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.

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.