Vaping: What Every Parent and Teen Should Know

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Most teenagers are averse to the taste and smell of cigarettes, and we’ve seen a sharp decline in cigarette use among teens in recent decades (it’s helped that smoking cigarettes has fallen “out of style”). However, the lure of smoking is still just as strong as it was in the 20th century – it just looks a little different.

E-cigarettes or “vapes” are electronic devices that heat nicotine and disperse it as an aerosol. There is no smoke or tobacco involved, so many teenagers have been led to believe that vaping isn’t as bad for you.

Regardless of whether or not they realize it, the #1 problem of vaping is still the exact same as smoking: Nicotine is one of the most addictive chemicals on the planet.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, our patient’s health and well-being are our top priority, and we are here to support you in any way we can. Here’s what you and your teenager need to know about vaping.

Who’s Vaping and Why?

A 2022 study released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 2.55 million U.S. middle and high school students reported current e-cigarette use in 2022. That number represents 14.1% of high school students and 3.3% of middle school students.

Students vape because of three main reasons:

  1. Many teens believe vaping is less harmful than smoking.
  2. E-cigarettes have a lower per-use cost than traditional cigarettes.
  3. Youths and adults find the lack of smoke appealing. With no smell, e-cigarettes reduce some of the stigma of smoking.

It’s true that vaping is thought to be less harmful to the lungs than inhaling smoke, however, research is still being done and due to all the chemicals involved with e-cigarettes, the evidence isn’t clear.  However, if this is the reason your teen cites to defend their vaping addiction, tell them that it’s also true that knives are less harmful than guns. That said, we still wouldn’t want to be faced with either.

Additionally, nicotine as an aerosol comes with its own serious health risks — not only does the vapor contain a known pesticide, but there are hundreds of chemicals present in aerosols that have yet to be identified. We don’t yet know all the side effects and risks.

Side Effects and Dangers of Vaping

What we know for sure is that E-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals such as:

  • Formaldehyde, which is known to cause cancer.
  • Acrolein which is used as a weed killer and can cause irreversible lung damage.
  • Flavorants such as diacetyl, a chemical linked to serious lung disease.
  • Volatile organic compounds such as benzene, which is found in car exhaust.
  • Heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead.
  • Nicotine, which is highly addictive and damaging to the brain.

Just like smoking, there are two sets of side effects when it comes to vaping. One category of side effects has to do with the physical act of inhaling chemicals/vapor into the lungs (vaping). The other category has to do with becoming a nicotine addict.

Side Effects of Vaping:

Because vaping is relatively new, researchers don’t yet know all the effects vaping can have on your body. What we do know, though, is alarming enough:

  • Difficulty Breathing: The particles you inhale while vaping can cause inflammation (swelling) and irritation in your lungs, making it harder to catch your breath.
  • Asthma: Vaping can make you more likely to get asthma and other lung conditions. It can also make your existing asthma worse.
  • Lung Scarring: Diacetyl, a chemical used in some flavorings, can cause bronchiolitis obliterans (“popcorn lung”). Bronchiolitis obliterans causes permanent scarring in your lungs. That means that even if someone quits vaping, the negative effects of it will be with them for the rest of their lives.

Side Effects of Being a Nicotine Addict:

Any addictive substance is going to cause harm, but nicotine addiction can be especially harmful.

  • Nicotine Dependency: When you start vaping, it only takes a few days of consistent use before your brain starts to rely on the presence of nicotine in order to feel normal. Without a constant supply, nicotine addicts go into withdrawal and feel anxious, stressed, unsettled, irritable, and fidgety.
  • Inability to Focus: Nicotine is the one of the most addictive chemicals on the planet because it enters and leaves your system quickly, which is why smokers and vapers feel the need to smoke/vape every 20 minutes or so. This makes it noticeably more difficult to focus for prolonged periods of time. Whether you’re writing an essay, taking a test, drawing a picture, relaxing with friends, or watching a movie, so long as you are still vaping, your addiction will always make you feel the need to vape.
  • Increased Anxiety: The popular belief is that smoking and vaping can calm you down. Researchers know that the exact opposite is true: Nicotine spikes your heart rate and blood pressure, which is directly responsible for increasing anxiety.
  • Other Mood Disorders: Several studies have also found that nicotine addiction during adolescence is also associated with a higher risk of developing mental and behavioral problems during adulthood, including: major depressive disorder, agoraphobia, and panic disorder.

How Vaping Affects Your Oral Health

Nicotine, whether smoked or vaped, restricts blood flow to the gums, which can contribute to gum disease. The fluid in e-cigarettes only increases the risks. Other ways that nicotine and aerosol can harm your oral health include:

  • Dry mouth: Nicotine in e-liquid inhibits saliva production which leads to dry mouth. When your mouth is dry, it’s a perfect habitat for bacteria which can lead to tooth decay.
  • Damage to soft tissue/enamel: Propylene glycol is used as a carrier ingredient in e-liquid, propylene glycol has toxic effects on soft tissue and enamel. Additionally, e-liquid flavorings when added to vegetable glycerin cause a 27% decrease in the hardness and integrity of tooth enamel.
  • Receding Gums: Continued nicotine exposure causes reduced blood flow which can cause gum tissue to die and recede, exposing more of the tooth.
  • Tooth Decay/Loss: Exposed gums leads to tooth sensitivity, an increase in cavities, and in some cases, tooth loss.

The Bottom Line

Even if you believe your child would never use e-cigarettes or vapes, it’s important to talk to your teenager about vaping. Even those teens who manage to avoid peer pressure are still going to be exposed to vaping at some point in their lives. It’s important to make sure your child is prepared with the right information to make the correct decision.

Questions About Vaping and Your Oral Health?

Vaping poses significant risks to your oral and overall health. If you or a loved one are struggling to quit vaping or have any concerns about its effects on your oral health, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Eggert Family Dentistry. Dr. Jeff Eggert and Dr. Elizabeth Eggert are committed to providing comprehensive dental care to our patients and are happy to answer any questions you may have. Give us a call at 651-482-8412 to schedule an appointment today, or to learn more about how we can help you and your teen maintain a healthy, beautiful smile.

Quitting Smoking: Health Effects of Smoking and Cessation Resources

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Smoking is a dangerous habit that can have severe effects on both your overall health and oral health. This is something that research has proven time and time again — and it’s something that the majority of smokers already know.

However, many people are still unaware of the sheer range of problems that smoking can cause. In this blog, we’re taking a look at these health problems, as well as addressing how and why smokers can quit.

While we believe it’s important to inform our patients, we also understand that frightening health facts don’t often help smokers quit. So, if you are considering quitting smoking, but are still on the fence, we encourage you to skip the health section for now, and simply scroll down to our “Why Quit” section, where we discuss the reasons smokers believe they need to smoke. At the end of this article, we also provide you with a list of resources to help you get started on your quitting journey.

Effects of Smoking on Your Overall Health:

When people think of the negative effects of smoking, most people think of the big one: lung cancer. However, because smoking affects nearly every part of the body, it can be the culprit behind a laundry list of illnesses. According to the Center for Disease Control, for every person who dies because of smoking, at least 30 people live with a serious smoking-related illness. Let’s take a deeper look at what smoking does to the body:

Difficulty Breathing:

Smoking causes a range of respiratory problems. When you inhale cigarette smoke, it irritates your airways and causes inflammation, which can make it difficult to breathe. This  leads to chronic coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Over time, smoking often leads to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema, and lung cancer.

Increased Anxiety and Depression:

Smoking can also have negative effects on your mental health. Studies have shown that smokers are more likely to experience anxiety and depression than non-smokers. Nicotine acts as a stimulant, increasing feelings of anxiety, while withdrawal symptoms lead to feelings of depression.

Increased Risk of Heart Attack:

Smoking is a major risk factor for heart attack. The chemicals in tobacco smoke damage your heart and blood vessels, leading to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack as non-smokers.

Oxygen Deprivation of All Muscles:

When you smoke, the nicotine in tobacco causes your blood vessels to narrow, which restricts blood flow and oxygen to your body. This leads to oxygen deprivation in every single muscle of the body, which causes chronic fatigue, poor wound healing, and peripheral artery disease.

Effects of Smoking on Your Oral Health:

Yellowed Teeth:

One of the most visible effects of smoking on your oral health is yellowed teeth. The tar and nicotine in tobacco smoke will stain your teeth, giving them a yellow or brownish hue. This staining is usually unsightly and difficult to remove.

Dry Mouth:

Smoking also causes dry mouth, which occurs when there is a decrease in the production of saliva. Saliva plays an important role in keeping your mouth healthy by washing away food particles and neutralizing acids produced by bacteria. When you have a dry mouth, you are more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.

Receding Gums:

Smoking can also lead to receding gums, which is when the gum tissue around your teeth pulls back, exposing the roots of your teeth. This can cause tooth sensitivity, as well as an increased risk of tooth decay and tooth loss.

Increased Cavities and Tooth Loss:

Smoking also increases your risk of cavities and tooth loss. The chemicals in tobacco smoke can damage the enamel on your teeth, making them more susceptible to decay. Additionally, smoking can lead to gum disease, which is a major cause of tooth loss.

Oral Cancer:

Some of the chemicals contained in tobacco smoke and chewing tobacco are carcinogenic, meaning they cause genetic changes in cells of the mouth cavity and cause oral cancer. Regular dentist visits are a must if you’re worried about developing oral cancer, as Dr. Jeff Eggert or Dr. Elizabeth Eggert can provide thorough oral cancer screenings as a part of our proactive approach to dentistry.

In conclusion, smoking has a range of negative effects on your overall health and oral health. Quitting smoking is the best way to reduce your risk of developing these health problems and improve your overall well-being.

Why Quit?

Every smoker knows they should quit for the detrimental health risks. And yet every smoker wants to continue smoking. So, before we talk about quitting, it’s important that we first address why smokers smoke in the first place — or why they believe they have to smoke.

Smokers usually cite a number of reasons for why they smoke, including:

  • Stress: Smokers believe that smoking relieves stress or calms them down.
  • Boredom: Smokers believe that they smoke because they are bored.
  • Concentration: Smokers believe that smoking helps them concentrate.

Because they hold these beliefs about what smoking does for them, smokers are under the impression that quitting smoking would rob them of these supposed “benefits” of smoking. The wonderful truth is, smoking does none of these things for you.

Smoking doesn’t calm you down. In fact, it does quite the opposite. Nicotine is a known stimulant that raises your heart rate and blood pressure, causing increased stress and anxiety in both the short and long-term.

Smoking doesn’t relieve boredom. When smokers are bored, it’s true that they often light a cigarette. However, smoking cigarettes itself isn’t exciting. If you weren’t a smoker, chances are you’d find something else to do that would be significantly more entertaining than inhaling cigarette smoke for seven minutes.

Smoking doesn’t help you concentrate. Research confirms that smoking is terrible for your concentration. Having a nicotine addiction – or any addiction, for that matter – is incredibly distracting, and makes it much more difficult to concentrate on day-to-day tasks.

So, to the question “Why quit?” We answer:

  • To be free of nicotine addiction.
  • To experience a vastly improved bill of health.
  • And because smoking does nothing for you in the first place. You have nothing to lose!

Resources to Help You Get Started with Quitting Smoking

Allan Carr’s “EasyWay To Stop Smoking”: Developed by a former chainsmoker, this smoking cessation technique uses a combination of logic and psychology to break down all the reasons why smokers believe they need to smoke, and then explodes each myth one by one. (For example, our points in the above section were taken from Allan Carr’s work.) Carr’s method is available in print, as an audiobook, or in-person as a seminar.

National Cancer Institute Quitline: The National Cancer Institute provides a free smoking cessation hotline where people can receive counseling and support to quit smoking. The Quitline can be reached at 1-877-44U-QUIT (1-877-448-7848).

Smokefree.gov: Smokefree.gov is a website created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides a range of resources to help people quit smoking, including a step-by-step quit guide, mobile apps, and text message support.

American Lung Association: The American Lung Association offers a range of resources to help people quit smoking, including online tools, support groups, and a free quit smoking helpline at 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-586-4872).

Your healthcare provider: Your healthcare provider can provide guidance on quitting smoking and may be able to prescribe medications or recommend other treatments to help you quit smoking.

Community resources: Many communities have resources to help people quit smoking, including local support groups, smoking cessation programs, and community health clinics. Check with your local health department or community center to find out what resources are available in your area.

Lean on The Experts at Eggert Family Dentistry

The negative health effects of smoking are vast and far-reaching, impacting both overall health and oral health. However, quitting smoking is the single most important step you can take to improve your health and wellbeing. If you or someone you know is struggling with smoking cessation, there are many resources available to help you on your journey.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we are committed to helping our patients achieve optimal oral health. If you have questions or need assistance with smoking cessation, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 651-482-8412. Our team is here to support you on your journey to a healthier, smoke-free life!

Smoking Marijuana: 6 Oral Health Effects You Should Know

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Marijuana (AKA cannabis) is commonly used for both medicinal and recreational purposes. Just like other recreational drugs, such as alcohol, it’s important for patients to be aware of the potential negative health effects associated with the use of marijuana. With all the buzz lately about legalizing marijuana in Minnesota, we thought this topic very timely.

Because the majority marijuana users ingest it by smoking, one’s oral health can be significantly impacted by marijuana use. According to research, the negative oral health side-effects of smoking marijuana include:

  • Dry mouth, which can lead to a number of other oral health conditions.
  • Cavities and tooth decay because of appetite stimulation associated with use.
  • Gum disease has been linked to frequent marijuana use.
  • Oral Candidiasis (thrush) which causes redness, white plaque, and soreness inside the mouth.
  • Yellow teeth are a common side effect of smoking, whether it’s cannabis or tobacco.
  • Risk of oral cancer is increased in regular marijuana smokers.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, one of our top priorities is to educate our patients about their oral health. Here’s an in-depth look at the oral health effects of marijuana use.

1. Dry Mouth

Also known as xerostomia, smoking marijuana can cause dry mouth by decreasing the production of saliva. Saliva acts as a natural cleanser for your mouth, carrying antimicrobial agents that kill disease-causing bacteria. Without it, bacteria are allowed to flourish in the mouth, leading to a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

2. Cavities

While dry mouth makes you more likely to experience tooth decay, appetite stimulation that marijuana users experience can also lead to an increased presence of cavities. Many cannabis users report that their consumption of high-sugar foods increases during cannabis use. This, in combination with a lack of saliva, creates the perfect environment for cavities to develop.

3. Gum Inflammation/Gum Disease

Any kind of smoke, marijuana or not, has the potential to irritate and inflame the gum tissue. Inflammation and irritation can contribute to gum disease, which is a serious oral health problem that causes tooth loss and other health complications. Gum disease can also be caused by the proliferation of bacteria that’s caused by dry mouth. It cannot be cured and requires regular treatment to manage.

4. Oral Candidiasis

Commonly known as Thrush, oral candidiasis is a fungal infection in the mouth caused by an increased production of yeast colonies. These colonies are normally present in the mouth, but the effects of cannabis in combination with poor oral hygiene can promote overgrowth. This results in redness, excess white plaque, and soreness inside the mouth.

5. Yellowed Teeth

Just like cigarette smoke, marijuana smoke contains tar and other chemicals that can adhere to the surface of the teeth, causing them to become discolored and yellow. A regular marijuana smoker may notice that these stains are difficult to remove with regular brushing and flossing. Patients may need professional whitening treatments to remove stains from marijuana smoke.

6. Oral Cancer

The link between oral cancer and marijuana smoke is still being debated and researched today. However, it has been reported that a synergistic effect between tobacco and cannabis smoke may increase oral and neck cancer risk for people who smoke both (that includes cigars that have been hollowed out and filled with cannabis).

Questions? Call Eggert Family Dentistry

Just like it’s important to be aware of the negative health effects of alcohol, so too must one be aware of the negative health effects of marijuana. If you’re a regular smoker, it is important to practice good oral hygiene and visit Eggert Family Dentistry regularly so that we can monitor your oral health. If you have questions about the oral health effects of marijuana smoking, or would like to make an appointment to have your oral health evaluated, please call us at 651-482-8412. We look forward to helping you take care of your oral health!

Sensitive teeth? How to prevent issues and make yourself more comfortable.

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

For people who struggle with sensitive teeth, eating or drinking anything too hot or cold can be uncomfortable. Sometimes, even brushing your teeth or using floss can be uncomfortable if you have sensitive teeth. 

But what causes tooth sensitivity and will you ever be able to enjoy hot coffee or cold ice cream again? 

Causes and Symptoms of Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth are caused by enamel on the teeth that gets worn down. Enamel is the hard outer layer that protects the softer interior of your teeth. When the enamel gets worn down, the softer, more sensitive part of your teeth are exposed. When the dentin or dentin tubules that run to the nerves in your teeth are exposed to heat, cold, or pressure from chewing, the nerves get hyperactive and can send a jolt of pain through your mouth. 

The things that most commonly wear down the enamel on your teeth are:

Tooth sensitivity is often caused by underlying tooth problems. By finding and fixing those problems, discomfort from sensitive teeth often resolves on its own. Some of the most common causes of sensitive teeth include:

  • Infrequent brushing
  • Overly aggressive brushing 
  • Gum recession
  • Periodontal disease
  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • A dysfunctional bite

What to Do if You Have Sensitive Teeth

If you have mild tooth sensitivity, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff can recommend a desensitizing toothpaste or prescription fluoride toothpaste to use at home. The ingredients in these toothpastes help prevent hot and cold sensations from reaching your mouth. Regular fluoride varnish treatments at our office can also help reduce pain. 

There are also at-home remedies we found online, you could try these to get relief: 

  • Salt-water rinse: Add ¼ to ¾ teaspoon of salt to a glass of lukewarm water. Gargle the salt water twice daily for up to 30 seconds. 
  • Hydrogen peroxide rinse: Add two caps of 3% hydrogen peroxide to an equal amount of warm water, and swish in your mouth for up to 30 seconds. The mild antiseptic and disinfectant can help deal and prevent inflammation. 
  • Honey and warm water: Mix a spoonful of honey with warm water, and rinse your mouth with the mixture. Hone is an antibacterial agent that helps speed healing and reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. 
  • Turmeric: Massage ground turmeric on your teeth and gums twice a day for pain relief. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory treatment and enhances wound healing. 

If you have severe tooth sensitivity, you may need more involved treatment to resolve your discomfort. When sensitivity is caused by decay or when teeth are worn or decayed, we may recommend a filling, crown, or bonding to fix the root issue. Also, if a dysfunctional bite is keeping the nerves of your teeth hyperactive, changing the tooth positions is an important part of the healing process. 

Addressing the Underlying Issues That Cause Tooth Sensitivity 

Another way to make huge improvements in relieving tooth sensitivity is to look for and treat underlying issues with your bite. By undergoing our records process, we can determine if improvements to how your teeth come together and how you chew can stop your tooth sensitivity – often for good!

One of the best ways to improve sensitive teeth is by developing healthy oral hygiene habits, including regular visits to the dentist. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff, contact our office at 651-482-8412.

List Join

How Does Laughing Gas Help, and What Does It Do?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

What Is Laughing Gas?

Nitrous oxide gas – also known as laughing gas – is the most commonly used option to reduce anxiety in dentistry. Nitrous oxide is considered an anxiolytic, which means it doesn’t sedate you, but helps you feel comfortable, free from your usual dental anxieties and able to relax while dental procedures are performed.

Laughing gas is commonly used to help patients who have:

  • Dental anxieties or phobias
  • Trouble sitting still or cooperating (typically pediatric patients)
  • Special needs
  • Strong gag reflexes
  • Trouble breathing in and out the nose
  • An inability to respond adequately to local anesthesia alone

It also works well for children who need to have longer procedures done.

How Does It Work?

Laughing gas is given to patients through a mask that’s placed over the nose. When you breathe, you inhale the gas mixture and fall into a relaxed, nearly euphoric state. This leaves most patients feeling anxiety-free, with all their fears in the distant background.

Although the name laughing gas might make you think the medicine would make you giggly, that’s not how it works. The nitrous oxide slows your nervous system, which makes you feel less inhibited. It might make you feel light or tingly, and some people even say it makes their arms or legs feel like they are floating. The result, however, is that you feel calm and comfortable.

What Are the Benefits of Laughing Gas?

It is used commonly in dental offices because it works quickly and safely to help patients relax. It is given throughout your dental procedure and when the procedure is over, patients breathe pure oxygen through the mask, allowing the effects of the nitrous oxide gas to wear off quickly. Therefore, patients are able to drive themselves home.

In addition, although laughing gas helps you relax, it doesn’t put you to sleep. This helps ensure patients are still able to hear Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff and respond to any questions or instructions.

What Are the Side Effects?

When laughing gas is given correctly, most patients don’t have any negative side effects when it wears off. However, if the level of nitrous oxide rises too quickly, or if the amount being inhaled changes too quickly, patients may experience side effects such as:

  • Headaches
  • Shivering
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sleepiness

To prevent headaches, patients are given oxygen for five minutes at the end of the procedure. This helps clear the remaining gas from the lungs, and it helps you become more alert and awake.

You can also help prevent nausea or vomiting by eating lightly before your procedure and avoiding a large meal for up to three hours after your appointment. If you do start to have any of the side effects, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff can turn the nitrous oxide level down and by simply breathing more straight oxygen, any adverse side effects diminish quickly.

Interested in Using Laughing Gas at Your Next Appointment?

Laughing gas is a helpful strategy for managing severe pain or dental anxieties. Talk with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff if you’re interested in learning more about using nitrous oxide gas at your next appointment. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 651-482-8412.

How to Deal with Dental Anxieties

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

What Is Dental Anxiety and How Do You Know if You Have It? 

According to the Dental Research Journal, as many as 14% of people struggle with dental phobia, and even more people have less severe dental anxieties. The cause of dental anxieties varies by person, but the irrational fears and feelings of terror are present among many people. 

Signs and Symptoms of Dental Anxieties

Many people with dental anxieties dread doing to the dentist. They may avoid scheduling routine dental appointments, or they may skip appointments that they’ve already scheduled. Other signs of dental anxieties can include:

  • Sweating
  • Racing heart or heart palpitations
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Visible distress or crying
  • Using humor or aggression to mask fears

How Eggert Family Dentistry Helps Reduce Dental Anxieties

To help all our clients feel as comfortable as possible, we offer a variety of ways to help during your appointment:

  • Music: Many people feel more comfortable when they’re listening to their favorite music. If you’ll more comfortable with headphones on, please do it. Our team can work around headphones for routine cleanings and most procedures. We ask that you bring your own headphones and music device. 
  • Cable TV: We have cable TVs available in every procedure room. Watch your favorite shows while our team works on your teeth. 
  • Calming techniques: Deep breathing and visualization can help ease your nerves. Not sure what to do? Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff, and their assistants, Tracy and Heather, can coach you through some mental exercises to help bring you peace. 
  • Hand signals: For some people, the hardest part of a dentist appointment is feeling like they can’t communicate when their mouths are full of other people’s hands. Raising your left hand during your appointment lets us know that you need a break. 
  • Communication: Sometimes, talking about your fears and having them validated is enough to help you feel at ease. Our team is here to listen to your concerns and explain any procedures that are making you nervous. 
  • Medicine: In many situations, these calming techniques are enough to help patients get through their appointments comfortably. However, if you have dental phobia, we also have laughing gas (also called nitrous oxide gas) available and in worst case scenarios, we can talk about some prescriptions that may help. 

How to Manage Dental Anxieties

Many of the calming techniques listed above can help people work through their dental anxieties enough to get through their appointments. Some people have also found relief by using therapy techniques. If you have headphones on during your dentist appointment, listening to a meditation, guided imagery, or progressive muscle relationship can also help lower your heart rate and help you feel more comfortable. There are many apps available for this. Finally, a few short, targeted sessions of cognitive behavior therapy can help people permanently overcome their dental anxieties. 

At Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Elizabeth, Dr. Jeff, and our whole dental team will take the time to listen to your concerns, and we’ll work together to help you feel as comfortable as possible. If you’re ready to schedule an appointment, contact our office at 651-482-8412.

List Join

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.

List Join

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!

List Join

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.

List Join