expert type icon EXPERT

Dwayne Kowalchuk

Dentist

Dr. Dwayne Kowalchuk is a General Dentist practicing in Calgary, AB. Dr. Kowalchuk specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating diseases and conditions associated with the mouth and overall dental health.

Both of my clinics are full-service Health + Dental clinics - so we focus on the whole person, not just the mouth: "WE TREAT PEOPLE, NOT TEETH".
We have a "NO JUDGEMENT ZONE" philosophy - where every patient is treated with respect and compassion.

We are gentle, kid-friendly, family-oriented dental clinics - caring for patients from all backgrounds and dental fear levels.
We believe strongly in PREVENTION and EDUCATION for each and every patient that wants it, and consider ourselves "TRUSTED HEALTH ADVISORS". We also strongly believe in CUSTOMIZED COMFORT & CUSTOMIZED TREATMENT - tailoring treatments, instructions and comfort to each individual person. We believe in the "PLATINUM RULE": We treat every patient the way THEY want to be treated.

The treatments we offer include professional cleanings, restorative (tooth-colored fillings, night guards, smile whitening), prosthodontic (veneers, crowns, bridges, implants), surgical (gum treatments, tooth removal, wisdom tooth removal), orthodontic (Invisalign, braces, retainers) and endodontic (root canal therapy) procedures, along with facial rejuvenation (Botox, Dysport).
19 years Experience
Dwayne Kowalchuk
  • Calgary, AB
  • University of Calgary
  • Accepting new patients

Should I give my child whiskey while teething?

I highly recommend avoiding using any form of alcohol to soothe your baby's gums or teething pains. Once you know for certain that your baby's discomfort is caused by teething READ MORE
I highly recommend avoiding using any form of alcohol to soothe your baby's gums or teething pains. Once you know for certain that your baby's discomfort is caused by teething (ask your family dentist), then steps can be taken. Some people use topical anesthetic gels like Oragel, but using benzocaine-containing gels on kids under 2 years of age carries a risk of them developing a rare, but serious, condition called Methemoglobinemia. I recommend safer, non-toxic ways to treat teething:

1. Wet one end of a washcloth and briefly freeze it - let your baby to chew on it.
2. Use clean fingers to gently massage your baby's gums.
3. Once your baby has started eating solid foods, serve them chilled puree or yogurt. Chilling the spoon in the fridge first will help even more.

Hope these tips helped.

Can my abscess go away on its own?

It depends. If the abscess you are suffering from is just involving the gums (e.g. a popcorn kernel caught deep in the gingival sulcus (space between tooth and gum margin, where READ MORE
It depends. If the abscess you are suffering from is just involving the gums (e.g. a popcorn kernel caught deep in the gingival sulcus (space between tooth and gum margin, where floss going down when you floss) or a scraped/cut gum margin - that is a mild form of "periodontal abscess". These can heal on their own, once the source of inflammation/infection has been removed, either by yourself or dental hygienist. Rinsing with warm salt-water or 0.12% Chlorhexidine Rinse can certainly help the healing process. However, most abscesses are tooth-related, with an infection festering deep in the tooth, the bone surrounding the roots of the tooth, or both. In that case, the germs can avoid being killed by your immune system there (one of the few areas of the human body where blood supply is limited, so immune response is limited). So, the solution is to remove the SOURCE of infection (the pocket of germs and their hiding spot). This means either root canal therapy (if they are inside tooth/roots), or tooth removal. Hope this helped.

Should I go get my root canal done by a specialist?

I've known many general dentists with extensive experience performing root canal therapy, and some have even limited their practices exclusively to root canal therapy after taking READ MORE
I've known many general dentists with extensive experience performing root canal therapy, and some have even limited their practices exclusively to root canal therapy after taking many additional courses and training (essentially making themselves a specialist). However, endodontists (root canal specialists) are more successful, on average, at having success treating difficult root canal treatments. They often also have equipment that many general dentists don't typically have, helping add to their success rate. If your general dentist RECOMMENDS a particular tooth be treated by a specialist, then I certainly would recommend taking that advice.

Do dental whitening toothpastes contain bleach?

Great question! Many people wonder about that. Whitening toothpastes don't contain bleach. They do contain extra-gritty polishing particles (compared to regular toothpaste formulas) READ MORE
Great question! Many people wonder about that. Whitening toothpastes don't contain bleach. They do contain extra-gritty polishing particles (compared to regular toothpaste formulas) that scrub the tooth surfaces to remove more external staining - so, the end result is basically "whiter" teeth. Long-term, I usually recommend patients AVOID these, since their abrasive nature scrubs away susceptible tooth surfaces - and once they are gone, they don't grow back.
We offer a better solution for our patients, consisting of custom-fitted, take-home whitening trays and whitening gel kits (contains carbamide peroxide that neutralizes and lifts stains from pores of tooth, leaving outer surfaces unaffected otherwise).

Happy whitening!

Brushing too hard?

Thanks for your question, I don't know why one dentist would say something, while another one does - sometimes it's because they don't want to scare you away or alarm you. Maybe READ MORE
Thanks for your question,

I don't know why one dentist would say something, while another one does - sometimes it's because they don't want to scare you away or alarm you. Maybe your 1st dentist left it up to his dental hygienist to discuss the matter with you. Did you ever ask your 1st dentist about gum recession? Electric toothbrushes have been found to be more thorough with their plaque removal on hard-to-clean tooth surfaces. They usually have soft or extra-soft bristles (very important), and some of them have pressure-sensors that change the pace of the brushing, when it senses that you are pushing/brushing too hard.

Note: no ones gumline "wears away" just because they are brushing too hard though. You may damage and irritate your gums, but they won't recede from the occasional hard brushing.
If you've experienced gum recession, it is due to:
1. Periodontal disease (loss of supportive bone around the roots of your teeth, under the gums)-caused by bad bacterial infecting the pockets surrounding those teeth.
&
2. Inflammatory responses of your body, where your immune system over-reacts to damage/infection. This has a genetic (inherited) component, and an "epigenetic" (affected by diet, sleep and stress) component.

Happy brushing!

My dental filling keeps coming out. What should I do?

I'm sorry to hear about your bad luck with that filling. My answer to your question is "not necessarily". However, I would ask your dentist WHY he/she thinks it has come out. There READ MORE
I'm sorry to hear about your bad luck with that filling. My answer to your question is "not necessarily". However, I would ask your dentist WHY he/she thinks it has come out.
There are several possible reasons for it, including:
1. Contamination (from saliva, blood, or other debris) of filling/tooth area during the filling procedure
2. Poor-quality filling material or insufficient light-curing of filling material
3. The filling is too large (pushing beyond the physical limitations of normal filling materials), where a partial or full-coverage crown may be required instead.
4. Your bite or grinding/clenching habits, if any, can seriously affect filling retention and wear
5. Your diet: acid erosion - most often from dietary acidic foods and drinks, but sometimes from acid reflux (from stomach). This is a growing trend unfortunately. I have many patients suffering from acid reflux and/or have highly-acidic diets, and as a result, I sometimes have to replace a filling occasionally because the margins of tooth that initially supported the filling have dissolved away.
So... ask your dentist what can be done to ensure filling stays put. If you don't get a good explanation, then you may want to find another dentist - at least for a 2nd opinion. Obviously this depends on your relationship and trust in your current dentist.
I hope your haven't been charged for them each time. I always provide a limited warranty for my fillings, to all of my patients. Ask your current dentist about that.
Hope this helped.

Is the yellow tinge on my teeth caused by smoking permanent?

The nicotine staining on your teeth SHOULD be only extrinsic (outer surface staining) - so it isn't permanent. This means that a good, but gentle, polishing of your teeth followed READ MORE
The nicotine staining on your teeth SHOULD be only extrinsic (outer surface staining) - so it isn't permanent. This means that a good, but gentle, polishing of your teeth followed by professional whitening should remove most or all of that outer staining. Don't use whitening toothpastes, because they are often extra-abrasive and can wear down your tooth enamel. Over time, the INNER layer of our teeth will darken as we age - that "intrinsic" discolouration we can't really do anything about. Tobacco-smoking will cause periodontitis, gum recession, and eventual loosening and loss of teeth though - so be aware. Hope this helped.

Can a gum infection pass to other parts of the body?

There have been over 200 (some say over 300) different species of bacteria found living in our mouths. Some of these germs are "good germs" and contribute to our healthy biome READ MORE
There have been over 200 (some say over 300) different species of bacteria found living in our mouths. Some of these germs are "good germs" and contribute to our healthy biome (like the healthy "gut bacteria" that you may have heard about). Some of these germs are harmful germs, and they contribute to cavities, gum disease, and other oral infections. All of these germs can and do spread into throat-esophagus-stomach-intestines, and trachea-lungs. They can also get into bloodstream via your gingival sulcus (space between gums and teeth, where floss is used to get those germs out and where popcorn kernels tend to lodge). The more compromised your immune system, or the more hyperactive your inflammatory body response is to germs, the higher the risk of complications and symptoms. Some oral infections and oral cancers can be caught by your dentist, with regular visits (especially if you are experiencing mouth soreness, etc). Others are silent. My suggestion: see your dentist for routine checkups. Also might want to see if your dentist can get a saliva sample from you, to send to a lab to get Oral HPV virus screening. This infection is on the rise in North America, especially in young men, and can be spread very easily.

Is bleeding of gums dangerous for a diabetic patient?

Great question. Yes, Type 2 Diabetes and gum bleeding are very related. Diabetics routinely have high inflammation in their bodies, which affects many things, including healing READ MORE
Great question. Yes, Type 2 Diabetes and gum bleeding are very related. Diabetics routinely have high inflammation in their bodies, which affects many things, including healing ability and immune responses to infections. Gingivitis and periodontitis are both inflammatory responses (immune system reacting, or over-reacting) to germs infecting the gums, other irritants bothering the gums, etc. Very recent research has now proven that Type 2 Diabetes is a fully reversible condition (3 known ways of reversing and curing it). Once the inflammatory hyperactivity that comes along with diabetes is controlled, then the gums will have a much better chance of staying healthy, with gentle regular flossing and brushing.

How long will I have to wait for my next session after first round of root canal?

If the reason for the 2-step root canal therapy was that the 1st step was to clean out the infected canals and place some medicine into them (and allow it to kill any residual READ MORE
If the reason for the 2-step root canal therapy was that the 1st step was to clean out the infected canals and place some medicine into them (and allow it to kill any residual germs hiding inside), then that is a fairly routine procedure. As long as the tooth was sealed properly between appointments 1 and 2, then it should be fine for a few days to weeks. However, if you start feeling pain or swelling in the interim, contact your dentist immediately and let him/her know about the change in symptoms. Hope this helps, and your root canal therapy resolves without problems.

Can you suggest some way to reduce sensitivity?

You are not alone. Many many people experience tooth sensitivity. But the answer to your question is a complex one, because it all depends on what is causing the sensitivity, READ MORE
You are not alone. Many many people experience tooth sensitivity. But the answer to your question is a complex one, because it all depends on what is causing the sensitivity, and the type of sensitivity - such as instant quick "zing" cold sensitivity, hot (e.g. coffee) sensitivity, lingering temperature-related sensitivity, spontaneous pain (no obvious causes), dull ache, etc. If it is the more common instant cold sensitivity, it is usually caused by root exposure, after gum recession around teeth. Roots don't have a protective hard enamel coat (which the upper "crown" part of teeth has). As such, they experience sensitivity easily. Until the sensitivity goes away (which can take years), the best first steps are:
1) Brush with pea-sized drop of high-fluoride (e.g. Prevident 5000 Sensitive) desensitizing toothpaste, then spit out excess (don't rinse after) twice a day.
2) Then add smudge of same toothpaste to roots (along gumline) at bedtime, and leave it there to soak into root while sleeping.
3) Ask your dentist for professional desensitizing treatment (may need more than 1 treatment for long-term relief).
Hope this helps!

Are electric toothbrushes any better for the teeth?

I used to tell patients "whatever toothbrush you are committed to brushing with, and if your brushing technique is good - use that brush". I have changed my tune in recent years, READ MORE
I used to tell patients "whatever toothbrush you are committed to brushing with, and if your brushing technique is good - use that brush". I have changed my tune in recent years, since research has proven that all of the better electric brushes (e.g. OralB, Sonicare) consistently clean hard-to-reach spots better than manual brushes do. Some of them even have sensors that monitor and adjust your brushing pressure, to prevent brushing teeth and gums too hard (and damaging surfaces). But remember... no electric toothbrush can clear the plaque (germs) from between teeth and below collar of gum around teeth. That's where floss (or waterpik) comes in handy. I love my electric brush, and gave one to every family member and clinic staff members (and their family members). Hope this helps.

The dentist has recommended my son’s tooth extraction. Is it the right way to go?

The answer to that question, as is often the case, is "it depends." If your son's 2 front teeth have small, shallow cavities, then several Silver Diamide Fluoride treatments on READ MORE
The answer to that question, as is often the case, is "it depends."
If your son's 2 front teeth have small, shallow cavities, then several Silver Diamide Fluoride treatments on those teeth may be enough to slow the progress or arrest those cavities (if he isn't ready to sit still for filling treatment). If your son is cooperative enough for a filling treatment, and those cavities are not extremely deep, then fillings are usually standard practice. If the cavities are so deep that infection and/or inflammation has affected the nerves in those teeth, then extraction is certainly a legit treatment option. Those teeth will be replaced by "adult" versions between 6-7 years of age, but I would recommend a spacer/retainer be worn until those replacement teeth erupt (come through gums) - otherwise the surrounding teeth will crowd-in and block those replacements (an orthodontic problem).
So as you can see, it all depends on the extent/severity of those cavities, and the cooperative/behavioral "readiness" of the young patient.

Hope this perspective helped.

Dr D. Kowalchuk