A New Smile with Porcelain Crowns – Mary’s Story

How did this start?
Mary had composite restorations on her upper front teeth that she had needed to have replaced several times since they were first done in the 1970’s. She noticed they were beginning to look discolored and wanted to have them replaced with something that would offer better long-term predictability. To find out her options, Mary went through the records process with Dr. Jeff. This process allows our doctors to determine the best course of treatment using models, x-rays, and photos of the patient’s teeth, gums, and bite.

What did she want?
While Mary was happy with the overall shade of her teeth, she had noticed some areas of discoloration that she wanted to correct. Mary was also concerned that her teeth appeared crowded and was hoping to improve their appearance.

What was involved?
Dr. Jeff recommended that Mary go through the records process so that he could asses the current health of the teeth and gums, and the function of her jaw and muscles. After the records were taken Dr. Jeff was able to formulate a treatment plan for Mary that would address her concerns with the appearance and position of her teeth, which he presented at her consult appointment. Dr. Jeff recommended Mary start with an orthodontic consult to learn about possible options for changing the position of her teeth to alleviate the crowding. Dr. Jeff explained that it would be ideal to move her teeth before doing any restorations on her upper teeth as it would allow him to be more conservative when preparing the teeth and would offer better long-term predictability. He then recommended Mary replace her existing composite restorations on her upper front teeth with porcelain crowns, as they would be stronger and more durable than composites and would give her teeth the consistent shade she desired.

After a lot of consideration, Mary decided to move forward with restoring her front teeth without doing orthodontics. Mary was not interested in taking the time it would need to move her teeth and she felt she could be happy with her results using restorations alone to improve her smile. Before starting her treatment, Dr. Jeff worked with a local lab to fabricate a wax mock-up of Mary’s new teeth to show her what they would look like. Mary was very happy with how they looked with the mock-up, and over the course of two appointments, Dr. Jeff prepared and restored her teeth with the final porcelain crowns.

What does she think?
Mary is excited to say that she likes her teeth much better now that she had them re-done. She thought the procedures were fast and professional. She would recommend the procedures to anyone as she notes “It wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it would be.” Mary loved working with our team and feels more confident with her brighter, straighter smile! Congratulations Mary! We love working with patients like you!

If you’ve been thinking about improving your smile, contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you!

Important Changes For Delta Dental of Minnesota

Recently, we learned that Delta Dental Insurance company has put into motion some major changes in their operations. Delta Dental of Minnesota will now be run under a different Delta Dental network.

What does this mean for you?

Patients who have historically had Delta Dental of Minnesota will receive new insurance cards with updated ID numbers and a new claim mailing address. It is VERY IMPORTANT for you to provide us with this new information to ensure proper handling of claims for any services completed within our office.

It is also important that the name you have registered with Delta Dental MATCH EXACTLY to the information on file with our office or your insurance claims will not process.

We want to minimize frustrations for all of us.

We understand that life is busy and it is easy to dismiss or not understand information about your insurance policy. We want to be able to help you use your insurance benefits whenever possible. Therefore, we will need every patient to update us with their new Delta Dental insurance information, including bringing in your new insurance card right away. We understand it can be frustrating to you if we are frequently asking you to update your information, however, we want to avoid any possibility that your claim won’t process.

These changes will be rolling out next month!

Please keep in mind, Delta Dental has put these changes into place and they plan to roll out these changes in November of this year. We cannot change the decision of your insurance company. These changes could make it difficult to obtain payment for your services, which is why we need you to bring in your new information to us. We are here to help work through these changes and we appreciate your support in advance. We also thank you for your upcoming patience and we want you to know we continue to appreciate all of you as our patients.

Thank you, in advance, for your help and cooperation. Please contact us with any questions you may have regarding this change, 651-482-8412 or online here.

Stress, Anxiety and Your Oral Health

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

It’s estimated that 40 million Americans battle an anxiety disorder, the effects of which can be debilitating. Anxiety can cause panic attacks, headaches, depression, muscle aches, fatigue…the list goes on. What most of us don’t consider, however, is the effect that anxiety can have on our oral health.

Common oral side effects

Bruxism: Stress and anxiety cause tension in the jaw which can lead to teeth grinding. If you suspect you’re grinding your teeth, speak with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff about a night guard to help protect your teeth from stress-related wear and tear.

TMD: When you experience stress or anxiety, you may clench your teeth and jaw. This tension causes stress on the temporomandibular joints which can cause temporomandibular disorder or TMD. At times, TMD can also be related to sleep and how you are (or are not!) sleeping. We have the ability to help you recognize signs and symptoms that your sleep may be broken or unhealthy. As with bruxism, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will likely recommend some kind of in-the-mouth appliance to ease jaw discomfort and protect these joints from wear. Learn more about TMD in one of our recent posts here!

Dry mouth: Many anti-anxiety medications, while effective at relieving anxiety, can reduce the production of saliva, leading to dry mouth. Without adequate saliva, it’s difficult for your mouth to rinse out food debris and plaque which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. It’s especially important to keep your mouth lubricated by sucking on sugar-free candy, chewing sugar-free gum and drinking plenty of water. Also, if you struggle with dry mouth, it’s especially important to brush and floss regularly as well as rinse with antibacterial and fluoridated mouthwash. Talk with us at your next recare visit as there are products we can recommend to help your dry mouth.

Lichen planus: Among other symptoms, stress can increase systemic inflammation. Inflammation increases the likelihood of developing mouth ulcers and white, lacy lines in the cheeks, known as lichen planus. This condition can cause a painful, burning sensation in the mouth and left untreated, has been linked to mouth cancer. Although it cannot be eliminated, you can reduce the symptoms of this bothersome condition in a number of ways. Learn more!

Cavities and gum disease: People who experience anxiety are more prone to dental phobia and therefore, oftentimes, avoid regular dental visits. When this occurs, oral health deteriorates and the instance of cavities and gum disease skyrockets. If you struggle with dental phobia, speak with Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff. They would love to explain our dental comforts and discuss how we can partner with you to make your visits as easy as possible!

Cold sores: Although the herpes simplex virus must be present for cold sores to develop, stress and anxiety can trigger an outbreak. It’s important to treat cold sores with an over-the-counter cream immediately to reduce the chances of spreading the virus to others.

Take charge of your oral health

Therapy, medications and regular exercise are just a few ways to reduce stress and anxiety before they wreak havoc on your oral health.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we know that your mental health affects your oral health and we believe that they are both equally important components of overall wellness. If you’re concerned that your oral health is being compromised on account of stress or anxiety in your life, we recommend making an appointment with your primary physician as well as with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff at 651.482.8412.

Learn more about the connection between mental health and oral health here!

6 Ways to Help Ease Dental Phobia

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

As we covered in our previous post, people experience varying levels of anxiety about going to the dentist. There is, however, a percentage of the population that experiences dental phobia and avoids the dentist altogether. Fortunately, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff of Eggert Family Dentistry recognize this struggle and work hard to ease patients’ fears.

Ways to ease dental phobia

According to the Dental Research Journal, 5-14% of people battle dental phobia. If you count yourself among this group and avoid routine dental care on account of irrational fears and feelings of terror, you will be relieved to learn that there are some excellent ways you and our dentists can work together to ease your phobia:

  1. Music: Routine cleanings and most procedures are conducive to headphones. If you want to play music to calm your nerves, please do. We have overhead music, but if you prefer to listen to your own, bring your personal music device along. We have headphones available or you can bring your own.
  2. Cable TV: It is also possible to watch your favorite TV shows as we have cable TV available with headphones in every procedure room.
  3. Calming techniques: Sometimes the best way to ease your nerves in our chair is by practicing a variety of calming techniques. Deep breathing and visualization are two great go-to’s! Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff, as well as their assistants, Tracy and Heather, are very good at recognizing when you might need help with your breathing and are great at coaching you through any difficulties.
  4. Hand signals: If feeling like you have no control when you’re in the dentist’s chair feeds your anxiety, speak with us about the use of hand signals. Communicating with us by simply raising your hand when you need a break or if you are experiencing any pain during your appointment can be enough to take the edge off that helpless feeling.
  5. Communication: Talk about your fears with Dr. Elizabeth, Dr. Jeff, and our team. Sometimes, just having those fears validated is enough to quell them. This also gives us an opportunity to offer you updated information about the impending procedure and correct any misconceptions.
  6. Medications: If you struggle with dental phobia, there are some sedatives available, but often aren’t needed when the techniques above are implemented. We also can use nitrous oxide gas (laughing gas) as an especially safe and effective in-office choice.

Our Comforts

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we work hard to make sure our patients are physically comfortable and mentally at ease. That’s why we have available a variety of comforts:

  • Warm neck and hand wraps
  • Spa hand treatments
  • Nitrous oxide
  • Comfy blankets
  • Headphones
  • Coffee, tea, water
  • Wi-Fi
  • Cable TV in every treatment room
  • State-of-the-art technology, including:
    -Intraoral cameras – Your dentist or hygienist can take pictures of what they are seeing in your mouth to help them explain to you why they are recommending certain treatments.
    -Laser dentistry – It’s typically more comfortable and less invasive than traditional methods.
    -Digital x-rays
  • Relaxed environment
  • Wooded scenery great for wildlife viewing
  • Convenient location

Tracy talks about the comfort measures at Eggert Family Dentistry.

If you want to learn more about the Comforts we offer and how we ease dental phobia here at Eggert Family Dentistry, give us a call at 651.482.8412. We are happy to further discuss how we can make your next visit your best one yet!

Could I Have Dental Phobia?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Dental anxiety is a widespread problem. Most of us know at least a few people who struggle with it…maybe you’re even one of them. However, when push comes to shove, most people with dental anxiety can still maintain their routine dental visits. Dental phobia, however, is a much more serious condition. Let’s take a look at what dental phobia is, what it can be attributed to and the side effects of dental phobia.

Signs of dental phobia

People who struggle with dental phobia experience dread and terror at the mere thought of the dentist and avoid going to the dental office all together unless they are in extreme pain. In addition to avoidance, dental phobia is characterized by insomnia leading up to a dental appointment, crying, nervousness, panic or an upset stomach in the waiting room or exam room.

Causes of dental phobia

Dental phobia can stem from a variety of underlying fears:

  •  The fear of experiencing pain: Often attributed to bad childhood experiences or to other people’s horror stories, the fear of pain is one of the biggest contributors to dental phobia. Fortunately, with advancements in dental technology, most dental procedures today are virtually pain-free.
  • The fear of anesthetics: While used to calm, sedate or numb patients, people with dental phobia often fear anesthetics and their side effects such as nausea, dizziness or the “fat lip” feeling.
  • The fear of vulnerability: Many people with dental phobia say they fear having someone working within inches of their face and in their mouth. They also don’t want to feel helpless and want to be unable to see what’s going on.

Side effects

Left untreated, dental phobia can cause a variety of problems. Because people who suffer from dental phobia avoid regular dental visits and often delay needed dental work, they can develop gum disease and severe tooth decay and can experience early tooth loss. These unfortunate side effects can drastically impact a person’s self esteem and often these victims begin to withdraw socially. Worse yet, poor oral health has been proven to negatively impact a person’s heart and lung health and can lead to decreased life expectancy.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we rally around our patients. We want to make sure you get the care you need and that you’re as comfortable as possible! If you or a loved one struggle with dental anxiety or dental phobia and would like to learn how we can help, give us a call at 651.482.8412.

Invisalign – Beth’s Story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Where did Beth start?

Beth went through traditional orthodontics as a teenager, but didn’t wear her retainers afterward and as a result her teeth eventually became crowded again. Beth wanted her teeth to be straight, but she didn’t like the look of traditional braces, especially as an adult in the professional world. Dr. Elizabeth talked with Beth about Invisalign orthodontics and how it could help fix her crowding and improve her bite.

What was involved?

We sent impressions, photos, and x-rays of Beth’s teeth to Invisalign where they created a 3D simulation of how her teeth could move with Invisalign treatment. Beth was very happy with the simulation, which showed a significant improvement to her crowding, and decided to move forward with Invisalign. As part of Beth’s Invisalign treatment, Dr. Elizabeth slenderized some of Beth’s teeth to create more space for her teeth to better alleviate her crowding.

Beth’s case was expected to consist of 15 aligners that she would wear for two weeks at a time. Beth was very compliant and consistent in wearing her aligners as instructed and was able to complete her case after 15 aligners as expected. After her Invisalign treatment was complete, Dr. Elizabeth made minor alterations to the biting surface of some of Beth’s teeth to remove interferences and even out her bite. This process is called equilibration and will help to prevent Beth’s new smile from further wear.

What does Beth think?

While Beth admits going through Invisalign was a big commitment, she says her final results were well worth it. One of the biggest reasons Beth pursued orthodontic treatment was that she wanted to feel more confident in her smile. After finishing her Invisalign, she says she no longer feels any hesitation to show her teeth. When we asked Beth what she would tell someone considering Invisalign, her response was “Go for it!”

We are so happy that we could help restore Beth’s confidence in her smile. Congratulations, Beth, on your wonderful results!

Are you interested in Invisalign? Give us a call at 651.482.8412. We would be happy to schedule a consultation for you with Dr. Elizabeth to decide whether Invisalign is the right option for you!

All About Dental Extractions

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

We’ve probably all heard and used the phrase, “It’s like pulling teeth to _____,” meaning that it’s hard to get cooperation from the “patient” when it comes to a certain task. In reality, while a dental extraction is an important procedure that requires careful prep, planning, execution and recovery, it’s not one patients need to dread. Let’s take an up-close look at dental extractions and what patients can expect from them.

Some scenarios that necessitate a tooth extraction

Trauma to a tooth, severe tooth decay and crowding are three primary reasons teeth are extracted. Also, if a person is immunocompromised and has a tooth that runs a high risk for infection, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff may choose to pull that tooth prophylactically.

Why it’s critical to disclose your medical history prior to a tooth extraction

For some patients, their health history makes them more prone to infection or complications from infection. In these cases, antibiotics are prescribed before, during and after an extraction procedure. Some of these health conditions include congenital heart defects, liver disease, artificial joints and a weak immune system.

What you can expect prior to and during a tooth extraction

  • Prior to an extraction, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff administer a local anesthetic to numb the area surrounding the tooth.
  • Once the area is sufficiently numb, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff gently move the tissue away from the tooth and then hold the tooth with a tooth forceps, rocking it back and forth until it becomes dislodged.
  • Once the tooth is removed, you will bite on soft gauze to control any bleeding. This also encourages a clot to form over the extraction site.

Post-procedure protocol

Following an extraction, there is a certain protocol that must be followed to encourage proper healing of the extraction site.

  • You will bite on gauze for 30 minutes to help the clot form. You may need to use gauze again in the first 24 hours should the area start bleeding.
  • As soon as possible, apply ice to the affected area in 10-minute increments to keep swelling down.
  • Take care not to dislodge the clot by avoiding forceful rinsing or spitting and avoiding brushing and flossing the extraction area for the first 24 hours.
  • 24 hours after the extraction, rinse mouth with warm salt water 2-3 times each day for a few days. This encourages the tissue to heal faster.
  • Avoid smoking, drinking through a straw or eating solid foods for at least 24 hours after the extraction procedure.

When to call Eggert Family Dentistry

Some discomfort and bleeding following a tooth extraction is perfectly normal and can be managed with Over The Counter pain medications, gauze and ice. However, if pain or bleeding become severe or if you develop a fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, excessive swelling, a cough or shortness of breath, contact Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff immediately.

Within 1-2 weeks, the extraction site starts to feel more normal as new bone and gum tissue grow in. Keep in mind, however, that the bone is still healing and changing for 6-8 weeks following an extraction.

If you’re interested in learning more about the ins and outs of dental extractions or think you might be a candidate for an extraction, contact Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff at 651.482.8412.

Wisdom Teeth: What’s the Deal?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Wisdom teeth, or third molars, typically emerge in a person’s late teens to early twenties. More often than not, these teeth present problems and need to be surgically removed. Let’s take a look at some specifics so you know what to watch for!

What does it mean if my wisdom teeth are impacted?

Wisdom teeth are fully impacted if they remain completely below the gumline. Teeth can also be partially impacted if they only partially erupt. When wisdom teeth are impacted they may grow in at an angle or stay trapped within the jawbone.

What problems can arise when my wisdom teeth are impacted?

  • The nature of molars makes them difficult to reach with a toothbrush and floss. This can be particularly problematic when it comes to wisdom teeth since they reside in the very back of your mouth. Partially impacted wisdom teeth are not only hard to reach with a toothbrush and floss but food and bacteria can easily become trapped between the wisdom teeth and the gum tissue, leading to tooth decay or gum disease.
  • When impacted wisdom teeth move, they can put pressure on neighboring teeth and cause discomfort and damage. This pressure can also lead to crowding of teeth and cause misalignment, necessitating orthodontic treatment.
  • In rare cases, a cyst can form around the tooth and cause damage to the jawbone, teeth and nerves.

Symptoms that my wisdom teeth are causing problems

While impacted wisdom teeth don’t always cause symptoms, these are some common symptoms they may cause:

  • Tender, swollen, bleeding gums
  • Swelling around the jaw
  • Jaw pain and difficulty opening your mouth
  • Headaches or ear aches
  • Unpleasant taste in your mouth/bad breath

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we recommend regular six-month recare visits as a preventative way to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. We also closely monitor wisdom teeth activity with x-rays and watch for signs that they may need to be removed. If you’re concerned about your wisdom teeth, call to schedule a recare visit with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff at 651.482.8412!

Tooth Replacement Options

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Losing a permanent tooth can be a scary situation. Unfortunately, missing a tooth can keep people from smiling – one of our favorite things! Fortunately, there are some excellent options when it comes to replacing a lost tooth. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we offer three primary solutions for missing teeth: implants, bridges, and partial dentures.

Implants

As opposed to bridges that are anchored to natural teeth, implants are titanium fixtures that are anchored to the jawbone underneath the gums. Once the base of the implants is securely fastened, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will place an abutment on the fixture and affix the realistic, tooth-looking crown.

All candidates for dental implants must have healthy gums and a sturdy jawbone. Implants are most similar to natural teeth and can last for decades.

Bridges

Bridges “bridge” the gap left behind by the missing tooth with a prosthetic, or fake, tooth. Bridges have been used for ages and they generally hold up well. They can be more difficult to keep clean since teeth are fused together.

There are three main types of bridges:

Traditional bridge: These bridges join the natural teeth with fake, or pontic teeth. Traditional bridges are the most common types of bridges and are anchored by crowns on the natural teeth.

Cantilever bridge: These bridges are similar to traditional bridges. However, they only anchor to one natural tooth as opposed to two. It is much more difficult to assure the bridge can withstand chewing forces, but cantilever bridges can be good for certain situations.

Maryland bridge: These bridges fuse the pontic tooth to the back of the adjacent teeth with metal bands. Again, a Maryland bridge isn’t able to function as well as natural teeth, but under some circumstances, they are nice as they are very conservative for the anchor teeth.

Partial dentures

Partial dentures, or partials, are fake teeth attached to a metal frame. The frames have a plastic, gum-colored base, camouflaging them amidst the natural teeth and gums. Partial dentures fit fairly snugly between the natural teeth and can sometimes be repaired if necessary.

Dentures have been a popular go-to because they are often less expensive than bridges or implants. However, they can take some time to adjust to since they will never function as well as natural teeth.

If you’re missing a permanent tooth, give us a call at 651.482.8412. We would be happy to schedule a consultation for you with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff in order to help you determine which solution is right for you!

The Power of the Records Process – John’s Story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?

John had existing restorations on some of his upper front teeth which were done several years prior and were beginning to break down and decay. John wanted to preserve the function of his teeth and was also interested in improving their appearance. Dr. Elizabeth recommended he go through the Records Process to determine the best way to restore his teeth.

What is the Records Process?

The Records Process consists of two appointments. At John’s first appointment, Dr. Elizabeth took x-rays and photos of his teeth and did a comprehensive muscle and joint evaluation. She also took impressions of his teeth that she used to make models of his mouth. Over the next couple of weeks, Dr. Elizabeth used these models in conjunction with the information collected at his Records Appointment to analyze the current condition of John’s teeth and develop a treatment plan for him. She then put all of this information into a PowerPoint presentation that she reviewed with John when he returned for the second appointment, his case presentation.

What was revealed during the Records Process?

The details of the Records Process revealed that the current position of John’s teeth was putting them at high risk for continued wear. Dr. Elizabeth told John that if she replaced his veneer on his upper front tooth without addressing his bite and the position of his teeth, it was likely to eventually break or begin to decay again, and his other teeth would be more susceptible to wear. John also indicated that he frequently had muscle pain in his neck and after listening to all the connections Dr. Elizabeth made at his case presentation, he wondered if it might be related to clenching his teeth.

What did Dr. Elizabeth recommend?

Dr. Elizabeth recommended starting with splint therapy so that John’s jaw muscles would be more relaxed and stable for eventual tooth movement. Dr. Elizabeth suggested he use an anterior deprogrammer, a small appliance worn on the upper front teeth to prevent the back teeth from touching and clenching together. After using the anterior deprogrammer for six months and undergoing some physical therapy for whole body alignment, John stopped clenching almost completely and noticed a significant improvement in his muscle pain. Dr. Elizabeth determined that he was ready to move forward with orthodontics.
Dr. Elizabeth recommended orthodontics for John to move his teeth into the ideal position before restoring them and set them up for less wear over time. Dr. Elizabeth thought John would be a good candidate for Invisalign, and John elected to do that instead of traditional braces. He completed his Invisalign treatment, after wearing a total of 42 aligners, in about one year.

Next, Dr. Elizabeth recommended the Zoom! whitening in-office bleaching procedure to get John the whiter smile he wanted. After his two-hour session, John was happy to see that his teeth had lightened by three full shades.

With his teeth being his desired shade, John was ready for his final restorations. John wanted his upper front teeth to be uniform in shape and size. For this reason, he decided to do veneers on all of his upper front teeth. Dr. Elizabeth worked with a local lab to create a wax model of the veneers so John could make sure he was happy with their size and shape before having the final restorations fabricated. John went through the veneer procedures and in a short time, had his final smile.

What does John think of his new smile?

From the beginning, John was very excited about his treatment and the prospect of improving not only the function and appearance of his teeth, but also his overall health. John had been experiencing neck and hip pain for about a year before undergoing the records process and is thrilled that the combination of splint therapy and physical therapy has resolved his issues. He loves the appearance of his smile with his new veneers and he’s happy knowing that they will function properly and because he opted for the most comprehensive treatment, he will have the most long-term predictability.

When asked what he would say to someone considering similar treatment, John said “Do it! Your teeth are important and the associated effects are important too”.