Can Tooth Sensitivity Be Treated?

Can tooth sensitivity be treated?Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem. At Eggert Family Dentistry, our patients often ask how to get rid of tooth sensitivity so they can start enjoying ice cream and coffee again. We’re happy to tell them that yes, tooth sensitivity can be treated. Often, diagnosing tooth sensitivity helps us uncover underlying oral health conditions that are also treatable.

Why your teeth become sensitive

Enamel is the hard, outer layer that protects the soft interior of your teeth. If it is worn away by decay or aggressive brushing, the soft dentin and nerves inside your teeth are exposed to heat, cold, and pressure from chewing. This is what causes the jolt of pain in your teeth when you sip a hot chocolate or chow down on chewy foods.

Teeth become sensitive to hot or cold for a variety of reasons. The most common culprits are tooth decay, cracked teeth, worn enamel and fillings, and exposed tooth roots. But these conditions are actually symptoms of other oral issues, such as infrequent brushing, overly aggressive brushing, gum recession, periodontal disease and especially clenching and grinding of your teeth.

Treatments for mild tooth sensitivity

If you experience occasional sensitivity to heat, cold, or pressure, we may recommend a desensitizing toothpaste for you to use at home. These toothpastes contain ingredients that prevent the hot or cold sensation from reaching the nerves of your teeth. We may also recommend regular fluoride treatments at our office during your recare appointments.

Treatments for severe tooth sensitivity

But sometimes, desensitizing toothpastes and fluoride treatments aren’t enough to alleviate your discomfort. In these cases, we may recommend a filling, crown, or bonding to fix the underlying decay or worn or cracked tooth. If you have advanced periodontal disease that has exposed the root of your tooth to the elements, we may recommend a periodontal therapy or a gum grafting procedure to repair and heal the exposed area.

Another way to make huge improvements in relieving tooth sensitivity is to look for and treat underlying issues with your bite. By undergoing our records process, we can help you to determine if making improvement to how your teeth come together and how they chew can stop your tooth sensitivity, often for good!

The best way to treat tooth sensitivity is to develop healthy oral hygiene habits to prevent decay and worn enamel in the first place. Regular recare visits to Eggert Family Dentistry are part of any great oral hygiene plan. To schedule your next appointment, contact Eggert Family Dentistry today.

Preventing Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay“Baby bottle tooth decay” is a term used to describe tooth decay in infants and toddlers, often referring to decay of the top front teeth specifically. Though it occurs when your child is an infant or toddler, baby bottle tooth decay can affect your child’s oral health for years to come. Is your child at risk, and what can you do to prevent baby bottle tooth decay in your little one?

What causes baby bottle tooth decay?

Baby bottles are not the sole cause of baby bottle tooth decay, though excessive use of bottles to soothe children can be a factor. Putting your child to bed with a bottle or using a bottle as a pacifier exposes your child’s teeth to the sugars in milk and juice. Bacteria in your child’s mouth feed on this sugar and create plaque, tartar, and eventually, cavities.

But there’s another, less obvious cause of baby bottle tooth decay. When you put your child’s feeding spoon or pacifier in your mouth to clean it, you pass bacteria in your mouth to your child’s mouth. This seemingly innocuous habit can also put your child’s teeth at risk.

How can I prevent baby bottle tooth decay in my young child?

Fortunately, preventing baby bottle tooth decay is simple: avoid excessive bottle use and sharing saliva with your little one, and develop good oral health habits as soon as your child’s teeth start to emerge. The American Dental Association has some more tips for preventing baby bottle tooth decay:

  • Allow children to finish their bottles before being put to bed.
  • Don’t put honey or another sweetener on your child’s pacifier.
  • Only place formula or breast milk in bottles and avoid giving young children sugary drinks.
  • Encourage your one-year-old to drink from a cup, ideally one without a spill-proof valve.
  • Wipe your child’s gums with a clean, damp gauze or washcloth, and once teeth appear, brush them gently with a child-safe toothpaste.

Good oral health habits should start in your child’s first few months of life and set them up for a lifetime of healthy smiles. To schedule your child’s first dental appointment, contact Eggert Family Dentistry today.

Fluoride in Water: What You Need to Know

Fluoride in waterSince the 1960s, communities across Minnesota and the United States have added fluoride to their community water supplies. Fluoridating water is an easy and cost-effective way to improve residents’ oral health. Though some consumers find the practice controversial, many scientific studies back up the health benefits of fluoridated water. Here are a few of our favorite reasons to love the fluoride in your water.

  1. Fluoride prevents cavities in kids and adults.

Fluoride can reduce tooth decay by 25 percent for kids and adults alike across all education levels and socio-economic statuses. It’s no wonder the Centers for Disease Control has called fluoridation of water one of the 10 greatest public health achievements in the 20th century.

  1. Fluoride is safe for your family.

Fluoride is an element found in most natural water sources, just not necessarily in amounts that prevent tooth decay. The Environmental Protection Agency strictly regulates the amount of fluoride in community water supplies to keep it safe and healthy to drink. Compared to other sugary beverages such as soda and fruit juice, fluoridated water is a great choice for your family.

  1. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel of permanent teeth.

Fluoride helps strengthen the enamel of permanent teeth, which protects the rest of the tooth from decay and disease. For kids under age 8, fluoride can even strengthen permanent teeth that have not erupted yet, reducing the chance kids will develop cavities or require fillings.

  1. Fluoridated water saves money.

Yes, it does cost money to fluoridate your community’s water. But your community’s investment in fluoridated water reaps a strong return as families and your city’s health care system spend less money on treating tooth decay and related oral diseases. The Centers for Disease Control estimate towns of 5,000 people or fewer save $4 per person and larger cities save $27 per person.

  1. Fluoride supports regular brushing, flossing, and recare visits at our office.

Fluoride in your tap water helps support the good oral health habits you and your family already practice. In addition, we offer in-office fluoride treatments to children and adults alike to increase cavity prevention.   The varnish is quick, painless, and will protect all the teeth in your family.

Want to learn more about fluoride or schedule your family’s summer recare visits? Contact Eggert Family Dentistry today.

3 DIY Teeth Whitening Myths, Busted

DIY teeth whitening mythsDo-it-yourself teeth whitening remedies are often championed as cheap, all-natural ways to get your pearly whites as bright as possible. But are DIY methods using ingredients from your medicine cabinet or kitchen pantry really effective alternatives to professional teeth whitening at Eggert Family Dentistry? Here are three of the top teeth whitening myths we’ve heard at the office, busted.

  1. Turmeric and coconut oil can whiten my smile.

Nope. Turmeric may be delicious in Middle Eastern dishes and coconut oil is a healthy fat, but neither are effective at whitening your smile. There is no scientific evidence that turmeric, coconut oil, or other spices or oils can whiten your teeth.

  1. Citrus fruits can whiten teeth.

Citrus fruits can brighten your countertops, so why not your teeth? Lemons, oranges, and apple cider vinegar add fresh odors to your kitchen, but they have no ability to whiten your smile, and can actually do damage to your pearly whites. Vinegars and citrus fruits contain acids that wear away tooth enamel, leaving your teeth more sensitive and at risk for tooth decay.

  1. I can whiten my teeth by giving them a scrub.

This one makes us cringe a little. Scrubs made of abrasive material such as baking soda and activated charcoal are much too abrasive to use on your teeth and do nothing to whiten your smile. In fact, when you scrub your teeth with very abrasive materials, you can make your teeth even more yellow. That’s because the scrubs wear away your teeth’s tough white enamel, exposing the softer, yellow dentin below.

Effective alternatives to these bogus teeth whitening tactics.

Fortunately, there are effective ways to whiten your teeth that won’t harm your enamel, and some of them are completely free. Limit foods that cause stains in the first place, including coffee, tea, and red wine. Don’t start smoking or chewing tobacco, and if you do, quit.

Brushing your teeth twice a day with an ADA-approved whitening toothpaste and flossing daily can keep stains at bay, too. In addition, visit us regularly for recare visits. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we offer several effective and safe teeth whitening treatments right in our office. Contact us to schedule your FREE whitening consultation today.

Celebrate Dads, Grads, and Summer without Harming Their Teeth

Celebrate Dads and Grads This SummerMemorial Day weekend officially kicks off the summer cookout season in Minnesota. Many of us look forward to toasting grads, dads, and warmer weather with brats, cold pop, chips, and frozen treats to cool us off. But many of the cookout foods we look forward to in summer can wreak havoc on our teeth. Here are some tips on how to enjoy summer cookouts while maintaining a healthy smile.

  1. Make gum part of your party spread.

Chewing sugar-free gum does more than just freshen breath. Chewing for at least 20 minutes generates saliva that washes away food, sugars, and acids that bacteria thrives on. Offer your guests gum on the picnic table or in a closed container in the bathroom.

  1. Offer dental picks, not toothpicks.

Toothpicks are handy at getting stuck food out between teeth, but their sharp ends can do major damage to gums (and who wants a mouth splinter ruining a great party?). Instead, offer dental picks or plaque removers in a closed container in the bathroom so your guests can remove corn on the cob from between their teeth.

  1. Go seedless.

Help your guests avoid getting food stuck in their teeth in the first place by choosing foods without seeds. Opt for hot dog buns without sesame seeds and make your fruit salad with seedless watermelon, apples, grapes, and banana instead of strawberries and blackberries.

  1. Try infused water instead of pop.

Infused water is a great refreshment on hot, humid Minnesota days. It’s cool, low in sugar and calories, and full of fruit flavor. Serve infused water in place of pop and sports drinks. Encourage adult beverage drinkers to alternate cans of beer with glasses of infused water. Some favorite infusers include cucumber, melon, pineapple, mint, basil, orange, lemon, grapefruit, but there are so many possibilities.

  1. Crush up ice cubes.

Everyone enjoys a cold beverage on a hot summer day, but chewing ice cubes can wear away tooth enamel and even crack teeth. Take a moment to crush ice cubes before serving them to your guests. You may even find breaking up cubes with a hammer great therapy for a stressful week (or party prep!).

Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth at Eggert Family Dentistry love summer parties as much as our patients do. Enjoy your company and your party food this summer, just don’t forget to show your teeth some love, too. Contact us today to schedule your next recare visit.

A Refreshed Smile – Sarah’s Story

How did this start?

Sarah mentioned at her recare appointment that she noticed areas of recession around her veneers and wanted to have new veneers done to fill in the recession areas. Sarah was happy with the shape of her current veneers but wanted whiter teeth and a brighter smile. Sarah had veneers originally done in 1999. They had held up well but were not providing the youthful appearance Sarah desired. Dr. Elizabeth agreed that new veneers would be placed on her front six teeth for optimal aesthetics and to help her lower teeth match, Sarah would do simple bleaching with over-the-counter White Strips.

What did Sarah want?

Sarah wanted to refresh her smile. She wanted a brighter small and better looking teeth. She didn’t like the darkness along the gum line of her current veneers. Sarah’s other teeth were healthy overall. Sarah has followed through with past treatment recommendations, and maintains a regular recare schedule with our hygienist to help her maintain optimal dental health. Sarah started with a solid foundation to create a more aesthetically pleasing smile for her without having to address any functional or other biological concerns.


Sarah's Smile Before
Sarah’s Smile Before

What was involved?

Dr. Elizabeth used photos and x-rays of Sarah’s teeth. When Sarah came to her preparation appointment she looked in the mirror and discussed the shade she desired for her new veneers, and she noticed when she smiled that she could see dark crowns further back in her mouth and also wanted to replace those at the same time so everything matched. She wanted to be completely happy with her new smile, so Dr. Elizabeth included those teeth for her as well.

What does Sarah think?

“I wanted to look nicer and wanted to have my 17-year-old veneers replaced. I would recommend anyone who is considering it to do it. I think they look lovely and I am so thankful for my beautiful new smile!”


Sarah's Smile After
Sarah’s Smile After

Your Child’s Teeth from Age 6 to Age 12: What You Need to Know

Oral Health from age 6 to age 12By age two, your child should have a complete set of primary teeth that will stay put until the first tooth is lost, around age six. But well before then, around age four, your child’s jaw and facial bones start to develop to make room for the permanent teeth, which develop under the primary teeth. It’s important that your child has good oral health habits starting early in development so the primary and then permanent teeth are healthy and serve well into adulthood.

Age Six to Age Eight

The tooth fairy usually makes her first visit to most households near the age of six. That’s when children lose their first primary teeth and the first permanent teeth appear. The permanent first molars erupt behind the primary teeth and are usually the first to come in, followed by the lower front teeth and upper front teeth. It’s completely normal for your child’s teeth to be different sizes, look uneven, and even appear missing. But don’t worry: by early adolescence, your child’s smile will come into place.

As permanent teeth appear, it’s important to continue the good oral health habits you started with your child’s primary teeth. The health of your child’s permanent teeth affects the ability to chew foods, speak, and smile. Encourage your child to avoid sugar and develop healthy eating habits to support his or her oral health.

Continue to brush and floss your child’s teeth until they are at least six years old. By age eight, most kids can brush their own teeth with supervision, but you should continue to floss your child’s teeth until they turn 10 or 11. Until these ages, children really don’t have the ability to fully clean all the teeth surfaces.  Only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Ask us for a recommendation for child-safe options.

Age Eight to Age Thirteen

Between ages eight and thirteen, your child’s permanent cuspids, bicuspids, and second molars will appear. As they do, we recommend sealants to protect teeth from cavities and tooth decay. Sealants are protective substances that we apply to your child’s teeth and is as easy as a regular dental checkup. The material bonds to your child’s teeth and fills in the pits and grooves that naturally appear on a tooth’s surface. This painless process can protect your child’s teeth for years before needing to be reapplied.

During this time, your child can take responsibility for more aspects of their health, including brushing, flossing, and making healthy eating choices. As more permanent teeth come in, it may become apparent that your child will need braces or other dental appliances to fix misaligned teeth or a bad bite. We can help you identify when and if these issues arise and will recommend an orthodontist.

If your kids are active in sports, it’s important to protect the permanent teeth from injury. A mouth guard protects teeth from being broken, knocked out, or from injuring your child’s lip or tongue during contact sports. There are many over-the-counter versions, but even better is to have us make a custom-fit mouth guard for your child.

Eggert Family Dentistry can help you and your child build good oral health habits that will keep the permanent teeth healthy well into adulthood. Schedule your child’s next dental recare visit with our dental team today.

Your Child’s Teeth from Birth to Age 6: What You Need to Know

Oral health birth to age 6Did you know your child’s teeth start developing 6 weeks after conception? While baby teeth may not appear until your child is 6 months old, a lot of oral development occurs well before your child reaches that milestone. Here’s what you need to know about your child’s teeth from birth to age six.

Birth to Two Years

Your child is born with a complete set of baby, or primary, teeth under the gums. Typically around 6 months of age, your child’s lower central incisors—their lower front teeth—erupt as a pair, followed approximately a month later by the upper central incisors. Lateral incisors, cuspids, and first and second molars erupt in pairs over the next 18 months until your child has a complete set of primary teeth before the age of three.

As parents know well, erupting teeth can make for cranky kids. Gums are often tender and sore, and the discomfort can cause your child to become irritable, have trouble sleeping, and can increase drooling, chewing, and sucking. You may notice your child rubbing their face or grabbing their ears, too. Gently rubbing your child’s gums with a clean, damp cloth or gauze or a chilled teething ring can be comforting.

Two Years to Six Years

Your child’s primary teeth serve several essential purposes, which is why it’s important to keep them clean and healthy. Primary teeth serve as placeholders for the permanent teeth forming below them. Keeping primary teeth healthy helps your child’s permanent teeth develop appropriately. Primary teeth also help your child chew and process healthy foods, promoting good nutrition and eating habits.

It’s important your child receive regular dental recare visits while they have their primary teeth. Schedule your child’s first appointment as soon as you see the first tooth appear and no later than their first birthday. At their first visit at Eggert Family Dentistry, we’ll give your child a complete oral exam, clean their teeth, and discuss teething, pacifier use, thumb-sucking, and tips for keeping your child’s teeth clean and healthy between visits.

Home Care for Primary Teeth

Care of your child’s primary teeth begins before they even start to erupt. After each feeding, wipe your infant’s gums with a clean, damp cloth or gauze. When teeth appear, switch to a child-sized toothbrush to clean the teeth and ask us for a recommendation for an infant-safe toothpaste, generally a fluoride-free toothpaste until your child can fully spit the excess toothpaste into the sink. Begin flossing for your child as soon as two or more teeth touch. Most children cannot floss properly by themselves until age 10 or 11.

Just like permanent teeth, primary teeth are susceptible to decay when they come into contact with sugary, sticky, or acidic substances such as juice, soda, and honey. We recommend you avoid giving your young children sugary drinks and transition your children to small, open cups after their first birthdays. Replace sweet snacks with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.

The Eggert Family Dentistry team is passionate about developing healthy habits in young children. Our team members are trained to provide safe, fun, and educational dental appointments for children and their parents. Schedule your child’s first or next dental appointment today.

Thumb-Sucking and Pacifier Use: What You Need to Know about These Habits and Your Child’s Oral Health

Thumb-sucking and pacifier useThumb and finger-sucking is a natural behavior for infants and young children and can even start before birth. Newborns and infants suck thumbs, fingers, and pacifiers to soothe themselves and feel more secure. Often, this behavior extends into early childhood. When it does, parents often wonder if thumb-sucking or pacifier use could harm their child’s oral health.

A Primer in Tooth Development

An infant’s first two baby, or primary, teeth usually appear around 6 months of age. By age three, toddlers have a full set of primary teeth, which they start losing around age six. Primary teeth save space for permanent teeth that will appear later, especially when your child’s jaw and other facial bones start growing at age four to make room for larger, permanent teeth. Healthy primary teeth are essential for nutrition as they help your child chew food and give the permanent teeth developing below the gum line a healthy start.

Effect of Thumb-Sucking and Pacifier Use on Oral Health

Since the jaw and facial bones do not start to grow and develop until age four and permanent teeth do not appear until age six or later, thumb and finger sucking and pacifier use in the first few years of life are not as likely to cause oral health problems for your child. However, as the bones begin to develop, sucking habits can impact the growth and alignment of your child’s teeth and even change the shape of the roof of your child’s mouth.

Vigorous suckers are more likely to have oral health problems if the habit continues after age four, and aggressive thumb-sucking or pacifier use can potentially change the alignment of your child’s primary teeth. It is common for sucking habits to create an anterior open bite where the front teeth do not contact each other. One difficult to correct side effect of an anterior open bite is often the development of a forward swallowing habit. If you’re concerned about your child’s aggressive thumb-sucking, speak with us at Eggert Family Dentistry.

Breaking the Habit

Thumb-sucking and pacifier use typically comes to an end naturally between the ages of two and four. At that age, children become more engaged in the world around them, sleep less, and can even face peer pressure at preschool to stop thumb-sucking.

But sometimes, kids need a little help breaking the thumb-sucking habit. To protect their oral health, help your child break the habit if they continue to suck their thumb or use a pacifier past age four. Recognize and praise children when you notice they are not sucking their thumb, especially during times that cause stress and anxiety. If your child no longer sucks their thumb while awake but continues to do so while asleep, trying putting a bandage on the thumb or a sock on your child’s hand.

Breaking the thumb-sucking habit can cause anxiety and stress for children and parents alike. You’re not alone in the quest to break the habit. Ask your dentist for help explaining to your children what may happen to their teeth if they continue to suck their thumbs and fingers. Contact Eggert Family Dentistry today to schedule your child’s oral health recare visit.

The Role Genetics Plays in Your Oral Health: Did You Get Lucky?

Teeth and GeneticsRegular brushing, flossing, and visits to your dentist can go a long way in keeping your teeth and gums healthy and happy. But some of our patients wonder if they just might have bad luck when it comes to their oral health, no matter how often they brush, floss, or come in to see us, they still have issues with dental disease.

According to Dr. S. Michele Robichaux of Nicholls State University in Louisiana, “almost every disease and disorder that affects . . . the mouth has a genetic component.” That’s true for the most common diseases—tooth decay and gum disease—as well as more pernicious conditions such as periodontal disease and dry mouth.

In fact, the Center for Craniofacial and Dental Genetics at the University of Pittsburgh found that your genes make up nearly two-thirds of the risk you face from tooth decay. That’s why you still get cavities when you lay off the sweets and brush and floss every day while your spouse slurps soda and chomps gummy candy with no oral health consequences.

Your Genes Affect Your Oral Health in Specific Ways

Your genes may make you generally more susceptible to oral diseases because they determine specific characteristics of your teeth and saliva. Your genes are responsible for how hard or soft your tooth enamel is. If it’s too soft, you’re more likely to experience tooth decay and sensitivity.

The quality and quantity of saliva in your mouth is also determined by your genes. Saliva helps break down acids bacteria create in your mouth. It contains minerals that help repair and strengthen tooth enamel, too. If you suffer from dry mouth or if your saliva does not have an average or high concentration of minerals, you are more susceptible to tooth decay and other oral health diseases.

Genetics Also Contribute to Tastes and Your Mouth’s Microbiome

Tooth enamel and saliva are one thing, but your genes also determine secondary characteristics that contribute to your oral health. A preference for sweets means you’re more likely to expose your teeth to sugar. Your ability to taste a variety of flavors is also linked to tooth decay, though scientists are still trying to determine why. Early research shows that people who can taste a larger variety of flavors are less likely to experience tooth decay.

Your genetic makeup also contributes to the diversity of the bacteria inside your mouth. The bacteria on your teeth are different from those on your tongue or under your gums. Your mouth’s unique microbiome may make it less or more likely that you’ll get cavities or periodontal disease.

If you lucked out with good oral health genes, you still shouldn’t eat or drink sugary, acidic foods with abandon. If you overindulge without regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkups, you still increase your chances of getting a cavity. And unfortunately, body chemistry tends to change over your lifetime, so developing good habits now will definitely pay off well into the future! To keep tooth decay in check, schedule your care and check-up today.