6 Common Dental Hygiene Mistakes

In order to have strong and healthy teeth and gums, it’s important to practice good dental hygiene habits regularly. However, it can be difficult to remember all of the things you should do (and shouldn’t do) every day to keep your mouth clean. To help you, let’s check out six of the most common dental hygiene mistakes your dentist in Boerne sees so you can help keep your teeth and gums in tip-top shape!

  • Not Flossing Regularly

Many patients tend to only when they feel like it, such as right before a dental appointment, rather than at a regular schedule. While flossing can seem inconvenient to floss every single day, your dental health depends on it. Brushing alone will not get rid of plaque between teeth, which can lead to gingivitis and tooth decay over time. You should floss daily with either standard floss, a floss pick, or a water flosser. 

  • Brushing Too Often

Your dentist in Boerne recommends that you brush your teeth at least twice a day, once in the morning and once at night. So, if brushing two times is good, wouldn’t brushing more be even better? In fact, the opposite is true. Brushing your teeth too often can wear down tooth enamel, making it easier for cavities to form and teeth to become sensitive. Additionally, you shouldn’t brush your teeth immediately after eating sugary sweets or acidic foods. Instead, try rinsing your mouth out with water. 

  • Improper Brushing Technique

Believe it or not, there is such a thing as bad brushing. For example, if you scrub too hard you can damage enamel and irritate gums. This can lead to gum recession and tooth sensitivity as well as increase the likelihood of cavities. Instead, brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle and in gentle circles to get a thorough clean.

  • Using The Wrong Tools

There are tons of toothbrushes and flossing products to choose from, but how do you know what’s right for you? First, talk to your dentist in Boerne. However, many times, patients should use a soft-bristled toothbrush to protect tooth enamel while brushing. When it comes to flossing, the best floss is the floss that’s used daily, so find a product that makes flossing easier so you can stick to a routine. 

  • Brushing Before Flossing

The best way to get your teeth squeaky clean is to floss first and then brush. Otherwise, bacteria can remain in between your teeth which will only spread around your mouth after you’ve already brushed. Flossing first will ensure that none of these germs remain when you start brushing. Instead, all that bacteria is swept away by your floss and into the trash where it belongs!

  • Not Seeing Your Dentist in Boerne Regularly

Seeing your dentist twice a year is essential for not only keeping your teeth clean and healthy but also preventing issues before they can become serious. If you wait until you start having tooth pain or seeing things like decay or gums that are pulling away from your teeth, you’re putting yourself at risk for more invasive treatments. Schedule appointments with your dentist twice a year to keep your smile healthy and bright. 

Since dental hygiene plays such an important role in our overall health, it’s essential to make sure we’re doing everything right. Making small changes to your oral hygiene routine can make all the difference in having a strong, healthy smile.

4 Ways to Take Care of Your Teeth as You Age

As we age, it’s important to take special care of our teeth and gums in order to maintain good oral health into old age. As we get older, there are some factors that come into play that make maintaining strong, healthy teeth more difficult than it was when we were younger. Here are 4 tips from your dentist in Boerne to take care of your teeth as you age so that you can keep them looking great well into the golden years.

Be Prepared to Combat Dry Mouth

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, occurs more frequently in seniors and can be caused by certain medications. Other causes include dehydration or hormonal changes that can occur with menopause. If untreated, dry mouth can lead to cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. While you should never stop taking the medication without discussing it with your doctor, there are some ways to relieve dry mouth – such as drinking plenty of water throughout the day, using special hydration rinses, and chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow. You should talk with your dentist in Boerne to find the best solution for you. 

Get Used to Seeing The Dentist More Often

While we love seeing all of our patients, we tend to see our senior patients more often, and for a good reason. As we age, our mouths change. Due to decreasing production of saliva and a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease, seniors may need more frequent dental care than other adults. Getting into a dentist’s chair at least once every six months will help you avoid some serious oral health problems. Regular visits will also let your dentist in Boerne perform preventative treatments before problems ever occur. 

Don’t Stop Brushing

Brushing your teeth correctly is important for everyone at every age, but it’s absolutely critical when you’re over 50. Seniors should be brushing their teeth at least two times per day and ideally after every meal. A soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste containing fluoride are always best. Make sure to use just slight pressure as brushing too hard will cause unnecessary wear on your teeth and gums. Keep in mind that brushing properly can be hard for older people and can put them at risk for decay. Find a toothbrush that makes it easier in order to protect their teeth. 

And Don’t Forget the Floss

Like brushing, flossing everyday is essential for everyone, but it’s especially important for seniors. The older we get, the harder it is to brush teeth effectively. Flossing helps dislodge plaque that would otherwise stay on your teeth and cause cavities and gum disease. If you don’t floss at least once a day, you’re missing out on cleaning 35% of your tooth’s surfaces! Sometimes flossing can also become difficult as we age and lose dexterity. If this is the case, talk to your dentist about other flossing options that can be easier to use. 

According to many research studies, taking care of our teeth will only get more difficult as we age — that’s why it’s imperative that older adults take care of their oral health today. Senior citizens face many unique dental issues; while most don’t require immediate attention, ignoring them can have long-term consequences for your health. Schedule an appointment with your dentist today.

6 Surprising Foods High in Sugar

It’s common knowledge that high sugar diets are bad for your teeth, which is one reason why your dentist in Boerne recommends limiting your sugar intake daily. But what you might not know is that many of the foods and drinks that you enjoy may be secretly packed with sugar. In this blog post, we’ll go over some of the top 6 foods and drinks with the highest levels of sugar.

1) Soda

Soda is an excellent source of sugar. In fact, it’s even worse than chocolate bars because there’s less food value to balance out its calorie content. The phosphoric acid in sodas can destroy tooth enamel and make teeth more susceptible to decay and cavities. Excess consumption can also lead to diabetes due to elevated blood glucose levels. Pairing soda with other sweet or acidic drinks will increase your risk as well, so if you are serious about protecting your smile and achieving long-term oral health, avoid them altogether.

2) Fruit Juices

Fruit juices are commonly perceived as healthy options due to their bright colors and phytonutrients (natural chemicals in plants that have antioxidant properties). This is true, but many store-bought fruit juices also contain additives such as sweeteners or flavorings that boost sweetness levels. To avoid consuming excess sugar without even knowing it (especially if you do not typically drink other sweet beverages), consider drinking freshly squeezed or 100% pure fruit juice only occasionally.

3) Energy Drinks

Most people know that energy drinks can do more harm than good over time, especially when combined with alcohol. But your dentist in Boerne has even more concerns. A 2012 study by the Center for Science in Public Interest found that an 8-ounce serving of a popular energy drink contained 44 grams of sugar! 

4) Granola

Granola is another one of those foods that’s often marketed as healthy. However, granola contains plenty of natural sugars — one cup of homemade granola has on average 36 grams of sugar. What can be even more confusing is that store-bought varieties often contain added sugars, and can contain up to 61 total grams of sugar!  

5) Fruit Smoothies

Fruit smoothies can be made from fresh fruits, so they provide additional vitamins and minerals that may not be found in sodas or other sugary drinks. However, it is important to note that any drink containing more than 50 grams of sugar per serving should be consumed moderately because of its potential to cause dental decay and other oral health problems.  

6) Spaghetti Sauce

Perhaps one of the most surprising on our list, tomato-based products like spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, and ketchup tend to have more sugars than non-tomato items because of their fruit content. Spaghetti sauce for example contains 16g of sugar per 1/2 cup serving, which is a whopping 28% of the recommended daily value. 

There are many high-sugar products at your disposal, with levels of sugar you may not even know about. But any time you’re consuming something sugary, or that has a high sugar content on the nutritional label, you should watch out for its impact on your oral health — as well as other areas of your life, such as weight gain or diabetes. Rinsing your mouth with water after eating anything sugary can help, but as always, it’s best to enjoy sugary treats in moderation, and of course, see your dentist in Boerne twice a year

The Oral Health Benefits of Drinking Out of a Straw

In recent years, there’s been an environmental fight against the use of non-reusable plastic straws. These one-time use straws make up about 7% of plastic product waste in the U.S., so there is a need to talk about how much we actually need straws. Now, while your dentist in Boerne is in support of making small changes to help the environment, we also know that there are some great oral health benefits of drinking out of a straw. 

Use Reusable

Before we go any further, we want to encourage our patients and neighbors to find a friendly alternative to plastic straws. There are many reusable straws available nowadays and there are even some fit for travel. Find a few that you like and use them to save the planet and reap the oral health benefits. It’s a win-win!    

Straws & Teeth

Ok, now back to the teeth stuff. We know that you must be thinking, “How can a thin tube benefit my oral health?” Well, it comes down to how much liquid touches teeth using a straw versus sipping directly out of a cup. Drinking beverages through a straw can limit the amount of liquid that comes in contact with your teeth, and therefore, how much risk there is for damage. Choosing to go without a straw basically bathes your pearly whites in whatever it is you’re drinking. This means that your drink of choice is left lingering on your teeth’s surfaces long after your cup is empty, increasing the likelihood of developing some unwanted oral health side effects.

  • Stained Teeth

Many beverages contain coloring additives or are naturally colored. These drinks of choice can easily stain teeth and cause discoloration. To help avoid this, drink any colorful beverage with a straw. If your teeth aren’t as white as you’d like, whether because of dark drinks or not, talk to your dentist in Boerne about smile whitening options.  

  • Eroded Enamel

One of the worst things for teeth is acid. Acid can easily erode enamel and leave teeth exposed to the danger of additional acid and bacteria. This can result in increased tooth sensitivity and other concerns.  

  • Cavities 

Cavities can also result from a lack of enamel as well as from having too much sugary or acidic liquids come in contact with teeth. 

The Worst Drinks for Teeth

Not all drinks are bad for teeth, but there are some top contenders. These drinks should be enjoyed moderately and with a straw if at all possible. 

  • Soda
  • Sports Drinks
  • Fruit Punch
  • Juices
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Wine & Other Alcohol

It’s our responsibility to advise our patients and neighbors on everything they can do to help keep their smiles healthy. Drinking out of a straw is a simple change you can make to protect your teeth against decay, sensitivity, cavities, and other problems. Of course, it’s always important to brush and floss every day and see your dentist in Boerne every six months

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.