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.

How electric toothbrushes can improve your oral health

How electric toothbrushes can improve your oral health

Manual toothbrushes have served us well as an effective tool to maintain and improve our oral health for centuries. They are inexpensive, easy to buy and portable which means you can brush your teeth anytime and anywhere. When a suitable manual toothbrush is used correctly in a regular oral care routine – for a full two minutes each time, twice a day – you can easily achieve your oral health goals.

But that’s easier said than done nowadays. Why? A lot of us – young and old – are in a hurry to get things done.

Our busy modern lifestyles have made it increasingly difficult to perform a thorough brushing session. We just squeeze the toothpaste on to our cheap toothbrush, and perform a quick once-over and rinse, before heading out.

Over time, being negligent about your oral health in this way, only leads to oral health problems – unless you start using an electric toothbrush.

Consider these facts. The average number of strokes per minute when you use a manual toothbrush is about 200 repetitions. The latest electric toothbrushes can brush at up to 30,000 strokes per minute. If you only had a minute to brush your teeth, which brush would you choose? The one that brushes 30,000 or 200 times a minute? It’s a no-brainer.

Speaking of no-brainers, when you use an electric toothbrush, it’s been described as “brainless brushing”. That’s because all you have to do is move your electric from tooth to tooth. If you lose track of time, most electrics have a timer function that lets you know when your two minutes is up.
But that’s not all.

Concerned that the whirring “plaque-busting” bristles will carve out your gums? No worries. Modern electrics are very gentle, and even have pressure indicators that let you know the moment you brush too hard – thus avoiding potential damage to your tooth enamel and gums. They also have different head movement modes, such as ultrasonic, side-to-side, and circular to effectively remove plaque.

The very latest electric toothbrushes can even upload “brush-time and brush-stroke” data to your dentist via Wi-Fi! This allows your dentist to keep a record of your brushing habits. These records can assist them to conduct a more informed dental examination and assessment at your next check-up.

Electric toothbrushes are here to stay. They offer a number of advantages over manual toothbrushes. In short, they do all the work for you. Older adults with worsening fine motor skills and dexterity issues may find it easier to use an electric toothbrush. People with disabilities and kids wearing braces can benefit as well. Some electrics even teach kids how to brush.

TC-dental-group-Electric-brush-choice

The biggest drawback for many people when it comes to electric toothbrushes is paying the extra money – they can cost up to $300. There are also the replacement heads to buy. However, when you start to consider electrics as a long-term investment in your oral health, you’ll realise that they help prevent oral health issues that can be far more expensive to treat.

Consult with your dentist if you are still uncertain about your electric toothbrush options. They can offer you the right advice, recommend the type of electric toothbrush that best fits your oral health needs – and show you how to use it to achieve a super clean and healthy smile!

Keep your teeth healthier this winter – with a little ray of sunshine!

Keep your teeth healthier this winter – with a little ray of sunshine!

Winter has long been associated with catching the flu, stuffy noses and staying indoors. Trouble is, when you don’t get enough sun exposure, you run the risk of experiencing a vitamin D deficiency – which increases your risk of cavities, especially by late winter and early spring.

Your bare skin is designed to produce the correct amount of vitamin D that you need – when it is exposed to the right amount of sunlight.

But in winter we tend to cover up and stay indoors. By late winter, your body may experience lower levels of vitamin D, which makes your body more vulnerable to a range of health problems, including tooth cavities.

Why does a vitamin D deficiency cause tooth cavities?

Receptors throughout your body absorb vitamin D, which in turn promotes the absorption of calcium. Your body needs calcium because it is an essential component of strong teeth and bones.

When your teeth do not get enough calcium, your tooth enamel weakens, making them more prone to tooth cavities.

How do my teeth absorb vitamin D and calcium?

Your teeth have vitamin D receptors that are located within the cells responsible for forming tooth enamel and dentin.

The vitamin D, absorbed by these receptors, makes calcium and phosphate available to the cells. The cells go on to convert these two minerals into enamel and dentine. This remineralisation process improves the strength of your teeth, and prevents demineralisation from plaque acid.

The benefits don’t stop there.

When vitamin D is absorbed by the receptors in your teeth, “good” anti-microbial proteins are produced also. These proteins fight off the cariogenic oral bacteria that are responsible for creating tooth cavities.

What is the right amount of sun exposure to beat a vitamin D deficiency?

During winter, light skinned Australians should expose their bare skin (about two arms worth) to sunlight for between 10 – 30 min per day for their vitamin D needs. If you have dark skin, you’ll need between 20 min – 3 hrs per day. These times vary depending on your skin type and location in Australia.

Since it is winter and overall UV levels are low, the recommended time of the day is between 10 am to 2pm. Sunscreen should be avoided since it prevents the skin from producing vitamin D.

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Foods that boost your vitamin D levels

If you don’t have many opportunities to bask in the winter sun, try eating more mushrooms, eggs, oily fish (including salmon, mackerel and tuna), cheese and fortified grains for a vitamin D boost.
Vitamin D supplementation is also an option; though consult your doctor first for more advice.

References

  1. Youssef, D., C. Miller, A. El-Abbassi, D. Cutchins, C. Cutchins, W. Grant, and A. Peiris. “Antimicrobial Implications of Vitamin D.” Dermatoendocrinology 3.4 (2011): 220-29
  2. Grant, W.B. “A Review of the Role of Solar Ultraviolet-B Irradiance and Vitamin D in Reducing Risk of Dental Caries”. Dermatoendocrinology 3.3 (2011): 193-98.
  3. Hujoel, P. “Vitamin D and dental caries in controlled clinical trials: systematic review and meta-analysis.” Nutrition Reviews 71.2 (2013): 88-97.
  4. Australian Vitamin D Sunshine Map, Page 2, Vitamin D Consumer guide. Link: https://www.osteoporosis.org.au/sites/default/files/files/oa_consumer_vitd_ed3_09-16.pdf

The transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mother to child

The transmission of cavity-causing bacteria from mother to child

Most parents should already be aware of the main oral health strategies that help promote and maintain good oral health in children.

They include the following:

  • establishing good oral care and hygiene habits at an early age, such as brushing their teeth with fluoride toothpaste
  • setting up a trusted dental home for your child by 12 months of age, where they can feel safe, familiar and comfortable with their dentist, treatment and dental environment.
  • ensuring your child follows a dentist-approved diet that does not contribute to tooth decay.
  • regular dental check-ups and cleans every six months.

But there is one other recommendation that most parents and caregivers (about 90%) aren’t aware of – preventing the transmission of cariogenic (cavity-causing) bacteria.

In other words, if you have active tooth decay, you can pass the nasty oral bacteria associated with it, directly onto your child. And it’s important to keep in mind – baby teeth are very susceptible to decay while erupting because tooth enamel is still very soft at this stage.

Numerous clinical studies over the last 30 years have documented the link between the oral health conditions experienced by the primary caregivers and the risk factor for early childhood caries (ECC) in young children.

One study by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) in 2011 showed that high maternal levels of the mutans streptococci bacteria (MS) correlated with the early colonisation of their child’s oral cavity by the bacteria. The results of the study also showed that the same strains of MS were present in both mother and child.

Choice dental Browns plains dentist Baby kiss

The transfer of bacteria from mothers (and fathers) to their young child occurs mainly through salivary contact. There are a number of ways for this to happen while giving care and socially interacting with the child:

  • kissing an infant’s lips, or “nibbling” on their fingers and toes
  • unhygienic physical contact
  • sharing eating and drinking utensils, including cups and spoons
  • pre-chewing food for infants
  • blowing on a baby’s food to cool it down – just wait a bit!
  • sharing the consumption of the same food item
  • sharing toothbrushes
  • toothbrush to toothbrush contact – when in storage
  • cleaning pacifiers orally

It’s not just the parents who can introduce potentially cariogenic bacteria into their young child’s mouth – family members, daycare staff and other children may all play a part in transmission.

Although salivary contact between a parent and their child is pretty much unavoidable, there are ways to lessen its impact.

To help prevent or delay the initial transmission, colonisation and proliferation of cariogenic bacteria in infants, toddlers and young children – the AAPD researchers recommended the following steps:

  1. Ensure that caregivers and others in close physical contact with the child have good oral health and low levels of oral bacteria. Caregivers should make sure that they are free of active tooth decay, cavities and gum disease.
  2. Prevent or limit activities and interactions where there is a high risk of salivary sharing, transfer or contact – especially with a caregiver who has poor oral health or high levels of infectious oral bacteria.
  3. Chewing citrus-free xylitol chewing gum 2 or 3 times per day (by the caregiver) significantly reduces the oral bacterial transmission rate.
  4. Parents can improve their own dietary and oral care habits to help reduce the risk of bacterial transmission.

And for all those parents (and grandparents) who are habitual baby kissers, try kissing your baby’s belly button – just until you get the all clear from your dentist.

Healing tooth cavities naturally

Healing tooth cavities naturally

Tooth cavities mean a drillin’ and a fillin’!

But imagine no drills, no needles, no anaesthetic and no fillings – just a micro sponge soaked in a special solution which is inserted into the cavity.

Several weeks later the sponge has dissolved, the cavity is gone, and your tooth is fully restored and remineralised.

Imagine no more. Science fiction is now fact. Earlier this month, a team of researchers at King’s College London published research showing that they had discovered the impossible – natural tooth repair.

Granted, your teeth can already self repair – to a degree. In the event of trauma, decay or infection, the soft inner pulp of your tooth can become exposed, and prone to infection. In response, your body produces just enough dentine to seal the tooth pulp and protect it from infection – but not enough to repair the cavity.

But what the researchers at King’s College London discovered is a method that taps into this innate ability of the teeth to self repair with reparative dentine.

The researchers succeeded in further stimulating the renewal of living stem cells within the tooth pulp. This stimulation generated more dentine – a tooth mineral that forms the bulk of a tooth, beneath a protective layer of enamel.

To activate this response, the research team inserted biodegradable collagen sponges (Kolspon) into the cavities, in contact with the pulp. The sponges were soaked in a solution containing Tideglusib – a well-known, clinically-approved drug used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers discovered that small daily doses of Tideglusib stimulated the continuous natural formation of reparative dentine within the sponge over the 6 week test period.

Over time, the carrier sponge degraded, leaving behind a reparative dentine structure that filled the entire cavity site – eventually leading to a complete natural tooth restoration.

“The simplicity of our approach makes it ideal as a clinical dental product for the natural treatment of large cavities, by providing both pulp protection and restoring dentine,” commented lead author of the study, Professor Paul Sharpe.

“In addition, using a drug that has already been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease provides a real opportunity to get this dental treatment quickly into clinics.”

Source:
Neves, V. C. M. et al. Promotion of natural tooth repair by small molecule GSK3 antagonists. Sci. Rep. 7, 39654; doi: 10.1038/srep39654 (2017). Image and image description adapted and edited from original source image format – complies with fair use under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Diabetes and your oral health

Diabetes and your oral health

Diabetes and your oral health

World Diabetes Day will be celebrated this year on 14 November to help raise awareness of diabetes, and to help promote the importance of screening.

Presently, 1 in 2 people live with an undiagnosed diabetes condition. But with better participation in individual screening programs, it is possible to identify more people with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes, and even those with a higher risk of developing the disease in the future.

If you are diagnosed early, then receiving follow-up treatment can greatly reduce the risk of serious complications associated with Type 2 diabetes. There are a number of well known complications:

  • Neuropathy – nerve damage
  • Nephropathy – kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Retinopathy – eye damage
  • PAD – peripheral arterial disease

However, there is one overlooked complication of diabetes and untreated high blood glucose levels – diabetes can put your oral health at risk.

High blood glucose levels and the side effects of some medication for the disease can cause a dry mouth.

If you have a dry mouth condition, it may indicate a decrease in your mouth’s saliva production. Saliva is essential to clean your teeth and gums, and protect against the effects of oral bacteria.

A dry mouth condition can result in further oral health complications:

  • tooth decay
  • cavities/caries
  • gum inflammation
  • gingivitis
  • periodontitis (gum disease)
  • bleeding gums
  • salivary gland infections
  • oral thrush
  • mouth sores

TC Dental Group World Diabetes Day

If your blood glucose levels are uncontrolled or untreated, your white blood cell count is also affected. This can compromise your immune response to oral infections and inflammation, and increase your risk of developing severe periodontitis (periodontal/gum disease).

Diabetics with periodontitis experience double the rate of periodontal disease progression, and an increased risk of alveolar bone loss. Severe periodontitis can drive blood sugar levels even higher, putting diabetics at increased risk for other diabetic complications.

The good news is periodontitis responds well to dental treatment, such as antibiotics and regular dental cleaning, and maintenance of good oral hygiene practices. Research has shown that periodontal treatment of diabetics may result in an improvement in their diabetes condition also.

While dentists are not qualified to diagnose Type 2 diabetes, they are among the first health care professionals to recognise symptoms that are not usually associated with typical oral health conditions.

But the incidental detection of diabetes symptoms and complications by your dentist, doctor or any other health professional may occur when the disease has already progressed.

The key to prevention of diabetes is to take personal action.

As part of World Diabetes Day 2016, IDF (International Diabetes Federation) has introduced a new online screening activity. By participating, you can find out if you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes or diabetes complications over the next ten years.

Screen yourself and encourage your adult family and friends to take the online diabetes risk assessment questionnaire also. It’s easy, confidential and only takes a few minutes.

Test2Prevent for World Diabetes Day on 14 November.

Use this link: http://www.idf.org/type-2-diabetes-risk-assessment/

Oral health care for dementia patients

Oral health care for dementia patients

Oral health care for dementia patients

An aspect of everyday care for people with dementia, or an Alzheimer’s related condition, that is easily neglected is oral health and hygiene.

While a lot of dementia patients live in nursing homes in a supportive living community, the majority live at home, and are supported by a family caregiver (or care partner for early stage dementia).

There are many challenges that face Alzheimer’s caregivers. Managing their loved one’s health and well-being can be a daunting undertaking and an exhausting role. Caregivers are often uncertain about what tasks their loved ones are still able to perform.

dementia Alzheimer's patients and oral health

While promoting independence for as long as possible is a positive step, caregivers also need to know when to assist a patient in order to prevent injury and keep them safe.

One area of concern that may be overlooked, because the risk of injury may not be immediately apparent, is a patient’s oral health and hygiene.

When older adults with Alzheimer’s disease lose their ability to brush and floss their teeth effectively, they cannot maintain good oral health. As a result, their risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease increases significantly.*

Caregivers can assist a patient to brush and floss their teeth with a number of techniques:

  • Provide instructions using short, simple phrases.
  • Non-specific phrases such as “Brush your teeth” should be avoided.
  • Each part of the tooth brushing and flossing process can be broken down into step by step instructions – from “Put the toothpaste on the brush” to “Rinse your mouth with some water”.
  • Demonstrate how to brush teeth while the patient observes and repeats movements.
  • Hold the patient’s hand, and gently guide the brush over their teeth in the correct brushing motion.

Dementia patients should also be monitored as part of a daily dental care routine. If the patient is unable to describe symptoms of oral pain and discomfort, there are signs to look out for, such as the patient refusing to eat hard or cold foods, or making a pained expression when eating. Dental appliances including dentures should be removed, cleaned and checked.

Lastly, dental visits should be scheduled according to the patient’s needs. Dentists can also help caregivers with suggestions, advice and dental products that can assist in everyday brushing and flossing for patients.

*New research shows that dementia (or Alzheimer’s) patients with gum disease (periodontitis) experienced faster cognitive decline than those without it. The rate of decline can be up to six times faster than normal. Researchers discovered that gum inflammation and the effects of our immune response speeded up the development of dementia.

Can the Children Dental Benefits Schedule stage a comeback?

Can the Children Dental Benefits Schedule stage a comeback?

Last month, the Federal Government announced its intention to close the Child Dental Benefit Schedule (CDBS) on 30 June 2016. The Turnbull Administration indicated that it was to be replaced with the new Child and Adults Public Dental Scheme (CAPDS).

The Commonwealth Government’s Department of Health promptly followed suit with an online notice. In their original notice, the department confirmed that dental services provided (via the CDBS) would cease on the announced closure date. It also indicated that any dental services, provided after this date, would have to be paid for by the parent.

But not anymore.

On 9 May, the Department of Health updated their CDBS page. In the update, all information regarding the 30 June closure of the CDBS was removed.

New updated information states that the new dental legislation was not passed by Parliament, before the government went into caretaker mode. This means that the new CAPDS cannot possibly commence, nor can the CDBS close.

So the CDBS remains open for the 2016 calendar year, but for how long?

It all depends on the election. If the Turnbull Government resumes power then the CDBS is back on the chopping block. Then, it is only a matter of time before Parliament resumes and the new legislation is passed. After that, even with a grace period, the CDBS might only last until late July or early August at the latest.

But if the Labour Party gains power, then the CDBS will continue uninterrupted until the end of the 2016 calendar year (31 Dec, 2016). By this time, the CDBS 2017 program should be in place – to continue providing the early dental intervention that so many Australian children desperately need.

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) maintains that the CDBS is the best preventative dental program for Australian children. Without it, the dental health of our children, particularly from disadvantaged groups and those living in rural and remote areas, is in on the line.

Regardless of the election outcome, the ADA has started an online petition to save the CDBS. To support and sign this petition, please click the following link:  change.org