war, Dr. Charles C. Bass, known in the USA as The Father of Preventive Dentistry, developed nylon floss, noting that it was more elastic and durable than silk. After the war, the daily ritual of flossing teeth went mainstream across the Western Hemisphere and then all over the world.

Modern Tooth Floss

Tooth floss is still made of nylon, but now there’s a lot more options including dental tape, waxed floss or woven floss. There are pre-threaded floss picks and floss threaders for orthodontic patients; there are even devices that floss your teeth with water or compressed air.

All in all, it doesn’t much matter what you use to floss, what matters is that you do! Correct daily flossing can make all the difference in your oral health and is one of the simplest ways to prevent tooth decay. So, since human beings have been cleaning between their teeth for centuries, all we have to say is keep up the good work, and floss on!

Biodegradable tooth floss products clean teeth and give consumers some peace of mind knowing they are helping the environment.  All-natural floss is biodegradable and becoming more popular in the marketplace. The threads are designed to be strong when you need them but to break down rapidly and not harm the planet.  Several environmentally-friendly alternatives to nylon floss  exist today that produce almost no waste.

History of floss pick

The Flosspick schematic for patent library of congress, tooth flossing device A floss pick is a disposable oral hygiene device generally made of plastic and dental floss. The instrument is composed of two prongs extending from a thin plastic body of high-impact polystyrene material. A single piece of floss runs between the two prongs. The body of the floss pick generally tapers at its end in the shape of a toothpick. There are two types of angled floss picks in the oral care industry, the ‘Y’-shaped angle and the ‘F’-shaped angle floss pick. At the base of the arch where the ‘Y’ begins to branch there is a handle for gripping and maneuvering before it tapers off into a pick.

Floss picks are manufactured in a variety of shapes, colors and sizes for adults and children. The floss can be coated in fluoride, flavor or wax. In 1888, a practitioner named B.T. Mason wrapped a fibrous material around a toothpick and dubbed it the ‘combination tooth pick.’  In 1916, J.P. De L’eau invented a dental floss holder between two vertical poles.  In 1935, F.H. Doner invented what today’s consumer knows as the ‘Y’-shaped angled dental appliance, the schematic pictured to the left.  In 1963, James B. Kirby invented a tooth-cleaning device that resembles an archaic version of today’s F-shaped floss pick. In 1972, an inventor named Richard L. Wells found a way to attach floss to a single pick end.  In the same year, another inventor named Harry Selig Katz came up with a method of making a disposable dental floss tooth pick.  By the end of 1980’s, floss-picks became mass marketed in many different shapes and sized disposable appliances.


Dental Care for Baby Teeth

baby teeth family dentistry, baby smile missing tooth

The white toothy smile of a happy child is one of the most satisfying things in the world for parents.  Eating meals together and watching your youngest children experience new tastes and flavours is one of the best parts of family life.  By contrast, the anguish of seeing and hearing an unhappy child with cavities and sore teeth cuts Mom and Dad to the core.  They blame their kids for not brushing properly, and they blame themselves for not watching closely enough at bedtime and after breakfast.  But in truth, such natural developments are hard to prevent. Like everyone these days, kids consume a lot of hidden sugars that increase bacteria in their mouths.  Tooth decay begins with a group of germs called mutans streptococcus.  This bacteria feeds on sugar and produces acid that eats away at the structure of teeth by depleting calcium from the enamel, and baby teeth are particularly susceptible to these germs.  Baby teeth are softer than permanent teeth, which makes them more easily damaged by sugars added to many processed foods and the acids found in liquids such as soda, juice and flavored water.

baby teeth schematic developmentThe Fetal Origins of Baby Teeth

Children’s teeth begin developing in the fetus.  The mother’s diet is a factor as good nutrition during pregnancy is important in the development of their child’s teeth. Mom should be eating foods that are high in calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, and vitamin D.  Certain medications, such as tetracycline, should not be taken by the mother while she is pregnant as this can cause harm to the developing teeth of the embryo.

What are natal teeth? While most infants get their first teeth months after their birth, some babies are born with one or more teeth already in place.  These are called natal teeth.  Natal teeth are relatively rare in humans; the phenomenon occurs about once in approximately two thousand human births.

Babies Learn Through Their Mouths

Babies experience great pleasure and satisfaction through their mouths. Even when not feeding, sucking on a finger or pacifier can change their behavior from crying to contentment. When babies grow strong enough to crawl around on their own, and explore their world, they do it by placing objects in their mouths. So when their mouth becomes a source of pain it can be quite unsettling for some children. If you’ve ever bitten the inside of your cheek, you know just how distracting a bit of newly irregular flesh can be. For a baby, the sudden intrusion of a sharp tooth through tender gums can be quite an adjustment. Some get used to it quickly, but at first it can be more uncomfortable than a pebble in a shoe.

One trick to tackling teething pain may be to give your toddler something cold and wet to chew-on and let them massage their own gums. The same way ice works on a sprained ankle to numb pain and reduce swelling, cold compresses and other items soothe sore gums. A cold washcloth trick can be quite effective; soak a washcloth in cold chamomile tea and then place it inside a clean plastic bag in the refrigerator.  When you remove the washcloth from the bag, your child will enjoy munching on it and experiencing the material on their gums while the cold numbs the pain. Chamomile tea flavouring is optional and dilute tinctures can help children sleep at bedtime.

child brushing teeth blue eyes toothbrush

Baby Teeth Matter

Babies’ teeth begin to develop before they are born, but in most cases these teeth don’t come through until they’re between 6 and 12 months old. Most children have a full set of 20 milk or baby teeth by the time they’re three years old. When they reach age five these teeth will start to fall out, making way for adult teeth. Because baby teeth are only temporary, people might be tempted to think they’re not very important. They are not practice teeth or ‘disposables’ as such, but very important in their own right.  Healthy baby teeth are essential for speech development, building self esteem, and promoting good nutrition through proper chewing. They are also necessary for saving space in the jaw for the proper development and positioning of adult teeth.

Avoid Sipping On Juice Or Milk

The harmful oral bacteria in our mouths that causes tooth decay feeds on sugar. Every time our children eat or drink something sugary the bacteria count rises with new chemical energy. In a normal child’s mouth it then takes about half an hour for their own saliva to wash away the leftover sugars. However, when we give our kids sippy cups or bottles of milk or juice to drink over a long period of time, their saliva doesn’t have time to wash away the residue and their oral bacteria continues to multiply unabated.  This is such a common problem that it has a name: bottle rot. You can protect your child’s teeth from bottle rot by making only water available during the day, and by feeding milk or juice at mealtimes. The best practice seems to be only giving them bottles or sippy cups of water to sip on while they play, or when you put them to bed.

Thumb-sucking & Pacifiers

It is perfectly natural and healthy for babies and toddlers to suck on their thumbs or fingers or use a pacifier. Doing so helps them feel safe and happy, and most children will stop the practice on their own around age four. However, if they continue the habit after that period, it can begin to impact their dental alignment and create problems like an open bite.  Archer Dental blog has already outlined some easy to execute ways to help your child stop sucking their thumb. Come see us if you’re concerned about your child’s thumb-sucking or constant need for a pacifier.

Dentists can help by using Dental Sealant

How dental sealants work to prevent tooth decayOne of the ways Archer Dental can help your children grow and maintain strong, healthy teeth is to use dental sealant on newly erupted molars.  Dental sealant is a thin coating made from special plastic that is applied to the grooves on the chewing surfaces of the teeth in the back of the mouth.  Dental sealant helps keep food particles and germs from getting stuck in the grooves of these teeth, which can cause decay. The back teeth are often the first to show signs of decay, so many parents take this extra step to protect them.  The sealant is usually applied as soon as your child’s permanent molars come in between the ages of 6 and 12 years old. Once those molars have erupted, it is a good idea to have your dentist apply the sealant as soon as possible.  The sealing process is quick and easy, with no discomfort, and their teeth will be protected for years in the future.

Good Oral Health Habits

No matter what your child eats or drinks, if they have sealants, and if they grow out of using a pacifier or sucking their thumb on their own, nothing can replace good oral health habits like daily brushing and flossing. While your child is too young to do it themselves, you can do it for them and with them and explain why it’s so important for keeping their teeth healthy and happy.

Do not use teething tablets, gels with benzocaine, homeopathic teething gels or tablets, or amber teething necklaces. Stay away from teething tablets that contain the plant poison belladonna and gels with benzocaine. Belladonna and benzocaine are marketed to numb your child’s pain, but the FDA has issued warnings against both due to potential side effects. In addition, amber teething necklaces are not recommended.  Necklaces placed around an infant’s neck can pose a strangulation risk or be a potential choking hazard. There is also very little medical research to support the necklace’s effectiveness.

Get Regular Check Ups at Archer Dental, a Trusted Family Dentist

Don’t forget that one of your best resources for keeping your child’s teeth healthy is the dentist!  With regular checkups, Archer Dental can make sure that everything is progressing normally and answer any questions that either you or your child might regarding the condition of the teeth today and proper care going forward.  Parents searching for a family dentist should know that we focus on oral hygiene and overall tooth health.  We accept patients of any age, and that means we specialize in treating elderly patients as well as toddlers. By bringing your whole family to any one of our three dental clinics means you can have everyone’s oral health issues examined at one time and in one place. This is an important consideration when choosing your dentist as you want your family to feel comfortable and it must be convenient in order to promote regular attendance.

Cures for Canker Sores

mouth canker sore girl painful lip blister

Canker sores are shallow ulcers that can form inside your mouth for many different reasons.  You know when you’ve got a canker sore happening because of the curious discomfort you suddenly feel in your mouth. In truth, these oral tissue skin ailments are usually more of an endurance test than any real pain. Their sore itch inside your mouth is super annoying, and when you get more than one happening at once they can make eating and talking really uncomfortable. But relax.  They’re not contagious.  Nobody has ever died from canker sores, and only in rare cases are they symptomatic of any larger health issue.

girl with canker sore

Canker sores are aphthous ulcers most commonly found on the soft tissue of your cheeks near your lips, and if you’re real unlucky they can appear on the roof of the mouth or on your gums.  That’s no fun.  Women are twice as likely to get canker sores than men, and young people in general between the ages of 10 and 20 are the most commonly afflicted, although canker sores can appear earlier in life and elder folks suffer too.  Anyone can suffer canker sores at any age.

There are two types of canker sores.  Simple canker sores may appear three or four times a year, and can last up to a week. They typically occur in people ages 10 to 20.  Complex canker sores are less common and occur more often in people who have previously battled an outbreak.  More on the two types of these skin ulcers later in this blog post.

What do canker sores look like?

Canker sores are red and puffy skin blisters inside the mouth. Sometimes they appear all white and sometimes yellow and sometimes they have a small red border surrounding them.

What causes canker sores?

This is one of life’s little mysteries. There is no one single cause of canker sores. There are several.  An unexpected outbreak could be your body reacting to stress or raging hormones, or maybe you’re eating an improper diet and making poor lifestyle choices. Some food preservatives have been known to trigger canker sores and many sufferers complain about Sodium Benzoate in particular.  Produced by reacting sodium hydroxide with benzoic acid, this substance has the chemical formula C6H5COONa, and is a widely used food preservative, with an E number of E211.  

Sometimes minor tissue injury caused by a snagged-tooth or ill-fitting braces can manifest as the less complicated type of canker sores.  Add to that list certain foods including and especially grapefruits, lemons, oranges (all citrus fruits), apples, figs, tomatoes, pineapples, and strawberries.  These sour (mildly acidic) fruits can trigger a canker sore outbreak or exasperate an existing canker into a full-blown attack.

citrus fruit can cause simple cankers sores

Complex canker sores by contrast can manifest in your mouth in response to an underlying health condition, such as an impaired immune system. They can also signal more complicated nutritional problems, such as vitamin B-12, zinc, folic acid, or iron deficiency.  Severe, reoccurring canker sores may indicate gastrointestinal tract disease, such as celiac disease or Crohn’s disease.

How do I treat a canker sore?

If you have a canker sore, you’ll want to get rid of it as quickly as possible. Rinsing you mouth with salt water is also a great way to reduce inflammation and encourage faster healing.  To relieve the irritation, you can use a topical medication, a special mouthwash, or oral pain relievers.

canker sore medications available in Canadian drug stores

There are all manner of ointments and balms available on drug stores shelves which specifically treat canker sores. Most of these topical applications which both relieve pain and speed healing have Benzocaine or Boric Acid as the active ingredient. On the prevention side of things, you might try brushing with a softer bristled toothbrush which may be easier on your gums.  Also have a look at the toothpaste you’re using, and perhaps try a brand without the ingredient sodium lauryl sulfate.

Are cold sores and canker sores the same thing?

No. Canker sores are not the same as cold sores, which are also called fever blisters or herpes simplex type 1.  Cold sores are groups of painful, fluid-filled blisters. Unlike canker sores, cold sores are caused by a virus and are extremely contagious. Also, cold sores typically appear outside the mouth, usually under the nose, around the lips, or under the chin, while canker sores always occur inside your mouth.

How to prevent canker sores in the future?

There are natural preventative remedies such as salmon, kale, carrots, parsley, spinach, and yogurt. These base foods can help reduce future ulcer breakouts because of their high vitamin B12, iron, and folate content. Flossing daily and brushing your teeth twice a day will also help reduce ulcer breakouts because a clean mouth is always healthier.

remedy for canker sores is good food, salmon kale yogurt

How can Archer Dental help with your canker sores?

If you’ve been struggling with severe or repetitious minor outbreaks, please schedule a dental appointment. There may be underlying causes of your canker sores that need immediate diagnosis and treatment with prescribed medication.

CREST Selects Dr. Natalie Archer as Spokesperson

Dr Archer for CREST Medifacts

Crest Canada, the toothpaste company, picked Toronto dentist Dr Natalie Archer to speak on their behalf in a Buchanon Group Medifacts infomercial promoting their Pro Health toothpaste.

In this Crest Canada sponsored Medifacts clip, Dr. Natalie Archer DDS plays herself, a real life dentist in Toronto, as she breaks down the benefits of incorporating Pro-Health toothpaste with stannous flouride into your oral healthcare routine. Stannous fluoride is a well known anti-bacterial agent that’s clinically proven to protect against gingivitis, plaque and tooth sensitivity, while still providing the trusted cavity protection you expect from Crest toothpaste.  Stannous (from Latin stannum, ‘tin’) flouride is a chemical compound with the formula SnF2.
stanous flouride in toothpaste

Buchanon Group, makers of ‘Brand Power’, ‘MediFacts’ and ‘InfoTalk’ are leading producers of infomercials in Canada and around the world.  .

Buchanon’s 2014 Aspirin Medifacts Video Went Viral

Buchanon’s Medifacts video series has been around for a decade or more now.  Their most famous video was shot in late 2014 when the ASPIRIN 81mg brand from Bayer received approval from Health Canada to claim it may help save a life in the event of a heart attack.  The approved claim was, “If you think you’re having a heart attack, call 9-1-1 and chew 2 ASPIRIN 81mg”. So they made a Medifacts video to tell the nation. And it worked.

In the following two years, consumer testimonials were received thanking the brand for sharing this message and for helping to save the life of loved ones. Consumers also relayed that when paramedics arrived on scene, they often asked if the patient had taken ASPIRIN.

The Dental Diet by Dr. Steven Lin, a Dental Nutritionist

Raspberries are part of The Dental Diet


What if crooked teeth haven’t always been as commonplace as they are today? How about the theory that modern wisdom tooth extractions aren’t actually linked to evolution but rather to diet? And what if we thought about dental health as the foundation for our physical health as a whole? These are some of the ideas that Dr. Steven Lin puts forward in his ground-breaking book,  The Dental Diet: The Surprising Link Between Your Teeth, Real Food and Life-Changing Natural Health.

The Dental Diet by Dr Steven LinDr. Steven Lin is an experienced dentist and the world’s first dental nutritionist. In The Dental Diet, he analyzes our ancestral traditions, epigenetics, gut health, and the microbiome in order to develop food-based principles for a literal top-down holistic health approach. 
The Dental Diet posits that two of the biggest societal changes to influence and permanently alter our relationship with food are the Agricultural Revolution followed by the Industrial Revolution.
The (Second) Agricultural Revolution streamlined the farming process so that more people in the growing population could be fed.  While the first agricultural Revolution happened in 10,000 BC,  the second occurred with the increase of labour and land productivity and the introduction of fertilizers.  Food was more easily produced and certain crops became more abundant, but the soil was no longer able to pass on the same quality or quantity of nutrients.
The Industrial Revolution, which followed the Agricultural Revolution, shifted the bulk of the work to machines.  Work which had previously been done by hand or by using simple tools in rural, farming societies was now mass produced using powered tools, special-purpose machinery and factories. 
As a result of these two major societal shifts, we no longer eat the same foods that our species consumed in the past, and the foods that we do ingest are often processed and stripped of the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are vital for our bodies to function.  Additionally, processed foods often travel longer distances and are chemically altered to prevent spoilage which can wreak havoc on our digestive systems and throw off the balance of our gastrointestinal microbiome (essentially, the ecosystem existing inside of our mouths, stomach, intestines, and colon.) 

What Changed after the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions?

Dr Steven Lin. author of the Dental Diet One of the major consequences of the shift from how our ancestors ate to how we currently eat is that many peoples’ jaws are no longer developing properly. Underdeveloped jaws can cause an array of health problems ranging from the obvious (crooked teeth/malocclusion and not enough room for wisdom teeth to erupt into the mouth properly) to the seemingly unrelated. Dr. Lin believes that most breathing and sleep disorders (like sleep apnea, for instance) are a direct result of an underdeveloped jaw. Those with an underdeveloped jaw don’t just lack room in their mouth for all of their teeth, they also don’t have enough space for their tongues to sit comfortably when at rest (which can result in the tongue blocking the airway when a person is sleeping.)
So how can we fix the problem? Dr. Lin believes that we need to change our habits (breathing through the nose and pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth to strengthen the palate) and change our diets in order to re-align and strengthen our digestive systems (which begins with the mouth and teeth.)
Dr Lin acknowledges that we can’t go back to eating the way that our hunting and gathering ancestors did (nor should we), but we can cut down on our consumption of processed foods and sugars while simultaneously working to incorporate more whole foods into our diets.

What are Whole Foods?

blueberries are part of the Dental Diet

 Whole foods are foods that can be eaten as-is or with very little preparation/alteration. Whole foods are not processed or refined and are free of the kinds of harmful additives typically found in processed foods.

Some examples of whole foods are fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and certain grains like brown rice and rolled oats.
brocolli is part of The Dental Diet

Whole foods are vital for our digestive system’s microbiome because they maintain balance and feed the good bacteria living in our bodies. Whole foods also provide maximum nutritional value and often contain phytochemicals like antioxidants which boost the immune system and help repair cells that have been damaged by a diet high in processed foods and low in nutritional value. Many whole foods – things like blueberries, ginger, and garlic – also contain anti-inflammatory properties which can help your body heal from a number of conditions ranging from joint pain to IBD.

chicken eggsIn addition to eating locally sourced and organically grown fruits and vegetables, one of the best things you can do is eat meat and consume animal by-products from animals (like cows and chickens) that are free-range and have been fed grass rather than grain.
An animal raised on a diet of grain rather than grass lacks the nutrients their body – and by extension your body – needs to function as optimally as possible. The same concept applies to fish; the next time you’re buying salmon (an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids), look for wild Atlantic rather than farmed. 
Want to learn more about how our diet impacts our health and what foods you should eat to protect your oral, digestive, and overall health? Read The Dental Diet (complete with recipes and a detailed scientific breakdown of all of the information discussed in this blog post.)

Our Shoot the Tooth Booth Impacted the 2018 Taste of Little Italy

archer dental little italy

Just twelve hours after we’d packed away the red carpet and red velvet ropes that had adorned the entrance to our Launch Party for Archer Dental Little Italy the night before, we returned to 564 College St to participate in the annual Taste of Little Italy street festival.

The Taste of Little Italy is a cultural celebration that transforms College Street from Bathurst to Shaw into an Italian piazza and promenade. Visitors from all across the city, and all across Ontario, come to the area and enjoy seeing and sampling the offerings made by participating shops; many businesses (especially the Italian restaurants and cafes lining College Street) put out specials for customers all along the four block stretch. Much of the cuisine on offer is packaged for mobile consumption. We saw folks munching on roast corn cobs, veal sandwiches, steak burgers, grilled chicken on a bun wrapped in foil, shrimp kabobs and all different types of ice creams. Several people were walking and drinking liquid from half-watermelon bowls.

This annual event brings thousands of people into Little Italy to experience the perks of the neighbourhood, and after the official launch party for Archer Dental Little Italy held the night before, our boutique dental shop was ready to say Hello World, and let everyone know there’s a new dentist on College Street. We were especially keen to meet and greet local Moms and Dads with young families. We knew the best way to do this was to somehow get the kids excited, and so we came up with an interactive challenge that, as you can see below, is very on-brand.Archer Dental Little Italy - shoot the tooth

Archer Dental’s #ShootTheTooth Archery Game at 2018 Taste of Little Italy was a Big Hit!

The activity was simple and appealed to young people aged five to fifteen. The game asked participants to pick up a bow & arrow and shoot the tooth that appeared in the ‘sights’ emblazoned on a vinyl sheet under our name and logo.  Winners received a free ice cream cup (gift certificate) from the The Big Chill, a classic neighborhood ice cream parlor located right next door to Archer Dental Little Italy and visible in the background of many of these getting ice cream at local ice cream parlour

All participants walked away with a balloon in one of three primary Italian flag colours – red, white or green.

Archer Dental Little Italy - shoot the tooth

Event branding is all about capturing the essence of your brand and giving it a proper showcase. Given the situation that presented itself, this archery related sports activity checked a lot of boxes.  For one thing,  it’s a kid magnet.  Young people’s eyes light-up when they first see that tooth and the suction cup bow & arrows.  Almost instinctually, young people have an inherently strong desire to shoot that tooth. Mom and Dad are equally thrilled to be part of the action and, without much prompting, reach for their phones to record the moment for themselves and friends via social media.

Having a storefront location in the middle of a busy street festival allows Archer Dental the rare and special opportunity to reach out and directly interface with the public right in front of our dental office.  During our installation, we challenged over a hundred Toronto area families to shoot the tooth and helped them experience fun moments they’ll never forget.

action hero sister shows shy counterpart how to hit the target

Let me share with you the story of these two young ladies who are very different sisters. The girl in the pink ball cap (seen above) is very adventurous, and she came right up and asked to be allowed to try the event. Her mother came along afterwards to record it using her phone.  Mom was followed by a shy daughter in the white cap who couldn’t be persuaded to try the activity (at first, anyway).

Archer Dental tooth target rebel girl

The girl in pink hit the tooth on the very first try, stepping into the shot so the arrow had more power;  the suction-cup tipped arrow hit the vinyl tooth target with a whack and even stuck for a second before falling to the ground. The action was followed by lots of cheers and high fives as the young winner was bequeathed her prize: a gift certificate for a free ice cream at The Big cream parlour

Minutes later, her sister had come to understand that her shyness had cost her a cone. She wanted the opportunity to shoot the tooth too!

two sister at taste of little italy archer dental We laughed aloud when both returned, prize in hand, to ask if the sister in white could try playing the game.

shy sister truies shoot the tooth archery game at Archer Dental

Our first foray into event branding wasn’t perfect, either.  We learned a lot and will definitely have some new tricks up our sleeves for next year.

Archer Dental shoot the tooth

The untested Shoot the Tooth game worked well at wrangling crowds, but didn’t really satisfy shooters who soon found they couldn’t make the suction cup arrows stick on the vinyl target.  These arrows’ suction cup tips are made of soft plastic and not rubber, so they really only stick to walls with smooth finishes.  But we have dreamed up a new activity that we call Shoot the Tooth Mark II.  Just wait till you see how it brings new meaning to the term ‘cavity’ (a word which Archer Dental doesn’t use anymore, clinically).

Acher Dental vinyl target

Events are where the magic happens, so it’s only natural that good branding should happen here too. Just watch what we do with this booth next year!