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Preventive Dentistry

You Should Wear a Mouthguard for These Sports
©Jason Stitt/

It’s often said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.  Sports mouth guards can not only protect your teeth, but they can protect against many injuries that can occur in and around your mouth.

Not convinced?  Six reasons why you should wear an athletic mouth guard.

Although some sports are riskier than others, you should consider wearing an athletic mouth guard while participating in any sport where you could suffer a blow to the face.  Some sports, such as football require a face shield as well as a mouth guard.  Other sports, like basketball, may not require a mouth guard, but wearing one could save your teeth.

Wear a Mouth Guard When Playing Soccer

Wear a Mouth Guard for These 16 Sports

1 – Football

2 – Boxing

3 – Ice hockey

4 – Baseball

5 – Wrestling

6 – Boxing

7 – Lacrosse

8 – Field Hockey

9 – Soccer

10 – Basketball

11 – Water Polo

12 – Handball

13 – Rugby

14 – Karate

15 – Horseback riding

16 – Gymnastics

No you don’t always need to wear an athletic mouth guard when you play the above sports, but a mouth guard can help prevent serious dental injuries.

I get it, nobody wants to be the dork that wears a mouth guard, but most mouth guard-wearing dorks do have better teeth!

Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about athletic mouth guards?  Go ahead and leave them in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!

Keep Your Kids Teeth Safe at the Swimming Pool

Many parts of the United States have already had really hot temperatures this spring.  In spite of this, many swimming pools don’t officially open for the summer season until until Memorial Day weekend.  Since many people will be out swimming this weekend, I thought I would share a few tips on how to prevent dental injuries — keep your kids and their teeth happy by reading this article!

Tooth Safety at the Swimming Pool

How to Keep Your Teeth Safe at the Swimming Pool This Summer

What many parents don’t realize is that lots of dental emergencies happen at swimming pools.  If you take a blistering hot day, add a few dozen kids, throw in a lot of hard concrete edges, and sprinkle in some water to make everything slippery, you’ve created the perfect recipe for a dental disaster!

Luckily, you can prevent many dental injuries by simply following these three guidelines:

Dental Safety at the Swimming Pool1 – No Running! Make sure that your kids walk while in the swimming pool area.  Most pools have No Running posted as one of their rules.  This is because water often gathers around swimming pools which makes things extra slippery.  By making your kids walk, they will be less likely to slip, fall, and injure their teeth.

2 – Talk to Your Kids. If your kids are old enough, tell them that they can hurt their teeth.  Many children don’t realize that teeth can chip, crack, and even fall out.  If you tell them what can happen if they’re not careful when climbing the ladder, or hanging onto the hard, concrete edge of the pool they will likely be more careful and this will prevent a dental injury.

3 – Don’t Play too Rough. If you are throwing your kids around in the water, they will be more likely to accidentally hit something that could hurt their mouth.  Even accidentally colliding with another child in the pool could be forceful enough to cause a dental injury!  So be aware of your surroundings and find safe games and activities to do in the water.

What to Do When a Dental Injury Occurs at the Pool

It’s a good idea to know beforehand what to do when a tooth falls out.  If you haven’t read my past articles, you may want to check out these two articles:

What to do When Your Child’s Baby Tooth Gets Knocked Out

Nine Steps to Take When Your Permanent Tooth Gets Knocked Out

You also might want to put your dentist’s phone number into your cell phone so that you’ll have it in case a dental emergency occurs.  Most dentists have a system to reach them after hours if needed.

Most Importantly: Have Fun

Have a lot of fun and be safe at the pool this summer!  With a little extra caution, you can enjoy hours of water fun and stay injury-free.

Do you have any questions, comments, or concerns about dental accidents at the swimming pool?  Speak your mind in the comments section below.

Have a great Memorial Day – I’ll be back with a new article next Wednesday.  Thanks for reading!

How Often You Should Get Dental X-Rays Taken
©Tyler Olson/

I’ve gotten a few emails lately asking about how often dental x-rays should be taken.  An extreme example involved a young girl who had nearly 50 x-rays taken of one tooth over the course of a few years.

Another common example involves an adult who has never had a cavity.  Her dentist wants to take x-rays of her teeth every year.

Dental Panoramic X-RayThe main problem with getting so many x-rays is that whenever your body gets exposed to radiation, there is a risk of damaging your DNA, which could lead to cancer.  The amount of radiation from x-rays is very small, so this isn’t something to worry about, but getting lots of dental x-rays every year can add up to a lot of radiation exposure over your whole life!

Do people really need to have x-rays taken this often?  Let’s find out below!

How Often You Should Have Dental X-Rays Taken

The answer really depends on your oral health and your age.  For example, a 35-year old woman who has never had a cavity would require x-rays less often than than an 8-year old boy who has had several cavities in the past and doesn’t brush his teeth.

In order to provide the best answer to the question of how often to have x-rays taken, I will break it down into five different answers based on age and oral health.  Hopefully you can identify the category that  most closely resembles your situation to get a general idea of how often you need to have dental x-rays taken.

One more note: To figure out whether you fall into the low cavity risk or high cavity risk category, think about how many cavities you’ve had in the past, whether you’ve had any recent cavities, the amount of sugar you eat or drink, and whether or not you brush and floss daily.  People with previous cavities and poor oral hygiene are usually at a higher risk for getting cavities and would need to have x-rays taken more often.

How Often Does a Child (Under 18) with a High Cavity Risk Need Dental X-Rays?

A child with cavities or at a high risk for getting cavities would generally need dental x-rays taken every 6 to 12 months.

If there are spaces between your child’s teeth and the dentist can clinically inspect those teeth, then x-rays are generally not necessary.  It is always important to weigh the benefits and risks of having x-rays taken.

How Often Does an Adult (Over 18) with a High Cavity Risk Need Dental X-Rays?

An adult with frequent cavities or at a high risk of getting cavities would need dental x-rays taken every 6 to 18 months.

How Often Does a Child (Under 12) with a Low Cavity Risk Need Dental X-Rays?

A child younger than 12 years old with no current cavities and at a low risk of getting cavities would need dental x-rays taken every 12 to 24 months.  Again, many children have spaces between their teeth.  If this is the case, the dentist can usually detect cavities simply by looking in the mouth and would not need to take x-rays on those teeth.

How Often Does a Teenager (12-18) with a Low Cavity Risk Need Dental X-Rays?

A teenager with no current cavities and at a low risk of getting cavities would need dental x-rays taken every 18 to 36 months.

How Often Does an Adult (Over 18) with a Low Cavity Risk Need Dental X-Rays?

An adult with no current cavities and at a low risk of getting cavities would need dental x-rays taken every 24 to 36 months.

Other Scenarios Where Dental X-Rays May Be Necessary

The scenarios above are mainly to diagnose cavities and refer to the routine bitewing radiographs that dentists take.  There are many other situations when a dentist would want to take different x-rays where I couldn’t find clear guidelines, such as for monitoring periodontal disease, monitoring teeth that are at an increased risk for developing disease, and for monitoring growth in adolescents.

However the situation that I described above in which a young girl had nearly 50 x-rays taken on one tooth over a few years is definitely too many!

At my dental school, we used the book Treatment Planning in Dentistry by Stefanac and Nesbitt to learn about when and how often to prescribe dental x-rays.  I am basing the recommendations for the timing of dental x-rays found above on information found in that textbook, which coincide with the recommendations from the American Dental Association (PDF).


As you can see, dentists may recommend x-rays for diagnosing cavities anywhere from every six months to every three years — depending on your oral health.

Keep in mind that the above guidelines are just that — guidelines.  You may need x-rays taken more or less often depending on what you and your dentist think is best for you.  For example, if you have spaces between all of your teeth and the dentist can see whether or not you have cavities just by looking in your mouth, then there probably isn’t a need for dental x-rays.

Do you have any questions or comments on the timing of dental x-rays?  I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments section below.  Thanks for reading!