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A wave of madness is about to sweep across Indianapolis and onto television screens across America—March Madness, that is. That's right: After its cancellation in 2020 due to COVID-19, the famed NCAA men's basketball tournament is back with all 68 games scheduled to be played in and around Indianapolis. As you can imagine, there will be numerous health precautions, and not just for the pandemic—there should also be mouthguards aplenty.

Why mouthguards? Although you might think football and hockey would be rougher on players' teeth, gums and jaws, basketball actually tops the list of sports with the most dental injuries. Such an injury occurring from a split-second contact with another player could take years to overcome.

Fortunately, mouthguards are a proven way to reduce sports-related mouth injuries among professional and amateur basketball athletes. Made of a pliable plastic, mouthguards cushion against blunt forces to the mouth generated during play (and not only formal games—practices and scrimmages too).

But while wearing a mouthguard is a no-brainer, choosing one can be a little intimidating. True, they all work on the same principle, but there are dozens of types, designs and price ranges.

We can, however, distill them down to two basic categories: “boil and bite” and custom mouthguards. You'll find the first kind online or in a local retail sporting goods store. It's named so because you first place it in hot water to soften it, and then place it in the mouth and bite down to create an individual fit.

As an inexpensive option, boil and bite mouthguards provide a level of protection. But they also tend to be bulky and uncomfortable, which can tempt players to wear them less. And the softer plastic (compared to custom guards) allows for a lot of jaw (and in turn, teeth) movement, which can cause teeth to loosen over time.

Custom mouthguards, on the other hand, are created by dentists based on impressions made of the wearer's mouth. As such, the fit tends to be more precise, requiring less material than the boil and bite variety, thus affording a greater degree of comfort. And there's less potentially damaging jaw movement with a custom mouthguard. As you might imagine, custom mouthguards are more expensive, but compared to the potential treatment cost for a sports-related dental injury, it's money well spent.

Investing in a custom mouthguard for your family basketball (or football, hockey or baseball) player is a sound way to protect their dental health. And that's not madness at all.

If you would like more information about athletic mouthguards, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Athletic Mouthguards.”

By Mehr Tucker, DDS, LLC
March 06, 2021
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: dental implants  

It's a common practice among people slowly losing their teeth to have their remaining teeth removed. They find dentures to be less costly than replacing one tooth at a time or caring for those that remain. On the other hand, it's usually healthier for the mouth to preserve remaining teeth as long as possible, replacing them only as necessary.

This latter strategy has up to now been difficult and expensive to achieve. But dental implants are changing that—using these imbedded titanium metal devices with a variety of restorations, we're able to better plan and implement staged tooth replacement.

Most people associate implants with single tooth replacements of a life-like crown cemented or screwed into an abutment attached to the implant post. This can play an early role in a staged replacement plan, but at some point, multiple single-tooth implants can become quite expensive.

Implants, however, have a much broader range of use. A few strategically placed implants can support a variety of restorations, including bridges and removable or fixed dentures. Four to eight implants, for example, can secure a fixed denture replacing all teeth on a jaw, far fewer than the number needed to replace the teeth individually.

Implants may also improve the function of traditional restorations. For instance, dentures can't stop the bone loss that often results from tooth loss—in fact, they will accelerate it as they rub and irritate the bony ridges of the jaw. By contrast, implants stimulate bone growth, slowing or even stopping the process of bone loss.

In a traditional bridge, the outer crowns of the restoration are bonded to the teeth on either side of the missing tooth gap (the middle crowns fill the gap). These support teeth must be permanently altered to accommodate the crowns. But an implant-supported bridge doesn't depend on other teeth for support, thus eliminating the need to permanently alter any teeth.

More importantly, previously placed implants often become part of the next stages of tooth replacement, like building on an addition onto an existing house. All in all, including implants in your ongoing dental restoration can help you enjoy the benefits of preserving your natural teeth for much longer.

If you would like more information on dental restoration options, 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 “Replacing All Teeth but Not All at Once.”

By Mehr Tucker, DDS, LLC
February 24, 2021
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: celebrity smiles  

Even though coronavirus lockdowns have prevented TV hosts from taping live shows, they're still giving us something to watch via virtual interviews. In the process, we're given occasional glimpses into their home life. During a Tonight Show interview with Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his wife, R & B performer Ciara, Jimmy Fallon's daughter Winnie interrupted with breaking news: She had just lost a tooth.

It was an exciting and endearing moment, as well as good television. But with 70 million American kids under 18, each with about 20 primary teeth to lose, it's not an uncommon experience. Nevertheless, it's still good to be prepared if your six-year-old is on the verge of losing that first tooth.

Primary teeth may be smaller than their successors, but they're not inconsequential. Besides providing young children with the means to chew solid food and develop speech skills, primary teeth also serve as placeholders for the corresponding permanent teeth as they develop deep in the gums. That's why it's optimal for baby teeth to remain intact until they're ready to come out.

When that time comes, the tooth's roots will begin to dissolve and the tooth will gradually loosen in the socket. Looseness, though, doesn't automatically signal a baby tooth's imminent end. But come out it will, so be patient.

Then again, if your child, dreaming of a few coins from the tooth fairy, is antsy to move things along, you might feel tempted to use some old folk method for dispatching the tooth—like attaching the tooth to a door handle with string and slamming the door, or maybe using a pair of pliers (yikes!). One young fellow in an online video tied his tooth to a football with a string and let it fly with a forward pass.

Here's some advice from your dentist: Don't. Trying to pull a tooth whose root hasn't sufficiently dissolved could damage your child's gum tissues and increase the risk of infection. It could also cause needless pain.

Left alone, the tooth will normally fall out on its own. If you think, though, that it's truly on the verge (meaning it moves quite freely in the socket), you can pinch the tooth between your thumb and middle finger with a clean tissue and give it a gentle tug. If it's ready, it should pop out. If it doesn't, leave it be for another day or two before trying again.

Your child losing a tooth is an exciting moment, even if it isn't being broadcast on national television. It will be more enjoyable for everyone if you let that moment come naturally.

If you would like more information on the importance and care of primary teeth, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Importance of Baby Teeth.”

February 22, 2021
Category: Dental Procedures

If there is one dental procedure that demands to be demystified it is the root canal. It is the subject of jokes and is a source of anxiety for many nervous patients. But modern root canal treatments are not any more uncomfortable than other dental procedures, and one of its goals is pain relief. To learn more about root canals get in contact with Dr. Mehr Tucker in Rockville, MD.

The Tooth Inside and Out

Your tooth is encased by enamel, the hardest material in the human body, durable and strong, but is nonetheless susceptible to certain types of damage. Trauma, wear, and decay are common culprits.

The next layer beneath it is called dentin, it's porous, and without enamel's protection, it allows discomfort from heat and cold to pass through into the inner chamber which hosts nerves and blood vessels. These stem down the tooth through the root, where these connect to the rest of your body. It's when decay breaches into this space that can bring about inflammation of these soft tissues and pain.

Untreated, the infection can spread and may lead to tooth loss and other more severe complications.

Root Canals in Rockville, MD

A root canal is performed by first reshaping your injured tooth to gain working access to the pulp, which will be removed, down through the roots, thus alleviating pain.

Your dentist then fills the opening with a rubber-like material and seals it to prevent bacteria from re-entering. To protect it further it is then prepared for a crown which will give your tooth back its form and function.

A root canal's purpose is to save your tooth and to fight against infection, and with it, the pain that accompanies it. Saving you from more costly dental work is an added benefit. If you're struggling with pain or just wish to prevent it, then book your appointment today! Make a call to Dr. Tucker of Smiles for All Ages in Rockville, MD, by dialing (301) 963-8900.

February 16, 2021
Tags: Crown   Bridge  

Is your smile being held back by a dental problem? Here at Mehr Tucker, DDS, LLC in Rockville, MD, Dr. Mehr Tucker can solve various dental problems using crowns and bridges. Both are somewhat similar but they can tend to different dental needs or can be used together to resolve certain issues.


How Dental Crowns Work

A crown is a “cap” that is placed over a damaged tooth, encasing it entirely. It can be utilized to fortify and improve your tooth’s appearance. Dental crowns can come in a variety of materials such as ceramic, porcelain, acrylic, gold, and metal alloys. Dental crowns are extremely versatile and are commonly used to:

  • Protect a weakened tooth from further damage
  • Fix a fractured tooth
  • Replace a large filling
  • Conceal a severely stained or discolored tooth
  • Cover a malformed or irregularly-shaped tooth
  • Fasten a bridge into place
  • Reinforce a tooth that has undergone root canal treatment


How Dental Bridges Work

Tooth loss can contribute to your risk of developing an improper bite, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, or periodontal disease. If you are missing one or multiple teeth, a dental bridge could be a viable replacement solution.

A dental bridge consists of artificial replacement teeth that close the gap created by missing teeth. It is cemented onto your natural teeth or a crown that surrounds the unoccupied space. Those neighboring teeth, known as abutments, function as anchors for your bridge.

Similar to dental crowns, bridges are available in different materials. Your dentist will decide which material best fits your exact needs, based on particular factors.


What Happens During The Procedure

The treatment process you may undergo in our Rockville, MD, office for both dental crowns and bridges works similarly. The initial step is to prepare your teeth by reducing their size to accommodate the crown or bridge. In this step, local anesthesia is administered so you won’t experience any discomfort.

Next, a mold or impression of your teeth will be made by your dentist for the creation of your crown or bridge. This will be sent to a dental laboratory that will fabricate them. You and your dentist will also discuss the specific shade of your crown or bridge depending on the material that you want. For the last step of your first visit, you will be instructed to wear a temporary crown or bridge while waiting for your permanent one.

Once your permanent crown or bridge is ready, you will see your dentist for the second and final visit. Here, your temporary crown or bridge is removed and your permanent one is placed. Before cementing, your dentist might make some adjustments to ensure that it fits right.


Contact Us For More Details or Questions About Crowns and Bridges

Set an appointment here at Mehr Tucker, DDS, LLC in Rockville, MD, with Dr. Mehr Tucker, by calling (301) 963-8900.

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