To Pull or Not to Pull: Is a Tooth Extraction Your Only Option?

Tooth pain is a pain like no other, and when you have it you’re willing to do just about anything to get rid of it. This includes perhaps not thinking twice when your dentist recommends extracting the tooth that’s causing you pain. But our dental office in Boerne wants you to know that you may have another option that will both get you out of pain and save your tooth.

Let’s Talk About Root Canals

When it comes to severe tooth pain, it’s usually caused by either dental trauma or deep, untreated decay. Many times the pain experienced can be relieved through a root canal instead of an extraction. Now, before we get too far into our discussion on root canals, we want to clear up the common misconception that root canals are incredibly painful and should be avoided. In fact, the opposite is true. Thanks to major advancements in dental technology, root canals are comfortable treatments that can get you out of pain almost immediately.

What is a Root Canal?

Essentially, a root canal is a dental treatment that involves removing infection from inside the pulp of a tooth. We understand that may sound scary, but the treatment is incredibly common and many patients report little to no pain. Your dentist in Boerne will start by thoroughly numbing the area. After the numbing agent takes effect, a tiny hole is made in the tooth and the infected material causing all your pain is removed. Your tooth may then be capped with a dental crown to keep it protected.

Root Canals Aren’t Always an Option

Preserving natural teeth is always the goal of your dental team. But the truth is, sometimes a tooth can’t be saved. If decay is left untreated for too long and seeps deep into the tooth, or if a break or chip goes under the gum line, the tooth may need to be extracted. If this is the case, the lost tooth should be replaced with a strong dental restoration to preserve look and function. Some common tooth replacement treatments are:

Maintaining regular dental appointments at our Boerne dental office can help you protect your smile and save your teeth from needing a root canal or an extraction. At these visits, decay can be caught and treated early before it has a chance to affect the roots and cause pain. Call to schedule an appointment today.

The 8 Worst Habits for Teeth

Seeing your dentist in Boerne twice a year is one of the best ways you can protect your smile and keep your mouth healthy. Pair those visits with a good oral hygiene routine at home and your oral health is pretty well protected. Except when the things we do or the foods we eat counteract our hard work. In this blog, we cover some of the worst habits for your teeth.

  • Tobacco Use – Let’s start with a pretty well-known habit that’s dangerous to oral health. Using tobacco, whether it’s cigarettes or chewing tobacco, can cause tooth discoloration and increase the chance of gum disease and oral cancer.
  • Eating Lemons – Eating too much of any citrus fruit, including lemons, can be bad for teeth. Citrus fruits are loaded with acid that essentially erodes tooth enamel. Without the protective layer of enamel, teeth are exposed to bacteria and are more likely to get cavities.
  • Drinking Soda – Another commonly known culprit of cavities are soft drinks. These beverages are packed with sugar, and as we all know, sugar is bad for teeth. What makes soda particularly damaging is that when we drink it, it coats our mouths and teeth with sugar, essentially bathing them in sugar.  
  • Crunching on Ice Cubes – Chewing these frozen solid cubes can cause tiny little cracks in our teeth where bacteria can camp out and cause cavities. Eating ice can also cause large, serious chips and breaks.
  • Using Teeth as Tools – Using our teeth for anything other than chewing is a bad idea. Yet many people turn to their teeth to rip, saw, or cut open packages or to hold onto things when two hands aren’t enough. These are surefire ways to crack or chip teeth.  
  • Nail Biting – Not only are our nails loaded with bacteria, but they’re also really hard. Using our teeth to trim our nails can easily cause damage. Nail biting may also lead to jaw pain or TMD/TMJ.
  • Too Much Whitening – Getting a whiter smile is safe and possible with many teeth whitening products. However, using these products too often can cause sensitivity and erode enamel.
  • Brushing Too Hard – Brushing your teeth twice a day is one thing, a very good thing. But brushing your teeth twice a day when you’re scrubbing too hard isn’t so great. A rough brushing will do more harm than good by scratching up tooth enamel and damaging gums. Gums may even recede, leaving teeth sensitive.

When it comes to protecting your teeth and overall oral health, make sure you’re not only brushing twice a day and visiting our dental office in Boerne every six months, but that you’re also staying aware of all the things that can damage your smile. Do your best to avoid these dangers or at least enjoy them in moderation.

All About Cosmetic Dentistry

We want you to be proud enough of your smile to show it off to the world. After all, it should make you feel confident, proud, and happy. But we understand that not everyone is born with a naturally straight, white smile. We also know that accidents, age, and some habits can change your grin over time. At our dental office in Boerne, we offer various forms of cosmetic dentistry that can transform your smile into one you love.

Professional Smile Whitening

Perhaps the most common cosmetic dentistry treatment we get asked about is tooth whitening. Tooth whitening can be done by your dentist in Boerne or we can provide you with a professional strength whitening gel and custom-made molds that you can use to whiten in the comfort of your own home. If you’re looking to whiten or brighten your smile, professional tooth whitening can certainly do the trick.

Porcelain Veneers

While professional smile whitening can be really successful, there are some stains that won’t be fixed by whitening alone. If this is the case, dental veneers may be the right option for you. Veneers are thin slices of custom-created porcelain that are permanently bonded to the tooth’s surface. Their shape and color are designed to blend with other teeth in your mouth to appear incredibly natural. Besides covering up stains, porcelain veneers can also help fill gaps, fix crooked teeth, and repair chipped teeth. Since the veneers usually allow a lot of the natural tooth to remain intact, they may be preferred over a dental crown.

Porcelain Crowns

Like veneers, crowns can help fix chips, cracks, and broken teeth. However, crowns are usually reserved for areas that have more damage. Crowns are also custom-created to compliment the size, shape, and color of neighboring teeth but cover more of a tooth than a veneer. Dental crowns may also be used following a root canal or after removing large areas of decay to restore a tooth’s strength and function.  

Cosmetic Bonding

Another option to fix a broken or chipped tooth is cosmetic bonding. Reserved for smaller chips, dental bonding can easily restore a tooth’s appearance by rebuilding the injured area. Again, the bonding material is mixed to just the right color so that it blends in with the rest of the tooth. Bonding can also be used to help repair a tooth that has been worn down from clenching or grinding.

Our Boerne dental office is here to not only keep our neighbors’ smiles healthy but to also make sure they love the way their smiles look too. Schedule an appointment with us today to see how we can transform your smile into one you’re proud to show off.

Join Us In Celebrating Our Dental Hygienists!

It’s National Dental Hygiene Month at our Boerne dental office and dental offices around the country! This celebration is dedicated to all dental hygienists and serves to recognize these valued team members and everything they do to keep our patients healthy. These 31 days are also for promoting the importance of good hygiene for oral and overall health.

Dental Hygienist Responsibilities

First and foremost, dental hygienists are caretakers who are responsible for educating patients on good oral health habits as well as placing importance on preventing dental problems in the first place. While hygienist duties can vary state by state, some of the most common responsibilities include:

1) Getting to Know You – At many dental offices, hygienists will talk with every patient to get to know them personally as well as talk about any concerns they may have. Hygienists may also review a patient’s health history, perform an oral cancer screening, and take dental x-rays.

2) Teeth Cleanings – When most people think of a dental hygienist, they picture teeth cleanings. While it’s true that hygienists are responsible for cleaning teeth, they’re actually doing more than that. They’re removing tartar and plaque that can’t really be removed effectively at home, protecting teeth from decay. They’re also looking for any signs of cavities, oral cancer, and gum disease.

3) Prevention – Dental hygienists will also discuss recommended prevention treatments such as fluoride or sealants. Many hygienists will apply these to the patients to help protect tooth enamel from acid, bacteria, and cavities.

4) Taking Dental Impressions – If a treatment requires dental impressions to be taken, a dental hygienist may be the team member to do it. Many hygienists are trained to not only take the impressions accurately, but to also keep patients comfortable during the process.

5) Education – Talking with your hygienist and dentist in Boerne about any dental concerns you have is a great place to learn as much as you can about your unique oral health. Hygienists and dentists alike are here to help you get and maintain a healthy smile and are happy to assist you with any questions you may have.

To help do your part to keep your smile healthy, make sure to practice good oral hygiene at home. That means brushing twice a day and flossing every day. It’s also important to schedule a dental appointment every six months.

If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental cleaning, we welcome you to call our dental office in Boerne to schedule an appointment today.

Bad Breath Remedies

At our dental office in Boerne, we understand how having bad breath can affect our patients’ lives. We’re commonly asked what causes bad breath in the first place, and more importantly, how to make it go away. In this week’s blog we cover a few helpful bad breath remedies that can help freshen breath once and for all.

4 Ways to Beat Bad Breath

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

Making sure you brush every day, twice per day is one of the best ways to remove any bacteria from your teeth that may be contributing to bad breath. But these stinky bacteria don’t only live on teeth, they also lurk under the gums. That’s one reason why flossing everyday is also an important part of any oral hygiene routine. Also, don’t forget about your tongue. It’s packed with tiny grooves and places where bacteria love to hide. Gently brushing your tongue or using a tongue scraper can really help.

Quit Smoking

Smokers’ breath can be blamed on more than just the smell of cigarettes alone. Chemicals in cigarettes can also contribute to an unpleasant smell. These chemicals linger in the mouth long after a cigarette is put out and can prolong bad breath. The smoke itself also stays in the lungs for a period of time after smoking and releases a little bit with every breath.

Eat More Healthy Foods

There’s some truth to the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Eating crunchy, raw fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery, and carrots will help scrub plaque and bacteria off of teeth to help keep breath fresh.

Hydrate Your Mouth

Certain medications, smoking, and a number of other things can cause dry mouth. And what tends to go hand-in-hand with dry mouth? Bad breath. While drinking plenty of water daily can help, there are times when that’s just not enough. If that’s the case, you can talk to your dentist about the possibility of using a hydrating rinse. Also consider that if you’re stuffy and can’t breathe out of your nose, there’s a good chance your mouth will dry out from so much mouth breathing. A decongestant may help.

Bad Breath Isn’t Just a Mouth Problem

Having chronic bad breath can be embarrassing, but it may also be a sign of something more serious. Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be a sign of gum disease. Gum disease is a serious infection that can begin to affect the rest of the body if left untreated. Many studies have shown a link between gum disease and diabetes, an increased risk for heart disease, and stroke. What’s more is different types of smells may indicate a problem somewhere else in the body including liver or kidney disease.

Bad breath isn’t something to take lightly. It’s best to talk with your dentist in Boerne about how long you’ve experienced bad breath, your health history, and any other symptoms you may have sooner rather than later.

If you have bad breath we welcome you to schedule an appointment at our Boerne dental office. We’ll work with you to find the root of the problem and discuss the best ways to get you relief. Don’t wait, give us a call today.

Whole Grains Month

Each September is recognized as Whole Grains Month and serves to raise awareness of the multitude of health benefits that come along with eating foods made from whole grains. The most discussed health benefits of whole grains are usually related to heart health, but as our dental office in Boerne knows, the benefits of eating a well-balanced diet rich in whole grains goes beyond the heart.

Whole Grains Protect Teeth, Too

Whole grains can be great for our hearts and may even help reduce the risk of obesity and cancer. But recent research shows that eating the recommended daily dose of whole grains can protect oral health, too. Foods rich with whole grains are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that work to keep mouths healthy.

  • Magnesium – Magnesium works with calcium to build strong teeth and strengthen enamel to protect them against bacteria and decay .
  • Vitamin E – One of the main functions of vitamin E is to reduce inflammation. This is important in the fight against gum disease. Research shows a positive correlation between high inflammation levels and the risk for developing gum disease, a vitamin E can help keep inflammation levels low.
  • B Vitamins – A variety of B vitamins found in whole grains are beneficial to oral health by lowering the risk of developing mouth sores or canker sores and fighting off bad breath. Some studies also show a positive correlation that certain B vitamins can protect against cavities.

Recommended Daily Whole Grain Servings

The table below shows the recommended daily servings by age range and gender according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Age Female Male
1-3 2 2
4-8 2.5 2.5
9-13 3 3.5
14-18 3.5 4
19-30 3.5 4.5
31+ 3 4

Best Sources of Whole Grain

Eating enough whole grains doesn’t need to be difficult, and you don’t need to give up delicious foods like some people think. In fact, making small changes can go a long way in helping you and your family get your daily dose of whole grains. 

  • Swap your morning cereal for a whole grain option
  • Use whole grain bread or wraps for sandwiches
  • Try a dinner loaded with whole grains by buying whole grain pasta
  • Instead of a side of potatoes, eat brown rice
  • Choose whole wheat hamburger or hot dog buns instead of white bread

When shopping for foods high in whole grains look for the gold and black Whole Grain Stamp.

Eat Well, See Your Dentist

What we choose to eat has an effect on not only our overall health, but our oral health too. Your dentist in Boerne urges you to follow a well-balanced diet rich in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and plenty of water.
Eating well and seeing your dentist twice year can keep your smile healthy. Don’t put off your bi-annual dental checkup, call our Boerne dental office to schedule an appointment.

3 Things That Can Cause Excessive Mouth Watering

Saliva production is a natural and important part of good oral health. We need it to help protect our teeth from cavities, breakdown food so our stomachs can digest them more easily, and fight off bad breath bacteria. But the team at our Boerne dental office wants you to know that there is such a thing as producing too much saliva. When it comes to spit, more isn’t necessarily better.

How is Too Much of a Good Thing a Bad Thing?

We already know that saliva is beneficial for both our oral health and our digestive health. So it only makes sense that more of it can only mean good things. Except in this case, it doesn’t. But how can something that’s good for us also be bad? When someone produces too much saliva, also known as hypersalivation, it can not only be uncomfortable, but also embarrassing and perhaps even a sign that something else is going on.

What Causes Excessive Saliva Production?

Like many things related to our bodies, there is no one definite cause behind hypersalivation, and there could be a variety of explanations. Let’s take a closer look at three of them…

  • Infection

When there is an active infection in the mouth, the body may try to fight it off by producing more and more saliva. This is just one more reason it’s important to see your dentist in Boerne regularly.

  • Medication

All medications come paired with some sort of side effects. Excessive saliva production may be one of them. If you think this may be the cause of your mouth watering, do not stop any medications before talking with your doctor.

  • Poisoning

One of the more serious, yet rare, causes of hypersalivation is poisoning. Saliva production can go into overdrive following a bite from spider or reptile venom, eating poisonous mushrooms, or poisoning caused by mercury, or copper.

Know the Signs

Besides the more obvious signs of hypersalivation such as drooling or spitting, other symptoms may include:

  • Bad breath
  • Chapped lips
  • Dehydration
  • Difficulty eating or drinking
  • Changes in speech

Even though mouth watering may be annoying, there’s a good chance it’s not caused by something incredibly serious. However, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. The best thing you can do is see a dentist to better understand the root cause as well as the best treatment option for you.

We’re here to help our neighbors get and keep a healthy mouth. We welcome you to schedule an appointment at our dental office in Boerne.

Do Electric Toothbrushes Clean Better Than Regular Toothbrushes?

With all the hype surrounding electric toothbrushes lately, the team at our dental office in Boerne wanted to take the opportunity to talk to our neighbors about what’s true about those claims of a superior clean, as well as provide a few pros and cons to both electric toothbrushes and their manual counterparts. Let’s start with the truth…

Just the Facts

Since electric toothbrushes spin at a rate of about 30,000 strokes per minute it’s easy to believe that they clean better than a manual brushing. But is it true? The answer is a bit complicated.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), both electric and manual toothbrushes do the job of removing plaque and bacteria from teeth. However, reports from the ADA also state that effectiveness is more about the way a person uses their toothbrush than whether or not it’s electric. At the same time, studies conducted by electric toothbrush manufacturers claim that patients who use electric toothbrushes report healthier smiles.

Essentially, when it comes to choosing the right toothbrush for you, you should weigh your options, consider your needs, and examine the pros and cons of each.

Manual Toothbrush Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Budget friendly
  • Easy to take on flights and vacations
  • No charging or changing batteries

Cons

  • No timer to help brush for the recommended two minutes
  • May be difficult for some people to use properly
  • Easy to brush too hard which can cause damage

Electric Toothbrush Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Easier to use, especially for those with dexterity problems
  • Often feature a timer
  • May help following a proper technique easier

Cons

  • More expensive than manual toothbrushes
  • Typically bulky which can make storage or travel difficult
  • Charging required

Overall, you should pick the toothbrush option that fits your needs best. If you’re not sure, talk with your dentist in Boerne about what they recommend.

Thinking About Skipping a Brushing Session? Think Again.

At our dental office in Boerne, we always recommend that our patients brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes. Following this routine daily isn’t just good for your oral health, but can benefit your overall health, too. However, if you skip a brushing session altogether or don’t brush thoroughly, your body may be at risk for all sorts of scary problems…

Why Two Minutes?

We aren’t alone in our two minute rule. In fact, the American Dental Association also supports brushing for two minutes every day for good oral and overall health. There’s even plenty of research to back up the claim. According to one study in The Journal of Dental Hygiene, patients who brushed for only 30 seconds removed 55% less plaque than those who committed to the full two minutes. Just imagine what would be left lingering around if you skipped brushing altogether?

What Happens if You Don’t Brush for Two Minutes?

Besides plaque buildup, there are other things in your mouth that can stick around and cause problems if not removed regularly through a proper brushing. For instance, food particles that are left behind can feed bacteria found in the mouth. As this bacteria feeds on these tiny pieces of leftover food, they release acid. Acid will then begin to attack tooth enamel and leave teeth at an increased risk for decay. An overabundance of bacteria can also affect gum health. If not treated, it may cause gum disease.

Why is Gum Disease a Concern?

Gum disease is a serious infection caused by an excess of bacteria. Gum disease affects nearly half of all Americans and can eventually lead to tooth loss. But that’s not all. If gum disease isn’t treated by your dentist in Boerne, it can start to put other parts of the body in danger.

  • Heart Health

Numerous studies have found a positive correlation between gum disease and heart disease. In fact, researchers estimate that those who have gum disease are twice as likely to also have heart disease.  

  • Diabetes

People who have diabetes and gum disease are in a unique and dangerous position. Advanced gum disease may cause blood sugar levels to increase, causing diabetic complications.

  • Respiratory Problems

Bronchitis and pneumonia are caused by bacteria that may come from the mouth. So if there’s enough bacteria hanging around to cause gum disease, it can also move throughout the body, into the lungs, and make you sick.

Brushing twice a day for two minutes can help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth and minimize your risk for gum disease and the whole-body concerns that can go with it. In addition to those four minutes of brushing a day, make sure you also visit our Boerne dental office twice a year for an even more thorough cleaning that will not only protect your teeth, but also your overall health.

Could Allergies Affect Your Dental Health?

If you get a stuffy nose when the pollen count is high, every time you’re around a cat, or have an even worse reaction to certain foods, it’s likely you’re suffering from an allergic reaction. The typical symptoms of allergies include itchy eyes, a stuffed up nose, or difficulty breathing. But did you know that allergies can also affect dental health? Our dental office in Boerne takes a closer look in this week’s blog…

Stuffy Noses & Oral Health

We already know that it’s common for people with allergies to suffer from itchy, watery eyes and leaky, stuffy noses. These symptoms are a result of the body making too much mucus. And too much of this thick, slimy stuff can block up airways, making it difficult to breathe out of the nose. As a natural response, the body switches to breathing out of the mouth, also known appropriately as mouth breathing. That’s where the problems begin.

The Problems With Mouth Breathing

Mouth breathing, at first, may not appear as such a big deal, but to your dentist in Boerne it’s a habit that can lead to several oral health problems. In fact, the Academy of General Dentistry reports that mouth breathing can lead to a gummy smile, problems with facial development in kids,  and even complications to overall oral health.

Breathing out of your mouth decreases saliva production and dries it out. Without saliva, dangerous acids and bacteria are left to create problems like tooth decay and chronic bad breath. Dry mouth is also one of the causes of gum disease, a dangerous oral health problem that can create health issues throughout your body including stroke, heart disease, and heart attacks.

Signs You May be Suffering from Dry Mouth

If you’re a mouth breather, you may not even know it. That makes it important to recognize the common signs and symptoms so you can seek treatment before any serious issues develop. Some common signs and symptoms of being a mouth breather include:

  • Dry lips
  • Crowded teeth
  • Snoring
  • Sleeping with an open mouth
  • Chronic bad breath

What You Can Do

If you have allergies that affect your ability to breathe properly there are things you can do to help relieve the symptoms and protect your oral overall health. Start by speaking with your doctor and the team at our Boerne dental office. As part of your healthcare team, we will be happy to recommend some ways to get allergy relief so you can start breathing easier.