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

All About Root Canals

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You might think of a root canal as being especially painful, but the truth is that most people who have one reported much less pain than they expected. In fact, many compare it to getting a crown or filling. Most importantly, the benefits to your oral health from a root canal can be huge.

So what is a root canal? It is a procedure designed to save a tooth that is infected or badly damaged. The actual term "root canal" refers to the canals inside the tooth's root.

If your dentist suspects that you may need a root canal, they will initially take an X-ray or review X-rays previously taken to see where the decay is located. After administering a local anesthesia, the dentist removes the area of the tooth that is damaged, called the pulp, and then cleans and disinfects the area before filling it and sealing the opening. Most often, the root canal is needed because the pulp has been impacted by a cracked tooth, an especially deep cavity, or trauma. If you have severe anxiety about getting a root canal, your dentist can provide you with a sedative prior to the dental procedure.

What Are the Advantages of a Root Canal?

Inflammation Relief: When the nerve inside of the tooth become inflamed, it can often ache when you consume cold or hot liquids or when you bite. Usually, the only way to stop the inflammation (and the pain) is to remove the pulp through a root canal.

Infection Control: The pulp in your teeth usually can’t recover from an infection because of its limited blood flow. Bacteria are able to get into the tooth and fester, causing infection, inflammation and pain. Even if you are able to successfully treat the bacteria with antibiotics, the pulp is often partially destroyed. This means you may still feel pain in that area.

Decay Deterrent: Tissue in your mouth will gradually decay if the damage to the pulp is not dealt with by your dentist. This can spread to the gum and bone tissue and eventually impact other teeth. In addition, the dead tissue can become a bacterial breeding ground. A root canal will prevent additional damage to your mouth.

Prevention: If you have teeth that are at severe risk for additional pulp complications, your dentist may recommend a root canal to prevent serious problems from occurring in the future. This preventative approach can prevent what are called asymptomatic abscesses from forming. These lack pain, so you don’t notice them, but they can lead to additional problems with your other teeth and impact your overall oral health. The reason these don’t create pain is because the infection site is draining through a fistula, which is a tissue tunnel that prevents pressure from increasing in the tissue in the affected tooth – which would then cause you pain, which you would notice.

By deciding on a root canal, you can usually save the affected tooth from having to be completely removed. Remember, the dentist doesn’t remove your tooth or its roots. Rather, the canals around the root are cleaned of any infection, and pulp and nerve tissue are removed. This rids the area of all the bacteria, which is where the infection came from in the first place. 

Root canals are 95% successful and almost always are able to save the affected teeth. Because a crown or filling is added once the root canal is completed, it is impossible to tell that you had a root canal.

Sources: Worldental.org, Colgate, WebMD

Top 10 Facts About Your Teeth That Will Surprise You

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We often don’t think about our teeth unless they are bugging us, but they are incredibly important to our overall health and wellbeing. After all, they help us eat, chew, talk and smile. And they are an incredibly complex and often misunderstood part of our anatomy. Here’s 10 interesting facts about your teeth that you might not know:

  1. At First Glance

The first feature people notice about another person is their smile, according to a survey done by the American Academy of Periodontology. And good teeth are kind of important to a good smile.

  1. In the Womb

Although a child’s teeth don’t start to appear until the child is six to 12 month’s old, they actually begin forming before they are born. Baby teeth, also called milk teeth, begin forming when the child is in the womb.

  1. 40 Sets of Teeth?

While humans only have two sets of teeth (32 teeth total), other species vary widely in the number of sets of teeth. Sharks top the list with around 40 sets of teeth!

  1. That’s A Lot of Toothpaste!

US consumers buy more than 14 million gallons of toothpaste annually. The typical person spends 38 days of their lifetime using that toothpaste to brush their teeth!

  1. Name All Four Types of Teeth

There are four different types of teeth used by humans to cut, tear and grind their food. They are incisors, canines, premolars, and molars.

  1. The Power of Saliva

Your saliva is critical to your oral health because it protects your teeth from bacteria in your mouth (and bacteria are the first ingredient in the formation of a cavity) and helps you digest your food. The typical person produces 25,000 quarts of saliva in their lifetime.

  1. Undercover

More than one-third of the length of your tooth is hidden out of sight underneath your gums. The part that is hidden is the root.

  1. Now That’s A Valuable Tooth

Sir Isaac Newton holds the record for the most valuable tooth. It sold for $3,633 in 1812, which today would be worth $35,700. Why would someone want to buy his tooth? To set in a ring!

  1. Inflation From the Tooth Fairy

In 1950, the Tooth Fairy left on average 25 cents. That went up to $1.00 in 1988, and now the rate is up to almost $2.00!

  1. No Self Repair

The bones and tissue in your body can repair themselves – but your teeth can’t. That’s why fillings and other dental work are necessary to protect your teeth from further damage once you have an oral health problem.

Is Xerostomia Making Your Life Uncomfortable?

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Does your mouth feel constantly dry? If it does, then you may have xerostomia – also known as dry mouth.

What is dry mouth? Simply, a lack of saliva. You need saliva to keep your mouth moist, to cleanse it, and to digest food. In addition, your saliva controls bacteria and fungi which prevents infections in your mouth. If you suffer from dry mouth, you are at a higher risk of gingivitis (gum disease), tooth decay, and mouth infections, such as thrush. Dry mouth can also make it hard to wear dentures.

Dry Mouth Causes

Medications. One of the leading causes of dry mouth are certain types of prescription and nonprescription drugs. Among the main culprits are drugs used to treat pain, depression, allergies, anxiety, obesity, colds, epilepsy, acne, diarrhea, hypertension, nausea, asthma, urinary incontinence, psychotic disorders and Parkinson's disease. Muscle relaxants and sedatives can also produce dry mouth.

The side effects of certain diseases and infections. Dry mouth can be a side effect of certain medical conditions, including HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, mumps, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjögren's syndrome, Parkinson's disease, hypertension, stroke, anemia and diabetes.

The side effects of some medical treatments. If the salivary glands are damaged, it can reduce the amount of saliva that you produce. Cancer treatments that involve radiation to the neck and head or chemotherapy can cut down on the amount of saliva produced.

Nerve damage. An injury or surgery in the head or neck can create nerve damage that causes dry mouth.

Dehydration. If you become dehydrated because of excessive sweating, fever, vomiting, blood loss, diarrhea and burns, these can lead to dry mouth.

Removal of the salivary glands through surgery.

Your lifestyle. If you smoke or chew tobacco, the amount of saliva you produce can be affected and this can aggravate dry mouth. If you regularly breath with your mouth open you may also experience dry mouth.

Dry Mouth Symptoms

  • A sticky, dry feeling in the mouth
  • A dry feeling in the throat
  • Frequent thirst
  • A burning or tingling sensation in the mouth and especially on the tongue
  • Bad breath
  • A dry, red, raw tongue
  • Sores in the mouth; sores or split skin at the corners of the mouth; cracked lips
  • Hoarseness, dry nasal passages, sore throat
  • Problems speaking or trouble tasting, chewing, and swallowing

Dry Mouth Treatment

If you are taking a medication that may be causing your dry mouth, talk to your dentist about the problem. He may suggest that you talk to your medical doctor about adjusting the dosage you take or switching to a different drug that doesn't cause dry mouth.

Another option is to use an oral rinse such as Biotene to restore the moisture in your mouth. You might also consider Salagen, which is a medication that increases saliva production.

Additional steps you can try that can help improve saliva production include:

  • Try sucking on sugar-free candy or chew sugar-free gum.
  • Drink lots of water to help keep your mouth moist.
  • Brush with a fluoride toothpaste, use a fluoride rinse, and visit your dentist regularly.
  • Breathe through your nose, not your mouth, as much as possible.
  • Use a room vaporizer to add moisture to the bedroom air.
  • Use an over-the-counter artificial saliva substitute.

SOURCE: WebMD

When You Brush Your Teeth, Do Your Gums Bleed?

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If your gums bleed regularly when you brush your teeth, you may be suffering from the early stages of periodontal disease. The earliest stages of this disease of the gums causes inflammation of your gum tissue, followed by bleeding from your gums when you brush. If you don’t take care of periodontal disease, it can progress to causing significant damage to the soft tissues and bones in your mouth, and can lead to loss of teeth.

Periodontal disease usually begins because of inadequate brushing and flossing. Both help remove bacteria from your mouth, and bacteria leads to plaque, which begins the steps that lead to periodontal disease. Some people are more prone to gum problems because of diabetes, certain medications, hormonal changes for women, other illnesses, and susceptibility because of genetics. But for the majority of the population who don’t have those issues, there is a direct link between inadequate oral health care and periodontal disease.

The initial physical sign of periodontal disease is inflammation of the gums, which is called gingivitis. Your gums will look red and swollen and when you brush, your gums may bleed easily. At this stage, you won’t be dealing with bone or tissue loss.

However, the next stage of periodontal disease is much more impactful on your oral health. If your gingivitis is not taken care of, the inflammation in your gums will move into the area around your teeth. Your gum tissue will begin to move away from your teeth and form pockets of infection. At this point, your bones, gums and tissue that support your teeth can be destroyed if left untreated.

So now that you know what happens if periodontal disease takes up residence in your mouth, what can you do to prevent this nasty oral health disease? Follow these four simple tips:

  • Be sure to brush your teeth twice daily and always use a toothpaste with fluoride
  • Make a habit of flossing daily to get rid of plaque from between the teeth
  • See your dental hygienist every six months for your routine cleaning and a check-up by your dentist
  • Avoid smoking

Follow this basic plan, and you are sure to keep your gums healthy, your teeth happy, and continue to have a winning smile.

Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research

 

Avoid Stained Teeth with These Three Simple Tips

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If you want to keep your teeth bright and white, but don’t want to cut out the foods and beverages that are most likely to stain your teeth, we have three simple tips you can follow.                                                                              

So what foods and beverages are most likely to stain your teeth? The ones that are most intensely colored are the top culprits. The color comes from intensely pigmented molecules called chromogens, which have the unfortunate habit of sticking to the enamel on your teeth.

Chromogens combine with the acid in certain foods and beverages to deliver a double dose of trouble to your tooth enamel. The acid softens your tooth’s enamel, making it easier for the chromogens to stain your teeth. The chromogens also can get a boost to their staining power from a food compound called tannin.

Foods and beverages that are the biggest teeth-staining culprits are wine (red and white), black tea, colas, sports drinks, deeply colored sauces (tomato sauce, curry sauce, soy sauce), berries and hard candy. 

To minimize the impact of these foods and beverages on your teeth then follow these three simple steps:

Consider using a straw. By sipping your beverage through a straw you will help keep teeth-staining beverages away from your teeth — especially your front teeth. You probably won’t want to use a straw for coffee or wine, but you should definitely consider using a straw for juices, cola, and iced tea.

Be sure to swallow promptly. Protect your teeth from stains by promptly swallowing stain-causing foods and beverages (especially beverages). Of course you want to thoroughly chew your food and savor the flavors, but be mindful of the teeth-staining power of what you have in your mouth.

Be a water swisher. It’s may not always convenient for you to brush your teeth after eating or drinking. Even when it is, it might be better not to: dental enamel is highly vulnerable to abrasion from tooth brushing for up to 30 minutes after the consumption of an acidic food or beverage. So it’s safer simply to swish with water — and brush later, once the enamel has had a chance to re-harden. Another way to remove stain-causing substances without brushing is to chew sugarless gum after eating or drinking.

And don’t forget the importance of brushing and flossing daily and be sure to see a dentist periodically — and to avoid smoking or chewing tobacco. These long-term strategies, combined with the simple tips we’ve mentioned, should keep you smiling for years to come.

Sources: WebMD and Personal Care Dentistry

 

How Clean Is Your Toothbrush?

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