Frequently Asked Questions

What will my first visit to your office be like?

Patients and dentists alike are impressed with the progress dentistry has made over the years. Dentists and dental specialists can save, restore and replace patients’ teeth with the advances in preventive and restorative services. We provide a wide range of dental services, from routine cleanings to full mouth reconstruction. What dental treatment is best for you? Your path to a healthy smile begins with a comprehensive examination and diagnosis.

One of our Nixa cosmetic dentists will conduct a comprehensive examination, unless there is some immediate concern or emergency. The dentist will address any problems he or she finds. This sets the foundation for future comparisons and a lifetime plan for your oral health.

What can I expect from my initial evaluation?

Our dentists will conduct the following at your initial evaluation:

  • Analyze and discuss your medical and dental history
  • Allow you to explain your concerns, wants, expectations and problems
  • Check for decay, cracks, wear, drifting and other problems by examining the teeth
  • Take intra-oral photographs that assess the condition of your teeth and gums.
  • Search for signs of hidden gum infection and periodontal disease, including calculating all gum crevice measurements and receded areas
  • Measure looseness or mobility of teeth that may indicate bite or gum issues
  • Perform a thorough screening for oral cancer
  • Use full mouth digital computerized X-rays that look for decay, infection or problems with the supporting bone
  • Evaluate your jaw joint for clicking, popping, limited opening or pain common to temporomandibular joint muscle disorders

After your examination, Drs. Davis and Matthews will:

  • Examine and thoroughly analyze all findings
  • Go over your treatment recommendations, options and sequence based on priorities
  • Talk about all fees and financial options
  • Answer all questions to your satisfaction and understanding

Your first examination visit offers you comfort in knowing that your dental health is thoroughly examined and that our dentists can offer you the best services possible. We’re excited to meet you and help you on the path to a beautiful smile.

When should my child have his/her first visit?

Our dentists recommend a child should visit the dentist for the first time no later than his or her third birthday.

At Excel Dental, we give our new dental patients a complimentary happy visit to introduce the child to the office atmosphere, the dental chair and the dentist’s tools. If your child acclimates well to our kid-friendly environment, we will begin their first dental check-up. Our dentists want your child to enjoy their first visit, so it can lead them to a lifetime of healthy teeth.

Ideally, we want to become acquainted with your child and develop a relationship with them before they have any dental issues. Our office’s priority for your child is to stop dental issues and correct them in a secure, trusting environment where your child feels comfortable and safe. Your child can begin a happy, friendly relationship with Dr. Tracy and Dr. Nick today!

Do you accept referrals?

Yes, our office accepts referrals from customers and other area doctors. Our clients are fantastic, and we love when they invite their friends and family to visit our office. We are excited to give your friends and family the same expert care we give to you.

I really don’t like visiting the dentist. Is there anything you can do to help me relax?

Our office strives to make our patients’ care and comfort the first priority. We want to ensure your visits are soothing and relaxing. Our office provides blankets, neck support pillows and stereo headphones to add an element of comfort and relaxation to your experience. We also offer oral sedation for patients who are extremely apprehensive about dental treatment. Our friendly staff ensures that you will have the best possible dental appointment experience at our office. Let us know about your dental anxiety, and we can work together to meet your needs.

What is nitrous oxide?

Nitrous oxide, commonly referred to as laughing gas, is a gas mixed with oxygen that provides a soothing feeling and a sense of comfort when inhaled. Many dentists administer nitrous oxide to relax patients during dental treatments. The dentist has the patient inhale only oxygen at the end of the dental procedure for a few minutes to get rid of nitrous oxide’s effects. Leaving with a clear head within minutes allows patients to function normally with no lingering effect, and it is a major benefit of nitrous oxide sedation. Our dentists at Excel Dental provide nitrous oxide in every treatment room.

What precautions do you take to ensure patient safety?

At Excel Dental, we put your safety first. Our dentists always use clean gloves, masks and glasses, thoroughly sterilize and disinfect instruments, evaluate our sterilizer weekly as well as many other safety precautions. Our staff cleans each room in between appointments, adhering to our superior sterilization standards. You can rest assured knowing that you will have a pristine, clean dental experience.

What is your sterilization method?

Our dentists and staff thoroughly sterilize all of our instruments and disinfect all surfaces in each treatment room. Our dental auxiliaries sterilize the instruments in a hospital-grade autoclave or throw away disposable tools after single use. We adhere to a very strict sterilization routine, and we offer patients a tour of our sterilization room if they have any specific concerns.

What should I do if I have a dental emergency?

If you have a dental emergency and you are a current patient, please rest assured that a doctor is always on call. If your dental emergency occurs at a time other than regular office hours, call our toll-free, after-hours emergency number at 1-888-523-6442. Our answering service will contact the doctor who is on call, and your call will be returned as soon as possible. If your dental problem is not urgent, please leave a message on our phone recorder, and we will return your call early the next business day.

How can I temporarily relieve a toothache?

Some of our patients occasionally experience tooth pain or discomfort late in the evening, the middle of the night or outside of regular office hours.

If you ever experience tooth pain and you can’t get to a dentist right away, you can alleviate the toothache by rubbing clove oil on the tooth. Clove functions as a natural sedative for the tooth nerve, calming the nerve and easing the toothache.

Patients should not drown the tooth in clove oil, just a little gets the job done. You simply dip a Q-tip into the clove oil, pat the Q-tip on some sterile gauze to remove the excess oil, and dab it on the tooth. You should notice pain relief shortly after. Repeat as necessary.

You should also take an over-the-counter pain reliever at the recommended dosage, even if you are no longer experiencing tooth pain.

Do not place aspirin directly on your tooth. Aspirin is very acidic and damages the surrounding gums.

You should contact our office to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to assess the cause of the toothache. Do not wait. It is much easier for a dentist to correct your dental issue when it is diagnosed earlier rather than later.

How can I make my teeth whiter?

Before you search the Internet or drug store aisle for a tooth whitening treatment, you should consult your dentist or hygienist to determine if you are a candidate for tooth whitening. At this consultation, the dentist will examine your teeth and discuss the risks, benefits and different types of bleaching systems available today. After determining the depth of your staining, the possible causes of the discoloration and discussing your long-term whitening goals, the dentist will make suggestions for whitening products or procedures that are best for you.

What are veneers?

Veneers are a porcelain or tooth-colored composite (plastic) facing that can drastically improve the appearance of your smile. Heavily stained, chipped, unevenly spaced or mildly crooked teeth can be restored to appear perfectly white, even and straight. If you are interested in improving the appearance of your smile, please call our office for a complimentary cosmetic consultation to discuss your treatment options. Veneers are just one of the many cosmetic options available to you.

What are tooth-colored fillings or composite resins?

Are you hiding your smile due to decayed or disfigured teeth? Do you have old silver fillings that are compromising the look of your smile? Composite resins, also known as tooth-colored fillings, may be a great option for you.

A composite resin consists of a blend of microscopic ceramic and glass particles placed in a plastic resin that is chemically bonded to the teeth. The material blends to formulate a wide variety of shades. The resin can be custom molded to almost any shape or contour. Plus, the resin forms a seal that reduces the chance of leakage when the resin bonds to the tooth.

Our dentists use composite, tooth-colored fillings instead of the old-silver metal fillings that were used in the past. If you want a natural looking alternative to restore your smile, composite resin restorations are an option for you.

How many times a day should I brush my teeth?

The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth a minimum of twice a day. Brushing after every meal and flossing at least once a day functions as a good guideline for an effective dental health regimen. Drs. Davis and Matthews can instruct you in the proper techniques and suggest other cleaning tools when they examine your teeth during your checkup appointment.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is an inflammatory disease affecting the tissues and alveolar bone that surround and support the teeth. It is also called periodontal disease or periodontitis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that roughly half of American adults aged 30 or older have mild, moderate or severe periodontitis or gum disease. Most people don’t know it though. Gum disease is responsible for 70 percent of adult tooth loss. The bacteria and chemical by-products generated by the body’s fight again gum disease have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pre-mature births and low birth weight. Unfortunately, many of the warning signs go unnoticed until it has reached advanced stages.

The good news is that gum disease can be treated and prevented. A dentist or hygienist can detect the infection in its early stages with a thorough and complete examination. You can prevent it by having the teeth professionally cleaned and examined twice a year, brushing twice a day and flossing daily. There are also numerous aids, including special toothbrushes, toothpastes and rinses, as well as certain prescription medications that can help. Your dentist can decide the appropriate treatment method only after examination of your condition.

Why do I need gum therapy and perio-maintenance? Why can’t I just get my teeth cleaned?

There are close to a hundred varieties of toothpaste on the market—everything from gels and pastes to whitening and tartar control, natural toothpaste and toothpaste made for children or sensitive teeth. However, the brand of toothpaste you choose is not as important as the active ingredients of the toothpaste itself: most importantly, fluoride. Additional chemicals in toothpaste can increase the risk of tooth and gum irritation or sensitivity. Consult with your dentist or hygienist first to see if any of these toothpastes are recommended for you.

Is it true that an unhealthy mouth can affect my overall health or even worsen other health problems or conditions that I may have?

Poor oral health is linked to poor physical health. The mouth is the gateway to the rest of the body and its systems. A chronic oral infection or disease increases the risk of your body indirectly or directly being exposed to those bacteria. Research shows a connection between gum disease and poor heart health, which results in an increased risk of stroke, diabetes, pregnancy complications, respiratory diseases and osteoporosis in women.

Pain or infection in the mouth can compromise your ability to eat and therefore your nutrition. Furthermore, the resources needed for your general health to function will be diverted to handle the chronic infection, weakening the overall natural protection your other systems typically enjoy. What’s more, some studies indicate that those who lose all their natural teeth may have a much shorter life span.

The bottom line is taking care of your mouth is taking care of your body. Try starting with the basics of dental care. You can learn the latest tips, techniques and tools for top notch oral hygiene on our blog or when you are here for your next preventive cleaning and check up appointment. Eliminating unhealthy habits and incorporating exercise, fresh air, regular rest and a healthy diet will allow your mouth and body to take care of itself better.

What causes oral cancer?

There are two distinct pathways by which most people develop oral cancer, which approximately 37,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with each year. One is through the prolonged use of tobacco and alcohol, and the second one is through exposure to the human papilloma virus version 16, also known as HPV-16. HPV is a recently identified cause and is the same one responsible for most cervical cancers. Genetic predisposition, bad hygiene, prolonged irritation of the oral cavity and extended exposure to strong sunlight on the lips are among other causes of the disease. Oral cancer used to be found primarily among patients older than 50, but today it is affecting all ages because of the sexual transmission of HPV.

Oral cancer screenings are the single best way for early detection and successful treatment. Undetected oral cancer is among the most deadly cancers because it can quickly metastasize to other areas of your body. We give you a thorough oral cancer exam at every checkup. If there is a suspicious lesion, we will refer you to an oral surgeon for a second opinion as quickly as possible.

What are the warning signs of oral cancer?

There are many early signs and symptoms of oral cancer to look for, including sores on the lip, mouth or throat that do not heal, lumps on the lips, mouth or throat, red or white patches, unusual pain or bleeding in the mouth, swelling of the mouth, and any difficulty or discomfort chewing or swallowing. If you have any of these signs or symptoms, please do not wait to have them checked. Call our office, and we will schedule you for an evaluation.

What is a canker sore?

Canker sores, also called aphthous ulcers, are small sores that form inside the mouth. They are not the same thing as cold sores, which are highly contagious sores around the mouth caused by the herpes virus. Canker sores can be white, yellow or light gray with a small red border. They form on the inside the cheeks, lips, on or under the tongue, the roof of the mouth, and on the gums. While they are not contagious, they can be very painful, especially when talking or eating.

Early symptoms of developing a canker sore could be a small bump or red spot that produces a slight burning or tingling sensation. The exact cause of canker sores is unknown, but they usually go away on their own in about seven to 10 days. There is no cure for canker sores, but over-the-counter treatments can ease the discomfort.

If a canker sore persists for more than two weeks, please call our office to schedule an appointment to have the area checked.

What are digital X-rays?

We have replaced older X-ray technology with the latest digital computer imaging technology to improve your safety and care. These computerized images are an almost radiation-free method to acquire the proper oral diagnostics. The images can be rotated, magnified, adjusted for contrast and even color-coded for educational purposes. We can store these images in our computer files where they can be accessed for insurance purposes, referrals to specialists, patient education or accurate reproduction multiple times.

We use a small oral camera to take these highly-detailed digital images of your mouth, and they can be displayed almost immediately on a computer screen for excellent diagnostics, treatment planning and more in-depth patient education. Our patients can actually see what the dentist sees. These dental images are displayed on a computer screen for patients to view and can help them better understand their treatment needs and options.

Why should we fill baby teeth?

Your child’s baby teeth, also known as the primary teeth, serve as guides and support for their future permanent teeth. Baby teeth are also of extreme importance in a child’s speech development and the ability to eat and obtain the proper nutrients.

Severe dental decay in a child’s baby teeth can lead to tooth infections, abscesses, pain and premature tooth loss. If baby teeth are lost too early, the developing permanent teeth could be damaged and the alignment of permanent teeth and bite could be affected. The child could also suffer from tooth pain and swelling.

If you suspect that your child has dental decay, we recommend that you schedule an appointment with our office before symptoms occur. We love working with children and we will make sure that they have a positive dental experience. We will acclimate them to a dental setting, discuss their treatment needs and teach them child how future dental problems can be prevented.

What is invisible tooth straightening?

Invisible braces or tooth straightening is a way to straighten crooked, crowded teeth without wearing traditional metal braces. The most common method is the FDA-approved Invisalign, a series of clear, removable, custom-made aligners that move your teeth into alignment. The system uses 3-D computer imaging technology to design the complete treatment plan and aligners, meaning you can see an image of what your final results will be before you start treatment. Each aligner is worn for about two weeks before moving on to the next one. With Invisalign, you are likely to spend less time in the doctor’s office since they do not require adjustments. Typically, you visit your dentist once every six weeks to monitor progress, and the average length of treatment is a year.

The aligners are removable, so there are no food restrictions or problems with flossing or brushing. Aligners are more comfortable since there is no risk of mouth abrasions or irritation associated with the metal and wires of conventional braces. Not every malocclusion can be treated with Invisalign, so call the office to get an evaluation to see if you can be helped with this new technology.