Excel Dental Blog

Restore Your Teeth With Dental Bonding: Improve Chipped and Fractured Smiles

A minor cosmetic dentistry issue often feels anything but minor if you’re the one afflicted. Cracks, chips, discoloration or gaps can all lead to smile insecurity. Fortunately, dental bonding is a quick and simple solution for minor cosmetic dentistry woes that offers lasting results. There are a handful of benefits to dental bonding in comparison to other cosmetic restoration solutions, such as:

  • Ease of application
  • Affordability
  • Usually only requires one quick dentist visit
  • Removes less tooth enamel

Dental bonding is most effective for areas of the mouth with low bite pressure, like your front teeth, and for those who need only minor repair. If your dental issue is more severe or in an area of high bite pressure, your Ozark, MO dentist may suggest a veneer or crown.

Read on to see if dental bonding may be right for you and what to expect with this simple procedure.

Who Should Get Dental Bonding?

Dental bonding is ideal for those who are looking to:

  • Repair chipped or cracked teeth
  • Restore the appearance of discolored teeth
  • Close gaps between teeth
  • Change the shape of teeth or make them appear longer
  • Protect a tooth’s root that has become exposed due to gum recession

The professionals at Excel Dental use the latest technology and materials to provide dental bonding that offers superior fit, function, and aesthetics.

What to Expect

From start to finish, the entire dental bonding procedure typically takes about 45 minutes per treated tooth. Most people do not experience any pain or discomfort during the procedure, and numbing may not be required. Dental bonding is truly the quick and comfortable way toward a more beautiful smile!

Your Springfield, MO dentist will begin the dental bonding process by gently roughening your enamel to create a surface that is ideal for bonding.

A bonding resin is then color-matched to your natural teeth, making it virtually indistinguishable from your natural enamel. The resin is molded and hardened to fill cracks or chips in your teeth. With the help of a special light, the resin is then set to your teeth until the bonding has adhered perfectly and to your dentist’s satisfaction. Following the procedure, you may feel as though your tooth is thicker with the addition of the resin. Over time, this sensation will eventually subside.

Depending on the treated bite area and your quality of aftercare, dental bonding can last up to ten years.

Maintaining Your Dental Bonding

Ensure your bonding lasts with proper aftercare. Dental bonds are more susceptible to staining and chipping than other forms of cosmetic dentistry, so special care is required to keep your bonded teeth looking natural. Follow these tips to keep your dental bonds looking great:

  • Bonding material does not respond to whitening treatments, so maintain a vibrant smile overall with regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings. Additionally, you might want to consider cutting back on food and drink that can stain enamel, such as red wine, coffee, and tea.
  • If you’re a smoker, there’s no better time than now to quit. (Not to mention, smoking increases your risk of gum disease and oral cancer).
  • Avoid actions that can crack the bonded material, such as using your teeth to open food wrappers, biting your nails, and chewing on hard objects like candies, ice, and pencils.

If you notice sharp edges or if your teeth feel uneven when you bite down, a touch-up or repair may be necessary. Such procedures can be quickly corrected by Dr. Davis or Dr. Matthews at Excel Dental so you can get on with your day quickly!

Form a New Bond!

Form a bond with your new and improved smile. To discover if dental bonding is the right solution for you, schedule an appointment today with the 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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Have a Gummy Smile? The Solution is Gum Contouring.

If your smile shows a greater proportion of gums than teeth, you’re not alone. A “gummy smile” is a very common cosmetic complaint. Technically, a gummy smile is defined as a smile with more than three to four millimeters of gum showing. If you’re self-conscious about the look of your smile, there’s a solution called gum contouring that may be right for you.

Also called gum reshaping, tissue sculpting or gingivectomy, gum contouring can even out your gum line for a smile you’ll be proud to put on display. Although this procedure primarily helps patients whose gums are uneven or cover too much of their teeth, similar procedures can also correct cases where gums have receded, exposing more tooth surface than normal.

Read on to learn more about gum contouring and how this procedure can put your smile back in balance.

What Causes a “Gummy” Smile?

A gummy smile can be caused by a number of reasons. For instance, some people have a naturally occurring high lip line, which causes their smile to show more teeth and gum. A gummy smile can also be caused by bacterial infections, side effects to medication, certain medical conditions or poor oral hygiene, causing the gums to abnormally swell and appear larger than usual.

Additionally, a condition called “altered passive eruption” can prevent adult teeth from fully protruding, leaving teeth looking unusually small and partially hidden by excess gum tissue.

Hereditary causes of a gummy smile usually don’t pose serious health problems, beyond being a cosmetic concern to some. Health issues do arise, however, when there is too little gum (or gum recession). Besides causing teeth to look elongated or discolored, receding gums expose the roots of your teeth to harmful bacteria and plaque. A higher risk for gum recession is sometimes caused by genetics, but more often it’s caused by overzealous toothbrushing or periodontal (gum) disease.

Your dental professionals at Excel Dental will examine your teeth and gums to determine the root cause of your concern. From there, an appropriate treatment plan will be developed to address your unique gum issue.

How Gum Contouring Works

Before your procedure to treat an excess gum line, you’ll receive a mild local anesthetic to gently numb your gums. While most patients experience little to no pain during this procedure, you may feel some sensitivity in your gums afterward, which can be remedied with over-the-counter pain relievers.

 Once your gums are numbed, a soft tissue laser is used to carefully strip away the excess gum tissue. The laser is used to contour, graft, and then seal the tissue to create a more uniform gum line and prevent excessive bleeding. Careful approximation to bone height and health is very important to this procedure.

 Treatment of gum recession is usually a more involved procedure, which requires grafting your own gum tissue from a nearby tooth or part of the palate in order to cover the recessed area. The surgical site from a gum graft typically takes about six weeks to heal. You can avoid most cases of gum recession by practicing good oral hygiene. Remember to clean your gums as well and often as you clean your teeth to prevent the need for this type of corrective gum surgery.

 In some cases, your Ozark, MO dentist may also recommend a crown lengthening. In this procedure, part of the gum and some of the underlying bone are removed to change the actual anatomy of your teeth.

What to Expect Afterwards

Once your gummy smile has been reshaped, you can smile brighter knowing that your gums not only look better, but are healthier, too! Reshaped gums are healthier because the pocket depths of spaces between the gums and teeth are now shallower and easier to brush clean.

Recovery time usually takes a few weeks, unless your procedure involved a gum grafting, which can take up to six weeks to fully heal.

You also might experience minor swelling, pain, or teeth sensitivity; however, these symptoms will quickly dissipate as your new gum line heals. During the recovery period, you should work to avoid smoking, drinking alcohol, and using a straw. It’s also important to maintain your normal oral hygiene routines of brushing and flossing. However, use caution in not brushing or flossing too hard, as this type of abrasive action at the gum site can cause bleeding that may lead to infection.

Your Springfield, MO dentist will provide you with personalized instructions following your procedure. Make sure to follow those instructions carefully for a speedy recovery process. With a little patience and due-diligence, you’ll be debuting your new smile in no time!

Get Your Gums in Shape

If unsightly gums are preventing you from the smile you deserve, schedule an appointment today with the 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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Teeth Sensitivity: How to Relieve The Pain

Teeth Sensitivity: How to Relieve The Pain

Does just the thought of eating ice cream make you cringe? How about a bite of hard candy, or a sip of ice water? If these actions tend to leave you writhing with oral pain, you may be suffering from dentin hypersensitivity, more commonly known as teeth sensitivity. The pain from teeth sensitivity can range from mild to severe, and is often described as being intensely sharp in nature. It’s estimated that nearly half of the U.S. population suffers from some form of teeth sensitivity. If you’re one of the millions who understand the agony of having sensitive teeth, then you’re likely already familiar with the most common “triggers” of your pain: hot, cold, sweet or acidic foods and drinks, and breathing in cold air.

What causes teeth sensitivity for so many people, and what can be done to ease its symptoms? Read on to learn more about this common dental issue and what you can do to treat the pain.

Causes of Teeth Sensitivity

Sensitive teeth are usually caused by worn tooth enamel or exposed roots. Sometimes, however, the discomfort is fueled by other factors, such as plaque buildup, teeth grinding, or gum disease. The following are just some of the reasons why you may be experiencing teeth sensitivity:

  • Brushing too hard. Over time, brushing your teeth with too much gusto can wear down the protective layers of your teeth to expose microscopic canals that lead to your dental nerves. When this damage is exposed to extreme temperatures, acidic or sticky foods, teeth sensitivity and discomfort can result.
  • Acidic foods. When the pathways to your nerves are exposed, acidic foods such as tomato sauce, citrus fruits, or pickles can cause discomfort.
  • Teeth grinding. Grinding wears down the enamel in your teeth, exposing the dentin, which contains the hollow canals that lead to your nerves. If you tend to grind your teeth at night, consult with your local Ozark, MO dentist who can help you find a custom-fit mouth guard that’ll put a stop to your grinding.
  • Certain mouthwashes. Some over-the-counter mouthwashes contain alcohol and other ingredients that can heighten your teeth sensitivity — especially if your dentin is already exposed. Try neutral fluoride rinses instead, or ask the professionals at Excel Dental for a recommendation that’s personalized to your needs.
  • Gum disease. Receding gums are increasingly common with age, leading to root sensitivity. If you suffer from gum disease or gingivitis, your Springfield, MO dentist will work with you to determine an appropriate treatment plan.
  • Excessive plaque. Excessive buildup of plaque can cause tooth enamel demineralization. As your teeth lose that critical layer of protection, sensitivity can result. Make sure to practice good daily dental hygiene and schedule a professional cleaning at Excel Dental every six months or as frequently as advised by your dental professional.

Treatment

If you believe you’re suffering from sensitive teeth, the first step is to make an appointment to see your dentist. He or she can help determine the root cause of your sensitivity and rule out any underlying issues that may be causing your pain.

From there, your dentist may recommend one or more of the following treatment options, based off your individual needs:

  • Desensitizing toothpaste. Desensitizing toothpaste uses specially-formulated compounds that help block the pain associated with sensitive teeth. Your Ozark, MO dentist can help recommend the best product that can work for you. Patience is key when starting a desensitizing toothpaste regimen; it may take several applications of this toothpaste before you start to notice a difference.
  • Fluoride. Another treatment option is the application of fluoride varnish to the sensitive areas of your teeth. The fluoride varnish helps to strengthen the surface of your teeth and reduce pain.
  • Desensitizing or bonding. In some cases, exposed root surfaces can be treated by applying bonding resin to the sensitive root surfaces.
  • Root canal. If your sensitive teeth cause severe pain and other treatments have proven ineffective, your dental professional might recommend a root canal to treat the core of the problem deep within your dentin. Although a root canal may seem like a significant procedure, it’s considered one of the most successful techniques for permanently eliminating sensitivity.

Your local dentist is best equipped to diagnose the cause of your sensitivity and determine an effective treatment plan.

Prevention

The number one way to avoid teeth sensitivity is to maintain a proper oral care routine, including brushing twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush, using fluoride toothpaste, and flossing twice daily.

 You may also want to consider making changes to your diet. Acidic foods and drinks (citrus fruits and juices, soda, wine) should be avoided, as they tend to remove small amounts of tooth enamel minerals over time. Should you want to consume the occasional glass of orange juice or carbonated beverage, use a straw to limit the acidity making direct contact with your teeth. Drinking milk or water after consuming an acidic food or beverage can balance the levels of acid in your mouth.

 It’s also important to remember to wait to brush your teeth at least 20 minutes after you’ve eaten. This is because acid softens enamel, so brushing while the acid is still active can actually make your teeth even more vulnerable.

Sensitivity Shouldn’t be a Pain!

Teeth sensitivity can be a real pain, but it doesn’t have to be. Schedule a consultation appointment today with the 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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Ready for a Better Smile? Try Dental Contouring

Ready for a Better Smile? Try Dental Contouring

Is there something slightly “off” about your smile? Maybe it’s a tooth that’s a tad longer than the rest. Or, perhaps you have a couple teeth that are a bit asymmetrical. If minor cosmetic problems have you taking extra pause in the mirror, then dental contouring may be the right solution for you.

 Dental or cosmetic contouring, also known as enameloplasty or tooth reshaping, can fix minor imperfections like slightly misshapen teeth. This relatively simple procedure offers instant gratification — you’ll be enjoying a perfected new smile in a little under an hour!

 Read on to learn more about cosmetic dental contouring, and if it’s right for you and your smile.

 

Who Can Benefit From Dental Contouring?

Many people with minor cosmetic irregularities can benefit from dental contouring. Your Springfield, MO dentist may recommend dental contouring to:

  • Change the length, shape, or size of your teeth
  • Improve the appearance of irregularly shaped teeth
  • Correct teeth that appear too long
  • Smooth out imperfections on the tooth surface
  • Correct minor tooth overlapping

If you’re generally satisfied with your smile, but wish your teeth were a bit shorter or slightly more even in size, dental contouring may be the perfect solution for you. However, if your teeth are severely crooked, crowded or misshapen, your Ozark, MO dentist may recommend procedures that can deliver more dramatic results. Serious cosmetic problems can be repaired with braces, veneers, bonding, or other methods. Talk to the professionals at Excel Dental, who can help you select the procedure that is right for your smile.

 

What Should I Expect?

Dental contouring is considered a simple dental procedure. First, your dentist will gently remove some of your teeth’s enamel in order to manipulate the length or shape. This part of the procedure is usually completed using either a drill or laser. But, don’t worry — there are no nerves in your enamel, so you won’t feel any pain. Once the enamel has been removed, your dentist may incorporate another procedure called bonding. Bonding is a cosmetic dentistry treatment that uses tooth-colored composite material to sculpt and shape the teeth.

Once your teeth have been contoured to an ideal shape, your dentist will finish things off by polishing your teeth for a smooth, clean look.

 

What Are The Benefits?

There are a handful or benefits to dental contouring:

  • Pain Free. Dental contouring is a nice choice for people who have dental anxiety or are worried about the pain associated with obtaining a perfect smile.
  • Fast. Typically, dental contouring can be completed in just one visit to your Ozark, MO dentist. Since the treatment usually takes less than an hour, it can be considered a “lunch break” type of procedure!
  • Permanent. Once your teeth have been reshaped to your satisfaction, you won’t need to worry about getting the procedure redone in the future.

 

Aftercare

Following a dental contouring procedure, your enamel will be thinner than before. This means you’ll need to be extra vigilant with your dental care, especially over time. Continued thinning of enamel can sometimes lead to increased teeth sensitivity.

To reduce your chances of experiencing sensitivity following a dental contouring procedure, we recommend that patients follow these guidelines:

  • Avoid excessive consumption of sugary foods and drinks
  • Make sure to incorporate plenty of calcium in your diet
  • Avoid brushing too hard or fast
  • Use an enamel-strengthening toothpaste, as recommended by the professionals at Excel Dental
  • See your dentist for regular checkups

Your dentist will provide detailed instructions following the procedure to ensure your new smile stays healthy and preserved for years to come.

 

Little Changes Make a Big Difference!

Sometimes it only takes a few small tweaks to make a big difference in your smile. Dental contouring is the easy way to finally perfect your smile in less than 60 minutes. Schedule your dental contouring appointment today with the 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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Children’s Dentistry: Instilling Good Habits Early

The number one chronic childhood disease may surprise you. It’s not juvenile diabetes, asthma, or obesity. The most common disease plaguing children today is tooth decay. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 42% of children between ages two and 11 have cavities in their baby teeth — that’s nearly half of all children in the U.S. Tooth decay is 20 times more prevalent than diabetes, five times more than asthma, and four times more than obesity, according to The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. Childhood tooth decay can have lasting, devastating effects on your child’s oral development; fortunately, this chronic disease is almost entirely preventable.

It’s easy to overlook the importance of routine dental cleanings for children, especially when their teeth are just starting to emerge. However, your child’s baby teeth are at risk for decay as soon as they first appear — typically around six months of age. Sugar consumption and lack of routine oral hygiene from the start can cause a harmful reaction to bacteria in the mouth, resulting in cavities or even gum disease.

As with many matters of health, prevention is key. Teach your children good dental habits early, and they’ll enjoy healthy teeth for years to come. Read on to learn how you can make your child’s daily oral routine something they’ll actually look forward to.

At-home Tips

Preventing childhood tooth decay can largely be done at home with routine, daily dental care: brushing, flossing, and avoiding too many sugary beverages and snacks. Easy enough, right? Not quite. As many parents will agree, oftentimes kids view “brushing time” as a chore. And if your child doesn’t like the task, it’s going to be even harder to establish that task as daily routine. That’s why we’ve curated some foolproof tips below for making dental care an easy new habit for your little one.

  1. Pick out a special toothbrush together.

Allow your child to pick out their own toothbrush. If your child has ownership in the process, he or she will be more willing to take part.

  1. Don’t forget toothpaste!

While adults tend to prefer toothpaste with minty flavors, children’s palettes do not. Look for fun flavors like bubblegum, strawberry, or even sugar-free chocolate. Then, make sure to limit the amount of toothpaste on your child’s brush. Kids who are aged 3 – 6 need only a pea-size amount of fluoridated toothpaste on their brush in order to scrub properly. Children younger than three need only a rice-sized amount on their brush.

  1. Pump up the jams.

When it’s time to brush those teeth, turn on some tunes! Let your child pick out their favorite Disney track or song. Most songs are around two minutes long, which just so happens to be the dentist-recommended amount of time for brushing. So not only will music make brushing more fun, but it’ll also serve as a timer for you and your child.

  1. Start flossing.

No, we’re not referring to the viral dance move here. As soon as your child’s teeth start to touch, it’s time to start flossing. Kids flossers are designed for little hands and are easier for children to maneuver around their mouth with help from Mom or Dad.

  1. Snack smart.

Sugary snacks and drinks are one of the main culprits of childhood tooth decay. Start making healthy eating a habit by always keeping fresh cut fruits and veggies on hand. Before bedtime, try to avoid giving your child milk or juice. The natural sugars in these drinks can settle on your child’s teeth overnight.

  1. Lead by example.

Your children learn by your example. Take the lead and brush alongside your children as they get ready for the day.

The Importance of Professional Cleanings  

While it’s important to instill good oral hygiene habits at home, that’s really only half of the equation. Within six months of your child’s first tooth emerging, it’s time to schedule a dental visit.

The primary objective of your child’s first dental exam is to examine his or her mouth for proper growth and development, to provide a gentle first cleaning, and to further educate your child on good oral habits. Your Ozark, MO dentists are well-equipped to make your child feel comfortable and at ease upon their first visit to Excel Dental. Establishing trust with a dentist early in life is critical for ensuring that regular dental visits remain a lifelong habit for your child.

During your child’s appointment, your Springfield, MO dentist will also work to determine if your child is engaging in habits which could negatively impact their dental health, such as poor flossing, brushing, or teeth grinding. X-rays may be ordered to help diagnose any potential problems with your child’s adult teeth as they start to emerge.

We recommend that parents schedule regular dental check ups every six months, or more frequently if recommended. Taking your child to the dentist regularly at an early age will help them to continue practicing healthy dental habits well into adulthood.

A Healthy Smile is a Happy Smile!

Give your child the gift of a great smile by instilling proper dental habits today. Make an appointment for your child to meet the 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. We can’t wait to brighten your child’s smile and their day with our friendly dental care.

 

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Ease Your Dental Phobia With Oral Sedation

Imagine sitting through your next dental visit feeling relaxed, zen, and so peaceful that you’re actually able to drift away into a light, sedated state. Upon recovery, you realize your smile has been completely restored. Surprisingly, though, you barely felt anything during the entire procedure.

Too good to be true? For those with dental phobia or anxiety, the above scenario may seem a bit far-fetched. Dental phobia is a real psychological fear that causes an estimated 30 – 40 million Americans to dodge the dentist each year, according to the Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource Center. Dental phobia can stem from a variety of reasons. Even though most dental procedures are relatively painless, many people with this condition fear the possibility of pain, discomfort, and helplessness. Other reasons why some people fear the dentist include embarrassment about their oral health or anxiety about an extensive procedure that may require taking time off of work.

If you or someone you know suffers from dental phobia, fear not — at Excel Dental, we have your solution. Oral sedation dentistry is the easy way to calm your nerves for a tolerable and even relaxing experience in the dental chair. With oral sedation dentistry, you may even start to look forward to your next trip to the dentist!

Read on to learn more about easing dental anxiety with oral sedation.

What is Oral Sedation?

Oral sedation is a medication that helps patients relax during their dental appointment. In most cases, the medication is a small pill that is taken orally prior to your appointment. Your Ozark, MO  dentist will determine the optimal dose according to your body weight and phobia severity. For most people, a minimal to moderate sedative dose is administered, which typically won’t cause you to fall asleep completely, but it will give you a sense of calm, peace, and relaxation.

If needed, a larger dose may be administered to produce a heavier sedation. Some people do become groggy enough from this type of oral sedation to fall into a light sleep during the procedure.

Those with certain medical conditions (sleep apnea, obesity, etc.) should first talk to their Springfield, MO  dentist about oral sedation as there may be some risks involved. However, oral sedation dentistry is considered very safe for the general population.

Who Can Benefit From Oral Sedation?

If you have a real, debilitating fear or anxiety of the dentist that is preventing you from obtaining the dental care you need, then you may be a good candidate for oral sedation. Sedation dentistry may also be appropriate for people who have:

  • A low pain threshold
  • Sensitive teeth
  • An intense gag reflex
  • A need for extensive dental or cosmetic work

You may be wondering if oral sedation is a good solution for children, who can often become squirmy and anxious in a dental chair. Children can be given sedation if they fear the dentist or refuse to cooperate during the visit; however, nitrous oxide is usually the option of choice as it’s easier to administer. Your dentists at Excel Dental are professionally-trained in various pediatric sedation solutions, and will help you determine the best option for your child.

After the Procedure

Your dentist will provide you with instructions following your procedure with oral sedation. Make sure to follow the provided guidelines carefully to ensure a full recovery. The most important instruction that you should follow is to give your body plenty of rest. Go home, set up on the couch and enjoy a Netflix binge! Do not overexert yourself, especially in the 24 hours following your procedure. If you live alone, we recommend arranging to have someone stay with you for at least three hours after you leave the office.

The following tips will ensure you’re back to normal relatively quickly after oral sedation:

  • Arrange for a friend or family member to drive you home after the appointment. Avoid driving for the remainder of that day.
  • Move slowly. Use help or assistance when getting up, climbing stairs, or switching position. If you experience dizziness, lie down until the feeling dissipates.
  • Resume taking any prescribed medications as directed once you are drinking fluids. Over the counter pain relievers can be taken according to the instructions on the label.
  • You may start drinking fluids immediately following your procedure. Begin with frequent, small quantities of clear liquid such as water or broth. Progress slowly from liquids to soups and solid foods. Taking your time easing into your diet will help you to avoid any post-procedural nausea.

Fear Not!

Don’t let dental phobia get in the way of having the smile of your dreams. 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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Whitening Your Teeth: The Safest Way to Get That Million-Dollar Smile

One of the first features we notice about other people is their smile. It’s no wonder then why nearly 80 percent of Americans report wanting whiter teeth, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Are you one of the majority who yearns for a brighter smile? Many people who wish to whiten their teeth will first turn to at-home solutions, such as whitening toothpaste, mouthwash, or strips. These solutions can work okay for removing surface stains, but often fall short of the dramatic whitening most people wish to achieve. Additionally, off-the-shelf whitening solutions can sometimes be too harsh on tooth enamel, especially for those with sensitive teeth.

For safer whitening results that’ll really get you noticed, we recommend a combination of simple lifestyle changes and a cosmetic consultation with the professionals at Excel Dental. When combined, these solutions will result in a dazzling white smile that won’t compromise your oral health.

Read on to learn how you can safely take your smile from drab to fab in no time.

 

#1: Upgrade Your Lifestyle

What you choose to put in and around your mouth can drastically affect the color of your teeth. Here are some simple tips for keeping the “yellow” at bay!

  • Avoid dark-colored food and drink. This includes red wine, black tea, beets, coffee, soda, and dark-colored juices. Dark-colored beverages and food can turn teeth yellow or brown over time. Carbonated and acidic beverages such as soda pack a double-whammy by eroding your enamel and causing stains to appear more pronounced. If you do decide to indulge in a dark-colored food or beverage, make sure to brush your teeth immediately following.
  • Eat more “detergent” foods. Foods that are firm, crisp, and/or contain naturally-occuring enzymes can help clean your teeth as they’re eaten. Apples are considered “nature’s toothbrush” for this very reason. Other foods that clean as you eat include raw carrots, celery, oranges, pineapples, strawberries, and nuts.
  • Practice good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing twice daily removes surface stains to keep your smile naturally white and healthy.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking cigarettes and cigars will discolor your teeth, period. The buildup of tar and tobacco on your teeth can become especially difficult to remove over time, not to mention the other dangerous oral health risks associated with this habit.
  • Swap your regular toothbrush for an electronic one. Electric toothbrushes are more efficient at removing plaque buildup. To properly clean your teeth with an electric toothbrush, grip the brush like a pencil and place the head at a 45-degree angle against your teeth while gently moving in a circular motion. Make sure to change the head of your toothbrush at least every two to three months.
  • Add some color. For the ladies, try reaching for a medium coral or light red lipstick. These colors tend to make teeth look whiter, whereas lighter-color lipsticks can bring out yellow undertones in teeth.

 

#2: See the Professionals

For a solution that can brighten your teeth several shades whiter, plan to make an appointment with your Ozark, MO dental professionals. Professional teeth whitening treatments produce more effective and dramatic results than over-the-counter solutions alone.

At Excel Dental, we offer our patients a couple ways to take their smile to the next level:

  1. Custom Whitening Trays

This is one of our most popular options. Our dental professionals will begin by making an impression of your teeth to design custom mouth trays. You’ll be given a professional-grade dental bleach for use with the trays as an at-home treatment. The length of time that you’ll be required to wear the trays depends on the degree of staining and your desired level of whitening. Your Springfield, MO cosmetic dentistry professionals will provide you with detailed instructions for wearing your trays so you can achieve the whitening result you desire. The best part about the custom whitening trays is that you can use them for many years so future “touch ups” are quick and easy.

  1. Laser Whitening

 Laser teeth whitening provides instant whitening gratification! One laser whitening treatment typically takes about an hour and can whiten your teeth up to 12 shades. Laser whitening is the use of a laser light to trigger professional-grade bleaching agents and speed up the agents’ whitening effects on the teeth.

The process is fairly simple. Professional-grade whitening gel is first applied to the surface of your teeth. The laser light is then pointed at the bleaching agent to speed up the whitening process (You will be equipped with protected eyewear during this process). Within 60-90 minutes, a drastically whiter smile will be yours. And with proper maintenance, your new smile should last for up to two years.

Some patients use a combination of these treatments by getting laser whitening and then maintaining that platinum white with custom take-home trays.

Your friendly dental professionals at Excel Dental are best equipped to advise on the optimal whitening treatment for you. And once you’ve achieved your desired level of “wow,” make sure to schedule a regular professional cleaning every six months to further maintain your pearly whites.

Schedule Your Appointment!

Make a big impression with a brighter, whiter smile. Schedule your teeth whitening appointment today with the 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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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.

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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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