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.

Back-to-School Oral Hygiene Routine for Kids: A Helpful Checklist

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Ahhh, the lazy days of summer. For most Midwesterners, this means swimming, boating, beaching and vacationing while enjoying late-night campfires and gooey s’mores. But we also know that, if we don’t think and plan ahead, the transition from summer into fall is rocky.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we want to lighten your load a bit. As summer fades away into fall, save yourself stress by looking through our back-to-school oral hygiene checklist for your child!

Establish your school-year dental routine

  • Buy your child a new toothbrush, a tube of fluoride toothpaste, floss and mouthwash
  • Reiterate the importance of brushing and flossing at least twice each day
  • If your child is small, let them know where brushing and flossing will fit into their daily routine
  • As parents, make sure to help your children (age 8 and under) brush and floss thoroughly each time
  • Ask older siblings to set a good example by showing younger younger siblings how to brush and floss
  • Create a star chart or other reward system for young children to encourage daily oral hygiene

Put together a school dental kit

  • Check the school’s gum policy and, if it’s allowed, give your child a pack of sugar-free gum to chew after lunch to help clean their teeth
  • Get your child a water bottle they can take to school and encourage them to sip on water throughout the day to cleanse their mouth and keep their teeth clean

Shop for healthy food for lunches and snacks

Great choices include:

  • Crunchy foods like carrots, celery and apples; limit citrus fruits which erode enamel quickly
  • Salad greens with crunchy, raw vegetables and a low-sugar dressing
  • Foods high in calcium and phosphorus such as cheese, yogurt and nuts
  • Whole-grain bread/sandwiches with natural nut or seed butter or nitrite-free deli meat and cheese
  • Miniature water bottles or white milk for their thermos

If your child has braces…

  • Put a travel toothbrush, a small tube of fluoride toothpaste, a container of floss and a container of dental wax in a small zipper bag and encourage them to brush their teeth after lunch
  • Brainstorm a list of healthy, low-sugar, braces-friendly snack and lunch options

Schedule your child’s fall recare visit

At your child’s visit, we will thoroughly clean their teeth, check for signs of cavities, monitor the need for braces and evaluate the status of their wisdom teeth.

If your child will be playing contact sports this school year, ask us about custom mouthguards!

We hope this checklist helps you with your child’s back-to-school oral hygiene routine. Call Eggert Family Dentistry today to schedule your child’s fall recare visit at 651.482.8412!

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder – Lizzie’s Story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?

Lizzie’s parents are longtime patients of Dr. Elizabeth and brought Lizzie in for her first visit when she was a year old. As Lizzie grew older, Dr. Elizabeth began to notice signs of what she suspected to be Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder. Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder (OMD) is a disorder characterized by improper tongue, jaw, and lip positioning during swallowing, feeding, and speaking.
Patients with OMD often have signs like malocclusion, mouth-breathing, tongue thrust, and airway obstruction. They may also have symptoms like headaches, malaise, fatigue, anxiety/depression, and pain. Dr. Elizabeth noticed that Lizzie was developing an open bite and had a non-tongue based swallowing pattern (she often uses her lips and teeth for swallowing). Dr. Elizabeth talked with the parents about helping to remind Lizzie to put her tongue up to the roof of her mouth to swallow and to keep her lip and teeth away from each other when swallowing. As Lizzie got older, it was still difficult for her to swallow with her tongue up. Dr. Elizabeth recommended that she start Myobrace® treatment and myofunctional therapy to address her symptoms.

patient highlight

Figure 1: Lizzie’s open bite: her tongue sits forward. She is developing a narrow upper arch.

What was involved?

Lizzie’s Myobrace® treatment will involve moving through a series of oral appliances that each function to address different aspects of OMDs, including habit correction, arch development, and dental alignment. Before starting her Myobrace® treatment, Lizzie came in for a short appointment with Dr. Elizabeth to take initial photos and learn how to wear her appliance. Dr. Elizabeth talked with Lizzie about the importance of wearing her appliance every night while she sleeps and for at least two hours each day. In addition to wearing the Myobrace® appliance, Lizzie has undergone myofunctional therapy with us to further correct some of the habits contributing to her OMD. During these sessions, which we offer both in-office and via Zoom, our hygienist Lea showed Lizzie different exercises to help her retrain her orofacial muscles so she can achieve a normal resting position for her tongue, lips, and jaw.

What have Lizzie’s results been?

Lizzie is still in the early stages of her treatment. She has been striving to keep her Myobrace® in at night and has been working through myofunctional exercises. She feels that her nose breathing is improving and is confident she will continue to put forth the effort for her treatment. Oftentimes, Myobrace® therapy takes many months or even years. The theory is that the slow training and continuous practice of positioning the muscles allows the facial structures to develop naturally and stay that way. We are excited to see where Lizzie will go through this journey with us.

A Brief Overview of Myobrace®: What It Is and How It Works

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

As our kids’ teeth erupt, we keep a watchful eye on alignment and spacing, wondering if they’ll need braces. If their teeth seem misaligned or crowded, we make a mental note to speak with their dentist about it at their next recare appointment and consult with an orthodontist at some point in the future. 

But how many parents know that there is a proactive approach to helping their child achieve a straighter, healthier smile…and one that they can begin much earlier? 

This treatment is called Myobrace®.

What is Myobrace®?

Unlike traditional orthodontic treatment that forces erupted permanent teeth into the proper position, Myobrace® unlocks natural growth and development by promoting correct facial and jaw growth. This preventative treatment is gentle and works by helping kids break bad oral habits and through the use of an intra-oral appliance. 

Who is Myobrace® for? 

Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff recommend beginning Myobrace® treatment for children as young as five. This allows them to work with your child from an early age to break bad habits that cause improper jaw and facial development. Some of these bad habits include thumb sucking, mouth breathing, reverse swallowing and tongue thrusting. 

When your child completes their Myobrace® treatment, they will be able to breathe naturally through their nose, rest their tongue in the proper position, swallow correctly and keep their lips together comfortably.

When children begin the Myobrace® treatment, they may have only baby teeth or just a few permanent teeth. That’s ok. Believe it or not, it’s actually beneficial. Early intervention yields the best results! Ultimately, this treatment is typically administered over the course of two to three years and is recommended for kids ages 5-11. 

Steps in the Myobrace® process

Note: Your child will wear a different custom appliance during each step of the Myobrace® process. 

Step #1: Education

Your child will begin their Myobrace® journey with habit-correction therapy. Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will teach them how to nose-breathe as opposed to mouth-breathe, how to properly rest their tongue and lips and how to swallow correctly. Curbing bad oral habits at a young age when their jaws are still developing is the first step towards preventing misaligned and crowded teeth. 

Step #2

Arch development: If your child’s jaws are too narrow, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff may recommend an appliance called a BioBloc or the Farrell Bent Wire Systemto widen their upper palette. This device will help make ample space for the teeth and tongue. 

Step #3

Alignment: This step helps align your child’s teeth when the last of their permanent teeth are coming in. It ensures that teeth find their proper position. 

Step #4: 

Retention: Did you know that 90% of orthodontic patients experience structural relapse once retainers are complete? The final step in the Myobrace® process, this step solidifies your child’s results so you don’t have to worry about your child losing all the progress they achieved. 

The intra-oral custom appliances are removable. For best results, children must cooperate with the process and prioritize the use of these appliances a few hours a day and overnight. In many cases, Myobrace® helps a child avoid the need for braces down the road or drastically reduces the length of time they will be in braces. 

Do you think your child may be a candidate for Myobrace®? Give us a call to set up an appointment and learn more! 651.482.8412.

Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder(OMD): What Is It and How Does It Present?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

You may have heard the term orofacial myofunctional disorder but how much do you know about it? If you’re like most people, probably not much. Surprisingly, it affects a large percentage of the population. It’s estimated that 38% or more than 1 out of 3 people are affected by OMD.

Defining Orofacial Myofunctional Disorder 

Orofacial myofunctional disorder (OMD) is a disorder of the muscles and functions of the face and mouth. 

There are several causes of OMD:

  • Thumb or finger-sucking, cheek or nail-biting, bruxism, tongue, lip or cheek-sucking
  • Extended use of a pacifier or sippy cups
  • Tongue-tie 
  • Neurological deficits and developmental delays

OMD can also be hereditary.

Symptoms of OMD include:

  • Insufficient nasal breathing or oral breathing
  • A habit of resting with the lips apart
  • A forward-resting positioning of the tongue
  • Tongue thrust
  • A restricted nasal airway due to enlarged tonsils/adenoids, deviated septum and/or allergies
  • TMJ 
  • Headaches 
  • Airway obstruction

OMD affects the body in many ways

OMD can cause dental problems

Because swallowing requires the cooperation of many muscles simultaneously, people who are diagnosed with OMD often have a difficult time swallowing. In some ODM cases, when swallowing, the tongue doesn’t press on the hard palate but instead is thrust up into the front teeth and out to the sides, putting undue pressure on the teeth. This can result in a misaligned bite which makes biting, chewing and swallowing difficult. 

When the tongue pushes against the back of the front teeth it can create a gap between the upper and lower sets of teeth. This gap is referred to as an open bite. 

OMD can affect facial appearance

Since OMD is characterized by improper muscle function in the jaw, the effects are often visible.

Physical observations may include: 

  • A sluggish face and weak, parted lips
  • A tight chin  
  • Facial grimace

OMD can cause sleep issues

An open airway requires proper positioning of the soft tissues of the mouth. When a person struggles with OMD, the soft tissues frequently obstruct the airway, causing mild or moderate sleep apnea.

OMD can affect speech

Once again, because of improper positioning of the tongue and lips, many people have a difficult time articulating sounds and may speak with a lisp. 

Eggert Family Dentistry can help! 

Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff have experience identifying OMD and helping devise custom treatment plans for each of our clients. 

If you’re interested in talking with us more about OMD and are wondering if you could benefit from OMD interventions, give our office a call at 651.482.8412. We’re here to help you achieve a confident, healthy smile and wellness for life!

Fun Facts About Fluoride!

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Found in rocks, water and soil as well as in a variety of foods and in our bodies, there are an abundance of sources of this naturally occurring mineral. Fluoride has many functions and plays an important role in dental health. Let’s take a closer look at the many facets of fluoride.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we recognize the importance of fluoride and make fluoride treatments a regular part of our practice for adults and children. If you want to learn more about the many benefits of fluoride or to schedule a routine visit, give us a call at 651.482.8412.

 

Help Your Child Maintain a Healthy Smile

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

As good parents, we aim to raise healthy children who, when the time comes, go out into the world and make healthy choices. And we recognize that setting good habits for life begins during the formative years of childhood. Here are some tips for helping your child maintain good oral health:

Create a dental routine

Children thrive in environments where routines are followed. With routines, children feel safe and learn their boundaries. So, start off on the right foot by establishing a dental routine with your child. Incorporate morning and evening brushing and flossing into their day when they’re young and they won’t view these tasks as optional as they grow.

Make dental care fun!

It can also be beneficial to reward young children for consistent, thorough dental hygiene. For example, after a week of twice-daily brushing and flossing, reward your child with stickers or other little trinket.

Also, letting children choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste helps keep dental care fun and motivating!

Teach healthy lifestyle choices

Do you bring sugary beverages or processed foods into your home? Consider switching them out for water and whole foods. If your kids grow up unaccustomed to foods that can cause tooth decay, they will be more likely to make healthy food and beverage choices as they get older – an enormous investment in lifelong dental wellness.

Normalize dental visits and set a positive tone

Making regular trips to the dentist from an early age will normalize dental visits, and over time, reinforce their importance. You can also make “dentist day” into a special day by following it up with a fun activity or going out for a healthy snack or lunch afterward.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we are parents too so we know how to make your child feel comfortable and make their visits to our office fun! If you’d like to learn more about how you can help your child develop healthy habits around dental care, we’d love to connect. Give us a call at 651.482.8412.

The Link Between Airway and Dental Issues

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we recognize the importance of a thorough dental evaluation. When you or your child come in for an exam, we don’t just attend to your teeth and gums. We make it our business to examine your muscles, jaw, and airway as well. We want to ensure that your tongue is functioning properly, that you have a broad upper arch, are able to breathe easily through your nose, and are swallowing correctly.

Why are we so thorough?

Many people don’t realize that they’re struggling with airway issues because the bulk of the symptoms manifest themselves while we’re asleep. Also, the body is so good at adapting, sometimes what someone knows as “their normal” is necessarily the most “healthy normal.” Luckily, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff understand the connection between a variety of dental problems and how they may be linked to airway issues. For example, all of these dental problems that we check for during a regular dental examination can be linked to airway issues:

  • Bruxism
  • Functional tooth wear and fracture
  • TMD/myofascial pain
  • Malocclusion
  • Erosion
  • Periodontal disease
  • Caries
  • Abfractions (severe gum tissue recession)
  • Impacted teeth
  • Orthodontic or orthognathic relapse

The intersection of dental issues and airway: A couple examples

Nocturnal bruxism, or teeth grinding, is not uncommon in children and some doctors will tell parents it “normal.” We now understand that often tooth grinding, especially in children at night, often occurs because of a restricted airway. In fact, the connection between bruxism and sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is so strong that bruxism is now acknowledged as a clinical marker for SDB and children with this disorder should consider a sleep screening.

Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) is another type of sleep disordered breathing. Unlike sleep apnea, patients with UARS typically don’t completely stop breathing, however, the resistance of air through the airway causes multiple micro-arousals throughout the night. This often creates fatigue because the body is never able to reach the deeper and reparative stages of sleep. UARS also causes more stress hormones to be released into the body as a mechanism to help the body maintain and airway. These extra stress hormones often lead to an increase of inflammatory markers and can be linked to inflammatory diseases like hypertension, diabetes, TMD, cancer, among others.

Fortunately, a thorough dental examination can help detect a wide variety of dental problems that may be caused by or contributing to airway issues and/or sleep disordered breathing. Our dental exams go above and beyond simply looking for cavities and help you achieve and maintain optimal wellness.

Want to learn more?

If you’re interested in the connection between dental problems and airway issues, we highly recommend these books:

Sleep Interrupted by Steven Park, MD
No More Allergies, Asthma or Sinus Infections by Dr. Lori Jones
Close Your Mouth by Patrick McKeown
The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick McKeown

If you are concerned that dental issues are causing airway issues for you or your child, contact Eggert Family Dentistry or give us a call at 651.482.8412!

The Effects of Airway Issues in Children

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

From a professional teeth cleaning to preventative screening for cavities and other looming dental issues, recare visits at Eggert Family Dentistry are an important part of your child’s healthcare routine. We also recognize that airway issues can mean severe health problems for your child. On this account, one of the important components of your child’s recare visit is our thorough screening for any abnormalities of the head or skull or anything unusual with the positioning of the jaw, palate, tongue, throat, tonsils or adenoids that could lead to mouth-breathing and contribute in any way to an airway issue.

It all begins with how we breathe

Air that enters the lungs through the mouth as opposed to the nose isn’t warmed or humidified in the nasal cavity. This makes a person more prone to infection. Additionally, blood gas studies cite a 20% drop in oxygen levels and a 20% rise in CO2 levels, increasing exhaustion, due to mouth breathing. Long-term oxygen deprivation can result in hypertension, malfunctioning lungs and enlargement of the right ventricle of the heart.

Whereas nasal-breathing is recognized as imperative to good health, mouth-breathing has many negative effects on the body. When air hits the back of the throat, it causes the airway to dry out and lose its elasticity. This makes the airway more susceptible to collapsing. In the instance of a partial airway obstruction, children may exhibit snoring tendencies. When the airway is fully obstructed, children suffer from the dangerous effects of sleep apnea.

Signs and symptoms of airway obstruction in children

  • Snoring
  • Heavy/loud breathing
  • Struggling to breathe at night
  • Daytime mouth-breathing
  • Dry mouth in the morning
  • Bedwetting
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Underweight
  • Attention deficit problems (fidgety, easily distracted, interrupts frequently)

ADHD

Oftentimes, airway issues in children leads to behavioral problems. This occurs as a result of restricted oxygen to the brain, leading to fitful sleep, increased daytime irritability, distraction and hyperactivity. Unfortunately, many children who experience these behavior problems are medicated for ADHD with Adderall or Ritalin and the serious nature of airway issues go undetected. In a 2014 article in ADDitude, an online journal subtitled Inside the ADHD mind, NuSomnea claims that 50 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD show behavior improvement after being treated for obstructive sleep apnea and they suggest that up to 7 million children have been misdiagnosed with ADHD when in actuality they’re struggling with sleep issues, sometimes as severe as obstructive sleep apnea.

Another serious consequence of airway obstruction in children is growth deficiency. Children struggling with airway obstruction will experience restricted levels of oxygen to the brain, reducing the amount of growth hormone their body secretes. These children will be underweight and shorter in stature than their peers and may experience a plateau in their growth trajectory.

If your child is due for a recare visit or if you are concerned that your child may be predisposed to airway issues, contact us or schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff at 651.482.8412 today!

Sleep Apnea in Children – An Overview

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

There is a growing awareness about the dangers of obstructive sleep apnea. However, what most people don’t know is that sleep apnea affects adults and children alike. Early intervention for children who struggle with sleep apnea can greatly improve their quality of life and protect them from serious complications and risk of death. Fortunately, knowledge is power. When equipped with knowledge about what pediatric sleep apnea is, signs to watch for that indicate a problem, and awareness of risk factors that can contribute to sleep apnea, you possess the tools you need to intervene if a child you love is at risk.

What is sleep apnea?

Just like the name sounds, obstructive sleep apnea is an airway blockage. During sleep, the most common cause for apnea is when muscles in the back of the throat relax, the tongue and surrounding tissues migrate back into the throat, and therefore obstruct the airway.

Symptoms of pediatric sleep apnea

The symptoms of pediatric sleep apnea are very different than sleep apnea symptoms in adults. Whereas adults suffer primarily from incessant snoring and chronic daytime fatigue, children’s symptoms vary greatly. Children may or may not snore and may actually appear hyperactive during the day. Oftentimes, kids who struggle with undiagnosed sleep apnea are misdiagnosed with ADHD. Other pediatric symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Restless sleep
  • Snorting, coughing or choking in their sleep
  • Mouth-breathing
  • Bedwetting
  • Sleep terrors
  • Learning problems
  • Behavior problems
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Poor weight gain and growth

Risk factors that can contribute to pediatric sleep apnea

There are numerous conditions that predispose a child to sleep apnea. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Down syndrome
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • Airway blockages from tonsils and adenoids
  • Low birth weight
  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Craniofacial abnormalities

When to see a doctor

If your child is a mouth-breather and consistently wakes up feeling tired or exhibits ADHD symptoms during waking hours, it’s a good idea to bring him or her into the doctor for evaluation. You may want to consider an appointment with an ENT who looks at sleep OR a sleep doctor directly.

If you’re concerned that craniofacial abnormalities are causing sleep apnea for your child, call Eggert Family Dentistry. Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff can evaluate your child’s teeth, jaw, tongue, and airway and make recommendations. Depending on your child’s age, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff can fit your child with an in-mouth appliance – similar to an orthodontic retainer – which helps to maintain an open airway all night long.

Complications of untreated sleep apnea in kids and adults

When left untreated, sleep apnea in children can result in failure to grow and thrive, poor brain development, heart problems, and even death. If left untreated into adulthood, sleep apnea can decrease a person’s lifespan by up to 10 years, cause an increase in blood pressure, an increase in the risk of heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and dementia.

Needless to say, sleep apnea is nothing to mess around with. Eggert Family Dentistry is proud to be sleep apnea savvy, serving our patients with the knowledge, skills and resources to effectively screen for and often treat sleep apnea in both children and adults. If you’re concerned that someone you love is suffering from sleep apnea, give us a call at 651.482.8412 or contact us to set up an evaluation.