Top 7 Braces-Friendly Halloween Treats

October isn’t only when we celebrate Halloween, it’s also National Orthodontic Month. With this in mind, the team at our dental office in Boerne thought it’d be a great time to combine the two and talk a bit about which Halloween treats are safe for those with braces. Don’t worry, if you do have braces, you still have plenty of yummy options to choose from.

Best Candy for Braces

When searching for safe candy options for braces, consider the texture of the sweets. Anything that’s super sticky, gooey, or hard is probably best to avoid. Instead, look for these top braces-friendly choices.

  • 3 Musketeers
  • Peanut Butter Cups
  • Peppermint Patties
  • Hershey’s Kisses
  • Milky Way
  • Crunch Bar/Krackel Bar
  • Pure Chocolate Bars

All of these delicious options are easy to bite and chew and don’t contain any ingredients that are hard enough to damage braces.

Worst Candy for Braces

At our Boerne dental office, we want all of our braces patients to have fun this Halloween and enjoy some treats. However, we also feel it’s important for them to be informed of what candy could potentially damage their brackets or wires so they also know what to avoid.

  • Hard Candy
  • Gum
  • Caramels
  • Jelly Beans
  • Nuts or anything containing nuts

Additionally, don’t attempt to eat any of the “safe foods” if they’ve been frozen. Freezing candy negates the soft texture that makes them safe for braces and biting into a rock hard candy bar can certainly cause some trouble.

When you’re out in the neighborhood gathering your treats and maybe showing off some tricks, politely pass on any candy that may cause damage to your braces and rather pick the pieces that are both delicious and safe.

Most importantly, be safe, have fun, and Happy Halloween from your Boerne dentist!  

Workplace Habits That Are Damaging Your Teeth

Most of us spend a lot of time at work each and every day answering emails, taking phone calls, attending meetings, organizing spreadsheets, and doing countless other responsibilities. In between, or perhaps during some of these activities, we may be engaging in other behaviors that have now become everyday habits. Some of which may be damaging your teeth. Join the team at our dental office in Boerne as we cover some of the most common workplace habits that are harmful to smiles.

Chewing on Pencils or Pens

Nibbling on the end of a pen or pencil is usually done subconsciously or when deep in thought or nervous, but it’s a habit that can wreck teeth. The tough texture of writing utensils can break or crack teeth which can be painful and will most certainly require restorative dental care. If you find yourself putting your pencil or pen to your mouth regularly, consider replacing it with an alternative like carrots or celery. Keeping a small bag of these healthy veggies handy can help satisfy your need to nibble on something.

All-Day Snacking

As we eat, the bacteria in our mouths break down the food particles left behind and then produce acid as a byproduct. This acid is what eats away at the protective tooth enamel and leads to decay. When we snack throughout the workday, it leaves teeth constantly exposed to this acid, especially if you don’t brush in between snack sessions, and increases the chance of cavities.

Using Teeth as Tools

Need to open a package that’s sealed a little too tight? Or maybe you need to send the package and need help ripping the tape to secure the box shut. Whatever you do, don’t use your teeth as tools. Using teeth to rip, tear, or hold objects can chip your teeth and wear away at enamel, leaving teeth exposed to decay.

Smoke Breaks

We know you probably know this already but it’s worth repeating. Smoking is detrimental to both your overall health and oral health. Smoking as well as using smokeless tobacco greatly increases the risk of oral cancer, gum disease, and even tooth loss. Instead of a smoke break, consider taking a quick walk, chew sugarless gum, and talk with your doctor to learn several techniques that can help you quit.

The team at our Boerne dental office encourages you to work on becoming aware of these habits and try your best to avoid them. Like any habit, some of these may be difficult to break. If you’re looking for help, or perhaps a new dentist in Boerne, we always welcome you to give us call.  

“Why Does My Tooth Hurt?”

There are plenty of reasons why a tooth may hurt. When this happens, the best thing you can do is to call your dentist in Boerne as soon as possible to determine the reason why and get treatment started quickly. However, there are a few ways you can try to narrow down the cause of your tooth pain at home. Check out some of the most common symptoms and potential explanations to the most common causes of tooth pain.

Symptom: Quick Bursts of Sensitivity to Hot or Cold Foods or Drinks

Possible Cause: There’s a good chance you may have a cavity. Treatment for this incredibly common dental problem is easy as long as you seek treatment quickly. If left untreated, a cavity can progress into an infection, also known as an abscess. If a cavity isn’t to blame, you may have some gum recession brought on by rough brushing or perhaps a loose dental restoration.

Symptom: Pain When Biting Down

Possible Cause: If your tooth pain is more commonly experienced when pressure is applied, you could again have a cavity, or perhaps even a cracked or broken tooth. The best course of action is to see your dentist as soon as you can to see if there’s any damage to the interior of the tooth, or the pulp. If there is, you may need a root canal to reverse the pain. But don’t worry, a root canal isn’t as scary or painful as you may have thought. In fact, the procedure actually makes the pain go away.

Symptom: Aching in the Jaw or Upper Teeth

Possible Cause: This type of jaw or tooth pain is typically a result of chronically clenching or grinding teeth (bruxism). The constant friction between teeth can wear away tooth enamel and leave your teeth feeling sensitive. What’s more common, however, is the jaw pain associated with grinding. Grinding may also contribute to severe headaches or sinus pain. Your Boerne dentist should be able to identify if grinding is a problem for you and recommend the appropriate treatment. Most of the time, a custom nightguard is the go-to solution.

Whatever the Cause, See Your Dentist

Any tooth pain is usually a sign of a problem, and even if you suspect nothing serious is going on, we recommend seeing your dentist to make sure. After all, it’s better to be cautious than to let tooth pain go and end up with a larger issue.

Looking for a caring dental team to help? Give our dental office in Boerne a call to schedule an appointment today. We’re always happy to help!

What You Need to Know About Probiotics & Your Oral Health

Probiotic use is typically associated with digestive health and even as a “good bacteria” replacement after a round of antibiotics. But can probiotics also be beneficial for oral health? At our dental office in Boerne, we’ve been hearing about some research that may show a positive correlation between certain probiotics and healthier mouths. In this blog, we take a closer look at those studies to see if there is in fact an oral health benefit to taking probiotics.

What Are Probiotics?

We know that probiotics have been heavily talked about in recent years, but what are they, exactly? Basically, probiotics are live microorganisms, usually bacteria, that help support the digestive system. The term bacteria has typically always meant something negative, something that makes us sick. The truth is, there is both bad and good bacteria. Probiotics fall under the category of good bacteria, or friendly bacteria.

Different Probiotics Treat Different Things

Different probiotics tend to help with different things. Most commonly when we talk about probiotics, we’re referring to those that help in digestion. These are the ones that are found in yogurt and other foods that contain “active cultures.” But the probiotics researched in relation to oral health are different.

These probiotics are often referred to as oral probiotics. This term is not necessarily used to describe probiotics that are taken orally, but rather those that have been researched to see if they have impact on oral health. Following several studies, research suggests that there may be a positive correlation between specific types of probiotics and reducing the risk of gum disease, plaque, and bad breath.

A Closer Look at Bifidobacterium & Lactobacillus

Easier to explain than to say, the probiotic strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are the ones mainly associated with probiotic research in relation to oral health. These strains are naturally found both in the bodies and mouths of mammals, including humans. During several research studies involving Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, there has been evidence of a correlation between an increase in the probiotics and healthier mouths. While none of the limited amount of research available conclusively identifies the link, there have been cases where Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus have helped in the treatment of periodontal disease and halitosis, and has seemed to reduce the risk of cavities.

Again, there is still more research to be done on the relationship between probiotics and oral health. Because of this, we don’t recommend starting yourself on a probiotics regimen before discussing it with your medical team, including your dentist in Boerne.

Your Dental Cleaning is Much More Than Simply a Cleaning

Twice a year (at least) you come to our dental office in Boerne for your dental hygiene visit. During this appointment, we’re certainly focused on removing plaque, flossing diligently, and polishing your pearly whites. But what our patients may not know is that your bi-annual cleaning has a much bigger focus than simply getting your teeth clean.

Dental X-Rays Tell a More Detailed Story

Usually at one of your two appointments a year your dental team will take low-radiation, digital x-rays. These images help both your hygienist and dentist in Boerne get a much closer and detailed look into your oral health. Dental x-rays help catch any cavities that are not yet large enough for the naked eye to see. This is also when they’re the easiest to treat. The images even allow your dentist to see what’s going on below the gum line and into the jaw bone. X-rays can help diagnose an abscess or the beginning stages of bone deterioration that may affect dental health in the future.  

We Don’t Only Look at Teeth

As hygienists perform their examinations and remove plaque buildup from teeth, they’re also looking for any decay or cavities that should be treated sooner rather than later. But that’s not all. Hygienists and dentists are trained to look for signs of a larger problem that may affect the whole body.

There is a strong correlation between oral health and several systemic diseases such as heart disease, oral cancer, and diabetes. Oftentimes these diseases will first show signs in the mouth. At your bi-annual dental cleaning, your team is looking closely for any signs that may indicate the possibility of any of those problems. Like most health issues, the sooner these are diagnosed properly, the sooner treatment can begin and the more successful it tends to be.

It’s Ok to Ask Questions

We believe in educating our patients, so questions at your appointments are always welcome. Besides, the more knowledgeable you are, the healthier your mouth tends to be. These visits are also an ideal time to talk about any changes you’ve noticed in your oral health, any concerns you may have, or perhaps about cosmetic dentistry or restorative dentistry that you’ve been considering for awhile.  

At our Boerne dental office, we recommend that our patients see us at least twice a year for their dental cleanings to prevent any oral health problems from becoming more difficult to treat if left alone, and ideally to keep them from happening to begin with.

If it’s been more than six months since your last dental appointment, we encourage you to schedule an appointment today.

Exercise: Good for the Body, Bad for Teeth?

Throughout the past few years, there have been several studies that provide conflicting information on whether exercise is good or bad for your oral health. Our dental office in Boerne hopes that we can help clear up any confusion so you can get back to working out without worry.

The Benefits of Exercise

It goes without saying that everyone should exercise regularly to help get and keep the body healthy. No matter what your workout of choice may be, if it gets the heart pumping and increases breathing, chances are you’re benefitting from all the good exercise can do for your health. Exercise has been proven to help reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes all while keeping your body weight within a healthy range. But the benefits of exercising goes beyond arms, legs, abs, heart, and lungs and can actually help keep your mouth healthy, too.

According to the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), those who exercised moderately five days a week, or at a high intensity three days a week, were at lower risk for gum disease. This is both great for oral health and whole body health since the effects of gum disease don’t only affect the mouth. Gum disease can cause a whole host of both oral health and whole body problems including bad breath, swollen, painful gums, tooth loss, certain cancers, heart disease, and stroke.

Potential Oral Health Concerns

When it comes to your oral health and exercise, it’s not all good news. While we don’t encourage anyone to stop exercising, we do want our patients and neighbors to be aware of how sometimes exercise can affect oral health.

There are essentially two common reasons exercise can cause problems in your mouth: Sports drinks and mouth breathing. Take a closer peek as to why.

Mouth Breathing

While breathing heavily is part of what makes exercise so great for the body, it’s also what can contribute to tooth decay and cavities. Heavy breathing tends to cause people to mouth breathe, or only breathe with an open mouth. This reduces saliva production and makes the mouth dry. A dry mouth is the perfect place for dangerous bacteria to thrive and cause decay.

Sports Drinks

Even though sports drinks do have their benefits, they’re also packed with tooth damaging ingredients. Sports beverages are a great option to help your body recover after exercise, but between the sugar and acid, they’re a recipe for decay.

If you’re concerned that your workout routine may be negatively affecting your oral health, schedule an appointment at our Boerne dental office. We’ll be more than happy to talk about your concerns and work with you to find the the best solutions.

What’s Occlusion and Should You Worry About it?

You may have heard us talk about your “occlusion” during your visits to our dental office in Boerne. But what exactly are we talking about when we speak about occlusion? Is it something you should worried about? Let’s take a closer look at what occlusion means and examine a few concerns that are related to it.

What is Occlusion?

Occlusion is just a fancy, scientific name dentists use to describe the bite, or how the upper teeth match up against the lower teeth when the mouth is closed or while chewing. You may have heard several ways we tend to classify a “bad bite” including overbite or underbite. All of these types of occlusion can lead to unique problems that should be corrected by a dental professional.

In More Detail: Crossbites, Overbites, and Underbites

There are a variety of bite problems that happen, but in this blog we’re going to examine the three most common.

  • Crossbite
    • Signs: A crossbite is usually suspected when one or more of the upper teeth fall behind the lower teeth when the mouth is closed.
    • If left untreated: Crossbites can lead to premature wear and tear of the teeth, gum disease, bone loss, asymmetrical jaw development, and jaw problems (known as TMJ or TMD).
  • Overbite
    • Signs: When the mouth is closed and the molars are touching, if the front top teeth completely cover the bottom front teeth, there’s a good chance an overbite is to be blamed.
    • If left untreated: An untreated overbite can inhibit teeth from functioning properly, leave the person at increased risk for gum disease and other gum problems, and wear down the front teeth.
  • Underbite
    • Signs: Opposite of an overbite, an underbite is when the lower teeth fall in front of the top teeth when biting.
    • If left untreated: Underbites usually result from either undergrowth of the upper jaw, overgrowth of the lower jaw, or both. If not corrected, teeth may not be able to function properly and can lead to painful TMJ/TMD issues.

If you suspect any potential issues with your bite, we welcome you to call our Boerne dental office to schedule an appointment. We would be happy to help you to determine what, if any, treatment would be appropriate to correct the bite for a healthy, pain-free smile that lasts a lifetime.

5 Secrets Your Tongue Reveals About Your Health

Grab a mirror, open up, and say “ah” because we’re talking tongues today. Did you know the color and even the shape of your tongue can say a lot about what could be going on healthwise in the rest of your body? Our dental office in Boerne (and your primary care doctor too) are always on the lookout for signs or symptoms that your tongue may be trying to tell us! Check out these helpful tips about tongue health to learn more.

What You See: A Glossy, Raspberry Red Tongue

What it Means: Have you ever looked at your tongue and it looks like you just finished eating a strawberry or raspberry popsicle? This is actually a common side effect of having a vitamin deficiency – primarily B12. It can also indicate that your body is low on iron. Vegetarians are especially prone to this.

What You See: Wrinkles

What it Means: As we age, our tongues do too! A cracked or wrinkled appearance to your tongue is generally nothing to worry about. It’s very important to maintain good hygiene and brush your tongue to avoid infections in the wrinkles.

What You See: Painless, White Patches

What it Means: These white marks known as leukoplakia are usually caused by the growth of too many cells in one area. Sometimes they are a result of an accidental bite while we’re chewing food or maybe you have a tooth that’s rubbing you the wrong way. If you’re experiencing these kinds of patches or any other tongue troubles, it’s always good to give your dentist in Boerne a call to take a look!

What You See: Painful Sores

What it Means: Usually when we see patients with a sore on their tongue they all have one thing in common: they’re stressed. Sometimes when you’re run down from illness or everyday stress this causes canker sores to erupt on the tongue and cheeks. They’re usually painful for a few days and will subside within a week or two.

What You See: Unevenness, Peaks, and Valleys

What it Means: It may sound strange but there’s actually a common condition called “geographic tongue,” and it’s absolutely harmless. It makes your tongue look like it has some pretty bumpy, rough terrain and it’s actually known to affect up to 14% of the population. Doctors aren’t sure what causes the condition but it most likely has something to do with your taste buds. Geographic tongue doesn’t require any special treatment or medication. If it becomes painful, be sure to talk to your dentist.

Our Boerne dental office knows how important it is to keep a close eye on your teeth and your tongue because they’re pretty accurate indicators of other things that your body might be experiencing or trying to make you aware of. If you have any questions about the health of your tongue, please call!

A Few Facts About Your Bottled Water

By now you probably know that the human body is made up of mostly water, and we need to drink plenty of it each day just to keep our organs and other important parts functioning properly. At my dental office in Boerne, we understand how important it is to stay hydrated at home, at work, and on the go. That’s why it’s super easy and convenient to grab a water bottle or bottled water and keep on chugging along. Bottled water has surged in popularity over the years for a variety of reasons. But did you know that if you and your family drink solely bottled water and no tap water, you may be missing out on fluoride?

Water, Water Everywhere

Water is essential to your body. You cannot live without it. Did you know it’s responsible for maintaining all of these things?

  • Transportation of nutrients and oxygen to your cells
  • Waste removal
  • Cushioning of your joints
  • Regulating body temperature
  • Alleviating xerostomia or dry mouth

Experts recommend that you drink about 8 to 10 cups of water daily! This may change due to weather (hot temperatures) or your body size.

The Facts About Fluoride

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been proven to help prevent the onset of tooth decay. It helps protect your teeth’s enamel from the damaging effects of sugars and acids found in so many of the foods and drinks available to us each day. Most public water systems have some level of fluoridation. This could occur naturally or some communities will add a small amount of fluoride to the water system to ensure residents absorb its benefits. There are some bottled waters that contain fluoride too, but most do not.

How Do You Know You’re Getting Enough Fluoride?

No matter what kind of bottled water you and your family chooses to drink, your Boerne dentist wants to make sure you’re getting enough fluoride in your diet to help keep teeth strong and healthy. If you’re drinking mostly bottled water be sure to try and choose a brand that contains some amount of fluoride. The Food and Drug Administration doesn’t require companies to show how much fluoride is added to bottled water, unless it’s been intentionally added. If you want to find out how much fluoride is in your bottled water brand, it’s best to contact the company directly and request that information. The American Dental Association says water should have around 0.7 to 1.2 ppm of fluoride, with one ppm being equal to 1 mg/L.

It’s always a good idea to make sure you take whatever steps you can to keep teeth happy and healthy. This means making sure you’re getting enough fluoride. Don’t forget that most kinds of toothpastes contain fluoride too, which can give your teeth a boost in fighting off bacteria causing decay. Do you have questions about fluoride? My Boerne dental office can help. We’re ready to listen to your questions and your concerns. Just give us a call!

Nail Biter? Here’s Another Reason You Should Stop

Nail biting is a common habit that affects a number of Americans including an estimated 60% of kids, 45% of teenagers, and 30% of adults. While the likelihood of being a nail biter decreases as we get older, the truth is it is a habit that can be difficult to break and can follow you into adulthood, and not without risk. If you do still bite your nails, you may already know the whole-body concerns associated with the habit. But at our dental office in Boerne, we also know nail biting can contribute to several oral health issues.

Nail Biting & Oral Health

According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), people who bite their nails are at an increased risk for several oral health issues including chipped, cracked, or worn down teeth, damage to the gum tissue, and bruxism. Bruxism is the technical term used to explain tooth grinding and it can bring on a whole set of unique issues including facial pain, recessed gums and sensitivity, headaches, and tooth loss. Bruxism, as well as the other common ailments associated with nail biting, are serious and would require treatment from your dentist in Boerne quickly to help protect your mouth from further damage.  

Ways to Help You Quit Biting Your Nails

Nail biting is a habit, and habits are hard to break. What can be helpful to helping you succeed at stopping is to identify why and when you find yourself with your fingers to your mouth. Do you notice it’s during periods of stress? When you’re bored? Do you not even realize you’re doing it? Work to identify the times you tend to bite, then try the tips below to help you quit.

  • If your nail biting is triggered by stress, try to find an alternative stress reliever such as exercise, yoga, or meditation.
  • Use a nail lacquer specifically created to help people stop biting their nails. It has a bitter taste that helps you to not nibble on your nails.
  • Invest in getting a manicure regularly. This can be a great solution for both men and women since we tend to care for things a bit better if we’ve paid for them.
  • Check out pictures of all the gross, disease-causing bacteria that tend to lurk under nails. Seeing what you could be ingesting into your body may just do the trick.

As with any habit, you may not succeed at quitting the first time, and that’s ok. Stay persistent and keep trying different methods to find the one that works best for you.

If you do happen to damage your teeth or your gums, or suspect you have bruxism, give our Boerne dental office a call to schedule an appointment. We’ll evaluate your oral health and discuss the most appropriate treatment for your unique situation.