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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


 

In Dr. Egger’s first February blog we addressed some issues with tooth enamel. Despite being the hardest tissue in the human body (yes, it’s harder than bone), tooth enamel can still be broken down. That’s what the acids secreted by bacteria in plaque do, they begin to demineralize the enamel. That means the acids are pulling calcium and various phosphates out of the tooth enamel, which weakens it in that spot. Now the acids can penetrate the enamel; this is tooth decay, and you have a cavity.

So, the goal is to protect your tooth enamel, so that it can keep on protecting your teeth. That’s what good home hygiene does by brushing and flossing away plaque that builds up on your teeth during the day. The bacteria in plaque eat the bits and pieces of food that remain in your mouth and they then excrete acids. Brushing and flossing removes this, but if you don’t brush or don’t do a good job, the plaque remains along with its accompanying acids and potential to begin the process of tooth decay.

Fluoride is the best way to protect your enamel and keep it strong. Fluoride in toothpaste, mouthwash, and where it occurs naturally in foods and water help to push calcium and phosphates back into the enamel, known as remineralization, and this keeps the enamel in tip-top fighting shape, ready to take on all bacteria on the teeth.

In February’s first blog we also talked about toothpastes and mouthwashes that claim they can rebuild lost enamel. That’s a bunch of hooey. Enamel isn’t living tissue, so it can’t regrow. Once enamel is lost, it is lost for good. We all lose enamel over our lifetimes of chewing and biting. It just naturally thins. But there are a couple things you can do with the foods you eat and drink to minimize this thinning.

You are what you eat and drink

You want to preserve your enamel, and you can help on this front with what you eat and drink. There are various foods and drinks to watch out for. Carbonated sodas have lots of acid in them. Sweets don’t have acid, but they are loved by bacteria that love the sugars.

Fruit juices, especially lemon juice, can be extremely acidic. Drinking too much juice can break down your enamel in two ways. First, the acid breaks down the enamel. Second, once you drink the juice, it softens your enamel just a bit, and then when you brush your teeth that adds extra abrasion, which also degrades your enamel.

One way you can lessen this is by drinking acidic beverages with a straw. This pushes the fluids to the back of the mouth and away from your teeth. Plus, after that glass of orange juice, rinse with some water and this will neutralize the acid.

Another helpful hint is to chew sugar-free gum. This boosts the production of saliva, which washes the teeth and contains minerals to strengthen the enamel. Plus, some brands contain xylitol, which counteracts the acid in foods and beverages.

Now you know — it’s better to take care of your enamel than to wait for some false promise from a toothpaste to rebuild it. That can’t happen. Plus, keeping your twice-yearly appointments with Dr. Egger and our team is equally important to keeping your enamel and teeth healthy and strong. Is it time for your next appointment? Call us at (989) 773-3560 to make your appointment.

Everyone knows that healthy tooth enamel is key to healthy teeth. But what if your enamel has thinned? Are you saddled with a lifetime of rotting teeth and dentures? In the last year or two, you’ve probably seen the ads claiming that this toothpaste or this mouthwash can actually regrow enamel that has degraded. Is this true?

Too good to be true.

Once enamel is gone, it’s gone for good. So, for our February blogs let’s get into the reality of why it’s so important to protect your enamel with good hygiene and twice-yearly visits to Dr. Egger and not put your faith in falsely hyped dental care products.

Enamel is tough, but not invincible.

Enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body. That surprises most people. But it makes sense. Tooth enamel has the tough job of protecting the interior tissues of the teeth, where the blood vessels and nerves reside. That’s what decay does: it works its way through the enamel and into the dentin of the tooth. And when decay is left untreated, it can get through the dentin into the pulp of the tooth. Now there will be some serious pain, as the nerves in the tooth are exposed to the infection.

If you take care of your teeth with good home hygiene and twice-yearly professional cleanings and exams with Dr. Egger and our team, your enamel will hold up. But it will thin over time. A lifetime of chewing, biting, and eating and drinking acidic foods and beverages can wear away some of the enamel protecting your teeth. That’s why the teeth of older people start to look more and more yellow. Tooth enamel is actually translucent, so as it thins more and more of the dentin (the second layer of the tooth) shows through. And the dentin layer is yellow.

But the commercials say I can rebuild my enamel…

OK, so your enamel has thinned. You’ve squeezed lemon in your tea every day of your life and its acidic properties have broken down the enamel. But on TV you just saw an ad touting the ability of this toothpaste and that mouthwash to actually rebuild your enamel. So, no big deal about the degraded enamel, right?

Wrong. Tooth enamel is tough, but it’s not living tissue. Because of that it cannot regenerate. Yes, it seems commercials are playing hard and fast with the truth by saying you can rebuild your enamel. But if you listen closely to their claims, they skirt around the truth. They are basically saying they can “remineralize” the enamel, which is much different than rebuilding it.

Mineralization is key to healthy teeth. It is what prevents decay. Teeth are constantly gaining and losing calcium and phosphates in processes known as demineralization and remineralization. Acids in foods and secreted by bacteria draw out calcium and phosphates from the teeth — demineralization — and this leads to tooth decay. Toothpastes and mouthwashes with fluoride help to put those elements back into the enamel, which strengthens it. That’s why fluoride is so important in these products, and that’s why deceptive or outright misinformed claims made by “anti-fluoride” websites are so harmful for dental health.

In February’s second blog, we’ll get into this enamel issue a little more. Until then, if you need to make an appointment with Dr. Egger for your twice-yearly professional cleaning and exam, call us at (989) 773-3560.

At Dr. Egger’s, we’re all about helping our patients keep the healthiest smiles while having to spend the least amount of money to do so. That’s why we’re so big on coming in twice every year for our professional cleanings and exams. We can catch anything going on before it becomes a big deal, and that makes things much easier to address.

In line with that, we don’t want our patients to leave any of their insurance dollars out there unused. Those big companies don’t need the holiday bonus! So, in this blog, let’s get into that a bit and get you in here to use what is allotted to you.

This could be especially important during this oddest of years. We’ve noticed during this COVID-19 pandemic that many patients have avoided coming in for their twice-yearly professional exams and cleanings with Dr. Egger and our team. This isn’t a good idea for your dental health, as missing these appointments is how dental problems, such as gum disease, get a foothold. We can’t see you, so we can’t diagnose these issues when they are new and easy to reverse.

Plus, if you haven’t been in, you’re probably also leaving dental insurance dollars unused, and these typically don’t rollover into the new year. Here are a couple things to consider before the year end.

About that insurance

If you have dental insurance, it’s quite different from your regular health plan. Most dental plans have a yearly maximum that the company will pay for your dental work within one full year. The average amount is usually $1,000 per year, per person. After you reach that amount, you have to pay for everything. If you have unused benefits, these won’t rollover into next year, so you should take advantage of them before 2020 comes to a close.

Deductible

Deductibles on most dental plans are $50. If you’ve already had something done this year, say the first of your twice-yearly exams and cleanings, you’ve met your deductible. Having something done before the end of the year saves you from paying that $50 again. And $50 is $50, right?

Come on in

So, what should you do with your unused dental insurance dollars? Here are a couple ideas:

  • Professional cleaning and exam

As we mentioned above, many of our patients have skipped their twice-yearly professional cleanings and exams this year. Know that our safety protocols at Dr. Egger’s are aimed solely at keeping our patients safe. There’s no reason to neglect your dental health because you’re worried about contracting the virus. From masks across the board to intense cleaning and disinfecting, this is a safe environment. So, if you haven’t been in, this is a great use of your dental insurance dollars, and it’s a great way to keep your dental health on track.

  • Replacing an amalgam filling

If you have an old silver amalgam filling that you’d like to replace with composite resin, this is a great way to use up your dental insurance, as well. No one likes having a bunch of silver and mercury in their teeth, and we replace these fillings with composite resin that is virtually invisible when it is in your tooth. It will look as if you don’t have a filling there any longer.

Need to use your dental insurance before the year ends? Call Dr. Egger at (989) 773-3560 to schedule your appointment.

Some people only know the word “tartar” from the sauce they slather on their fish. While no one really wants to eat that monster pike you just brought home from a weekend camping trip on Lake Superior, that perch caught in the pond at your cabin could merit some tartar sauce.

Much as he likes a tasty perch, Dr. Egger is more concerned with the other tartar, the kind that builds up on the teeth of our patients. It’s basically the beginning of many dental problems.

What is tartar?

Everyone has bacteria in their mouth. They mix with sugars and proteins from food to form a sticky film on your teeth called plaque. Plaque coats your teeth and can get under your gumline. It is the start of a process that leads to tooth decay and gum inflammation.

 

But plaque is easy to beat down; all you have to do is brush and floss every day with a little bit of concentration. But if you get lazy with your home hygiene, plaque stays on your teeth and it hardens into tartar. It can form in a little over a day, and once it’s there, only a dentist or dental hygienist can remove it.

 

Six ways to keep tartar from building on your teeth

 

This whole tartar business doesn’t necessarily need to happen. Here are six ways Dr. Egger tells our Mt. Pleasant patients to control tartar buildup on their teeth.

 

  • Brush twice a day for two minutes. A cursory 45-second job won’t get rid of all the plaque. Be thorough, covering all the tooth surfaces.

 

  • Electronic toothbrushes may do a better job than manual effort. The American Dental Association (ADA) just approved a series of Oral B electric toothbrushes — the first electrics to gain vaunted ADA approval.

 

  • Use tartar-control toothpaste with fluoride. These can help prevent the plaque from hardening into tartar. Plus, the fluoride helps return necessary minerals to the teeth.

 

  • Floss. How many of you floss every night? Are you willing to take a lie detector on that? Alas, flossing is probably the single most neglected hygiene area, but flossing is the only way to remove plaque between your teeth and keep tartar from forming in hard-to-reach places.

 

  • Watch what you eat. Starchy and sugary foods make the bacteria in your mouth happy. When they eat the byproducts of these foods in your mouth, they release harmful acids that can lead to tooth decay. You don’t have to stop eating anything sweet, but just take it easy, and drink water after you do.

 

  • Don’t smoke or quit if you do. Studies show that smokers are more likely to have tartar on their teeth.

 

Most of us do build up some degree of tartar in certain spots. That’s why professional cleanings are scheduled every six months — that’s how long it takes to build up sufficiently. Don’t forget to schedule your next cleaning and exam for the fall. Call us at (989) 773-3560 to make your appointment. Remember, we’re closed on Fridays in the summer.

 

Egger, Kenneth DDS

Brushing your teeth twice every day for two minutes is the key to a healthy, happy smile. And that makes Dr. Egger happy.

So, why do so many people do such a poor job of brushing? They only brush for a short period of time. They miss teeth. They push too hard, making their gums recede. Or they’re just lackadaisical about the whole deal.

Maybe it’s time to go electric, and we’re not talking about Consumers Energy. We’re talking about an electric toothbrush.

The ADA’s on board

The American Dental Association (ADA) had been hesitant about electric toothbrushes, but they’ve finally come around to the facts about electric toothbrushes. The ADA has approved various electric Oral B toothbrushes. That means the ADA feels that these electric Oral B toothbrushes are safe and effective for removing plaque and keeping your mouth healthy.

Why they’re better

These Oral B electric toothbrushes feature a rotating head. This is similar to the polishing heads we use at Dr. Egger’s to polish your teeth. The bristles of these toothbrushes rotate and they vibrate, as well. That combination helps to remove more plaque.

And that’s not just advertising mumbo jumbo. The ADA reviewed various studies before giving these brushes its seal of approval. These studies have shown that after patients used an electric toothbrush for a period of three months instead of their manual toothbrush, their plaque was reduced by 21 percent and their gingivitis (gum irritation) was reduced by 11 percent. That’s a serious improvement in cleaning and can mean the difference between a healthy mouth or coming to see us for issues with decay or gum disease.

Other benefits of electric Oral B toothbrushes:

  • Easier for people with arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.
  • They have built-in two-minute timers, so you brush longer.
  • Studies show they improve the brusher’s focus.
  • Better for cleaning metal braces.
  • Fun for kids.
  • Safer for your gums.

There’s really no downside to these new electric toothbrushes. Dr. Egger feels they are a great option to improve your home hygiene. So, why not switch for the New Year?

Is it time for your next cleaning and exam? Call us at (989) 773-3560 to schedule your appointment.

Kids and Their Breath

Kids and the science of tooth brushing. As parents, we all have rather unscientific evidence that our children are less than diligent about when their teeth meet their toothbrushes on a daily basis. You could call it cursory attention. You could call it boredom. You could call it being in a hurry to do something else.

Or, as most of us do, you could call it bad oral hygiene, kid version.

Dr. Egger knows some of his younger patients may not be the best tooth brushers this side of Poughkeepsie, but he has faith in their efforts. Just because your child’s breath isn’t exactly minty fresh doesn’t necessarily mean your tot isn’t doing a good job cleaning his or her teeth. Truth is, not all bad breath is due to the buildup of plaque and bacteria in the mouth. There are reasons that most people don’t even know can lead to bad breath in children and teenagers.

Sinus infection

Want to have the perfect storm for bad breath? Allow fluids to collect in the nasal passages and the throat with a sinus infection. When this happens bacteria go crazy and start multiplying like rabbits. Brushing won’t do a thing to this type of bad breath, so ask your child if he or she has a sore throat or burning nasal passages. Then call your doctor.

Decay and gingivitis

Another root cause of bad breath could actually stem from poor brushing, but it wasn’t this morning’s brushing. If decay and gingivitis (gum irritation) have taken hold due to lackadaisical brushing, both conditions create bad breath that won’t be remedied by immediate brushing. A trip to see Dr. Egger will fix the issues, usually with the placement of a composite resin filling after the decay has been removed. Dr. Egger even has fillings for baby teeth that actually have fluoride in them to help keep decay at bay.

Swollen tonsils

Healthy tonsils should look like a bright pink wad of Double Bubble Gum, and they should be free of any spots. Infected tonsils will appear red, inflamed, and have white spots on them. The smell will be less than appealing. Bacteria can collect in the pits of swollen tonsils and create bad breath. Antibiotics will be required to cure this breath, and maybe a tonsillectomy.

Dry mouth

Kids may run around like the Energizer bunny, but water consumption isn’t usually a focal point. Checking out bugs is higher on the interest list. A lack of water means the mouth produces less saliva, and since part of the job of saliva is to wash away odor-causing bacteria, guess what’s next? Bad breath. Getting your kids to drink more water isn’t being an excessive, controlling, helicopter parent. Hydration is good and dry mouth is bad. Beyond bad breath, it can lead to tooth decay.

See? It may not be the case that your child would rather have to eat spinach than brush his or her teeth. That may not be causing the bad breath. Still, be sure they’re brushing and flossing regularly, and coming to see Dr. Egger twice yearly for their regular cleanings and exams. Call us at (989) 773-3560 to make your next appointment.

 

Summer is a Good Time to Ditch the Thumb

Now that we’re in the midst of a glorious Michigan summer, full of golf, softball games, trips to the lakes, or just sitting out in the backward, it can seem like school is a long way away.

But it shouldn’t feel like that for your child and his or her thumb sucking. If your child is still doing his best Linus from Peanuts imitation and he’s getting ready to enter preschool in the fall, it may be time to start telling the thumb, like a rider on a rollercoaster at Cedar Point, “Exit to your left. Your ride is over.”

Dr. Egger doesn’t want his patients and their thumbs to get in the way of their long-term oral health.

What is normal when it comes to the thumb?

Thumb sucking is a typical, normal behavior for young children. Thumb sucking can help a child feel secure and happy. It can really be helpful when a child is separated from his parents, such as when going to daycare. Some kids use the thumb or a pacifier to help them fall asleep. Insomniac parents sometimes wonder if they should go back to the thumb themselves!

OK, but it can’t go on forever

You don’t want the thumb sucking to continue on into school. In fact, the American Dental Association recommends discouraging thumb sucking by the age of four. By this time, prolonged sucking can begin to affect the proper development of your child’s mouth, jaw, and teeth. Continued thumb sucking can cause the permanent teeth to be misaligned, and that only spells the need for orthodontics later on.

If it continues into the five or six-year-old age the pressure from sucking will lead to changes in the mouth and teeth. The ADA says that the front teeth may begin to jut forward and the child’s bite will begin to open, meaning the upper and lower teeth won’t be able to touch. As the permanent teeth descend, they will start to become misaligned.

Yeah, but how do I stop it?

You probably don’t need to do what your parents may or may not have done to get you to stop with the thumb. Stuff like hot sauce and all isn’t the way to go. Various pediatricians have said the best way to discourage an unwanted behavior is to ignore it. Most kids start to get the idea in playgroups and such that they are the only one still sucking their thumb, and one day they simply stop.

But that’s not always the case; so if the thumb is still in play, try these tricks:

  • Offer a pacifier to infants. They are easier to take away, obviously.
  • Establish a chart and reward system, plotting progress on quitting.
  • Encourage and praise all attempts to stop thumb sucking in your child.

Summer is a good time to break the thumb sucking before school in the fall. If you have questions about how to do so, call us at Dr. Egger’s, (989) 773-3560.

 

Not for Your China

Dental Care

While your aunt up in Petosky may think of porcelain only as in her English bone china with the birds on it, Dr. Egger is more into another kind porcelain — dental porcelain. He likes porcelain for his crowns and the artificial teeth on implants and bridges.

Here’s why dental porcelain is swell, to quote your aunt.

What’s So Great About Dental Porcelain?

The main reason Dr. Egger loves porcelain is its appearance. Dental porcelain very closely resembles the look of natural tooth enamel. Like enamel, it is slightly translucent, meaning you can see through it a little bit. It also absorbs some light and reflects some light, just as natural tooth enamel does. This makes your teeth bright, but not overly reflective, when they are covered with dental porcelain.

In some ways, porcelain is superior to tooth enamel. Porcelain is actually more stain resistant than tooth enamel. That’s because our tooth enamel is slightly porous, even though it seems hard as a rock. That’s why it stains when we drink coffee, tea, or red wine, or eat a bunch of summer blackberries. Porcelain is highly resistant to staining, and it stays that way.

Also, Dr. Egger can precisely match the porcelain used in crowns and implants to the color of your adjacent teeth. With natural tooth enamel, you’re pretty much stuck with the color you were born with, and some people simply have enamel that is a little more yellow than white.

Strong

Dental porcelain is incredibly strong. That’s why dental implants can last for the remainder of a patient’s life. Not only will the titanium implant base remain a part of your jawbone, but the artificial porcelain tooth attached to it will last for decades.

Where do we use dental porcelain?

Here’s where we use dental porcelain at Dr. Egger’s:

  • Porcelain crowns
  • Porcelain implants
  • Porcelain fused to metal for bridges
  • Porcelain inlays and onlays

See? Porcelain does have more uses than tea time or Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner.

Is it time for your next exam and cleaning with our team? Call us at (989) 773-3560 to make your appointment.

 

Wings’ Dry Spell is One Thing, Dry Mouth Another

We all can be at a loss for moisture in our mouth at times. Maybe you have to get up and present in front of the board. Maybe your boss just asked if he could see you in his office for a minute, and the last five people to whom he asked that were all laid off!

But perpetual dry mouth, where you don’t have enough saliva to keep your mouth moist, all or most of the time, it can lead to more serious problems and be a sign of other medical issues. That’s because, while saliva may seem harmless or at times a nuisance, it does much more than simply keep your mouth wet: it helps digest food, protects the teeth from decay, controls bacteria in your mouth, and makes it possible for you to chew and swallow.

Dr. Egger can help with your dry mouth.

What are reasons for dry mouth?

Obviously, if your mouth doesn’t have enough saliva, it can be a sign that there is a problem with your salivary glands. But more often their decreased saliva production is due to other factors:

  • Side effects of some medications — Over 400 medicines can cause dry mouth, including antihistamines, decongestants, pain killers, diuretics, and blood pressure drugs.
  • Disease — Diabetes, Hodgkin’s, Parkinson’s disease, HIV/AIDS and Sjogren’s syndrome all may cause dry mouth.
  • Radiation therapy — If you’ve had cancer treatment, the radiation may have damaged your salivary glands.
  • Chemotherapy — Chemo drugs can make your saliva thicker, causing your mouth to feel dry.
  • Menopause — Changing hormone levels affect the salivary glands, so menopausal women often have a persistent feeling of dry mouth.
  • Smoking — Many pipe, cigar, and heavy cigarette smokers can have dry mouth.

How to treat dry mouth

Dry mouth can only be resolved by dealing with the base cause. Obviously, if it is due to reaction to a medication, see if you can switch to a different option or dosage. Otherwise, here are a few things to do:

  • Sip water or sugarless drinks often
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine
  • Chew sugarless gum or suck on sugarless candy to stimulate saliva flow
  • Don’t use tobacco or alcohol
  • Use a humidifier at night

Dr. Egger may recommend products such as Biotene Dry Mouth Oral Rinse or Act Dry Mouth Mouthwash. He may even want to prescribe medications that stimulate your saliva production.

Do you think your mouth is abnormally dry? Call Dr. Egger at (989) 773-3560 to make an appointment.

 

Scary Statistics

Dental Care | Mount Pleasant MI

October is usually reserved for being scary. Although, if you’re a hockey fan, February and the odds of the Red Wings making the playoffs have become pretty scary. And to think, just a couple years ago the Red Wings and the playoffs were as reliable as the seasons…

Back to statistics. Do you want to see a few dental statistics? Dr. Egger advises his patients to come see us every six months for their professional cleanings and exams. This allows us to stay ahead of issues such as gum disease and decay. But not everyone does that.

And it appears those people aren’t alone, at least according to statistics from the American Dental Association.

How often do people visit their dentist?

Everyone knows six months is the goal with dental visits. This is about the time it takes for tartar to start building up in the typical places in the mouth. At six months we can remove it before it starts moving under the gumline.

So, how many people adhere to those guidelines? The ADA says that in 2014, 52.3% of adults visited their dentist every six months. 15.4% visited once a year, and 11% visited every two to three years. Believe it or not, 21.3% said they had not visited the dentist in the last five years. Hello gum disease!

Why do people avoid the dentist?

The top reasons people gave for avoiding the dentist were cost, fear of the dentist (come on, Dr. Egger is a nice guy!), inability to find a convenient location or a convenient appointment time (that sounds shaky).

How many people have untreated caries/decay in the U.S.?

Between 2011-2014, an estimated 18.2% of children ages 5-18 had untreated decay. For adults ages 19-64 this rose to over a quarter, 26.5%. Seniors over 65 reported 16.7% of untreated caries/cavities. Ouch. Hello root canal!

How many people have untreated gum disease in the U.S.?

The ADA estimates that over 47% of adults over the age of 30 have untreated periodontal disease. Hello dentures!

So many dental problems never have to occur; just keeping up with your regular six-month exams and professional cleanings with Dr. Egger and his staff keep things like gum disease and root canals from ever having to become a thing in your life.

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