Why Are All Mouth Guards Not Created Equal?

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Did you know that athletes who don’t use a mouth guard are nearly 60 times more likely to suffer an injury to their mouth? And did you know that the mouth guard you choose can have a huge impact on how well your son’s or daughter’s teeth are protected from a blow to the face? Losing a permanent tooth can create a lifetime of problems for a young athlete, including impacting their smile, speech, eating and self-image.

Mouth guards are designed to reduce the risk of a blow to the face injuring – or breaking – your teeth or hurting your tongue, lips, face and jaw. They generally cover the teeth in your upper jaw and are especially important for the oral health of any athlete involved in a contact sport – football, lacrosse, hockey, wrestling, rugby, and boxing. Mouth guards can also prevent injury in sports that don’t feature constant contact, like baseball or basketball.

While wearing any type of mouth guard is better than not wearing a mouth guard at all, certain types of mouth guards provide superior protection and have less impact on an athlete’s speech, breathing, and comfort while wearing the mouth guard.

So what are the three main types of mouth guards?

Stock: These mouth guards are relatively cheap and you purchase them already formed and ready to wear. However, they are usually bulky and ill-fitting and negatively impact breathing and talking. Those issues usually reduce an athlete’s performance.

Boil and bite: You can purchase this type of mouth guard at most sporting goods stores and often at drug stores or big box stores like Walmart or Target. You soften them initially in boiling water, then insert them into your mouth so that the softened mouth guard can shape itself to your mouth.

Custom-fitted: These are the best type of mouth guards because they are one-of-a-kind and made just for you. Your dentist will personally fit these to your mouth – it takes just 30 minutes for the fitting -  and the custom manufacturing takes less than a week.

Among the benefits of a custom-fitted mouth guard from your dentist are:

  • Comfortable fit
  • Clear speech
  • Enhanced breathing
  • Better protection
  • Ease of drinking
  • Customizable colors
  • Different thicknesses

Give your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs a call about making an appointment for a custom-fitted mouth guard. Your son or daughter involved in sports will thank you for protecting their mouth for a lifetime!

SOURCE: American Dental Association

Tips to Protect Your Smile As You Grow Older

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It’s amazing how tough our teeth are considering how much we use them on a daily basis. Combine that long-term use with the natural process of aging and it’s a wonder that we have any teeth left by the time we get into our 50’s.

If you’re curious about what happens to your teeth as you grow older – and would like some tips on how to help your teeth stay strong – then this blog will be helpful.

Stopping Acid Erosion

Food that is sugary and starchy is the top threat to your teeth’s health. Both sugar and starch are carbohydrates, which means that the bacteria already in your mouth ferment the carbs and produce acid. It is those acids that damage your tooth’s enamel by creating tiny pits where tooth decay can form.

Tips for Healthy Teeth:

  • Cut down on the amount of sugary foods you eat. Especially avoid carbonated soft drinks and sports drinks (which are loaded with sugar).
  • Reduce the frequency of snacking, because it keeps the level of acid in your mouth at a high level over a long period of time.
  • Chew sugarless gum if you have a craving for a sweet treat. The gum increases the production of saliva, which washes away food debris in your mouth and neutralizes the acids.
  • Be sure to follow the 2x2+1 regimen – brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time and floss once daily. This will cut down on the levels of bacteria in your mouth.
  • Get in to your dentist’s office twice a year for hygiene visits – that will help reduce the plaque buildup on your teeth.

Reducing Mechanical Wear and Tear

Many people believe that their teeth become brittle as they age, which is not correct. However, if you bite down on a hard object (popcorn kernels, the pit of an olive), you risk cracking or chipping a tooth. If you have any fillings or root canals, those teeth are most at risk. So be extra careful when you bite down!

A big cause of wear and tear on teeth is the habit of grinding or clenching your teeth (called bruxism). Often attributed to anxiety of stress, bruxism can wear down your teeth’s surfaces over time and make them more susceptible to decay.

Tips for Healthy Teeth:

  • Don’t chew ice and avoid if possible other hard foods.
  • If the food you’re eating has a pit, make sure it has been removed or you might be in for a nasty surprise.
  • Schedule regular visits with your dentist. They will be able to spot broken or cracked fillings that will weaken your teeth. Plus your dentist can check for signs of bruxism and if needed suggest a mouth guard that you can pop in at night to stop grinding.

Preventing Stains

Dark colored beverages such as tea, coffee and red wine can stain your teeth. Cigarettes and chewing tobacco are also culprits when it comes to staining teeth. Those stains usually form where there is a build-up of plaque on your teeth, so be sure to have them removed when you go in for your every six month hygiene visit.

Tips for Healthy Teeth:

  • The first one is simple – avoid dark colored beverages. If you can’t give up your coffee or tea, be sure to keep water handy and rinse your mouth out periodically while drinking your cup of java.
  • Get rid of plaque so stains can’t adhere to it – which means you need to brush your teeth regularly.
  • See your dental hygienist every six months. They will remove the plaque and tartar that you can’t reach with your toothbrush.

Avoiding Gum Problems

Gum disease is the most deadly threat to healthy teeth. The risk of gum problems increases with age, especially as pockets form at the gum line where bacteria can grow. Left untreated, bacterial infections can cause inflammation that damages connective tissue and even bone, leading to tooth loss.

Tips for Healthy Teeth:.

  • Remove bacteria by brushing and flossing daily.
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash for additional protection.
  • See you dentist twice a year and they can catch gum disease early in your mouth.
  • Gum disease creates inflammation, so eating foods that reduce inflammation can be helpful. This includes omega-3 fatty acids from sources such as fish, fish oil, and flaxseed.

Preventing Dry Mouth

Saliva reduces the risk of tooth decay and problems with your gums. Which means that dry mouth accelerates those problems. But because nearly 1,0000 drugs on the market cause dry mouth as a side effect, this is an issue that many people as they get older (and take more prescription drugs) will have to deal with.

Tips for Healthy Teeth:

  • Talk to your doctor immediately if you notice that you are being affected by dry mouth.
  • Changing your prescription may help reduce the problem. If it doesn’t, your doctor may suggest chewing sugar-free gum. Gum increases saliva flow.
  • Saliva-like oral mouthwashes are also available.

SOURCE: WebMD, American Dental Association