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Monday 9:00am - 6:00pm

Tuesday -Thursday
8:00am - 5:00pm

Friday 8:00am - 12:00pm

Closed on Friday
during the Summer.

Phone: 989-773-3560

900 E Bellows St, Mt Pleasant, MI 48858


 

What Makes Up a Tooth?

Family Dentistry Mount Pleasant, MIDr. Egger loves teeth. OK, maybe not those wax vampire teeth that are soon to be around for Halloween. But Dr. Egger is all about helping his patients keep their teeth healthily chomping away year after year forevermore. Kind of like a Pac Man game on autoplay. Or a beaver going through birch trees in the U.P.

Toward that end, we think it can help to know what your teeth are all about. We often have blogs about prosthetics such as bridges, crowns, or even dentures. But many people don’t know the basics of just what their teeth are.

So, for your enlightenment, and maybe an answer or two on Jeopardy!, here’s a primer on your trusty teeth.

What are the parts of a tooth?

These are the parts that make up all of your teeth:

  • Crown — This can be confused with a dental crown, a prosthetic that fits over your upper part of the tooth. The crown actually fits over the “crown” of the tooth. This is the portion of the tooth above the gumline.
  • Gumline — This is where the tooth and the gums meet. When you develop problems with your gums, bacteria and tartar begin to move up under the gumline.
  • Root — About two thirds of the tooth mass, the roots are the part of the tooth that is embedded in the jawbone.
  • Enamel — Enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body, but it is actually porous. That’s why it can accumulate stains from coffee and red wine. Enamel protects the inner tooth.
  • Dentin — The layer under the enamel, the dentin has millions of tiny tubes that lead directly to the dental pulp. When a tooth is stained from a reaction to tetracycline or from trauma, it is stained in the dentin. This type of staining can’t be corrected with teeth whitening.
  • Pulp — This is the soft center of the tooth. Here there are nerves and blood vessels. When decay invades the pulp you’ll begin to feel extreme pain. A root canal removes all of the nerves and blood vessels.

What are the different types of teeth?

The normal number of teeth a person usually has before they lose any is 32, 16 on top and bottom. You probably have never spent much time thinking of the function of your teeth, but the different shapes make for different purposes. Here are the types of chompers in your mouth.

  • Incisors — These are the sharp, chisel-shaped front teeth (four on top and four on bottom) used for cutting food.
  • Canines — These are also called cuspids, these pointed teeth (two on bottom and two on top) are used for tearing food.
  • Premolars — These teeth have pointed cusps on their biting surface and are also called bicuspids. These teeth (four on top and four on bottom) are for crushing and tearing.
  • Molars — These teeth have several cusps on the biting surface. The molars (six on top and six on bottom) are meant for grinding up food.

Now that you’re a tooth expert, maybe it’s time to schedule your twice-yearly exam and professional cleaning with Dr. Egger. Call us at (989) 773-3560 to make an appointment.

Dental Services Mount Pleasant MISome of our patients ask us why they should come into our offices every six months when we’re not doing anything different than they do at home. Of course, unless you have a handy x-ray machine, you’re probably not taking those at home. But there is a misconception that professional cleanings aren’t really necessary every six months.

We seriously disagree.

Dr. Egger and our whole team view good dental hygiene as a partnership between home care and professional cleanings. And those professional cleanings (we use a fancy term, prophylaxis) should happen twice each year.

Here’s why you need prophylaxis twice yearly.

Tartar is the real culprit

Professional cleaning by Dr. Eggers’ three hygienists removes plaque, calculus (tartar), and stains from the teeth. Can’t this happen at home? While you can, and do need to, remove plaque with your home hygiene, it is almost impossible to remove it all. What you don’t/can’t get at slowly turns into tartar. This is the hard light-colored stuff that builds up particularly on the inner bottom teeth. Tartar cannot be removed with home care. No matter how well you brush or floss, once tartar has taken hold it can only be removed by a professional hygienist or dentist. That’s where dental picks come into play.

So I have a little tartar. What’s the big deal with that? Once formed, tartar keeps growing because brushing doesn’t remove it. If you let it keep expanding, it will eventually begin to expand down under the gumline, causing irritation. This irritation is called gingivitis and is the precursor of gum disease.

Here’s what our cleanings do that you can’t

What does a professional cleaning at Dr. Egger’s involve? First is a scaling and polishing procedure that removes normal plaque buildup, calculus, and stains. What’s scaling? That’s where the hygienist chips away the layer of tartar that has formed in your usual spots in your mouth. Various picks have different characteristics that help the hygienist break the grip of the tartar. Once the grip is loosened, the tartar releases and can be removed.

Once the tartar is removed, the teeth are professionally polished. We utilize a special paste with more grit than typical toothpaste that helps remove stains and polishes the teeth. This polishing also makes the tooth surfaces more smooth and difficult for plaque and debris to adhere to, at least for a couple days.

Twice each year

People wonder why Dr. Egger wants to see his patients every six months. It’s not just arbitrary — six months is the time it takes for tartar to take hold in your usual build-up locations. And once it builds up it needs to be removed.

Is it time for your cleaning? Call us at (989) 773-3560 to make your appointment.

Dental Services Mount Pleasant MIConspiracy theories are nothing new. It’s just that the internet today makes it seem like there’s a nut job who thinks the world is flat around every corner.

The moon landing. Phony. The Edsel is a flop. Conspiracy by space aliens. The Red Wings not making the playoffs for two years in a row? CIA operation is behind that.

And then there’s the old one — fluoride in the municipal water supplies is a Communist conspiracy to brainwash the American population.

Yes, this little doozy has been a mainstay of certain groups such as the John Birch Society ever since the benefits of fluoride for protecting teeth were first discovered. It has gained traction recently by people thinking we’re all being poisoned by fluoride.

Fortunately, saner minds prevailed and continued to do so because fluoride is one of the best things a person can ingest to help strengthen their teeth. It also helps keep our bones strong.

With all the iron in the U.P., you may have thought iron was the best thing for teeth, but it’s fluoride. Here’s how it protects your teeth.

What is it and how does fluoride protect your teeth?

Think of your teeth as if they were mine, with minerals coming and going all day long. Demineralization and remineralization — those are the two processes where minerals are added to and lost from a tooth’s enamel layer. Demineralization is the problem. Minerals are lost from a tooth’s enamel layer when acids, formed from the bacteria in plaque and sugars in the mouth, attack the enamel. Fortunately, when you eat foods and drink water, minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate remineralize the teeth. The balance is what’s important. Too much demineralization without remineralization results in tooth decay.

People who think we should take fluoride out of the water supply are missing one little another fact — fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral. That’s right, you can find it in many foods and natural water. Good luck signing a petition to remove fluoride from pickles, white wine, spinach, oysters, carrots, green and black teas, various fruit juices, Russet potatoes, asparagus, and even chicken.

It helps prevent tooth decay by making the tooth enamel more resistant to those acids from bacteria and sugars in the mouth. Fluoride also has the cool effect of reversing early cases of decay. For kids under 6, fluoride becomes incorporated into the development of permanent teeth. This makes the teeth resistant to the assault of acids trying to demineralize the teeth. Fluoride also speeds remineralization and disrupts acid production in the mouth.

When is fluoride the most beneficial?

It was originally thought that only children benefit from fluoride, but new research shows that topical fluoride from toothpaste, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments are important to help adult teeth fight decay. For children, it’s long been known that children between 6 months and 16 years need fluoride to help build their teeth.

Fluoride treatments with Dr. Egger

Conspiracy theorists aside, fluoride is one of your teeth’s best friends. At Dr. Egger’s we give our younger patients concentrated fluoride treatments, usually with fluoride gel in trays. But we can also provide fluoride for adults who have less-than-awesome enamel. Plus, seniors’ teeth need fluoride, especially to stem decay around long-placed cavities and such.

Is it time for your twice-yearly cleaning and exam? Call Dr. Egger’s at (989) 773-3560 to make your appointment.

Family Dentistry Mount Pleasant, MIHere’s a question to ask your erudite friend who got a Ph.D. from UM when you’re hanging out at Sleeping Bear Dunes this summer:

What is the hardest tissue in the human body?

He or she will probably say something like the femur or the skull. Wrong-o, maize, and blue breath.

Your tooth enamel is the hardest tissue on your body. Dr. Egger would have aced that question!

Tooth enamel covers the crown of the tooth, the part that is visible above the gum line. It is comprised for the most of minerals, primarily hydroxyapatite. It is translucent so that you can see right through your enamel to the main portion of the tooth, the dentin, beneath it. The dentin is what makes your tooth color, not the enamel.

But stains on your teeth from food and drink accumulate on the enamel, not in the dentin. Regular visits Dr. Egger for your twice-yearly prophylaxis (fancy word for professional cleaning!) clean and polish most of those stains away. Tooth whitening also removes these stains from the enamel.

Like a bodyguard without the roids

Like the beefed-up dudes surrounding a mafia boss, your enamel’s job is protection. Enamel protects your teeth during daily use. You don’t realize it, but things such as chewing, biting, crunching, and grinding create lots of force, and your enamel keeps that force from damaging the interior of the tooth. The enamel also insulates the teeth from potential painful temperatures and chemicals.

Although it is incredibly strong, your enamel can still be damaged. It can crack or chip, but unlike bone cells, enamel has no living cells so once it is damaged the body cannot repair it. People think you can restore your enamel — some dental products even claim this — but you cannot. Once enamel is gone, it’s gone for good. Kind of like your youth!

Leave the erosion to the sandblaster

When you consider the fact that your enamel can’t rebuild, it’s wise to avoid the foods and beverages that cause enamel erosion. Here’s a list of enamel eroders:

  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Acid reflux disease
  • Too much sugar and starch in the diet
  • Fruit drinks (fruits have various acids, some very erosive)
  • Excessive soft drink consumption (high levels of phosphoric and citric acids)
  • Medications like aspirin and antihistamines
  • Environmental factors such as bruxism

Will I know when enamel has eroded?

Unlike a crack or chip to your tooth, enamel erosion doesn’t happen quickly. There will be clues. Dr. Egger will see them during your exams, but you’ll also need to pay attention. Sensitivity to sweets and temperatures can cause twinges of pain in the early stages of erosion. As it progresses, your teeth become discolored as more of the dentin is exposed. As enamel erodes the edges of your teeth can become rough and irregular. Severe sensitivity will come in the late stages.

If you have any symptoms of enamel erosion, give Dr. Egger a call at (989) 773-3560. Let’s put a stop to this before it progresses.

dental services Mount Pleasant MIWhen you eat some ice cream or have a cold Coke, do your teeth tell you they’re not very happy? Teeth that are sensitive to cold is a common problem, with 57 percent of adults between 20 and 50 reporting some degree of cold sensitivity. What’s behind this sensitivity?

Causes of sensitive teeth

There are a number of factors that can cause a tooth to become sensitive to cold. Most cold sensitivity occurs at or near the neck of the tooth or at the gumline. This happens because the dentin, the inner portion of the tooth, becomes exposed due to wear on the outer enamel. Also, it can be due to an exposed root surface (below the gumline), a cavity, or a loose filling. Most tooth sensitivity comes from an exposed root.

How do roots become exposed?

The crown of the tooth, the part above the gumline, is covered by enamel. Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, so it provides great protection. But the roots don’t have enamel. They are covered by cementum, and beneath it, the dentin.

These factors can lead to a root being exposed:

  • Improper toothbrushing
  • Clenching or grinding the teeth
  • Erosion due to acid
  • Orthodontic treatments

How does Dr. Egger help with tooth sensitivity?

Dr. Egger will evaluate your tooth and suggest various treatment options — some are simple, some more involved.

  • Using a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth
  • In-office or home fluoride treatments — fluoride strengthens the enamel and the dentin, reducing sensitivity
  • Dietary changes — reducing acidic foods and drinks usually lessens sensitivity
  • Crowns or bonded fillings to cover the exposed root area
  • Gum grafting to cover the receding gums
  • Root canal

Receding gums can be a sign of gingivitis and possible gum disease. Brushing too hard or with a toothbrush with firmer bristles can also make the gums recede, exposing the roots.

If you are noticing new tooth sensitivity to cold, give Dr. Egger a call soon. He’ll get at the cause before it becomes a bigger issue. Call us, 989-773-3560.

General Dentistry Mount Pleasant, MISome people think they should skip their twice-yearly professional cleanings with Dr. Egger and his team to save a few clams. After all, isn’t brushing and flossing at home just the same as what they do with that little spinning brush and those picks?

Well, it’s the difference between you playing pond hockey and Henrik Zetterberg playing in the NHL for the Red Wings.

Our professional cleanings and exams are critical parts of your oral hygiene regimen. Here’s what we do.

What is involved in the exam?

This is what Dr. Egger is looking for when you come in twice each year.

  • Diagnostic dental x-rays— X-rays are crucial in detecting some hygiene issues: decay, possible tumors, cysts, and bone loss. We also use x-rays to check the position and alignment of each tooth.
  • Oral cancer screening— Dr. Egger checks your gums, tissues, throat, tongue, lips, face, and neck for signs of oral cancer. See, he’s not just pulling on your tongue for fun.
  • Evaluation of your gums— This is the time Dr. Egger looks for signs of periodontitis, gum disease.
  • Examination for decay— In addition to x-rays, Dr. Egger uses visual clues to check for the beginnings of decay on your teeth.
  • Examination of your dental restorations— He’ll check any prosthetics such as bridges or crowns, along with fillings, veneers, bonding, and the like.

How is the cleaning different than what I do at home?

We call our professional cleanings prophylaxis because it sounds fancy. But there are things we do with our cleanings that you cannot do at home. Here’s the plan:

  • Calculus (tartar) removal— If you ever had to take calculus in high school or college, you probably wish it could have been removed from your schedule. Calculus on your teeth needs removing, too. Calculus is the clinical name for a plaque that has hardened onto your teeth. Plaque is always on there, waiting for you to brush and floss it away every day. But over time some areas tend to form tartar, areas such as the inside of your front bottom teeth. You can’t remove tartar at home; we have to chip and break it off with our trusty dental picks.
  • Plaque removal— This sticky, invisible substance forms on your teeth all the time. Along with saliva, food debris and bacteria hang around in plaque. You remove it at home, but we remove every bit of it when we professionally clean.
  • Teeth are polishing— The gritty tooth-cleaning paste we apply with our spinning brushes polishes away any remaining plaque and the lighter stains on your enamel.

Is it time for your twice-yearly appointment? Call Dr. Egger at 989-773-3560 to make your appointment.

 

toothbrushYour toothbrush is a tireless worker, fighting hand to hand with the bacteria and evils of plaque and gingivitis. Never complaining, never worrying about its own well-being. And when its work is done its thank you is to be stuffed back in a dark, damp drawer until called into duty again.

Come this time of year, you probably know more about the snow conditions at Boyne than you know about the condition of your trusty toothbrush. Despite it being your first line of defense against tooth decay and gum disease, your toothbrush gets nary a thought. But Dr. Egger is big on preventive care, so here’s some helpful information on caring for your little bristled friend.

Caring for your bristled friend

If you just did one thing for your toothbrush it would be letting it dry out between brushings. This seems unimportant, but a damp toothbrush can be a breeding ground for germs, fungus, and bacteria. Living in a dark drawer, you’d be amazed what can be growing in that toothbrush if it never dries fully. Letting your toothbrush dry out kills most of those germs. When you’re finished brushing, let tap water run through the bristles, then store the toothbrush in an upright position so that the air can dry it out. Now you know what those vertical toothbrush stands are for!

Plus, while Dr. Egger is all for young love, you may want to keep your toothbrush single, not letting it get too attached to the toothbrush of your partner. It’s not that we’re anti-social, it’s just that cold and flu viruses can jump from one toothbrush to another, if they’re touching while in the drawer. That toothbrush holder will keep the shenanigans from happening between brushes.

How often to change your toothbrush

Some people keep using their toothbrush until the bristles are flattened like an armadillo on a Texas highway. That’s a bad idea. You should change your toothbrush every three months. Studies have shown that after three months of normal use, toothbrushes are no longer nearly as effective at removing plaque. This is because the bristles become bent and they break down, losing their effectiveness when getting into the tough spots.

And did you just get over the flu or something equally serious? Change your toothbrush, as those germs still left from your illness would be more than happy to re-infect you.

How long should I brush?

Some people brush as if they’re trying to beat the Belle Tire commercial during the Red Wings game. If that sounds like you, this last bit of advice could seem like an eternity. But you really need to brush twice daily for two full minutes. To make it easier, think just 30 seconds for each quarter. Make sure to brush your tongue, the roof of your mouth, the pockets down along your upper gums. Two minutes. Set the timer on your phone. Hey, you could even watch Red Wings video highlights on your phone while you’re at it!

Have more questions about basic oral hygiene? Call any of the team at Dr. Egger’s, 989-773-3560, and ask away. Or, if you need to schedule your twice-yearly checkup, call us for that, too.

 

 

dental careOur teeth our tougher than a wolverine running about in the U.P. Problem is, they are so tough that we tend to take them for granted. We do all sorts of bad things to our teeth believing that they’ll forever keep chomping away on our behalf. But some of the things we do can do real, permanent harm to your teeth. Here’s a list of bad habits that need to go away for the sake of your teeth.

Eight things you’re doing to your teeth

Grinding your teeth — Life has its share of stresses. For many people, those stresses are internalized and come out when we’re asleep and we grind our teeth. This is called bruxism. Everyone knows grinding your teeth is bad: it literally grinds your teeth down. Most people who grind don’t realize they do it, unless they awake with very sore jaws. But Dr. Egger can see the signs and get you into a mouthguard to wear at night.
Chewing ice — Ice may be no-cal, but that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Lots of people, particularly men, chew ice. Chewing it can chip or crack your teeth. It also irritates the soft tissue inside the tooth, causing toothaches.

Fruit juice — Fruit juice has to be good for you, right? Well, if it were only fruit juice that would be much better than the sugar-added drinks that masquerade as fruit juice. Fruit juice “cocktails,” for instance, usually are made with only 10% of the drink being actual fruit juice. Look for fruit juices that are 100% juice. Otherwise, there is often as much sugar in it as in soda. Plus, in certain juices the acidity is pretty high.

Bottle in the crib — Putting a bottle in your baby’s crib to help him or her fall asleep is a bad idea. He or she may fall asleep with the bottle in their mouth, bathing the teeth in sugars overnight.

Sodas — Everyone knows sodas are no bueno, and in a dental sense it’s not necessarily because of the sugar. Yes, the sugars can lead to dental decay, but they also contain phosphoric and citric acids. These are corrosives that eat away at the enamel protecting your teeth.

Your teeth, the opener — Everyone knows a guy who revels in opening bottles with his teeth. Leave that to him; you can chip or crack your teeth very easily.

Constant snacking — When you eat a regular meal, your mouth produces more saliva and that helps eliminate and break down residual particles. But when you snack for brief periods, you don’t produce saliva in the same way. The lack of saliva when you eat a snack means that food bits can stay in your teeth for hours. If you need a snack, opt for something low in sugar and starch, like carrots.

Cigarette smoking — Cigarettes stain your teeth and lead to gum disease. As if that weren’t enough, tobacco also leads to cancer of the mouth, lips, and tongue.

Have you been doing most of the above, and now it’s time for Dr. Egger to rectify the damage? Call us at 989-773-3560 and let’s take a look.

Formerly, almost all fillings were made of a silver-colored metal alloy called amalgam. This material was strong, resistant to wear, and inexpensive. That’s why if you look at the molars of older people, there will be at least a couple of areas where you can see silver when they open their mouth.

Tooth FillingBut composite fillings are becoming much more popular. Just like amalgam fillings, composite fillings are used to fill areas of a tooth that have been removed because they were filled with decay. The difference is that composite fillings are made of tooth-colored quartz-like materials, so they can’t be seen when the person with the filling opens his or her mouth.

Once the decayed material has been removed and the tooth is cleaned, the composite filling is placed on the tooth. This is done in a layering process. Once a composite resin layer is applied, it is immediately hardened using a “curing” light. Then the next layer is applied in the same fashion, continuing until the height and shape of the filling match the shape of the tooth.

What are the advantages of using composite fillings over silver fillings?

There is more to composite fillings than simply being virtually invisible on the teeth. They are also non-toxic and eco-friendly, as they do not contain mercury (silver amalgam fillings contain a variety of metals, including traces of mercury). Plus, they bond directly to the tooth’s surface, making them stronger. Composite fillings protect the tooth from fractures because healthy tooth structure does not have to be removed prior to the placement of a composite filling.

What are the disadvantages of using composite fillings?

Composite fillings cost more than amalgam fillings because composite material is more expensive. Plus, the process is more difficult and takes more time. Composite fillings also don’t last as long as amalgam. But recent advances in composite resins have strengthened the material, so composite fillings will continue to improve their durabilitiy.

If you’re interested in replacing your old silver fillings, or simply in opting to have any new fillings made from composite resin, discuss it with Dr. Egger. Call us today at 989-773-3560.

Dentures don’t get no respect, to paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield. They’re in cartoons and sitcoms, and are good for an easy laugh. But things aren’t so funny if you’re over 65 and have lost all of your teeth. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control, one quarter of Americans over 65 have lost all their teeth.

To replace all of your teeth with implants is very expensive. So, Dr. Egger is a believer in dentures for those missing many or all of their teeth.

Benefits of dentures

If you’re missing all of your teeth, you’ve probably become accustomed to not smiling, to avoiding all kinds of foods, to slurring some words when speaking, and possibly to the collapse of your facial features due to bone loss.

DenturesBut dentures can put an end to most of those problems:

  • They restore the wearer’s ability to bite and chew a wide variety of foods, including necessary fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • They provide a more youthful appearance, as dentures restore your teeth, gums, and jawbone to their original dimensions.
  • They restore the wearer’s confidence. Laughing and smiling are no longer something to worry about.
  • They make it easier to speak again.

Types of dentures

Dr. Egger offers two basic types of dentures: full and partial. A full denture replaces an entire set of missing teeth, upper and lower. Partial dentures generally fill a gap of three or more teeth when a bridge can’t provide the necessary support.

Dentures are typically made of acrylic, but can also be placed over a metal base for added strength. Newer options include flexible resin, which offers a more precise, comfortable fit.

The latest addition to denture offerings is implant-supported dentures. Implants are placed strategically around your upper and lower jaw. Dentures are then anchored by those implants to provide the ultimate stability. No more slipping or rubbing.

If you’re missing many teeth, call Dr. Egger at 989-773-3560 and let’s discuss your options for dentures.