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PLD Blog

Athletic Mouthguards and Your Athlete

In this world of ever-increasing competitive levels in youth sports, the need for athletic mouthguards has never been greater.

Here’s an excerpt from the American Dental Association (ADA) website, mouthhealthy.org:

When Should You Wear a Mouthguard?
When it comes to protecting your mouth, a mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear that should be part of your standard equipment from an early age.

While collision and contact sports, such as boxing, are higher-risk sports for the mouth, any athlete may experience a dental injury in non-contact activities too, such as gymnastics and skating.

That is so true! Here at Pike Lake Dental, we create custom athletic mouthguards in less than a day. Our mouthguards are fabricated from an impression taken of a patient’s mouth, so they are a perfect fit every time. Not only does a custom athletic mouthguard stay in place better, they are less likely to come flying out of an athlete’s mouth than the one-size-fits-all drugstore mouthguards. There’s no heating the mouthguard up on the stove or microwave, trying to form the plastic to your child’s mouth. For just a little more than you’d pay at the store, we can make your athlete a perfectly fitted mouthguard, without the hassle.

We offer a wide selection of colors that are sure to coordinate with your team’s colors. Or just pick a favorite color. There are so many choices!

Samples of some of the mouthguard colors we offer at Pike Lake Dental.

As a parent of three athletes, I have seen first hand the benefits of athletic mouthguards. My son plays both basketball and soccer. He has suffered concussions on the basketball court and broken bones on the soccer field. This past year, his school’s basketball coach mentioned mouthguards at the pre-season parent meeting. The parents unanimously agreed, without any convincing, that mouthguards should be mandatory for our players on the basketball court. The head boys basketball coach, also our Athletic Director, then made a mandatory ruling that every basketball player for our school wears a mouthguard on the court during a game. As a parent, I really respect the coach’s willingness to honor the parents’ wishes and applaud my fellow parents for banding together and insisting on an added safety element for our kids.

If your child’s team or sport doesn’t require a mouthguard, please consider personally insisting on one for your child. It could save your athlete from severe dental trauma and will help protect their beautiful, winning smile.

 

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental

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Is an Electric Toothbrush Really That Amazing?

I’m sure you’ve seen television commercials and online advertising for electric toothbrushes that promise a superior clean and a fresh-from-the-dentist feeling in your mouth after using them.

Is an electric toothbrush really that amazing? From my personal experience, absolutely!

My husband is a dentist. I am extremely conscious of my teeth and I feel as though I take pretty great care of them. I have used an older model OralB electric toothbrush for years. I keep it on my bathroom counter, charge it faithfully, keep it clean and replace the brush head regularly. I have a routine of brushing my teeth, gums and tongue in a certain order. The routine doesn’t change; it’s simply habit and muscle memory.

When I travel, though, I leave my electric toothbrush at home. When packing for a family vacation for 5 people, every ounce up to that dreaded 50# weight limit matters. I don’t want to sacrifice any more real estate in our suitcases than absolutely necessary, so I opt for a lightweight and easily packable standard issue toothbrush from the dental office. It never fails – by the third day of a week-long trip, my teeth just don’t feel quite as clean. Is it my overly dentally-aware mind playing tricks on me? Possibly.

When I use a regular, manual toothbrush, I find myself scrubbing my teeth harder, with more vigor, than I do with my electric toothbrush. My gums hurt and bleed because I seem to attack them with my toothbrush. Is that really helping me? The answer is no. It’s not the muscle you put into your tooth brushing that gives you the maximum benefit. It is both the time and the motion you put into your toothbrushing that truly gives you the maximum benefit. You can get a fantastic clean with a traditional toothbrush if you take your time and actually focus on each area, brushing gently and consistently for the dentist recommended 2 minutes.

With an electric toothbrush, the back and forth brushing motion is not necessary and not recommended by experts. Instead, I let the toothbrush do the work. I let it pulsate and clean each area and surface of my teeth and tongue, simply guiding the toothbrush bristles to each area I want to clean. There’s no scrubbing. Instead, I keep the pressure consistent throughout my mouth and the result is truly a just-from-the-dentist clean feeling. I equate the difference between a traditional and electric toothbrush to the difference between sweeping and vacuuming the floors. It’s much more work to sweep than it is to simply push the vacuum around, isn’t it? Brushing with an electric toothbrush is very similar.

If you’re in the market for an electric toothbrush, Pike Lake Dental Center does sell an incredible electric toothbrush package. The kit includes the rechargeable electric toothbrush, multiple brush heads, a carrying case, charging port, toothpaste, mouthwash, and more. This toothbrush is so smart it can connect to your smartphone via bluetooth to help ensure you
are brushing for enough time and in the right spots. The toothbrush can even detect if you are pressing too hard or using too much force while brushing your teeth. I’m amazed at how smart this system is! The true praises for this toothbrush will have to be saved for a different blog, though. Stay tuned!

In conclusion, YES, I truly believe electric toothbrushes are amazing. I will not say a person can’t clean their teeth well using a regular, traditional toothbrush. You absolutely can. I can tell you that I personally prefer letting my electric toothbrush do the work of keeping my teeth clean between my biannual visits with my hygienist. A healthy, clean mouth is a wonderful thing!

Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

 

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Breaking Down Dental Implants

Have you ever wondered what a dental implant is? Maybe you’ve had a tooth removed and your dentist has offered implants as a replacement option. In this blog post, I will focus on discussing the components that make up an implant restoration.

Let’s start by explaining what makes up a dental implant. Wikipedia defines dental implants this way:

A dental implant… is a surgical component that interfaces with the bone of the jaw or skull to support a dental prosthesis such as a crown, bridge, (or) denture.

In most cases, the dental implant therapy involves three components:

First is the implant itself. This is the part that, as Wikipedia says, interfaces with the bone of the patient’s jaw. The dental implants we use today are made of titanium. Through a process called osseointegration, the implant will form an intimate bond with the patient’s bone, which anchors it in place. Most times, the implants’ shapes and sizes are designed to mimic the root of the tooth it is replacing. Implants typically have a tapered, threaded design which allows for accurate and stable placement. Dental implants also have a special coating or treatment on their surfaces that help them integrate with the jaw bone.

The second part of the dental implant therapy is the implant abutment. This is the intermediary part that joins the crown, bridge or denture to the implant. The abutment interfaces with the implant with very precise machined surfaces and is often held in place with a screw through its center. The screw is then tightened to a specific setting using a special torque wrench. The implant abutment serves as the transition piece from the implant through the gum tissue to the final restoration.

The third part is the crown or bridge. This is the part that completes the implant therapy. It resembles the tooth in form and function. It is most times an individual crown or bridge and is held to the implant abutment by cement. Once the cement is cured, the restoration (crown or bridge) is then ready for normal use. Most times these components are fixed, or are anchored, permanently in a patient’s mouth. The crown or bridge will not need to be removed.

Each component of a dental implant also typically carries its own fee, so you may find that the fee breakdown from your dentist will list the fee for each of these parts separately.

Keep checking back to our website and Facebook page, Pike Lake Dental Center, for more on dental implants. In future blogs, we will try to shed more light on the process of placing a dental implant and some of the more frequently asked questions.

Written by Matt Jugovich, D.D.S., Pike Lake Dental Center

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“I’ve got TMJ.” • “We all have TMJ. Let’s talk about Bruxism and Occlusal Guards.”

Bruxism (BRUK-siz-um) is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth.
       -Excerpt from the Mayo Clinic website, www.mayoclinic.org

  • Do you wake up in the mornings with dull headaches?
  • Do you consistently have pain in your jaw?
  • Have you ever noticed yourself clenching your teeth when you’re concentrating or stressed?
  • Do you grind your teeth?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of these questions, you may suffer from bruxism and might benefit from an occlusal guard, sometimes also called a night guard. Have no fear, you are not alone! One study suggests over 3 million people suffer from bruxism in the United States each year.

An occlusal guard is a small, customized, transparent oral device that fits over a person’s lower teeth, which helps prevent them from clenching their jaw muscles and gnashing their teeth, thus relieving the associated tooth and jaw pain.

We all have temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that connect our jaws to our heads. You are able to feel these joints by placing your fingers on either side of your jaw and opening and closing your mouth a few times. This area on your face is an incredibly complex mix of joints, strong muscles and powerful ligaments. This area is easily irritated and has the potential to cause you a lot of pain. The TMJ is the location of the pain; bruxism is most often the actual diagnosis.

There are many things you can do yourself to help relieve bruxism pain. Reducing stress, staying rested, oral exercises, reducing or eliminating chewing gum, reducing caffeine intake, and applying heat or ice to the joints are just a few options to try. Consulting with your physician about any medications you are on can also be helpful since some medications can contribute to bruxism. If you’ve exhausted these ideas and are still experiencing pain or you need to take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to experience relief, an occlusal guard might be a good fit for you.

Typically, the recurring jaw pain is discussed between doctor and patient at a hygiene appointment or during a regular dental visit. Once bruxism is officially diagnosed, it’s a fairly quick and easy process to procure an occlusal guard through our office. We start by taking impressions of your teeth. The impressions are sent to a dental lab and the lab creates a slim, clear occlusal guard that is a perfect fit over your lower teeth. We have you return to our office about a week later to deliver the occlusal guard, make sure it fits you well, make any adjustments and answer any additional questions you may have.

The best part about an occlusal guard: it’s easy to wear! It’s not big and ugly. It’s nearly unnoticeable while worn. Taking care of your occlusal guard is easy too. Simply rinse it with clear water after each use and allow it to air dry (out of reach of pets, of course). Or brush it gently with your toothbrush and a tiny amount of toothpaste when you feel it needs a little more attention, again letting it air dry.

Many dental insurances include coverage for occlusal guards. We are happy to send a preauthorization to your dental insurance company to determine if your insurance will supplement the cost of an occlusal guard. Regardless of dental benefits, an occlusal guard is a wise investment if you suffer from bruxism.

We typically recommend wearing the occlusal guard while you sleep, when it can help reduce the most amount of stress inflicted on the TMJ area, although some patients wear it during the day too. The bruxism pain is usually relieved quickly, most often within a week or two. It’s normal to go through periods of life when you experience more stress than normal or are not sleeping restfully. If you take a hiatus from wearing your occlusal guard and experience the bruxism pain returning, simply begin using the occlusal guard again. We highly recommend wearing an occlusal guard every night to maximize the benefits of the appliance and to experience consistent pain relief.

If you feel you’d benefit from an occlusal guard, please discuss it with us at your next dental appointment. We’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about both bruxism and occlusal guards. The more you know, the better off you are!

 

– Written and submitted by Stephanie Jugovich, staff member at Pike Lake Dental Center

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Because You Asked: How Long Do I Have To Wear My Orthodontic Retainer?

As dental professionals we are asked many questions, but some seem to come up repeatedly. So, because you asked:

How long do I have to wear my orthodontic retainer?

That question, itself, begs another: How long do you want straight, well functioning teeth? Think of it this way … when you plant a new tree, you might stake it up to prevent damage from forces such as wind while the roots develop. When your braces are removed, you really have a whole mouth of ‘freshly planted trees’, and they need something to hold them in place while they adjust to their new location. That’s where retainers come in.

There are three main types of retainers. Fixed or bonded retainers, as the name suggests, are wires that are permanently bonded to the teeth. Essix retainers are clear plastic, virtually invisible retainers that are vacuum formed and fit over all of the teeth. Essix retainers are removable. The third and most common type, is the Hawley retainer. It consists of an acrylic form with metal clasps to hold it in place and a wire that runs over the front teeth. It, too, is removable. Typically, your orthodontist will ask you to wear your removable retainers as much as possible for the first few months, and then ease off until only night time use is required. It can take up to a year for your teeth to become fairly solid.

Here are examples of an Essix (left) and a Hawley (right) retainer.

So can you stop wearing your retainer then? The short answer to that is no. Your teeth have memory, and will tend to want to migrate back toward their original location. Also, just as braces caused your teeth to move, other forces such as facial and tongue muscles, habits such as thumb sucking, cheek biting, and clenching and grinding, and even further growth can cause your teeth to move back out of alignment.

When looking to refer you for orthodontic treatment, whether as a child or adult, you will often hear Dr. Matt and Dr. Meaghan use words like ‘function’ and ‘guidance’. They are referring to a very important part of your overall dental health. Many people think of braces as a purely aesthetic or beautifying treatment, but the real goal is to get your teeth to work together in a way that will keep them healthy for a lifetime. If your teeth don’t fit well and function well together, you face risks such as tooth and jaw pain, tooth fracture, accelerated wear, gum recession, and bone loss. Orthodontic treatment puts your teeth in the ideal place to help them work well together and stay healthy. Wearing your retainers is a small sacrifice to maintain good function AND keep that beautiful smile!

 

Written and submitted by Deb Tretheway, RDH at Pike Lake Dental.

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Sleep Apnea: Can An Oral Device Aid In Treatment?

Lisa sporting her Pike Lake Dental jacket while golfing last week.

Last week I was golfing in my women’s league and I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of wonderful new ladies. I was stylishly sporting my Pike Lake Dental jacket (Thanks, Dr. Matt! ☺) and one of the ladies said, “Oh, hey – Pike Lake Dental! You guys make oral appliances for sleep apnea! We both work at the Sleep Center.” I felt very proud to be working in an office that they were familiar with for aiding in the treatment of their patients. We do make some great oral appliances for the treatment of sleep apnea, and I’ll get to that shortly, but first… What IS sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is serious sleep disorder in which a person will stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, causing a lack of oxygen to the brain and the rest of the body. These pauses in breathing can last anywhere from a few

A view down the green.

seconds to over a minute each and can occur a few times per night or, in severe cases, hundreds of times per night!

There are three types of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) and Complex or Mixed Sleep Apnea, which is a combination of both. OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea and the type that we’ll focus on here.

OSA is caused by an obstruction, or blockage, of the airway. When a person with OSA sleeps, particularly on their back, the muscles in their neck and throat relax. The lower jaw also relaxes and the tongue can fall back against the back of the throat, or soft palate, restricting the airway and reducing the amount of oxygen that can reach the lungs. The only way a sleep apnea episode ends is by the person waking up, often times with a loud snore or choking sound when breathing resumes.

What are some symptoms of untreated OSA?

  • Loud snoring
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating

If left untreated, OSA can have some pretty nasty effects – heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and depression, just to name a few.

How is OSA diagnosed?

A physician will likely order a sleep study to be done for a patient exhibiting signs of OSA. The patient typically spends a night in a Sleep Lab or Sleep Center with medical equipment monitoring their sleep patterns.

How is OSA treated?

There are a few options for treatment, depending on the severity of the disorder. Sometimes behavior changes such as losing weight, changing to sleeping on one’s side, and avoiding alcohol and smoking can treat a mild case of OSA. With a severe case of OSA, a CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine is often the best treatment to maintain the patient’s airway.

Now, somewhere in between the previous two, there is the “mild to moderate” case of OSA. Here’s where we, as dental professionals, come in. For this type of OSA, we can make a mandibular advancement splint to keep the airway open during sleep.

Wait… a what??? A mandibular advancement splint.

An example of a Tap3.

The brand name of the one we often use is called a Tap3. Here’s how it works:

Impressions are made of both the upper and lower teeth and a recording of how the teeth bite together is taken, along with a measurement of how far the lower jaw can be moved forward. We then have an appliance fabricated to fit very precisely to the teeth. The appliance is somewhat like a close fitting mouth guard for the upper and lower teeth with an attachment in between to keep the lower jaw in an advanced or protruded position, therefore keeping the airway open. This appliance allows for more freedom in sleeping position than the CPAP machine and is also free of the constant noise.

We often hear patients say how they have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and have tried a CPAP machine, but they are just not able to adjust to sleeping with it. Does this sound like you or someone you know? The Tap3 Oral Appliance just might be an alternative option!

– Written and submitted by Lisa Mangan, LDA at Pike Lake Dental

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Sports and Energy Drinks: A Dental Perspective

With Memorial Day just around the corner, summer feels like it is finally on its way! The grass is growing, leaves are on the trees, flowers are blooming and summer sports season for our kids will soon be getting into full swing. Who doesn’t love a warm summer evening at the baseball or soccer field?

Our kids are out on those fields exerting themselves in some pretty hot and humid weather and keeping them hydrated is a major concern. While sports drinks do have their attributes such as replacing water and electrolytes after a very high intensity workout, the amount of sugar and acid in them can be harmful to our kids’ oral health. Sugars and acids can lead to erosion of the enamel and tooth decay. Here’s the low down on how it works: The plaque bacteria in our mouths turn the sugar in those sports drinks into acid. The acid then starts to destroy the hard, outside layer of the teeth, called the enamel and over time, tooth decay can occur.

Kids, and adults alike, are often times drinking these beverages throughout the day, not only during or after exercise. Studies have shown little to no benefit to consuming sports drinks outside of high intensity exercise, only adding unnecessary calories and sugar to our diets.

It gets worse, folks. Energy Drinks.

These acidic beverages can cause up to twice as much damage to the teeth as the average sports drink! Also, the high amounts of caffeine can be extremely dangerous.

Just last week, a South Carolina teen died from too much caffeine – “a caffeine-induced cardiac event, causing a probable arrhythmia” – to be exact. The 16 year old boy had three caffeinated beverages in a two hour time span: a caffe latte, a large Diet Mountain Dew, and an energy drink. This was such a tragic outcome from something many people would consider safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents consume less than 100 mg of caffeine per day. Just one can of Red Bull has 111 mg of caffeine and 37 grams of sugar, and one can of Monster Energy Drink has a whopping 172 mg of caffeine and 54 grams of sugar!

We’ve all heard the Minnesota Dental Association’s slogan “Sip all day, get decay”, but what many people don’t realize is that slogan pertains to not only soda, but sports and energy drinks as well. Let’s make it a point to talk to our kids about the dangers of sports and energy drinks. They are not only causing damage to our teeth, but to our overall health and well being.

Here are some tips to minimize the damage from Sports and Energy Drinks:

  • Drink Water! Plain water is best.
  • Finish Sports and Energy Drinks quickly. Now, it’s not necessary to guzzle it down, but avoid sipping it for an extended period of time.
  • Brush and Floss regularly. The less plaque bacteria on our teeth, the better.

 

Written by Lisa Mangan, LDA at Pike Lake Dental

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