Excel Dental Blog

Do You Need a Dental Night Guard?

Young man sleeping 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.”

But there is good news for those who suffer from bruxism – a dental night guard may be able to help.

“While there is no cure for bruxism, a night guard can go a long way in easing the discomfort associated with it,” says Dr. Nick Matthews. “We recommend custom fit mouth guards from our office to provide the best fit for the patient.”

Patients who wear custom fit mouth guards created by their dentist often see a tremendous reduction in tooth wear, as well as lessening of the symptoms associated with teeth grinding. These mouth guards are created specifically for each patient, so they fit your teeth exactly, providing the highest level of comfort and protection.

While mouth guards can be purchased at local drug stores, they will not provide as good of a fit, and are often bulkier and more uncomfortable to wear. The dentists at Excel Dental recommend the extra investment in a custom fit one – if it is more comfortable, the patient will be more likely to wear it.

But night time mouth guards aren’t just for those who suffer from bruxism. A snore guard can be used to help prevent snoring, offering more restful sleep for the wearer and his or her partner.

“It’s estimated that as much as 45 percent of the population snores,” says Dr. Tracy Davis. “And that often means restless sleep for them, and for those who share their beds.”

A custom fit snore guard can work to curb snoring, however. A mouth guard can work to position the jaw forward slightly, thereby tightening the muscles in the throat and opening the airway. That means breathing is no longer restricted, and the tissues cannot rub together to create the snoring sound.

It is important to note that if you suffer from bruxism or excessive snoring, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist before using a mouth guard. This is especially true for patients who snore. Snoring can be an indication of a more serious issue, such as sleep apnea. Additionally, one may wish to purchase an over the counter mouth guard, such as a sports mouth guard, to save extra dollars. However, these guards will not be adequate for preventing snoring as they do not reposition the jaw. The purpose of such mouth guards is protection of the teeth only.

If you wake up with headaches in the morning, or feel you have a restless sleep, now is the time to schedule an appointment with Excel Dental.

© 2015 Millionairium and Excel Dental. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Excel Dental are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.


Why Are My Child’s Teeth Discolored?

Ozark Family DentistrySpringfield, MO – Have you noticed that your child’s baby teeth seem to be stained? Are discolored teeth a cause for concern? The expert Springfield dentists at Excel Dental explain more.

“There are several reasons why your child’s teeth may appear to be discolored,” says Dr. Nick Matthews, an Ozarks family dentist with Excel Dental. “It is possible for baby teeth to develop cavities, so if you notice discoloration in your child’s teeth, it’s important to schedule an appointment with us. We can examine the teeth to determine if decay is causing the problem, or if it might be due to another issue.”

Decay can set in if the child’s teeth aren’t properly brushed. Bacteria can form, which can lead to discoloration. Children should always be supervised while brushing, and parents should brush their children’s teeth until the child is able to do it on his or her own successfully.

Certain medications can lead to discoloration. The antibiotic tetracycline can discolor a child’s teeth if the mother takes it while pregnant. Additionally, some infant medications that contain supplemental iron may cause dark stains on the teeth.

If a child experiences mouth trauma, it can result in discoloration. Injury to the baby teeth or gums can sometimes lead to a pink or gray tint to the teeth.

“In some cases, tooth discoloration is simply a genetic factor,” says Dr. Tracy Davis. “For some children, weak enamel can cause the teeth to look slightly discolored. If the parents have weak enamel, the child might, too.”

Excessive fluoride use can lead to white markings on the teeth, which is a sign of fluorosis. While fluoride is important for healthy teeth, too much can lead to discoloration of the teeth. Always follow your dentist’s directions for additional fluoride use.

If your child was diagnosed with jaundice after birth, that can sometimes lead to baby teeth with a greenish tint. Additionally, serious illness during infancy can discolor the baby teeth.

Baby teeth are very important, even though they will eventually fall out. It’s important that parents pay close attention to their child’s dental hygiene. If you have concerns about your child’s teeth, schedule an appointment with a family dentist to discuss the issue. Children should see a dentist by their first birthday, or after the first tooth erupts, and should visit a dentist twice a year.

© 2015 Millionairium and Excel Dental. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Excel Dental are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.


Seniors Face Unique Oral Health Issues

Springfield, MO – As you age, you’ve probably noticed new health issues creeping up. Issues with your oral health can begin to appear, too, but by understanding issues unique to seniors, you can take better care of your teeth and mouth.

seniors couple“Senior citizens face a host of unique oral health issues,” says Dr. Nick Matthews, one of the Springfield dentists at Excel Dental. “Our bodies change, and you may once again become susceptible to cavities. In many cases this is because of a condition known as dry mouth.”

Dry mouth doesn’t go hand in hand with aging, but it does go hand in hand with many medications – in fact, there are more than 500 medications that can cause it. And as we age, more health issues begin appearing, so chances are great that you may be prescribed a medication that can lead to dry mouth. If you’re on medication for high blood pressure, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s diseases, pain, or a host of other issues, it’s important to understand possible side effects. It’s also important to share all medications you are currently taking with your dentist. This way, he or she can understand why you may have dry mouth and then properly address it.

Older patients are also more prone to gum disease. The gums will become irritated and swollen and may bleed while brushing. If gum disease is left untreated, it can advance enough to cause bone, tissue and tooth loss.

Additionally, patients who suffer from other conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes may be more prone to gum disease. Always disclose your complete medical history to your dentist so he can be sure to understand any issues you may face.

Oral cancer also becomes more of a concern as you age, as the American Cancer Society states that the average age of diagnosis is 62. More than 35,000 people will be diagnosed with mouth cancer this year. Be sure you see a dentist who routinely performs oral cancer screenings.

You may also notice your mouth has become more sensitive as you age. This is because gums naturally receded over time, leaving more of your tooth that isn’t protected by enamel exposed. Drinking hot or cold beverages may become painful. Your dentist will most likely recommend using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth, but will also check to be sure you don’t have other issues, such as a cracked or fractured tooth.

If you wear dentures, be sure you are following proper care for them. Improperly fitting dentures can cause damage to your mouth and be painful, so if you notice any change in the way your dentures fit, be sure to call your dentist right away.

As we age, we begin to lose some dexterity and range of motion. This may make brushing and flossing more difficult, however it is important to brush and floss twice a day. Ask your dental team at Excel Dental for tips to make brushing and flossing easier for you. Especially in patients with arthritis, holding a toothbrush can be difficult. Your dentist can offer tips, such as attaching the toothbrush to an easier to grip item, to make your oral care routine easier.

It’s always important to maintain twice yearly checkups with your dentist, especially if you suffer from conditions such as gum disease or dry mouth. Your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings, especially if you have difficulty maintaining your oral hygiene due to a lack of mobility or dexterity.

If you ever have questions about your oral health, or need tips on how to properly care for your teeth and gums as you age, the experts at Excel Dental are always available to answer questions.

© 2015 Millionairium and Excel Dental. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Excel Dental are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.


Common Causes of Bad Breath

DoctorSpringfield, MO – Do you worry about halitosis and wonder how you can prevent it? There are many common causes of bad breath, and knowing them is the first step to eliminating the odor.

“The most common cause of bad breath is from food particles that remain in the mouth after eating,” says Dr. Tracy Davis, a Springfield dentist. “This is why it is so important to brush and floss every day. If you don’t, or if you don’t do it properly, these food particles stay in your mouth, collecting bacteria, which causes bad breath. But not just that, the food will also begin to rot, emitting a bad odor as it does.”

The foods you eat can also play a role in halitosis. Foods such as garlic and onions can cause bad breath, and the odor can continue until the food is eliminated from the body. Additionally, people on diets can experience bad breath from infrequent eating. This is from chemicals called ketones that are released during the breakdown of fat. Ketones are then exhaled, and can have an unpleasant, sweet smell.

“Dry mouth is also a common cause of bad breath,” says Dr. Nick Matthews. “Saliva works to cleanse the mouth, removing food particles that can be left to cause odor otherwise. There can be many causes of dry mouth, such as certain medications, mouth breathing or issues with your salivary glands. If you suffer from dry mouth, be sure to drink plenty of water, or ask our office for other tips to help.”

Tobacco products are also a source of bad breath. Cigarettes can dry the mouth out, but also have chemicals in them that can emit bad odors from the mouth.

Persistent bad breath may also be a sign of an undiagnosed medical problem. Respiratory infections, uncontrolled diabetes, sinusitis, postnasal drip, gastrointestinal conditions and even kidney ailments can cause bad breath. If you have excellent oral hygiene, don’t use tobacco and don’t eat a diet heavy in garlic or other pungent foods, it may be time to make an appointment with your primary care physician. Working together, your doctor and dentist can help get your bad breath under control.

Brushing and flossing every day is crucial to maintaining good oral health, and keeping bad breath at bay. When you eat, bacteria in your mouth combines with food to form plaque, and if not brushed away, the plaque can lead to gum disease. In its early stages, gum disease is painless, but it may be accompanied by bad breath.

Some people also have tonsil stones that can be the cause of bad breath. These are clusters that form in the crevices of the tonsils, and can be made up of calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. They are not harmful, however they can be hard to remove and can be a source of bad breath.

If you’re tired of having constant bad breath, it’s time to make an appointment at Excel Dental. The experienced dental team can help determine the cause of your halitosis, and create a treatment plan to help you address it.


© 2015 Millionairium and Excel Dental. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Excel Dental are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.


Recognizing Signs of Gum Disease

Ozark Dental CareSpringfield, ILGum disease is an infection that targets your teeth and surrounding tissues. It is caused by plaque, the clear, sticky film that attaches to your teeth. If not properly removed during brushing and flossing, the plaque build-up can cause gum disease, also known as gingivitis.

“What makes gum disease dangerous is that it is often painless in its beginning stages,” says Dr. Tracy Davis, one of the Springfield dentists of Excel Dental. “That’s why it’s important to pay close attention to the warning signs. If we catch it in the beginning stages, it is often more manageable.”

So what are the warning signs of gum disease? Schedule an appointment with your dentist if you have any of the following:

  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Swollen, tender or red gums
  • Gums that are pulling away from your teeth
  • Bad breath that persists
  • Bad taste in your mouth that won’t go away
  • Permanent teeth that have become loose
  • Change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Change in the fit of your partial dentures

If caught early enough, gum disease can often be treated with a professional cleaning by your dentist. However, if your gum disease advances to a more serious form of periodontal disease, additional treatment may be needed.

You may be at risk for developing gum disease if you have any of the following factors:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • You are a smoker or use any form of tobacco.
  • Parents or other family members who have or had gum disease.
  • If you are pregnant
  • If you have diabetes
  • If you take certain medications, including steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives.

“It is estimated that as many as 47 percent of adults over the age of 30 have the more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis,” says Dr. Nick Matthews. “This is very serious, as it can lead to the loss of the tissues and bones that support your teeth. As it becomes more severe, it can also lead to loose teeth that may fall out.”

But that’s not all, periodontal disease has been linked to other systemic diseases. Patients who have periodontal disease have higher risk for stroke, heart disease and diabetes. And pregnant women with advanced gum disease have a higher risk of pre-term labor and low birth weight babies.

It is possible to have gum disease, but have no warning signs. This is why maintaining regular check-ups with your dentist is so important. Your dentist can treat you as soon as any warning signs pop up, preventing the disease from becoming more serious.

© 2015 Millionairium and Excel Dental. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Excel Dental are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.


How to Care for Teeth During Pregnancy

Springfield, MO – Taking proper care of your teeth and gums during pregnancy is important. Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy increase the risk of developing gum disease, which can then affect the unborn baby. Periodontal disease in pregnant women has been linked to low birth weight babies and premature birth.

“If you’re planning to become pregnant, it’s a good idea to schedule a check-up with us,” says Dr. Tracy Davis, Springfield dentist. “That way, we can properly clean your teeth and assess the health of your mouth, and tackle any issues before they might become a bigger problem.”

young pregnant womanBut once you become pregnant, what should your prenatal dental care look like?

First, it’s always important to inform your dentist if you may be pregnant. This is necessary because there are some dental procedures that should be avoided during certain times of your pregnancy. The first trimester and second half of the third trimester are especially crucial times in fetal development.

“It’s best to schedule check-ups before pregnancy, and then during months four and six,” says Dr. Nick Matthews. “This is the safest time in fetal development for us to properly work on your teeth, but if you require certain procedures, we may need to discuss them with your obstetrician before.”

During pregnancy, hormonal changes can bring on pregnancy-induced gingivitis. Bleeding gums can be a normal sign of pregnancy, however, because of the intimate link between periodontal disease and premature birth, bleeding gums should be taken seriously.

It’s important to keep your teeth clean, focusing closely on the gum line. Paying careful attention to removing plaque can help prevent gum disease. Brush and floss your teeth twice a day, and avoid frequent snacking. If you have a hard time controlling plaque growth, ask your dentist about special mouth washes that may be able to help.

Frequent snacking can increase the risk of tooth decay. For snacks during pregnancy, choose foods low in sugar, and high in vitamins and calcium.

But a healthy diet isn’t just important for the mouth of the mother – a baby’s teeth begin developing between the third and six months of pregnancy. What you eat can affect the development of your child’s teeth. A pregnancy diet should be rich in vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium and phosphorous to ensure proper development.

Some women experience morning sickness, which can lead to frequent vomiting. The acid from the vomit can be damaging to the teeth. The first instinct after vomiting is typically to immediately brush your teeth, however, it’s best to wait about 30 minutes because the acid will soften the teeth. Vigorous brushing while the teeth are still soft can cause further damage.

If you have any questions or concerns about your oral care during your pregnancy, call Excel Dental right away. Pregnancy brings about many changes, and your mouth isn’t immune – maintain regular check-ups, and pay close attention to any changes in your mouth. Excel Dental can ensure you have a healthy mouth and a healthy pregnancy.

© 2015 Millionairium and Excel Dental. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Millionairium and Excel Dental are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.


Sleep Apnea Treatment from a Dentist?

Springfield, MO – Do you wake up in the morning, still feeling tired? Or, does your partner complain about your loud snoring in the night and their lack of sleep? You may suffer from a condition called sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous sleep disorder. It is characterized by sudden cessation of breathing during the night, and is often accompanied by loud snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of the condition, and occurs when the throat muscles relax too much.

sleep apnea treatment“Sleep apnea can have a serious impact on a person’s life, besides just leaving them tired. People with sleep apnea are more likely to also suffer from high blood pressure, are at a higher risk for developing heart disease, diabetes, stroke and have a higher likelihood of being in a car accident.” says Springfield dentist Dr. Nick Matthews.

But there is good news – sleep apnea treatment is available at Excel Dental. That’s right – you can see your dentist for help with your sleep disorder.


Invisalign is the Clear Solution for Straighter Teeth

Springfield, MO – Are you embarrassed by your less than perfect smile, so you hide it at all costs? Now, you can get a straighter smile by visiting your Springfield dentist. That’s right, the dentists at Excel Dental are certified Invisalign providers.

“Our goal is to provide exceptional care to our patients,” says Dr. Nick Matthews. “Part of being cosmetic dentistry specialists is providing all of the options our patients need for beautiful smiles. And Invisalign is a great piece of the puzzle.”

Ozark Invisalign providersSince it was introduced in the late 90s, Invisalign has revolutionized the way teeth are straightened. Using a series of clear plastic aligners, Invisalign gently guides teeth into their ideal locations. It’s a great solution for people with minor issues, and for adults or teens who’d like to straighten their teeth discreetly.

“What makes Invisalign so wonderful is the customized treatment plans,” says Dr. Tracy Davis. “We use digital imagery to precisely map out the proper tooth movement to achieve your perfect smile, and we can even show you what your smile will look like at the end of treatment.”


Everything You Need To Know, But Were Afraid To Ask, About Root Canals

Springfield, MO – Have you recently been told you need root canal treatment to repair a tooth? Millions of these are performed every year, so it’s a procedure you’ve probably heard about. But do you actually know what happens during one?

Tooth anatomy“We hear about root canals all the time,” says Dr. Tracy Davis of Excel Dental. “But while the term is common, we realize you may not know everything that goes into one. And we think it’s very important that all of our patients are well-informed and understand procedures before they’re done. That gives us the best opportunity to discuss proper care, and to relieve any concerns or fears they may have.”

Root canals are procedures that are done to repair and save teeth that are badly decayed, injured or infected. During the procedure, your Ozark dentists will remove the nerve and infected parts of the tooth. Then they will disinfect the inside of the tooth. The tooth will then be sealed, and repaired with a crown or filling to ensure it functions properly following the procedure.


Tooth Sealants Explained

Springfield, MO – Has your dentist recommended tooth sealants, but you aren’t sure what they are? The Springfield dentists at Excel Dental have all of the information you need.

“Sealants are essentially a protective coating that is applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth,” says Dr. Tracy Davis. “These back molars are where we most often find decay because they can be harder to reach when brushing and flossing.”

Ozark dental careGood brushing and flossing techniques are great at removing food particles and plaque from the smooth surfaces of your teeth. However, your molars have deep grooves where food particles can get stuck. This can lead to decay and cavities. Sealants help seal those areas, keeping food and plaque from causing damage.

“Sealants should only be applied professionally at a dentist office.” says Dr. Nick Matthews. “At your appointment, we will clean out the grooves on the chewing surface of your molars and place the sealant directly onto your tooth enamel. It bonds to your tooth and hardens, protecting the enamel from the plaque and bacteria that lead to decay.”