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Dental Do's and Dental Don'ts

Oct 28, 2014 09:00AM ● Published by Cate Reynolds

Dental Do:

How to Protect Those Pearly Whites

Any ice hockey fan knows what a tenuous relationship some athletes can have with their front teeth. Sports can be very tough on smiles—with bats, balls, sticks, and skateboards (not to mention other players and their elbows) flying at your face in the blink of a blackened eye. More and more of those athletes, however, are taking protective measures—thanks to the improved design and availability of mouthguards.

“A properly fitted mouthguard, or mouth protector, is an important piece of athletic gear that can protect your teeth and smile,” said a recent article in The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA). And it’s not just the obvious sports such as football, hockey, and boxing that require the extra protection. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you may need a mouthguard if you participate in any of these sports: Acrobatics, Basketball, Bicycling, Boxing, Equestrian events, Extreme Sports, Field Hockey, Football, Gymnastics, Handball, Ice Hockey, Inline Skating, Lacrosse, Martial Arts, Racquetball, Rugby, Shot-putting, Skateboarding, Skiing, Skydiving, Soccer, Softball, Squash, Surfing, Volleyball, Water Polo, Weightlifting, and Wrestling. We’d add race car driving, rodeo, and mountain climbing (even on those walls at the gym) as well.

Bottom Line: Once you get your guard, check it for tears and holes and for proper fit. Have regular dental checkups and bring your mouthguard along so the dentist can make sure it’s still in good condition.—S.H.

Dental Don’t:

Nasty Habits that Harm our Teeth

We all know to avoid cavity-causing sweets, rock-hard pretzels, or even potential filling-removing caramels and taffy. And now we’ve found out how to protect our teeth from sports injuries. There are, however, a few other ways we can look out for our terrific smiles.

Nail Biting—According to the Academy of General Dentistry, nail biting can result in up to $4,000 in additional dental bills over a lifetime. Nail biting can wear down teeth and put a large amount of pressure on front teeth. It can also aggravate jaw muscles, leading to TMJ. Nail biting can also lead to a gap in the front teeth if nail biting begins at an early age.

Ice Chomping—The cold, hard truth is that ice chomping can potentially shock a nerve in a tooth, requiring root canal therapy. Biting ice at an unusual angle can potentially chip off part of the enamel, crack a filling, or worse still, crack a tooth.

Teeth as a Tool—Using teeth to bite off a tag or open a bottle can lead to many mishaps. Avoid using teeth to do anything other than chew food.

Grinding Teeth—Stress can trigger jaw clenching or teeth grinding. Again, it puts teeth under undue pressure and can cause fractures in teeth. These micro-fractures can put teeth at risk for further damage and can damage dental work as well.

Aggressive Brushing—Brushing teeth too hard can wear down enamel, irritate your gums and cause sensitivity. Remember to brush in circular motions at the base of the gums and opt for a electric toothbrush to do the work for you.

Bottom Line: Treat your teeth as if you will need them for the rest of your life—because you will.

Source: Dr. Kevin Sands, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in Beverly Hills whose patients include Robert Downey Jr., Emma Stone, Miley Cyrus, Shaun White, Charlie Sheen, Elle Macpherson, and just about every Kardashian.
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