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. 

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. 

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

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

What Causes Cavities?

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

How to Know If You Have a Cavity

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

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

Cavity Prevention

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

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

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

What Are Dental X-Rays Used For?

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

A Closer Look at Dental X-Rays

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

Types of Dental X-Rays

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

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

How Do X-Rays Help Your Dentist? 

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

  • Cavities 

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

  • Infections

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

  • Bone Loss 

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

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

Love, Hearts, and… Gum Disease?

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

What is Gum Disease?

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

There are four stages of gum disease including: 

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

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

What Does This Have to Do With Your Heart?

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

Heart Disease 

Bacteria from gum disease in the bloodstream causes the body to produce too much C-reactive protein (CRP). Higher than normal levels of CRP can lead to serious conditions such as: 

  • Inflamed arteries
  • Blood clots
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes 

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

Signs of Gum Disease

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

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

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

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

Teeth Are Not Tools

Fun fact: tooth enamel is the hardest substance in our bodies which helps make our teeth super-strong and resistant to damage. But just because our teeth are incredibly durable doesn’t mean that they’re immune to injury. Additionally, unlike other parts of the human body, teeth can’t heal or fix themselves, meaning that once the damage is done, you’ll need to see your dentist in Boerne for help. While teeth can be damaged by regular wear and tear and from poor dental hygiene, one of the most common things that harm teeth is when we use them as tools.   

Teeth Are Made for Chewing

Our teeth are specially designed to help us chew our food to help the rest of the digestion process. Teeth also help us speak clearly and maintain the integrity of our jawbones. They aren’t meant to help us in other areas of our lives, but that doesn’t mean we don’t try. Here are some of the common ways we use our teeth unlike nature intended.  

  • Teeth Aren’t For Cracking Nuts

While your dentist in Boerne is a big fan of the nutritional value of nuts, there’s a common concern associated with shelled nuts as well as some seeds. Many nuts such as pistachios come in the shell and to get to the edible center we end up cracking the nuts between our teeth. This can result in chipped, cracked, or broken teeth. 

  • Teeth Aren’t For Opening Bottles

Similar to using our teeth to crack open nuts, teeth should also not be used to open bottles. Trying to open bottles made of plastic, glass, or anything in between is risky as doing so could damage tooth enamel and increase the likelihood of chips and cracks. If this damage is extensive, your dentist will need to treat the area with some type of restorative dentistry. But even minor cracks can cause problems too. Cracks in the teeth are the perfect place for bacteria to settle in and put you at greater risk for decay.  

  • Teeth Aren’t For Carrying Things

While our teeth are meant for chewing, our hands are meant to help us carry or hold things. However, sometimes we have more things to hold than our hands can handle. This often makes us resort to using our mouth and teeth as an additional hand. The problem is our teeth are designed to grip and hold onto things this way. Doing so can damage teeth or even hurt your jaw. Additionally, there is always the choking hazard to consider. If you fall while holding something in your mouth, you can easily choke.  

  • Teeth Aren’t For Chewing Non-Foods

Yes, our teeth are for chewing, but they’re reserved for chewing foods. Nibbling on anything else can be dangerous to your pearly whites. Even biting your nails or chewing on your pen during a meeting can increase your chance of cracking or chipping teeth. 
So, even though our teeth are extra-tough, they’re not invisible. In order to keep your teeth strong and healthy for a lifetime, avoid using them as tools. Of course, you should also brush and floss your teeth every day and see your dentist in Boerne at least twice a year for preventive dental care.

New Year, New Habits, Healthier Smile

The end of 2020 was a time for us to put the year behind us and give us hope for a better, healthier new year. As we embark on this new calendar year, many of us have made resolutions to ourselves or our families to get healthy or quit long-time habits that put us at risk for health issues. These resolutions can help transform lives and your dentist in Boerne would like to be a part of that by encouraging you to also resolve to take better care of your smile. 

Oral Health is Linked to Overall Health

If your goal for this year is to get healthier overall, you can’t ignore your oral health. After all, our oral health is directly linked to our overall health and one can certainly affect the other. So as you commit to getting your 10,000 steps a day or eating healthier, make sure you also consider the following. 

  • Drinking Water

We often hear about patients wanting to cut back on sugary soda in the new year and drink more water. This is one of the best things you can do for both your whole body and your mouth. Water allows our bodies to function properly and keeps the mouth hydrated and moist which can help fight off cavity-causing bacteria. Aim to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day.  

  • Quitting Smoking

Another popular, yet difficult, resolution year after year is to quit smoking. This can be an intimidating endeavor but with a good plan and a solid support system, we believe anyone can stop smoking. There are countless overall and oral health benefits to quitting including reducing the risk of cancer and lowering the likelihood of gum disease.  

  • Practicing Good Oral Hygiene

Everyone knows that your dentist in Boerne wants everyone to brush and floss every day, but we also know that this simple task can get overlooked and go undone. However, brushing and flossing your teeth each and every day is the best way to prevent dental problems from popping up. Make sure you brush twice a day and floss at least once a day to protect your pearly whites from cavities, gum disease, bad breath, and other problems. 

  • Keeping Your Dental Appointments

We always recommend that patients see us for professional dental cleanings and checkups twice a year, and sometimes more often. These bi-annual appointments are crucial to maintaining a healthy and mouth as well as a healthy body. They allow your dentist in Boerne to find any potential problems early and treat them quickly before they become big problems.  

Make a promise to yourself that you will commit and follow through with your 2021 resolutions. And if you’re serious about getting healthier, schedule an appointment with your dentist today.

Is It Healthy For Teeth to Be REALLY White?

We’ve been programmed to believe that the whiter a smile is, the healthier it is. However, this isn’t always the case. In fact, your dentist in Boerne wants you to know that there is such a thing as a too-white smile, and a smile that’s over-bleached can actually lead to other oral health problems. 

The Truth About Smile Whitening Treatments

Smile whitening is probably the most popular form of cosmetic dentistry done today. However, what was once only available at the dentist can now be done at home without any exam or assurance that the teeth are healthy enough. Additionally, even though over-the-counter whitening treatments can make it easier for people to whiten their teeth, it’s become increasingly popular and has created almost a whitening addiction. Both of which can cause some serious problems. 

More Whitening, More Problems

Now, we should note that smile whitening can be done safely. However, there are issues when someone whose teeth aren’t healthy, or who thinks “the more whitening, the better” whitens their teeth that can cause things to take a turn for the worse.

Over-bleaching your teeth can wear down tooth enamel. Without this protective layer, teeth are put at increased risk for decay, cavities, and sensitivity. Additionally, if your teeth aren’t healthy to begin with, and let’s say you have a cavity, introducing bleaching ingredients can cause uncomfortable zings of pain through your teeth. And the problems don’t end there. 

Many over-the-counter whitening treatments allow too much of the bleach to touch and sit on the gums which can cause gum irritation, sometimes severe. Lastly, too much whitening can actually make your teeth appear more translucent and darker in appearance, which is the opposite of what you want. 

Safely Whiten Your Smile

The best way to get a whiter smile is to first start by talking to your dentist in Boerne. Not only can they help you find the best smile whitening treatment for you, but they can also help you find the best shade of white for your teeth for an overall natural, yet enhanced, look. Whichever smile whitening treatment you agree on, make sure you follow the directions to a “T,” especially if you’re going to use a take-home whitening product. Don’t leave the whitening gel on longer than recommended, and stop use if irritation or sensitivity occurs.  

Even though smile whitening treatments can be found at any grocery store or even ordered online… it doesn’t mean that all of them are created equally. Make sure you do your own research, talk with your dentist in Boerne, and don’t overdo it.  

Kissing & Oral Health

Kissing our loved ones is probably one of the best ways to show them that we care. But did you know that kissing can help us in other ways, too? Sharing a smooch can release endorphins in our brains and make us feel happier. It can also exercise our facial muscles and even burn some calories. However, as with everything, your dentist in Boerne wants you to know that kissing doesn’t come without its risks.

Germs & Bacteria

We all know that germs can be passed from one person to another through kissing, but they aren’t the only things being swapped. When it comes to kissing, your dentist in Boerne is also concerned with the sharing of bacteria. You see, certain types of bacteria have been known to increase the risk of tooth decay and cavities. Now, while our mouths are naturally packed with bacteria, when we kiss, these bacteria (both good and bad) can easily transfer from person to person and introduce cavity-causing bacteria.  

Keep Your Bacteria to Yourself

Even though kissing comes with some potential negatives, we’re certainly not recommending that you stop altogether. Instead, your dentist in Boerne has a few tips you can try in order to keep both you and your partner smooching safely.

  • Breath Test

Nobody wants to kiss someone who has bad breath, and now we’re going to give you yet another reason to tread carefully when you encounter someone with chronically bad breath. Bad breath may be a sign of gum disease, which itself is caused by an overload of bacteria and an infection in the gum tissue. 

  • Oral Hygiene

Even though our mouths naturally contain tons of bacteria, you should always brush and floss regularly in order to keep bacteria levels in check. Also, it’s key that you see your dentist in Boerne at least every six months for professional cleanings to further protect your teeth. 

  • Drink Water

When you’re not able to brush your teeth try to drink or even rinse your mouth with water. This can also help remove bacteria buildup. You can also chew Xylitol gum to help reduce bacteria levels and give your breath a fresh boost for all those kissable moments. Plus, Xylitol can keep bacteria from sticking to your teeth and creates a neutral pH level in your mouth for even more protection. 

Some Good News

It’s important to note that there are certainly some positives to kissing, some of which we mentioned earlier. As it relates to your oral health, kissing can actually help good bacteria move from person to person and increases your saliva production. Saliva is your mouth’s natural way of washing away bacteria and neutralizing acid, both of which help protect your teeth against decay.

When it comes to kissing, there are more positives than negatives. Just make sure you practice good oral hygiene habits so your breath is kissable fresh every single time you pucker up.