What Are the Long-Term Effects of Drug Abuse on Dental Health?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Drug and alcohol abuse have been on the rise in the last few years, and those numbers increased even more during the pandemic. Numbers from the CDC suggest that more than 10% of Americans over the age of 12 have abused illegal drugs in the last month. In addition, 24% of American adults had at least one episode of heavy drinking in the last year.

Unfortunately, drug and alcohol abuse can cause numerous dental health problems, including:

Enamel Breakdown and Mouth Sores from Drug and Alcohol Abuse

One of the most common impacts of drug abuse on dental health is enamel breakdown. Because cocaine and many other drugs are highly acidic, they can break down the enamel on teeth. Cocaine is especially damaging when it is smoked or when people use powdered cocaine in their mouths to be absorbed through their gums. This can lead to mouth sores, which can get infected.

Cocaine can also cause injuries in the mouth when it is snorted. The tissues in the upper palate are weakened, which can cause a hole to form between the nose and the mouth.

Essentially all alcoholic beverages are acidic, with some having a higher pH level than others. Wine is especially acidic and seeing tooth erosion in wine drinkers is very common. So many mixed drinks also contain mixers like juices and sodas, all of which have high levels of acidity and can cause damage to tooth enamel.

Another negative dental health consequence from drug abuse is called transient chorea. This causes muscle spasms in the jaw and mouth, which can make people grind their teeth. When people grind their teeth too much, it weakens the tooth enamel and causes the teeth to crack.

Drug Abuse Can Make Teeth Rot

Tooth rot is so common from meth use that the condition is known as “meth mouth.” Black and brown holes form all over the teeth due to decay. Meth kills blood vessels, which causes problems in the gums. Meth also makes the mouth feel dry. And without saliva, the enamel on the teeth is much more subject to the harmful bacteria that causes tooth decay.

Bad Dental Hygiene from Drug and Alcohol Abuse

When people abuse drugs and alcohol, their dental health suffers. The drugs and alcohol themselves are hard on people’s teeth. However, another side effect of the abuse is neglecting basic dental hygiene.

When people use drugs and alcohol, they often forget to take care of their basic dental needs – such as brushing, flossing, and using mouth wash. Finally, some drugs, such as meth, make people crave sugary foods and drinks, which are hard on your teeth. This combination makes it hard to keep your mouth healthy.

A No-Judgment Appointment to Discuss the Effects of Drug and Alcohol Abuse on Your Dental Health

If you’re concerned about the impact drugs or alcohol are having on your oral health, contact Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff for a no-judgement appointment. 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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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.

The Many Ways Pregnancy Affects Oral Health

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we believe that knowledge is power. That’s why we think it’s important that women understand the many ways pregnancy can affect their oral health. Equipped with this knowledge, it’s easier for women to be proactive with prenatal dentistry and work with vigilance to prevent serious dental issues. Below are some common dental issues women can encounter during pregnancy and some ways they can be treated or prevented.

Pregnancy gingivitis

The CDC reports that 60-75% of expectant mothers experience this condition which is characterized by swollen, tender, bleeding gums. Left untreated, pregnancy gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, or gum disease, which can lead to loose teeth and tooth loss. Make an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Teeth erosion

As cited in our last post, 60-70% of pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Between higher progesterone levels which create more acid in the mouth and vomiting from morning sickness, tooth erosion is a real prenatal concern. Swishing your mouth with water or alcohol-free mouthwash will help reduce acid buildup on teeth. Just be sure to wait to brush for at least 40 minutes after vomiting since stomach acid softens enamel and brushing too soon can actually damage teeth further.

Dry mouth

When a woman is pregnant, her body stores more water to accommodate increased blood volume. As a result, bacteria build up in her mouth, putting her at an increased risk for oral disease and causing bad breath. So what helps? Drinking lots of water and sucking on sugar-free candies are two easy ways for an expectant mother to keep her mouth hydrated and reduce bacteria buildup.

Gum disease

Periodontitis is a form of gum disease in which the soft tissue and bone that supports the teeth are destroyed. Caused by bacteria festering within the gum tissues, periodontitis can lead to low birth weight and premature birth. It’s easily preventable, however, with regular, thorough brushing and flossing and regular professional dental interventions. Periodontitis doesn’t always have obvious signs or symptoms and is nearly impossible to self-diagnose until it’s at a very severe state. Therefore, it’s important to see Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth at your recommended interval. 

Bone loss

Mothers nourish their growing babies by maintaining a healthy diet. Growing babies require a tremendous amount of calcium to grow healthy teeth and bones. When a pregnant mother isn’t taking enough calcium into her diet, her body will pull calcium from her teeth, jaw and other bones to nourish her baby. To prevent pregnancy-induced bone loss, moms-to-be must consume plenty of calcium-rich foods.

Loose teeth

As a result of fluctuating hormonal changes and the way in which those changes impact tissues and bones, pregnant women oftentimes notice that some of their teeth become loose. It’s important for women in this situation to make an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff right away so they can protect the integrity of their teeth and gums.   

We champion women’s oral health at Eggert Family Dentistry. If you’re pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, we would love to see you in our office for a routine dental exam. Give us a call to schedule your appointment at 651.482.8412!

Nutrition Tips for Pregnancy

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

At no other time in a woman’s life is nutrition as important as when she is eating both for herself and for her unborn baby. A growing baby requires a high concentration of vitamins and minerals – nutrients that will largely determine his or her health at birth and in certain capacities, for the rest of his or her life. That being said, healthy eating is critical during pregnancy…and it all begins with knowing the facts.

If you’re an expectant mother, consider these important tips for a nutritious diet:

Eat a rainbow every day.

You’ve likely heard this advice before but it couldn’t be more true. Incorporating a wide variety of healthy foods into your daily diet ensures that you and baby receive a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Make an effort to include fruits and veggies, whole grain breads and crackers, dairy products and proteins every day – and as many as you’re able – into each meal.

Dental detail: Your growing baby requires a good amount of calcium for growing bones and teeth and will take calcium from your bones and teeth if your diet doesn’t provide an ample amount. Don’t neglect dairy, especially during pregnancy!

Reduce your sugar intake.

This may mean putting your sweet tooth in its place if it’s getting a bit out of hand! Saying no to high-sugar foods like cookies, cake, ice cream and pop in favor of fruit, naturally sweetened foods and beverages, yogurt and nuts will help ward off gestational diabetes and ensure that you’re giving baby calories that count.

Dental detail: Sugary foods and beverages eat away at tooth enamel. Choose healthy substitutions as often as possible and be sure to brush, floss and rinse your mouth after consuming sugar.

Drink more water!

Hydration is of heightened importance during pregnancy. An expectant mom’s body demands more fluids to accommodate increased blood volume. Conversely, dehydration can lead to contractions and preterm labor. Milk is also a healthy, calcium-rich choice!

Dental detail: Choosing fluoridated water whenever possible is an investment in your mature teeth as well as in baby’s developing teeth. Fluoride strengthens enamel and creates a protective surface around teeth that helps ward off sugars and acids that threaten their integrity. Extra water will also help stave off pregnancy-induced gingivitis.

Seek out sources of folic acid.

In order to prevent serious birth defects such as spina bifida, make sure you consume a minimum of 600 mg of folic acid in your diet each day. Good sources of folic acid include asparagus, broccoli, leafy greens, beans, oranges, strawberries, bananas, fortified cereals and grains…among many others!


Dental detail: Many fruits and veggies high in folic acid are also high in calcium – broccoli, spinach, kale, oranges…A dental win-win!

Take prenatal vitamins.

You only get one chance to grow your baby healthy. Because it’s virtually impossible to get all the nutrition you and baby need from diet alone, taking a daily prenatal vitamin is a smart choice.

Dental detail: Prenatal vitamins are loaded with many vitamins and minerals including ample calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus and vitamin A – building blocks of healthy mature and developing teeth.

If you’re expecting or planning on getting pregnant and would like to learn more about nutrition for growing and maintaining healthy teeth, we would love to discuss this with you at your next appointment. You can make your next appointment at Eggert Family Dentistry by calling us at 651.482.8412 or by connecting with us online!

Dental Care Before, During and After Pregnancy

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Fluctuating hormones during pregnancy can impact a woman’s body in a number of ways. Nausea, stuffy nose, mood swings, loose ligaments…the list goes on! What many women don’t realize, however, is the impact that pregnancy has on oral health. In this post, we look at some proactive approaches to good oral health before, during and after pregnancy.

Before Pregnancy

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we recommend a thorough dental screening if you plan to become pregnant in the near future. At this appointment, we will clean your teeth, inspect your gum tissue and address any outstanding dental issues. Also, if you’re interested in pursuing any elective dental procedures, this is the time to schedule them!

During Pregnancy

  • Routine dental care during pregnancy is perfectly safe. In fact, because women are more prone to gingivitis and periodontal disease during pregnancy, we highly recommend routine visits! Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff can also attend to any urgent dental matters during pregnancy. 
  • On account of increased blood flow to gum tissue, pregnant women often experience tender, swollen, bleeding gums. Pay close attention to your gum tissue and stay the course with regular brushing and flossing. If you think you are dealing with pregnancy gingivitis, make an appointment with us so we can monitor your gum health and help you prevent ensuing gum disease and tooth loss. Sometimes coming in for more frequent cleanings makes a huge difference in gum health.
  • If you’re struggling with morning sickness, you’re not alone. In fact, 60-70% of pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association. If this is the case for you, regular brushing is even more critical. Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after vomiting, however, to help neutralize acid before brushing. If you’re turned off by the strong taste of toothpaste, switching to a bland toothpaste can help! Or, even brushing with water alone is better than nothing.
  • Eat healthy. As difficult as it can be to resist pregnancy junk food cravings, avoiding sugar can reduce your risk of pregnancy-induced tooth decay. Also, including foods rich in calcium helps your baby develop healthy teeth, gums and bones.

After Pregnancy

Schedule a postnatal visit to assess the health of your teeth and gums and to address any previously undetected pregnancy-related dental issues.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we get women’s health. We partner with you throughout your pregnancy journey to help you maintain optimal dental wellness! To schedule a visit, you can contact us at 651.482.8412 or connect with us online.

Replacing A Failing Bridge – Jackie’s Story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?

Jackie had been a long time patient of Dr. Furey. The first time she saw Dr. Elizabeth, it was for a severe toothache. Unfortunately, the ache was coming from the progression of decay on her upper front teeth that were the anchors for her bridge. Saving the teeth wouldn’t be easy, but to do so, Jackie needed root canal treatment and a new bridge.

What did she want?

Jackie was concerned about needing to have her bridge replaced, but wanted to make the best choice for her oral care long-term. Jackie wanted to try to keep her natural teeth, if possible. However, a short time after referring Jackie to have a root canal done, Jackie’s original bridge ended up breaking off and her teeth were fractured at the gum line and no longer restorable. This required Dr. Elizabeth and Jackie to change the course of action and it was decided that an implant bridge would be more stable and predictable long-term than relying on natural teeth for an even longer-span natural tooth bridge.

What was involved?

Since Jackie’s original bridge had fractured at the gum line, Jackie needed an immediate solution to buy time until she could undergo her implant surgery. Dr. Elizabeth fabricated a retainer with a temporary bridge to replace her smile for the short-term. This option also gave the oral surgeon, Dr. Andreasen, access to remove the broken roots and place two implants for the anchors for her new implant bridge. Jackie was able to transition into a temporary implant bridge that hooked into her implants so she no longer needed to wear the retainer all the time. After a few months of healing, Jackie had impressions taken by Dr. Elizabeth and her new implant bridge was finalized.

What does she think?

Jackie was very excited to finish her treatment and move forward with a healthy beautiful smile. She was able to choose which shade she wanted and she wanted a nice bright color for her front teeth. Jackie is so excited that you can now see her front teeth when she smiles! Jackie made a big commitment in going through the implant process, but she knows it was worth it because now she is decay free and is able to trust her implants for eating. Congratulations Jackie!

The Serious Nature of Gum Disease in Women

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Gum disease is serious and can have a ripple effect on a person’s health. Complications from gum disease can look different for men and women. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we recognize the destructive nature of gum disease on both men’s and women’s health. With this article, we will spend time educating our female patients as to some of the best methods of preventing serious health problems.

How does gum disease affect a woman’s body?

When daily brushing and flossing are not prioritized, a bacterial infection can set in. This infection, which we know as gum disease, can easily enter the bloodstream and wreak havoc on numerous body systems and functions:

The heart: Gum disease increases the risk of heart disease which is already the number one killer of U.S. women. The likelihood of a fatal heart attack doubles when gum disease is present.

The lungs: Bacteria can travel into the lungs increasing the risk of pneumonia.

The brain: Oral infections increase the risk of stroke.

Blood sugar: Gum disease increases the risk of diabetes in healthy adults and people with diabetes are more prone to gum disease.

Gum disease in women can also increase pregnancy complications resulting in premature birth and low birth weight.

The intersection of female hormones and gum disease

Hormones fluctuate during different phases of a woman’s life. These fluctuating hormones can affect the gums and the way a woman’s body responds to plaque.   

  • In the days leading up to a woman’s monthly cycle, many women report tender, swollen gums. Irritated gums can attract and harbor plaque.
  • Women who take oral contraceptives often report inflamed gums which make them more prone to plaque build-up and gum disease.
  • During pregnancy, many women experience pregnancy gingivitis which manifests itself with red, inflamed, bleeding gums. This is due to the presence of plaque and harmful oral bacteria.
  • Menopause can induce red, inflamed gums and oral discomfort, creating an inviting environment for plaque and harmful bacteria.

Eggert Family Dentistry wants to partner with you to achieve and maintain healthy gum tissue during every phase of your life. Daily brushing and flossing as well as regular recare appointments are not only an investment in your oral health but in your overall health as well. If you’re interested in scheduling an appointment with us, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff can be reached at 651.482.8412.

The Connection Between Female Hormones and Dental Health

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

As we touched on in our last post, the fluctuation of a woman’s hormones throughout the many seasons of her life greatly impacts the likelihood of developing gum disease and other serious health conditions. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we want to educate you on the subject so you have the tools you need to achieve optimal dental and overall wellness. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the role hormones play in a woman’s dental health throughout her life.

During puberty

During puberty, a teenage girl may complain of red, swollen and bleeding gums and even an increase in canker sores. This is perfectly normal and is caused by an increase in estrogen and progesterone which cause an increase in blood flow to the gums. On account of increased blood flow, the gums can become more sensitive and irritated and more prone to plaque and bacteria. In addition to regular dental recare appointments, flossing once a day and brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is highly beneficial. It will help thoroughly clean the teeth and gums and keep plaque and bacteria from building up and causing problems.

During menstruation

Leading up to their monthly cycle, many women experience oral irritation. These symptoms should subside after menstruation stops and include swollen, tender, bleeding gums and cankers sores – very similar to what the teenagers experience. Again, consistent brushing, flossing and fluoride use will help ward off gum disease and consequent health problems.

During pregnancy

Pregnancy is another season of a woman’s life when hormone levels surge, oftentimes causing pregnancy gingivitis – a mild form of gum disease. In addition to regular brushing and flossing, dental visits during pregnancy are not only safe but they are incredibly beneficial. Women are particularly sensitive to pregnancy gingivitis between months 2-8 of pregnancy. This is a great window of time to come in to Eggert Family Dentistry for a recare appointment.

During menopause

Menopause is yet another season of vast hormonal changes in a woman’s body. However, instead of an increase in hormone levels, menopause marks a sharp decrease in the production of estrogen. Two of the most common hormonally induced changes during this time are dry mouth and bone loss.

Dry mouth: Saliva cleanses the mouth of cavity and gum disease-causing bacteria. During menopause, when a woman experiences dry mouth, bacteria can more easily build up and can increase her risk of developing cavities and gum disease. Sucking on sugar-free candy, drinking plenty of water and using over-the-counter mouth spray can help combat dry mouth and promote dental health.

Bone loss: The decrease in estrogen levels during menopause can result in bone loss, even bone loss in the jaw. One telltale sign of bone loss affecting the jaw is receding gums. When gums recede, more of the tooth is exposed and the risk of cavities and tooth decay increases. Proper intake of calcium and Vitamin D can help curb bone loss and reduce the risk of decay.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we believe that good dental health starts with the basics. Thorough daily brushing and flossing as well as routine dental exams help lay a solid dental foundation for a lifetime. It’s also important for women to remain mindful of their dental health during the various hormonal seasons of their lives. If you want to learn more about how female hormonal changes affect dental health or to schedule a routine dental exam, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff can be reached at 651.482.8412.