Bits and Bites of Everyday Life


Getting between the teeth

How would you rate your smile?

True North Perspective
Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair is the author of The Neglected Garden and two French novels. Visit her website to learn more

  Alberte's sister, Diane Albert, and Julie Engel, both CDA II at the Medfair Dental Office.

How many times have we heard: “I just fell in love with her gorgeous smile! Or, he has such a winning smile!”? A reader recently commented on my latest photo. “I love it! You have a perpetual and very engaging smile that invites people to smile back.” Of course, in order to have an attractive smile, one needs a good set of “pearly whites” and in our family, we have been blessed with good teeth.

My sister, Diane, who just turned 60 last week received the ODAA (Ontario Dental Assistant Association) pin and certificate for her 40-year membership. Actually, she has been a dental assistant for almost 42 years and she has been our guide and crusader when it comes to oral health. 

For a gal who didn’t know what she wanted to be in life, she never looked back once she started out in that line of work. I often tease her because when she meets someone new, she doesn’t look them in the eye at first glance; she looks at their teeth! She has always been generous with advice on how to take care of your teeth and gums, in fact, she gave presentations in some of my classes when I was teaching and the children loved it. She has always been conscious that good oral hygiene starts when you are young. 

Of course, healthy teeth and gums are not just inherited; they have a lot to do with good nutrition! In an article by Iris Winston for the Citizen, she advises that “Many people with bad teeth and swollen, inflamed gums might be malnourished, even though their food intake is high. Too much of the wrong kind of food is just as bad as having too little to eat.” 

As Dr. Lynn Tomkins of the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Dentistry explains, “Teeth are formed during the early part of our lives and are, to a large extent, dependent on what we eat, for proper formation. When their teeth are forming, children need adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin C to ensure they develop healthy teeth and bones. This is also true for teens when they develop their wisdom teeth. In addition to milk products, she advocates fluoride in drinking water to make teeth hard and strong and emphasizes the importance of vitamins A and D so that bone metabolism is stimulated. As we get older, we continue to need these vitamins and the best way to get them is from our food. Vegetables such as broccoli and spinach are good sources of vitamin A, while strawberries, tomatoes and citrus fruits are a good source of vitamin C.”

Special invitation for February 25th

This is a special invitation to all art lovers! Arts Night is held on the last Friday of each month from September to June at the First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, located at Cleary Ave., in the west end of Ottawa, off Richmond Rd. and one stop-light block east of Woodroffe Ave. These events start at 7:30 and begin with an "open set", a time when members of the audience may give a five-minute presentation of any art form. Then comes the presentation of three guest artists: one from the literary, visual and musical arts. Each artist will do a twenty-minute presentation and there will be time reserved for questions from the audience. Refreshments will be served. The literary guest will be Alberte Villeneuve-Sinclair, a novelist with three novels to her credit and columnist for TNP and Canaan Connexion who has written about women's issues, mental health and other issues and has spoken about these subjects on TV and radio and to interested social groups. The visual artist, Angela Verlaeckt Clark, a sculptor, will talk about her passion of expressing herself through new mediums and methods and her new book "Witness Stones and Reflections". The musical artist, Lori Lynn Penny, a pianist/teacher will talk about her amazing career.

Arts Night is open to everyone, so please join us on February 25th!

Visit for details.

Healthy gums are also very important! Dr. Bruce Ward, president of the British Columbia Dental Association warns that “red, inflamed, swollen gums are like the canary in the coal mine. If the body is not in good shape, the gums are one of the places that it shows first.” Years ago, although my dental hygienist suggested I use dental floss regularly, I was left frustrated because the dental floss would get stuck between my teeth and break. I would give up and skip the procedure, but eventually, my gums started bleeding if I tried to floss. It took one warning from Diane who said the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth can cause inflammation of the digestive system and cause serious diseases in other parts of the body such as the heart! That was it! I went on a mission and finally found dental tape (Total being my favourite brand) that worked marvelously. I became a devout flosser and soon my gums stopped bleeding as I faithfully flossed twice a day. 

Of course, brushing your teeth twice a day is also a must. A good toothbrush and toothpaste are essential. Check out the variety; the choice is incredible! You can use an electric toothbrush! There are picks, rubber-tip massagers, all kinds of mouthwashes and more. The thing is: YOU MUST USE THEM! And if you are away and can’t brush, eat a fibrous fruit or vegetable. An apple is a good choice because it stimulates saliva, cleans your teeth and has nutrients to boot. If not, just rinsing your mouth with water will help. All this prevents the accumulation of plaque which is essentially an accumulation of bacteria that eventually causes an acid that erodes the teeth and causes cavities and bad breath. 

Regular visits to your dentist will ensure your teeth and gums are healthy, plaque is removed, teeth are polished and any tooth decay is repaired promptly. In many cases a fluoride treatment is offered as part of the prevention package. Orthodontic and cosmetic dentistry also offers solutions to those who are looking for that “million-dollar smile”. 

So if you indulged your sweet tooth at Valentine’s Day, don’t worry but don’t make a habit of it. If you do eat sweets, it is recommended you have it with your meal because the increased flow of saliva helps wash away and dilute the sugar. Good news for tea drinkers: drinking green tea can protect your teeth. And if you need to snack, choose sugar-free snacks such as plain milk and buttermilk, fruit and raw vegetables, plain yogurt and cheese, hard-boiled or devilled eggs, nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, melba toast or salads. 

So smile! You never know who will smile back!