Dental Care Before, During and After Pregnancy

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Fluctuating hormones during pregnancy can impact a woman’s body in a number of ways. Nausea, stuffy nose, mood swings, loose ligaments…the list goes on! What many women don’t realize, however, is the impact that pregnancy has on oral health. In this post, we look at some proactive approaches to good oral health before, during and after pregnancy.

Before Pregnancy

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we recommend a thorough dental screening if you plan to become pregnant in the near future. At this appointment, we will clean your teeth, inspect your gum tissue and address any outstanding dental issues. Also, if you’re interested in pursuing any elective dental procedures, this is the time to schedule them!

During Pregnancy

  • Routine dental care during pregnancy is perfectly safe. In fact, because women are more prone to gingivitis and periodontal disease during pregnancy, we highly recommend routine visits! Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff can also attend to any urgent dental matters during pregnancy. 
  • On account of increased blood flow to gum tissue, pregnant women often experience tender, swollen, bleeding gums. Pay close attention to your gum tissue and stay the course with regular brushing and flossing. If you think you are dealing with pregnancy gingivitis, make an appointment with us so we can monitor your gum health and help you prevent ensuing gum disease and tooth loss. Sometimes coming in for more frequent cleanings makes a huge difference in gum health.
  • If you’re struggling with morning sickness, you’re not alone. In fact, 60-70% of pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, according to the American Pregnancy Association. If this is the case for you, regular brushing is even more critical. Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after vomiting, however, to help neutralize acid before brushing. If you’re turned off by the strong taste of toothpaste, switching to a bland toothpaste can help! Or, even brushing with water alone is better than nothing.
  • Eat healthy. As difficult as it can be to resist pregnancy junk food cravings, avoiding sugar can reduce your risk of pregnancy-induced tooth decay. Also, including foods rich in calcium helps your baby develop healthy teeth, gums and bones.

After Pregnancy

Schedule a postnatal visit to assess the health of your teeth and gums and to address any previously undetected pregnancy-related dental issues.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we get women’s health. We partner with you throughout your pregnancy journey to help you maintain optimal dental wellness! To schedule a visit, you can contact us at 651.482.8412 or connect with us online.

Pain When You Chew? It Could Be TMD

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

There are a variety of factors that can contribute to jaw discomfort. From chewing on hard foods to facial tension from stress, jaw discomfort is a miserable, often debilitating experience. While there can be many contributing factors, there are at least as many great treatments. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we have hands-on experience diagnosing and treating TMD, one of the most common jaw disorders. Understanding what TMD is as well as its symptoms is crucial to proper diagnosis and treatment.

What is TMD?

Although people often refer to this jaw disorder at TMJ, the correct reference is TMD. TMJ refers to the joint itself – the temporomandibular joint – which is responsible for controlling many jaw functions like chewing and talking. TMD is a disorder of this joint, a condition which can stem from a variety of behavioral, psychological and physical issues.

Causes

TMD has many possible causes some of which include stress, jaw clenching, teeth grinding, arthritis, jaw dislocation, injury to the jaw and poor jaw and tooth alignment. Teeth grinding is particularly problematic because it can lead to further problems, many tooth related. Prolonged grinding can cause enamel to wear off teeth and expose dentin, making teeth more susceptible to decay. It can also increase a person’s sensitivity to hot and cold.

Signs and Symptoms

There are many symptoms of TMD that mimic other medical issues. This can make TMD difficult to pinpoint. TMD symptoms include:

  • Pain when opening or closing the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Jaw becoming stuck open or shut
  • Headaches, migraines, ear pain, ringing in the ears, double vision
  • Clicking or popping sounds when opening the mouth
  • Teeth grinding
  • Wearing down or breaking of the teeth

Diagnosis

The above-listed symptoms can be attributed to a variety of health problems. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms it’s best to start by visiting a medical professional for a whole body physical to rule out possible medical conditions. Keep in mind, however, that many medical professionals don’t fully understand how TMD can be a large part of your issue because they haven’t always been trained to make that connection. Especially if there is no concrete medical diagnosis, it is best to make an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff for a consultation. We can screen you for TMD with our comprehensive records process and offer relief for your symptoms through the treatment option that’s right for you!

Treatment

If, upon completion of your consult, we determine that you’re dealing with TMD, we have numerous avenues of treatment that can provide you with relief and alleviate your symptoms. Some common treatment options include:

  • A custom night guard/splint that can help lessen the effects of teeth grinding and deprogram muscle patterns
  • Behavioral treatments and muscle therapies that change the way you use your jaw and muscles
  • Full-time splint therapy to provide full-time relief
  • Appliances to improve your airway
  • Full-mouth reconstruction to improve tooth position
  • Orthodontic treatment that may or may not include oral jaw surgery

Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will also talk with you about some easy ways you can partner with us to get to the root of your symptoms and experience relief. Ideas include practicing relaxation techniques to alleviate stress, avoiding chewing gum or nail-biting, eating softer foods and incorporating hot/cold compresses to the jaw.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, mouth comfort is one of our highest priorities. If you think you’re experiencing the uncomfortable effects of TMD, schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff by calling us at 651.482.8412!

Sleep Apnea FAQ’s

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

1. What is the sleep cycle and why is it important?

Sleep is a recurring state characterized by relatively inhibited sensory activity and a reduction of muscle activity from nearly all voluntary muscles as well as reduced interactions with a person’s surroundings. Sleep is characterized by two distinct states: non-REM sleep and REM sleep. These alternate in 90 to 110-minute cycles with each cycle lasting between 5-15 minutes. A normal sleep pattern consists of 4-5 sleep cycles throughout the night. The first sleep cycles contain short REM sleep and long periods of deep sleep but as the night goes on, REM sleep lengthens and deep sleep decreases. Sleep has been determined to be biologically necessary for life due to the healing and repair that occurs.

2. What is sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is an airway blockage. This occurs when, during sleep, muscles in the back of the throat relax and/or the tongue and surrounding tissues migrate back into the throat, obstructing the airway.

3. How do I know if I suffer from sleep apnea?

Although more common in men, OSA can occur in women too. The risk of OSA is increased for people with excess body weight, a narrow airway or a misaligned jaw. Snoring, choking while sleeping, excessive daytime sleepiness, waking and gasping, poor memory, irritability and morning headaches are all signs of OSA. If you suspect you’re experiencing these symptoms, schedule an appointment with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff to discuss them. If you’d like more information, check out one of our recent posts here!

4. What happens if OSA is left untreated?

Treating OSA is imperative to your safety as well as your health. When left untreated, OSA can cause excessive daytime fatigue, morning headaches and memory loss. In addition, studies suggest that untreated OSA increases your risk of numerous health issues such as hypertension, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

5. What are my treatment options for OSA?

  • Breathing devices (like CPAP)
  • Adjusting your sleeping habits/positions
  • Dental sleep apnea and snoring appliances
  • Orthodontic treatment
  • Surgery

*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.

6. What’s the difference between snoring and OSA?

Snoring is the sound that occurs during sleep when the soft palatal tissue in the upper airway vibrates as you breathe.

In the case of OSA, a person’s airway repetitively becomes obstructed during sleep and they intermittently stop breathing. This obstruction happens when the throat muscles relax and close off the airway.

7. What is an oral appliance?

An oral appliance is a custom-fit oral appliance that supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open airway.

8. What is the difference between Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Therapy and Oral Appliance Therapy?

CPAP Therapy involves wearing a mask that covers the nose and/or mouth and is connected to a tube that allows air pressure to keep the airway open during sleep.

Oral Appliance Therapy involves wearing a custom-fit oral appliance nightly to keep the airway from collapsing. These oral appliances are useful in correcting mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea and are effective in improving airflow. The devices typically cover the upper and lower teeth and reposition the lower jaw in an advanced position.

Both CPAP therapy and Oral Appliance Therapy have proven successful for the treatment of sleep apnea and can result in improved sleep patterns and reduced snoring frequency and loudness.

9. Is there a link between TMJ Disorder and Sleep Apnea?

Yes. Since the temporomandibular joint is so close to the sinuses and airways, TMJ disorder (or TMD) can affect breathing. A misaligned TMJ can cause improper tongue positioning, resulting in a blocked airway during sleep. A recent study of people with TMJ disorder found 75 percent of participants experienced sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). Learn more in one of our previous posts!

10. What will treatment do for me?

Treatment will decrease your risk of OSA-related disease and help you get better sleep…the effects of which cannot be underestimated! From increased productivity during your waking hours to garnering more enjoyment from your daily life and experiencing more fulfillment in your relationships, quality sleep is foundational.

 

If you are having trouble sleeping and would like to speak with a dental professional at Eggert Family Dentistry, we would love to connect with you! Give us a call at 651.482.8412 or connect with us online.

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.

Full Mouth Reconstruction – Am I a Candidate?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

There are times when, even with diligent touch-up work throughout the years, a person could truly benefit from full mouth reconstruction. This reconstruction process involves restoring all the teeth in both the upper and lower jaw and oftentimes correcting the bite and healing the gums. At Eggert Family Dentistry, when we undertake full mouth reconstruction, we work closely with periodontists, oral surgeons, orthodontists and endodontists as needed to achieve optimal results for our patients.

Who is a candidate?

If you’ve experienced tooth loss, decay or trauma to your teeth, have teeth that are worn down from years of acid erosion or teeth grinding, jaw, muscle or head pain that stems from improper positioning of the jaw and ultimately want to improve the aesthetic of your teeth and regain your confident smile, you may be a candidate for full mouth reconstruction.

Some of the procedures involved

Each patient is different and maintains a unique set of dental challenges. On this account, each treatment plan is unique as well. However, all of our patients maintain one common goal: to achieve a healthy, comfortable and attractive smile.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we start by thoroughly evaluating your specific dental situation. We inspect teeth, gums, muscles and the jaw. We do this through the use of impressions, photos and x-rays. Is your bite even or is it uneven and uncomfortable, causing wear and deterioration of your teeth? Which teeth are cracked, worn or in need of repair? Do you have any missing teeth? How about your gum health – is there any sign of periodontal disease?

Dr. Eggert then puts together a comprehensive “tour” of your mouth and walks you through different treatment options. If a full reconstruction is warranted, treatment may include procedures such as veneers, crowns, fillings, inlays, onlays, scaling and root planing, orthodontic attention for bite correction…the list goes on.

If you decide to proceed with a full reconstruction, Dr. Eggert will refer you to any specialists that will be involved in your case, confer with them on their findings and create a step-by-step treatment plan to correct all dental issues and accomplish your reconstruction.

The results

This process can take 12 months or more as it requires a series of appointments – often with a handful of dental professionals – but the results of full mouth reconstruction cannot be underestimated! Your investment in dental wellness will vastly improve your oral health and boost your self-confidence. You really can be comfortable in your own skin and have a smile you want to share!

Richard, one of our patients at Eggert Family Dentistry, is a testimony to the power of a reconstructed smile! Read his story here.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of full mouth reconstruction and think you may be a candidate, we would be happy to sit down with you and discuss your individual needs. We can be reached at 651.482.8412.

Veneers for a More Confident Smile

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

The same degree to which a less-than-perfect smile can have a negative impact on a person’s self-esteem, a straight, bright white smile can have a positive one. Fortunately, if you’re in the former camp and long for a more confident smile, Eggert Family Dentistry can help. One effective solution for addressing a variety of dental imperfections are veneers. Let’s take an up-close look at veneers so you can decide if they’re right for you.

What are veneers?

Veneers are thin ceramic shells that cover the front of the natural teeth in order to hide stains, cracks, chips or gaps and serve to improve the appearance of misaligned teeth. Veneers are one of the least invasive cosmetic procedures available and are considered a permanent solution that can last for decades with proper care.

The process

If Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff agree that veneers are an effective choice for helping you achieve your ideal smile, you will embark on a series of three visits. At the first visit, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will discuss your goals with you and together you will envision the shape and look you are striving for. At this time, we will also outline your individualized treatment plan. At the second visit, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will prepare your teeth to receive your customized veneers by removing a thin layer of outer enamel, taking an impression of your prepared teeth and providing you with a stunning temporary solution. At the third visit – two to three weeks later – Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will place your veneers. We work hard to ensure that your permanent veneers look and feel just like your natural teeth. After placement, we will provide you with follow-up care instructions.

Follow-up care after preparatory appointment

After Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff prepare your teeth for your veneers and provide you with a temporary solution, it’s perfectly normal for your gum tissues, teeth and jaw to be sore for a few days. Rinsing with warm salt water multiple times a day and taking over-the-counter pain meds should help alleviate any discomfort to these areas. We also encourage you to brush and floss in order to expedite tissue healing. Because the temporary splints your teeth together, you must use a floss-threader or a Waterpik. Also, avoid hard, crunchy foods as your temporary is just that – temporary! – and doesn’t maintain the integrity of actual veneers.

Follow-up care after veneer placement

Similar to your post-preparatory experience, after you receive your veneers you may incur mouth soreness. Rinse with warm salt water, take over-the-counter pain meds and brush and floss frequently.

Here are a few things to be mindful of once you receive your veneers:

  • Avoid scrubbing the gumline while brushing in order to avoid gumline recession. When gums recede, the junction of the veneer and natural tooth is exposed and can be unsightly.
  • Just like natural teeth, veneers are prone to staining. Limit or avoid coffee, tea, red wine, berries and other acidic or highly pigmented foods and brush thoroughly after consuming them. Also, it’s best to avoid smoking as nicotine can stain veneers.
  • Lastly, keep in mind that applying excessive force to your teeth via nail biting or consuming hard or crunchy foods can occasionally cause a veneer to pop off or become damaged. Veneers are adhered with a strong bond but also must be treated with care.

In the instance you experience nerve pain following either your preparatory appointment or your veneer placement, contact our office right away. On rare occasions, particularly on teeth with large fillings, deep decay or previous cracks or fractures, nerves can become irritated and additional procedures on that tooth may be required.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we succeed when you leave our office with a confident smile! If you long for a smile you want to show off, give us a call at 651.482.8412. We would love to discuss some great options with you and see which one helps you best achieve your goals.

Dental Health for Teens: Answers to Some Common Questions

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Raising a teenager is exciting. It’s fun to watch your teen grow in their confidence and independence and step out and try new things. However, as they navigate new territory, oftentimes so do you! In fact, many days you may feel like you have more questions than answers! Sound familiar? Thankfully, when it comes to dentistry, Eggert Family Dentistry has the information you need to prepare for whatever dental situations arise during your child’s teen years. Let’s take a look at some questions we frequently field from parents of teens and share some information we think you will find helpful!

What kind of cosmetic dentistry is appropriate for my teen?

Most teens struggle with self-confidence and work hard to maintain their image. Chipped, discolored or gaping teeth can play a big role in tanking a teen’s confidence level. Luckily, we offer some effective cosmetic dentistry procedures at Eggert Family Dentistry to benefit your teen. Bonding is an affordable and effective way to repair chipped teeth and can help fill in gaps. Composite or porcelain veneers can help reshape misshapen or unevenly-sized teeth. Also, bleaching options like the  Philips Zoom procedure are perfect for creating a whiter smile.

How do I know if my teen is a candidate for braces?

Few dental situations make a teen feel more self-conscious than crooked teeth. Not only do braces straighten teeth and correct your teen’s bite but because crooked teeth can lead to other oral health problems, braces also reduce the instance of cavities and gum disease. It’s never too early to begin the braces conversation with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff! While we are not an orthodontic office and only provide some Invisalign services, we are happy to refer you to some excellent orthodontists in the area when recommended.

What do I need to know about wisdom teeth?

Wisdom teeth typically start erupting between the ages of 17-21. However, many people don’t have room in their mouth for this third set of molars and they should be removed. Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff will monitor your teen’s unerupted wisdom teeth with x-rays and oral examinations. If we perceive that your teen’s mouth does not have adequate space for wisdom teeth or if we can see from x-rays that they are coming in crooked, we will refer you to an oral surgeon who can remove them, oftentimes before they even start erupting and causing problems.

My teen plays contact sports. What do I do if they knock out a permanent tooth?

First of all, the best defense against a knocked out tooth is a mouthguard. Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff can craft your teen a custom mouthguard that will fit snugly against their teeth and protect them while they’re playing sports. However, we know that in some instances a permanent tooth can get knocked out. Should this happen, it’s best to rinse the tooth in cool water and try and replace the tooth in the socket by having your teen bite down on gauze or a wet washcloth. If the tooth won’t relodge, place it in a small container of milk. In both instances, give us a call right away. We will fit your teen in for an emergency appointment.

How does smoking or vaping affect my teen’s oral health?

We know that smoking is bad for our lungs and parents and educators alike take every opportunity to talk to teens about the dangers of smoking and the risk of lung cancer. But what effect does smoking or vaping have on oral health? It’s important that your teenager knows that smoking causes bad breath, can stain their teeth and tongue, dulls their sense of taste and smell, slows down healing in the mouth and can even lead to tooth loss or mouth cancer. Unfortunately, vaping has become a teenage “acceptable” alternative to smoking. But, it is important to remember that vaping introduces unnatural chemicals into the mouth and the body as well and the long-term effects are expected to be just as harmful as we know smoking to be.

My teen wants to get her tongue pierced. What do I need to know?

Many teens think a tongue piercing is just as harmless as getting their ears pierced but this is simply not true. There are a whole host of complications that can arise from what might seem like a fun teenage fad. Prolonged pain and swelling of the tongue to the point of cutting off the airway are two possible complications. Others include damage to teeth from accidentally biting down on the piercing or clicking it up against teeth and oral infections that can lead to hepatitis or endocarditis. The same issues can occur with lip piercings as well.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we love our teenage patients! If you or your teen have any additional questions or want to further discuss important ways teens can protect and invest in their smile, give us a call at 651.482.8412 or contact us online.