Causes and Treatment of Gum Recession

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Gum recession happens when the gum tissue that surrounds the teeth wears away, or pulls back, and starts to show the tooth root. The first sign of gum recession you might notice is tooth sensitivity. Gum recession can also make your tooth look longer than normal or you may feel a notch on the tooth near the  gum line.

Treatment for gum recession is necessary, because otherwise the trend is likely to continue, and the supporting tissue and bone structure of the teeth may suffer damage.

What Causes Gum Recession?

Many things can cause your gums to recede, including:

Periodontal disease: Periodontal disease is when bacteria causes an infection and the gum tissue and bone surrounding the teeth are damaged.

Poor dental hygiene: Inadequate brushing, flossing, and rinsing helps plaque to turn into calculus (tartar), which can promote gum recession.

Aggressive tooth brushing: Brushing your teeth too hard or the wrong way can wear away the gums and cause your gums to recede.

Tobacco: Tobacco use causes a sticky plaque to adhere to the teeth. It’s difficult to remove and can cause gum recession.

Teeth grinding and clenching: The excess force of clenching or grinding teeth can make gums recede because of the extra flexure the tooth is subjected to.

Genetics: Some people, as many as 30% of the population, have a genetic vulnerability to periodontal disease, which is a known cause for gum recession.

Hormonal changes: The normal fluctuations in hormone levels which women experience can increase gum sensitivity, making them more vulnerable to gum recession.

Misaligned bite: When teeth come together unevenly, it can place too much force on the gums and bone, promoting gum recession.

Lip or tongue piercing: Friction from jewelry in the mouth can cause gum tissue to erode.

Treatment for Gum Recession

Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will have ideas about the right procedure to treat gum recession based on your needs.

For minor gum recession, they may be able to treat it by deep cleaning the affected area. This process is also called scaling and root planning. The treatment involves removing the bacteria surrounding the tooth in the plaque and tartar, including on the root surfaces below the gum line. This procedure can also have additional success if a localized antibiotic is used to kill remaining bacteria and discourage harmful bacteria from re-populating.

When gum recession is more advanced, surgical options are available.

Preventing Gum Recession

Prevention entails the usual steps to improve dental and overall health. Brush and floss daily and come in for regular checkups. Brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush and with proper technique. Dr. Elizabeth, Dr. Jeff, and all the hygienists at Eggert Family Dentistry can help you with this. In addition, there are many options for correcting misaligned bites, quitting tobacco use, and eating a healthy, balanced diet. Call us today at 651.482.8412 to talk about your gum recession issues.

Gingivitis and Periodontitis: What’s the Difference?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

You’ve heard it time and again: Your Eggert Family Dentistry dentists and hygienists are always urging you to brush and floss for maximum dental health.

Cavities might be the first malady that comes to mind, but preventing cavities is not the only reason to brush and floss faithfully.

Good oral hygiene habits can also prevent gum disease, or even reverse it, in its early stages.

Why is this Important?

A 2018 report by the Journal of Dental Research found that gum disease affects nearly half of all Americans age 30 and over.  That means almost 65 million Americans are battling gum disease.

What is Gum Disease?

Let’s clarify what we mean when we say “gum disease.”

Gum disease is the umbrella term which includes gingivitis and periodontitis and is also known as periodontal disease. It is inflammation of gum tissue, caused by bacterial growth around the tooth, often along and under the gum line.

Periodontal Disease presents in four stages:

Stage 1: Gingivitis, indicated by red or inflamed gums that may bleed during brushing.

Stage 2: Early periodontitis, in which the bone supporting the teeth shows slight loss of bone mass. Other symptoms may not be apparent.

Stage 3: Moderate periodontitis, in which bone around the teeth and gum tissue are damaged and teeth may start loosening.

Stage 4: Advanced periodontitis, in which symptoms are more severe, teeth may be very loose and biting and chewing can be painful. At this stage, it may prove to be difficult to save the teeth.

What is Gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the beginning stage of periodontal disease. It starts because plaque develops on the teeth at the gum line. Without proper removal, this plaque will cause gum inflammation. It’s potentially reversible with proper dental hygiene and intervention. A gingivitis diagnosis should be viewed as a warning sign because if left untreated, it will lead to periodontitis.

What is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is when the bone that supports the tooth starts to dissolve. This chronic, long-term condition demands treatment by your dental professionals at Eggert Family Dentistry. Bleeding gums, bone loss and receding gums should be addressed and treated because periodontitis will cause tooth loss.

Here’s what happens: There is a small pocket between the gum tissue and the tooth called the sulcus. When bacteria get stuck in this pocket, the gum tissue enlarges and gets inflamed. This starts the infection process. If allowed to continue, the bone surrounding the tooth deteriorates.

Dental Hygiene and Gum Disease

Regular brushing and flossing activities are essential to preserving the health of your teeth and gums. This keeps teeth clean and removes bacteria from a shallow sulcus. There is the bonus effect of revealing whether your gums are in bad shape. If they bleed when brushed or flossed, you’ve got a problem! This is gingivitis.

This early stage of gum disease needs to be treated and closely monitored. Untreated, it will progress and become periodontitis, which is much more difficult to treat.

Impact of Gum Disease

Although it is preventable, gum disease can lead to loss of teeth if not treated. Anyone who gets a diagnosis of gingivitis should take serious action in partnership with Eggert Family Dentistry to reverse this condition.

Preventing Gum Disease

Coming to see us at Eggert Family Dentistry for your recare appointment at your recommended interval is the number one thing you can do to prevent periodontal disease. We know we missed many of you due to the 2020 COVID closure this past spring. We’re here and ready for you. Please visit our website to request an appointment online:  www.eggertfamilydentistry.com. We can’t wait to see you again soon!

Battle of the Brushes: Electric Versus Manual

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Dental professionals everywhere sing the same tune. Brush your teeth. Twice a day. Two minutes per session.

It’s a critical action for healthy teeth and overall oral wellness.

But what’s the best way? Dr. Elizabeth & Dr. Jeff, and especially our Eggert Family Dentistry hygienists, hear that question all the time. Manual or electric? Which is the best toothbrush for the job?

The ADA (American Dental Association) approves both for removing oral plaque, which causes decay and gum disease.

Let’s explore the pros and cons so you can come to your own personal conclusion on the subject.

Electric Toothbrush: The Pros

Greater cleaning power: One powerful advantage of the electric toothbrush is the ultrasonic vibration they offer. The bristles vibrate or rotate, helping dislodge plaque buildup from your gums and teeth. Those electric micro-movements help ensure good coverage when you brush. Studies show that electric toothbrushes are more effective at decreasing plaque and gingivitis than manual toothbrushes.

Easier for those with limited mobility: Because they do most of the work for you, electric toothbrushes may be best for people with limited mobility, such as people with arthritis, carpal tunnel, or paralysis. They may also be easier to use for people with developmental disabilities.

Built-in timer: Most electric toothbrushes today have an integrated timer, ensuring that you brush for a full two minutes. Many also signal each 30 seconds, so you can make sure you give equal attention to each quadrant of your mouth.

Less waste: In terms of generating trash, electric toothbrushes are generally better than manual because the piece that’s discarded and replaced is smaller.

May be better for people with orthodontic appliances: The high-speed rotating effects or ultrasonic vibrations of an electric toothbrushes can make it easier to brush around braces and other orthodontic appliances.

Kids often love them: Children who resist brushing because they find it boring may be more engaged with an electric toothbrush.

Healthy gum stimulation: An electric toothbrush will stimulate your gum tissues better than a manual brush.

Electric Toothbrush: The Cons

Price: Electric toothbrushes always cost more.

Replacing the heads: It may not be convenient to find replacements, and they are often sold in quantities to last a year or two. While this can be very convenient, it also adds to the investment!

Electricity needed: Most need to plug in to operate or to recharge. Some cheaper versions are battery operated, but then also don’t last as long.

Ticklish to some: Not everyone likes the vibrating sensation, although most people do get used to it.

More mess: Electric toothbrushes tend to generate more saliva, causing splatter to escape the mouth and get all over the bathroom mirror!

Manual Toothbrush: The Pros

Simple & effective: The handheld toothbrush will never go out of style. No electricity, charging, or batteries. Quiet and so portable! The manual toothbrush has stood the test of time.

Ubiquitous and accessible: Pick one up at any pharmacy, gas station or grocery store.

Cheap: Just a few dollars for three months of dental hygiene.

Manual Toothbrush: The Cons

Potential for overuse: According to one study, people using a manual toothbrush may be prone to brushing too hard, which can damage your gums and teeth.

No timer: Are you brushing for at least a full two minutes? If you have doubts, try watching the clock or using a kitchen or cell phone timer.

What’s the bottom line? At Eggert Family Dentistry, we really just want you to brush. Whatever device makes it easiest for you to keep up on your brushing—manual or electric—we support it! Call Eggert Family Dentistry at 651.482.8412 today for any questions you may have.

Icon Resin Infiltration Restores Uniform Color to Teeth

A fairly common cosmetic concern among our patients is spotting on their tooth enamel.

Sometimes, the enamel of a tooth gets demineralized, resulting in white or brown spots. These spots are called white-spot lesions (WSLs), hypo spots or enamel bruising, and often result from trauma or infection. Sometimes they appear when braces are removed, and sometimes they are a developmental characteristic.

The good news is that the white spots aren’t harmful. However, many people would prefer to have teeth with a more uniform color.

More good news: There’s an easy, painless and fast procedure to erase this discoloration and restore your tooth enamel to a brilliant white.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff recommend the Icon procedure for patients who want to get rid of these white spot discolorations.

Icon is the resin infiltration treatment we prefer at Eggert Family Dentistry. It’s a minimally invasive restorative treatment that penetrates existing enamel and helps restore the minerals, thereby fading the spots.

Advantages of Icon Resin Treatment

Icon resin treatment is fast, simple and non-invasive. It takes place in a single visit and requires no shots, no anesthesia, and no drilling. After a painless rubbing of the surface in question to remove the spots, we apply a drying agent and then the resin infiltrant. After about three minutes, we remove the excess resin and cure the resin with light. We complete the process a second time to ensure a protective coating on the surface, polish the tooth, and you are ready to go home with a brand new-and-improved smile – after only 45 minutes to an hour in the chair!

How Does the Icon Treatment Work?

The white spots result from demineralization and subsequent remineralization on the surface of the tooth. Icon reconstructs the collapsed architecture of the tooth caused by demineralization. When applied to the tooth, the Icon resin has similar optical properties to those of natural enamel, so it replicates the natural shade of the tooth.

Benefits of Icon

It’s far less invasive, less expensive and faster than alternatives like fillings or veneers. It can easily be completed on patients young and old. With other treatments to correct white spots, like veneers, it is important to wait until the patient’s growth is complete. Even better, teeth that have undergone Icon treatment still respond to bleaching.

If you’re curious about this very conservative, non-invasive, same-day procedure, call Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff at Eggert Family Dentistry to learn more, 651-482-8412. We’d love to talk to you about your options for improving your beautiful smile by transforming spotted teeth to a consistent, uniform color.

Full Mouth Reconstruction, Explained

FULL MOUTH RECONSTRUCTION, EXPLAINED

At Eggert Family Dentistry, our comprehensive approach means that we focus on your overall oral health. Instead of regarding your teeth in isolation, we take a holistic and comprehensive perspective on how your mouth functions as a whole, and how it functions in relation to your whole body.  

In some cases, patients exhibit a constellation of issues that are best resolved by a full mouth reconstruction. This typically is caused by trauma to the jaw or teeth, significant decay, long-term erosion from acid or tooth grinding, or long-term structural issues such as a misaligned bite. 

In these cases, restoring and rebuilding all of the teeth in both the upper and lower jaws may be the best strategy. 

A full mouth reconstruction is likely to involve a number of phases and specialties, including:

  • General or restorative dental procedures such as crowns, bridges, and veneers with Dr. Jeff or Dr. Elizabeth
  • Periodontal attention to the gums
  • Oral surgery
  • Orthodontics to address tooth movements and positions

What to Expect When Considering a Full Mouth Reconstruction

When you are considering a full mouth reconstruction, here’s what you can expect at Eggert Family dentistry. 

We’ll start by doing a detailed evaluation of your muscles, jaws and teeth, and their relationships with each other. We’ll talk about all health considerations relating to your mouth, including information about sleep and airway, and we’ll ask you about your esthetic goals. Next, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will take you on a tour of your mouth, explaining different treatment options. They’ll explain everything carefully and answer questions so you can make excellent decisions, and together we’ll come up with a treatment plan.

These are the kinds of procedures that are often part of a full mouth reconstruction:

  • Initial deep cleaning of your teeth and gums. 
  • Ensuring a stable bite so your restored teeth will not suffer undue wear. This might require orthodontics or a bite reprogramming orthotic/splint. Your occlusion, or how your teeth contact, must be addressed before we perform additional restorative procedures.
  • Tooth restorations, which can include porcelain veneers, crowns, inlays or onlays, bridges, and implants.

A Big Commitment with Big Rewards

A full mouth reconstruction is an ambitious endeavor with huge rewards. Many patients feel transformed when treatment concludes and they have an attractive smile and a healthy mouth, free of pain or discomfort. In many cases, even severe TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD) pain can be relieved by the comprehensive approach and comprehensive reconstruction. 

This treatment is a long-term project, involving multiple visits, but Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff are happy to walk you through every aspect of your treatment plan, so you have a very clear idea of the timeline and what to expect. 

If you are experiencing ongoing pain or discomfort in your mouth or jaw, or if you want a new improved smile which you’re excited to share with people, or if your teeth are broken down and need to be rebuilt, please contact Dr. Jeff or Dr. Elizabeth at Eggert Family Dentistry, 651-482-8412. We love to help people experience the transformation in oral health and confidence that can accompany a full mouth reconstruction.

Colds, The Flu and Oral Health: Is There a Connection?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Did you know that when you practice good oral health habits you’re investing in your overall health? While researchers are only beginning to uncover these connections, the findings are significant. Let’s take a closer look.

It all begins with bacteria

When teeth and gums are not properly cared for, bacteria builds up, causing plaque to form and inflaming the gums. When gums become inflamed, bacteria can easily sneak under the gums and enter the bloodstream. Bacteria in the bloodstream can infect tissues throughout the body and make you sick.

An increased risk of developing pneumonia and chronic disease

This ripple effect of poor oral health can be a major risk factor in developing serious diseases, like pneumonia. In fact, a lot of bacteria in the mouth will increase the likelihood of developing pneumonia after a cold or the flu, sometimes by 100%.

And it’s not just pneumonia. Oral disease shares common risk factors with other chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. These risk factors include diet, tobacco, alcohol, hygiene, injuries, stress and socioeconomic status.

While it’s difficult to say at this point whether the relationships between poor oral health and chronic disease is due to association or causation, it reinforces the importance of taking good care of your teeth and gums. To learn more about the connection between oral health and other diseases, check out one of our recent posts here.

Toothbrush care tips

During cold and flu season, vigilance is your best defense. In addition to healthy eating, routine handwashing and getting enough sleep, it’s important to practice good toothbrush care. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we recommend tossing your toothbrush after any cold or flu to avoid the likelihood of reinfection. We also recommend washing your hands before you brush and floss, rinsing your toothbrush well and allowing it to air dry after each use and keeping family members’ toothbrushes separate from each other in order to avoid cross-contamination. And regardless of the season, don’t ever share a toothbrush!

Are you experiencing any tooth pain or discomfort? Have dental health questions? Need to schedule a recare visit? Give Eggert Family Dentistry a call at 651.482.8412!

 

Ways Oral Health Can Affect Your Overall Health and Wellness

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Cavities aren’t the only thing that flossing, brushing, and regular visits to Eggert Family Dentistry can protect you from. In fact, the mouth can be considered a window into your body, giving you information about potential medical disorders and problems your body may be battling.

How could your oral health be affecting your overall health? Here are some physical ways that the two are connected.

Health Conditions Related to your Oral Health

Your mouth can reveal a lot about your overall health. In fact, some systemic diseases like HIV or diabetes are found by oral signs and symptoms, such as lesions.

Although not conclusive, studies have found connections between oral conditions like Gum Disease and the following physical conditions:

  • Heart Disease: Gingivitis, or oral inflammation due to bacteria, can potentially cause inflammation throughout the body which can increase your risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Poorly Controlled Diabetes: When you have diabetes, your risk of gum disease increases. In turn, chronic gum disease can make diabetes more difficult to control by causing insulin resistance.
  • Pre-term Birth: Gum disease can potentially increase the risk of pre-term delivery. The theory behind this is that the toxins released by oral bacteria get to the placenta and cause problems between the growth and development of the fetus.

Saliva as a Diagnostic Tool and a First Line of Defense

Your saliva can actually be a tell-tale sign to a doctor that something may be wrong with your body. In fact, for newborn babies, saliva is one of the most pivotal diagnostic tools in determining stress levels because cortisol levels can be found in saliva. And for those prone to diseases like osteoporosis, bone-related proteins in saliva can indicate bone loss.

Did you know that saliva is also one of your bodies’ main defenses against bacteria and viruses? Because of the antibodies and proteins (histatins) that saliva carries, it can fight off diseases and harmful invaders.

How can I protect my oral health?

If you didn’t already have a case for taking good care of your mouth, hopefully understanding the connection your oral and physical health have with one another may help you. Here are some ways to maintain a healthy smile!

  • Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush (Contact Eggert Family Dentistry for recommendations on brushes!)
  • Floss every day
  • Get a new toothbrush every couple of months and pay attention to bristles
    Regularly go to the dentist (we recommend coming to see us at least two times a year!)
  • Stay away from smoking or using tobacco products

Taking Charge of your Health & Wellness Journey

As we approach a new year, now is a great time to start making resolutions to take control of your health and wellness journey! Journey is a key word here, as each small step in the right direction will make a big difference.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we believe that your oral, mental health, and physical health are related and important components of your wellness journey. If you’re ready to begin the first step toward a healthier you, we recommend making an appointment with your primary physician as well as with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff at 651.482.8412 or by contacting us here.

Oral Care Tips for Cold & Flu Season

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Like it or not, cold and flu season is upon us. While we can’t always avoid getting sick, there are some things to keep in mind when a cold or the flu hits your family. Here are some important tips from your friends at Eggert Family Dentistry to help you protect your teeth and gums when you’re under the weather!

Tip #1 – Continue to maintain good oral hygiene

When you’re not feeling well, your energy level is typically lower which translates into lower motivation. Continue to brush and floss twice a day to combat bacteria and protect your teeth and gums.

Tip #2 – Choose sugar-free options

Sugar erodes enamel and contributes to tooth decay. When you’re sick, it’s easy to reach for sugary cough drops and sugary sports drinks. Instead, soothe your throat and replenish your electrolytes with sugar-free options and show your teeth some love.

Tip #3 – Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is always important but when you’re sick, this is especially true. Not only does proper hydration aid your kidneys in balancing electrolytes and help reduce mucus and congestion, but it also helps you combat the effects of cold and flu meds. Antihistamines, pain meds and decongestants can cause dry mouth, an uncomfortable condition that makes you more prone to cavities. Sip on water and suck on sugar-free cough drops to keep saliva active, which helps rid your mouth of harmful bacteria.

Tip #4 – Gargle with salt water

Frequently gargling with salt water ticks multiple boxes: It helps keep your mouth hydrated, it kills bacteria that causes bad breath and plaque and it soothes a dry or scratchy throat. Win-win-win!

Tip #5 – Rinse and spit after vomiting

While it may seem logical to reach for your toothbrush after vomiting, it’s best to wait 30 minutes and rinse your mouth with water and spit in the interim. This helps cleanse your mouth from stomach acid and allows your saliva to reach a more neutral pH again. Brushing too soon can abrade the enamel softened by the acid.

Tip #6 – Toss your toothbrush

Did you know that the flu virus can live on moist surfaces, including toothbrushes, for up to 72 hours and strep bacteria can live for up to 48 hours? It’s best to err on the side of caution and use a cold or flu bug as an opportunity to swap your old toothbrush out for a new one!

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we want you to enjoy a healthy mouth year-round. If you haven’t already, give us a call to schedule your winter recare visit at 651.482.8412!