Archive for August 2018

3-D X-Rays: Technology for Better Dental Health

Dental diagnostic technology has made huge strides in the past decade. Gone are the days of only relying on two-dimensional, dental x-rays. Today’s diagnostic tools provide a clearer, more accurate depiction of your oral anatomy than ever before. As a patient, you benefit from these technological advancements in the form of better preventative care, and earlier diagnosis and treatment.

One of the most pivotal developments in dental diagnostic technology has been the advancement of 3D dental imaging. At Excel Dental, we utilize the latest in x-ray technology with the Planmeca ProMax® 3D imaging machine. This highly-advanced diagnostic tool is designed to show your dentist an extremely precise image of your mouth in its entirety.

Read on to learn more about the Planmeca ProMax® 3D and how it can benefit you at your next dental visit.

 

What is a 3D X-Ray?

The Planmeca ProMax® 3D uses dental cone beam computed tomography (CT), also known as Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT), to take brilliant panoramic 3D photos and model scans of your teeth, roots, gums, jaw, soft tissues — even your skull and nerve pathways — in a single scan.

This groundbreaking 3 dimensional dental x-ray technology offers a better clinical experience for patients than traditional x-ray methods, and also allows your Ozark, MO dentists to diagnose and treat a variety of dental issues that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.

What to Expect

Getting scanned using the Planmeca ProMax® 3D is fast and painless. Typically, a 3D panoramic scan of your jaw will take approximately 14 seconds from start to finish.

First, your Springfield, MO dentist or dental technician will position you properly for the scan. You’ll be asked to stand still, grasping the machine’s handles for support. Your dentist or dental technician will then have you bite down on a small mouthpiece to reduce your movement. Once everything is in place, the 3D scanner will circle around your head to capture the x-ray images.

While the x-ray machine is rotating around you, it’s actually capturing several hundred individual images in the span of just a few seconds. The machine’s software then compiles the images and produces a 3D, virtual model of your craniofacial structure, allowing your dentist to assess your oral health from every dimension. Check out this short video to better understand how the process works.

Uses

3D imaging allows your dentist to more accurately diagnose and to better prepare you for a variety of dental procedures. Common diagnostic uses of this type of technology include:

  • Abscesses or cysts
  • Bone loss
  • Cancerous and noncancerous tumors
  • Tooth decay
  • Developmental abnormalities
  • Implant planning
  • Poor tooth and root positions
  • Problems inside a tooth or below the gum line

Benefits

There are several ways in which 3D dental x-ray technology can benefit you during your next dental exam:

  • Increased diagnostic accuracy. The high quality of 3D imagery means your dentist can pinpoint problems at their onset. This allows for early intervention that can result in less invasive, less costly dental work.
  • Increased confidence. 3D dental x-rays give a complete, clear picture of your oral environment. The accuracy of this imaging technique leaves no question marks as to what is happening in your mouth and craniofacial areas. This in turn should give you a high degree of confidence that your dentist is equipped to treat the root of your problem with zero guesswork.
  • Better reliability. 3D dental imaging also provides the power of repeatability, delivering fast and accurate imaging that’s consistent — and therefore, reliable.
  • Less radiation exposure. 3D technology emits an extremely low dose of radiation — much lower than traditional x-ray methods.

With all of these benefits to your oral health, what are you waiting for? Talk to the professionals at Excel Dental about a 3D x-ray at your next appointment.

 

Picture Your Next Exam in 3D!

Take advantage of the latest advancements in diagnostic technology by making an appointment today with your trusted team at Excel Dental, Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews. Find us in Ozark, Missouri — just a short 10 minute drive from Springfield.

Related Reading

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●      Why More Dentists Turn to Digital Imaging

●      Dental Emergencies 101

●      Are You Suffering From TMJ Syndrome?

 

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Clear Braces: Choosing The Best Option For You

Clear Braces: Choosing The Best Option For You

A smile can speak volumes about a person. It can exude happiness and confidence or reflect deep insecurity. What does your smile say about you?

If your smile is misaligned, you may find yourself hiding from the camera or covering your mouth more often than you’d like. Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions for teeth straightening that will have you ditching your insecurities in no time.

Braces are the top solution for those who seek to fix teeth misalignments. Many people have visions of “metal mouth” upon hearing the word braces, but today’s technology from your local Ozark, MO dentist offers clear hardware that is barely even noticeable. Read on to discover which clear braces solution may be right for you!

Types of Clear Braces

There are two primary types of clear braces: Invisalign (trays) and Six Month Smiles (wires).

Invisalign consists of aligner trays, made of invisible plastic, that fit over your teeth in similar fashion to a retainer. As your teeth begin to shift, new trays are designed to continue guiding your teeth in the right direction.

Six Month Smiles are clear, wired braces that stay in place for, on average, six months. These braces are also very discreet with the use of clear, tooth-colored brackets and wires.

You may now be thinking these two options sound relatively similar; how do I know which is the right option for me? Read on for a more in-depth comparison of these two smile-straightening solutions.

Which Treatment is Right For Me?

When it comes to choosing a teeth straightening solution, it’s important to weigh your decision with care. Both Invisalign and Six Month Smiles are excellent treatment options for teens or adults with relatively simple teeth misalignments. No one solution is necessarily better than the other; rather, the differences between the two work to accommodate unique situations and preferences. The table below helps to compare key differences on factors that are most important to many of our patients:

Invisalign Six Month Smiles
Description of Hardware Clear, fitted plastic trays Clear brackets and wires
Duration of Treatment (Average) One year Six months
Maintenance Most patients are required to swap out their aligner trays every one to two weeks during treatment. Monthly checkups
Flexibility? Yes. With Invisalign, you have the flexibility to remove the trays at your convenience for eating, drinking, brushing, etc. No. Fixed braces are not removable by the patient.

There are several similarities between Invisalign and Six Month Smiles, including aesthetic (discrete straightening) and overall effectiveness. The key differences between these two solutions are in terms of duration of treatment, maintenance, and flexibility. Some people with more sensitive mouths might find the hardware of Six Month Smiles to be more intrusive than Invisalign’s flexible trays; however, Invisalign on average produces results slower than Six Month Smiles and requires more regular maintenance.

Which option is right for you? Talk to your trusted dentist at Excel Dental, who can guide you through the decision-making process.

FAQs

Q: Besides the obvious cosmetic reasons, are there any other benefits to straight teeth?

A: There’s a wide array of health benefits to having straighter teeth. Straight teeth are easier to effectively clean, which reduces plaque buildup, tooth decay, and gingivitis.

Q: I heard braces hurt. Is that true?

A: While braces in any form aren’t necessarily enjoyable, the hardware has come a long way from what you may remember as a child. Today’s braces are less noticeable and less painful. Plus, computer technology in orthodontics has improved significantly over the years, producing smarter wires and brackets that move teeth more efficiently.

Q: Braces are just for teens, right?

A: Braces can be just as effective for adults as they are for teens. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontics  reports that approximately 20% of patients with braces are over the age of 18. Many adults decide to get braces later in life once they are more financially stable, or because their teeth shifted over time. In sum, it’s never too late to enjoy a straighter smile.

The Choice is Clear!

A straighter, more confident smile can be yours with the help of clear braces. Make an appointment today with your trusted team at Excel Dental, Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews. Find us in Ozark, Missouri — just a short 10-minute drive from Springfield.

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Are You Suffering From TMJ Syndrome?

Are You Suffering From TMJ Syndrome?

If you’re experiencing pain in your jaw accompanied by a clicking sound or grating sensation while chewing, you may be one of over 10 million Americans with temporomandibular joint dysfunction, also known as “TMJ syndrome.”

The onset of TMJ syndrome can arise suddenly and at any point in life. Here’s a jaw-dropping fact: According to the Academy of General Dentistry, nearly 65% to 85% of people will experience some degree of TMJ-associated pain or discomfort during their lifetime.

So, what is TMJ exactly? Read on to learn more about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of TMJ syndrome.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of TMJ syndrome can vary depending on the cause, but may include:

  • Pain or tenderness in your jaw
  • Clicking sounds or a grating sensation with jaw movement
  • Aching pain in and around your ear
  • Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
  • Generalized aching facial pain
  • Difficulty opening and closing your mouth

What Causes TMJ Syndrome?

To understand what causes TMJ syndrome, it’s helpful to first understand the basic anatomy of your jaw structure.

The temporomandibular joint connects your lower jaw (mandible) to the skull (temporal bone) in front of your ear. Certain facial muscles that control chewing are also attached to the lower jaw. We all actually have two TMJs — one on each side of the jaw. The TMJ operates in two ways to open and close your mouth: first by acting like a hinge, and second by way of a sliding motion called “translation.”

The TMJ combines this hinge action with the sliding motion to execute normal mouth functions such as eating, talking, and yawning. The parts of the bones that interact in the TMJ are covered with cartilage and separated by a small shock-absorbing disk, which normally keeps all of these movements running smoothly.

TMJ results when these movements stop running like a well-oiled machine. There are a myriad of potential causes of TMJ syndrome, but in many cases, the cause isn’t entirely clear. Some of the more common causes of TMJ syndrome include:

  • Trauma: Habits such as teeth grinding (bruxism) and jaw clenching can cause trauma and inflammation to the temporomandibular joint. Trauma can also be caused by events that may be out of your control, such as being hit in the face by a rogue baseball. Any unnatural force that is applied to the temporomandibular region can result in TMJ pain.
  • Smoking: Smokers are more prone to TMJ syndrome than those who avoid the use of tobacco products. Furthermore, chronic pain sufferers who smoke tend to report a more severe degree of pain overall than non-smokers, according to a study from the University of Kentucky.
  • “Unnatural” Chewing Actions: Repetitive use of chewing muscles may cause temporomandibular joint changes. The muscular system attached to your temporomandibular region is not designed for the unnatural gnawing action associated with nail biting, gum chewing, and pencil nibbling. These actions put an added strain on the joint which contributes to pain.
  • Osteoarthritis: Like any other joint in your body, the jaw is prone to arthritic changes. These changes can be caused by degeneration or by the usual wear and tear that comes with aging.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that causes general join inflammation. This inflammation can sometimes affect the TMJ region, particularly in young children.

Your trusted local Ozark, MO dentist will work with you to determine the most likely cause of your TMJ symptoms.

Risk Factors

Are some people naturally more prone to TMJ syndrome than others? The short answer is yes. You may be at higher risk for TMJ syndrome if you’re:

  • Female: Research has shown that for reasons which are still unclear, women are at higher risk of developing TMJ syndrome compared to men.
  • Also between the ages of 18-44: Studies of individuals between the ages of 18-44 show that the risk of developing TMJ conditions increases during these years. This is especially true for women. For men between the ages of 18-44, there is no known increased risk.
  • Sensitive to pain: Studies suggest that those who are more sensitive to mildly painful stimuli show an increased risk for developing TMJ syndrome.
  • A sufferer of chronic pain: People who suffer from chronic pain conditions, including back pain and headaches, may be at an increased risk for TMJ syndrome.

Treatment

TMJ syndrome can be a mild annoyance at best, and moderately painful at worst. The good news is that in most cases, TMJ syndrome will dissipate on its own if treated correctly.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of TMJ syndrome, it’s important to first schedule an evaluation with your dental professional at Excel Dental. Your dentist will examine the function of your jaw and look for any painful abnormalities. A specialized treatment plan will be crafted based on the cause of your discomfort. Initially, your dentist may suggest one or more of the following remedies based off the results of your exam:

  • Applying warm, moist heat
  • Limiting chewing, talking, and extensive widening of the mouth
  • Eating a temporary, soft foods diet
  • Anti-inflammatory medication

Other available treatments for chronic TMJ syndrome may include jaw repositioners (also known as “splints”), friction massage, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), and cognitive behavior therapy. In extremely rare cases, joint replacement surgery is sometimes recommended. Approximately 1% of people with TMJ syndrome require surgery.

Again, a plan of care must be tailored to the individual’s unique situation. That’s why your Springfield, MO dentist is best equipped to determine which treatment is appropriate for your TMJ symptoms.

Prevention Tips

The best way to treat TMJ syndrome is to avoid getting it in the first place! Even if you’re considered “high risk” for TMJ syndrome, there are various actions you can take to reduce your chances of developing a painful jaw dysfunction, such as:

  • Avoid chewing gum or biting on objects such as pencils and fingernails.
  • Avoid eating hard or unnaturally chewy food, such as taffy, beef jerky, and licorice.
  • Support your lower jaw with your hand when you yawn.
  • Gently and regularly massage your jaw, cheeks and temple muscles. You can do this by opening your mouth and then rubbing the muscles by your ears near your temporomandibular joints. Place your forefingers on the sore areas, and press gently in a swirling motion until the muscle relaxes. Close your mouth and repeat the massage as needed.
  • Apply cold or hot packs. Early-onset TMJ pain can be nipped in the bud with regular at-home cold and hot treatments. For occasional sharp pain in your jaw joints, apply a pair of cold packs. Hold the packs on both sides of your face for 10 minutes and no longer than 20 minutes. Repeat every two hours as needed. For a dull, steady ache, apply heat instead to relax your jaw muscles. Soak washcloths in warm water and hold to your face for up to 20 minutes.
  • Add calcium and magnesium to your diet. Calcium and magnesium are two minerals that when combined, naturally promote muscle relaxation. Add 500 milligrams of powdered calcium and 250 milligrams of powdered magnesium to your morning OJ for maximum benefit.

Team Up Against TMJ

You don’t have to suffer alone with annoying jaw pain. Make an appointment today with your trusted team at Excel Dental, Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews. Find us in Ozark, Missouri — just a short 10 minute drive from Springfield.

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Related Reading

Searching for more advice on this topic? Make sure to check out these related posts from our blog:

 

 

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