What to Consider Before You Get an Oral Piercing

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

What Are Oral Piercings?

Oral piercings use a needle to add a hole and jewelry to the mouth. Oral piercings can be inside the mouth, known as intraoral, or outside your mouth, known as perioral. This includes piercings in the:

  • Tongue
  • Cheek
  • Lip
  • Uvula, which is the tissue that hangs at the back of your throat
  • Frenum, which is the tissue that connects your lips to your gums and your tongue to the floor of your mouth

Risks of Oral Piercings

Oral piercings are a common way for people to express themselves. Unlike piercings in other parts of the body, however, oral piercings come with a host of complications because of the sensitive nature of the mouth.

Piercing any part of your mouth is riskier than piercing other parts of the body. Throughout the day, oral piercings touch your teeth and gum tissue, which each contain millions of bacteria. As a result, the risk of infection is higher.

Oral piercings can interfere with talking, chewing, and swallowing. Even if those interruptions don’t bother you, oral piercings can cause of range of mouth damage, including:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Trouble talking or breathing
  • Infection, pain, and swelling
  • Damage to the gums, teeth, and fillings
  • Allergic reactions
  • Nerve damage
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Challenges during dentist appointments
  • Blood-borne diseases
  • Endocarditis

Taking Care of an Oral Piercing If You Already Have One

While we understand piercings are becoming more common, at Eggert Family Dentistry, we believe it is much safer to consider removing mouth jewelry before it causes a problem and don’t pierce on a whim – the piercing will be an added responsibility to your life, requiring constant attention and upkeep.

If you already have an oral piercing, one of the best ways to prevent an oral infection is by consistently taking care of your mouth. Keep your piercing clean by brushing twice a day, flossing, and using mouthwash. Avoid clicking your oral jewelry against your teeth, which can chip or crack them or cause your teeth to become loose.

Finally, it’s also important to take oral piercings out when you play sports, and remember to wear a mouthguard.

When to See Help for an Oral Piercing

Because of the increased risk of infection, it’s important to visit us at Eggert Family Dentistry regularly. And if you notice any signs of infection – such redness, swelling, discharge, smell, rash, fever, or excessive bleeding – it’s important to contact us as soon as possible. Contact Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff if you’re concerned that your oral piercing may be infected. Call our office at 651-482-8412 to schedule your appointment.

Tooth Swelling: What Causes It and What Can Be Done About It?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Swelling of your teeth or gums can be painful. It can make chewing and swallowing difficult, and in some cases the pain can be so severe that it disrupts your life. Tooth and gum swelling can also be signs of a potentially serious dental issue, and shouldn’t be ignored or left untreated.

The good news is that good oral care and regular exams by your dentists at Eggert Family Dentistry can help prevent tooth swelling and the various conditions that cause it.

Let’s take a closer look at the symptoms and causes of gum and tooth swelling, as well as the ways Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth can treat the underlying issues and get you back to feeling your best.

Symptoms of Tooth and Gum Swelling

Swelling and pain can often come on suddenly. Pain can range from mild to severe, and can be constant and throbbing or may come and go. With tooth or gum swelling, you might experience:

  • Swelling around a single tooth or in larger areas inside your mouth
  • Swelling of the jaw or face
  • Painful chewing
  • Bleeding gums
  • Sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods
  • Pain in your head, ears, or jaw

In some cases, tooth pain and swelling can be accompanied by a fever or even trouble breathing or swallowing. If this happens, it’s important to receive care immediately.

Common Causes of Gum and Tooth Swelling

There are a wide range of underlying issues that can cause swelling of the teeth and gums. These include:

Tooth Abscess

Caused by a bacterial infection, a tooth abscess can present at the tip of the root (periapically) or on the side of the root (periodontally). You can also experience an abscess in your gums (gingival). An abscess in a tooth typically follows a cavity or dental injury of some kind, as cracks in the teeth provide a pathway for bacteria to enter. If you have a tooth abscess, you may experience:

  • Throbbing toothache that may spread to your neck, ear, or jawbone
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Face or neck swelling
  • Painful biting or chewing

Always seek dental treatment from your professionals at Eggert Family Dentistry for an abscess. Even if it drains on its own, you should still visit us to make sure the infection hasn’t spread. We can help you treat the abscess by draining it and may prescribe antibiotics to treat the underlying infection. In some cases a tooth extraction or root canal may be necessary.

Irritation From Wisdom Teeth

As wisdom teeth come in, you may experience some swelling and pain. This can happen if wisdom teeth are impacted (trapped beneath your gums). It can also happen as they break through the gums, leaving spaces where bacteria can cause a gum infection and painful swelling. The solution in this case is typically removal of the wisdom teeth.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is an early form of gum disease. It commonly causes swollen, red, and irritated gums that may bleed when you brush your teeth. Gingivitis can be addressed with improved oral care and avoiding sugary food and drinks, but you should also have your dentist do a thorough examination. They may recommend additional treatments.

Dental Injury

Dental injuries can also cause swollen teeth or gums. Dental trauma is a common occurrence that can happen to anyone. Some of the dental injuries we see often are:

  • Lost crowns or fillings
  • Damaged braces
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • Partially dislodged or knocked-out teeth

Learn more about dental trauma in our recent blog, including ways to avoid it and what to do in an emergency.

Medications or Allergic Reaction

Some medications can have side effects that include tooth or gum swelling. If you think your swelling and pain could be caused by medication, check with your medical doctor to determine if that is a common side effect.

Some people may also react to certain ingredients in their toothpaste or mouthwash. If you notice irritation of your teeth or gums after brushing your teeth or using mouthwash, stop using it and switch to a different brand or type to see if it clears up. If not, consult with your dental professionals at Eggert Family Dentistry to determine if another issue could be the cause of the irritation.

In addition to the above, tooth or gum pain and swelling can also be caused by tooth decay, a loose filling, or various medical issues, including a vitamin C deficiency, sinus infection, mouth sores, or problems with the jaw.

What Is the Treatment for Tooth Swelling and Pain?

Swollen or painful gums or teeth can be a serious issue, and it’s important to treat it as such.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, the first thing you should do is reach out to our office so Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth can determine your best course of action — especially if your symptoms last more than a couple of days.

We will ask a series of questions and do a thorough examination to determine the cause of your pain and swelling and can then recommend the best treatment. Questions will include information about your dental history and the details of the pain — when it started, what it feels like, what other symptoms you’re having, and so on. We will also take x-rays to determine the extent of the issue.

The treatment will depend on the root cause of your swelling. We may prescribe antibiotics or other medications to treat the pain and target any infection.

In addition, there are a few things you can do at home to care for yourself and minimize your pain. These include:

  • Rinse or gargle with warm salt water to help rinse away any bacteria.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like Advil or Tylenol can help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Eat easy-to-chew foods and avoid very hot or very cold beverages.
  • Lie with your head propped up on a pillow. Lying flat can make dental pain feel worse.
  • Hold a cold compress against the side of your face to relieve pain and reduce swelling.

It’s important to note that while these things will provide some relief, they won’t solve the underlying issue causing your tooth or gum swelling. Visiting your dentists at Eggert Family Dentistry will still be necessary for a full recovery.

If you aren’t able to get in to see us right away, and your tooth pain and swelling is accompanied by a fever, facial swelling, or trouble breathing or swallowing, you should visit the emergency room for treatment.

Preventing Tooth and Gum Swelling

Luckily, most of the issues that cause tooth or gum swelling can be prevented with good oral care and regular exams with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff here at Eggert Family Dentistry.

Excellent oral care includes brushing after meals with fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush, and flossing daily with traditional dental floss or a water flosser. Eating a healthy diet and avoiding sugary foods and tobacco products will also help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Keep Tooth and Gum Swelling at Bay by Scheduling Your Next Dental Appointment

Whether you are currently experiencing swelling or pain in your teeth or gums, or it’s simply time for your regular recare visit, take the time to schedule your next dental appointment now. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff, call our office at 651-482-8412.

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Dental Expansion: What Is It and Why Do It?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

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

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

What Is Dental Expansion?

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

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

When Is Dental Expansion Necessary?

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

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

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

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

How Does Dental Expansion Help Dental Patients of All Ages?

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

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

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

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

Eggert Family Dentistry Can Help

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

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Eating Disorders and Dental Health

By Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

No one asks for an eating disorder. To even recognize and acknowledge one’s eating disorder is inherently challenging. Unfortunately, eating disorders have a lot of negative consequences, including on dental health.

There are two main ways in which eating disorders can have a negative effect on your teeth.

Nutritional Impact of Eating Disorders

First, eating disorders commonly go hand in hand with poor nutrition. People with eating disorders may severely restrict their consumption of food, or may obsessively avoid certain foods. In both cases, nutrition deficiencies can result.

These nutrients are particularly critical to dental health:

  • Iron: Iron is essential for transporting oxygen throughout the body. When a person’s red blood cell count drops, they are less equipped to fight infections. Low iron can cause mouth ulcers and fissures in the corners of the mouth.
  • Calcium: Calcium deficiency may cause teeth to loosen and even fall out. Inadequate calcium contributes to tooth decay and gum disease. Plus, your body will respond to low calcium intake by drawing it from both your bones and teeth. A healthy set of teeth depends on a strong and healthy jawbone. Low iron contributes to bone loss.
  • Vitamin D: Your body depends on vitamin D to help absorb calcium, and it also helps combat gum disease. As an anti-inflammatory, it boosts your immune system so you can fight infections better. Low vitamin D contributes to bone loss.
  • Niacin: A shortage of B3 (niacin) can cause bad breath and canker sores.

Corrosive Impact of Eating Disorders

The binge eating associated with some eating disorders can cause excess stomach acid. When that acid backs up into the esophagus, it results in reflux or heartburn. Should the stomach acid reach the mouth, it will deteriorate both oral tissues and teeth.

For some people, binge eating is followed by vomiting, which also introduces harsh acid stomach acids into the mouth. This wears away tooth enamel, which increases the risk of tooth decay while also increasing tooth sensitivity. When tooth enamel is softened by acid, brushing the teeth can actually further damage the enamel.

Both vomiting and poor nutrition can make the salivary glands decrease production. The resulting chronic dry mouth also increases acidity which increases risk of tooth loss, cavities, and infections in the mouth.

Minimizing Dental Damage from Eating Disorders

If you have an eating disorder, please have the courage to seek professional help. In addition, you can take these steps to protect your teeth.

Try gum, mints and toothpaste containing xylitol. This sugar substitute helps with saliva production, preventing dry mouth and cavities. You can also get a mouth guard that can reduce the effects of stomach acid on your teeth and get routine fluoride treatments to strengthen tooth enamel.

After vomiting, always rinse your mouth with tap water, and wait awhile before you brush your teeth.

Eating disorders are a tremendous challenge, and Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff have nothing but compassion for anyone on that journey. If you are dealing with one, we encourage you to take the best care you can of your teeth. We are here for you.

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Teaching Kids to Floss

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

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

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

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

Teach Flossing Early

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

Encourage Consistent Habits

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

Choosing Your Floss

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

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

Make Flossing Fun

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

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

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

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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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!

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!

Ortho Treatment: Benefits Beyond Cosmetic With Invisalign

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Only a lucky few are born with straight, perfectly aligned teeth. The rest of us have to see Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff, for help restoring teeth to a healthy alignment.

Esthetic concerns often bring patients into Eggert Family Dentistry to talk about tooth alignment. However, even beyond esthetics, it’s important to know how critical good alignment is to overall dental health.

Dental alignment procedures like Invisalign may improve your smile from a visual perspective, but they also correct issues that may lead to serious dental health problems.

What issues can be improved by Invisalign and corrected with dental alignment?

Discourage Tooth Decay

When teeth are misaligned, they do a much better job of harboring bacteria, which leads to plaque buildup and tooth decay. This is because overcrowded or crooked teeth leave inaccessible nooks and crannies where bacteria thrive. When it’s challenging to access all the exposed tooth enamel with a toothbrush or floss, the area is much more prone to tooth decay.

Improve Periodontal Health

Periodontal health refers to the conditions of the periodontium, or gum tissues. Periodontal disease is disease of the gums. Crowded and overlapping teeth permit plaque and tartar to build up on tooth surfaces underneath your gums, since they’re difficult to clean. Teeth with wide gaps between them are also problematic, because exposed gums are more vulnerable to periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is easily addressed in its early stages, so regular dental exams are an important preventative measure. When it progresses, it may cause serious tooth mobility, tooth and bone loss, and infection.

Fix Malocclusion

Malocclusion refers to poor alignment as the teeth of your upper and lower jaws meet. One person out of five suffers malocclusion, which encompasses three categories:

  • Class I – when teeth are overcrowded, too far apart, or twisted
  • Class II – when the lower jaw is too far back, resulting in an excessive overbite
  • Class III – when the lower jaw is too far forward, resulting in an underbite

Unaddressed malocclusion puts undesirable stress on the teeth. Difficulty chewing, worn, cracked, or broken teeth, chronic pain, TMJ issues, teeth grinding, and speech problems are among the problems that can result.

Invisalign: A Discrete Yet Effective Alternative to Braces

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we are here to help prevent these problems by treating your tooth alignment problems with Invisalign.

If you are presenting any of these issues, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will give you a thorough exam to identify where your ideal bite should be and evaluate whether Invisalign can restore your ideal bite.

Invisalign is a clear alternative to braces. It is subtle and unobtrusive, yet effective. Patients wear clear, custom-made trays, or aligners, about 22 hours a day, removing them to eat, to drink anything but water, and to brush and floss. They are easy to get used to as they gently realign teeth. Every few weeks, you advance to a new set of aligners. Over the course of treatment, usually one to two years, your teeth gradually move into their improved location.

Invisalign is suitable for both teens and adults.

If you have any dental issues that might be resolved by improved tooth alignment, talk to Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff. They will be happy to consult with you on the best strategy to help you enjoy a new, beautiful smile as well as improved oral health.