All posts by Shelby Greninger

Dental Emergencies 101

Dental emergencies are much more common than you may think. According to the American Association of Endodontics, more than five million teeth are knocked out every year—talk about a lot of Tooth Fairy currency!

When it comes to a dental injury, time is of the essence. Save your smile or that of someone else by understanding the proper protocol for every type of dental emergency scenario.

Types of Dental Emergencies

Some dental emergencies are more urgent than others. In the section below, we’ve identified some of the more common dental emergencies ranked in order of typical emergency levels. As with any major dental injury, though, your first step should always be to call your Ozark dentist. Your dentist is equipped to determine the true severity of your injury and to detail your individual course of treatment.

Chipped Tooth

Emergency Level:

  • Without pain: Low
  • With pain: Moderate

What is it? A chipped tooth is relatively common, and can happen quite easily—especially if the injured tooth was already showing signs of decay. With this type of injury, a small portion of the enamel is damaged. This damage to the enamel creates a rough-edge serration. A chipped tooth is typically considered a mild dental injury; however, that doesn’t mean you should delay treatment, especially if you’re experiencing pain.

What to do: First, contact your local dentist office to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, prevent further enamel damage by using orthodontic wax or sugarless gum to gently cover the chipped edge. Do not entertain the “DIY” internet quick-fixes for a chipped tooth, such as at-home filing, which can cause painful nerve damage.

Rinse your mouth with salt water if you experience pain associated with the chip. An over-the-counter pain reliever can be taken as well.

During your appointment, your dentist will evaluate the severity of your chip and determine the best solution. For relatively minor and cosmetic chips, your dentist may suggest a quick and easy procedure called bonding or a filling. This simple process uses a tooth-colored composite material that is molded over the healthy area of the tooth to correct the chip. For more complex cases, your dentist may suggest a crown, which is essentially a fitted cap that comfortably adheres over your existing tooth.

Loose Tooth

Emergency Level: Moderate-High

What is it? A loose tooth is the potential precursor to losing a tooth. Unless you’re in the first grade, a loose tooth is not normal. In adults, this type of dental emergency can be the result of teeth grinding, external injury, or a receding gum line caused by advanced gum disease. Your dentist will be able to evaluate the injury and determine the underlying cause for optimal treatment and after-care.

What to do: Call your dentist for an emergency appointment right away. Your dentist will likely work to stabilize the tooth by splinting it to your teeth on either side. In the meantime, avoid excessive wiggling or movement of the tooth and steer clear from hard foods until you’re able to see your dentist.

Broken or Cracked Tooth

Emergency Level: Moderate-High

What is it? When a tooth is cracked or broken, it usually means that damage to the tooth has occurred to the outside and to the inside. Minor breaks typically don’t cause pain. If a large piece of the tooth breaks off, however, it can be quite painful and an indication that the nerve inside the tooth is damaged.

What to do: As with any dental emergency, the first step is to call your local dental office to schedule an appointment right away.

Then, clean your mouth by gently rinsing with warm water. A cold compress should be applied if your fracture was caused by a facial injury. Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen can be used to temporarily alleviate pain. Avoid applying topical painkillers to the gum, like Orajel, which can further irritate your gum tissue.

During your appointment, your dentist will work to diagnose the severity of the fracture by using an X-Ray. If it’s determined that the soft tissue inside of the tooth, the “pulp”, is damaged, a root canal may be needed. For injuries that don’t involve the pulp, a crown may be used instead.

Knocked-out Tooth

Emergency Level: High

What is it? When your tooth has been knocked out of the socket completely, the nerves, blood vessels and supporting tissues are damaged also, and that is why this scenario constitutes a serious dental emergency. By taking appropriate, swift action following the incident, it is possible to preserve the tooth and save your smile.

What to do: Time is of the essence in this type of emergency situation. Ideally, seek treatment within 30 minutes at your local dental office to increase your chances of successful tooth reattachment to the socket.

If you have the knocked out tooth—great! Now, there are a few critical tips to keep in mind when preparing to transport your tooth to the dentist office:

1. Do not handle the tooth by the root. Be careful to only pick up or hold the tooth by the crown, which is the visible part of the tooth that is used for chewing.

2. Gently and carefully rinse the tooth clean with lukewarm water. Ensure a drain plug is in place so you don’t lose the tooth. Do not:

  • Use soap or harsh chemicals
  • Scrub the tooth
  • Wrap the tooth in towels, tissue or cloth

3. Place the tooth in a cup of milk, or an emergency preservation solution that is backed by the American Dental Association (ADA), like Save-a-Tooth®.

Upon arrival to the dental office, your dentist will examine the tooth and overall injury to determine if reattachment is a safe option. If so, your dentist will reimplant the tooth to the socket, using a splint for stabilization.

In some cases, a root canal may be performed right then or later down the road. There are several factors that will determine the best course of action, such as how long the tooth was out of the mouth and the severity of the overall injury and the health of the surrounding bone and tissue.

You can trust that your Ozark dentists at Excel Dental will thoroughly evaluate your individual emergency situation to determine the most successful treatment for long term viability of your tooth and smile.

Dental Emergency? Dial Your Dentist!

A dental emergency doesn’t have to end in dental disaster. By taking the right steps after an injury, the odds of saving your smile are in your favor. If you find yourself facing a dental emergency, call Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews at Excel Dental, located in Ozark, Missouri—a short 10 minute drive from Springfield. We’re equipped to preserve your smile using the latest diagnostics and treatment.

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Breakup With Bad Breath

It’s Valentine’s Day. Following a perfectly romantic dinner for two, you head home and cozy up on the couch with your special someone. Candles are lit. Music is playing. The moment is yours to lean in for the kiss.

But you don’t.

What’s holding you back? Halitosis, otherwise known as bad breath.

If your breath is less than fresh—know that you’re not alone! Anyone can develop bad breath and at any point in their life. Read on to understand what causes halitosis and what you can do for more kissable breath this Valentine’s Day and every day!

What Causes Halitosis?

According to the American Dental Association, bad breath is caused by bacteria in your mouth. When this bacteria begins to decay, it produces a sulfur compound that results in a foul odor. The bacteria can range in terms of severity. Some cases of bad breath can be fixed rather easily, but more severe cases may require the attention of your local Ozark dentists at Excel Dental.

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are many possible causes for halitosis, including:

  • Less-than-stellar dental hygiene. Brushing and flossing daily is important for preventing the buildup of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that grows on your teeth. If plaque is allowed to fester, it starts to produce an unpleasant odor. Plaque that isn’t brushed away will eventually begin to irritate your gums and form plaque-filled pockets between your teeth and gums. This will increase your risk of developing periodontitis.
  • The food you eat. When certain food particles breakdown in your mouth, it can increase bacteria and cause an unpleasant odor. Furthermore, these foods can continue to cause bad breath as they enter your bloodstream through the process of digestion. Onions and garlic are the most common culprits of bad breath, but coffee, pickles, ketchup and fatty meats can also bring out the bad breath for some people.
  • Smoking. We all know that smoking is bad for your health, but did you also know it’s bad for your breath? Smoking in itself produces an unpleasant mouth odor. Smokers are also more likely to have gum disease—another cause of bad breath.
  • Dry mouth. Saliva helps to cleanse your mouth by removing particles that cause bad odors. Dry mouth is a condition where the mouth doesn’t produce as much saliva as needed, often leading to bad breath and general discomfort. Naturally-occurring dry mouth can also happen during sleep, which results in that dreaded “morning breath”.
  • Mouth, nose and throat conditions. Bad breath can occasionally stem from small stones that form in the tonsils and are covered with bacteria that produce odor. Infections or chronic inflammation in the nose, sinuses or throat, which can contribute to postnasal drip, also can cause bad breath. Bad breath in kids can sometimes be caused by a foreign obstruction, such as a piece of food lodged in a nostril.
  • Certain diseases. Although less common, there are some cancers and disorders that can cause a distinctive mouth odor as a result of chemical production associated with these conditions. Chronic reflux of stomach acids (gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD) can also be associated with bad breath.

How Do I Treat Halitosis?

There is no true “quick cure” for halitosis. Mouthwashes and mints can temporarily mask bad breath, but these methods don’t get to the root of the problem. You must first identify the cause of your halitosis in order to treat it effectively. Below are a few tips for ensuring optimal breath health:

Brush and floss at least twice daily to physically remove surface bacteria in your mouth that causes bad breath.

Use a tongue scraper to gently scrape debris off the top of your tongue.

Make sure to schedule bi-annual dental checkups with your Springfield dentist. Your dentist can examine your mouth to diagnose and properly treat your halitosis.

If you smoke or chew tobacco, consider stopping. Your body and breath will thank you!

Avoid foods that contribute to bad breath. Onions and garlic are perfectly healthy foods, but you may want to avoid them before a big event or special occasion. 

Eat more foods that’ll improve your breath! Foods that are fortified with vitamin D, such as yogurt, salmon, eggs, and orange juice have been shown to reduce mouth bacteria, which may help improve your breath. Parsley has long been used as a breath freshener due to its high levels of naturally-deodorizing chlorophyll.

Goodbye Bad Breath!

Anyone can fall victim to bad breath due to a buildup of bacteria, but with optimal oral hygiene and a combination of a few other tactics, you may be able to resolve halitosis on your own. If your breath doesn’t improve with any of the above approaches, make an appointment with Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews at Excel Dental, located in Ozark, Missouri—a short 10 minute drive from Springfield. We can diagnose the root cause of your halitosis and develop a treatment plan for a healthy mouth and fresh breath.

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New Year, New Smile with Invisalign®

Do you often find yourself hiding your smile because of gapped teeth or overcrowding? If so, you’re not alone. A whopping one-third of Americans are unhappy with their smile, according to the American Association of Orthodontics. The thought of braces, though, can be daunting—especially for an adult. Sporting a mouth of metal doesn’t sound appealing to most, not to mention the wire tightening and sometimes having to avoid your favorite foods.

Fortunately, cosmetic dentistry and orthodontic technology continue to revolutionize. One of the most exciting advances has been the introduction of Invisalign®, a clear alternative to metal braces.  

Will you be ringing in a new smile in 2018? Read on to discover if Invisalign® is the right solution for you or your teen.

What is Invisalign?

Invisalign is a custom-fitted, clear aligner that fits snugly over your teeth. The aligner is interchanged by your local Springfield dentist approximately every week for two to 18 months (depending on your individual needs), gently moving your teeth toward a beautiful smile.

How Does it Work?

As certified Invisalign® providers, Drs. Davis and Matthews at Excel Dental will develop a personalized treatment plan that’s unique to you. Your custom-made aligners are designed to gradually move your teeth in the right direction at the right time.

The process begins with an initial consultation where we’ll discuss your needs and evaluate if Invisalign® is the right solution for you. If it’s determined that Invisalign® is the proper course of treatment, the first appointment includes photos and a digital scan of your teeth to create a precise 3D image of your teeth. From there, a custom plan is developed that shows how your teeth will move each step of the way and how long your treatment will last. The most exciting part at this stage in the process? You could get a digital sneak peek of what your smile will look like at the end of your treatment plan.

Your custom-made aligners will be ready to go within a few weeks. You will be so excited to start the journey of your new smile!  At the second visit, you will be fitted with your first aligner and given precise directions for inserting, removing and cleaning your them. You will be given several aligners and our office will ensure that you have the schedule and know when to advance to the next aligner. With each new set, your teeth will gently and gradually be guided into place. One of the many benefits of Invisalign® is that you’ll be able to see your smile’s progress at every stage of treatment.

Patients typically are given six to eight aligners at a time before given their next set. This means you usually only need to come to short office visits every two months. Besides being nearly invisible, another huge benefit over traditional bracket and wire orthodontics is that you can take the aligners out to eat and when you clean your teeth.  Because they are removable, it is important to commit to wearing your aligners at all other times (20-22 hours/day) for best results.  Our team will ensure that you will love your final straight smile and fit you with a retainer to keep your smile looking great! 

What are the Benefits of Invisalign®?

Although the treatment paths may be different, your journey wearing Invisalign or traditional braces will lead you to the same result—a beautiful smile! Invisalign® does have some unique benefits in comparison to braces, however, all depending on your dentistry needs and lifestyle.

  • Invisalign® aligners are virtually invisible, so you don’t have to shy away from the camera or meeting new people during treatment.
  • You can still enjoy all of your favorite foods and easily brush and floss your teeth with Invisalign® removable aligners.
  • Wires and brackets used for traditional braces can occasionally break. Invisalign® aligners are made from a flexible, thermoplastic material that does not poke or prod.
  • Typically, office visits will be scheduled every six to eight weeks. That means more time back in your busy schedule.

Your hometown Ozark dentist will be best equipped to determine the optimal path to a beautiful smile. No matter what course you take, make sure to keep your eye on the end goal and remember that a new, more confident you is just around the corner.

Make the Resolution!

This year, resolve to take back your confidence with a new smile! Schedule your appointment with Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews at Excel Dental, located in Ozark, Missouri—a short 10 minute drive from Springfield. We’ll work with you to determine if Invisalign® is the clear choice for you or your teen.

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Dr. Tracy Davis Earns Top Doctor Honors from the Springfield Business Journal

Dr. Tracy Davis Earns Top Doctor Honors from the Springfield Business Journal

Excel Dental co-owner Dr. Tracy Davis has been named one of the Top Two Doctors in the Ozarks, as part of the Springfield Business Journal’s annual Health Care Champions honors.

Dr. Davis and her co-honoree, Dr. Albert Leonardo Jr., were formally recognized on November 16, during SBJ’s Health Care Champions banquet at the DoubleTree Hotel in Springfield.

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What Causes Snoring – And What Can You Do About It?

What Causes Snoring – And What Can You Do About It?

Is snoring keeping you—or someone you love—up at night?

If so, you’re hardly alone. The National Sleep Foundation says that 90 million American adults snore at least occasionally, while 37 million do so on a regular basis.

Dr. Eric J. Kezirian, Professor of Otolaryngology at the University of Southern California, explains that snoring is simply the vibration of structures inside your throat while you sleep.

While we’re sleeping, muscles of the throat and soft palate may relax, causing airflow to become turbulent, or irregular, which produces those annoying, familiar sounds of snoring.

But why do some people snore? Snoring can be caused by sleep apnea, but not always: about half of people who snore regularly have sleep apnea, while other cases are caused by other factors.

Snoring treatment involves determining what is causing the irregular airflow, then identifying ways to correct it. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, help may be as close as your dentist’s chair. A customized mandibular positioning device can be worn while you sleep, keeping your airway open, your bedroom quiet and helping you breathe easy while you sleep.

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Does a Root Canal Hurt?

Does a Root Canal Hurt?

You’ve probably never heard someone cheer when they find out they need a root canal. Rather, simply hearing your dentist say the phrase “root canal” probably struck fear into your heart.

You may have heard the root canal procedure is painful and serves no purpose. However, this is simply not true. Root canals save an estimated 24 million teeth a year and help keep people healthy across the country. Let’s learn more about what the process of receiving a root canal is like and dispel some of the common myths surrounding them.

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What Causes Gum Disease?

What Causes Gum Disease?

Periodontal disease — also called periodontitis or gum disease — is a serious condition that can lead to tissue, bone and tooth loss if left untreated.

It’s estimated that nearly 65 million Americans, or about half of all adults over 30, have periodontal disease. Because it usually causes no symptoms in its early stages, significant damage may have already occurred by the time it is diagnosed.

But what causes periodontal disease? Let’s take a look at how gum disease progresses and some of the risk factors that may increase your odds of getting it.

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Wisdom Teeth Removal: Is It Necessary for You?

Wisdom Teeth Removal: Is It Necessary for You?

The young adult years can be an exciting time filled with some of the most memorable occasions of your life. Graduation. Leaving the nest. Launching a career. And getting your wisdom teeth out.

Wisdom teeth are actually your third and final set of molars and typically appear in your late teens or early 20s.

It’s estimated that 85% of adults have had their wisdom teeth removed. Why is this such a common procedure and is it right for you or your child?

Let’s take a look at situations where wisdom teeth removal may be necessary and what to expect if you have your wisdom teeth removed.

We’ll also include some helpful tips for those of you who still have your wisdom teeth.

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Broken, Chipped or Cracked Teeth: What’s Your Dental Emergency Plan?

Broken, Chipped or Cracked Teeth: What’s Your Dental Emergency Plan?

There’s no doubt about it, dental injuries can be scary. Whether you chip your tooth after a fall or knock out a molar at football practice, dental injuries usually happen so fast that it can be difficult to immediately know what to do next. No matter the extent of the dental emergency, it’s important to know you must act fast to preserve your smile. When disaster strikes, what should your next steps be to save your teeth?

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