Excel Dental Blog

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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Get a Megawatt Smile With Veneers

Get a Megawatt Smile With Veneers

What do Miley Cyrus, Tom Cruise, and Demi Moore all have in common? Besides the fact they all share A-list celebrity status, they’re also all rumored to have veneers!

Veneers are the cosmetic dentistry solution for taking any smile from drab to fab. These thin, custom-made coverings can correct a wide range of dental imperfections, including gaps, chips, uneven length, and discoloration. Veneers can give you the beautifully aligned, shapely teeth you’ve always dreamed of flashing for the camera.

In addition to the obvious aesthetic benefit provided by veneers, they also boast certain protective qualities and could be a less invasive solution for correcting your current cosmetic dentistry woes.

Are veneers the right solution for you and your smile? Read on to learn more.

 

What Are Veneers, Exactly?

Veneers are thin pieces of custom-made porcelain coating that are used to recreate the natural look of your teeth. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), veneers also provide strength and resilience comparable to natural tooth enamel. Placing veneers is usually an irreversible process (aka permanent) because it’s necessary to remove a small amount of enamel from your tooth to accommodate for the porcelain shell. That being said, we recommend thoroughly researching the entire process and speaking with one of the cosmetic dentistry professionals at Excel Dental before making your decision about veneers.

 

Who Should Get Veneers?

Veneers can solve nearly any cosmetic dental imperfection. If you suffer from one or more of the following issues, dental veneers could be the right choice for you:

  • Aged Enamel: Over time, your enamel can become worn or dulled. When this happens, the result is a thinned or translucent appearance.
  • Chips and Cracks: Evidence of wear and tear often comes in the form of chips and cracks. Veneers can easily cover these types of dental blemishes.
  • Uneven Teeth: You may notice that some of your teeth are shorter or longer than others, which can interfere with both appearance and bite functionality. Uneven teeth can be the result of genetics or teeth grinding.
  • Gaps: Perhaps you’ve had braces in the past, but your teeth have started to go their separate ways once again. In lieu of braces “round two”, some people instead opt for veneers.
  • Discoloration: Stubborn tooth discoloration may not be fully correctable through teeth whitening alone. In these cases, veneers can offer another viable solution.

So, you have one or more of the above dental issues and you’ve determined you want to proceed with veneers. Great! However, the ideal candidate must also possess good oral hygiene habits. Decay, plaque, and gum disease must first be addressed prior to considering veneers for cosmetic purposes. Your local Ozark, MO dentist will work with you to determine if you’re an ideal candidate for veneer application.

 

The Procedure

Once your Springfield, MO dentist has confirmed you meet the candidate criteria for veneers, here is what you can expect as next steps:

  1. After your initial consultation, you’ll meet with your dentist for a series of x-rays. The dentist will then trim about half a millimeter of the tooth enamel to prepare your teeth for the veneers. Don’t worry — it’s an incredibly thin amount of enamel that is removed.
  2. Next, your dentist will take an impression or mold of your teeth to send to a lab to prepare the veneers. The lab will typically require one to two weeks to develop your veneers.
  3. Once the veneers are ready from the lab, your dentist will check the fit and color and prepare your teeth with a thorough cleaning. The surface of your teeth is then roughened to improve the adhesion of the veneers. The veneers are attached to your teeth with a special cement, then ultraviolet light is used to harden it quickly.
  4. That’s it! Your new star-worthy smile is ready for the paparazzi.

 

Care For Your Veneers

A follow-up visit may be scheduled by your dentist a few weeks after the procedure to ensure the veneers are properly placed and that you are not experiencing any issues. After placement of your veneers, you should follow your regular oral hygiene routine as normal. You should expect your veneers to last for ten to fifteen years with proper care.

To further extend the life of your new pearly whites, you may also consider avoiding certain foods and beverages that can tarnish the color of your veneers over time, including beets, coffee, tea, and red wine. Of course, make sure to continue seeing your dentist yearly as another way to preserve the health of your new smile.

Veneers are relatively simple to maintain in comparison to other cosmetic dentistry solutions. Brush regularly, use floss, and eat a healthy diet for a new smile that will last!

 

Lights, Camera, SMILE!

A gorgeous smile can be yours with the help of veneers. Make an appointment today with your cosmetic dentistry experts 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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Dental Bridges: Get Over Your Gap

Dental Bridges: Get Over Your Gap

Are you missing one or more teeth? If so, you understand how these gaps can make everyday tasks—such as speaking and chewing—more difficult. You might also find yourself covering your mouth upon hearing, “Smile for the camera!”

Beyond these daily hindrances, missing teeth can pose a more ominous risk to your oral health.

Think of your teeth as a team—they work better together. When you lose a tooth, the nearby teeth may tilt or drift into that empty gap. The teeth in your opposite jaw may also shift up or down toward the space. This movement can affect your bite and place more stress on your teeth and jaw joints, which over time causes pain and discomfort. Moreover, teeth that have shifted are also harder to clean, putting you at a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease. And if your bone starts to shrink in the gapped area, it can even change the way you look by affecting the support structure of your jawbone.

Although living with missing teeth can sometimes feel isolating, you should know that you’re not alone. In fact, the American Dental Association reports that the average adult between 20 and 64 years old has three decayed or missing teeth.

If only there was a minimally invasive, effective solution for getting your teeth back…

Enter stage right: Dental bridges

A dental bridge quite literally “bridges the gap” where one or more of your teeth used to be. This common procedure can be accomplished in just two simple visits to your local Ozark, MO dentist. Read on to learn more about how dental bridges can benefit you and your smile.

What is a Dental Bridge? 

A dental bridge, also known as a fixed partial denture, replaces your missing teeth with artificial teeth known as “pontics”. The pontics are adhered to a bridge that is typically constructed from metal, ceramic, porcelain, or a combination of these materials and is attached to your surrounding teeth for support. Your trusted dentist at Excel Dental will determine which materials are best for you and your mouth.

There are several benefits to bridging your gap. Dental bridges:

  • Look, feel and function like natural teeth
  • Don’t require removal for cleaning
  • Are cost-effective in comparison to other treatments
  • Restore your ability to properly chew and speak
  • Renew the aesthetics of your smile
  • Maintain the shape of your face
  • Properly distribute the force of your bite
  • Prevent your remaining teeth from shifting 

What Should I Expect?    

Placing your dental bridge will typically require two dental visits.

On your first visit, your dentist will place dental crowns over the teeth on either side of the gap where the bridge will later adhere to. A local anesthetic is used so that you’re completely comfortable and pain-free during this process.

Your Springfield, MO dentist will then take an impression of your mouth. The impression is sent to a dental laboratory where technicians will customize your dental bridge. During this time, your dentist may install a temporary bridge to protect your exposed teeth while you’re waiting for the permanent one to arrive.

Upon your second dental visit, your permanent bridge will be adjusted and adhered in place for a comfortable and completely personalized fit. 

Caring for Your Bridge

A bridge is only as strong as its foundation. London Bridge may have fallen down, but your dental bridge doesn’t have to share that same fate. It’s important to keep your surrounding teeth in tip-top shape so your bridge stays well supported. Follow these simple tips to maintain your dental bridge for years to come:

  1. Brush and floss twice daily. A dental bridge can sometimes make it easier for tiny particles and bacteria to hide, which can lead to plaque buildup. Brushing and flossing between your teeth helps to remove these particles.
  2. Schedule regular dental exams. Make sure to visit your local dentist for regular checkups and professional cleanings.
  3. Eat a balanced diet. Avoid sugary drinks and foods which create an environment that’s ripe for bacteria to thrive.

Dental bridges that are well cared for can last upwards of 10 years. Over time, however, your dental bridge may require restoration. The CEREC® machine by Sirona Dental Systems is the world’s first and only platform for completing ceramic dental restorations in just one office visit. We are thrilled to now offer CEREC technology to our patients at Excel Dental.

CEREC stands for “Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics”. In other words, damaged teeth can be economically restored in one appointment using a high-quality ceramic material matching the natural color of your remaining teeth. Ask your dentist if CEREC is the right solution for restoring the ceramic pontics on your dental bridge. 

Bridge the Gap

It’s time to “get over” your gaps and restore your smile with a dental bridge. Make an appointment today at Excel Dental with Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews. Find us in Ozark, Missouri—just a short 10 minute drive from Springfield.

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Maintain Oral Health With Fluoride

Maintain Oral Health With Fluoride

Do you remember getting flouride treatments as a child at the dentist’s office? Sitting still in a chair while wearing mouth trays filled with brightly colored “goop” probably wasn’t an experience that topped your “summer fun” list. But, you’re an adult now—no need for flouride treatments anymore, right?

Wrong.

Fluoride treatments can greatly benefit anyone’s smile, regardless of age. Everyday, we lose this natural mineral by consuming acids and sugars that break down the protective barrier on our teeth.

Fluoride treatments help prevent cavities and reverse early stages of decay and disease that are caused by this natural breakdown. And before you start having flashbacks to your youth, the good news is that there are a variety of more tolerable fluoride treatment options today than in years past, including swabs, varnishes, and mouthwashes.

Read on to learn why fluoride is an essential mineral to the health of your smile.

What is Fluoride?

Fluoride has been a trusted, essential oral health treatment for decades. In fact, fluoride treatment for cavities dates all the way back to the year 1901, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Similar to calcium, except that it carries one extra electron, fluoride bonds to your teeth in place of calcium. And similar to calcium, fluoride is a hard substance that strengthens the enamel on your teeth.

Fluoride works to prevent cavities by concentrating in the growing bones and developing teeth of children to harden enamel before the teeth emerge, and also by restoring the enamel of adult teeth that has weakened or thinned over time.

There are two different types of fluoride: topical and systematic.

Topical fluoride is applied directly to the enamel via toothpaste and/or treatments provided by your local Springfield, MO dentist.

Systemic fluoride can be found as an additive in local tap water and through dietary supplements.

Did you know? In the 1930s, researchers found that people who grew up drinking naturally fluoridated water had up to two-thirds fewer cavities than people living in areas without fluoridated water, according to the Alliance For a Cavity-free Future.

You can achieve the maximum reduction in dental cavities with a treatment approach that includes both topical and systemic fluoride.  

Benefits of Fluoride 

Fluoride benefits your oral health in two critical ways:

Protects against tooth decay and cavities. The earlier that children are exposed to fluoride, the less likely they are to develop cavities. One study found that children and teens who received fluoride treatments for one year were 43 percent less likely to experience decay and cavities. The risk of developing cavities doesn’t waver as you age, however, which is why it’s important to include fluoride treatments as part of an ongoing, regular oral health regimen.

Improves your smile. Diet, oral hygiene, and genetics are all major issues that can compromise the aesthetics of your smile. While fluoride can’t promise whiter, straighter teeth, it can help you fend off other factors that lead to discoloration, misalignment, and gaps.

Our teeth naturally age over the years, just like our skin, bones, and organs. Despite the best efforts in brushing and flossing, your teeth will naturally lose their luster over time. Getting regular fluoride treatments throughout your adult life is a smart approach for fighting back against Father Time.

What Should I Expect?

Your local dentists at Excel Dental recommend a professional fluoride treatment every 3, 6, or 12 months, depending on your oral health. Professional fluoride treatments take only a few minutes, and typically are offered in the form of a highly concentrated solution, gel, foam, or varnish. The application process may include a cotton swab or brush, rinse, or via mouth tray. These topical treatments provide more concentrated fluoride than what’s found in your tap water or at-home toothpaste.

Once the treatment is complete, make sure not to rinse, eat or drink for at least 30 minutes to allow your teeth to absorb the fluoride and repair microscopic areas where cavities might be forming. If your Ozark, MO dentist determines you are at a higher risk for cavities, a professional-grade fluoride rinse or gel for regular use at home may be prescribed. 

At Excel Dental, we’ll customize a fluoride treatment that is the perfect fit for you based off your full health history and following a full dental exam.    

All For Fluoride!

It’s much easier (and cheaper!) to preserve your smile rather than trying to restore it later. Fend off cavities and maintain a healthy grin with a tailored fluoride treatment plan from Excel Dental. Make an appointment today for the whole family with Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews. Find us in Ozark, Missouri—just a short 10 minute drive from Springfield.

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Parent’s Guide to Summer Oral Health

Parent’s Guide to Summer Oral Health

Ahhh, summer. Time for pool parties, BBQs, bonfires under the stars, and…

…re-evaluating your child’s oral health routine!

Of course, summer brings with it an abundance of sun and plenty of fun. It also brings an increase in outdoor activities and sugary beverages that can put your child’s oral health at risk. In fact, nearly 30 percent of parents say summer vacation is the most difficult time to get their children to keep up good oral health, according to Delta Dental. That’s why summer is the perfect mid-year checkpoint for re-evaluating your household’s current dental routine and adjusting as necessary for seasonal influences.

Below, we’ve compiled the top summertime threats to your child’s oral health. Read on to learn how you can combat these risks for a sunny smile all summer long!

Top Summertime Threats to Kids’ Oral Health

1.Sugary Foods & Carbonated Drinks

Popsicles, lemonade, ice cream sandwiches and sugary soda are all staples of the “summer diet.” As satisfying as these treats are on a hot summer day, they can wreak havoc on your child’s teeth. Sugary foods and carbonated beverages are one of the primary causes of cavities and decay.

Tip: Stock your pantry and fridge with healthy, tasty snacks that are easy to grab-and-go. Examples include apple slices and cheese, celery sticks with peanut butter and frozen banana slices. 

2. Dehydration

Dehydration is the result of of too much summer heat and a lack of quality fluids. Most people understand the dangers of dehydration to the body, but did you know that dehydration is also harmful to your teeth? Our teeth and gums depend on saliva to help keep them healthy; a dry mouth creates the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.

Tip: Emphasize to your children the importance of staying hydrated, especially during physical activity. Pack a water bottle or two anytime you leave the house, because a source of water is not always guaranteed while on-the-go.

3. Outdoor Sports

Outdoor sports and activities are a given during the summer months. This is the time of year when children flock to playgrounds, sports parks and ball fields. An increase in physical activity outdoors, though, also increases the potential for accidents and injury.

Tip: We recommend always wearing a mouthguard when participating in outdoor activities—even if the activity doesn’t involve any physical contact. Mouthguards can protect teeth from accidentally being knocked out by a flailing elbow or fly ball. Your dental professionals here at Excel Dental in Ozark can help select a mouthguard with the perfect fit for your child.

4. Pooltime 

It’s simply not summer without a day at the pool. Fun at the pool can quickly turn into an emergency, though, when a slip on wet concrete results in a cracked, broken or lost tooth.

Tip: Discuss proper pool safety with your kids to avoid injuries that could compromise their oral health.

5. Later Bedtimes

Daily schedules often go awry during the activity-filled months of summer; kids tend to sleep in and stay up later. When normal AM and PM routines are thrown off, kids often forget to brush their teeth twice a day—or at all. 

Tip: Post a daily brushing chart in your home as a fun reminder to brush and floss twice daily. For every week of successful brushing and flossing, reward your kiddos to a special outing or healthy treat.

6. Sunburn

Don’t forget about your child’s lips! The skin on our lips is very sensitive to hazardous UV rays, which can burn the lips with extended, unprotected exposure.

Tip: Use a lip balm with SPF 15 or higher and apply liberally after every hour in the sun. Keep the balm close at hand this summer so you’re prepared for every afternoon baseball game, day at the pool or outdoor birthday party!

More Hot Summer Tips

Replace your family’s toothbrushes. Toothbrushes should be replaced approximately every three months. Replace your entire family’s toothbrushes during summer break and once again when back-to-school rolls around. Seasonal changes serve as a great reminder for dental health!

Schedule a dental checkup. Take advantage of when your child won’t have to miss school for their dental check-up. At your child’s appointment, a cleaning and cavity check will be performed along with an evaluation of overall oral health. At Excel Dental, we’ll also take the opportunity to educate your child on the importance of good brushing and flossing habits.

Smile on This Summer

Keep smiles shining this summer! Make an appointment for your child with Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews at Excel Dental. Find us in Ozark, Missouri—just a short 10 minute drive from Springfield.

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Exposed: The Truth About Receding Gums

Exposed: The Truth About Receding Gums

Healthy gums play an important role in your overall health. In fact, many leading experts agree there is a strong link between gum inflammation and chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and respiratory illness. Gingival recession—also known as “receding gums”— is one condition that can lead to inflammation in the form of irritated, lost gum tissue and tooth root exposure. Not only that, but receding gums play a role in the aesthetic of your smile. A receding gum line creates greater exposure of each tooth, which creates an elongated look. This can lead to feelings of self-consciousness for many people.

Gum recession can be largely asymptomatic in its earliest stages, making it difficult to self-diagnose. That’s why it’s paramount to understand the symptoms, causes and prevention tips for keeping your gums in tip-top shape.

Symptoms

You may have gingival recession if you notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Sensitive teeth (especially to hot or cold temperatures)
  • Visible roots
  • Longer-looking teeth
  • Bad breath caused by plaque buildup and/or decay on the exposed area of the tooth
  • Red, inflamed gum tissue around your teeth
  • Bleeding gums

Causes

Healthy gums fit around each of your teeth like a cuff. When gum tissue starts to recede, however, it pulls away from the tooth and can eventually leave the root exposed. Unlike the crowns of your teeth, the roots don’t have that same protective enamel coating. The root is therefore more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures and at a higher risk for decay. According to the American Dental Association, the most common causes of receding gums include:

  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Brushing your teeth too hard or using a hard-bristled toothbrush
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking and/or using any type of tobacco
  • Periodontal (gum) disease
  • Genetics—some people are born with gums that are more thin or weak than normal

Treatment & Prevention

When it comes to gingival recession, treatment and future prevention are key for ensuring overall health.

If you are diagnosed with gingival recession by your local dentist, the treatment you’ll receive will depend on the degree of progression. Your dentists at Excel Dental, Drs. Davis and Matthews, will first determine the cause of the problem that triggered your recession and recommend a treatment plan from there.

First and foremost: Regular dental check-ups with your local Ozark, MO dentist are imperative for helping to prevent gum recession and assess risk factors. Your dentist may then recommend a treatment plan that includes all or some of the following:

  • Recommendation for a softer toothbrush and gentler brushing technique. This won’t repair your existing damage, but it will prevent new damage to the gums.
  • Wearing a clear plastic retainer at night to circumvent jaw clenching and grinding.
  • A professional dental cleaning to rid debris and bacteria within the gum pockets.
  • Scaling and root planing, or a “deeper cleaning,” if it’s determined your gum recession is caused by periodontal disease. Scaling and root planing removes bacteria, plaque within the periodontal pocket and the biofilm and calculus attached to the tooth and root surface. This treatment is especially helpful in allowing gum tissues to heal and reattach to the tooth.

For more advanced gingival recession, gum tissue regeneration and gum grafting may be used to restore natural symmetry to the gums. A graft is when a thin piece of gum tissue is taken from another place in your mouth (or an artifical graft is used) and attached where the gum tissue has receded. The exposed tooth root is then covered once the graft begins to heal. Not only can a graft repair a receding gum line, but it can also improve the aesthetics of your smile. 

FAQs

Q. Do receding gums grow back on their own?

  1. This is a common myth. There is no way for your gums to grow back on their own; however, with professional treatment and by implementing proper preventative measures, you can stop the progression of your receding gum line.

Q. Can natural treatments, such as essential oils, fix my receding gums?

  1. “Old wives tales” have circulated in recent years which claim that receding gums can be treated by applying natural oils like lemon, clove, coconut and sesame. There is currently no scientific-based evidence to substantiate these claims. At most, these natural treatments may help alleviate the discomfort which results from gingival recession; however, from a medical standpoint, oils alone are not advised as an effective treatment plan.

Q. Only older adults experience receding gums, right?

  1. While gum recession is most common in adults over 40, it can begin as early as the teen years. The most common cause of gum recession in children and teens is over-aggressive brushing. Your local Springfield, MO dentist can help educate your child on proper brushing techniques that will preserve his or her smile for years to come.

Get Your Gums Back

Receding gums are more than just an aesthetic nuisance. If you or a family member is experiencing the symptoms of gingival recession, get your gums back by making an appointment with Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews at Excel Dental. We’ll work to diagnose the cause of your receding gums and tailor a treatment plan for your smile. Find us in Ozark, Missouri—a short 10 minute drive from Springfield.

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Removable Partial Dentures For a Full Smile

Do you have only a few missing teeth? Are the rest of your natural teeth relatively healthy? A removable partial denture might be the right choice for restoring the beauty and functionality of your smile.

Did you know? The number of U.S. adults needing dentures is projected to increase from 33.6 million in 1991 to 37.9 million in 2020, according to research published in The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry.

Removable partial dentures, also known as “artificial tooth appliances”, “partial dentures” or “flippers” use gum-colored plastic bases that give the appearance of natural teeth. And because a removable partial denture is custom-designed for your mouth, you’ll feel confident and comfortable wearing it every day.

Read on to discover the benefits of a removable partial denture, what to expect with the procedure, and answers to some of your most pressing questions.

Benefits of Removable Partial Dentures

There are a handful of options for replacing missing teeth. Some of these options include implants, bridges or dentures. While each solution offers its own unique pros and cons, removable partial dentures provide several unique benefits:

Natural appearance. Removable Partial dentures blend seamlessly with the rest of your natural teeth, providing a complete and beautiful smile.

Less Invasive. Removable partial dentures are attached to your teeth in a way that is considered less invasive than other options. Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews at Excel Dental will secure your partial denture to your teeth in one of the following ways, depending on your situation:

  • Clasps and a metal framework
  • Natural looking connectors
  • Precision attachments
  • Crowns with attachments
  • Implant locaters

Cost-effective. Typically, removable partial dentures are lighter on the pocketbook than other options.

Improves mouth function and health. Most patients find that after a couple weeks, removable partial dentures soon make it much easier to comfortably speak and chew. Further, by filling the gap in your mouth, removable partial dentures will help maintain the shape of your face and ease stress in the jaw.

Flexible. Additional teeth can usually be added to your removable partial denture, should you lose more adjacent natural teeth over time.

Tooth Stability.  Removable partial dentures can hold remaining teeth in the correct place.  This will keep the teeth from incorrectly tipping forward or an opposing arch tooth from “over-erupting”.

What to Expect

Following a consultation with your local Ozark, Missouri dentist, a removable partial denture will be custom-designed for your mouth and specific needs.

As with any new hardware in the mouth, it may take a few days to become accustomed to wearing your removable partial denture; inserting and removing the piece will require practice. Never force the denture into position by biting down, however, as this could result in serious damage to the hardware.

Try to wear your removable partial denture as much as possible those first few days in order to quickly identify areas that may need adjustment. If you encounter any sore areas in your mouth, call your local dentist for an adjustment. Remember, your dentist’s goal is to optimize both the functionality and comfort of your new removable partial denture.

Questions & Answers

Can I eat while wearing removable partial dentures?

Yes. In fact, many people find that eating becomes a more pleasant experience with their removable partial dentures. Ease into eating by starting with soft foods that are cut into pieces. Try to chew on both sides of your mouth to keep even pressure on both sides. Eventually, you should be able to once again enjoy most of the foods you once loved. There are some foods you’ll want to avoid, though, including anything sticky or hard like candies and chewing gum.

Can I sleep with a removable partial denture in my mouth?

Most dentists agree that you should not sleep with your removable partial denture in place. Wearing your removable partial dentures to sleep is not recommended for a few reasons:

  1. If you’re wearing your removable partial denture to sleep, that means you’re missing the opportunity to properly clean the appliance. Removable partial dentures are designed to be cleaned outside the mouth. Sleeping with your removable partial denture in place provides the perfect environment for bacteria to fester, which could lead to gum inflammation and over time, periodontal disease.
  2. Your gums need the ability to rest and recover just as much as the rest of your body. Removal of your removable partial denture at night allows the gums to do just that.
  3. Some people tend to clench their teeth during sleep (often times without even knowing it!). This pressure can cause damage to both your natural teeth and denture.

How should I care for my removable partial denture?

With proper care, your removable partial denture should last approximately 5 to 8 years. Denture care differs from natural tooth care, so make sure to follow these important steps:

  • Lightly brush your removable partial denture daily to remove food particles and plaque buildup. Look for a soft-bristled toothbrush; hard-bristle brushes can damage your denture. 
  • Your local dentist will recommend a professional denture cleaner. Toothpaste is too harsh for use and some will scratch the acrylic.
  • Clean your removable partial dentures by moistening the brush and applying the denture cleaner. Brush all surfaces gently to avoid damaging the plastic or bending the attachments.
  • It’s important to keep your removable partial denture moist when not in use. Soak your removable partial denture in solution or water overnight. In the morning, make sure to thoroughly rinse the denture before placing back into your mouth.
  • Never chew, swallow or gargle with denture cleansers.

At Excel Dental, we’ll recommend the proper method for keeping your removable partial denture in tip-top shape.

My removable partial denture isn’t fitting quite right. Can I fix it myself?

Can you? Yes. Should you? No, and here’s why. Our bones, gum ridges and mouth structure naturally change as we age. As a result, your removable partial denture may need an adjustment over time to ensure optimal fit. If you find yourself with a removable partial denture that suddenly doesn’t feel as comfortable as it used to, do not attempt to fix it yourself. Do-it-yourself kits can damage the hardware beyond repair, costing you a pretty penny for a brand new appliance. Over-the-counter glues often contain harmful chemicals that are not advised for use in or around your mouth. Call your dentist immediately if your partial denture becomes painful, breaks, cracks or chips.

Fulfill Your Smile With Removable Partial Dentures

Are removable partial dentures the right choice for you? Make an appointment with Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews at Excel Dental to find out. We’ll partner with you to determine the best solution for optimizing your smile. Find us in Ozark, Missouri—a short 10 minute drive from Springfield—where a full, healthy smile awaits.

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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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