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How to choose a mouth guard

August 2nd, 2016

Summer is in full swing! Which means there is plenty of active fun in the sun to be had. While we definitely support joining a local football team, taking the mountain bike out for a spin, or shooting some hoops, these sports all pose risks to your dental health that you’d be better off avoiding. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix: wearing a mouthguard allows you to participate in virtually any sport you wish while ensuring that your teeth are as safe from harm--and expensive dental work--as possible.

Which sports require a mouthguard?

Currently, the U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association requires the use of mouthguards only for ice hockey, lacrosse, field hockey and football. However, the American Dental Association recommends the use of a mouth guard for 29 sports/exercise activities. These include the four activities already mentioned, plus acrobatics, basketball, boxing, discus throwing, gymnastics, handball, martial arts, racquetball, rugby, shot putting, skateboarding, skiing, skydiving, soccer, squash, surfing, volleyball, water polo, weightlifting and wrestling. Essentially, whenever there's a chance of contact with other players or hard surfaces, wearing a mouth guard makes sense.

Why wear a mouthguard?

Mouthguards can buffer damage to the teeth, cheeks, lips, tongue, brackets, and/or other fixed appliances from blows and physical contact, thereby limiting the risk of soft tissue damage. A good-fitting mouth guard may be especially important if you wear braces, have fixed anterior bridgework, or just want to protect your teeth and smile from potential trauma. Failing to wear a mouthguard can result in chipped or broken teeth, root and bone damage, and tooth loss, as well as serious injuries such as jaw fracture, cerebral hemorrhage, concussion and neck injuries in situations when the lower jaw jams into the upper jaw.

Why many people don’t wear mouthguards

Lack of awareness

One of the main reasons why young athletes don’t wear mouthguards is because it is not mandatory. In most cases, a child will not be the one who actually wants to wear a mouthguard, so it is often the adult’s responsibility to enforce its use. Coaches and parents may fail to realize the safety value of wearing mouthguards and are unaware of the level of contact and potential for serious dental injuries involved in children’s sports. Gender bias may also play a role, as some people mistakenly think that female athletes are less aggressive, less at-risk of injury and, therefore, less likely to need a mouthguard.

Comfort

Another determining factor is that many mouthguards may not fit correctly, are uncomfortable, or compromise image (the notion that it's not "cool" to wear mouth guards). The "hassle" factor in remembering to wear them, properly caring for them, and dealing with the inconvenience of impaired breathing or speech – also contributes to non-use. However, all of these issues should not be a concern when you have the right mouthguard fit to your specific needs.

Cost

Finally, although mouthguards come in various price ranges, cost may be another consideration--especially for custom-fitted mouth guards. Talk to your dentist about different options available to you. In the end, a good mouthguard will only cost a fraction of what it would be to repair a major dental issue from a sports-related accident.

Types of mouthguards

Stock

These can be purchased in sporting goods and drug stores and come pre-formed and ready to wear. Although they're the least expensive, they are also the worst fitting and least comfortable or protective. Made of rubber or polyvinyl, these pre-formed guards can be bulky, increase the tendency to gag, and make breathing and talking difficult because they require the jaw to be closed to hold them in place.

Mouth-formed

These can be either a shell liner or a boil-and-bite kind. The first type is lined with acrylic gel or rubber that molds to the teeth and sets to keep its shape. The second type, made of thermoplastic, is placed in boiling water then formed and molded to the contours of the teeth using the fingers, lips, tongue and biting pressure. Boil-and-bite mouthguards can be reheated and refitted if the fit isn't comfortable initially. These are also available online and in sporting goods stores. While they do provide a better fit than stock mouth guards, they can be bulky and do not offer the same fit and protection as a custom-fitted mouth guard.

Custom-fitted

These are more expensive than the other types of mouthguards, but they provide the greatest degree of fit, comfort, and protection because they are made from a cast to precisely fit your teeth. Your dentist makes an impression of your teeth and a dental laboratory technician – either in the dentist's office or at an off-site dental laboratory – uses the impression as a mold to create the custom-fitted mouth guard.

Still not sure if your child needs a mouthguard, or which type they should get? Want more advice on how to protect your teeth during athletic activities? Give us a call at (541) 848-6642 so that we can help you get the best protection for your particular needs.

Tips for your braces treatment countdown

May 10th, 2016

Many teens will have to spend at least a year or two of their lives with braces. And although you know that braces can straighten your teeth and give you a healthier smile for life, the lengthy process can make it seem impossible. Counting down your time with braces can help it pass more quickly and build excitement for when you finally get them removed.

Mark your calendar

Take the typical calendar countdown a step further by designing your own. Use an online customization service to upload photos or designs for each month. After each day is done, write out a reason why you are getting your teeth straightened, or an event in the future when you will appreciate your straight teeth as you smile. It will all be worth it in the end!

Schedule rewards

When you receive regular rewards for continuing to wear your braces, they can seem less burdensome. Treat yourself to a nice reward every month that you wear your braces for the duration of the treatment. The time will pass much faster when you feel you are earning rewards for your patience.

Find a buddy

More likely than not, you aren’t the only one in your circle of friends with braces. Why not share the experience? Create a Facebook group where you can post updates, calendar markers, pictures, status updates, and the things you look forward to eating once the braces are off.

Plan a Celebration Day on Pinterest

Create a board on Pinterest that will be devoted to planning your celebration of the braces removal! You can pin great ideas, recipes, activities, crafts, motivational quotes, and much more.

Keep a selfie journal

After each check up with your orthodontist, smile and take a photo of yourself. That way, you can see the slow but steady improvements happening to your smile and track your progress. It will keep you motivated on the days you feel discouraged. Better yet, you’ll have something to look back on down the road and remember how your dedication payed off.

Do you have ideas for your own braces countdown? Share them with us in the comments! And remember, having braces can be a challenging experience, but it’s also one of the most rewarding. We’re here to help you through the process every step of the way. Don’t hesitate to contact us at 541-848-6642.

Do braces hurt?

April 13th, 2016

Feeling anxious about getting braces? You may have heard rumors and horror stories about pain experienced from braces. We’re here to set those straight! While we can’t promise that your treatment will be free from discomfort, what we can tell you is that it’s completely manageable. Here's what you can expect throughout the process:

Soreness caused from braces and appliances

When you first get your braces, you may notice that your teeth and mouth feel a little tender or sore. This is perfectly normal and we promise your mouth will not be sore forever! To relieve the pain, we recommend dissolving one teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of lukewarm water. Swish and gargle this solution in your mouth for just a couple of minutes (do not swallow the saltwater).

There should be minimal pain when braces are applied to the teeth. It may take you longer to eat meals the day you have them applied to your teeth, as you'll need to adjust to chewing. It's best to stick with softer foods for the first few days, such as yogurt, soup, and macaroni and cheese.

What if the pain doesn’t go away?

If the pain is more severe and does not go away after rinsing, you can also try taking a pain reliever. Over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are good options for relieving mouth soreness and headaches associated with getting used to braces.  It is also not uncommon for your lips, cheeks, and tongue to become irritated for one to two weeks as they toughen and become used to the braces. We will provide you with plenty of wax that you can put over the braces to lessen the tenderness. If you need some wax, please let us know.

Orthodontic Appointments

You may feel the same discomfort for a few days after orthodontist appointments. Braces work by slowly moving your teeth into proper alignment. Adjustments to the braces are needed so they continue to properly move the teeth. The orthodontist will periodically need to adjust the archwires and change the elastic ligatures.

It's normal to feel anxious about braces. Most people find the discomfort associated with braces to be inconvenient, but manageable. Everyone on Team Struble is happy to offer any tools and suggestions you need for easing any pain or discomfort in the days following having braces installed or adjusted.

The 7 most common orthodontic problems

March 16th, 2016

Maybe your dentist told you that you might need braces. Or maybe all your friends are getting them and you’re wondering if you’ll need them too. Orthodontic problems such as crowding of the teeth, too much space between the teeth, jaw growth problems, protruding teeth, and bad bites can be inherited or caused by injury to the mouth, early or late loss of baby teeth, or thumb-sucking habits. Below are 7 of the most commonly treated orthodontic cases.

1. Crowding

Teeth may be aligned poorly because the dental arch is small and/or the teeth are large. The bone and gums over the roots of extremely crowded teeth may become thin and recede as a result of severe crowding. Impacted teeth (teeth that should have come in, but have not), poor biting relationships, and undesirable appearance may all result from crowding.

2. Overjet or protruding upper teeth

Thumb suckers, beware! Thumb and finger sucking habits often cause a protrusion of the upper incisor teeth. Upper front teeth that protrude beyond normal contact with the lower front teeth are prone to injury, often indicate a poor bite of the back teeth (molars), and may indicate an unevenness in jaw growth. Commonly, protruded upper teeth are associated with a lower jaw that is short in proportion to the upper jaw.

3. Deep overbite

This occurs when the lower incisor (front) teeth bite too close or into the gum tissue behind the upper teeth. This can cause significant bone damage and discomfort. A deep bite can also contribute to excessive wear of the incisor teeth.

4. Open bite

This results when the upper and lower incisor teeth do not touch when biting down. This open space between the upper and lower front teeth causes all the chewing pressure to be placed on the back teeth. This excessive biting pressure and rubbing together of the back teeth makes chewing less efficient and may contribute to significant tooth wear.

5. Spacing

If teeth are missing or small, or the dental arch is very wide, space between the teeth can occur. The most common complaint from those with excessive space is poor appearance (unless you aspire to be a gap-toothed model!).

6. Crossbite

The most common type of a crossbite is when the upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth (toward the tongue). Crossbites of both back teeth and front teeth are commonly corrected early due to biting and chewing difficulties.

7. Underbite or lower jaw protrusion

About 3-5% of the population (that’s more than 10 million people in the United States alone!) has a lower jaw that is to some degree longer than the upper jaw. This can cause the lower front teeth to protrude ahead of the upper front teeth creating a crossbite. Careful monitoring of jaw growth and tooth development is indicated for these patients.

If your child is between the ages of 7 and 8 and shows signs of needing orthodontic care, or if you have been directed by your family dentist to visit the orthodontist, please contact our practice and schedule an appointment. Our team will provide your child with an initial exam, and discuss with you the best steps to take toward caring for your child's smile.

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