It is important to keep your teeth protected during physical activity because that is the most likely time they will suffer damage. Your teeth aren’t just there for your smile—a complete set of chompers is necessary to bite, chew, and speak!
April is National Facial Protection Month. The American Dental Association is teaming up with the American Association of Orthodontists, the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry to spread awareness about the importance of using a mouthguard for dental protection in sports and other outdoor activities.
Sports Where Mouth and Facial Injuries are Most Likely
There are a few sports where players commonly wear mouthguards. This important tooth protection should be worn even during practice sessions with these intense physical activities:
- Boxing. Because participants will hit each other in their faces extensively, wearing a mouth guard is absolutely essential. In fact, boxing is the only professional sport requiring mouthguards.
- Football. Players wear helmets that provide a firm layer of facial protection. As an added precautionary measure, they are also required to wear mouth guards under the grills of their helmets, preventing the possibility of painful and inconvenient tooth injuries.
- Martial arts. Mouth protection is necessary in the sparring ring. In Olympic sparring, the head is an area where a blow will score a point, making the face and mouth vulnerable to accidental injury.
The National Federation of State High School Associations and the National Collegiate Athletic Association also require mouthguards in ice hockey, field hockey and lacrosse. Those sticks pose a real danger to the teeth!
While these are some sports where athletes commonly wear mouthguards, dentists recommend a mouthguard for any contact sport or activity that could lead to mouth injury. That includes everything from soccer and basketball to biking, skateboarding and surfing.
Parents and coaches are responsible for setting an important teeth-saving tone: mouthguards should be non-negotiable in any contact or high-velocity activity, whether it’s competitive or just for fun. Athletes who wear mouthguards are between 82% and 93% less likely to experience dental injuries like crown fractures and complete tooth displacement.
A mouthguard must fit properly to effectively reduce the risk of dental injuries. Sporting goods stores sell semi-fitted mouth guards that you boil and bite to conform to the shape of your teeth, but an even better idea is to visit your dentist to get a custom guard made specifically for your mouth. Keeping your bite pristine is an important part of any athletic activity.
Perhaps you were the kid that wanted to see the rat skull in your friend’s backyard because you wanted to look at its teeth. Maybe you are the type of person now that analyzes dental problems when someone you meet first smiles. Some people are just meant to be dentists!
There are many different areas of specialization to explore beyond general dentistry. No matter what your specific fascinations, there’s a particular path of education that can be tailored to fit. The American Dental Association recognizes twelve unique specialties, each of which requires an advanced expertise:
Professionals in this field manage patients’ pain, anxiety, and overall health through dental diagnoses and procedures.
Dental Public Health
Dentists in this field work to prevent dental diseases within a community and control any diseases that arise, as well as promote public awareness of the need for oral health care.
This specialty focuses on the condition of the human dental pulp (the inside part of the tooth) and tissues. Dentists study the biology of the pulp and how to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases there.
Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
These dentists research and treat conditions, diseases, defects and injuries causing and/or contributing to functional and aesthetic problems in the mouth, teeth, jaws and face.
Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
These specialists interpret radiology scans to diagnose diseases or show the general condition of the mouth, teeth, jaws and face.
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
Dentists with this advanced degree have specific expertise in corrective surgery for problems with the tissues in the oral and maxillofacial regions.
Specialists in this area focus on oral healthcare for medically complex patients, along with diagnosing and managing medically related conditions affecting the mouth, teeth, jaws and face.
Orofacial pain specialists diagnose, manage and treat pain disorders affecting the jaw, mouth, face, head and neck.
Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics
These specialists correct the improper placement of the teeth with braces and other therapies.
Dentists in this specialty work with infants and children to provide preventative and therapeutic dental services.
This specialty includes the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of problems with the tissue surrounding the teeth.
Prosthodontists provide solutions and comfort for people suffering from deficient or missing teeth.
The first step for any of these dental specialties is to get a degree in general dentistry, or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. If any of these specialized fields seem particularly interesting, then you might want to consider continuing your education with advanced degrees or getting the proper certifications to do what you love in the field of oral health.
Curious about becoming a dentist? Take a look at Roseman University’s College of Dental Medicine.
Keeping up with your oral health is a daily task. It may be tempting not to take the time for regular dental maintenance, whether at home or at the dentist’s office. However, like so much in life, slacking on dental hygiene doesn’t pay.
Routine Home Cleanings
Brush or floss after every meal, or at least twice a day, to ensure the health of your teeth and gums, you should brush and floss after each meal. Flossing removes bits of food that toothbrushes may not be able to reach. If these pieces of food aren’t removed, they provide nourishment for bacteria, which excrete acid that destroys tooth enamel and causes cavities.
Flossing and brushing also gets rid of plaque, a sticky substance that can cause gum disease, tooth discoloration, and even tooth decay. Plaque that isn’t removed can harden into tartar, which can then lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease. Fortunately, most of these problems can be prevented with a simple routine of brushing and flossing regularly.
Regular Dental Checkups
Almost half of Americans put off regular dental care or previously planned treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we enter a new stage of the pandemic, made more manageable with vaccines and boosters readily available, it’s time to re-book those postponed check-ups and procedures.
In addition to good dental hygiene at home, make sure to visit the dentist twice a year, or about every six months. The dentist will check for cavities and treat them before they become serious. He or she will also scrape away tartar and plaque buildup, and can treat gingivitis before it becomes full-blown gum disease. Visiting the dentist regularly is crucial to maintaining a beautiful smile for years to come.
Aside from the medical benefits of regular dental care, there are financial reasons to keep at it as well. Many insurance plans will pay for most or all of the price of regular dental appointments, but may cover less of the cost for more expensive procedures. For instance, while most patients with insurance pay around 20 percent of their exam fee and the price of getting a cavity filled, they could pay 50 percent of the cost of root canals, crowns or bridges. These procedures can sometimes be avoided with preventive care that finds the problem early and provides treatment. By structuring their payment schedules this way, insurance companies financially incentivize their patients to prevent dental problems rather than repair them after they become more serious. Take advantage of this structure by getting regular cleanings and check-ups.
As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Apply this maxim to your oral health, and save yourself pain and money. If it’s been awhile, make an appointment with Roseman Dental and set yourself up for better dental health.
If you are the parent of a baby or toddler and your family has successfully made it through the dreaded teething stage, you may be wondering what the next step is in terms of your child’s oral hygiene and care. Dental professionals agree that the sooner a child can see a dentist, the better. This is particularly true when it comes to preventing dental health issues. Periodontal disease and many other dental problems that commonly affect children are more likely to occur in children who do not receive regular dental care and evaluations.
If you’re thinking it’s not that big of a deal because your child will lose those baby teeth anyway, keep in mind that these issues can lead to a broad range of more significant problems down the line, including nutritional problems from trouble eating and drinking, and problems with speech development and self-esteem.
When to Schedule Your Child’s First Dental Visit
According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), infants and toddlers should have an oral evaluation performed within six months of the appearance of his or her first tooth. Because there’s so much variability among children as to when that first tooth erupts, AAPD recommends visiting a dentist for an evaluation before the child’s first birthday even if that first tooth has yet to appear.
Oral Health at Home
While seeing a dentist early on improves your child’s chances of optimal oral health, there are several other things you can do in the comfort of your own home. AAPD recommends avoiding putting children to sleep with a bottle of milk or juice, and not allowing them to sip on a bottle with those things in it throughout the day either. Both actions increase your child’s chance of tooth decay. If your child has trouble falling asleep without a bottle, make sure it contains only water, and try to take it away entirely before your child hits the one-year mark.
Another tip is to gently wipe their gums and teeth with a soft washcloth to remove bacteria, and to start doing this early on so they get used to it. There are also infant “brushes” that go on the finger.
When it comes to your child’s oral health, prevention is paramount. Taking the aforementioned tips and seeing a dentist early on are the best ways to set your child up for healthy teeth and gums. Roseman Dental offers care for even the youngest members of your family.
For many people, a trip to the dentist is not at the top of their list of favorite things to do. However, most can get through a checkup with relatively low levels of fear or anxiety. For those who have a dental phobia, even thinking about going to the dentist is enough to cause panic. If you are someone who avoids dental offices due to your inability to deal with the sounds, feelings and overall experiences you associate with an oral cleaning or other dental care, then you could be exposing yourself to negative health consequences caused by inadequate oral health.
Pinpoint your fear, and use these tips to manage it:
Fear of the Unknown
If showing up at the dentist and not having a clue what you are about to undergo sends you into a tailspin, then you may benefit from having a full explanation of all procedures prior to your visit. Make sure that your doctor understands your concerns and is willing to discuss your appointment in advance, whether in person, over the phone, or via video call.
Fear of the Dentist
For some people, the dentist himself is an ominous presence that causes fear. A dentist who only comes into the room for a few moments to inflict pain, all while wearing a mask, can be worrisome. If possible, find a professional who can help you break down the doctor-patient barrier by speaking with you, sitting at eye level, and taking other steps to lessen the tension in the room.
Fear of the Equipment
The tray of equipment next to your chair can look like a line-up of torture devices. The equipment can be loud, sharp and terrifying, but if you take the time to hold and inspect each item, you may find that they are not that scary after all. Talk to your dentist about doing this if it’s the instruments that frighten you.
Fear of Feeling Out of Control
Lying back in the examination chair and letting other people look into the mouth can make some patients feel out of control of their situation. If this is the case for you, ask your doctor if you can be leaned back partially or even assist with the process by holding a tool.
The dentist does not have to be a stress-inducing experience if you are willing to work towards feeling more comfortable in the chair.
Providers at Roseman Dental are committed to providing compassionate care to all patients. They’ll talk through your questions and concerns with patience, understanding, and expertise. Make an appointment today and send your fears down the drain (right along with your plaque, and any other mouth germs).