My Blog

Posts for: September, 2012

By Drake Tollefson DDS
September 26, 2012
Category: Oral Health
SixWaysMouthguardsProtectAthletes

When involved in high impact sports or vigorous activities, it is important to protect your mouth and teeth. This statement is backed by the fact that there are over 600,000 sports-related dental injuries treated in emergency rooms across the US each year according to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

In addition to absorbing and distributing the forces that impact the mouth, teeth, face and jaws an athlete receives while participating in sports such as baseball, football, basketball, hockey (ice and field), skateboarding and wrestling, the American Dental Association (ADA), also recommends the use of custom mouthguards for other activities such as acrobatics, bicycling, handball, racquetball, skiing, and even weightlifting.

These facts make two things clear: (1) it is vital that you obtain a professionally made mouthguard that you wear during these types of activities and (2) that you also understand how this mouthguard protects you. Below are just a few ways.

  1. Lacerations. A custom-fit, professionally made mouthguard covers the sharp surfaces of the teeth to protect the soft tissues of the cheeks, lips, gums and tongue from lacerations that can occur from a blow or sudden jolt.
  2. Mouth Impact. Just as a mouthguard protects against soft tissue lacerations, it can also help prevent injuries to the jaws and teeth. This includes but is not limited to chipped teeth, fractured teeth, broken teeth and teeth that are partially or fully knocked out of their natural position.
  3. TMJ (jaw joint) Trauma. Wearing a properly fitted mouthguard can reduce the potential for jaw displacement and joint fractures by cushioning the jaws against damage from an impact.
  4. Direct Jaw Impact. Anytime a person receives a direct impact to his/her jaw, having a mouthguard in place may help prevent more serious injuries to teeth and jaws. This is especially important for anyone diagnosed with TMJ.
  5. Jaw Fracture. A custom-fit, professionally made mouthguard both absorbs and distributes impact forces so that jaws are protected. And it is this reduction in force that can help prevent the jaws from fractures.
  6. Under Chin Impact. Receiving a blow under the chin can obviously damage teeth; however, it can also cause damage to the jaws as well as inflame or cause TMJ issues.

You can learn more about mouthguards by continuing to read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment.


By Drake Tollefson DDS
September 18, 2012
Category: Oral Health
WhatShouldYouDoWhenYourToothisChippedorBroken

Damaging the crown of a tooth (the part of the tooth that is visible above the gums) is the most common type of dental injury. The tooth may be broken or chipped. It is good to be prepared by knowing how such cases should be treated.

What is the first thing to do if my tooth is chipped or broken?
If fragments broke off the tooth, try to find and save them. They can probably be reattached to the tooth by bonding.

Does a chipped or broken tooth hurt?
The tooth may be sensitive to touch, hot and cold. Depending on the type of injury and how much of the tooth's inner surface is exposed, there may also be pain.

How long can I wait before getting treatment?
Get treatment right away, within 12 hours if possible. Teeth with crown fractures can be treated within 12 hours without affecting long-term outcomes.

What types of treatment may be used?
The treatment recommended depends on the tooth and the type and severity of the injury. Exposure of a tooth's inner pulp can be treated by a pulpotomy (partial pulp removal) technique. Front teeth can be temporarily restored with special cements, or the original tooth fragments may be reattached by bonding. Composite resin bonding may be used to restore the tooth's original appearance and function. Composites can be made in a wide range of tooth colors and can match the original tooth almost exactly.

Is treatment different if the damaged tooth is a primary (baby) tooth?
Chipped or broken primary teeth are generally treated similarly to permanent teeth. The treatment depends on the extent of the injury and damage to the tooth. Treatment of fractured primary teeth also depends on the proximity of the injured tooth to the permanent tooth beneath it, which will ultimately replace it. If a fractured primary tooth cannot be saved, it may be removed.

What if my tooth is loosened but not broken?
If the tooth is loosened but not cracked, broken or chipped, no dental treatment may be required. However, we will collect baseline clinical and x-ray information and keep an eye on the tooth or teeth in the future. We will need to check the tooth during recall visits to see whether the dental pulp is still living or whether it has died as a result of its injury. The latter condition can lead to a variety of problems and will require treatment.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about repairing a chipped tooth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”


By Drake Tollefson DDS
September 10, 2012
Category: Oral Health
Tags: oral health   oral cancer  
SevenThingsYouShouldKnowAboutOralCancer

Let's talk about oral cancer. Yes, it's a scary subject — but the truth is, the more you know about it, the better able you are to protect yourself.

  1. Who is more likely to get oral cancer? Because of your genetic disposition — heredity — men are twice as likely to develop oral cancer as women. African-Americans have a higher incidence than Caucasians. The disease is also related to aging, although in recent years many young people have been diagnosed with this disease.
  2. Are some habits related to development of oral cancer? Risk factors include use of tobacco in any form, both smoking and chewing, chronic exposure to sun, and consumption of alcohol. Moderate to heavy drinkers have a three to nine times greater risk than non-drinkers. Tobacco smokers are at five to nine times greater risk than non-users, and users of snuff or chewing tobacco are at four times greater risk than non-users.
  3. Where do most oral cancers occur? The most common areas are in the mouth itself, the lips, the tongue, and the pharynx (back of the mouth and throat).
  4. What are the statistics for survival after treatment for oral cancer? Conquering cancer depends most on early detection. Since most cases of oral cancer are discovered at a late stage, survival is poor, with less than 60% surviving five years after treatment. When oral cancers are detected early, the survival rate is more than 80%.
  5. What are some of the symptoms of oral cancer? Most oral cancers are “squamous” (small scale-shaped) cell carcinomas in the lining of the mouth. Signs of these cancers can be seen as white or red patches in the early pre-cancerous stage. These develop into an ulcer that does not heal.
  6. When should you seek medical help? If you notice color changes (white or red patches) or sores or ulcers anywhere in your mouth that do not heal within two or three weeks, go to your dentist for a checkup right away. Sometimes the sores resemble cold sores. A definitive diagnosis requires a tissue biopsy, in which a small piece of tissue is removed under anesthesia and taken to a lab for microscopic examination.
  7. What about regular routine examinations? An oral cancer examination should be part of your visit to our office. We will inspect your face, neck, lips and mouth for signs of cancer, feel the floor of the mouth and sides of the neck for any lumps, examine your tongue and the back of your throat. The American Cancer Society recommends a cancer related check-up annually for all individuals aged 40 and older and every three years for those between 20 and 29.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about oral cancer. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer.”