How Much Do You Know About Plaque, Your Teeth’s Biggest Enemy?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

I hear the word “plaque” frequently but what exactly is it?

Plaque is a biofilm in your mouth—a sticky, invisible colony of both good and bad bacteria. Because these bacteria multiply rapidly, they’re always in your mouth, even after you brush your teeth. The problem arises, however, when you consume sugars or carbohydrates. The bacteria feed off of the sugars and produce acid in the process.

What are signs of plaque that I should watch out for?

The acid produced by the plaque begins to eat away at your tooth enamel. Over time, this can lead to tooth sensitivity and eventually tooth decay. When plaque is left untreated, it can build up on your teeth and turn into tartar (also known as calculus)—a hard yellow calcified deposit. Other signs of plaque include chronic bad breath and tender, swollen gums, gingivitis and periodontitis. In even more serious cases, plaque can lead to tooth infections or abscesses and eventual tooth loss.

How can I prevent plaque from building up in my mouth?

There are a few primary ways you can keep plaque from getting the best of you (and your mouth)!

Limit sugar and carbs. Sugar is plaque’s best friend and your mouth’s worst enemy. It’s the catalyst for plaque’s production of enamel-eating acids. Because carbs break down as sugar, they are just as much to blame. When you choose to limit the intake of these foods, you don’t give plaque as much opportunity to create this acid in the first place, promoting a better bacteria balance and oral microbiome.

Brush and floss frequently. If you eat sugars and carbs, which most people do, preventative care is important. Make sure to brush your teeth and floss between them twice a day and after consuming these foods. This helps remove food particles from your mouth and discourages the destructive chain reaction of acid production, enamel erosion and tooth decay.

Swish with mouthwash. It’s easy to brush and floss but not take the process any further. When you swish with fluoridated mouthwash afterward, you dislodge any residual food particles. Plus, the fluoride repairs and strengthens your enamel which may already be eroding due to past exposure to sugar-producing acid.

If I notice plaque or tartar, what do I do?

Reducing sugars in your diet in addition to stepping up your oral hygiene game can combat plaque buildup before it becomes a bigger problem. A thorough polishing by one of our hygienists during your recare visit will also help reduce plaque on and in between your teeth.

If you notice tartar forming from plaque that has built up over time, you will not be able to remove it on your own. Again, a recare visit and routine cleaning at Eggert Family Dentistry will help! Using our special plaque and tartar removing tools, we can give your mouth a fresh start…before your teeth are compromised and your gums become infected!

Give us a call today at 651.482.8412 to set up your next appointment!

5 Helpful Tips for Preventing Tooth Enamel Erosion

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Tooth enamel plays a critical role in overall dental wellness. Its hard, translucent coating protects the crown of the tooth from bacteria that could compromise its integrity and lead to plaque buildup and tooth decay. 

Fortunately, most enamel erosion can be prevented. In this post, we’re going to share five main ways you can preserve your enamel so it can help keep your smile healthy and strong for life.

Causes of enamel erosion and preventative measures

In order to know how to prevent enamel erosion, it’s important to understand what causes it.

enamel erosionCause: One of the biggest enamel-eaters starts because of sugar. When we consume sugary foods, the bacteria in our mouths break it down by producing acid. Not only does this acid break down the sugar but it also breaks down our enamel. The more frequently sugar is consumed, the more the enamel breaks down and the less protected your teeth are. Sugary foods can be anything from candy and energy drinks to even options considered healthy like sweetened yogurt and granola.

Tip #1: Prevent enamel erosion by limiting the consumption of sugary foods and beverages. If you do consume them, be sure to brush and floss an hour afterward to rinse your mouth and get any residual sugar out from inside, on or in between your teeth.

Cause: In our American diet, sugar or some form of sugar, is in nearly every mass-produced food. You can work to limit sugar by consuming more whole foods and choosing pure water to drink.

Also, keep in mind, soft drinks are a double whammy because they contain both sugar and acid.

Tip #2: Prevent enamel erosion by limiting the consumption of acidic foods. When you indulge in acidic foods or beverages, brush and floss an hour afterward to clean out your mouth so acid doesn’t linger and cause enamel damage. You don’t want to brush and floss right after consumption of food and drink with acid because the acidic pH environment will allow your toothbrush to abrade the enamel away quickly. If you wait at least an hour, your saliva has a chance to neutralize your mouth.

Cause: Some foods and beverages are highly acidic. When consumed, the acids in foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, chocolate or your morning coffee, eat away at your enamel. In addition to acidic food, gastric acid reflux or upper airway based laryngeal/pharyngeal acid reflux will increase acid in the mouth.

enamel erosionTip #3: Prevent enamel erosion by making sure you’re using fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that, when added to toothpaste, mouthwash or your municipal water supply, helps remineralize lost calcium and phosphate ions and reinforce your teeth’s first line of defense, reducing chances of damage and decay.

Cause: Saliva helps neutralize acids in your mouth as well as rinse your mouth when you eat and drink. In some cases, medications can lead to a condition known as xerostomia or dry mouth. It can also be a naturally occurring phenomenon where a person’s salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva to rinse their mouth frequently. In these cases, bacteria feed off food particles and sugars hanging around in their mouth, causing a rise in acidity and leading to more enamel erosion.

Tip #4: Prevent enamel erosion by keeping your mouth from becoming dry.

There are some easy ways to protect enamel and increase saliva production.

  • Sip water throughout the day. Bring a water bottle along to work or school to make hydrating easy.
  • Suck on sugar-free candy. This increases your mouth’s saliva production and helps rinse bacteria.
  • Chew sugar-free gum. This increases saliva production while at the same time helping to dislodge food particles and clean the surface of your teeth. All of these factors work towards preserving enamel and keeping your teeth strong.

Cause: Oftentimes, people ignore preventative care and consume large quantities of sugary and acidic foods and use chewing tobacco. Others binge drink which can lead to vomiting and ensuing enamel erosion. Then, when they start noticing tooth sensitivity or tooth decay, they finally make a dental appointment.

It’s important to remember that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

Tip #5: Prevent tooth erosion by visiting Eggert Family Dentistry for regular cleanings! At your recare visits, we will polish your teeth to clean up your enamel, often lifting minor surface stains. We can also treat your teeth with fluoride to strengthen your enamel. We will assess the condition of your enamel and if it’s starting to wear away, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will recommend the best course of treatment: bonding, crowns or veneers.

If you’re noticing tooth sensitivity, tooth discoloration, cracks, chips or indentions in your enamel or if it’s time to get in for your next recare visit, give our office a call at 651.482.8412.

 

What Can I Expect at My Recare Visit During COVID-19?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Most people understand the importance of regular dental visits for maintaining good oral health. Oral health has a run-off effect on a person’s overall health as well. Gum disease can easily creep in and, when left untreated, can lead to heart disease, stroke or even death. Sadly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, some have been avoiding the dentist for fear of catching or transmitting the virus. Our team at Eggert Family Dentistry wants you to know the facts about our COVID-19 safety measures and what you can expect at your visit as well as answer some common questions so you can feel comfortable coming in to see us!

Safety measures at Eggert Family Dentistry

When you visit our office, you can be assured that we are:

  • Keeping up with the latest CDC and OSHA guidelines
  • Running HEPA air scrubbers to remove particulates from the air
  • Disinfecting all surfaces regularly throughout the day
  • Providing hand sanitizer
  • Mandating face coverings for all our patients
  • Mandating PPE such as face shields, long gowns and high-filtration respirator masks for our team members.

Important instructions for your visit

Throughout the last year, we have been maintaining some infection control protocols of stricter magnitude, out of an abundance of caution. We know these measures have been keeping our patients, as well as our team members, safe from COVID-19. While we are happy to see so many members of our community able to get vaccinated, we wanted to review the current protocols as change can only come slowly and only as the virus continues to decrease in our state. Therefore, when you come in to see us, you will still notice the COVID-19 protocols we have in place.

In addition to asking that you wear a mask to your appointment, we will:

  • Have you wait in your car and text us upon arrival since our reception area is still closed due to the need to socially distance. When possible, you may also be asked to come into our building and wait in the hallway near our door.
  • Ask you to complete a COVID-19 screening questionnaire. You will see that you can save time in our office by filling out your survey electronically prior to your appointment. See your email for details.
  • NO LONGER take your temperature prior to entering the office unless requested by you. It has been decided by the CDC that temperature screening is not an accurate tool.
  • Continue to ask that you don’t bring guests along with you to your appointment unless it’s absolutely necessary. This continues to minimize contact with other people.

FAQs about your recare visit during COVID-19

I would like to see that things have been wiped down—the community pen, the electronic pen, the handles of the chairs, etc.

“Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, our office followed strict infection control guidelines that would have prevented the transmission of the novel coronavirus (or any other virus) to our patients or staff. In an abundance of caution, we have increased the frequency and thoroughness of our sanitizing procedures and we are following safety procedures recommended by the Center for Disease Control, American Dental Association and OSHA. Our cleaning procedures include the electronic pen and the chair handles. We also either wipe any touched pens or ask you to take home any pen you use.”

I am concerned that the risk of virus transmission is too high for the benefits associated with a routine checkup.

“Our hygienists have streamlined their protocols so that patients can return to their recare intervals which are key in maintaining health and well-being. There are many articles noting that those with the highest levels of inflammatory diseases are the most at risk for contracting COVID-19. We are happy to be able to provide high-level dental care to reduce whole-body inflammation and keep you at your healthiest.”

How will I be safe if my mouth is open?

“All patients coming to the practice will be asked to wear a face covering, limiting the particles in the air. Patients will be ushered directly to a clean and sterilized treatment room. All clinical team members will be protected with eye protection, a tight-fitting respirator mask, a surgical mask to eliminate contamination and often a face shield. This will mean that, if your mouth is uncovered, it will be your particles in the air. In addition, we have HEPA air-scrubbing units in the clinic area to eliminate particles in the air.”

I am concerned that dental tools are being used on multiple patients. What are you doing for safety and sanitizing?

“We have always maintained a high level of cleanliness and sterilization in our office, our operatories, and with our dental instruments, or tools. In addition to our new high powered instrument washer to remove debris, we use an autoclave to sterilize our instruments which destroys all forms of microbial life, including viruses and bacteria. The autoclave accomplishes sterilization by using steam under pressure. All instruments that are placed into the autoclave are completely sterilized at the end of the complete sterilization cycle and we ensure that the sterilization indicators prove that before using the instruments on another patient.”

To see our full list of FAQs, visit this link on our website.

If you have any questions about our COVID-19 safety measures or to get on our schedule for your next recare visit, contact us at 651.482.8412!

In Spite of COVID-19, Dentist Appointments Are Safe: Here’s Why

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

According to the ADA, dentistry is an essential medical service. Dentists are responsible for maintaining systemic health by evaluating, diagnosing, preventing and treating oral diseases. Consequently, during the pandemic, dental professionals are working hard to ease patients’ fears about coming into the office and they’re taking steps to ensure that it continues to be a safe experience for everyone.

There’s no evidence of COVID-19 transmission in dental offices.

During a 2020 NPR interview, Dr. Michele Neuburger, Dental Officer for the CDC’s & COVID-19 Response Team, stated “There have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 transmitted in a dental office so far. And that includes follow-up by the CDC of false news reports suggesting such infections.”

Similar findings have been reported by industry experts throughout this past year. We are also EXTREMELY proud to note that there is no evidence of any COVID-19 infection stemming from our office.

Unfortunately, there’s still been an increase in the number of people who’ve delayed routine dental care or elective procedures for fear of contracting COVID-19. This has led to an increase in tooth loss and gum disease which, over time, could lead to more serious systemic health issues such as cardiovascular disease, stroke and even death. We are so happy to see most of you back, including a slew of recent “returnees” because of the rapid increase in vaccinations. We want share the latest information to encourage and guide the few of you remaining who are taking it just a little slower.

Dentists are used to working around infectious diseases.

Rest assured. COVID-19 isn’t the first infectious disease dentists have encountered. HIV, hepatitis, influenza, strep throat…these are just a handful of viruses that dentists ward against every day. Dental professionals wear scrubs, masks, and latex-free gloves to protect themselves and their patients. And our precautions have only increased since the pandemic began.

Offices are implementing increased safety measures.

The ADA released additional guidelines for preventing the spread of COVID-19, including reduced use of aerosols and dental dams and an increase in the use of high-power suction for hygiene procedures.

Eggert Family Dentistry is working hard to keep you safe!

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we recognize the importance of routine dental care and following through with recommended procedures to keep your teeth, mouth, and body in optimal health. That’s why we’re going the extra mile to make sure each one of our patients feels comfortable when you come in for a visit.

Our protective measures include:

  • Paying close attention to the evolving CDC and OSHA guidelines and continuing to make our practice safe for all those we are honored to serve.
  • Running HEPA air scrubber units in the office to remove particulates from the air, including germs like viruses.
  • Personalizing arrival procedures to guide you directly from your car or the hallway of the building to your treatment rooms to eliminate contacting surfaces and promote social distancing.
  • Requiring the use of a face covering and social distancing protocols.
    Providing a hand sanitizer station.
  • Wiping surfaces regularly in the administrative areas and between each patient in the clinical areas.
  • Continuing to keep the reception area and restroom closed.

If you’d like to learn more about what we’re doing to keep our office clean and safe or if you’d like to get on our schedule for your next appointment, give us a call at 651.482.8412.

Protect Your Teeth During Sports With a Mouthguard

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

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

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

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

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

Benefits of Mouthguards

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Case of Dental Injury

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

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

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

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

Wear a Mouthguard for Sports

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