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.

The Do’s & Don’ts to Getting a White Smile

As we near Labor Day, many people will begin packing away their white clothes until next year. After all, wearing white after Labor Day is typically considered a fashion faux pas. However, at our dental office in Boerne, we believe that a white smile never goes out style, and you should be proud to show yours off all year around. But what do you do if your smile isn’t as white and bright as you’d like? Join us as we talk about a few do’s and don’ts  to getting a white smile you love.

Start with Your Dentist

If you’re unhappy with the color of your smile we recommend scheduling an appointment with your dentist in Boerne. At this visit you and your dental team will discuss what it is you don’t like as well as what you’d like to see. This will allow your team to make the best recommendation for you.

Professional Smile Whitening

One option for getting a brighter smile is a professional smile whitening treatment. Done either at your dentist’s office or at home with specialized whitening gel, a professional smile whitening can boost your smile’s look better than the over-the-counter whiteners.

Dental Veneers

Another treatment option that can help transform your look is dental veneers. These thin pieces of custom-create porcelain cover your natural teeth and can not only give you a whiter smile, but can also fix minor cosmetic concerns such as chipped teeth.

After you complete your treatment, whichever one you choose, there are few things you’ll want to do, and several that you’ll to avoid, in order to keep your new look as white as possible.  

DO use straws whenever possible, especially if you’ll be drinking soda, tea, coffee or anything that may stain teeth. Using a straw helps keep the liquid off of teeth, limiting the chance for staining.

DON’T smoke or use tobacco of any kind. Tobacco can yellow your teeth or even cause brown spots. Of course, it also increases your risk for oral cancer, gum disease, and other whole-body health problems.

DON’T forget to brush and floss every day. Removing any plaque and bacteria from the teeth will help keep stains away and protect your smile against decay. Decay will also cause teeth to discolor if not treated.

DO maintain regular visits with your dentist to help remove plaque and tartar buildup. Too much plaque or tartar makes it easier for staining agents in foods and drinks to stick. The stains are then more difficult to remove.

If you’re ready to sport a bright, white smile this Labor Day and all year around, we welcome you to call our Boerne dental office to schedule an appointment today. We’re always here to help!

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.