Our Blog

Courting Disaster

January 25th, 2023

When we think of sports and dental damage, we naturally think of hockey and football. But when it comes to the actual number of dental injuries suffered each year, vying for top seed is the game of basketball.

How is this possible? After all, football and hockey are categorized as “collision sports”! But along with the helmets, shin guards, and padding, these teams quite often require mouthguards—and this makes all the difference. Studies have shown that an increase in the number of players wearing mouthguards means a decrease in the number of oral traumas.

And while basketball isn’t considered a collision sport, it is a contact sport. Basketball is a combination of running, jumping, hard surfaces, and solid bodies. And elbows. We can’t forget elbows. So a broken or even a knocked out tooth isn’t, unfortunately, all that unusual when bodies in motion meet hard surfaces—or other players. But there are other dental dangers as well. Besides tooth injuries, oral injuries can involve:

  • The ligaments and bone structures holding teeth in place
  • Bones in the upper and lower jaw
  • Delicate gum, tongue, and mouth tissue.

You need a solid defensive strategy to reduce the severity of oral injuries or to prevent them from happening altogether, especially when you wear braces. The best play in your playbook? Wearing a mouthguard!

Choosing the right guard is key. There are three common options, and you can choose the model which works best for you:

  • Stock guards, which are ready-made guards in pre-formed shapes and sizes. You can buy them over the counter in drug stores and sporting goods stores. Because these guards aren’t shaped to fit your teeth and mouth specifically, they can be less protective (and harder to speak around).
  • “Boil-and-bite” guards can also be purchased, and can provide a closer fit. After warming the guard in hot water as directed, you place it in your mouth and bite down firmly to mold it to your teeth.
  • Dr. David Ray can make you a mouthguard that is designed and crafted specifically for your use. Because this guard is custom-fitted, it provides better protection for your teeth and mouth. Patients often find custom guards much more comfortable and more durable as well.

Mouthguards are most effective when you wear them on the court and care for them off the court. This means avoiding a few flagrant fouls.

  • Dirty play

All those moist nooks and crannies inside your mouthguard are a perfect environment for bacteria, mold, and plaque buildup. You should clean your mouthguard carefully every time you wear it, and let it air dry before popping it back in the case. Ask Dr. David Ray for advice on getting your guard and its case their cleanest.

  • Failure to sub out in a timely fashion

Mouthguards don’t work if they’re damaged. If you notice any warping, breakage, or jagged or sharp edges, contact our Westerville, OH office for a replacement. If a guard doesn’t fit you properly, it doesn’t protect you, and sharp edges can irritate or injure delicate mouth tissue.

  • Unnecessary roughness

Your mouthguard protects you, so don’t forget to protect it! Keep your guard in its case when you’re not wearing it to save it from dirt, damage, and disappearance.

If you know your basketball, you know your guard game can make all the difference. Even though a mouthguard might not be mandatory on your team, that doesn’t mean it’s not essential. Remember that basketball is a contact sport, and protect your teeth, your mouth, and your braces with a mouthguard whenever you play.

Interproximal Cavities: The Inside Story

January 18th, 2023

Time to brush! So, you make sure you gently brush the plaque off the outside surfaces of your teeth. You want to present a gleaming smile to the world, after all. And you make sure to brush the inside surfaces as well, because who wants to feel a fuzzy patch of plaque every time their tongue hits their teeth? And, naturally, you remember to clean the tops of your molars, because those crevices make them more cavity-prone than any other surface.

Done? Not quite!

You might be surprised to learn that no matter how well you’ve brushed all the visible surfaces of your teeth, you’ve left quite a bit of enamel untouched—the adjoining, or touching, surfaces of the teeth that sit next to each other.

You’ve probably noticed that your bristles can’t . . . quite . . . reach all the enamel between your teeth (especially between your molars!) when you’re brushing. This means that food particles and plaque have an easier time sticking around. And when the bacteria in plaque are left undisturbed, especially with a banquet of food particles available, they produce acids which gradually eat away at the enamel covering our teeth, creating a cavity.

Here’s where we work in some specific dental vocabulary. “Interproximal” means between the adjoining, or touching, surfaces of the teeth. And an interproximal cavity is a cavity that develops on one of those side surfaces of your teeth.

  • Preventing Interproximal Cavities

Fortunately, prevention is about as basic as it can be—brushing and flossing effectively. Dentists recommend brushing for two minutes at least twice a day and flossing once each day. While most of us are good about keeping up with brushing, sometimes that daily flossing is more a goal than a reality.

But it’s flossing which really does the trick when it comes to interproximal cleaning. If you floss correctly, food particles and plaque are removed from between the teeth and around the gum line—places where bristles just can’t reach.

When you wear braces, though, flossing isn’t quite so basic. Getting that floss just where it needs to be in between brackets and wires and in between teeth can be a challenge!

The good news is there are many products designed just to make flossing easier while you’re in orthodontic treatment:

  • Floss threaders are flexible hoops that help you thread floss behind your wires easily.
  • Precut floss strands use a stiff tip at one end for threading floss through wires.
  • Interproximal brushes are tiny, cone-shaped brushes which can fit between your teeth and braces for precise cleaning.
  • Water flossers eliminate floss altogether, using a pulsing stream of water to clean between and around teeth and braces.

During your next visit to our Westerville, OH office, Dr. David Ray can give you tips on how to use any of these tools effectively for cleaner teeth and cleaner braces.

Preventing cavities on the exterior surfaces of your teeth is probably pretty much automatic by now, but don’t forget the potential for stealth decay! If we find signs of erosion on the sides of your teeth, or if your hygienist lets you know that you’ve got a lot of interproximal plaque buildup, work with your dental team to make sure “interproximal cavity” doesn’t become a working part of your dental vocabulary.

What’s on Your Orthodontic Calendar?

January 11th, 2023

Did you know that there’s a World Orthodontic Health Day in May? Or that National Orthodontic Health Month takes place in October? You may not have circled these days on the calendar—in fact, this might be the first time you’ve heard about them! But celebrating these special days is just one way that orthodontists share the health benefits of orthodontic treatment with us.

That’s because orthodontic treatment is about more than creating a beautiful smile. With the help of Dr. David Ray, you might also be creating:

  • Healthier Teeth and Gums

When your teeth are aligned, it’s easier to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Crowded, crooked, or overlapping teeth make it harder to brush and floss as effectively. Plaque that builds up in those hard-to-reach places on the tooth enamel helps create cavities. And over time, built-up plaque turns into tartar, a leading cause of receding gums and gum disease. Straight, properly spaced teeth make efficient brushing and flossing a breeze!

  • A Comfortable, Functional Bite

A malocclusion, or bad bite, occurs when the teeth and jaws don’t align properly. In a healthy bite, teeth aren’t crowded, twisted, or spaced too widely apart. The top teeth should slightly overlap the lower teeth. And the ridges of your upper molars should fit smoothly with the grooves of the lower molars.

If your bite is off, you’ve probably noticed chewing pain, headaches, or jaw pain. Over time, malocclusions can lead to worn enamel, cracked teeth, and tooth grinding, and have been linked to mouth breathing, which dries out the mouth and isn’t good for your dental health. Braces or aligners, with other appliances if needed, can not only correct a malocclusion, but prevent the very uncomfortable side effects of a bad bite.

  • Improved Facial Symmetry

Malocclusions affect facial symmetry. Underbites occur when the lower jaw is too large, while small lower jaws can cause serious overbites. Bite problems can mean overjets (also called “buck teeth”), or open bites (where the front teeth don’t touch when the mouth is closed). Crossbites result in one or more upper teeth fitting inside the lower teeth. These conditions can affect both facial balance and profile.

With the use of braces and appliances like palatal expanders, Herbst® appliances, or headgear, Dr. David Ray can guide jawbone development while a child’s bones are still growing. For older patients, we can design a treatment plan to align teeth, correct malocclusion, and improve facial symmetry.

  • Psychological Benefits

We can’t forget the invisible benefit of orthodontic treatment: a happy, comfortable smile is a great confidence-booster! If you’re reluctant to share your smile with the world, a visit to Dr. David Ray can let you know just what to expect from treatment, and just how it can improve your life.

Because it’s so important to both our dental health and our overall well-being, we’re happy to celebrate orthodontic health on special days throughout the year. And let’s also celebrate the fact that there’s no calendar deadline when it comes to scheduling a healthier smile! Whether it’s early treatment for younger children to guide jaw growth, or the common orthodontic treatment window during the teen years, or adult treatment to create the smile you’ve always wanted, help is available at our Westerville, OH office whenever you’re ready to set the date!

Electric Toothbrush: How do you choose?

January 4th, 2023

Since the introduction of the power toothbrush in the 1960s, this tool has undergone many technological advances, from design and bristle motions to rotation oscillation and sonic vibration.

What is rotation oscillation? That’s when the head of the toothbrush alternately rotates in one direction and then the other. Power toothbrushes can deliver up to 50,000 strokes per minute, which is much more effective than the average 300 strokes per minute with a manual toothbrush.

A smaller brush head is available for hard-to-reach areas, which is a good alternative for small mouths. The brush heads are replaceable and should be changed every three to six months. Each family member should have his or her own brush head while sharing the base motor. What a great deal! Check the handle size. A large handle is better for members of the household with arthritis, children, or family with other physical disabilities.

A rechargeable toothbrush is ideal. It should deliver enough power on a full charge for one week of brushing.

We recommend you brush for a minimum of two minutes. Some electric toothbrushes include a signal you can hear, such as a beep every 30 seconds, to indicate it's time to switch to a different area of the mouth. Others sound an alert after the full two minutes has elapsed.

Will an electric toothbrush harm the teeth or gums? Studies indicate that people tend to apply more damaging pressure to their teeth and gums during manual brushing than when they use an electric toothbrush. If you experience tooth sensitivity, choose a model with pressure sensors that stop the toothbrush any time you press too hard.

Who would benefit from an electric toothbrush? Everyone! Consumers with a physical disability may have specific needs that power toothbrushes can address. Children also tend to maintain better oral health hygiene when they use an automatic toothbrush. Plus, many of them find it fun to brush!

Automatic toothbrushes really do remove debris better than the old-fashioned way. You may have heard the term “biofilm.” Better known as plaque when it occurs in the mouth, biofilm is the debris and bacteria that cause infections to your teeth. It regenerates quickly, so healthy habits are the best defense for a healthier you! With a healthier mouth, you face a lower risk of gum disease and other conditions like heart disease: mouth health has been linked to heart health.

When you're ready to make your decisions, be a wise comparison shopper. Consult with Dr. David Ray at Ray Orthodontics to decide what is best for you!