Fixing a Fractured Front Tooth – Tim’s story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?

Tim broke his front tooth while playing football at the community center on the weekend. His father called our office emergency line and described what had happened. It sounded like the tooth was still in his mouth, but a large portion of it was broken off. Dr. Elizabeth asked Tim’s father to put the fragments they could find in some water and meet her at our office. She was able to meet Tim and his father within an hour to assess and address the situation.

What was involved?

Upon examination it was noted 2/3 of Tim’s natural tooth was broken off. The tooth was slightly mobile, but there was minimal bleeding. He was having minimal pain, except when the tooth touched cold water or air, and there were not any cuts in his mouth or face. Although the fracture was substantial, it luckily did not go into the nerve of the tooth.

The fractured part was in 3 pieces, but using her dental skills, Dr. Elizabeth was able to piece them back together like a jigsaw puzzle. Using filling material, she was able to bond the pieces back together, making it look almost as if the tooth had never been broken.

It was recommended that Tim take ibuprofen for the first few days to reduce any inflammation inside the tooth and the tissues surrounding it. He was also instructed to have a softer diet for a few weeks and to not use that tooth for biting into things.

As you can see from the after photos, the tooth pieces fit back together extremely well. The tooth does naturally stick out slightly, which could have contributed to it fracturing when it was hit. Tim has been following up with an orthodontist to develop a plan to move the teeth into a more ideal position and therefore keep them safer from potential future trauma.

After a trauma like this, it is important to follow the tooth over time. Depending on the injury it is typical to reevaluate the tooth over a period of weeks and months to make sure that complications aren’t developing. Even though the tooth nerve didn’t seem to be irreversibly damaged after the accident, it can sometimes deteriorate over time and eventually need a root canal.

It has been over 2 years since Tim’s accident and his tooth is still doing well. Because of how large the fracture was, the repair won’t last forever, and the tooth will likely need to be repaired again, probably multiple times, during Tim’s life with more filling material or even a crown or an implant. However, the longer the initial repair lasts, the better it will be for the tooth long term.

Tim and his dad were very appreciative of how quickly he was able to get in right when this trauma occurred and get it repaired. Great job by them remaining calm and gathering all the pieces, and great job by Dr. Elizabeth putting them back together again.

Common Dental Trauma We See During Summer & Ways to Avoid It

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Minnesota weather is finally starting to get warm, and we’re seeing signs that spring and summer may finally be here. As we move outside, go on vacation, and get more active, it’s still important to stay safe. If you have kids, you can help prevent dental trauma by encouraging them to wear mouthguards during summer sports and enforcing calmer play around pools.

Common Summer Dental Trauma

Whether it’s a game of baseball, a car accident, or jumping on the trampoline, dental trauma can happen to anyone. At our office, the most common dental trauma Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff see include:

  • Lost crowns and fillings
  • Damaged braces, brackets, or wires
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • Partially dislodged teeth
  • Knocked-out teeth

How to Avoid Dental Trauma

For kids, the best way to prevent dental trauma is to encourage safe playing utilize the appropriate sports equipment, and maintain regular check-ups with your dentists at Eggert Family Dentistry.

Encouraging safety with sports and around the water is the most important step in preventing dental trauma. We know it can be hard to stop kids from running around the pool, but it’s easy to knock a tooth out from slipping on the pool deck or diving into the bottom of a shallow pool.

Wearing a mouthguard during summer sports can also help prevent dental trauma. When an opponent checks your child on the soccer, football, or lacrosse field, a mouthguard can make the difference between a bruise and a knocked-out tooth.

Finally, trampolines can be a great way for kids to release energy, but take care to limit the number of kids jumping at the same time. The most common cause for fractured teeth during jumping is when kids bump into their buddies and their teeth get in the way.

Steps to Take if You Have a Dental Emergency

If you suffer from dental trauma, the steps you take before you get to our office are important.

If your tooth is fractured, stabilize the portion of your tooth that’s still in your mouth. Then, control any bleeding by biting on a washcloth or towel. If you have the parts of your tooth that came out, keep them submerged in water or milk.
If your entire tooth came out, it’s important to handle your tooth by its crown (the part that you see in the mouth), not the root. It’s okay to rinse your tooth with water, but you shouldn’t wash or scrub the tooth. If you’re able to put your tooth back in its place correctly, do so. Then, bite gently on a towel to help control the bleeding and keep the tooth in place.

Regardless of the dental trauma you experience, time is of the essence. Call us right away because it may be important to see you within two hours.

Schedule Your Next Dentist Appointment

Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff are here to support you. Although we hope you never have to come to our office for a dental emergency, we’re prepared if you do. To schedule your next appointment or to let us know you’re coming after a dental trauma, call our office at 651-482-8412.

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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.

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Protect Your Teeth During Sports With a Mouthguard

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

If you play sports, please consider wearing a mouthguard to protect your teeth.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), 10-20% of all sports-related injuries are maxillofacial injuries, relating to the mouth and all the connecting regions. The ADA recognizes “the preventive value of orofacial protectors, endorsing their use by those who engage in recreational and sports activities and encouraging widespread use of orofacial protectors with proper fit, including mouthguards.”

While the risk of injury is obvious in classic contact sports like football, boxing, wrestling, lacrosse, and hockey, the ADA also advocates a mouthguard when participating in limited-contact sports like baseball, gymnastics, racquetball and surfing. 

A well-fitting mouthguard will protect your dental health in a variety of ways. While it can’t guarantee that you’ll suffer zero dental damage, a mouthguard is almost certain to reduce dental injuries.

Benefits of Mouthguards

Mouthguards prevent teeth from being knocked out: Having an intact tooth knocked out is no fun. In some cases, it can be retained, but it will require substantial dental attention.

Mouthguards can prevent teeth from fracturing: It may be possible to save a broken tooth, but it will require a substantial filling, a crown, and likely a root canal. If it can’t be saved, an extraction and implant will be needed.

Mouthguards can protect soft tissues: When you suffer an unexpected impact, it’s easy to accidentally bite your tongue, cheek or lips. A mouthguard will help prevent this.

Mouthguards can protect against tooth displacement: Sometimes, an impact can loosen a tooth so that it stays in the socket, but is moveable. When you’re wearing a mouthguard, the force of the impact is distributed over several teeth, reducing the likelihood of displacement. Teeth can be displaced laterally (forwards or backwards) or can be extruded (down).

Mouthguards can prevent jaw fractures: By serving as a shock-absorber, a guard can help prevent the jaw from fracturing—a serious injury that may require surgery.

Mouthguards may help reduce concussions: Evidence is not conclusive, but it’s possible that the padding between the upper and lower jaws can absorb some of the impact that causes a concussion.

In Case of Dental Injury

Should someone suffer a dental injury during sports or any other activity, follow these guidelines:

If a tooth is fractured, stabilize the portion of the tooth retained in the mouth and control the bleeding by gently biting on a towel. Retain all tooth fragments and keep them submerged in water or milk.

If an entire tooth —root and all—is knocked out, handle the tooth by the crown, not the root. You can rinse it gently with water, but do not wash, sterilize, or scrub it. If possible, place it back in the socket (the correct way) and then bite gently on a towel. If not, transport it to the dentist.

In both cases, time is critical and you should be in the dentist’s chair within two hours.

Wear a Mouthguard for Sports

Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff love seeing you, but we hope you never have to come in for treatment after a preventable dental injury! Take care of your teeth, please. Wear a mouthguard for sports.

All About Dental Extractions

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

We’ve probably all heard and used the phrase, “It’s like pulling teeth to _____,” meaning that it’s hard to get cooperation from the “patient” when it comes to a certain task. In reality, while a dental extraction is an important procedure that requires careful prep, planning, execution and recovery, it’s not one patients need to dread. Let’s take an up-close look at dental extractions and what patients can expect from them.

Some scenarios that necessitate a tooth extraction

Trauma to a tooth, severe tooth decay and crowding are three primary reasons teeth are extracted. Also, if a person is immunocompromised and has a tooth that runs a high risk for infection, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff may choose to pull that tooth prophylactically.

Why it’s critical to disclose your medical history prior to a tooth extraction

For some patients, their health history makes them more prone to infection or complications from infection. In these cases, antibiotics are prescribed before, during and after an extraction procedure. Some of these health conditions include congenital heart defects, liver disease, artificial joints and a weak immune system.

What you can expect prior to and during a tooth extraction

  • Prior to an extraction, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff administer a local anesthetic to numb the area surrounding the tooth.
  • Once the area is sufficiently numb, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff gently move the tissue away from the tooth and then hold the tooth with a tooth forceps, rocking it back and forth until it becomes dislodged.
  • Once the tooth is removed, you will bite on soft gauze to control any bleeding. This also encourages a clot to form over the extraction site.

Post-procedure protocol

Following an extraction, there is a certain protocol that must be followed to encourage proper healing of the extraction site.

  • You will bite on gauze for 30 minutes to help the clot form. You may need to use gauze again in the first 24 hours should the area start bleeding.
  • As soon as possible, apply ice to the affected area in 10-minute increments to keep swelling down.
  • Take care not to dislodge the clot by avoiding forceful rinsing or spitting and avoiding brushing and flossing the extraction area for the first 24 hours.
  • 24 hours after the extraction, rinse mouth with warm salt water 2-3 times each day for a few days. This encourages the tissue to heal faster.
  • Avoid smoking, drinking through a straw or eating solid foods for at least 24 hours after the extraction procedure.

When to call Eggert Family Dentistry

Some discomfort and bleeding following a tooth extraction is perfectly normal and can be managed with Over The Counter pain medications, gauze and ice. However, if pain or bleeding become severe or if you develop a fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, excessive swelling, a cough or shortness of breath, contact Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff immediately.

Within 1-2 weeks, the extraction site starts to feel more normal as new bone and gum tissue grow in. Keep in mind, however, that the bone is still healing and changing for 6-8 weeks following an extraction.

If you’re interested in learning more about the ins and outs of dental extractions or think you might be a candidate for an extraction, contact Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff at 651.482.8412.

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.