Category: Tooth Protection

Keep your athlete smiling!

mouthguards 1
Mouthgaurds protect teeth and can even prevent concussions!

It’s that time of year – soccer fields are full and spring training has given way to games on the baseball diamond.  Unfortunately, many young athletes are playing without mouthguards and putting their teeth at risk for injuries.

In recent years, there has been a groundswell of awareness around concussions and Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).  t’s easy to forget that mouth injuries are more common than brain trauma in young athletes. Data from recent studies show that there are between 1.5 and 3 million sports-related concussions annually. Sad bonus fact: only around half of all incidents are reported and treated. But those numbers pale in comparison to the estimated five million teeth that are avulsed (see last month’s blog) each year. The majority of these incidents are related to sports activities, according to a study published on Crest’s DentalCare.com website.mouthguards protect teeth

Since we last told you about mouthguards for young athletes, there haven’t been any significant design or technological breakthroughs. However, with the continued progression of online and mail order options, new companies have entered the market and there are many more choices available today. Science Daily has even reported that some custom mouthguards have been shown to reduce the chances of concussions.

Which Mouthguard is Best?

The simple answer is — the one your athlete is most comfortable wearing. If they hate the feel of it, most likely it will end up unused in their gear bag. You obviously want the most inexpensive option, so start with lower-priced models. If they are uncomfortable or unusable, you can work your way up until you find the best fit. However, your athlete may have special needs like braces or a pronounced over/under-bite. Many younger kids may also just be fussy about “how things feel” in their mouth. In those instances, we suggest buying up to a more advanced guard with a balance of comfort and protection. The news and information website Heavy.com recently profiled its Top 10 mouthguards. While it’s hardly a comprehensive list of all options, it does give a good overview of brands, types, and features of each.

If you have questions about sports mouth protection — either for your child or yourself — ask us at your next appointment.

Dental Emergencies

dental emergency
Do you know what to do in a dental emergency?

Spring is in the air, and kids are competing in outdoor sports, riding bikes, or maybe just playing outside. This burst of activity is great for growing bodies, but oftentimes the enthusiasm outpaces their abilities. Despite improvements in protective devices – such as advanced football facemasks, full-face bicycle helmets, and fitted mouthguards – dental injuries are still too common in active youths. If your child collides with someone or takes a tumble, and comes up clutching their mouth, would you know what to do?

There are several standard classifications of tooth damage that you should be aware of:

  • Avulsed– Completely knocked out, with tooth roots intact
  • Displaced– Tooth is intact, but has been knocked loose and is crooked or pushed deeper into the gumline
  • Chipped/Broken– A small or large piece is detached and separated from the main tooth body
  • Cracked/Fractured– A fissure is present and visible, possibly extending the width, depth, or length of the entire tooth

 

What To Do

If you or your child experiences any of these injuries, call us immediately and we will see them as soon as you can visit our office. However, by taking appropriate “First Aid” steps, you can increase the chances of saving a damaged tooth.

Avulsed Tooth

For permanent/adult teeth, the best chance to salvage the tooth is by replanting it within 5 minutes of the incident. Within that window, the body still recognizes the tooth and the ligaments surrounding bone are present on the root surface and can naturally re-attach.

Action: Rinse the tooth, holding the tooth by the crown and avoiding touching the root surface. Push the tooth firmly back into its socket, and keep pressure on the tooth so it stays in place. If it will not stay in the socket, keep it moist in the patient’s saliva (between a cheek and gum), or soak it in cold milk or water to preserve it until you get to our office.

With primary or “baby teeth”, do not attempt to replant, as this could damage the emerging adult tooth. Use direct pressure to control the bleeding, and call us ASAP so that we can assess the situation and offer prudent treatment, if necessary.

Displaced Tooth

If a primary or permanent tooth has been pushed out of place or deeper into the jaw, do NOT attempt to reposition it. Call Meyer & Johns Dental as soon as possible, since the longer a tooth is left out of alignment, the more difficult it will be to return to its original position.

Chipped/Broken Tooth

This is the most frequent tooth damage for both children and adults. If possible, locate and preserve the the tooth fragment (see above), since tooth-colored bonding materials are available that allow seamless reattachment in some cases.

Damaged teeth can sometimes be salvaged, if you know what steps to take.

Cracked/Fractured Tooth

Similar to a chip or break, these types of injuries generally result in more extensive damage. Don’t try to wiggle or remove any portion of the tooth, and avoid direct biting pressure. If tooth pulp is left exposed by the damage, there may be pain or sensitivity to contact and temperature changes. An examination by Drs. Meyer or Johns can determine whether the tooth can be saved, or other possible repair options.

 

As always, if you have problems with your teeth — sports-related or other — don’t wait until your next appointment. Letting us know early is very important to maximizing your options and avoiding further damage and/or unnecessary repair work.

 

Pizza for Breakfast?!   

brushing and meals
Breakfast on the go is sometimes necessary, but how can you protect your teeth? 

You’ve been there — a late wake-up, rushing out the door, needing to put anything in your stomach to start the day. And the only thing available to eat that doesn’t require a plate or utensils is… Pizza. And so pizza is what you eat for breakfast.

Contrary to many opinions, that cold leftover slice isn’t really awful for you. As for your teeth, a good brushing is all that’s required to erase the evidence in your mouth… though it won’t help with your dietary guilt. And that’s true for most foods: as long as you remove excess food residue, what you eat for breakfast won’t harm your teeth.

 

Brushing Away OJ? Don’t.

A new school of thought has emerged that brushing before breakfast is as effective as brushing after. And provided that breakfast isn’t anything with excessive sugar (sweetened cereals, syrup, jelly/jam), this is true.

But according to the Mayo Clinic (via lifehacker.com), when you brush is even more important than what you eat for breakfast. However, the Mayo experts note that the exception to this rule is when consuming food or drink that contains high levels of acid, including fresh fruits and orange juice – both of which are breakfast staples. That’s because the naturally-occurring sugars and acid in these foods temporarily weaken the tooth enamel, and normal brushing can actually cause damage. For this reason, it is recommended that you either brush before breakfast, or wait at least 30 minutes after eating.

 

A Healthy Diet DOES Matter

However, there are many nutrition choices that really do matter to your mouth. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, several specific foods contribute to good dental and overall health. They recommend eating these:

  • Calcium-rich foods —including milk, yogurt and cheese, fortified soy products, canned salmon, almonds and dark leafy greens— help promote tooth and bone health.
  • Eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts, and beans contain phosphorus, which is good for strong bones and tooth enamel.
  • For good gum health and immune functions, eat plenty of foods rich in Vitamin C, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and spinach.

Always remember that the best plan is to brush after eating if you can – Even if it means you have to rinse away acidic food residue with water before brushing. If you have more questions about making healthy food choices for your body AND mouth, ask Drs. Meyer or Johns at your next appointment.

 

 

Grinding all night, every night?

bruxism
Bruxism can be a symptom of more serious health issues.

Just noisy…

Do you ever wake up with a sore jaw, neck, mouth or a headache? If so, you may suffer from Bruxism – often referred to simply as teeth-grinding. If you’re married, chances are your partner may have heard or seen your jaw clenching away in the night.

… or more serious?

But it’s more than just an annoyance to spouses. Grinding can be a symptom of a bigger health issue. Sleep experts note that their studies show that both bruxism and GERD (acid reflux) have been linked to health risks including stroke, heart disease, arrhythmias and esophageal cancer.

Plus there is the disruption in sleep that comes with teeth-grinding. Ongoing lack of quality sleep can cause a host of problematic symptoms, including depression, memory loss, hypertension and weight gain, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

An increasing number of mouth, nose and throat disorders are being linked to unusual cranio-facial development. Additional research is also showing that teeth-grinding may be symptom of obstructed breathing during sleep. Known as upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS), this collection of conditions can be serious. They can be a precursor to the more serious sleep apnea— where breathing actually stops for seconds at a time, dozens or even hundreds of times each night.

Treatments

Regardless of the cause, bruxism has serious side affects (cracked or broken teeth, damage to existing dental work, loss of sleep) and shouldn’t be ignored. The good news is that there are numerous options that not only prevent nighttime grinding, but also help with UARS.  If you find yourself clenching or grinding during the day, relax! Dr. Meyer specifically recommends a simple repetitive reminder of “Lips together, teeth apart.”

If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, or have unexplained tooth wear or damage, talk to us. We’ll check for problems and recommend a mouthguard, splint or other solution that can help.