Oral Hygiene Instruction Dilemmas

by Bruna Mucaj, RRDH.

To an enormous extent, dental disease is preventable. But by far the most effective prevention is done by the teeth’s owners, (or the owner’s parents) – not by the dental profession and not by the government! We believe that of all the services we provide, Oral Hygiene Instruction is right up there with Nutritional Counselling as the most valuable. Alas, several factors conspire to frustrate our efforts. Continue reading

Cleaning Teeth


What patients call  a “cleaning,” dental professionals call scaling and polishing. Instead of polishing we sometimes use the word  “prophylaxis” which means “prevention.” As much as it thrills😎us to use important sounding words like “prophylaxis” we often can’t be bothered with all those pesky syllables. So we just say “prophy.” Let’s settle for “polishing.”

What, Exactly, Are We Cleaning?

We are trying to eliminate some or all of three things:

  1. Stain
  2. Plaque
  3. Tartar (“calculus”)

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Headaches, TMJ and the Bite

While the general population talks about “the bite” when referring to how the teeth fit together, dentists, for some reason, talk about “occlusion.” We’ll stick with “the bite.”  When the public asks about “adjusting the bite,”  dentists are thinking “occlusal equilibration.”  I mention these terms in case you run across them while talking to insurance companies or wandering about the Internet. I’ll try never to mention them again. 🤐

The teeth of each jaw function in harmony with each other and with the jaw joints. The jaw joints are called the Temporo-MandibularJoints. Thankfully there is a short form for that – TMJ. Also performing as part of this harmonious “choir” are the muscles we call cheeks, lips and tongue (and many other muscles of the head and neck.) The choir director is the brain. When all is well, beautiful music results –  speaking, chewing, swallowing , smiling,  and even actual music – whistling and singing. Continue reading

Extractions (Tooth Removal)

extracting a tooth
Removing (“pulling,” “extracting”) a tooth is sort of dentistry’s ultimate failure. That is a common view when the goal of dentistry is considered to be “preserving teeth so that they last a lifetime.”

That sounds like a noble and worthwhile goal, but it’s not quite complete.


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