Australia fails in 2018 National Oral Health Report

Australia fails in 2018 National Oral Health Report

A national oral health report card published in March, 2018 has revealed some sobering statistics regarding the oral health of Australians adults.

Australia’s Adult Oral Health Tracker is a joint initiative of the Aust. Dental Association (ADA) and the Aust. Health Policy Collaboration (AHPC). The report aims to track the progress of preventable oral diseases along with their risk factors and negative oral health outcomes. The report will be published on a regular basis, in order to monitor the progress of oral health targets – set for all Australians to achieve by 2025.

Where are we failing?

  • The most common chronic disease in Australia is tooth decay. This includes all oral and general health diseases. Currently 90.1% of Australians have experienced or are experiencing tooth decay in their permanent teeth.
     
  • A lot of Australians are not having their tooth decay treated by a dentist. The latest data reveals that 25.5% of us are living with untreated tooth decay. This can lead to oral health complications such as cavities, gum disease and tooth loss.
     
  • 19.8 % of adults aged over 15, have periodontal pockets greater than 4mm in width. Periodontal pockets are deep spaces between your teeth and gums that contain plaque and oral bacteria. As these pockets develop, your gums start to pull away and detach from your teeth irreversibly, leading to receding gums and potential tooth loss. If you have periodontal pockets, then you probably have gum disease (periodontitis).
     
  • Australians aren’t brushing their teeth enough. Half of all Australian adults do not brush their teeth twice a day as recommended. Over a 24 hour period, the development of plaque and tooth decay can progress significantly.
     
  • 52.2% of Australian adults are consuming too much sugar. Furthermore, approximately 75% of children consume excess sugar. Excess sugar intake is a major risk factor for tooth decay and erosion, not to mention cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
     
  • Poor childhood oral health is a high risk factor for poor oral health outcomes in adults. Over 22,000 Australian children aged less than 9 years old were hospitalised for oral health problems. All of these cases could have been prevented through proper oral care and hygiene, and access to free dental services via the Children Dental Benefit Schedule (CDBS).
     

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Despite the current challenges, the best way to move forward is to improve action that can prevent poor oral health in Australia. Individuals, parents, families, communities, health professionals and government will need to play a part to ensure the oral health of all Australians in the future.

Resources

Manton DJ, Foley M, Gikas A, Ivanoski S, McCullough M, Peres MA, Roberts-Thomson K, Skinner J, Irving E, Seselja A, Calder R, Harris B, Lindberg R, Millar L, Nichols T. 2018 Australia’s Oral Health Tracker: Technical Paper, Australian Health Policy Collaboration, Victoria University, Melbourne. Retrieved from https://www.ada.org.au/Dental-Professionals/Australia-s-Oral-Health-Tracker/Australia-s-Oral-Health-Tracker-Technical-Appendix/ADA_AHPC_Technical-Appendix_07032018

Dental emergencies

Dental emergencies

Dental emergencies can occur at any time, and usually involve injury to your teeth or mouth, severe toothache, bleeding, oral infections and swelling. During these events, it is important to stay calm and make sure that you take rational steps to minimise further damage and prevent potential tooth loss.

Seeking emergency treatment

In any dental emergency event, seek immediate treatment from a dental professional. Seeing a dentist within 30 min may be a critical window of opportunity if you want to save a severely damaged or knocked-out tooth.

Almost all dentists have emergency slots in their schedules so you can receive emergency promptly. It’s important to call your dentist at the time of the emergency also, because they can advise you over the phone on crucial first aid steps you can take before you make it to the clinic.

If the emergency occurs at night or on a weekend, then look up the nearest clinic or hospital that handles after hours dental emergencies in your area.

Types of dental emergencies

Dental emergencies include the following:

  • Severe toothache
  • Chipped, fractured and broken teeth
  • Knocked out teeth
  • Lost crowns, overlays, inlays and crowns
  • Bitten lips, tongue or cheek
  • Bleeding from lips, teeth and cheeks
  • Trauma to soft tissue
  • Localised oral infection, abscesses, and swelling in the teeth or gums
  • Jaw injury and pain

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Prevention

You can avoid, prevent, or at the very least, minimise the damage from dental emergency accidents – before they happen.

If you engage in contact sports or risky recreational activities, wear the right safety gear. With regard to protection from potential oral injuries and trauma, wear a safety helmet, if appropriate, and a custom-fitted sports mouthguard – even during training sessions.

Don’t use your teeth as a utensil to open packages or plastic containers – you’re asking for trouble. Use scissors instead. Avoid chewing and crunching down on hard foods or objects to prevent tooth chips or fractures, and be wary of some types of chewing candy that can even lift out fillings and inlays.

Last but not least, maintain your oral health by brushing and flossing twice a day, and seeing your dentist twice a year for a preventative check up and clean!

Inlays and onlays – the conservative tooth restoration

Inlays and onlays – the conservative tooth restoration

Inlays and onlays are dental treatments for teeth that are moderately decayed, damaged, chipped or cracked. Unlike fillings, which are molded into a cavity, inlays and onlays are prosthetic partial teeth that are fabricated in a dental lab to fit precisely into the space left by the missing portion of the tooth.

Inlays and onlays – What’s the difference?

They are very similar but each has a specific purpose. Inlays are designed to fit where traditional fillings usually go – the space within the cusps of a tooth. If one or more of the cusps are damaged or missing, then an onlay is more suitable. Onlays are a little bigger and cover more of your tooth’s surface. They can fit within and over any outer cusps that have broken off as a result of damage or decay.

The conservative approach

Why are inlays and onlays considered to be a conservative alternative to tooth restoration? They only restore the part of a tooth that is actually damaged.

If you were to opt for a full-coverage crown to restore the same tooth, more invasive procedures are needed to prepare the tooth for a crown. That means you may sacrifice perfectly healthy tooth structure to accommodate the crown. So in that sense, inlay and onlay treatment is a conservative approach, since it preserves as much of your natural tooth structure as possible during prep.

What are the benefits of inlays/onlays?

  • Seal teeth better than fillings
  • Fit perfectly
  • Strong, durable and stable
  • Protect and support weaker parts of a tooth
  • Preserve more of your natural tooth structure for better long-term functionality
  • Easier to clean for better oral care
  • Colour-matched with surrounding tooth enamel
  • Stain resistant, and better colour retention than tooth-coloured fillings
  • More cost effective than other tooth restoration options

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If you have a tooth that is decayed and damaged, inlays and onlays may be the perfect solution. Call us on 07 3349 9334 to schedule a visit before your tooth gets damaged any further!

How fissure sealants prevent tooth decay and cavities in children

How fissure sealants prevent tooth decay and cavities in children

TC Dental dentists can provide a range of dental treatments for your child, depending on what oral health issues they have. But we also offer treatment options that can prevent most of these issues from occurring in the first place. Fissure sealants are one such treatment. They can safeguard your child’s teeth, and help keep them strong and healthy.

What are fissure sealants?

Fissure sealants (or dental sealants) are an acrylic coating that is applied to the natural fissures and pits on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.

How do fissure sealants work?

Fissures, grooves and pits are hot spots for the accumulation of food residue that may be hard to reach with a tooth brush – especially if they are deep and narrow. When food residue accumulates in these areas, plaque and bacteria can form and can cause tooth decay and cavities.

Fissure sealants fill in fissures, and form a hard, smooth protective shield over them. This prevents food and bacteria from penetrating into these areas.

Fissure sealant treatment

A fissure sealant treatment is a fairly straight forward dental procedure that requires minimal prep.

First, the tooth or teeth are thoroughly cleaned to remove any plaque and bacteria. They are then coated with a special gel solution that is allowed to dry, after which the acrylic sealant is applied, and cured with a UV light that activates and hardens the sealant. The whole process usually takes a few minutes per tooth.

Do fissure sealants last a long time?

Yes, they do – several years in fact. However, depending on what or how your child eats and chews, fissure sealants may wear out over time, in which case, your dentist may need to re-apply more and check for any signs of decay. When you take your child in for their regular dental visit, your dentist will check for any changes.

When is the right age for children to receive fissure sealants?

Fissure sealants are usually applied to children’s teeth when they are between the ages of 6 and 14 years old. But the rule of thumb, since all children develop differently, is to get your dentist to apply fissure sealants as soon as any of your child’s permanent back teeth emerge.

If you feel that your child would benefit from fissure sealants, consult with our dentists or hygienists during your child’s next visit. They will be able to identify which of your child’s teeth are suitable for treatment, as well as the right time to have them sealed.

TC Dental dentists can provide a range of dental treatments for your child, depending on what oral health issues they have. But we also offer treatment options that can prevent most of these issues from occurring in the first place. Fissure sealants are one such treatment. They can safeguard your child’s teeth, and help keep them strong and healthy.

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What are fissure sealants?

Fissure sealants (or dental sealants) are an acrylic coating that is applied to the natural fissures and pits on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth.

How do fissure sealants work?

Fissures, grooves and pits are hot spots for the accumulation of food residue that may be hard to reach with a tooth brush – especially if they are deep and narrow. When food residue accumulates in these areas, plaque and bacteria can form and can cause tooth decay and cavities.

Fissure sealants fill in fissures, and form a hard, smooth protective shield over them. This prevents food and bacteria from penetrating into these areas.

Fissure sealant treatment

A fissure sealant treatment is a fairly straight forward dental procedure that requires minimal prep.

First, the tooth or teeth are thoroughly cleaned to remove any plaque and bacteria. They are then coated with a special gel solution that is allowed to dry, after which the acrylic sealant is applied, and cured with a UV light that activates and hardens the sealant. The whole process usually takes a few minutes per tooth.

Do fissure sealants last a long time?

Yes, they do – several years in fact. However, depending on what or how your child eats and chews, fissure sealants may wear out over time, in which case, your dentist may need to re-apply more and check for any signs of decay. When you take your child in for their regular dental visit, your dentist will check for any changes.

When is the right age for children to receive fissure sealants?

Fissure sealants are usually applied to children’s teeth when they are between the ages of 6 and 14 years old. But the rule of thumb, since all children develop differently, is to get your dentist to apply fissure sealants as soon as any of your child’s permanent back teeth emerge.

If you feel that your child would benefit from fissure sealants, consult with our dentists or hygienists during your child’s next visit. They will be able to identify which of your child’s teeth are suitable for treatment, as well as the right time to have them sealed.

Finding the best dental insurance cover

Finding the best dental insurance cover

With so many dental insurance options available, making an informed decision about what insurance cover is best for you and your family can be a daunting task. For starters, you can’t just get dental cover as a stand-alone product, since it is usually one of many coverage options that you can select from a private health insurance plan.

There are basically two types of dental cover to choose from:

  • General dental includes basic dental services, such as oral examinations, clean and scale, fluoride treatments, minor fillings, oral X-rays and sports mouthguards.

  • Major dental includes more significant dental procedures, such as crowns, bridges, dentures, tooth extractions and complex fillings.

Depending on the dental health insurance provider and policy, you may also be able to get additional cover for root canal treatment, dental implants and braces – though cover varies between providers. Additional coverage options are also called “extras”.

The only type of dental work not covered by health funds is that which is not a medically necessity. This includes cosmetic procedures, such as teeth whitening and cosmetic veneers.

Which type of dental cover is right for you?

General dental cover is usually suitable if you are a young adult (singles or couples) in good oral health. If your teeth are healthy, it isn’t really necessary to opt for an expensive plan that covers serious oral health complications. As long as you practice proper oral health care and hygiene, and make full use of the preventative dental benefits offered by your health fund, you should carry a low risk for more serious dental issues.

Major dental cover may be more suitable if you are an older adult or have a family. If you are think that you or your family may require dentures, braces or other expensive dental procedures in the future, it may be best in the long run to consider major dental cover.

Age aside, you should also consider your own unique oral health needs and circumstances. Even young adults may have serious oral health issues, whereas some seniors have had a lifetime of excellent oral health. Your budget and schedule should also be factors to consider.

Finding the best dental health plan on offer

There are a lot of health fund providers out there, and the idea of trawling through countless websites looking for the best deal can be a real chore. However, you may be missing out on the great benefits and special offers available out there, if you simply opt for the most popular health fund around. That’s where comparison websites can useful, saving you time and money.

You simply fill in an online form with your insurance preferences, and let the comparison website’s search engine do the rest. Some common insurance comparison websites include choosi, iSelect, finder and Compare the market.

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We are preferred providers

Here at TC Dental Group, we welcome members of all major private health funds. In the Upper Mt. Gravatt, we are the only Medibank preferred provider in the area. We are also preferred providers for Bupa, HCF and CBHS. Our role as preferred providers means that you will get the most out of your level of cover from these health funds.

We also have a HICAPS® facility so you can make on-the-spot claims. For more information, call our friendly team on 3349 9334 (Upper Mt. Gravatt) or 3848 1574 (Annerley). You can also read more about payment and insurance options on our “Insurance/fees” page by clicking this link: https://tcdentalgroup.com.au/insurance-fees/

The many benefits of dental crowns

The many benefits of dental crowns

Dental crowns are a dental prosthetic restoration that fits over a heavily damaged tooth or dental implant. Once the crown is permanently bonded into place, it effectively becomes that tooth’s new outer surface, and restores its function and appearance. You can eat and drink normally, and you clean crowns in the same way as you would brush and floss your other natural teeth.

How do dental crowns work?

A crown is basically a prosthetic tooth that is usually made from porcelain or gold and metal alloys. The underside of a crown has an exact negative impression of the prepared natural tooth structure, so when placed, it fits perfectly onto the tooth, and can be bonded seamlessly – to prevent oral bacteria from entering between the crown and tooth. In the event of a dental implant, the crown is specially designed to fit and be secured onto the implant.

The benefits and advantages of crowns

Dental crowns are a beneficial solution for a range of tooth health issues. Your dentist may recommend a dental crown for the following reasons:

  • Restore and strengthen teeth heavily damaged by major tooth decay and cavities
  • Replace large fillings because of a lack of remaining natural, supportive tooth structure
  • Renew tooth grinding surfaces that have worn away or eroded
  • Protect teeth from further decay, erosion or damage
  • Restore teeth that have undergone root canal treatment
  • Secure and support cracked, fractured or broken teeth
  • Prevent weak teeth from cracking or fracturing
  • Cap a dental implant
  • Attach a dental bridge
  • Make cosmetic improvements to your teeth’s shape, size and colour

Crowns custom-made on-site

At TC Dental Group, we have a special-partner dental ceramist on-site right next to our clinic – for faster and more efficient service. Oral Ceramics is renowned for their skill, quality and reliability in producing crowns using only the highest quality materials. Together, we aim to provide our patients with strong, functional and aesthetic crown restorations that will last for many years.

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If you would like to find out more information regarding crowns, or to book a consultation, please call us on 3349 9334 (Mt.Gravatt), or 3848 1574 (Annerley).

The worst foods and drinks for tooth sensitivity

The worst foods and drinks for tooth sensitivity

The most prevalent factors that contribute to tooth sensitivity are the foods we eat, and the beverages we drink. There are two main effects that food and beverages have on tooth sensitivity:

  1. Foods (and drinks) that are hot, cold, sweet and/or sour can trigger a brief episode of sharp pain because of their temperature and chemical properties.
  2. Consuming refined carbohydrates that are high in sugar and starch, as well as sweetened beverages, can lead to plaque formation, tooth decay and dental erosion – all of which expose tooth roots and pulp, and increase the potential for tooth sensitivity.

In other words, there are foods that trigger tooth sensitivity, and foods that cause it.

But beware, there are also foods that pack a double whammy – foods (and drinks) that cause tooth decay and/or erosion, while triggering and increasing tooth sensitivity episodes at the same time.

By recognising and understanding how to regulate your consumption of these hot/ cold/sweet/ sour combination foods, you can actively keep your oral PH neutral – and avoid subjecting your tooth enamel to destructive high acid PH levels for sustained periods of time.

If you have tooth sensitivity, try to avoid the following foods and beverages to help minimise and prevent the causes and symptoms of tooth sensitivity:

  • Soft drinks (including alcohol and artificially sweetened sports and diet soft drinks).
  • Hot sweet coffee.
  • Hard or chewy candy (especially citrus varieties with granulated sugar)
  • Ice cream and gelato.
  • Citrus fruit (incl. lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges and grapes)
  • Processed fruit juices (incl. orange and cranberry)
  • Tomatoes
  • Icy frozen drinks or slushies

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It should be noted that natural acidic foods have numerous health benefits for our general health and well-being that you shouldn’t miss out on.

To continue enjoying these foods, brush your teeth with desensitising toothpaste to strengthen your tooth enamel, and protect your teeth from tooth sensitivity. If your tooth sensitivity problems persist or intensify, seek professional advice from your dentist.

What are the treatment options for periodontal (gum) disease?

What are the treatment options for periodontal (gum) disease?

Periodontal disease is all too common in Australia, and chances are, you may have some form of the disease if you are aged over 45. Once you have it, it’s unlikely that you’ll be cured completely, since it is a chronic condition much like diabetes. But with ongoing periodontal maintenance, you can control the condition and prevent a recurrence of its more severe form.

One of the main treatment goals when dealing with gum disease is to control the bacterial infection as soon as possible, and prevent any further damage to your teeth, gums and bone.

There are a number of treatment methods used to treat different stages of the disease.

In its earlier stages, all that may be required is a deep clean, but as plaque, tartar and bacteria penetrate deep below the gum line, more complicated treatment methods may be required. Additionally, keeping up good oral care and hygiene at home is vitally important to prevent plaque and tartar from building up again, and to improve dental treatment outcomes.

The main treatment options for periodontal disease:

  • Deep cleaning is a professional dental clean of tooth surfaces that may include fluoride and polish treatments.
  • Scaling is a method where dental tools are used to scrap off and halt the progression of tartar (hardened plaque) above and below the gum line.
  • Root planing is a deeper cleaning procedure used to remove plaque and tartar from periodontal pockets below the gum line. This method smooths out rough tooth root surfaces, which allows gum tissue to heal and reattach firmly to tooth surfaces, and prevent redevelopment of plaque and tartar.
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  • Antibiotics and medication may be required to treat bacterial infection that has not responded to deep cleaning and oral hygiene treatment.
  • Gingival flap surgery is required if tartar and bacteria are located near the root of the affected tooth. The gums are surgically separated and folded back temporarily from the teeth to allow a dentist to remove plaque and tartar, treat bacteria and repair damage due to gum disease. Then the gum “flap” is repositioned, so that the gum can heal and reattach to your tooth.
  • Bone and gum tissue grafts can be used during flap surgery to promote bone regeneration and replace recessed gum tissue.
  • Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that are used to replace teeth lost to periodontal disease. Once implanted in the jaw, a crown is attached and the damaged tooth is restored to its normal function and appearance.
  • Reassessment and periodontal maintenance care are used to monitor a patient’s periodontal health, and help prevent periodontal disease from reoccurring in patients who have undergone periodontal or dental implant treatment.

Removing amalgam fillings

Removing amalgam fillings

Dental amalgam is a cost effective and popular filling material that has been used in dentistry for over a hundred years. Amalgam is an alloy made up of silver, tin, mercury, zinc and copper. When the mixture has set, these metals bond permanently and harden. Amalgam has been clinically proven to be bio-safe despite ongoing concerns about the release of mercury into the body.

The main advantages of amalgam fillings are durability, resistance and strength. They may not look that attractive but on the upside, amalgam fillings can last well over 10 years and can withstand strong chewing and grinding forces, especially on your back teeth.

Amalgam is also very effective for large cavities below the gum line. While the alloy is pliable, it can be pushed and compacted deep into the prepared cavity.

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Should amalgam fillings be replaced or removed?

There is no conclusive clinical evidence that amalgam fillings can cause health problems unless you have specific metal allergies. In that case, you wouldn’t have been recommended an amalgam filling treatment in the first place.

If there isn’t a good reason to remove a sound amalgam filling, then removal is not usually recommended. Removing good amalgams is a safe procedure but trace amounts of mercury may be released, and the healthy parts of your tooth may be affected unnecessarily in the process. The preparation and restoration process alone may remove and weaken your existing tooth structure more than simply leaving the existing filling undisturbed.

However, there are situations were removing or replacing amalgam fillings is still preferred or even necessary.

Reasons for removal or replacement include:

  • Appearance. Amalgams have a silver colour that doesn’t match the natural shade of your teeth. When you open your mouth too wide as you speak or laugh, these fillings are very visible. This can be a big issue for a lot of people. Solution? Have your amalgams removed and replaced with composite resin fillings which can be colour-matched perfectly to your surrounding teeth. They are just as strong but may need to be replaced after five years. If you prefer to keep your amalgam filling, you can also elect to have a dental onlay applied to mask it.
  • Worn or broken amalgam fillings. Amalgams may be long lasting but they can wear out and break. And as with any type of filling, bacteria and decay may develop beneath a filling. Your dentist should spot any potential problems early at your regular check up, and give you advice concerning the best time to replace or restore your amalgams.

If you are concerned about your amalgams, or would like more information about getting your amalgams removed or restored, call our friendly staff to book a consultation on (07) 3349 9334.

Playing it safe with a custom mouthguard

Playing it safe with a custom mouthguard

Can you imagine your front tooth getting knocked out while playing your favourite sport? How about experiencing a fractured jaw or concussion?

Sports-related oral injuries and trauma are among the most common experienced by athletes – young and old, and of any ability. In Australia, thousands of adults and children are treated for emergency oral injury and trauma each year.

Participation in a number of sports or physical activities may increase the risk of oral injury, including the following:

  • Contact sports – rugby, touch football, hockey, volleyball, polo, soccer, basketball, netball, boxing, martial arts, wrestling, weightlifting, basketball, baseball and cricket.
  • Non-contact sports – gymnastics, acrobatics, track & field, cycling, skiing and squash.
  • Recreational activities – climbing, mountain biking, skateboarding, roller-blading, horse riding, sky diving and surfing.

Essentially, any sport or activity with the possibility of contact with another player or a hard surface carries a higher risk of oral injury. The damage occurs when your mouth or chin area sustains a strong blow or impact during a game or even at training.

Wearing the right mouthguard – when playing contact sports or undertaking risky recreational activities – is important if you want to prevent serious oral injury to your teeth, jaw, mouth, lips, tongue and inner cheeks.

How do mouthguards work?

Mouthguards are worn to provide protection for both the hard oral tissue (teeth and jaw bone) and soft oral tissue (lips, tongue, cheeks and gums). Mouthguards help to absorb, spread and dissipate the impact forces of a blow or direct hit to the mouth and chin area. They also help stabilise the head and neck at the same time.

Some other benefits from wearing a protective mouthguard include the following:

  • Helps prevents concussion. Concussions occur when the lower jaw hinge impacts forcefully up into the base of the skull. Mouthguards act as “shock absorbers” and can cushion blows to the chin.
  • Prevents contact between your upper and lower teeth and jaws.
  • Saves on dental costs. By preventing oral injury, your investment in a mouthguard can save you thousands of dollars in emergency and restorative dental treatment costs.
  • More confidence during the game. The psychological benefits of full-mouth protection can help players who are overcautious or hesitant during a game.
  • Protects or minimises damage to existing dental work (crowns, bridges) or fixtures (braces).

 
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Choosing the right mouthguard

You have a choice of custom-made mouthguards from your dentist or over-the-counter “boil and bite” mouthguards, when it comes to buying a mouthguard. But not all mouthguards are created equal.

According to research by the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), the level of protection provided by a mouthguard bought from a sporting goods store or chemist was no match for a custom properly-fitted mouthguard made by a dentist.

The results of their study in 2014 showed that football players who wore over-the-counter mouthguards suffered more than twice the number of concussions compared to players wearing custom-made ones.

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) also recommends the use of a custom-made mouthguard for all Australians participating in sports and activities that carry a high risk of oral injury.

TC Dental custom-made mouthguards

At TC Dental, we take the job of making your custom-made mouthguard very seriously. We ensure that each of our patients has a personal mouthguard that provides the highest degree of fit, protection and comfort.

When you come in to have your mouthguard made up, we take a dental impression of your teeth for starters. From this impression, a precise cast is made, which our on-site dental laboratory technician uses to design and create your own uniquely-fitted mouthguard. Your TC dentist also provides you with care advice and follow-up mouthguard assessments at your regular check-ups.

If you want to protect the teeth of you and your family with a custom-fitted mouthguard, call our friendly team at TC Dental on (07) 3349 9334 to schedule an appointment. We’ll have you playing safer in time for your next game.