Night Guards For Teeth Grinding

Have you ever woken up with a sore jaw, tooth pain, or a headache? These are common symptoms of sleep bruxism, or teeth-grinding. The American Dental Association estimates that 10-15 percent of adults struggle with sleep bruxism, and children can experience it too. Because it happens during sleep, it can be difficult to control or stop. One way to protect the teeth from the damaging effects of grinding is to wear a night guard.

What Night Guards Are

Night guards come in hard, medium, and soft varieties, with the soft ones resembling mouth guards for sports and hard ones resembling clear plastic retainers, though they’re much sturdier and you usually only need one for the upper teeth. Wearing a night guard provides a cushioning effect so that the upper and lower teeth can’t wear away at each other. It will protect your teeth from external damage caused by grinding, such as chipping and erosion, but as long as the grinding still happens, other symptoms like jaw pain may not change.

What Night Guards Are Not

While hard night guards might look like retainers, they are not necessarily interchangeable. You should never use a normal retainer as a night guard, because it doesn’t have the necessary thickness to withstand the pressure. You should also be careful about using night guards as retainers. If you have a hard night guard that is properly fitted to your teeth, it can serve as a retainer, but a soft night guard won’t prevent your teeth from shifting.

Where To Get Yours

You can either buy your night guard over-the-counter or get a custom night guard from the dentist. A typical over-the-counter night guard requires you to shape it to your teeth by boiling it, allowing it a moment to cool, and then gently biting into it. If you obtain your night guard through your dentist, the added comfort and quality will be worth the greater price. These night guards are made in the office in about 45 minutes or in a laboratory from an impression of your teeth taken by dental professionals.

Cleaning And Storing Your Night Guard

If you don’t want to end up with a night guard that is smelly and gross, it’s important to clean and store it correctly. Always rinse your night guard after you take it out, then brush it with your toothbrush (but no toothpaste). In order to prevent bacterial growth, a night guard should never be stored wet, so give it time to air dry before placing it in its case, and it might be better to leave it on the nightstand instead of in the bathroom.

Dogs Love Night Guards

We aren’t completely sure why, but dogs love to chew on night guards.  They seem to class them the same as a rawhide.  If you have a pet of the canine variety make sure your night guard is in a dog proof container.  I always kept mine in a glass jar on my night stand so my dog Sydney wouldn’t be tempted.

Ask Us About Your Night Guard

If you think you might have bruxism, don’t wait; come talk to us about it. We can get you your perfect night guard, and we can also help you with other methods of reducing the symptoms, such as discussing ways to reduce stress levels and recommending an orthodontist if misaligned teeth are contributing to the grinding.

Thank you for trusting us to take care of your dental needs!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original

Don’t Forget To Clean That Tongue!

YOU HEAR ALL THE TIME about the importance of brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, and you hear almost as often about the importance of daily flossing. What you probably don’t hear a lot is that, if we want to maintain good oral health and hygiene, it’s also important for us to clean our tongues.

Why Should We Clean Our Tongues?

The tongue is one of the most bacteria-covered spots in our bodies. A tongue doesn’t just have taste buds on it, it also has crevices, elevations, and all sorts of tiny structures that bacteria will hide between unless physically removed. Letting all this bacteria sit and multiply can cause bad breath or halitosis, as well as tooth decay on the inner surfaces of the teeth. This is why it’s so important to regularly clean our tongues — so we can get rid of all the unwanted bacterial buildup!

Another benefit to removing the bacteria from our tongues is that it clears the way for our tastebuds to do their jobs. A bacteria-free tongue can taste food much more effectively, and it makes the first stage of the digestive process more effective too, which means improving our digestive health!

The Right Tools For Tongue-Cleaning

You might think mouthwash or rinsing with water is enough to clean your tongue, but that bacteria is stubborn, and simply swishing liquid in your mouth won’t clean out all those crevices on the tongue’s surface. If you really want to clean out that biofilm of bacteria, the key is to scrape it, preferably with a tongue-scraper. You can find these at the store near the toothbrushes, and you should use one every time you brush your teeth.

A toothbrush can do a decent job of cleaning your tongue if you don’t have a special tongue-scraper, and some toothbrushes even have bumps for tongue-scrubbing built in. After you brush your teeth but before you rinse and spit, take that brush or scraper to your tongue. Start at the back and work your way forward, and make sure to get as much of the surface as you can. It’s quick and easy and will make a major difference!

Tongue Scrapers Go Way Back

How long do you think tongue scrapers have been around? A few decades? Try since ancient times! Tongue-scraping is part of the daily hygiene regimen recommended by Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. Over the centuries, tongue scrapers in different cultures have been made of many different materials, including metals like copper, silver, gold, tin, or brass, as well as ivory, mother-of-pearl,whalebone, and tortoiseshell. These days, they’re most often made of plastic or stainless steel.

Need More Tips On Tongue-Cleaning?

If you have questions about cleaning your tongue or finding the right tongue-scraper, just ask! We are more than happy to help you add this important step to your dental hygiene routine. And don’t forget to keep brushing and flossing and scheduling those regular dental appointments!

Way to be the best patients!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Oral Health Habits To Teach Your Children

RAISING A CHILD IS TOUGH work. There are so many things parents have to teach them so that they can succeed as they grow older. Included on that list are good oral health habits that will enable them to keep their teeth healthy and strong for life!

Build Good Habits Early

For permanent teeth to be healthy and strong it’s crucial to start building good oral health habits at a very young age. These habits include brushing their teeth twice a day for two full minutes, scraping their tongues, and flossing daily. Being consistent with a daily routine will help establish these habits quickly. Besides, you want to keep their baby teeth healthy so that their adult teeth will come in where they should and have a healthy start!

Tactics For Teaching Oral Hygiene

Children love to imitate what their parents do, and they love proving that they are big boys and girls. Aside from letting them watch someone brush their teeth, here are a few other ways to help them form good habits!

  • Get them excited! Talking up good oral health will help them to get excited about starting to brush their own teeth as well as flossing and eating the right foods.
  • Let them choose their own “equipment.” When they choose their own toothbrush, it will them take ownership of their oral health, so encourage them to pick out their favorite one!
  • Use examples and have fun! Brush & floss side by side with them.  Also Youtube videos, apps, children’s books, etc. are great examples, other than brushing yourself, to show your child that having good oral health is fun to do!  If you have a smart phone check out some of the toothbrush timers, most of them are free and fun.
  • Praise their successes. If they know you’re proud of them for brushing their teeth, they’ll be proud of themselves and be happier to do it. You might even use a reward system until they get in the habit, like a sticker chart to build up to a prize.

Share this video with your children to show them why they should take care of their teeth:

Check out this video to learn about other ways our teeth are exposed to acids:

Our Extra Expertise

If your child is still refusing to brush their teeth, or is having a hard time grasping the concept of maintaining good oral health, that’s okay! Every child learns at their own pace. Just be patient and keep trying. You can also come to us for help. We can show them examples, talk to them, try to find out why they’re not so interested in brushing, and set up a routine with them! They’ll be tooth-brushing pros before you know it.

We look forward to seeing you again!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Swimming And Oral Health

HERE’S NOTHING BETTER than a swim in the pool to cool down during the hot summer months. Before we dive in, we should be aware of how our time in the pool can impact our oral health. That’s right: the chlorine in swimming pools doesn’t just cause dry skin and eye irritation, it can also have an effect on our teeth.

Chlorine Versus Our Teeth

The reason swimming pools contain chlorine is that it helps to decontaminate the water from microbes and other unpleasant things that could pose health and sanitation risks to swimmers. However, when chlorine is added to water, it forms a weak acid, and unless the pool’s pH isn’t carefully regulated, that acid can lead to a condition called swimmer’s calculus.

Swimmer’s calculus is yellow and brown stains that can develop on teeth enamel after too much exposure to chlorine. It’s also what can make our teeth feel more sensitive after swimming, because enamel erosion leaves the dentin underneath more vulnerable. When we have good oral health, our saliva works to keep our mouths as close to a neutral pH as possible, thus protecting our enamel from erosion, but acid exposure can harm enamel before the saliva can do its job.

This isn’t usually a problem for casual swimmers, but anyone who is a serious swimmer or participates in water sports should be aware of the possibility of developing swimmer’s calculus. The best ways to prevent chlorine damage to your teeth are to maintain a good oral health routine with daily brushing and flossing, drink plenty of fresh water to flush out the chlorine residue, and keep your mouth closed while swimming!

Check out this video to learn about other ways our teeth are exposed to acids:

Dental Concerns Of Scuba Diving

If swimming pools aren’t your thing but you love snorkeling and diving, your teeth will be safe from the effects of chlorine, but they may still face other problems. Barodontalgia, commonly called tooth squeeze, is when tiny air bubbles trapped in cracks, crevices, and holes in our teeth change size due to pressure. This pressure change can result in significant tooth pain and can even fracture teeth! If you are having tooth pain when diving you may need some maintenance on your dental work.

Most divers are familiar with how uncomfortable those “one size fits none” mouthpieces can be, but do you know they can be bad for your teeth? Divers with poorly-fitting mouthpieces have to clench to keep them in place, and this can lead to Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ), which causes jaw pain and headaches and makes it uncomfortable to chew. If you’re a frequent diver, you might want to invest in a custom-fitted mouthpiece.

Take time to cool off this summer! You deserve it!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Seasonal Allergies And Your Oral Health


Summer is here
…and that usually means that the spring allergies are starting to die down but here in Knoxville, the pollens are still aggravating a lot of folks out there.   Seasonal allergies affect millions of people every year, but did you know that they can also affect oral health?

Why Do We Get Seasonal Allergies?

While there are plenty of allergens that can make us sneeze year round, such as dust and pet dander, seasonal allergies typically flare up twice a year: in the spring and the fall. But here in Knoxville the pollens get trapped and that means nearly year round congestion, an itchy nose, mouth, eyes, or throat, puffy eyes, sneezing, and coughing for people with allergies.

The reason our allergies act up the most during spring and fall is that trees and grass pollinate throughout the spring, while ragweed pollinates in the fall. Mold will also send out spores around the same time. Allergic reactions, including seasonal allergies, are the result of our immune systems going into overdrivein response to these allergens.

Allergies Versus Oral Health

While allergies can result in tingly or swollen lips, mouth, or tongue and irritated gums, the most common way seasonal allergies can become a problem for oral health is dry mouth. Whenever we have congestion, we end up breathing through our mouths instead of our noses, which dries up our saliva.  Antihistamines, while very helpful to keep your allergies under control, also cause dry mouth. Saliva is our number one defense against cavity-causing bacteria, so when your mouth is dry, you have a higher risk of developing tooth decay. Having dry mouth presents a serious threat to oral health, because saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against gum disease and tooth decay.

Prevention And Treatment

Because many allergens are airborne, avoiding allergic reactions can be difficult, but there are a few things you can do. It’s best to stay indoors on extra windy days when the most allergens are in the air. You should also wear a pollen mask while doing yard work, and avoid using window fans that could blow pollen and spores into your house.  Change your clothes and wash your face and hands after coming in from outside to keep the pollens around your person and in your home to a minimum.

If you do end up having an allergy attack, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and chew sugar-free gum to stimulate your salivary glands, and keep up your daily brushing and flossing routine. Make sure you also take the anti-allergy medications your doctor or allergist recommends to minimize your congestion.

Fighting Back Against Allergies Together!

If you’re experiencing dry mouth, whether as a side-effect of seasonal allergies or for any other reason, don’t hesitate to come see us! Your oral health is our top priority, and together we can come up with a plan to keep your mouth healthy until the allergies end and beyond!

Thank you for putting your trust in our practice!

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Easy Ways To Improve Your Dental Health

We’ve all heard that if we want healthy teeth, we should brush twice a day, floss once a day, and schedule regular dental cleaning appointments twice a year. Definitely keep doing those things, but if you want to step up your oral health game, here are a few easy ways to do that.

Replace Your Toothbrush Regularly

One of the simplest ways you can improve your dental health and hygiene is to replace your toothbrush on a regular basis. Vigorous brushing will make the bristles fray and reduce the brush’s cleaning ability, but that’s not the only reason toothbrushes should be replaced often.

A lot of the bacteria we brush off our teeth stays on the bristles of our toothbrushes. Proper storage–meaning storing the toothbrush upright and letting it dry out between uses–can keep a toothbrush from getting smelly and nasty too fast, but it’s still important to replace your toothbrush at least every 3-4 months.

Use A Tongue-Scraper

Brushing your teeth twice daily is a no-brainer, but don’t forget your tongue! The same bacteria and gunk that flourishes on teeth can hide on your tongue too. Using a tongue scraper or just running your toothbrush over your tongue will leave your mouth feeling much fresher than if you only focus on your teeth and gums.

Don’t Brush Too Hard

Sometimes it seems like we need to really work at those teeth when we brush, to get absolutely all of the food particles and plaque out. However, if we brush too hard, we risk scraping away at the tooth enamel, which is your teeth’s first line of defense against decay. Brush gently or use a toothbrush with soft bristles to avoid damaging your teeth.

Eat Teeth-Friendly Foods

Many foods are bad for your teeth. Sugar and carbs feed the harmful bacteria living in your mouth and acidic drinks erode tooth enamel. Avoiding some of these foods will help, but there are also plenty of foods you can eat that are actually good for your teeth.

Adding more cheese, yogurt, leafy greens, apples, carrots, celery, and almonds to your diet will make your teeth happy, whether by scrubbing them as you eat, fighting bad bacteria, treating gum disease, neutralizing your mouth’s pH, or remineralizing your enamel.

We’d Love To See How Your Teeth Are Doing!

If it’s been a while since your last dental exam, we’d love to see how your teeth are doing, and we’ll be excited to see how adopting these simple habits will affect your oral health by the time we see you again!

We Love Our Patients!

Top image by Flickr user rumpleteaser used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

2 Minutes That Could Save Your Life

Oral Cancer Screening…it takes 2 minutes and it could save your life.

of people out there are scared of visiting the dentist but oral cancer is even scarier.  Just take a look at these oral cancer statistics:

Over the last 8 years Oral Cancers have increased, most other cancers have declined.

49,670 people in the U.S. will be newly diagnosed with oral cancer this year.

Even though the two main risk factors are tobacco and excessive alcohol use, there is increasing numbers of young non-smoking oral cancer patients due to certain strains of human papillomavirus (HPV).

70% of oral cancers are found in late stages (stages III or IV).

9,700 deaths this year will be due to late diagnosis of oral cancer, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

At TLC Dental Care we perform the The American Dental Association mandatory protocol for detecting oral lesions which is an annual health history review with a visual and tactile (look and feel) examination but we have added a Laser Assisted Screening also.  We have done the research and feel that the laser can help us find cancers when they are smaller and at an earlier stage.

It is our goal to have no one die from oral cancer in our practice and finding the cancer at earlier stages will go a long way toward that goal.  We decided that doing the screening is so simple that we’ll do it more often, at every check-up appointment instead of once a year, and we’ll use the laser every time.

We also realized that we couldn’t accept that someone might end up with a late stage cancer because they felt they couldn’t afford the Laser Assisted Oral Cancer Screening, so we made the decision that we’ll provide this service at no charge even though we’re gonna use a fancy laser each time.

And for the month of April, this complementary screening is extended to everyone in Knoxville even those folks who are not yet our patients.  Just contact us and we’ll find a 5-minute slot to do your 2-minute screening.

We know a lot of people out there are scared of visiting the dentist but oral cancer is even scarier.   So if you don’t go to the dentist for anything else, at least get screened for oral cancer every year.  It is a simple process, it takes 2 minutes, and it could save your life.

Make Flossing A Priority For Your Child

Is Flossing a part of your child’s oral hygiene routine? Daily flossing is just as important for a child’s dental health as it is for an adult’s. As parents, you play a major role in helping your children learn to floss correctly and understand its importance from a young age.

Remember, Baby Teeth Matter

Flossing should begin as soon as your child has two teeth that touch. By starting regular flossing early, your child will get used to the daily task and will be more likely to incorporate it into their own oral healthcare routine later in life. As flossing requires a certain amount of manual dexterity, children will need parents’ help and supervision until about age 10 or 11.

Unfortunately, because baby teeth eventually fall out, many parents underestimate their importance and may neglect flossing. Even though they are temporary, baby teeth are essential to a child’s growth and development. They aid in chewing, promote proper speech development and reserve a space for permanent teeth to grow in. Daily flossing will keep your child’s smile healthy and protect it from tooth decay!

Choose The Right Floss For Your Child’s Smile

Every smile is unique and may require different types of care. Learning what floss can benefit your child’s specific needs can make flossing their teeth easier and more effective. Here are different kinds of floss and how they may work best for your child:

  • Waxed floss: If your child’s teeth fit tightly together or are more crowded, waxed floss is for you. It is generally thinner and easier to glide between tighter-fitting teeth.
  • Dental tape: This is a wider, flatter type of floss that is designed to be gentle on exposed gums. If your child has gaps in their teeth, we recommend using dental tape.
  • Ultra Floss: Some children have varied spacing between their teeth. Ultra floss is wide enough to comfortably clean between gaps but can also stretch thin enough to clean between teeth that are close together.
  • Floss threader: Orthodontic appliances such as braces can make flossing extra difficult. The floss threader is designed to get into the nooks and crannies between teeth and around braces.
  • Pre-threaded Floss Pick: Many parents report that floss picks are easier to use on their children because of the convenient handle. They often come in different colors and can be fun for a child to pick out for themselves and be more involved.

No matter which floss you choose, the most important thing is to floss your child’s teeth on a daily basis! Call us or come into our office to discuss which type of floss may be best for your child. We will teach you how to floss your child’s teeth correctly as well as provide tips to make it easier.

A Lifetime Of Good Oral Hygiene Starts Early

When you don’t floss your child’s teeth, you miss cleaning 35 percent of tooth surfaces in their mouth. Flossing completes brushing by cleaning the hard-to-reach spaces between teeth that a toothbrush can’t. By brushing and flossing your child’s teeth on a daily basis, you ensure that their smile stays cavity-free and help put them on the path of good oral hygiene for a lifetime!

We love caring for your child’s smile!

Top image by Flickr user Donnie Ray Jones used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

How Pregnancy Affects Your Oral Health

Pregnancy Affects Nearly every aspect of your life–your lifestyle, your diet, your health, and much more! Your mouth is no exception to the changes your body may experience during pregnancy. During this special time, you’ll need to pay particular attention to your oral health for both your sake and your growing baby’s.

You May Be More Prone To Dental Problems

One of the main concerns we have for expectant mothers is what we call pregnancy gingivitis. Around 40 percent of pregnant women have some form of gum disease–gingivitis being the first stage. Because of raised hormone levels during pregnancy, you may be more sensitive to dental plaque than before, causing your gums to be sensitive, swell and bleed. Studies have linked mothers with gum disease to premature delivery and lower birth weights.

In about five percent of pregnancies, women may experience lumps along the gum line and in between teeth. Luckily, these swellings are harmless and usually go away after baby is born. Even though these are known as “pregnancy tumors,” there is no need to be alarmed as they are not cancerous and can be easily removed by your dentist.

Morning sickness can also cause dental woes for expectant mothers. Pregnant women often complain of sensitive gag reflexes and even routine tasks such as brushing and flossing can induce vomiting. Exposure to acid, especially strong stomach acid, can lead to tooth enamel erosion, decay and sensitivity. After vomiting, we recommend rinsing your mouth out with a teaspoon of baking soda mixed with water to neutralize stomach acid and prevent any damage to teeth.

Protect Your Teeth During Pregnancy

To protect your teeth during pregnancy, one of your first stops should be the dentist’s office. If you are planning on getting pregnant, talk to your dentist beforehand so you can fix any dental issues before conceiving. And when you do find out that you are pregnant, don’t just go to your OB/GYN, make your way to the dentist’s as well!

Routine cleanings and checkups are safe during pregnancy, and as you may be more susceptible to certain dental problems at this time, getting frequent cleanings is a must. You will also need to be diligent about your oral hygiene at home. As always, brush at least twice a day and floss daily.

Another thing to remember is that your diet matters. Did you know that baby’s teeth start developing between the third and sixth months of pregnancy? You will need plenty of nutrients–specifically vitamins A, C and D, protein, calcium and phosphorous–to make sure their teeth, gums and bones develop properly.

Mothers, We Are Here For You

Pregnancy can bring with it a lot of change and responsibility, but we want our patients to know that we are here for you. We want to make sure that your dental health is taken care of so you can focus on preparing for your little one to come into the world. So whether you’re planning on becoming pregnant or already are, we’d love to see you in our office!

Our patients mean the world to us!

Top image by Flickr user Phalinn Ooi used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Is Chewing Gum Good Or Bad For Your Teeth?

Did You Know that the average American consumes 1.8 pounds of gum each year? With so much gum going into our mouths it’s important to know how chewing gum affects our dental health. You may have heard that it’s both good and bad for your teeth… so what’s the real answer? Read on to find out!

Avoid Chewing Gum Sweetened With Sugar

Gum has always been a childhood favorite! What child doesn’t love that sweet burst of flavor or a bubble-blowing competition with friends? Unfortunately, gum sweetened with sugar is bad news for teeth.

When you or your child choose sugary chewing gum, you’re not the only ones satisfying your sweet tooth. The bacteria in our mouths like sugar too! And they enjoy it long after we’ve spit our gum out. These bacteria use sugar as fuel, producing acids that weaken tooth enamel and cause cavities.

Stick To Sugarless Gum

Here’s the good news: chewing sugar-free gum can actually boost your oral health! Chewing gum increases saliva flow in your mouth, strengthening your teeth and washing away food debris and bacteria. While the same is true for sugary gum, the increased saliva flow isn’t quite enough to offset the damage that the sugar can do.

According to the American Dental Association, studies show that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after a meal can prevent tooth decay. Saliva helps neutralize acids in our mouths after eating. It also contains calcium and phosphate which strengthen tooth enamel, our teeth’s first line of defense against cavity-causing bacteria.

So, when choosing gum, “stick” to the sugarless kind!

Gum Can’t Replace Good Oral Hygiene

Chewing sugar-free gum can only act as a supplement to your daily oral hygiene routine and can’t replace daily brushing and flossing. Keep up your everyday mouth-healthy habits and you’ll have strong, beautiful teeth for life!

Check out the video below to learn more about how chewing sugarless gum can supplement your oral hygiene routine!

Make The Right Choice For Your Smile

Chewing gum is fun and delicious! But remember, the type of gum you choose can make a big difference for your teeth. So next time you’re at the checkout counter and reach for a pack of gum, make sure it’s sugar-free. Your smile will thank you!

We love to treat you! Thank you for supporting our practice.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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