Posts for: July, 2012
The embarrassment of having discolored and/or stained teeth can be monumental and negatively impact your love life, work career, interactions with others, on top of undermining your self-esteem. And it is this reality that urges many people to wonder what teeth whitening could do for their specific needs. However, before obtaining any “fix,” you really should get an understanding of what causes staining of your teeth. This important step will enable you to make the necessary lifestyle and behavioral changes to prevent future issues.
For example, letting us know which of the following common causes for staining teeth apply to you can be an excellent first step towards building an optimal action plan for brightening your smile.
Which of the following questions about discolored teeth apply to you?
- Staining from tobacco use?
- Staining from coffee, tea and/or wine?
- Your teeth have become progressively discolored and yellow with age?
- Staining from red (tomato-based) sauces, sodas/colas and blueberries among other things?
- Other family members have stained teeth so it seems to be genetic?
- Staining from medications such as the antibiotic tetracycline given as a child?
Your honest responses to the above, along with your medical history will enable us to formulate the appropriate therapy for brightening your smile. And for most people this includes bleaching, an inexpensive yet effective method for whitening teeth. It is most often accomplished using a gel that is between 15% and 35% carbamide peroxide, a type of hydrogen peroxide. Years of research have proven that this whitening agent does not damage tooth enamel or the nerves inside the teeth. The only side effect that some people experience is slight tooth sensitivity and irritation of the gum tissues. However, they both are usually temporary, often occuring when you first start bleaching and generally subside after a few days. You can learn more when you continue reading the Dear Doctor article, “Tooth Staining.” Or, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.
We tend to think of aspirin as a harmless medication. It is dispensed over the counter and is the most widely used OTC medication in the U.S. We take it without thinking we may be exposing ourselves to risks. But in certain situations aspirin can cause dangerous side effects.
What is aspirin, and how does it work?
The chemical name for aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid. It is used to reduce mild pain, inflammation and fever. When you take an aspirin, it blocks the formation of prostaglandins, substances your body creates that are associated with inflammation. Prostaglandins cause inflamed tissues to become red and swollen, but they also serve protective purposes, such as forming a barrier that protects the stomach from the acid it produces to digest your food. That's why long-term aspirin use can sometimes cause stomach bleeding and ulceration or other health problems.
Why do cardiac patients take aspirin?
Another effect of aspirin is to prevent blood platelets from clumping together. Blood platelets are structures in the blood, smaller than white or red blood cells, that aid clotting by sticking together at the site of an injury. This effect of aspirin can cause prolonged bleeding, but it may be beneficial to people who have cardiovascular (from cardio, meaning heart; and vascular, meaning vessel) disease with narrowed blood vessels.
Aspirin can keep blood flowing in the obstructed vessels and thus prevent heart attacks and strokes; but it can also increase the risk for strokes that are caused by bleeding in the brain. Most physicians attempt to lower such risks by asking their patients to keep their daily aspirin consumption to a low dose 81 mg “baby” aspirin.
How does aspirin affect your teeth and gums?
Be sure to let your medical and dental professionals know you are taking aspirin, and how much you take. Also tell us about other OTC medications you take, including herbal medications and supplements, because they may interact with aspirin to cause side effects.
If you have been told to take aspirin because of a cardiac condition or procedure, be sure to follow your recommended treatment. Do not suddenly discontinue aspirin therapy; doing so can increase your risk for heart attack and stroke. Ask us if you should stop taking aspirin before a major dental or oral surgery, but do not stop taking it on your own. We will consult with your physician about your medical condition and let you know our recommendation. In most cases you can continue your aspirin therapy without causing excessive bleeding during the dental procedure.
Your self-image has a lot to do with how you feel about your appearance — and particularly your smile. If you are unhappy with the way you look, cosmetic dentistry may be the answer to your problems.
- What do we mean by cosmetic dentistry? The word “cosmetic” refers to beneficial changes in appearance. Thus cosmetic dentistry is all dental work that restores or improves a person's appearance.
- What is a cosmetic dentist? Every dentist learns to do procedures in a way that conserves or improves a patient's appearance. Some dentists continue to study and specialize in procedures that are done specifically for the purpose of enhancing a person's appearance.
- What is a smile analysis? The first step to improving your smile, this analysis involves a study of all the elements of your smile — teeth appearance and alignment, gums, jaws — and also your facial features and how they all fit together.
- How can I choose the right cosmetic dentist? Ask your dentist about his or her training and experience. Ask for photos of previous work. You may need to select more than one person, working as a team to take best advantage of each one's experience, skills, and training.
- What can be done to improve a smile using 21st century techniques? We are fortunate to live in times in which numerous options are available. These include making teeth whiter; altering their size, shape, balance, color, and alignment; filling in parts of teeth that are missing because of decay or injury; and even replacing teeth that are missing entirely.
- How can chipped or discolored front teeth be restored? This can often be done by bonding with composite resin.
- How can damaged back teeth be restored? Back teeth with cavities or traumatic injuries can now be repaired with non-metallic tooth-colored material that bonds to the tooth substance.
- What techniques can be used to correct more severe problems? Porcelain veneers, thin layers of porcelain material, can be used to change the appearance of misshapen or undersized teeth. Porcelain crowns can be used to replace the part of the tooth that rises above the gums.
- How can we change the position of teeth that do not meet together well? Orthodontists are dentists who specialize in correcting malocclusions (bad bites). They use traditional braces or clear aligners to move teeth into more attractive and functional positions.
- What if some teeth are missing? A dental implant replaces the root of a missing tooth. A porcelain crown that looks just like a natural tooth can then be connected to the implant.
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.”
Designing a better smile sometimes requires a change in the size, shape, or color of your teeth. Porcelain laminate veneers (thin layers of dental ceramic material) enhance your appearance by replacing the natural enamel on the outside of your teeth. A veneer is physically bonded to the surface of a tooth, in essence, becoming part of it.
Traditionally, a small amount of the natural tooth enamel is drilled away to allow room for the veneer. But today, in some circumstances, it is possible to use an approach where enamel reduction or preparation is not necessary because the veneers can be bonded directly onto the tooth's natural surface. These are called “Prepless” or “No-prep” veneers, and are used to create aesthetically pleasing and natural looking restorations. An advantage of the prepless procedure is that the process is reversible so that you can give your new smile a “test drive.”
You may be a good subject for Prepless veneers if:
- Your smile is narrow because the teeth in the sides of your smile are positioned inward and do not show from a frontal view.
- There is spacing between your teeth, and the teeth appear too small.
- You have a fairly common genetic condition in which one or both of the teeth directly next to the two upper front teeth are very small and peg-shaped.
- There is an imbalance between the size of your lips and teeth (large lips and small teeth), which are not in proportion to show off your best smile.
Prepless veneers are probably not for you if:
- Your teeth are not aligned properly in your bite.
- Your teeth are very crowded, resulting in poor facial profile.
- Your teeth are already relatively large or positioned forward.
In these cases you may need to have some form of orthodontic treatment to move your teeth into better position. Sometimes veneers can be used to create an illusion of proper tooth alignment, but some amount of tooth reduction may be required.
We can assess whether prepless veneers are right for you. There is no substitute for an expert dentist's talent and expertise with the various cosmetic techniques available today. These skills combined with a thorough diagnostic evaluation, and a clear understanding of your goals, are the keys to providing you with a successful and beautiful smile.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about cosmetic dentistry. You can also learn more about prepless veneers by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Veneers Without the Drill.”