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.

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.

How to Navigate Dental Emergencies

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we are no stranger to unexpected dental incidents. From sports injuries to falls to hard or sticky foods that wreak havoc on teeth, we know there are plenty of scenarios that can lead to dental damage. The challenge comes in deciphering which scenarios constitute a dental emergency and which scenarios don’t need immediate attention, and then proceeding accordingly.

A cracked or broken tooth is one example of unexpected dental damage. In this case, it’s important to weigh the severity of the fracture. If your tooth is only slightly chipped or cracked, and isn’t resulting in significant nerve discomfort or pain, it’s likely not an emergency and you can call us during regular business hours. However, if your tooth is severely fractured and/or is causing you significant nerve pain (8-10/10 on the pain scale), we recommend you call Eggert Family Dentistry immediately. If the emergency happens after normal business hours, you will be directed to call Dr. Elizabeth’s cell phone number.

In the case of a severe trauma, like if a tooth is knocked out, there is a specific protocol we recommend you observe. Stop bleeding with a cold, wet compress. Then, while handling the tooth as little as possible and not touching the root of the root, try and place the dislodged tooth back into the socket. It is very important to orient the tooth in the correct direction. Lightly biting down on moistened gauze may help temporarily relodge the tooth. If your tooth does not go back into the socket, place it in a small cup of milk to preserve it and transport it to our office. Whether the tooth relodges or not, a knocked out tooth always constitutes an emergency. Call Eggert Family Dentistry right away. The tooth needs to be replanted within an hour.

Occasionally, an abscessed tooth will present itself with immediate and intense nerve pain and/or severe swelling. If you suspect this is happening for you, we recommend you give us a call at the onset of symptoms, once again utilizing Dr. Elizabeth’s cell phone number for after hour emergencies. In the middle of the night, she may not get the call. If at any time you feel like your airway is compromised or the swelling is out of control, it is important to go to the nearest Emergency Room.

We make all dental emergencies a top priority. Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth intentionally leave slots in their schedules to see patients who are in need of urgent dental care.

If you have any questions regarding dental emergencies, we would be happy to connect with you. We can be reached at 651.482.8412!

Cracked Tooth? Here Are Some Options

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Most people, at some point in their lives, will end up with a crack in one or more of their teeth. Cracks are not uncommon and can spring up from a variety of situations. From chewing on hard or sticky foods, to grinding your teeth during the day and/or night or simply from aging, don’t be surprised if at some point you discover a cracked tooth in your mouth. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we know that when you have a crack in a tooth it can be stressful. How should you proceed? Because navigating a cracked tooth largely depends on the type of crack it is, we want to take some time to inform you about what you can expect with various types of cracks.

How is a cracked tooth diagnosed?

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we make sure to do a thorough exam of all your teeth, visually looking for any signs of cracking or other wear and tear. Some other diagnostic methods Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff may employ include: probing of the gums in search of inflammation or deeper pockets, photographing with the intraoral camera, or use of the “tooth sleuth,” a semi-hard bite stick to see if you experience pain – a telltale sign.

What types of cracks are there? How are they typically treated?

Once Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff locate the crack, they are then able to identify it. All cracked teeth fall into one of five categories: craze lines, cracked tooth, fractured cusp, vertical root crack, or split tooth. The way we proceed depends on which type of crack you are experiencing. Let’s look at definitions for the various types of cracks:

Craze lines: The most common and least concerning type of crack. Craze lines only affect the enamel of the tooth. Typically, craze lines simply need to be monitored to make sure they don’t turn into something more serious.

Cracked tooth: Although we use this term generically, it is specifically indicative of a crack moving toward the center of the tooth. It’s important to treat a cracked tooth in a timely fashion or it can become a split tooth and lead to an extraction.

Fractured cusp: This type of crack usually occurs around a dental filling and may or may not affect the pulp of the tooth. Because a fractured cusp means a significant portion of the tooth has been lost, it is always best to restore this type of damage with an onlay or crown.

Vertical root crack: This type of crack moves up the root of the tooth from the gumline. A vertical root crack allows a significant amount of bacteria to accumulate on the root surface and causes a severe infection of the gum tissue and surrounding bone. Occasionally this infection also reaches the pulp of the tooth, also causing a tooth abscess. Typically a tooth with this type of fracture must be removed.

Split tooth: As opposed to a vertical root crack, a split tooth means that the crack has become so severe that the tooth splits in half or at least significantly into the surrounding bone. It is unlikely to be able to save a tooth that is split and usually the recommended course of treatment is to remove the tooth.

What other methods of treatment exist?

As you can see, there are various types of cracks requiring various types of treatment. Depending on the scenario, the best treatment options usually are to crown the tooth and enclose the crack. Occasionally a root canal will be indicated, now or in the future, to treat any damage the crack has caused to the pulp. If a tooth with a vertical root crack or a split tooth needs to be removed, there are various ways to replace the tooth, including an implant, a bridge, or a partial denture.

Complications

The biggest complication with a cracked tooth is an infection. We do not take these infections lightly as they can spread to the bone and gums. Symptoms of infections may include: pain when chewing, fever, hot and cold sensitivity, tender neck glands, swollen gums and bad breath. If you suspect you have an infection in one of your teeth, we recommend you call us right away.

Prevention

The earlier the intervention when it comes to a cracked tooth, the better the outcome you will likely experience. A couple things to keep in mind to protect your teeth against cracks: avoid chewing on hard or sticky foods and wear a mouthguard for sports or a splint at night if you’re a teeth grinder.

You’re in good hands at Eggert Family Dentistry. If you crack a tooth, connect with us right away. We are happy to partner with you for any dental emergencies and for the dental wellness needs for your entire family. Give us a call at 651.482.8412!