Are Sports Mouthguards Worth the Investment?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

School Has Started – and so Have Fall Sports

It seems like summer just started, but alas, school time is here and so are the fall sports that go along with the season change. We want to make sure you included a sports mouthguard in your “back to school” shopping when getting what you need for your athlete.

What Is a Sports Mouthguard?

A sports mouthguard is a piece of clear (or sometimes very colorful) plastic that’s typically worn over the top row of teeth during sports. A mouthguard may also be worn on the bottom teeth, which can be very helpful for people who wear braces or have fixed dental appliances like expanders.

Mouthguards are considered essential equipment for sports that involve body contact or flying equipment, like football, hockey, soccer, volleyball, basketball, wrestling, baseball, lacrosse, and even tennis. However, sports mouthguards can also be beneficial for skateboarding, mountain biking, or other sports where falls could result in mouth injuries. Mouth guards can also prevent dental injuries for people who grind their teeth during sports.

Benefits of a Sports Mouthguard

The biggest benefit of sports mouthguards is that they can prevent a variety of dental injuries and trauma, including:

  • Soft tissue damage, such as biting the tongue, cheeks, or lips
  • Tooth fractures, including root fractures, broken teeth, or chipped teeth
  • Knocked out teeth
  • Tooth displacement
  • Jaw fractures
  • In addition, although medical research is inconclusive, some evidence suggests that sports mouthguards may absorb enough impact between the upper and lower jaws to help reduce concussions.

Mouthguards can also help people save money by preventing the costly need for dental repairs.

Types of Sports Mouthguards

When you are choosing a sports mouthguard, there are three main options to choose from:

  • Stock mouthguards: Stock mouthguards are the cheapest and most easily available mouthguard options. Although they come in different sizes, they often don’t fit well. And, a mouthguard that’s too loose or too small can do more damage to your teeth and gums. Finally, these inexpensive mouthguards tend to be made from cheaper materials, making them prone to breaks and tears.
  • Boil-and-bite mouthguards: Boil-and-bite mouthguards are also relatively inexpensive and are easily available. Because the mouthguard is boiled to soften the plastic so it can be formed to better fit an athlete’s teeth, the fit is better than what a stock sports mouthguard provides.
  • Custom mouthguards: Custom mouthguards are the safest, yet most costly, option available. Dr. Jeff Eggert or Dr. Elizabeth Eggert use impressions of your teeth and mouth to create a mouthguard that fits your teeth perfectly. A custom mouthguard is also the only way to create a precise fit around bridges, braces, and other dental restorations.

Contact Eggert Family Dentistry to Get Fitted for a Custom Sports Mouthguard

When you’re trying to determine which costs to prioritize, remember this: custom sports mouthguards may be more of an investment than the options available online or at retail stores, but they also provide a better fit and are made from stronger material. Finally, investing in a sports mouthguard is considerably less expensive than paying for emergency dental treatment after a preventable injury. Unfortunately, once an injury occurs, it becomes a life-long journey to address the tooth/teeth/or bones involved. In this case prevention is definitely key!

If you’re interested in getting fitted for a sports mouthguard, contact Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff today. Call our office at 651-482-8412 to schedule your appointment.

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.

List Join

Dental Expansion: What Is It and Why Do It?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Dental expansion is a relatively common orthodontic treatment that broadens the palate and increases space for the teeth. Also known as palatal expansion or upper jaw expansion, it’s an especially simple treatment when administered to children and pre-teens. This is because children’s hard palates remain two separate halves that only fuse together after puberty, sometimes well after puberty.

Here’s some information on what dental expansion is, when it’s indicated, and how it can help both children and adult patients.

What Is Dental Expansion?

The procedure is technically known as maxillary expansion or palatal expansion. It’s a standard orthodontic treatment useful in correcting tooth overcrowding, misalignment, breathing trouble, and other issues. While it can be attempted on patients of any age, it’s a simpler and more predictable treatment on growing children. When it’s administered to adults, it typically requires surgical intervention.

In childhood, the palate consists of two separate bony halves that do not fully fuse until adulthood. If the jaw is narrow or if dental issues such as misalignment or overcrowded teeth are present, we can gradually move the two halves of the palate apart to encourage bone to grow between the halves, making the jaw wider.

When Is Dental Expansion Necessary?

Dental expansion ensures that the upper jaw is the optimal width for healthy teeth. When the jaw is too narrow, a number of undesirable dental consequences may occur including underbite, crossbite, impacted teeth and crowded teeth.

  • Underbite: The front lower teeth stick out further than the front upper teeth.
  • Crossbite: The upper teeth bite inside the lower teeth because the lower jaw is wider than the upper jaw.
  • Impacted teeth: Some teeth are blocked from erupting by the other teeth.
  • Crowded teeth: There’s not enough space in the jaw for all the permanent teeth to erupt in an aligned manner.

All of these conditions may cause a malocclusion, which means that the teeth fail to align properly and create a poor fit when the jaw is closed.

Dentists and orthodontists can evaluate whether there will be sufficient room for all the permanent teeth to erupt. If there isn’t sufficient room, early orthodontic treatment can expand the palate and thus both minimize how long braces are required and also contribute to a better alignment than braces could do on their own.

How Does Dental Expansion Help Dental Patients of All Ages?

Upper jaw expansion helps ensure a good fit between the lower and upper jaw and the teeth therein. A misaligned bite can cause dental problems such as uneven tooth wear, tooth grinding, tooth cracking, and crowded teeth that are prone to cavities.

However, the consequences aren’t just dental in nature. Other issues can include:

  • Jaw strain and/or TMJ (temporomandibular joint) issues
  • trouble biting and chewing
    difficulty speaking clearly
  • headaches
  • facial asymmetry

Additionally, breathing can be impaired by a poor bite due to a narrow arch, which can contribute to mouth breathing and even some types of sleep apnea, which may contribute to sleepiness, poor concentration (including ADHD), and irritability.

Eggert Family Dentistry Can Help

If you or your child has dental or health issues that could be resolved by palatal expansion, please reach out to Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff. We’d be happy to address this during your next exam and let you know whether and how dental expansion can help you or your child to have a better bite and improved dental health, along with potentially improved respiration and other functions. Call us today at 651.482.8412, we look forward to helping you!

List Join

Teaching Kids to Floss

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Like every parent, you want the best for your child. We know you put so much energy into raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted kids.

One of the best ways to set them up for a lifetime of better health is by helping them learn good oral hygiene habits early. These habits will last them a lifetime, and help them keep their one precious set of adult teeth healthy and strong as long as possible.

Getting your kids started on a good brushing program is important, but you also need to help them on the path to a good flossing habit. Here are some tips from Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff on setting your kids up for a lifetime of strong, healthy teeth.

Teach Flossing Early

It’s almost never too early to teach your kids how to floss. Once your kid has two teeth that touch each other, you can start teaching them how to floss. By the time they are seven or eight, they are fully capable of flossing daily, so be sure to talk about flossing and model good flossing habits for them. Encourage and reinforce the notion that flossing is something everyone does!

Encourage Consistent Habits

Flossing daily is the goal. For both you and your kids, it doesn’t really matter if it happens in the morning or at night. Likewise, the great debate of “floss first or brush first?” is not a big deal. You can go in either order. The best strategy is to pick one time of day and a consistent sequence, to really incorporate the habit of flossing.

Choosing Your Floss

Help kids feel invested in flossing by letting them choose their floss. Floss comes in a variety of flavors and textures, and once again, the most important thing is that it happens. If kids prefer a certain type of floss, try to accommodate them. Look for child-friendly dental flossers with kid-oriented themes.

You can also choose between traditional dental floss or dental flossers. Flossers aren’t quite as effective as traditional floss, but if kids (or adults) are more willing to floss using this type of tool, go for it!.

Make Flossing Fun

Approach flossing in a light-hearted, fun way. Do it together and make funny faces in the mirror. Set up a reward system with stickers and incentives for sticking to the habit. Give your kids loads of verbal praise and appreciation for flossing, and coach them gently to improve their technique. Need a primer on good technique? Check out our blog post on How to Get a Flawless Floss.

Incorporate some pro-flossing propaganda into your reading sessions. Some childrens’ books about flossing include “Rotten Tooth Ruth” by Ilana K. Levinsky, “Max Goes to the Dentist” by Adria F. Klein, and “Flossing Teeth” by Mari Schuh, among others. After reading about brushing and flossing, encourage them to draw a picture of themselves or the family, brushing and flossing together.

When your child comes in for their dental recare visit, you can count on Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth to reinforce your pro-flossing messages. Let us know if your child is struggling with flossing, and we can help them develop good technique and habits.

My Child Has Bad Breath. What Can I Do About It?

By Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Kids are just as susceptible to occasional or chronic bad breath as adults are. If you’ve noticed bad breath when your child comes in for a snuggle, there are remedies. If their bad breath is a chronic problem, it’s important to investigate why. Bad breath may have its roots in poor dental hygiene or in another underlying health issue.

Improve Oral Hygiene to Improve Breath

Halitosis, a fancy name for bad breath, can be a consequence of poor oral self-care. Kids are prone to resisting or neglecting their brushing and flossing routines, so sometimes getting them back on track in this respect can resolve issues of unpleasant breath.

Leftover food debris can make breath smell bad. Both food particles and plaque feed the ordinary bacteria that live in the mouth. When they consume these organic materials, they emit volatile sulfur compounds that don’t smell good.

Poor hygiene can lead to cavities, gum disease, infections and other disorders of the mouth’s soft tissues. All of these can contribute to unwelcome scents in the mouth. It’s critical to resolve the root cause in these circumstances, to make sure your child’s mouth stays healthy. The tongue can also build up a whitish coating that consists of food, bacteria and sloughed-off skin cells. Brushing the tongue will help remove this coating. If your child has any loose fillings or crowns, these can also trap food that feeds bacteria.

When your child comes to see Dr. Jeff or Dr. Elizabeth, please let us know if bad breath is an issue for your child, and we’ll help get to the bottom of the cause.

Other Causes of Bad Breath in Kids

Halitosis can also be caused by some non-dental related health issues:

  • Foreign object in the nose: Curious kids sometimes insert objects into their nostrils, which can lodge in the nasal passages. This can cause an ill-smelling infection.
  • Sinus infection: With a sinus infection, fluids collect in the nasal passages and throat, bacteria accumulates in these fluids and can multiply and up the smell level.
  • Swollen tonsils: Infected tonsils are red and inflamed, and may have white spots and smell bad. The infection itself can smell bad, and the swollen tonsils can trap food which can also lead to unpleasant odors.
  • Complex and rare health issues like kidney failure, liver problems, stomach infections, diabetes, and cancer of the mouth can promote bad breath in children. Chemotherapy can also contribute to bad breath.
  • Mouth breathing, dry mouth and low saliva levels: Saliva helps keep mouths healthy. It washes away bacteria and food debris, and it also neutralizes cavity-causing acids. The absence of saliva can promote halitosis.
  • Medications: Some medications cause a dry mouth and bad breath.
  • Diet: Garlic, onions, and other strongly flavored foods can cause bad breath, as can high-protein foods like fish, cheese and red meat.

There’s no need for kids (or their parents) to suffer needlessly with bad breath. Most causes of halitosis can be addressed with improved oral hygiene, and if that doesn’t work, it’s worth getting Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff involved. Let us know if bad breath is a chronic problem for your child, and we’ll help investigate the issue.

List Join

Why a Fitted Mouth Guard Provides the Best Protection

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

A fitted mouth guard is the best way to protect an athlete’s teeth and mouth area when playing sports throughout the year.

Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth always recommend to parents of our sports-playing patients that a custom-fitted mouth guard is the best way to protect their kids’ teeth, jaws and general health. This is especially important in traditional high-contact sports like hockey, wrestling, and football, but it’s also true in other sports like baseball and gymnastics in which an errant move may cause a dentofacial injury that is disastrous for the teeth or jaw.

Many athletes rely on the one-size-fits-all or boil-and-bite mouth easily found at sporting goods stores and online, and they are definitely an improvement over no protection.

However, the benefits of custom mouth guards are worth the investment. Your child has just one set of adult teeth, and keeping them intact should be your priority. The longer they can go in life without requiring dental reconstruction, the better. In addition, the cost of a custom set of mouth guards is far more economical than multiple dental visits.

Better Fit

When you get a custom mouth guard, it’s molded exactly to your child’s teeth and jaw. When you choose an off-the-shelf guard, it’s generally bulky and fits far from perfectly. It’s probably uncomfortable to wear and hard to speak around. As a result, kids tend to not wear them for the entire length of the game or competition or they play with them during competition rendering them ineffective.

In contrast, a custom-fit mouth guard is much more comfortable and easy to speak with. This seriously increases the likelihood that your kid will wear it for the duration of their athletic event.

Improved Breathing

One of the most common complaints kids have about one-size-fits-all mouth guards is that they interfere with breathing, especially during intense exertion. It’s no surprise that athletes object to this problem, because it’s hard to perform at your best when your respiration is impaired. Research indicates that custom mouth guards don’t interfere with breathing. In fact, some research suggests that custom mouth guards may actually improve athletic performance. When kids complain that they can’t breathe well while wearing a store-bought mouth guard, upgrade to a custom-made one

Better Protection

The American Dental Association strongly encourages athletes of all ages to wear mouth guards and reduce the risk of orofacial injuries. Studies support this. A 2018 meta-analysis established that mouth guard users are 82-93% less likely to suffer dentofacial injuries. A study of college athletes showed that custom mouth guards provide the best protection against injury while playing contact sports.

The ADA states that the most effective mouth guards share these qualities:

  • Cover the user’s teeth on one arch
  • Are properly fitted to the user’s mouth
  • Are accurately adapted to the user’s oral structures
  • Stay in place comfortably and securely

Stock mouth guards don’t meet these criteria, but custom mouth guards do.

Help your kids graduate into adulthood with a healthy, intact set of teeth. Please talk to Dr. Elizabeth or Dr Jeff about getting a custom mouth guard to protect your athletic offspring’s dentofacial health.

List Join

Not All Halloween Candy Affects Teeth the Same: What Is the Best and Worst?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Halloween is right around the corner. As parents, we know the drill. Our kids put copious amounts of time into choosing the perfect costumes, rally their friends and map out plans of attack to collect the most possible candy in one evening. We’re caught somewhere between, “That sounds like the most epic Halloween ever, kids!” and “No child’s teeth can handle all that candy!”

In light of this pre-Halloween parent panic, we thought it would be helpful to take a little time to explain how different types of candy affect teeth differently.

Halloween candy worst offenders

Some candies are particularly problematic for dental health.

Hard sugar candy

halloween candyCandy on a stick, such as lollipops or rock candy, is meant to be enjoyed over time. Because it lingers in your mouth, it increases the production of saliva. However, instead of the saliva doing its job and rinsing bacteria out of your mouth, it only spreads the sugar around. Additionally, your mouth produces acid in an attempt to destroy the sticky sugar that then coats your teeth. The acid and sugar team up to break down tooth enamel and, with repeat exposure, can result in tooth decay.

Another threat to teeth from hard candy is the temptation to bite down on it, hence the candy we fondly know as “jawbreakers.” Biting down on hard candy can easily result in broken or chipped teeth and sometimes upset the jaw muscles so much, pain results.

Chewy candy

Just like candy on a stick, chewy candy lingers in the mouth. It gets stuck in your molars and between your teeth. If you’ve ever eaten Laffy Taffy, Sugar Babies or caramels, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Gummy candies or fruit snacks might seem like safer bets but they aren’t any better. They still contain sugar and get trapped in your molars and small crevices between your teeth.

Oh, and watch out for those delicious caramel apple suckers. Between the caramel, hard sugar candy and the fact that they’re meant to be savored, they can really wreak some dental havoc.

Sour candy

You might be wondering where sour candy fits into the picture. Warheads, Sour Patch Kids, Sour Skittles…kids LOVE sour candy and love to challenge themselves and their friends to eat large quantities of it or hold the sour candy in their mouths for long periods of time.

Unfortunately, sour candy attacks your teeth from two angles. Sour candy is both sweet and acidic. The sugar sticks to your teeth while the acid breaks down your enamel. Many sour candies are also sticky, further exacerbating the ill effects.

Does this mean your children can’t eat the hard and sugary, chewy or sour candies they rake in on Oct. 31? Not necessarily. However, armed with a little knowledge, you can avoid passing them out to the neighborhood kids and explain to your children why it’s important to limit their consumption of these sticky stinkers. Then remind them to brush and floss their teeth afterward to clean their mouths and remove any lodged sugar.

Halloween candy best choices

Sugar-free hard candy

Like its sugar-laden counterpart, sugar-free hard candy encourages the production of saliva which rinses bacteria from your mouth. However, sugar-free candy doesn’t cause the production of acid or stick to your teeth—a win for your pearly whites…and your sweet tooth!

Chocolates

One of the most popular categories of Halloween candy are chocolates. While many have sticky centers like Twix, Rollos or Snickers, others like Hershey’s bars and Nestle Crunch dissipate quickly in your mouth, making them more dental-friendly than almost any other candy.

Sugar-free gum

While it’s not technically considered candy, sugar-free gum—much like sugar-free candy—helps your mouth produce saliva which rinses your teeth and helps ward against destructive bacteria. If you’re looking for a healthy option to hand out at the door this year (and don’t want to be the neighbor handing out mini bags of baby carrots!) consider giving out packs of sugar-free gum. Almost all kids love to chew gum, it’s allergen-friendly and will help cleanse their mouths from all the sugary, sticky, sour madness.

If you haven’t already, give us a call at 651.428.9691 to schedule your family members’ recare visits. Dr. Elizabeth, Dr. Jeff and our hygienists are here to help you keep your teeth clean and enjoy a healthy smile for life.

Do You Think Your Wisdom Teeth Should Be Removed? Watch for These Common Signs

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Which dental procedure comes up most in conversation? You guessed it—wisdom teeth extraction. Upwards of 90% of U.S. adults have had their wisdom teeth removed at some point in their teen or early adult years. If you happen to be in the minority and still have your wisdom teeth, you’re surrounded by friends and family who live without that notorious third set of molars. Indeed, wisdom teeth removal is one of the two most common oral surgical procedures.

If you need your wisdom teeth removed, it’s critical to do so promptly so they don’t cause major damage to your bite…or your overall health. Here are five common signs that it’s time to make an appointment with an oral surgeon:

Sign #1: Pain and sensitivity in the back of your mouth

As wisdom teeth develop and move up towards and through the gum line, they can put a tremendous amount of pressure on existing teeth. If you or your child begin to experience pain, throbbing or sensitivity behind your 12-year molars, your wisdom teeth probably require attention.

Sign #2: Irritated gums in the back of your mouth

As wisdom teeth begin to emerge, they cause a flap of gum tissue to form behind the last molars. This tissue easily becomes irritated and inflamed. Gums may also bleed easily.

Sign #3: Tooth infections in the back of your mouth

Brushing your gums where your wisdom teeth are erupting can be challenging for several reasons:

  • This area is way in the back of the mouth and can be hard to reach with a toothbrush
  • The gum tissue is particularly sensitive as wisdom teeth erupt
  • The flap of gum tissue that forms at the site makes it hard to clean gums thoroughly

Consequently, bacteria often become trapped in the gum tissue and cause infections in the teeth and gums. This bacteria can also lead to halitosis, or chronic bad breath.

Sign #4: Jaw stiffness

As teeth emerge, especially if they’re coming in crooked or sideways, they will put pressure on the rest of your teeth. This pressure can make your jaw stiff and cause undue discomfort when talking, chewing or yawning. Also, swelling around the jaw can accompany jaw stiffness. Left untreated, a misaligned bite can lead to TMD.

Sign #5: A change in teeth positioning and bite

If you start to notice that your teeth are moving out of alignment, particularly if this is in combination with any of the signs above, you’ll want to consult with an oral surgeon right away. Unaddressed for too long, your once beautifully-straight teeth can become permanently misaligned and require dental or orthodontic intervention to remedy.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we advocate for your oral health. One way we monitor your wisdom teeth is through routine x-rays of the area. If we foresee an issue with wisdom teeth eruption or we see evidence that they’re causing problems in one of many ways, we will refer you to our most trusted oral surgery colleagues for a consultation.

As always, we’re here to serve your dental needs and the needs of your loved ones! We can be reached at 651.482.8412.

Crossbites: Everything You Need to Know to Regain a Healthy Smile

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

You’ve heard of an overbite and an underbite but have you ever heard of a crossbite? Perhaps not. However, crossbites are fairly common, affecting upwards of 16% of the population. In this post, we want to take a little time to explore this form of malocclusion so you know how to identify it, how to treat it and why treatment is important.

What is a crossbite?

A crossbite occurs when teeth are misaligned in such a way that the upper teeth fit behind the lower teeth when your mouth is at rest. If the crossbite affects the front teeth it’s referred to as an “anterior crossbite.” If the crossbite affects teeth in the back of the mouth it’s called a “posterior crossbite.”

What causes a crossbite?

There are several reasons why a crossbite can develop:

  • Genetics
  • Thumb sucking or tongue thrusting
  • Mouth breathing
  • Delayed loss of baby teeth and growth of adult teeth

What are symptoms that can result from a crossbite?

You may experience jaw pain or TMD, headaches, neck and shoulder pain or cranial tension stemming from any form of malocclusion, including a crossbite. Also, because teeth don’t line up properly, they can wear unevenly. They can also be difficult to brush well, resulting in tooth decay and gum disease. In severe cases, a crossbite may affect facial structure and cause issues with sleep apnea.

How are crossbites treated in children and adults?

A crossbite can be treated at any stage of life. However, because a child’s jaw is still developing, in many cases a palatal expander accomplishes the task. These expanders widen the upper palate so the upper teeth can sit properly against the lower teeth. Braces and orthodontic headgear are also common solutions for children with crossbites.

For adults, braces can also be effective, however, for adults with severe crossbites, surgery is often the best path forward.

In some cases, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff can treat your mild crossbite with Invisalign orthodontic treatment or they can restoratively mask a crossbite by bonding, crowning or reshaping your teeth for a more even bite. However, in the case of a severe crossbite, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff will likely refer you to an orthodontist and perhaps an oral surgeon for a consultation.

If your bite is misaligned, we recommend you come into our office for a consultation. The benefits of correcting an underbite, overbite or crossbite go far beyond aesthetics.

We would love to share our knowledge and experience with you so you can achieve a healthy smile with lifelong benefits! Give us a call at 651.482.8412.

At What Age Should I Schedule My Child’s First Dental Visit?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

There’s a lot to keep track of as a new parent. Don’t let your baby’s dental health fall through the cracks! Your baby’s first tooth probably won’t erupt until they are close to six months old, but it’s never too early to get their first Eggert Family Dentistry visit on the calendar.

Baby teeth are important too!

We believe that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and we know that tooth decay can affect any teeth above the gumline. That’s why Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommend that your baby have their first dental visit six months after their first tooth erupts or definitely by the age of 1.

Baby teeth have several important jobs and require the same level of care and vigilance as adult teeth.

Baby teeth are responsible for:

  • Helping children chew properly
  • Holding space for adult teeth
  • Speech development

What will we discuss at my child’s first dental visit?

When you bring your baby in for their first dental visit, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will take a peek in their mouth and check all erupted teeth to make sure they’re healthy. Then they will discuss basic baby and toddler oral care, address the negative effects of sippy cups, pacifiers and thumb-sucking, tell you what dental milestones you can anticipate and advise you on how your baby’s nutrition impacts their oral health. Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will also give you follow-up instructions so you know when to come back for your baby’s next visit and what to do in the meantime.

How do I prepare my child for their first dental visit?

If you’re proactive and your child’s first dental visit happens during their first year of life, they may not have stranger danger yet. This is a huge advantage and can set you up for a successful initial visit. If your child is a bit older, they may be warier of strangers and feel unsettled in a new environment.

To prepare your child for their first visit, you can:

  • Look online or go to your local library to find books or videos that help young children learn about brushing and caring for their teeth and visiting the dentist.
  • Talk positively about the dentist office and your child’s upcoming visit. Your positivity is contagious!
  • Bring along their favorite blanket or stuffed animal. A little dose of familiarity can provide them with comfort in this new environment.
  • Incentivize. Tell them about the prize they’ll get to pick out or offer to take them to their favorite park after their visit.
  • If your child is a little older and hasn’t had the opportunity to visit the dentist yet, bring them along with you to your next visit. This will help familiarize them with the sights and sounds of the dentist office. They will also be able to watch as Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff and one of our hygienists clean your teeth and examine your mouth.

Our team at Eggert Family Dentistry love working with children and we know good oral health starts young. If there’s anything we can do to help make your child’s first experience at our office a success, please let us know in advance! To schedule your child’s first appointment, call our office at 651.482.8412.