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Meditation techniques to help those fearing their dental appointments

Hello all, just the other week I had a very very nervous patient in my chair who told me at the end of her appointment that she was meditating all throughout to get her through the hour!  It was quite a coincidence that she was in my chair, because the week prior I had a colleague mention about one of her patient’s praying the rosary during their dental hygiene appointment as a form of coping with fear!  For my patient, her meditation worked extremely well, and she even mustered up the courage to book back for the rest of her inital periodontal therapy and restorative care.

My particular patient had a background as a spiritual advisor. She explained that meditating involved three things for herself; the breathing, the focus on specific words or mantras (a prayer),  and trying to block out any thoughts or ideas past the specific mantras and words. It was a breath of fresh air, no pun intended,  to see a form of calming jittery nerve and phobias by ways other than 1 .nitrous oxide  2.  ativan 3. or any other sedative. I was very proud of this patient as it took her 4 years to get back into the dental chair. Meditation is a great holistic way to help deal with ones fears, whether they be in the dental chair, an exam to be written, or dealing with a new black diamond ski run!

At Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Dentistry and School of Dental Hygiene, a program was launched in 2008 to help students learn the benefits of meditation in their every day personal and work lives, called the Mindfulness Awareness Training Program. What a great idea, this would have been helpful for sure at my program!

For those who woud like to learn more about meditation techniques, check out the Mayo Clinic’s guide on relaxation techniques for stress busting. It could help you or a friend or family member at the next visit to the dental office!







Summer Holidays with Dark Chocolate Sorbet!

Hello all! It has been a while, figured it was time for a little break and am now back from summer vacation!

I am on an OCD kick to try and find the perfect recipe for chocolate sorbet and I mean the really dark chocolate noir stuff! On a trip to Osooyoos we found a cafe and gelato place called Medici’s and stopped by. Oddly enough I did not order anything but my chocoholic husband did! The CHOCOLATE sorbetto was WOW as I stole a morsel scoop from my hubby! So the next day we went back, and it was closed. Poo. So we tried a third time on our way back home. They had run out! Who runs out at 11 am in the morning? Poo again.

It has not been even 12 hours since we got home and I have started the quest of making this stuff! So far it is looking good, I will let you know how it works out!


Okay so that first batch was not so hot! But it looked good. I had a recipe that actually asked to boil the mixture till it reached 96 degrees celcius. Botched batch.

My second batch was not boiled, but rather just slightly bubbling on the sides! Heaven! It was wonderful. Dave was on a caffeine high for the remainder of the day. Did I mention the health benefits of a good piece of dark chocolate?





Since getting back from Osooyoos I have also made a rhubarb strawberry sorbet and am now in the midst of

putting together some peach yoghurt ice cream with some really ripe peaches.










I am getting the hang of this cold dessert making thing!


Good dental habits begin at an early age

Help older kids brush up on oral health

(NC)— Did you know that an estimated 57% of kids aged 6 to 11 years-old  have cavities? That number increases to 59% for teens, but with good oral care, specialists tell us that all children can grow up cavity-free. The habits you help them develop now will last a lifetime, so take a look at these helpful tips:

12-24 Months: Begin regular dental visits by age one. Teach a toddler about dental hygiene when the first teeth come through. Children should get used to holding a toothbrush and should watch others as they brush. Let them practice brushing, but continue brushing their teeth for them. Begin flossing when most of the baby teeth are in.

2-5 Years: Teach young children to use no more than a pea-size amount of toothpaste and make sure they do not eat it. Continue to brush and floss their teeth for them. Avoid sugary sweet treats.

6 + Years: Encourage children to begin flossing. Your dental hygienist will demonstrate proper technique. Continue to supervise brushing and flossing. The surface of your child’s permanent molars may be sealed with a light coating to prevent cavities in the deep fissure and grooves of the teeth. Keep a record of any accidents or falls that could affect the placement or condition of permanent teeth.

More information about oral care is available online at

How to care for your child’s teeth

Healthy smiles for babies and toddlers

baby toddler dental health pic

(NC)—We don’t usually associate cavities or gum disease with infants but in fact, oral diseases begin very early. For example, early childhood caries (cavities) is a form of severe tooth decay in the primary (baby) teeth of children from birth to age 3, and it affects more than 10 per cent of preschool-aged children in Canada. Baby’s first teeth are crucial to healthy adult teeth, and early childhood cavities can lead to much bigger oral health issues later in life.

Reduce the risk and follow these simple care tips with your little one:

• Be a good role model. Keep your own teeth and gums healthy.

• Wipe baby’s mouth and gums with a clean, wet cloth or piece of gauze after feeding.

• Gently clean newly erupted teeth with a small, soft toothbrush.

• Avoid fruit punches and other sweetened drinks in baby bottles, especially before bed.

• Reduce the frequency of nighttime feedings.

• Use only pacifiers with an orthodontic design, and don’t dip it in sugary substances.

•  Avoid transfer of your saliva onto items used by baby, including bottles, cups, pacifiers. Bacteria spreads.

• Rinse baby’s mouth with clear water immediately after any liquid medication is given.

• Check for early warning signs by lifting up baby’s top lip. White, chalky teeth or brown or black stained teeth indicate a problem. Contact your dental professional immediately.

• Gradually introduce fresh fruits and vegetables to the diet. These foods, which require chewing, stimulate saliva flow and help to neutralize acids.

• Begin regular dental visits by age one.

More tips and information about oral health care is available online at

April was also Cancer Awareness Month in Canada

Oral cancer—not just your grandparent’s disease

Oral Cancer pic

(NC)—Oral Cancer is the 13th most common and fastest growing type of cancer, particularly for younger Canadians. Smoking, drinking, sun exposure of the lips and HPV are all risk factors in developing oral cancer. Here’s what to watch for:

• Red or white patches in the mouth

• Lump or thickening of tissue in the mouth, neck or face

• Sores in the mouth that bleed or do not heal within 14 days

• Numbness in face or mouth

• Wart like masses inside the mouth

• Pain or difficulty swallowing, speaking, chewing or moving the jaw or tongue

• Hoarse throat that lasts for a long period of time

Most cancers of the mouth can be treated if caught in time, and oral cancers are easily detected by dental hygienists who are familiar with the signs and symptoms. Reduce your risk; maintain regular dental hygiene appointments, and at your next visit request an oral cancer screening.

Celebrating National Dental Hygiene Week 2012!

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
St. Francis of Assisi


This year I was able to get out and celebrate National Dental Hygiene Week within the community of Kensington. I had the pleasure of visiting with 4 different West Hillhurst Preschool Classes and boy was it fun! Teeth were counted in English and en francais; we learnt how to brush teeth and gums using Doogan Dog as a trusty but sneezy model,: kids listened with wide eyes and open ears during story time and explanations about what sugar bugs did in their mouth! What an attentive, and happy go lucky audience.

Dental Hygiene Week is a time when Canada recognizes the initiatives of this profession and how it impacts Canadians. It is both a good time and bad time to be a hygienist in 2012; good because of the changes made to the Health Professions Act that gave Canadians more direct access to dental hygiene care and bad because of economic changes that affected  the landscape of once plentiful jobs for us hygienists.

If there is one thing that has not changed, it is the constant need for access to preventive oral health care in this country. I would like to personally thank every hygienist I know who has been instrumental in spearheading these legislative changes that would affect how healthy Canadians mouths could be.  You pioneers and trailblazers are amazing individuals! This is a great time to be a hygienist and it is only going to get better. Lots of faith, hope, and love.



Can Tea Help Prevent Cavities?

Image from the Fairmont Hotel Banff Springs on Highnoon Tea

This weekend I had my first experience of High Noon Tea! And I must say, where have I been all this time?

The dainty tea sandwiches; the scones with clotted cream, preserves and butter; the petit fours, all placed strategically on a tiered tower that you almost don’t want to eat because it looks so exquisite. And of course, the highlight, The Tea! If you have never had High Noon Tea I insist you try the one at the Banff Springs Hotel in Banff. The view in Rundle Lounge  where High Noon Tea is served is glorious on a sunny day with a bosom friend. Thanks very much A for introducing me!

Ah, but such a rich diet of fermentable carbohydrates will be a feast for those pesky streptococcus mutans who desperately want to lace your teeth with a bath of acid. In a nutshell bacteria metabolize sugars found in your diet and poop out acids that cause tooth decay!

But do not fret, there is tea to save the day! Yes it’s known to have anticariogenic properties; it helps to reduce the risk of cavities! Righto!

Apparently the polyphenols and catechins present in tea help to decrease biofilm from forming. Hence tea, has the potential to be an antibacterial. But what tea to choose; fermented or non fermented; black tea or green tea; Kyoto cherry blossom tea or Iranian green tea? There is an in vitro study from Spring 2011 that can be found on Pubmed that explains all of this in great detail for those with inquiring minds. In general, there is evidence showing tea as cavity fighter, but it seems there needs to be more studies completed to identify which types of tea leaves give the most therapeutic effects.

For the record, I chose the Kyoto cherry blossom green tea. Divine.


How untreated periodontal disease is linked with diabetes and cardiovascular disease

November is National Diabetes Awareness month in Canada.  Nine million people in Canada are affected by diabetes! That means that every hour of every day there are 20 people diagnosed with either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. This spring when I attended the Pacific Dental Conference in Vancouver, I attended a seminar by Shirley Gutkowski, RDH, BSDH, FACE, that opened  up a can of worms for myself and the importance of integrating a diabetes monitoring and screening system as hygienists within the clinic.

The basic way to check and monitor diabetes as a patient and as collaborating health practitioners ( e.g. your hygienist), starts with the “ABC’s”.

A is for A1C- Glycosylated hemoglobin, glycohemoglobin (blood test) can report a blood sugar level average over a period of 2 -3 months. The Canadian Diabetes Association’s recommended level for A1c is below 7%.

B is for blood pressure – high blood pressure can lead to eye disease, heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. You may need to change your eating and exercise habits and/or take pills to keep your blood pressure below 130/80 mm Hg.

C is for cholesterol – High cholesterol and other fats in the blood can lead to heart disease and stroke so a Lipid Panel or Lipoprotein (blood test)  will help to assess this component.. The Canadian Diabetes Association’s recommended level for total cholesterol is below 200 mg/dl, LDL below 100 mg/dl, HDL above 40 mg/dl in men and above 50 mg/dl in women, and triglycerides below 150 mg/dl.

Untreated periodontal disease is associated with poor glycemic control in diabetes, and is considered the sixth complication of diabetes. For those who have the geek in them to read further about diabetes and is complications from a periodontal disease perspective, I have included a link to an excellent clinical paper on these matters. I am hoping that my next follow up blog this month will discuss C-reactive protein ( an inflammatory marker measured to diagnose cardiovascular disease, a big complication of diabetes). Thanks for reading!

Your friendly neighbourhood hygienist,




Healthy Mouth, Healthy you [video]

View more about how bacteria in your mouth can affect your whole body in this video.

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If the eyes are the window to the soul then the mouth is the window to the body!

There are more reasons to brush and floss than just for fresh breath, and less cavities! This article from MayoClinic’s website discusses certain medical conditions, such as osteoporosis, diabetes and cardiovascular disease and their link to the bacteria in your mouth. Good information to chew on:)