All posts in Preventive Dentistry

Maintain Oral Health With Fluoride

Maintain Oral Health With Fluoride

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

Wrong.

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

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

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

What is Fluoride?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits of Fluoride 

Fluoride benefits your oral health in two critical ways:

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

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

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

What Should I Expect?

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

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

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

All For Fluoride!

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

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Exposed: The Truth About Receding Gums

Exposed: The Truth About Receding Gums

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

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

Symptoms

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

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

Causes

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

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

Treatment & Prevention

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

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

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

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

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

FAQs

Q. Do receding gums grow back on their own?

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

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

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

Q. Only older adults experience receding gums, right?

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

Get Your Gums Back

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

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What Causes Gum Disease?

What Causes Gum Disease?

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

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

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

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

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

If you or your child are diagnosed with a bacterial infection, chances are you’ll get a prescription for antibiotics.

And tetracycline is one of the most widely used antibiotics in the world.

From acne to pneumonia to urinary infections, this family of antibiotics has proven effective against some 90% of bacterial infections since its discovery in 1945 by Dr. Benjamin Duggar at the University of Missouri.

But did you know tetracyclines could also affect your teeth? Let’s take a look at how it can cause tooth discoloration, how to reduce the risk, and what to do if you’ve been affected.

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Mouthwash and pH: Is Mouthwash Good for Your Teeth?

Mouthwash and pH: Is Mouthwash Good for Your Teeth?

Who doesn’t love that clean, refreshing feeling that mouthwash gives you?

Choosing a healthy mouthwash or mouth rinse can be a good addition to your oral care plan. It can help to loosen debris or plaque from around your teeth and gums.

However, so can swishing with plain water. Also keep in mind that mouthwash is not a substitute for your regular routine of brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and visiting your dentist twice a year.

It’s also important to make sure you’re choosing a product that doesn’t do more harm than good.

Watch out for mouthwash with alcohol, which can dry out your mouth and may increase risk of tooth decay. In addition, an alcohol free mouthwash may be less likely to increase the acidity in your mouth.

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Three Tips for Preventative Dental Care

Three Tips for Preventative Dental Care

Approximately 80% of all Americans have had at least one cavity by age 34. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dental caries affect all ages. About 20% of children from 5 to 11 have untreated tooth decay, along with 13% of teens and 27% of adults.

What can be done to avoid the pain, discomfort and financial cost associated with tooth decay and gum disease? The American Dental Association says that quality preventative dental care is the key to achieving good oral health for both children and adults.

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What Is the Correct Way to Brush Your Teeth?

What Is the Correct Way to Brush Your Teeth?

You already know that brushing your teeth is important for reducing risk of tooth decay and gum disease. It also helps to whiten teeth. But did you know that brushing your teeth correctly is just as important as brushing in the first place?

What is the correct way to brush your teeth? Here are four important habits to help you out when brushing your teeth.

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How Can Acidic Foods Affect Your Teeth?

How Can Acidic Foods Affect Your Teeth?

When it comes to taking care of your teeth, most people know about the importance of brushing and flossing every day, getting regular dental checkups and avoiding too much sugar.

But did you ever think about how the rest of your diet might affect your teeth? Foods with high acidity can affect your smile but you can learn how to limit the damage.

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Help Your Child Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Help Your Child Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Like any new parent, you will do anything to give your baby a healthy start in life.

A key ingredient in your child’s wellbeing is good oral hygiene. Even at a young age this is very important because tooth decay is the leading chronic childhood disease, far outpacing other conditions like asthma, diabetes and obesity.

While you may be thinking about getting your kids to brush and floss, remember that dental care actually begins at birth, before your child’s first tooth appears and long before he or she can hold a toothbrush.

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