Dental Hygiene 101: What’s the Scoop With Fluoride?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Ah, October… A month that simply wouldn’t be complete without candied apples, kettle corn, and literal buckets of Halloween candy!

It may strike you as ironic, then, that October is also National Dental Hygiene Month. In our opinion, though, the consumption of huge amounts of sugar makes October the perfect time to focus on oral health. 

Far from taking the fun out of Halloween, Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth of Eggert Family Dentistry want to reassure you that even though your family may eat many sweets this month, you can count on a little mineral called fluoride to save the day.

What Is Fluoride? 

Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that plays an important role in dental health. Found in water, toothpaste, and mouthwash, fluoride strengthens the teeth, preventing cavities and even repairing early signs of tooth decay. 

What Are the Benefits of Fluoride? 

Fluoride works by penetrating the teeth and drawing in phosphate and calcium from your saliva. It aids the remineralization process, repairing teeth and strengthening enamel. It facilitates the creation of harder, larger enamel crystals that are more resistant to acid. 

Fluoride also reduces the activity of the bacteria in your mouth. This leads to decreased acid production and less chance for tooth decay. Studies show that this miracle mineral can even repair early stages of tooth decay before things become a full-fledged cavity! 

According to the CDC, the connection between fluoride and healthy teeth was recognized as far back as the late 1800s. By the 1930s, dentists observed that people who drank water containing naturally occurring fluoride seemed to be protected against tooth decay, or cavities.

Fluoride is beneficial for teeth because it helps to:

  • Rebuild (or remineralize) weakened tooth enamel.
  • Slow down the loss of minerals from tooth enamel.
  • Reverse early signs of tooth decay.
  • Prevent the growth of harmful oral bacteria.

Where Is Fluoride Found?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that originates in rocks. As the rocks break down, the mineral is released into the soil, air, and water. 

As a result, trace amounts of fluoride can be found in many of the foods we eat, including grapes, raisins, wine, black tea, spinach, and potatoes. Fluoride is also found naturally in freshwater and saltwater. However, simply eating these foods and drinking freshwater won’t do much for your teeth—there’s simply not enough fluoride content within them to do the trick. 

That’s where the other sources of fluoride come in: 

You may recall having to sit with a tray of fluoride foam in your mouth during your childhood dental visits. These fluoride treatments fortified both your baby teeth and strengthened your adult teeth. 

As an adult, you might receive a fluoride varnish during your recare visits, which serve the same purpose. And of course, there’s the fluoride-fortified toothpaste and mouthwash that can easily be found on store shelves. These items help you to protect your teeth at home in between dental visits.

Fluoridated Water

We’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the fluoride in tap water and its role in protecting our teeth. It’s now common practice for cities to add fluoride to their water supply in a process known as water fluoridation. Starting in 1945, this practice began as a direct response to the observation that fluoride prevents tooth decay. 

In the years that followed, the average number of missing or decaying teeth in American 12-year-old children dropped by 68 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This sharp drop followed the introduction and expansion of fluoridated water in communities, as well as the addition of fluoride to toothpastes and other dental products.

With so much success in improving the health and wellbeing of citizens, fluoridated drinking water is now heralded as one of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements of the 20th century.

 (For more interesting fluoride trivia, be sure to check out our blog, “Fun Facts About Fluoride!”)

Risks Associated with Fluoride in Water 

While there has been some controversy about the safety of fluoride in our water, the Environmental Protection Agency strictly regulates the amount of fluoride in community water supplies to keep it safe and healthy to drink.

If overexposed to fluoride, the main side effects are Dental Fluorosis or Skeletal Fluorosis. Dental Fluorosis occurs when you consume too much fluoride while your adult teeth are still developing underneath your gums. This will result in white spots on the surface of your teeth, but otherwise, the condition is harmless. (This condition is usually caused by swallowing too much toothpaste, so make sure you’re supervising your children while they brush.)

Skeletal Fluorosis is the same type of condition, except it involves the bones. It usually results from long-term fluoride overexposure. Symptoms of Skeletal Fluorosis include joint pain, stiffness, and—over the long-term—the calcification of ligaments. While this condition can be caused by swallowing toothpaste or mouthwash, it’s more often caused by drinking from a water source with unusually high levels of naturally-occurring fluoride.

Importance of Regular Fluoride Use

There’s no doubt that fluoride is nature’s cavity fighter. That’s why it’s important for everyone to use fluoride regularly, from childhood all the way through adulthood. 

Fluoride treatments are especially helpful for children as their teeth are developing. When you start off with good oral health, it’s much easier to maintain into teenage years and young adulthood.  

Fluoride treatments can also help adults with receding gums, adults who aren’t drinking city tap water, and adults with medical/oral health conditions or medications that cause dry mouth.

Want to Make Fluoride Treatments a Regular Part of Your Dental Hygiene? 

At Eggert Family Dentistry, Dr. Jeff and Dr. Elizabeth and our magnificent hygienists will be happy to discuss incorporating fluoride treatments into your regularly scheduled dentist visits. If you want to learn more about the many benefits of fluoride or to schedule a routine visit, give us a call at 651.482.8412.

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How Does Laughing Gas Help, and What Does It Do?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

What Is Laughing Gas?

Nitrous oxide gas – also known as laughing gas – is the most commonly used option to reduce anxiety in dentistry. Nitrous oxide is considered an anxiolytic, which means it doesn’t sedate you, but helps you feel comfortable, free from your usual dental anxieties and able to relax while dental procedures are performed.

Laughing gas is commonly used to help patients who have:

  • Dental anxieties or phobias
  • Trouble sitting still or cooperating (typically pediatric patients)
  • Special needs
  • Strong gag reflexes
  • Trouble breathing in and out the nose
  • An inability to respond adequately to local anesthesia alone

It also works well for children who need to have longer procedures done.

How Does It Work?

Laughing gas is given to patients through a mask that’s placed over the nose. When you breathe, you inhale the gas mixture and fall into a relaxed, nearly euphoric state. This leaves most patients feeling anxiety-free, with all their fears in the distant background.

Although the name laughing gas might make you think the medicine would make you giggly, that’s not how it works. The nitrous oxide slows your nervous system, which makes you feel less inhibited. It might make you feel light or tingly, and some people even say it makes their arms or legs feel like they are floating. The result, however, is that you feel calm and comfortable.

What Are the Benefits of Laughing Gas?

It is used commonly in dental offices because it works quickly and safely to help patients relax. It is given throughout your dental procedure and when the procedure is over, patients breathe pure oxygen through the mask, allowing the effects of the nitrous oxide gas to wear off quickly. Therefore, patients are able to drive themselves home.

In addition, although laughing gas helps you relax, it doesn’t put you to sleep. This helps ensure patients are still able to hear Dr. Elizabeth and Dr. Jeff and respond to any questions or instructions.

What Are the Side Effects?

When laughing gas is given correctly, most patients don’t have any negative side effects when it wears off. However, if the level of nitrous oxide rises too quickly, or if the amount being inhaled changes too quickly, patients may experience side effects such as:

  • Headaches
  • Shivering
  • Excessive sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sleepiness

To prevent headaches, patients are given oxygen for five minutes at the end of the procedure. This helps clear the remaining gas from the lungs, and it helps you become more alert and awake.

You can also help prevent nausea or vomiting by eating lightly before your procedure and avoiding a large meal for up to three hours after your appointment. If you do start to have any of the side effects, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff can turn the nitrous oxide level down and by simply breathing more straight oxygen, any adverse side effects diminish quickly.

Interested in Using Laughing Gas at Your Next Appointment?

Laughing gas is a helpful strategy for managing severe pain or dental anxieties. Talk with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff if you’re interested in learning more about using nitrous oxide gas at your next appointment. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 651-482-8412.

What Is a Root Canal, and What Should I Expect If I Have One?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

The root canal. That nightmare-inspiring procedure that strikes terror into the hearts of nearly every dental patient. Many patients have gone so far as to avoid their regular exams and cleanings for fear of it (which, of course, backfires by causing minor dental issues to worsen).

But due to improvements in technology and anesthesia over the years, the root canal procedure has become much more comfortable (and less scary) for the majority of people.

Still, you may find yourself full of anxious questions about this procedure, such as:

  • What is a root canal exactly?
  • What are some symptoms that indicate I might need a root canal?
  • What should I expect during a root canal procedure?
  • What is the healing process like, and how long does it take to heal?

To alleviate your fears, we’re here to answer these common questions.

What Is a Root Canal Procedure?

The root canal is the part of your tooth’s anatomy that includes the pulp (the soft interior of your tooth containing blood vessels and nerves) that extends down into the roots of your tooth.

A root canal dental procedure — commonly referred to simply as a “root canal” — treats inflammation and infection in the pulp of your tooth. When the pulp of your tooth becomes infected, you may have pain and tenderness around the affected tooth. A root canal procedure is the process of removing the infected pulp, cleaning and reshaping the interior of the root canal, and filling and sealing it to prevent future infection.

You may be wondering, “How can the inside of my tooth become infected?”

When your tooth is cracked, chipped, or otherwise damaged, or has a cavity that has been left untreated, its defenses are down. Oral bacteria can enter through those openings and infect your tooth’s pulp.

The benefits of a root canal include:

  • Relieving pain, swelling, or other symptoms
  • Preventing infection from spreading to other teeth
  • Saving the natural tooth (rather than extracting it and replacing with a dental implant, bridge, or partial)
  • Reducing the risk of damage to your jaw

Depending on the severity of your case, a root canal may be performed by Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff or an endodontist (a root canal specialist). If, after an exam and x-rays,we find that your case is more serious,we will refer you to an endodontist.

What Are the Symptoms That Indicate I Might Need a Root Canal?

A root canal is a common and effective procedure—according to the American Association of Endodontists, 15 million root canals are performed each year, with a 98% success rate.

In some cases, a patient doesn’t know they have an infected tooth until they have an exam. But many others experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Continuous tooth pain. Pain deep in your tooth that doesn’t go away. The pain may also radiate to your other teeth, jaw, or face.
  • Heat/cold sensitivity. Your tooth hurts when eating or drinking very hot or very cold foods or beverages, and the pain lingers or takes a while to dissipate.
  • Swollen gums. Your gums may be swollen, tender, or discolored around the affected tooth.
  • “Boil” or pimple on your gums. Pus from the affected tooth can form a boil or pimple on your gums. The pus may drain, leaving an unpleasant taste or smell in your mouth.
  • Swollen jaw. Your jaw may become swollen from the pus created by the infection.
  • Tooth discoloration. Infected pulp can restrict the blood supply to your tooth, causing it to appear darker than your other teeth.
  • Pain when you apply pressure. Your tooth will often feel tender when you chew or otherwise put pressure on the tooth. This may be due to damaged nerves around the pulp.
  • Chipped or cracked tooth. If you have a chip or crack in your tooth, bacteria can reach the pulp and cause an infection.
  • Loose tooth. Pus from the infected pulp can soften the bone supporting the tooth, making it feel loose.

    What Should I Expect During a Root Canal Procedure?

Before you have a root canal done, we will take x-rays of the affected area so we can determine the extent of the infection and confirm that a root canal is the right course of action.

Then, on the day of your root canal, we’ll:

  1. Review your x-rays and apply a local anesthetic. We’ll go over your x-rays with you, then apply a local anesthetic to numb the infected tooth and the gums surrounding it.
  2. Place a dental dam. We’ll use a dental dam (a protective rubber sheet) to isolate the affected tooth and keep it dry during the procedure.
  3. Create an access opening. To access the infected pulp, we’ll make a small opening into the biting surface of your tooth.
  4. Remove the infected pulp. We’ll remove the infected pulp inside the tooth, then clean and disinfect the canal.
  5. Reshape the canals. We’ll then reshape the canal to prepare it for filling.
  6. Fill the canal. We’ll fill the empty canal with a flexible, rubber-like material and seal it with a dental filling.
  7. Place the final restoration. On a subsequent visit, we’ll fit a permanent crown or other restoration to protect the treated tooth and restore your bite. Avoid chewing with the treated tooth until we place the final restoration.

The entire root canal procedure takes about 60-90 minutes on average, but can take longer depending on the severity of your case.

What Is the Healing Process Like?

After a root canal, many patients feel immediate relief from their symptoms, because the infected pulp that was causing pain was removed.

You shouldn’t have significant pain after your root canal procedure, but you may experience some tooth sensitivity for a few days. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever can help; if not, we may prescribe a pain reliever or occasionally an antibiotic. In most cases, any side effects dissipate over the course of a week or two.

Most patients are able to return to work or school the following day. You can eat after your procedure (once the numbness wears off), but stick to softer foods (pastas, mashed potatoes, yogurt, etc) for a couple of days. As your comfort level improves, you can introduce other foods.

After your procedure, it’s important to keep the treated area clean. Brush and floss normally and use an antibacterial mouthwash. If you don’t yet have your final restoration in place, avoid chewing on the treated tooth until you do.

Think You Might Need a Root Canal? Schedule an Appointment

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed earlier in this article, contact Eggert Family Dentistry right away to schedule an exam with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff. If you do have an infected tooth, it’s important that you be treated as soon as possible to relieve your discomfort and prevent the infection from spreading. To schedule an appointment, call our office at 651-482-8412.

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All-on-4® Procedures – David and Norma’s Stories

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

What happens when many teeth start to fail and not much else can be done to save them? How can we replace teeth and keep great esthetics and function? This month, we share two patient stories – David and Norma. Both of these two are vibrant individuals who have been able to keep their natural teeth well into their 80’s, but unfortunately the teeth just couldn’t be saved anymore. This blog shares how we were able to replace teeth for them.

How did this start? – David

David has been a patient of Dr. Elizabeth for over 15 years. Starting in 2019, Dr. Elizabeth started talking to David about how his two existing bridges for his upper teeth wouldn’t hold up much longer due to decay and breakdown of the fit against the natural teeth. About this time, David also noticed that one of the bridges felt loose and it was determined that one of the anchor teeth was abscessed with a likely root crack and needed to be extracted. This complicated things for David since his two bridges made up 9 of the 14 teeth of his upper arch. David decided to undergo the records process to learn more about his options.

Through the records process, it was determined that David only had 4 upper teeth with a fair to good prognosis. Conventional wisdom is that if 5 teeth on the upper arch are in good condition, we can try to replace teeth with a partial denture. Since David only had 4 remaining teeth in good standing for the upper arch, a full arch replacement was discussed including a full conventional denture, a locator retained overdenture on implants, a fixed hybrid “denture” (All-on-4® prosthesis), a full arch reconstruction with implants (one implant per tooth), or a full arch reconstruction with implants (restoring with implant bridges).

What did he want?

After discussing pros and cons for all options, David noted that eating and staying healthy were very important to him. He also noted that he was nervous that any sort of denture would affect his taste too much and he didn’t want that!

David and his wife watched our Spear Patient Education Videos to learn more about the differences between David’s possible treatment options. In the end, David decided that the All-on-4® Fixed Hybrid “Denture” was the right solution for him.

What was involved?

David had all of his remaining upper teeth extracted by Dr. Karl Andreasen of Momenta Oral Surgery in February, 2021. Dr. Andreasen was able to place 6 implants. One of the most magnificent things about the All on Four technique is that the case can be preplanned through 3D imaging and computer software simulations. This allows for the surgery to occur and a temporary prosthesis to be placed on the same day. Therefore, David never had to be without teeth!

The procedures to start fabricating the final restoration for David started in November, 2021 as the implants needed a few months to fully integrate. In multiple visits, David worked with Dr. Elizabeth to perfect his bite, the shade and shapes of his teeth, as well as his speech. Just before the new year, David’s final prosthesis was ready to go. At first, Dr. Elizabeth ran into a minor complication during the final torquing of the prosthesis because David’s puffy gum tissues kept the prosthesis from fully seating. But, after a couple more weeks, David’s gum tissues had a chance to heal and the prosthesis seated very well.

All-on-4®

What did he think?

David has been very happy with his prosthesis. He tells us everything is going great, he is comfortable, he can chew well, and he likes using a Waterpik to clean under the prosthesis. David noted that he had “no choice,” but to get a prosthesis like this and meet all of his expectations for chewing, esthetics, and taste. He feels that nothing has really changed for him and that he is eating and talking just like when he had his natural teeth.

David would tell anyone considering getting this treatment done to “just do it!” He has been very happy with his decision.

All-on-4®

How did this start? – Norma

Norma and Dr. Elizabeth met in 2020 when she moved to Minnesota from Michigan to be closer to her daughter and son-in-law. Her son-in-law has been a patient of Dr. Elizabeth’s for over 15 years. She came to our office seeking a second opinion. She was shocked by the treatment plan presented by another dentist. After reviewing her records, however, Dr. Elizabeth agreed that there was a lot of dental disease occurring with Norma’s natural teeth. All the teeth, except one of her upper jaw, were infected and needed to be extracted (including multiple bridges). Therefore, Dr. Elizabeth and Norma also had to discuss full arch replacement options.

What did she want?

Norma wasn’t sure if implants would be worth it at her age, but after learning more, Norma was interested in the possibility of the All-on-4® technique as it was also important to her that she be able to continue eating well. Norma wanted to know what Dr. Elizabeth would recommend to her mother if in the same situation. Dr. Elizabeth encouraged Norma to seek out a consult with Dr. Andreasen about the All on Four technique.

All-on-4®

What was involved?

Norma’s story for what was involved is very similar to David’s. In her case, Dr. Andreasen was able to place 5 implants. Norma was impressed that she was able to leave her implant surgery day with a full set of (temporary) teeth!

What did she think?

Norma tells us she initially thought she was “too old” to do this procedure and she wasn’t sure she wanted to make the investment. She liked, however, how Dr. Elizabeth put it into perspective to help her make her decision. She notes, Dr. Elizabeth asked her “do you want to be able to eat or do you want to get yourself a new car?” Norma said she really doesn’t drive much, but she likes to eat!
Normal is happy with her decision and is happy she doesn’t have to worry about it anymore. Everything looks and feels great and her life has changed for the better since she doesn’t have to deal with multiple infections in her mouth.

Like David, Norma would encourage anyone needing this type of rehabilitation to “just do it! Your teeth are something you need every day. Yes, it is an investment, but it should last me the rest of my life!”

All-on-4®

Congratulations David and Norma – you look magnificent! It’s been our pleasure to work with you!

 

I Have an Underbite. Why Should I Treat It and What Are Common Treatment Options?

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

Misaligned teeth can negatively impact a person in several ways. From low self-esteem to problems with teeth and gums and systemic issues, pursuing treatment to realign teeth has many benefits.

One culprit of misaligned teeth is the underbite, dentally referred to as a Class III occlusion. While not as common as its counterpart, the overbite, underbites affect 5-10% of the population.

What causes an underbite?

An underbite occurs when the lower jaw protrudes past the upper teeth when a person’s mouth is in a resting position and can be slight, moderate or severe. With an underbite, teeth don’t line up properly. The bottom front teeth don’t rest behind the top front teeth and the molars don’t stack up neatly.
While this bite is commonly genetic, it can also happen as the result of injury to the jaw, or in childhood from extended use of a pacifier or bottle or from thumbsucking.

An underbite is one of the leading causes of TMD.

If left untreated, what complications can occur?

In addition to low self-esteem, there are a number of physical issues a person with an underbite may deal with:

  • Difficulty biting or chewing
  • Difficulty forming words properly which can result in lisping or slurred speech
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sleep apnea
  • Cranial discomfort in the form of headaches, jaw pain and/or earaches
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Bacteria buildup in the mouth which can lead to gingivitis or periodontitis
  • Misshapen face

Treatment options for an underbite

If you come into our office with an underbite, Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff will recommend one of a few courses of treatment:

Reverse-pull face mask: A type of headgear, this device helps pull the upper jaw forward by attaching to metal bands on the back of the upper teeth.

Upper jaw expander: Also known as a palatal expander, this device is placed on the roof of the mouth and widened each night. It helps to widen the dental arch and realign the jaws. It’s often used in combination with another common treatment option: braces.

Braces: Braces can contribute to underbite correction by aligning and closing gaps between teeth.

Surgery: In the case of a severe underbite, jaw surgery may be required.

Depending on which treatment option Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff decide is best to correct your overbite, they may refer you to an orthodontist or oral surgeon and work alongside them to help you achieve your perfect smile.

Is an underbite making you feel self-conscious and leading to other uncomfortable or worrisome issues? Give us a call today at Eggert Family Dentistry to set up a consultation! 651.482.8412.

 

Why Limiting Juice and Soda Is an Important Part of Helping Protect Your Toddler’s Teeth

Frequently, we hear how bad sugar is for our bodies. It can lead to weight gain, blood sugar issues and even diabetes. But how often do we consider the effects of sugar consumption on our oral health…or on our child’s oral health? In this post, we’re going to look specifically at how sugary beverages wreak havoc on your toddler’s teeth and what you can do to prevent it.

Craving sugar is normal

While we may tend to villainize sugar, as humans we are biologically predisposed to crave sugary foods and beverages during times in our lives when we need more calories. This is especially true of babies and adolescents whose bodies are growing rapidly. Not only does sugar satisfy a craving and provide the calorie boost growing bodies are looking for, but it has been widely recognized to help reduce pain.

However, sugar isn’t without its pitfalls and should always be consumed in moderation.

How sugar affects your toddler’s teeth

When your toddler consumes sugar, it’s often in the form of fruit juice and in some cases, soda. But what actually happens to your child’s teeth when they drink a sugary beverage?

Everyone’s mouth contains bacteria. When this bacteria comes into contact with sugar, it immediately begins to break it down, forming plaque and producing acid. Because sugar is sticky and it adheres to the surface of your toddler’s teeth, this process happens right up against their tooth enamel. The acid eats away at the enamel and removes important minerals from their teeth. Without diligence, this process leads to tooth sensitivity, tooth decay and cavities.

So, what can be done?

Preventative measures to keep your toddler’s teeth healthy

There are several things you can do as a parent to protect your toddler’s teeth against the harmful effects of sugar:

  • Avoid fruit juice, even 100% or natural type juices
  • Definitely avoid giving your toddler fruit juice or even milk before bed
    Put a straw in any sweet beverages your toddler drinks
  • Teach your toddler the importance of brushing and flossing regularly
  • Help your toddler (and actually any child up to at least age 8) brush their teeth thoroughly 30-60 minutes after they consume fruit juice or soda
  • Provide water as your child’s primary beverage and encourage frequent hydration to rinse their mouth
  • Have children drink white milk; flavored milk of any kind (chocolate, strawberry, banana, etc) is full of sugar
  • Limit or avoid sugary drinks and foods

Last but not least, schedule regular recare visits for your child with Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff at Eggert Family Dentistry! 

To make an appointment for your child’s next visit, give our office a call at 651.482.8412.

Types of TMD Appliances

By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

A hot/cold compress can provide temporary relief from TMJ discomfort but realigning the jaw and bite often requires a bolder approach. If Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff determines that your jaw discomfort is the result of TMD, they will create a customized treatment plan for you. More than likely this plan will include a TMD appliance, usually called a splint. Let’s explore the different types of TMD appliances and the benefits of each one.

Common TMD appliance choices include:

Over-the-counter mouthguard

Because they’re available over the counter, these mouthguards can be an affordable option. Unfortunately, because they’re not custom-fit for your mouth, they usually are uncomfortable and difficult to wear while you sleep. They tend to be very bulky and many people find that these mouthguards cause them to grind their teeth more. An OTC mouthguard might be ok as a very short term or emergency alternative to more therapeutic options.

Custom-fit mouthguard or softguard

A custom-fit softguard is fit to your specific teeth and is soft and squishy to bite into. While they can provide some jaw support and are appropriate in certain situations, they are very easy to clench into and can make muscle issues worse.

Essix retainer

After orthodontic tooth movements, it is ideal to wear a retentive device to help keep your teeth in position. An essix retainer is a thin, clear, plastic appliance that is custom-made to your teeth (shown above). At Eggert Family Dentistry, we take impressions of your teeth and fabricate an essix for you within just a few days. Essix retainers do not provide much support for the joints or muscles and therefore do not typically help manage TMD, however, they can be the right choice for some situations. In cases of severe bruxism, these may wear out quickly.

Custom nightguard

Custom nightguards are thicker than Essix retainers and are effective in helping with severe clenching and grinding problems. Because they’re custom-made, they are more secure than over-the-counter mouthguards. These nightguards have a hard exterior and are especially helpful in protecting the teeth against bruxism.

Anterior deprogrammer

This acrylic appliance helps keep your muscles more relaxed and therefore allows a healthy TMJ to also find a relaxed position. An anterior deprogrammer keeps all contact on the front teeth so the strong chewing muscles can’t fire as intensely. This allows for a deprogramming of muscles and can be especially effective at managing headaches and other muscle maladies.

TMD (sometimes called neuromuscular) orthotic

This acrylic appliance helps reposition the jaw by not only supporting the muscles, but also damaged TMJ(s), and is effective in alleviating TMD symptoms. In some cases, this appliance even moves the mandible into a new, more comfortable position. The neuromuscular orthotic can be worn all day and night, but generally not during mealtime.

Seattle protocol appliance(s) for sleep and airway issues

The Seattle Protocol is a method to determine if sleep and airway play a role in your TMD symptoms. It is common for stress hormone to build in the body if you’re not getting good air exchange and/or if your body isn’t getting the restorative sleep it needs. At Eggert Family Dentistry, the Seattle Protocol starts with baseline sleep information. Then, we work you through trial splints to open the airway space available in the mouth, both horizontally and vertically. Once your sleep improves, we often see improvements with TMD symptoms as well. Most often, you then have a final splint fabricated based on trial splint results.

Sleep appliance for apnea or other sleep related breathing disorders

A sleep appliance for apnea typically pulls the jaw into a forward position to increase airway space. These appliances can change the bite with long-term use and therefore are only fabricated after careful consideration and often after conversations with your medical doctor and after moving through the Seattle Protocol at Eggert Family Dentistry.

At Eggert Family Dentistry, we treat TMD cases with the appropriate appliance for you. This not only can lessen the effects of teeth grinding and deprogram incorrect muscle patterns, but can improve your overall quality of life. We may also integrate behavioral and muscle therapies that help you use your jaw muscles differently. Often after managing the TMD, we can also make changes to the teeth for full-time relief of your symptoms. This may include suggestions from Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff for full-mouth reconstruction, orthodontic treatment, or equilibration.

Do you still have questions about TMD? Are you concerned you’re experiencing symptoms of TMD? Give us a call at 651.482.8412. Dr. Elizabeth or Dr. Jeff would be happy to speak with you or see you in our office!

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.

Up-close and Personal with Dr. Elizabeth Eggert

This month, I again cannot pick just one Wonder Woman to recognize from our team. Every day lately I am in awe at how amazing these women and men are that I get to work with. They all deserve a major award, yet unfortunately they will have to settle for a heartfelt THANK YOU in our newsletter.

The closure due to COVID-19 has been tough. The reopening has been tougher. I started the year realizing 2020 was my 15-year anniversary of starting Eggert Family Dentistry. I had hopes of grandeur, thinking maybe we could rent out the Vadnais Commons, have a band and food and get our patients and team together to CELEBRATE! It has been a lot of work over the years, but we were “making it.” We had a lot to celebrate.

Then the world turned on a dime. I was told I had to close my business. But, not really close, I had to stay available for emergencies so that people would stay out of the emergency room, but I couldn’t run my business how I need to in order to pay my employees. This meant that nearly all of our wonderful team members had to be put on a temporary lay-off and we had to rely on the government and unemployment benefits to take care of their families.

Dr. Jeff and I did the best we could to address emergencies during the mandated closure. The CDC made it seem like we might die if we saw patients or we might be the reason someone else might die if we turned out to be an “asymptomatic carrier” of COVID-19. Unfortunately, dental disease just doesn’t stop because another disease takes priority. We dealt with a number of calls at all hours and saw people as needed. We’re still getting calls every weekend and even now that we’re back open, we’re finding it very difficult to keep up.

I had a patient ask me the other day “How was your vacation?” He meant during the closure. He meant well. He was just trying to make conversation. He did not mean to downplay the severity of what is happening. I unfortunately am so sensitive right now that I almost started crying as this nightmare has been the farthest thing from a vacation. Trying to keep a small business afloat during this has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do (and I’ve had 5 natural births!).

Our business is like a lot of other service-based industries. We rely on revenue coming in so we can keep up with our payment obligations. When there is no revenue coming in, there are still payment obligations. We have been lucky in that we have been able to secure some of the government-based aid options. We have applied for all that is available and time will tell how it all pans out. But, even with the government help, the future is unpredictable and the work never stops. Luckily, we had been saving, but not saving for a rainy day like COVID-19, saving for big equipment purchases, for things that are expensive to replace and upgrade. Highly specialized dental equipment wears out over time and is necessary to keep us up and running, but unfortunately comes at a high cost. With revenues down over 33% so far for 2020, we are having to make some difficult choices when it comes to maintenance and upgrades. We’ve also been working to talk to the dental insurance companies about how their reimbursements haven’t been keeping up over the last many years and that if they won’t raise the allowed amounts for our dental procedures, we won’t be able to provide the service you all deserve. We are currently in a situation where many dental procedures require a 40% adjustment of our fees. With the challenges we face due to COVID-19, adjustments like that cannot be justified.

We don’t want your sympathy, but we would love your empathy and support. This has been amazingly draining on small businesses like ours. I feel extremely lucky that we are even open. I feel extremely lucky that patients are “mostly” scheduling. It definitely could be worse. I called to see about going to my favorite restaurant the other day and they still aren’t open. The governor gave them the “ok” to open over six weeks ago and unfortunately, they must not be able to justify the expenses they face to be open.

How can you help? Schedule to come see us, commit to your appointment and show up, accept that we may be running behind and that we will give you the same attention we gave the patient the hour before should you need it too, accept that we need to collect your credit card information at this time prior to your appointment, accept that things are different, but we are doing the very best we can for you, and please be nice!

Our main goal is to provide you with the same care and attention that we always have. We appreciate you as our patients and we look forward to again serving you soon!

We’re Hiring!

Are you or anyone you know interested in joining in on the fun at Eggert Family Dentistry?  Candy is looking to retire this February and we are working to hire someone to start training as soon as possible.  Carolyn will be moving into Candy’s role as Account Manager and Insurance Specialist so we are hiring for the following:  

 

Patient Care and Marketing Coordinator

Do you love working with a great team? Do you have a keen eye for details? Are you able to connect with others on a personal level? We’re growing and we need you. A family-focused, cosmetic group practice in North Oaks seeks an experienced, pleasant, highly motivated, and hardworking team member with excellent interpersonal skills to serve as a patient care and marketing coordinator 4-5 days per week.

Responsibilities include: greeting patients, answering phones, scheduling, billing, collections, insurance claims, and practice marketing.

High school degree required with four- year college degree preferred. Course work in administrative assisting, dental assisting, and business will be looked upon favorably. Previous dental office experience preferred, but candidates with customer service backgrounds as a personal assistant or in event planning or sales and retail should consider this exciting opportunity in the dental field.

Candidates must have proficient computer skills and experience with websites, social media, and marketing campaigns is a plus.

Please email your resume AND cover letter describing how you are a great fit for this position to info@eggertfamilydentistry.com.