A Word to the Wise: Don’t Let Wisdom Teeth Cause Trouble

wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth usually begin to develop and show on x-rays in our early teens. And that’s the best time to start monitoring their growth to see if your wisdom teeth can stay, or if it’s better to get them removed. While all wisdom teeth don’t necessarily have to be extracted, all of us at our dental office in Austin want our patients to know that if wisdom teeth removal is recommended, it’s for a good reason.

When Can Wisdom Teeth Stay?

Sometimes, wisdom teeth are growing in just fine and there is no reason to discuss or consider removing them. In most cases, if your wisdom teeth are healthy, completely grown in, positioned correctly so they don’t affect your bite or neighboring teeth, and are able to be cleaned properly, they can stay right where they are. However, it’s more common that they will need to be removed, sometimes before they’re fully erupted.

Reasons Wisdom Teeth Need to be Extracted

Proper Care Becomes Difficult

Even if your wisdom teeth came in without a hitch, you may not necessarily get to keep them. In fact, one of the main reasons wisdom teeth need to come out is that they are difficult to care for. Your wisdom teeth, the four molars in the back of your mouth, are hard to reach with a toothbrush, and even harder to floss. This tends to increase the likelihood of gum disease and cavities. If any issues are noticed during your routine checkups with your Austin dentist, removal may be recommended to reduce the risk of more cavities and infection later.

There’s No Room For Them

Another reason – the most common reason – why wisdom teeth need to be removed is because there isn’t enough room in your mouth. This can often be handled with an easy wisdom teeth removal before any teeth begin to erupt through the gums. However, if the procedure is delayed or avoided, the teeth can get trapped in the bone and become impacted. Once wisdom teeth are impacted, the surgery is a bit more complicated, but still fairly easy.

Keeping up with your regularly scheduled appointments at our Austin dental office is an important step in monitoring your wisdom teeth and making sure that everything in your mouth is healthy, functioning correctly, and looking great. If you need someone to check out your wisdom teeth, or your smile as a whole, give us a call today.

Serving patients in Austin, Westlake, Cedar Park

“Why Are My Teeth So Sensitive?”

sensitive

Do you experience shooting pain through your teeth when you drink something hot or bite into something cold? If so, you may be suffering from sensitive teeth. It’s a common problem for many people, but our dental office in Austin wants to help explain some possible reasons behind your sensitivity and how we can fix it.

Reason #1: Clenching & Grinding

Although tooth enamel is really strong stuff, it can be worn away by chronically scraping teeth together through clenching or grinding (also known as bruxism). When enamel erodes it leaves the middle part of the tooth exposed and sensitivity results. Tooth clenching and grinding can not only lead to sensitivity, but also other dental problems like cracked or chipped teeth which require restorative dentistry to repair.

Solution: Tooth clenching and grinding can be treated. Typically a custom-made bruxism mouthguard is recommended. These mouthguards keep your teeth from scraping together, protecting them from damage.

Reason #2: Brushing Too Hard

Although it seems to make sense that the harder you brush your teeth, the cleaner your mouth will be, that just isn’t the case. Using a side-to-side motion or scrubbing too vigorously will make enamel wear down more quickly than normal, increasing the risk of tooth sensitivity.

Solution: Revise your brushing technique. You should brush using small, gentle circles while holding your brush at a 45 degree angle. You may also want to make sure your brush has soft bristles for an even gentler clean.

Reason #3: Gum Disease

One of the common symptoms of gum disease is sensitivity. Why? Gum disease can cause the gums to recede, exposing the tooth roots. These roots contain nerves and if these nerves are unprotected, it can be very painful.  In addition to sensitivity, signs of gum disease can include red, swollen, and bleeding gums.

Solution: See your dentist in Austin as soon as you can. Gum disease is a serious concern that can not only cause tooth sensitivity, but also contributes to whole body problems like strokes and heart disease.  

If you have sensitive teeth, give our Austin dental office a call to schedule an appointment with us. We’ll work with you to determine the cause and discuss relief options.

Accepting new patients from Austin, Westlake, Cedar Park and beyond. 

“Why Do I Bite My Lip All The Time?”

biting

Whether it’s your lip, your cheeks, or your tongue, biting the tissues in and around your mouth is a troublesome habit for many. Mostly brought on by stress or as a nervous habit, cheek or lip biting can be hard to break. At our dental office in Austin, we’d like our patients to know just how harmful this habit can actually be and provide them tips on how to stop.

Explanations to Why We Bite

If you’re a chronic nibbler, the cause may be nerve related and should be resolved through actively recognizing when you do it and working consciously to stop it. Sometimes, a bite to the oral tissues is accidental, typically occurring when trying to multitask eating and talking. Although we all know how painful it can be, the occasional bite usually isn’t a big deal and should heal on its own.

However, there are times when lip or cheek biting can be unavoidable. An abundance of accidental bites could be a sign of something more serious like a misaligned bite (malocclusion) or even TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder). When teeth don’t align properly, the likelihood of your cheek, lip, or tongue getting in between them increases.

Why is Chronic Biting Bad?

No matter what the underlying cause is, biting any part of the mouth hurts! And the discomfort sometimes lasts much longer than the initial zing of pain upon contact. What’s more, after a bite, a mouth sore usually develops. These sores can become infected if proper oral hygiene isn’t maintained, and infection in the mouth is never a good thing. If malocclusion is the main cause behind your accidental bites, a whole host of other potential problems can arise including headaches, tooth shifting, and jaw pain.

How Can You Stop?

Like we’ve discussed, if you’ve identified your biting as a nervous habit, try to consciously work at stopping it. Also chew more deliberately and pay attention while eating to reduce the chance of sustaining an injury. If this is an ongoing problem, talk with your dentist in Austin to determine if your bite may be misaligned.

At our Austin dental office, we’re always here to help current and new patients with any concerns they may have. If you’re experiencing the pain of chronically biting your cheeks, lips, or tongue, give us a call to schedule an appointment today. We’ll determine the cause of your biting and work with you to help correct the problem.

Welcoming patients from Austin, Westlake, Cedar Park and beyond. 

Simple Ways to Limit Your Exposure to Sugar

reduce sugar

There’s nothing wrong with a little sugar indulgence every now and then. We get it, sometimes you just need a little fix with a sweet treat. But as most people know, sugar is something every dentist really doesn’t like. And with good reason (more on that in a bit). At our dental office in Austin, we want to help our patients limit how much sugar they consume with these simple tips.

What’s The Big Deal About Sugar Anyway?

Sugar is needed in order to have our bodies function properly. But too much of it can lead to some pretty serious issues. An abundance of sugar ingestion contributes to tooth decay and enamel erosion. When this happens, patients tend to need dental treatment like cavity fillings and perhaps even root canals to protect teeth from more damage. But that’s not all. A diet high in sugar also negatively affects the whole body. Too much sugar can cause headaches, lead to overeating, obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and contribute to cardiovascular disease.

How Much Sugar Do You Need?

The amount of sugar someone should consume varies as we get older and even depends on our gender. Recommendations from the American Heart Association start at 12 teaspoons per day for anyone 3 and under, 21 teaspoons from 4 to 8, and increases to 29-34 grams in boys 9 to 19, and 23 to 25 grams in girls in the same age range. Once we reach adulthood, maximum daily sugar intake for men is 37.5 grams and 25 grams for women.

What Are The Best Ways to Limit Sugar in Your Diet?

  • Eliminate sweets, or enjoy them in moderation. This tip seems obvious, but we do understand how difficult this may be. When you crave something sweet, opt for a piece of fruit.
  • Know what you’re eating. Sugar can hide in some surprising places, and you may be unaware of just how much you’re actually eating. Get in the habit of reading the nutritional facts on your groceries.
  • Enjoy home cooked meals. Making your own meals at home allows you to control what ingredients you use and can help you not only limit sugar, but eat healthier overall.

Taking these steps to decrease your sugar intake can help keep your teeth and body healthy. But that doesn’t mean other parts of your oral health care routine can take a backseat. It’s still, and always will be, important to brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and visit your dentist in Austin two times a year.

If you’re experiencing a dental problem, or if you’re looking for a new dentist, we welcome you to call our Austin dental office to schedule an appointment. We’re always happy to help.

Welcoming patients from Austin, Westlake, Cedar Park and beyond. 

Dental Care is Important for Pets Too

pets teeth

At our dental office in Austin, we have a soft spot for fuzzy animals. Which is why we think it’s important to talk about dental care for pets. Dental care for our furry family members is just as important as dental care for humans. And while we don’t accept four-legged patients in this office, we do want to provide you with tips for proper pet dental care.

Signs of a Problem

Before we discuss how to keep your pet healthy, it’s extremely important to know the signs of some serious dental concerns. Keep a lookout for the following:

  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Bleeding
  • Refusal to let you near his mouth

If you notice any of these symptoms, please contact your vet as soon as possible as they may be signs of something serious.

Brush Your Pet’s Teeth

You heard us correctly. Pick up a toothbrush that’s right for your animal at your local pet supply store, apply some pet toothpaste (do NOT use human toothpaste — it can cause stomach issues in animals), and scrub gently in soft circles. It may take some practice, but brushing your pet’s teeth two or three times a week can be beneficial to his dental and overall health. It’s also recommended that all pets receive professional cleanings at the vet once a year.

Allow Puppies to Chew

It’s an unavoidable reality — puppies chew everything. From shoes, to table legs, and even clothes, there’s nothing a new puppy won’t sink its teeth into. Part of the natural desire to chew has to do with teething, and it’s actually beneficial. It helps strengthen teeth, massage gums, and scrape away tartar. So stock up on chew toys and encourage your pup to chew only on those toys, not only for the health of his teeth, but also for the health of your shoe collection.

Pick an Appropriate Diet

Your pet’s diet can affect his dental health, just like your food and drink choices can affect yours. There are a variety of pet foods available to help reduce tartar and plaque buildup. Talk with your vet to see what’s best for your buddy.

Following the advice above can help keep your pet’s teeth healthy for a lifetime. But don’t forget about your own oral health. Brush twice a day, floss once a day, and maintain visits to our Austin dental office at least every six months. Don’t let dental problems plague you or your pet. Make the commitment to proper oral health for you both.

 
Accepting patients from Austin, Westlake, Cedar Park and the surrounding areas.

Which Mouthwash Is Right For You?

mouthwash

Like most aspects of dental care, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to selecting a mouthwash. There are different types of mouthwash that are appropriate for different needs. But what options are available? What makes them so different? And more importantly, which one is right for you? Let my dental office in Austin help.

Antiseptic Mouthwash

If you suffer from chronic bad breath and if you battle bacteria in your mouth often, perhaps in the form of an infection, there’s a specific mouthwash that may be appropriate for you. We call this type of mouthwash antiseptic mouthwash. What makes it so good for fighting bad breath and infections? It contains chlorhexidine gluconate, which helps fight off and kill bacteria. This not only helps protect the mouth, it can make bad breath a thing of the past. Use it sparingly as too much can cause tooth discoloration.

Cosmetic Mouthwash

Like antiseptic mouthwash, cosmetic mouthwash options are effective at freshening breath, but that’s about all they have going for them. Cosmetic mouthwashes are best paired with proper brushing and flossing, and used only for the extra burst of freshness. This type of mouthwash doesn’t have any properties to help protect against bacteria or decay, or to strengthen teeth.

Fluoride Mouthwash

Have you been told that your teeth don’t get enough fluoride? Then a fluoride mouthwash may be something to consider. Fluoride mouthwash contains, you guessed it, sodium fluoride. Sodium fluoride is used by dentists to help build up and strengthen teeth as well as protect enamel from decay. Many people already get enough fluoride through their water, toothpaste, or at dental appointments, so a fluoride mouthwash isn’t right for just anyone. Talk with your dentist in Austin to see if it may be appropriate for you.

Mouthwash Is NOT A Replacement

Whichever mouthwash you select, it’s important to note that mouthwash is not a substitute to regular brushing and flossing. Mouthwash should be used in addition to a proper at-home oral hygiene routine in order to maximize its benefits.

If you’re looking for guidance on selecting the right mouthwash for your specific dental needs, give our Austin dental office a call. We’ll be happy to talk with you about your concerns and suggest the most appropriate mouthwash for you.  

Accepting patients from Austin, Westlake, Cedar Park and the surrounding areas.

3 Things You Should Know About Whitening Your Teeth with Baking Soda

baking soda

Baking soda is a common item found in many households and has a variety of uses besides its obvious purpose — baking food. People use it to keep smells in the fridge at bay, to minimize pet odor, and even to clean carpets and clothes. For many years, baking soda has also been used to whiten teeth. But does it actually work, is it safe, and should you do it? Our dental office in Austin has the answers.

Does it Work?

Let’s start with the question everyone wants to know the answer to: does baking soda actually whiten teeth? Good news, it does! Baking soda has a natural, mild abrasive texture that can scrub away surface stains and allow teeth to become a purer white. Mix equal parts baking soda with water, apply to a toothbrush, brush normally and voila!, you have a brighter, whiter smile.

Does it Always Work?

While baking soda can help remove minor discoloration and staining, it’s not incredibly effective at erasing deeper stains. Some people who try to get a whiter smile through the use of baking soda are unhappy with the results. If this happens, there are several alternatives available. In-office professional whitening treatments can whiten your smile by several shades, and at-home kits provide a convenient option. If neither one of those options work, veneers or other forms of cosmetic dentistry may be the answer. Talk with your dentist in Austin to determine which solution is best for you.

There Are Disadvantages

Baking soda may be an attractive tooth whitening treatment to many — it’s cheap, it’s natural, and it’s easy. But there are some precautions you should take into consideration before jumping into a baking soda tooth whitening routine. First and foremost, brushing with baking soda can cause damage to the tooth enamel if you brush too hard. This could result in increased sensitivity and a greater risk for decay. Additionally, if used with braces or on teeth that have dental restorations, there is a chance the baking soda can weaken the adhesive. Due to its abrasive nature, baking soda users often complain of gum discomfort as well.

If you’re looking to get a whiter smile and want to explore your options, give our Austin dental office a call to schedule an appointment today. We’ll review the type of staining you have, what shade of white you’d like to achieve, the best way to get you a bright, white smile that you’ll be proud to show off.

Welcoming patients from Austin, Westlake, Cedar Park and beyond. 

Your Smile May Be Aging You

aging

When we hit a certain age, we tend to place more focus on our appearance and take preventive measures to keep up a youthful look. We exercise, eat right, protect our skin with sunscreen, and visit the salon to dye our hair or undergo cosmetic procedures. But what about your smile?

At our dental office in Austin, we want all of our patients to be confident with their appearance at every age. And we’re dedicated to doing everything we can to help with that. While we can’t help with hair or exercise, we help with one really important feature — your smile.

When it comes to your smile, there are some things that can make you look older than you really are (and who wants that?). But thankfully there are several options available to combat any trouble you may be having. Here are some common concerns we hear, and their solutions.

Discoloration of Teeth

Whether you enjoy a cup of coffee every morning, or a glass of red wine each night, everyday foods and drinks, or even dated dental work, can cause your teeth to become less than your ideal shade of white. This can make others subconsciously tack years onto your age. Consider professional tooth whitening for an extra boost of brightness, or replace old, metal fillings and crowns with tooth-colored restorations.

Gum Recession

When gums recede, more of the tooth becomes visible, making it look longer. Unfortunately, longer teeth are also associated with a higher age, hence the phrase ‘long in the tooth.’ Gum recession is usually caused by rough brushing, grinding, gum disease, or even genetics. But don’t worry, there are several ways to fix it. If caught early, a simple change in your brushing technique may be enough. If it’s more progressed, a deeper cleaning known as scaling and root planing, or gum grafting may be appropriate. Your dentist in Austin will discuss the best option for you.

Facial Collapse

When teeth are missing, they may be replaced with a denture or partial. Both are great options to get your smile functioning again. But sometimes, an ill-fitting denture or a long time spent without one, can cause your facial muscles to droop or sag. When your jaw bone isn’t stimulated through forces like chewing, it can actually begin to deteriorate, causing facial muscles like the chin to sink and your face to appear older. Make sure your denture is giving your bone enough stimulation or consider permanent dental implants as a replacement.

If you’re concerned about your smile’s appearance, our Austin dental office can help. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment. We’ll discuss your smile goals and determine the best way to reach them.

Accepting patients from Austin, Westlake, Cedar Park.

Diabetes and Your Teeth: The Importance of Extra Care

diabetes

At our Austin dental office, one of the first things we do when meeting new patients is go over a complete health history. What are we looking for? Things like diabetes, heart disease, etc. Why? Because they can sometimes cause specific symptoms that affect not just your overall health, but your oral health too. Diabetes in particular can lead to an increased risk of periodontal (gum) disease. Here are some frequently asked questions we get about diabetes and how it affects our oral health.

“What Should I Share With My Dentist About My Diabetes?”

We love getting to know our patients in order to better understand how we can help their smile be healthy and last a lifetime.

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, it’s important to share these things:

  • Any changes in your prescriptions or health
  • Your results of some of your diabetes blood tests (the A1C or fasting blood glucose)
  • Your need for antibiotics before and after dental treatment for uncontrolled diabetes

“How Does My Blood Sugar Affect My Oral Health?”

We understand that maintaining your blood glucose levels isn’t always easy. But did you know that keeping these numbers stable also helps oral health too? It helps reduce your risk of losing teeth, gum disease, and other problems. Your Austin dentist knows that the presence of gum disease may also play a role in the rise of blood sugar, making diabetes even more difficult to regulate.

“Is Brushing and Flossing Different With Diabetes?”

Keeping up with your regular brushing and flossing routine at home isn’t any different, whether or not you’re living with diabetes. It’s always important to brush twice daily and floss once — no matter what illness you may or may not have. Try using a fluoride toothpaste for added decay defense, and brushing in the morning and at night. Your toothbrush should have soft bristles that work best to clean teeth with soft circular motions.

“What About Diabetes and My Diet?”

Since patients living with diabetes are restricted from consuming sugary foods, this is extremely helpful for teeth too. Always be sure to work with your doctor to find the right kind of dietary plan to suit your needs. We always recommend making plenty of veggies, fruits, and whole grains a part of your diet.

At our dental office in Austin, we are always available to answer any questions you may have about diabetes and how it can affect oral health. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or if you ever notice any changes in your mouth or teeth.

Welcoming patients from Austin, Westlake, Cedar Park.

What We Know About The Link Between Gum Disease & Dementia

What We Know About The Link Between Gum Disease & Dementia

dementia

Each November, we recognize the 5 million Americans struggling with debilitating Alzheimer’s Disease and their loving caregivers. While there’s still a lot of research to be done on this disease, there has been a great deal of scientific research and studies devoted to learning if there’s a possible connection between gum (or periodontal) disease and dementia.

At our dental office in Austin we share the importance of maintaining excellent oral hygiene with our family of patients every day. It’s important to ensure your mouth is free from harmful gum disease and the bacteria that comes with it! Not only for your mouth’s sake, but your whole health.

  • Reminder: It’s a good time to make sure dementia patients are receiving the oral health care they need, as they’re at an increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay due to a decline in personal hygiene and side effects associated with some medications.

What Research Tells Us

According to a recent article in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, there is a chance people with poor oral hygiene or elevated gum (or periodontal) disease could possibly be at greater risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. One study took samples of brain tissue from patients with dementia, along with tissue samples from patients without dementia. What interested scientists was: the dementia patient tissue had gum disease bacteria, but the non-dementia tissue did not.

  • Reminder: There’s still more research that needs to be conducted to better understand the potential link between gum disease and dementia. As of this year, there’s still no definitive proof that gum disease causes dementia or that they are directly related.

Blame The Bacteria

The connection between gum disease and dementia (along with other possible illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease) is due to bacteria. Our mouths are full of bacterial combinations — some good, some bad. The bad bacteria can end up in our bloodstream due to diseased gums simply by eating, chewing, and brushing, and can affect the rest of the body.

As we continue to see what happens with the possible gum disease and dementia correlation, our Austin dental office would like to remind patients about the importance of keeping up with your regular oral hygiene routine and seeing us for cleanings. Give us a call to schedule your next appointment!

Accepting new patients from Austin, Westlake, Cedar Park and the surrounding areas.

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