Athletic Mouth Protectors

Question: What are athletic mouth protectors & why are they important?

Answer: An athletic mouth guard is a resilient device or appliance placed inside the mouth (or inside and outside) to reduce mouth injuries, particularly to the teeth and surrounding structures. Athletic mouth guards are made of soft plastic that is adapted to fit comfortably to the shape of the upper teeth.

Mouth guards hold top priority as sports equipment. They protect not just the teeth, but the lips, cheeks, and tongue. They help protect children from such head and neck injuries as concussions and jaw fractures. Increasingly, organized sports are requiring mouth guards to prevent injury to their athletes. Research shows that most oral injuries occur when athletes are not wearing mouth protection.

Question: When should my child wear a mouth guard?

Answer: Insist that a mouth guard is worn whenever he or she is in an activity that has a risk of falls or head contact with other players or equipment. This includes football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, skateboarding, even gymnastics. We usually think of football and hockey as the most dangerous to the teeth, but nearly half of sports-related mouth injuries occur in basketball and baseball.

Question: How do I choose a mouth guard for my child?

Answer: Any mouth guard works better than no mouth guard. Choose a mouth guard that your child can wear comfortably. If a mouth guard feels bulky or interferes with speech, it will be left in the locker room. You can select from several options in mouth guards. First, preformed or “boil-to-fit” mouth guards are found in sports stores. Different types and brands vary in terms of comfort, protection and cost. Second, customized mouth guards are provided through your dentist. They cost a bit more, but are more comfortable and much more effective in preventing injuries. For images of the different types of mouth protectors, go to http://www.sportsdentistry.com/mouthguards.html.

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Bisphosphonates

Question: I’ve taken Fosamax for years. Why is my dentist concerned about this?

Answer: If you have used bisphosphonate medication, most commonly used brands include Fosamax, Actonel and Boniva, to prevent or treat osteoporosis (a thinning of the bones) or as part of cancer treatment therapy, you should advise your dentist. In rare cases, patients receiving IV administered bisphosphonates and in even rarer cases, patients taking oral bisphosphonates have developed osteonecrosis (pronounced OSS-tee-oh-ne-KRO-sis) of the jaw, a rare but very serious condition that involves severe loss, or destruction, of the jawbone.

Most cases of osteonecrosis of the jaw associated with bisphosphonates have been diagnosed after dental procedures such as tooth extraction, but the condition can also occur spontaneously and has been linked to denture sores. For additional information, please visit the American Dental Association website, “American Dental Association.”

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Bruxism

Question: Why is my dentist recommending a night guard?

Answer: Occlusal splint therapy is recommended to patients for a variety of reasons. The most common include bruxism (habitual clenching or grinding) and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) or neuromuscular pain. Some clinicians may recommend an occlusal splint as a protective devise such as following extensive restorative dental treatment. Bruxism has been present since the beginning of mankind. Bruxism may cause total destruction of the dentition if allowed to progress without patient education or preventive therapy. Dr. Gordon takes a proactive vs. reactive approach, choosing to educate patients as soon as abnormal wear patterns are evidenced on the teeth. Occlusal splint therapy allows patients to live a normal life, without significant tooth wear or other dental handicaps.

The type of splint recommended depends on the patient symptoms and habits. Occlusal splints accompanied by a soft diet helps many patients manage pain, and is usually considered the first treatment option because it is non-invasive. Other adjuncts to treatment may include prescription medications such as muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs, warm compresses and physical therapy.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a joint that slides and rotates just in front of your ear, consisting of the temporal bone (side of the skull) and the mandible (lower jaw). Chewing muscles connect the lower jaw to the skull, allowing you to move your jaw forward, sideways, open and close. Abnormalities in the function of the TMJ are usually diagnosed as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). Pain associated with the chewing muscles is called neuromuscular pain. Other symptoms may include headaches or ringing in the ears.

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Cancer

Question: I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Why would my oncologist recommend I see a dentist?

Answer: A diagnosis of cancer is a scary time in your life. However, staying as positive and proactive as possible will help to ensure that when chemotherapy or radiation treatment is completed, you can return to a normal life. Dental care is an important element of overall cancer treatment. Individuals who will undergo cancer treatment should schedule a dental exam and cleaning before cancer treatment begins and periodically during the course of treatment. Your dentist may recommend treatment or suggest that fluoride trays be fabricated for you. Chemotherapy may cause a dry mouth and vomiting, both of which put you at an increased risk for decay. Radiation in the head and neck area may cause permanent destruction to your salivary glands. Both chemotherapy and radiation can cause your bones to be brittle and delay healing so that if a dental emergency occurs, treatment may be more extensive or not possible. Be sure to provide the dentist and oncologist with each other’s name and telephone number for consultation. Maintain excellent oral hygiene to reduce the risk of infection.

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Crowns

Question: How much does a crown cost?

Answer: The price of your crown depends on the condition of your tooth and the materials used to make the crown. At Gordon Dentistry, we offer crowns made of noble and high-noble metals as well as all ceramic constructed. The word noble in metals means non-reactive, and high-noble means the highest nonreactive metal. The type of crowns we recommend are determined by your mouth, including your tooth and how you bite your teeth together. Because the price of gold has increased dramatically, crowns with metal components have also increased in price. At Gordon Dentistry, we work with skilled local laboratory technicians and quality products. Our prices reflect the quality of care we offer our patients. It is your right as a patient to understand the materials being placed inside your mouth. If you have questions, please ask your dentist.

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Dental Cleanings

Question: How often should I have my teeth cleaned?

Answer: Your dentist makes this determination based on several factors including your current state of oral hygiene, diet, and caries (decay) risk factor. Patients at higher risk of decay include those with xerostomia (dry mouth). Patients are placed into the continued care system according to their periodontal health, treatment plans and risk assessment. Generally, continuing care times are three, four, or occasionally six-month intervals. If your insurance plan does not cover more than two cleanings per year, consider that the price of preventive care is far less than crisis care. Your dentist will recommend what is best for you based on you, not your insurance company.

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X-Rays

Question: How do x-rays help?

Answer: Dental radiographs (x-rays) are very important. They allow your dentist to see things about your oral health that cannot be seen by the naked eye. These items include cysts (sacks of fluid that form on the roots of teeth), cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, decay that occurs between teeth, the location of teeth that haven’t grown all the way in, and generalized bone loss as a result of periodontal disease.

By using an x-ray to diagnose these problems, we can help save you money in the long run from surgeries or other treatments that might become necessary if we didn’t find the problem. In some cases, where dental x-rays show the location of tumorous growths, x-rays can be responsible for saving your life.

Question: Are dental x-rays safe?

Answer: Modern dental x-ray machines are very safe. We use only state-of-the-art, low radiation machines. The amount of radiation exposure your body receives on an airplane flight from Los Angeles to New York exceeds the amount of exposure you will receive from a modern dental x-ray machine. Contrast this minimal exposure with the risk of not finding an illness until it is too late, and you can see why we prescribe regular diagnostic x-rays. We use digital radiography at Gordon Dentistry, which generates 80 percent less radiation than traditional film.

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Healthy Mouth/Healthy Body

Question: Why do I keep hearing, “Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body?”

Answer: Now there are more reasons than ever to heed this advice. Taking good care of your teeth and gums isn’t just about preventing cavities or bad breath. The mouth is a window into the health of the body. It can show signs of nutritional deficiencies or general infection. Systemic diseases, those that affect the entire body such as diabetes, AIDS and Sjögren’s syndrome, may first become apparent because of mouth lesions or other oral problems. The mouth is filled with countless bacteria, some linked to tooth decay and periodontal (gum) disease. Accumulating scientific evidence suggests that periodontal, or gum disease may be associated with a number of systemic disorders such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, stroke and adverse pregnancy outcomes. Pregnant women may be at increased risk for delivering pre-term and/or low birth weight babies. It is important to note, however, that an association between these systemic conditions and periodontal disease does not mean that one condition causes the other.

*Taken from www.ADA.org

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Occlusal Splint Therapy

Question: Why is my dentist recommending a night guard?

Answer: Occlusal splint therapy is recommended to patients for a variety of reasons. The most common include bruxism (habitual clenching or grinding), temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain or malfunction, bad bites, and neuromuscular pain. Some clinicians may recommend an occlusal splint as a protective devise such as following extensive restorative dental treatment.

Bruxism has been present since the beginning of mankind. Bruxism may cause total destruction of the dentition if allowed to progress without patient education or preventive therapy. Dr. Gordon takes a proactive vs. reactive approach, choosing to educate patients as soon as abnormal wear patterns are evidenced on the teeth. Occlusal splint therapy allows patients to live a normal life, without significant tooth wear or other dental handicaps. The type of splint recommended depends on the patient symptoms and habits. Occlusal splints accompanied by a soft diet helps many patients manage pain, and is usually considered the first treatment option because it is non-invasive. Other adjuncts to treatment may include prescription medications such as muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs, warm compresses and physical therapy.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a joint that slides and rotates just in front of your ear, consisting of the temporal bone (side of the skull) and the mandible (lower jaw). Chewing muscles connect the lower jaw to the skull, allowing you to move your jaw forward, sideways, open and close. Abnormalities in the function of the TMJ are usually diagnosed as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). Pain associated with the chewing muscles is called neuromuscular pain. Other symptoms may include headaches or ringing in the ears.

Learn more about Occlusal Splint

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Pediatric Dentistry

Question: At what age should my child visit the dentist?

Answer: According to the American Dental Association and Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, you should bring your child to the dentist as soon as the first tooth erupts, and no later than their first birthday. This first visit allows you to meet your child’s dentist and discuss any concerns you may have regarding tooth development. This visit also gives your child the opportunity for a positive experience in the dental office. Sadly, many parents do not establish a relationship with a dentist until there is a problem, mistakenly thinking that a child’s primary dentition is not important.

If you have heard that your child does not need a first dental appointment until age three, understand that this is outdated information. Most of your child’s baby teeth will be fully erupted by their second birthday. Tooth decay is on the rise in pre-schools. By age three, your child may already have cavities known as early childhood caries (ECC). Another term for this is Baby Bottle Tooth Decay (BBTD). Well-visits to the dentist are important. Please be proactive for your child. Tooth decay is one of the few truly preventable diseases.

Question: Aren’t baby teeth just temporary?

Answer: Primary (baby) teeth help children chew and speak. They also hold space in the jaws for permanent (adult) teeth that are developing under the gums. Cavities and abscesses may harm permanent teeth, causing systemic symptoms such as fever and malaise. Tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease, five times more common than asthma, four times more common than early-childhood obesity, and twenty times more common than diabetes. In addition, untreated primary tooth decay may put your child at higher risk for decay to the first erupting permanent teeth. In fact, students miss more than 51 million school hours per year because of dental problems or related conditions.

Remember, the set of molars that erupt around age six are permanent teeth, not primary. For eruption patterns, click here for primary teeth and here for permanent teeth.

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Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common breathing disorder that can be very serious. In sleep apnea, your breathing stops or becomes very shallow for periods of 10 to 20 seconds or longer many times during the night. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. It is estimated that more than 12 million Americans have sleep apnea. The most common signs of sleep apnea are loud snoring and choking or gasping during sleep and being sleepy during the day. Treatment for sleep apnea is aimed at restoring regular nighttime breathing and relieving symptoms such as loud snoring and daytime sleepiness. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for sleep apnea. Some people with sleep apnea may benefit from surgery. Family members can help a person who snores loudly or stops breathing while sleeping by encouraging him or her to get medical help. Treatment for sleep apnea may improve a person’s overall health and well-being.

Question: Can my dentist help with sleep apnea?

Answer: Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) treats mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea in 3 ways:

1. By moving the tongue forward.

2. By moving the lower jaw forward.

3. By forward movement of both tongue and jaw.

Ask Dr. Gordon if you are a candidate for OAT. If so, an appliance that we recommend is called Silent Nite™.

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Tooth Remineralization

Question: Why would my dentist “watch” a cavity? Won’t it get bigger?

Answer: Plaque on the surfaces of your teeth can lead to demineralization. Once demineralization reaches a critical point, usually after it passes through the enamel and has reached dentin, a cavity has occurred. Dr. Gordon recommends a proactive vs. reactive approach for her patients, and will recommend what she feels is in the best interest of the patient depending on the severity of the demineralization. At Gordon Dentistry, if the surface of the tooth has slightly dematerialized, and the patient has expressed an interest in remineralization, there are several proven methods to consider. Crest has created a patient-friendly brochure with images to show demineralization and cavitation.

Topical fluoride has been used to remineralize tooth structure for many years. However, we have newer techniques for fluoride delivery which have proven to be very effective including prescription strength toothpastes and fluoride varnish.

Another substance proven to remineralize tooth structure is called Amorphous Calcium Phosphate (ACP). There are numerous brands available with some form of ACP, however, at Gordon Dentistry, we recommend MI Paste with RECALDENT™ (CPP-ACP), a special milk-derived protein safe for ingestion, even for infants and small children, but not safe for anyone with a milk allergy. We have seen incredible results with MI Paste alone or in conjunction with a tooth-etching technique or tooth whitening. Fluoride and ACP have two different mechanisms of action to reminerlize teeth. Fluoride can disturb the reminerlization action of ACP, so it best to follow your dentist’s directions when using these products.

Saliva helps provide essential minerals, including calcium and phosphate, that strengthen your teeth and protect the enamel. Various activities can create an acid imbalance that makes it difficult to produce saliva and the protective minerals. ACP is beneficial for individuals with low salivary flow or xerostomia. Patients with traditional brackets and bands type braces as well as the patients who experience white spots (demineralization) after removal of the braces are also good candidates. The makers of MI Paste have produced an information video on white spots. MI Paste has also been used as an effective treatment for sensitivity from dental whitening or root exposure.

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Tooth Straightening

Question: Am I too old for braces?

Answer: Straightening your teeth is a personal decision that only you can make. There are many reasons to straighten your teeth. Your interest may be functional, esthetic or a combination. You are never too old to look and feel good, or to improve your oral health. Straightening your teeth may improve your periodontal health or ability to clean between your teeth. At Gordon Dentistry, we offer Invisalign® clear aligners to straighten your teeth. The aligners should be removed when eating and tooth cleaning only. They must be worn 22 hours per day. For some people, Invisalign® is not the best method for tooth straightening. For skeletal discrepancies, we work with the very best oral surgeons and orthodontists in our area to help our patients understand their options.

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