Restoring Teeth with Implants: When Infections Cause the Need for Creativity. Judy’s Story.

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?

Judy came to her regular 6-month recare appointment and mentioned that she thought one of her front teeth was turning darker.  Joanna, our hygienist, noticed an issue right away as it looked as if Judy may be developing an infection near that upper front tooth.  Joanna took an x-ray and Dr. Elizabeth did some tests and it was evident that Judy had lost a lot of bone near the roots of some upper front teeth. For an unknown reason (likely a trauma that occurred long ago), Judy’s teeth had started dying, creating an infection and bone loss.  Dr. Elizabeth referred Judy to the root canal specialist and Dr. Aguirre confirmed the extent of the damage with a 3-D x-ray.  Dr. Aguirre agreed that the lesion was excessively large.  He was not confident that root canals alone could clear the infection so recommended that Judy work with an oral surgeon to remove the teeth, the infection, place a bone graft, and hopefully implant(s).

Because Judy didn’t remember any past trauma to her teeth and because of the extent of the bone loss could render all traditional treatment options unpredictable, Dr. Elizabeth recommended Judy undergo the records process to determine all her options going forward.

What did Judy want?

Judy wanted to be able to have front teeth and she wanted to be able to predictably clear her infection.  She agreed to go through the records process to learn about her options and hopefully determine if her current bite could be part of the reason for the trauma that caused her infection.  It was also important to Judy to be able to eat and speak normally after her teeth were restored.  She met with Dr. Wade, an oral surgeon, who agreed that two teeth should come out.  He was fairly confident that the infection was confined to only two teeth.  He noted a large bone graft would be needed for Judy and implants would not be able to be placed until the graft was fully integrated.  He recommended Judy have a temporary denture made to replace her teeth for awhile.

What was involved?

At the records appointment, Dr. Elizabeth took photos and x-rays of Judy’s teeth and did a thorough muscle and joint evaluation.  She used the information gathered at that appointment to develop possible treatment options for Judy.  It was evident after the bite analysis of the records process that Judy has an anterior open bite, which means that her upper and lower front teeth don’t meet up with each other.  This concerned Dr. Elizabeth the most because it meant that Judy’s bite may not adjust well to change, but we knew Judy would undergo a change because of the infection.  There was also a risk that her other two front teeth (or possibly more) could eventually become infected so any plan for Judy had to allow for flexibility in the future.  Dr. Elizabeth presented Judy with multiple options, including implant-based options, a tooth-based bridge option, or a long-term removable partial denture.  In the end, Judy’s treatment choice could have been limited by what would be discovered during surgery, but Judy wanted to restore the missing teeth with one implant that would hold two teeth (better for gum esthetics) and she wanted to repair her bite to make her upper and lower front teeth touch.  This would help with long-term functionality and predictability.

Judy had 2 teeth extracted, the infection removed, and a large bone graft placed by Dr. Wade.  Dr. Elizabeth had a temporary partial denture ready to insert after surgery.  In addition, Dr. Elizabeth built up the edges of Judy’s other front teeth to mimic what her final restorations would look like.

Once the bone graft was integrated, Dr. Wade went back for another surgery to place an implant for Judy.  One implant was placed that would eventually hold and replace two teeth.  After three additional months of healing, Dr. Wade placed a customized healing abutment to help shape the tissue for the eventual tooth restorations.  Judy continued to wear her temporary partial denture during this time.  Dr. Elizabeth also wanted to influence the tissue at the site for her “other tooth” so she built up Judy’s temporary partial denture to put pressure on the tissue and shape it so it would eventually look like a tooth is emerging from the tissue.

During the healing time, Judy also decided she wanted to lighten the color of her teeth so she underwent the Zoom bleaching procedure and improved her shade to 5 times brighter!  Finally, Judy did the final planning with Dr. Elizabeth, completing a lab wax-up, like a blue print, for her future restorations.  When the surgeon gave the “all-clear,” Dr. Elizabeth prepared Judy’s remaining upper front teeth and got impressions of the implant site so 5 restorations could be fabricated for her 6 front teeth.

What does Judy think?

Judy had a long treatment process.  She notes she learned a lot as a lot went into the decision making.  Judy notes “I didn’t have a choice, it was something that had to be done.  It was interesting to learn more about my bite and what it would mean to have longer teeth in the end.”

Judy notes she thinks her teeth look “very nice” and is happy to be done with everything.  “It was a bigger procedure than I expected, but it turned out nice in the end!”

We’re so grateful to have you as a patient, Judy – thank you for putting your trust in us!  It was a pleasure to be able to use our creative thinking skills to help you through this interesting case.

What Is a Root Canal, and What Should I Expect If I Have One?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

The root canal. That nightmare-inspiring procedure that strikes terror into the hearts of nearly every dental patient. Many patients have gone so far as to avoid their regular exams and cleanings for fear of it (which, of course, backfires by causing minor dental issues to worsen).

But due to improvements in technology and anesthesia over the years, the root canal procedure has become much more comfortable (and less scary) for the majority of people.

Still, you may find yourself full of anxious questions about this procedure, such as:

  • What is a root canal exactly?
  • What are some symptoms that indicate I might need a root canal?
  • What should I expect during a root canal procedure?
  • What is the healing process like, and how long does it take to heal?

To alleviate your fears, we’re here to answer these common questions.

What Is a Root Canal Procedure?

The root canal is the part of your tooth’s anatomy that includes the pulp (the soft interior of your tooth containing blood vessels and nerves) that extends down into the roots of your tooth.

A root canal dental procedure — commonly referred to simply as a “root canal” — treats inflammation and infection in the pulp of your tooth. When the pulp of your tooth becomes infected, you may have pain and tenderness around the affected tooth. A root canal procedure is the process of removing the infected pulp, cleaning and reshaping the interior of the root canal, and filling and sealing it to prevent future infection.

You may be wondering, “How can the inside of my tooth become infected?”

When your tooth is cracked, chipped, or otherwise damaged, or has a cavity that has been left untreated, its defenses are down. Oral bacteria can enter through those openings and infect your tooth’s pulp.

The benefits of a root canal include:

  • Relieving pain, swelling, or other symptoms
  • Preventing infection from spreading to other teeth
  • Saving the natural tooth (rather than extracting it and replacing with a dental implant, bridge, or partial)
  • Reducing the risk of damage to your jaw

Depending on the severity of your case, a root canal may be performed by Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff or an endodontist (a root canal specialist). If, after an exam and x-rays,we find that your case is more serious,we will refer you to an endodontist.

What Are the Symptoms That Indicate I Might Need a Root Canal?

A root canal is a common and effective procedure—according to the American Association of Endodontists, 15 million root canals are performed each year, with a 98% success rate.

In some cases, a patient doesn’t know they have an infected tooth until they have an exam. But many others experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Continuous tooth pain. Pain deep in your tooth that doesn’t go away. The pain may also radiate to your other teeth, jaw, or face.
  • Heat/cold sensitivity. Your tooth hurts when eating or drinking very hot or very cold foods or beverages, and the pain lingers or takes a while to dissipate.
  • Swollen gums. Your gums may be swollen, tender, or discolored around the affected tooth.
  • “Boil” or pimple on your gums. Pus from the affected tooth can form a boil or pimple on your gums. The pus may drain, leaving an unpleasant taste or smell in your mouth.
  • Swollen jaw. Your jaw may become swollen from the pus created by the infection.
  • Tooth discoloration. Infected pulp can restrict the blood supply to your tooth, causing it to appear darker than your other teeth.
  • Pain when you apply pressure. Your tooth will often feel tender when you chew or otherwise put pressure on the tooth. This may be due to damaged nerves around the pulp.
  • Chipped or cracked tooth. If you have a chip or crack in your tooth, bacteria can reach the pulp and cause an infection.
  • Loose tooth. Pus from the infected pulp can soften the bone supporting the tooth, making it feel loose.

    What Should I Expect During a Root Canal Procedure?

Before you have a root canal done, we will take x-rays of the affected area so we can determine the extent of the infection and confirm that a root canal is the right course of action.

Then, on the day of your root canal, we’ll:

  1. Review your x-rays and apply a local anesthetic. We’ll go over your x-rays with you, then apply a local anesthetic to numb the infected tooth and the gums surrounding it.
  2. Place a dental dam. We’ll use a dental dam (a protective rubber sheet) to isolate the affected tooth and keep it dry during the procedure.
  3. Create an access opening. To access the infected pulp, we’ll make a small opening into the biting surface of your tooth.
  4. Remove the infected pulp. We’ll remove the infected pulp inside the tooth, then clean and disinfect the canal.
  5. Reshape the canals. We’ll then reshape the canal to prepare it for filling.
  6. Fill the canal. We’ll fill the empty canal with a flexible, rubber-like material and seal it with a dental filling.
  7. Place the final restoration. On a subsequent visit, we’ll fit a permanent crown or other restoration to protect the treated tooth and restore your bite. Avoid chewing with the treated tooth until we place the final restoration.

The entire root canal procedure takes about 60-90 minutes on average, but can take longer depending on the severity of your case.

What Is the Healing Process Like?

After a root canal, many patients feel immediate relief from their symptoms, because the infected pulp that was causing pain was removed.

You shouldn’t have significant pain after your root canal procedure, but you may experience some tooth sensitivity for a few days. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever can help; if not, we may prescribe a pain reliever or occasionally an antibiotic. In most cases, any side effects dissipate over the course of a week or two.

Most patients are able to return to work or school the following day. You can eat after your procedure (once the numbness wears off), but stick to softer foods (pastas, mashed potatoes, yogurt, etc) for a couple of days. As your comfort level improves, you can introduce other foods.

After your procedure, it’s important to keep the treated area clean. Brush and floss normally and use an antibacterial mouthwash. If you don’t yet have your final restoration in place, avoid chewing on the treated tooth until you do.

Think You Might Need a Root Canal? Schedule an Appointment

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed earlier in this article, contact Eggert Family Dentistry right away to schedule an exam with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff. If you do have an infected tooth, it’s important that you be treated as soon as possible to relieve your discomfort and prevent the infection from spreading. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 651-482-8412.

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Tooth Swelling: What Causes It and What Can Be Done About It?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Swelling of your teeth or gums can be painful. It can make chewing and swallowing difficult, and in some cases the pain can be so severe that it disrupts your life. Tooth and gum swelling can also be signs of a potentially serious dental issue, and shouldn’t be ignored or left untreated.

The good news is that good oral care and regular exams by your dentists at Eggert Family Dentistry can help prevent tooth swelling and the various conditions that cause it.

Let’s take a closer look at the symptoms and causes of gum and tooth swelling, as well as the ways Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth can treat the underlying issues and get you back to feeling your best.

Symptoms of Tooth and Gum Swelling

Swelling and pain can often come on suddenly. Pain can range from mild to severe, and can be constant and throbbing or may come and go. With tooth or gum swelling, you might experience:

  • Swelling around a single tooth or in larger areas inside your mouth
  • Swelling of the jaw or face
  • Painful chewing
  • Bleeding gums
  • Sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods
  • Pain in your head, ears, or jaw

In some cases, tooth pain and swelling can be accompanied by a fever or even trouble breathing or swallowing. If this happens, it’s important to receive care immediately.

Common Causes of Gum and Tooth Swelling

There are a wide range of underlying issues that can cause swelling of the teeth and gums. These include:

Tooth Abscess

Caused by a bacterial infection, a tooth abscess can present at the tip of the root (periapically) or on the side of the root (periodontally). You can also experience an abscess in your gums (gingival). An abscess in a tooth typically follows a cavity or dental injury of some kind, as cracks in the teeth provide a pathway for bacteria to enter. If you have a tooth abscess, you may experience:

  • Throbbing toothache that may spread to your neck, ear, or jawbone
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Face or neck swelling
  • Painful biting or chewing

Always seek dental treatment from your professionals at Eggert Family Dentistry for an abscess. Even if it drains on its own, you should still visit us to make sure the infection hasn’t spread. We can help you treat the abscess by draining it and may prescribe antibiotics to treat the underlying infection. In some cases a tooth extraction or root canal may be necessary.

Irritation From Wisdom Teeth

As wisdom teeth come in, you may experience some swelling and pain. This can happen if wisdom teeth are impacted (trapped beneath your gums). It can also happen as they break through the gums, leaving spaces where bacteria can cause a gum infection and painful swelling. The solution in this case is typically removal of the wisdom teeth.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is an early form of gum disease. It commonly causes swollen, red, and irritated gums that may bleed when you brush your teeth. Gingivitis can be addressed with improved oral care and avoiding sugary food and drinks, but you should also have your dentist do a thorough examination. They may recommend additional treatments.

Dental Injury

Dental injuries can also cause swollen teeth or gums. Dental trauma is a common occurrence that can happen to anyone. Some of the dental injuries we see often are:

  • Lost crowns or fillings
  • Damaged braces
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • Partially dislodged or knocked-out teeth

Learn more about dental trauma in our recent blog, including ways to avoid it and what to do in an emergency.

Medications or Allergic Reaction

Some medications can have side effects that include tooth or gum swelling. If you think your swelling and pain could be caused by medication, check with your medical doctor to determine if that is a common side effect.

Some people may also react to certain ingredients in their toothpaste or mouthwash. If you notice irritation of your teeth or gums after brushing your teeth or using mouthwash, stop using it and switch to a different brand or type to see if it clears up. If not, consult with your dental professionals at Eggert Family Dentistry to determine if another issue could be the cause of the irritation.

In addition to the above, tooth or gum pain and swelling can also be caused by tooth decay, a loose filling, or various medical issues, including a vitamin C deficiency, sinus infection, mouth sores, or problems with the jaw.

What Is the Treatment for Tooth Swelling and Pain?

Swollen or painful gums or teeth can be a serious issue, and it’s important to treat it as such.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, the first thing you should do is reach out to our office so Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth can determine your best course of action — especially if your symptoms last more than a couple of days.

We will ask a series of questions and do a thorough examination to determine the cause of your pain and swelling and can then recommend the best treatment. Questions will include information about your dental history and the details of the pain — when it started, what it feels like, what other symptoms you’re having, and so on. We will also take x-rays to determine the extent of the issue.

The treatment will depend on the root cause of your swelling. We may prescribe antibiotics or other medications to treat the pain and target any infection.

In addition, there are a few things you can do at home to care for yourself and minimize your pain. These include:

  • Rinse or gargle with warm salt water to help rinse away any bacteria.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil or Tylenol can help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Eat easy-to-chew foods and avoid very hot or very cold beverages.
  • Lie with your head propped up on a pillow. Lying flat can make dental pain feel worse.
  • Hold a cold compress against the side of your face to relieve pain and reduce swelling.

It’s important to note that while these things will provide some relief, they won’t solve the underlying issue causing your tooth or gum swelling. Visiting your dentists at Eggert Family Dentistry will still be necessary for a full recovery.

If you aren’t able to get in to see us right away, and your tooth pain and swelling is accompanied by a fever, facial swelling, or trouble breathing or swallowing, you should visit the emergency room for treatment.

Preventing Tooth and Gum Swelling

Luckily, most of the issues that cause tooth or gum swelling can be prevented with good oral care and regular exams with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff here at Eggert Family Dentistry.

Excellent oral care includes brushing after meals with fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush, and flossing daily with traditional dental floss or a water flosser. Eating a healthy diet and avoiding sugary foods and tobacco products will also help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Keep Tooth and Gum Swelling at Bay by Scheduling Your Next Dental Appointment

Whether you are currently experiencing swelling or pain in your teeth or gums, or it’s simply time for your regular recare visit, take the time to schedule your next dental appointment now. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff, call our office at 651-482-8412.

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Acute Jaw Pain: What Causes It and How Do We Treat It?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Chronic or intense jaw pain can be debilitating, making it difficult to speak or eat properly. When the pain is severe enough, it can even disrupt your sleep or limit your ability to function normally in your everyday life.

Jaw pain can include jaw tenderness, pain when you bite down, pain in or around your ears, and headaches. There are many possible causes of jaw pain, so it can be challenging to diagnose what is causing it.

Read on to learn some of the common causes of acute jaw pain and how we treat it here at Eggert Family Dentistry using a device called the Aqualizer®.

Common Causes of Jaw Pain

While over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatories can temporarily reduce jaw pain, to properly treat it you need to determine the root cause.

There are several conditions that can contribute to severe jaw pain, some of which are related to dental health, but not all. It’s important to consult both Dr. Eggert and your physician to diagnose the cause of your jaw pain. They will do a thorough exam, which may include dental X-rays, CT scans, or blood work.

The most common causes of jaw pain include:

Decayed or Abscessed Teeth

Pain from tooth decay or a tooth abscess can radiate to the jaw. Treatment may include fillings, crowns, a root canal, or extraction, depending on the severity of the problem.

Gum Infection

A gum infection is usually caused by bacteria that multiplies due to poor oral hygiene. The most effective initial treatment is a deep cleaning called scaling and root planing. Occasionally adding localized antibiotics can also improve the infection. Improved oral hygiene can help manage the gum disease caused by a gum infection and hopefully prevent future acute incidents.

Cluster Headaches or Migraines

A migraine typically presents as a throbbing headache on one side of the head, while a cluster headache usually starts as pain behind or around one of the eyes. Both can also send pain to the jaw. There are also times when overuse of the jaw muscles or jaw joint can send pain signals that manifest as cluster headaches or migraines.

Sinus or Ear Infections

Infections of the sinuses or ear canals can also cause pain to radiate to the jaw. When sinuses or ears become infected, often an excess of mucus puts pressure on the jaw joint, causing pain.

Heart Attack or Angina

Jaw pain can sometimes accompany a heart attack or angina. During a heart attack, pain can radiate to the arms, back, neck, or jaw. Women are especially likely to experience jaw pain on the left side when having a heart attack.

If you experience any of the following symptoms along with your jaw pain (even if you don’t have chest pain) you should immediately call 911:

  • Chest discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Feeling faint

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition commonly caused by compression of the trigeminal nerve—a large, three-part cranial nerve that provides sensation to a large portion of the face, including the upper and lower jaws. This condition causes brief but excruciating jaw and facial pain on one side of the face. It can feel like shooting, stabbing, or electrical pain, and can mimic dental pain. Treatment for trigeminal neuralgia typically involves medication or surgery.

TMJ or TMD

Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, or Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) are the most common causes of jaw pain. The temporomandibular joints are the hinge joints on each side of your jaw. Pain can originate in either the joints themselves or the muscles surrounding the joints. This condition can be difficult to treat because there are multiple potential causes, including: muscle pain, jaw joint injury, overstimulation of the jaw joint, a displaced disc, or arthritis of the protective disc that cushions the jaw joint.

Damage to the jaw joint or the muscles that control your jaw movement can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Grinding your teeth
  • Involuntarily clenching your jaw due to stress or anxiety
  • Jaw joint trauma, such as a sports injury or other facial injury
  • Upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) and lack of reparative sleep

TMJ or TMD muscle tension can often be treated with muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, or a custom fitted dental orthotic (similar in concept and shape to a mouth guard). Joint dysfunction is generally treated with anti-inflammatories and sometimes arthroscopic surgery.

Bruxism

A person with Bruxism grinds or clenches their teeth, either while sleeping or even throughout the day—and in most cases, they don’t realize they’re doing it. Bruxism is generally caused by stress, and it can, in turn, cause jaw pain. Bruxism can often be treated using a custom fitted dental orthotic—a splint typically worn at night, but sometimes with some day use if needed.

Treating Acute Jaw Pain with the Aqualizer®

At Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff use a device called the Aqualizer® to treat acute jaw pain.

The Aqualizer® is a self-adjusting dental splint used to diagnose how much a patient’s dental bite contributes to their jaw or facial pain. The extent that it helps relieve this pain indicates whether dental treatment will be an effective solution.

The Aqualizer® works by allowing the jaw muscles to automatically reposition the jaw to where it naturally works best. It allows the body to correct bite distortions to restore optimal function and balance. Biting down on the Aqualizer® causes the fluid contained in the device to distribute the bite force evenly across the bite, relieving jaw pressure and pain.

This device is meant to be used short-term and is helpful for acute jaw pain related to TMJ or Bruxism. In addition to treating jaw pain, it can also bring relief to chronic neck, shoulder, and migraine pain. It can be very helpful in narrowing in on a diagnosis for your problem.

Are You Suffering with Acute Jaw Pain? Schedule a Visit Today

If you are experiencing jaw pain, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff are here to help. Schedule an exam today to determine the cause of your jaw pain and to discuss your treatment options, including whether an Aqualizer® may be right for you. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 651-482-8412.

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Fixing a Fractured Front Tooth – Tim’s story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?

Tim broke his front tooth while playing football at the community center on the weekend. His father called our office emergency line and described what had happened. It sounded like the tooth was still in his mouth, but a large portion of it was broken off. Dr. Elizabeth asked Tim’s father to put the fragments they could find in some water and meet her at our office. She was able to meet Tim and his father within an hour to assess and address the situation.

What was involved?

Upon examination it was noted 2/3 of Tim’s natural tooth was broken off. The tooth was slightly mobile, but there was minimal bleeding. He was having minimal pain, except when the tooth touched cold water or air, and there were not any cuts in his mouth or face. Although the fracture was substantial, it luckily did not go into the nerve of the tooth.

The fractured part was in 3 pieces, but using her dental skills, Dr. Elizabeth was able to piece them back together like a jigsaw puzzle. Using filling material, she was able to bond the pieces back together, making it look almost as if the tooth had never been broken.

It was recommended that Tim take ibuprofen for the first few days to reduce any inflammation inside the tooth and the tissues surrounding it. He was also instructed to have a softer diet for a few weeks and to not use that tooth for biting into things.

As you can see from the after photos, the tooth pieces fit back together extremely well. The tooth does naturally stick out slightly, which could have contributed to it fracturing when it was hit. Tim has been following up with an orthodontist to develop a plan to move the teeth into a more ideal position and therefore keep them safer from potential future trauma.

After a trauma like this, it is important to follow the tooth over time. Depending on the injury it is typical to reevaluate the tooth over a period of weeks and months to make sure that complications aren’t developing. Even though the tooth nerve didn’t seem to be irreversibly damaged after the accident, it can sometimes deteriorate over time and eventually need a root canal.

It has been over 2 years since Tim’s accident and his tooth is still doing well. Because of how large the fracture was, the repair won’t last forever, and the tooth will likely need to be repaired again, probably multiple times, during Tim’s life with more filling material or even a crown or an implant. However, the longer the initial repair lasts, the better it will be for the tooth long term.

Tim and his dad were very appreciative of how quickly he was able to get in right when this trauma occurred and get it repaired. Great job by them remaining calm and gathering all the pieces, and great job by Dr. Elizabeth putting them back together again.

Oral Care for Cancer Patients

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

May is oral cancer awareness month. And although oral cancer affects more than 50,000 people each year, regular visits with your dentists at Eggert Family Dentistry can help detect early warning signs.

Regardless of whether you’ve been diagnosed with oral cancer or another cancer, you may notice changes in your mouth. Chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy, and other types of cancer treatments can have an impact on your mouth. Your gums, teeth, and salivary glands can be seriously affected.

However, with good oral care, you can help mitigate the side effects and lower the risk of other oral challenges.

Oral Sides Effects of Cancer Treatment

The type of cancer treatment you receive will affect the symptoms you have, as well as the oral care you need. The most common oral side effects of cancer treatment include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Thick saliva
  • Changes in taste
  • Mouth sores
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • Higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease

The Best Oral Care for Cancer Patients

The most effective oral care for cancer patients may feel similar to the best dental hygiene you could have. Oral care for cancer patients includes:
Brushing your teeth, but maybe more gently: Because your mouth can be more sensitive, be sure to use your soft toothbrush and brush more gently than you normally would.

Brushing your teeth more often: In addition to brushing your teeth gently in the morning and at night, consider brushing after every meal because of the decrease in saliva.

Maintaining your flossing routine: If you already floss your teeth, continue flossing, ideally before bed. However, if you haven’t been a regular flosser, start now, but be prepared for slightly more irritation in your gums at first.

Rinsing your mouth every 4 to 6 hours: An important part of oral care for cancer patients includes rinsing your mouth multiple times each day. The best rinses will be plain water, salt water, or baking soda water.

Keeping your lips moisturized: Because your mouth will produce less saliva than normal, it’s important to keep your lips moisturized. Apply a moisturizer (such as Aquaphor or Vaseline) every 4 to 6 hours.

Be prepared for yeast infections: Especially if you wear dentures, due to more limited saliva production, you will be more prone to yeast infections. Keep your dentures impeccably clean and rinse your mouth as described above.

Managing Oral Pain During Cancer Treatment

The right oral care for cancer patients can help alleviate mouth pain during cancer treatments. In addition to the steps listed above that you should add to your routine, there are other things that you may need to remove from your routine. During cancer treatment, you should avoid:

  • Alcohol and tobacco
  • Mouthwash, especially any that has alcohol or sugar
  • Salty food and strong spices
  • Citrus fruit and juice
  • Tomatoes and tomato sauce
  • Other acidic foods or drinks
  • Hard, dry, or coarse foods
  • Very hot or cold foods and liquids

Schedule an Appointment Before You Start Cancer Treatment

If you’re starting cancer treatment, it can be helpful to meet with the dentists at Eggert Family Dentistry first. Your body is going through a lot right now, and good oral care is essential in helping your mouth feel as good as possible. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff, call our office at 651-482-8412.

What to Expect at Your Next Recare Visit: It’s More Than Just a Cleaning

Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

When you think about coming to our dental office for your regular recare visit, you may think that all we do is remove plaque and polish your teeth. Although that’s part of your recare visit, that’s not it!. When you visit Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff at Eggert Family Dentistry, we do a comprehensive check of your oral health.

What’s Included In a Recare Visit?

At Eggert Family Dentistry, dental recare visit is more than just a cleaning. Our appointments include:

  • Oral cancer screening: Each year, oral cancer effects more than 50,000 people. One of the best ways to catch cancer early is by having regular oral cancer screenings. This is part of our standard recare visit.
  • Cavity risk assessment: Soft spots or pitting on your teeth are signs that bacteria are breaking the enamel and causing tooth decay. When Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff notice tooth decay, we recommend scheduling a follow-up appointment to clean out the area and protect the tooth with a crown or filling.
  • Gum health assessment: When bacteria hang along or under the gum line, they can cause substantial trouble for your gums. During your recare visit, we look for signs of gum irritation and gum disease, which can include swelling, redness, pocketing, or bleeding. Keeping your gums healthy is important for overall health and wellness.
  • Periodontal screening and charting: We measure the pockets of your teeth, which is the space between your teeth and the gum tissue surrounding it. Periodontal screening can help detect problems such as gingivitis and gum disease and is a key component to your diagnosis.
  • Fluoride treatment: Fluoride is an essential part of improved oral health. It supports healthy tooth enamel by remineralizing where the bacteria have destroyed enamel thickness. Fluoride treatment can help prevent cavities.
  • Annual x-rays: Radiographs, or x-rays, help us look between your teeth and under your gum line to spot early signs of infection and decay. They also allow us to follow your bone levels and when we take your full series of x-rays, we can see all of your tooth roots.

What to Expect After Your Recare Visit

When your teeth and gums are healthy, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff will wave goodbye and look forward to seeing you at your next appointment. However, if we see any signs of tooth or gum disease, we’ll schedule an appointment to meet with you again soon.

Many dental problems can get worse the longer they’re left untreated, so we make it a priority to schedule follow-up visits as quickly as possible.

Schedule Your Next Recare Visit

Whether it’s been 6 months or a few years since you’ve been to the dentist, you can schedule your next recare visit now. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff, call our office at 651-482-8412.

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Common Dental Trauma We See During Summer & Ways to Avoid It

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Minnesota weather is finally starting to get warm, and we’re seeing signs that spring and summer may finally be here. As we move outside, go on vacation, and get more active, it’s still important to stay safe. If you have kids, you can help prevent dental trauma by encouraging them to wear mouthguards during summer sports and enforcing calmer play around pools.

Common Summer Dental Trauma

Whether it’s a game of baseball, a car accident, or jumping on the trampoline, dental trauma can happen to anyone. At our office, the most common dental trauma Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff see include:

  • Lost crowns and fillings
  • Damaged braces, brackets, or wires
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • Partially dislodged teeth
  • Knocked-out teeth

How to Avoid Dental Trauma

For kids, the best way to prevent dental trauma is to encourage safe playing utilize the appropriate sports equipment, and maintain regular check-ups with your dentists at Eggert Family Dentistry.

Encouraging safety with sports and around the water is the most important step in preventing dental trauma. We know it can be hard to stop kids from running around the pool, but it’s easy to knock a tooth out from slipping on the pool deck or diving into the bottom of a shallow pool.

Wearing a mouthguard during summer sports can also help prevent dental trauma. When an opponent checks your child on the soccer, football, or lacrosse field, a mouthguard can make the difference between a bruise and a knocked-out tooth.

Finally, trampolines can be a great way for kids to release energy, but take care to limit the number of kids jumping at the same time. The most common cause for fractured teeth during jumping is when kids bump into their buddies and their teeth get in the way.

Steps to Take if You Have a Dental Emergency

If you suffer from dental trauma, the steps you take before you get to our office are important.

If your tooth is fractured, stabilize the portion of your tooth that’s still in your mouth. Then, control any bleeding by biting on a washcloth or towel. If you have the parts of your tooth that came out, keep them submerged in water or milk.
If your entire tooth came out, it’s important to handle your tooth by its crown (the part that you see in the mouth), not the root. It’s okay to rinse your tooth with water, but you shouldn’t wash or scrub the tooth. If you’re able to put your tooth back in its place correctly, do so. Then, bite gently on a towel to help control the bleeding and keep the tooth in place.

Regardless of the dental trauma you experience, time is of the essence. Call us right away because it may be important to see you within two hours.

Schedule Your Next Dentist Appointment

Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff are here to support you. Although we hope you never have to come to our office for a dental emergency, we’re prepared if you do. To schedule your next appointment or to let us know you’re coming after a dental trauma, call our office at 651-482-8412.

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All-on-4® Procedures – David and Norma’s Stories

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

What happens when many teeth start to fail and not much else can be done to save them? How can we replace teeth and keep great esthetics and function? This month, we share two patient stories – David and Norma. Both of these two are vibrant individuals who have been able to keep their natural teeth well into their 80’s, but unfortunately the teeth just couldn’t be saved anymore. This blog shares how we were able to replace teeth for them.

How did this start? – David

David has been a patient of Dr. Elizabeth for over 15 years. Starting in 2019, Dr. Elizabeth started talking to David about how his two existing bridges for his upper teeth wouldn’t hold up much longer due to decay and breakdown of the fit against the natural teeth. About this time, David also noticed that one of the bridges felt loose and it was determined that one of the anchor teeth was abscessed with a likely root crack and needed to be extracted. This complicated things for David since his two bridges made up 9 of the 14 teeth of his upper arch. David decided to undergo the records process to learn more about his options.

Through the records process, it was determined that David only had 4 upper teeth with a fair to good prognosis. Conventional wisdom is that if 5 teeth on the upper arch are in good condition, we can try to replace teeth with a partial denture. Since David only had 4 remaining teeth in good standing for the upper arch, a full arch replacement was discussed including a full conventional denture, a locator retained overdenture on implants, a fixed hybrid “denture” (All-on-4® prosthesis), a full arch reconstruction with implants (one implant per tooth), or a full arch reconstruction with implants (restoring with implant bridges).

What did he want?

After discussing pros and cons for all options, David noted that eating and staying healthy were very important to him. He also noted that he was nervous that any sort of denture would affect his taste too much and he didn’t want that!

David and his wife watched our Spear Patient Education Videos to learn more about the differences between David’s possible treatment options. In the end, David decided that the All-on-4® Fixed Hybrid “Denture” was the right solution for him.

What was involved?

David had all of his remaining upper teeth extracted by Dr. Karl Andreasen of Momenta Oral Surgery in February, 2021. Dr. Andreasen was able to place 6 implants. One of the most magnificent things about the All on Four technique is that the case can be preplanned through 3D imaging and computer software simulations. This allows for the surgery to occur and a temporary prosthesis to be placed on the same day. Therefore, David never had to be without teeth!

The procedures to start fabricating the final restoration for David started in November, 2021 as the implants needed a few months to fully integrate. In multiple visits, David worked with Dr. Elizabeth to perfect his bite, the shade and shapes of his teeth, as well as his speech. Just before the new year, David’s final prosthesis was ready to go. At first, Dr. Elizabeth ran into a minor complication during the final torquing of the prosthesis because David’s puffy gum tissues kept the prosthesis from fully seating. But, after a couple more weeks, David’s gum tissues had a chance to heal and the prosthesis seated very well.

All-on-4®

What did he think?

David has been very happy with his prosthesis. He tells us everything is going great, he is comfortable, he can chew well, and he likes using a Waterpik to clean under the prosthesis. David noted that he had “no choice,” but to get a prosthesis like this and meet all of his expectations for chewing, esthetics, and taste. He feels that nothing has really changed for him and that he is eating and talking just like when he had his natural teeth.

David would tell anyone considering getting this treatment done to “just do it!” He has been very happy with his decision.

All-on-4®

How did this start? – Norma

Norma and Dr. Elizabeth met in 2020 when she moved to Minnesota from Michigan to be closer to her daughter and son-in-law. Her son-in-law has been a patient of Dr. Elizabeth’s for over 15 years. She came to our office seeking a second opinion. She was shocked by the treatment plan presented by another dentist. After reviewing her records, however, Dr. Elizabeth agreed that there was a lot of dental disease occurring with Norma’s natural teeth. All the teeth, except one of her upper jaw, were infected and needed to be extracted (including multiple bridges). Therefore, Dr. Elizabeth and Norma also had to discuss full arch replacement options.

What did she want?

Norma wasn’t sure if implants would be worth it at her age, but after learning more, Norma was interested in the possibility of the All-on-4® technique as it was also important to her that she be able to continue eating well. Norma wanted to know what Dr. Elizabeth would recommend to her mother if in the same situation. Dr. Elizabeth encouraged Norma to seek out a consult with Dr. Andreasen about the All on Four technique.

All-on-4®

What was involved?

Norma’s story for what was involved is very similar to David’s. In her case, Dr. Andreasen was able to place 5 implants. Norma was impressed that she was able to leave her implant surgery day with a full set of (temporary) teeth!

What did she think?

Norma tells us she initially thought she was “too old” to do this procedure and she wasn’t sure she wanted to make the investment. She liked, however, how Dr. Elizabeth put it into perspective to help her make her decision. She notes, Dr. Elizabeth asked her “do you want to be able to eat or do you want to get yourself a new car?” Norma said she really doesn’t drive much, but she likes to eat!
Normal is happy with her decision and is happy she doesn’t have to worry about it anymore. Everything looks and feels great and her life has changed for the better since she doesn’t have to deal with multiple infections in her mouth.

Like David, Norma would encourage anyone needing this type of rehabilitation to “just do it! Your teeth are something you need every day. Yes, it is an investment, but it should last me the rest of my life!”

All-on-4®

Congratulations David and Norma – you look magnificent! It’s been our pleasure to work with you!

 

Advantages of the All-on-4® Treatment

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

When our patients have many teeth that have been extracted or are severely jeopardized, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff have an advanced, convenient and very natural solution to offer. It’s called All-on-4® treatment and it’s a simple, streamlined way to restore a full arch of teeth.

What do we mean by a full arch of teeth? This refers to a full set of teeth on the upper and/or lower jaw. Full dentures have traditionally been the solution for replacing all teeth of an arch, but advances in implants have enabled improved technology such as the All-on-4® technique.

All-on-4® treatment is kind of like a hybrid between implants and dentures. Instead of replacing each tooth individually by sinking an implant, we place four (possibly more) implants. These implants serve as the anchor for a single restoration unit which is basically a series of replacement teeth all attached in a row, like dentures.

This way, you get the best of both worlds. The simplicity of installing a series of consecutive teeth at once, like a denture, is combined with the convenient permanence of implants, not to mention rock-solid anchorage like you have from your natural teeth.

This means that you don’t have to worry about your restoration falling out or slipping, as can happen with dentures. Your restored mouth will function just like it was born to do. You can eat anything you like, and you simply brush, floss and clean your teeth as you would your natural teeth (although adding a Waterpik can be helpful).

Temporary Provisional Teeth

With this type of implant technique, we can usually install a temporary set of provisional teeth on the implants on the same day they are installed. This means you will leave our oral surgeon’s office with a smile you can be proud of right away. After the jaw bone integrates to the implants securely, we’ll swap out the temporary set for an even stronger and more life-like final set and you can expect decades of low-maintenance service from your restoration.

Why Choose the All-on-4® Treatment?

The All-on-4® technique has a lot of benefits. In addition to what we mentioned above, consider these factors:

  • Fewer implants are required when anchoring the All-on-4®. This means less time in the dental chair, less discomfort, and lower costs.
  • The four implants referred to in the name of the procedure refer to two implants secured perpendicularly to the jawbone and two implants secured at a 45-degree angle. Being placed at an angle gives these second two implants greater traction, so bone grafts are not typically necessary.
  • Loss of teeth and the accompanying reduction of jawbone stimulation can cause bone loss. That’s why some denture wearers have a sunken appearance to their cheeks. However, dental implants stimulate bone growth which helps preserve the integrity of your jaw bone for a more youthful appearance.

The All-on-4® dental implant technique is a long-term solution that will improve your smile and your oral function for many years to come.

If you’ve been dreading getting multiple implants, maybe an All-on-4® is the solution for you! Talk to Dr. Jeff or Dr. Elizabeth about your priorities in terms of dental reconstruction. We’ll be happy to talk through all your options to ensure that you choose the treatment that best suits your needs. Call us today at 651.482.8412 to schedule your next appointment.

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