Fillings: Why Replace Them?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Just like other dental work, fillings can age over time. With age, uncomfortable or unsightly problems can present themselves. Old fillings can also become chipped or fall out which leave vulnerable teeth exposed and prone to decay and cavities. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we frequently replace old fillings. Here’s an up-close look at a couple recent scenarios where we did just that:

Oftentimes, fillings start to leak and decay underneath. The best way to see this is by looking at x-rays of teeth. However, decay can occasionally be spotted from the oral exam. Here is an example of an older amalgam filling that looks okay to the naked eye but x-rays reveal otherwise.

After removing the amalgam, the darkened, decayed areas are visible.

Here’s a photo of the tooth after the decay is removed.

After the new composite tooth-colored filling is complete, this is the result.

Staining on anterior composites can happen on account of the age of the fillings, diet or decay on the teeth. Before replacing anterior fillings, make an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff to be sure the teeth are healthy. Make sure your teeth are your preferred shade/color before your new fillings are placed.

If you’re concerned that you have old fillings in need of replacement, contact Eggert Family Dentistry at 651.482.8412. We would be happy to set up an appointment with you to determine the condition of your fillings.

Oral Cancer Screening For Early Detection

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Oral cancer screenings are an important and valuable component of a visit to Eggert Family Dentistry. Identifying this disease in its early stages is crucial for successful treatment, and medical advances are increasing our ability to detect it early.

While certain lifestyle choices can significantly reduce the risk of oral cancer, over 25% of victims do not smoke and have no other risk factors.

Oral Cancer Is a Serious Issue

Oral cancer takes more lives than melanoma (skin cancer) or cervical cancer. One person dies every hour from oral cancer in the United States. In the United States we see about 49,700 new cases each year. Oral cancer represents approximately three percent of all cancers diagnosed in the nation. Globally, oral cancer is the 11th most common.

Oral cancer manifests in many ways, affecting any area of the oral cavity including the tongue, gum tissue, lips, cheek lining, and the hard or soft palate. Professional screening is essential because there are often no symptoms in the early stages, or symptoms may be subtle. Some symptoms may replicate that of toothaches, ear pain or minor sores.

Good Dental Hygiene and Regular Exams Help Early Detection

An excellent reason to prioritize dental hygiene is that having a healthy mouth free of sores or discomfort, makes it much easier to notice a red flag like a persistent sore which resists healing, or a change in surface texture. People with chronically inflamed and painful mouths will not be able to notice such a symptom.

Early detection is key to increasing survival rates. Finding tumors when they are small and haven’t spread enables more treatment options which may also be less invasive.

Having an experienced dentist, like Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff, screen your mouth for precancerous and cancerous conditions is a useful precaution, especially for patients with risk factors including tobacco use, heavy alcohol use, or exposure to HPV (human papilloma virus), the most common sexually transmitted infection which may be associated with genital warts.

Like with any cancer, early detection can greatly increase survival rates. Treatment is less invasive early on, and the likelihood of the cancer spreading or metastasizing is diminished.

Don’t Ignore Oral Symptoms

Patients should pay attention to any change of conditions in their oral cavity. Note any sores, lumps, changes in surface texture or painful areas. If they don’t resolve themselves within two to three weeks, book an appointment for an exam. Early detection can save lives. Call Eggert Family Dentistry at 651.482.8412.

Signs & Symptoms of Oral Cancer

By Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

When you open wide for your dental exam, you might think your teeth are the only focus of Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff.

Not true. Dental exams are also the first line of defense against oral cancer.
Oral cancers can develop in a variety of locations, including all parts of the tongue, the tissue lining the mouth and gums, and the area where the throat meets the back of the mouth.

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

Certain lifestyle choices increase the risk of developing oral cancer.
Tobacco use causes oral cancer as well as 15 other cancers, according to the Cancer Council. Tobacco consumption, via cigarette, e-cigarette, cigar, pipe or chewing tobacco, is known to increase cancer risk. While lung cancer may be the first dire consequence you associate with tobacco use, there are plenty of other ways smoking can kill you.

Heavy alcohol consumption, especially in combination with tobacco use, also increases cancer risk.

Sun exposure can cause cancer of the lip, so using a sunscreen lip balm is a good habit. Poor nutrition and consuming few vegetables and fruits may also play a role.

Oral cancer risk increases with age, occurring most often in people over the age of 40. Men are about twice as likely to contract it as women.

Lastly, human papilloma virus (specifically the HPV 16 type) is linked to oral cancers.

Oral Cancer Symptoms

The Oral Cancer Foundation recommends that anyone experiencing certain symptoms for more than two weeks should be evaluated by a dentist or a doctor. Symptoms include unusual surface changes in the mouth, lip, or throat. These might be a sore, lump, irritation, thick patch, or discolored (red or white) patches in the mouth. Other symptoms may be expressed in the jaw, including swelling or difficulty moving it. The tongue may be impacted with numbing, swelling or reduced mobility. Other red flags include a feeling that something is caught in your throat; pain in one ear; sudden tooth mobility; unusual bleeding; and airway obstruction.

Evaluation of Oral Cancer

When oral cancer is suspected, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will do a thorough visual exam and palpate the head, neck, oral, and throat regions. They will also review your medical, social, and familial history and inquire about lifestyle risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol usage.

If it seems necessary to refer you for a biopsy, it is possible to sometimes use diagnostic techniques that include the application of toluidine blue, which will bind to dysplastic or malignant cells. This simple, inexpensive and noninvasive substance can help determine appropriate biopsy sites and delineate margins for surgery.

Biopsies, generally performed under local anesthesia, will be submitted to a pathology lab and the tissue will be read under a microscope. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may also be used to evaluate soft tissues and computed tomography (CT) may be used to detect lymph node metastasis and early bone invasion.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we care about early detection for oral cancer, that is why you will find us looking at every recare exam for any signs or symptoms. We look forward to seeing you at your next recare visit. Call us today at 651.482.8412.

Oral Cancer: An Overview

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Did you know that your dental health professional can help with the early detection of oral cancer? That’s right! At Eggert Family Dentistry, we recognize that the treatments come from early detection. In fact, industry-wide, dental professionals detect 84% of early-onset oral cancer. In our office, we provide thorough oral cancer screenings at routine visits as part of our proactive approach to dentistry.

Oral cancer risk factors

Typically, patients who are diagnosed with oral cancer possess at least one of the following risk factors:

  • Over 40 years of age
  • Tobacco use
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Prolonged sun exposure
  • HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)
  • Male
  • Unhealthy diet

However, it is increasingly common for people who don’t possess any common risk factors to be diagnosed with oral cancer. This reiterates the importance of routine screening!

Oral cancer symptoms

There are a variety of symptoms to watch for that are indicative of oral cancer. While some of these symptoms can be attributed to other causes, it’s wise to play it safe and make an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff if you:

  • Experience numbness or pain when you bite down on your teeth
  • Find a lump in your mouth
  • Notice red or white patches in your mouth
  • Have spots in your mouth that frequently bleed and don’t heal well

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms and if they have been present for more than two weeks, it’s best to make an appointment for an evaluation. Symptoms of herpes simplex and aphthous ulcerations, or canker sores, can mimic some oral cancer symptoms but resolve themselves in 10-14 days.

Oral cancer detection

When you undergo an oral cancer screening as part of your recare visit at Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff perform a systematic visual and palpation examination of your mouth’s soft tissues. We look closely at your tongue, the floor of your mouth and around the base of your tongue as well as at the inside of your cheeks, lips, and the roof of your mouth. We also carefully examine the lymph nodes around your mouth, neck, and throat.

Oral cancer treatment and prevention

If, upon examination, we suspect the presence of oral cancer, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will refer you for a biopsy of the area in question. If the biopsy comes back positive, the oral surgeon will delineate the best treatment plan for you. This can include any of the following: surgery to remove the cancer, radiation and/or chemotherapy. Mouth reconstruction may be necessary post-treatment depending on how much of your mouth is affected. Reconstruction may include skin, muscle or bone grafts or dental implants.

Healthy lifestyle habits including healthy eating, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol consumption as well as daily brushing and flossing and routine recare visits are your best defenses against oral cancer. If you are concerned about oral cancer, we would be happy to perform a routine, early-detection exam. Come in for a recare visit today. Call us at 651.482.8412.