Clothing and hair styles may come and go, but a dazzling smile is always in fashion! If you're considering options for perking up your appearance, brightening your pearly whites is a quick and affordable way to achieve eye-catching results.
You have several choices when it comes to teeth whitening. But to get the safest, most appropriate, and most satisfying results, you should start with a proper dental examination. A professional assessment of your oral health can determine the cause of your tooth discoloration and may reveal the need for a particular treatment before, or in addition to brightening the color of your teeth.
When we talk about teeth whitening, we generally are referring to “bleaching,” which actually returns your teeth to their natural tooth color. A thorough cleaning — generally part of a routine checkup — often can remove surface discoloration/staining (such as coffee, tea, tobacco or red wine).
There are basically three approaches for external bleaching/whitening of your teeth. They vary based on the strength of the bleaching solution, method of application, duration of treatment, and cost considerations.
Professional In-Office Whitening. This approach involves the carefully controlled application by a dental professional of a powerful and fast-acting concentration of hydrogen peroxide gel. Professional whitening can achieve the most significant color change in the shortest amount of time, but it is pricier than the other options.
Professionally Dispensed Take-Home Whitening Kits. These include a lower-strength peroxide gel applied via flexible plastic bleaching trays custom made by our office specifically for your teeth. The tailored fit of the trays helps ensure an even and thorough coating. A more affordable option than the in-office procedure, it also requires more time to achieve similar results.
Over-the-Counter Products. These feature the lowest-concentration bleaching gel, which is applied to the teeth using one-size-fits-all trays or strips, or a paint-on applicator. While they are the least expensive option, they take the longest to achieve maximum results and may not reach all teeth.
If you have questions about teeth whitening, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Teeth Whitening” and “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered.”
Your son has fallen and hit his face against a hard surface. Not only is he in pain but now there is also a chip missing from his front tooth. He is worried that his smile will never be the same. What should you do?
Answer: If you can find that missing chip, sometimes we can bond the fragment back on to the tooth. The tooth should be evaluated and repaired as soon as possible, although in the absence of other signs and symptoms of injury, and if your child is not in acute pain, it can probably wait up to 12 hours.
If the fragment can't be found, then the tooth can be restored with tooth-colored filling materials, which are also physically bonded to the natural tooth. Done well, these “composite resin” fillings can last for years and look perfectly natural. They may eventually need to be replaced with something more permanent.
If the chipped tooth is a child's primary (baby) tooth rather than a permanent (adult) tooth, the treatment will be similar.
However, a blow to a tooth can cause damage to the pulp — the living tissue within the tooth, which can become infected and die. If the damage to a primary tooth is too extensive it may be better to remove it to avoid damage to an underlying and developing permanent tooth. A place-holding appliance called a space maintainer may be used. If it is a permanent tooth it may need root canal treatment.
If a tooth is not chipped but is loosened or tender to the touch, it may require temporary stabilization, called splinting, until it has healed. Sometimes no treatment is required. If there has been a fracture to the tooth's root (the part below the gum line) it may heal by itself, or it may require further treatment especially if it is a permanent tooth, depending on the individual situation.
It is important to evaluate teeth that have been hit or damaged as a result of injury to ensure that they remain healthy and functional. We will keep track of the tooth or teeth, with observation, x-rays when necessary and monitoring over time to make sure no permanent damage has been done.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about repairing a chipped tooth. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Field-Side Guide to Dental Injuries.”
Bad breath, or halitosis, is bad news in any social situation — whether you're having an intimate conversation with a date or simply saying hello as you shake someone's hand. Halitosis, from the Latin halitus (exhalation) and the Greek osis (a condition or disease causing process), can also be a warning that something's amiss healthwise — usually in your mouth (85% to 90% of the time) but sometimes elsewhere in your body.
Most Common Causes of a Malodorous Mouth
Most unpleasant odors emanating from the mouth result from the processing of food remnants by certain strains of bacteria that typically populate the oral environment. As they feed on food particles, these microbes produce nasty-smelling byproducts — mostly volatile sulfur compounds, which have a distinctive “rotten egg” odor. That's why diligent dental care is front and center when it comes to banishing bad breath. Brushing, flossing and routine professional cleanings will help ensure that traces of last night's dinner or your midday candy bar don't stick around for bacteria to dine on.
Especially important, but often overlooked, during routine home oral care is the back of the tongue. This is actually the most common location for mouth-related bad breath to develop. Unlike the front of your tongue, which is bathed in saliva, the back of the tongue is relatively dry and poorly cleansed — an ideal setting in which microbe-laden plaque can form and flourish.
Even if you're industrious when it comes to brushing and flossing, food debris can get trapped and plaque can build up in hard-to-reach places such as between teeth (interdental), under the gums (subgingival) and around faulty dental work (e.g., ill-fitting crowns or veneers) contributing to overall oral odor. Other culprits include unclean dentures and oral disease such as tooth decay, gum disease, and abscesses.
Halitosis may accompany dry mouth, or xerostomia (xero – dry, stomia – mouth), a condition in which the normal flow of saliva, which cleanses the oral environment and keeps odor-producing bacteria in check, is interrupted. Most of us wake up with a temporary case of halitosis or “morning breath” because our salivary glands are less active while we sleep, but it usually disappears after a good brushing. If dry mouth is persistent, other possible triggers include: breathing through your mouth, a medication side effect, fasting or dehydration, or even stress.
Clearly, maintaining or restoring a healthy oral environment is your greatest defense against halitosis. Take care of your teeth and there's no reason your breath should be any less attractive than your smile!
If you would like more information about halitosis and ways to prevent or treat it, 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 “Bad Breath.”
Although usually not considered a serious health condition, bad breath is nonetheless one of the most embarrassing conditions related to the mouth. Although some serious systemic diseases may result in mouth odor, most cases originate in the mouth or nose. Bacteria are usually the culprit — certain types of the organism can excrete volatile sulphur compounds, which emit a rotten egg or rotten fish smell.
The largest breeding ground for bacteria is the tongue, typically in the back where saliva and hygiene efforts aren’t as efficient in removing food remnants. A bacterial coating can develop on the surface of the tongue, much like the plaque that can adhere to teeth; the coating becomes a haven for bacteria that cause bad breath.
There seems to be a propensity in some people who exhibit chronic bad breath to develop this tongue coating. To rid the tongue of this coating, people with this susceptibility could benefit from the use of a tongue brush or scraper. These hygienic devices are specifically designed for the shape and texture of the tongue to effectively remove any bacterial coating. Toothbrushes, which are designed for the hard surface of the teeth, have been shown not to be as effective in removing the coating as a tongue scraper.
Before considering using a tongue scraper you should consult with your dentist first. If you suspect you have chronic bad breath, it’s important to determine the exact cause. Using a tongue scraper is unnecessary unless there’s an identifiable coating that is contributing to the bad odor. It’s also a good idea to obtain instruction from your dentist on the best techniques for using a tongue scraper to be as effective as possible and to avoid damaging soft tissues from over-aggressive use.
In addition, don’t neglect other hygiene habits like brushing, flossing and regular cleanings. Removing as much bacterial plaque as you can contributes not only to a healthier mouth but also pleasanter breath.
If you would like more information on the tongue and halitosis, 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 “Tongue Scraping.”
Did you ever think a dentist might suggest that you have a bone graft performed as part of a standard tooth replacement procedure? Believe it or not, it's now a routine treatment — and it's not as complicated as you may think. Welcome to 21st Century dentistry!
If you're thinking about getting a tooth implant — an attractive, strong and long-lasting option for tooth replacement — here are four things you should know about bone grafting.
A bone graft may be needed prior to placing a dental implant.
One major reason why dental implants work so well as replacements for natural teeth is that they actually become fused to the underlying bone. This system offers superior durability, and a host of other advantages. Unfortunately, when a tooth is lost, the surrounding bone often begins to disappear (resorb) as well. In that case, it may be necessary to rebuild some of the bone structure before an implant can be placed effectively.
Bone regeneration for tooth implants is a routine procedure.
When it's needed, bone grafting has become a standard practice in periodontal and oral surgery. It is often performed prior to (or, occasionally, at the same time as) placing a dental implant. The grafting procedure itself can be done in the office, using local anesthesia (numbing shots, like those used for a filling) or conscious sedation (“twilight sleep”) to relieve anxiety.
The process may use a variety of high-tech materials.
The small amount of bone grafting material you need may come from a variety of sources, including human, animal or synthetic materials. Before it is used, all grafting material is processed to make it completely safe. In addition to the grafting material itself, special “guided bone regeneration” membranes and other biologically active substances may be used to promote and enhance healing.
Bone regeneration lets your body rebuild itself.
Your body uses most bone grafting materials as a scaffold or frame, over which it is able to grow its own new bone tissue. In time, the natural process of bone regeneration replaces the graft material with new bone. As we now know, maintaining sufficient bone tissue around the teeth is a crucial part of keeping up your oral health. That's why today when a tooth is going to be extracted (removed), often a bone graft will be placed at the time of extraction to preserve as much bone as possible.
Are you considering dental implants for tooth replacement, and wondering whether you may need bone grafting? Come in and talk to us! With our up-to-date training and clinical experience, we can answer your questions, and present the treatment options that are best in your individual situation.
If you would like more information about bone grafting, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Can Dentists Rebuild Bone?”
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