What Do Dental X-Rays Show?

You’ve most likely experienced having dental x-rays taken several times throughout your life, but what exactly is the point of looking below the surface of your teeth? Our dental office in Boerne takes these images for a variety of reasons, so this month, let’s take a look at why dental x-rays are such an important part of your bi-annual dental visits…

What We’re Looking for

While we can tell a lot about your oral health through our thorough exams and cleanings, there are just some things the human eye can’t see. For these diseases or problems, we turn to x-rays of your teeth and jaw. Taking pictures of the inner workings of your teeth can help us diagnose:

  • Decay that’s not yet surfaced
  • Bone loss associated with gum disease
  • Impacted wisdom teeth
  • Damaged bone cause by an infection
  • Abscesses or other root problems

Taking x-rays allows your dentist in Boerne to see any issues that may not yet have signs or symptoms, making them easier to treat before they lead to pain or more complicated treatments.

The Different Types of Dental X-Rays

There are several different types of x-rays that your dental team may use to examine various parts of your oral anatomy. Each type of x-ray can help show different things. Some of the most common x-rays include:

  • Bitewing X-rays. Bitewing x-rays are the ones that can show cavities or areas of decay that may not yet be visible, or are lurking in hard-to-see areas such as in between teeth or fillings. These x-rays may also show bone density health and any deterioration caused by gum disease.
  • Periapical X-rays. Just like bitewing x-rays, periapical x-rays are pretty common. You probably have had them taken and may not have even known it. These x-rays show images of the entire tooth, including the roots. The images allow your dentist to look at each tooth individually to make sure each one is structurally sound and bone levels are healthy and strong. Periapical x-rays can also help catch cysts and abscesses.  
  • Panoramic X-rays. Panoramic x-rays are used for the most complete view of your entire mouth. The images don’t only show all your teeth, but also your sinuses, jaw joints, and jaw bones. These photos can help determine if wisdom teeth are impacted and can even help diagnose a tumor.

Dental x-rays are an important part of your preventive dental care and should be taken at least once a year, but sometimes we may recommend getting them taken at every bi-annual visit. The advancements in technology, along with the careful measures we take in our Boerne dental office make dental x-rays incredibly safe and have low radiation emissions. If you’re concerned about dental x-rays, we welcome you to talk to any one of our team members.

What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer

April is recognized as Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and at our Boerne dental office, we know just how serious this epidemic is in the United States. In fact, just over 51,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with it this year. While there have been advancements in oral cancer treatment, and often times the disease is successfully treated, it still takes the lives of approximately 10,000 Americans yearly. This April, join us in learning the risks and symptoms of oral cancer that could save your life.

Know The Risks

It’s important to note that anyone can develop oral cancer whether they have or engage in factors that increase their risk or not. Some of the risks are unavoidable, but many can be controlled through making smart lifestyle choices. Some factors that increase the risk of oral cancer include:

  • Tobacco Use: Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or using smokeless tobacco greatly increases your risk of oral cancer. Statistics show that 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users.
  • Drinking Alcohol: Consuming alcohol regularly can also put you at greater risk. Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
  • Drinking & Smoking: Since both tobacco use and drinking large amounts of alcohol increases the likelihood of getting oral cancer, if you do both, your chance for oral cancer can be as high as 100%.
  • Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women. While this risk factor can’t be changed, men can reduce their risk by not drinking or smoking.
  • Age: Our chances of getting oral cancer increases as we age. The average age of diagnosis is 62, and the majority of oral cancer patients are at least 55.
  • UV Rays: Skin cancer isn’t the only thing that can happen from too much unprotected sun exposure. Oral cancer is also higher in those who spend a lot of time in the sun without wearing sunscreen.

Recognize The Symptoms

Being able to identify the signs and symptoms of oral cancer early increases the chance of survival. Oral cancer treatment is often successful in the earlier stages, so the sooner you see your dentist in Boerne if you suspect anything, the better. The most common signs include:  

  • Chronic bad breath
  • Sores that won’t heal
  • A lump on the cheek
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Changes in your voice

During your regular dental cleanings and exams, your hygienist and dentist will monitor your  mouth for any abnormalities and can use high-tech equipment that can show what the human eye can’t see. This is just another reason maintaining your bi-annual dental appointments is so important to your overall health.

If it’s been longer than six months since your last visit, call our dental office in Boerne to schedule an appointment today. You never know, one visit could save your life.

“Why Do I Have Dreams Where My Teeth Fall Out?”

At our dental office in Boerne, we occasionally have a patient who is concerned with a recurring dream where they lose their teeth. Sometimes one tooth becomes curiously loose and just pops right out. Other times the whole mouth of teeth begins to crumble, leading to a totally toothless smile. While we understand these dreams can be disturbing, the likelihood that they’re related to your real dental health is slim. Instead, we’re going to look at three possible explanations…

Feelings of Anxiety or Helplessness

The most widely accepted interpretation of dreams where your teeth fall out revolve around feeling anxious or helpless. Occasionally, the dreams only happen during when you’re life is a bit too stressful. Other times, however, the dreams are recurring and happen regularly. According to a Psychological Reports study, repeatedly experiencing dreams in which you lose your teeth may be more common in those in those whose personality contains high levels of anxiety, those who are depressed, and those who struggle with self-esteem issues.

An Impending Serious Decision

In life, there are times when we need to make difficult decisions that can affect everything. Perhaps you’re considering quitting your job, but are nervous about how that decision will affect your family. Maybe you’re unhappy in a relationship and are questioning how that decision will change your life as you know it. When these stressful decisions need to be made, it can make us feel as if we don’t have any control over our own lives. During these events we’re more likely to experience tooth loss dreams.

A Positive Rebirth

Not all of the common dream interpretations are attributed to something so worrisome. In fact, according to research conducted by psychologist Carl Jung, dreaming about your teeth falling out can be a sign of rebirth. Whether you’re starting a new, exciting job, finally getting serious about that hobby you’ve always wanted to try, or embarking in a new relationship, there are many life events that can be fulfilling and positive. But they are still changes and sometimes our unconscious mind constructs that in a subconscious dream. In this case, a dream where you lose your teeth.  

If you suffer from dreams about your teeth falling out, try not to worry about your real-life teeth. There’s no studied evidence that suggests the two are linked together. In fact, most dreams are not accurate representations of what will happen in real life, but rather symbols of how our psyche reacts to life’s situations.

However, if you are missing a tooth or are at risk for losing one or several, we welcome you to talk to us about some tooth replacement options including dental implants, a dental bridge, and dentures. Call our Boerne dental office to schedule a consultation today!

The Not So Lucky Side Effects of Green Beer

Every March 17th, we’re all a little bit Irish and join in the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day by putting on our best green outfit and possibly meeting up with friends at a local bar. As one of the largest drinking days of the year, our dental office in Boerne wants to remind our patients and neighbors to enjoy the holiday responsibly and to make them aware of a few unwanted side effects of all that beer (especially the green kind).

Yellow, Brown, or Green Teeth

Drinking beer excessively can began to discolor your teeth over time. A good rule of thumb to remember is the darker the beer, the more likely it is to stain your teeth. This discoloration can take on a yellow or brown appearance, or when drinking beer that’s been dyed for St. Patrick’s Day, your smile may even take on a green tint relatively quickly. This green look isn’t permanent and can be treated with either a whitening toothpaste, which is a bit more abrasive than regular toothpaste and can scrub away surface stains, or with a professional dental cleaning or smile whitening treatment.  

Enamel Erosion

Your tooth enamel is one of the strongest substances in your body, but that doesn’t make it impervious to damage. One of the most common causes of enamel erosion is too much acid in your diet, and beer is surprisingly acidic. When this acid comes in contact with your teeth it essentially eats away the protective enamel coating. As enamel diminishes, your teeth may become more sensitive and appear thinner and darker.

How to Minimize the Danger

We’re not here to tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy an adult beverage every now and then, as long as you’re of legal drinking age and are drinking responsibly. But if you choose to drink alcohol, there are ways that you can minimize your risk of the dangers described above, such as:

  • Alternating drinking a glass of alcohol with a glass of water
  • Brushing your teeth twice a day
  • Flossing every day
  • Seeing your dentist in Boerne regularly

We typically recommend regular dental visits twice a year. If it’s been longer than six months since you’ve been to a Boerne dentist, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today to help keep your smile in good health.

The Connection Between Gum Disease & Heart Disease

During this American Heart Health Month, our dental office in Boerne wants to do our part and raise awareness of how gum disease can increase your risk of heart disease. While these two areas of the body seem to be unrelated, there’s a clear connection between gum disease and heart health that you need to know about.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is a serious infection that requires a proper diagnosis and early intervention to treat. It’s typically caused by a buildup of plaque that’s not removed through proper brushing and flossing at home. When left on the teeth too long, this plaque builds and transforms into hard tartar. This tartar is impossible to remove on your own and requires a professional dental cleaning. However, if the tartar is not removed, the bacteria within it can move into the gum tissue and cause an infection. This infection can easily progress into gingivitis or periodontitis and may cause tooth loss. But the worries don’t stop in your mouth. In fact, research shows that gum disease has been linked to heart disease.

Heart Disease

Untreated gum disease leaves the infection free to do whatever it wants, including traveling into other areas such as the bloodstream. If this happens, your body responds by producing too much C-reactive protein (CRP). Higher than normal levels of CRP can lead to serious conditions such as:

  • Inflamed arteries
  • Blood clots
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes  

Recognize the Signs of Gum Disease

Diagnosing gum disease and beginning treatment is key to protecting your mouth and your overall health. To do that, you need to be able to recognize the common signs of gum disease including:

If you notice any of the signs of gum disease, call your dentist in Boerne to schedule an appointment.

Besides brushing and flossing every day at home, the best way you can avoid gum disease and protect your heart is to maintain regular dental visits at least twice a year. These appointments can go a long way in keeping you healthy. If it’s time for your bi-annual dental cleaning, give our Boerne dental office a call today.

The 6 Cavity-Causing Culprits You May Not Know About

There are many widely known causes of cavities including eating too much sugar, not brushing or flossing your teeth enough, or avoiding regular visits to your Boerne dentist. But there are also plenty of lesser known cavity-causing culprits out there that you should be aware of…

Teeth with Deep Grooves

Many people naturally have teeth with many deep grooves. Most commonly found in the back molars, these grooves can make it difficult to fully remove food particles and bacteria. This makes them the perfect place for bacteria to bury in and create tooth decay.

Genetics

Our genes play a large role in our overall health, including the health of our mouths. Some genes make certain people more susceptible to having large amounts of mouth bacteria while others can be responsible for brittle teeth. Both of these concerns are likely to increase the person’s risk of cavities.

Certain Medications

Dry mouth is a common side effect of many medications and even some cancer treatments. While this may seem like no big deal or simply an unpleasant feeling, dry mouth can be dangerous to oral health. When someone suffers from dry mouth, they aren’t producing enough saliva to rinse away bacteria or neutralize acid. This allows the bacteria to hang around and decay teeth and the acid to damage protective enamel. Without enamel, teeth are at even more risk for decay.

Aging

Just like the rest of our bodies, our oral health changes as we get older. Our teeth may become weaker, our mouths drier, and our gums may even recede. All of these things allow bacteria to attack our mouths and teeth, increasing the likelihood of cavities.

Dental Restorations

Dental restorations such as fillings are designed to fix problems such as cavities. However, if done improperly they can have an adverse effect. Loose fillings or ones that are too large can allow bacteria to get under them. If this happens, the decay can continue to affect the tooth. Most likely, the filling will need to be replaced.

Grinding Your Teeth

Tooth grinding is common among the U.S. population. Whether done during sleep or as a response to stress, it can not only damage teeth, it can also make it easier for cavities to form. The repeated tooth-on-tooth grinding wears away enamel. As we learned earlier, less enamel means more risk for cavities.

We recommend doing your best to avoid the controllable lifestyle choices above that contribute to dental decay. And while you may not be able to totally avoid or change the others, our dental office in Boerne can help reduce the effect they have on your teeth. We welcome you to schedule an appointment so we can work together to prevent cavities or other oral health problems.

Are All Those Claims About Charcoal Toothpaste Really True?

There’s recently been a surge in the popularity of using charcoal toothpaste to get a whiter smile. Promoters of the charcoal toothpaste trend claim that it can help whiten teeth effectively without the risk of increased sensitivity that may result from using other products. But does it really work? Join the team at our Boerne dental office as we dive into the truth.

What Exactly is Charcoal Toothpaste?

Before we launch into whether or not charcoal toothpaste can really whiten your smile, let’s look into what the stuff actually is. Charcoal toothpaste uses something called activated charcoal, which is much different than the charcoal you’d use to grill a burger. Activated charcoal is a form of carbon that’s been treated in order to make it incredibly porous. Since the porous nature makes activated charcoal really great at absorption, the thought is that it can pull stains, tartar, and bacteria away from teeth.

Is Charcoal Toothpaste Safe?

The short answer is yes, charcoal toothpaste is safe for the human body. Even though the modern age of the world wide web may have popularized the use of it, its usage has a rich history dating way back to the days of the ancient Romans. In fact, a powder form of charcoal was a pretty common ingredient in their toothpastes. Besides its dental usage, activated charcoal was, and still sometimes is, used to treat people who have been poisoned.

So, Does it Whiten Teeth?

Charcoal toothpaste has been effective at removing surface stains on teeth which may help a smile appear whiter. However, using it doesn’t come without risks. Even though charcoal toothpaste is porous, it’s also fairly abrasive. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), charcoal toothpaste is too abrasive to be used regularly and may result in damage. Using an abrasive toothpaste can wear away the protective layer of enamel, making teeth not only more exposed to the dangers of bacteria, but also creating a dingy, discolored appearance.

Other Ways to Whiten Your Teeth

If you’ve tried charcoal toothpaste and didn’t see the results you were hoping for, or you’re not quite on board with its claims, there are still other safe and effective ways you can whiten your teeth.

  • Try a whitening toothpaste that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance
  • Schedule a professional smile whitening with your dentist in Boerne
  • Consider dental veneers to cover up any discoloration or imperfections

As always, our dental office in Boerne is happy to answer any questions you may have about the best way to whiten your teeth. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment!  

5 Things You Can Do to Get a Smile You’ll Love

A little too crooked or a little too gapped… a smidge too yellow or a lot not right… there are plenty of reasons you may be unhappy with your smile. If you’re one of the many people who doesn’t like your smile, you’ve come to the right place. The wide range of cosmetic dentistry options at our dental office in Boerne can easily fix some of most common concerns people have about their smiles.

Brighten Your Look With Smile Whitening

The most common thing people dislike about their smiles is the color. The simplest way to get a brighter, whiter smile is through a professional smile whitening treatment. There are plenty of options available, from an in-office treatment to a take-home solution from your dentist, and even over-the-counter products. Make sure you choose a product that’s earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance and talk with your dentist before performing any whitening treatment.

Cover Up Imperfections With Dental Veneers
If you’re someone who is more concerned about chipped, crooked, or deeply discolored teeth, dental veneers may be a better solution for you. These thin pieces of ceramic are adhered to the front of the tooth surface to cover up any imperfection. They’re also custom shaped for each person and tooth to create an incredibly natural appearance.

Orthodontics

An overbite, underbite, or crooked teeth can absolutely cause someone to be unhappy with their smile. But thanks to the many orthodontic options available, a smile doesn’t need to stay that way. Whether it’s traditional braces, clear braces, or plastic aligners, orthodontic treatment is sure to shift a smile into a look you’ll love.

Consider a Smile Makeover for a Brand New Look

When there are several concerns about the way a smile looks, it may be an appropriate time to consider a smile makeover. During a smile makeover, your dentist takes a comprehensive look at all of your smile concerns and develops a custom treatment plan that combines a few cosmetic dentistry procedures. Working closely with a dentist you trust can truly transform your smile into one you’re proud of.

Brush & Floss Regularly

Most importantly, the best thing you can do to get a smile you love is to brush and floss everyday and maintain regular visits with your dentist in Boerne. A proper dental hygiene routine can go a long way in keeping your smile bright, white, and healthy.

You don’t need to settle for a smile that doesn’t make you happy. Give our Boerne dental office a call to set up a cosmetic dentistry consultation. We have solutions to fit every need and will be happy to work with you in creating a beautiful smile.

Drinking Wine: Good for the Heart, Bad for Teeth?

Most of us have heard that drinking red wine may have heart-healthy benefits. And while there’s still some debate on just how true that is, you may find it surprising that there may just be some oral health benefits to partaking in glass every now and then. Our dental office in Boerne explores these potential smile benefits as well as some not-so-good side effects in this week’s blog.

The Good

Studies conducted in several areas throughout the world have suggested a positive link between drinking red wine and a decrease in tooth decay. One of these studies published by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry took bacteria rich biofilm from the mouths of several volunteers, which they then dipped into wine. What they found was that the wine was effective at getting rid of the bacteria. With less bacteria around to weaken enamel and cause decay, one could also assume a lower risk for cavities. However, it might not be all good news.

The Bad

In most of the studies surrounding the positive correlation between red wine and dental health the researchers removed the alcohol content prior to testing. This is important to note since we know alcohol tends to dry out the mouth. A dry mouth has the opposite effect of fighting off decay and actually supports a decay-friendly environment. Red wine also has a tendency to transform teeth from a bright white to a dull or discolored appearance. While that can usually be reversed through whitening or cosmetic dentistry from your dentist in Boerne, it’s still a negative in our book. Finally, the acidity of wine can wear down tooth enamel and leave teeth exposed to, you guessed it, decay.

The Final Verdict

We don’t really have a definite conclusion on whether the potential positives of red wine outweigh the negatives. Essentially, more research is needed for us to get on board with supporting the claim that red wine is a good way to fight decay. But in the meantime, we’re not here to tell anyone to stop enjoying their occasional glass of wine, of course. Just enjoy responsibly, keep an eye out for any tooth discoloration, and follow the tips below.

  • Alternate drinking wine with water. If you can, it wouldn’t hurt to rinse your mouth out with water occasionally, too.
  • Hold off on brushing immediately after drinking wine to keep the acid from being spread throughout your entire mouth and all over your teeth.

If you’re a red wine lover and happen to notice some tooth discoloration, call our Boerne dental office to schedule a professional whitening or cosmetic dentistry treatment to get your smile back to a vibrant white. Or if you’re just looking for a new place to call your dental home, we’re always welcoming new patients and would love to see you. Schedule a visit with us today!

How to Get Fresher Breath for All Those Mistletoe Moments

Nobody wants to struggle with the embarrassment of bad breath. But during this time of year it may seem like a bigger deal than normal. With all the close-talking at holiday parties and potential surprise moments under the mistletoe, bad breath can damper anyone’s good time. At our dental office in Boerne, we don’t want anyone to shy away from those kissable moments because of bad breath embarrassment, so we’re here to help!

Best Ways to Combat Bad Breath

  • Pass on the Coffee

We know, we know, coffee helps you function in the mornings and perhaps another cup at 2:00 pushes you through the day. But coffee doesn’t only give you a mean caffeine punch, it also leaves behind a less-than-desirable stench in your mouth.

  • Load up on the Water

Unlike coffee, water doesn’t leave behind an unpleasant odor. In fact, it doesn’t leave behind any smell. It’s really great for your oral health too. A well hydrated mouth keeps fighting bacteria and rinses away unwanted bacteria that can lead to decay.

  • Brush Well, Brush Often

One the most important things you can do to keep breath fresh is to brush twice a day, everyday. But it’s not enough to simply brush. It’s recommended that you brush for two minutes every time in gentle circles.

  • Don’t Forget the Tongue

Our tongues are full of tiny nooks and crannies where bad breath germs love to hide. To wash them away, we recommend gently scrubbing your tongue with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper.

A Sign of a Bigger Problem

While you can try any and all of the tricks above to help combat bad breath, if you battle with it over a long period of time, you should call your dentist in Boerne. Bad breath may seem like simply a nuisance, but chronic bad breath may be a sign of other health concerns including:

  • Gum Disease
  • Pneumonia
  • Sinus Infection
  • Diabetes
  • Liver or Kidney Problems

Don’t let bad breath get in the way this holiday season. Call our Boerne dental office to schedule an appointment to get fresh breath and feel confident puckering up under the mistletoe.