Preventing Dental Injuries with a Mouthguard

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Mouthguards provide a tremendous amount of protection for your aspiring athlete. From protecting your child’s mouth against structural damage to the teeth and jaw to preventing lacerations to the cheeks, tongue and lips, mouthguards are an investment well worth making! At Eggert Family Dentistry, we recommend mouthguards for football, hockey, lacrosse, wrestling, basketball, baseball/softball, soccer and all other contact sports your child might be participating in.

When purchasing a mouthguard for your child, it’s important to recognize that all mouthguards are NOT created equal. Mouthguards available over-the-counter are generic plastic trays that fit sloppily in your child’s mouth, providing only a minimal level of protection. They are typically made of thicker plastic which can inhibit clear breathing and speaking. On the contrary, at Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth can create custom mouthguards that securely “hug” your child’s teeth They are more comfortable and provide optimal protection for your child’s pearly whites. On account of their lower profile and custom fit, your athlete won’t have to spend any time worrying about breathing and they are much easier to speak with. In fact, they will pop their mouthguard in and won’t give it a second thought. This allows your child to keep their focus where it truly belongs – on the big game!

A lot of adult athletes enjoy the comfort and protection of a custom athletic mouthguard as well. With more and more adults participating in life-long sports like hockey and basketball, it is especially important to keep that one set of adult teeth fully protected!

If you are interested in learning more about our custom mouthguards at Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Jeff or Dr. Elizabeth would love to speak with you. Contact us anytime at 651.482.8412!

Cracked Tooth? Here Are Some Options

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Most people, at some point in their lives, will end up with a crack in one or more of their teeth. Cracks are not uncommon and can spring up from a variety of situations. From chewing on hard or sticky foods, to grinding your teeth during the day and/or night or simply from aging, don’t be surprised if at some point you discover a cracked tooth in your mouth. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we know that when you have a crack in a tooth it can be stressful. How should you proceed? Because navigating a cracked tooth largely depends on the type of crack it is, we want to take some time to inform you about what you can expect with various types of cracks.

How is a cracked tooth diagnosed?

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we make sure to do a thorough exam of all your teeth, visually looking for any signs of cracking or other wear and tear. Some other diagnostic methods Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff may employ include: probing of the gums in search of inflammation or deeper pockets, photographing with the intraoral camera, or use of the “tooth sleuth,” a semi-hard bite stick to see if you experience pain – a telltale sign.

What types of cracks are there? How are they typically treated?

Once Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff locate the crack, they are then able to identify it. All cracked teeth fall into one of five categories: craze lines, cracked tooth, fractured cusp, vertical root crack, or split tooth. The way we proceed depends on which type of crack you are experiencing. Let’s look at definitions for the various types of cracks:

Craze lines: The most common and least concerning type of crack. Craze lines only affect the enamel of the tooth. Typically, craze lines simply need to be monitored to make sure they don’t turn into something more serious.

Cracked tooth: Although we use this term generically, it is specifically indicative of a crack moving toward the center of the tooth. It’s important to treat a cracked tooth in a timely fashion or it can become a split tooth and lead to an extraction.

Fractured cusp: This type of crack usually occurs around a dental filling and may or may not affect the pulp of the tooth. Because a fractured cusp means a significant portion of the tooth has been lost, it is always best to restore this type of damage with an onlay or crown.

Vertical root crack: This type of crack moves up the root of the tooth from the gumline. A vertical root crack allows a significant amount of bacteria to accumulate on the root surface and causes a severe infection of the gum tissue and surrounding bone. Occasionally this infection also reaches the pulp of the tooth, also causing a tooth abscess. Typically a tooth with this type of fracture must be removed.

Split tooth: As opposed to a vertical root crack, a split tooth means that the crack has become so severe that the tooth splits in half or at least significantly into the surrounding bone. It is unlikely to be able to save a tooth that is split and usually the recommended course of treatment is to remove the tooth.

What other methods of treatment exist?

As you can see, there are various types of cracks requiring various types of treatment. Depending on the scenario, the best treatment options usually are to crown the tooth and enclose the crack. Occasionally a root canal will be indicated, now or in the future, to treat any damage the crack has caused to the pulp. If a tooth with a vertical root crack or a split tooth needs to be removed, there are various ways to replace the tooth, including an implant, a bridge, or a partial denture.

Complications

The biggest complication with a cracked tooth is an infection. We do not take these infections lightly as they can spread to the bone and gums. Symptoms of infections may include: pain when chewing, fever, hot and cold sensitivity, tender neck glands, swollen gums and bad breath. If you suspect you have an infection in one of your teeth, we recommend you call us right away.

Prevention

The earlier the intervention when it comes to a cracked tooth, the better the outcome you will likely experience. A couple things to keep in mind to protect your teeth against cracks: avoid chewing on hard or sticky foods and wear a mouthguard for sports or a splint at night if you’re a teeth grinder.

You’re in good hands at Eggert Family Dentistry. If you crack a tooth, connect with us right away. We are happy to partner with you for any dental emergencies and for the dental wellness needs for your entire family. Give us a call at 651.482.8412!

Tooth Triage: How to Handle 9 Common Dental Emergencies

tooth emergenciesby Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Whether they occur at the hand of a baseball bat, an auto accident, or poor dental habits, dental emergencies happen. We handle all sorts of tooth triage at Eggert Family Dentistry. Here are 9 of the most common dental emergencies we see in our office and immediate steps you can take to relieve pain and get your smile back.

  1. Soft Tissue Injuries

Jabs from metal braces or a misplaced bite can do damage to gums, cheeks, and your tongue. If you’re bleeding, rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution and apply pressure with gauze or a teabag for 30 minutes. A cold compress can also offer pain relief. If these measures don’t stop the bleeding, give us a call or go to the emergency room.

  1. Severe Toothaches

Resist the urge to put painkillers directly on the affected tooth, as this can cause burning of the gum tissue or tooth and even more pain. Instead, rinse your mouth with warm water and apply a cold compress on the outside of your mouth. Then, call us to schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

  1. Abscesses

If you have severe gum disease, tooth decay, or cracking, you may develop a painful infection called an abscess. Abscesses appear right along your gum line or at the tip of where your root would be. If left untreated, abscesses can spread infection to other parts of your body. A developing abscess often looks like a little pimple on your gums and can be painful. If you spot one, schedule your appointment with us and rinse your mouth with saltwater to alleviate any pain and draw the pus toward your gum’s surface.

  1. Lost Crown or Filling

You might be chowing down on that gooey brownie when you feel it happen—your filling or crown becomes dislodged. Call us to schedule an appointment to replace your crown or filling. In the meantime, if you’ve lost a filling and it is sharp to your tongue, you can place orthodontic wax or the temporary filling material you find at the drug store. If you’ve lost a crown, bring it along with you to your dental appointment. Sometimes we can re-use it! If you’re able, toothpaste and/or Vaseline can be used to temporarily place the crown on your tooth while you are at home. If you have pain, ibuprofen often helps or you can try clove oil, which can be a great pain reliever for teeth.

  1. Broken & Loose Braces

Wire braces are common culprits in dental emergencies. Broken wires and loose braces can poke and cut your gums, tongue, or cheeks, causing painful lacerations. If you’re unable to reposition the wire (the eraser end of a pencil is our favorite at-home tool for this), cover the wire with wax and schedule an appointment with your orthodontist to repair it. Never trim the wire—you could swallow it or breathe it into your lungs.

  1. Lodged Objects

Getting something stuck between your teeth is very uncomfortable. We recommend dental floss to try and dislodge stuck food or other objects. If floss doesn’t do the trick, call us. Don’t try to use something sharp to dislodge the stuck object, as you could injure your gums or your tooth’s enamel.

  1. Broken or Chipped Teeth

If you’ve taken a digger and chipped or broken a tooth, try to keep as many of the pieces as you can. Rinse your mouth to get any pieces left in your mouth, then apply gauze to stop any bleeding. A cold compress outside the mouth can relieve pain and reduce swelling. Then, see us right away to repair your tooth.

  1. Partially Dislodged Teeth

Partially dislodged or extruded teeth are hanging on by a thread and require immediate attention from us. Call ahead to let us know you’re coming, then get in the car with a cold compress against your mouth or cheek to reduce swelling. Take a pain reliever such as Tylenol or Advil, it is best to get this on board early on.

  1. Knocked-Out Teeth

A knocked-out tooth is a true dental emergency. Call ahead to let us know you’re coming, but don’t delay in getting to our clinic. If we can return the tooth to its socket within an hour, it has a high chance of being saved. Take the tooth with you to our clinic.  If you can keep the tooth within your cheek without swallowing it, that is a great place for it. Otherwise, if you have to hold the tooth, do so by holding it by the part that’s visible in your mouth (not the root). If the tooth is dirty, it’s okay to rinse it gently with water, but don’t scrub it or remove any attached tissue. You can try to place the tooth back in its socket (make sure you have it the right way) and it is a good idea to try if it will be more than an hour before you are able to see us.

Dental emergencies are no fun, but most are treatable if you act quickly and don’t panic. You can rely on the Eggert Family Dentistry team for your tooth triage and recare needs. Contact our clinic today to schedule your appointment.