Canker Sores vs. Cold Sores [and How to Treat Each!]

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

When someone discovers that they have a blister or sore in or around their mouth, there are two questions that usually come to mind: 

1. “What is it?”

2. “How do I get rid of it as fast as possible?”

Most oral blisters or sores are usually either a canker sore or a cold sore. Both of these types of sores can appear in varying degrees of severity, but luckily, they both go away in a relatively short amount of time. 

However, there are steps you can take to prevent these sores from occurring, and ways to treat them so that they heal faster. Let’s take a look at each type of sore to find out how to identify, prevent, and treat them. 

Canker Sores

Canker sores, also called aphthous (ulcers), are small, shallow lesions that develop on the soft tissues in your mouth, your gums, or your tongue. 

They are usually oval in shape and white or yellow in color, with a red edge. They may appear as a single sore, or in clusters. Canker sores are not contagious. 

Canker Sore Symptoms

Canker sores can be very painful, and can make it difficult to eat, drink, or talk. While they only last a couple of weeks, it can feel like a very long time for someone suffering from a canker sore. 

Along with pain from eating, drinking and talking, other canker sore symptoms may include: 

  • Tingling or burning sensation
  • Swollen lymph nodes 
  • Fever 
  • Feeling ill 

Causes of Canker Sores

It’s still unknown what exactly causes canker sores, but it is a fact that the sores erupt as a result of the immune system attacking the lining of the mouth. There are many reasons why your immune system would respond this way, including: 

  • Viral infection
  • Injury to the mouth
  • Eating too hot or too spicy foods
  • Friction between a dental product and your mouth (dentures, braces, retainers, etc.)
  • Chewing tobacco 
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate in certain toothpastes
  • An allergic reaction 
  • Celiac disease
  • Emotional stress 
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Hormonal changes 
  • Problems with immune system
  • Illness 

Canker Sore Treatment

Most canker sores will go away on their own and don’t require treatment. However, you should see Dr. Elizabeth Eggert, Dr. Jeff Eggert, or your doctor if your canker sore lasts longer than 2 weeks, becomes infected, or is extremely painful. 

If you have a severe canker sore(s), your primary care doctor or Dr. Eggert may prescribe:

  • Coating Medication: Mouth rinses containing anti-ulcer drugs that reduce pain and promote healing.
  • Viscous Lidocaine: A numbing agent that comes in gel form. It’s the most commonly used prescription canker sore medication.
  • Topical Disinfectants: These are prescribed to people suffering from severe canker sores to prevent infection.
  • Steroids: Prescribed for severe canker sores, steroids come in liquid and gel form and reduce inflammation and pain.

For most canker sores, though, over-the-counter pain-relief treatments are usually effective. These usually include topical numbing agents, such as benzocaine and lidocaine, that can be applied directly to the canker sore. 

At-home remedies such as applying ice to the affected area, applying milk of magnesia a few times a day, or rinsing with a mix of baking soda and water, can also help with pain relief and even promote healing. 

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we treat canker sores using Debacterol, an especially effective liquid topical agent. Debacterol is the only treatment for canker sores that completely stops the pain, seals damaged tissues, and aids the natural healing processes. It only requires one application, which takes only minutes to perform. 

Canker Sore Prevention

To prevent canker sores, it’s important to keep your immune system performing at its best, protect your mouth from injury, and to keep bad bacteria out of your mouth. If you eat healthy, avoid irritants, and maintain good oral hygiene habits, you will lessen the likelihood of developing canker sores.

Cold Sores 

Cold sores, also known as fever blisters, appear as small, painful blisters that first form a cluster and then burst, creating a sore. Once the blisters burst, the sore will begin to scab over as the body heals. 

Cold sores usually appear on the lips and area surrounding the mouth, but can also appear on the nose, cheeks, or eyes. Cold sores are very contagious, and can be passed on even when the blisters and sore are not present through a process called viral shedding. 

The good news is that cold sores are very common, and easily manageable. By taking the right precautions and treatments, you can significantly reduce the frequency and intensity of your cold sore flare-ups. 

Causes of Cold Sores 

Cold Sores are most commonly caused by Herpes Simplex Virus Type-1, and less commonly by Herpes Simplex Virus Type-2. As we mentioned earlier, the virus is very contagious. Approximately 90% of people in the world have at least one form of HSV. 

Once you have the virus, it does not leave the body, but for the most part it will stay dormant. Still, there are a variety of triggers that can cause HSV to be active, resulting in flare-ups. Major triggers include: 

  • Weakened immune system: Your immune system can be weakened by excessive stress, fatigue, and illness, among other things. Many people report stress as being a frequent cause of flare-ups. 
  • Trauma: Any sort of injury to the lips or inside of the mouth can trigger an outbreak. That includes sporting injuries, cosmetic injections, and biting, chewing, and picking at your lips. 
  • Sunburn and dryness: Letting your lips become too chapped can cause an outbreak, as can getting sunburned on your face.

Miscellaneous causes include some food allergies, hormonal changes, and vitamin B deficiency.

Cold Sore Symptoms

Cold Sores can be very painful and can make eating or drinking difficult. They can also be unsightly, which is often stressful for the afflicted person, especially school-age children. 

The first flare up is often the worst, as it is your body’s first time dealing with the virus. Afterward, your body will develop antibodies to fight the virus, and you may never experience another flare-up. However, many people experience recurring cold sores.

Cold sores occur in stages: 

  1. Tingling and itching: You will first notice tingling, itching, or burning sensation in a small area with slight discoloration. 
  2. Blisters: 12-24 hours later, a cluster of blisters will appear and the area will become red and swollen. Within a day or two, the blisters will pop and weep. This stage can last up to three days. 
  3. Healing: A scab will form over the sore as the body heals, though it may crack or bleed. The scab will fall off once the area is healed, which usually takes about two weeks.

Symptoms that can accompany cold sore outbreaks include: 

  • Swollen lymph nodes 
  • Fever 
  • Illness 
  • Sore throat 
  • Headache 
  • Upset stomach 
  • Fatigue 

Learning to recognize the signs of an oncoming cold sore will help you catch it early and manage it better with treatment. Caught early enough, you may even be able to prevent the cold sore from appearing at all. 

Cold Sore Treatment 

While there’s no cure for cold sores, cold sore treatments can significantly reduce outbreak frequency and intensity. There are three types of treatment options available, and many people use a combination of treatments to manage their cold sores

  1. Topical creams: Creams that contain antivirals Acyclovir (Xerese) and penciclovir (Denavir) need a prescription, but will speed up the healing process dramatically. You can also use over-the-counter docosanol (Abreva), which will also speed up healing and numb the area. 
  2. Prescription Pills: Taking an antiviral pill can knock out a cold sore before blisters even appear. These include Acyclovir (Sitavig, Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), or valacyclovir (Valtrex). Companies like Nurx allow patients to order valacyclovir online. 
  3. Injections: This type of treatment is usually reserved for severe cases of HSV. Medicines such as cidofovir (Vistide) or foscarnet (Foscavir), and acyclovir can be injected into your bloodstream.

At home treatments include applying an ice pack to the affected area, keeping the cold sore moisturized, and ibuprofen for pain. 

Cold Sore Prevention

To prevent cold sore outbreaks, you should aim to: 

  • Manage your stress levels
  • Eat healthy to support a strong immune system 
  • Keep your lips moisturized 
  • Wear sunscreen on your face and lips
  • Avoid picking, biting, or chewing your lips 
  • Get a good night’s sleep to avoid fatigue

If you get recurring cold sores, or if you want to avoid coming into contact with HSV, the main precaution to take is to be mindful of direct and indirect contact. 

Cold sore transfer often occurs through direct contact, like kissing, or indirect contact, such as sharing a drinking glass with someone who has an infection. It’s good practice to avoid sharing drinks, utensils, or razors with others.

Even touching a sore and then not washing your hands can pose a risk of transfer. There is also a risk of transferring the virus from one area of your face (i.e., your lip) to another (your nose, cheeks, or eyes). Make sure to wash your hands frequently and avoid touching your face when experiencing a flare-up.

The Bottom Line

With the right treatment and precautions, cold sores and canker sores can be less frequent and much more manageable. If you have questions about canker sores or cold sores, call Eggert Family Dentistry today to find out if you need further treatment. Our friendly team can answer any questions you may have! 

10 Dental Sealants FAQs: What They Are, Why They’re Important, and When to Get Them

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

There’s no doubt about it, children love sugary snacks and sweets. That’s why the first step in ensuring your child’s optimal dental health is to teach them good oral hygiene habits, including brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. 

But, if you want to give your child an extra layer of protection, consider having dental sealants applied at Eggert Family Dentistry. Sealants are a preventative measure that many parents take to keep their children’s teeth healthy throughout childhood. 

But what are dental sealants and how exactly do they work? Let’s go over the 10 most frequently asked questions about dental sealants. 

1.) What are Dental Sealants? 

Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that are “painted”and then bonded onto the chewing surfaces of the teeth. Sealants are usually applied to the back molars, where bacteria and germs can easily hide, making these teeth harder to clean. 

2.) How Do Dental Sealants Work? 

Just as a raincoat will protect you from getting wet, the sealant protects the tooth by covering it, keeping bacteria and acid away from the tooth’s most susceptible surfaces. Less contact with bacteria, germs, and acid means fewer cavities and less tooth decay!

3.) How Long Do Sealants Last?

Sealants last for many years and can be reapplied if necessary.

4.) How are Dental Sealants Applied? 

First, the tooth is cleaned with an etchant and rinsed. The sealant is then “painted” over the adhesive as a liquid. Dr. Jeff Eggert, Dr. Elizabeth Eggert, or an Eggert Family Dentistry team member will then use a special blue light to harden the liquid, creating a barrier between the teeth and any plaque, food particles, or bacteria.

5.) When Should My Child Get Dental Sealants? 

We recommend that children have sealants applied to their molars as soon as they come in. Permanent molars first come in at around 5-7 years of age, with a second set coming in between the ages of 11-14. The sooner the sealant is applied, the more protected the new teeth will be from cavities, saving you money and time in the future. According to the Center for Disease Control, “School-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.”

6.) Can Adults Get Dental Sealants?

Of course! Dental sealants can be applied at any age, though they’re most effective when applied from childhood. If you’re looking to prevent cavities for yourself as well as your family, ask Dr. Jeff Eggert and Dr. Elizabeth Eggert about scheduling an appointment to have dental sealant applied. 

7.) Will It Hurt to Get Sealants? 

Not at all. Sealant application is a pain-free procedure with no drills or shots necessary! 

8.) Do Sealants Make the Teeth Look or Feel Different? 

Sealants are white like your teeth so they don’t make the teeth look different. After sealants are applied, some patients report feeling like something is covering their teeth or experience the sensation of needing to bite down. But the sealant is thin, and the sensation will fade after a few days. Also, the Eggert Family Dentistry team can adjust on the sealants before you leave the office, if necessary, to reduce any strange feeling with your bite. 

9.) How Long Should My Child Wait to Eat After Getting Sealants?

You or your child can eat right away after getting dental sealants. However, we recommend staying away from certain foods, such as hard candies, jaw breakers, ice, or especially chewy foods, as these are more likely to break the newly applied sealants. 

10.) Are Dental Sealants Expensive?

No! Some dental insurance plans will cover sealants, but even without coverage, sealants are still very affordable. And dental sealants are a much cheaper option than having to get fillings done to fix cavities!

Let Eggert Family Dentistry Protect Your Family’s Dental Health 

Do you have more questions about dental sealants? Dr. Jeff Eggert or Dr. Elizabeth Eggert will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Call Eggert Family Dentistry today to find out if dental sealants are right for your family, or to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping your family’s smiles be the healthiest they can be! As always, our motto is “Dentistry for a Lifetime of Smiles!”

How Occlusal Equilibration Helps Jaw Pain and TMD

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, as many as 12 million U.S. adults suffer from pain in the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ), a disorder known as TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder).

If you suffer from TMJ dysfunction, you know how painful it can be. When your jaw is misaligned, it can cause agonizing joint problems as well as increased wear on your teeth.

Jaw pain caused by TMD is often solved using devices like splints and mouthguards, or even surgery. But if you have jaw pain related to TMD, there’s another solution that could help: occlusal equilibration.

Read on to learn more about this procedure and how occlusal equilibration helps jaw pain and misalignment.

Is Your Jaw Pain Caused by Jaw Misalignment?

Jaw pain can be caused by a number of factors. Some of the most common causes include: decayed or abscessed teeth, gum infection, migraines, sinus or ear infections, heart disease, bruxism (teeth grinding), and TMD.

The treatment for your jaw pain will depend on what is causing it. If your jaw pain is caused by jaw misalignment or TMD, occlusal equilibration could help relieve it. 

But how do you know if your TMJ is causing your TMD and jaw pain?

The simple answer, of course, is to visit Dr. Elizabeth Eggert or Dr. Jeff Eggert to determine the cause of your jaw pain. But if you are experiencing the following symptoms, TMD may be at the root of your pain:

What Is Occlusal Equilibration?

Occlusal equilibration is the process of subtly and precisely reshaping the biting surfaces of your teeth to correct the alignment of your bite and positioning of your jaws. 

A well-aligned jaw allows your upper and lower teeth to fit together properly when you bite down. But when your jaw is misaligned, your bite becomes uneven, putting stress on individual teeth as well as the jaw joint and especially the surrounding muscles. When the misalignment is corrected with occlusal equilibration, those muscles relax, reducing or eliminating pain and sensitivity. 

This procedure is generally pain-free, and doesn’t require anesthesia. It’s quick and affordable, and the adjustments are generally so slight that they don’t change the appearance of your teeth.

How Occlusal Equilibration Helps Jaw Pain and TMJ

When something keeps your bite from being evenly distributed throughout your mouth (tooth loss, clenching, grinding, and so on), it can cause occlusal trauma. 

This can manifest as worn or chipped teeth, sensitive areas on the teeth, gum recession, headaches, or a “popping” sound when you open and close your mouth. In addition, an uneven bite places pressure on teeth and this can accelerate periodontal disease including bone loss and loosening of teeth.

Occlusal equilibration redistributes that pressure so your bite is even, eliminating spots of excess pressure and allowing the bones and ligaments to heal.

During this procedure, Dr. Elizabeth Eggert or Dr. Jeff Eggert will note all of the areas where your teeth don’t align properly, then re-shape and adjust on the teeth using the dental handpiece. This restores your correct mouth structure and alleviates pain caused by misaligned jaws.

Many of our patients who have had occlusal equilibration have seen results quickly, saying they can feel the difference in their bite within even minutes of the procedure.

Determining if Occlusal Equilibration Is Right for You

At Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff both love helping their patients who would benefit from occlusal equilibration and they can help you determine if this treatment is right for you.

The first step is to schedule a diagnostic appointment, where Dr. Elizabeth Eggert or Dr. Jeff Eggert will assess your mouth’s structure and analyze how your teeth move against one another. This will allow them to determine if adjusting the biting surfaces of your teeth could help reposition your jaws properly. If they determine occlusal equilibration is right for you, our office will help you schedule a separate appointment for the procedure.

Ready to find out if occlusal equilibration could help your jaw pain? Contact us to schedule your diagnostic appointment.

9 Oral Health Gift Ideas for the Holidays

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Not sure what to buy for your loved ones this holiday season? Why not give them the gift of a healthy, happy mouth? Not only are dental hygiene gifts practical, but they can also be fun! Better yet, they’re usually highly appreciated. This holiday season, check off your gift-list with this round-up of 9 creative oral health gift ideas. 

1.) Electric Toothbrush ($20-200)

Did you know that an electric toothbrush has been proven to decrease more plaque and gingivitis than a manual toothbrush? While these toothbrushes are definitely more of an investment than their manual counterparts, dentists like Dr. Elizabeth Eggert and Dr. Jeff Eggert agree: they’re absolutely worth it! When you give a family member or friend one of these toothbrushes, you can feel good knowing that their oral health is about to improve dramatically! 

2.) Fancy Toothpaste ($10-55) 

Have you dived into the world of luxury toothpastes before? If not, you’re in for a treat, literally. From fancy toothpastes that reportedly taste like cocktails, to gel toothpastes that harness the power of oxygen to heal your gums, there are so many options to choose from that will delight and amaze your giftees! 

3.) Dental Travel Kit ($3-10)

Do you have a frequent flier in your life? A digital nomad? A dental travel kit will make an excellent stocking-stuffer for anyone who’s been bitten by the travel bug. It’s not always convenient to carry around a full size brush, floss, toothpaste tube, and bottle of mouthwash with you everywhere you go, so having mini versions of these that can fit in a small bag is ideal.

4.) Sugar free gum and mints ($1-20) 

These gifts make great stocking-stuffers! Sugar free gum is good for your dental health because it stimulates saliva production which keeps your mouth healthy (it also freshens your breath!) Sugar free mints have these same benefits without the chewing, which make them perfect for people who prefer not to chew gum. You’ve also maybe heard us talk about Xylimelts, a mild mint product with xylitol. They keep your saliva production up as well as help you fight cavities! 

5.) Water Flossers ($10-200) 

If you’ve got someone in your life who has braces, or someone who struggles with carpal tunnel, arthritis, or other dexterity limitations, a water flosser such as the Waterpik would make a perfect oral health gift. Water flossers flush bacteria and food particles out from between the teeth and below the gums where floss can’t always reach. The water pressure also stimulates the gums, leading to an overall healthier mouth. While water flossers don’t replace actual flossing, they can make a great addition to your oral health routine!

6.) Professional Whitening Treatment ($650-1350) 

Store-bought whiteners don’t whiten any bonding, veneers, or caps and crowns. Additionally, they can be mildly to extremely painful for people with sensitive teeth. If you really want to make somebody smile this holiday season, get them a professional Zoom or Kör whitening treatment. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we recommend Zoom whitening treatments for those who are looking for less expensive, quicker results. For people who have extreme sensitivity or tetracycline stained teeth, we recommend you take the Kör route, instead. 

7.) Eco-Friendly Dental Supplies ($5-25) 

Delight your eco-conscious friends and family with some ingenious eco-friendly dental supplies. From certified-vegan bamboo toothbrushes, to mint-flavored (non-vegan) zero-waste silk floss, to plastic-free chewable toothpaste tablets with fluoride, these products are both earth-conscious and budget friendly! 

8.) Oral Care Subscription Box ($30-55)

Of all the subscription boxes out there, we think oral care has to be the most practical. After all, you use your toothbrush, floss, toothpaste, and mouthwash daily! It makes sense to restock on these products every month. Of course, you’ll want to shop around—some popular oral care subscription boxes include the eco-conscious Nudge and Bazoo, and Cocofloss for those who like fun floss flavors.   

9.) Invisalign 

The best gift you could give a person is a perfect smile! Invisalign is the name for clear aligners that act like braces, but are more discreet—almost invisible! Invisalign relies on the natural processes in your mouth to subtly reposition your teeth over time. Whether you’ve got a teenager looking for an alternative to braces, or an adult who wants to discreetly perfect their smile, contact Eggert Family Dentistry. We’ll be happy to create a custom Invisalign treatment plan for you and your family! 

Have questions about Zoom and Kör whitening treatments, or Invisalign aligners? Call Dr. Elizabeth Eggert or Dr. Jeff Eggert today at 651.482.8412 We look forward to helping you check off your holiday shopping list this year! 

Dry Mouth and Diabetes: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

By: Dr. Elizaabeth Eggert

While anyone can experience dry mouth, it’s one of the most common side effects of diabetes I and II. Dry mouth, or xerostomia, is an uncomfortable condition in which your body under-produces saliva, leaving your mouth feeling dry, rough, sticky, and just plain uncomfortable. 

As we expanded on in a recent blog, saliva is extremely beneficial for your dental health. Since dry mouth is a reduction in the amount of saliva produced in your mouth, this condition can wreak havoc with your oral health.

But here’s the good news: dry mouth is a completely manageable condition that can be managed with at-home techniques, or treated here at Eggert Family Dentistry. But first, let’s explore the connection between dry mouth and diabetes.

Why Does Diabetes Cause Dry Mouth?

The two most common causes of dry mouth in people with diabetes are high blood sugar and the side effects of diabetes medications. 

High Blood Sugar: 

High blood sugar, or hyperglycemia, is a common side effect of diabetes that isn’t well managed. While healthcare providers aren’t quite sure why high blood sugar causes dry mouth, chronic dry mouth is often the first noticeable symptom that someone with diabetes experiences.

Diabetes Medications: 

Side effects of certain diabetes medications, including Metformin, include dry mouth. ACE (angiotensin-converting enzyme) inhibitors, which are used to treat hypertension and diabetes, can also cause dry mouth. 

Symptoms of dry mouth include: 

  • Bad breath
  • Burning feeling in the mouth
  • Difficulty eating, chewing, swallowing, or speaking
  • Dry, cracked lips
  • Mouth that feels dry nearly all the time
  • Sores or infections in the mouth
  • Tongue that feels rough and dry

If you experience these symptoms consistently, be sure to schedule an appointment with your healthcare provider to make sure it isn’t a sign of another underlying condition. If your case of dry mouth is diabetes-related, you’ll be happy to know that it’s manageable at home and in our office! 

How to Manage Dry Mouth With Diabetes 

Everyone has different advice on how to manage dry mouth when you have diabetes, but all advice follows the same thread: 

1.) Make sure you’re hitting your targets

2.) Take steps to moisten your mouth and encourage saliva production. 

Here are some at-home remedies for managing dry mouth: 

  • Manage your blood sugar levels.
  • Avoid salty, spicy, or sugary drinks and foods.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
  • Avoid caffeine, which can dry out your mouth.
  • Chew gum or suck on hard candies that do not contain sugar. 
  • Do not use tobacco.
  • Limit alcohol consumption.
  • Use alcohol-free mouthwash.
  • Use lip balm (to manage chapped lips). 
  • Use a humidifier while you sleep at night.

To manage the effects of dry mouth on your dental health, brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss regularly. Because dry mouth accelerates the process of tooth decay and gum disease, you want to be extra vigilant when it comes to taking care of your teeth! 

How Eggert Family Dentistry Can Help 

For patients with severe dry mouth, Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth can prescribe medications that stimulate saliva production, such as pilocarpine (Salagen) or cevimeline (Evoxac).

With the right medications and at-home management, dry mouth can be a thing of the past! Let Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff be your partner in managing the effects of diabetes on your dental health. Contact us or call us at 651.482.8412 to schedule an appointment today!

What Your Saliva Can Tell You About Your Oral Health

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Saliva: you know, that stuff we normally call “spit.” While most people may cringe and call it “gross,” dentists know that saliva is actually a healthy mouth’s best friend! 

Healthy saliva production is a good indicator that your oral health is in tip-top shape. On the other hand, if your saliva production or the consistency of your saliva is unusual, it may be a warning sign of some underlying conditions that need to be addressed. 

What is Saliva? 

Saliva is a clear liquid that’s created by your mouth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Produced by the salivary glands, saliva keeps your mouth moist and comfortable, but it also performs a number of other important functions. 

Within your saliva are tiny amounts of some very important substances, including mucus, proteins, minerals, electrolytes, antibacterial compounds and enzymes. These minerals and enzymes have a huge role to play when it comes to your overall health. For example, the enzyme amylase allows saliva to aid in digestion, by turning starches into sugars which your body can more easily absorb. Unsurprisingly, saliva also plays a key role in your oral health, protecting you from a host of dental problems.

3 Ways Saliva Protects Your Mouth

Apart from good dental health habits, when it comes to fighting off bacteria and disease in your mouth, consider saliva your superhero. From killing germs and preventing bad breath, to defending against gum disease and tooth decay, you can count on your saliva to save the day! But how does it do it? 

  1. Every time you swallow, saliva sweeps away food and bacteria. This reduces the amount of bacteria in your mouth and neutralizes acids that would otherwise break down enamel and cause tooth decay. 
  2. Saliva also contains antimicrobial agents that kill disease-causing bacteria. Without this daily “cleaning service,” you’d find that you’d develop gingivitis, gum disease, and other oral infections much faster. 
  3. When acid does manage to damage tooth enamel, saliva actually repairs the tooth’s protective surface in a process called remineralization. Calcium, phosphorus, fluoride, and other minerals contained in saliva work together to coat and repair your enamel. 

Saliva Symptoms and What They Mean 

Aside from protecting your mouth, sometimes your saliva can be a key indicator that something is wrong in your body. Unusual production or consistency in your saliva can be a red flag to let you know that there’s a problem. 

Not Enough Saliva

This is a condition known as dry mouth. Without enough saliva to coat your mouth, it can feel dry, sticky, and very uncomfortable. Dry mouth can be caused by a number of things, including: 

  • Dehydration
  • Certain medications
  • Medical treatments
  • Diabetes
  • Anemia
  • Hypertension

…and more. Depending on the cause, dry mouth can be relieved by hydration, special oral rinses, medication to promote saliva production, and more.

Too Much Saliva: 

Also known as hypersalivation, having too much saliva in your mouth can be just as uncomfortable as dry mouth. You may find yourself having to constantly spit or swallow throughout the day, which can even cause anxiety. Causes of hypersalivation include: 

  • Nausea
  • Inability to swallow 
  • Inability to keep mouth closed 
  • Sinus or throat infections 
  • Ulcers, inflammation, or pain in the mouth 
  • Parkinson’s disease 

…and more. In minor cases, hyper salivation can be treated at home with remedies such as brushing your teeth and using mouthwash to temporarily dry out the mouth. Hypersalivation can also be treated with medication, periodic botulinum toxin (Botox) injections, or in extreme cases, surgery.

Unusual Consistency 

If your saliva is thick and opaque, that may be a sign that you have a yeast infection called oral thrush. This condition is more common in children and the elderly, and is treated with antifungal medications taken orally. 

If your saliva is bloody, that may be an indication that you have developed gum disease. Bloody saliva will be most noticeable in the sink after brushing or flossing. If you think you have gum disease, call Eggert Family Dentistry and schedule an appointment right away. Treatments for gum disease include periodontal scaling and root planing. 

Have Concerns About Your Saliva? 

If you find that you’re producing excessive amounts of saliva, are experiencing bouts of dry mouth, or have noticed an unusual consistency in your saliva, call our office to schedule an appointment. Dr. Jeff Eggert or Dr. Elizabeth Eggert will be able to diagnose any problems and recommend or prescribe any treatments you may need. Call us today at 651-482-8412.

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Diabetes and Your Dental Health

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

If you have type I or type II diabetes, you’re at a higher risk for developing cavities, gingivitis, and periodontitis. That means it’s especially important that you take good care of your teeth and gums by brushing and flossing regularly. 

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with diabetes, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff Eggert can answer any questions you may have about how to best take care of your oral health. With the right strategies, managing the effects of diabetes on your dental health can be easy! Read on for more information about how diabetes can affect your dental health, and how the team at Eggert Family Dentistry can help.

What is Diabetes? 

To understand how diabetes affects your dental health, we need to understand how diabetes works. 

Most of the food you eat is processed as sugar. When your blood sugar reaches a certain level, a hormone called insulin is released. Insulin allows the sugar in your blood to be transferred to cells and used as energy. 

With diabetes, however, your body doesn’t make enough insulin, or can’t use it as well as it should. Without enough insulin, too much sugar stays in your bloodstream. 

High blood sugar can also weaken white blood cells, which are your body’s main way to fight infections. Over time, this decreased immune response can cause serious health problems, such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease.

How Does Diabetes Affect Dental Health? 

Everyone has billions of tiny bacteria living in their mouths. Some are good bacteria, and some are bad. When a person doesn’t brush their teeth or floss enough, the bad bacteria surrounding your teeth are given the opportunity to enter the gums and cause irritation, inflammation, and bleeding.

According to the American Diabetes Association, “If you have diabetes—especially if you’re not meeting your targets—you will have more of an inflammatory response [to the bad bacteria], which could result in a loss of supporting tissue for your teeth.” Too much loss of this gum and bone tissue that supports a tooth could result in the tooth needing to be removed.

To put it simply, diabetes accelerates the negative effects of bad bacteria in your mouth. While it may take a while for someone without diabetes to develop cavities and gum disease, for someone with diabetes, these processes occur at an accelerated rate and the damage is more severe. 

Once you have an infection, diabetes can make it hard for your body to fight it. High blood sugar can weaken white blood cells, which means your overall immune response is also weakened.  

Diabetes can also cause dry mouth. The lack of saliva from dry mouth means food debris, sugar, acid and bacteria don’t get washed away as easily. This leads to the formation of more plaque, which erodes the enamel and causes the aforementioned infections.

How to Protect Your Dental Health 

Developing and maintaining good oral health is the best way to prevent cavities, gingivitis, and periodontal disease, whether you have diabetes or not. But if you do have diabetes, it’s extra important that you create good dental health habits.

The cornerstones of good dental health are: 

  • Brushing your teeth twice a day 
  • Flossing between your teeth once a day 
  • Regularly scheduling dentist cleanings/appointments

Good blood sugar control will also help your body fight any bacterial or fungal infections in your mouth. The better you’re hitting your targets, the better equipped your body will be to protect itself against gingivitis and gum disease. It will also help relieve dry mouth caused by diabetes.

Don’t Let Diabetes Hurt Your Dental Health—Eggert Dentistry Can Help!

If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, come see Dr. Elizabeth Eggert and Dr. Jeff Eggert. We have experience in helping our patients with diabetes protect against tooth decay, gingivitis, periodontal disease, and more with regularly scheduled recare visits and fluoride treatments.

To talk with us about any questions you may have, or to schedule an appointment, call our office at 651.482.8412. We’re here to help you maintain a happy, healthy mouth! We provide “Dentistry for a Lifetime of Smiles!” 

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Sensitive teeth? How to prevent issues and make yourself more comfortable.

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

For people who struggle with sensitive teeth, eating or drinking anything too hot or cold can be uncomfortable. Sometimes, even brushing your teeth or using floss can be uncomfortable if you have sensitive teeth. 

But what causes tooth sensitivity and will you ever be able to enjoy hot coffee or cold ice cream again? 

Causes and Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth are caused by enamel on the teeth that gets worn down. Enamel is the hard outer layer that protects the softer interior of your teeth. When the enamel gets worn down, the softer, more sensitive part of your teeth are exposed. When the dentin or dentin tubules that run to the nerves in your teeth are exposed to heat, cold, or pressure from chewing, the nerves get hyperactive and can send a jolt of pain through your mouth. 

The things that most commonly wear down the enamel on your teeth are:

Tooth sensitivity is often caused by underlying tooth problems. By finding and fixing those problems, discomfort from sensitive teeth often resolves on its own. Some of the most common causes of sensitive teeth include:

  • Infrequent brushing
  • Overly aggressive brushing 
  • Gum recession
  • Periodontal disease
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • A dysfunctional bite

What to Do if You Have Sensitive Teeth

If you have mild tooth sensitivity, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff can recommend a desensitizing toothpaste or prescription fluoride toothpaste to use at home. The ingredients in these toothpastes help prevent hot and cold sensations from reaching your mouth. Regular fluoride varnish treatments at our office can also help reduce pain. 

There are also at-home remedies we found online, you could try these to get relief: 

  • Salt-water rinse: Add ¼ to ¾ teaspoon of salt to a glass of lukewarm water. Gargle the salt water twice daily for up to 30 seconds. 
  • Hydrogen peroxide rinse: Add two caps of 3% hydrogen peroxide to an equal amount of warm water, and swish in your mouth for up to 30 seconds. The mild antiseptic and disinfectant can help deal and prevent inflammation. 
  • Honey and warm water: Mix a spoonful of honey with warm water, and rinse your mouth with the mixture. Hone is an antibacterial agent that helps speed healing and reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. 
  • Turmeric: Massage ground turmeric on your teeth and gums twice a day for pain relief. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory treatment and enhances wound healing. 

If you have severe tooth sensitivity, you may need more involved treatment to resolve your discomfort. When sensitivity is caused by decay or when teeth are worn or decayed, we may recommend a filling, crown, or bonding to fix the root issue. Also, if a dysfunctional bite is keeping the nerves of your teeth hyperactive, changing the tooth positions is an important part of the healing process. 

Addressing the Underlying Issues That Cause Tooth Sensitivity 

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

One of the best ways to improve sensitive teeth is by developing healthy oral hygiene habits, including regular visits to the dentist. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff, contact our office at 651-482-8412.

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How Does Laughing Gas Help, and What Does It Do?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

What Is Laughing Gas?

Nitrous oxide gas – also known as laughing gas – is the most commonly used option to reduce anxiety in dentistry. Nitrous oxide is considered an anxiolytic, which means it doesn’t sedate you, but helps you feel comfortable, free from your usual dental anxieties and able to relax while dental procedures are performed.

Laughing gas is commonly used to help patients who have:

  • Dental anxieties or phobias
  • Trouble sitting still or cooperating (typically pediatric patients)
  • Special needs
  • Strong gag reflexes
  • Trouble breathing in and out the nose
  • An inability to respond adequately to local anesthesia alone

It also works well for children who need to have longer procedures done.

How Does It Work?

Laughing gas is given to patients through a mask that’s placed over the nose. When you breathe, you inhale the gas mixture and fall into a relaxed, nearly euphoric state. This leaves most patients feeling anxiety-free, with all their fears in the distant background.

Although the name laughing gas might make you think the medicine would make you giggly, that’s not how it works. The nitrous oxide slows your nervous system, which makes you feel less inhibited. It might make you feel light or tingly, and some people even say it makes their arms or legs feel like they are floating. The result, however, is that you feel calm and comfortable.

What Are the Benefits of Laughing Gas?

It is used commonly in dental offices because it works quickly and safely to help patients relax. It is given throughout your dental procedure and when the procedure is over, patients breathe pure oxygen through the mask, allowing the effects of the nitrous oxide gas to wear off quickly. Therefore, patients are able to drive themselves home.

In addition, although laughing gas helps you relax, it doesn’t put you to sleep. This helps ensure patients are still able to hear Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff and respond to any questions or instructions.

What Are the Side Effects?

When laughing gas is given correctly, most patients don’t have any negative side effects when it wears off. However, if the level of nitrous oxide rises too quickly, or if the amount being inhaled changes too quickly, patients may experience side effects such as:

  • Headaches
  • Shivering
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sleepiness

To prevent headaches, patients are given oxygen for five minutes at the end of the procedure. This helps clear the remaining gas from the lungs, and it helps you become more alert and awake.

You can also help prevent nausea or vomiting by eating lightly before your procedure and avoiding a large meal for up to three hours after your appointment. If you do start to have any of the side effects, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff can turn the nitrous oxide level down and by simply breathing more straight oxygen, any adverse side effects diminish quickly.

Interested in Using Laughing Gas at Your Next Appointment?

Laughing gas is a helpful strategy for managing severe pain or dental anxieties. Talk with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff if you’re interested in learning more about using nitrous oxide gas at your next appointment. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 651-482-8412.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Drug Abuse on Dental Health?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Drug and alcohol abuse have been on the rise in the last few years, and those numbers increased even more during the pandemic. Numbers from the CDC suggest that more than 10% of Americans over the age of 12 have abused illegal drugs in the last month. In addition, 24% of American adults had at least one episode of heavy drinking in the last year.

Unfortunately, drug and alcohol abuse can cause numerous dental health problems, including:

Enamel Breakdown and Mouth Sores from Drug and Alcohol Abuse

One of the most common impacts of drug abuse on dental health is enamel breakdown. Because cocaine and many other drugs are highly acidic, they can break down the enamel on teeth. Cocaine is especially damaging when it is smoked or when people use powdered cocaine in their mouths to be absorbed through their gums. This can lead to mouth sores, which can get infected.

Cocaine can also cause injuries in the mouth when it is snorted. The tissues in the upper palate are weakened, which can cause a hole to form between the nose and the mouth.

Essentially all alcoholic beverages are acidic, with some having a higher pH level than others. Wine is especially acidic and seeing tooth erosion in wine drinkers is very common. So many mixed drinks also contain mixers like juices and sodas, all of which have high levels of acidity and can cause damage to tooth enamel.

Another negative dental health consequence from drug abuse is called transient chorea. This causes muscle spasms in the jaw and mouth, which can make people grind their teeth. When people grind their teeth too much, it weakens the tooth enamel and causes the teeth to crack.

Drug Abuse Can Make Teeth Rot

Tooth rot is so common from meth use that the condition is known as “meth mouth.” Black and brown holes form all over the teeth due to decay. Meth kills blood vessels, which causes problems in the gums. Meth also makes the mouth feel dry. And without saliva, the enamel on the teeth is much more subject to the harmful bacteria that causes tooth decay.

Bad Dental Hygiene from Drug and Alcohol Abuse

When people abuse drugs and alcohol, their dental health suffers. The drugs and alcohol themselves are hard on people’s teeth. However, another side effect of the abuse is neglecting basic dental hygiene.

When people use drugs and alcohol, they often forget to take care of their basic dental needs – such as brushing, flossing, and using mouth wash. Finally, some drugs, such as meth, make people crave sugary foods and drinks, which are hard on your teeth. This combination makes it hard to keep your mouth healthy.

A No-Judgment Appointment to Discuss the Effects of Drug and Alcohol Abuse on Your Dental Health

If you’re concerned about the impact drugs or alcohol are having on your oral health, contact Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff for a no-judgement appointment. Call our office at 651-482-8412 to schedule your appointment.