If your teeth are not as bright as they used to be, or as white as you'd like them to be, then whitening or bleaching them may be the solution. Surface stains from coffee, tea, red wine or tobacco may be the most likely culprits. Internal staining can also be the result of root canal treatments, large fillings, too much of a good thing, like fluoride — or just plain aging. In some cases taking an antibiotic (tetracycline) during tooth development can cause permanent staining. In most cases bleaching stained or yellow teeth can really make a difference, helping to make them brighter and whiter.
The active ingredient in whitening products is hydrogen peroxide, which is also the breakdown product in carbamide peroxide. If a good regular dental cleaning doesn't remove your stains, then these products can bleach stains that are either superficial (on the surface) or deeper within the tooth structure. “In office” professional tooth whitening speeds the process along with the use of specialized lights or lasers, so that your teeth will whiten after only one or two office visits. Professional whitening or bleaching, which uses up to 35% peroxide solutions, may cause transient tooth sensitivity, but this will fade away quickly within a few days. Gum protection is also necessary to prevent irritation.
The effects of bleaching usually last six months to a year, at which time all that may be necessary is a minor touch up or refresher. And your whiter, brighter teeth will last longer if you avoid the habits that caused them — like avoiding smoking and foods that cause staining.
Whitening products for home use are an alternative to professional whitening systems that we apply in the office. Products for home use have a lower concentration of the active bleaching ingredients. We can make you custom fitted “trays” that exactly fit your teeth, and provide you with home strength whiteners, so that you can whiten at your own pace and stop at the brightening level of your choice.
And finally there are over-the-counter (OTC), whitening products, at even lower strengths for safety, but they are slower to work.
If whitening doesn't give you the smile you want, and deserve, then you may need to consider veneers or crowns to improve your smile.
Make an appointment to have a consultation with us about your personal cosmetic needs. We will review all the risks, benefits and alternatives to bleaching. You can learn more about teeth whitening by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening: Bleaching is an effective method with minimal side effects.”
Our office can design a customized smile for you. We will want to know what you really want changed and we will listen to your ideas, look at pictures of the kind of smile you had when you were younger, and even create computerized pictures of what you think you'd like to look like. And then, with all the modern techniques at our disposal, we'll put together a blueprint, a plan to give you the smile you want.
We will start with a smile analysis to determine your facial balance, which indicates how all of the elements of your smile currently relate to each other. These elements include much more than just the teeth, such as the shape of your face, skin color, eye color, lip form, and smile dimensions to name a few.
A detailed periodontal evaluation, which includes bone and gum tissues — the supporting structures of the teeth — will determine whether the foundations of your teeth and bite are healthy. Similar to the way you would ensure that the foundation of a house is intact before you renovate, we will make sure that your periodontal tissues are healthy and sound before we begin a smile makeover.
Modern restorative dental techniques include teeth whitening, enamel reshaping, gum contouring, porcelain veneers and crowns, or a combination of several of these procedures. In some cases, orthodontic treatment (braces) or clear aligners may be necessary to ensure that the teeth are in the best position for both the aesthetics and function of your new smile.
We will inform you of all the possible paths that can lead to the final desired outcome, and will discuss all the benefits, alternatives, and risks together with the time it will take and the finances involved. Bottom line — we'll find a way to get you what you want and need, a new smile, with improved function as well as appearance. We'll also provide instruction on all that you need to know and do to keep your new smile healthy and to maintain your investment for years into the future.
So, if you have been unhappy with your smile and would like to revamp it, call our office to learn about how a smile redesign could help boost your self-image. To find out more about the details involved in a smile makeover and to view some before and after photos, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Beautiful Smiles By Design.”
Why is it important to replace missing teeth with restorations such as dental implants? You might be surprised to find that the damage caused by missing teeth is much greater than the simple gaps left in your smile.
As the years go by, teeth lost early in adulthood cause structural changes in a person's face. By age 45 changes in facial structure are already visible in the form of sunken cheeks. By 60, cheeks and lips lose their support, resulting in an aging look. This process continues and if the teeth are not replaced, much of the structural support of the person's face is lost.
These changes are caused by loss of bone. Although it may seem static, bone is actually living tissue that needs constant stimulation to maintain its form and density. With normal stimulation it is in a constant state of resorption (breaking down) and deposition (building up). Teeth provide the needed stimulation for the bone that surrounds them (called alveolar bone) as they meet each other during biting, chewing, and speech. When the stimulation continues, the bone continues to rebuild itself. Without this stimulation, the bone resorbs, does not build up again, and loses substance.
Without stimulation, alveolar bone loses width, height, and volume. Since your teeth and their surrounding bone support your chin, cheeks, and lips, this has a powerful effect on your appearance. It may also affect your ability to chew and to speak.
As alveolar bone diminishes, the next layer of bone also begins to resorb. This is the bone of the jaw itself. The lower part of the face begins to collapse, and the cheeks become hollow. This effect is especially noticeable for people with no teeth (edentulous).
Usually the first tooth to be lost, due to infection and decay, is a molar (back tooth). In the past, a missing single back tooth was frequently replaced by a fixed partial denture (FPD). A crown is provided for each of the two teeth on the sides of the gap, called abutment teeth, to support a false tooth in the middle. However, if they are not well cared for, the abutment teeth may be the next to succumb to decay.
Today the treatment of choice is an implant. A dental implant is a tooth-root replacement made of titanium, which fuses with the bone — making it very stable. Above the gums it is covered by a crown that looks like a natural tooth. The benefit of the implant is that it continues to provide stimulation to the alveolar bone, preventing bone loss.
Implants are also a good choice in the case of multiple missing teeth. They can be used to support bridges or false teeth (dentures). The results are an improved, younger appearance and better functionality.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about missing teeth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
Did you know that the bacteria that cause tooth decay are usually transmitted to children from their parents, through sharing the same spoon or kissing? Once inside the child's mouth, the bacteria live on the teeth in what is called a biofilm. When the child consumes sugary foods or drinks, the bacteria act upon the sugar to produce acids that eat away at the child's teeth, producing tooth decay.
These bacteria thrive on carbohydrates such as bread, sweets, and sodas. Even fruit juices, which offer more vitamins than soda, are filled with sugars that lead to decay. The child's saliva works hard to neutralize the acidity produced from these foods, but if the child often snacks between meals this neutralization process doesnÃ¢Â€Â™t have a chance to occur.
The first sign of decay may be white spots on the teeth, an indication that minerals in the surface enamel have been dissolved in certain locations. Before it goes any farther, this process can be reversed by reducing the exposure to acids and using fluorides to strengthen the tooth surface.
Make sure your child sees a dentist by his first birthday, to provide preventive care and treat any beginning decay.
You can also help your child develop the habit of brushing his teeth with fluoridated toothpaste. It is important to use only a smear of toothpaste on the brush for very young children, and a pea-sized amount on the brush for children over the age of 2. Sometimes small children swallow their toothpaste, and excessive amounts of fluoride can cause staining on the teeth. When your children are very young, you must brush their teeth. As they get older, they can do it themselves, with your supervision. We can also apply fluoride varnish to strengthen the tooth surface and make it resistant to acids.
Brushing twice a day is a good start. But it can't prevent tooth decay when a child is eating carbohydrates all day. One way to reduce the use of sugar is to use xylitol, a naturally occurring sweetener that looks and tastes like table sugar and improves oral health. Studies have shown that use of this sweetener reduces tooth decay in children.
Another good idea is to wean children from bottles and training cups as early as possible. Sometimes children are given bottles filled with milk or sugary beverages at bedtime to help them relax. A better idea for their teeth is to teach them to drink from a regular cup filled with milk — or preferably, with water.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth decay in children. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Managing Tooth Decay In Children With Chronic Diseases.” While this article focuses on children with health challenges, it contains excellent advice to help all children prevent tooth decay.
Oral cancer is on the rise in the United States, yet few people are familiar with the disease and its risk factors. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) estimates that 35,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease each year. The good news is that prevention and early detection can greatly reduce your risk of developing oral cancer.
Risk Factors for Oral Cancer Include:
- Tobacco: Smoking and using chewing tobacco have been shown to increase the risk of developing oral cancer.
- HPV virus: The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the same virus linked to cervical cancer and genital warts. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation (OCF), many young people and women are being diagnosed with oral cancer as a result of exposure to the HPV virus.
- Age: Although it occurs more frequently in people over the age of 40, the incidence is increasing in younger people.
- Alcohol Consumption: Oral cancer is six times more common in those who drink alcohol excessively.
- Diet: People who consume lots of red and processed meat and fried foods are at greater risk.
Symptoms: Alert our office if you notice a change in your mouth such as a sore that doesn't heal or bleeds easily; a lump, thickening, crust or erosion; pain or tenderness; or a change in the way your teeth are positioned. Our office can administer an easy, painless test that detects abnormal cells.
Other symptoms may include unexplained bleeding or numbness in the mouth, difficulty chewing, swallowing or speaking, hoarseness, chronic sore throat or changes in your voice.
Importance of Dental Screenings: In its early stages, oral cancer can often go unnoticed, but visiting our office regularly can ensure that any cancerous cells are detected and treated early. Our office will check your tongue and the area under your tongue, as well as your lips and palate and the back of your mouth.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions that you may have regarding oral cancer. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Oral Cancer: This Article May Save Your Life.”
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