Posts for: September, 2011
Having a whiter, brighter smile can do wonders for improving self-confidence, career opportunities, and interpersonal relationships, as demonstrated in numerous scientific studies. In fact, according to a poll conducted on behalf of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the following was revealed:
- 99.7% of Americans believe a smile is an important social asset.
- 74% feel an unattractive smile can hurt chances for career success.
- 50% of all people polled were unsatisfied with their smile.
These statistics demonstrate why you should have a solid understanding about any cosmetic procedure — even teeth whitening — before making your decision to proceed. To help you ensure that you have the facts, we created the following list of questions.
- Am I a good candidate for tooth whitening?
- How much will the entire process cost?
- Does my insurance cover the cost (or any portion of the cost)?
- How does teeth whitening work?
- Is bleaching teeth safe?
- Will the bleaching agents damage tooth enamel?
- Can whitening treatments make my teeth sensitive?
- How does your professional bleaching differ from home whitening?
- What type of bleach and strength will you use?
- How long can I expect the results to last?
- What will the bleach do to my gums, filings, crowns, veneers, and/or bridgework?
Please note that we may cover most or all of these questions during your initial consultation; however, we encourage you to bring this list with you to ensure you get the answers you need so that you can make the best decision. To learn more now, continue reading the Dear Doctor article, “Teeth Whitening: Brighter, Lighter, Whiter....” Or, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.
Your smile is one of the first things people notice, but if your pearly whites have lost their luster, chances are you might be hesitant to show them. As we age, our teeth naturally darken, and certain substances can leave teeth stained or discolored, making you appear older. One easy way to turn back the clock is to have your teeth whitened; a safe, painless, and non-invasive way of achieving a young, healthy-looking smile.
Causes of Tooth Discoloration: Exposure to high-levels of fluoride and taking tetracycline antibiotics during childhood can stain the teeth's structure. Smoking cigarettes and using chewing tobacco can also cause tooth discoloration, as well as foods containing tannins such as red wine, coffee and tea. In addition, poor brushing techniques and not flossing regularly cause bacteria to build on teeth resulting in yellow stains.
The Whitening Process: Our office can help you to achieve a brighter smile using either an in-office procedure or an at-home whitening kit. We can help determine the best treatment for your budget, time frame and individual needs. If you choose to have professional whitening done in our office, we will utilize a prescription strength gel sometimes even activated by a concentrated light source. This procedure offers immediate and long-lasting results in less than an hour. After a single treatment, teeth are typically six to ten shades lighter and with proper maintenance, can last five years or longer.
At-Home Results: For those seeking more gradual results, another option is to use custom-fit trays, which our office will make for you to use at home to whiten your teeth. This is generally less expensive, and is very effective at lightening teeth several shades, although it may take a week or longer to see optimal results.
Choosing the Best Procedure: For some people, teeth whitening may not offer adequate results. If you have thin enamel, chipped, uneven or crooked teeth, we may recommend applying porcelain veneers to restore your damaged teeth. Veneers are bonded to the front of teeth to give your smile a straighter, more uniform appearance.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding teeth whitening. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Teeth Whitening: Brighter, Lighter, Whiter.”
A number of factors can lead to dental caries (tooth decay). To find out if you are at high risk, ask yourself these questions.
Is plaque visible in my mouth?
Dental plaque is a whitish film of bacteria that collects on your teeth. If it is clearly visible, it means that there is a lot of it. Among the bacteria in the plaque are those that produce tooth decay, particularly in an acidic environment. (A normal mouth is neutral, measured on the pH scale, midway between the extreme acidic and basic ends of the scale.)
Do I have a dry mouth?
Saliva protects your teeth against decay by neutralizing an acidic environment and adding minerals back to the outer surface of enamel of your teeth, so reduced saliva is a high risk for caries. Many medications can cause dry mouth as a side effect.
Do I eat a lot of snacks, particularly unhealthy ones?
Frequently eating sugars, refined carbohydrates, and acidic foods promotes the growth of decay-producing bacteria. The more frequently you eat, the longer your teeth are bathed in sugars and acids. Acidic foods not only promote bacterial growth, they also directly cause erosion of the tooth's hard surface by softening and dissolving the minerals in the enamel.
Do I wear retainers, orthodontic appliances, bite guards or night guards?
These appliances are recommended for various conditions, but they tend to restrict the flow of saliva over your teeth, cutting down on the benefits of saliva mentioned above.
Do my teeth have deep pits and fissures?
The shape of your teeth is determined by your heredity. If your teeth grew in with deep grooves (fissures) and pits in them, you are at higher risk for bacterial growth and resulting decay.
Do I have conditions that expose my teeth to acids?
If you have bulimia (a psychological condition in which individuals induce vomiting), or GERD (Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease), your teeth may be frequently exposed to stomach acids that can cause severe erosion to your teeth.
Do I already have cavities?
Visible cavities can range from those only visible with laser technology or x-ray examination to those a dentist can see with a naked eye. If you already have small cavities, you are at high risk for developing more.
Do I have white spots on my teeth?
White spots are often the first sign of decay in a tooth's enamel. At this point, the condition is often reversible with fluorides.
Have I had a cavity within the last three years?
Recent cavities point to a high risk of more cavities in the future, unless conditions in your mouth have significantly changed.
If you have any of these indications of high risk, contact us today and ask us for suggestions for changing the conditions in your mouth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Decay.”
How many of these questions can you answer correctly? The more you know about nutrition and oral health, the healthier you are likely to be.
What are free sugars?
“Free sugars” is a term for sugars including refined cane, beet and corn sugar, which are added to foods or occur naturally in honey, syrups or fruit juices.
You probably know that foods with added sugars are not healthy for your teeth. What is the maximum recommended sugar intake for oral health?
The recommended daily limit for free sugar is 10 teaspoons per day. Note that one can of soda contains over 6 teaspoons.
If a sugary snack is bad for your teeth, what could you substitute that would be better?
Fresh fruits and vegetables would be a better snack. Fresh fruits contain fructose, a sugar that has not been shown to be harmful to teeth if eaten in reasonable amounts.
How can you get enough fluoride to guard your teeth against decay?
If your water supply does not contain fluoride, or if you usually drink bottled water, you may or may not be receiving enough fluoride from your toothpaste. We can assess if you are receiving enough fluoride by examining your teeth, testing your plaque and reviewing your past history of tooth decay. If you are having a problem with tooth decay, we can create fluoride trays for you so you can apply a fluoride solution to your teeth daily.
What is dental erosion and how is it different from tooth decay?
Some acidic foods, particularly drinks such as juices and sodas, wear away your teeth's outer coating (the enamel) when exposed to the teeth's surface. Erosion does not involve bacteria, the cause of dental caries (tooth decay).
Can certain foods stop acidity from attacking your teeth?
Yes, there are foods that reverse the increase in acidity that comes from eating free sugars. One of these is cheese. Cheese stimulates saliva in your mouth, and it contains high levels of calcium, allowing calcium to be added back to your teeth. Many vegetables and starchy whole grain foods require thorough chewing, which also stimulates production of saliva and guards against tooth decay.
We hope you learned some useful facts from this nutrition quiz. If you modify your habits so that you eat less free sugar; drink more water (preferably fluoridated), drink fewer juices and sodas; and snack on fresh fruits, vegetables, and cheese, you can count on having healthy teeth and gums.