Vaping and Your Oral Health

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Vaping, or using e-cigarettes, is smoking a chemical vapor that delivers nicotine into your lungs. Often misconstrued as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes because there is no tobacco involved, vaping has devastating effects on a person’s oral and overall health. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we think it’s important to educate our patients about the many ways that vaping can affect oral health.

Dangerous ingredients

While vaping liquid doesn’t contain tobacco, it does contain numerous other ingredients that pose a threat to oral health:

Propylene glycol: Used as a carrier ingredient in e-liquid, propylene glycol is a slightly-sweet, colorless liquid that, when vaped, breaks down into acetic acid, lactic acid and propionaldehyde – all of which have toxic effects on soft tissue and enamel.

Nicotine: There are many side effects that can result from nicotine exposure, including reduced blood flow which can cause gum tissue to die. When this happens, gums recede and expose more of the tooth which leads to tooth sensitivity, an increase in cavities and in some cases, tooth loss.

Flavorings: In order to appeal to a wider audience, e-liquid often contains fruit, candy and other flavorings. These flavorings, when added to vegetable glycerin, cause a 27% decrease in the hardness and integrity of tooth enamel.

Oral health complications

Dry mouth: Nicotine in e-liquid inhibits saliva production which leads to dry mouth. When your mouth is dry, it’s a perfect habitat for bacteria which can lead to tooth decay.

Bruxism: Because nicotine is a muscle stimulant, it can cause clenching, gnashing and teeth grinding which, over time, results in wear to enamel and can lead to fractured teeth.

Gum disease: Exposure to nicotine-laden vape liquid can swell and inflame gums. When gums are irritated, your mouth is dry and there are more bacteria on the scene, gum disease easily sets in.

Damage to oral tissue: In rare cases, the lithium batteries in vaping devices overheat and explode, causing extreme damage to oral tissue – damage that can result in permanent disfigurement. There are even a couple documented cases of accidental death related to these explosions.

We want our patients to enjoy optimal dental health! If you have questions or concerns about the effects of vaping on your oral health or the oral health of a loved one, give Dr. Elizabeth Eggert or Dr. Jeff Eggert a call at 651.482.8412. We would be happy to speak with you!


Reasons We Might Refer You to or Collaborate with an ENT

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

There are certain situations at Eggert Family Dentistry when we need to collaborate with other physicians to provide the best possible care for our patients. Especially as we have worked to integrate more airway into our practice, many of you have been asked to seek out care with a board-certified ENT for a more integrated approach to dentistry.

In this article, we will provide information about how certain medical conditions may be linked to your airway and therefore situations where it may be best to collaborate with an ENT. We will also launch into more specific information about some of these conditions below.

  • Sleep – if you have trouble snoring, falling asleep, staying asleep, trouble with restless sleep, you wake up feeling unrefreshed, or issues with nighttime urination, these can all be linked to airway issues.
  • Other Health Conditions – ADHD, allergies, anxiety, birth defects, cardiovascular disease, chronic head and neck pain, chronic pain, daytime fatigue, depression, digestive issues, emotional problems, frequent colds, sinus problems, sore throats, or tonsillitis, grinding or clenching of teeth, headaches, high blood pressure, jaw locking, large tonsils or adenoids, memory loss, mouth breathing, neck aches, obesity, pain or clicking in jaw joint, previous orthodontics, PTSD, speech problems, sucking habits, tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, or type II diabetes can all be linked to airway issues.
  • Dental Observations – there are many dental conditions that can be linked to poor airway flow as well such as crowded teeth, deep overbite, forward head position, head tilted back, mouth breathing, narrow dental arches, recessive lower jaw, scalloped tongue, tongue thrust, tongue tie or tooth wear.

Snoring and sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can lead to several other serious medical conditions. In cases where our patient is struggling with sleep apnea, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff can often link what they see with the teeth, jaw, and muscles (like the tongue) to aid in determining the cause. Does our patient have inadequate space for the tongue based on the size of the jaw? Is the root of their condition the size or shape of their soft palate? How does the alignment of the teeth play in? Once this is determined, the best course of treatment is pursued. It is often helpful both during the diagnostic phase as well as during the treatment phase to collaborate with an ENT. This allows us to look at the situation from all facets and choose the best course of treatment.

Beyond sleep apnea itself, there are other sleep disordered breathing diagnoses or simply disordered breathing at all times, that can be detrimental to overall health. ENTs or other medical professionals can often help us navigate through treatment options.

Enlarged tonsils and adenoids

Enlarged tonsils and adenoids in children can cause facial and jaw deformities as a child grows. When Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff notice enlarged tonsils or adenoids and determine that the enlargement is not simply due to a virus, we will often refer our patient to an ENT for a consult.

Sinus problems

If a patient comes into our office with jaw pain, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff evaluate many things, including the patient’s teeth and jaw. Because sinus problems can be a contributing factor to teeth and jaw discomfort, if their examination is inconclusive, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will refer our patient to an ENT for further evaluation.

In some cases, mucus can build up in the sinus cavity, causing sinusitis and leading to halitosis (bad breath). If halitosis is present (often in combination with jaw discomfort), this is another situation where Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will most likely refer our patient to an ENT.

TMJ disorder

Another common cause of jaw pain is a disorder of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). At Eggert Family Dentistry, we most commonly treat TMD by providing our patient with a splint or night guard. In severe cases, full-mouth reconstruction may be necessary. However, if we are unable to make a dental determination for the jaw pain, we can refer our patient to an ENT for a CT scan or an MRI to rule out bone and joint issues.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we go above and beyond to make sure each one of our patients receives superior care. This often means referring our patient to or collaborating with a board-certified ENT for further investigation. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with us, give us a call at 651.482.8412!


Occlusal Equilibration: Is it Right for You?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

An improper bite – often the result of a misaligned upper and lower jaw – can lead to pain, joint problems and accelerated wear on the teeth. Fortunately, you don’t have to live with this condition. At Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff specialize in occlusal equilibration, a procedure that helps restore correct mouth structure and alleviates the irritating and painful symptoms associated with misaligned jaws.

What is occlusal equilibration?

Occlusal equilibration is the process of adjusting the biting surfaces of teeth in order to achieve the proper bite and the proper positioning of the jaws.

What should I look for?

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, you may benefit from occlusal equilibration:

The diagnostic process

If you’re concerned about jaw misalignment, you can schedule a diagnostic appointment, also known as the Records Process, with us. At this appointment, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will assess your mouth structure and will look at a 3D model of your teeth. After analyzing how your teeth move against each other, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff determine if adjusting the biting surfaces of your teeth could help reposition your upper and lower jaws properly. A lot of times, equilibration won’t be recommended until after completing splint therapy.

Occlusal equilibration

If Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff determines that occlusal equilibration is right for you, you will come to a separate appointment for this procedure. During the procedure, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will gently reshape the biting surfaces of your teeth in a specific manner. The precise altering of the biting surfaces of your teeth will allow them to bite together properly and allow your jaw, muscles, and teeth to work in harmony.

The end result

Our patients are pleased with the results of an occlusal equilibration and often remark that they can feel the difference in their bite right away. It helps them feel more relaxed and like it is easier to chew.

If you think you may benefit from occlusal equilibration, you can schedule a consultation with us at Eggert Family Dentistry at 651.482.8412!

Pain When You Chew? It Could Be TMD

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to jaw discomfort. From chewing on hard foods to facial tension from stress, jaw discomfort is a miserable, often debilitating experience. While there can be many contributing factors, there are at least as many great treatments. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we have hands-on experience diagnosing and treating TMD, one of the most common jaw disorders. Understanding what TMD is as well as its symptoms is crucial to proper diagnosis and treatment.

What is TMD?

Although people often refer to this jaw disorder at TMJ, the correct reference is TMD. TMJ refers to the joint itself – the temporomandibular joint – which is responsible for controlling many jaw functions like chewing and talking. TMD is a disorder of this joint, a condition which can stem from a variety of behavioral, psychological and physical issues.


TMD has many possible causes some of which include stress, jaw clenching, teeth grinding, arthritis, jaw dislocation, injury to the jaw and poor jaw and tooth alignment. Teeth grinding is particularly problematic because it can lead to further problems, many tooth related. Prolonged grinding can cause enamel to wear off teeth and expose dentin, making teeth more susceptible to decay. It can also increase a person’s sensitivity to hot and cold.

Signs and Symptoms

There are many symptoms of TMD that mimic other medical issues. This can make TMD difficult to pinpoint. TMD symptoms include:

  • Pain when opening or closing the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Jaw becoming stuck open or shut
  • Headaches, migraines, ear pain, ringing in the ears, double vision
  • Clicking or popping sounds when opening the mouth
  • Teeth grinding
  • Wearing down or breaking of the teeth


The above-listed symptoms can be attributed to a variety of health problems. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms it’s best to start by visiting a medical professional for a whole body physical to rule out possible medical conditions. Keep in mind, however, that many medical professionals don’t fully understand how TMD can be a large part of your issue because they haven’t always been trained to make that connection. Especially if there is no concrete medical diagnosis, it is best to make an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff for a consultation. We can screen you for TMD with our comprehensive records process and offer relief for your symptoms through the treatment option that’s right for you!


If, upon completion of your consult, we determine that you’re dealing with TMD, we have numerous avenues of treatment that can provide you with relief and alleviate your symptoms. Some common treatment options include:

  • A custom night guard/splint that can help lessen the effects of teeth grinding and deprogram muscle patterns
  • Behavioral treatments and muscle therapies that change the way you use your jaw and muscles
  • Full-time splint therapy to provide full-time relief
  • Appliances to improve your airway
  • Full-mouth reconstruction to improve tooth position
  • Orthodontic treatment that may or may not include oral jaw surgery

Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will also talk with you about some easy ways you can partner with us to get to the root of your symptoms and experience relief. Ideas include practicing relaxation techniques to alleviate stress, avoiding chewing gum or nail-biting, eating softer foods and incorporating hot/cold compresses to the jaw.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, mouth comfort is one of our highest priorities. If you think you’re experiencing the uncomfortable effects of TMD, schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff by calling us at 651.482.8412!

The Seattle Protocol: How Six Simple Steps Could Help You Sleep Better (and Even Save Your Life)

By: Elizabeth Eggert

The Seattle Protocol: It’s not an action flick coming soon to a theater near you. But it is something that could save you from a restless night’s sleep. At Eggert Family Dentistry, that’s something to get excited about!

The Seattle Protocol was pioneered by two intrepid dentists in the Seattle, Washington, area. The six-step process helps patients who struggle with obstructive sleep apnea or other sleep disordered breathing conditions like upper airway resistance syndrome. Sleep apnea is a condition where the epiglottis—the soft area at the back of the throat—or the tongue relax during sleep, obstructing the airway. Upper airway resistance syndrome is a condition in which your body is working so hard to keep your airway open, it creates an incredible amount of stress and releases high amounts of cortisol, creating excessive amounts of inflammation.

For some, thinking of sleep apnea conjures up visions of a restless night’s sleep and CPAP machines. While these are certainly the experiences of some patients with this condition, the Seattle Protocol can help many patients with sleep disordered breathing determine if an airway compromise is contributing to their ailments.

Seattle Protocol Step 1: Nose Breathing and Mouth Taping
The first step in the Seattle Protocol is to gently train your body to breathe through your nose, not your mouth. Breathing through your mouth during sleep can lead to snoring and dry mouth. The Seattle Protocol encourages nose breathing by adding a strip of paper tape vertically across the center of your lips. The light adhesive of the tape keeps your lips together but is easy and painless to remove.

Step 2: Temporary Splint for Lower Jaw and Mouth Taping
Once you’ve adjusted to the mouth taping, the second step of the protocol adds a temporary splint for your lower jaw while you sleep. Adding this splint increases the vertical dimension of your jaw and allows more airway space.

Step 3: Temporary Splint for Lower Jaw with Lower Jaw Pulled Forward and Mouth Taping
If adding the lower splint only isn’t giving you the restful sleep you deserve, we move onto the next stage of the protocol. In this step, we add an element that pulls your lower jaw forward. This realigns your jaw and increases your airway space not only vertically, but horizontally as well. This also can give your tongue more of the space it requires.

Step 4: Temporary Splint for Lower and Upper Jaw with Mouth Taping
With all steps of the Seattle Protocol, if you aren’t getting relief from the previous step, we move on. In this step, we remove the forward jaw posturing component and add a splint for your upper jaw. You then go to sleep with splints on your upper and lower teeth and your jaw is free to move. This stage allows for additional vertical height, opening up your airway, but without restricting the jaw muscles into any one strict position.

Step 5: Temporary Splint for Lower and Upper Jaw with Lower Jaw Pulled Forward and Mouth Taping
If you need to continue in the protocol, step five again adds a horizontal component by linking the upper and lower splints together and moving the lower jaw forward. The intent, as always, is to continue to open your airway more and more.

Step 6: Temporary Splint for Lower and Upper Jaw with Lower Jaw Progressively Pulled Forward and Mouth Taping
If you still aren’t getting that good night’s sleep, we move to the final stage of the Seattle Protocol. In this stage, we keep moving your lower jaw forward, incrementally, until you feel well-rested.

While there are six steps in the Seattle Protocol, you may not necessarily go through the entire process. The purpose of the protocol is to help us understand which step provides the best relief. Typically, the further you progress in the process, the more help your airway needs. If we find that you only get positive results in steps 4, 5, or 6, then looking at oral surgery options to expand your airway might be the best long-term solution. Luckily, here in North Oaks, we are able to set you up with some of the best local orthodontists and oral surgeons to manage your situation.

The Seattle Protocol is a gradual, gentle, and reversible process that helps us identify solutions for our patients with airway issues. It not only can help you get a better night’s sleep, but it can lead to an excellent path to better overall health and wellness. If you snore, spend your nights tossing and turning, have anxiety or depression, have acid reflux, or just simply feel tired all the time, call us to schedule a consultation, 651-482-8412. We may recommend starting with the Seattle Protocol to help improve your life!

Obstructive Sleep Apnea and How a Mandibular Advancement Device Could Help

Ever wonder why you’re still drowsy after a full night’s sleep, have a headache in the morning, or wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air? Alone, each one of these symptoms could mean you are sleep deprived, imbibed a bit too much the night before, or had a nightmare. But together, they (along with several other symptoms) may be a sign of a serious sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tongue or throat muscles relax, partially or completely blocking the upper airway. This makes the chest and diaphragm muscles work harder to open the airway, which in turn taxes the heart. It also reduces the flow of oxygen throughout the body. Here’s a great overview of what obstructive sleep apnea is and why it’s a problem for your sleep quality, daytime alertness, and heart.

Unfortunately, many people with sleep apnea don’t realize they have the condition, at least not at first. Patients with sleep apnea may have fitful sleep. But the tossing and turning may not wake them up. All they know is that they have trouble waking up in the morning, have a headache, and are struggle to stay awake during the day. If that describes you, we encourage you to see your physician to get tested OR we can do many of the initial screenings right at our dental office!

An Oral Sleep Appliance Called a Mandibular Advancement Device Could Help
If you are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend an oral sleep appliance. The official name of the appliance is a mandibular advancement device. We fit mandibular advancement devices at Eggert Family Dentistry and have been able to help many people with this life-threatening condition.

A mandibular advancement device positions the lower jaw slightly forward. Doing so also moves the tongue forward, reducing the chance of an obstructed airway. Take a look at how this type of oral appliance works:

If your doctor recommends a mandibular advancement device, give us a call to schedule your consultation. We’ll take impressions of your mouth so we can custom-design your appliance just for you. Once it’s ready, we’ll ask you to come into our office for a fitting so we can calibrate it so it’s comfortable and effective.

If you’re wondering if you may have sleep apnea, it’s time to make two calls: one to your physician and another to Eggert Family Dentistry. Contact us today to schedule your mandibular advancement device consultation.

Having Trouble Sleeping? Maybe it’s Time to See Your Dentist

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How often do you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed? If you frequently wake up unrefreshed and navigate your day in a haze, feeling like quality sleep is eluding you, you are not alone. In fact, according to a poll conducted by YouGov, only 1 in 7 Americans wake up feeling refreshed every day of the week. If you’re fed up with trying (yet failing!) to get consistent quality sleep maybe it’s time to call your dentist. That’s right – your dentist! At Eggert Family Dentistry, we recognize the frequent connection between sleeplessness and dentistry and we want to take some time to tell you about it!

When our patients complain about “bad sleep” we pay particular attention to their teeth and jaw. What state is their enamel in? If the enamel is worn down it’s either a sign that our patient is grinding their teeth in their sleep – a condition known as bruxism – or indicative of acid erosion, possibly from an airway issue. We also observe our patient’s jaw – does it seem properly aligned or is it misaligned which could lead to snoring or sleep apnea? Both of these conditions result in poor sleep both for our patient and perhaps their bedmate. If we suspect that snoring, sleep apnea, or other sleep disordered breathing is the culprit for you, we will ask you questions regarding your recent well-being: Do you ever wake up with a dry mouth? Do you suffer from insomnia? How often do you feel fatigued all day long? As well as many more that provide insight into what might be occurring for you.

An accurate diagnosis is imperative to successful treatment. Either Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will proceed with a full clinical evaluation of your mouth. We examine your teeth, jaw, tongue, tonsils and airway and order x-rays for up-to-date images of your entire mouth structure. We may also recommend you take home our home sleep screening test which collects data in much the same manner as a professional sleep lab. Depending on the results, we may recommend you take your report to your MD for further testing. Whereas previously the only solution for sleep apnea was a CPAP machine – a loud, humming machine with an attached sleep mask that supplies a steady stream of humidified air through the patient’s airway all night long – many dentist offices now offer another, less-cumbersome solution. Similar to a sports or orthodontic retainer, at Eggert Family Dentistry, we facilitate the creation of a custom-fit oral appliance that properly sets the jaw for sleep and helps maintain an open airway all night long. Not only does this prevent sleep apnea but it is also an excellent solution for chronic snoring.

The effects of getting better sleep cannot be underestimated! From increased productivity during your waking hours to garnering more enjoyment from your daily life and experiencing more fulfillment in your relationships, quality sleep is foundational. 

If you are having trouble sleeping and would like to speak with a dental professional at Eggert Family Dentistry, we would love to connect with you! Give us a call at 651.482.8412 or connect with us online.

TMJ and Its Link to Headaches and Sleep Apnea

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Most everyone suffers from throbbing headaches at some point in their lives. But when headaches are chronic, it’s a cause for concern. Also, most everyone has now heard of sleep apnea, a serious condition in which the body pauses breathing or takes shallow, short breaths while sleeping, but is there a link between the two?

These conditions may seem unrelated, but new research has found a connection between chronic headaches and sleep apnea and TMJ disorder. The TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, connects your upper and lower jaws. When it is properly aligned, it works silently and seamlessly. When it’s not, it causes pain, soreness, and an off-center bite. People with severe TMJ disorder have trouble sleeping and can even experience lockjaw. Now, studies show TMJ disorder can cause more serious health concerns, too.

The Link between TMJ Disorder and Headaches
When the TMJ is not working properly, the muscles that stabilize the joint work overtime to support it. These muscles get fatigued, which leads to pain. If untreated, this pain can radiate from the jaw to the temples, back of the head, and down the neck, causing headaches. Sometimes this pain is subtle—maybe you feel a little foggy or have trouble concentrating. Other times, TMJ disorder can cause throbbing headaches or even migraines that are impossible to ignore.

The Link between TMJ Disorder and Sleep Apnea
Since the temporomandibular joint is so close to the sinuses and airways, TMJ disorder can affect breathing. A misaligned TMJ can cause improper tongue position that blocks the airway during sleep. A recent study of people with TMJ disorder found 75 percent of participants experienced sleep-disordered breathing (SDB).

Diagnosing TMJ Disorder
Most TMJ disorder patients we diagnose complain about soreness along their jawline, feeling a clicking or popping sensation when they open and close their jaws, headaches, and trouble sleeping. To help get you the right treatment, we look for the following symptoms:

  • Clicking and popping in the temporomandibular joint
  • Malalignment of the teeth and bite
  • Pain in your forehead, temples, neck, and back of the head
  • Head posture, especially where the head is in front of the shoulders rather than centered over the shoulders
  • Evidence of grinding teeth or clenching the jaw during the day or while sleeping
  • Snoring during sleep
  • Restless sleep

How to Treat TMJ Disorder and Prevent Headaches and Sleep Apnea
Once we’ve diagnosed you with TMJ disorder, we’ll discuss your options for treating it. Many patients benefit from an oral appliance, also known as a splint. There are different ways we design splints, but typically these devices are custom-made for you. When worn, they keep your bite in a better position and more comfortable alignment. They also protect your teeth from grinding and clenching. Essentially, they give your jaw muscles a break.

Some patients can eliminate headaches and sleep apnea symptoms by wearing an oral appliance. With a properly aligned jaw, the tongue can rest in a more natural position, clearing the airway. But if an appliance alleviates TMJ pain without solving your sleep apnea, we often have to delve in deeper, sometimes working through different trial splints before we know which is the best for you. We also most likely would work with your sleep and general doctor to make sure we are getting your apnea or other sleep disordered breathing under control.

If you’re experiencing jaw pain, headaches, or troubling sleeping, schedule a consultation with Eggert Family Dentistry. We’ll determine if you’re suffering from TMJ disorder or possibly sleep issues and recommend treatment to alleviate it.

4 Reasons Teeth Chatter

By: Br. Elizabeth Eggert

That Have Nothing to Do with Being Cold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Splint and Occlusal Therapy: Ruth’s Story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?

Ruth came to us as a new patient. She was experiencing frequent headaches, 3-4 times per week or more, as well as frequent neck aches, shoulder pain, back pain, and migraines. In addition, she had ear pain, jaw pain, and was having a hard time sleeping. Ruth was working with her MD to determine a diagnosis and treatment plan to help her manage the pain, which her MD thought was because of a possible pinched nerve. She struggled with the headaches and migraines for years but was now experiencing increasing jaw pain. Dr. Elizabeth noted some tooth wear throughout her mouth and intense muscle discomfort during her muscle evaluation. Dr. Elizabeth recommended Ruth go through our records process so that she could delve deeper into the underlying causes of her pain.

What did Ruth want?

Ruth struggled with upper back, shoulder, head, jaw, and neck pain for years but she didn’t realize the pain could be related to her teeth. Ruth had, however, noticed some changes with her teeth including a space opening up and a loose front lateral tooth. Ruth decided to undergo records because she wanted to be able to eat without worry, she wanted her mouth to function better, and she wanted her teeth to last her lifetime. She also noticed herself clenching often and she was hoping to have that addressed during the process.

Ruth before occlusal therapy at Eggert Family Dentistry

What was revealed during the records process?

Dr. Elizabeth used models, photos, and x-rays of Ruth’s teeth along with our thorough muscle and joint evaluation results to present Ruth with the current status of her teeth, gums, and the function of her jaw and muscles. The details of the records process revealed that the position of Ruth’s teeth, muscles, and jaw joints were causing multiple interferences. This means she was biting down unevenly causing the breakdown of her teeth as well as the jaw, neck, and shoulder pain. It was recommended that Ruth begin splint therapy.

What was involved?

The purpose of her splint therapy was to change the position of Ruth’s jaw to a relaxed muscle position. We were hoping this would improve her headaches and migraines and it did! In Ruth’s case, we also discussed how if we adjusted the teeth to fit together at the relaxed jaw position, she should be much more stable long-term.  Dr. Elizabeth fitted Ruth with a TMJ splint to wear all of the time to create the best possible function between the natural position of her jaw, muscles, and her teeth as they worked with one another.

As soon as Ruth’s muscles reached a comfortable and relaxed position, Dr. Elizabeth adjusted the alignment of the upper and lower teeth and altered the chewing surfaces of some of the her back teeth to remove the painful interferences. This process is called equilibration. Dr. Elizabeth then completed a solid new bite for Ruth with porcelain veneers and crowns on her upper and lower front teeth. The veneers were an important step in completing Ruth’s new bite because the ideal shape of the teeth helps to keep the back teeth from over engaging her muscles. This created harmony among Ruth’s jaw joints, muscles, and teeth as the joints and muscles were placed in a relaxed position and the teeth now come together at the same time. We finally designed a splint for Ruth to wear while she sleeps to keep her teeth, jaw, and muscles in this new comfortable position.Ruth after occlusal therapy at Eggert Family Dentistry

What does Ruth think?

“The presentation was really thorough and really good. I had no idea my migraines were caused by my bite. I got relief from my migraines in the early stages which was fantastic! I’m really happy. Everything was explained very well to me. I would recommend anyone experiencing my pain to come here. I would tell them to definitely pursue the treatment because you don’t have to live with the pain. It is also so nice to have everything looking great!”

Do you wonder if improving your bite may give you relief from headaches, migraines, or even back pain? Call today for an appointment at Eggert Family Dentistry 651-482-8412.