Oral Health for Seniors

August 21st is Senior Citizens Day, and there’s no better way for our dental office in Boerne to celebrate than by sharing some oral health information for the favorite senior citizens we have in our lives and their families.  

The truth is, our oral health needs will vary as we celebrate more birthdays, and needs will also differ from person to person. That’s one reason we believe in treating each person with individualized, custom care. When it comes to the senior population, there are a few unique things to be aware of. 

  • Discolored TeethWhile anyone can experience discolored teeth, there’s usually an explanation. Maybe morning coffee is to blame, or perhaps smoking or red wine. But when it comes to seniors, discoloration may occur without any obvious explanation. Most commonly, tooth discoloration as we age is a typical sign that the white outer layer of our teeth (enamel) is wearing away and becoming thinner. When this happens, your teeth can become a little transparent and the inner workings of the tooth become more visible. As it turns out, the insides of teeth are not as white as the outsides, and the more we’re able to see them, the more dark or yellow teeth can appear. 
  • Dry MouthDry mouth is another condition that can happen to anyone, but it does tend to be more common in seniors. Many times, medication is to blame. There are tons of over-the-counter medications and prescription medications that list dry mouth as a side effect. When these medications are taken regularly, saliva production slows down and the mouth becomes dry… and there is nothing bacteria like better than a dry mouth. Without saliva on hand to rinse away bacteria and neutralize acid, teeth are at an increased risk for developing cavities. If these cavities aren’t treated, they could lead to the need for a root canal, cause tooth sensitivity, or even tooth loss. If you’re experiencing dry mouth, do not stop taking your medication as prescribed, but do talk to your dentist in Boerne
  • Tooth LossLet’s start by saying that there’s no guarantee that we’ll lose our teeth as we get older. There are plenty of people who keep their teeth for a lifetime, especially if they see their dentist regularly and practice good oral hygiene habits. However, tooth loss can be a real concern for many people. The best ways to reduce the risk of tooth loss is to avoid smoking or using tobacco, limiting alcohol intake, and seeing your dentist in Boerne every six months. These preventative dental appointments help identify problems early while they’re still often easily treatable and can help save your teeth. 
  • Gum DiseaseOne of the more serious concerns for seniors’ oral health is gum disease. In fact, research suggests a strong link between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and stroke. Gum disease occurs when bacteria isn’t removed and it works its way under the gum line. Once this occurs, it becomes difficult to remove and can lead to an infection or advanced gum disease. If not treated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. The common signs of gum disease include red, bleeding, and inflamed gums. 

Unfortunately, there’s no way we can stop ourselves from getting older. But there are things we can do to help protect our teeth for life. Always brush twice a day and floss once a day, and get a professional dental cleaning and check-up at least twice a year. If you’re overdue for your dental appointment, we welcome you to call our Boerne dental office to schedule a visit with us today. 

All About Dental Implants

Even though our teeth are made up of one of the toughest materials in our bodies, the truth is, sometimes our natural teeth won’t last forever. Whether it’s due to trauma, gum disease, or decay, it’s not uncommon to have a tooth fall out or to have one removed. If this happens, there are many tooth replacement options available, but a favorite choice of your Boerne dentist is a dental implant. 

What is a Dental Implant

A dental implant, or even multiple implants, is a superior way to restore your smile and give you a permanent replacement for your tooth. They are usually preferred over a dental bridge or dentures because the implant itself essentially replaces the entire tooth’s structure, not simply the crown. This helps restore your mouth to full function, and oftentimes, you won’t even be able to tell you were ever missing a tooth. In short, dental implants create a natural feel that can last a lifetime. 

Benefits of a Dental Implant

We already know that a dental implant can give us back full functionality of our smiles, but there are many other upsides to this tooth replacement option such as: 

  • Improved appearance and speech. Since dental implants replace the tooth’s natural root system and the post is integrated into the bone, dental implants continue to provide stimulation to the bone. This can help reduce the look of wrinkles and lower your risk of bone loss in the jaw. And since an implant functions very much like a natural tooth, you’re able to speak clearly and do not have to deal with any annoying slippage that can often occur with dentures. 
  • Easier eating. One common complaint of denture wearers is that they can’t eat what they want when they want to. Dental implants eliminate that restriction and leaves people free to enjoy the foods they love the most. There is no worry of a denture slipping or food stuck getting under one. Overall, those with dental implants can eat without worry. 
  • Enhanced oral health. Another difference between a dental implant and its denture counterpart is that a dental implant is a permanent structure. This means there’s no need for overnight soaking or the extra cleaning that comes with a removable denture. You can care for a dental implant just as if it’s your natural tooth. 

What to Expect During an Implant Procedure

The first step in determining whether a dental implant is right for you is to schedule a consultation with your dentist in Boerne. This visit will allow your dental team to exam your specific situation and determine if an implant is the best tooth-replacement option. If it is, your team will review the treatment plan and schedule the procedure. The procedure itself is pretty easy and consists of a few parts: 

  • Place the post. Your dentist and your team will insert a titanium post into your jaw bone. While it may sound scary, the procedure itself is mild to moderately painful. 
  • Healing time. After the post is implanted, you will be fitted with a temporary crown while your bone integrates into the post, building you a super-strong foundation.
  • Add the abutment. Once the post is sturdy and healing time is complete, your dentist will custom make you a permanent crown that will be affixed to the post. 

Overall, getting a dental implant is an easy and straightforward treatment that can bring your smile back to life. 

If you’re missing a tooth or are at risk for losing teeth, give our Boerne dental office a call to schedule an appointment today. We’ll be happy to identify the best treatment option for you and your individual situation. 

A Checklist for Your Next Dental Appointment

A visit to your dentist in Boerne is a pretty easy thing to check off your to-do list. But did you know that there are things you can do prior to your visit to make the process even easier? In this week’s blog, we provide you with a free checklist that you can use to make sure you’re prepared for your dental appointment. 

Appointment Confirmation

Many dental offices will send a pre-appointment reminder to you via text or email or call you directly to confirm your appointment. However, if your dental office doesn’t provide this service, you should confirm your appointment 24-hours in advance. These reminders not only help keep your appointment on schedule, so your dental team is able to be courteous of your time, but they’re also a great way to remove any chance of miscommunication. 

Know Your Medical History

Whether you’re visiting a new dentist in Boerne for the first time or you’ve been going to the same place for years, make sure you know your medical history as well as any changes that may have happened since your last visit. Things to remember include, new medications along with dosage, a new diagnosis or changes to overall health, and of course any concerns you may have with your dental health. 

Be Ready To Share

If you have any concerns about your oral health that you want to discuss with your dentist, make sure to be ready to share those concerns. The more specific you can be, the better. Consider things such as: 

  • If there’s pain and when it started 
  • The level of discomfort and where you feel it 
  • Any signs that worry you including bleeding or swollen gums 
  • If you’re unhappy with your smile and ideally what you’d like to change 

Being open and honest with your dental team will help make sure your appointment is catered just to you and your concerns or desires. 

Look Six Months Ahead

Most people will see the dentist every six months, and you should be prepared to schedule your next appointment at the end of your first visit. Take a quick look at your schedule six months down the road so you know what you may need to avoid. Coming in with dates in mind will help make sure you’re appointment remains on the schedule and you can be seen when you want to be seen.  

However, even though you’ll be set to see your dentist again in six short months, you should always continue to do your part in between appointments to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. Make sure to brush and floss regularly, take it easy on the acidic and sugary foods, and don’t smoke or use tobacco. 

If you’re overdue for a dental appointment, call our Boerne dental office to schedule one today. We’ll be happy to see you! 

Summer Foods That Your Smile Will Love

As you’re enjoying the sun this summer and the foods that tend to go along with long summer days and nights, the team at our Boerne dental office wants to share a few snack ideas with you that your smile will love. 

Top 4 Summer Foods for Your Smile

When choosing what to eat this summer try this basic rule of thumb: if it’s good for your body, it’s good for your teeth. Try some of the following: 

  • Cheese – Cheese is a great snack for your teeth and your bones. It contains both calcium and vitamin D which work together to keep teeth and bones nice and strong. Cheese can also increase saliva production which will help rinse away bacteria and sugar. 
  • Chicken – Enjoying a piece of grilled chicken breast may sound perfect, after all, it’s healthy and delicious. But the drumsticks, thighs, and wing can be more beneficial for your smile since they contain collagen. Collagen is incredibly important for strong, healthy teeth and gums. 
  • Vegetables – Crispy, uncooked vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, and celery are fantastic snack options for similar reasons as the other foods. Raw veggies rub away buildup on your teeth as you chew and protects your smile against decay. This quick cleaning may also help keep bad breath away. 
  • Water – So this one isn’t really food, but it is really important. Keeping your mouth hydrated by drinking plenty of water will help rinse away food particles and bacteria before they have a chance to settle in and cause damage. 

What to Avoid

The truth is, not all summer snacks are great for your teeth. There are some that can increase your risk of decay and cavities such as:

  • Condiments
  • Soda
  • Alcohol

These foods and drinks either have a lot of sugar, are acidic, or can dry out your mouth — all of which can increase the chance of decay and cavities. 

 
Choosing healthy snacks (and drinks!) this summer can go a long way in protecting your teeth against decay. But that doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid some of your favorites if they’re on the “avoid” list. Just remember to enjoy those in moderation and of course, see your dentist in Boerne regularly.

Dental Emergency? Try These Tips.

Emergencies of any kind can cause fear and discomfort. Dental emergencies are no different and can be particularly concerning. What exactly are you supposed to do if you experience a dental emergency such as a broken tooth, a knocked out tooth, or a painful toothache? The team at our Boerne dental office is here to give you some advice on how to handle some of the most common dental emergencies.

Top Dental Emergencies & Treatment Tips

It’s important to note that any dental emergency, including injuries to the mouth, teeth, or gums, should be treated by a dentist in Boerne as quickly as possible. But if you can’t get to the dentist right away, there are some things you can do to help minimize discomfort and protect your tooth.  

Chipped or Broken Tooth – Whether caused by a pesky popcorn kernel, sports injury, or grinding your teeth, a chipped or broken tooth may cause you to panic. Not to worry, there are many forms of cosmetic dentistry that can restore your tooth and smile. However, right after the injury happens, you may be in some pain or bleeding. The best thing to do is to rinse your mouth with warm water, apply gauze and a bit of pressure to help stop any bleeding, and use a cold compress to help reduce any swelling.

Knocked Out Tooth – Having a tooth knocked out can certainly be scary. If this happens, the first thing you should try to do is stay calm and remember the following tips:

  • Only touch the crown of the tooth. Do not touch the roots.
  • Try to replace the tooth into the socket.
  • Place the tooth in a glass of milk, store it in a cup of spit, or keep it safely under your tongue and get to a dentist. Your tooth has the best chance of survival if it’s returned to the socket within an hour.

Toothache – A toothache is usually the mouth’s way of telling us that something isn’t right, and it definitely shouldn’t be ignored. See your dentist as quickly as you can to increase the chance of easier and successful treatment. Prior to your appointment, you can ease the pain by using a cold compress or over-the-counter pain reliever.

We never want our patients to experience a dental emergency, but the truth is, they happen. If they do, we welcome you to call our dental office in Boerne. We’re here to help protect smiles and treat them if something happens. Call us today.

Dental X-Rays, Who Needs ‘Em? (You Do!)

If you see your dentist in Boerne regularly, then you’ve probably had a dental x-ray or two taken in your life. The reason we rely on x-rays so heavily is that they’re absolutely a crucial part of creating a custom treatment plan that’s going to address your dental issues and needs, the right way.

We know it may seem like they’re just any other x-ray and you might even wonder why you actually even need dental x-rays in the first place. The truth is, these images can save your smile and maybe even your life. Let’s learn more about what x-rays are and what they do for you.

Why Do We Need X-Rays?

Radiographs or x-rays are relied on heavily for preventive dentistry or to help fix issues such as cavities, decay, and breakage. Generally, dentists rely on 2D or 3D imaging to gain a better understanding of what’s going on inside your mouth, highlighting your jaw bone health and tooth structure that lies beneath your gums and enamel. It gives us the added ability to find out if something is going on inside your mouth or teeth that’s not 100 percent visible to the naked eye.

Are Dental X-Rays Going to Expose Me to Radiation?

Most of the x-rays used in dental offices across the country today give off a minimal amount of radiation. It’s important to note that you should always limit your exposure to x-rays and avoid repeated use as it can damage cells over time due to the small, continued radiation aftereffects.

Dental x-rays are certainly safer than ever thanks to advancements in dentistry over the years. Dentists now rely on using lower x-ray dosages, higher quality film, film holders, and well-designed, full-body aprons lined with lead. It’s important to note though that most of the modern dental x-ray technology that’s available today give off very little stray radiation.

How Do Dental X-Rays Work?

The process of obtaining a good dental x-ray image can occur a few ways. Usually, a dentist or a dental specialist will cover you with the iron apron for protection before putting a small plastic device in your mouth and asking you to bite down. Your bite is going to hold the x-ray film in place for accurate, immediate results.

In instances like this where we’re x-raying the inside of your mouth, it’s referred to as obtaining intraoral photos. There are also several extraoral x-rays that your Boerne dentist and orthodontists can use to help fix a smile, with extra meaning outside of your mouth. These images are useful in seeing your jaw bone and entire skull as a whole how it relates to your mouth and oral health.

If you’re experiencing a problem or if you feel like something isn’t right with your smile, please call our Boerne dental office. We may need to use one of these super cool x-ray techniques to help get you and your smile back into tip-top shape.

Your Smile Loves Calcium. Do You?

We all know the old advertising slogan – “Milk. It does a body good.” This is mainly in part because it’s rich in calcium, a nutrient that’s vital to helping your teeth and bones stay strong enough to last a lifetime. At our Boerne dental office, we always want you and your family to make the healthiest, best decisions to fit your lifestyle. Millions of Americans choose to follow diets that restrict or don’t include dairy, such as vegetarians or vegans. There are also millions of other Americans who are known as lactose intolerant and can’t do dairy either.

There are plenty of ways you can get calcium without strictly relying on cheese, yogurt, and milk. (Although, if you do enjoy them make sure they’re part of your regular diet to help boost your calcium intake.) Let’s take a look at how a diet rich in calcium affects your teeth and your bones.

Getting Calcium Without The Cow

There are a variety of health or personal reasons that some people choose to avoid dairy products. There’s no reason to worry, because there are plenty of delicious, nutritious foods out there that can supply your body’s demand for calcium.

Fortified products: Orange juice, waffles, tofu

Veggies, Nuts, and Beans: Leafy greens, almonds, soybeans, soy milk, spinach, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.

Teeth & Calcium: A Love Story

Your teeth, gums, and jaw bone are all affected by the amount of calcium you have in your daily diet. Your dentist in Boerne will tell you that calcium will help your teeth stay healthy and protected against cavities, decay, and tooth loss. It’s a match made in dental heaven.

FUN FACT: 99% of the calcium in your body is found in your teeth and bones. – Institute of Medicine

Your gums appreciate calcium too because it helps them stay healthy free from damaging bacteria and disease. Calcium also helps your muscles and blood vessels work more effectively.

Bones & Calcium: Another Love Story

Why should your Boerne dentist care so much about calcium and your bones? Well, obviously we want the best for your overall health, but in terms of your oral health, we know how important calcium is for your jaw bone. Your jaw bone serves as the anchor for your teeth, so you’ll want to keep it healthy for as long as possible to avoid tooth loss down the road. It’s also super important to remember that the other bones in your body also need calcium to help prevent damaging osteoporosis later in life.

Getting the right amount of calcium in your diet, no matter what your age, is very important to help keep your smile and your gums healthy. It’s really a benefit that your whole body will thank you for. We thank you for reading your blog. If you have questions or concerns about your smile, you know who to call. We’re always happy to help in any way we can!

Smile Whitening Options

Have you ever wished that your teeth were whiter? We understand. We all want a bright, white smile that we’re happy to show off to the world. But many things can cause tooth discoloration — from your daily cup of coffee to your nightcap glass of red wine, or delicious tomato sauce to yummy berries. What can you do to take your teeth from dull to white? Our dental office in Boerne is here to help.

Professional Tooth Whitening

If you’re looking for a fast, dramatic tooth whitening option, consider a professional smile whitening from your dentist in Boerne. A professional tooth whitening can transform your smile quickly and can even make your smile several shades whiter in just one treatment. While typically more expensive than over-the-counter whitening products, professional smile whitening can give you the immediate results you’re looking for.

Over-the-Counter Smile Whitening Products

There’s a certain appeal to over-the-counter smile whitening products. They’re often cheaper than a professional whitening, and they can brighten your teeth. However, results usually appear over time and are certainly not immediate. Additionally, there are some risks involved with over-the-counter whitening strips and trays. For example, if the solution stays on too long or it sits on your gums, it can lead to damage and increased sensitivity.

When Whitening Isn’t Enough

There are times when neither over-the-counter whitening nor professional whitening is enough to get you the look you want. In fact, there are some types of stains that don’t respond to the whitening solution and will never go away no matter how much you try. When this happens, the best way to whiten your smile is through dental veneers. Dental veneers are thin sheets of porcelain that are fixed to the surface of your teeth covering up any imperfections, including stains.

When deciding on the best way to whiten your smile, start by talking with your dentist in Boerne. They’ll be able to help you determine what kind of staining you have and if a whitening product will work for you before you invest.

If you’re looking to brighten and whiten your smile, call our dental office in Boerne to schedule an appointment. We’ll work with you to determine how white you want your teeth to be and then we’ll discuss the best option for you.

The Signs of Oral Cancer

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and at our dental office in Boerne, we know just how serious and scary oral cancer can be. To do our part to help raise awareness, we’re here to share facts, signs, and risk factors of oral cancer with our patients and neighbors.

Facts About Oral Cancer

  • More than 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year
  • Oral cancer kills more than 8,500 people annually
  • Nearly 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users
  • Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women
  • Patients who have had oral cancer once are up to 20 times more likely to develop another form of cancer

The Importance of a Fast Diagnosis

Oral cancer can be treated, however, treatment is much more successful when the disease is caught early. This is one reason why bi-annual visits to your dentist in Boerne are so important. You see, unlike other types of cancer, there are no official timing guidelines for screening for oral cancer like there is for, say, colon or breast cancer. Your regular dental visits essentially act as regular oral cancer screenings. These checkups allow your dental team to identify any potential signs of oral cancer early so that you can get treatment fast.

Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms

One thing that can make oral cancer difficult to diagnose is that its signs and symptoms can disguise themselves as common oral health problems that don’t seem like a big deal. However, you’re better safe than sorry… so if you notice any of the signs below, call your dentist as soon as you can.

  • A sore or discoloration that doesn’t go away
  • A lump inside the mouth or neck
  • Pain while swallowing, chewing, or speaking
  • Changes in voice
  • Chronic bad breath

Risk Factors

Even though oral cancer can happen to anyone, there are some people who may be at increased risk including:

  • Those over 55
  • Current or former tobacco users
  • Heavy drinkers

Oral cancer is a very serious disease. Reduce your risk by changing any risky habits and commit to seeing your dentist every six months. Of course, if you suspect you’re at risk for oral cancer, or are concerned by any potential signs, we welcome you to call our Boerne dental office.

Do I Have Bruxism?

Bruxism is just a medical term for grinding or clenching your teeth, usually while you’re asleep. That’s what makes teeth grinding hazardous to your oral and overall health, because there’s a good chance you don’t even know you’re doing it! Our dental office in Boerne is here to help you learn more about bruxism and the damage it can do to your smile. We want to help you recognize the early warning signs of teeth grinding and help you protect your teeth from damage.

The American Sleep Association suggests as many as 10 percent of adults and 15 percent of children are affected by bruxism. Teeth grinding or clenching is more common when there’s a family history of the disorder, with rates soaring to as high as 50 percent. Both males and females are similarly affected by bruxism.

Are There Common Signs of Bruxism?

There’s a reason why your dentist in Boerne may be the first person to recognize signs that you grind your teeth, because that’s what’s damaged the most by bruxism. When most people grind their teeth, their canines and incisors come together with great force, damaging your enamel and the structure of your teeth. Other symptoms of bruxism include:

Jaw joint pain or discomfort

– Facial pain

– Headaches or migraines

– Jaw muscle contractions

– Broken restorations

– Tooth sensitivity

– Enamel loss

– Damaged gums

Why Do I Have Bruxism?

There are a few reasons our patients develop bruxism or teeth clenching. It’s most commonly caused by a combination of anxiety or stress. People who are agitated or stressed are more likely to grind the night away and not even be aware they’re doing it. In most cases of bruxism, a person isn’t even woken up by the sound of their teeth grinding together. Having a misaligned bite, side effects from medications, and some medical diseases can also cause bruxism.

Is there something not right about your smile? Are you concerned that you’re grinding your teeth? The best way to help yourself is to call our Boerne dental practice to schedule a consultation. We can give you a comprehensive, thorough exam, learn more about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing, monitor your bite, and get a more in-depth look using state-of-the-art x-rays. From there, we’ll be able to see what kind of shape your teeth are in, address the severity of your teeth grinding, and put together a personalized treatment plan for you. We want you and your smile to stay healthy and be pain-free!