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The legend of the tooth fairy

Every single recorded human culture has some kind of tradition for the disposal of baby teeth. The story of the Tooth Fairy dates back to 13th Century Norse traditions, when it became a tradition for a ‘tooth fee’ to be given to a child when they lost their first baby tooth. Various cultures since that time advise throwing baby teeth into the sun, into fire, between the legs, onto or over the roof of the house; placing it in a mouse hole or burying or hiding it. During the 1950s and in the Disney spirit, Americans conjured up a benevolent fairy who rewards baby teeth with money.

Read more about this interesting history at

Important notes

  • February 27 is National Tooth Fairy Day
  • The going rate for a lost tooth is $3.70 USD or about $5 CDN

Lower the inflammation in your body through cleaner teeth

In a recent study investigating the correlations between gum disease and a variety of serious conditions like stroke, hypertension and cardiovascular disease, researchers discovered plaque-identifying toothpaste can potentially lower systemic inflammation. They urge more research on the degree to which plaque-identifying toothpaste can decrease heart attacks or strokes. In the meantime, see areas of teeth with plaque turn green when using this kind of toothpaste.

Learn more at

Tiny tooth sensors to monitor your health

Scientists from Tufts University developed tiny sensors that attach to your teeth, and monitor your diet and health in real time.

The sensor, when communicating wirelessly with a mobile device, can transmit information on glucose, alcohol and salt intake. Researchers note that future adjustments of these sensors could make them detect and record a wide range of chemicals, nutrients, and physiological states.

Learn more at

Your teeth are like fingerprints

Your teeth are like your fingerprints: they’re uniquely yours. Whether the 20 “baby teeth” that serve us in childhood or the 32 permanent teeth we have in our adult years, no two teeth are exactly the same shape and size. Each tooth in your mouth has its own unique profile, and teeth vary widely from person to person.

Despite their unique properties, teeth can indicate certain information about us, like our age, gender, and personality. They can indicate certain personality traits and significantly impact our overall impression of people.

Testimonial from Nova Stevens

Dr Sam is such an amazing dentist! What a pleasure it was to have someone of his talent and expertise work on my teeth. He and the dental assistant made me feel very comfortable and relax, something I never experience during a dental appointment. He is very knowledgeable and confident in his work and makes you feel at ease. Our conversations were natural and enjoyable, it didn’t even feel like a dentist visit because I had so much fun; and I left with the biggest, brightest smile ever! Thank you Dr Sam!

Miss Universe Canada 2014

contenderDr. Winter is proud to be the dentist for Lavanya Hiremath, a contender for Miss Universe Canada 2014!

She writes, Dr Sam really has an eye for what suits you, but he is also modest, kind and will never sell you products or services you don’t need. I trust him and his staff with my teeth and had him do my cleaning and fine tuning before one of the biggest undertakings of my life – Miss Universe Canada 2014! Thank you Dr Sam Winter and team!

Patient Testimonial

In addition to Dr. Winter’s professional approach to dentistry, he provides a safe and listening response to all questions you might have concerning the procedure or materials used in your visit. If I am unclear about what he is about to do, or I would like a little more peace of mind before proceeding, he makes absolutely sure you are informed and feel comfortable before he begins.

Even at my age of 73, I still feel a little scared when I first sit in the dental chair. So, his taking this time to settle me into an understanding, clearing any doubts or fears is a wonderful gift and service. I am grateful as you would be as well.

Matthew Smith

Patient testimonial

Dr. Winter is a great dentist! And I would know I have had work done by at least a dozen dentists… (I’ve moved a lot and had major major dental work done.)

When I first moved to Vancouver my husband and I selected him because of how he came across on his website as being a “gentle” dentist and being very conscious about offering great dental care.

I have needed more serious dental work done (many many crowns and root canals) so I was referred to UBC by a specialist, but I still come to Dr. Winter when I need some general dentistry.

This past weekend I had some excruciating pain in a lower molar that had an infection and it was causing problems with my bite being too high so it was suggested I get it taken out. The Dr.’s I see at UBC were not available this week and I could not wait any longer.

Dr. Winter’s staff remembered me and my husband and said they’d see what they could do and got me in right away.

I really have to thank them for saving me. I was in so much pain I could not even chew on the opposite side of my mouth there was so much inflammation and infection that caused shooting and lasting pain. I asked them if I could get the tooth extracted as it was going to be very very costly to save and it was already causing problems with my bite and proving difficult to keep a crown on. (The other work I need done is already very costly so I did not want to add to the pile.)

I was done in 30 minutes after freezing and having the tooth extracted. Dr. Winter wanted to make sure I was very numb and comfortable and gave me extra freezing when I asked.

The ladies that work with him are great too. They are very friendly and everyone works well together as a whole team.  I like that the office is small and close knit, and not a giant sprawling office with tons of dentists and dental hygienists who treat you like a number.

My husband just went last week for a cleaning and was very happy with it as well.  Dr. Winter was happy he was taking such good care of his teeth, but noticed my husband was probably over cleaning and using mouthwash more often than he should. So he gave him some suggestions to keep his teeth in good condition without overdoing it.
If I had any general dental needs I would gladly return to Dr. Winter. I will probably still see him for cleanings and checkups once my other extensive work is done at UBC, even though I’ve recently moved to Surrey.

I can’t thank him and his team enough for being so kind to me today and saving me from so much pain. It was really nice that they remembered me even though I hadn’t been in almost a year after a general consultation.

Dentist visits can sometimes be very unpleasant, but not with Dr. Winter. It’s really nice to feel taken care of and he and his team add that special personal touch with having a smaller dental practice.

Veronica D.

Dentures are not fitting well

Why don’t my dentures fit well anymore?
False teeth, whether they are complete full dentures or partial dentures, are made to fit your mouth at a specific point in time. As you age, everything about you changes, even your mouth. But the false teeth you had made years ago cannot change with you. This is why the quality of the fit slowly deteriorates.

As the years pass, the bone supporting the false teeth continues to change, usually shrinking. This rate of change is different for everyone. Many people notice a change after only two years. Others don’t notice for many years after.

Most people can tell when their dentures are getting loose or uncomfortable, but because this process is gradual it is often ignored until there is so much irritation that it can’t be ignored any more.  This irritation can be red swollen areas that bleed easily, or actual cuts into the gums, which may or may not be tender.

What if my dentures are new?
If your dentures are fairly new andwere made immediately after teeth were extracted, a reline will be required after two to six months. This will take care of the early shrinkage and healing, thus restoring proper fit again. 

I advise that you have a dentist look at your mouth every one or two years, especially at the gums under your dentures. It is best to keep your dentures fitting well so that no irritation develops, because irritation can change the shape and structure of your gums and the bone underneath. These abnormal changes will make it difficult to maintain good fitting dentures.

What does a reline do?
To keep your dentures fitting properly they may need to be relined, as the need arises. Relining is a cost effective procedure as long as you like the way your dentures look. Of course if you don’t like the way your teeth look, because of wear, shape or color, then a reline (which only affects the fit) won’t make you happy.  If you don’t like the way your dentures look or they have been relined several times already you will need new dentures.

What about denture adhesives?
When used as directed with properly fitted dentures, adhesives are a safe, effective aid for comfort and security as well as confidence for the denture wearer.  Using dentures is a skill that the muscles of the mouth, tongue cheeks and lips, must learn and develop. When you first learned to ride a bicycle, your body muscles learned to balance automatically. In a similar way, the muscles in and around your mouth must adapt to controlling the dentures. Denture adhesives are a good help in the beginning.

Like any good tool, dentures need to be kept clean and regularly maintained. Adjustments and maintenance are a fact of life for the denture user.

Should I have my abscessed tooth extracted or root canal treated?

Once you know that you have an abscessed tooth, a decision has to be made. An abscess is an active infection, so it can’t be left untreated, because it will affect the level of health for your whole body.

Unfortunately, not all infected teeth are treatable. When a tooth is rotten or broken down to or even below the surrounding bone level, it is not restorable, so needs to be removed. But what if more than enough solid tooth is left to work with? Other factors now need to be considered.

If the tooth is the last one in the row at the back of the mouth and all the other teeth are present, some patients don’t feel that this back tooth is worth the time trouble or expense to keep. Since it’s their mouth, after discussing their decision I will agree to the extraction. Also if a person is already missing many teeth, saving one doesn’t make much sense, unless it is important to make a partial denture more comfortable and stable. Other people who have already lost several teeth will say, “This has got to stop”, and go to great lengths to save every one of the few left.

Cost can be a factor in the decision process. The cost of a root canal treatment and the necessary crown on a molar is almost as much as an extraction and a permanent bridge to fill the space. The long-term success of a bridge may be more predictable than that of a root canal treated tooth. Because of the uncertainties in predicting the future, some people will opt for extraction and an implant for the replacement. This route eliminates the root canal treatment, with its approximately 90% success rate, and also removes possible complications caused by crowning two teeth to support a permanent bridge. Implant-supported teeth are not fail proof either, but you are not risking any other teeth with this treatment.

As you see, whether or not to treat or remove an abscessed tooth is not always a straightforward decision. Many factors come to play in making the decision. As with any procedure involving one’s health, the outcome and consequences are not precisely known and we can only hope to weigh them in your favour.