You may know that plaque and tartar can damage your teeth, but you may not understand how they do it or what the difference is between the two.

Your Chapel Hill general dentist knows how important it is for you to be informed about matters that affect your oral health. We don’t just need to explain why treatment is necessary, but we also need to provide you with the tools to prevent the need for treatment in the first place!

How Does Plaque Form?

Plaque is a bacteria-laden biofilm that collects on our teeth as we consume foods and drinks throughout the day. As the plaque sits on your teeth, the bacteria feed on the food particles left in your mouth and produce acid as a byproduct. It is the acid that eats away at your teeth and causes cavities.

You can’t stop plaque from developing, but you can interrupt the acid-producing process by brushing or chewing sugarless gum after meals. Drinking lots of water keeps you hydrated, but it also helps carry away food debris.

Where Does Tartar Come In?

Plaque that is not removed from hard-to-reach places like between teeth and under the gums turns into a calcified material called tartar or calculus. Tartar needs to removed routinely by a dentist or skilled dental hygienist using special tools.

If you don’t have tartar removed, bacteria continue to collect, damage your teeth and ultimately lead to gum disease. Your Chapel Hill general dentist recommends dental cleanings every six months to stay a step ahead of tartar so we can keep your smile healthy.

Please Call Us

If it’s time for your next dental cleaning or you just have oral health questions, please call us to arrange an appointment.


As with many medical conditions in the 21st Century, we know a lot more about sleep apnea than we did two or three decades ago. In some ways, spotting sleep apnea can be as easy as looking for the most common side effects, which include things like snoring, constant exhaustion, and the catching of one’s breath in the middle of the night.

Other times, it might not be so easy, and frankly if you are the one experiencing the apnea, you may not notice that you’ve been snoring or catching your breath at night. In these cases, you may have to be on the lookout for some other, lesser-known symptoms of the condition.

The following is a look at some of the more little-known signs of sleep apnea:

#1 Morning Headaches

It’s easy for adults to experience headaches for any of a number of reasons. The kids are too noisy. The job is especially stressful one week. Your allergies are acting up. Despite all that, headaches also can be attached to sleep apnea. Not getting enough oxygen to the brain at any point in the day can give someone headaches, and since that’s what is happening with someone who has sleep apnea, it is not uncommon for sufferers to complain of morning headaches.

#2 Frequent Bathroom Use at Night

Many people wake up once, maybe twice a night to use the restroom, and there is absolutely nothing wrong or uncommon about that. However, people who suffer from something called nocturia, or frequent waking up during the night to urinate, may also be suffering some sleep apnea. Because apnea can wake you up while you sleep, your body may read that as needing to use the restroom. If that happens five or six times a night, it could be something to look into.

#3 Weight Gain

Not only are people with obesity more likely to suffer from sleep apnea, but there is a direct correlation between sleeping less each night (a side effect of apnea) and weight gain. In other words, it’s a bit of a vicious circle between sleep apnea, lack of sleep, and obesity. None of them help the other, and one can be a hidden side effect of the other.

Choose Us For Sleep Apnea Treatment

If you suspect you may be experiencing sleep apnea, there are a lot of things you can do, and Dr. Diane Hourigan is happy to help. Not many people immediately think of their dentist office as a place to turn for treating sleep apnea, but the truth is that our oral appliances can be just as effective as those pricey CPAP machines that don’t always work as well as patients would like.

If you would like more information about how Dr. Hourigan can help with your sleep apnea, give us a call to set up an appointment so we can help you have a better night’s sleep. Wouldn’t you like to live a life where both the better-known and lesser-known symptoms of sleep apnea are no longer a problem for you?



Broken, cracked, or worn teeth do a lot more than detract from your smile; when your teeth aren’t functioning as they’re meant to, you may also experience problems like teeth grinding and further tooth erosion.

To prevent these problems from occurring, your crowns dentist in Chapel Hill would recommend a crown. Dental crowns are designed to fit over your tooth like a little ceramic helmet. Since it fully encloses your tooth, the crown absorbs chewing forces while it strengthens and protects the tooth from further damage.

5 Reasons We Might Recommend a Crown

Dental crowns help Dr. Hourigan protect damaged teeth, and they have many uses:

  • Protect cracked, broken, or worn-down teeth
  • Strengthen a tooth after root canal treatment
  • Provide support for a dental bridge
  • Restore function and appearance to a dental implant
  • Alter the irregular shape or size of a tooth that causes bite problems

The Dental Crowns Procedure

Thanks to state-of-the-art technology, placing dental crowns today is easier than ever!

First, your dentist prepares the tooth for your crown by removing some of its structure. Next, she uses digital scanners that eliminate the need for messy paste and provide highly accurate dental impressions.

We’ll choose the most appropriate material and shade for your dental crown and send all our specifications to a custom dental lab that prepares your new custom restoration. Since we use digital impressions, we streamline the process, and it only takes about a week to get your crown back from the lab.

When we receive your crown back from the lab, we’ll have you come in so that Dr. Hourigan can check it for fit and bond it to your tooth. The result of all this is a beautiful, natural-looking dental crown that can last as long as 15 years or more with proper care.

Please Call Us for An Appointment

If you have a damaged or broken tooth, please call the crowns dentist in Chapel Hill, and we’ll find the right treatment for your needs.