Types of TMD Appliances

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

A hot/cold compress can provide temporary relief from TMJ discomfort but realigning the jaw and bite often requires a bolder approach. If Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff determines that your jaw discomfort is the result of TMD, they will create a customized treatment plan for you. More than likely this plan will include a TMD appliance, usually called a splint. Let’s explore the different types of TMD appliances and the benefits of each one.

Common TMD appliance choices include:

Over-the-counter mouthguard

Because they’re available over the counter, these mouthguards can be an affordable option. Unfortunately, because they’re not custom-fit for your mouth, they usually are uncomfortable and difficult to wear while you sleep. They tend to be very bulky and many people find that these mouthguards cause them to grind their teeth more. An OTC mouthguard might be ok as a very short term or emergency alternative to more therapeutic options.

Custom-fit mouthguard or softguard

A custom-fit softguard is fit to your specific teeth and is soft and squishy to bite into. While they can provide some jaw support and are appropriate in certain situations, they are very easy to clench into and can make muscle issues worse.

Essix retainer

After orthodontic tooth movements, it is ideal to wear a retentive device to help keep your teeth in position. An essix retainer is a thin, clear, plastic appliance that is custom-made to your teeth (shown above). At Eggert Family Dentistry, we take impressions of your teeth and fabricate an essix for you within just a few days. Essix retainers do not provide much support for the joints or muscles and therefore do not typically help manage TMD, however, they can be the right choice for some situations. In cases of severe bruxism, these may wear out quickly.

Custom nightguard

Custom nightguards are thicker than Essix retainers and are effective in helping with severe clenching and grinding problems. Because they’re custom-made, they are more secure than over-the-counter mouthguards. These nightguards have a hard exterior and are especially helpful in protecting the teeth against bruxism.

Anterior deprogrammer

This acrylic appliance helps keep your muscles more relaxed and therefore allows a healthy TMJ to also find a relaxed position. An anterior deprogrammer keeps all contact on the front teeth so the strong chewing muscles can’t fire as intensely. This allows for a deprogramming of muscles and can be especially effective at managing headaches and other muscle maladies.

TMD (sometimes called neuromuscular) orthotic

This acrylic appliance helps reposition the jaw by not only supporting the muscles, but also damaged TMJ(s), and is effective in alleviating TMD symptoms. In some cases, this appliance even moves the mandible into a new, more comfortable position. The neuromuscular orthotic can be worn all day and night, but generally not during mealtime.

Seattle protocol appliance(s) for sleep and airway issues

The Seattle Protocol is a method to determine if sleep and airway play a role in your TMD symptoms. It is common for stress hormone to build in the body if you’re not getting good air exchange and/or if your body isn’t getting the restorative sleep it needs. At Eggert Family Dentistry, the Seattle Protocol starts with baseline sleep information. Then, we work you through trial splints to open the airway space available in the mouth, both horizontally and vertically. Once your sleep improves, we often see improvements with TMD symptoms as well. Most often, you then have a final splint fabricated based on trial splint results.

Sleep appliance for apnea or other sleep related breathing disorders

A sleep appliance for apnea typically pulls the jaw into a forward position to increase airway space. These appliances can change the bite with long-term use and therefore are only fabricated after careful consideration and often after conversations with your medical doctor and after moving through the Seattle Protocol at Eggert Family Dentistry.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we treat TMD cases with the appropriate appliance for you. This not only can lessen the effects of teeth grinding and deprogram incorrect muscle patterns, but can improve your overall quality of life. We may also integrate behavioral and muscle therapies that help you use your jaw muscles differently. Often after managing the TMD, we can also make changes to the teeth for full-time relief of your symptoms. This may include suggestions from Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff for full-mouth reconstruction, orthodontic treatment, or equilibration.

Do you still have questions about TMD? Are you concerned you’re experiencing symptoms of TMD? Give us a call at 651.482.8412. Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff would be happy to speak with you or see you in our office!

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.

Up-close and Personal with Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

This month, I again cannot pick just one Wonder Woman to recognize from our team. Every day lately I am in awe at how amazing these women and men are that I get to work with. They all deserve a major award, yet unfortunately they will have to settle for a heartfelt THANK YOU in our newsletter.

The closure due to COVID-19 has been tough. The reopening has been tougher. I started the year realizing 2020 was my 15-year anniversary of starting Eggert Family Dentistry. I had hopes of grandeur, thinking maybe we could rent out the Vadnais Commons, have a band and food and get our patients and team together to CELEBRATE! It has been a lot of work over the years, but we were “making it.” We had a lot to celebrate.

Then the world turned on a dime. I was told I had to close my business. But, not really close, I had to stay available for emergencies so that people would stay out of the emergency room, but I couldn’t run my business how I need to in order to pay my employees. This meant that nearly all of our wonderful team members had to be put on a temporary lay-off and we had to rely on the government and unemployment benefits to take care of their families.

Dr. Jeff and I did the best we could to address emergencies during the mandated closure. The CDC made it seem like we might die if we saw patients or we might be the reason someone else might die if we turned out to be an “asymptomatic carrier” of COVID-19. Unfortunately, dental disease just doesn’t stop because another disease takes priority. We dealt with a number of calls at all hours and saw people as needed. We’re still getting calls every weekend and even now that we’re back open, we’re finding it very difficult to keep up.

I had a patient ask me the other day “How was your vacation?” He meant during the closure. He meant well. He was just trying to make conversation. He did not mean to downplay the severity of what is happening. I unfortunately am so sensitive right now that I almost started crying as this nightmare has been the farthest thing from a vacation. Trying to keep a small business afloat during this has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do (and I’ve had 5 natural births!).

Our business is like a lot of other service-based industries. We rely on revenue coming in so we can keep up with our payment obligations. When there is no revenue coming in, there are still payment obligations. We have been lucky in that we have been able to secure some of the government-based aid options. We have applied for all that is available and time will tell how it all pans out. But, even with the government help, the future is unpredictable and the work never stops. Luckily, we had been saving, but not saving for a rainy day like COVID-19, saving for big equipment purchases, for things that are expensive to replace and upgrade. Highly specialized dental equipment wears out over time and is necessary to keep us up and running, but unfortunately comes at a high cost. With revenues down over 33% so far for 2020, we are having to make some difficult choices when it comes to maintenance and upgrades. We’ve also been working to talk to the dental insurance companies about how their reimbursements haven’t been keeping up over the last many years and that if they won’t raise the allowed amounts for our dental procedures, we won’t be able to provide the service you all deserve. We are currently in a situation where many dental procedures require a 40% adjustment of our fees. With the challenges we face due to COVID-19, adjustments like that cannot be justified.

We don’t want your sympathy, but we would love your empathy and support. This has been amazingly draining on small businesses like ours. I feel extremely lucky that we are even open. I feel extremely lucky that patients are “mostly” scheduling. It definitely could be worse. I called to see about going to my favorite restaurant the other day and they still aren’t open. The governor gave them the “ok” to open over six weeks ago and unfortunately, they must not be able to justify the expenses they face to be open.

How can you help? Schedule to come see us, commit to your appointment and show up, accept that we may be running behind and that we will give you the same attention we gave the patient the hour before should you need it too, accept that we need to collect your credit card information at this time prior to your appointment, accept that things are different, but we are doing the very best we can for you, and please be nice!

Our main goal is to provide you with the same care and attention that we always have. We appreciate you as our patients and we look forward to again serving you soon!

We’re Hiring!

Are you or anyone you know interested in joining in on the fun at Eggert Family Dentistry?  Candy is looking to retire this February and we are working to hire someone to start training as soon as possible.  Carolyn will be moving into Candy’s role as Account Manager and Insurance Specialist so we are hiring for the following:  

 

Patient Care and Marketing Coordinator

Do you love working with a great team? Do you have a keen eye for details? Are you able to connect with others on a personal level? We’re growing and we need you. A family-focused, cosmetic group practice in North Oaks seeks an experienced, pleasant, highly motivated, and hardworking team member with excellent interpersonal skills to serve as a patient care and marketing coordinator 4-5 days per week.

Responsibilities include: greeting patients, answering phones, scheduling, billing, collections, insurance claims, and practice marketing.

High school degree required with four- year college degree preferred. Course work in administrative assisting, dental assisting, and business will be looked upon favorably. Previous dental office experience preferred, but candidates with customer service backgrounds as a personal assistant or in event planning or sales and retail should consider this exciting opportunity in the dental field.

Candidates must have proficient computer skills and experience with websites, social media, and marketing campaigns is a plus.

Please email your resume AND cover letter describing how you are a great fit for this position to info@eggertfamilydentistry.com.

Important Changes For Delta Dental of Minnesota

Recently, we learned that Delta Dental Insurance company has put into motion some major changes in their operations. Delta Dental of Minnesota will now be run under a different Delta Dental network.

What does this mean for you?

Patients who have historically had Delta Dental of Minnesota will receive new insurance cards with updated ID numbers and a new claim mailing address. It is VERY IMPORTANT for you to provide us with this new information to ensure proper handling of claims for any services completed within our office.

It is also important that the name you have registered with Delta Dental MATCH EXACTLY to the information on file with our office or your insurance claims will not process.

We want to minimize frustrations for all of us.

We understand that life is busy and it is easy to dismiss or not understand information about your insurance policy. We want to be able to help you use your insurance benefits whenever possible. Therefore, we will need every patient to update us with their new Delta Dental insurance information, including bringing in your new insurance card right away. We understand it can be frustrating to you if we are frequently asking you to update your information, however, we want to avoid any possibility that your claim won’t process.

These changes will be rolling out next month!

Please keep in mind, Delta Dental has put these changes into place and they plan to roll out these changes in November of this year. We cannot change the decision of your insurance company. These changes could make it difficult to obtain payment for your services, which is why we need you to bring in your new information to us. We are here to help work through these changes and we appreciate your support in advance. We also thank you for your upcoming patience and we want you to know we continue to appreciate all of you as our patients.

Thank you, in advance, for your help and cooperation. Please contact us with any questions you may have regarding this change, 651-482-8412 or online here.

Take Years off Your Smile with These Successful Treatments

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

From consuming sugary foods and beverages to chewing on crunchy or tough foods, from lifestyle choices such as smoking to poor oral hygiene, year after year our teeth endure a tremendous amount of abuse. It’s not surprising then that they manifest signs of wear and tear. Here are some common issues aging teeth often encounter…and some effective solutions that Eggert Family Dentistry offers to help you regain that youthful smile.

Discoloration

People often feel self-conscious about their not-so-pearly whites and resort to closed-mouth smiles. Over time and on account of richly hued and acidic foods and beverages or smoking, white teeth often lose their luster. In most cases, teeth whitening is an effective solution, and while the results aren’t permanent, they’re easy to maintain. If your teeth are severely discolored, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff may determine that porcelain veneers are the best option for you. In this case, a thin layer of porcelain is bonded to the front of the tooth for a bright, natural transformation.

Tooth wear

General tooth wear occurs over time. This can make teeth appear shorter and uneven. Two effective methods of reshaping and reforming teeth are porcelain veneers and crowns. In some situations, enamel shaping with a dental handpiece can help smooth out jagged edges.

Tooth decay

A lifetime of consuming sugary foods, frequent snacking and inconsistent brushing and flossing all lend themselves to tooth decay, a precursor to cavities. Good brushing and flossing habits as well as prescription strength fluoride products can ward off this decay. If cavities form, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will recommend fillings or crowns to prevent this decay from reaching the nerve and to restore the integrity of the tooth.

Missing teeth

Over time, bad habits such as smoking and excessive consumption of acidic or sugary foods can lead to rotten – and eventually missing – teeth. If you have missing teeth, there are a few common dental procedures that can be used to address the issue:

Bridges

Affixed to the adjacent teeth, bridges ‘bridge’ the gap created by the missing tooth with artificial, yet natural-looking, teeth.

Implants

Most similar in appearance to natural teeth, dental implants are anchored to the jawbone and provide a solid base for supporting artificial teeth, or crowns.

Dentures

In situations where you’ve lost most or all of your teeth, dentures may be your best treatment option.

Eggert Family Dentistry is experienced in caring for aging teeth. Trust us with yours! If you would like to arrange a consult, give us a call at 651.482.8412.

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.

Crowns vs. Veneers: Which Smile Solution Is Right for You?

Tooth trauma—it happens. Whether you’ve cracked a tooth playing lacrosse or need to fill a cavity from chowing down on too many treats at the Minnesota State Fair, you’re not alone in the need to address weak, broken, or painful teeth. Eggert Family Dentistry often recommends crowns or veneers to patients suffering from tooth traumas. But what’s the difference between these two procedures? How do you know which one is right for you?

What Is a Dental Crown?
Dental crowns have been a dentistry staple for decades. A crown helps you recover your smile after a tooth decays, cracks, weakens, or becomes discolored. Sometimes, filling or bonding a tooth is not enough for you to chew comfortably and confidently. In this case, we may recommend a crown.

A crown is a porcelain cup that fits snugly over your tooth. Installing one takes one or two visits. On your first visit, we’ll reshape your tooth and take dental molds. Sometimes, we can use our CEREC equipment to scan your tooth and make your crown in-house. If this is the case for you, we can install your crown the same day. Otherwise, we’ll send the mold of your tooth to a dental lab. We’ll ask you to come back in a couple of weeks to install the crown once it’s ready. We’ll use cement to secure the crown to your tooth, and you’ll be good to go!

What Is a Dental Veneer?
Dental veneers are a great way to recover your smile when several teeth are cracked, weak, misaligned, or chipped. A veneer is a very thin, ceramic shell. It covers your entire existing tooth structure, not just a single tooth. Once installed, veneers look and feel just like your natural teeth.

Veneers take two to three visits to design and install. In your first visit, we’ll discuss the smile shape and look you hope to accomplish with your veneers. Then, we’ll prepare your teeth for placement of the veneers and take molds. We’ll send the mold to our dental lab for fabrication, which takes two to three weeks. In the meantime, we’ll offer you a temporary solution you can wear while your veneers are custom made. At your last appointment, we’ll bond them into place. You can start flashing your new smile immediately.

Should I Get Crowns or Veneers?
If you’re a candidate for crowns and veneers, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff will explain the difference between these two smile solutions and give you their professional recommendations. Typically, we’ll recommend crowns for patients who have one or two troublesome teeth. Veneers are a better solution for patients struggling with multiple issues on multiple teeth.

Wondering if a crown or a set of veneers is something you need? Schedule your appointment with Eggert Family Dentistry today. We can help you decide healthiest, safest, and most comfortable way forward.

Meet Eggert Family Dentistry’s Dr. Michael Furey!

Dr. Michael Furey of Eggert Family Dentistry!By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Eggert Family Dentistry’s Dr. Michael Furey is passionate about dentistry, a calling that is both profession and craft. Here’s your chance to get to know Dr. Furey in his own words, including something most of his patients don’t know about him.

Why did you choose to go into dentistry?

I went into dentistry for two main reasons. First, for the opportunity to help and to heal. Secondly, for the chance to apply my penchant for workmanship and creativity. For me, dentistry affords the best aspects of both a profession and a craft.

What sets you apart from other dentists?

There’s no single thing that sets me apart. Instead, I have a unique combination of experience, expertise, and talent, which I combine with sincere passion and a strong set of values. I bring all of this to my practice of dentistry. This allows me to relate to my patients with a high level of professionalism but on a very personal level.

Tell us about your family.

I’ve been married to my wife Kathi for 29 years. Kathi has taught at Crocus Hill Preschool for more than 20 years. Our daughter Erin recently moved back to the Twin Cities to work for Target. She had been living in New York City and working for Martha Stewart.

What are some of your hobbies outside of dentistry?

These days, we spend as much time as we can at our cabin in Ely enjoying the outdoors and keeping up with projects. I also enjoy golf and sailing.

What is something most of your patients don’t know about you?

As a kid, I was terrified of going to the dentist. My early dental experiences were traumatic and my fear of going to the dentist lasted well into my teens. These early negative experiences have made me a very compassionate dentist and very understanding of my patients’ dental anxieties.

Dr. Furey’s Hours at Eggert Family Dentistry

Tuesday:  7:30 am to 2:30 pm

Wednesday:  7:30 am to 4:30 pm

Thursday:  7:30 am to 2:30 pm

Schedule your appointment today!

Disclaimer: Dr. Furey is only a participating provider for some HealthPartners dental plans and Medical Assistance. Patients within other dental insurance networks are able to see him under a non-participating provider status.