Tooth Triage: How to Handle 9 Common Dental Emergencies

tooth emergenciesby Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Whether they occur at the hand of a baseball bat, an auto accident, or poor dental habits, dental emergencies happen. We handle all sorts of tooth triage at Eggert Family Dentistry. Here are 9 of the most common dental emergencies we see in our office and immediate steps you can take to relieve pain and get your smile back.

  1. Soft Tissue Injuries

Jabs from metal braces or a misplaced bite can do damage to gums, cheeks, and your tongue. If you’re bleeding, rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution and apply pressure with gauze or a teabag for 30 minutes. A cold compress can also offer pain relief. If these measures don’t stop the bleeding, give us a call or go to the emergency room.

  1. Severe Toothaches

Resist the urge to put painkillers directly on the affected tooth, as this can cause burning of the gum tissue or tooth and even more pain. Instead, rinse your mouth with warm water and apply a cold compress on the outside of your mouth. Then, call us to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

  1. Abscesses

If you have severe gum disease, tooth decay, or cracking, you may develop a painful infection called an abscess. Abscesses appear right along your gum line or at the tip of where your root would be. If left untreated, abscesses can spread infection to other parts of your body. A developing abscess often looks like a little pimple on your gums and can be painful. If you spot one, schedule your appointment with us and rinse your mouth with saltwater to alleviate any pain and draw the pus toward your gum’s surface.

  1. Lost Crown or Filling

You might be chowing down on that gooey brownie when you feel it happen—your filling or crown becomes dislodged. Call us to schedule an appointment to replace your crown or filling. In the meantime, if you’ve lost a filling and it is sharp to your tongue, you can place orthodontic wax or the temporary filling material you find at the drug store. If you’ve lost a crown, bring it along with you to your dental appointment. Sometimes we can re-use it! If you’re able, toothpaste and/or Vaseline can be used to temporarily place the crown on your tooth while you are at home. If you have pain, ibuprofen often helps or you can try clove oil, which can be a great pain reliever for teeth.

  1. Broken & Loose Braces

Wire braces are common culprits in dental emergencies. Broken wires and loose braces can poke and cut your gums, tongue, or cheeks, causing painful lacerations. If you’re unable to reposition the wire (the eraser end of a pencil is our favorite at-home tool for this), cover the wire with wax and schedule an appointment with your orthodontist to repair it. Never trim the wire—you could swallow it or breathe it into your lungs.

  1. Lodged Objects

Getting something stuck between your teeth is very uncomfortable. We recommend dental floss to try and dislodge stuck food or other objects. If floss doesn’t do the trick, call us. Don’t try to use something sharp to dislodge the stuck object, as you could injure your gums or your tooth’s enamel.

  1. Broken or Chipped Teeth

If you’ve taken a digger and chipped or broken a tooth, try to keep as many of the pieces as you can. Rinse your mouth to get any pieces left in your mouth, then apply gauze to stop any bleeding. A cold compress outside the mouth can relieve pain and reduce swelling. Then, see us right away to repair your tooth.

  1. Partially Dislodged Teeth

Partially dislodged or extruded teeth are hanging on by a thread and require immediate attention from us. Call ahead to let us know you’re coming, then get in the car with a cold compress against your mouth or cheek to reduce swelling. Take a pain reliever such as Tylenol or Advil, it is best to get this on board early on.

  1. Knocked-Out Teeth

A knocked-out tooth is a true dental emergency. Call ahead to let us know you’re coming, but don’t delay in getting to our clinic. If we can return the tooth to its socket within an hour, it has a high chance of being saved. Take the tooth with you to our clinic.  If you can keep the tooth within your cheek without swallowing it, that is a great place for it. Otherwise, if you have to hold the tooth, do so by holding it by the part that’s visible in your mouth (not the root). If the tooth is dirty, it’s okay to rinse it gently with water, but don’t scrub it or remove any attached tissue. You can try to place the tooth back in its socket (make sure you have it the right way) and it is a good idea to try if it will be more than an hour before you are able to see us.

Dental emergencies are no fun, but most are treatable if you act quickly and don’t panic. You can rely on the Eggert Family Dentistry team for your tooth triage and recare needs. Contact our clinic today to schedule your appointment.

Hudson’s Composite Bonding Success Story: Congenitally Missing Teeth

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

A wisdom tooth that never grew in is a good thing—one less tooth to remove! However, being a child with a missing front tooth is quite a different story. Teenage years are often difficult enough without having to worry about appearance. With the emotional roller coaster of being a teen, we need to give our children any excuse to smile!

A congenitally missing tooth is one of the most common dental developmental abnormalities. In fact, roughly 20 percent of adults have at least one tooth that never developed.

Why is that number so high? Well, we’ve all heard of that person who didn’t develop all, if any, wisdom teeth. If you take wisdom teeth out of the picture, the percentage of adults with congenitally missing teeth drops to only 5 percent. Other permanent teeth we see missing are second premolars, upper lateral incisors, and lower central incisors.

Hudson’s Success Story

Hudson Before
Hudson’s Smile Before

Hudson is a 17-year-old patient of ours who never developed his upper lateral incisors. Typically, implants are the treatment of choice to replace missing teeth like this. The golden rule for teenagers is to proceed with implant placement once skeletal growth is complete. Early implant placement, at a time of continuing growth, can lead to unaesthetic final results.

Hudson wore traditional braces to improve and even out the spacing to allow room for implants once skeletal growth is complete. But, what could be done now for Hudson?

Dr. Elizabeth recommended composite bonding, which should last many years and give Hudson a fixed option to replace the missing teeth and keep his teeth from shifting. To even out Hudson’s symmetry, resin composite bonding material was added to his six front teeth to create a natural-looking smile that he can confidently wear until it’s time for implants. Hudson loves his new smile!

Hudson After
Hudson’s Smile After

Don’t let missing teeth affect your confidence. Contact us today to discuss treatment options.

Hudson Before and After
Hudson’s Smile Before and After

John’s Success Story: Replacing a Failing Bridge

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

John came to us as an established patient at one of his routine recare appointments. Dr. Elizabeth noted decay around the edges of his expansive 6-unit bridge on his upper front teeth.

After further examination, one of the natural teeth of the bridge was showing signs of infection and needed to be removed. Dr. Elizabeth recommended John go through our records process so she could help John plan for a more stable, longer-lasting tooth replacement option for his front teeth.

What did John want his future smile to look like?

John wanted to replace his missing teeth with a stable and long-lasting solution. Dr. Elizabeth noted changes on one of the anchor teeth of John’s front bridge on radiographs, and the tooth needed to be extracted. John wanted to do what was needed to keep his natural teeth healthy and wanted to replace the front teeth with the longest lasting replacement option. John liked the look of his current bridge.

John Before
John’s Smile Before

What did Eggert Family Dentistry do?

Dr. Elizabeth used photos and x-rays of John’s teeth along with the results of a thorough muscle and joint evaluation to present John with the current health of his teeth, gums, and the function of his jaw and muscles. The details of the records process revealed that the position of John’s bridge and many of his natural teeth caused multiple interferences when he chewed. This means he was biting down unevenly, causing the breakdown of his teeth. This deterioration was negatively impacting the function of his teeth and likely contributed to the failing bridge.

Dr. Elizabeth and John decided that John’s best replacement option for the bridge would involve placing two implants and connecting them with an implant bridge. This made it possible to detach some teeth from his original bridge and allow for easier cleaning.

Before we could start with John’s implants, though, we had to address the instability in his bite. John first wore an anterior deprogrammer to take pressure off his back teeth and relax his muscles so his new bridge could be restored to a more stable, comfortable bite. John then had restorations placed on many of his back teeth to rebuild tooth structure into a better functioning bite. John then had two implants placed in front and wore a temporary bridge during the healing phase. The final phase was for Dr. Elizabeth to fabricate a new implant bridge to replace his front teeth.

What does John think of the results?

“Everything turned out great! I like how it looks and I like how it feels! Everyone comments on how nice it looks. At first, I didn’t fully understand how it was all going to come together, but I trusted Dr. Elizabeth and her abilities and I am glad I did!” John is excited to also have brightened his smile and is considering bleaching his lower teeth. Contact us to schedule your bridge consultation.

John After
John’s Smile After

Teeth Grinding – Causes & Solutions

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Teeth grinding is a common problem in both children and adults. It can take place in waking hours as well as while sleeping. Bruxism is a term we use to describe the habit of tooth clenching and/or grinding.

Lots of us carry some stress in our jaw muscles, and it’s no surprise that stress can be a cause of teeth grinding, but there may be more to it than that. In addition to stress and anxiety, other common causes of grinding include an abnormal bite, missing or crooked teeth, and sleep disordered breathing, often diagnosed as sleep apnea. Additionally, alcohol and tobacco use are linked with a 50% increase in teeth grinding.

Many folks grind their teeth without knowing it, so if you notice loved ones grinding away while sleeping, let them know so they can take steps to prevent it. Other symptoms that may reveal a grinding problem include headaches, especially in the morning; sore jaw joints or muscles; painful or loose teeth; and cracked or even fractured teeth. Any of these situations may lead to the need for dental interventions like crowns, implants, root canals or dentures, so it’s worth taking steps to resolve the problem.

The first step is to talk to us, your dentists, who can evaluate your mouth and jaw for possible signs of grinding. Some things we look for are excessive tooth wear and jaw tenderness, as well as how well your teeth function with each other. If we determine a dental reason for your bruxism, we might recommend splint therapy. There are many methods for splint therapy and we work to determine the most successful treatments for you, often through our records process (integrate link to other blog(s))

If stress seems to be the problem, take steps to reduce it. Consider counseling, exercise, meditation, or journaling to find a calmer state of mind. Along a similar vein, reducing or eliminating caffeine, alcohol and smoking often helps reduce bruxism.

An often overlooked, but becoming better understood, reason for bruxism is because of sleep disordered breathing. If your body can’t get enough air, especially when you are lying down and sleeping, one way your body compensates is to push the teeth around to open your airway. Ask your medical doctor to evaluate you for a sleep disorder, and start treatment if you have one. You often have to be an advocate for yourself to get the right testing and treatment and seeking a second opinion or seeking out a sleep specialist may be in order.

Break yourself of any chewing habits. Quit chewing on pens or pencils, nails and chewing gum. Habitual chewing not related to eating promotes over-active jaw muscles.

If you’re a day grinder, train yourself not to grind or clench your teeth. When you notice it happening, place the tip of your tongue at the roof of your mouth. This will remind your jaw muscles to relax.

Children also grind their teeth. They’re particularly prone to it when their baby teeth emerge and when they get their permanent teeth, and they often stop grinding once the teeth have become established. Children who grind their teeth should always be evaluated for sleep disordered breathing.

Teeth grinding may seem like a minor problem, but like any habit it becomes more entrenched over the years. After years of grinding, it can have a seriously negative impact on your oral health. Talk to us, your dentists, if you think bruxism may be a problem for you. We at Eggert Family Dentistry will help evaluate the problem and determine the right treatment for you!

Keep Your Mouth Healthy All Summer Long

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Summertime can make it hard for people to take good care of their teeth. Vacations, summer camp and days at the pool interfere with everyone’s schedule and unfortunately, brushing routines may suffer. Both kids and grownups may face the temptation of extra sugar, from donuts in the car on the way to the beach, to a cooler full of pop, to late night s’mores around the campfire.

Here are some tips for ensuring that when September comes, your teeth are in better shape than they were in June.

Remind kids to keep to their regular brushing and flossing schedule–and remind yourself, too.

Start summer with a fresh toothbrush for everyone, and a fresh travel brush too. Get travel-sized toothpastes for the whole family, and a few backup brushes for guests and to cover misplaced toothbrushes.

Keep the kitchen and cooler stocked with healthy snacks. Think fruits and vegetables instead of sweets. Sugar encourages bacteria and acidity in your mouth, which causes plaque to form and damage to easily occur with your enamel and gums. Every time you eat sugar, your mouth will boost acid production for up to 20 minutes.

Soda is especially harsh on teeth, containing phosphoric acid and citric acid, which weakens tooth enamel  and makes it more susceptible to cavities. Instead of soda and juice, choose iced tea or water perked up with sliced berries, citrus or cucumber and a few mint leaves.

Book check-ups before school starts again.  It is important that all members of your family see us at least  twice annually. This will also help reduce the chance that someone in your family will suffer tooth pain on vacation.

Quit tobacco. Nicotine and tar damage your gums, and encourage bacteria and plaque. Tobacco can also lead to oral cancer. Smoking and chewing are bad news for your oral health.

Have both kids and grownups wear the proper protective headgear and mouthguards for contact sports.

Enforce the rules around the pool–they’re ubiquitous for a reason! According to the Academy of General Dentistry, summer oral injuries often take place around the pool. Shallow-water dives, running on slippery pool decks, and bumping the pool ledge can easily chip or fracture a tooth or even knock one loose.

Put together a dental emergency kit for sports and vacations. Include a clean handkerchief, gauze, a clean small-lidded container, ibuprofen and our office’s contact information.

If you are around a dental injury, get the patient to our dental office ASAP. In the meantime, clean the area with warm water and apply a cold pack to reduce swelling. Use gauze to stop bleeding. If a permanent tooth has been knocked out, place it back in the mouth if possible. Otherwise, place it in salt water or milk to keep it moist and bring all fragments into our office with you.

We at Eggert Family Dentistry look forward to seeing you! Please come in for your summer checkup, and take good care of your teeth, mouth and gums so you can enjoy uneventful checkups for years to come.

3 Zoom Whitening Success Stories

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

This spring, Eggert Family Dentistry offered a promotion through this very newsletter and on Facebook for a discounted rate on Philips Zoom whitening. Zoom whitening is an in-office procedure that can instantly whiten your teeth 4 to 10 shades in less than two hours. The appointment consists of four 15-minute treatment sessions, after which we send you home with at-home whitening trays to maintain your bright results.

We had an overwhelming response to this promotion and were happy to see so many of our patients achieve amazing results using Zoom whitening! Check out the testimonials and before and after photos of three lucky patients who wanted to show you what your smile can look like with Zoom!

Alan’s Zoom Whitening Success Story
Alan said that he was hesitant about doing Zoom whitening. He wasn’t certain the results would be worth it. After seeing his results, though, Alan said he would definitely recommend Zoom whitening to anyone considering the procedure, saying, “It was worth it!”
Alan Zoom Before After SmileAlan Zoom Before After Teeth
Roxanne’s Zoom Whitening Success Story
Roxanne told us that before her appointment, she was really excited about doing Zoom whitening. Afterwards, she said she was definitely happy that her teeth looked so “clean and fresh.” Her advice for anyone considering Zoom? “Do it!”

Roxanne Zoom Before & After
Jim’s Zoom Whitening Success Story
Before his appointment, Jim said he was somewhat “leery” of Zoom whitening and wasn’t sure how much of a difference he would be able to see in the shade of his teeth. However, Jim said he was “amazed” after seeing the difference in his smile and was very pleased with his results!

Jim ZoomJim Zoom BeforeThanks for sharing your stories, Alan, Roxanne, and Jim! We’re so glad you’re happy with your Philips Zoom whitening results!

To schedule your Zoom whitening consultation, contact Eggert Family Dentistry today.

Jill’s Invisalign® Success Story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

A few months ago, Jill noticed her top teeth were shifting and her front teeth were starting to cross over each other. She also noticed more crowding on her bottom teeth, and she was starting to trap food because of it. We compared photos of Jill’s teeth from several years ago with her current smile and confirmed noticeable differences.

Jill’s teeth before (left) and after (right).

What did Jill want from her experience with Invisalign®?
Jill had been considering Invisalign® for some time. Her daughter had used Invisalign® teeth aligners and was very pleased with her results. Jill wanted to unravel the crowding on her own top and bottom front teeth. She imagined a future when she could clean her teeth better, eat without catching food between her teeth, and be proud to flash her beautiful smile.

How did Jill get started with Invisalign®?
First, we took impressions, photos, and x-rays of Jill’s teeth right at our office. Then, we sent them all to Invisalign®. In a short time, we could evaluate the 3D simulation of how Jill’s teeth could move with Invisalign® treatment. Jill was happy with the results of the 3D simulation and decided to proceed with treatment. Over a number of months, a sequence of 22 aligners would gradually move Jill’s teeth into place. Jill came into the office every 6 weeks to ensure her teeth were moving as expected. Small composite attachments were strategically and temporarily placed on the front surfaces of some of Jill’s teeth to help with tooth movements. These attachments easily blended in with her teeth, but were removed once her Invisalign® treatment was complete.

What does Jill think of her Invisalign® results?

Let’s hear it straight from Jill:

“My daughter went through Invisalign® and gave me the encouragement to do it. I understood the procedure and knew what to expect. I’m very happy with the results! I would encourage anyone considering Invisalign® to do it!”

Thanks for sharing your story, Jill! We’re so glad you’re happy with your Invisalign® results!

To schedule your Invisalign® consultation, contact Eggert Family Dentistry today.

Can Tooth Sensitivity Be Treated?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

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

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

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

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

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.