Our Blog

Curing the Nail-Biting Habit

January 19th, 2022

Do you ever find yourself gnawing at your nails? Nail-biting is a very common and difficult to break habit which usually has its beginnings in childhood. It can leave your fingers and nail beds red and swollen. But if you think that your nails are the only ones getting roughed up by nail-biting you'd be mistaken—so are your teeth!

According to a study by the Academy of General Dentistry, those who bite their nails, clench their teeth, or chew on pencils are at much higher risk to develop bruxism (unintentional grinding of the teeth). Bruxism can lead to tooth sensitivity, tooth loss, receding gums, headaches, and general facial pain.

Those are some nasty sounding side effects from chewing on your nails. Most nail-biting is a sign of stress or anxiety and its something you should deal with. So what steps can you take if you have a nail-biting habit?

There are several things you can do to ease up on nail-biting:

  • Trim your nails shorter and/or get regular manicures – Trimming your nails shorter is an effective remedy. In so doing, they'll be less tempting and more difficult to bite on. If you also get regular manicures, you’ll be less likely to ruin the investment you’ve made in your hands and fingernails!
  • Find a different kind of stress reduction – Try meditation, deep breathing, practicing qigong or yoga, or doing something that will keep your hands occupied like squeezing a stress ball or playing with a yo-yo.
  • Wear a bitter-tasting nail polish – When your nails taste awful, you won't bite them! Clear or colored, it doesn't matter. This is also a helpful technique for helping children get over the habit.
  • Figure out what triggers your nail-biting – Sometimes it's triggered by stress or anxiety and other times it can be a physical stressor, like having hang nails. Knowing what situations cause you to bite your nails will help you to avoid them and break the habit.
  • Wear gloves or bandages on your fingers – If you've tried the steps above and they aren't working, this technique can prove effective since your fingernails won't be accessible to bite.

If you're still having trouble with nail-biting after trying these self-help steps, it's best to consult your doctor, dermatologist, or Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman. For some, it may also be the sign of a deeper psychological or emotional problem.

Whatever the cause, nail-biting is a habit you need to break for your physical and emotional well-being. If you have any questions about the effects it can have on your oral health, please don't hesitate to ask Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman during your next visit to our San Antonio or Castroville office.

Sleep Apnea 101

January 5th, 2022

If you snore, you know it can be an annoying disruption during an otherwise good night’s sleep. For many of us, changing sleep positions, on our own, or thanks to a loved one’s gentle prompting—or unhappy elbow—takes care of the problem. But snoring can be a symptom of a potentially serious medical condition. Let’s take a quick course in sleep apnea.

Is It Snoring or Sleep Apnea?

Both snoring and sleep apnea result from obstructions in your airway as you breathe during sleep. Soft tissues relax in the throat area, partially blocking the airway, and vibrate with the passage of air. This vibration causes that distinctive snoring sound. But sleep apnea is more than just noise caused by vibrating tissue.

The word “apnea” is derived from the Greek word for “breathless.” If you suffer from sleep apnea, you actually stop breathing during sleep for a brief time, often choking or gasping for breath. Your body responds by waking every time you need to start breathing properly again, and this can happen dozens of times each hour you are asleep. While you may think you have slept through the night, you have never gotten the deep sleep your body needs to restore itself.

What Are Some of the Consequences of Sleep Apnea?

You’re probably well aware of the nighttime miseries of sleep apnea. But this condition can also impair your health and quality of life during the day. Sleep apnea sufferers often experience:

  • Constant drowsiness
  • Falling asleep at work or while driving
  • Morning headaches
  • Sore throat
  • Dry mouth (which can lead to gum and dental problems)
  • Memory and attention problems
  • Moodiness or depression
  • Decreased libido

As if these reasons weren’t cause enough to find a solution to your sleeping disorder, the longer term results of sleep apnea can be devastating. Many serious conditions and consequences have been linked to sleep apnea, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Dangerous reactions to medication
  • Problems with general anesthesia
  • A higher risk of accidents

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs in three forms:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea

This is the most common form of sleep apnea. It can be the result of the muscles in the back of the throat relaxing during sleep to obstruct the airway. Obstruction can also be caused by a physical condition such as a deviated septum, excess throat tissue or enlarged tonsils.

  • Central Sleep Apnea

Central sleep apnea is caused by the brain failing to transmit the proper signals to breathe during sleep. The sleeper either stops breathing, or takes such shallow breaths that he or she can’t get enough air into the lungs.

  • Complex Sleep Apnea

This condition is a mix of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

What Kind of Treatments Are Available?

Many treatments, ranging from behavior modification to surgery, have proven successful in providing patient’s with a better night’s sleep.

  • Behavior modification—Losing weight, abstaining from alcohol, even changing your sleep position can be effective in mild cases.
  • Oral appliances—These specially-fitted devices, which resemble mouthguards, can advance the jaw or hold the tongue forward to maximize airway space as you sleep.
  • Positive Airway Pressure (PAP) machines—For those with moderate to severe sleep apnea, PAP machines, which provide pressurized air through a tube attached to a mask, deliver a gentle flow of air to keep airways open.
  • Surgery—There are several different surgical procedures used to treat obstructive sleep apnea, depending on the cause and location of the obstruction.

These and other options might be recommended based on the reasons for and severity of your sleep apnea. An oral and maxillofacial surgeon like Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman is uniquely qualified to provide an expert diagnosis of your condition and to recommend the most effective treatment for your sleep apnea, whether surgical or non-surgical.

Why an Oral Surgeon?

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons are dental specialists. They pursue a minimum of four years of additional advanced studies in a hospital-based residency program, where they train with medical residents in the fields of general surgery, anesthesiology, internal medicine, and other specialties with a specific focus on the bones, muscles, nerves, and skin of the face, mouth, and jaw.

Oral and maxillofacial surgeons have the skill and experience to diagnose the often complex causes of sleep apnea, based on a careful analysis of each individual patient’s unique throat, nose, and jaw structures, airway flow patterns, and potential breathing obstructions as the air moves from nose to lungs.

After taking your medical history and performing a careful examination of your head and neck, Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman might recommend a sleep study where your sleep patterns will be monitored and evaluated. If a sleep disorder is diagnosed, you and your surgeon can decide on the best course of treatment.

Now that you’re up on the basics of Sleep Apnea 101, if you suspect that you might be suffering from sleep apnea, make an appointment at our San Antonio or Castroville office. It’s time to graduate to a restful, healthy night’s sleep!

New Year's Eve

December 29th, 2021

Watching the clock tick down the final seconds until midnight, many of us- San Antonio Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, P.A. included- feel nostalgic about the passing year and hopeful about the new one to come. New Year’s Eve is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world, with over-the-top celebrations taking place in dozens of countries. The Gregorian calendar, which is widely used in Western nations and around the world, was implemented in 1582. Since that time, December 31st has marked the final day of the year, with midnight heralding the beginning of a brand new year. In the United States, New Year’s Day is a public holiday; government offices, schools, public organizations, and many businesses are closed for the day. Ponder the following fun facts as you think about your plans for the holiday:

  • Approximately one billion people watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, New York City. This televised event is one of the most iconic New Year’s celebrations in the world. For many years, watching the ball drop meant tuning in to Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, an iconic television special dear to the hearts of many viewers.
  • The idea for the New Year’s Eve ball came about because of a citywide ban on fireworks. Before 1907, when fireworks became illegal in New York City, celebrations included an elaborate fireworks show. The large, glittering, illuminated ball was developed as an alternative. Although the first ball was heavy at 700 pounds, the modern New Year’s Eve ball is made of Waterford crystal and tips the scale at six tons!
  • The top five New Year’s resolutions are: to lose weight, quit smoking, get a new job, return to school, or increase personal savings. However, approximately 88% of New Year’s resolutions fail. But don’t let that discourage you! Resolutions are most likely to succeed when they are clear, achievable goals. Setting out a concrete plan to achieve your resolution also boosts your chances of success.
  • Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is said to bring good fortune in the new year. Collard greens, cabbage, and ham hocks are also considered lucky foods to enjoy. Just steer clear of the chicken or turkey dinners; eating poultry is a bad omen for the year to come.

Whether you plan to stay in San Antonio or Castroville, or head out into the crowds to watch the ball drop in Times Square, New Year’s Eve is a time to enjoy friends and family. Send your loved ones well wishes for the New Year, and look for that special someone to share a midnight kiss with for good luck!

A Different Meaning to “Older and Wiser”

December 22nd, 2021

The Fun Facts about Wisdom Teeth

Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars that come in behind the rest of your teeth. Why humans even have them is a common question. It could be that they do not fit in the average mouth because fewer people lose teeth nowadays due to improving dental hygiene. Some have suggested that human ancestors needed these teeth to maintain a diet that was rough and difficult to chew, whereas today’s diet fails to meet the same requirements and renders these molars relatively useless.

For many individuals in their late teens and early twenties, pain in the mouth can arrive suddenly and with a vengeance. The discomfort in their jaw turns out to be their wisdom teeth joining the party. If you happen to be dealing with these newcomers, you’ve probably got a few questions, the least of which might be: “Why does wisdom hurt so much?!”

Why do wisdom teeth cause so many problems?

Not all people experience problems with their wisdom teeth. Some are actually able to keep them because their teeth came in straight, and there’s enough room in their jaw to care for them properly.

For the vast majority of individuals, however, the teeth fail to find enough space and come in at odd angles or are unable to surface at all and create a number of problems as a result.

Common problems include:

  • Damage to surrounding teeth due to the pressure from the surfacing teeth
  • Infection that causes the surrounding gums to swell and become painful
  • Tooth decay due to the lack of room to properly clean the teeth
  • Impaction (when the tooth is unable to break through the skin)
  • A cyst that may damage the jaw, surrounding teeth, and nerves

Undergoing a common oral surgery fairly early in life is believed to make recovery easier, but you should allow yourself and your mouth time to heal.

Many people disagree about the purpose of these seemingly vestigial tools, but the fact remains that whatever their original purpose may have been, wisdom teeth have the potential to cause problems for people today. If and when you encounter these teeth, or the problems they can raise, contact Dr. Mazock, Dr. Salazar, and Dr. Coleman or our team at San Antonio Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates, P.A..

Back to Top