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.



TMJ is an acronym for the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint located at the base of the skull that connects the lower jaw with the upper jaw. Considering how often we use this joint over the course of a given day to talk, chew, and even breathe, it should come as no surprise that about a third of all Americans will at some point complain of pain in their TMJ.

Dr. Diane Hourigan can help treat discomfort in the TMJ, but before making any decisions about undergoing such treatment, it is important that patients understand exactly what the TMJ does and how it works.

How Does the TMJ Work?

Put as simply as possible, the TMJ is the most complex joint in the entire human body, in part because it is comprised of three distinct parts, and in part because of the complex way it moves in relation to your teeth for all sorts of different purposes.

There are two ways the TMJ works to open your mouth. It can act as a hinge to simply open and close your mouth, or it could initiate a move called translation, where the lower jaw moves down and forward or side to side to eat, sing, or yawn.

What Problems Can Occur to the TMJ?

Every single joint in the human body can get worn out over time, but in the most severe cases, the TMJ can be displaced or could fracture, swell, or generate pain at the location of the joint, which is right beneath the ear. These fractures are rare, but any sort of inflammation can be incredibly uncomfortable. Even worse, anti-inflammatory drugs don’t always work as well as they do with joints in the knees, elbows, and hands.

In other instances, grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw can harm your TMJ, and while this may ultimately be caused by stress, the impact on the TMJ can be very painful.

How Does One Treat TMJ Pain?

The good news is that surgery only is required in the most extreme cases. It is rare that TMJ problems would come to that point, and Dr. Diane Hourigan offers solutions that are much more affordable and less invasive.

After receiving an evaluation and a diagnosis, Dr. Hourigan can fit patients for occlusal mouth guards to minimize pressure on the TMJ and protect your maxillofacial structure and your teeth. These mouth guards are custom-built for each individual patient based on whatever problem may be causing the TMJ pain, whether that be muscle spasms, improperly-angled front teeth, uneven molar biting surfaces, overbites and underbites, or some sort of jaw injury. Whatever the cause, we can provide TMJ treatment that will relieve the pain.

Schedule an Appointment

TMJ disorders are inconvenient and uncomfortable, which is why getting in to see Dr. Hourigan as soon as you experience any pain in your jaw is a great idea. The sooner you have the problem diagnosed and begin treatment, the more likely you are to find yourself relieved of the pain. Then you can eat, talk, yawn and even sing the way you did before you began experiencing pain in that joint.




Do you or your partner snore during sleep? Or wake up feeling tired and groggy most mornings?

The Chapel Hill sleep apnea dentist offers treatment for patients who snore, bringing relief from symptoms and allowing everyone to get a good night’s sleep!

Why Do I Snore?

Snoring isn’t just the result of a stuffy nose - it can also be a symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a condition that has been linked to an increased risk of stroke, heart disease, and other physical health issues. Patients who suffer from OSA actually stop breathing momentarily during sleep, which deprives their body with much-needed oxygen and restart with a loud snore.

OSA is frequently the result of a blocked airway and is more common in patients who are overweight or have enlarged tonsils. OSA is often undiagnosed, but there are several key symptoms that many people experience and that should be brought to the attention of your doctor or dentist:

  • Loud snoring- sometimes only noticed by family members
  • Morning headaches
  • Feeling groggy or unable to concentrate, even after a “good night’s sleep”
  • Sleepiness during the day or while driving
  • Insomnia or frequently waking up at night
  • A consistent sore or dry throat in the morning
  • How Can You Help with My OSA?

    The Chapel Hill sleep apnea dentist recommends oral appliance therapy for snoring and mild to moderate sleep apnea. While a CPAP machine is usually the first line of treatment for OSA, oral appliance therapy can also be very effective. Most patients prefer a customized oral device for comfort reasons, so they are more likely to use it on a consistent basis.

    OSA can be a debilitating health issue when unresolved, affecting daily life for many as well as posing health risks. Discuss your concerns during a consultation us and take the steps to restore your health with a better night’s sleep!