Posts for category: Dental Procedures
Teeth whitening is a great way to improve your smile. For best results and to ensure your safety, teeth should be bleached under professional supervision. We can help you choose the whitening method that's right for you, and monitor the effects of your treatment. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about this relatively inexpensive cosmetic procedure:
Is teeth whitening safe?
A lot of research has been done on teeth whitening, so we know that specific bleaching formulas, from a reputable source, are safe if used as directed and after a proper dental examination. You should be aware that tooth sensitivity is a common side effect of bleaching, but brushing with a desensitizing toothpaste containing potassium nitrate for two weeks prior to bleaching can reduce sensitivity. Using potassium nitrate during the bleaching process can also help.
Is it effective?
Professional bleaching is very effective. Peroxide goes through tooth enamel (the outermost layer) and the dentin (middle layer) to the pulp (the innermost layer) in 5 to 15 minutes. The bleach actually changes the color of the enamel and dentin, and removes stains.
How is teeth whitening done?
Basically there are three options: in-office whitening (done by a dentist), at-home bleaching with custom-made flexible plastic trays (with prescription bleach), and over-the-counter (OTC) products. Not all OTC products are equal, and the results will take longer to achieve than with professionally supervised procedures.
How long does it take?
That depends on what method you choose and, in the case of at-home whitening, how conscientious you are about following through with your course of treatment. One study found that a six-shade change required either: three in-office applications of 38% hydrogen peroxide; one week of 10% carbamide peroxide used at home nightly in a custom-made tray; or 16 daily application of 5.3% hydrogen peroxide on a whitening strip.
Will it last?
It really depends on the individual. No bleaching method can whiten teeth permanently, though some people's teeth remain white for over 10 years with no touch-up treatment. More typical results vary from six months to two years. Keeping up with your regular oral hygiene routine at home and your professional cleanings at the dentist's office will help maintain the results; so will avoiding tobacco and beverages that stain, such as red wine, tea and coffee. You can also consider a bleaching touch-up once or twice a year at home or here at the dental office.
I want to go for it! What's the first step?
Step one is a pre-bleaching dental examination to determine the cause of your tooth discoloration. We want to make sure that your discoloration is not the result of an oral health-related problem. For example bleaching will mask but not resolve issues such as abscessed teeth, decay, and root canal problems. We want your teeth not only to be beautiful, but healthy, too!
If you are interested in learning more about teeth whitening, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. For more information on teeth whitening, please see the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered” and “Tooth Whitening Safety Tips.”
You may have heard the term “veneer” with reference to woodworking, where it means a thin layer of attractive wood that covers and enhances the surface of a piece of furniture. Exactly the same principle applies to porcelain veneers used in dentistry: A thin layer of ceramic material is used to cover parts of a tooth in order to improve its structure and appearance.
Porcelain is a non-metallic ceramic material that is fired in an oven at a high temperature to make it hard and durable. Dental porcelain veneers are thin layers of ceramic that can be applied to the outside of the tooth so that the end result mimics the natural color and translucency of tooth enamel. The underlying tooth structure has to be prepared by removing a small amount of the enamel, about 1 mm, which the veneer replaces. The veneer is then bonded to the prepared surface using a light-sensitive resin.
In woodworking, a veneer may be used to match the grain between the left and right sides of a piece of furniture, creating a beautiful effect on a curve, or simply to bring the appearance of expensive wood to a backing that is less expensive.
Just as a wood veneer improves the appearance of a dresser or table, porcelain laminate veneers may be used to improve teeth that have a number of cosmetic and functional problems. These include staining that cannot be removed by tooth whitening, teeth that are too small, misshapen, chipped or spaced too far apart. After an assessment of your teeth and your smile, we can create a mock-up using temporary tooth-colored materials so you can decide whether the suggested changes will work for you, or you can make suggestions for further improvements.
Porcelain laminate veneers may not be the best solution for you if your teeth are severely stained or damaged. In cases where a large proportion of the original tooth must be replaced, porcelain crowns may be the best solution. The crown is the part of the tooth that is visible above the gum line, and it can be covered with a porcelain crown that looks exactly like a tooth in shape and color. After studying your needs, together we can decide on the most satisfactory method to restore your most attractive smile.
Most people think of bone as rock-solid, but it's actually a living tissue that's constantly changing. This has significant implications for your oral health, general health, and appearance — if you are one of the 70% of Americans missing at least one tooth.
Throughout the day, your top and bottom teeth make hundreds of fleeting contacts with each other. These small stresses are transmitted though the periodontal ligament (“peri” – around; “odont” – tooth) that supports each tooth in its socket like a hammock. Think of it as a gentle push on the hammock, which causes the tooth to gently bump the underlying bone. The bone then builds up in the spot that's receiving stress to counteract it. This constant remodeling of bone is what allows bone to stay healthy and strong.
When a tooth is lost, the bone does not receive that gentle stress. It reacts by literally melting away. Sometimes this happens fairly quickly — in a matter of months. After the tooth-supporting bone is lost, the jawbone itself begins the same process of deterioration. This could eventually change the shape of the face, as the distance from nose to chin can decrease — even if only a few back teeth are missing. The results aren't pretty. But the good news is, there's a way to prevent all this.
Dental implants, which function as substitute tooth roots, actually save underlying bone when teeth are lost. They do this because they are made of titanium, which fuses to the bone in which it's set, stabilizing it. The implant is topped by a realistic-looking crown, which replaces the part of the missing tooth that was visible in the mouth. Together, they look and function just as your natural tooth did.
If you are missing a lot of teeth, implants can also be used to anchor bridges or even removable dentures while providing that same bone-saving benefit. And when you consider that they are so durable they should never need replacement, implants are a great investment.
You can read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth.”
Are you are considering a cosmetic procedure such as porcelain veneers? To assist you in making this decision, we developed the following list of questions you should consider asking before getting porcelain veneers.
- Am I a good candidate for porcelain veneers?
- Can you show me examples of your work?
- How much will my veneers cost?
- Will my insurance cover any portion of my procedure?
- Do you offer any financing for my procedure or can you make any recommendations for financing?
- Can you create a computer-generated image or mock-up of what my new smile will look like?
- How will you chose what color to make my veneers?
- How long will it take from my initial consultation until I receive my final, permanent veneers?
- How much tooth reduction (drilling) will you need to do before placing my veneers?
- How do veneers attach to my teeth?
- Can you create a prototype or temporary veneers so that I can “test drive” my new smile before my permanent ones are made?
- What do I need to do to clean and protect my veneers?
- How long can I expect my veneers to last?
- If at some point in the future I decide I want my veneers removed, what can I expect?
We hope that the above questions help you obtain all the answers you need as you consider getting porcelain veneers. If you have other questions, concerns, or if you are ready to take the next step and schedule a consultation, please contact our office.
We pride ourselves on educating our patients regarding oral health and dental treatment. This is why we are providing you with these frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding root canals. Our belief is that by being informed about this important dental treatment, you will be more comfortable should you ever require a root canal.
Exactly what is root canal treatment?
A root canal treatment is an endodontic procedure (“endo” – inside: “dont” – tooth) in which the living pulp tissues are housed, including the nerves. When a severely decayed or damaged tooth begins to hurt, it is because the pulpal tissues are inflamed or infected, and the response of the nerves is varying degrees of pain — letting you know something is wrong. If the pulp is dead or dying it must be removed and the root canal of the tooth is filled and sealed to stop infection and to save the tooth.
Who typically performs them?
Endodontics is a specialty within dentistry that specifically deals with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of root canal issues affecting a tooth's root or nerve. While endodontists are dentists who specialize in root canal treatment, general dentists may also perform root canal treatment and are usually the dentists you will consult with when you first have tooth pain and who will refer you to an endodontist if necessary.
What are the symptoms of a root canal infection?
Root canal symptoms and the character of the pain may vary depending on the cause. For example, symptoms may be:
- Sharp, acute pain that is difficult to pinpoint
- Intense pain that occurs when biting down on the tooth or food
- Lingering pain after eating either hot or cold foods
- Dull ache and pressure
- Tenderness accompanied by swelling in the nearby gums
Does root canal treatment hurt?
A common misconception is that a root canal treatment is painful when, in actuality, it is quite the opposite. The pain associated with a root canal occurs prior to treatment and is relieved by it — not visa versa.
If you have tooth pain, you may or may not need a root canal treatment. Contact us today (before your symptoms get worse) and schedule an appointment to find out what's causing the problem. And to learn more about the signs, symptoms, and treatments for a root canal, read the article “Common Concerns About Root Canal Treatment.”