Teen Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Mouth and Body

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Have you noticed how busy teens are today? In addition to school and a few hours of homework every night, they’ve got soccer practice, dance lessons, and marching band. On weekends, the stress continues with all-day tournaments and a packed social calendar. While being so on-the-go, it’s easy to see how good eating and oral health habits get pushed down the priority list. We’ve definitely seen it with our own teenage boys Peter and Luke!

But building a healthy mouth and body during adolescence is one of your teenager’s most important jobs. The habits they build now will last long into adulthood. That’s why Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff encourage their teen patients to take the time to slow down, make healthy eating choices, get enough sleep, and of course carve out time at the beginning and end of their days to brush and floss.

Here are a few healthy tips to share with your teen.

You Are What You Eat (and So Is Your Mouth)

Food is the fuel our body uses to build muscle, grow healthy bones, and help the brain to function optimally. Your mouth is ground zero for the food you eat. If that food is high in sugar and very acidic, it wreaks havoc on your teeth and gums. It’s not that great for the rest of your body, either, since sugary foods provide little or no nutrition.

The great news is that the foods that are healthy for your teeth and gums are also healthy for your entire body. Whole foods rich with fiber and protein provide excellent nutrition without leaving sugars behind on your teeth. Drinking lots of water helps your brain and body stay hydrated and working efficiently. It also helps wash away any food left in your mouth after eating.

Take the Time to Eat Breakfast and Brush and Floss Your Teeth

Think about it—when you get up in the morning, your body has not eaten for hours! It needs fuel to wake up and get moving. Fiber and protein-rich breakfasts provide great nutrition and keep you feeling full all morning. Try a breakfast burrito or egg sandwich on a whole-grain English muffin.

Morning breath is usually enough of a motivator to brush your teeth in the morning. But after a full day of school, homework, and practice, it’s tempting to collapse into bed without brushing and flossing.

Think about it—all the sugar and food particles from the entire day will sit in your mouth for hours if you don’t brush and floss! All that sugar is a feast for bacteria that causes tooth decay. Yikes!

We encourage our teen patients to create and stick to a bedtime brushing and flossing habit. It only takes a few minutes and goes a long way toward maintaining a healthy mouth. Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff may also recommend sealants to support your good habits. Sealants fill in the grooves in the top of your back teeth. These areas are hard to clean and are prone to decay. Sealants help make your job a lot easier.

Has it been awhile since you’ve seen us? Schedule your recare appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff today.

What You Need to Know about Having a Tooth Removed

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Permanent teeth are supposed to last forever. But sometimes, it’s better to part ways with a troublesome permanent tooth than keep it around. Here’s a look at why we may recommend removing a tooth and what you can expect during your tooth extraction appointment.

Why We Might Recommend Removing a Tooth

Damage from trauma or tooth decay is the most common reason we recommend removing a tooth. Sports injuries, falls, and other accidents can cause irreparable damage to teeth. So can severe tooth decay that affects the root of the tooth.

An infection or risk of infection may also cause enough damage to cause us to recommend an extraction. Severe gum disease is another reason we pull teeth. Sometimes, the gum tissue that supports the tooth becomes so infected that the tooth becomes loose and needs to be pulled.

Other times, we may recommend removing a tooth if it is crowding its neighbors. This is especially common for patients who are getting braces. Pulling a tooth may be the best option for properly aligning your smile or allowing other teeth to erupt.

What to Expect during Your Tooth Extraction Procedure

After a consultation with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff, we’ll help you decide if the tooth should be extracted at our office or with the oral surgeon. Sometimes a local anesthetic is enough to numb the area and safely and completely remove the tooth. Other times, you may decide that undergoing general anesthesia is best for you.

Once the anesthetic kicks in, we’ll remove your tooth. This can be as simple as using forceps to pull the tooth out of its socket. But sometimes, we have to cut away gum and bone tissue to better expose the tooth so we can remove it more easily.

Once the tooth is removed, we’ll pack gauze into the socket to stop the bleeding. Sometimes, we’ll add a few dissolvable stiches to close the gum edges. During the healing process, a blood clot forms in the socket. If it becomes loose after your extraction, it causes a painful condition called dry socket. If you experience pain in the area of your pulled tooth, come back to see us. We’ll add a dressing over the socket to reduce the pain as a new blood clot forms.

What to Expect after Your Tooth Removal

After your procedure is complete, we’ll share your at-home recovery plan with you. You can expect some discomfort at the site of the extraction for a few days. We’ll recommend over-the-counter painkillers or prescribe a painkiller depending on the extent of the procedure. Applying ice to the site after the procedure can reduce swelling. Avoid spitting or rinsing your mouth for 24 hours after your procedure. This will allow the clot to form and avoid a painful dry socket.

It’s okay to continue to brush and floss your teeth. Just avoid the extraction site. We also recommend patients stick to liquid or soft foods for the first few days to promote healing.

What We Need to Know from You before Removing a Tooth

Removing a tooth is one of the most common and safest dental procedures we perform. But sometimes, patients have an underlying medical condition that may complicate the extraction. If you’re prone to infection, are immunocompromised, have liver disease, have a heart defect, or have an artificial joint or heart valve, please let us know so we can refine our treatment plan.

If you’re experiencing pain from a damaged tooth, schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff. We’ll perform a thorough exam and recommend your appropriate next steps.

Let’s Get Real: Can My Dentist Actually Tell if I’m Brushing and Flossing?

By Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Short answer: yes definitely!

Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff can’t count the number of times a sheepish patient owns up to cheating on flossing and brushing between recare visits. Others try to get away with a little white lie—there’s no way Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff can actually tell I’m not flossing, right?

We’ve all had times in our lives when we let flossing fall off our list of good habits. But dental professionals can tell just by the state of your mouth whether or not you’re brushing and flossing regularly.

Gum inflammation often gives you away.

Regular flossing removes the plaque that builds up between your teeth and along the gum line. If you’re not flossing regularly, plaque will build up in these areas. It doesn’t take long before theplaque causes inflammation along your gum line.

There’s another way to tell, too. When we check your gums during your recare visit, inflamed gums often bleed a lot more than healthy gums do. If your mouth’s a bit of a bloody mess during your visit, this will change when you start flossing regularly.

Plaque and tartar are two of our key informants.

The plaque buildup that eventually causes gum inflammation is a key indicator that you’re not brushing or flossing adequately, even if your gums aren’t inflamed yet. So is tartar (or calculs), which is plaque buildup that has calcified on your teeth. That means it’s been there a while, and you’re going to need our help removing it.

Flossing or using a water flosser regularly can remove the plaque buildup from between your teeth and prevent tartar and inflammation.

You’re not the first patient who’s tried to pull a fast one on us.

Remember when you were a kid and it seemed liked your mom always knew when you were lying? “I wasn’t born yesterday,” she might have said to you. We often think the same thing during our recare visits. You’re not the first patient who’s tried to pull a fast one on us. Just like mom, we’ve got your number!

At Eggert Family Dentistry we love all our patients, which is why we are so passionate about teaching you good brushing and flossing habits. We may give you a friendly reminder to start flossing, but it’s only because we care about your oral health. Contact us today to schedule your next appointment with our caring dental team.

4 Reasons Teeth Chatter

By: Br. Elizabeth Eggert

That Have Nothing to Do with Being Cold

You’re watching your kid play football or soccer on a beautiful fall afternoon when the sun goes down, bringing the temperature down with it. You’ve forgotten your coat, so you start to shiver. Soon, your teeth are chattering. Next game, you’ll come prepared!

We’ve all experienced teeth chattering from chilly temperatures. It’s a normal bodyresponse to feeling cold. But sometimes, your teeth chatter when you’re perfectly comfortable. When they do, it’s time to give the chattering a second thought. Here are four reasons why your teeth could be chattering that have nothing to do with the chill in the fall air.

1. You grind your teeth.
Usually, patients who grind their teeth suffer from teeth clenching, not chattering. But intense teeth grinding can cause spasms in your jaw that result in chattering teeth. If your teeth grinding is this severe, please schedule a consultation with us. If left untreated, you could do some major damage to your teeth – from wearing them out to even cracking them in half.

2. You’re taking a medication that may cause tremors as a side effect.
Several common medications can cause trembling and as a result, teeth chattering. If you take medications to treat high blood pressure, asthma, cancer, or another condition, your teeth chattering may be a drug side effect. Call your doctor to report your symptoms and confirm that the medication is the cause. Talk with your doctor about adjusting your dose or trying another medication that doesn’t cause chattering side effects.

3. You’re experiencing a very high level of stress or anxiety.
Teeth chattering is a physiological response to very high levels of anxiety, just like a pounding heart, high blood pressure, and an adrenaline rush. If you’re under consistently high stress at work or at home, your teeth chattering may be a response to your anxiety level. Speak with a doctor to learn how you can reduce your stress and stop the chattering.

4. You have a neurological condition.
Teeth chattering can be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease and a symptom of Tourette’s Syndrome. Both can cause involuntary tremors and trembling throughout the body, including in the jaw. If you’ve ruled out all other causes, schedule an appointment with a neurologist to rule out one of these conditions.

If your teeth are chattering and you’re not cold, it’s important to figure out the reason why. Schedule an appointment at Eggert Family Dentistry to discover if you’ve been clenching and grinding your teeth. We can provide solutions that will ease the grinding and put a stop to the chattering.

Best (and Worst!) Halloween Candy for Your Teeth

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Eggert Family Halloween

If your family is like the Eggert clan, your little ones look forward to Halloween with giddy anticipation. Even Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff have been known to sneak a piece of candy or two from their kids’ treat buckets. An occasional treat isn’t going to do much damage, but binging on Halloween candy can wreak havoc on your teeth (and your kids’ teeth, too). Here’s our list of the best and worst Halloween candy for your choppers.

Halloween Candy: The Good
Chocolate tops the list of candy that’s compatible with your teeth. It’s also one of the most popular Halloween candies. Chocolate itself isn’t sticky like many other candies, so it washes off your teeth easily.

Sugar-free candies are also excellent options. Sucking on a sugar-free lollipop or hard candy stimulates the production of saliva, which helps to wash away the food bacteria eats. Sugar-free gum is a good choice, too.

Halloween Candy: The Bad
Halloween CandyWhile sugar-free candies are good, sugary hard candies and lollipops are not. They produce saliva like their sugar-free counterparts, but the sugar from the candy gets absorbed by your saliva and washes over your teeth.

Sour candy is also one to avoid. These types of candies are highly acidic in addition to being sticky and coated in a layer of sugar. The acidity can break down the enamel in your teeth, leaving them at risk of cavities and gum disease.

Halloween Candy: The Ugly
But the worst culprits in your kid’s Halloween treat bucket are chewy, sticky candies. Gummy bears, fruity candy, taffy, licorice, and other sticky treats get caught between your kids’ teeth. They can linger there for days, providing a sugary feast for bacteria. That’s why chewy, sticky candies are the worst Halloween candies for your teeth.

Halloween’s a fun time, and we all enjoy a sugary treat or two from our kids’ treat buckets. Brushing, flossing, and recare appointments throughout the year can help protect your teeth during the spookiest time of year. Schedule your family’s recare appointment today.

Haunted by Halitosis?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How to Handle SCARY and Dreaded Chronic Bad Breath

Does the fear of halitosis keep you up at night? If so, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans suffer from chronic bad breath. But you don’t have to suffer through this waking nightmare. Fortunately, we know many of the causes of halitosis, so we can offer you ways to treat and prevent it.

What’s Causing Your Bad Breath
Halitosis is more than morning breath or lingering odor from a tuna salad sandwich. It’s caused by bacteria thriving in your mouth and sinuses. Cavities and gum disease give bacteria extra places to live and breed. Bacteria also love the mucus your body produces when you’re recovering from a cold. If you have dry mouth from medications, an illness, or alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine use, you’re also likely to experience halitosis. That’s because saliva washes away potential food for bacteria. Without saliva, bacteria thrives.

Chronic illnesses can also cause halitosis. Gastric reflux, liver disease, kidney disease, and diabetes can all cause chronic bad breath. So can smoking tobacco, which contributes to gum disease and dry mouth.

Handling Halitosis
Since you know what causes halitosis, you can take steps to treat and prevent it. If you use tobacco or drink alcohol and caffeine excessively, consider quitting. If you’re battling a cold or sinus infection, work to clear your nose and sinuses as well as brush your teeth regularly and use mouth wash for your comfort while you heal. And if you wear dentures, make sure to take them out at night and clean them well before popping them back in your mouth in the morning.

If cavities or gum disease are causing your halitosis, it’s time to book a recare appointment with Eggert Family Dentistry. We can treat your cavities and diagnose and treat gum disease to keep bacteria at bay. Continue your care at home with regular brushing and flossing. Scraping your tongue with your tooth brush or a special tongue scraper can cut down on halitosis, too.

You don’t have to be haunted by halitosis anymore. Schedule your recare appointment with us today to start treating your chronic bad breath.

Rebuilding Worn Teeth – Gina’s Story

By Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?
Gina came to us as an established patient at one of her routine recare appointments. Dr. Elizabeth noted decay around her front teeth and Gina mentioned how she noticed wear on her teeth and she was frustrated that her teeth were deteriorating despite her efforts in caring for them. Dr. Elizabeth recommended Gina go through our records process so she could delve deeper into underlying causes behind her decaying and worn teeth.

What did Gina want?
Gina noticed a lot more wear lately and wanted to keep as many of her natural teeth as possible. She was concerned because she recently needed a root canal for one tooth and needed another tooth extracted because of a vertical root fracture. Gina wanted to take action before other teeth declined. She also wanted her teeth whiter, more even, more uniform looking and wanted things to function better. Gina wanted a conservative, comprehensive plan for restoring her teeth.

Before

What was involved?
Dr. Elizabeth used photos and x-rays of Gina’s teeth along with the results of a thorough muscle and joint evaluation to develop Gina’s plan. The details of the records process revealed that the position of Gina’s teeth caused multiple interferences when she chewed. This is why her teeth were seriously starting to break down.

Dr. Elizabeth and Gina decided that Gina’s best option for restoring her teeth would first require moving her teeth to a better position with orthodontics. Gina worked with Dr. Brian DeVoe, a local orthodontist, until she had an even biting surface. Dr. Elizabeth then worked with a local lab and together they designed a blueprint of Gina’s new front teeth out of wax. This blueprint, called a laboratory wax-up, provided the ability for Dr. Elizabeth to create Gina’s new smile. Gina wanted to be as conservative as possible so it was decided to proceed with three porcelain crowns to remove the decay and to rebuild the worn edges of Gina’s front teeth.

After

What does Gina think?
“It sounded like a lot to do at first with the orthodontics and the crowns, but I knew I needed to do something to address the cause of the breakdown. I definitely didn’t want to lose any more teeth. I am so glad I went to the consultation with the orthodontist and went through with braces. My bite feels comfortable and everything feels so good! I would tell anyone considering getting this done to do it right away.”

Keeping Your Teeth Clean with Braces

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

We urge everyone to practice good oral hygiene habits so they can have a life-long healthy, attractive smile. If you’ve got braces, it’s especially important, and just a little trickier than it is for the unbraced.

Greater Risks with Braces

It’s especially crucial because poor care and hygiene could cause problems leading to prolonged treatment. If you want the braces chapter of your life to come to a timely conclusion, take extra good care of your teeth to avoid risk of tooth decay, gum disease or simply undesirable coloration.

Plaque and bacteria are on a mission to stick to the surfaces of your teeth and spread. Also, stains from coffee, tea, wine and other foods can discolor your enamel, and when the braces come off, they may reveal whiter squares where the brackets were attached.

Long-Term Benefits of Braces

Braces are a long-term commitment with a great payoff: Not only are well-aligned teeth more attractive, they also avoid unnecessary wear, and they’re easier to keep clean, preventing decay and cavities.

Here are our tips for making sure that when the long-anticipated unveiling takes place, your teeth look their best–and there are no unpleasant surprises.

Brush After Every Meal and Before Bed

Brushing is the number-one defense against problems. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, an electric toothbrush, or a high-tech one like Sonicare. Inspect your bristles regularly–they’ll wear out faster than without braces, so replace your brush regularly.

Develop good brushing habits, the same as we recommend for folks without braces. Brush for two minutes each session, and develop a routine so you give equal attention to each quarter of your mouth: top and bottom, left and right. Use a smooth, circular motion when you brush, and adjust the angle to get past your hardware. Don’t press too hard or saw back and forth. Remember to brush both sides of the bracket!

Interdental Brush

Use these miniature bottle brushes to tackle gaps or spaces between teeth, and to gently clean around and underneath your braces and wires where your brush isn’t making contact. Again, be systematic: start at one end and go all the way to the other, moving the brush between each set of brackets.

Floss with a Threader Once Daily

While you’re wearing braces, a floss threader is essential. It’s just like a plastic needle and thread. It allows you to slip the floss between your teeth and address plaque at the gum line. Follow a pattern, making sure you hit every gap: top to bottom, left to right, whatever works for you. Be gentle on your gums, and don’t saw back and forth–use an up-and-down motion.

Rinse Your Mouth

Take a good mouthful of water and swish it around to dislodge any remaining debris. For an extra level of care, use an extra strength, prescription fluoride toothpaste, or minimally an over the counter fluoride rinse.

Check a Mirror

Simple — make sure you’ve gotten rid of all visible particles and don’t forget to check under your lips!.

Keeping Braces Clean is a Little Extra Work, but Worth it

Getting braces requires an extra commitment to oral hygiene, but it only takes a few minutes a day to ensure that you’re taking the best possible care of your mouth. Because you’ll probably be brushing more frequently than you did previously, put together a kit with your essentials, so you can brush on the go. Toothbrush, toothpaste, interdental brush, mirror and floss don’t take up much space, and will ensure that you don’t walk around with any embarrassing bits of food clinging to your braces.

We hope these tips reassure you that it’s easy to take great care of your teeth, with or without braces. The good oral habits you develop now will continue to serve you long after the braces are off. If you have any questions, the team at Eggert Family Dentistry is happy to help you out.

The Vital Role of Teeth and Chewing in Overall Health

By Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

It’s an unfortunate fact of life: sometimes we last longer than our teeth. It’s not uncommon to lose teeth to accidents, decay, disease or deterioration.

Replace Missing Teeth with Implants or Dentures

Dentures have historically been the go-to solution, but dentures definitely are not teeth and satisfaction varies. Some people find them awkward or painful, or have trouble chewing. Luckily, dental implants can provide a tremendous improvement. Implant technology is one of the great advances of the last few decades, and enable everyone to have a full set of functional “teeth” well into an advanced old age.

Why Tooth Replacement is Crucial to Health

If you’re facing missing teeth, why is it important to replace them?

While some people might be tempted to soldier on with missing teeth, this means relying on gum surfaces for chewing; restricting the diet to soft foods; or pureeing foods to make them palatable. We do not recommend these solutions–they may ultimately have negative impacts on the health of your mouth and body.

Jaw and Gum Issues Due to Missing Teeth

When teeth are missing, you have to work harder to chew. Natural teeth have a bite force of 200-250 pounds and dentures have a bite force around 50 pounds. The soft tissue of the gums can’t approach the strength of either. Over time, you’re at risk of suffering irritated, sore, or even infected gums, which will further diminish your chewing ability.

TMJ disorders may also result from the loss of teeth. The TMJ is the temporomandibular joint, where your jaw connects to your skull. Disorders of this joint can lead to headaches, tooth grinding, locking of the joint, and pain in the joint. When you are missing teeth, your TMJ has to work extra hard to compensate.

The integrity of the bone in the jaw depends on the resistance it experiences during the act of chewing to maintain its strength. When the act of chewing doesn’t place pressure on the jaw, the bone of the jaw weakens over time, becoming prone to fractures and potentially jeopardizing neighboring teeth.

Gastrointestinal Problems Resulting from Inadequate Chewing

Digestion is a complex process depending on multiple organs. Each organ must do its part for successful digestion. The role of chewing is more than simply mechanical and with missing teeth, things get complicated. Long story short, on a purely mechanical level, digestion depends on small food fragments. Large fragments cannot be properly broken down, resulting in incomplete digestion. This means nutrients are not fully extracted. Undigested food can lead to indigestion, discomfort, irregularity and excess gas.

Dental Implants or Dentures Restore Chewing Function

Chewing is essential for good nutrient absorption and a healthy, responsive digestive system. If teeth problems are interfering with your ability to chew, talk to us about your options. We’ll be happy to discuss a treatment plan, and explore the pros and cons of dental implants or dentures to resolve your issues and ensure your oral and digestive health.

10 Common Foods and Beverages That Stain Your Teeth

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Let’s face it. No one wants discolored teeth. A less than sparkling smile can be socially awkward and put a huge dent in our self-confidence. We think if we find the perfect toothpaste and commit to brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash with more vigilance then maybe, just maybe, we can counteract the yellowing and staining. The reality is, although each of these components of dental care are incredibly important, we do ourselves a disservice if we don’t look at one of the main culprits of dental discoloration – our diet.
Here is a list of 10 of the top foods and beverages that may be working against our pearly white smiles…

1. Soda
We love our pop but the sugar and acid it contains don’t love our teeth. Even diet soda is highly acidic and can erode the enamel on our teeth – exposing the yellow tissue behind it. Most soda also contains artificial colors that cause staining. If you can’t kick the habit altogether consider sipping it through a straw to minimize the acidic effect.

2. Tomatoes
Tomatoes and tomato-based sauces are highly acidic – to the point where many people experience acid-reflux after consuming them! Your teeth are not immune to the effect of this acid. Tomatoes also have a deep, reddish hue which stains everything it comes into contact with – clothing, carpet and teeth included! If you’re concerned about yellowing teeth, minimizing tomato-based products will pay dividends in the dental department.

3. Tea
Tea is a healthy alternative to soda but comes with its own dental challenges! Not only is tea acidic but it contains tannins, or plant-based compounds, which make your teeth a magnet for staining. It’s helpful to rinse your mouth with water after a cup of tea or consider adding milk to your tea – the casein component of which can reduce acid and counteract the staining effect.

4. Beets
Although highly-nutritious, beets are also deeply pigmented. Consider pairing them with cheese to experience the stain-fighting benefit of casein!

5. Citrus
Citrus is well-known as highly-acidic (citric acid, anyone?). Citrus fruits, while nutrient-rich, are enamel enemies much like soda, working to break it down and expose the yellow tissue, or dentin, under it.

6. Wine
It is a common misconception that only red wines cause dental staining and decay on account of their rich pigmentation. Red wines contain much higher levels of tannins but both red and white wines are highly acidic and the acid from both red and white wine can intensify staining. A helpful tip? Enjoy hard foods such as nuts with your glass of wine to scrub away plaque and increase saliva production which helps neutralize acid.

7. Curry
If you love Indian food but also love your sparkling smile try and minimize your consumption of these beautifully-hued spices and drink plenty of water with your meal.

8. Coffee
Coffee contains both tannins and chromogens, or natural dyes, and is very acidic. As with tea, consider adding milk to your coffee to counteract staining.

9. Berries
Who doesn’t love fresh berries? They are nutritious, delicious and beautiful. Beware of their staining effect, however, and avoid berry-based jams and juices which have added sugar and compound the negative effect on your teeth.

10. Popsicles
Don’t be fooled into believing that popsicles are a benign go-to for snacking. They often contain artificial colors and are actually loaded with sugar (processed or natural) which sticks to your teeth and creates a breeding ground for discoloration.

If you are concerned about your smile and want to ensure proper care, Eggert Family Dentistry would love to help! We would be happy to assist you with a routine check up and cleaning or a professional teeth whitening treatment. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have!