All posts in Restorative Dentistry

Have a Gummy Smile? The Solution is Gum Contouring.

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

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

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

What Causes a “Gummy” Smile?

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

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

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

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

How Gum Contouring Works

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

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

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

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

What to Expect Afterwards

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

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

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

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

Get Your Gums in Shape

If unsightly gums are preventing you from the smile you deserve, schedule an appointment today with the trusted team at Excel Dental, Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews. Find us in Ozark, Missouri — just a short 10 minute drive from Springfield.

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●      What Causes Gum Disease?

●      Common Gum Disease Myths

●      Exposed: The Truth About Receding Gums

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Teeth Sensitivity: How to Relieve The Pain

Teeth Sensitivity: How to Relieve The Pain

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

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

Causes of Teeth Sensitivity

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

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

Treatment

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

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

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

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

Prevention

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

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

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

Sensitivity Shouldn’t be a Pain!

Teeth sensitivity can be a real pain, but it doesn’t have to be. Schedule a consultation appointment today with the trusted team at Excel Dental, Dr. Tracy Davis or Dr. Nick Matthews. Find us in Ozark, Missouri — just a short 10 minute drive from Springfield.

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Dental Bridges: Get Over Your Gap

Dental Bridges: Get Over Your Gap

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

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

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

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

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

Enter stage right: Dental bridges

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

What is a Dental Bridge? 

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

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

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

What Should I Expect?    

Placing your dental bridge will typically require two dental visits.

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

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

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

Caring for Your Bridge

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

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

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

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

Bridge the Gap

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

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Does a Root Canal Hurt?

Does a Root Canal Hurt?

You’ve probably never heard someone cheer when they find out they need a root canal. Rather, simply hearing your dentist say the phrase “root canal” probably struck fear into your heart.

You may have heard the root canal procedure is painful and serves no purpose. However, this is simply not true. Root canals save an estimated 24 million teeth a year and help keep people healthy across the country. Let’s learn more about what the process of receiving a root canal is like and dispel some of the common myths surrounding them.

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Wisdom Teeth Removal: Is It Necessary for You?

Wisdom Teeth Removal: Is It Necessary for You?

The young adult years can be an exciting time filled with some of the most memorable occasions of your life. Graduation. Leaving the nest. Launching a career. And getting your wisdom teeth out.

Wisdom teeth are actually your third and final set of molars and typically appear in your late teens or early 20s.

It’s estimated that 85% of adults have had their wisdom teeth removed. Why is this such a common procedure and is it right for you or your child?

Let’s take a look at situations where wisdom teeth removal may be necessary and what to expect if you have your wisdom teeth removed.

We’ll also include some helpful tips for those of you who still have your wisdom teeth.

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Broken, Chipped or Cracked Teeth: What’s Your Dental Emergency Plan?

Broken, Chipped or Cracked Teeth: What’s Your Dental Emergency Plan?

There’s no doubt about it, dental injuries can be scary. Whether you chip your tooth after a fall or knock out a molar at football practice, dental injuries usually happen so fast that it can be difficult to immediately know what to do next. No matter the extent of the dental emergency, it’s important to know you must act fast to preserve your smile. When disaster strikes, what should your next steps be to save your teeth?

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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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Treating Periodontal Disease at Home: Is a Sodium Hypochlorite Solution Right for You?

Treating Periodontal Disease at Home: Is a Sodium Hypochlorite Solution Right for You?

If you have periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, you are hardly alone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that almost half of American adults, and nearly 65 million of those over 30, have some form of gum disease. In its earliest stage, known as gingivitis, gum disease begins as an inflammation, and can progress to include the risk of tooth loss.

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