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If you're looking to improve the appearance of your smile, tooth whitening treatments — whether done at home or in our office — are a popular option. Here are the answers to some questions that many people ask before they begin the process.
Q: Are commonly used tooth-whitening methods safe?
A: Yes — provided they are used as directed. A large body of research has shown that using the correct concentration of peroxide — the bleach that whitens teeth — for the proper amount of time is not known to cause any major health problems. However, there have been cases where poor-quality bleaching solutions and/or excessive usage have caused deterioration of tooth enamel and extreme gum sensitivity. Always follow our office's recommendation.
Q: Does this mean I have to have in-office treatments to whiten my teeth?
A: No. But you should come in for a thorough dental examination, with x-rays, before you begin whitening treatments. Why? Because if there is trouble with the underlying tooth structure, then whitening the tooth is like painting over rusty metal: It hides the symptom, but doesn't fix the problem. Abscesses and root-canal problems are just two of the underlying causes of tooth discoloration that should be treated before teeth are whitened.
Q: What are some different methods for whitening teeth, and how long do they take?
A: The fastest is in-office whitening treatments, using a strong bleaching solution and appropriate gum protection. Next comes the cost-effective method of at-home bleaching with custom-made flexible plastic trays (sometimes called nightguard vital bleaching.) If you're not in a hurry, over-the-counter (OTC) products can do the same thing — given enough time. One study comparing different whitening treatments found that a six-shade improvement in whitening was accomplished by three in-office treatments. A week was needed for custom-tray bleach applications, or 16 daily applications of OTC products, to achieve comparable results.
Q: Can any tooth be made bright white?
A: No. Every tooth has a maximum level of whiteness, beyond which it can't get any lighter. Furthermore, fillings, crowns and other dental restorations can't be lightened with bleach — another reason to talk to our office; we can help you achieve the best possible look for your particular smile.
Q: How long will my white teeth last?
A: It depends. No whitening method is permanent, but the typical result lasts for up to two years. To preserve that bright smile, you can take some positive steps: Avoid tobacco and beverages that stain, like red wine, tea and coffee; keep up with regular cleanings in our office; and, practice good oral hygiene at home. You can also have a touch-up treatment once or twice a year.
If you need more information about tooth whitening, or you're ready to start the process, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered.”
Humans naturally react with pleasure to a beautiful smile. Starting with our mother's joy at seeing our first smile, we have learned throughout our lives that a smile is an invitation to a positive interaction. But are some smiles more beautiful than others? What is it that makes a smile beautiful?
As with art and music, people's perceptions of beauty differ with their backgrounds and culture. Most people respond well to an appearance of healthy teeth and gums. Some feel that teeth must be very white and bright, while others look for even alignment and proportionally sized teeth. With today's dentistry, all of these factors can be changed and enhanced.
Let's look at the components of a smile, starting with the teeth. Evenly sized, white teeth are generally considered to be the basis of an attractive smile. Chipped or discolored front teeth can be repaired by bonding tooth-colored composite resin restorations. Thin porcelain veneers can be applied to teeth that are too small, misshapen or discolored. Tooth colored fillings can be used to repair damaged or decayed back teeth, or porcelain crowns may be used to replace the top part of a tooth that has been seriously damaged. If teeth are missing because of trauma or loss due to decay, today they can be replaced by dental implants, topped with crowns that are colored and shaped exactly like the natural teeth.
Of course, if your teeth emerge from inflamed, infected gums, your smile needs improvement. Healthy teeth and gums result from good dental hygiene habits and regular professional dental cleanings and checkups. Teeth can be whitened and brightened both through home methods and in the dental office. Ask us about the options available for tooth whitening.
Another factor that goes into a smile is the relation of the upper to the lower jaw, or the bite. A poor bite is called a malocclusion. Orthodontic treatment, with the use of traditional braces or clear aligners, can move the teeth into a better bite position so that they look and function better.
Repairing parts of your smile that make you feel self conscious will help your smile in more ways than one. If you feel good about yourself, you look better. We get the process started, and you do the rest.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about cosmetic dentistry. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry: A time for change.”
When it comes to restoring both the beauty and functionality of a smile, two of the most commonly used techniques are porcelain crowns and veneers. Why? They consistently deliver beautiful, natural-looking results that are permanent and require very little maintenance. And while they have many things in common, they also have just as many differences.
Here are some facts that apply to both porcelain veneers and crowns:
Here are some of their differences:
All cultures worldwide recognize a smile as positive nonverbal communication. Yet many people are insecure about the way their smile looks. Modern cosmetic dentistry can completely change your smile through a comprehensive technique called Smile Design.
Take the following quiz to find out how much you know about your smile and smile design.
After careful analysis and planning, a variety of techniques can be used to redesign an attractive and healthy new smile, so you can feel confident about smiling and sharing it with the world. To learn more about Smile Design, read “Beautiful Smiles by Design.” Or contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.
When asked about her dazzling white smile, Cat Cora, the first female iron chef on the hit television series Iron Chef America, freely admits to maintaining the brightness of her smile with professional whitening sessions.
“With what I do, whitening your teeth is like getting your hair done, your nails done and everything else you have to do to be on television,” Cat recently told Dear Doctor magazine. However, she does have her limits. “I want my teeth to be white and healthy looking — but not stark white or looking like they could glow in the dark,” she said with a laugh.
Cat's perceptions and experiences with tooth whitening may accurately describe Hollywood, but through the power of media, celebrities and their respective fan bases, having attractive white teeth has become a goal for most people. This is because white teeth are subconsciously associated with youth and virility.
Here in the dental office, we can use professional-strength “power bleaching” to whiten teeth several shades in a single visit. To prevent irritation to the area surrounding the teeth being treated, we isolate the gums and skin of the mouth with a protective gel or a rubber barrier known as a dental dam. After the whitening solution is placed on the teeth, the process may be supplemented by heat or a light source to activate or enhance peroxide release.
For bleaching teeth at home, our office can make custom-fitted bleaching trays that you fill with a gel form of carbamide peroxide. Sometimes this whitening gel can cause a temporary tooth sensitivity to hot and cold, but this normally lasts for no more than four days after you stop bleaching your teeth.
To learn more about tooth whitening, you can continue reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening.” Or you can contact us today to schedule an appointment so that we can conduct a thorough examination and discuss what treatment options will be best for you. And to read the entire interview with Cat Cora, please see the article “Cat Cora.”