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Ep. 8: Dr. Lewis Gross – Holistic Dentistry on Mouthguards & Safest Dental Practices for Young Athletes

At Mo’ Motion we care about the athletes that come through our program both on and off the court with regard to their overall health, well-being and wellness.  My personal experience with injuries in particular motivates me to make sure that our students are well protected through the use of mouthguards. It only takes one bad elbow to the face to drive that point home. I know. I didn’t learn the lesson as I should have the first time. Though I did wear a mouthguard throughout my college career, I got out of the habit over time and paid the price. Another injury in college, and yet another playing pick-up ball has emphasized the importance of this issue. But – prevention of these types of mouth injuries goes deeper than just mouthguards. My guest today makes that clear. On this episode of Mo’ Motion, I invited my cool new dentist, Dr. Lewis Gross to be my guest to share how parents can be intentional about their child’s overall dental health and why it’s important to work with your children early in life to establish healthy habits of dental hygiene. He also reveals some of the myths and unnecessary practices that happen in modern pediatric dentistry and explains how sleep issues may be at the root of many diagnoses. Surprisingly, in some of those cases, orthodontic work could be the solution.

Dr. Gross recommends a custom mouthguard for athletes.

My history with mouth injuries has compelled me to ensure that athletes in the Mo’ Motion program use mouthguards all the time. But Dr. Gross says that the bulky, rubber mouth guards you buy at the sporting goods store typically restrict breathing – something you don’t want when you’re trying to compete at your highest level. Dr. Gross says that custom mouth guards are quite thin and allow for normal breathing, speech, and overall airflow while still providing the shock absorbency needed for sports collisions. On this episode, he shares a number of benefits to custom mouthguards and describes the theories about how mouth guards may help to increase upper body strength as a leverage force.

Dr. Gross about the benefits of mouth guards: There’s also theories of having a mouth guard in because it elevates your bite and increases your upper body strength, it acts as a leverage force. And particularly if your teeth are very collapsed, by opening your bite, it opens your airway…. Actually, they’ve done a lot of sleep studies and they find that a lot of children who are diagnosed with ADHD is because they’re not sleeping and they are not sleeping because they are not breathing well… but a lot of that is an actual orthodontic problem and when you open your bite up orthodontically… they breathe better so they sleep better and they actually perform better in school – and those borderline ADHD – it’s not because they have a chemical imbalance, it’s because they’re not sleeping at night. So parents, even with a diagnosis like that should look at alternatives.

Holistic dentistry is something every parent should consider.

Dr. Gross is a holistic dentist, which may be a new term to you. A holistic dentist receives the same training a typical dentist does but also receives training in less invasive, less dramatic treatments that are as natural as possible. Dr. Gross recommends that every parent consider a holistic dentist simply because there are current treatments such as mercury in fillings and animal bone being used for implants that have viable alternatives provided by holistic dentists. He also walks through some of the most common issues he sees in children and warns against the aggressive practices many pediatric dentists employ. As the parent, you want what’s best for your child, naturally. Holistic dentistry is an option you don’t want to overlook.

When it comes to your child’s health, you should be a proactive consumer.

Dr. Gross understands the pressure and sense of dependence at play when medical professionals recommend treatment for your child. It’s easy for you to assume that since they are educated in their field, they know what they are doing and are recommending the best treatment. In this episode I share a story from my own childhood of how my mother followed that philosophy – and it was a bit disconcerting to me as a child. Dr. Gross says that it’s important to not allow yourself to believe that line because there are many cases where the treatment recommendations dentists make are motivated by financial issues rather than what is best for your child. He describes many of the ways this happens and explains how you can protect yourself, on this episode.

Traditional braces are an outdated treatment for most kids. Here’s why.

If you’re like me, you probably think of braces as a sign that a child’s teeth are being cared for properly. But Dr. Gross says there’s more to the story. You may have heard of Invisalign – a dental appliance that replaces typical braces. It’s the method Dr. Gross recommends for everyone who needs orthodontic work. In his opinion as a holistic dentist, the complications and risks associated with normal braces are unnecessary and should never be a consideration for most parents. Invisalign appliances can treat the same conditions by less intrusive means and even double as a custom mouth guard for those who are involved in sports.

I hope you’ll take the time to listen to this episode. Dr. Gross shares a wealth of information that can help you as a parent do the very best things for your child when it comes to dental care, including how to work with your dentist to get a custom mouthguard they can use for all their participation in sports. At Mo’ Motion we require mouthguards for all our students because I don’t want anyone to experience the trauma and pain that I’ve been though.

Outline of this episode

  • [4:09] Why holistic dentistry is important for parents to consider.
  • [9:06] Dr. Gross’ best advice to parents for getting their children to brush and floss.
  • [13:10] Why mouth guards are recommended – and why custom fit ones are best.
  • [21:05] How Maureen first met Dr. Gross and what he had to say about her situation.
  • [23:50] The real story about tooth sealants and why traditional braces are outdated.
  • [33:20] How sleep apnea is often a dental related issue.

Contact Dr. Gross


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