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.

Protect Your Teeth During Sports With a Mouthguard

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

If you play sports, please consider wearing a mouthguard to protect your teeth.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), 10-20% of all sports-related injuries are maxillofacial injuries, relating to the mouth and all the connecting regions. The ADA recognizes “the preventive value of orofacial protectors, endorsing their use by those who engage in recreational and sports activities and encouraging widespread use of orofacial protectors with proper fit, including mouthguards.”

While the risk of injury is obvious in classic contact sports like football, boxing, wrestling, lacrosse, and hockey, the ADA also advocates a mouthguard when participating in limited-contact sports like baseball, gymnastics, racquetball and surfing. 

A well-fitting mouthguard will protect your dental health in a variety of ways. While it can’t guarantee that you’ll suffer zero dental damage, a mouthguard is almost certain to reduce dental injuries.

Benefits of Mouthguards

Mouthguards prevent teeth from being knocked out: Having an intact tooth knocked out is no fun. In some cases, it can be retained, but it will require substantial dental attention.

Mouthguards can prevent teeth from fracturing: It may be possible to save a broken tooth, but it will require a substantial filling, a crown, and likely a root canal. If it can’t be saved, an extraction and implant will be needed.

Mouthguards can protect soft tissues: When you suffer an unexpected impact, it’s easy to accidentally bite your tongue, cheek or lips. A mouthguard will help prevent this.

Mouthguards can protect against tooth displacement: Sometimes, an impact can loosen a tooth so that it stays in the socket, but is moveable. When you’re wearing a mouthguard, the force of the impact is distributed over several teeth, reducing the likelihood of displacement. Teeth can be displaced laterally (forwards or backwards) or can be extruded (down).

Mouthguards can prevent jaw fractures: By serving as a shock-absorber, a guard can help prevent the jaw from fracturing—a serious injury that may require surgery.

Mouthguards may help reduce concussions: Evidence is not conclusive, but it’s possible that the padding between the upper and lower jaws can absorb some of the impact that causes a concussion.

In Case of Dental Injury

Should someone suffer a dental injury during sports or any other activity, follow these guidelines:

If a tooth is fractured, stabilize the portion of the tooth retained in the mouth and control the bleeding by gently biting on a towel. Retain all tooth fragments and keep them submerged in water or milk.

If an entire tooth —root and all—is knocked out, handle the tooth by the crown, not the root. You can rinse it gently with water, but do not wash, sterilize, or scrub it. If possible, place it back in the socket (the correct way) and then bite gently on a towel. If not, transport it to the dentist.

In both cases, time is critical and you should be in the dentist’s chair within two hours.

Wear a Mouthguard for Sports

Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff love seeing you, but we hope you never have to come in for treatment after a preventable dental injury! Take care of your teeth, please. Wear a mouthguard for sports.

Implants Versus Dentures

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Thanks to modern dentistry, loss of a tooth – or many teeth – doesn’t have to be permanent. With a small investment of time, money and skilled expertise, it’s possible to replace teeth with implants or dentures.

When our patients are facing the loss of one or more teeth, they come to us for counseling on the best path forward. We consider it part of our customer care to walk them through the options and make sure they understand the pros and cons of each option. Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff love helping our patients understand the best choice for their individual circumstances. Here’s a quick summary as a starting point.

Implants: The Pros

The best part about implants: They feel and behave like your original teeth. You care for them in a similar way, so you likely don’t need to embrace any fresh routines or invite any new bottles or tubes into your bathroom cabinet. They will prevent neighboring teeth from migrating, so they preserve your bite. Because they are anchored in the bone, they help preserve bone mass in the jaw, Once they are established, they nearly take care of themselves. The feel of chewing, the nuances of speaking, the sensation when you run your tongue along the inside of your mouth – these will all feel completely familiar. Implants are built to last a lifetime, and they almost always do.

Implants: The Cons

Dental implants can take awhile from start to finish. Typically, it’s about six months between initial surgery and final placement of the abutment and crown. There is usually some healing time of the implant which will continue to leave you toothless for awhile. If, however, the missing tooth is in the front of the mouth, we can place a temporary tooth for cosmetic reasons. Depending on your situation, implants may cost more than other options.

Dentures: The Pros

Dentures can be crafted and placed in a shorter time period than implants. They don’t usually require surgery, but sometimes bone recontouring can be necessary to get the denture to fit just right. The initial cost of dentures is lower than most implant replacement options; however, they may need to be replaced as the shape of the jaw, mouth and adjacent teeth change over time, so in the long run may end up costing more.

Dentures: The Cons

Dentures will never feel like your natural teeth. They must be removed for cleaning, and because they can trap food, cleaning is extra important. Denture wearers may have to forgo some of their old eating habits such as corn on the cob. Because they don’t help preserve bone mass in the jaw, denture wearers are likely to experience ongoing jaw bone deterioration, which may prevent them from being a candidate for implants at a later time. Subsequent bone loss may contribute to a sunken appearance of the lower cheeks.

We hope this summary helps you understand your options. We look forward to evaluating your personal situation, and helping you embark on the tooth restoration program that fits your needs. Call us today at 651-482-8412 for your exam and consultation!

Why It’s Important to Replace Missing Teeth

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Everyone wants a full set of strong, healthy, functional teeth. They enable us to eat and enjoy a wide variety of food, chew that food to get maximum nutritional benefits from it, and speak clearly. And hey, they also just look good. When you’ve got a full smile of clean healthy teeth, it’s easy to feel confident when you’re talking, eating, and laughing.

Most of us start off with a full set of 32 teeth, and many of us have our wisdom teeth removed during elective surgery, leaving us with 28 teeth to take care of. However, due to a variety of reasons, many of us loose at least one tooth by middle age, and by age 65, one in four people in the U.S. has lost all their teeth.

Causes of Tooth Loss

Tooth loss is caused by many factors.

Injuries such as falls or sports accidents can cause tooth loss. Even without immediate tooth loss, sometimes there’s sufficient trauma to the jaw bone and gums that a tooth sustains hidden damage in the nerve and root, which may take months or years to become obvious or fully abscess.

Periodontal disease may cause tooth loss. With this condition, the architecture supporting the tooth, like the bone, ligament, and gums, is damaged or destroyed. When this occurs, a tooth becomes loose and painful and often can no longer be saved.

Tooth decay results from bacteria converting the starch and sugar that accumulates in your mouth into acids, which damage the protective layer of tooth enamel and cause cavities. Some teeth are inherently prone to increased cavities due to deep grooves which trap food, tight and misaligned places which are hard to clean, or thin tooth enamel.

Excessive wear from clenching or grinding your teeth can also put a lot of stress on the teeth, causing structural damage in the form of cracks or fractures. As strong as teeth are, this structural damage compounds over time and occasionally an abscess will form from bacteria accumulating in the crack or the damage will be so severe there is no longer any way to save the tooth.

Extra acid in the oral environment will attack the hard enamel surface of a tooth. The enamel goes through a chemical process that is like dissolving. With this thin and weak enamel, the tooth is more prone to excessive wear or decay and can be lost as mentioned above. These extra acids can be from food or drink, acid reflux disease (including GERD), or systemic problems in how your body gets air and breathes.

Many Reasons to Replace Missing Teeth

When you lose a tooth, there are many reasons to replace it.

First, there’s your confidence and self-image. If you’ve got a visible gap in your smile, you are likely to smile less. You may be self conscious when you eat or laugh. In some cases, you may have trouble with a few sounds as you speak.

But beyond just your winning smile, there are other concrete and medical reasons why it’s important to replace missing teeth. Each tooth plays a crucial role in your mouth’s function. A missing tooth can shift your bite pressure onto other teeth, and over time, neighboring teeth may migrate into the space the missing tooth once occupied. Missing teeth also invite plaque to build up in hard-to-clean spots, which can encourage gum infections that might lead to further tooth loss. Also, the bone which formerly anchored the tooth will start to deteriorate and diminish, which can jeopardize neighboring teeth.

Eggert Family Dentistry and Tooth Restoration

Deciding whether and how to replace a missing tooth is a personal choice each person should discuss with our dental team. If you have experienced or are anticipating tooth loss, please come in for a consultation. Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff will be more than happy to explain your options for restoring your beautiful smile, and to help you understand why your tooth was jeopardized and how to improve the conditions for your remaining teeth. Call us today for an appointment, 651-482-8412.

Over-the-Counter vs. Professional Teeth Whitening

The relatively low cost of teeth whitening combined with its track record of proven results makes it a popular choice. In 2018, over 40 million Americans whitened their teeth – either at home or professionally. But are all teeth whitening methods created equal? Let’s explore the facets of both so you can decide which method is right for you!

Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening

Strips: Because hydrogen-peroxide coated strips can be purchased for under $40, they are a popular go-to for people who are looking for whiter teeth. However, the strips do not provide excellent coverage for the crevices of teeth and the part of the teeth along the gum line and in between the teeth may be missed. Extreme tooth sensitivity is common and they only whiten teeth from two to four shades.

Toothpaste/Mouthwash/Gum: While these are certainly the most affordable option, they are best used in combination with other methods as they only whiten teeth by removing surface stains and typically the results aren’t very noticeable.

Professional Teeth Whitening
At Eggert Family dentistry, we offer KöR Whitening Deep Bleaching, Zoom Whitening, at-home trays with Opalescence bleach, and convenient Opalescence Go!.

KöR Whitening Deep Bleaching: The most reliable and effective bleaching system on the market, KöR restores your teeth’s ability to absorb oxygen and can whiten teeth up to 16 shades! The oxygen from the whitening gel is absorbed deep into the tooth, dissolving stain molecules and changing how the tooth reflects light. Most people experience little or no sensitivity with this treatment.

Zoom Whitening: Zoom Whitening is performed in a single, two-hour appointment and lightens teeth anywhere from 4-10 shades! Professional whitening gel is applied to your teeth and activated by an LED light which helps the gel penetrate into the teeth. Follow-up includes sensitivity management with a special gel and at-home whitening trays.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we also offer our patients professional, at-home bleaching trays that use carbamide peroxide bleach, a much more stable and higher concentration bleach than what is typically found in OTC hydrogen peroxide options.

Opalescence Go! is similar to some over-the-counter products, but at a higher concentration than most options and comes with a convenient tray and strip application process, helping to better address the nooks and crannies.

Prior to all of our whitening treatments, we will assess the best bleaching system for you during an office visit with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff and a thorough professional cleaning with one of our hygienists.

If you’re interested in whitening your teeth and would help choosing the best route for you, Dr. Elizabeth Eggert or Dr. Jeff Eggert would be more than happy to speak with you. They can be reached at 651.482.8412.

Tooth Discoloration: Causes and Prevention

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Tooth discoloration can be an embarrassing situation that often leaves people feeling self-conscious and trying to stifle their smiles. Discoloration can be categorized as extrinsic or affecting only the surface of the tooth, intrinsic or affecting the inside of the tooth or age-related – discoloration that occurs as enamel wears away over time. Tooth discoloration can appear yellow, brown, grey, white, black or purple, depending on the cause. Let’s take a look at some culprits of tooth discoloration, how to remedy it and how it can be prevented.

Causes of tooth discoloration

There are several causes of tooth discoloration. A few of them include:

Foods: Highly pigmented foods such as tomato-based sauces, chocolate, berries and beets can cause yellow or brown discoloration.

Beverages: Beverages that contain tannins, such as coffee, tea and red wine can cause a yellow, brown or purple tinge.

Tobacco products: Cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco can result in brown or dark yellow teeth.

Aging: Tooth enamel wears away over time, exposing the inner layer of the tooth (called dentin) and leaves behind a yellow appearance.

Antibiotics: Tetracycline stains the enamel of unerupted teeth, resulting in a banded grey or brown appearance.

Injury: Blood flow can be cut off to a tooth, causing it to turn grey.

Teeth whitening

There are a couple of options when it comes to teeth-whitening.

Over-the-counter whitening: Options include whitening strips and toothpaste/mouthwash. These whitening options are thought to be affordable, however, results are subtle as teeth only whiten an average of 2 shades. Over-the-counter whitening strips can also result in significant tooth sensitivity. These methods are best used in combination with another professional whitening method.

Professional whitening: At Eggert Family Dentistry, we offer four whitening optinos – KöR Whitening Deep Bleaching, Zoom Whitening, at-home trays with Opalescence bleach, and Opalescence Go!:

        • With the KöR Whitening Deep Bleaching method, oxygen from the gel is absorbed into the tooth, produces little or no sensitivity and can whiten teeth up to 16 shades!
        • Zoom Whitening is performed in a single two-hour appointment and can lighten teeth anywhere from 4-10 shades. Follow-up care includes sensitivity management and whitening trays.
        • Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff Eggert also offer professional, at-home bleaching trays that use carbamide peroxide bleach, a much more stable and higher concentration bleach than what is typically found in OTC hydrogen peroxide options.
        • Opalescence Go! is similar to some over-the-counter products, but at a higher concentration than most options and comes with a convenient tray and strip application process, helping to better address the nooks and crannies.

Prevention

While not all teeth stains can be avoided, bruising and flossing after eating foods notorious for staining teeth can keep the pigment from attaching itself to the tooth. As a general rule, daily brushing, flossing and mouthwash help combat stains. Also, according to BMC Public Health, “Twenty-eight percent of smokers reported having moderate and severe levels of tooth discoloration compared to 15% in non-smokers.” Clearly, limiting or eliminating the use of tobacco products is another powerful step in warding off tooth discoloration.

Eggert Family Dentistry wants to help you keep your teeth pearly white! If you need to schedule a recare visit or would like to discuss teeth whitening options with us, give us a call at 651.482.8412.

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.