I Want to Whiten My Teeth Professionally: What Are My Options?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Have you been longing for whiter, brighter teeth? Make 2020 the year you pursue your dream! At Eggert Family Dentistry, we offer four effective teeth whitening methods – the Philips Zoom Whitening System, the KöR Whitening Deep Bleaching™ System, at-home custom trays using Opalescence Bleach, and Opalescence Go!. Read on to learn more about each method and decide which method is right for you.

Philips Zoom Whitening System

This is one excellent teeth whitening option we present to our patients.

  • One of the easiest and most effective teeth whitening options
  • Lightens teeth from 4-10 shades
  • Performed in a single two-hour appointment
  • At-home maintenance includes whitening trays and sensitivity management
  • Results are fast and visible, typically same day!

KöR Whitening Deep Bleaching™ System

This is another effective teeth whitening option we offer.

  • Restores teeth’s ability to absorb oxygen
  • Can lighten up to 16 shades
  • Bleaching trays are created in the KöR lab from impressions of your teeth for a perfect fit
  • We apply conditioner to your teeth to prep them for home bleaching
  • We “set” your shade in our office once your desired shade is reached
  • You can expect little-to-no sensitivity
  • With custom maintenance, results are permanent

At-Home Professionally Made Custom Bleaching Trays Using Opalescence Bleach

This is an especially popular option.

  • Can lighten 2-8 shades
  • Bleaching trays are created in our office from impressions of your teeth for a great fit
  • Appointments are fast to obtain the trays and with bleaching at home, most people see results in as little as 2 weeks
  • The bleach used is carbamide peroxide, a much more stable and higher concentration bleach than what is typically found in OTC hydrogen peroxide options
  • Maintenance is easy with bleach refill kits that we keep in stock for your convenience

Opalescence Go!

Our most economical professional option.

  • Can lighten 2-4 shades
  • Similar to some over-the-counter products, but at a higher concentration than most options
  • Comes with a convenient tray and strip application process
  • Kit is available to “Go!” with no other pre-operative steps needed

If you’re looking for a teeth whitening solution that is more effective than whitening toothpaste and over-the-counter whitening strips, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff would love to talk with you. Give us a call at 651.482.8412!

HPV and Oral Cancer

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

HPV, or Human Papilloma Virus, is the most common sexually transmitted disease in our country. There are more than 100 strains of HPV in existence and approximately 14 million new cases of HPV each year. While a person’s immune system can potentially fight it off, in many cases the symptoms persist. Most people have at least a basic knowledge of HPV but few people are aware that there’s a connection between HPV and oral cancer.

How does HPV cause oral cancer?

HPV is spread through various sexual practices including oral sex, but because HPV can be transmitted in saliva, even kissing can spread the virus. It can take many years for symptoms to show up, but HPV often leads to oral or oropharyngeal cancer. Oropharyngeal cancer is cancer that affects the mouth and throat. While there can be other causes of oropharyngeal cancer, HPV is thought to cause 70% of all cases in the U.S. Oropharyngeal cancer typically develops in the back of the throat and in the folds of the tonsils.

Signs and symptoms of oral cancer

There are a variety of things to watch for when it comes to detecting oral cancer. Some common signs and symptoms include:

  • Persistent sore throat
  • Persistent earache
  • Hoarseness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Lumps or thickening tissues
  • Difficulty or discomfort moving the tongue, chewing and swallowing

Prevention

The best way to prevent oral cancer is by reducing your likelihood of contracting HPV strains that can lead to oral cancer. Preventative measures include abstinence, limiting your number of sexual partners, instituting the use of condoms during sexual intercourse and getting the HPV vaccine. It is recommended that children, both boys and girls, get the HPV vaccine (commonly known as Gardasil 9) around the age of 11 or 12, but anyone not previously vaccinated should consider the vaccine even up until age 26. It is also recognized that smoking can increase the chances of developing HPV because it reduces your immune system’s ability to fight infection and it damages cells in the mouth.

Early detection

Regular dental exams are crucial. If you have HPV, it’s important that you share this information with Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff so they can keep a close watch for early-stage evidence of oral cancer.

Vaping and Your Oral Health

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Vaping, or using e-cigarettes, is smoking a chemical vapor that delivers nicotine into your lungs. Often misconstrued as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes because there is no tobacco involved, vaping has devastating effects on a person’s oral and overall health. At Eggert Family Dentistry, we think it’s important to educate our patients about the many ways that vaping can affect oral health.

Dangerous ingredients

While vaping liquid doesn’t contain tobacco, it does contain numerous other ingredients that pose a threat to oral health:

Propylene glycol: Used as a carrier ingredient in e-liquid, propylene glycol is a slightly-sweet, colorless liquid that, when vaped, breaks down into acetic acid, lactic acid and propionaldehyde – all of which have toxic effects on soft tissue and enamel.

Nicotine: There are many side effects that can result from nicotine exposure, including reduced blood flow which can cause gum tissue to die. When this happens, gums recede and expose more of the tooth which leads to tooth sensitivity, an increase in cavities and in some cases, tooth loss.

Flavorings: In order to appeal to a wider audience, e-liquid often contains fruit, candy and other flavorings. These flavorings, when added to vegetable glycerin, cause a 27% decrease in the hardness and integrity of tooth enamel.

Oral health complications

Dry mouth: Nicotine in e-liquid inhibits saliva production which leads to dry mouth. When your mouth is dry, it’s a perfect habitat for bacteria which can lead to tooth decay.

Bruxism: Because nicotine is a muscle stimulant, it can cause clenching, gnashing and teeth grinding which, over time, results in wear to enamel and can lead to fractured teeth.

Gum disease: Exposure to nicotine-laden vape liquid can swell and inflame gums. When gums are irritated, your mouth is dry and there are more bacteria on the scene, gum disease easily sets in.

Damage to oral tissue: In rare cases, the lithium batteries in vaping devices overheat and explode, causing extreme damage to oral tissue – damage that can result in permanent disfigurement. There are even a couple documented cases of accidental death related to these explosions.

We want our patients to enjoy optimal dental health! If you have questions or concerns about the effects of vaping on your oral health or the oral health of a loved one, give Dr. Elizabeth Eggert or Dr. Jeff Eggert a call at 651.482.8412. We would be happy to speak with you!

 

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!

 

A New Smile with Porcelain Crowns – Mary’s Story

How did this start?
Mary had composite restorations on her upper front teeth that she had needed to have replaced several times since they were first done in the 1970’s. She noticed they were beginning to look discolored and wanted to have them replaced with something that would offer better long-term predictability. To find out her options, Mary went through the records process with Dr. Jeff. This process allows our doctors to determine the best course of treatment using models, x-rays, and photos of the patient’s teeth, gums, and bite.

What did she want?
While Mary was happy with the overall shade of her teeth, she had noticed some areas of discoloration that she wanted to correct. Mary was also concerned that her teeth appeared crowded and was hoping to improve their appearance.

What was involved?
Dr. Jeff recommended that Mary go through the records process so that he could asses the current health of the teeth and gums, and the function of her jaw and muscles. After the records were taken Dr. Jeff was able to formulate a treatment plan for Mary that would address her concerns with the appearance and position of her teeth, which he presented at her consult appointment. Dr. Jeff recommended Mary start with an orthodontic consult to learn about possible options for changing the position of her teeth to alleviate the crowding. Dr. Jeff explained that it would be ideal to move her teeth before doing any restorations on her upper teeth as it would allow him to be more conservative when preparing the teeth and would offer better long-term predictability. He then recommended Mary replace her existing composite restorations on her upper front teeth with porcelain crowns, as they would be stronger and more durable than composites and would give her teeth the consistent shade she desired.

After a lot of consideration, Mary decided to move forward with restoring her front teeth without doing orthodontics. Mary was not interested in taking the time it would need to move her teeth and she felt she could be happy with her results using restorations alone to improve her smile. Before starting her treatment, Dr. Jeff worked with a local lab to fabricate a wax mock-up of Mary’s new teeth to show her what they would look like. Mary was very happy with how they looked with the mock-up, and over the course of two appointments, Dr. Jeff prepared and restored her teeth with the final porcelain crowns.

What does she think?
Mary is excited to say that she likes her teeth much better now that she had them re-done. She thought the procedures were fast and professional. She would recommend the procedures to anyone as she notes “It wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it would be.” Mary loved working with our team and feels more confident with her brighter, straighter smile! Congratulations Mary! We love working with patients like you!

If you’ve been thinking about improving your smile, contact us today to learn more about what we can do for you!

Stress, Anxiety and Your Oral Health

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

It’s estimated that 40 million Americans battle an anxiety disorder, the effects of which can be debilitating. Anxiety can cause panic attacks, headaches, depression, muscle aches, fatigue…the list goes on. What most of us don’t consider, however, is the effect that anxiety can have on our oral health.

Common oral side effects

Bruxism: Stress and anxiety cause tension in the jaw which can lead to teeth grinding. If you suspect you’re grinding your teeth, speak with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff about a night guard to help protect your teeth from stress-related wear and tear.

TMD: When you experience stress or anxiety, you may clench your teeth and jaw. This tension causes stress on the temporomandibular joints which can cause temporomandibular disorder or TMD. At times, TMD can also be related to sleep and how you are (or are not!) sleeping. We have the ability to help you recognize signs and symptoms that your sleep may be broken or unhealthy. As with bruxism, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will likely recommend some kind of in-the-mouth appliance to ease jaw discomfort and protect these joints from wear. Learn more about TMD in one of our recent posts here!

Dry mouth: Many anti-anxiety medications, while effective at relieving anxiety, can reduce the production of saliva, leading to dry mouth. Without adequate saliva, it’s difficult for your mouth to rinse out food debris and plaque which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. It’s especially important to keep your mouth lubricated by sucking on sugar-free candy, chewing sugar-free gum and drinking plenty of water. Also, if you struggle with dry mouth, it’s especially important to brush and floss regularly as well as rinse with antibacterial and fluoridated mouthwash. Talk with us at your next recare visit as there are products we can recommend to help your dry mouth.

Lichen planus: Among other symptoms, stress can increase systemic inflammation. Inflammation increases the likelihood of developing mouth ulcers and white, lacy lines in the cheeks, known as lichen planus. This condition can cause a painful, burning sensation in the mouth and left untreated, has been linked to mouth cancer. Although it cannot be eliminated, you can reduce the symptoms of this bothersome condition in a number of ways. Learn more!

Cavities and gum disease: People who experience anxiety are more prone to dental phobia and therefore, oftentimes, avoid regular dental visits. When this occurs, oral health deteriorates and the instance of cavities and gum disease skyrockets. If you struggle with dental phobia, speak with Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff. They would love to explain our dental comforts and discuss how we can partner with you to make your visits as easy as possible!

Cold sores: Although the herpes simplex virus must be present for cold sores to develop, stress and anxiety can trigger an outbreak. It’s important to treat cold sores with an over-the-counter cream immediately to reduce the chances of spreading the virus to others.

Take charge of your oral health

Therapy, medications and regular exercise are just a few ways to reduce stress and anxiety before they wreak havoc on your oral health.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we know that your mental health affects your oral health and we believe that they are both equally important components of overall wellness. If you’re concerned that your oral health is being compromised on account of stress or anxiety in your life, we recommend making an appointment with your primary physician as well as with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff at 651.482.8412.

Learn more about the connection between mental health and oral health here!