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Dental hygiene is often overlooked when it comes to our newborn babies. After all, a new parent has so  much to deal with so it is quite understandable for dental hygiene to take a back seat. However, recent research has uncovered a possible link between a mother’s oral health and their child’s. This is likely due to shared lifestyle components between mother and child. They share similar genetic backgrounds, shared environments, and shared knowledge/attitude towards dental hygiene. Mothers can also share their oral bacteria with their children. Previous research has shown mothers with high salivary levels of mutans strptococci (MS) are more likely to have children with high levels of MS in their oral bacteria profile. The reverse is children with high levels of tooth decay are more likely to have mothers with high levels of MS.

Oral Health Research

The research was completed at several universities in California with 200+ pregnant women entering their 2nd trimester. The saliva was tested at various points during pregnancy and at 4, 9, 12, 24, and 36 months following birth. All were also given dental examinations throughout the research. All of the mothers included in the study had experience tooth decay prior to the study.  At the 36 month mark, more than 1/3 of all children had dental decay. The study concluded that mothers with high levels of MS were more likely to have children with high levels of MS. On the other hand mothers with lowered levels of MS were more likely to have caries free children.

Dental Health Tips For Moms

Drink Lots Of Water. Drinking water is not only good for our bodies but also for our teeth. We tend to snack more when we are going from different events with little to no time to worry about our dental health. Drinking water will keep you and your kids hydrated but it will also reduce the effects of frequent snacking on your teeth. Rinsing with water following snacking will help reduce the food trapped between our teeth as well as reduce the acidic levels which lead to tooth decay. Flavored waters and gatorade are loaded with sugar, so stay away from sugary beverages.

Travel Toothbrushes And Floss. These compact brushes and floss picks are great for a quick toothbrushing and flossing in the back of the car before going to a new event. They will not only keep your teeth clean but they can also freshen your breath. Many travel toothbrushes already have toothpaste on them. Wetting the brush will release the toothpaste.

Snack Wisely. Not all snacks are created equally when it comes to our teeth. Snacks high in sugar and carbohydrates are worse for our teeth over the course of a long day. Choose snacks like fresh fruits, Not “fruit snacks”, (which tend to stick and stay between the teeth ) raw vegetables, lentil chips, edamame, milk, cheese, granola, whole wheat crackers, and nuts. You can even make quick oatmeal cookies by mixing an overripe banana with plain oatmeal or flavored instant oatmeal and placing spoonfuls on a cookie sheet with parchment paper, bake at 325 about 20 minutes. These can be eaten as a meal or a snack.

Drink Sugary Drinks Through A Straw. Due to the sugary deposits left in the mouth, using a straw while drinking the soda will have less contact with the teeth. Of course, it is better to avoid sugary beverages entirely, but if you must do them, use precautions and drink water directly after.

Chew Gum. Pack sugar free gum that contains Xylitol (sugar substitute) to help kill bacteria in the mouth after eating during the day. Gum will also help pull food particles off the teeth and stimulate saliva flow to help neutralize acids.

Keep A Set Of Toothbrushes By The Kitchen Sink. When mealtime needs to be rushed, most kids will not go back to the bathroom to go and brush. If the toothbrushes are right there when the dishes are going in the sink, they are more likely to find the time to brush and rinse after the meal.

Use Fluoride Rinses. Be sure to have children rinse with a fluoride rinse before bed, this should help strengthen teeth and make cavities less likely to happen.

Prepack Your Fridge. If you have pre-made sandwiches and healthy snacks like washed grapes, apple slices, or cheese cubes in ziploc bags, it is easy to grab what you need and not have to stop for unhealthy fast foods, donuts, and snacks.

Educate your kids. When kids learn about making healthier choices, have them readily available, and start to enjoy the bag of fresh berries over the flaming hot cheetos they will start feeling better and enjoy a more healthy lifestyle.

Don’t eat gummies! For some reason, packaged processed “fruit snacks” have become a new food group. Parents are under the false impression that they are healthy. They do not take the place of fresh fruit, and are one of the leading causes of tooth decay in toddlers and children. Remember, natural cane sugar is still sugar. When it sticks and stays between your child’s teeth, it will cause decay.

Conclusion

We cannot change the oral bacteria profile we develop as a child but we can do our best to manage what we are given. This should include diligent at home dental care along with regular dental visits. This will ensure a healthy smile for a lifetime.



As children grow and become more active in contact sports, it is important to keep them fully protected. This might include the proper fitting helmet, proper pads for their shoulders, and even shin guards. One very important item is often overlooked,  the mouthguard. Many parents believe that the one you buy at the local sporting goods store is just as good as a custom made one. Recent research may prove otherwise.

Custom Mouthguards Protect Against Concussions?

Recent research published in an issue of General Dentistry may prove that custom mouthguards can reduce the risk of concussions while playing contact sports. The study followed over 400 high school football players from multiple teams. Approximately half the athletes were fitted with custom made mouthguards while the other half received the standard, over the counter, one size fits all, mouthguard. Helmet was not a factor as all participants wore similar style helmets. A player wearing an over the counter mouthguard had a doubled risk of concussion. About 8% of the players wearing over the counter mouthguards were diagnosed with concussions.

This is significant because while there are many factors that go into a player recieving a concussion, a custom made mouthguard can reduce that risk. The reduction in risk is believed to be from the custom mouthguard absorbing some of the shock, stabilizing the head and neck, and limiting movement of the jaw when applied with a direct force. One key factor the researchers found was in the thickness of the mouthguard. Most standard over the counter mouthguards are only about 1.65 millimeters in thickness while custom mouthguards are over 3.5 millimeters. That is a significant difference and may help explain the benefits of a custom mouthguard.

Types of Sports Mouthguards

Athletic mouthguards come in a few varieties. These include the following:

Stock Athletic Mouthguards. This mouthguard is typically the least expensive and offers the least protection for your athlete.  It is readily available in most sporting goods stores. Their prices range from a few dollars to about 25-30 dollars maximum. These sports mouthguards are ready to be used right out of the package. This type of sports mouthguard has some serious drawbacks. They tend to be quite bulky and lack any real retention. These tend to interfere with speech as well and breathing. These mouthguards  often need to be modified by the user and thus reduce protection and retention.

-“Boil and Bite” Sports Mouthguards. This is the most common type of sports mouthguard in use today. These are available at most sporting goods and drug stores. This type of guard is fairly inexpensive. These are better fitting and more protective than the stock athletic mouthguards. These tend to fit better since they are form- shaped by each athlete’s mouth and teeth. Hot water is all that is needed to adjust the plastic comfortably around the teeth and gums. These sports mouthguards are made from a thermoplastic material that is immersed in boiling water and then formed in the mouth using biting, finger, and tongue pressure. Even this can be a challenging task for some so it may be best to contact your dentist when using even these to ensure they fit properly and cover the teeth sufficiently for protection. These sports mouthguards come in only a few stock sizes so they may not fit all participants the same. Many studies have shown that these boil and bite sports mouthguards do not adequately cover all the teeth in a high percentage of high school and collegiate athletes.

Custom Fit Sports Mouthguards. These sports mouthguards are custom designed and fit just for each individual athlete. These are available thru your dentist. The entire process takes about one week to complete. The initial visit will include taking an impression of the upper teeth. This allows the dentist to create a model of your teeth which is then sent off to a dental laboratory. The laboratory technician will make a custom sports mouthguard adjusted  to fit each athlete’s preferences and needs. The sports mouthguard should cover all teeth on the upper arch to be considered to be offering adequate protection. The major advantages to a custom nightguard include:

-Protection of teeth, jaw, and from concussions.

-Increased retention

-Breathability. The custom appliances have been shown to allow for a better airway to help get the air you need.

-Thinner material to allow for better breathing while maintaining the protection.

-Longer lasting. While custom sports mouthguards will cost more it will last a significantly longer time than the other versions mentioned earlier.

-Personalized. You may choose your color so that you know it’s yours, or team colors/logos. You can also have your name imbedded in the sports mouthguard (a good example of this is the proform sports mouthguards) so that it can be readily identified. You do not want to mistakenly put someone elses sports mouthguard into your mouth!

-More hygienic. the higher quality material is less likely to embed bacteria within your sports mouthguard.

-Comfort. The custom fit allows for a much more comfortable feel.

Tips For Caring For Your Mouthguard

-After each use, brush and rinse your mouthguard with a toothbrush and cool water.

-Keep your mouthguard in a well-ventilated, plastic storage box when not in use. Your dentist will give you a colored case for your mouthguard.

-Stay away from excessive heat. Do not store your mouthguard in direct sunlight or in a hot car. The heat can melt the mouthguard, altering the way it fits in your mouth and resulting in less protection.

-When you see your dentist twice a year for your regular cleanings, bring your mouthguard with you. Your dentist can give your mouthguard a thorough examination and cleaning. This will ensure it is in proper form.

-Contact your dentist if you have any questions or concerns about your mouthguard.

Conclusion

Concussions and facial trauma are a big issue in professional sports as well as youth athletics. More research is needed, but the above study shows the value of having a custom mouthguard fabricated for your child by your dentist. The benefits of protection will far outweigh the cost from an injury (either medical or dental). Talk to your dentist about custom sports guards for your little athlete, you’ll be glad you did.



Periodontal disease has long been known to be caused by the toxic waste production by oral bacteria. The body’s response to this production is through the inflammatory process which can lead to destruction of connective tissues as well as deterioration of the bone that supports the teeth. Periodontal disease is progressive and can eventually lead to complete tooth loss and serious infections. Can Vitamin D supplements help?

Stages Of Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis – This is the earliest stage of periodontal disease. This is the most mild form of periodontal disease. Symptoms include red, swollen (or puffy) and inflamed gums due to plaque-bacteria build-up. The gums may also bleed easily during brushing or eating of hard foods. During the earliest of stages the periodontal disease process it can be reversed thru proper brushing, flossing and professional dental care to remove the excess bacterial plaque. If the required oral hygiene does not occur, the periodontal disease then progresses  to the next stage. The majority of people with this early form of periodontal disease, do not even know a dental problem exists. This is a crucial period for the patient, as the condition can be reversed (since the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place have not yet been affected) at this point if it is recognized and properly treated.

Periodontitis – As the periodontal disease progresses it will become harder to treat and control. The difference between gingivitis and periodontitis is that gingivitis only infects the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth while the periodontal disease process also invades the bone that provides support and stability for the teeth. The bacteria eventually invades past the initial the gum line area and destruction begins to the point that gums may begin to separate or pull away from the teeth (taking away support and connective fibers with it). What results are called periodontal pockets. These pockets allow for bacteria to invade below the gum line.  They eventually become loaded with toxic plaque and bacteria that moves and works its way deeper. It begins to erode the bone below the gum line. A patient’s bite will be affected (as the teeth shift or loosen) by the lost support which then affects chewing and other functions.

Advanced Periodontitis – As the periodontal disease process advances, the fibers and bone that provide support for the teeth is destroyed. At least half of the bone support (if not more) will have broken down at this late stage of periodontal disease. It does not grow back naturally. Teeth may begin to loosen. Deep root cleanings and surgical intervention are typical at this stage. This may include cleaning with a periodontal microscope, (Perioscope), grafting of tissue, bone, placement of growth factors, (Emdogain), periodontal antibiotic regimen (Periostat), placement of antibiotics directly into pockets, (Arestin), open flap surgery, and, possibly tooth removal.

Vitamin D Research And Periodontal Disease

A well balanced diet can enhance your immune system to allow the body to fend off any attack more efficiently. Recent research shows Vitamin D might be helpful in controlling the inflammation associated with gingivitis and even periodontitis.

The research consisted of following 88 patients in a random trial. These patients were followed over a 3 month and were broken into 4 groups. Each group received a different dose of Vitamin D. They received either 2,000 IU/day, 1,000 IU/day, 500 IU/day, or a placebo containing 0Vitamin D. Every 30 days the subjects were seen for a blood draw to determine Vitamin D levels and a gingival index.

The blood levels were as expected with elevations based on dosage. However, the patients receiving the higher dose of Vitamin D showed less gingival inflammation than the others. This leads researchers to believe that Vitamin D will have an effect on controlling periodontal disease.

Conclusion

While the study was quite limited and short term, it does lead us to believe that long term use of Vitamin D can help control periodontal disease. Periodontal disease can be controlled and this may lead to another tool for the patient and dentist to control the progression of the disease. As always, remember to see your dentist regularly for examinations and professional cleanings. Maintaing good oral health is important for your whole body and not just your teeth and gums.