4 Reasons to Use Your Dental Benefits Before the End of the Year

If you have dental insurance, it’s important to remember that the benefits won’t last forever. Your plan may have an annual renewal date or it may expire if you don’t use it within a certain amount of time, so there are plenty of reasons to get moving and see your dentist in Boerne before time runs out! Here are 4 reasons why you should use your dental insurance before it expires.

  • Yearly Maximums Don’t Roll Over

In most cases, you’ll have a yearly maximum on how much insurance will pay for your dental expenses in a given year. But if you don’t go to the dentist and you don’t use this money before your policy restarts, it doesn’t rollover. You should always try to use any and all benefits your insurance plan provides with your dentist in Boerne

  • You’re Paying For It

If you’re paying for dental insurance through your employer, you will see deductions taken out of each paycheck. But if you don’t use the insurance, that money is wasted. Even if you don’t necessarily need services like cosmetic dentistry, you should still see your dentist twice a year for exams, x-rays, and cleanings. Talk with your dentist to see what your insurance will cover for these visits. 

  • Waiting Can Be Worse

Numerous dental issues start without ever showing a symptom. But that can quickly change. This is one reason why bi-annual visits to your dentist are so important. Your dentist can catch potential problems when they’re easy to fix and less costly. But if you don’t use your insurance benefits and don’t see the dentist regularly, dental problems can become more difficult to fix and potentially more expensive. After all, dental insurance doesn’t cover everything, so it’s better to use these benefits on preventing problems in the first place. 

  • Don’t Forget About Your FSA

If you have a Flexible Savings Account (FSA) through your employer that can be used on dental care, know that these benefits may also expire at the end of 2021. Again, this is a savings plan that you paid money into. Make sure you get the most out of your investment. 

Don’t wait until December to take full advantage of your dental benefits. With holiday schedules and the chaos that comes with them, your dentist in Boerne is sure to book up quickly. Schedule your appointment today! 

Will My Teeth Fall Out If I Don’t Go To The Dentist?

The American Dental Association recommends that you go to the dentist at least twice a year, but the sad truth is, many people don’t. In fact, about 65% of Americans don’t get regular dental care. However, the truth is, seeing your dentist in Boerne at least twice a year can prevent some serious problems, including tooth loss. Here are five things that happen if you don’t go to the dentist.

  • Plaque Buildup

Even if you brush and floss your teeth every single day, there are just some things your daily oral hygiene routine can’t touch, such as tartar. You see, a sticky substance called plaque, which is made up of bacteria, collects around your teeth every day. If plaque isn’t thoroughly removed it will harden into tartar. This tartar needs to be removed from teeth regularly by a trained dental hygienist to keep it from causing problems like decay. 

  • Cavities

Cavities are perhaps the most common dental problem. While there are various causes of cavities, studies have shown that plaque build-up is one of the main reasons tooth decay happens in as many as 60% of adults by age 35. Without regular check-ups, small cavities can escalate quickly and cause even more problems. The best way to avoid cavities is to visit your Boerne dentist every six months for a check-up and professional cleaning. 

  • Bad Breath

More than one-third of people who don’t see their dentist every six months have bad breath. Why? Essentially, the bacteria that cause bad breath can hide in and grow on your tongue, in between your teeth, as well as in the pockets between your teeth and gums. While brushing and flossing help remove some of these bacteria, it’s still crucial to get professional cleanings twice a year. If these bacteria are left untreated, you may experience bad breath and they may cause even more problems. 

  • Gum Disease

Patients who don’t visit their dentist regularly are at greater risk of developing gum disease. Gum disease is a serious infection of the gum tissue. It starts as gingivitis, but if it’s not treated quickly, it can quickly turn into periodontal disease. Regular dental visits help catch gum disease in the early stages when it’s reversible and before it has a chance to put you at risk for other major health issues. In fact, gum disease can cause complications such as heart disease and diabetes.

  • Tooth Loss

Another side effect of gum disease is tooth loss, but advanced decay can also cause someone to lose their teeth. Preventive dental checkups and cleanings can help protect your oral health from advancing to this serious level and help you keep your teeth for life. 

We always encourage our patients to visit their dentist in Boerne twice a year for checkups and cleanings, as well as any other necessary procedures. These visits are important to maintaining good oral and overall health. Regular visits also ensure that small problems are caught and treated before they become big ones. If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental visit, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today. 

4 Ways to Take Care of Your Teeth as You Age

As we age, it’s important to take special care of our teeth and gums in order to maintain good oral health into old age. As we get older, there are some factors that come into play that make maintaining strong, healthy teeth more difficult than it was when we were younger. Here are 4 tips from your dentist in Boerne to take care of your teeth as you age so that you can keep them looking great well into the golden years.

Be Prepared to Combat Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, occurs more frequently in seniors and can be caused by certain medications. Other causes include dehydration or hormonal changes that can occur with menopause. If untreated, dry mouth can lead to cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. While you should never stop taking the medication without discussing it with your doctor, there are some ways to relieve dry mouth – such as drinking plenty of water throughout the day, using special hydration rinses, and chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow. You should talk with your dentist in Boerne to find the best solution for you. 

Get Used to Seeing The Dentist More Often

While we love seeing all of our patients, we tend to see our senior patients more often, and for a good reason. As we age, our mouths change. Due to decreasing production of saliva and a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease, seniors may need more frequent dental care than other adults. Getting into a dentist’s chair at least once every six months will help you avoid some serious oral health problems. Regular visits will also let your dentist in Boerne perform preventative treatments before problems ever occur. 

Don’t Stop Brushing

Brushing your teeth correctly is important for everyone at every age, but it’s absolutely critical when you’re over 50. Seniors should be brushing their teeth at least two times per day and ideally after every meal. A soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste containing fluoride are always best. Make sure to use just slight pressure as brushing too hard will cause unnecessary wear on your teeth and gums. Keep in mind that brushing properly can be hard for older people and can put them at risk for decay. Find a toothbrush that makes it easier in order to protect their teeth. 

And Don’t Forget the Floss

Like brushing, flossing everyday is essential for everyone, but it’s especially important for seniors. The older we get, the harder it is to brush teeth effectively. Flossing helps dislodge plaque that would otherwise stay on your teeth and cause cavities and gum disease. If you don’t floss at least once a day, you’re missing out on cleaning 35% of your tooth’s surfaces! Sometimes flossing can also become difficult as we age and lose dexterity. If this is the case, talk to your dentist about other flossing options that can be easier to use. 

According to many research studies, taking care of our teeth will only get more difficult as we age — that’s why it’s imperative that older adults take care of their oral health today. Senior citizens face many unique dental issues; while most don’t require immediate attention, ignoring them can have long-term consequences for your health. Schedule an appointment with your dentist today.

6 Surprising Foods High in Sugar

It’s common knowledge that high sugar diets are bad for your teeth, which is one reason why your dentist in Boerne recommends limiting your sugar intake daily. But what you might not know is that many of the foods and drinks that you enjoy may be secretly packed with sugar. In this blog post, we’ll go over some of the top 6 foods and drinks with the highest levels of sugar.

1) Soda

Soda is an excellent source of sugar. In fact, it’s even worse than chocolate bars because there’s less food value to balance out its calorie content. The phosphoric acid in sodas can destroy tooth enamel and make teeth more susceptible to decay and cavities. Excess consumption can also lead to diabetes due to elevated blood glucose levels. Pairing soda with other sweet or acidic drinks will increase your risk as well, so if you are serious about protecting your smile and achieving long-term oral health, avoid them altogether.

2) Fruit Juices

Fruit juices are commonly perceived as healthy options due to their bright colors and phytonutrients (natural chemicals in plants that have antioxidant properties). This is true, but many store-bought fruit juices also contain additives such as sweeteners or flavorings that boost sweetness levels. To avoid consuming excess sugar without even knowing it (especially if you do not typically drink other sweet beverages), consider drinking freshly squeezed or 100% pure fruit juice only occasionally.

3) Energy Drinks

Most people know that energy drinks can do more harm than good over time, especially when combined with alcohol. But your dentist in Boerne has even more concerns. A 2012 study by the Center for Science in Public Interest found that an 8-ounce serving of a popular energy drink contained 44 grams of sugar! 

4) Granola

Granola is another one of those foods that’s often marketed as healthy. However, granola contains plenty of natural sugars — one cup of homemade granola has on average 36 grams of sugar. What can be even more confusing is that store-bought varieties often contain added sugars, and can contain up to 61 total grams of sugar!  

5) Fruit Smoothies

Fruit smoothies can be made from fresh fruits, so they provide additional vitamins and minerals that may not be found in sodas or other sugary drinks. However, it is important to note that any drink containing more than 50 grams of sugar per serving should be consumed moderately because of its potential to cause dental decay and other oral health problems.  

6) Spaghetti Sauce

Perhaps one of the most surprising on our list, tomato-based products like spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, and ketchup tend to have more sugars than non-tomato items because of their fruit content. Spaghetti sauce for example contains 16g of sugar per 1/2 cup serving, which is a whopping 28% of the recommended daily value. 

There are many high-sugar products at your disposal, with levels of sugar you may not even know about. But any time you’re consuming something sugary, or that has a high sugar content on the nutritional label, you should watch out for its impact on your oral health — as well as other areas of your life, such as weight gain or diabetes. Rinsing your mouth with water after eating anything sugary can help, but as always, it’s best to enjoy sugary treats in moderation, and of course, see your dentist in Boerne twice a year

The Oral Health Benefits of Drinking Out of a Straw

In recent years, there’s been an environmental fight against the use of non-reusable plastic straws. These one-time use straws make up about 7% of plastic product waste in the U.S., so there is a need to talk about how much we actually need straws. Now, while your dentist in Boerne is in support of making small changes to help the environment, we also know that there are some great oral health benefits of drinking out of a straw. 

Use Reusable

Before we go any further, we want to encourage our patients and neighbors to find a friendly alternative to plastic straws. There are many reusable straws available nowadays and there are even some fit for travel. Find a few that you like and use them to save the planet and reap the oral health benefits. It’s a win-win!    

Straws & Teeth

Ok, now back to the teeth stuff. We know that you must be thinking, “How can a thin tube benefit my oral health?” Well, it comes down to how much liquid touches teeth using a straw versus sipping directly out of a cup. Drinking beverages through a straw can limit the amount of liquid that comes in contact with your teeth, and therefore, how much risk there is for damage. Choosing to go without a straw basically bathes your pearly whites in whatever it is you’re drinking. This means that your drink of choice is left lingering on your teeth’s surfaces long after your cup is empty, increasing the likelihood of developing some unwanted oral health side effects.

  • Stained Teeth

Many beverages contain coloring additives or are naturally colored. These drinks of choice can easily stain teeth and cause discoloration. To help avoid this, drink any colorful beverage with a straw. If your teeth aren’t as white as you’d like, whether because of dark drinks or not, talk to your dentist in Boerne about smile whitening options.  

  • Eroded Enamel

One of the worst things for teeth is acid. Acid can easily erode enamel and leave teeth exposed to the danger of additional acid and bacteria. This can result in increased tooth sensitivity and other concerns.  

  • Cavities 

Cavities can also result from a lack of enamel as well as from having too much sugary or acidic liquids come in contact with teeth. 

The Worst Drinks for Teeth

Not all drinks are bad for teeth, but there are some top contenders. These drinks should be enjoyed moderately and with a straw if at all possible. 

  • Soda
  • Sports Drinks
  • Fruit Punch
  • Juices
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Wine & Other Alcohol

It’s our responsibility to advise our patients and neighbors on everything they can do to help keep their smiles healthy. Drinking out of a straw is a simple change you can make to protect your teeth against decay, sensitivity, cavities, and other problems. Of course, it’s always important to brush and floss every day and see your dentist in Boerne every six months

How Long Does a Filling Last on a Tooth?

Your dentist in Boerne uses dental fillings to repair an area of tooth decay and keep any damage from progressing. This type of restoration is incredibly common, so common that over 90% of American adults have had a cavity, and we’re willing to bet that most of them were repaired with a filling. However, even though dental fillings are super-strong and durable, the truth is they simply don’t last forever. So just how long can you expect a filling to last? 

Well… It Depends

How long you can expect your filling to last depends on a few factors, such as what it’s made out of and how well you care for your teeth. For example, those who brush and floss regularly and see their dentist in Boerne twice a year will most likely have a longer run with fillings (and other types of restorations) than those who don’t. But, when it comes to the material used for a filling, it can get a bit more complicated.   

Silver Fillings

Silver, or amalgam, fillings were more commonly used a few years ago than they are now, but they may still have their place. These types of fillings are one of the most durable available and are expected to last around 10-15 years. But not everyone likes the way they look. Silver fillings are more visible than their composite counterparts and can create a discolored, darkened smile. 

There has also been an increase in concern regarding the level of mercury in the material used. If this is something that worries you, we encourage you to talk with a dentist in Boerne

Composite Fillings

Composite fillings, also known as tooth-colored or white fillings, are by far the most popular type of filling today. This is probably because they’re designed to match the color of neighboring teeth and blend into your smile. Many times, nobody even knows a filling is there! But like everything else, there is a small downside. Composite fillings, while still strong and durable, are estimated to last 7-10 years compared to silver fillings’ 10-15 years. 

How Do You Know When Your Filling Needs To Be Replaced? 

Since we now know that fillings don’t last forever, how will you know when one needs to be replaced? Many times, patients will experience increased pain or sensitivity in the area of a filling. Most fillings are worn down naturally by everyday habits such as chewing and speaking. But it’s also important that your dentist uses the right type of filling for your specific needs. Talk to your dentist in Boerne about your options so you can make the best choice for yourself. 

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.