13 Secrets Your Dentist Wants You to Know

Don't dodge the dentist's chair! Canadian dental experts weigh in on how to make your next checkup as comfortable as possible—and keep your teeth pearly white in between.

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Canadian dental facts for healthier teeth and better oral hygiene

It turns out soda isn’t the only beverage that takes a toll on teeth. “Not only do fruit juices, energy drinks and sports drinks contain a lot of sugar, the acidity can cause significant decay,” says Dr. Mitch Taillon, past president of the Canadian Dental Association. To protect your enamel, don’t brush your teeth for 30 minutes after downing these drinks (or better yet, avoid them altogether).

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Man flossing his teeth in the mirror
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You only need to floss the teeth you plan to keep

Patients who don’t floss are missing out on cleaning over a third of the surface of their pearly whites. Find out the flossing mistakes everyone makes.

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Canadian dental facts - dentist reviewing x-rays with patient
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Dentists can screen for more than just cavities

An estimated 5,400 Canadians were diagnosed with oral cancer in 2020, according to the Ontario Dental Association, and the disease can be hard to spot in its early stages. Tell your dentist about any persistent sores, discoloured patches or difficulty chewing or swallowing.

Here are 20 symptoms you should never ignore.

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Man smiling in dental office
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A dental cleaning isn’t just a glorified tooth brushing

Only a professional can remove tartar or calculus, a cement-like form of hardened plaque.

Here’s expert advice on how to stop grinding your teeth at night.

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Woman experiencing extreme toothache
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Periodontitis—also known as gum disease—may increase your risk of heart disease

Oral exams at least once a year are a must.

Find out how it’s actually possible to reverse heart disease.

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Canadian dental facts - happy patient in dentist's chair
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Staff are trained in non-pharmacological techniques to make your visit less stressful

“Giving my patients control gives them more confidence,” says Taillon. “No matter what I’m doing, if they raise their hand, I’ll stop.”

This is exactly how long you need to brush your teeth.

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Canadian dental facts - dentist beside chair
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Dentists aren’t judging you

They’ve definitely seen worse teeth than yours. Delaying or skipping dental visits will only compound the problem, requiring more invasive and costly treatments later on.

Find out which foods are worse for your teeth than candy.

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They’re not trying to swindle you, either

“Costs depend on the complexity of the treatment, whether you’re in an urban area, the technology available and your dentist’s level of specialization,” says Taillon.

Here’s what your bad breath is trying to tell you.

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Cute baby boy brushing his teeth
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Baby teeth need fillings, too

It’s a myth that cavities in young children’s teeth don’t matter. Neglecting oral health in the early years can lead to serious problems with permanent teeth, gums and even speech.

Never ignore these signs of a potential dental emergency.

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Woman getting her teeth whitened
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Bleaching your teeth doesn’t weaken them

Peroxide can cause some temporary sensitivity, but if bleaching is done properly, it won’t affect the integrity of your enamel, according to the Canadian Dental Association.

Use these tips to protect your teeth from coffee stains.

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Smiling boy in dental chair
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Three-quarters of Canadians visit a dentist at least once a year

Here’s more good news: childhood tooth decay has decreased threefold in the last 40 years.

Here’s how to choose the best toothbrush for you.

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Dental tools
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No dental insurance? No problem

If you’re one of nearly a third of Canadians without dental insurance, you don’t have to wait until you end up in the emergency room for tooth pain. If you’re a senior or have young children, contact your provincial dental association to find out if you’re eligible for free dental-care programs. Taillon also recommends checking out dental schools for affordable checkups, cleanings and even restorative work. Fees can set you back as little as $15 a filling.

Find out how often you should replace your toothbrush (and what could happen if you don’t).

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Canadian dental facts - dentist inspecting patient
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The field is physically and psychologically taxing

Like other health care professionals, dentists are prone to perfectionism and are known to prioritize the needs of patients over their own. It’s no surprise, then, that dentists report nearly double the rate of stress as the general population. Still, Taillon says the rewards are worth it. “What we do can make a huge difference in patients’ lives.

Now that you’ve got these Canadian dental facts under your belt, check out the signs of disease your teeth can reveal.

Reader's Digest Canada
Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada

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