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

Dealing with Tooth Discoloration

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If your pearly whites aren’t so bright anymore, the discoloration of your teeth can be linked to an array of reasons. The three primary reasons that your teeth can become discolored are staining, childhood problems, or aging issues. Here are the details of each reason for tooth discoloration:

Extrinsic Discoloration — Your teeth’s outer enamel become stained from drinking beverages like wine, coffee or soda or eating intensely-colored foods like blueberries. Smoking is also a big cause of teeth discoloration.

Intrinsic Discoloration — When the inner structure of your tooth (called dentin) becomes exposed or darkens, it is called intrinsic discoloration. What causes this? The primary culprits are overexposure to fluoride during early childhood; trauma to your permanent or baby teeth; and/or exposure to tetracycline antibiotics while your mother was pregnant with you or as a child before age 8 years old. There is also a rare condition called dentinogenesis imperfecta that causes discoloration.

Age-Related Discoloration — Tooth enamel will become worn as you age, which will allow dentin’s yellow color to become exposed. Also, millions of micro-cracks accumulate in your teeth’s enamel as you age – they are caused by chewing and grinding – and the micro-cracks fill up with debris and hold stains causing a dullness in teeth over time.

What Are Your Treatment Options?

You have a wide range of choices when it comes to whitening your teeth. You can visit your dentist for professional whitening or go with an over-the-counter method to save money. Here are your options for whitening your teeth:

At Home Whitening Toothpastes: This at-home approach may remove some of your minor stains, but whitening toothpastes won’t actually whiten the overall color of your teeth.

Over-the-Counter Whitening Products: This approach is fairly inexpensive, but the products used are weaker than what you’ll find at your dentist so they aren’t as effective. You apply a whitening gel to a mouthpiece or use whitening strips in this approach. Over time, especially with the mouthpiece approach, you’ll see some lightening of your teeth. But because the mouthpiece isn’t fitted to your mouth, it won’t be as effective as a mouthpiece created by your dentist for just your mouth.

Power Bleaching: This is a procedure used by dental offices that involves using either hydrogen peroxide gel or carbamide. The bleaching agent is applied in the dental office or at home by the patient. Some dentists use a whitening light in addition to the gel while you’re in the office. This can often result in changes to your teeth discoloration in less than an hour.

Dentist Grade Whitening Trays: These use a more concentrated bleaching gel and a custom-fitted mouth guard provided by your dentist.

Composite Bonding Materials: Your dentist can use a bonding material to cover your teeth and to match color.

Veneers: These cover cosmetic imperfections and match color using thin ceramic shells applied by your dentist that cover the outer surfaces of the teeth.

If you are interested in finding out more about your options for a brighter smile, give Lehigh Valley Smile Designs a call at (610) 868-7601.

Source: Colgate, Food and Drug Administration (FDA)           

Veneers Are An Easy Way to Fix Flawed Teeth

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If you’re not happy with your smile because of discolorations in your front teeth, or you just want to have a brighter smile, then veneers may be your solution. What are veneers? They are very-thin shells made of ceramic (porcelain) or composite resin material. The dentist bonds them to the front of your teeth to improve your smile. You will require very little (or no) anesthesia for this procedure.

Veneers can often be a good alternative to crowns because they offer a more conservative solution to changing your tooth’s color, shape and size. Plus, they have shown to last for many years if done by one of the dentists at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs.

So what types of problems can be fixed with dental veneers? Teeth that are broken or chipped; worn down teeth; misaligned, uneven or teeth that are irregularly shaped; or to fix gaps between your teeth.

It usually takes multiple appointments for the entire veneer procedure. This includes diagnosis, planning the treatment, preparing the teeth, and bonding. You’ll need to be actively involved in “designing” your smile. You’ll also need to understand that the procedure can’t fix every problem perfectly. But it can certainly improve your smile.

So what is the procedure like to attach veneers? First, the teeth are buffed lightly to provide room for the thickness the veneer will add. This usually means about half a millimeter of the tooth will be removed (this may mean you’ll need a local anesthetic). If you’re getting a composite resin veneer, then your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs will carefully bond and sculpt the composite material onto your teeth. If you are getting porcelain veneers, then your dentist will take a mold of your teeth and then the veneers are fabricated in a lab, which may take a couple of days.

Once your porcelain veneers are back from the lab, your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs will place each veneer on its tooth to make sure they fit properly and are the right shade or color you selected. Your dentist can still adjust the veneer’s shade at that point by choosing a certain type of cement to use. The veneer is then cleaned with a specific set of chemicals to make sure the cement used to bond the veneer to your tooth works properly. The final step involves a light beam being directed at the veneer to harden the cement.

You won’t have to take any “special care” of your new veneers. You’ll need to continue to follow good oral health practices – brushing and flossing daily – and your dentist will want to see you several weeks after the veneers are put on your teeth for a checkup.

What are the advantages of dental veneers?

  • They provide a natural tooth appearance.
  • Gum tissue tolerates porcelain well.
  • Porcelain veneers are stain resistant.
  • The color of a porcelain veneer can be selected such that it makes dark teeth appear whiter.

What are the disadvantage of dental veneers?

  • The process is not reversible.
  • Veneers are usually not repairable should they chip or crack.
  • Because enamel has been removed, your tooth may become more sensitive to hot and cold foods and beverages.

Be realistic about veneers. Like natural teeth, you will see slight color variations if you examine them closely. But veneers can still go a long way to brightening your smile and making you more confident about your teeth.

Sources: Worldental.org, KnowYourTeeth.com, WebMD

 

Ditch Discolored Fillings for Natural Looking Options

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New Fillings From Lehigh Valley Smile Designs Can Benefit More Than Your Looks

The cosmetic reasons for replacing amalgam (often referred to as "silver") fillings may be obvious — your smile looks better without the telltale dark spots and any associated feeling of self-consciousness goes away.

People don’t realize is that if your metal dental fillings are defective or show decay, it's important to replace them. While it can be easy to forget about cavities once they're filled, the truth is that oral health threats can re-emerge as fillings weaken over time. Constant grinding and chewing will wear down any filling, and it often only takes one particularly hard or sticky food to dislodge or crack it.

Why Replace Silver Fillings?

Untreated decay may eventually lead to an infection (abscess). In some cases, replacing a metal dental filling may benefit the long-term health of your tooth.

Once the protective barrier to a cavity has been lost or broken, harmful bacteria can easily seep in and continue to eat away at the tooth. In many cases — especially those where the seal has been damaged but has not completely fallen out — tooth decay under or around the filling may easily escape notice until it reaches the point where a root canal or an extraction is necessary. Being diligent about dental visits and proactive about replacing fillings can help you avoid the unnecessary pain and expense of a tooth infection.

Silver Fillings Hide Decay

Because silver fillings are opaque to X-Rays, it’s difficult to see a cavity under the filling until they are quite extensive. Research has shown that when you’re examining a patient with silver fillings, if you don’t use any X-Rays you can see 50% of what is going on and with a full set of X-Rays you will still only see about 80 – 85% of what’s going on. So there is 15% – 20% of cavities that we won’t be able to see because the metal blocks out this damage. In some cases, this can mean the difference between getting another filling or having to have a root canal treatment.

Colored Fillings Prevent Cracked Teeth

We know from the research that silver fillings do not strengthen teeth at all. So a silver filling in a tooth, essentially acts like a wedge, and when you bite down on the filling the forces are transmitted to the remaining tooth structure.

Because the silver filling material was usually just packed in, there is no adhesion of the silver filling to the tooth, which we get with the tooth-colored materials. This adhesion means that the chewing forces are distributed over a greater amount of tooth, making the tooth about 15 – 20% stronger with the tooth colored compared to silver filling

The force of biting down with the chewing is also distributed across the whole tooth structure more evenly than it is with silver filling, meaning less likelihood of tooth cracking.

Replacement Options

The good news about getting rid of old fillings is that amalgam is no longer your only choice. As hardy and durable as this traditional mixture of silver, mercury and other metal alloys is, it has become virtually obsolete due to more discrete options such as:

·        Composite Fillings: tooth-colored bondings primarily used for the front teeth

·        Veneers: thin, porcelain, non-staining shells affixed to the front surface of teeth

·        Crowns: complete covering for damaged teeth that a filling alone cannot repair

·        Inlays or Onlays: custom composite used to replace larger fillings in molars

Strategies for Replacing Fillings

Some people will want to do everything at once and then sleep tight knowing that it’s all sorted out. Others will pick the part of their mouth that is worst and together with their dentist to break it up into sections: do the top right this year, the bottom left next year, and so on.

Your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs may recommend one particular treatment or a varied approach, depending on the number and type of fillings needed. Rest assured, however, that the choices at your disposal lend themselves to a more natural look than that of an amalgam filling.

Caring for Teeth with Fillings

Regardless of which replacement option you choose, a little extra care and attention can go a long way in protecting your investment. To extend the life of a newly restored tooth, consider making these changes to your everyday routine:

·        Brush and floss regularly to keep the tooth's surface clear of tough buildup

·        Use a mouth guard at night to avoid unnecessary pressure if tooth grinding is a habit

·        Steer clear of overly hard or sticky foods that can damage the restored tooth

·        See a dentist if you notice a bad taste or dull pain that can indicate a defect or decay

Regular dentist visits to Lehigh Valley Smile Designs can further minimize the risk of damaged filings — and help prevent the need for new ones. For questions about replacing and/or maintaining fillings, schedule an appointment with your dentist.

 

Sources: Mayo Clinic, TodaysDentistry.com