Posts for: October, 2014
Mike Tyson's gap-toothed smile is part of athlete-turned-celebrity's signature look. During his two-decade career as a professional boxer, the former heavyweight champion has been known for both giving — and occasionally receiving — knockout punches. But the story of how he lost one set of front teeth is a bit more unusual.
In a recent interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal, Tyson's wife Kiki stated that one of the champ's major dental dilemmas didn't come from blows inside the ring. In fact, she said, Tyson lost the teeth after being head-butted by his pet tiger, Kenya.
It's too bad Tyson wasn't wearing a mouthguard before he decided to play with kitty.
Fight fans know that boxers always put in a mouthguard before they enter the ring. But the pugilistic pursuit is just one among the two-dozen-odd sports for which the American Dental Association recommends the use of custom mouthguards. Others include baseball, skateboarding, surfing and bicycling. (Maybe horsing around with tigers should be added to the list!)
Why is it so important for participants in athletic activities to use this piece of protective gear? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, sports-related dental injuries account for over 600,000 emergency-room visits each year. Many of these injuries require further dental treatment; some may lead to tooth loss and require costly replacement. Not wearing a mouthguard makes an athlete 60 times more likely to sustain harm to the teeth, according to the American Dental Association. So there's really no contest.
You can find basic, off-the-shelf mouthguards in limited sizes at many sporting goods stores. But for a reasonable cost, we can provide you with a properly fitted dental appliance that's custom-made just for you. Starting with a precise model of your teeth, individual mouthguards are crafted from impact-resistant materials which are designed to be strong, comfortable, resilient — and effective.
Research shows that custom-made mouthguards offer superior quality and protection. So if you or your loved ones like to get out on the playing field, don't neglect this important piece of sporting equipment. And watch out for the cat.
“Cut down on sweets, especially between meals” is perhaps one of the least popular words of advice we dentists regularly give. We’re not trying to be killjoys, but the facts are undeniable: both the amount and frequency of sugar consumption contributes to tooth decay. Our concern isn’t the naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables, grains or dairy products, but rather refined or “free” sugars added to foods to sweeten them.
The World Health Organization and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration both advise consuming no more than 50 grams (about ten teaspoons) of sugar a day. Unfortunately, our nation’s average per person is much higher: we annually consume around 140 pounds per capita of refined sugars like table sugar or high fructose corn syrup, more than three times the recommended amount. Soft drinks are the single largest source of these in our diets — Americans drink an average of 52 gallons every year.
The connection between sugar and tooth decay begins with bacteria that ferments sugar present in the mouth after eating. This creates high levels of acid, which causes the mineral content of tooth enamel to soften and erode (a process called demineralization) and makes the teeth more susceptible to decay. Saliva naturally neutralizes acid, but it takes about thirty minutes to bring the mouth’s pH to a normal level. Saliva can’t keep up if sugars are continually present from constant snacking or sipping on soft drinks for long periods.
You can reduce the sugar-decay connection with a few dietary changes: limit your intake of sugar-added foods and beverages to no more than recommended levels; consume sweets and soft drinks only at meal times; replace sugar-added foods with fresh fruits and vegetables and foods that inhibit the fermentation process (like cheese or black and green teas); and consider using mint or chewing gum products sweetened with xylitol, a natural alcohol-based sugar that inhibits bacterial growth.
Last but not least, practice good oral hygiene with daily brushing and flossing, along with regular office cleanings and checkups. These practices, along with limits on refined sugar in your diet, will go a long way toward keeping your teeth and mouth healthy and cavity-free.
If you would like more information on the relationship of sugar and dental disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Nutrition & Oral Health.”