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.
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.
Searching for more advice on this topic? Make sure to check out these related posts from our blog:
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Dental emergencies are much more common than you may think. According to the American Association of Endodontics, more than five million teeth are knocked out every year—talk about a lot of Tooth Fairy currency!
When it comes to a dental injury, time is of the essence. Save your smile or that of someone else by understanding the proper protocol for every type of dental emergency scenario.
Types of Dental Emergencies
Some dental emergencies are more urgent than others. In the section below, we’ve identified some of the more common dental emergencies ranked in order of typical emergency levels. As with any major dental injury, though, your first step should always be to call your Ozark dentist. Your dentist is equipped to determine the true severity of your injury and to detail your individual course of treatment.
Without pain: Low
With pain: Moderate
What is it? A chipped tooth is relatively common, and can happen quite easily—especially if the injured tooth was already showing signs of decay. With this type of injury, a small portion of the enamel is damaged. This damage to the enamel creates a rough-edge serration. A chipped tooth is typically considered a mild dental injury; however, that doesn’t mean you should delay treatment, especially if you’re experiencing pain.
What to do: First, contact your local dentist office to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, prevent further enamel damage by using orthodontic wax or sugarless gum to gently cover the chipped edge.Do not entertain the “DIY” internet quick-fixes for a chipped tooth, such as at-home filing, which can cause painful nerve damage.
Rinse your mouth with salt water if you experience pain associated with the chip. An over-the-counter pain reliever can be taken as well.
During your appointment, your dentist will evaluate the severity of your chip and determine the best solution. For relatively minor and cosmetic chips, your dentist may suggest a quick and easy procedure called bonding or a filling. This simple process uses a tooth-colored composite material that is molded over the healthy area of the tooth to correct the chip. For more complex cases, your dentist may suggest a crown, which is essentially a fitted cap that comfortably adheres over your existing tooth.
Emergency Level: Moderate-High
What is it? A loose tooth is the potential precursor to losing a tooth. Unless you’re in the first grade, a loose tooth is not normal. In adults, this type of dental emergency can be the result of teeth grinding, external injury, or a receding gum line caused by advanced gum disease. Your dentist will be able to evaluate the injury and determine the underlying cause for optimal treatment and after-care.
What to do: Call your dentist for an emergency appointment right away. Your dentist will likely work to stabilize the tooth by splinting it to your teeth on either side. In the meantime, avoid excessive wiggling or movement of the tooth and steer clear from hard foods until you’re able to see your dentist.
Broken or Cracked Tooth
Emergency Level: Moderate-High
What is it? When a tooth is cracked or broken, it usually means that damage to the tooth has occurred to the outside and to the inside. Minor breaks typically don’t cause pain. If a large piece of the tooth breaks off, however, it can be quite painful and an indication that the nerve inside the tooth is damaged.
What to do: As with any dental emergency, the first step is to call your local dental office to schedule an appointment right away.
Then, clean your mouth by gently rinsing with warm water. A cold compress should be applied if your fracture was caused by a facial injury. Over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen can be used to temporarily alleviate pain. Avoid applying topical painkillers to the gum, like Orajel, which can further irritate your gum tissue.
During your appointment, your dentist will work to diagnose the severity of the fracture by using an X-Ray. If it’s determined that the soft tissue inside of the tooth, the “pulp”, is damaged, a root canal may be needed. For injuries that don’t involve the pulp, a crown may be used instead.
Emergency Level: High
What is it? When your tooth has been knocked out of the socket completely, the nerves, blood vessels and supporting tissues are damaged also, and that is why this scenario constitutes a serious dental emergency. By taking appropriate, swift action following the incident, it is possible to preserve the tooth and save your smile.
What to do: Time is of the essence in this type of emergency situation. Ideally, seek treatment within 30 minutes at your local dental office to increase your chances of successful tooth reattachment to the socket.
If you have the knocked out tooth—great! Now, there are a few critical tips to keep in mind when preparing to transport your tooth to the dentist office:
1. Do not handle the tooth by the root. Be careful to only pick up or hold the tooth by the crown, which is the visible part of the tooth that is used for chewing.
2. Gently and carefully rinse the tooth clean with lukewarm water. Ensure a drain plug is in place so you don’t lose the tooth. Do not:
Use soap or harsh chemicals
Scrub the tooth
Wrap the tooth in towels, tissue or cloth
3. Place the tooth in a cup of milk, or an emergency preservation solution that is backed by the American Dental Association (ADA), like Save-a-Tooth®.
Upon arrival to the dental office, your dentist will examine the tooth and overall injury to determine if reattachment is a safe option. If so, your dentist will reimplant the tooth to the socket, using a splint for stabilization.
In some cases, a root canal may be performed right then or later down the road. There are several factors that will determine the best course of action, such as how long the tooth was out of the mouth and the severity of the overall injury and the health of the surrounding bone and tissue.
You can trust that your Ozark dentists at Excel Dental will thoroughly evaluate your individual emergency situation to determine the most successful treatment for long term viability of your tooth and smile.
Dental Emergency? Dial Your Dentist!
A dental emergency doesn’t have to end in dental disaster. By taking the right steps after an injury, the odds of saving your smile are in your favor. If you find yourself facing a dental emergency, call Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews at Excel Dental, located in Ozark, Missouri—a short 10 minute drive from Springfield. We’re equipped to preserve your smile using the latest diagnostics and treatment.
Searching for more advice on this topic? Make sure to check out these related posts from our blog:
Early childhood brings with it many exciting firsts: first word, first step, first trip to Grandma’s and eventually the first day of school.
Like all of these milestones, your child’s first trip to the dentist can be filled with excitement and nervousness. As a parent, you may not be sure when your child should go to the dentist for the first time or what to expect during your baby’s first dental checkup.
Are you looking for an easy way to access the affordable dental care your family needs without dental insurance?
The Excel Dental Membership Club has you covered! You’ll get complete dental care, including regular cleanings, doctor exams, x-rays, and emergency care, plus discounts on other services. Members pay for dental services by signing up for one of three monthly dental care payment plans.
In a previous blog, we talked about the common sleep disorder called sleep apnea and how oral appliances may be able to help.
If you are affected by this problem, you are far from alone. Did you know that an estimated 70 million U.S. adults are affected by sleep disorders including sleep apnea? About 4 out of every 100 middle-aged men and 2 out of every 100 middle-aged women have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), according to the National Institutes of Health.
Sleep apnea literally means “cessation of breath.” OSA occurs when the muscles of your throat relax and narrow during sleep, blocking your airway as you try to breathe. This blockage leads to snoring sounds and jerking as the patient gasps to reopen his or her airway. OSA prevents a restful night’s sleep, and over time, increases your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Springfield, MO – Do you wake up with a headache or jaw pain in the morning? Do you wonder what might be causing it? You may suffer from bruxism, a condition that causes you to clench or grind your teeth. While you may not be aware that it is happening, it can have serious consequences on your teeth and body.
“Bruxism can lead to tooth problems, such as abnormal wear, chipping and breaking,” says Dr. Tracy Davis, an Ozark dentist. “The action of grinding your teeth puts great force on your teeth, and can cause migraines, as well as pain in your jaw, neck, back and shoulders.”