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.

What is Sedation Dentistry?

At our dental office in Boerne we take our patients’ comfort very seriously and are dedicated to keeping them calm and relaxed at every appointment. However, there are times when the noise of the drill is a bit too much (we get it!), treatment is too long to stay comfortable, or a fear of the dentist causes extreme anxiety. When these situations arise, sedation dentistry may be recommended.

Defining Sedation Dentistry

Sedation dentistry is a common treatment that uses medication to reduce anxiety and help patients relax. While sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry,” sedation dentistry doesn’t necessarily require a patient to actually be asleep. In fact, depending on the type of sedation, patients are often awake.

Types of Sedation Dentistry

Oral Sedation

Achieving a calm, relaxed state with your Boerne dentist may be as easy as taking a tiny pill prior to an appointment. This type of sedation is referred to as minimal oral sedation and typically allows patients to stay awake and responsive, just a little bit drowsy. Moderate oral sedation is also an option. Still achieved by taking a pill, moderate sedation is usually a higher dose of the medicine but the effect is a deeper relaxation. Occasionally, patients tend to become so relaxed they may even fall asleep for a short time.  

Nitrous Oxide

More commonly referred to as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is another form of sedation dentistry that has only a very short effect on patients. Nitrous oxide is administered in the dental office through a mask and simply relaxes the mind and body. After treatment, patients will be given oxygen to help remove the nitrous oxide quickly without any lingering side effects.

Intravenous Sedation (IV Sedation)

IV sedation is the deepest level of sedation that’s often controlled by an anesthesiologist. Medication is delivered into a vein through a needle. This allows the medicine to take effect very quickly and gives the administrator control over the dosage. Following IV sedation, patients may experience nausea, dizziness, or sleepiness for up to 24 hours.  

Safety

The main goal of sedation dentistry is to keep patients comfortable and, most importantly, safe while they get the treatment they need to keep them healthy. Dental offices that offer sedation dentistry have teams who are extensively trained in sedation, follow strict safety precautions, and monitor patients throughout treatment.

If you or a family member has a fear of the dentist or the need for long, complex treatment and think sedation dentistry may help, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at our Boerne dental office. At this visit we will discuss all of the options available to you and recommend the best solution based on your individual needs.  

3 Things All Men Need to Know About Their Oral Health

The truth is, men are more likely to skip the recommended bi-annual visits to the dentist. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, many American men simply don’t go to the dentist unless they have a problem. However, by maintaining dental appointments twice-a-year they can prevent many of these problems from ever occurring. The team at our dental office in Boerne want to help encourage men to keep up with their dental care to help avoid serious oral health and overall health problems.

Preventive Care Protects

Even if you brush twice a day everyday at home, there are just some things you can’t get rid of on your own. Cleanings and checkups with your dentist in Boerne help to not only safely and effectively remove damaging plaque and tartar buildup, they also help keep a close eye on your overall oral health. Without these appointments every six months, the mouth is at risk. Men in particular have a better chance of:

  • Advanced Dental Treatments. Since many men don’t visit the dentist regularly, they tend to be more likely to need advanced treatments. When plaque and tartar is left on teeth for prolonged periods of time they can lead to decay. Oftentimes decay is easily treated with a quick filling. However, if it progresses deep into the tooth,a a root canal and dental crown may be required to save the tooth. However, decay that’s compromised the integrity of a tooth could mean the need for an extraction and a dental implant or bridge to replace it.
  • Gum Disease. Both the American Dental Association (ADA) and Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) have conducted numerous studies that consistently show that men are more likely to develop gum disease than women. One recent study of Americans between the ages of 30-54 reported that 34% of men have gum disease compared to 23% of women. Gum disease isn’t a condition to take lightly. If untreated it can affect the entire body and as even been linked to heart disease, respiratory problems, and certain cancers. In men, gum disease may also affect prostate health. But it’s not all bad news. If caught early at regular dental visits gum disease can be treated before it has a chance to affect overall health.
  • Oral Cancer. Oral cancer is a widespread epidemic that will affect almost 50,000 newly diagnosed Americans this year. Men are actually twice as likely to develop oral cancer than women. If it’s caught early treatment is often very successful. But if it’s left to progress, it can spread to other areas of the body and can lead to death.

Visits to the dentist every six months go a long way in protecting your oral health and overall health. Don’t risk your health by skipping them. If it’s been longer than six month since your last appointment, we welcome you to call our Boerne dental office today.

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.

What You Need to Know About Oral Cancer

April is recognized as Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and at our Boerne dental office, we know just how serious this epidemic is in the United States. In fact, just over 51,000 people are expected to be diagnosed with it this year. While there have been advancements in oral cancer treatment, and often times the disease is successfully treated, it still takes the lives of approximately 10,000 Americans yearly. This April, join us in learning the risks and symptoms of oral cancer that could save your life.

Know The Risks

It’s important to note that anyone can develop oral cancer whether they have or engage in factors that increase their risk or not. Some of the risks are unavoidable, but many can be controlled through making smart lifestyle choices. Some factors that increase the risk of oral cancer include:

  • Tobacco Use: Smoking cigarettes, cigars, or using smokeless tobacco greatly increases your risk of oral cancer. Statistics show that 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users.
  • Drinking Alcohol: Consuming alcohol regularly can also put you at greater risk. Nearly 70% of those diagnosed with oral cancer are heavy drinkers.
  • Drinking & Smoking: Since both tobacco use and drinking large amounts of alcohol increases the likelihood of getting oral cancer, if you do both, your chance for oral cancer can be as high as 100%.
  • Gender: Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women. While this risk factor can’t be changed, men can reduce their risk by not drinking or smoking.
  • Age: Our chances of getting oral cancer increases as we age. The average age of diagnosis is 62, and the majority of oral cancer patients are at least 55.
  • UV Rays: Skin cancer isn’t the only thing that can happen from too much unprotected sun exposure. Oral cancer is also higher in those who spend a lot of time in the sun without wearing sunscreen.

Recognize The Symptoms

Being able to identify the signs and symptoms of oral cancer early increases the chance of survival. Oral cancer treatment is often successful in the earlier stages, so the sooner you see your dentist in Boerne if you suspect anything, the better. The most common signs include:  

  • Chronic bad breath
  • Sores that won’t heal
  • A lump on the cheek
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Changes in your voice

During your regular dental cleanings and exams, your hygienist and dentist will monitor your  mouth for any abnormalities and can use high-tech equipment that can show what the human eye can’t see. This is just another reason maintaining your bi-annual dental appointments is so important to your overall health.

If it’s been longer than six months since your last visit, call our dental office in Boerne to schedule an appointment today. You never know, one visit could save your life.

“Why Do I Have Dreams Where My Teeth Fall Out?”

At our dental office in Boerne, we occasionally have a patient who is concerned with a recurring dream where they lose their teeth. Sometimes one tooth becomes curiously loose and just pops right out. Other times the whole mouth of teeth begins to crumble, leading to a totally toothless smile. While we understand these dreams can be disturbing, the likelihood that they’re related to your real dental health is slim. Instead, we’re going to look at three possible explanations…

Feelings of Anxiety or Helplessness

The most widely accepted interpretation of dreams where your teeth fall out revolve around feeling anxious or helpless. Occasionally, the dreams only happen during when you’re life is a bit too stressful. Other times, however, the dreams are recurring and happen regularly. According to a Psychological Reports study, repeatedly experiencing dreams in which you lose your teeth may be more common in those in those whose personality contains high levels of anxiety, those who are depressed, and those who struggle with self-esteem issues.

An Impending Serious Decision

In life, there are times when we need to make difficult decisions that can affect everything. Perhaps you’re considering quitting your job, but are nervous about how that decision will affect your family. Maybe you’re unhappy in a relationship and are questioning how that decision will change your life as you know it. When these stressful decisions need to be made, it can make us feel as if we don’t have any control over our own lives. During these events we’re more likely to experience tooth loss dreams.

A Positive Rebirth

Not all of the common dream interpretations are attributed to something so worrisome. In fact, according to research conducted by psychologist Carl Jung, dreaming about your teeth falling out can be a sign of rebirth. Whether you’re starting a new, exciting job, finally getting serious about that hobby you’ve always wanted to try, or embarking in a new relationship, there are many life events that can be fulfilling and positive. But they are still changes and sometimes our unconscious mind constructs that in a subconscious dream. In this case, a dream where you lose your teeth.  

If you suffer from dreams about your teeth falling out, try not to worry about your real-life teeth. There’s no studied evidence that suggests the two are linked together. In fact, most dreams are not accurate representations of what will happen in real life, but rather symbols of how our psyche reacts to life’s situations.

However, if you are missing a tooth or are at risk for losing one or several, we welcome you to talk to us about some tooth replacement options including dental implants, a dental bridge, and dentures. Call our Boerne dental office to schedule a consultation today!

The Not So Lucky Side Effects of Green Beer

Every March 17th, we’re all a little bit Irish and join in the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day by putting on our best green outfit and possibly meeting up with friends at a local bar. As one of the largest drinking days of the year, our dental office in Boerne wants to remind our patients and neighbors to enjoy the holiday responsibly and to make them aware of a few unwanted side effects of all that beer (especially the green kind).

Yellow, Brown, or Green Teeth

Drinking beer excessively can began to discolor your teeth over time. A good rule of thumb to remember is the darker the beer, the more likely it is to stain your teeth. This discoloration can take on a yellow or brown appearance, or when drinking beer that’s been dyed for St. Patrick’s Day, your smile may even take on a green tint relatively quickly. This green look isn’t permanent and can be treated with either a whitening toothpaste, which is a bit more abrasive than regular toothpaste and can scrub away surface stains, or with a professional dental cleaning or smile whitening treatment.  

Enamel Erosion

Your tooth enamel is one of the strongest substances in your body, but that doesn’t make it impervious to damage. One of the most common causes of enamel erosion is too much acid in your diet, and beer is surprisingly acidic. When this acid comes in contact with your teeth it essentially eats away the protective enamel coating. As enamel diminishes, your teeth may become more sensitive and appear thinner and darker.

How to Minimize the Danger

We’re not here to tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t enjoy an adult beverage every now and then, as long as you’re of legal drinking age and are drinking responsibly. But if you choose to drink alcohol, there are ways that you can minimize your risk of the dangers described above, such as:

  • Alternating drinking a glass of alcohol with a glass of water
  • Brushing your teeth twice a day
  • Flossing every day
  • Seeing your dentist in Boerne regularly

We typically recommend regular dental visits twice a year. If it’s been longer than six months since you’ve been to a Boerne dentist, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today to help keep your smile in good health.

The Connection Between Gum Disease & Heart Disease

During this American Heart Health Month, our dental office in Boerne wants to do our part and raise awareness of how gum disease can increase your risk of heart disease. While these two areas of the body seem to be unrelated, there’s a clear connection between gum disease and heart health that you need to know about.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is a serious infection that requires a proper diagnosis and early intervention to treat. It’s typically caused by a buildup of plaque that’s not removed through proper brushing and flossing at home. When left on the teeth too long, this plaque builds and transforms into hard tartar. This tartar is impossible to remove on your own and requires a professional dental cleaning. However, if the tartar is not removed, the bacteria within it can move into the gum tissue and cause an infection. This infection can easily progress into gingivitis or periodontitis and may cause tooth loss. But the worries don’t stop in your mouth. In fact, research shows that gum disease has been linked to heart disease.

Heart Disease

Untreated gum disease leaves the infection free to do whatever it wants, including traveling into other areas such as the bloodstream. If this happens, your body responds by producing 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  

Recognize the Signs of Gum Disease

Diagnosing gum disease and beginning treatment is key to protecting your mouth and your overall health. To do that, you need to be able to recognize the common signs of gum disease including:

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

Besides brushing and flossing every day at home, the best way you can avoid gum disease and protect your heart is to maintain regular dental visits at least twice a year. These appointments can go a long way in keeping you healthy. If it’s time for your bi-annual dental cleaning, give our Boerne dental office a call today.

Drinking Wine: Good for the Heart, Bad for Teeth?

Most of us have heard that drinking red wine may have heart-healthy benefits. And while there’s still some debate on just how true that is, you may find it surprising that there may just be some oral health benefits to partaking in glass every now and then. Our dental office in Boerne explores these potential smile benefits as well as some not-so-good side effects in this week’s blog.

The Good

Studies conducted in several areas throughout the world have suggested a positive link between drinking red wine and a decrease in tooth decay. One of these studies published by the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry took bacteria rich biofilm from the mouths of several volunteers, which they then dipped into wine. What they found was that the wine was effective at getting rid of the bacteria. With less bacteria around to weaken enamel and cause decay, one could also assume a lower risk for cavities. However, it might not be all good news.

The Bad

In most of the studies surrounding the positive correlation between red wine and dental health the researchers removed the alcohol content prior to testing. This is important to note since we know alcohol tends to dry out the mouth. A dry mouth has the opposite effect of fighting off decay and actually supports a decay-friendly environment. Red wine also has a tendency to transform teeth from a bright white to a dull or discolored appearance. While that can usually be reversed through whitening or cosmetic dentistry from your dentist in Boerne, it’s still a negative in our book. Finally, the acidity of wine can wear down tooth enamel and leave teeth exposed to, you guessed it, decay.

The Final Verdict

We don’t really have a definite conclusion on whether the potential positives of red wine outweigh the negatives. Essentially, more research is needed for us to get on board with supporting the claim that red wine is a good way to fight decay. But in the meantime, we’re not here to tell anyone to stop enjoying their occasional glass of wine, of course. Just enjoy responsibly, keep an eye out for any tooth discoloration, and follow the tips below.

  • Alternate drinking wine with water. If you can, it wouldn’t hurt to rinse your mouth out with water occasionally, too.
  • Hold off on brushing immediately after drinking wine to keep the acid from being spread throughout your entire mouth and all over your teeth.

If you’re a red wine lover and happen to notice some tooth discoloration, call our Boerne dental office to schedule a professional whitening or cosmetic dentistry treatment to get your smile back to a vibrant white. Or if you’re just looking for a new place to call your dental home, we’re always welcoming new patients and would love to see you. Schedule a visit with us today!