Rejuvenate Your Smile with Veneers! – KE’s Story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?

KE (patient prefers initials only) came to us as a new patient late in 2020 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.  She had some existing restorations and implants.  She mentioned at her first appointment, that she would eventually like new veneers, but she had her current set done over 30 years ago and did like them so she was nervous to proceed.  After a few more visits at the practice, it was evident that her veneers were starting to decay and when one fractured in half, she knew it was time to start the process to get new veneers.  KE also believed that her veneers were “very old and wearing out.”  She also questioned whether or not she could do something about her lower right canine, reporting “I just have never liked that tooth, what’s wrong with it?”  KE went through the records process to determine the best restorative options for her concerns.

What did she want?

KE wanted to replace her existing veneers on her front teeth and be sure that the gum line would not show any darkness as she had noticed that problem on a few friends recently.  She wanted her smile brighter and refreshed.  Dr. Elizabeth took all of KE’s concerns into consideration during the records process and incorporated that into her recommendations. 

KE mostly wanted her new veneers to look very similar to her existing, but “a little brighter.”  She didn’t want to do anything to address her bite, which did show some signs of disharmony, so in order to lessen the risk of fracture for her new veneers, KE agreed that changing the tooth shape slightly would be ok.

What was involved?

During the treatment presentation, Dr. Elizabeth discussed her findings with KE and presented a customized treatment plan based on the information gathered with KE’s records process.  Dr. Elizabeth recommended that KE start her treatment with splint therapy to confirm a consistent jaw position and muscle comfort before completing new restorations.  KE wasn’t interested in this and was willing to accept the risks in moving forward with treatment.

It was decided KE would get 6 new porcelain veneers to replace her current veneers on her upper front teeth.  KE also thought she might want to replace the crown on her lower right canine.  A lab wax-up was completed to obtain a blue print for the restorations and a mock-up was done in KE’s mouth so she could “preview” the results.  She was excited to move forward!  

Before replacing the veneers, KE underwent the Zoom in-office bleaching procedure since she wanted to brighten her teeth.  Zoom helped to brighten her lower front teeth so much that the crown on her lower right canine wasn’t as noticeable and KE elected not to replace that crown at this time.  

What does she think?

KE said that she feels the entire process went on “without a hitch” and that Dr. Elizabeth did a great job preparing her for what to expect.  KE said,

“I am relieved and pleased with the results, and I can be pretty picky!”  “I would highly recommend the treatment and the whole crew, it was very professionally done and very effective as well.” 

Thank you for putting your trust in us KE!  It is a pleasure serving you at Eggert Family Dentistry!

12 Days of Christmas, Eggert Family Dentistry Style!

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Maintain healthy teeth and enjoy a little holiday fun with the 12 days of Christmas, Eggert Family Dentistry style! (We dare you not to hum along!)

The 12 Days of Eggert Family Dentistry Christmas

On the 1st day of Christmas Eggert Family Dentistry gave to me…1 Records Process for a healthier mouth in 2023!

On the 2nd day of Christmas Eggert Family Dentistry gave to me…2 recare visits for healthy teeth. (Here’s what you can expect at your next recare visit!)

On the 3rd day of Christmas Eggert Family Dentistry gave to me…3 fillings for my cavities. (Did you know there are different types of dental fillings? Learn all about them!)

On the 4th day of Christmas Eggert Family Dentistry gave to me…4 sealants to prevent my kiddos’ cavities. (Learn how to spot and prevent cavities and keep your kids’ mouths healthy!)

On the 5th day of Christmas Eggert Family Dentistry gave to me…5 ways to improve my smile. (So I can show off those pearly whites!)

On the 6th day of Christmas Eggert Family Dentistry gave to me…6 Seattle Protocol Steps to help me sleep. (This gradual, gentle, and reversible process helps us identify solutions for our patients with airway issues.)

On the 7th day of Christmas Eggert Family Dentistry gave to me…7 steps to whiter teeth (with the Zoom whitening system!)

On the 8th day of Christmas Eggert Family Dentistry gave to me…8 Invisalign trays to straighten my teeth. (Enough for the first four months of my Invisalign treatment!)

On the 9th day of Christmas Eggert Family Dentistry gave to me…9 new toothbrushes for healthy teeth. (Are you changing your toothbrush every 3-4 months? If not, you should be!)

On the 10th day of Christmas Eggert Family Dentistry gave to me…10 experienced team members! (Our team works together to bring you the best dental care possible. We love our patients!)

On the 11th day of Christmas Eggert Family Dentistry gave to me…11 (plus more) tips for healthier, brighter and whiter teeth this holiday season. (Our blog is full of some great oral health tips and other resources. Check them out here.)

On the 12th day of Christmas Eggert Family Dentistry gave to me…12 (and more!) Eggert Comforts to ease dental phobias. (If you’re afraid of the dentist, you’re not alone! We’ll help make you as comfortable as possible.)

Happy Holidays from Eggert Family Dentistry!

From all of us at Eggert Family Dentistry, we wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a wonderful 2023! And as you look toward the year ahead, there’s no time like the present to schedule your recare visits! Contact us to schedule your next visit with Dr. Elizabet Eggert or Dr. Jeff Eggert today.

Teeth Bleaching vs. Veneers

By: Dr. Elizabeth Egger

If you’re a coffee-lover or a wine connoisseur, you’ve probably considered a couple teeth-whitening solutions before. In fact, there are so many foods and drinks that can stain our teeth, you’d be hard pressed to find a person who wasn’t interested in making their smile whiter and brighter! 

If at-home treatments like whitening toothpastes and whitening strips aren’t giving you the results you’re looking for, you might want to consider an in-office whitening treatment. When it comes to choosing between bleaching your teeth and having veneers made, however, there’s a lot to consider. The option that’s best for you is usually based on your level of staining, your budget, and your tooth sensitivity. Here’s a little about the professional options we offer: 

Opalescence Go! 

Pros: 

  • Can take it home with you from your dental appointment 
  • Effective 
  • Inexpensive 
  • Non-invasive 

 Cons: 

  • Takes about 10 days at home
  • More sensitivity than other professional options 
  • Not effective on restorations
  • Won’t remove deep stains
  • More “gooey” to use

Zoom! Whitening 

Pros: 

  • Fast, takes 2 hours in-office 
  • Effective (8 shades whiter)
  • Less expensive than Kor 
  • Non-invasive 

Cons: 

  • Possibly more sensitivity than Kor 
  • Not effective on restorations (bonding, veneers)
  • Won’t remove deep stains

The Zoom! bleaching process is very simple. Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff’s team will first isolate your teeth, then apply peroxide gel to your teeth. A low heat light is placed close to your teeth that activates the whitening gel. You will undergo up to four 15-minute cycles during your session.

Kör Whitening 

Pros: 

  • Extremely effective (up to 16 shades whiter)
  • Non-invasive
  • Removes even tetracycline staining
  • Least amount of sensitivity 

Cons: 

  • About double the cost of Zoom!  
  • Not effective on restorations (bonding, veneers)
  • Time-consuming – sometimes requires 4 in-office sessions and time at home 

The Kör treatment was developed by Dr. Rod Kurthy in response to the lack of consistency in results of traditional whitening products, and complaints of sensitivity from patients post-treatment. This treatment is extremely effective, bleaching some patients’ teeth up to 16 shades whiter! It’s also the least sensitive option due to the science Dr. Kurthy used to develop his product, making it the perfect option for people with extremely sensitive teeth. 

The Kör treatment involves both at-home and in-office processes. After an impression appointment and two weeks prior to your in-office appointment, Dr. Jeff or Dr. Elizabeth will give you an at-home kit that includes a dental tray and a special gel. This tray must be worn overnight, every night before your appointment. The at-home treatment allows for longer exposure to the gel, resulting in even whiter teeth.

When you come in for your appointment two weeks later, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff’s team will apply a breathing gel to your teeth to finish the treatment. Sometimes a second in-office appointment is also needed, depending on the desired results. 

Veneers as a Whitening Solution

Pros: 

  • Extremely effective (you may choose your shade of white)
  • Completely masks all staining
  • Long-term results 

Cons: 

  • More costly 
  • Alters tooth structure 
  • Some tooth sensitivity 
  • Time-consuming 

Teeth bleaching works very well for lighter stains caused by food and drink. For more stubborn staining that can’t be removed by the bleaching process, you may consider getting veneers. This is the most involved whitening option of the three listed in this post. 

Veneers are a very thin ceramic shell that covers your existing tooth structure. In placing these new veneers on your teeth, you can fix the look of issues such as staining, cracked teeth, spaces, misaligned teeth, chipped teeth, and more. 

The process of getting veneers involves at least two to three visits to Eggert Family Dentistry. During the first visit, we will discuss the shape and look of your veneers and develop a plan together. On the second visit, we will prepare your teeth for the placement of the veneers by removing a thin layer of enamel. We will also take an impression of your teeth, and provide you with a beautiful temporary solution to cover your teeth over the next few weeks. Your final visit will take place two to three weeks later, during which Dr. Elizabeth Eggert or Dr. Jeff Eggert will place your brand-new veneers.

Let Eggert Family Dentistry Brighten Your Smile!

If you’re unsatisfied with the results of over-the-counter whitening treatments, call Eggert Family Dentistry at 651.482.8412 to discuss potential in-office whitening solutions and schedule an appointment. Dr. Elizabeth Eggert and Dr. Jeff Eggert will be able to help you decide which option is right for you. We look forward to helping you achieve the smile you’ve been dreaming of! 

Myobrace Infant Trainer – Owen’s Story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Where did Owen start?

Owen came to us for his first dental visit at 2 years old and we noticed that he seemed to have some issues breathing through his nose.  His mom also reported that he sucked on his pointer finger to fall asleep.  Owen would also suck on his finger during the day if he was tired.  Mom and dad tried to help him stop, but it wasn’t going well.  

After giving the family some more time to continue to try traditional methods to help Owen stop sucking his finger, Dr. Elizabeth talked with the family at Owen’s next visit and let them know that Owen may benefit from seeing an ENT to evaluate and intervene for his airway.  She also discussed the opportunity to start therapy with the Myobrace Infant Trainer to help him with oral and facial development.  Due to his finger sucking habit, he was starting to develop a narrow palate and his lower jaw growth was impinged.

What was involved?

Owen’s parents were ready to start Myobrace therapy with Owen.  The goals for the treatment were for Owen to wear the appliance 2 or more hours each day and all night.  The Myobrace appliance has a “tongue tag” to help train the tongue to go to the correct position up against the palate.  Owen was to work to keep his tongue touching the tongue tag.  Owen was also supposed to work on keeping his lips closed and breathing through his nose.

The appliance is great for thumb or digit suckers because it gives them something in their mouth and helps open their airway.  This is often why thumb and digit suckers continue sucking after the natural infant instinct to suckle has surpassed 6-12 months – because it gives them support for their airway.

Owen did a nice job working with his appliance.  Instead of putting his finger in his mouth, he instead put his appliance in.  He was able to stop the finger sucking habit.  His mom still wondered about his breathing, however, since he was snoring and struggled to keep his lips closed with his appliance out of his mouth.

Dr. Elizabeth referred Owen to Dr. Rosario, a local ENT, and he underwent procedures to remove his tonsils and adenoids as well as reduce some of the inflammatory tissue in his nose.  After these procedures, Owen slept better, stopped snoring, and had a lot more energy during the daytime.

What do Owen and his family think?

Owen’s Myobrace Infant Trainer was very helpful at helping him stop sucking his finger.  Owen may benefit from the Myobrace J-series which can help with more jaw growth and development.  For now, he is working to keep his tongue in the right spot, his lips closed, and all breaths through his nose.

Owen’s mom reports they are happy they underwent these therapies with Owen.  The process was easy and only took about 3 months before he stopped sucking his finger.  They are happy to see his improved growth and development.  They would strongly recommend anyone where this therapy is recommended to “give it a try!”

myobrace treatment

Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing: What Does It Mean?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Periodontal scaling and root planing may sound like a funny way to treat periodontal disease It may even sound a bit intimidating, but this treatment is actually a simple way to immediately start treating gum disease ( periodontal disease). Before we go into an explanation of this procedure, let’s first clarify what gum disease is. 

Gingivitis and Periodontitis (Gum Disease)

Gingivitis is an inflammatory reaction of the gums due to excessive bacteria. When you don’t brush and floss regularly, the bacteria surrounding your teeth enters the gums and causes irritation, inflammation, and bleeding of the gums. This can be especially noticeable after brushing or flossing. 

Gingivitis can be easily treated with a professional cleaning. If left untreated, however, gingivitis will develop into a serious gum infection called periodontitis, also known as gum disease. 

When your gums are chronically inflamed, the space between your gums and your teeth, also known as your gum tissue pockets, gets so deep that the bacteria and plaque become trapped and can no longer be removed with regular brushing or even flossing. Without treatment, gum disease will destroy the bone that supports your teeth. Without the bone to act as a foundation, the teeth get loose and eventually need to be removed. 

Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Receding gums
  • Gums that bleed after brushing
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Persistent bad breath 
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth loss

Aside from damaging one’s oral health, there are other serious risk factors associated with gum disease. It’s long been proven that there is a connection between gum disease and heart disease. In fact, a person with gum disease has two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event than someone with healthy gums. 

For pregnant women, gum disease has also been linked to pregnancy complications and low birth weight. 

Treatment for Gum Disease 

Luckily, the treatment for gum disease is simple and can be performed right here at Eggert Family Dentistry. One of our amazing hygienists along with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will administer treatment known as periodontal scaling and root planing. These procedures are typically quick and can be performed using onlyl local anesthetic.

What is Periodontal Scaling and Root Planing? 

Periodontal scaling is a procedure that uses a dental curette or scaler to remove all the plaque and tartar from above and below the gumline, all the way down to the bottom of the pocket. A topical or local anesthetic will be applied to numb the area so that no discomfort is felt during treatment. Root planing is then when our dental team members use instruments or the high powered water irrigating Cavitron to smooth out the roots of your teeth to help your gums reattach to your teeth. Depending on the severity of the infection, the time needed for these procedures can vary. It is common to complete treatment on one half of the mouth per session. 

Aftercare: 

After the procedure, you may experience slight tenderness or discomfort with your gums, however, this typically resolves within a couple of days. The full healing process can take weeks, however, as your tissue reattaches to your tooth root.

  • To minimize sensitivity, avoid eating sweet items or food that is extremely hot or cold for a few days. 
  • If you experience any pain while brushing, reduce brushing intensity for at least 48 hours. 
  • Over-the-counter pain medication will help reduce any discomfort following treatment. 
  • You can also speed up your recovery by rinsing your mouth with a warm saline solution multiple times a day. 

Prevention is Better Than Intervention

Once you have periodontal disease, you will always have periodontal disease, but luckily managing this disease can be straight forward if you follow your recommended recare interval and do your hygiene homework! Typically, a periodontal patient will need a recare visit for a periodontal maintenance cleaning every 3 months.

Don’t Let Gum Disease Get the Best of You

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of gingivitis or gum disease, don’t hesitate to contact our office for an appointment. Upon examination, we’ll be able to tell you if it can be remedied with a simple cleaning, or if it requires periodontal scaling and root planing. Call our office to schedule an appointment with us at 651-482-8412.

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Dental Hygiene 101: What’s the Scoop With Fluoride?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Ah, October… A month that simply wouldn’t be complete without candied apples, kettle corn, and literal buckets of Halloween candy!

It may strike you as ironic, then, that October is also National Dental Hygiene Month. In our opinion, though, the consumption of huge amounts of sugar makes October the perfect time to focus on oral health. 

Far from taking the fun out of Halloween, Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth of Eggert Family Dentistry want to reassure you that even though your family may eat many sweets this month, you can count on a little mineral called fluoride to save the day.

What Is Fluoride? 

Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that plays an important role in dental health. Found in water, toothpaste, and mouthwash, fluoride strengthens the teeth, preventing cavities and even repairing early signs of tooth decay. 

What Are the Benefits of Fluoride? 

Fluoride works by penetrating the teeth and drawing in phosphate and calcium from your saliva. It aids the remineralization process, repairing teeth and strengthening enamel. It facilitates the creation of harder, larger enamel crystals that are more resistant to acid. 

Fluoride also reduces the activity of the bacteria in your mouth. This leads to decreased acid production and less chance for tooth decay. Studies show that this miracle mineral can even repair early stages of tooth decay before things become a full-fledged cavity! 

According to the CDC, the connection between fluoride and healthy teeth was recognized as far back as the late 1800s. By the 1930s, dentists observed that people who drank water containing naturally occurring fluoride seemed to be protected against tooth decay, or cavities.

Fluoride is beneficial for teeth because it helps to:

  • Rebuild (or remineralize) weakened tooth enamel.
  • Slow down the loss of minerals from tooth enamel.
  • Reverse early signs of tooth decay.
  • Prevent the growth of harmful oral bacteria.

Where Is Fluoride Found?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that originates in rocks. As the rocks break down, the mineral is released into the soil, air, and water. 

As a result, trace amounts of fluoride can be found in many of the foods we eat, including grapes, raisins, wine, black tea, spinach, and potatoes. Fluoride is also found naturally in freshwater and saltwater. However, simply eating these foods and drinking freshwater won’t do much for your teeth—there’s simply not enough fluoride content within them to do the trick. 

That’s where the other sources of fluoride come in: 

You may recall having to sit with a tray of fluoride foam in your mouth during your childhood dental visits. These fluoride treatments fortified both your baby teeth and strengthened your adult teeth. 

As an adult, you might receive a fluoride varnish during your recare visits, which serve the same purpose. And of course, there’s the fluoride-fortified toothpaste and mouthwash that can easily be found on store shelves. These items help you to protect your teeth at home in between dental visits.

Fluoridated Water

We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the fluoride in tap water and its role in protecting our teeth. It’s now common practice for cities to add fluoride to their water supply in a process known as water fluoridation. Starting in 1945, this practice began as a direct response to the observation that fluoride prevents tooth decay. 

In the years that followed, the average number of missing or decaying teeth in American 12-year-old children dropped by 68 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This sharp drop followed the introduction and expansion of fluoridated water in communities, as well as the addition of fluoride to toothpastes and other dental products.

With so much success in improving the health and wellbeing of citizens, fluoridated drinking water is now heralded as one of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements of the 20th century.

 (For more interesting fluoride trivia, be sure to check out our blog, “Fun Facts About Fluoride!”)

Risks Associated with Fluoride in Water 

While there has been some controversy about the safety of fluoride in our water, the Environmental Protection Agency strictly regulates the amount of fluoride in community water supplies to keep it safe and healthy to drink.

If overexposed to fluoride, the main side effects are Dental Fluorosis or Skeletal Fluorosis. Dental Fluorosis occurs when you consume too much fluoride while your adult teeth are still developing underneath your gums. This will result in white spots on the surface of your teeth, but otherwise, the condition is harmless. (This condition is usually caused by swallowing too much toothpaste, so make sure you’re supervising your children while they brush.)

Skeletal Fluorosis is the same type of condition, except it involves the bones. It usually results from long-term fluoride overexposure. Symptoms of Skeletal Fluorosis include joint pain, stiffness, and—over the long-term—the calcification of ligaments. While this condition can be caused by swallowing toothpaste or mouthwash, it’s more often caused by drinking from a water source with unusually high levels of naturally-occurring fluoride.

Importance of Regular Fluoride Use

There’s no doubt that fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter. That’s why it’s important for everyone to use fluoride regularly, from childhood all the way through adulthood. 

Fluoride treatments are especially helpful for children as their teeth are developing. When you start off with good oral health, it’s much easier to maintain into teenage years and young adulthood.  

Fluoride treatments can also help adults with receding gums, adults who aren’t drinking city tap water, and adults with medical/oral health conditions or medications that cause dry mouth.

Want to Make Fluoride Treatments a Regular Part of Your Dental Hygiene? 

At Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth and our magnificent hygienists will be happy to discuss incorporating fluoride treatments into your regularly scheduled dentist visits. If you want to learn more about the many benefits of fluoride or to schedule a routine visit, give us a call at 651.482.8412.

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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.

What Is a Root Canal, and What Should I Expect If I Have One?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

The root canal. That nightmare-inspiring procedure that strikes terror into the hearts of nearly every dental patient. Many patients have gone so far as to avoid their regular exams and cleanings for fear of it (which, of course, backfires by causing minor dental issues to worsen).

But due to improvements in technology and anesthesia over the years, the root canal procedure has become much more comfortable (and less scary) for the majority of people.

Still, you may find yourself full of anxious questions about this procedure, such as:

  • What is a root canal exactly?
  • What are some symptoms that indicate I might need a root canal?
  • What should I expect during a root canal procedure?
  • What is the healing process like, and how long does it take to heal?

To alleviate your fears, we’re here to answer these common questions.

What Is a Root Canal Procedure?

The root canal is the part of your tooth’s anatomy that includes the pulp (the soft interior of your tooth containing blood vessels and nerves) that extends down into the roots of your tooth.

A root canal dental procedure — commonly referred to simply as a “root canal” — treats inflammation and infection in the pulp of your tooth. When the pulp of your tooth becomes infected, you may have pain and tenderness around the affected tooth. A root canal procedure is the process of removing the infected pulp, cleaning and reshaping the interior of the root canal, and filling and sealing it to prevent future infection.

You may be wondering, “How can the inside of my tooth become infected?”

When your tooth is cracked, chipped, or otherwise damaged, or has a cavity that has been left untreated, its defenses are down. Oral bacteria can enter through those openings and infect your tooth’s pulp.

The benefits of a root canal include:

  • Relieving pain, swelling, or other symptoms
  • Preventing infection from spreading to other teeth
  • Saving the natural tooth (rather than extracting it and replacing with a dental implant, bridge, or partial)
  • Reducing the risk of damage to your jaw

Depending on the severity of your case, a root canal may be performed by Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff or an endodontist (a root canal specialist). If, after an exam and x-rays,we find that your case is more serious,we will refer you to an endodontist.

What Are the Symptoms That Indicate I Might Need a Root Canal?

A root canal is a common and effective procedure—according to the American Association of Endodontists, 15 million root canals are performed each year, with a 98% success rate.

In some cases, a patient doesn’t know they have an infected tooth until they have an exam. But many others experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Continuous tooth pain. Pain deep in your tooth that doesn’t go away. The pain may also radiate to your other teeth, jaw, or face.
  • Heat/cold sensitivity. Your tooth hurts when eating or drinking very hot or very cold foods or beverages, and the pain lingers or takes a while to dissipate.
  • Swollen gums. Your gums may be swollen, tender, or discolored around the affected tooth.
  • “Boil” or pimple on your gums. Pus from the affected tooth can form a boil or pimple on your gums. The pus may drain, leaving an unpleasant taste or smell in your mouth.
  • Swollen jaw. Your jaw may become swollen from the pus created by the infection.
  • Tooth discoloration. Infected pulp can restrict the blood supply to your tooth, causing it to appear darker than your other teeth.
  • Pain when you apply pressure. Your tooth will often feel tender when you chew or otherwise put pressure on the tooth. This may be due to damaged nerves around the pulp.
  • Chipped or cracked tooth. If you have a chip or crack in your tooth, bacteria can reach the pulp and cause an infection.
  • Loose tooth. Pus from the infected pulp can soften the bone supporting the tooth, making it feel loose.

    What Should I Expect During a Root Canal Procedure?

Before you have a root canal done, we will take x-rays of the affected area so we can determine the extent of the infection and confirm that a root canal is the right course of action.

Then, on the day of your root canal, we’ll:

  1. Review your x-rays and apply a local anesthetic. We’ll go over your x-rays with you, then apply a local anesthetic to numb the infected tooth and the gums surrounding it.
  2. Place a dental dam. We’ll use a dental dam (a protective rubber sheet) to isolate the affected tooth and keep it dry during the procedure.
  3. Create an access opening. To access the infected pulp, we’ll make a small opening into the biting surface of your tooth.
  4. Remove the infected pulp. We’ll remove the infected pulp inside the tooth, then clean and disinfect the canal.
  5. Reshape the canals. We’ll then reshape the canal to prepare it for filling.
  6. Fill the canal. We’ll fill the empty canal with a flexible, rubber-like material and seal it with a dental filling.
  7. Place the final restoration. On a subsequent visit, we’ll fit a permanent crown or other restoration to protect the treated tooth and restore your bite. Avoid chewing with the treated tooth until we place the final restoration.

The entire root canal procedure takes about 60-90 minutes on average, but can take longer depending on the severity of your case.

What Is the Healing Process Like?

After a root canal, many patients feel immediate relief from their symptoms, because the infected pulp that was causing pain was removed.

You shouldn’t have significant pain after your root canal procedure, but you may experience some tooth sensitivity for a few days. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever can help; if not, we may prescribe a pain reliever or occasionally an antibiotic. In most cases, any side effects dissipate over the course of a week or two.

Most patients are able to return to work or school the following day. You can eat after your procedure (once the numbness wears off), but stick to softer foods (pastas, mashed potatoes, yogurt, etc) for a couple of days. As your comfort level improves, you can introduce other foods.

After your procedure, it’s important to keep the treated area clean. Brush and floss normally and use an antibacterial mouthwash. If you don’t yet have your final restoration in place, avoid chewing on the treated tooth until you do.

Think You Might Need a Root Canal? Schedule an Appointment

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed earlier in this article, contact Eggert Family Dentistry right away to schedule an exam with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff. If you do have an infected tooth, it’s important that you be treated as soon as possible to relieve your discomfort and prevent the infection from spreading. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 651-482-8412.

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All-on-4® Procedures – David and Norma’s Stories

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

What happens when many teeth start to fail and not much else can be done to save them? How can we replace teeth and keep great esthetics and function? This month, we share two patient stories – David and Norma. Both of these two are vibrant individuals who have been able to keep their natural teeth well into their 80’s, but unfortunately the teeth just couldn’t be saved anymore. This blog shares how we were able to replace teeth for them.

How did this start? – David

David has been a patient of Dr. Elizabeth for over 15 years. Starting in 2019, Dr. Elizabeth started talking to David about how his two existing bridges for his upper teeth wouldn’t hold up much longer due to decay and breakdown of the fit against the natural teeth. About this time, David also noticed that one of the bridges felt loose and it was determined that one of the anchor teeth was abscessed with a likely root crack and needed to be extracted. This complicated things for David since his two bridges made up 9 of the 14 teeth of his upper arch. David decided to undergo the records process to learn more about his options.

Through the records process, it was determined that David only had 4 upper teeth with a fair to good prognosis. Conventional wisdom is that if 5 teeth on the upper arch are in good condition, we can try to replace teeth with a partial denture. Since David only had 4 remaining teeth in good standing for the upper arch, a full arch replacement was discussed including a full conventional denture, a locator retained overdenture on implants, a fixed hybrid “denture” (All-on-4® prosthesis), a full arch reconstruction with implants (one implant per tooth), or a full arch reconstruction with implants (restoring with implant bridges).

What did he want?

After discussing pros and cons for all options, David noted that eating and staying healthy were very important to him. He also noted that he was nervous that any sort of denture would affect his taste too much and he didn’t want that!

David and his wife watched our Spear Patient Education Videos to learn more about the differences between David’s possible treatment options. In the end, David decided that the All-on-4® Fixed Hybrid “Denture” was the right solution for him.

What was involved?

David had all of his remaining upper teeth extracted by Dr. Karl Andreasen of Momenta Oral Surgery in February, 2021. Dr. Andreasen was able to place 6 implants. One of the most magnificent things about the All on Four technique is that the case can be preplanned through 3D imaging and computer software simulations. This allows for the surgery to occur and a temporary prosthesis to be placed on the same day. Therefore, David never had to be without teeth!

The procedures to start fabricating the final restoration for David started in November, 2021 as the implants needed a few months to fully integrate. In multiple visits, David worked with Dr. Elizabeth to perfect his bite, the shade and shapes of his teeth, as well as his speech. Just before the new year, David’s final prosthesis was ready to go. At first, Dr. Elizabeth ran into a minor complication during the final torquing of the prosthesis because David’s puffy gum tissues kept the prosthesis from fully seating. But, after a couple more weeks, David’s gum tissues had a chance to heal and the prosthesis seated very well.

All-on-4®

What did he think?

David has been very happy with his prosthesis. He tells us everything is going great, he is comfortable, he can chew well, and he likes using a Waterpik to clean under the prosthesis. David noted that he had “no choice,” but to get a prosthesis like this and meet all of his expectations for chewing, esthetics, and taste. He feels that nothing has really changed for him and that he is eating and talking just like when he had his natural teeth.

David would tell anyone considering getting this treatment done to “just do it!” He has been very happy with his decision.

All-on-4®

How did this start? – Norma

Norma and Dr. Elizabeth met in 2020 when she moved to Minnesota from Michigan to be closer to her daughter and son-in-law. Her son-in-law has been a patient of Dr. Elizabeth’s for over 15 years. She came to our office seeking a second opinion. She was shocked by the treatment plan presented by another dentist. After reviewing her records, however, Dr. Elizabeth agreed that there was a lot of dental disease occurring with Norma’s natural teeth. All the teeth, except one of her upper jaw, were infected and needed to be extracted (including multiple bridges). Therefore, Dr. Elizabeth and Norma also had to discuss full arch replacement options.

What did she want?

Norma wasn’t sure if implants would be worth it at her age, but after learning more, Norma was interested in the possibility of the All-on-4® technique as it was also important to her that she be able to continue eating well. Norma wanted to know what Dr. Elizabeth would recommend to her mother if in the same situation. Dr. Elizabeth encouraged Norma to seek out a consult with Dr. Andreasen about the All on Four technique.

All-on-4®

What was involved?

Norma’s story for what was involved is very similar to David’s. In her case, Dr. Andreasen was able to place 5 implants. Norma was impressed that she was able to leave her implant surgery day with a full set of (temporary) teeth!

What did she think?

Norma tells us she initially thought she was “too old” to do this procedure and she wasn’t sure she wanted to make the investment. She liked, however, how Dr. Elizabeth put it into perspective to help her make her decision. She notes, Dr. Elizabeth asked her “do you want to be able to eat or do you want to get yourself a new car?” Norma said she really doesn’t drive much, but she likes to eat!
Normal is happy with her decision and is happy she doesn’t have to worry about it anymore. Everything looks and feels great and her life has changed for the better since she doesn’t have to deal with multiple infections in her mouth.

Like David, Norma would encourage anyone needing this type of rehabilitation to “just do it! Your teeth are something you need every day. Yes, it is an investment, but it should last me the rest of my life!”

All-on-4®

Congratulations David and Norma – you look magnificent! It’s been our pleasure to work with you!

 

I Have an Underbite. Why Should I Treat It and What Are Common Treatment Options?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Misaligned teeth can negatively impact a person in several ways. From low self-esteem to problems with teeth and gums and systemic issues, pursuing treatment to realign teeth has many benefits.

One culprit of misaligned teeth is the underbite, dentally referred to as a Class III occlusion. While not as common as its counterpart, the overbite, underbites affect 5-10% of the population.

What causes an underbite?

An underbite occurs when the lower jaw protrudes past the upper teeth when a person’s mouth is in a resting position and can be slight, moderate or severe. With an underbite, teeth don’t line up properly. The bottom front teeth don’t rest behind the top front teeth and the molars don’t stack up neatly.
While this bite is commonly genetic, it can also happen as the result of injury to the jaw, or in childhood from extended use of a pacifier or bottle or from thumbsucking.

An underbite is one of the leading causes of TMD.

If left untreated, what complications can occur?

In addition to low self-esteem, there are a number of physical issues a person with an underbite may deal with:

  • Difficulty biting or chewing
  • Difficulty forming words properly which can result in lisping or slurred speech
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleep apnea
  • Cranial discomfort in the form of headaches, jaw pain and/or earaches
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Bacteria buildup in the mouth which can lead to gingivitis or periodontitis
  • Misshapen face

Treatment options for an underbite

If you come into our office with an underbite, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will recommend one of a few courses of treatment:

Reverse-pull face mask: A type of headgear, this device helps pull the upper jaw forward by attaching to metal bands on the back of the upper teeth.

Upper jaw expander: Also known as a palatal expander, this device is placed on the roof of the mouth and widened each night. It helps to widen the dental arch and realign the jaws. It’s often used in combination with another common treatment option: braces.

Braces: Braces can contribute to underbite correction by aligning and closing gaps between teeth.

Surgery: In the case of a severe underbite, jaw surgery may be required.

Depending on which treatment option Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff decide is best to correct your overbite, they may refer you to an orthodontist or oral surgeon and work alongside them to help you achieve your perfect smile.

Is an underbite making you feel self-conscious and leading to other uncomfortable or worrisome issues? Give us a call today at Eggert Family Dentistry to set up a consultation! 651.482.8412.