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!

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.

A New Smile with Veneers – Lauri’s Story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?
Lauri was interested in whitening her teeth and was concerned about some progressing decay around her current veneers. To find out her options, she completed the records process with Dr. Elizabeth. This process allows our doctors to use models, x-rays, and photos of the patient’s teeth, gums, and bite to better understand the cause of any problems and determine the best course of treatment. Lauri was invested in improving both the health and beauty of her smile!

What did she want?
Lauri was very interested in our KOR bleaching option, but also wanted to ensure the decay that was found was also addressed. She was interested in using this opportunity to have new veneers made to take her smile to the next level. Dr. Elizabeth took all of her requests and desires into consideration during the records process and incorporated that into her recommendation.

What was involved?
During the treatment presentation, Dr. Elizabeth gave Lauri some recommendations to consider such as orthodontics, replacement veneers, splint therapy, and discussed whitening as well. Lauri decided to move forward with a consultation with an orthodontist to get more information. After a lot of consideration, she decided orthodontics wasn’t right for her at this time. Therefore, splint therapy was started to confirm a consistent jaw position before completing new restorations. During this time she was also fitted for KOR bleaching trays to use at home and received her KOR in-office whitening treatment. By doing the KOR bleaching, Lauri was able to minimize the number of veneers she had fabricated as her color was improved for her lower teeth with the bleaching alone.

What does she think?
Lauri had veneers done in the past so the procedure wasn’t new to her. She is excited to say that she does like her teeth much better now that she had them re-done. She really wanted her new teeth to match the shape and contours of her previous veneers and was focused on improving the color, but still wanted her teeth to look completely natural. She thinks the outcome was a “slam dunk!” We asked Lauri if she would recommend this procedure to someone who unhappy with their smile and she replied, “If they didn’t like their teeth, they should do it – unquestionably!” We just love looking at that beautiful smile!

If you think veneers might be the smile solution you’re looking for, contact Eggert Family Dentistry today!