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.  

What is Gum Charting?

Gum, or periodontal, charting is when your Boerne dentist measures the pockets around each tooth to help evaluate oral health. It’s an important step in diagnosing gum disease and determining how advanced it may be. Periodontal charting can also assist your dental team in recommending an appropriate treatment plan.

How is Periodontal Charting Done?

The process is pretty simple and usually pretty painless, too. The team at our Boerne dental office will gently poke the six areas around each tooth to measure the pockets between the gum and tooth. You’ll hear us call out and record numbers, anywhere from 1 to 7, or sometimes more. The numbers are the pocket depth in millimeters.

What Do the Measurements Mean?

You want to hear lower numbers during your periodontal charting. Measurements between 1 and 3 are a sign that your gums are in good health. But, it’s worth noting that even if your pockets are between these ideal depths, if you bleed, it may be a sign of early gum disease. Pockets deeper than 3 millimeters could indicate a stronger likelihood of gum disease, or an advanced stage of it. Anymore than 3 millimeters could mean more serious issues. Check out the ranges and associated concerns below.

  • 3 mm – 5 mm: Gum pockets with measurements that fall within this range is usually a strong indicator of moderate gum disease.
  • 5 mm – 7 mm: Depths between 5 and 7 is almost a guarantee of gum disease. There’s also a risk of bone loss.
  • 7 mm+: Any gum pockets that are 7 millimeters or more is a strong sign of advanced gum disease. Periodontal surgery may be recommended.

Signs of Gum Disease

Periodontal charting is an extremely reliable way to diagnose gum disease, but there are things you can keep an eye out for in between visits.

  • Chronic bad breath
  • Bleeding gums (it’s never normal!)
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Loose teeth

Gum disease is a serious problem that can lead to tooth loss and, in turn, even more oral health issues. Not only that, gum disease can affect the whole body as well. Recent research shows a link between gum disease and heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It’s not something to be taken lightly, so if you become aware of any potential signs of gum disease, we welcome you to call our dental office in Boerne to schedule an appointment. We’ll be happy to help.

Smokeless Doesn’t Mean Harmless

As we near the end of April, which just so happens to be Oral Cancer Awareness Month, the team at our Boerne dental office thought we should talk a bit about the oral health concerns associated with smokeless tobacco. Some individuals may assume that since it’s smokeless, chewing tobacco isn’t as harmful as smoking cigarettes. However, even though there isn’t any smoke accompanying chewing tobacco, there are still health risks associated with the habit.

How Smokeless Tobacco Affects Oral Health

Just like cigarettes, smokeless tobacco is addictive, which makes quitting difficult. The longer someone uses chewing tobacco, the more they’re exposed to the dangers of it. This increases their chance of experiencing any of the numerous issues that can occur as a result:

Yellowing TeethUsing smokeless tobacco can cause tooth discoloration, making your pearly whites not so white. While smile whitening may be able to help a little bit, staining caused by tobacco typically requires a form of cosmetic dentistry, like veneers, to get your teeth back to their white appearance.

Receding GumsChew can cause gums to recede and expose the tooth roots. Once roots are left open, the chance for cavities greatly increases. The roots also contain nerves, which, if uncovered, can make teeth sensitive to heat and cold.  

Oral CancerThe most serious concern of using any type of tobacco is the increased risk for oral cancer. In fact, tobacco is the top risk factor for developing oral cancer. If it’s not caught early, oral cancer can be deadly.

Know the Signs of Oral Cancer

Everyone should be aware of the signs of oral cancer because even though the risk of the disease is greater in tobacco users, the truth is, oral cancer can happen to anyone. The signs of oral cancer can easily be misdiagnosed as something minor, so if you notice any of the symptoms below, call your dentist in Boerne as soon as you can.

  • A white, scaly patch on the inside of the cheek or lip
  • Sores or lumps in the mouth or throat
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing, or speaking
  • Sensation of something being stuck in your throat

If you use tobacco of any kind, it’s incredibly important for you to see your dentist at least twice a year to keep an eye on your oral health and identify any potential problems early. Don’t have a dentist? Give our dental office in Boerne a call to schedule an appointment today.

What’s a Frenectomy and Do You Need One?

There are times when the team at our dental office in Boerne may recommend a frenectomy for a patient. But we understand that many patients aren’t exactly sure what a frenectomy is and why one may be needed. So we’d like to cover the basics to help all of our patients stay properly informed.

A Little About Anatomy

Before we can dive into the treatment itself, we need to talk a bit about the mouth’s anatomy. The mouth has two thin muscular attachments called frenum that can inhibit normal function of the mouth. One of these is the tight muscle found under the tongue that connects the tongue to the lower part of the mouth (called the lingual frenum). The other connects the top lip to the gum tissue above the top teeth (called the maxillary labial frenum). When either one of these effects tongue function or proper tooth placement, a frenectomy may be appropriate.

What’s a Frenectomy?

Simply put, a frenectomy is the removal or shortening of a frenum. A frenectomy is usually recommended if the frenum is clearly causing pain or hindering proper function.

Why Are Frenectomies Important?

The benefits behind a frenectomy depends on which frenum needs treatment.

  • Lingual Frenum Frenectomy

When the lingual frenum is too long and extends to the tip of the tongue, it can directly affect tongue function. Most common in children, a lingual frenum frenectomy can help restore proper tongue function and can make swallowing, eating, and talking easier.

  • Maxillary Labial Frenum Frenectomy

A large maxillary labial frenum or one that attaches close to the teeth can create a gap in between the two front teeth. Occasionally this type of frenectomy is recommended by your Boerne dentist following orthodontic treatment that initially closed the gap but has since reopened.

How is a Frenectomy Performed?

We understand that the procedure may sound scary, but it’s actually quite simple. Treatment always begins by numbing the area. Then the frenum is cut away from the either the floor of the mouth or the gum line. Following a few stitches, the treatment is complete. Depending on the technology offered by your dental office, a laser may also be used.

If you have more questions, we welcome you to call our Boerne dental office. We’re always happy to help.

“Do I Really Need to Get My Wisdom Teeth Removed?”

Wisdom teeth are often first seen on x-rays conducted during regular appointments at our Boerne dental office. Most often, we can see them as they’re beginning to erupt through the gums. It’s also when we’re most likely to recommend that they be removed. In fact, about 90% of Americans get their wisdom teeth taken out. But why can’t they just stay there?

“It’s Crowded in Here!”

The #1 reason wisdom teeth need to be removed is that there isn’t enough room in your mouth for these four back molars, or “third molars,” to fit. We can typically tell if this will be factor from your x-rays. This is one reason regular visits to your dentist in Boerne are so important. If your wisdom teeth erupt and there’s no room in your mouth, they can become “stuck” in your bone. When this happens, your wisdom teeth are referred to as being impacted. Surgery to extract impacted wisdom teeth can be more complicated, so it’s best if we avoid it by catching any potential problems and removing the teeth early.

Bacteria Love Them

If your wisdom teeth do fully erupt and don’t appear to be causing any problems, meaning there’s no overcrowding, pain, or changes in the function of your bite, they may still need to come out. Why? Wisdom teeth are hard to brush and floss properly, which puts you at increased risk for cavities and gum disease. If any potential problem is lurking in the dark corners of your wisdom teeth, extraction may be recommended in order to keep your smile healthy.

When to Leave Them Alone

It’s rare, but sometimes wisdom teeth grow in just fine and there’s no reason to have them removed. If your wisdom teeth are healthy, positioned so as to not inhibit proper bite or neighboring teeth, and are able to be cleaned properly, it may be best to leave them alone. Additionally, some people may never have to worry about whether to leave their wisdom teeth or get them removed because sometimes, the teeth just aren’t there.

Regular visits at our dental office in Boerne help get and keep your mouth healthy and can also catch any potential problems with your wisdom teeth before they arise. If your wisdom teeth are already causing pain, or removal wasn’t recommended in time before they erupted, call to schedule your appointment today. We’ll make sure to recommend the best option for you and your wise molars.

Serving patients in Boerne, Fair Oaks, The Dominion and beyond.