For the most part, people visit their dentists when they need a routine cleaning or to get a cavity filled, but emergency dentist services exist at the offices of Dr. Diane Hourigan because sometimes people incur unexpected damage to their teeth that requires immediate attention. While there are a number of ways that someone can chip or crack their teeth, we find there are a surprising number of patients who find themselves in trouble simply because of something they ate.

It's hard to think of certain foods as “dangerous,” but it is true that some foods are much more likely to crack or chip a tooth than others. The following are some of the more common foods responsible for causing damage to teeth:


While candy is bad for teeth anyway because of its high sugar content, hard or frozen candy can be a problem in a different way if you bite into a morsel that is especially tough. Jawbreakers, butterscotch discs, rock candy, and Jolly Ranchers are the types of candies that can do the most damage, so take your time eating them so you don’t damage your teeth.


While popcorn itself is fluffy and soft, it’s hard to know when those hidden unpopped kernels lie beneath the pillowy exteriors of the treat. If you hit a seed, it can crack or chip a tooth.

Crunchy Produce

Not all raw vegetables require a hard chomp from teeth, but certain culprits like carrots and apples have been known to cause some problems. They are hard enough where, if bitten into at just the right angle, they can chip a tooth.

Ice Cubes

Plenty of people enjoy chewing on ice cubes, but as it literally is frozen water, doing so can cause massive problems for teeth. Sucking on an ice cube is a fine way to enjoy the guilt-free coldness, so avoid chewing down on them if you can.


Almonds are maybe the worst culprit, but all nuts can be hard to chew and therefore tough on teeth.

Bone-In Meat

While the meat itself is not the problem in foods like ribs or chicken wings, many people get a little too excited and chew right through the meat to the bone. Should your teeth hit that bone with reckless abandon, it could chip or crack a tooth fairly easily.

Fruit with Pits

The same problem exists for fruit with pits, such as peaches or plums. Once you get past the soft fruit, the rock-solid pit in the middle can cause some serious issues.

Schedule an Appointment

If you should ever end up with a damaged tooth that requires emergency dental care, please call the office of Dr. Diane Hourigan, and we’ll work to get you in as soon as possible to repair the damage. As a respected general dentist, she has a lot of experience making these types of repairs, but remember to tread carefully when eating these foods anyway, just in case!



Approximately ten percent of American adults suffer from sleep apnea, but as obesity rates continue to climb in this country, so do the statistics for those dealing with sleep apnea. For spouses, partners and roommates the world over, apnea can be a noisy bother, but it also increases the risk of heart disease and seriously affects the quality of sleep that sufferers get in the course of a night. Because of its dangers, it is important to know what causes it and what you can do to correct it.

Sleep Apnea Warning Signs

Loud, Persistent Snoring

One of the most obvious and frustrating side effects of sleep apnea is loud, persistent snoring, which may not bother the sufferer, but almost certainly will be a problem for the spouse or partner with whom they share a bed. Often, it’s the spouse who recognizes apnea as a problem because of this loud snoring. They can’t get the sleep they need with so much noise next to them.

Gaps in Breathing or Gasping

Spouses and partners may also notice gaps in breathing, where the snoring stops momentarily only to be followed by a loud gasp and then more labored breathing. This sudden gasping can be taxing on the heart and certainly can affect the quality of sleep that you’re having.


That lack of quality sleep, then, leads to drowsiness, which not only can make it hard to get through a day of work, but also can be quite dangerous for those that drive drowsy. If you are a snorer and often find yourself sleepy during the day, sleep apnea may be the culprit.

What You Can Do About Sleep Apnea

Lose Weight

There is a direct correlation between sleep apnea and obesity, so one natural way to decrease the effects of sleep apnea is to lose some weight. It’s not a quick fix, but it is an effective and inexpensive one.

Consider a CPAP Machine

CPAP machines are a common solution for sleep apnea, as well, but they can be expensive and they don’t necessarily work for all people. They also are not convenient for travel and can be uncomfortable for those that sleep with them on. They are one possible solution, but not the only solution.

Oral Appliances from Your Dentist

In fact, at Dr. Diane Hourigan’s office, we often build custom oral appliances to treat sleep apnea, and they work wonders for patients in search of a comfortable, affordable, convenient solution to the condition. We monitor the results to make sure the appliance is the appropriate therapy solution, but in many cases we have seen excellent results from people who opt to use an oral appliance rather than a CPAP machine.

If you are interested in finding a solution for your sleep apnea, contact the office of Dr. Diane Hourigan, and we will be happy to go through your specific options in person. We want to help eliminate the uncomfortable symptoms of sleep apnea, and an oral appliance is one convenient way to go about doing that.



Do you have dry mouth? Aside from being annoying and uncomfortable, chronic dry mouth can also impact your oral health.

If you experience dry mouth, one of the first things you should do is consult your Chapell Hill general dentist. Having sufficient saliva in your mouth is essential because it acts like a natural cleansing rinse because it contains compounds that kill bacteria in the mouth. Saliva is beneficial because it washes away these bacteria as well as food and other debris on which the bacteria feed.

  • Medications –Record numbers of people now take prescription medications regularly for conditions like hypertension, depression, anxiety, allergies, pain and more. A common side effect of these medications is dry mouth.
  • Medical Conditions – Dry mouth can also be related to certain medical conditions including HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, anemia and hypertension.
  • Dehydration – Another common cause of dry mouth is, not surprisingly, dehydration. You might suffer from dehydration if you have the flu, a high fever, or if you exercise and sweat profusely.

How We Treat Dry Mouth

How your dentist treats dry mouth depends on the cause. Obviously, if your dry mouth is due to dehydration, drinking plenty of water quickly rehydrates the body, including your mouth. Since many cases of dry mouth are related to prescription medications, your doctor might adjust the dose of the medication you're taking. They may also prescribe a medicine that encourages saliva production.

A diligent routine of proper oral hygiene is essential to help remove bacteria that builds up as a result of dry mouth and results in decay. These bacteria are also a breeding ground for infection and periodontal disease.

Please Call the Chapel Hill, NC General Dentist

Dry mouth should be addressed sooner rather than later, so please call our office to arrange an exam and cleaning appointment. We will provide you with the tools you need to keep your smile healthy and free of disease.