Category Archives: Blog

3 Ways to Re-Shape Your Smile Without Braces

smile makeover without bracesWhen people think of a smile makeover, many people think of braces. And it’s true that braces can create a very powerful before and after image. However, not every smile makeover involves braces. There are quite a few ways to re-shape your smile that don’t involve as much time or investment as braces.

Straightening & Whitening With Veneers

Veneers were originally invented as a quick fix for the teeth of Hollywood stars, and they’re still a great way to re-shape your smile quickly and easily. Veneers are thin porcelain sleeves that are slipped over your natural teeth and permanently cemented in place. Veneers can be designed to fix gaps between teeth, make them more uniform in shape and size, or cover teeth that are stained or discolored in a way that cosmetic whitening can’t fix. Placing porcelain veneers is a fairly fast process that mostly involves preparing your natural teeth so the veneers fit securely. Getting veneers is painless and doesn’t require any healing time.

Fixing a Gummy Smile With Gum Contouring

A gummy smile, where the gums cover more of the tooth than normal, can make teeth look small and make a person’s smile look more juvenile that they’d like. Luckily, cosmetic gum contouring (also called a gum lift) can re-shape gums, revealing more of the tooth crown to make teeth appear longer without actually having to change the shape or position of your teeth. Gum contouring can also make a gumline more uniform, for example, if gum tissue covers more of one of your front teeth than the others, making your teeth appear to be different sizes. Because gum contouring involves removing gum tissue (usually with a special dental laser), the dentist will use local anesthetic to numb your mouth during the procedure. There is some healing time after gum contouring during which your gums may be sore or sensitive, but this usually subsides within a few days. Like veneers, a gum lift is a fast way to dramatically change the appearance of your smile.

Fixing Gaps & Tooth Shape With Aesthetic Bonding

Aesthetic bonding is the process of adding composite resin or porcelain to a tooth in order to change its shape. Bonding is most commonly used as a way to repair chipped teeth, but this treatment can also be applied for aesthetic purposes. For example, if you have a large gap between your front teeth, instead of shifting the teeth using braces, the dentist can used bonding to make the teeth a little wider so there isn’t as big of a gap. Bonding can also be used to make an usually small tooth (sometimes called a peg tooth) that didn’t develop properly the same size as your other teeth. Best of all, bonding is not an invasive procedure so it requires no anesthetic and no healing time afterward. Bonding usually only takes one visit and is very affordable compared to some other smile makeover treatments.

You May Still Need Braces

If you’re thinking of changing the appearance of your smile, it’s best to talk to the dentist about your options. While many people get their teeth straightened with braces for cosmetic purposes, braces are primarily used to treat poor alignment, which can lead to other oral problems or jaw problems. If in addition to crooked teeth you have a bad bite (your top and bottom teeth don’t like up correctly), the dentist may recommend that you get braces after all.

Whether you’re a good candidate for veneers, gum contouring or bonding may also depend on other aspects of your oral health. Ask us today for a cosmetic consultation to discuss which smile makeover treatment is right for your oral health situation and your goals for your smile!

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Do Drugstore Teeth Whitening Products Work?

results from drugstore teeth whitening productsThe most effective and best teeth whitening treatment you can receive is a professional teeth whitening session at the dentist. The dentist has access to specialized whitening products and knows how to whiten teeth quickly and effectively. However, if you aren’t ready to invest in a professional teeth whitening, you may be tempted to buy an at-home whitening kit at your local drugstore or pharmacy. But do these kits really work?

The quick answer is yes. Over-the-counter teeth whitening products use the same chemicals as professional teeth whitening products at the dentist. The difference is the store-bought kits have these chemicals in much lower concentrations, so they are less powerful.

The bleaching agent in most kits is peroxide, which can remove both surface stains and deeper stains. Professional whitening technology also relies on peroxide-based bleaching agents. The difference is that the dentist uses a high concentration of bleaching chemicals over a brief amount of time, and the at-home kit uses a low concentration of bleaching chemicals over a longer period of time. Bleaching at the dentist usually lasts less than an hour and is often accelerated by a shining a special light on your teeth. Bleaching at home usually involves wearing strips, trays filled with gel, or a painted-on gel for a few hours per day, over the course of several days or weeks.

One common problem that makes at-home whitening less effective than professional teeth whitening from the dentist is inconsistency in applying the treatments. Many people start the treatments and repeat them on a regular basis for a while, then forget or stop when they don’t see an immediate difference. The key to ensuring the whitening treatments work is following the directions and doing the treatments as frequently as you’re supposed to.

A good way to ensure you actually complete your at-home teeth whitening process is to set a white teeth goal on your calendar. By this we mean: pick a special event coming up in the near future and make yourself a promise to have whiter teeth by then. Choosing an event where you’re likely to get your photo taken a lot is a good idea, such as a birthday, anniversary, or a wedding. For brides especially, we recommend whitening your teeth before the big day. Nothing will make yellow teeth stand out quite like a white dress!

Before you go out and buy an at-home whitening kit, it’s a good idea to have a chat with the dentist. Only a dental professional will be able to tell you whether teeth whitening, whether professional or from the drugstore, will work the way you want it to.

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Is Tooth Polishing Necessary?

woman with great dental healthWe know that for most of our patients, their favorite part of a dental cleaning is how smooth and clean their teeth feel afterward, not to mention how shiny they are. Tooth polishing has long been part of the dental checkup routine ever since the 1700s when Pierre Fauchard, the father of modern dentistry, recommended it. However, if you’ve had your teeth cleaned recently (and you have, right?) you may have noticed that your dentist or hygienist didn’t polish every single tooth. That’s because the results of recent studies are changing how dentists and dental hygienists approach polishing.

First, let’s do a quick review of what happens during a dental cleaning appointment. The whole point of a dental cleaning is to remove plaque and tartar that has accumulated on your teeth. If not removed, this bacteria-laden debris can lead to cavities and gum disease. The hygienist will go after the most stubborn buildup with an ultrasonic tool, which uses the power of fine vibrations to break up tartar and water to flush it away. Next, the hygienist may use hand tools to remove any smaller spots of buildup and to smooth out the tooth surface.

After your teeth have been thoroughly cleaned and all the plaque and tartar removed, then it’s time for polishing. Most polishing is done with a tiny rubber cup that spins on the end of a hand-held wand. Before polishing your teeth, the hygienist scoops up some prophy paste onto the rubber cup. Prophy paste is like an extra-gritty version of toothpaste, which often comes in similar flavors. The hygienist then applies the prophy paste to your teeth, and the spinning of the cup polishes your teeth and removes stains. After rinsing your mouth, the hygienist may floss your teeth, then apply a fluoride treatment, which helps teeth absorb minerals that make them stronger.

In fact, removing surface stains is the primary purpose of tooth polishing these days. In the past, it was thought that polishing teeth to make them smoother made it harder for the bacteria-laden gunk that leads to gum disease and tooth decay to attach to teeth. It turns out that removing plaque and tartar during the ultrasonic scaling part of your hygiene visit is really what helps keep bacteria from adhering (plus your daily home oral hygiene routine, of course). While polishing certainly smooths out your teeth, it hasn’t been shown to make a huge difference in preventing gum disease or tooth decay. In fact, some studies have shown that polishing can even temporarily weaken your tooth enamel, making your teeth slightly more vulnerable until the outer layer of enamel grows back.

Many dental professionals now consider polishing to be primarily a cosmetic procedure. That’s why some dentists and hygienists only do selective polishing, in which they only choose certain teeth to polish, such as those with superficial stains that didn’t get removed by the ultrasonic cleaning or hand tools. So while polishing is certainly nice to get that perfectly smooth feeling after your appointment, don’t be alarmed if your hygienist doesn’t polish all of your teeth. Polishing is not as important to preventing oral problems as the ultrasonic cleaning and manual removal of plaque and tartar and tooth-strengthening fluoride treatments.

If you have any questions about the dental cleaning process, always feel free to ask us! We look forward to seeing you at your next appointment.