Why Your Dentist Cares About Snoring

Getting a good night’s sleep is important for our overall health. But there are numerous things that can keep us from sleeping soundly, especially snoring. In fact, if you or your bed partner snore, there’s a good chance that you’re not getting enough sleep. But why does your dentist in Boerne care about snoring? The truth is, snoring could be a sign of sleep apnea.

What is Sleep Apnea? 

Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that not only keeps you and your loved ones from getting a solid eight hours of sleep a night, it could also mean that your body isn’t getting enough oxygen while you’re catching Zs. Sleep apnea occurs when someone stops breathing during sleep, sometimes up to 100 times a night! One of the most concerning parts about sleep apnea isn’t even the snoring itself, it’s the fact that you may not even know that it’s happening. 

Types of Sleep Apnea

It’s important to note that not everyone who snores suffers from sleep apnea, that’s one reason why it can be so hard to diagnose. However, snoring is one of the most common signs of sleep apnea. There are two types of sleep apnea:

1) Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) – The most common form of sleep apnea is the type called obstructive sleep apnea. OSA occurs when the airway becomes blocked during sleep due to the soft tissues in the back of your throat collapsing.

2) Central Sleep Apnea – This type of sleep apnea may not directly involve a blocked airway, but it does involve a problem with how your brain signals your breathing muscles. Oftentimes, the brain fails to signal the breathing muscles to breathe. Cases of central sleep apnea are more difficult to diagnose. 

Snoring & Oral Health Concerns

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, roughly 90 million Americans snore. And, as we’ve noted, sometimes snoring is simply annoying and not caused by sleep apnea. But that doesn’t mean these primary snorers aren’t at risk. In fact, your dentist in Boerne may ask if you snore because it can affect your oral health. Snorers breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses which can quickly dry the mouth out and reduce saliva production. Saliva is crucial to maintaining good oral health as it neutralizes acids and helps rinse away bacteria. Without it, snorers may be at increased risk for: 

  • Dry mouth
  • Gum disease
  • Bad breath
  • Cavities
  • Tooth loss

If you wake up with a sticky mouth, dry mouth, or bad morning breath, you may be mouth breathing or snoring during sleep or have sleep apnea. Your dentist in Boerne, will encourage a visit to a sleep center and want to keep a closer eye on your oral health. 

Preventing Problems

To combat any negative side effects of snoring or sleep apnea, you should always make sure to:

  • Brush and flossing twice a day
  • Drink plenty of water
  • See your dentist in Boerne twice a year

Snoring isn’t something you should take lightly. If you’re concerned about your snoring, talk with your dentist about possible treatment options either from a medical doctor or dentist. 

Do Men Have Different Oral Health Needs than Women?

We’ve all heard of the book, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” which explains some of the main psychological differences between these two genders. But did you know that these differences extend into dentistry? It’s true! Just ask your dentist in Boerne. Since men are more likely to avoid regular dental care, they often have unique needs and are actually at more risk for more dental problems than women.  

Skipping Dental Appointments Is Bad News

Dentists always recommend that all patients visit at least twice a year for preventive checkups. But many men don’t see the dentist regularly. In fact, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control, just shy of 60% of adult American men go to the dentist every year. This habit, along with others, often means that men have different oral health needs and complications than women. Let’s look at a few. 

Brushing & Flossing

Starting with the basics, the truth is men are less likely to brush their teeth twice a day and after meals. They’re also less likely to change their toothbrush every three months or after a cold. These oral hygiene habits can certainly cause some concern for your dentist in Boerne

Lifestyle Habits

Statistically, men are more likely than women to partake in habits that can put oral health in danger, such as using tobacco products and drinking more alcohol. These lifestyle habits can make dental care different for men than women and may require additional appointments to the dentist. 

Gum Disease

One of the serious oral health issues that usually affects men more than women is gum disease, perhaps because of their increased likelihood to smoke or drink alcohol — both of which are known contributors to the development of gum disease. In fact, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, 56% of men have gum disease as compared to only 38% of women. When not caught and treated in the earliest stages, gum disease can lead to tooth loss, as well as an increased risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and prostate health in men. This is one of the main reasons why preventive dentistry checkups with your dentist in Boerne are so important. 

Oral Cancer

Over 53,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year, nearly 10,000 will die from it, and it’s another scary disease that affects men more than women. In fact, oral cancer is twice as common in men than women. Oral cancer can be found in any of the soft tissues in the mouth, including the tongue, lips, cheeks, or the far back area of the throat (oropharyngeal cancer). The good news is oral cancer can be treated successfully if caught early. Which is another reason to see your dentist regularly. 

More Complicated, More Advanced Dental Treatment

We already know that many men will avoid going to the dentist every six months. But men will see their Boerne dentist if they’re experiencing a problem. However, at this point, it’s often too late for easy treatment. When problems are small and are caught early, treatment is usually quick and easy. In fact, many people won’t even know they had a problem since they probably didn’t have any pain. However, when problems are left untreated over time, small issues can quickly become big problems. These big problems also often require more complex care such as a root canal, dental crown, extraction, dental bridge, or dental implant.

No matter your dental needs, your lifestyle habits, or your gender, it’s important that you see your dentist every six months. These visits help catch problems early, remove plaque buildup from your teeth, and give your dental team a chance to chat with you about your oral hygiene habits. Call to schedule an appointment today. 

4 Reasons You Should Floss Your Teeth

Flossing does more than clean the surfaces of your teeth. It cleans those important areas between each tooth and removes bacteria from under the gums. Yet, it’s incredibly common for your dentist in Boerne to see patients every day who skip this crucial part of oral hygiene. In fact, more than 30% of Americans don’t floss their teeth every day, and this can mean bad news for your teeth. 

  • The Plaque Attack

One of the most important reasons to floss your teeth every day is to remove plaque buildup that occurs naturally throughout the day. If left untreated, plaque will harden into tartar. Tartar isn’t something that can be removed through regular brushing alone and will need to be removed at your next appointment with your dentist in Boerne

  • Fight Off Gum Disease

The biggest complaint we hear about flossing is that gums bleed. This is an even more important reason to keep flossing. Bleeding gums is a telltale sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis can be reversed if caught in this early stage, however, if it’s not treated and is left to progress, it can quickly turn into full-blown gum disease. In its more advanced stages, gum disease becomes irreversible and can wreak havoc on your oral health and overall health. 

  • Keep Your Body Healthy

If foregoing the floss does lead to gum disease, it can lead to additional complications throughout the body. Research shows a strong correlation between gum disease and whole-body health concerns, including: 

  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory Disease
  • Protect Strong Teeth

It’s the goal of your Boerne dentist to help patients achieve and keep long-lasting good oral health. Part of that includes keeping natural teeth for a lifetime, which is possible with proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits. However, if you don’t floss, you’re at greater risk for both cavities as well as tooth loss. 

Choosing The Best Floss

Finding the best floss for you can take some trial and error. But it’s important to try various types of floss so you can choose one that you’ll use regularly. Different types of floss include: 

  • Waxed or Unwaxed String Floss
  • Floss Picks
  • Dental Tape
  • Water Flosser

Even if you brush your teeth every day, make sure you don’t skip flossing. Your checkups with your dentist in Boerne will be easier, you’ll have less of a chance of developing serious problems, and you’ll keep your teeth happy and healthy. 

Including Oral Health in National Women’s Health Week

Did you know that besides Mother’s Day there’s an entire week dedicated to women each and every May? Known as National Women’s Health Week, this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health sponsored week is celebrated from Mother’s Day through Saturday and strives to encourage girls and women to make their health a priority. A key party of overall health is oral health, and your dentist in Boerne is here to help our fabulous female patients by sharing some key points in life when changes in the body can mean changes to oral health. 

4 Key Stages of a Woman’s Life

Change is all around us every day, and as we grow up, we experience changes in our lives and changes in our bodies. For women, the four key stages of change are when our hormones are in a state of fluctuation. During these times, not only can our bodies and emotions be affected, but our oral health can be, too. 

  • Puberty

The first time women will start to experience hormonal changes is during puberty. While puberty can happen any time, usually between age 8 and 14, it can affect some girls earlier or later. The important thing to remember is that during puberty, tweens and teens will have to go through a lot of changes, including hormonal changes. The hormones estrogen and progesterone will increase during puberty, which can concern your dentist in Boerne. Increases in these two hormones can also increase blood flow to the gums. In turn, pubescent girls may experience inflamed, red, and sore gums. Bacteria in the mouth can also build up easier, increasing the risk for cavities and gum disease

  • Menstruation

Shortly after puberty, all women will begin their menstrual cycle. Similar to puberty, hormone levels will continue to ebb and flow throughout a woman’s childbearing years, and symptoms of painful, red, swollen, and bleeding gums may continue. Now, usually, this tenderness and bleeding is noticed during brushing and flossing a few days before a woman’s period and should go away. If it doesn’t, schedule an appointment with your dentist in Boerne. Other symptoms of menstruation hormonal changes can include short-term canker sores, dry mouth, bad breath, and an increased risk of cavities

  • Pregnancy

Women who become moms experience even more shifts in hormones. As we know, shifts in hormones usually mean changes in dental health, and this remains true during pregnancy. When a woman is pregnant, it’s important to take great care of oral health for several reasons. First, poor dental health during pregnancy has been associated with premature babies, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. Second, half of all pregnant women will get pregnancy gingivitis. It’s recommended that pregnant women visit their dentist in Boerne during the second trimester or whenever there’s a concern. 

  • Menopause

Following the childbearing years comes menopause. Whereas estrogen levels increased during puberty, they will now start to drop. This loss of estrogen is directly related to bone loss and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis can lead to brittle bones and increase the risk of broken bones, it can also decrease bone density in the jaw, which can cause tooth loss. However, there are several ways dentists can replace these lost or damaged teeth such as dental implants and dentures.

For both women and men, your dentist is a key part of your healthcare team. To fully protect your health and take care of your body, commit to dental checkups every six months. If you’re overdue for a dental cleaning, call to schedule an appointment today.

What The Pandemic Taught Us About The Importance of Oral Health

This past year has taught us a lot, including just how important it is to wash our hands, how to juggle toddlers and Zoom meetings, and how to be comfortable in our own homes day after day. When it comes to your dentist in Boerne, we also learned a lot during this pandemic. Granted, we already knew most of it, but it’s more apparent now more than ever, and we want to share it with our patients and neighbors. 

Lesson #1 – Lost Prevention 

One of the most important parts of dental health is prevention. But what happens when you lose the opportunity to practice prevention? We found out early last year when dental offices across the globe shut down and patients went without preventive dental care. Preventive dental checkups and cleanings are the best time for your dentist in Boerne to find any potential problems and treat them early, while treatment is still easy and has a greater chance of success. But when patients can’t get in to see the dentist when they’re supposed to, small problems can easily turn into big problems. A tiny cavity can turn into a large area of decay and require a root canal and crown instead of a simple filling. Early gum disease can progress into moderate gum disease that can’t be reversed and puts the patient at risk for heart disease and even tooth loss. Bi-annual dental checkups are incredibly important to keeping your mouth and your body healthy. Don’t skip them.  

Lesson #2 – High-Risk Patients Need Preventive Dental Care

This past year (and counting) can’t be easy for patients with certain medical conditions. Those who are considered high-risk for severe sickness from COVID-19 may have understandably avoided dental visits out of fear. But these patients are the ones who benefit the most from preventive dental care, oftentimes visiting their dentist in Boerne every three months instead of every six. There’s a strong correlation between certain medical conditions – such as heart disease and diabetes – and oral health, so much so that these preventive dental checkups should be a crucial part in managing the disease. 

Lesson #3 – The Dental Office is a Safe Space

Even some patients who aren’t considered high-risk may be hesitant to see their dentist. However, dental offices are incredibly clean and dentists themselves have had significantly lower infection rates of COVID-19 than other healthcare workers, according to the FDI World Dental Federation. Dental offices have to adhere to very strict infection control protocols by law, which made them a safe space to visit before the pandemic. These rules still exist and many dentists have taken additional precautions such as wearing better masks, donning gowns, using HEPA filters, and disinfecting rooms and the air several times throughout the day. 

Even though the pandemic has had us all holed up for quite some time, and many may still feel uneasy about getting out there, rest assured that your dentist in Boerne is safe. Visits are also a necessary part of maintaining good oral and overall health. Don’t put off your dental appointments, schedule one today. 

Early Signs of Mouth Cancer

Mouth cancer, also known as oral cancer, affects more than 50,000 newly diagnosed people every year. It’s scary, it’s serious, and it can be deadly. However, it’s not all bad news. In fact, oral cancer can be treated successfully if it’s caught early and treatment begins quickly. To do this, your dentist in Boerne, as well as yourself, need to check for signs of oral cancer often. But what exactly should you look for? 

Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms

Some of the early signs of oral cancer can easily be confused with other non-serious oral health conditions. This is one thing that can make oral cancer tricky to catch. However, if any of the signs and symptoms below don’t go away within 2-3 weeks, schedule an appointment with your Boerne dentist to get checked out. 

  • Chronic cough
  • Changes in voice 
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • An earache on one side 
  • A hard lump in the soft tissues
  • Swollen tonsil on one side without pain
  • A painless lump on the outside of the neck
  • Any sore that doesn’t heal itself within 2-weeks
  • Discoloration in the mouth including a red, white, or black appearance

Check Your Mouth Initiative

Created by The Oral Cancer Foundation, the Check Your Mouth public health initiative was designed to help people self-identify potential abnormalities in the mouth. Now, while this tool is incredibly helpful for those at-home checks, they don’t replace your dentist. The best way to truly diagnose oral cancer is through your dentist in Boerne. This is one reason why bi-annual dental visits are so important as they allow your dental team to see any changes that may have occurred since your last appointment and treat them appropriately. 

Reduce The Risk

Oral cancer can happen to anyone at any time. But there are a few people who are at increased risk of developing oral cancer, including:

  • People 50 or older — Oral cancer tends to be most prominent after 50. 
  • Current or former tobacco users — 80% of those who get oral cancer either currently use tobacco or did at one time. 
  • Heavy drinkers Another habit that can increase the risk of oral cancer is drinking alcohol heavily. Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
  • Men — Men are more likely to develop oral cancer than women. 

If you’re overdue for a dental visit or have an area of concern, we welcome you to schedule an appointment at our Boerne dental office today. We’re always happy to help! 

What To Do If You Crack A Tooth

Anyone can crack a tooth at any time and anywhere. If this happens, you should schedule a visit with your dentist in Boerne as soon as you can. But there are a few things you can do at home to help protect your tooth and relieve any pain that you may have. Keep in mind, these tips are only temporary and you still need to be seen by a dentist for proper treatment. 

At-Home Treatment

If you happen to crack a tooth at night or on a weekend when your dentist may not be readily available, try these tips for temporary help:

  • If you can, take over-the-counter pain medication. 
  • Use a dental anesthetic to help numb the area. 
  • Rinse with warm salt water a few times a day to remove bacteria.
  • Apply an ice pack to your cheek to reduce swelling. 

Signs of a Cracked Tooth

Sometimes you can crack a tooth and not even know it. But most often, a cracked tooth comes along with a few key signs, including the following from the American Association of Endodontists

  • Pain while chewing
  • Sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweets
  • Pain that comes and goes

Cracked Tooth Treatment

If you do crack a tooth, don’t worry. There are several different ways that your dentist in Boerne may use to fix it. 

Bonding – Bonding is a simple, painless way to repair a cracked tooth. Your dentist will fit the crack with a sticky resin, harden it using a special light, and restore your tooth. 

Dental Crowns – Another option to treat a cracked tooth is a dental crown. This is usually more appropriate for a larger crack. Your dentist in Boerne will create and place a custom crown over the affected tooth, protecting it from more damage. Each crown is designed to match the shape, color, and size of your other teeth so nobody will ever know it’s there. 

Root Canal – If a crack is deep enough to affect the inner tooth, you may need a root canal. A root canal may sound scary and painful, but the opposite is true. During a root canal, your dentist will remove any affected pulp which will relieve any pain you may have. A root canal can also protect you from developing an infection. 

Tooth Extraction – When a cracked tooth goes beyond repair and affects too much of the natural tooth structure, your dentist may recommend an extraction. However, many times, extracted teeth can be replaced with a dental implant or bridge so you don’t need to live with a missing tooth. 

It is possible to have a cracked tooth and not know it. However, the longer a cracked tooth goes undetected and untreated, the more it can lead to bigger problems. This is why it’s so important to see your dentist at least twice a year. These regular visits help identify any problems early while they’re easier to treat.

Can You Get Cavities Even If You Don’t Eat Sugar?

You’ll hear it over and over again from your dentist in Boerne — limit your intake of sugary foods and drinks. This is because sugar causes cavities, right? Well, sort of. Sugar itself doesn’t cause cavities, but what happens when we digest sugars can increase the risk of developing cavities. So if sugar isn’t to blame, then what is? 

What Causes Cavities?

You may have had a mental image of sugar bugs attacking and decaying teeth, but in fact, bacteria are to blame for decay and cavities. When we eat sugars, they feed the bacteria naturally found in our mouths. As a byproduct, these bacteria release acid. The acid can then attack tooth enamel, removing the layer of protection. Once the enamel is gone, bacteria can work their way in and the process repeats itself. Only this time instead of wearing away enamel, acids wear away at the actual tooth causing a cavity.

How to Know If You Have a Cavity

In their early stages, cavities may not show any signs of a problem. That’s because the decay hasn’t reached the inner tooth where all the nerves live. But just because you don’t feel it doesn’t mean there’s not a problem. Your dentist in Boerne will be able to diagnose a cavity at your bi-annual dental visits, but you should keep an eye out for any signs of a cavity in between those checkups. Some signs of a cavity include: 

  • Increased sensitivity
  • Pain when biting down
  • Seemingly random tooth pain
  • Pain when eating sweets
  • Visible holes

Cavity Prevention

The best way to avoid a dental filling or perhaps even a root canal is to prevent a cavity from forming in the first place. Try these cavity-fighting tips. 

  • Drink plenty of water to help rinse away bacteria and neutralize acids
  • Brush and floss your teeth twice a day
  • Chew sugarless gum after snacks if you can’t brush
  • Visit your dentist at least twice a year

Now that you know sugar doesn’t cause cavities, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can indulge in sugary sweets and drinks whenever you want. You should still listen to your dentist in Boerne and reduce the amount of sugar you allow in your diet. It’s also important to brush and floss your teeth every day to remove any buildup of plaque and keep your teeth protected.

What Are Dental X-Rays Used For?

We’re all used to showing our teeth off for photographs. But when it comes to your dentist in Boerne, we’re more interested in you smiling for a different kind of picture — dental x-rays. Chances are you’ve experienced these diagnostic images at your dental appointments, but what exactly are dental x-rays used for?  

A Closer Look at Dental X-Rays

There’s not much difference between dental x-rays and ones a physician may take of your leg or arm. X-rays in general use energy to capture images of dense areas inside the body such as bones. Dental x-rays, in particular, are used to show the teeth and bones surrounding the mouth and can help your dentist in Boerne find problems or potential problems. 

Types of Dental X-Rays

Even though all dental x-rays will show your dentist hard areas in your mouth, there are a variety of different types of x-rays that are used to show different things. 

  • Bitewing X-Rays – Can show your dentist the top and bottom teeth in a specific section of your mouth in the same photo. 
  • Periapical X-Rays – These images show the entire tooth from the top of the crown to the tip of the root. 
  • Occlusal X-Rays – Show the top (roof) or bottom (floor) of a mouth. 
  • Panoramic X-Rays – Displaying an all-encompassing view, panoramic x-rays show the entire mouth from left to right and even up into the sinuses and down into the jaws. 

How Do X-Rays Help Your Dentist? 

Taking a deeper view into the mouth can help your dentist in Boerne see problematic areas before they even show any outward signs or symptoms. When dental problems are caught early, it makes treatment easier and relieves the patient from experiencing potential pain that probably would have resulted from letting a problem go. Here are a few things your dentist can see with the help of x-rays. 

  • Cavities 

If you’ve ever had a cavity that has progressed into a larger area of decay, you probably noticed some sensitivity or pain in the area. These types of cavities can usually be seen with the naked eye. However, when cavities are still teeny tiny or are wedged in between teeth, they can show no signs and may be missed during a visual exam. This is where x-rays can make a huge difference. X-rays can show these cavities early when treatment is easy.

  • Infections

Infections inside a tooth, also known as an abscess, can be a real pain — literally. So when a patient has a toothache or throbbing tooth pain, their dentist will probably start by taking a few x-rays to get a better idea of what’s going on. X-rays can show deep into the tooth roots and will highlight infections. An abscess may require a root canal, potentially a dental crown, or even an extraction. 

  • Bone Loss 

Besides teeth, our jawbones are also an important part of our overall oral health. After all, they help hold our teeth in place. But things like age, osteoporosis, gum disease, and prior tooth loss can weaken the bone structure, most of the time without you even knowing it. Dental x-rays can show the progression of bone loss and help your dentist find a solution that’s right for you. 

Dental x-rays are a safe way to identify problems lurking below the surface. Depending on your specific needs and health history, your dentist may recommend taking x-rays anywhere from every six months to every three years. 

Love, Hearts, and… Gum Disease?

Each and every February, loved ones throughout the United States go above and beyond preparing for Valentine’s Day. Whether you choose to show your love with chocolates or flowers, one thing remains constant — bright red hearts are everywhere we look. But there’s another reason (besides Valentine’s Day) that we should pay attention to these hearts. February is American Heart Health Month and focuses on raising awareness of how daily choices affect our risk of heart disease. In fact, this holiday has a special place in your Boerne dentist’s heart because there is a strong connection between oral health and heart health. 

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is an infection in the gum tissues usually caused by a buildup of bacteria and plaque. When someone doesn’t brush their teeth often enough or well enough, plaque is left behind and can easily work its way up under the gum, settle in, and cause trouble. 

There are four stages of gum disease including: 

  • Gingivitis
  • Slight Periodontal Disease
  • Moderate Periodontal Disease
  • Advanced Periodontal Disease

Gum disease can be treated if caught in the gingivitis stage, so make sure you visit your dentist in Boerne every six months for dental cleanings, x-rays, and thorough exams so we can identify any problems early.

What Does This Have to Do With Your Heart?

If gingivitis isn’t diagnosed and treated quickly it will progress into slight, moderate, or advanced periodontal disease, all of which are irreversible. When gum disease progresses into these advanced stages, the infection can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. This can affect areas outside of the mouth, including the heart.  

Heart Disease 

Bacteria from gum disease in the bloodstream causes the body to produce 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 

Knowing that your oral health can have such an impact on your overall wellness makes it so incredibly important that you practice good oral hygiene habits at home, including brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing every day.   

Signs of Gum Disease

Since early diagnosis is so crucial to treating gum disease before it has the chance to affect the rest of your body, you need to know the signs of gum disease. Keep an eye out for: 

  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing
  • Puffy, tender gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth  

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

This American Heart Health Month, commit to reducing your chances of heart disease by brushing and flossing every day, seeing your dentist in Boerne twice a year, exercise, and eat a healthy diet. For more ideas on how to live a heart-healthy life, visit the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute