Dental X-Rays, Who Needs ‘Em? (You Do!)

If you see your dentist in Boerne regularly, then you’ve probably had a dental x-ray or two taken in your life. The reason we rely on x-rays so heavily is that they’re absolutely a crucial part of creating a custom treatment plan that’s going to address your dental issues and needs, the right way.

We know it may seem like they’re just any other x-ray and you might even wonder why you actually even need dental x-rays in the first place. The truth is, these images can save your smile and maybe even your life. Let’s learn more about what x-rays are and what they do for you.

Why Do We Need X-Rays?

Radiographs or x-rays are relied on heavily for preventive dentistry or to help fix issues such as cavities, decay, and breakage. Generally, dentists rely on 2D or 3D imaging to gain a better understanding of what’s going on inside your mouth, highlighting your jaw bone health and tooth structure that lies beneath your gums and enamel. It gives us the added ability to find out if something is going on inside your mouth or teeth that’s not 100 percent visible to the naked eye.

Are Dental X-Rays Going to Expose Me to Radiation?

Most of the x-rays used in dental offices across the country today give off a minimal amount of radiation. It’s important to note that you should always limit your exposure to x-rays and avoid repeated use as it can damage cells over time due to the small, continued radiation aftereffects.

Dental x-rays are certainly safer than ever thanks to advancements in dentistry over the years. Dentists now rely on using lower x-ray dosages, higher quality film, film holders, and well-designed, full-body aprons lined with lead. It’s important to note though that most of the modern dental x-ray technology that’s available today give off very little stray radiation.

How Do Dental X-Rays Work?

The process of obtaining a good dental x-ray image can occur a few ways. Usually, a dentist or a dental specialist will cover you with the iron apron for protection before putting a small plastic device in your mouth and asking you to bite down. Your bite is going to hold the x-ray film in place for accurate, immediate results.

In instances like this where we’re x-raying the inside of your mouth, it’s referred to as obtaining intraoral photos. There are also several extraoral x-rays that your Boerne dentist and orthodontists can use to help fix a smile, with extra meaning outside of your mouth. These images are useful in seeing your jaw bone and entire skull as a whole how it relates to your mouth and oral health.

If you’re experiencing a problem or if you feel like something isn’t right with your smile, please call our Boerne dental office. We may need to use one of these super cool x-ray techniques to help get you and your smile back into tip-top shape.

Your Smile Loves Calcium. Do You?

We all know the old advertising slogan – “Milk. It does a body good.” This is mainly in part because it’s rich in calcium, a nutrient that’s vital to helping your teeth and bones stay strong enough to last a lifetime. At our Boerne dental office, we always want you and your family to make the healthiest, best decisions to fit your lifestyle. Millions of Americans choose to follow diets that restrict or don’t include dairy, such as vegetarians or vegans. There are also millions of other Americans who are known as lactose intolerant and can’t do dairy either.

There are plenty of ways you can get calcium without strictly relying on cheese, yogurt, and milk. (Although, if you do enjoy them make sure they’re part of your regular diet to help boost your calcium intake.) Let’s take a look at how a diet rich in calcium affects your teeth and your bones.

Getting Calcium Without The Cow

There are a variety of health or personal reasons that some people choose to avoid dairy products. There’s no reason to worry, because there are plenty of delicious, nutritious foods out there that can supply your body’s demand for calcium.

Fortified products: Orange juice, waffles, tofu

Veggies, Nuts, and Beans: Leafy greens, almonds, soybeans, soy milk, spinach, broccoli, and sweet potatoes.

Teeth & Calcium: A Love Story

Your teeth, gums, and jaw bone are all affected by the amount of calcium you have in your daily diet. Your dentist in Boerne will tell you that calcium will help your teeth stay healthy and protected against cavities, decay, and tooth loss. It’s a match made in dental heaven.

FUN FACT: 99% of the calcium in your body is found in your teeth and bones. – Institute of Medicine

Your gums appreciate calcium too because it helps them stay healthy free from damaging bacteria and disease. Calcium also helps your muscles and blood vessels work more effectively.

Bones & Calcium: Another Love Story

Why should your Boerne dentist care so much about calcium and your bones? Well, obviously we want the best for your overall health, but in terms of your oral health, we know how important calcium is for your jaw bone. Your jaw bone serves as the anchor for your teeth, so you’ll want to keep it healthy for as long as possible to avoid tooth loss down the road. It’s also super important to remember that the other bones in your body also need calcium to help prevent damaging osteoporosis later in life.

Getting the right amount of calcium in your diet, no matter what your age, is very important to help keep your smile and your gums healthy. It’s really a benefit that your whole body will thank you for. We thank you for reading your blog. If you have questions or concerns about your smile, you know who to call. We’re always happy to help in any way we can!

The Signs of Oral Cancer

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, and at our dental office in Boerne, we know just how serious and scary oral cancer can be. To do our part to help raise awareness, we’re here to share facts, signs, and risk factors of oral cancer with our patients and neighbors.

Facts About Oral Cancer

  • More than 50,000 people are diagnosed with oral cancer every year
  • Oral cancer kills more than 8,500 people annually
  • Nearly 80% of oral cancer diagnoses are in tobacco users
  • Men are two times more likely to develop oral cancer than women
  • Patients who have had oral cancer once are up to 20 times more likely to develop another form of cancer

The Importance of a Fast Diagnosis

Oral cancer can be treated, however, treatment is much more successful when the disease is caught early. This is one reason why bi-annual visits to your dentist in Boerne are so important. You see, unlike other types of cancer, there are no official timing guidelines for screening for oral cancer like there is for, say, colon or breast cancer. Your regular dental visits essentially act as regular oral cancer screenings. These checkups allow your dental team to identify any potential signs of oral cancer early so that you can get treatment fast.

Oral Cancer Signs & Symptoms

One thing that can make oral cancer difficult to diagnose is that its signs and symptoms can disguise themselves as common oral health problems that don’t seem like a big deal. However, you’re better safe than sorry… so if you notice any of the signs below, call your dentist as soon as you can.

  • A sore or discoloration that doesn’t go away
  • A lump inside the mouth or neck
  • Pain while swallowing, chewing, or speaking
  • Changes in voice
  • Chronic bad breath

Risk Factors

Even though oral cancer can happen to anyone, there are some people who may be at increased risk including:

  • Those over 55
  • Current or former tobacco users
  • Heavy drinkers

Oral cancer is a very serious disease. Reduce your risk by changing any risky habits and commit to seeing your dentist every six months. Of course, if you suspect you’re at risk for oral cancer, or are concerned by any potential signs, we welcome you to call our Boerne dental office.

Do I Have Bruxism?

Bruxism is just a medical term for grinding or clenching your teeth, usually while you’re asleep. That’s what makes teeth grinding hazardous to your oral and overall health, because there’s a good chance you don’t even know you’re doing it! Our dental office in Boerne is here to help you learn more about bruxism and the damage it can do to your smile. We want to help you recognize the early warning signs of teeth grinding and help you protect your teeth from damage.

The American Sleep Association suggests as many as 10 percent of adults and 15 percent of children are affected by bruxism. Teeth grinding or clenching is more common when there’s a family history of the disorder, with rates soaring to as high as 50 percent. Both males and females are similarly affected by bruxism.

Are There Common Signs of Bruxism?

There’s a reason why your dentist in Boerne may be the first person to recognize signs that you grind your teeth, because that’s what’s damaged the most by bruxism. When most people grind their teeth, their canines and incisors come together with great force, damaging your enamel and the structure of your teeth. Other symptoms of bruxism include:

Jaw joint pain or discomfort

– Facial pain

– Headaches or migraines

– Jaw muscle contractions

– Broken restorations

– Tooth sensitivity

– Enamel loss

– Damaged gums

Why Do I Have Bruxism?

There are a few reasons our patients develop bruxism or teeth clenching. It’s most commonly caused by a combination of anxiety or stress. People who are agitated or stressed are more likely to grind the night away and not even be aware they’re doing it. In most cases of bruxism, a person isn’t even woken up by the sound of their teeth grinding together. Having a misaligned bite, side effects from medications, and some medical diseases can also cause bruxism.

Is there something not right about your smile? Are you concerned that you’re grinding your teeth? The best way to help yourself is to call our Boerne dental practice to schedule a consultation. We can give you a comprehensive, thorough exam, learn more about the symptoms you’ve been experiencing, monitor your bite, and get a more in-depth look using state-of-the-art x-rays. From there, we’ll be able to see what kind of shape your teeth are in, address the severity of your teeth grinding, and put together a personalized treatment plan for you. We want you and your smile to stay healthy and be pain-free!

How To Prevent Bad Breath

Everyone has experienced a bout of bad breath at least once in their life. Whether it was caused by a particularly potent meal, your daily cup of morning coffee, or maybe something unknown, bad breath is something that goes beyond embarrassment. In fact, the team at our dental office in Boerne wants our patients to know that bad breath could be an early warning sign of serious gum disease and is not something to be ignored.

What Causes Bad Breath?

While there are any number of things that can cause bad breath, the short explanation is that bad breath is the result of high levels of bacteria in the mouth. When these bacteria are left alone, they begin to feed on plaque buildup and produce a stinky byproduct called hydrogen sulfide. This is what we smell when we get a whiff of bad breath.

Avoid Bad Breath

There are several preventive dentistry tips we have to help you avoid bad breath including:

  1. Brushing & Flossing. Brushing and flossing are about more than simply protecting teeth against cavities. Brushing twice and flossing once daily also eliminates bacteria that otherwise would be left to feed on plaque and give off the stinky hydrogen sulfide.
  2. Scrub the Tongue. When you brush, don’t forget to gently scrub the tongue before you finish up. The tongue is made up of tiny grooves where bacteria love to hide. Giving your tongue a quick brush will help wash them away and protect you from bad breath. Some people find brushing their tongue with a toothbrush too uncomfortable. If this is the case, try a tongue scraper.
  3. Drink Water. Our bodies love water. So do our mouths. Keeping your mouth properly hydrated encourages saliva production, which works to keep the mouth moist as well as aiding in rinsing away bacteria. However, if a mouth is too dry and dehydrated, the bad breath bacteria won’t be removed and the chance of bad breath increases.

Why Is Bad Breath Serious?

Bad breath may be caused by something that’s temporary and, if so, we wouldn’t be too concerned about it. However, bad breath that doesn’t go away could be a sign of a serious oral health problem called gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth loss and even affect the rest of the body. In fact, gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. The best way to treat gum disease is to seek treatment from your dentist in Boerne early when the disease can often be cured successfully.

Don’t let something that seems small like bad breath create a serious problem for your overall health. If you notice signs of chronic bad breath, schedule an appointment at our Boerne dental practice.

What Can You Do to Make a Toothache Go Away?

There’s nothing quite like the discomfort of a toothache, and yet, there’s actually an entire day dedicated to them. February 9th is recognized as National Toothache Day, and in honor of this strange holiday, our dental office in Boerne is sharing some of the best ways you can make an annoying and painful toothache go away.

Toothache Remedies

  • Floss. Something as simple as a piece of floss can be the difference between continuing to experience toothache pain and finally getting some relief. If you believe your aches and pains are coming from a piece of food that got stuck in between teeth or up into the gums, gently floss the area. Make sure to get up under the gum line and don’t use too much pressure, this can cause bleeding and increased pain.
  • Cold Compress. Using an ice pack or anything you have that’s cold will help make the swelling go down and release any pressure that may be on the nerves. However, don’t apply an ice pack or anything similar to it directly on your skin. Instead, wrap your cold pack in a cloth or t-shirt then apply it to the face for about 15 minutes. You can repeat this process throughout the day but make sure to take breaks in between icings.
  • Oral Anesthetic. If you’re looking for temporary relief through numbing, pick up an oral anesthetic at your local pharmacy. Apply the gel or liquid directly to the painful area and get immediately numb. Keep in mind, oral anesthetics are for short-term use only and are not a permanent solution.  
  • Salt Water. Rinsing your mouth out with a mixture of warm water and salt a few times daily may also reduce toothache pain. The drying nature of the salt will help pull away and dry out any fluid that may be putting pressure on the nerves and causing you pain. Just remember not to swallow.
  • Anti-inflammatory Medicine. If you’re experiencing a toothache, there’s a good chance that you also have some swelling. Anti-inflammatory medications can also help. Use whichever anti-inflammatory medication is best for you and follow the directions on the packaging. Never place a pill directly on the gums or tooth — this will only cause more pain and can lead to damage.

There are numerous things you can do to help ease the pain associated with a toothache, but all of these remedies are only temporary solutions. In order to completely make a toothache go away, we always recommend scheduling a visit with your dentist in Boerne as soon as you can for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

If you’re suffering from a toothache, we welcome you to call our Boerne dental office to schedule an appointment today.  

Do You Really Need to Have Your Wisdom Teeth Removed?

Many of us will develop our wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, at some point in our lives. Most commonly they start to show themselves in our teens but can make an appearance later in life… or perhaps never at all. However, these new molars can present a whole host of problems for us and are usually removed. But is this procedure really necessary? Let our dental office in Boerne help.

First, it’s important to know that more than 90% of Americans need to have their wisdom teeth removed. It’s an incredibly common procedure that’s relatively easy, and thanks to advancements in technology, fairly comfortable. But why is it so important to have wisdom teeth removed?

No More Space

The most common reason why wisdom teeth need to be removed is due to the lack of space in the mouth for four more teeth. Dental x-rays will be able to tell if this is the case pretty early in the development stages and wisdom teeth removal will be recommended. However, if this is not caught early, or if treatment is not completed, the teeth will begin to erupt, pushing the other teeth out of the way. This will cause overcrowding and crooked, overlapping teeth. There’s also the possibility that the teeth will get lodged under the gum line and in the jaw bone. This is known as impaction. Impacted wisdom teeth can be very painful and the procedure to remove them becomes more complicated. Lastly, impacted wisdom teeth can increase the chance for infection or an abscess.

Erupting The Wrong Way

Wisdom teeth tend to erupt just like any other teeth with the roots facing the jaw bone and the crown pointing toward the gum line. However, there are times when wisdom teeth can become crooked or start to erupt at an angle or sideways. If the happens wisdom teeth to be extracted before they have a chance to cause permanent damage to not only the other teeth but also to your bite.

Let’s Say Everything is Perfect

Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones whose wisdom teeth came in nice and straight and had plenty of room. Your dentist in Boerne may still recommend that they be removed to prevent problems later. Since wisdom teeth are hard to take care of properly — brushing and flossing all the way back there can be very difficult — they do increase the risk of decay and even gum disease.

The best way to reduce the risk of your wisdom teeth causing you trouble is to monitor their development by visiting our Boerne dental office regularly and following through with any recommended treatment.   

3 Commonly Asked Questions About Dentistry

Our dental office in Boerne is not only dedicated to providing compassionate, comfortable dentistry for our patients, we’re also committed to educating our community on the ins and outs of dental care. That’s why we love when our patients ask us questions related to their oral health. Even though we get asked tons of questions every day, we wanted to dedicate our latest blog to some of the more common ones…

How Often Do I Need to See a Dentist?

Most dentists will recommend that you have a checkup at least twice a year, sometimes more if you’re at increased risk of certain problems. These visits allow your dentist in Boerne to keep a close eye on your oral health and catch any potential concerns early. When dental problems, such as a cavity, are caught early, treatment is typically faster, easier, cheaper, and minimally painful. However, if you don’t maintain regular dental appointments what may have started as a small problem can quickly become serious and result in severe pain.

How Safe Are Dental X-Rays?

We understand that there may be some concerns surrounding the safety of dental x-rays, but thanks to advancements in dental technology, dental x-rays are incredibly safe and have an extremely low risk for any negative side effects. This is in part because dental x-rays use such minimal levels of radiation. Additionally, using protective measures such as a leaded apron lowers the risk even more. Not only are dental x-rays safe, but they’re also a crucial tool. The images produced from x-rays give your dental team the power to see what’s happening below the surface and into the tooth roots. This allows them to diagnose problems before there are even any signs of an issue.

How Often Should I Brush and Floss?

One of the best things you can do to help keep your mouth healthy is to brush and floss regularly. This means brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. But simply doing these things isn’t enough, you have to do them correctly. For example, don’t brush your teeth too hard or you can actually do more harm than good. Also, make sure you use fluoride toothpaste to help fight off decay. If traditional floss is difficult for you to use, consider floss picks or even a water flosser.  

From questions about preventive, routine care to more complex questions relating to cosmetic dentistry, dental implants, or restorative treatments, the team at our Boerne dental office is here to help. Call us today!  

How to Get Better Oral Health in 2019

As 2018 comes to an end and we’re starting to think about all of the good things waiting for us next year, it’s common to set resolutions in order to help make 2019 the best year ever. Our dental office in Boerne wants to remind our neighbors and patients that making resolutions for better oral health can be a great place to start. In this blog, we cover five ways you can help improve the health of your smile and your whole body in 2019…

  • Quit Smoking. One of the most common New Year’s resolutions made every year is to quit smoking. Smoking, or using any product containing nicotine, is a dangerous habit that’s highly addictive, which makes it really difficult to quit. But we know you can do it. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer, and respiratory problems. It can also help protect your mouth from gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer. Work with your healthcare provider or find support tools online and make 2019 the year you kick the habit.    
  • Eat Healthier. Another common resolution is to eat healthier. Whether it’s for weight loss, to lower cholesterol, or simply to fuel your body with more nutrients, eating better can benefit your entire body, including your mouth. Fruits and veggies, for example, help to decrease inflammation levels and provide your body with tons of antioxidants. Foods in the fruit and vegetable family also protect your teeth and gums from plaque buildup and dangerous bacteria that can lead to decay.
  • Choose Water. Drinking the recommended eight, 8-ounce glasses of water every day helps to keep your body functioning as it should. Water also effectively rinses away bacteria and neutralizes acid in the mouth that otherwise would eat away at tooth enamel. Choose to quench your thirst using water as opposed to soda or other sugar-packed drinks and keep yourself hydrated and healthy.
  • Improve the Look of Your Smile. Cosmetic dentistry isn’t only about appearance. The truth is, crooked teeth, missing teeth, and other aesthetic concerns can also affect the function and health of your mouth. From dental veneers to dental implants, to orthodontics and dental crowns, there are numerous cosmetic dentistry options available to help resolve any concern you may have. Talk with your dentist and find the best smile makeover treatment for you and your health.
  • Schedule an Appointment with Your Dentist in BoerneMaintaining regular appointments with your dentist can go a long way in keeping your smile (and whole body) healthy. Research suggests several links to oral health and whole-body problems such as heart disease. Seeing your dentist at least twice a year can help catch any problems, whether related directly to oral health or systemic health, early before they have a chance to cause real trouble.

As we near turning the page on a new calendar year, make resolutions to get your smile the healthiest it’s ever been. Start by calling our Boerne dental office and scheduling an appointment. We’re here to help you.

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.