Don’t Give In to Gum Disease: Prevention Keeps Pain and Disease Away

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Many of us are no strangers to painful, bloody gums or a bout of bad breath. Though they seem minor, these symptoms are uncomfortable indicators of underlying gum disease. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, causes a breakdown of the architecture supporting the tooth and can lead to tooth mobility or even tooth loss. Luckily, an ounce of prevention can keep these symptoms under wraps and allow you to enjoy healthy, strong teeth for years to come.

The Bad: Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a bacterial infection that affects the gums. When you don’t brush and floss regularly, bacteria surround your teeth and enter your gums, causing irritation and swelling. People with gingivitis often notice blood when rinsing after brushing and flossing.

The Ugly: Periodontal Disease

When gingivitis goes untreated, the symptoms get worse and new ones may appear. Bad breath, receding gums and abscesses, and gum sensitivity to acidic foods may all bepainful reminders of unhappy gums and indicators of periodontal disease. Severe periodontal disease may also cause tooth mobility, pain or loss.

When gingivitis evolves into periodontal disease, it’s time to take immediate action. The team at Eggert Family Dentistry will perform a series of deep cleanings, laser therapy, or even prescribe antibiotics to treat periodontal disease. In extreme cases, surgery may be another option.

The Great News: Prevention Works!

Fortunately, you can avoid surgery, antibiotics, and other interventions with simple tools like your toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. Twice daily brushing and daily flossing sweeps away the bacteria that lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease. Regular hygiene visits to see us here at Eggert Family Dentistry will remove any persistent bacteria and arm you the tools and techniques you need to maintain good oral health.

Painful, bloody gums and bad breath shouldn’t be part of your daily dental hygiene routine. For help preventing or treating gingivitis or periodontal disease, contact us today at 651-482-8412.

Not Just for Junior: Why You Should Consider Opting for Fluoride

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Opting for fluoride treatments for your children is a no-brainer at the our dental office. But our need for fluoride treatments doesn’t magically disappear once we turn 18. In fact, opting for a fluoride treatment yourself will prevent cavities, strengthen enamel, and improve your overall dental health.

What is fluoride and what does it do?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps your tooth enamel resist wear and decay. It is the most important factor in the remineralization of your tooth enamel. Fluoride also promotes healthy tooth development in children, which is why fluoride treatments are common for younger patients.

For more than 50 years, the American Dental Association has advocated to keep fluoride in community water supplies to prevent tooth decay. Chances are that if your home receives city water, your tap water is fluorinated. If you live in a home with well water or if you drink primarily bottled or filtered water, you may want to supplement with a fluoride toothpaste and rinse.

Why would I need a fluoride treatment?

As we age, the foods we eat wear away our tooth enamel. Fluoride makes the enamel stronger and more resistant to decay. Adding a fluoride treatment at one of your hygiene visits each year can help protect your enamel, especially if you have a history of dental decay or poor dental hygiene.

Those over 65 can especially benefit from fluoride treatments. Those of us in our senior years tend to eat lighter, more frequent meals throughout the day, which means our teeth are exposed to more bacteria. Fluoride can help prevent this bacteria from eroding your teeth.

Eggert Family Dentistry is happy to provide a fluoride treatment at your next hygiene visit. The cost of this treatment is well worth the investment. To schedule your next hygiene appointment, contact us at 651-482-8412.

How Invisalign Can Improve Your Smile

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Straighter teeth is something many people desire, but when it comes to wearing braces for two, three or even four years, many patients shy away and live with their misaligned teeth. Luckily though, there is another option that is completely invisible and removable!  Invisalign was introduced in 1999 by Align Technologies. The removable orthodontic appliance incorporates a series of invisible (clear) plastic aligners that fit comfortably over your teeth and are designed to move them gradually into the desired orthodontic position.

Invisalign is currently approved for adults and teenagers with completely erupted permanent teeth who are able to faithfully follow the directions for treatment. Invisalign can be used to correct the following types of mild dental problems:

  • Overly crowded teeth.
  • Widely spaced teeth
  • Overbite/overjet
  • Crossbite
  • Malocclusions (bite irregularities)

How it Works

The Invisalign method requires only one set of impressions and photographs of the teeth, taken during your initial consultation, to craft the aligners. These impressions are used to create a 3D computer projection of how your teeth will be incrementally moved until they are perfectly aligned. The impressions are sent to a dental laboratory where the aligners are created using a computer-aided design/manufacturing processes.

Once the aligners are completed, your dentist will dispense them in groups of one or two at a time during regular check-up appointments. These appointments typically occur every 4-6 weeks. Each aligner must be worn in its specific order for about two weeks, during which time it moves the teeth in small increments of about .25 millimeters to .33 millimeters. Although the aligners are removable for eating, drinking and check-ups, they should be worn at least 20 hours a day in order to reposition the teeth successfully.

A typical Invisalign treatment requires 20 to 30 aligners for both upper and lower teeth. Most adults complete their treatment in less than a year, but that time depends on the specific alignment problem.

Benefits of Invisalign

The benefits of Invisalign are numerous. First, they are nearly invisible so most people will not be able to tell that you are undergoing treatment. They are also way more comfortable than braces as you don’t have wires and brackets digging into your gums, lips and cheeks. Patients who use Invisalign often avoid damage to the gums and supporting tissues. Patients will also avoid bacteria build up that would result through traditional braces.

Finally, Invisalign aligners are removable, so you can eat whatever you want and brush and floss your teeth normally. Patients are also able to get regular dental checkups while using Invisalign. Traditional braces also prevent X-rays and regular cleanings while Invisalign can be removed, allowing for dentist access.

Forget the Ghosts: Halloween Candy Is What’s Scary

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Witches, zombies, and ghosts aren’t the scariest things about Halloween. For young and old ghouls alike, Halloween candy is what’s most frightening about the upcoming spooky holiday. The main villains? Sugar and acid. Here’s a guide to the most frightening Halloween candy and some scrumptious options that are better for your teeth.

Halloween’s Most Frightening Candy Options

The worst options for Halloween candy are packed with sugar, highly acidic, and stay in your mouth for a long time. Candies that fit this category are a major source of tooth decay. Sour candies in particular are nasty sources of enamel erosion.

The most frightening Halloween candy includes:

  • sour candies
  • gummy candies
  • taffy
  • candy corn
  • caramels
  • candy bars with nuts
  • lollipops
  • jawbreakers & other hard candies

Great Halloween Treats

Not all Halloween candy options are bad for your teeth. There are a number of delicious treats that won’t cause significant tooth decay. Sugar-free treats are always a safe bet, as are candies that are easy to chew, since they don’t stay in the mouth too long.

Here’s a list of great Halloween treat options:

  • sugar-free gum
  • sugar-free lollipops & hard candies
  • chocolate with no nuts or sticky fillings
  • powdery candies

When you go trick-or-treat shopping for your neighborhood ghouls, choose options that won’t rot their teeth. To put your own kids on the path to excellent oral health, contact us at 651-482-8412. Happy Halloween!

Answered – Your Burning Questions About the Tooth Fairy

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Our young patients love to talk about the Tooth Fairy. Many times this is a child’s first experience receiving cash for something they did – as opposed to receiving money as a gift. The Tooth Fairy has been a frequent visitor in American homes for many years. This tradition has helped generations of children through the sometimes unpleasant process of losing their baby teeth.


There are numerous stories and rituals about the Tooth Fairy  Reportedly, hundreds of years ago, European children would bury their teeth. This symbolized that a new tooth would soon grow in its place. In other countries, a widely documented ritual involved offering the lost tooth as a sacrifice to a mouse or rat. The practice was done with the hope that the child’s adult teeth would grow in as strong and sturdy as a rodent’s.

By the 1900s, Tooth Fairy stories had migrated to the United States, and soon after became an established part of American folklore. But how did we get to a point of envisioning the Tooth Fairy as a flitting sprite? With a lot of help from movie animation. It could also be the fact that a child would rather have a fairy sneaking around his/her room at night rather than a rat.

Plus, fairies have pixie dust. What’s more fun than that?

The Tooth Fairy serves as a source of comfort during an experience that can sometimes be scary or even traumatic. The loss of a baby tooth is the first rite of passage in a person’s life, and probably the most frightening. As part of that rite of passage, it is also seen as a way to introduce children to the concept offiscal responsibility.

According to the August 2015 Visa annual survey, the Tooth Fairy is leaving an average of $3.19 per tooth under kids’ pillows. The Tooth Fairy must be feeling the pinch of economic times. For two years now, lost tooth amounts have steadily dropped – decreasing 24 cents from 2014 and 51 cents from 2013.

The Visa survey, of 4,000 people, found that the most common monetary gift from the tooth fairy is $1. [Interestingly dads report Tooth Fairy gifts being 27% more generous than reports from moms.] Kids are collecting about $64 in all when converting to a mouthful of adult teeth, which is down about $10 in the last two years.

Looking for some cute and creative Tooth Fairy ideas? Try:

Remember, children should be seen soon after the eruption of their first tooth. The team at Eggert Family Dentistry works hard to provide a relaxed, non-threatening environment for your child. Put your kids on the path to excellent oral health by calling us at 651-482-8412. We even have tooth fairy boxes!

Snore no More – An Easy Fix for a Great Night’s Sleep

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Snore no More – An Easy Fix for a Great Night’s Sleep

Snoring man. Couple in bed, man snoring and woman can not sleep, covering ears with pillow for snore noise. Young interracial couple, Asian woman, Caucasian man sleeping in bed at home.

We live in a society that is in critical need of sleep.

Sleep behaviors affect every aspect of your daily life. There’s nothing like a full night of rest to help you be ready to take on the world. Unfortunately, there are probably a lot of us out there that haven’t felt that way for a while.

If you’ve lost that spring in your step (and quite possibly your family is also feeling the fallout) take a look at your sleep habits. Are any sleep problems inhibiting your ability to get in seven to eight hours of restful slumber? Is your sleep problem – snoring?

It’s very easy not to take snoring seriously. It doesn’t really affect you unless, a) it wakes you up, b) your spouse moves into another bedroom to sleep, or c) no one wants to share a hotel room during the snowmobiling trip (yes, snoring can register at 80 decibels).

Snoring, however, is a disorder.

Snoring is a sound that occurs during sleep when soft (palatal) tissue in the upper airway vibrates as you breathe. Simple snoring, without obstructive sleep apnea, affects approximately 20% of the adult population, and is more frequent in males than females. [*See our blog Dental Help for Your Sleep Apnea to learn more about sleep apnea.]

Easy solutions to curb snoring include:

  • losing weight (if overweight)
  • exercising regularly
  • avoiding alcohol and smoking
  • avoiding sleep aids
  • sleeping on your side

But what do you do when the snoring continues?

First, work with a sleep center to determine that you don’t have sleep apnea. It’s far too dangerous to mess around with obstructive sleep apnea.

If it is just simple snoring, the best treatment involves the use of a jaw advancing prosthesis. This “dental appliance therapy” involves the use of a small device similar to a mouthguard or an orthodontic retainer. When worn during sleep, it prevents the airway from collapsing by bringing the jaw forward, elevating the soft palate, or retaining the tongue.

Dental appliances are an inexpensive and non-invasive way to bring peace and quiet to your household. Our patients have responded extremely well when using them.

Are you ready to learn more about treatment options for snoring? Give us a call today, 651-482-8412. We’ll set you up with an appointment to go through the records process with Dr. Elizabeth to gather the required information in determining if oral appliance therapy is the right solution for you. If you’re given the green light, models of your teeth will be sent to a lab, where an oral appliance will be made specifically to your tooth contours. During the appliance fitting, there’ll be adjustments made until you have satisfaction of the appliance’s fit and feel.

And then watch out.

All that extra sleep just may offer the health changes needed to put that spring back into your step! Not to mention how much better your family will be able to sleep too.

Splint and Occlusal Therapy – Jeff’s story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?

Jeff came to us as an established patient at one of his routine exams. He was experiencing increasing jaw pain and was having trouble eating. He remembered having jaw pain for the past five years, but things were getting noticeably worse. Jeff was also experiencing periods of lock jaw and knew he was clenching his teeth at night. Dr. Elizabeth noted some wear throughout his mouth and intense muscle discomfort during his muscle evaluation. Dr. Elizabeth recommended Jeff go through our records process so that she could delve deeper into the underlying causes of his pain.

What did Jeff want?

Jeff had noticed a lot more pain and wear in the past few years and wanted to have his mouth comfortable again. He also wanted to be able to eat without worry. Specifically, Jeff wanted his mouth to function better. He was also experiencing some ringing in ears and hearing changes that he was hoping to have addressed during the process.

Jeff 1      Jeff 2

What was revealed during the records process?

Dr. Elizabeth used models, photos, and x-rays of Jeff’s teeth along with our thorough muscle and joint evaluation results to present Jeff with the current status of his teeth, gums, and the function of his jaw and muscles. The details of the records process revealed that the position of Jeff’s teeth were causing multiple interferences. This means he was biting down unevenly causing the breakdown of his teeth as well as the jaw pain. It was recommended that Jeff begin splint therapy.

What was involved?

The purpose of his splint therapy was to change the position of Jeff’s jaw to a relaxed muscle position. In Jeff’s case, we also discussed how if we adjusted the teeth to fit together at the relaxed jaw position, he should be much more stable overall and long-term. Dr. Elizabeth fitted Jeff with an anterior deprogrammer to wear all of the time to create the best possible function between the natural position of his jaw, muscles, and his teeth as they worked with one another. As soon as Jeff’s muscles reached a comfortable and relaxed position, Dr. Elizabeth created a solid new bite for Jeff with equilibration. Dr. Elizabeth adjusted the alignment of the upper and lower teeth and altered the chewing surfaces of some of the teeth to remove the painful interferences. This created harmony among Jeff’s jaw joints, muscles, and teeth as the joints and muscles were placed in a relaxed position and the teeth now come together at the same time. We finally designed a splint for Jeff to wear while he sleeps to keep his teeth, jaw, and muscles in this new comfortable position. 

Jeff 3    Jeff 4

What does Jeff think?

“I wanted to get rid of the pain and the Records Process helped me to understand what was going on. The process was easy and simple. I’m not having pain anymore! I’m not nervous to eat anymore! I used to get excruciating pain with certain bites. This has made me a lot happier for sure. I would highly recommend the procedure!”

Dental Help for Your Sleep Apnea

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Dental Help for Your Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder where a person’s breathing will pause anywhere from seconds to a minute. This can happen even hundreds of times per night. “Apnea” means the absence of breath. Severity levels of apnea are defined, among other variables, by the number of episodes of apnea pauses per hour of sleep. Apnea may, or may not, involve snoring.

Sleep apnea affects adults, as well as children. More occurrences happen in men and people who are 40 to 60 years old, but many women and children are also suffering from sleep disorders like apnea. Other risk factors include race/ethnicity, family history, obesity, and smoking or alcohol use.

Symptoms may include:

  • Pauses or periods of breathing cessation
  • Choking or gasping after pauses
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Attention problems
  • Personality changes/mood swings
  • Sore throat/dry mouth upon waking

Treatment of sleep apnea depends on the severity of the condition. Treatment methods can include:

  • Breathing Devices (CPAP)
  • Dental Sleep Apnea and Snoring Appliances
  • Orthodontic Treatment
  • Surgery

Yes, there are dental devices that help sleep apnea.

Dental appliances may be an option for patients who cannot tolerate CPAP. These oral appliances are useful in correcting mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea and are effective in improving airflow. Custom dental appliances are designed to enlarge the airway and prevent the airway from collapsing. The devices typically cover the upper and lower teeth and reposition the lower jaw in an advanced position. Moving the mandible forward pulls the tongue forward and opens up the airway space.

Dental appliance use for sleep apnea can result in improved sleep patterns and the reduction of snoring frequency and loudness. Research shows high success rates with the use of dental devices relative to sleep apnea.

Prior to selecting any form of treatment, patients should undergo an initial evaluation by a board certified sleep specialist practicing in a center accredited by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.  An overnight sleep study may be recommended, which will determine not only the severity of the problem but will also provide a baseline to measure any future treatment effectiveness. [Treatment measures for sleep apnea should be carefully determined as this sleeping disorder can lead to serious and sometimes debilitating consequences, including heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, congestive heart failure or diabetes. There’s also a greater risk of driving incidents or work-related accidents.]

Are you ready to get sleep apnea under control? Once you have met with your sleep MD and have undergone a sleep study, we can set you up with an appointment to go through our records process with Dr. Elizabeth. During the records process, we will verify the health of your jaw and muscles and determine if a sleep apnea appliance might work for you. If appropriate, Dr. Elizabeth will work closely with your general health practitioner, sleep physician, and lab to design a sleep apnea appliance that is just right for you. Give us a call today.

The Importance of Records – Tom’s Story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?

Tom came to us first as a new patient last summer with a toothache after being referred by co-workers. At the time of his first exam, Tom had many teeth throughout his mouth that had fractured or cracked and he knew things were really broken down. Dr. Elizabeth noted excessive wear throughout his mouth and mild muscle discomfort during the muscle evaluation. Even with our thorough, comprehensive new patient exam, Dr. Elizabeth recommended Tom go through our records process so that she could delve deeper into underlying causes behind his cracking, breaking, and sensitive teeth.

What did Tom want?

Tom had noticed a lot more wear in the last decade and wanted to have them healthy again. He also wanted better looking teeth. He was worried since they looked unhealthy now, what would they look like in 20 years? Specifically, Tom wanted his teeth whiter and more even and wanted things to function better. He had many broken teeth, missing teeth, and wanted a comprehensive plan for restoring his teeth. He was also experiencing some chronic ear/sinus congestion, ringing in ears, and nerve issues in his face that he was hoping to have addressed during the process.
Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 2.44.11 PM

What was revealed during the records process?

Dr. Elizabeth used models, photos, and x-rays of Tom’s teeth along with our thorough muscle and joint evaluation results to present Tom with the current health of his teeth, gums, and the function of his jaw and muscles. The details of the records process revealed that the position of Tom’s teeth caused multiple interferences, so he was biting down unevenly causing the breakdown of his teeth. This deterioration was negatively impacting both the esthetics and function of his teeth. Tom needed a full mouth reconstruction to rebuild what had broken down.

What was involved?

Tom was interested in phasing his treatment to lessen the financial burden. We were able to work with Tom and designed the phased treatment to keep Tom’s teeth, gums, and the function of his jaw and muscles healthy and happy during the process. Dr. Elizabeth worked with a local lab and together designed a blueprint of Tom’s new teeth out of wax. This blueprint is called a laboratory wax-up and it provided the ability for Dr. Elizabeth to create Tom’s new smile.

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Tom then spent a day and a half with us while Dr. Elizabeth prepared his front teeth for new crowns and veneers and his back teeth for long-term temporary crowns to get Tom used to more esthetic front teeth and a healthy bite in the back. We finally designed a splint for Tom to wear while he sleeps to protect his new smile from clenching, grinding and his very strong muscles.


What does Tom think?

“Before having it done, I thought it would be a much longer process, more like a year. It went a lot easier than expected. There was not much pain involved and it was helpful to have all of the options. Everything was clear. I’m glad I had it done now and didn’t wait. I think my life will change. I am more confident with my new smile. I would strongly recommend Dr. Elizabeth to others considering getting this done. I don’t know that people make the connection between function and cosmetics, but I sure learned a lot about how things fit together and I love my new smile!”

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The Best Home Oral Hygiene Regimen

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Maintaining good oral hygiene at home is one of the most important things you can do for your teeth and gums. Healthy teeth not only enable you to look and feel good, they make it possible to eat and speak properly. Good oral health is important to your overall well-being.

Daily preventive care, including proper brushing and flossing, will help stop harmful bacteria from attaching themselves to the teeth and the tissues. If given the opportunity, these bacteria will cause decay, gingivitis, and periodontal (gum) disease.

What is the best way to brush?

Brush your teeth at least twice a day, for at least two minutes. Use a soft or extra soft-bristled brush. Or, use a sonic or electric toothbrush. Make sure your brush’s head is not too large; the head should fit easily into the mouth and allow you to reach all areas without hurting your cheek or tongue. Use toothpaste that contains fluoride. The fluoride can help keep the teeth strong and can reverse cavities in their early stages. If you have sensitive teeth, ask us about using desensitizing toothpaste with fluoride. These toothpastes can work in certain situations.

When brushing, place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle with the bristles into the gum tissues. Move the brush in an elliptical or circular motion. Brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces. Hold the brush vertically and use the “toe” of the brush to clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, moving in an up-and-down manner. Finally, brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

What is the best way to floss?

Cleaning between the teeth once a day with floss is essential in preventing decay and gum disease. There are many areas in the mouth where the toothbrush just can’t reach. Usually, these areas are better cleaned with floss.

When flossing, break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This opposite finger will take up the floss as it gathers the bacteria from your mouth. Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers. Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Try to avoid snapping the floss into the gums, as that can injure the gum tissue.

When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth. Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method for the rest of your teeth. Finally, don’t forget the back side of your last tooth.

Is there anything else I can use to clean my mouth?

Depending on your situation, you may benefit from a mouth rinse, used daily. Antimicrobial mouth rinses, like Listerine, reduce bacteria and plaque activity, helping to prevent gingivitis and gum disease. Fluoride mouth rinses, like ACT, help reduce and prevent tooth decay.

For patients with signs and symptoms of gum disease, we will often recommend a rubber tip or proxy brush to clean more effectively in the gum tissue. Typically, the best use of these tools is to hold the tip vertically with the long axis of the tooth and remove the plaque along the gum line and in between the teeth. For more specific instructions related to your particular situation, be sure to ask us.

For patients with bridges or fixed retainers, it is important to use a floss-threader to get the floss under these fixtures and help clean in between the teeth.

For patients missing teeth or for those who have a removable partial denture, it can help to use gauze to remove plaque on a tooth where there is no adjacent tooth. We suggest using a 2×2 size piece of gauze, opened up and folded the long way. Use the gauze along the side of the tooth like you would a beach towel when drying off your body.

And of course, be sure to visit us for your recommended maintenance appointments. By maintaining professional cleanings at your recommended interval, we can monitor your home progress and help you achieve optimum oral health.