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Friday, November 17, 2017

Diabetes and your dental health: How your diet can affect your teeth

When diabetes is not controlled properly, high glucose levels in saliva may create problems that lead to an increased risk of tooth decay.
Your teeth are covered with plaque, a sticky film of bacteria. After you eat food that contains sugars or starches, the bacteria react with these sugars to release acids that attack tooth enamel. This can cause the enamel to break down and may eventually result in cavities.
Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and cleaning between your teeth with floss or an interdental cleaner helps remove decay-causing plaque.
Plaque that is not removed can eventually harden into calculus, or tartar. When tartar collects above the gumline, it becomes more difficult to clean thoroughly between teeth. This can lead to chronic inflammation and infection in the mouth.
Because diabetes reduces the bodys resistance to infection, the gums are among the tissues likely to be affected.
Periodontal diseases are infections of the gum and bone that hold your teeth in place. Patients with inadequate blood sugar control appear to develop periodontal disease more often and more severely, and they lose more teeth than those who have good control of their diabetes.
Because of the lower resistance and longer healing process, periodontal diseases often appear to be more frequent and more severe among persons with diabetes.
You can help reduce these risks through good maintenance of blood sugar levels, a well-balanced diet, good oral care at home and regular dental checkups.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Diagnosing jaw problems and pains – TMD and TMJ

More than fifteen percent of American adults suffer from chronic facial pain.
Common symptoms can include pain in or around the ear, tenderness of the jaw, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth or even head and neck aches.
There are two joints and several jaw muscles which make it possible to open and close the mouth. They work together when you chew, speak, and swallow.
These structures include muscles and ligaments, as well as the jaw bone, the mandible (lower jaw) with two joints, the TMJs.
The TM joint is one of the most complex joints in the body. Located on each side of the head, these joints work together and can make many different movements, including a combination of rotating and gliding action when chewing and speaking.
Several muscles help open and close the mouth. They control the lower jaw (mandible) as it moves forward, backward, and side-to-side.
Both TM joints are involved in these movements. Each TM joint has a disc between the ball and socket. The disc cushions the load while enabling the jaw to open widely and perform rotating and translocational movements.
Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working together properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.
If you are suffering from this type of pain, your dentist can help identify its source with a thorough exam and appropriate x-rays.
Often, the problem is a sinus or toothache or it could be an early stage of periodontal disease.
But for some pain, the cause is not so easily diagnosed.
The pain could be related to the facial muscles, the jaw or temporomandibular joint, located in the front of the ear.
Treatments for this pain may include stress reducing exercises, muscle relaxants, or wearing a mouth protector to prevent teeth grinding.
They’ve been successful for many and your dentist can recommend which is best for you.

Friday, November 3, 2017

What is plaque and how does it affect your teeth?

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that covers our teeth and, when we eat something, these bacteria release acids that attack the tooth enamel.
When these attacks are repeated over time, the enamel will break down and this will eventually lead to cavities.
When plaque is not removed through daily brushing and cleaning it hardens into calculus or tartar. When tartar collects above the gum line, brushing and cleaning between the teeth becomes more difficult.
The gum tissue can become swollen or may bleed. This is called gingivitis and it is the early stage of periodontal (gum) disease.
There are several steps you can take to protect yourself against this happening:
– Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
– Clean between teeth daily with floss or an interdental cleaner
– Eat a balanced diet and limit the number of snacks between meals
– Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral exams
– Ask your dentist about sealants these are protective coatings that can be applied to the back teeth where decay often starts.
If you take steps to remove the plaque each day, you have a greater chance of avoiding tooth and gum problems.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Should you be concerned about thumbsucking?

Some children suck on their thumbs and parents often wonder if it is harmful.
Sucking on something is a child’s natural reflex. It can help them feel more secure so they start to suck on their thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other objects.
Since thumbsucking is relaxing, it may also help them sleep.
However, after the permanent teeth come in, sucking may cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth and the alignment of teeth. It can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth.
Whether or not dental problems will result depends on the intensity of the sucking.
A child who vigorously sucks their thumb is more likely to have difficulties than one who rests their thumb passively in their mouth. Young children who suck their thumbs aggressively may even cause problems with their baby teeth.
If you notice changes in your childs primary teeth, consult your dentist.
Usually children will stop sucking their thumbs between the ages of about two and four. They should have ceased sucking by the time the permanent front teeth are ready to erupt.
If your child is continuing to suck their thumbs, here are some tips:
– Praise them for not sucking, instead of scolding them when they are
– If they are sucking because they feel insecure, focus on correcting the cause of the anxiety
– For older children, involve them in choosing the method of stopping
If necessary, your dentist can help by encouraging the child and explaining what could happen to their teeth if they do not stop sucking.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Caring for people who have special needs

People at any age can have a condition that makes it difficult for them to look after their own dental health.
This could affect people who suffer from a wide range of conditons such as stroke, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, mental retardation, Down syndrome, genetic disorders, Alzheimers disease or arthritis.
However, people in all of these categories have the same dental needs as everyone else – they need daily brushing and flossing, regular dental visits and a balanced diet.
There are some steps caregivers can take to make it easier to look after people in those categories.
If the person is uncooperative or uncontrollable, try to explain what you are about to do and schedule the task for a time of day when they are rested.
Move in a calm, slow, reassuring manner to avoid startling them. Give praise and encourage them when they help themselves.
Support the persons head, and take special care to prevent choking or gagging when the head is tilted back.
If the person is unable or unwilling to keep their mouth open, your dentist will explain how you can make and use a mouth prop.
Ask your dentist for advice on how to care for people with special needs and check if they have facilities for caring for these needs in the dental office.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Why a dental abscess should be treated quickly

If you have any kind of swelling in your gum, it almost certainly indicates a serious infection that should be treated urgently.
Dental abscesses result from a bacterial infection in the teeth or gums.
For example, it may come from an untreated cavity. Cavities result when some of the bacteria in our mouths mix with sugars and starches in our diet to produce acid.
This acid attacks the hard enamel coating of our teeth and, as the cavity gets deeper, it eventually infects the nerve and blood supply of the tooth.
In some cases, a dental abscess is caused by an infection of the gum. Bone loss from gum disease can create a pocket between the tooth, gum and bone.
When bacteria and other debris get into this pocket, an abscess can form.
The treatment for an abscess depends on how severe the infection is.
If the abscess has been caused by decay, root canal treatment may be needed or the tooth may even have to be removed.
If the abscess has been caused by the gum, the gum will need deep cleaning or surgical treatment. Again the tooth may need to be removed.
Sometimes, a small incision may be made into the gum to drain the abscess. If this happens, antibiotics and pain medication may be used to relieve discomfort.
If you wait until the gum is severely swollen before seeking treatment, the situation can become very serious.
The abscess at this stage can prevent you breathing properly and can be life-threatenting.
So if you have any signs of swelling in your gum, contact your dentist immediately.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Taking care of removable partial dentures

If you have removable plastic dentures, its important to look after them carefully.
You should brush them each day to remove food deposits and plaque. This also helps prevent them from becoming permanently stained.
It’s best to use a brush that is designed for cleaning dentures as it has bristles arranged to fit the shape of the denture. But a regular, soft-bristled toothbrush is also acceptable.
Avoid using a brush with hard bristles as these can damage the denture.
When you are handling a denture, hold them carefully. Try standing over a folded towel or a sink of water with them in case you accidentally drop them.
Its advisable to use a denture cleanser which has the American Dental Association seal of acceptance. However hand soap or mild dishwashing liquid are also acceptable for cleaning dentures.
Other types of household cleaners and many toothpastes are too abrasive and should not be used for cleaning dentures.
A denture can lose its proper shape if it is not kept moist. So it should be placed in soaking solution or water at night though one with metal attachments could be tarnished if placed in soaking solution.
As you age, your mouth naturally changes, which can affect the fit of the denture so, if they no longer fit properly, they should be adjusted by your dentist.
See your dentist promptly if your denture becomes loose as this can cause sores or infections.
Dont try to adjust or repair your denture yourself as this can damage the appliance beyond repair.
When you wear a partial denture, you need to continue brushing twice a day and cleaning between your teeth daily. This will help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
Pay special attention to cleaning the teeth that fit under the denture’s metal clasps. Plaque that becomes trapped under the clasps will increase the risk of tooth decay.
Your dentist or dental hygienist can demonstrate how to properly brush and clean between teeth.
Regular dental check-ups and having your teeth professionally cleaned are vital for maintaining a healthy smile.