Mouthguards

Mouthguard

Imagine what it would be like if you suddenly lost one or two of your front teeth. Smiling, talking, eating—everything would suddenly be affected. Knowing how to prevent injuries to your mouth and face is especially important if you participate in organized sports or other recreational activities.

Mouthguards, also called mouth protectors, help cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to your lips, tongue, face or jaw. They typically cover the upper teeth and are a great way to protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining. “Your top teeth take the brunt of trauma because they stick out more,” says Dr. Thomas Long, a private practice dentist and team dentist for the Carolina Hurricanes professional hockey team. “Your bottom teeth are a little more protected because they are further back.”

When Should You Wear a Mouthguard?

When it comes to protecting your mouth, a mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear that should be part of your standard equipment from an early age.

While collision and contact sports, such as boxing, are higher-risk sports for the mouth, any athlete may experience a dental injury in non-contact activities too, such as gymnastics and skating.

Types of Mouthguards

The best mouthguard is one that has been custom made for your mouth by your dentist. However, if you can’t afford a custom-made mouthguard, you should still wear a stock mouthguard or a boil-and-bite mouthguard from the drugstore. Learn more about each option:

  • Custom-made: These are made by your dentist for you personally. They are more expensive than the other versions because they are individually created for fit and comfort.
  • Boil and bite: These mouth protectors can be bought at many sporting goods stores and drugstores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They are first softened in water (boiled), then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth. Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions.  CustMbite MVP and CustMbite Pro are a boil and bite mouthguards that have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
  • Stock: These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.

Protecting Your Braces

A properly fitted mouthguard may be especially important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. A blow to the face could damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances. A mouthguard also provides a barrier between the braces and your cheek or lips, which will help you avoid injuries to your gums and cheeks.

Talk to your dentist or orthodontist about selecting a mouthguard that will provide the right protection. Although some mouthguards only cover the upper teeth, your dentist or orthodontist may suggest that you use a mouthguard on the lower teeth if you have braces on these teeth.

If you have a retainer or other removable appliance, do not wear it during any contact sports.

Mouthguard Care and Replacement

Talk to your dentist about when is the right time to replace your mouthguard, but replace it immediately if it shows sign of wear, is damaged or ill fitting. Teens and children may need to replace their mouthguards more often because their mouths are still growing and changing.

  • Between games, it’s important to keep your mouthguard clean and dry. Here are some tips for making sure your mouthguard is always ready to go:
  • Rinse before and after each use or brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Regularly clean the mouthguard in cool, soapy water. Then, rinse it thoroughly.
  • During your regular dental checkups, bring your mouthguard for an evaluation. Your dentist may also be able to give it a thorough cleaning.
  • Store and transport the mouthguard in a sturdy container that has vents so it can dry and keep bacteria from growing.
  • Never leave the mouthguard in the sun or in hot water.
  • Check fit and for signs of wear and tear to see if it needs replacing.
  • Some mouthguards have fallen victim to family pets, who see them as chew toys. Store your mouthguard and case somewhere your pet cannot get to it.

 

If you live in the Lehigh Acres area and would like to contact Mayer Family Dental, click HERE to send your message or request an appointment.

Nail Biting & Other Habits and What to Do About Them

Nail Biting

The habit: This nervous habit can chip teeth and impact your jaw. “Placing your jaw for long periods of time in a protruding position can place pressure on it, which is associated with jaw dysfunction,” says Dr. Ruchi Sahota.

The solution: Bitter-tasting nail polishes, stress reduction and setting small, realistic goals can help. If certain situations are triggers, hold something to keep your fingers busy.

If you are in the Lehigh Acres area, contact us or request an appointment HERE.

Brushing Too Hard

The habit: Brushing for two minutes twice a day is one of the best habits you can get into. Just make sure you’re not trying too hard. “Brushing with a hard toothbrush, or brushing too hard, can damage teeth and irritate gums,” says Dr. Matthew Messina.

The solution: Use a soft toothbrush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance at the proper pressure. “Don’t think ‘scrub.’  Think ‘massage,’” he says. “Save the hard toothbrush for cleaning the grout in the bathroom tile.”

Grinding and Clenching

The habit: “This can cause chipping or cracking of the teeth, as well as muscle tenderness or joint pain,” Dr. Messina says. “You might also feel like you can’t open your mouth wide or chew with pain.”

The solution: “Relaxation exercises and staying aware makes a difference,” he says. A nighttime mouthguard can also help. “You’ll have less tooth damage, less pain and muscle soreness and better sleep.”

Chewing Ice Cubes

The habit: “Tooth enamel is a crystal. Ice is a crystal. When you push two crystals against each other, one will break,” Dr. Messina says. “Most of the time it’s the ice, but sometimes the tooth or a filling will break.”

The solution: Drink chilled beverages without ice, or use a straw so you’re not tempted. “The risk of chewing ice is greater than any pleasure that comes from chewing it,” he says. “Besides, ice is really cold!”

Constant Snacking

The habit: Grazing all day, especially on sugary foods and drinks, puts you at a higher risk for cavities. When you eat, cavity-causing bacteria feast leftover food, producing an acid that attacks the outer shell of your teeth.

The solution: Eat balanced meals to feel fuller, longer. If you need a snack, make sure it’s low in fat and sugar. If you indulge in the occasional sugary treat, follow it with a big glass of water to wash away leftover food.

Using Your Teeth As Tools

The habit: Your teeth were made for eating, not to stand in as a pair of scissors or hold things when your hands are full. When you do this, you put yourself at a higher risk of cracking your teeth, injuring your jaw or accidentally swallowing something you shouldn’t.

The solution: Stop and find something or someone to give you a hand. Your mouth will thank you.

If you are in the Lehigh Acres area, contact us or request an appointment HERE.

Nutrition: What You Eat Affects Your Teeth

Family eating a healthy meal

Your mouth, teeth, and gums are more than just tools for eating. They’re essential for chewing and swallowing—the first steps in the digestion process. Your mouth is your body’s initial point of contact with the nutrients you consume. So what you put in your mouth impacts not only your general health but also that of your teeth and gums. In fact, if your nutrition is poor, the first signs often show up in your mouth. Here are a few helpful things to know about how what you eat can impact your dental health.

About Your Diet and Dental Health

  • Recommended Nutritional Guidelines
  • Diet and Tooth Decay
  • How Snacking Affects Your Dental Health
  • Foods That Harm Your Dental Health
  • Foods That Benefit Dental Health
  • Sugar and Your Dental Health
  • How Sugar Substitutes Affect Your Teeth
  • 4 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Cavities

Toothpaste

Toothpaste is a key part of your daily oral hygiene routine. Along with your toothbrush and floss it helps to remove food debris and plaque from your teeth and gums.

Toothpastes can come in a gel, paste or powder form. While the ingredients differ slightly, all toothpastes contain the same general components:

Mild abrasive. With some help from your toothbrush, these help to remove debris and surface stains.

Humectants. This ingredient helps to prevent water loss, and keeps your toothpaste from drying out or getting gummy.

Flavoring agents. This is what gives your toothpaste a little bit of sweetness, and that minty fresh scent. Since these do not contain sugar, they also do not promote tooth decay.

Thickening agents. Also known as binders, these help to stabilize the toothpaste formula.

Detergent. That foaming action comes from detergent. It also helps to spread the toothpaste through your whole mouth, and helps clean teeth.

They may have all the same basic ingredients, but all toothpastes are not the same. Depending on the toothpaste, other ingredients can also be added for other benefits. Here are some important things to keep in mind when choosing your toothpaste:

Decay prevention. Fluoride is a natural cavity fighter helps to strengthen tooth enamel and fight tooth decay. Not all toothpastes contain fluoride. Be sure to always use toothpaste containing this cavity-fighting mineral.

Plaque and gingivitis. Several toothpaste contain active ingredients that can fight plaque and gingivitis, an early form of gum disease.

Whitening. If you’re looking for a little extra sparkle in your smile, “whitening” toothpastes have special chemical or polishing agents that help remove more surface stains than regular toothpastes.

Desensitizing. If you have sensitive teeth, you may want to consider using a desensitizing toothpaste. These contain compounds which help to reduce tooth sensitivity.

Finally, always look for the ADA Seal when selecting toothpaste. The Seal helps you make sure you are choosing the best toothpaste for your dental needs. It’s also your assurance that the toothpaste has met the ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness, and that it does what it says. Visit the ADA website for more information about the ADA Seal of Acceptance and toothpaste.

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Mouthwash

While not a replacement for daily brushing and flossing, use of mouthwash (also called mouthrinse) may be a helpful addition to the daily dental hygiene routine for some people.

Why Use Mouthwash?

Just like dental floss, interdental brushes, and water flossers, mouthwash can get in between teeth.  Reaching areas that your toothbrush can’t get to helps to reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease.  Mouthwash can help:

  • Prevent or control tooth decay
  • Reduce plaque (a thin film of bacteria that forms on teeth)
  • Prevent or reduce gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease)
  • Reduce the speed that tartar (hardened plaque) forms on the teeth or to produce a combination of these effects
  • Freshen breath

Types of Mouthwash

There are two main types of mouthwashes:

  • Therapeutic mouthwashes. These have active ingredients that kill bacteria and can help reduce plaque, gingivitis, cavities and bad breath. Those that contain fluoride help prevent or reduce tooth decay.
  • Cosmetic mouthwashes. These may temporarily control or reduce bad breath and leave your mouth with a pleasant taste, but don’t reduce your risk of cavities or gum disease.

Some therapeutic mouthwashes require a prescription, but many mouthwashes are available over-the-counter. Talk to your dentist about whether you need a mouthwash and what kind of mouthwash to use, depending on your dental health needs.

When selecting an over-the-counter mouthwash, look for products that carry the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance, which means that they have been tested and shown to be safe and effective.

Mouthwash and Children

Mouthwash is not recommended for children younger than 6 years of age. They may accidentally swallow large amounts of the mouthwash, which can cause nausea, vomiting and intoxication (due to the alcohol content in some rinses). Check the label and follow specific precautions, instructions and age recommendations.

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Oral Health

Oral health touches every aspect of our lives but is often taken for granted. Your mouth is a window into the health of your body. It can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. Systemic diseases, those that affect the entire body, may first become apparent because of mouth lesions or other oral problems.

Whether you are 80 or 8, your oral health is important. Most Americans today enjoy excellent oral health and are keeping their natural teeth throughout their lives; however, cavities remain the most prevalent chronic disease of childhood. Some 100 million Americans fail to see a dentist each year, even though regular dental examinations and good oral hygiene can prevent most dental disease. Many people believe that they need to see a dentist only if they are in pain or think something is wrong, but regular dental visits can contribute to a lifetime of good oral health. If you are experiencing dental pain, don’t put off seeing a dentist. With dentistry’s many advances, diagnosis and treatment are more sophisticated and comfortable than ever.

You can practice good oral hygiene by always brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, cleaning between your teeth once a day with floss or another interdental cleaner, replacing your toothbrush every three or four months and by eating a balanced diet and limiting between-meal snacks. Don’t forget to schedule regular dental check-ups to keep your smile, and yourself, healthy.

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Tooth Decay


Tooth decay is the destruction of your tooth enamel, the hard, outer layer of your teeth. It can be a problem for children, teens and adults. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, constantly forms on your teeth. When you eat or drink foods containing sugars, the bacteria in plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel. The stickiness of the plaque keeps these acids in contact with your teeth and over time the enamel can break down. This is when cavities can form.

Cavities are more common among children, but changes that occur with aging make cavities an adult problem, too. Recession of the gums away from the teeth, combined with an increased incidence of gum disease, can expose tooth roots to plaque. Tooth roots are covered with cementum, a softer tissue than enamel. They are susceptible to decay and are more sensitive to touch and to hot and cold. It’s common for people over age 50 to have tooth-root decay.

Decay around the edges, or a margin, of fillings is also common for older adults. Because many older adults lacked benefits of fluoride and modern preventive dental care when they were growing up, they often have a number of dental fillings. Over the years, these fillings may weaken and tend to fracture and leak around the edges. Bacteria accumulate in these tiny crevices causing acid to build up which leads to decay.

You can help prevent tooth decay by following these tips:

  • Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaner.
  • Eat nutritious and balanced meals and limit snacking.
  • Check with your dentist about the use of supplemental fluoride, which strengthens your teeth, and about use of dental sealants (a plastic protective coating) applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (where decay often starts) to protect them from decay.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral examination.

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Breastfeeding: 6 Things Nursing Moms Should Know About Dental Health

 

 

Breastfeeding is one of the first (and most personal) decisions a mother makes for her baby. It can help your baby’s body fight infections and reduce health risks like asthma, ear infections, SIDS and obesity in children. Nursing moms may lower their chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer. But did you know breastfeeding can impact the dental health of both baby and mom? Here’s how:

Breastfeeding May Help Build a Better Bite

A June 2015 study from Pediatrics found babies exclusively breastfed for six months were 72% less likely to have crooked teeth (malocclusion). These babies were seen to be less likely to develop open bites, crossbites and overbites than babies who breastfed for less than six months or not at all.

Still, this doesn’t mean your exclusively breastfed baby won’t need braces someday. Other factors, including genetics, pacifier use, and thumbsucking, affect alignment. “Every baby, every child is different. This [study] sounds promising but this doesn’t mean a child’s teeth will be perfect,” says Dr. Ruchi Sahota, mother and American Dental Association spokesperson. “The best thing for mom to do is to take the child to the dentist and make sure the dentist is able to monitor eruption, that baby teeth are coming out at the right time and permanent teeth are coming in at the right time.”

You Don’t Have to Wean When Your Baby Gets Teeth

It’s a question that often pops up in parenting message boards and conversations with new moms: Should I stop breastfeeding when my baby starts teething? The answer is not if you don’t want to.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first year of a baby’s life; the World Health Organization encourages moms to go for two. “As it goes with breastfeeding, every child is different, every mother is different,” Dr. Sahota says. “You should stop breastfeeding when you think it’s the best for you and the baby but not just because the teeth come in.”

Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk for Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Another benefit of exclusive breastfeeding, Dr. Sahota says, is a reduced risk of baby bottle tooth decay, the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar. This type of tooth decay often occurs when a baby is put to bed with a bottle – even ones containing formula, milk or fruit juice. (Water is fine because the teeth won’t be bathed in sugary liquids for a prolonged time.) It most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected.

Breastfed Babies Can Still Get Cavities

It’s one of the most common questions nursing mothers ask: Can breastfeeding cause cavities? Yes, it can. Although natural, breast milk, just like formula, contains sugar. That is why, breastfed or bottlefed, it’s important to care for your baby’s teeth from the start. A few days after birth, begin wiping your baby’s gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth every day. Then, brush her teeth twice a day as soon as that first tooth emerges. Use fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice.

Need Dental Work Done? Double Check Your Medications

If you need to have a dental procedure that requires medication while nursing, check with your dentist, personal physician and pediatrician to make sure it is safe for baby. “It’s important to know there are antibiotics we can give you that won’t hurt the baby,” Dr. Sahota says. “It’s not only safe to go to the dentist while you’re pregnant and while you’re nursing, it’s very important to do so for the best health of your child.”

Another helpful resource for nursing moms is the U.S National Library of Medicine’s Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Simply search for any medication and get information about how it affects your supply, your baby and if there’s an alternative available. Talk to your doctor about what you find.

Mom, Take Care of Yourself

Dr. Sahota says there’s one thing she sees in new moms, breastfeeding or not. “I definitely see moms who are, as simple as it sounds, are not able to take care of themselves as well as they did before the baby,” she says. “Moms that are just not brushing as much as they used to, whether they’re brushing once a day or not brushing at all.”

A dip in dental care could lead to more gum disease and cavities. Cavity prevention is especially crucial for moms, as even the simple act of sharing a spoon with could transfer that bacteria into your baby’s mouth. “It’s really important to do the basics: Brush twice a day, floss once a day. See your ADA dentist regularly,” she says. “Make sure you have prevented decay and don’t have any cavities so you don’t transfer that to your baby.”

Dr. Sahota says she also sees more teeth grinding (bruxism) in moms. “I see a lot more head and neck muscle tension, which causes our jaws to be a little bit more tense and then that causes us to grind our teeth,” she says. “Trouble sleeping when we’re pregnant, that can cause us to grind our teeth a little bit. Post-natally, stress can increase and it can also be an issue.”

All moms need to stay hydrated, especially if breastfeeding. “Not drinking enough water, that in itself is a very dangerous thing for your mouth,” she says. “If we have a dry mouth, we put ourselves at risk for gum disease, for cavities, so many things.”

And there’s one last piece of advice Dr. Sahota gives all moms. “Just like if you’re on an airplane, you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you put it on your child,” she says. “If you’re not healthy, you will not have the time and the energy to make sure your children are also healthy.”

 

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