Transcripts from Interview with Dr. Joe Tanti and Brian MacDonald-Dental Hygienist at the Tooth Doctor

[00:00:00] Dr. Joe Tanti: Hi, this is Joe. Talk to you with the building, a healthier Edmonton podcast. Today. I am speaking with Brian McDonald. He’s a dental hygienist over at the tooth doctor on 75th street. How are we doing today, Brian? 

[00:00:15] Brian MacDonald: I’m doing pretty well. How are you doing today? Joseph’s great. 

[00:00:17] Dr. Joe Tanti: Thanks. So dental hygiene is obviously a big importance for people’s overall health.

[00:00:24] It’s definitely a one aspect of a health care. So just before we get into all that, how did you, why did you decide to become a hygienist? What brought you to where you are today? 

[00:00:37] Brian MacDonald: Well, that’s that’s a long story, but the short version is I actually worked in architecture before this doing drafting and Well, it needed to change.

[00:00:51] And so my, my ex-wife at the time she used to do dental assisting and I helped her with some of her studies and [00:01:00] I wanted to get into the healthcare field and looked into a few things. And dental hygiene just seemed to fit. And I knew some of the stuff I get into because I helped her with her studies.

[00:01:10] And so I decided to get into that. And haven’t looked back since. 

[00:01:16] Dr. Joe Tanti: That’s great. Now how long of a program is so you were in architecture, so that’s, you had to do your undergrad. I’m assuming. Yeah, 

[00:01:24] Brian MacDonald: I wasn’t an architect. I was a drafting. Okay. Just worked at an architectural office, but that was two and a half years.

[00:01:34] And I took that out of, at a high school. But with dental hygiene when I took this, the course in back in Regina, it was a two year course. It’s gone now to a three-year course. Pretty much all the schools have gone to a three-year course, 

[00:01:51] Dr. Joe Tanti: so. Okay. And then you, did you straight go away right into the tooth doctor’s office or.

[00:01:58] Brian MacDonald: No, no, I [00:02:00] actually I’m from Saskatchewan and I worked at an office there for almost five years before I moved out this way. 

[00:02:11] Dr. Joe Tanti: Okay, great. I think I mentioned before we lived in Saskatchewan for a little bit as well. Glad to be in Edmonton now, though. 

[00:02:20] Brian MacDonald: Yes. Yes. It’s a, it’s a nice city. 

[00:02:23] Dr. Joe Tanti: Yeah. It’s different.

[00:02:24] It’s different for sure. It’s different change, but it’s great. So what are some important things about basically oral hygiene and what are some common things that you see in your, in your patients? In terms of issues that they’re having with their teeth that they need help with? 

[00:02:44] Brian MacDonald: I get a lot of questions about, about home care and you know, what can I do better?

[00:02:49] What, what should I be using? What kind of toothbrush should I use? What kind of toothpaste should I use? Floss, you know different, different [00:03:00] oral rinses. There’s a lot of products out on that. Out on the market. And like, even for myself, when I go and walk through the dental aisle, I can be overwhelmed and I know what I’m looking for, but for the most part, the, the biggest thing that I tell patients is find something you like find something that works for you.

[00:03:21] You don’t need to buy the $20 to toothpaste. The $2 to buy toothpaste works as well. The biggest thing is that you’re using it with, you know, with toothbrush. Same sort of thing. The, the softer, the better the, the hard toothbrushes. When I was growing up in the eighties, I remember the dentist telling me, get a hard toothbrush and scrub as hard as you can on your teeth.

[00:03:47] We found over the years that that’s not the right way to do things that it can actually injure the gums over time and cause recession around around the teeth. And so using a soft or an ultra [00:04:00] soft or sensitive toothbrush, something right. But again, it’s, it’s using it. It’s, it’s not necessarily, you know, one two’s, pressure’s better over the next one.

[00:04:11] It’s just a matter of finding something I can and using that. So that’s, that’s the biggest thing that I found. 

[00:04:19] Dr. Joe Tanti: Okay. And what, what do you mean by recession of your gums? What does that mean? 

[00:04:24] Brian MacDonald: Well, over time if, if you’re not properly taken care of, of your, your teeth and your gums, The, the gums can start to go down around the tooth recede a way.

[00:04:37] Normally they should be close or just slightly overlapping the enamel of the tooth, the crown of the tooth. And if we’re not taking proper care of our, of our gums, then those can go down and the root can start to get exposed, which can cause other problems like cavities on the root. Sometimes they’re very hard to fix hand.

[00:04:59] [00:05:00] Sensitivity is a, is a big problem with, with recession, so, 

[00:05:04] Dr. Joe Tanti: okay. So with regards to a sensitivity, I know sometimes if I’m, my teeth are being particularly sensitive, you know, I’m eating something typically if it’s hot or sweet Then they just get really sensitive and they almost to me anyways, it feels like they’re going to break.

[00:05:27] Is that like a thing? Does that happen? Can you actually damage it? 

[00:05:32] Brian MacDonald: No. With, with sensitivity it’s it’s very much a just, just individual people you know, if, if you have sensitivity using a sensitivity toothpaste but that’s, that’s really what we do is using a sensitivity toothpaste, but as far as a tooth breaking, because they’re sensitive.

[00:05:59] No, I, I, [00:06:00] I don’t think I’ve ever in my six years of being a dental hygienist, I don’t think I’ve ever come across a an experience of someone breaking a tooth because it’s sensitive. 

[00:06:12] Dr. Joe Tanti: That’s good to know. I know, I know in my head, I know it’s like logically, it doesn’t make sense that that’s going to happen, but that’s just how it feels.

[00:06:20] Cause you know, it’s, it’s, it’s quite painful. What, one thing that I find happens sometimes if you’re at the dentist, they may be doing a cavity or poking around back there and there is a particularly sensitive area. And they’ll say like, oh, it’s just going to be pressure. It’s not painful. And I’ll kind of joke with my patients sometimes saying almost like a similar thing, if I’m working on say I’m doing some soft tissue care on their hips or wherever, and it’s super sensitive.

[00:06:56] But you know, if, if there’s enough pressure, it can be quite painful too. So [00:07:00] 

[00:07:01] Brian MacDonald: oh, definitely. 

[00:07:02] Dr. Joe Tanti: Definitely. Yeah. With regards to. Like the hard toothbrush. Why is that? Is it just the gums are receding. That’s the main issue or can that actually like rub off some of the enamel or can that damage the tooth in some 

[00:07:16] Brian MacDonald: way over, over enough time?

[00:07:19] We can get microabrasions on the, on the enamel of the tooth or on the root of the root is exposed through, does a lot softer material than the, the crown of the teeth, the enamel. Hmm. Yeah over time with enough, enough pressure using a hard toothbrush it’s not, it’s not always the, the, the toothbrush itself, but the pressure that we use, we want to be using a very light touch when we’re, when we’re brushing our teeth.

[00:07:47] The harder we push that, the more damage we can do over time. It’s not something that’s going to happen. You know, you put too much pressure with a hard tooth press tonight, and all of a sudden you have no gums tomorrow. You know, it takes, it takes a lot of years. [00:08:00] And some people you know, I I’ve, I’ve had patients that are in their seventies and eighties and they, they swear by a hard toothbrush and they scrub as hard as they can and their gums are still fine.

[00:08:15] And that’s why I say it’s very individual and that’s why we need to find what works for us and use it now, when. Talk to patients. I obviously don’t recommend that hard or from toothbrush, but if that works for you and, and you haven’t had adverse affects from it and you’ve been using it for 50 years, Who am I to say that it doesn’t work for you, right?

[00:08:40] Right. Yeah. That makes 

[00:08:41] Dr. Joe Tanti: sense. Everyone’s a little different. Are there any, or are you aware of anything that people can do to try to make their, I don’t know, something they can take or something eat a size from brushing your teeth that will make their gums more resilient to kind of receding back. I don’t know.

[00:08:58] Is that a thing? [00:09:00] 

[00:09:00] Brian MacDonald: Not that I’ve heard of in all my studies, I haven’t heard of anything like that. Okay. The thing about diets is we want to, we want to avoid more acidic foods and go with more neutral or base foods and things like like dairy help out to, to bring the pH of the mouth back to a neutral to a seven.

[00:09:22] And, you know, obviously things like, like pop. And energy drinks and that sort of thing candies they do cause higher acidic levels in the mouth. And that can cause problems, not only with the teeth, but it can cause problems with the gums as well, because it creates an environment where bacteria can then flourish and that bacteria can then harm the gums over time too.

[00:09:48] So, okay. 

[00:09:52] Dr. Joe Tanti: What about also like a balsamic type or vinegarette type of dressings, like a salad [00:10:00] dressings. 

[00:10:00] Brian MacDonald: Those, the thing about, about foods is that we want to, we want to make sure that we’re, we’re getting a balance, right. You know? For just over the overall health of the body, we want to have balance in everything.

[00:10:14] And that, that goes for the mouth as well. So it’s not like you can’t go and drink a Coke or Pepsi, or you can’t have you know vinegar based salad dressing. It’s, it’s what you do the prolonged aspect of that. So if, if you constantly have you know A drink in your a soda in your hand.

[00:10:40] And you’re constantly drinking that. That’s where you’re going to run into those problems with, with the, the pH levels of the mouth, the acidic acidic level in the mouth. But you know, if you have a little bit of a more acidic dressing on your salad, that’s not a huge. 

[00:10:58] Dr. Joe Tanti: Right. It’s not going to make or break [00:11:00] thing.

[00:11:00] It’s more about consistency over time doing the same things over time and not brushing your teeth. It sounds like exactly. As we’re all told, when we’re kids, you need to brush your teeth. 

[00:11:11] Brian MacDonald: That’s right. That’s 

[00:11:12] Dr. Joe Tanti: right. Do you have any suggestions or tips for people to get their kids, to brush their teeth Everett?

[00:11:18] My son he’s almost two and he, he’s not a huge fan of it. So we do our best and sometimes, you know, he’s very unwilling, but we do our best to try to clean the teeth he has in there. But what do you have any tips? Things we can do to get him to do, to brush his teeth, want to brush his teeth? 

[00:11:39] Brian MacDonald: I totally understand where you’re coming from.

[00:11:41] I’ve got four kids. Have they range from three to 14 and when they’re young, They all had problems with brushing their teeth. I mean, when the older ones that still have problems brushing their teeth my, my tip is, is let them do it, give them the toothbrush, let them [00:12:00] do the work in their, in their own mouth, but then go in after and help them.

[00:12:04] So, you know, say, okay, you can start and dad or mom is going to help you after just to make sure. And I find that talking about. About sugar bugs and having, having fun, chasing the sugar bugs around their mouth, you know, take, take the toothbrush and after they’ve done it, you go in and say, okay, let’s check and make sure there aren’t any more sugar bugs and, oh, there’s one.

[00:12:31] And we’ll start brushing over on this side and then, oh, there’s another one over here. And we start brushing over here. And so then making almost a, a fun game out of chasing the sugar bugs around the mouth, I find helps. 

[00:12:44] Dr. Joe Tanti: I like that. I think I’m going to use that tonight. I think I’ll let you know how that goes.

[00:12:48] Okay. Sounds good. That’s great. What other, so aside from just you know, obviously it’s important to keep brushing your teeth, flossing, your [00:13:00] teeth keeping your teeth or the hygiene of your teeth, you know, good. Making sure that you’re having a balanced type of diet obviously for your overall health, but also for, it sounds like keeping the balance of the acidity level and the pH of your mouth at a good level to decrease the amount of.

[00:13:21] Harmful bacteria essentially. So what other, what are some other aspects of you know, dental hygiene that people need to be aware of things that they can do to, or may want to keep an eye on? To optimize their, their teeth health. 

[00:13:42] Brian MacDonald: I think, I think like you you’ve mentioned a lot of that, the big ones they’re, you know, making sure you’re doing your brushing, making sure you’re using a fluoridated toothpaste.

[00:13:50] There’s, there’s a lot of, a lot of people who, who. Like to discount fluoride [00:14:00] in, in use in toothpastes or even fluoridated water in cities, in app. But, but using a fluoridated toothpaste helps settle a lot when it comes to the prevention of cavities in the mouth. But You know, beyond doing those things with brushing and flossing and, and even using a mouth rinse if you like to do that, it’s not something necessary, but if you want to help freshen the breath and, and help to kill some of the bacteria, that’s, that’s a good, a good help.

[00:14:30] I think the biggest thing is just making sure you’re, you’re able to get into the dentist to get your, your regular checkup and cleaning and, and go on the, the advice of, of those professionals. I mean, you know, When, when I have a problem with my back I go to a chiropractor like yourself. You know, I don’t necessarily just go to my regular doctor but go, go to the dental professional, [00:15:00] but then listen to what they have to say.

[00:15:02] You know if, if we, if your hygienist says you should be coming in every three months or every four months because of these things it’s, it’s an important thing to, to, to do. I know a lot of times the insurance mindset takes over and, and we think, well, I don’t have coverage for all of that. But it’s, it’s important to the overall health of the mouth and which, I mean, it’s connected to the body and, and then helps with the overall health of the body as well.

[00:15:41] Dr. Joe Tanti: Right. So there’s a few things I wanted to touch on there, but the first one is when you’re giving those recommendations what, what are they based on? For example, someone might come in and they may not have any. So I find a large reason people come in, they seek treatment is because they’re having some type of pain.

[00:15:59] [00:16:00] They’re probably not coming to you. I I’m sure some people do, but a lot of people may not be going to the dentist because Like if they haven’t been in years, they’re not going to randomly go. Cause they just feel like they need a cleaning. I would assume. No, that’s not the case. Yes. Then there’s obviously the people that take their very proactive and then they go regularly.

[00:16:21] Cause they know it keeps their oral hygiene and oral health you know, as good as possible. But pain is typically. No, that last thing to come on, but that’s kind of that first sign that people have. So what are those things that you’re looking for in someone’s mouth that may not be painful, but you know, if left untreated or if you don’t do anything about it, it’s going to get worse and it’s going to cause a lot of problems down the road.

[00:16:47] And if people don’t know like even if you don’t have coverage, Once it gets to a certain point and your jaw is killing you or a tooth is killing you. You’re going to pay anything to [00:17:00] get that thing fixed, where it could have been prevented in the first place. If you took these small action steps ahead of time.

[00:17:07] So what are some couple of things that people that you’re looking for? 

[00:17:12] Brian MacDonald: Th there’s, there’s quite a few things. A couple, a couple major ones that I look for as a hygienist is, is the amount of build up the hard deposit, the calculus, the tartar, however you wanna word it. I had a patient that I saw in Regina and I saw him.

[00:17:32] Anywhere between two and three months. And he could have come every two to three weeks because he built up that hard deposit so quickly. And so, you know, he, he was proactive with it and he had a certain amount of coverage and he knew that once that coverage was, was used up with his insurance, he was still gonna come because he wanted to make sure that he caught the deposit cleaned off.

[00:17:57] And so everybody’s. I also [00:18:00] saw one other patient who was in his seventies, who you hate to say it, but he brushes once a year and that’s the day he comes to the dentist and he is never flossed a day in his life, but he has perfect teeth. He has perfect gums. You know, he won the genetic lottery when it comes to his, his, the health of his mouth.

[00:18:23] And so everybody is different. From from the gentlemen who needed to come in every, he could have come in every two or three weeks and had a cleaning to the, to the guy who brushes once a year and has absolutely nothing wrong with his mouth that we can see. And that’s why we, we do, we try and do individual plants.

[00:18:46] You know, we, we say the basic is try and get in every six months. For, for your cleaning end and then once a year for your checkup, that’s the basic, but then we, we go on from there to, to customize for each person. Another thing that we [00:19:00] look for is just, is just the overall health. From what you’re doing at home.

[00:19:05] Are you taking the time? Are you, are you brushing or flossing? Are you doing it properly? You know, there’s, there’s proper techniques to use versus improper techniques. You know, if your kids just put the toothbrush in their mouth and chew on their toothbrush for 20, you know, 10 seconds, they’re not cleaning much in their mouth, they’re just wrecking their toothbrush, but then they come out of the bathroom and say, yeah, dad, I brushed my teeth.

[00:19:32] And so it’s, it’s, you know, how, how much are they doing at home for their home care? Another thing is a major one over time, depending on the, the different bacterias and genetics and other things. In the mouse, we can get a bone loss around the teeth and we call that periodontal disease. The disease of the periodontium, which is, which is the bone around the mouth or the mouth in [00:20:00] general, really, but over time, the, in between the gum and the tooth we have a little pocket there and we measure that from time to time.

[00:20:12] And those measurements, when, when they get up to between two and three millimeters deep, we say that’s healthy and normal, but when they start to get deeper than that, then we, we start to look. Treatment options as far as bringing patients in more frequently, because at home there’s no way we’re cleaning down to a seven or eight millimeter deep pocket around the gums and the teeth.

[00:20:37] And so we need to make sure we’re coming in more frequently to make sure that the, the teeth and the gums are healthy and we’re getting everything cleaned up from underneath the gum line. 

[00:20:48] Dr. Joe Tanti: Okay. And what will happen if that doesn’t get cleaned out? Like as that progressed. 

[00:20:53] Brian MacDonald: Eventually we get, we get, if the, those pockets get deeper.

[00:20:59] Then we [00:21:00] start to see the teeth starting to get loose and eventually they will fall out or they’ll have to be taken out, or we might start getting an abscessed tooth because bacteria gets down there and then it causes infection. And then, you know, we, we eventually, we eventually ended up losing teeth at that point.

[00:21:18] Dr. Joe Tanti: Right. And that can have a pretty Obviously no teeth, it’s harder to eat different things. Yes. Also like if you get an infection that can cause a whole slew of, of issues, I’ve heard of people you know, passing away after a, they may have a tooth abscess and they don’t get it treated for whatever reason.

[00:21:39] And then they get an infection and then it gets into the blood and then they get sepsis.. Yeah. So yeah, it can be pretty serious if left untreated for sure. Yeah. One other thing I want to bring up just that you mentioned there, the importance of fluoride. So what is it, what exactly is fluoride doing?

[00:21:56] What is it? What’s its role? 

[00:21:59] Brian MacDonald: Fluoride is a, is a [00:22:00] natural mineral that we find in, in nature, but we don’t find it everywhere. We can find trace amounts of it in certain foods. But, but not too many. And there are like being in Southern Saskatchewan. There’s, there’s a few communities there that have naturally fluoridated water.

[00:22:22] And when you, when you look at the, the overall dental health of those communities, you see a very much lower cavity rate in those individuals who, who grew up there. And that’s one of the reasons why we add fluoride to, to water in. Some of the major cities in north America. 

[00:22:46] It’s very important in the, the role of, of preventing captains, helping to strengthen the enamel of the teeth. And that’s why, when me you know, when we brush our teeth that the proper way after you brush your teeth [00:23:00] is to, to spit the toothpaste, but don’t rinse your mouth out.

[00:23:04] That was one thing that I didn’t know until I got into, into school for hygiene, you know, I always used to. Brush my teeth rinse spit and, and go about my day. But leaving that the, the toothpaste on the teeth, leaving the fluoride there to help to, to soak into the tooth helps to prevent cavities better than just brushing alone.

[00:23:26] Oh, and so it’s, it’s really a preventative measure. Okay. 

[00:23:35] Dr. Joe Tanti: Well, I didn’t know that that’s, that’s a great tip. I’m learning so much here. This is great. Yeah. Is there any, anything else that you want to mention or anything that we haven’t discussed that you feel may be important for people to know?

[00:23:54] Brian MacDonald: I think just just the importance of, of remembering that, that oral. [00:24:00] You know, th th the mouth is linked to the body. They’re there for years. There was a disconnect where doctors didn’t want to have anything to do with the mouth and dentists didn’t want to have anything else to do with the rest of the body, but there, there are multiple studies out.

[00:24:16] Now that show that. That the health of the mouth is directly correlated to things like diabetes and heart disease and other, other blood related issues. And so just making sure that you’re aware and, and don’t forget that the mouth is part of the body. What goes in the mouth goes into the body. And so.

[00:24:42] It’s, it really is an important almost the first line of defense for, for the health of the overall body. So, 

[00:24:52] Dr. Joe Tanti: right. And do you think that it has more of a in regards to these other health conditions, diabetes, [00:25:00] heart disease do you think it’s more that they have these other health conditions and that makes them more susceptible to having more.

[00:25:07] Oral hygiene issues or do you feel it’s the opposite or is it just somehow it’s connected? It 

[00:25:16] Brian MacDonald: it used to be the, the, the impression that, oh, you’ve, you’ve got heart disease, you’ve got diabetes and, and that is totally a separate thing. But, but we do see now that the relationship. One can can cause the other, so periodontal disease abscess teeth can start to cause other, other issues in the body, like, like those heart diseases in that.

[00:25:48] And so it’s, it’s not one is without the other. It’s it’s we have one let’s look and make sure we don’t have to yet. [00:26:00] Okay. So we’ll 

[00:26:01] Dr. Joe Tanti: take a here. Okay. That’s great to know that that seems to be like with a lot of things. If you having some type of diabetes, for example, if you have type two diabetes, you’re more likely to have multiple other type of health issues as well.

[00:26:16] Not just diabetes, you might have more susceptible to having muscle pain, for example, and or a health issues. Yeah. Well, great, Brian. It was a pleasure talking to you if there’s. Anyway, if anyone has any questions or they need some dental hygiene or they need their oral hygiene to you know, be evaluated or taken care of what’s the best way for them to get your services 

[00:26:43] Brian MacDonald: For myself.

[00:26:44] I’m, I’m not really on any social media platforms myself. I have my Facebook, but that’s about it. For, for any questions, any, any concerns by all means, Give her office call [00:27:00] the tooth doctor on 75th street in Capilano. We’re more than happy to, to have new patients come and have consults and, and you know, I’m more than, more than happy to have patients come in and, and let me help them with their oral health needs.

[00:27:19] We have two other offices one on Ellerslie in the south end of Edmonton and one in Tofield. By all means any one of those offices, we’d be more than happy to, to have you come in and, and talk to you more and help you get on your, the right path to, to overall health. Not just, not just oral health.

[00:27:41] Dr. Joe Tanti: Great. Well, thanks a lot. And thanks everyone for watching your listing and all. We’ll talk to you next 

[00:27:46] Brian MacDonald: time. Thank you very much, Joseph. Have a good day. You too.

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