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Dental Checkups and Teen Invisalign: Why Now is the Time to Act!

2021-07-14T17:38:04+00:00July 13th, 2021|Adam Brown DDS, Teeth Cleaning|

Summer Checkup and Invisalign Charlotte

Our kids have been out of school long enough. After more than a year of shut-downs, unpredictable schedules, and online courses, it’s time to get them back into the flow of education. And you want to make sure your child doesn’t miss a thing during this upcoming school year!

That’s why now is the time to schedule their dental checkup. And if you have a teen who needs some general alignment treatment, this could also be the perfect opportunity to explore Invisalign.

We know—you already have a lot on your plate. To ease your load a little, we’ve provided some practical information and answers to common questions about back-to-school dental checkups and Invisalign:

 

Top Reasons for Scheduling Now

Why is it a good idea to schedule your child’s dental appointment now instead of, say, a few months down the road? There are many reasons. Here are just a few of them:

Flexibility of Schedule

As soon as your child begins the school year, you’re going to have tons to do and limited time to do it. Carpools, homework, extracurricular activities, and other commitments that come with the school year can fill your schedule up and seriously raise your stress levels. Add another appointment to your to-do list, and it can become downright overwhelming. Typically, the summertime is more relaxed both for families and dentists. By scheduling a checkup now, you can bypass the stress.

Catching Problems Early

The sooner you identify potential dental issues, the better. Bringing your child to the dentist every six months for a cleaning is critical for their dental health. But the examination part of a checkup is just as important.

During an appointment, your child’s dentist will conduct a thorough evaluation of their dental health. This includes looking for chips, cracks, and early signs of cavities, tooth decay, and other problems. A routine visit can save your child from painful dental procedures as well as prevent you from getting hit with an expensive medical bill.

Better Concentration

For many kids, staying focused through class and homework assignments is hard enough. But if your child has a dental issue, it can throw their concentration off even more. Think about it—would you be able to stay focused on the task at hand if you had a throbbing toothache or a relentless sharp pain in your mouth? By getting your child checked out over the summer, it will help them concentrate and lower the risk of them having to miss class for an emergency dental appointment.

 

Oral Health Maintenance

Every aspect of a dental checkup is meant to promote your child’s overall oral health. Thorough cleaning and fluoride treatment can do wonders for preventing cavities, decay, and other serious issues. If your dentist thinks it is necessary, sealant treatment can provide additional protection.

But there’s another factor to consider: A lot of parents find it challenging to get their children to maintain oral hygiene at home. And your child’s dentist can provide them with compelling information that stresses the importance of oral hygiene. Moreover, the dentist can give you and your child personalized tips for brushing, flossing, and other hygienic practices.

 

Questions to Ask the Dentist

OK, so you’ve been convinced to schedule your child’s dental checkup sooner than later. That’s good. Now, you just have to prepare to get the most out of your visit. Here are a few questions to ask your child’s dentist during the appointment:

Will there be a cleaning today?

Cleaning is to be expected during any checkup. But just to be safe, confirm with your child’s dentist that there will be a cleaning. This is critical. No matter how well or often your child brushes, it’s not possible for them to remove all of the cavity-causing bacteria from their mouth. Getting a professional cleaning is one of the most fundamental steps they can take toward good oral health.

Does my child need sealants?

Fabricated from plastic or other dental materials, sealants are thin, protective coatings that can be placed on your child’s permanent back teeth. While these are no substitute for hygienic practices like brushing and flossing, they can go a long way in preventing bacteria and food particles from settling into the nooks and crannies of your child’s teeth. Sealants are particularly effective at preventing cavities and stopping the progression of existing spots of tooth decay.

It’s best practice to apply sealants as soon as possible after your child’s permanent molars come in. But they can still help teenagers and even adults. Since sealants reduce the risk of cavities by 80%, it’s definitely something worth asking the dentist about.

Does my child need an x-ray?

Your child won’t need to get an x-ray at every checkup. Still yet, it won’t hurt to ask the dentist about it each time. X-rays help your child’s dentist see the big picture of how your child’s teeth are developing, and they provide a clear picture of root health. Furthermore, x-rays can reveal tooth decay that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Will you assess my child’s mouthguard?

If your child wears a mouthguard for sports, you will want to bring the mouthguard in at each checkup. Your child’s dentist can assess the wear and tear of the mouthguard, as well as how well it fits in your child’s mouth. This is especially critical if your child is going through a growth spurt or getting new teeth; in these cases, you may need to get the mouthguard reformed.

Do you have any general suggestions for improvements?

The primary focus of a dental checkup is to look at overall dental health. The dentist will take an in-depth assessment of your child’s teeth and gums to ensure that the teeth are lining up correctly, that the bite is in good shape, and that no serious issues are on the horizon. If you have any concerns about your child’s dental health routine at home, be sure to ask for suggestions from the dentist as to how you can help improve it.

Is It Time for Your Teen to Start Invisalign?

Life is difficult enough for teenagers. Attaching a bunch of metal brackets to their teeth is sort of like adding insult to injury! Thankfully, braces are no longer the most popular or effective solution for correcting a teenager’s misaligned teeth or bad bite. Invisalign aligners have made many strides over the years and are now the go-to treatment for common alignment problems. Don’t know much about this product? Read on to get the gist!

What Exactly is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a brand of aligners that gradually move your teeth into their correct places. Much like braces, these aligners apply pressure on designated areas. However, unlike braces, Invisalign aligners are completely clear, and they are also removable (like retainers).

When you order Invisalign, the dentist will send measurements and molds of your teen’s mouth to a lab that will custom-fabricate a tray of aligners to fit their teeth perfectly. This process will occur several times, and each tray of aligners will be manufactured slightly straighter than the one before it.

As with other orthodontic devices and procedures, the Invisalign process is an investment. As such, it’s not something to be done via trial and error. At Adam Brown DDS, we will conduct a thorough consultation with your teen to ensure that they are a good candidate for clear aligners.

 

The Benefits

If your teen has misalignment issues in their teeth, jaw, or both, correcting those issues with Invisalign could yield a plethora of benefits. Here are a few key benefits to keep in mind:

• Self-Confidence

Your teen’s self-confidence will remain intact when using Invisalign. It’s truly a win-win situation; they get all the benefits of wearing traditional braces, but rather than chunks of metal, their clear aligners are essentially invisible! What’s more, as your teen’s teeth and bite are corrected, their self-confidence will likely increase.

• Comfort

Cuts and irritation in the mouth are common with braces. These issues don’t occur as often with Invisalign. If your teen experiences sharp edges and corners while wearing the aligners, the dentist can shave them down. Plus, your teen’s aligners will be custom-trimmed to fit their gum line, which will reduce the risk of irritation and discomfort. The comfort of Invisalign aligners can help your teen stay focused and succeed in school, work, and extracurricular activities.

• Few Dietary Changes

Anyone who has ever had braces can attest to the dietary restrictions involved. There are countless foods, snacks, and beverages that can cause damage to traditional braces. With Invisalign, there’s really no limit to what you can eat and drink. That said, it’s critical that your teeth and gums are kept clean; otherwise, the aligners themselves will not be clean.

There is one caveat, however. Your teen should never eat or drink anything (besides water) without first removing their aligners. Once they are finished eating or drinking, they will need to put their aligners back in. If you want to ensure the healthiest process possible, encourage your teen to brush their teeth before reinserting the aligners.

 

Common Questions About Invisalign

Finally, most parents have their fair share of questions concerning Invisalign. To help you get a better idea of whether or not clear aligners are the right solution for your teen, consider the answers to these common questions:

Why not traditional braces?

If your teen wears the aligners as their trained dentist recommends, Invisalign Teen can be every bit as effective as traditional braces for correcting common alignment issues. There are many problems and obstacles associated with the metal brackets and wires of braces. Invisalign aligners are easily removable, which means that your teen can play sports and engage in other activities without having to worry about damaging their braces or mouth.

How can I ensure my teen wears the aligners?

Parents of even the most responsible teenagers may be concerned about a lack of structure and routine. After all, you don’t want to make a significant investment if you’re not confident that your teen will wear their aligners as recommended (22 hours a day is standard).

Fortunately, Invisalign aligners have a unique feature called “compliance indicators,” which are essentially blue dots that disappear when your teen is wearing the aligners according to their treatment recommendations. If the blue dots are present at your teen’s next checkup, it will notify you and the dentist that your teen hasn’t been wearing the aligners appropriately.

What if an aligner gets lost?

Teenagers (and adults, for that matter) lose things. If your teen loses their aligners, no problem! Invisalign will provide up to six free replacement aligners. All you have to do is notify your dentist so the new aligners can be ordered.

 

Conclusion

Just because the world stopped for the pandemic doesn’t mean that your child’s dental health should slide! Reduce your stress and gain peace of mind by scheduling your child a checkup at Adam Brown DDS this summer. That way, you will know that you are fostering their health without having to take them out of school. And if you’re interested in starting Invisalign treatment for your teen, be sure to ask our office about that as well!

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Is Your Favorite Drink Causing Sensitive Teeth?

2021-06-15T13:20:06+00:00June 15th, 2021|Tooth Sensitivity|

Sensitive Teeth Causes

Do you think you might have sensitive teeth? If so, what drinks do you consume on a daily basis?

Beverages can have a significant impact on your oral health, beginning with your teeth. Drinks that are high in acidity soften tooth enamel. Over time, this can lead to sensitive, vulnerable teeth. If left unaddressed, cavities and tooth decay can ensue. And if you regularly drink beverages that are both acidic and sugary, then you’re at risk for double the damage.

Of course, how you approach what you drink will depend on your current habits and what you’re willing to change. Some people choose to steer clear of acidic and sugary beverages altogether, while others shoot for moderation. Below, we’ll discuss what types of drinks can do the most damage to your teeth, as well as other common causes of tooth sensitivity and how to counteract them.

 

How to Recognize Tooth Sensitivity
Essentially, you can tell if you have sensitive teeth if you experience unexpected discomfort or pain when drinking or eating something that’s hot or cold. It often reveals itself as a short and sharp pain in your teeth when biting into ice cream, sipping on an ice-cold beverage, drinking a steaming-hot soup, and the like. Sometimes, you can even feel it by simply breathing through your mouth. Exposure to cold air, sweet or acidic drinks and food, and brushing your teeth can also trigger a response.

Tooth sensitivity can cause a wide range of symptoms—from a mild twinge to unbearable discomfort. The pain can come suddenly, disappear, and come back without warning. Over time, the severity of the pain can also change. And you may not always feel the sensitivity in every tooth.

If you have sensitive teeth, you will feel it. Tooth sensitivity is common, and it can happen for a variety of reasons. However, if your teeth feel sensitive for more than a few weeks, you should visit your dentist. Adam Brown DDS and his team will evaluate you to determine the best treatment for your situation.

 

Common Beverages With High Acidity
Beverages are one of the most common causes of tooth sensitivity. When you frequently drink beverages with high acidic content, it can do a number on your oral health over time. Even though you may not think of liquids staying in your mouth for a long period of time (like tiny parcels of food sometimes do), the particles in certain drinks can attach to your teeth and damage the enamel. Let’s take a look at some common drinks you might consider moderating or cutting out of your diet:

Soda
We’ll start with one of America’s favorite beverages. If you pour a can of Coke on the hood of your car every day for a year, then it will erode the paint. Now, imagine what it does to your teeth over time.

While soda may be super tasty, it can be horrible for your teeth and oral health in general. It’s among the most acidic drinks you can buy, and it’s chock-full of sugar that will feed the harmful bacteria in your mouth. In short, regularly drinking soda leaves your teeth vulnerable to decay and cavities, and it can cause severe sensitivity.

It’s important to note that diet sodas are just as harmful to your oral health as regular sodas. Study after study has shown that sugar-free varieties dissolve tooth enamel at the same rate. Moreover, darker sodas are more likely to turn your teeth yellow.

Fruit Juice
Though it provides some great vitamins, most fruit juice is concentrated, which means it’s highly acidic. Cranberry and citrus-based juices are the most acidic. If you wish to continue drinking fruit juice, consider watering it down and/or using a straw to drink it. And if you’re worried about missing out on the nutrients if you cut out fruit juices, whole fruit is a better source of nutrition anyway, so you would be better served to simply eat the fruit itself.

Then there are the fruit punch varieties. These types of drinks essentially provide none of the benefits that come with real fruit juice. In fact, fruit punch rarely has real juice, which means none of those nutrients are there either. What they do have is high fructose corn syrup and sugar—lots of it. And the high acid content of fruit punch will eventually erode your enamel, cause sensitive teeth, and worse unless you reign in your intake.

Sports and Energy Drinks
Similar to fruit punch beverages, sports and energy drinks, like Gatorade and Monster, are loaded with sugar and highly acidic. As such, consuming them too often can lead to enamel erosion and vulnerable teeth. Nonetheless, sports drinks are an excellent source of hydration and electrolytes, so if you exercise regularly, you may not want to remove them from your diet altogether.

Alcohol
While not overconsuming alcohol is critical for your health and well-being anyway, drinking too much alcohol can negatively impact your teeth specifically. Wine is perhaps the most harmful for teeth. Because red wine tends to stain teeth, many people opt for white wine instead. However, white wine contains more acid, which means that it can cause your teeth to erode more quickly.

Liquor, such as vodka and whiskey, is also acidic and can cause teeth sensitivity and other problems over time. And while there is evidence to suggest that beer can be beneficial to your oral health, the acid in beer can do damage to your teeth unless you drink in moderation. Plus, dark barley is known to stain teeth.

Another factor to consider is that saliva plays a critical role in keeping your teeth moist and removing bacteria and plaque from the surface of your teeth. Alcohol can dry out your mouth. So, if you drink alcohol, be sure to drink water along with it to stay hydrated.

Coffee
Different coffee roasts are often distinguished by their level of acidity, which leads many people to assume that coffee is a highly acidic beverage. But next to some of the other drinks on this list, the acid content in coffee is quite moderate. And evidence suggests that drinking coffee in moderation can actually benefit your teeth and help prevent cavities.

Of course, we’re talking about black coffee. If you add sweetener to your Java, you get the same risks that come with drinking other types of sugary beverages.

Tea
Green and white tees are known for promoting oral health. But when it comes to iced teas, which are often black teas with sugar or other types of sweetener, it’s a different story. Most iced teas are very acidic and packed with sugar. And some of the most popular iced tea brands can do more damage to your teeth than sodas.

Sparkling Water
Sparkling water is viewed as being relatively harmless. And in many ways, that’s true. However, sparkling water can be quite acidic, especially those that are flavored or naturally essenced with fruit. In some cases, flavored sparkling water can be more erosive than orange juice or other concentrated fruit juices. While most products won’t have a big impact on your overall health, it’s best to moderate how many you drink in a day and make regular filtered water your go-to.

 

Beneficial Beverages
Since we’ve covered quite a few beverages that are not so good for your teeth, it’s only fair that we talk about some that are! For example, milk is one of the best liquids you can drink for your oral health. It’s full of proteins, vitamins, and minerals that can strengthen and repair tooth enamel. Its most prominent vitamin, vitamin D, helps to combat gum disease because and reduce inflammation in the gums. And the protein casein helps to prevent tooth decay by forming a protective film over the surface of your teeth.

As previously mentioned, green and white teas can be beneficial to your teeth. They are full of antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the gums and help stave off harmful bacteria. Unlike black tea, green and white teas will not stain your teeth. Furthermore, white tea is an excellent natural source of fluoride, which can help your enamel stay strong. Just like coffee, however, the innocence of these teas is thrown out the window when you start adding sugar or other sweeteners.

 

Other Common Causes of Tooth Sensitivity
Acidic and sugary beverages are not the only thing that can cause sensitivity. Let’s take a look at some other culprits to be aware of:

 

Brushing Too Hard
If you’re an over-enthusiastic brusher, meaning you brush your teeth too often or too hard, then you run the risk of getting sensitive teeth. It can also happen from using a hard-bristle toothbrush. You should never brush more than three times a day, and you should never use overly abrasive toothpaste.

If you prefer to brush after each meal, consider switching to a soft-bristled toothbrush, as well as a toothpaste specially formulated for sensitive teeth. And brush gently, even if it means using your non-dominant hand to hold the brush until you get used to brushing lightly.

You might also consider investing in an electric toothbrush. Most of the leading models come with soft bristles, and since the toothbrush does the work for you, all you have to do is guide it lightly across your teeth and gums.

 

Grinding Your Teeth
Another common cause of tooth sensitivity is bruxism, which is when you grind your teeth or clench your jaw. Most people do this when they sleep, and it can severely and quickly wear down your teeth’ enamel. You may subconsciously grind your teeth during a poor night’s sleep, or even during the day in high-stress situations.

Becoming aware of bruxism is the first step of resolving it. If you recognize that you grind your teeth or clench your jaw, start incorporating stress-relieving activities into your routine, such as deep breathing, yoga, and meditation. Also, talk to your dentist about whether or not you should use a mouthguard while you sleep.

 

Receding Gums
No one is immune to gum recession. Over time, the tissue around your teeth will wear away. But the recession should not be severe.

A lack of proper oral hygiene can cause your gums to recede at a faster rate and lead to periodontal disease. In extreme cases, this can cause the dentin around the roots of your teeth to become exposed, or even the roots themselves. Unsurprisingly, this can make for some very sensitive teeth! Brushing your teeth correctly, using the right bristles and toothpaste, and taking other oral hygiene measures will help you prevent severe gum recession.

 

Other Dental Problems
Cavities and tooth decay are common culprits for tooth sensitivity. And these are more prevalent around fillings and worn-down crowns. Also, if you have a cracked or broken tooth, the nerve of the tooth may be exposed, which can also cause sensitivity. If you think you have any of these issues, contact your dentist as soon as possible.

 

In Sum
Tooth sensitivity is often a sign that change is in order. Take an honest assessment of your diet, and see if there are any acidic and sugary beverages you need to cut back on or eliminate. And lookout for the other common culprits of sensitive teeth. Finally, if you’re overdue for a checkup or are experiencing any dental issues, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with Adam Brown DDS!

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8 Ways to Sustain Your Family’s Dental Hygiene This Summer

2021-05-25T20:00:30+00:00May 25th, 2021|Dental Trends, Oral Health|

Tips to Help Your Families Dental Health

Summer is around the corner, which means it’s time for all the fun things that come with Summer. Maybe your family is planning to go on a big vacation. Maybe you’re getting geared up for long days at the pool. Perhaps you’re looking forward to some sweet, cold treats to tame the rising temperatures.

But amid the summertime excitement, it’s important not to leave your dental health in the dust. The shifts in routine and the seasonal activities don’t remove your family’s need to maintain good oral hygiene habits. Adam Brown DDS is here with some practical tips and information for how your family can keep your teeth and gums healthy through the sun-kissed days of Summer:

 

  1. Stick to Your Dental Routine 

We’ll start with the basics: keeping up with your normal dental care routine. Even if your kids are out of school and staying up later than usual, don’t let them go to bed without brushing their teeth. And to the adults in the room—don’t allow yourselves to get lax either!

For many families, summer is packed with special events and relaxed bedtimes, but everyone should be brushing twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste. Also, make sure you are flossing once a day; any two teeth that touch should be cleaned regularly. Many children lack the motor skills to floss until they are more than 10-years-old. If necessary, help your child floss, or invest in a water flosser. 

 

  1. Pack Wisely 

The quickest way for your family to fall behind on dental hygiene is to forget the essentials when you travel. As you plan your vacation, be sure to pack travel-sized items like these:

 

Toothbrush

Like the other items on this list, you can find a selection of travel-sized toothbrushes at most major retailers, grocery stores, and pharmacies. These brushes will fold and easily fit into a carry-on bag. Your travel brush may not be quite as comfortable or effective as your full-sized brush, but it will get the job done. 

 

Toothpaste

Fluoride toothpaste is another essential item that you can’t go without on your trip. If you only took two dental care products when you travel, you would want them to be a toothbrush and toothpaste. 

 

Floss

You can get travel-sized packs of floss, but flossers are even better. Particularly if you have kids, flossers are easier to use on the go, and they’re effective at removing excess food particles and plaque between teeth. If possible, bring a pack of floss in addition to your flosser. 

 

Mouthwash  

While it shouldn’t be used to replace your brushing habit too often, mouthwash can do wonders for killing bacteria and germs in your mouth. You won’t have any trouble fitting travel-sized mouthwashes in your carry-on, and you can use them to freshen your breath when you don’t have a chance to brush. 

 

Toothpicks

Toothpicks are the perfect little gadgets for removing food particles after a meal. Get a travel-sized pack of toothpicks for your trip to use when you don’t have the opportunity to floss. 

 

Wisps

Manufactured by Colgate, Wisp brushes are relatively new. And they’re one of the handiest oral hygiene products you can buy. These pocket-sized, disposable brushes are surprisingly effective at removing food particles and plaque, and each brush comes with a built-in freshening bead that releases toothpaste as you brush. The best part is that you don’t even have to rinse!

 

Sugar-Free Gum

Chewing gum is great for keeping bad breath at bay, but it also increases saliva production when you chew it. Since saliva is essential for dissolving acids and helping you fight dry mouth, this is a good thing. Stay fresh and avoid cavities by packing sugar-free gum for your vacation. 

 

  1. Consider Sustainable Products 

While travel-sized dental care products are great for taking trips, using eco-conscious products for your everyday routine is a great way to benefit both your oral health and the environment. Here are some of the most popular types of eco-conscious dental care products available today:

 

Toothbrushes

Plastic toothbrushes typically are not compostable, nor are the packages they come in. That’s why bamboo toothbrushes are gaining in popularity. Not only are the bristles and handles easily compostable, but bamboo brushes can be just as effective for cleaning your teeth and gums as conventional brushes. 

 

Toothpaste  

Natural toothpaste has been around for a long time. But it has come a long way over the years in terms of helping you effectively remove plaque and prevent cavities. Unless you have a high decay risk, your family could benefit your oral health and the environment by using natural toothpaste that comes in a compostable tube. 

 

Floss

The packaging of conventional floss can take years to biodegrade. There are many sustainable, low-waste floss products on the market that come in biodegradable packaging and are just as effective at removing food particles and plaque. 

 

Mouthwash

Alcohol-based mouthwashes may leave you with a feeling of freshness in your mouth, but they can also dehydrate your oral cavity, hinder saliva production, and cause irritation. If you want to add a mouth rinse to your dental care routine, opt for one that contains coconut oil and xylitol, which are known for their antibacterial properties and less harsh on the gums than alcohol. 

 

Whitening

Brushing with a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda once a week can noticeably brighten your smile, and it has no impact on the environment! Just make sure it’s not part of your daily routine. When used too frequently, hydrogen peroxide can cause chemical burns on your gums while baking soda can damage your enamel. 

 

  1. Don’t Chew Ice 

Few things are more satisfying than an ice-cold drink on a hot summer day. But if you’re an ice-chewer, know the risks that come with it. Chewing ice, especially large cubes, can cause a variety of oral health issues and even lead to a hefty bill from the dentist or orthodontist. Some common consequences of chewing ice include damaged tooth enamel, damaged dental fillings, cracked or chipped teeth, and broken oral appliances. 

While adults should also take precautions, kids are particularly prone to chew ice subconsciously. Make sure your children know the risks involved and try to prevent the habit if possible. If anyone in your family experiences one of the injuries above to your teeth or oral appliances, contact Adam Brown DDS immediately to arrange an emergency dental visit.  

 

  1. Limit Sugary Foods and Drinks 

We get it—Summer is meant to be enjoyed. And sometimes that includes chomping on yummy foods that are not so good for your teeth. Try to moderate your consumption of sugary foods and beverages, as they can significantly hinder your oral health routine. For example, sodas, juices, and ice cream can erode your enamel and cause cavities. Even acidic fruits like blueberries and pineapples can harm your enamel. After eating foods like these, be sure to rinse your mouth, brush, and floss as soon as possible.   

 

  1. Embrace Healthy Summer Foods 

Now that you have an idea of what foods to limit in your summer diet, let’s talk about some foods that can specifically benefit your oral health:

 

Salmon 

Salmon is not only a versatile fish for recipes, but it’s also one of the best foods you can eat for vitamin D. And without vitamin D, your body won’t be able to absorb nutrients like calcium. Salmon is also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical in the prevention of periodontal disease and fostering overall health. 

 

Cheese 

For most people, this one doesn’t take a lot of convincing. Obviously, cheese is best eaten in moderation because it’s high in fat content, but it’s a wonderful source of calcium. And calcium is perhaps the single most beneficial nutrient for teeth, as it helps to keep your enamel strong and your jawbones durable. Moreover, cheese contains casein—a protein that provides a protective layer on your teeth and helps prevent tooth decay. 

 

Bananas

Bananas are one of the most beneficial fruits you can eat for your dental health. They have a low acidic content, and they’re high in potassium, which helps to maintain jawbone density and tooth strength. Yes, bananas have sugar in them, but they won’t stick to your teeth like candy and other sugary foods. 

 

Oranges

Vitamin C plays a critical role in helping your gums fight off gingivitis and other oral infections, and oranges offer a beaucoup of vitamin C. Boost your gum health, and you’ll significantly lower your risk of loose teeth. 

 

Apples

If nature had a toothbrush, it would be an apple. Along with containing vital nutrients (e.g., potassium, vitamin C, fiber, etc.), apples massage the gums, increase saliva, and remove plaque. Making apples a part of your daily diet will help you maintain a clean mouth, fresh breath, healthy gums, and strong teeth. 

 

Carrots

Carrots are also a wonder for cleaning your teeth and gums. They contain lots of keratin, which combat plaque and tartar, and they massage your gums. They also have beta carotene, a nutrient that converts to vitamin A, which increases saliva production and enables oral wounds to heal more quickly. 

 

Kale 

This superfood is known for its incredible array of nutrients, and it’s one of the best foods you can eat for your oral and overall health. Kale has high levels of vitamin K, which helps to protect your bones and enamel, boost your immune system, and foster healing. It also helps the body absorb osteocalcin—another nutrient that benefits bones and teeth. 

 

  1. Drink Plenty of Water 

Water is essential for keeping you hydrated in the heat. But it also comes with specific dental benefits. For instance, it helps to keep your mouth clean by washing away leftover food and residue that would otherwise attract bacteria, in turn reducing the risk of cavities. Furthermore, water dilutes the acids produced by oral bacteria. Start your morning off with a glass of water, and always keep a refillable water bottle with you so that you can sip throughout the day. 

 

  1. Prepare for Accidents 

Finally, accidents happen. While you want to take every precaution, such as having your child wear a mouthguard while playing sports, you may not always be able to avoid injury. That’s why it’s essential to prepare a kit of supplies for your child to keep nearby in the event of a dental emergency. Whether they’re playing a contact sport, engaging in an individual physical activity, or hanging out at the pool, make sure they have easy access to a kit with these items:

  • Gauze
  • Saline solution
  • OTC pain medication
  • A small container (for a knocked-out tooth)
  • The number to their dentist 

 

Conclusion

Summertime may be when the living’s easy (especially for kids), but your family’s dental health still matters. Along with maintaining your regular oral hygiene routine, look for new products that can benefit your smile and the planet. Avoid chewing ice, consume sugary foods and beverages in moderation, and incorporate dental-friendly foods in your diet. Lastly, be sure to drink a lot of water, stay prepared for dental emergencies, and book your back-to-school appointments now at Adam Brown DDS!

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The Germs on Your Toothbrush (and How to Brush More Effectively)

2021-04-13T18:01:00+00:00April 13th, 2021|Toothbrush Hygiene|

Hidden Germs on Your Toothbrush

Brushing your teeth is the most essential practice of an oral health routine. Most of us know this because we are taught at a young age to brush twice a day. But besides the act of brushing itself, there are other factors involved in a proper brushing routine. 

For example, what if the toothbrush you’re using could be causing more harm than good? There are millions of bacteria on the average toothbrush, including E. coli, Staph, and many others. In fact, the water in your toilet often contains fewer germs than your toothbrush. And while not all bacteria are bad, some bacteria are flat-out ugly. Knowing how to to take care of your toothbrush and when to replace it are key to long-term oral health. 

Another question to ask yourself is whether you’re using the right kind of toothbrush. If you want to ensure you are reaching all areas of your mouth and removing plaque effectively and safely, then the type of brush you use is something to be carefully considered. Adam Brown, DDS is here to help you evaluate your brushing routine and, if necessary, determine how you can improve it:

 

Bacteria: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly 

First of all, it can help to understand what kind of bacteria are in our mouths. Experts estimate that 500 to 700 different types of bacteria can live in a person’s mouth; typically, an individual will host 250 to 300 at one time. Some of these bacteria are harmful. If left unaddressed, the bad bacteria can lead to ugly conditions like gum disease and leave you vulnerable to contagious illnesses. 

However, your mouth also contains bacteria that are responsible for promoting your oral health. Here are a few examples of how good oral bacteria fights for you:

 

Mitigating Bad Breath

Studies have shown that if we removed all the bacteria from our mouths, then it could have a negative impact on our oral health. Certain oral bacteria kill other, more offensive bacteria in our mouths. For instance, there are bacteria that survive off of food particles and cause a foul odor (hello, bad breath). Then there are good bacteria like Streptococcus salivarius K12, which help to eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath. So, if you have a healthy amount of good bacteria, it can help neutralize your breath. 

 

Aiding in Digestion

Digestion consists of the breakdown of proteins and sugars in the food you consume. This process begins in the mouth, and good oral bacteria can help make it more efficient. In fact, healthy bacteria like probiotics can trigger enzymatic reactions in your saliva that kickstart digestion. 

 

Staving Off Disease 

Saliva production is an integral part of oral health. Harmful germs from food particles and sugar can cause a host of oral health issues, and saliva is what removes those bad bacteria from our mouths. Good bacteria from probiotics can increase or maintain your saliva production, in turn reducing the likelihood of periodontal disease, oral candida, and many other problems. 

 

How to Keep Your Toothbrush Clean 

OK, so we’ve discussed how good bacteria can help you maintain oral health. But there is no shortage of bad bacteria out there, many of which end up on your toothbrush. Depending on the study you read, the average toothbrush contains anywhere from 10 million to 100 million bacteria, including E. coli and staphylococci (Staph). 

Whichever side of the spectrum your toothbrush falls on, it’s safe to say that you want to take the necessary steps toward keeping it clean. Here are a few practical ways that you can do that:

 

Keep it Away from the Toilet

The most convenient spot to store your toothbrush may be on the bathroom sink, which is why so many people keep it there. But this also happens to be one of the worst places to store your toothbrush, especially if your sink is in close proximity to your toilet. 

Each time you flush the toilet, fecal bacteria are released into the air. If your toothbrush is sitting out in the open next to the toilet, well, you get the picture. No one wants fecal bacteria finding a new home in the bristles of their toothbrush. Find a spot that isn’t near the toilet, and if possible, store your toothbrush in a medicine cabinet for better protection. Moreover, close the toilet lid before you flush to minimize the circulation of bacteria.

 

Clean Your Toothbrush Holder

Your toothbrush isn’t the only thing catching bacteria in the bathroom. If your toothbrush holder is near the toilet, it’s likely collecting bacteria as well. In fact, toothbrush holders are among the most germ-infested items in the average household. It’s right up there with the kitchen sink and dish sponges! 

You might be thinking you’re going to toss your toothbrush holder right about now. While that’s an option, you can also just clean your toothbrush holder daily to keep the bacteria to a minimum. 

 

Store It Properly

So, you have moved your toothbrush away from the toilet and made your toothbrush holder a part of your regular cleaning routine. Now, there are a few other things you can do to minimize bacteria when you’re not using your toothbrush:

  • Thoroughly rinse your bristles after each use. 
  • Make sure your toothbrush air dries completely between brushes; storing your toothbrush upright in the holder helps with this. 
  • Avoid toothbrush covers, as they inhibit drying and create a breeding ground for bacteria. 
  • Use only your toothbrush, and don’t let anyone else use yours. 
  • Prevent germ swapping by keeping your toothbrush separate from others. 

 

Clean the Bristles 

You know that you should replace your toothbrush every three months, but what about the time between replacements? If you wash your bedding or bath towels more regularly than that, why wouldn’t you take the same precautions for your toothbrush? Fortunately, there are simple ways to clean your toothbrush each week to keep bacteria at bay: 

Rinse with hot water. Before and after each use, run hot water through the bristles of your toothbrush. This will help eliminate any bacteria that has accumulated between brushes, including new bacteria from your most recent use. 

Soak it in mouthwash. After brushing, fill a small cup with an antibacterial mouthwash. Put your toothbrush into the cup head down, and allow it to soak for at least two minutes. This thoroughly cleans your bristles and leaves your toothbrush smelling fresh; the downside, however, is that it can also cause the bristles to wear down faster. 

Boil the bristles. One of the most effective ways to kill bacteria in your bristles is to boil them. But you must use this method with caution because the plastic handle on your toothbrush can easily melt. Heat a small pot or tea kettle on the stove, and once the water is boiling, turn off the burner. Then, dip the head of your toothbrush in the water for about 30 seconds. This will kill most of the bacteria while preventing the plastic from melting.  

Put it in the dishwasher. Just as it works for cleaning your kitchen utensils, a dishwasher is a wonderful device for cleaning and sanitizing your toothbrush. Put your toothbrush in the utensil container, and run it through a cycle with the rest of your dishes. Depending on how hot your dishwasher gets, you may want to adjust the water temperature to avoid melting. 

Use a UV sanitizer. Many medical experts agree that UV sanitizers are the most effective way to eliminate bacteria on utensils. In fact, laboratories and hospitals across the globe use UV sanitation because it has been shown to kill millions of bacteria in minutes. There are several UV sanitizers on the market designed specifically for toothbrushes. These products tend to be a little expensive, but some people consider them worth the investment. 

 

When to Replace Your Toothbrush  

Virtually every dental organization in the world recommends replacing your toothbrush at least every three months. While some people think this is a marketing scheme aimed at selling more toothbrushes, there are legitimate reasons why three months is the standard:

Bacteria. Each time you brush your teeth, new plaque and bacteria get on the toothbrush. It’s only a matter of time until the buildup overtakes the toothbrush, even if you routinely keep your toothbrush clean between uses. 

Bad bristles. Bacteria buildup isn’t the only way your toothbrush is affected over time. Your bristles also become worn out. When this happens, it inhibits you from being able to properly clean your teeth and gums, including the surfaces of your teeth and hard-to-reach areas. Moreover, worn-out bristles are harder on your gums and can cause inflammation and premature gum recession. 

Contamination. Anytime you get sick with a viral infection (e.g., cold, flu, etc.), you should change your toothbrush afterward. The bacteria and viruses can cling to the bristles. If you neglect to replace your toothbrush once you recover, it can cause you to become reinfected or contaminate other people in your household.  

Keep an eye on the bristles in your toothbrush. The harder you brush, the faster they will wear down. So, if you tend to apply a lot of pressure when you brush, you may need to replace your toothbrush more often than every three months. As soon as you begin to notice worn-out bristles or bristles pointing in the wrong direction, get a fresh brush. 

 

Getting the Best Brush for Your Mouth 

Along with keeping your toothbrush clean and replacing it when necessary, it’s essential that you are using the right kind of toothbrush. Here are a couple of factors to consider:

 

Bristles

There are several different types of toothbrush bristles. They come in soft, medium, and hard. Most dentists recommend soft bristles because; they are effective at removing plaque yet less harsh on the teeth and gums than hard or medium bristles. 

You can also choose between rounded and flat-top bristles, as well as those that are uniform and those that vary in lengths and angles. Rounded bristles are most often recommended for the same reasons as soft bristles. And bristles with variations help some people clean their teeth more thoroughly. At the end of the day, however, it really comes down to using a toothbrush that is comfortable, safe, and effective for you. 

 

Manual or Electric 

Another consideration when choosing a toothbrush is whether you want it to be manual or electric. Both types can be effective at removing plaque and promoting oral health. As with bristles, this comes down to preference. As long as you brush twice a day for two minutes with a manual toothbrush, it will work well. But if you are more likely to maintain your oral health routine by using a battery-powered toothbrush, then an electric brush might be the way to go. 

 

Conclusion 

Brushing your teeth is likely such an ingrained habit that you don’t give it much thought outside of the four minutes per day you spend doing it. But there are many things to consider if you want to ensure you are cleaning your teeth and gums as effectively as possible. 

Always keep your toothbrush clean, and replace it at least every three months. Make sure you’re using the right kind of toothbrush for your routine. And remember to call Adam Brown, DDS to schedule an appointment if you have any dental health concerns!

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Asking for a Friend: What Causes Adult Drooling and How Do You Stop It? 

2021-02-05T17:23:19+00:00January 13th, 2021|Adam Brown DDS, Drooling|

It’s a question we’ve all asked at one point or another. Sure, you never drool, but just in case you know a friend or family member who does, it’s worth knowing more about! Adam Brown DDS is here to cure your curiosity on the topic, with a few facts and some information that might be helpful for “your friend”. 

When we think of drooling, we picture a cartoon swooning over another character, saliva dripping from the corner of the mouth. But for some of us, drooling is part of our reality. Many of us are familiar with waking up to drool stains on our pillow—especially if we’re side-sleepers—or wiping away the constant drool from a baby’s mouth. But when is drooling no longer normal, what even causes it, and how do you stop it from happening? Let’s sort this problem out together: 

 

WHAT CAUSES DROOLING—THE SIMPLE ANSWER 

It might be a surprise to those of us who drool, but we produce quite a bit less drool when we sleep than while we are awake. Naturally, our muscles relax as we sleep. So why do we drool? Well, the short answer is gravity. When we sleep on our back, the saliva rests in the back of the throat and drains. When we sleep on our sides or stomach, accumulated drool can slip through our lips. 

But drooling doesn’t always occur because we sleep. There are many possible reasons why an adult could be drooling. If you asked your dentist about it, they might ask you questions like:  

  • Are there any known medical issues? 
  • Do you have any issues with allergies? 
  • Are you known to be a mouth breather? 

Depending on how and when it’s occurring, or even down to the individual, drooling can have several different causes. Let’s discuss some of the most common scenarios below: 

 

Nightguard Drooling 

Wearing a dental nightguard is not the most comfortable bedtime routine, and when they’re new to us, it feels unnatural and uncomfortable. As you adjust to nightguards, you might experience drooling. We know there’s nothing worse than wet, soggy pillows, but rest assured (no pun intended) that the drooling is temporary. It might take a few weeks for your brain to get used to the appliance in your mouth, but it will eventually adjust, and your glands will return to producing a normal amount of saliva as you sleep. 

 

Allergies & Mouth Breathing 

Blocked nasal passages due to allergies can cause you to breathe through your mouth, leading to increased drooling. This can happen when you ingest a food ingredient you’re allergic to, as your body attempts to flush the toxins out by producing more saliva. However, it’s most often caused by seasonal allergies like mold and pollen. If you’re dealing with a runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes, the allergies likely have something to do with your drooling.  

 

Acidity/GERD 

This digestive condition washes stomach acid back into the esophagus. This damages the lining of your esophagus and can cause difficulty swallowing, thus leading to excessive drooling for some people.  

  

Sinus Infection 

Blocked sinuses are never fun. So, if you’re experiencing nasal congestion due to an infection, or if you have regularly enflamed sinuses, you might find yourself breathing through your mouth more often and drooling. 

 

Tonsillitis 

This condition inflames the glands in the back of your throat or tonsils. As the glands swell, the passage becomes more narrow and obstructs the drainage of saliva. The saliva then builds up, and gravity does its work.  

 

Sleep Disorders 

Drooling is a known symptom in those suffering from sleep terrors or sleep conditions like sleep apnea, sleepwalking, and sleep talking. Sometimes the medications taken to counteract these conditions can also cause increased saliva production (more on medications later). 

 

Illnesses 

Common illnesses such as strep throat, infectious mononucleosis, and sinus infections can cause people to experience excess drooling. Some other health conditions that are known to cause drooling include: 

Epiglottitis. Your epiglottis is a plate of tissue in the back of your throat. Epiglottitis occurs when that tissue gets infected and swells, making it difficult to swallow.   

Bell’s palsy. Individuals with Bell’s palsy experience muscle weakness on one side of the face. The weakness can vary from mild to severe.  

Guillain-Barrè syndrome. This syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that damages nerves in various parts of the body.  

 

Major Health Crises 

After a stroke, or as a result of cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis (MS), drool can be a symptom of a neurological condition or other health condition. 

Medical issues that are symptomatic of drooling can range in severity and include a variety of conditions. Drooling can occur from posturing issues or low muscle tone in the lips, jaw, and tongue. More severe issues may require a specialist, such as a speech pathologist. But some drooling may be a cause of more simple conditions like allergies, sleep deprivation, or sleeping on your side. 

 

Side Effects from Medications  

Several medications can cause your body to increase its saliva production. This is particularly true of medications used for treating Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric disorders, and myasthenia gravis (MG)—a neuromuscular disease that harms skeletal muscles.  

If you’re taking any such medications, be sure to discuss the issue with your healthcare provider. For example, if you’re taking a certain medication for depression, you’ll want to speak with a behavioral health specialist to go over alternative treatment options. If you’re taking medications for a neurological condition, ask your neurologist about any other solutions.  

 

NORMAL AGES FOR DROOLING 

Drooling is a normal process throughout the infancy and toddler stages. Infants have immature musical control, and saliva helps to soften food and ease swallowing. Also, increased saliva protects babies’ teeth from tooth decay. Drooling becomes more frequent around three to six months of age. Because babies’ teeth are erupting from the gums, their saliva production increases, and thus, the drooling increases. Once children are past the toddler milestone, drooling can be a sign of further social and developmental issues. 

 

HOW TO KNOW IF YOUR DROOLING IS NORMAL 

Talk to your dentist and your doctor. If drooling is decreasing your quality of sleep or creating other issues, then it might be time to seek medical help. If you’re experiencing a known major illness or health condition, talking to your medical professionals is the best way to determine if your drooling is normal. There’s no substitute for a professional’s opinion.  

 

COMMON CONSEQUENCES OF DROOLING  

Yes, drooling is annoying. But it can also have a more profound impact on your physical and mental health. Frequent drooling can cause your skin to chap, become irritated, or even break out. Also, if you have trouble swallowing and often experience saliva pooling in your throat, it can lead to aspiration pneumonia (a severe lung infection). Moreover, drooling can cause feelings of embarrassment, especially when it happens in public, and it can harm one’s self-esteem.  

 

HOW TO STOP DROOLING: TREATMENT OPTIONS 

Identifying the cause of your drooling is the first step to treating it. If your drooling stems from allergies, sinus problems, or other minor conditions, the culprit is likely open-mouth breathing. For some cases, there’s an easy fix, while more extensive cases require different treatments. Let’s take a look at some of the most practical options you have in regards to drooling less (or not all): 

 

Changing Sleeping Positions 

The good news is that there is an easy fix! We recommend aiming to sleep on your back instead of your side. This will keep the saliva draining down your throat rather than out of your mouth. It might take a little while to get used to this sleeping position, but your body and mind should be able to adjust within a few weeks. And if you find yourself having breathing issues or acid reflux when purposefully sleeping on your back, you may need to seek further treatment.  

 

Homemade Remedies 

Homemade remedies are also worth trying. Some people suggest that to decrease drooling, biting a lemon wedge, consuming citrus, or drinking more water will thin the saliva and make it less likely to pool in your mouth. 

 

Using a Mandibular Device 

Some treatment options are more rigorous. Your dentist might recommend a mandibular device to help you sleep more comfortably and drool less. This oral device is like a nightguard. Your dentist can direct you where to purchase a mandibular device, but they can also be purchased online. Wherever you choose to buy your device, make sure you consult your dentist beforehand for recommendations.  

 

Botox Injections 

Another option is to get Botox injections. While this sounds a bit aggressive, it’s a viable approach to reduce hypersalivation. By injecting Botox into the saliva glands, the glands will stop overproducing saliva. This treatment is only temporary, however, and your glands will return to their normal function after the Botox wears off. 

 

CPAP Machine 

If your drooling is a result of sleep apnea, then a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine will make sure you’re positioned safely as you sleep and that you can breathe properly. Thus, it helps you to get a better, deeper night’s sleep. It should be noted, though, that the CPAP may not entirely prevent drooling. 

 

Surgery 

In extreme cases, it may be recommended that you remove your saliva glands. This is often the recommended treatment for people who have underlying neurological issues—not for those who are merely experiencing discomfort drooling while sleeping. This type of surgery is usually very successful, but it shouldn’t be the first thing you try in an attempt to stop your drooling. 

 

Medications  

Depending on the severity of your drooling, a doctor might recommend medication. This is especially the case if you have a neurological condition. For example, scopolamine (also “hyoscine”) is a medication often used to prevent drooling, as it effectively cuts off nerve impulses to the salivary glands. If you’re prescribed this medication, chances are it will come in patch form; you’ll simply place the patch behind your ear and replace it every 72 hours. It’s worth noting that scopolamine comes with potential side effects, such as rapid heart rate, itchy eyes, dry mouth, fatigue, and dizziness.  

Another medication that can decrease drooling is glycopyrrolate. While it works similarly to scopolamine, it can yield more severe side effects including hyperactivity, irritability, skin flushing, decreased sweating, and difficulty urinating.  

 

Speech Therapy  

Finally, speech therapy can go a long way in decreasing—or even stopping—your drooling issues. That’s because the core goal of speech therapy is to increase jaw stability and make the tongue stronger and more mobile. Over time, speech therapy can teach you simple techniques that can help you swallow more easily and drool less.  

 

In Conclusion 

At the end of the day, drooling is not particularly unusual, nor should it be embarrassing. Most of the time, it can be curbed by making minor changes in habit or through simple treatment options. If you’re concerned about drooling or whether or not your saliva production is normal, Adam Brown DDS is here to assess your oral health. Your dentist will discuss with you if drooling is a sign of a more serious health diagnosis and get you on the right track for treatment. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment! 

 

 

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Mouthguards 101: When Do Kids (and Adults) Need Them?

2020-12-21T19:02:51+00:00December 21st, 2020|Mouthguards|

If your kid is active in any way, you probably know about the importance of wearing a helmet, knee pads, and goggles. But one protective device that doesn’t get quite as much attention as it should is the mouthguard. 

In some kids’ sports, mouthguards are required. However, many sports don’t require them, which makes it easy to underestimate their function or simply forget to have your child wear one. Nonetheless, if your kid is participating in a sport that involves any kind of potential contact—with other individuals, the ground, or objects—then wearing a mouthguard should be part of their daily routine. 

Still not convinced? Well, the American Dental Association (ADA) estimates that mouthguards help prevent more than 200,000 dental injuries each year. Moreover, about three-million teeth are knocked out in kids’ sports in any given year! And mouthguards not only help prevent teeth from being knocked out, chipped, or fractured, they can even protect your tongue, lips, and face from injury, as well as help to lessen the impact from blows to the head. 

Below, we’ll cover the basics of mouthguards—including the different types, the sports that necessitate them, how both kids and adults can benefit from them, and more. 

 

WHAT ARE MOUTHGUARDS? 

Also referred to as a sports guard or mouth protector, a mouthguard is a device worn over the teeth to protect them from blows to the head or face. Along with helping prevent injuries to your teeth, a mouthguard can help protect your face and jaw, as well as the soft tissues of your tongue, lips, and cheek lining. If your kid plays any kind of sport that involves body contact, falls, or moving equipment, they should be wearing a mouthguard at all times while participating. 

In most cases, a mouthguard covers only the upper teeth. This is because your upper teeth stick out more, which means they receive the brunt of impact during an incident. The bottom teeth are a little further back, so they are typically safer from harm. 

Mouthguards are not only useful for kids playing sports. Adults can also benefit from them, whether they play contact sports or suffer from sleep disorders (which we’ll cover later). 

 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF MOUTHGUARDS 

Not all mouthguards are created equally. There are three main types, each of which works well in specific instances:

 

Stock Mouthguards 

This is the most accessible and cost-effective type of mouthguard, as almost any drugstore or sporting goods store carries them. Typically, stock mouthguards come in small, medium, and large sizes, and they simply fit over the upper teeth. 

Stock mouthguards work well if your kid plays contact sports only occasionally. However, whatever you open in the package is what you get. And since they’re not moldable, they usually don’t fit very well, are uncomfortable, and can make speaking difficult. 

 

Boil-and-Bite Mouthguards

Going a step up, a boil-and-bite mouthguard is similar to a stock mouthguard, except you can mold it to your teeth. This makes a big difference. A boil-and-bite mouthguard comes in one size; you mold it by boiling it until it softens, placing it over your upper teeth, and biting down. The mouthguard then dries and hardens to the shape of your teeth. Considering that boil-and-bite mouthguards are just as widely available and almost as inexpensive, they are clearly the better option over stock mouthguards. 

 

Custom Mouthguards

Then there are custom mouthguards. These are more expensive, but they are ideal when it comes to comfort and fit. In short, a dentist will take a mold of your teeth and fabricate a mouthguard to the exact specifications of your teeth and mouth structures. Kids who play sports regularly can greatly benefit from custom mouthguards, as can adults who deal with snoring or sleep apnea. 

 

SPORTS THAT CALL FOR MOUTHGUARDS 

As previously mentioned, your child will likely be required to wear mouthguards while playing certain sports. However, even if the league does not require it, that doesn’t mean your child should not wear a mouthguard. Here is a list of sports for which a mouthguard is necessary:

  • Hockey
  • Basketball
  • Indoor Soccer
  • Wrestling
  • Skiing
  • Snowboarding
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Gymnastics
  • Outdoor Soccer
  • Lacrosse
  • Volleyball
  • Skateboarding
  • Raquetball
  • Martial Arts
  • Baseball
  • Softball

It’s worth noting that, along with competitions, mouthguards should be worn in all practices. 

 

BENEFITS OF CUSTOM MOUTHGUARDS 

The benefits of getting a custom mouthguard are many, which is why we’ve dedicated a section to explain why you should consider getting your child (or yourself) fitted for a custom mouthguard. Here are a few advantages of investing in a custom mouthguard from your dentist:

 

Perfect Fit 

Even at its best, a stock mouthguard will only fit well enough to stay on your teeth when your mouth is closed. A boil-and-bite mouthguard will fit better than that, but it will still be prone to coming loose, especially if you wear it regularly. That problem is fixed with a custom mouthguard. 

A qualified dentist like Adam Brown can have a mouthguard perfectly fitted to your teeth. You’ll simply come in to have an impression taken of your teeth, the cast will be sent to a dental lab, and you’ll come back to the dental office to test its fit. Chances are you’ll leave with a reliable mouthguard that fits snuggly and comfortably.

 

Optimal Comfort

When a custom mouthguard is fabricated for your teeth and mouth, it’s simply going to be more comfortable than a generic mouthguard. This is especially critical for children. After all, if your child’s mouthguard hurts or irritates them, they will be less likely to wear it of their own volition. 

 

Better Protection

Along with optimal fit and comfort, a custom mouthguard will provide you with more protection than other types. And protection is the whole point when it comes to mouthguards. The reason for this is that a custom impression will account for all the unique shapes and features of your teeth and mouth. For example, if your child has braces, a custom mouthguard will be shaped to accommodate the wires; that way, the wires won’t hurt your child or break during impact. 

 

The Right Thickness

One overlooked attribute of mouthguards is the thickness. How thick your mouthguard should be will depend on what you need it for. For example, if your child is participating in a sport that involves frequent significant impact, such as martial arts, they will need a thicker mouthguard than someone who plays racquetball. Your dentist will discuss with you the activities for which your mouthguard is needed and help you determine the appropriate thickness. 

 

Cost-Effectiveness

Yes, it will set you back more than a stock or boil-and-bite mouthguard, but a custom mouthguard can still prove to be cost-effective. In fact, it can end up being cheaper in the long run. This is for two reasons. First, generic mouthguards found at drugstores and sporting goods stores wear out rather quickly, meaning you have to replace them often. Second, because custom mouthguards are perfectly tailored to your specific teeth and mouth structures, chances of severe injuries and costly procedures are less likely. 

 

OTHER REASONS TO GET A MOUTHGUARD 

Mouthguards are essential for kids (and adults) who play sports. But they can also benefit the health and well-being of adults when it comes to snoring and sleep apnea. Let’s discuss how the right mouthguard can help with each of these conditions:

 

Snoring 

Almost everyone snores from time to time. But for some people, it’s a chronic problem that can lead to a wide range of health issues (in addition to being annoying to your partner). For example, snoring can disrupt sleep, which can lead to daytime sleepiness. This, in turn, can lead to difficulty concentrating, hindered productivity, frequent irritability or anger, and/or impaired driving. Snoring can also put you at a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and many other health issues. 

In the most basic sense, snoring occurs when the soft tissue in your upper airway vibrates. A custom mouthguard can fix this problem. The right mouthguard—one that fits over both the upper and lower teeth—will help to pull your lower jaw forward, which will keep your airway open throughout the night. There are numerous over-the-counter mouthguards that supposedly prevent or reduce snoring. But these types of mouthguards have yet to be proven to work as effectively as custom mouthguards. 

 

Sleep Apnea

Often associated with snoring but much more serious, sleep apnea is a condition that calls for immediate action. In essence, sleep apnea means that your breathing pauses repeatedly throughout the night. Each time you stop breathing, your body wakes up in order to start breathing again. Obviously, such frequent interruptions make it virtually impossible to get restful sleep. 

There’s more. Along with making you chronically sleepy, sleep apnea can lead to heart disease, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and a whole host of other health conditions, including:

  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Acid reflux
  • A weakened immune system 
  • Asthma
  • Liver problems
  • Low blood oxygen 
  • High cholesterol

Much like with snoring, a custom mouthguard can benefit those with mild sleep apnea. By pulling your lower jaw and tongue forward, your airway is better able to remain open during sleep. You can even get a mouthguard that has a strap, which helps to re-adjust your lower jaw. It’s important to note, however, that if you suffer from a more severe case of sleep apnea, then you should ask your doctor about using a CPAP machine in lieu of a mouthguard. 

 

HOW TO CARE FOR MOUTHGUARDS 

If you or your child are using a mouthguard, it’s essential that you take the necessary steps to keep it clean and in good shape. Always brush and floss your teeth before wearing a mouthguard, and rinse the mouthguard with cool water before and after each use. To take it a step further, clean your mouthguard with a toothbrush and toothpaste between uses. Be sure to store your mouthguard in a hard, ventilated container so that it can stay dry while you’re not using it. Finally, always be on the lookout for signs of wear so that you will know when to replace it, and let your dentist evaluate it at each visit. 

 

WEARING MOUTHGUARDS WITH ORTHODONTIC DEVICES

Not only can you wear mouthguards when you have braces, dental implants, or dental bridges, but a custom mouthguard can go a long way in protecting both your teeth and orthodontic devices during impact. This is because the mouthguard fits around the unique shapes of your braces, implants, and/or bridges

 

INSURANCE AND MOUTHGUARDS 

Lastly, check with your dental insurance provider about their policies on custom mouthguards. Some plans will cover some or all of the costs associated with custom mouthguards, and you can also use funds from your health savings account (HSA) to pay for either custom or generic mouthguards. Moreover, some dental offices will provide you with a payment plan if your insurance will not cover the costs.  

 

In Sum 

The right mouthguard can do wonders in protecting your child from serious oral injuries when playing contact sports. The same goes for you if you suffer from snoring or sleep apnea as an adult. Be sure to consult your dentist about the type of mouthguard that will best meet the needs of you or your child. And remember, Adam Brown is just a call away if you would like an appointment to get fitted for that custom mouthguard! 

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COVID Is Cracking Teeth: How to Keep it from Happening to You

2020-12-02T16:11:03+00:00November 17th, 2020|Oral Health|

Cracked teeth are common. If a cracked tooth is left untreated, it can lead to physical ailments like severe pain, discomfort, and infection, not to mention a slew of mental health issues (e.g., stress, anxiety, low self-esteem, etc.). The most serious cases may even require the extraction of a tooth. 

While cracked teeth have always been common, they’ve become even more so in the COVID-19 era. Dentists across the country (and the world) have noticed a significant uptick in cases. Many dental offices are experiencing an increase of about 30% in cases, while others are exceeding a 500% increase on some days. That’s right, 500%! 

Let’s put that into perspective: If dental offices treated one fractured tooth per day before COVID came around (which was pretty normal), some of those offices are now seeing five cases each day. Whew, that’s a big change.

So, what’s behind the rise in cracked tooth cases? Below, we’ll answer this question and discuss the different types of cracked teeth, how to know when you should see your dentist, how you can prevent a cracked tooth from happening or worsening, and much more. 

 

WHY THERE ARE MORE CASES OF CRACKED TEETH 

No, COVID-19 doesn’t directly cause cracked teeth. However, the general rise in stress and anxiety brought about by the pandemic is considered by many medical experts to be the primary culprit for the uptick in cracked tooth cases. In short, when you’re stressed, you’re more likely to brux your teeth. Bruxism refers to the act of grinding or clenching your teeth, and over time, the pressure of bruxing can lead to cracked teeth, as well as muscle pain in the head and neck. 

There are numerous concerns that the average American is dealing with during these challenging times. Along with the fear of contracting the coronavirus (for themselves and/or their loved ones) and dealing with overarching medical issues, many people are navigating significant changes in their job demands, finances, and social lives. 

If it sounds like a reach to say that these stressors can lead to cracked teeth, keep in mind that bruxism was a common condition before the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head and that it’s only becoming more common. And a lot of people don’t realize when they are bruxing their teeth. Actually, some dental health professionals estimate that about half of their patients are unaware that they grind or clench their teeth. This is because most bruxing happens during sleep—when you’re not fully conscious and able to relax your muscles. 

Besides bruxism, there are other common causes of cracked teeth to be aware of. These include eating hard foods (e.g., nuts, hard candy, ice, etc.), getting large dental fillings that can weaken the integrity of a tooth, and subjecting your mouth to extreme temperature changes, such as burning your tongue with hot food or liquid and drinking ice water to cool it down. Also, physical trauma to the mouth—such as a sporting injury, automobile accident, or fall—can cause teeth to crack, as can age (most cases are in people 50 or over). 

 

THE DIFFERENT KINDS OF CRACKED TEETH 

According to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), there are five types of tooth cracks/fractures, all of which vary in severity and treatment possibility/requirements:

  • Craze lines
  • Fractured cusp
  • Cracked tooth (extending to the gum line)
  • Split tooth
  • Vertical root fracture

Knowing about these different types can help you to better identify issues and determine what steps to take when you experience certain symptoms. Here’s a little detail on each type of cracked tooth:

Craze Lines

This is the most common and least severe type of cracked tooth. In fact, all teeth have craze lines, which are essentially micro-cracks in the enamel. Since these cracks don’t reach the dentin (the tissue beneath the enamel) or cause pain, no treatment is necessary. 

 

Fractured Cusp

Another type of cracked tooth that generally doesn’t cause pain is a fractured cusp. This typically occurs when a patient has a dental filling and the surrounding area of the tooth undergoes a small fracture. A fractured cusp doesn’t impact the pulp (the tooth’s center that holds the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue), which is why it’s usually painless. In most cases, crowning can fix a fractured cusp. 

 

Cracked Tooth (Extending into the Gum Line)

When a tooth has a vertical crack all the way through but it doesn’t enter the gum line, it’s typically savable through bonding or crowning. But treatment options become murkier if the crack has extended into the gum line. At that point, it really depends on how far into the gum line the crack has grown. Consulting a dentist and acting quickly is the best way to save the tooth; if too much time passes, extraction may be necessary.

 

Split Tooth

Going a step further, a split tooth is when a crack has extended well into the gum line—enough to where the tooth can be divided into two segments. If you have a split tooth, chances are you will not be able to save the whole tooth, but your dentist might be able to preserve a portion of the tooth. Again, the faster you act, the better your chances are for avoiding extraction. 

 

Vertical Root Fracture

This is the most severe type of cracked tooth. A vertical root fracture grows upward, from below the gum line through the top of the tooth. The prognosis for a vertical root fracture is generally not good; in most cases, the entire tooth will need to be extracted. 

 

SYMPTOMS, DIAGNOSIS, AND TREATMENT 

Sometimes, people are not able to tell when they have a cracked tooth, particularly in the early stages. Obviously, this is unfortunate because it can hinder you from seeking treatment early on. But oftentimes, there will be symptoms, and it’s important to know what to look out for. 

For instance, if you notice a heightened sensitivity to temperatures or sweetness when eating or drinking, or if your gums are swollen around a particular tooth, it could be a sign of a cracked tooth. Also, if you experience pain while biting or chewing, it’s essential to get checked out by a dentist, even if the pain is inconsistent. Most pain from a cracked tooth comes with the release of biting pressure. 

When it comes to the diagnosis process, it can help to know what to expect. Though x-rays can reveal poor pulp health (which can indicate a crack), they often don’t actually show cracks in teeth. Therefore, your dentist is likely to take several other steps to get to the bottom of things, such as:

  • Going over your dental history (do you regularly eat hard foods or clench/grind your teeth?)
  • Using a magnifying lens to examine your teeth for cracks. 
  • Using a dental explorer on your teeth to feel for cracks. 
  • Applying dental dye, which can reveal cracks. 
  • Asking you to bite down on something in order to pinpoint the pain. 
  • Examining your gums for inflammation. 

 

There are four primary forms of treatments for a cracked tooth. The one that is best for you will depend on the crack’s location and the extent of the damage wrought:

Bonding. In mild cases, a dentist can use bonding to fix a cracked tooth. This process includes applying a plastic resin to fill the crack, which can help the tooth to look and function like normal for years to come. 

Crowning. Porcelain or ceramic crowns are used to either fit over or cap a cracked tooth. To make this prosthetic device, your dentist will probably need to make an impression of your tooth and send it off to a lab that will manufacture the crown. The dentist will also need to take a little enamel off of your tooth so that the crown will fit properly. 

Once the crown comes back from the lab (usually in a couple of weeks), the dentist will fit the crown over your tooth and use cement to permanently bond it. Crowns can last a lifetime when taken care of properly. 

Performing a root canal. If your tooth crack has reached the pulp of your tooth, you may be advised to get a root canal. This procedure is typically performed by a dentist, oral surgeon, or endodontist, and it involves the removal of damaged pulp. By reestablishing some integrity in the tooth, a root canal can help you avoid further weakening or infection. 

Extracting. This is the last resort. But when a tooth crack is severe enough, removing the tooth can help you prevent a whole host of other health problems. Your dentist might recommend extraction if there is simply too much damage done to the tooth’s structure, nerves, and roots. 

 

HOW TO PREVENT BRUXISM 

So, now that you know that bruxism is the leading cause of cracked teeth, how do you keep yourself from grinding and clenching your teeth? Well, there are some practical steps you can take each day to prevent bruxism or at least mitigate its effects. 

For example, incorporate stress-reducing activities into your routine, such as exercise, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, and/or massage. Try to maintain proper posture when sitting (especially while working), as an aligned spine and relaxed jaw can reduce clenching. Be aware of how you’re holding your jaw during the day; remember that your teeth should not be touching unless you’re eating or speaking. 

If you notice your teeth clenching, start placing your tongue between your teeth. The sensitivity of your tongue will encourage you to stop clenching. When it comes to bruxing during sleep, which is when it most often happens, look into products that can help. For instance, wearing a night guard can prevent your teeth from touching, even if you’re subconsciously grinding and clenching. And research the various customized pillows and neck positioners on the market that can relieve stress and pressure from your jaws and neck during sleep. 

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF GOING TO THE DENTIST

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, or if anyone else in your life notices that you’re bruxing your teeth, it’s essential to contact your dentist right away. The quicker you respond, the greater the chances that you will be able to fix the problem before it gets to the point of extraction. Dental offices across the country, including Adam Brown Dentistry, are taking painstaking precautions to keep patients and staff members safe during the pandemic, so don’t hesitate to make an appointment today!

 

PRACTICING DENTAL HYGIENE AT HOME

Finally, as with any other dental/oral health issue, one of the best ways to prevent cracked teeth is to practice daily dental hygiene. Be sure to brush twice a day, floss once a day, and use mouthwash regularly. Also, be conscious of your diet, as the foods and drinks you consume can have a significant impact on your dental health. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly affected the lives of countless Americans in many ways—one being that more people are experiencing cracked teeth. Continue to practice good dental hygiene each day, take any necessary steps to prevent bruxism, and be on the lookout for any symptoms that could indicate a cracked tooth. And of course, call Adam Brown Dentistry today to schedule an appointment!

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