Excel Dental Blog

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.

 

Related Reading

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

More

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.

Related Reading

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

 

 

 

More

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.

 

Related Reading

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

●      Take Care of that Summer Smile with Teeth Whitening at Excel Dental!

●      Get a Megawatt Smile With Veneers

●      How Can You Get Rid of Tetracycline Stains on Your Teeth?

More

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

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

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

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

 

What is a 3D X-Ray?

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

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

What to Expect

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

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

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

Uses

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

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

Benefits

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

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

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

 

Picture Your Next Exam in 3D!

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

Related Reading

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

●      Why More Dentists Turn to Digital Imaging

●      Dental Emergencies 101

●      Are You Suffering From TMJ Syndrome?

 

More

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.

Related Reading

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

 

More

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.

<h2

Related Reading

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

 

 

More

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.

 

Related Reading

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

More

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.

Related Reading

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

More

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.

Related Reading

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

More

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.

Related Reading

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

More