An Athlete’s Best Friend: A Custom Mouthguard!

Many student athletes, college and otherwise, have been practicing all summer long for their fall sports, and know that training is just around the corner for the spring teams. But are they really prepared and protected for when they make contact with the opposing team? Of course they have helmets, protective padding, supportive shoes, and gloves. In a world of controversy over concussions and the long term effect of contact sports on the body, you can never be too careful. However, your child might be missing one of the most important pieces of protective equipment that you can possibly purchase: a custom-made mouthguard!

Your child’s smile is at an increased risk of sustaining injury during youth sports if they are playing without a mouthguard. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, children are most susceptible to sports-related dental injuries between the ages of 7 and 11. Losing an adult tooth to a sports injury can have lifelong consequences! The importance of wearing a mouthguard!

There are several mouthguard options available for those seeking to minimize damage to the mouth during sporting matches. The least expensive options available are over-the-counter stock or Boil-and-bite mouthguards. These over-the-counter options, while better than wearing no protection, do not offer a comfortable fit that also adequately protects an athlete from injury. There are many drawbacks to stock and boil-and-bite mouthguards: lack of customization to accommodate athletes in braces, lack of compliance by the athlete due to poor fit, minimal protective layers to absorb the shock of impacts, and poor quality materials. Also, both of these over-the-counter guards obstruct the natural airway, causing discomfort which can inhibit overall performance. Custom MG vs a Boil-and-Bite MG

The best mouthguard option available is the custom-made pressure-laminated mouthguard. This mouthguard offers a completely customized fit for the player with multiple layers of protection which can be tailored to the type of sport played. Because the mouthguard is made in the office utilizing impressions of the athlete’s mouth, we are able to minimize uncomfortable bulk, while maximizing the amount of protection that the guard can offer. Fitting securely to the player’s teeth, breathing is not obstructed which improves communication during play. If an athlete has a guard that he or she can wear comfortably, they will wear it more consistently than if they had an ill-fitting, bulky guard that was difficult to breath or talk with. Our Pressure Laminated MG

Our office recently obtained the technology that gives us the capability to manufacture custom-made pressure-laminated mouthguards here in our office. By having our in-house lab technician fabricate the guard, we are able to eliminate the wait-time that is unavoidable when an outside lab has to fabricate the device. We have the ability to personalize your guard with a variety of colors and patterns and even team logos! Call our office today to schedule your appointment for a custom-made mouthguard: 615-893-8771


Orthodontics and Adult Patients: Is it too late?

It is never too late to make a positive change to your smile!  More and more adults are looking to orthodontic care as a possible solution to their smile woes,  and it’s not just for esthetic reasons.  Misaligned teeth can effect how you are able to eat and digest your food properly; it can cause difficulties in maintaining proper oral hygiene which can lead to decay; it can also be the cause of facial or profile imbalance.

Orthodontic therapy has progressed a long way over the past few decades.  You are no longer limited to the traditional metal braces.  There are more options available depending on your particular needs and what the orthodontist deems appropriate for treatment.

Traditional Metal Braces:

Traditional Metal Braces

Clear Braces:


Clear Aligners:


Lingual Braces:

lingual braces

There are many options for you and your orthodontist to explore as you discuss which treatment plan is best for your lifestyle.  Modern orthodontic therapy can minimally impede your lifestyle, while majorly changing your smile!

Trick or Treating, Candy Corn and…Floss??

candy corn & teethThat’s right, floss!  Flossing is a very important component to your oral hygiene routine.  And while you should be doing it once a day, it’s especially important to remember during the holiday season.  While you are surrounded by candy corn and chocolate in October, pumpkin pies and caramels in November, and gingerbread houses and candy canes in December, it is important to remember to floss!

Isn’t Brushing Good Enough?

No, it isn’t.  Brushing your teeth is the best way to clean the tops and sides of your teeth, but the brush bristles are unable to get between teeth to remove plaque from the interproximal (between teeth) spaces.  Proper flossing methods allow you to clean between teeth removing food bits, plaque and bacteria.

What are the Best Flossing Practices?

There are two methods that work best for flossing: the spool and the loop method.

To use the spool method, you take a length of floss and wrap most of it around your middle finger.  Then wrap the rest of it around the middle finger of your other hand;  as you use the floss, wind the dirty floss onto this finger.

The loop method has you taking a length of floss and tying it into a circle withloop method several knots.  Using all of your fingers (except your thumb) inside the loop, use your index finger to guide the floss through the lower teeth.  You can then use your thumbs to guide the floss for the upper teeth!

What about a Waterpick?

Waterpicks are not good substitutes for flossing.  It is able to remove food particles from hard to reach places, but it can not remove plaque!

While it does not matter what method you use to floss, or what kind of floss that you use,  it’s just very important that you DO floss.

Dental Bites: Dental Emergencies

Dental emergencies can happen to anyone, any where, at any time and any age:  no one is safe from an unexpected dental emergency.  That is why it is so important that you be prepared to handle any dental emergency that may come your way.  This mini-series will help you identify what are dental emergencies and how to respond to minimize any potential long-term damage.  The AGD website has all of this information and more to help you handle anything that might pop up!


What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?

A dental emergency is when a tooth breaks or cracks, becomes loosened or is knocked out of place, or out completely.  It is also when a crown comes off a tooth or when an injury occurs to the soft tissue of the mouth.

There are many ways to prevent a dental emergency jawbreakerfrom occurring in the first place though.  You can minimize your risks by avoiding foods that might break or chip your teeth.  In other words, avoid the urge to crunch on that tasty jawbreaker that you just picked up from the candy store!

mouth guardsAnother preventive measure is to always wear a mouth guard when you are participating in sports.  In children the top two reasons for tooth loss is due to falls, and sports related injuries.  And only one of those reasons can you be pro-active about: sports injuries.



Next time we will discuss what to do in certain dental emergencies.  Check back to  see what to do when a tooth is knocked out!

Dental Bites: Tooth Sensitivity Part 2

Last time we discussed the anatomy of sensitive teeth and the various causes.  Now we will discuss what can be done to minimize or eliminate tooth sensitivity.  There are several at-home remedies that you can try, but before you start, be sure to discuss your concerns with your dentist first!

What YOU can do:

The first (and most important) thing you can do to reduce tooth sensitivity is to maintain good oral hygiene.  We already know that plaque buildup is a cause of tooth sensitivity, so be diligent to brush and floss your teeth daily to prevent plaque from building up.  Using a soft bristled brush when you clean your teeth will help minimize abrasion of the enamel and gums.

When brushing your teeth with that soft bristled brush, you could try using a desensitizing toothpaste.  You might need to try several different brands before you find one that works for you.  You can even apply a thin layer of fluoridated toothpaste to the root of the sensitive teeth if you are experiencing sensitivity caused by root exposure.  Doing this right before you go to bed will allow time for the tooth structure to absorb fluoride helping to reduce sensitivity.

Stay away from acidic foods!  Acid (specifically citric acid) is well known for dissolving tooth enamel over time.  Staying away from that morning grapefruit, avoiding lemons and lemonade and other sources of edible acids will help your teeth keep what enamel is still intact.  Once enamel is gone… it’s gone… leaving your dentin exposed to stimuli that trigger sensitivity reactions.

Grinding your teeth at night is a cause of tooth sensitivity as it wears away at the hard enamel layer and can also cause tiny cracks in the structure of the teeth.  If you find yourself waking up with sore jaw muscles and sensitive teeth from grinding, it would be a great idea to consider a night-guard.  This night-time use mouth-guard will protect your teeth from being exposed to the upwards of 120 pounds of biting and grinding pressure that the masseter muscle can generate.

And of course, see your dentist on a regular basis and keep an ongoing discussion regarding your tooth sensitivity.  There are tooth sensitivity solutions that only your dentist can prescribe and perform which leads us into our next section!

What Your DENTIST Can Do:

There are a few topical treatments that your dentist can recommend if it is appropriate for your situation.  Fluoride varnishes and dentin sealers can be applied to exposed root surfaces, giving another layer of protection between the tooth and the environment.

More permanent solutions comprise of composite bonding applications, fillings, root canals or crowns.  Composite bonding can be used to cover exposed root surfaces, or replace an area of decay that has let to tooth sensitivity.  If the tooth is cracked or there is a large amount of decay leading to tooth sensitivity, it might be necessary for a root canal and crown placement.  A root canal will deaden the nerve in the tooth leaving it unable to be affected by stimuli such as hot or cold.  The porcelain fused to metal crown will provide strength to the tooth while it protects it from further damage and stimuli that leads to sensitivity.

As you  discuss your sensitivity with your dentist, you will be able to develop a treatment plan that is ideal for your particular case.  Just remember to describe your discomfort as specifically as possible to help with your diagnosis and treatment!

Dental Bites: Tooth Sensitivity

It has happened to everyone:  you take a sip of ice cold tea or lemonade and your teeth give you a mild electric shock, making you take a small gasp from the suddenness of the pain.   It ranges from mild and occasional, to daily and severe:  it is tooth sensitivity.  Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common complaints from patients, effecting almost 40 million Americans from one degree or another.  We will be exploring the Why and How of Tooth Sensitivity in our Dental Bite.

The Anatomy of Tooth Sensitivity

Anatomy of a ToothThe tooth structure is made of several layers:  enamel, dentin, pulp, nerves & blood vessels.  Within the dentin layer are tiny tubes that carry fluid between the enamel and the pulp.  Sensitivity is often triggered when the fluid is exposed to extreme temperatures or other stimuli and the impulse is transmitted through the tubes to the nerves within the pulp.  The stimulation of the nerves is what most people characterize as a sensitivity reaction when they drink something hot or cold,  eat sweet things, or even breathe in cold air.

What are the causes?

Tooth sensitivity can be a symptom of a larger problem which is why it is so important that you keep your doctor informed of when you have sensitivity and what it feels like.

Sensitivity can be caused by enamel erosion which exposes the dentin to more stimuli.  Enamel erosion is often due to brushing too hard or certain eating and drinking habits like excessive consumption of acid-containing foods.  If you can’t start your day without eating a whole lemon, you might begin to experience sensitivity over time as the citric acid wears down your enamel exposing the dentin layer.  Grinding your teeth can also wear down your enamel exposing the dentin.

Another cause of sensitivity could be gingival recession or tooth decay near the gingiva.  Enamel thins as it meets the gingiva and then transitions into cementum (a hard substance that covers the tooth root in a very thin layer).  If tooth decay begins along the gingiva of the tooth, there is less enamel protecting the dentin and pulp from being exposed to the bacteria and stimuli.  Recession of the gingiva exposes the tooth roots leaving them more vulnerable to hot and cold stimulation.  Recession can sometimes be caused by improper brushing practices and gum disease.

Cracked teeth often have sensitivity as a symptom.  The cracks allow bacteria from plaque to enter into the inner layers of the tooth causing sensitivity and pain.  Bacteria from plaque can effect healthy teeth as well.  If you have plaque build-up on exposed root surfaces, this can cause sensitivity.

Some products such as teeth whitening solutions, and some mouthwashes can be a contributing factor to tooth sensitivity.  Teeth whitening solutions are designed to penetrate into the enamel layer to whiten stains under the surface.  Some people feel “zinging” sensations and sensitivity discomfort after using in-office or at-home whitening products.    Certain mouthwashes contain acids that after long-term use, can heighten sensitivity as the dentin of the tooth is repeatedly exposed to the solution.   There are acid neutral mouthwashes available to help alleviate this problem.

Abrasive toothpastes can also Rock Erosionbe a culprit in tooth sensitivity.  The abrasive materials found in some toothpastes that are effective in removing plaque and whitening teeth can sometimes wear down tooth enamel.  The effect is similar to wind and sand erosion on rocks but on a micro scale.

So now we know Why and How tooth sensitivity can occur, we will address what you and your dentist can do about it on our next Dental Bite.

Your Child’s First Visit: What to expect

After reading tons of books about going to the dentist with “Critter”, and watching several videos your child is almost ready to open wide and let your dentist and hygienist take a look at those pearly whites!  It is so very important to reassure your child so that they understand that the dentist office is not a scary place at all!

The First Visit:

Your child’s first visit is an introduction: this is their first opportunity to sit in the chair, take in their surroundings, meet their hygienist and the dentist and have a very simple oral exam and cleaning.  It is a good idea to schedule your child’s appointment early in the day, avoiding their typical nap-time.  Depending on your child’s anxiety level, you may need to sit in the dental chair with your child on your lap to help them relax.  It also helps that their first appointment may last only 15 to 30 minutes.

While they are in the chair, they will experience a gentle evaluation of their teeth, jaw, bite, gums and oral tissues.  This will allow your dental team to observe your child’s oral development and look for potential problem areas.  Your hygienist will take x-rays of their teeth so that underlying decay can be spotted.

Your child will then have a very gentle cleaning.  This includes removal of any plaque, tartar, and stains followed by polishing the teeth.  Your hygienist will show you and your child the proper way to brush and floss your teeth and share nutritional information about what kinds of food can harmful to growing healthy mouths.  It is often recommended that young children protect their teeth with the use of fluoride treatments.  Your hygienist and dentist will be able to asses your child’s needs and make an appropriate recommendation.

Now that wasn’t so bad, was it?

When Can You Come Back:

It is typically recommended that children see their dentist every six months, just like adults.  If your child is very young, it might be recommended that they see the dentist every three months.  The frequency of the visit is dependent on your child’s oral needs.

Now that you and your child are ready for their first visit, feel free to give our office a call!  We would gladly answer any questions you have about your child’s oral health.

Your Child’s First Visit: It’s Easy as 1, 2, READ!

As parents, there are all sorts of doctors and appointments that your child must endure as they grow:  yearly check-ups, booster shots, optometrist appointments, etc.  And because no one likes getting a booster shot, doctor appointments can be an anxiety causing event in their lives regardless of what type of doctor they are seeing.  The good news is that dentist appointments don’t have to be scary for children as long as you do your homework!

Alison w pt2

Preparation is easy as 1, 2, READ!

There are so many wonderful tools available in bookstores and on the internet that can help you prepare your child for their first visit to the dentist.  The Little Critter series by Mercer Mayer has several books available on first visits to the hospital, the doctor and the dentist.  “Just Going to the Dentist”  shows your little one that there is nothing to be afraid of with a childhood favorite character.  You can also find “What to Expect When You Go to the Dentist” by Heidi Murkoff as part of a “What to Expect” educational series for children.  Pat Thomas offers several preparatory books for children with “Do I Have to Go to the Dentist?” in the selection.

If you would prefer a more AV approach to preparing your child for their first visit, you can go onto YouTube and explore the videos available there.  There is a video version of Mercer Mayer’s book available for your child’s viewing convenience (however it might not be an official “Little Critter” production)!

No matter what method you use, it is important to discuss with your child what their first visit will be like at the dentist.  Knowledge of what is to come can be very reassuring for your child which will minimize their anxiety in the chair.

Check back next time to read “Your Child’s First Visit: In the Big Chair”.

Mary Ansley Chitwood’s Graduation Speech

Mary Ansley recently graduated from Siegel High School as Valedictorian. We wanted to share her speech with you because it will be sure to bring you a chuckle and a smile!

MTSU’s Phillip Tanner Signs with the Cowboys for Second Year in a Row

Former MTSU Player, Phillip Tanner, Scores Big in Dallas

As MTSU’s athletic dentist, we have the continuous pleasure of seeing some of the NFL’s up and coming stars.  And it has been such a pleasure to see MTSU alumnus, Phillip Tanner, play ball with the Blue Raiders and now with the Dallas Cowboys.

Tanner’s dedication and hard work in college ball certainly paid off last year when he signed with the Dallas Cowboys.  As a rookie, he played in 9 games, served on special teams, rushed 76 yards and scored one touchdown!  His work ethic and respect for the game has driven him to new heights in personal improvement and achievement.

Ever the role model for young aspiring players and fans of the game, Tanner showed his gratitude and humility for playing the game in a recent article by the DNJ.   “I love being about to talk to kinds and seeing their eyes light up.  If I made it, why can’t they make it?”

We are excited to see one of our own move on to a second season in the NFL.  Good luck with the Cowboys this year, Tanner!  We will be rooting for you, and every other Blue Raider that has hit the big leagues.