4 Reasons You Should Floss Your Teeth

Flossing does more than clean the surfaces of your teeth. It cleans those important areas between each tooth and removes bacteria from under the gums. Yet, it’s incredibly common for your dentist in Boerne to see patients every day who skip this crucial part of oral hygiene. In fact, more than 30% of Americans don’t floss their teeth every day, and this can mean bad news for your teeth. 

  • The Plaque Attack

One of the most important reasons to floss your teeth every day is to remove plaque buildup that occurs naturally throughout the day. If left untreated, plaque will harden into tartar. Tartar isn’t something that can be removed through regular brushing alone and will need to be removed at your next appointment with your dentist in Boerne

  • Fight Off Gum Disease

The biggest complaint we hear about flossing is that gums bleed. This is an even more important reason to keep flossing. Bleeding gums is a telltale sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis can be reversed if caught in this early stage, however, if it’s not treated and is left to progress, it can quickly turn into full-blown gum disease. In its more advanced stages, gum disease becomes irreversible and can wreak havoc on your oral health and overall health. 

  • Keep Your Body Healthy

If foregoing the floss does lead to gum disease, it can lead to additional complications throughout the body. Research shows a strong correlation between gum disease and whole-body health concerns, including: 

  • Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory Disease
  • Protect Strong Teeth

It’s the goal of your Boerne dentist to help patients achieve and keep long-lasting good oral health. Part of that includes keeping natural teeth for a lifetime, which is possible with proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits. However, if you don’t floss, you’re at greater risk for both cavities as well as tooth loss. 

Choosing The Best Floss

Finding the best floss for you can take some trial and error. But it’s important to try various types of floss so you can choose one that you’ll use regularly. Different types of floss include: 

  • Waxed or Unwaxed String Floss
  • Floss Picks
  • Dental Tape
  • Water Flosser

Even if you brush your teeth every day, make sure you don’t skip flossing. Your checkups with your dentist in Boerne will be easier, you’ll have less of a chance of developing serious problems, and you’ll keep your teeth happy and healthy. 

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.

What To Eat After Having Dental Work Done

Having dental work isn’t like other procedures where you can eat whatever you want afterward. In fact, it can be difficult to find something you can easily eat after dental treatment. Whether you’re recovering from oral surgery, a dental implant placement, a root canal, or even a filling and are having trouble finding easy-to-eat foods, you’re in luck. Your dentist in Boerne has a whole list of foods you can eat after having dental work done. Let’s check out a few of our favorites. 

Avocados

A mushed-up ripe avocado is one of the best things you can eat after dental treatment. Not only is it easy to eat, but avocados can provide your body with needed healthy fats and a ton of nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, and fiber. These are some of the reasons that it’s often called a superfood. 

Broth

Broth or soup is another excellent choice. Not only is it comfortingly warm, but it also requires little to no chewing. Beef bone broth, in particular, is also packed with protein, which is important. In fact, according to a study conducted by the University of Michigan, soft foods with healthy fats and protein like beef bone broth may also even help promote healing by repairing muscles and tissues and fighting off infection. Remember, if you’re recovering from wisdom teeth removal or other oral surgery, keep your broth warm and not hot. Hot foods and drinks can irritate gum tissue and make recovery take longer. 

Scrambled Eggs

This breakfast favorite isn’t only for mornings and would be easy to eat at any time following dental treatment. Similarly to bone broth, scrambled eggs are a healthy, protein-packed option that’s easy to eat and promotes healing. Besides, who doesn’t love breakfast for dinner? 

Fish & Potatoes

If you’re looking for something that feels more like a complete meal, look no further than fish and potatoes. Fish such as tuna, salmon, and tilapia are soft and easy to chew, and they contain a lot of heart-healthy fats. Pair fish with delicious mashed potatoes for a delicious, nutritious, and easy-to-eat meal. Spice up the dish by choosing sweet potatoes over russet. 

Ice Cream

We couldn’t complete this blog without turning to the age-old favorite of ice cream. This sweet treat is a go-to option for your dentist in Boerne because it’s easy to eat and it’s cold. The coolness of ice cream is the perfect way to get some relief if you’re feeling sore and may even reduce swelling. Make sure to avoid flavors that contain nuts, frozen candy bars, or other hidden crunchy goodies. 

Even if you don’t necessarily feel like eating after dental treatment, it’s important that you do. If it’s easier, choose to eat several smaller meals or snacks throughout the day instead of large meals. Also, make sure to drink at least 64 ounces of water daily to keep your body and mouth properly hydrated. 

Your dentist in Boerne is always here to help you if you have any questions about your dental treatment, or what you can comfortably eat afterward. Just ask

Do Facemasks Cause Cavities?

A lot has changed over the past couple of months, and one thing that we’ve all introduced into our daily lives is the use of facemasks. Used to help minimize the risk of COVID-19, facemasks are supported by scientists and are now required at many public places. However, this daily use may raise some concerns for your dentist in Boerne.

An Important Note About Facemasks

Before we go any farther, we want to be clear that we are not suggesting that you stop wearing a mask, as the potential benefits outweigh the risks. What we are recommending is that you become aware of how your facemask can play a role in your oral health and learn what you can do to help.

Mouth Breathing

While the mask itself isn’t causing cavities, the changes we experience as a result of wearing them can. For example, most of us are not used to wearing a facemask at all let alone daily or perhaps all day every day. Because of this new factor, many people may begin to breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses because it’s more comfortable. However, this change in breathing is what can cause concerns for your dentist in Boerne.

When we breathe out of our mouths, whether because of a facemask or not, it can quickly dry out saliva production and create dry mouth. Dry mouth is concerning because a mouth needs saliva to help wash away things like bacteria and neutralize acids. Without it, teeth are at increased risk for tooth decay and other intraoral problems.

Bad Breath

Besides an increased risk of decay, mouth breathing can also cause bad breath. Since there’s not enough saliva around to wash away bacteria, they’re left free to feed on leftover food particles. As a result, these bacteria release a stinky byproduct.

Avoid Dry Mouth

Now, even though your dentist in Boerne knows that mouth breathing and dry mouth aren’t great for oral health, there are things you can do to help avoid dry mouth or treat it if it does occur such as:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. This will help keep the mouth hydrated and moist.
  • Suck on sugar-free hard candies or chew gum with Xylitol. Both of these tricks can stimulate saliva production.
  • Brush and floss your teeth every day. Maintaining proper oral hygiene can help remove bacteria buildup.
  • Talk with your dentist. There are products designed to produce saliva. Your dentist can guide you on what’s the best way to fix your dry mouth.

If you’re concerned that dry mouth may be causing dental problems, or you’d like to talk to someone about getting some relief, call your dentist in Boerne. As with many dental concerns, the sooner dry mouth is diagnosed and treated properly the less chance it has to cause serious, more complicated problems.

More Stress, More Oral Health Problems

An article recently published by the New York Times details one dentist’s experience seeing an increase of patients with cracked teeth over the past few months. What could be causing this? Well, all of our lives have been flipped upside down and shaken up this year, and this can cause some stress — naturally. This stress may just be the cause of some dental problems, including cracked teeth. Join your dentist in Boerne as we share just how stress and other factors can influence your oral health. 

Teeth Clenching & Grinding

Our bodies react to stress in interesting ways. Sometimes our gut health is affected. Other times it’s our oral health. During periods of high stress, many people may begin clenching or grinding their teeth, and oftentimes they don’t even know it or they may be doing it subconsciously while sleeping. This repeated movement of teeth against teeth can cause teeth to wear down and appear shorter. It can also cause teeth to crack, break, or chip, requiring treatment from your dentist in Boerne. But even that’s not all. Clenching and grinding your teeth puts unnecessary and unnatural stress on the jaw joint and can cause severe TMJ pain or TMJ disorder. 

Gum Disease

Prolonged periods of stress can also increase someone’s risk of developing gum disease. Gum disease is an infection deep under the gum line that requires professional dental treatment. However, if it’s not treated, gum disease can cause other problems throughout the body and put overall health at risk. Gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, respiratory disease, and even certain cancers. Besides stress, other things that increase the risk of gum disease include poor dental hygiene, smoking, and seeing your dentist in Boerne every six months for deep cleanings. 

How To Decrease Stress

We understand that the current state of the world can easily cause stress levels to spike and put us at risk for both oral health problems and whole-body concerns. But one of the best things you can do during uncertain, stressful times is to learn effective ways to lower stress. Some stress-reduction techniques include: 

  • Sleeping. Falling and staying asleep can be difficult when we’re stressed out and our minds won’t stop racing. But it’s crucial to your health to get enough sleep every day. Not only can sleeping enough lower stress (and probably make it easier to fall asleep), it can also give your body time to recover and keep you healthy. Try listening to calming sounds, avoiding your phone an hour before going to bed, and keeping a regular sleep schedule. 
  • Meditating. Mediating has been proven to lower heart rate and help us feel relaxed, thus lowering stress. Find a free app on your phone that will guide you through meditations and teach you how to effectively lower stress by simply breathing. Meditation is like anything else, you need to practice it to get really good at it so be sure to schedule time each day to focus and meditate. 
  • Exercising. Another proven way to lower stress and boost health is to exercise often. Whether you choose an online spin class, practice yoga, or run or walk, make sure you get a good sweat session daily. 

Now and always, it’s important to keep your stress levels low and immune system high to keep yourself healthy. Find a stress-reduction plan that works for you, eat a well-balanced diet, and see your dentist in Boerne every six months.