How To Prevent Bad Breath

Everyone has experienced a bout of bad breath at least once in their life. Whether it was caused by a particularly potent meal, your daily cup of morning coffee, or maybe something unknown, bad breath is something that goes beyond embarrassment. In fact, the team at our dental office in Boerne wants our patients to know that bad breath could be an early warning sign of serious gum disease and is not something to be ignored.

What Causes Bad Breath?

While there are any number of things that can cause bad breath, the short explanation is that bad breath is the result of high levels of bacteria in the mouth. When these bacteria are left alone, they begin to feed on plaque buildup and produce a stinky byproduct called hydrogen sulfide. This is what we smell when we get a whiff of bad breath.

Avoid Bad Breath

There are several preventive dentistry tips we have to help you avoid bad breath including:

  1. Brushing & Flossing. Brushing and flossing are about more than simply protecting teeth against cavities. Brushing twice and flossing once daily also eliminates bacteria that otherwise would be left to feed on plaque and give off the stinky hydrogen sulfide.
  2. Scrub the Tongue. When you brush, don’t forget to gently scrub the tongue before you finish up. The tongue is made up of tiny grooves where bacteria love to hide. Giving your tongue a quick brush will help wash them away and protect you from bad breath. Some people find brushing their tongue with a toothbrush too uncomfortable. If this is the case, try a tongue scraper.
  3. Drink Water. Our bodies love water. So do our mouths. Keeping your mouth properly hydrated encourages saliva production, which works to keep the mouth moist as well as aiding in rinsing away bacteria. However, if a mouth is too dry and dehydrated, the bad breath bacteria won’t be removed and the chance of bad breath increases.

Why Is Bad Breath Serious?

Bad breath may be caused by something that’s temporary and, if so, we wouldn’t be too concerned about it. However, bad breath that doesn’t go away could be a sign of a serious oral health problem called gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth loss and even affect the rest of the body. In fact, gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. The best way to treat gum disease is to seek treatment from your dentist in Boerne early when the disease can often be cured successfully.

Don’t let something that seems small like bad breath create a serious problem for your overall health. If you notice signs of chronic bad breath, schedule an appointment at our Boerne dental practice.

What Can You Do to Make a Toothache Go Away?

There’s nothing quite like the discomfort of a toothache, and yet, there’s actually an entire day dedicated to them. February 9th is recognized as National Toothache Day, and in honor of this strange holiday, our dental office in Boerne is sharing some of the best ways you can make an annoying and painful toothache go away.

Toothache Remedies

  • Floss. Something as simple as a piece of floss can be the difference between continuing to experience toothache pain and finally getting some relief. If you believe your aches and pains are coming from a piece of food that got stuck in between teeth or up into the gums, gently floss the area. Make sure to get up under the gum line and don’t use too much pressure, this can cause bleeding and increased pain.
  • Cold Compress. Using an ice pack or anything you have that’s cold will help make the swelling go down and release any pressure that may be on the nerves. However, don’t apply an ice pack or anything similar to it directly on your skin. Instead, wrap your cold pack in a cloth or t-shirt then apply it to the face for about 15 minutes. You can repeat this process throughout the day but make sure to take breaks in between icings.
  • Oral Anesthetic. If you’re looking for temporary relief through numbing, pick up an oral anesthetic at your local pharmacy. Apply the gel or liquid directly to the painful area and get immediately numb. Keep in mind, oral anesthetics are for short-term use only and are not a permanent solution.  
  • Salt Water. Rinsing your mouth out with a mixture of warm water and salt a few times daily may also reduce toothache pain. The drying nature of the salt will help pull away and dry out any fluid that may be putting pressure on the nerves and causing you pain. Just remember not to swallow.
  • Anti-inflammatory Medicine. If you’re experiencing a toothache, there’s a good chance that you also have some swelling. Anti-inflammatory medications can also help. Use whichever anti-inflammatory medication is best for you and follow the directions on the packaging. Never place a pill directly on the gums or tooth — this will only cause more pain and can lead to damage.

There are numerous things you can do to help ease the pain associated with a toothache, but all of these remedies are only temporary solutions. In order to completely make a toothache go away, we always recommend scheduling a visit with your dentist in Boerne as soon as you can for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

If you’re suffering from a toothache, we welcome you to call our Boerne dental office to schedule an appointment today.  

Do You Really Need to Have Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Many of us will develop our wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, at some point in our lives. Most commonly they start to show themselves in our teens but can make an appearance later in life… or perhaps never at all. However, these new molars can present a whole host of problems for us and are usually removed. But is this procedure really necessary? Let our dental office in Boerne help.

First, it’s important to know that more than 90% of Americans need to have their wisdom teeth removed. It’s an incredibly common procedure that’s relatively easy, and thanks to advancements in technology, fairly comfortable. But why is it so important to have wisdom teeth removed?

No More Space

The most common reason why wisdom teeth need to be removed is due to the lack of space in the mouth for four more teeth. Dental x-rays will be able to tell if this is the case pretty early in the development stages and wisdom teeth removal will be recommended. However, if this is not caught early, or if treatment is not completed, the teeth will begin to erupt, pushing the other teeth out of the way. This will cause overcrowding and crooked, overlapping teeth. There’s also the possibility that the teeth will get lodged under the gum line and in the jaw bone. This is known as impaction. Impacted wisdom teeth can be very painful and the procedure to remove them becomes more complicated. Lastly, impacted wisdom teeth can increase the chance for infection or an abscess.

Erupting The Wrong Way

Wisdom teeth tend to erupt just like any other teeth with the roots facing the jaw bone and the crown pointing toward the gum line. However, there are times when wisdom teeth can become crooked or start to erupt at an angle or sideways. If the happens wisdom teeth to be extracted before they have a chance to cause permanent damage to not only the other teeth but also to your bite.

Let’s Say Everything is Perfect

Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones whose wisdom teeth came in nice and straight and had plenty of room. Your dentist in Boerne may still recommend that they be removed to prevent problems later. Since wisdom teeth are hard to take care of properly — brushing and flossing all the way back there can be very difficult — they do increase the risk of decay and even gum disease.

The best way to reduce the risk of your wisdom teeth causing you trouble is to monitor their development by visiting our Boerne dental office regularly and following through with any recommended treatment.   

3 Commonly Asked Questions About Dentistry

Our dental office in Boerne is not only dedicated to providing compassionate, comfortable dentistry for our patients, we’re also committed to educating our community on the ins and outs of dental care. That’s why we love when our patients ask us questions related to their oral health. Even though we get asked tons of questions every day, we wanted to dedicate our latest blog to some of the more common ones…

How Often Do I Need to See a Dentist?

Most dentists will recommend that you have a checkup at least twice a year, sometimes more if you’re at increased risk of certain problems. These visits allow your dentist in Boerne to keep a close eye on your oral health and catch any potential concerns early. When dental problems, such as a cavity, are caught early, treatment is typically faster, easier, cheaper, and minimally painful. However, if you don’t maintain regular dental appointments what may have started as a small problem can quickly become serious and result in severe pain.

How Safe Are Dental X-Rays?

We understand that there may be some concerns surrounding the safety of dental x-rays, but thanks to advancements in dental technology, dental x-rays are incredibly safe and have an extremely low risk for any negative side effects. This is in part because dental x-rays use such minimal levels of radiation. Additionally, using protective measures such as a leaded apron lowers the risk even more. Not only are dental x-rays safe, but they’re also a crucial tool. The images produced from x-rays give your dental team the power to see what’s happening below the surface and into the tooth roots. This allows them to diagnose problems before there are even any signs of an issue.

How Often Should I Brush and Floss?

One of the best things you can do to help keep your mouth healthy is to brush and floss regularly. This means brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. But simply doing these things isn’t enough, you have to do them correctly. For example, don’t brush your teeth too hard or you can actually do more harm than good. Also, make sure you use fluoride toothpaste to help fight off decay. If traditional floss is difficult for you to use, consider floss picks or even a water flosser.  

From questions about preventive, routine care to more complex questions relating to cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, or restorative treatments, the team at our Boerne dental office is here to help. Call us today!  

How to Get Better Oral Health in 2019

As 2018 comes to an end and we’re starting to think about all of the good things waiting for us next year, it’s common to set resolutions in order to help make 2019 the best year ever. Our dental office in Boerne wants to remind our neighbors and patients that making resolutions for better oral health can be a great place to start. In this blog, we cover five ways you can help improve the health of your smile and your whole body in 2019…

  • Quit Smoking. One of the most common New Year’s resolutions made every year is to quit smoking. Smoking, or using any product containing nicotine, is a dangerous habit that’s highly addictive, which makes it really difficult to quit. But we know you can do it. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, and respiratory problems. It can also help protect your mouth from gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer. Work with your healthcare provider or find support tools online and make 2019 the year you kick the habit.    
  • Eat Healthier. Another common resolution is to eat healthier. Whether it’s for weight loss, to lower cholesterol, or simply to fuel your body with more nutrients, eating better can benefit your entire body, including your mouth. Fruits and veggies, for example, help to decrease inflammation levels and provide your body with tons of antioxidants. Foods in the fruit and vegetable family also protect your teeth and gums from plaque buildup and dangerous bacteria that can lead to decay.
  • Choose Water. Drinking the recommended eight, 8-ounce glasses of water every day helps to keep your body functioning as it should. Water also effectively rinses away bacteria and neutralizes acid in the mouth that otherwise would eat away at tooth enamel. Choose to quench your thirst using water as opposed to soda or other sugar-packed drinks and keep yourself hydrated and healthy.
  • Improve the Look of Your Smile. Cosmetic dentistry isn’t only about appearance. The truth is, crooked teeth, missing teeth, and other aesthetic concerns can also affect the function and health of your mouth. From dental veneers to dental implants, to orthodontics and dental crowns, there are numerous cosmetic dentistry options available to help resolve any concern you may have. Talk with your dentist and find the best smile makeover treatment for you and your health.
  • Schedule an Appointment with Your Dentist in BoerneMaintaining regular appointments with your dentist can go a long way in keeping your smile (and whole body) healthy. Research suggests several links to oral health and whole-body problems such as heart disease. Seeing your dentist at least twice a year can help catch any problems, whether related directly to oral health or systemic health, early before they have a chance to cause real trouble.

As we near turning the page on a new calendar year, make resolutions to get your smile the healthiest it’s ever been. Start by calling our Boerne dental office and scheduling an appointment. We’re here to help you.

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.

Top Tips to Stop Smoking

Quitting smoking may be one of the hardest things some people ever have to do. But the health benefits of kicking the habit sooner rather than later are worth the effort. This November, the American Cancer Society is sponsoring the Great American Smokeout to help provide smokers with tools and tips to help them stop smoking for good. Our Boerne dental office would like to do our part and provide our neighbors with some of the top methods people have used to quit smoking.

Tips to Quit

It’s important to note that there is no “one way” to quit smoking that works for everyone. Some people may have even tried to quit several times using different methods, and that’s ok. Finding the system the works for you may take some time, but here are some of the most successful methods that others have used to stop smoking.

  • Make a Plan

Trying to quit cold turkey may work for some, but oftentimes it is unsuccessful and unpleasant. Instead, several studies suggest choosing a quit date, mapping out a plan, and sticking to the plan as best as you can.

  • Get Support

Going through something as difficult and uncomfortable as quitting smoking isn’t easy, and it’s certainly not easy to do alone. Ask friends or family members to help in ways you will find most useful and supportive. Many people also find that talking to professionals throughout the quitting process really helps curb cravings and reduces the number of setbacks.

  • Avoid Triggers

Do you have a stronger urge to light up during certain times of the day or when doing certain things? Avoiding those triggers as much as possible can be rough at first, but as you fall into new routines, you may just forget about smoking.

  • Use Healthy Alternatives

Sometimes avoiding your triggers altogether just isn’t possible. For example, if you smoke every morning on your way to work, you can’t just stop going to work. Instead, find a health alternative to replace cigarettes. Have snacks available, chew sugarless gum, drink water, or even hold a pencil or straw in your hand. Keeping your mouth and hands busy can help minimize thoughts of smoking.

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy

There are several medications and nicotine replacement products available now to help reduce cravings. While not all medicine or over-the-counter products are appropriate for everyone, your physician can help identify ones that may be the best option for you.

Our dental office in Boerne is here to care not only for your oral health, but your overall health too. If you’re concerned that smoking has negatively affected your oral health, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us.

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.