Teeth Grinding: Long Term Effects and Treatment Options

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

We all have different ways and different places we hold stress in the body. Some of us have a tense neck or tight shoulders or a tender lower back, which can all be stress responses to the ups and downs of this complicated world we live in.

From a dental perspective, there’s one stress response we frequently notice in some patients’ mouths: bruxism.

Bruxism is just a fancy word with Greek origins that means grinding the teeth. (It’s also a pretty good Scrabble word to keep in your back pocket, if you’re into that kind of thing.)

People with bruxism may grind or clench their teeth during waking hours without really noticing it, or they may grind or clench their teeth while they sleep. Either way, many or most bruxers aren’t aware that they grind or clench unless someone else alerts them to the situation, such as a dental professional or a sleeping partner. In fact, some bruxers don’t inflict serious damage on their teeth, and discover their bruxism habit due to TMJ problems, chronic headaches, or by recognizing how tense their jaw muscles tend to be.

However, bruxism can have very negative consequences on dental and oral health. Over time, people with bruxism can wear their teeth down to flattened surfaces with an even, square appearance. They may even end up with chipped, loose or even fractured teeth. What’s more, grinding and clenching can damage dental restorations such as crowns or fillings and cause premature failure.

Treating Bruxism with a Dental Splint

There are a variety of ways to treat bruxism.

The simplest treatment protects your teeth instantly: An occlusal appliance. This is a custom dental splint designed to be worn while sleeping. It prevents your teeth from touching and it also absorbs bite force. These are different from mouth guards, which are designed to protect your teeth from high-speed foreign objects like baseballs, hockey pucks, or impact with the ground.

Dental splints get high scores in protecting your teeth, but depending on how they are designed, they don’t always discourage the urge to grind, so patients may still suffer from other effects of grinding such as headaches, TMJ issues, and poor jaw mobility.

Other Treatments for Bruxism

There are other potential treatments for bruxism that aim to stop or discourage the grinding behavior, which will help alleviate those non-dental consequences listed above.

These treatments include:

  • Treatment for airway issues that may be causing the grinding
  • Prescription medications
  • Botulinum neurotoxin type A, more commonly known by the brand name Botox
    Counter stimulation, such a small electrical impulse that’s activated by clenching
  • Treating the underlying stress or anxiety that may be causing the bruxism
  • Behavioral techniques such as biofeedback therapy

Here at Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth screen for evidence of bruxism during our exams. If your teeth indicate any damage from grinding, we’re here to partner with you in resolving the problem. Likewise, if you’re experiencing any symptoms that could indicate bruxism, such as jaw pain and stiffness, chronic headaches and more, be sure to let us know so we can help you overcome this destructive and uncomfortable activity.

Prolonged teeth grinding or clenching has the potential to damage your teeth irreversibly, so it’s worth taking every possible measure to overcome bruxism and to mitigate its erosive effect on your teeth. We look forward to helping you overcome bruxism and enjoy healthy teeth and reduced jaw and facial tension. Call us today at 651.482.8412 to schedule your next appointment.

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The Seattle Protocol – Tom’s Story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How Did This Start?

Tom’s journey began in 2014 when he came to us as a new patient looking to improve his oral health and the appearance of his teeth. During his comprehensive exam, Dr. Elizabeth found the main areas of concern to be the excessive wear, erosion and fracturing of Tom’s teeth. Dr. Elizabeth recommended Tom go through the records process (you can learn more about the records process here) and based on the information gathered during that process, she recommended a full-mouth reconstruction to address his uneven bite and rebuild his broken teeth. Throughout the process of reconstruction, it became clear that the amount of force in Tom’s bite was putting too much pressure on even his temporary crowns, which resulted in the temporaries cracking or falling out on more than one occasion. Dr. Elizabeth was concerned that even after completing the full mouth reconstruction, Tom would have underlying issues. Given Tom’s other symptoms, including difficulty breathing through his nose, dry mouth and use of a CPAP machine, Dr. Elizabeth recommended Tom complete the Seattle Protocol to help address his airway patency.

Tom Before

What Was Involved?

The Seattle Protocol is a six-step process that helps patients with symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing and other conditions determine whether a compromised airway is contributing to their ailments. Each step builds upon the last, but patients don’t necessarily need to complete the entire process as the purpose of the protocol is to determine the phase that provides the best relief of symptoms. You can learn more about the Seattle Protocol and each of the steps here. Throughout the process, Tom noticed improvements in his symptoms such as dry mouth, decreased clenching and grinding, and less waking throughout the night.

What Have Tom’s Results Been?

After completing five of the six steps of the Seattle Protocol, Dr. Elizabeth fabricated a sleep appliance for Tom to continue to improve his airway patency, reduce his bruxism and help him sleep better. Tom has now been using his sleep appliance for over a month and says the results so far have been great! He’s noticed less clenching and jaw pain and experienced an overall improvement in his sleep. Tom said that going through the Seattle Protocol helped him better understand the connection between his sleep and airway issues and he appreciates Dr. Elizabeth’s thorough explanation and care throughout each stage.

Tom After

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The Power of the Records Process – John’s Story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?

John had existing restorations on some of his upper front teeth which were done several years prior and were beginning to break down and decay. John wanted to preserve the function of his teeth and was also interested in improving their appearance. Dr. Elizabeth recommended he go through the Records Process to determine the best way to restore his teeth.

What is the Records Process?

The Records Process consists of two appointments. At John’s first appointment, Dr. Elizabeth took x-rays and photos of his teeth and did a comprehensive muscle and joint evaluation. She also took impressions of his teeth that she used to make models of his mouth. Over the next couple of weeks, Dr. Elizabeth used these models in conjunction with the information collected at his Records Appointment to analyze the current condition of John’s teeth and develop a treatment plan for him. She then put all of this information into a PowerPoint presentation that she reviewed with John when he returned for the second appointment, his case presentation.

What was revealed during the Records Process?

The details of the Records Process revealed that the current position of John’s teeth was putting them at high risk for continued wear. Dr. Elizabeth told John that if she replaced his veneer on his upper front tooth without addressing his bite and the position of his teeth, it was likely to eventually break or begin to decay again, and his other teeth would be more susceptible to wear. John also indicated that he frequently had muscle pain in his neck and after listening to all the connections Dr. Elizabeth made at his case presentation, he wondered if it might be related to clenching his teeth.

What did Dr. Elizabeth recommend?

Dr. Elizabeth recommended starting with splint therapy so that John’s jaw muscles would be more relaxed and stable for eventual tooth movement. Dr. Elizabeth suggested he use an anterior deprogrammer, a small appliance worn on the upper front teeth to prevent the back teeth from touching and clenching together. After using the anterior deprogrammer for six months and undergoing some physical therapy for whole body alignment, John stopped clenching almost completely and noticed a significant improvement in his muscle pain. Dr. Elizabeth determined that he was ready to move forward with orthodontics.
Dr. Elizabeth recommended orthodontics for John to move his teeth into the ideal position before restoring them and set them up for less wear over time. Dr. Elizabeth thought John would be a good candidate for Invisalign, and John elected to do that instead of traditional braces. He completed his Invisalign treatment, after wearing a total of 42 aligners, in about one year.

Next, Dr. Elizabeth recommended the Zoom! whitening in-office bleaching procedure to get John the whiter smile he wanted. After his two-hour session, John was happy to see that his teeth had lightened by three full shades.

With his teeth being his desired shade, John was ready for his final restorations. John wanted his upper front teeth to be uniform in shape and size. For this reason, he decided to do veneers on all of his upper front teeth. Dr. Elizabeth worked with a local lab to create a wax model of the veneers so John could make sure he was happy with their size and shape before having the final restorations fabricated. John went through the veneer procedures and in a short time, had his final smile.

What does John think of his new smile?

From the beginning, John was very excited about his treatment and the prospect of improving not only the function and appearance of his teeth, but also his overall health. John had been experiencing neck and hip pain for about a year before undergoing the records process and is thrilled that the combination of splint therapy and physical therapy has resolved his issues. He loves the appearance of his smile with his new veneers and he’s happy knowing that they will function properly and because he opted for the most comprehensive treatment, he will have the most long-term predictability.

When asked what he would say to someone considering similar treatment, John said “Do it! Your teeth are important and the associated effects are important too”.

The Records Process

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

The Records Process at Eggert Family Dentistry is a comprehensive approach to dental health. It’s a thorough evaluation of the entire mouth for the purpose of achieving optimal dental and physical wellness.

Why is it so important?

Dental issues can wreak havoc. They can cause oral discomfort and pain and left untreated, one problem can lead to another. What many people don’t realize, however, is that oftentimes dental problems can also cause health issues throughout your entire body. Some physical symptoms that may be alleviated with proper dental treatment include:

  • Headaches
  • Unexplained shoulder, neck or back pain
  • Insomnia or other difficulty sleeping
  • Snoring or sleep apnea
  • Stiff, sore jaw
  • Frequent fracturing of teeth

The Records Process is also necessary for patients looking to improve their smile and undergo any dental cosmetic treatments like veneers or esthetic crowns and implants.

During the process

During the Records Process we evaluate your muscles, jaw, teeth and gums and their relationship with one another. We take a series of images to help us spot any potential problems and we take impressions of your teeth in order to see how everything is working and moving together.

The Records Process allows Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff to carefully evaluate and analyze each patient’s mouth and detect and consequently treat any problems they discover. The process also helps us enact proper preventative measures for a healthy mouth and body. For some patients, there can be so many treatment options that the Records Process really helps them define and visualize all the possibilities!

Are you experiencing symptoms that you think may be mouth-related? Are you experiencing any of the above-listed symptoms that you didn’t realize could be mouth-related? Give us a call to schedule an evaluation at 651.482.8412!

Restoring Teeth with Implants: The Importance of Records in Creating a Healthy Smile

How did this start?

As a child, Frank had a bicycle accident that broke four of his upper front teeth. They were repaired with crowns at the time but Frank knew they weren’t going to last forever. In 2017, the teeth began showing signs of infection. Dr. Elizabeth referred him to the endodontist who determined that the teeth couldn’t be saved and would need to be extracted. Dr. Elizabeth suspected that in addition to the history of trauma, part of the reason for the infection was that Frank’s lower teeth were crowded and putting a lot pressure on his top teeth. Before having the teeth extracted, Dr. Elizabeth recommended Frank go through the records process to determine the best option for replacing them.

What did Frank want?

Frank’s main concern was getting his mouth back to a healthy state and preserving the function of his teeth. He had been hoping to keep his natural teeth for as long as possible, but he understood that the infection had developed to the point where extracting the teeth would be the only way to successfully treat it. It was also important to Frank that he be able to eat and speak normally after his teeth were restored.

What was involved?

At the records appointment, Dr. Elizabeth took photos and x-rays of Frank’s teeth and did a thorough muscle and joint evaluation. She used the information gathered at that appointment to develop a comprehensive treatment plan for Frank. She presented him with several options for replacing his upper front teeth and Frank decided to do an implant bridge as it would offer the most long-term predictability and look and function the most like natural teeth. The first step in Frank’s treatment plan was having the four infected upper teeth extracted and two implants placed by the oral surgeon, Dr. Karl Andreasen. Dr. Andreasen then made a temporary bridge for Frank to wear while the implants healed. While his implants were integrating, Dr. Elizabeth recommended that Frank start Invisalign to fix the crowding in his lower teeth. Straightening out Frank’s lower teeth would help get his bite to a more stable position and decrease the excessive force that he was putting on his upper front teeth. Dr. Elizabeth didn’t want Frank to put his planned all-porcelain implant supported bridge at risk like his teeth had been. Frank completed his Invisalign treatment after 14 aligners and was ready to move on to the final phase of his treatment, restoring his upper front teeth. Dr. Elizabeth took impressions and worked with a local lab to fabricate Frank’s final bridge, which he had placed recently this year.

What does Frank think?

Frank is very excited to have something that looks and functions similarly to the four natural teeth he had to lose. He is also happy to be infection-free. Frank said that he understood going into this that it was going to be a long process. “I know things don’t happen overnight, and the details of the procedures were explained very well.” When asked what he would say to someone considering going through a similar procedure, Frank said, “I would tell them to bear with it. It takes as long as it needs to take to be done the right way. You’ll be well taken care of.” As for what Frank thinks of his new smile? “I am very happy! I’m looking forward to eating a hamburger!”

We’re so grateful to have you as a patient, Frank – thank you for putting your trust in us!

Rebuilding Worn Teeth – Gina’s Story

By Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?
Gina came to us as an established patient at one of her routine recare appointments. Dr. Elizabeth noted decay around her front teeth and Gina mentioned how she noticed wear on her teeth and she was frustrated that her teeth were deteriorating despite her efforts in caring for them. Dr. Elizabeth recommended Gina go through our records process so she could delve deeper into underlying causes behind her decaying and worn teeth.

What did Gina want?
Gina noticed a lot more wear lately and wanted to keep as many of her natural teeth as possible. She was concerned because she recently needed a root canal for one tooth and needed another tooth extracted because of a vertical root fracture. Gina wanted to take action before other teeth declined. She also wanted her teeth whiter, more even, more uniform looking and wanted things to function better. Gina wanted a conservative, comprehensive plan for restoring her teeth.


What was involved?
Dr. Elizabeth used photos and x-rays of Gina’s teeth along with the results of a thorough muscle and joint evaluation to develop Gina’s plan. The details of the records process revealed that the position of Gina’s teeth caused multiple interferences when she chewed. This is why her teeth were seriously starting to break down.

Dr. Elizabeth and Gina decided that Gina’s best option for restoring her teeth would first require moving her teeth to a better position with orthodontics. Gina worked with Dr. Brian DeVoe, a local orthodontist, until she had an even biting surface. Dr. Elizabeth then worked with a local lab and together they designed a blueprint of Gina’s new front teeth out of wax. This blueprint, called a laboratory wax-up, provided the ability for Dr. Elizabeth to create Gina’s new smile. Gina wanted to be as conservative as possible so it was decided to proceed with three porcelain crowns to remove the decay and to rebuild the worn edges of Gina’s front teeth.


What does Gina think?
“It sounded like a lot to do at first with the orthodontics and the crowns, but I knew I needed to do something to address the cause of the breakdown. I definitely didn’t want to lose any more teeth. I am so glad I went to the consultation with the orthodontist and went through with braces. My bite feels comfortable and everything feels so good! I would tell anyone considering getting this done to do it right away.”

Can Tooth Sensitivity Be Treated?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Can tooth sensitivity be treated?Tooth sensitivity is a common dental problem. At Eggert Family Dentistry, our patients often ask how to get rid of tooth sensitivity so they can start enjoying ice cream and coffee again. We’re happy to tell them that yes, tooth sensitivity can be treated. Often, diagnosing tooth sensitivity helps us uncover underlying oral health conditions that are also treatable.

Why your teeth become sensitive

Enamel is the hard, outer layer that protects the soft interior of your teeth. If it is worn away by decay or aggressive brushing, the soft dentin and nerves inside your teeth are exposed to heat, cold, and pressure from chewing. This is what causes the jolt of pain in your teeth when you sip a hot chocolate or chow down on chewy foods.

Teeth become sensitive to hot or cold for a variety of reasons. The most common culprits are tooth decay, cracked teeth, worn enamel and fillings, and exposed tooth roots. But these conditions are actually symptoms of other oral issues, such as infrequent brushing, overly aggressive brushing, gum recession, periodontal disease and especially clenching and grinding of your teeth.

Treatments for mild tooth sensitivity

If you experience occasional sensitivity to heat, cold, or pressure, we may recommend a desensitizing toothpaste for you to use at home. These toothpastes contain ingredients that prevent the hot or cold sensation from reaching the nerves of your teeth. We may also recommend regular fluoride treatments at our office during your recare appointments.

Treatments for severe tooth sensitivity

But sometimes, desensitizing toothpastes and fluoride treatments aren’t enough to alleviate your discomfort. In these cases, we may recommend a filling, crown, or bonding to fix the underlying decay or worn or cracked tooth. If you have advanced periodontal disease that has exposed the root of your tooth to the elements, we may recommend a periodontal therapy or a gum grafting procedure to repair and heal the exposed area.

Another way to make huge improvements in relieving tooth sensitivity is to look for and treat underlying issues with your bite. By undergoing our records process, we can help you to determine if making improvement to how your teeth come together and how they chew can stop your tooth sensitivity, often for good!

The best way to treat tooth sensitivity is to develop healthy oral hygiene habits to prevent decay and worn enamel in the first place. Regular recare visits to Eggert Family Dentistry are part of any great oral hygiene plan. To schedule your next appointment, contact Eggert Family Dentistry today.

Ron’s Story: The Importance of an Even Biting Plane

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?

Ron came to us first as a new patient after being referred by his daughter who has been a long-time, loyal patient of ours. At the time of his first exam, Ron was missing a number of teeth and many of the teeth remaining were broken down. Dr. Elizabeth noted excessive wear throughout his mouth, a very uneven biting plane, and mild muscle discomfort during the muscle evaluation. Ron constantly struggled with his partial denture dislodging and moving when he moved his nose and mouth in certain directions. Ron later broke a clasp off of his partial and even after an attempted repair and multiple adjustments, Ron was not able to find a comfortable, tight fit with his partial. Dr. Elizabeth recommended Ron go through our records process so that she could delve deeper into underlying causes behind his tooth loss and accelerated wear on his teeth.

What did Ron want?

Ron noticed that his partial denture had become loose and he wanted to be able to speak without dislodging his partial. Ron was also concerned about keeping his remaining teeth healthy. Ron wanted a more even biting surface and wanted things to function better. He wanted to understand what would be a more comprehensive plan for restoring and replacing his teeth.Ron Before

What was revealed during the records process?

Dr. Elizabeth used models, photos, and x-rays of Ron’s teeth along with our thorough muscle and joint evaluation results to present Ron with the current health of his teeth, gums, and the function of his jaw and muscles. The details of the records process revealed that the position of Ron’s teeth caused multiple interferences, so he was biting down unevenly causing the breakdown and loosening of his partial. This deterioration was negatively impacting both the aesthetics and function of his teeth. Ron needed a comprehensive plan to even out his biting plane to help distribute his biting forces more evenly.

What was involved?

Ron’s lower partial denture was loose and the remaining six natural, lower teeth had very poor prognosis. They were rather worn and tooth structure was already missing. Those teeth were also getting cavities because of how weak they were due to wear. Ron was presented with multiple restorative and replacement options. Ron decided it was best for him to have his remaining 6 lower teeth extracted and have 2 implants placed in his lower jaw to anchor a new complete denture. We were able to design a new, aesthetically pleasing, better-functioning denture for Ron that stays in place and keeps the function of his jaw and muscles working together better. Dr. Elizabeth worked with a local oral surgeon and a local dental lab to have implants strategically placed to help secure his newly designed smile.

Ron Dentures

What does Ron think?

Ron likes the look and feel of his new implant supported denture. He finds it easy to care for and is glad he went through the steps needed to get there.

Ron After

The Records Process – What is it?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Worn teeth can cause a problem with alignment. Luckily, a variety of problems can be significantly decreased or alleviated by proper positioning of the teeth and jaw.
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The Records Process – What is it?

I’m lucky to have learned so much about how good dentistry can improve whole body health. Many times each week, I find myself talking to patients about medical health problems. While working with people over the years, and becoming more inclusive in my approach to looking at things, it’s amazing how often comprehensive dental treatments can improve so many ailments.

For example, do you:

  • Suffer from frequent headaches?
  • Snore or have sleep apnea?
  • Experience unexplained shoulder, neck, or back pain?
  • Have a stiff/sore jaw after chewing, yawning, or waking?
  • Have difficulty sleeping?
  • Have broken, worn, sensitive, cracked, or chipped teeth?
  • Have crowns recommended for your front teeth?
  • Have pronounced gum recession?

By progressively working through “The Records Process,” we can determine if your health issues are due to your mouth. Often, malaligned teeth and jaw joints can cause pain and premature wear to teeth. Teeth that are subject to excessive pressure can develop chips, cracks, and notches at the gum line. Premature wear may lead to poor root support, loose teeth, and possible tooth loss.

During the records process, we evaluate your muscles, jaw, teeth, and their relationship with one another. You’ll undergo a series of mouth photographs, which aid in visualizing potential problems. Lastly, impressions of your teeth help us to see how everything fits and moves together.

All these results are analyzed and during your consultation phase, all test findings are discussed, as we take a tour of your mouth. The educational process is very eye-opening and allows for discussion of all treatment options.

Curious if your problems are tooth-related? Call us today to schedule an evaluation. 651.482.8412

The Importance of Records – Tom’s Story

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

How did this start?

Tom came to us first as a new patient last summer with a toothache after being referred by co-workers. At the time of his first exam, Tom had many teeth throughout his mouth that had fractured or cracked and he knew things were really broken down. Dr. Elizabeth noted excessive wear throughout his mouth and mild muscle discomfort during the muscle evaluation. Even with our thorough, comprehensive new patient exam, Dr. Elizabeth recommended Tom go through our records process so that she could delve deeper into underlying causes behind his cracking, breaking, and sensitive teeth.

What did Tom want?

Tom had noticed a lot more wear in the last decade and wanted to have them healthy again. He also wanted better looking teeth. He was worried since they looked unhealthy now, what would they look like in 20 years? Specifically, Tom wanted his teeth whiter and more even and wanted things to function better. He had many broken teeth, missing teeth, and wanted a comprehensive plan for restoring his teeth. He was also experiencing some chronic ear/sinus congestion, ringing in ears, and nerve issues in his face that he was hoping to have addressed during the process.
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What was revealed during the records process?

Dr. Elizabeth used models, photos, and x-rays of Tom’s teeth along with our thorough muscle and joint evaluation results to present Tom with the current health of his teeth, gums, and the function of his jaw and muscles. The details of the records process revealed that the position of Tom’s teeth caused multiple interferences, so he was biting down unevenly causing the breakdown of his teeth. This deterioration was negatively impacting both the esthetics and function of his teeth. Tom needed a full mouth reconstruction to rebuild what had broken down.

What was involved?

Tom was interested in phasing his treatment to lessen the financial burden. We were able to work with Tom and designed the phased treatment to keep Tom’s teeth, gums, and the function of his jaw and muscles healthy and happy during the process. Dr. Elizabeth worked with a local lab and together designed a blueprint of Tom’s new teeth out of wax. This blueprint is called a laboratory wax-up and it provided the ability for Dr. Elizabeth to create Tom’s new smile.

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Tom then spent a day and a half with us while Dr. Elizabeth prepared his front teeth for new crowns and veneers and his back teeth for long-term temporary crowns to get Tom used to more esthetic front teeth and a healthy bite in the back. We finally designed a splint for Tom to wear while he sleeps to protect his new smile from clenching, grinding and his very strong muscles.


What does Tom think?

“Before having it done, I thought it would be a much longer process, more like a year. It went a lot easier than expected. There was not much pain involved and it was helpful to have all of the options. Everything was clear. I’m glad I had it done now and didn’t wait. I think my life will change. I am more confident with my new smile. I would strongly recommend Dr. Elizabeth to others considering getting this done. I don’t know that people make the connection between function and cosmetics, but I sure learned a lot about how things fit together and I love my new smile!”

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