The Holidays are right around the corner, and most of us want to present our prettiest smile when we see friends, relatives and co-workers at various holiday events. What’s the best way to do that? The answer to that depends on the result you want to achieve.
Our teeth have a natural color, but tooth color is also influenced by surface stains. Fillings or crowns can also affect the outcome, so if you’re thinking of whitening your teeth, it’s best to talk with your dentist first, even if you’ll be using an off-the-shelf product, to try to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
Surface stains that discolor teeth are often the easiest to fix. If you already have stains, you might need a professional cleaning to remove them. Once your teeth are clean, make sure to brush with your favorite toothpaste twice a day. Power toothbrushes like Sonicare or Oral-B may remove surface stains better than manual toothbrushes. Whitening toothpastes often remove surface stains by being slightly more abrasive than regular versions. Whitening flosses may help with stains in between your teeth. Despite your best efforts, surface stains may reappear, so it is best to see your dentist or dental hygienist at least once every six (6) months. Your dentist or dental hygienist may also be able to help you identify what foods, drinks or habits are aiding in stain formation on your teeth and give you personalized tips for your specific situation.
What are some other habits you can develop to keep your smile looking bright?
- Rinse with water after drinking anything colorful (like red wine).
- If you know you’ll be drinking coffee, tea or red wine, consider applying a thin coat of vaseline to your teeth beforehand to help minimize surface stains.
- Crunchy raw fruits, such as apples or pears, are not only good for you, they mechanically remove surface stains from your teeth.
- And for women, wearing a blue-based pink lipstick color (such as berry or fuchsia), will make your teeth appear whiter.
But what if your problem isn’t stains on the surface of your teeth, but rather the color of your tooth itself? What can you do then?
Changing the internal color of the tooth involves whitening.
Products bought off the shelf are designed to lighten your teeth only a shade or two. For more dramatic results, you’ll need to buy products from your dentist or have in-office whitening. In-office whitening doesn’t necessarily produce better results, but the results are seen more quickly. Remember though that fillings, crowns, veneers and other dental work do not change color--so if you have these already, you may need to replace them once your teeth reach a shade you like. If you need to have these done, it’s best to plan to whiten before. Otherwise, you might end up in the same plight as one of my patients who thinks the whitening material isn’t working because she can’t get her grayish color based teeth to match the bright white color she chose for the veneers she already has on her front teeth. In truth, the shade of her teeth has lightened, but whitening won’t change her underlying shade from gray to white. It’s much easier for your dentist to match a shade to your teeth than for you to try to get your tooth color to match something your dentist has made. If you’re looking for a very dramatic color change, you might have to invest in veneers or crowns.
The most recent innovation in teeth whitening involves an ionic activator device. The whitening gel is placed into the device and is activated when you press the on button on the device. Because it doesn't involve the usual drying and isolation of the teeth, tooth sensitivity after whitening is less of a problem than with other systems.
You can learn more about tooth whitening in the Dear Doctor section of my website: Teeth Whitening. You can learn more about restorative options to change your tooth color there also, including these links: Cosmetic Tooth Bonding, Crowns & Bridgework, Porcelain Veneers, and Smile Makeover.
If you don’t have a dentist and are interested in personalized advice on keeping your smile at its whitest, you’re invited to contact my office to become a new patient by calling 440-960-1940 or by contacting us through my website at www.drjrobb.com You can also interact with Dr. Robb on facebook at www.facebook.com/drjenniferrobb
Once upon a time, braces were the way to straighten a smile. They were—and continue to be—an effective orthodontic treatment especially for younger patients. But braces do have a few drawbacks, one of the biggest being appearance: when you're wearing braces, everyone can see you're wearing them.
That changed a couple of decades ago with the introduction of clear aligners. Removable plastic trays that incrementally move teeth, aligners have quickly become popular for a number of reasons. Perhaps their biggest attraction is that they're barely noticeable.
There's now a third option for correcting crooked teeth: lingual braces. They're similar to the traditional version, but with one big difference: all of the hardware is on the back side of the teeth.
Ironically, two orthodontists an ocean apart developed the idea, and for different reasons. A Beverly Hills orthodontist was looking for an invisible tooth-moving method that would appeal to his image-conscious patients. The other in Japan wanted to offer his martial arts patients, who risked injury from facial blows with traditional braces, a safer alternative.
These two motivations illustrate the two biggest advantages to lingual braces. The brackets and other hardware are attached to the back of the teeth (on the tongue side, hence the term "lingual") and exert the tooth-moving force by pulling, in contrast to the pushing motion of labial ("lip-side") braces. They're thus invisible (even to the wearer) and they won't damage the soft tissues of the cheeks, lips and gums if a wearer encounters blunt force trauma to the mouth.
They do, however, have their disadvantages. For one, they're often 15-35 percent more expensive than traditional braces. They're also a little more difficult to get used to—they can affect speech and cause tongue discomfort. Most patients, though, get used to them within a week. And, being a relatively new approach, not all orthodontists offer them as a treatment option yet.
If you're interested in this approach to teeth straightening, speak with your orthodontist to see if they're right for you. But if you do take this route, you may have a more pleasing and safe experience.
If you would like more information on orthodontic treatment with lingual braces, 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 “Lingual Braces: A Truly Invisible Way to Straighten Teeth.”
National Dental Hygiene month (October) is followed by National Brush Day on November 1st, so it seems fitting to discuss one of the important tools of dental hygiene: your toothbrush!
There is some research that shows that a rotary (spinning) toothbrush is more effective at removing dental plaque than the standard manual toothbrush. If this is something you can afford to buy and buy replacement heads for on a regular basis, you are likely to benefit from its use. Ones that pulsate as well as rotate have been shown to be even more effective than just spinning ones.
If you can’t afford it or just prefer the traditional toothbrush, how do you know which toothbrush to pick when you’re in the oral care aisle at the store? First, look for one that has the ADA seal. (Ask your dentist if you’re not sure what this looks like.) The ADA seal means it has gone through a stringent testing process to show that it won’t harm your teeth.
Other things to look for are:
- Soft rounded bristles that won’t harm your gums. Many people think they need a medium or hard bristle brush to get their teeth really clean. Soft bristles will do the job. Dental plaque is soft; tartar or calculus is hardened dental plaque. No toothbrush will remove tartar or calculus from your teeth. All medium or hard bristles will do is scratch your teeth and irritate your gums.
- Rounded synthetic or polished end bristles. These types help reduce the amount of bacteria that remain on your toothbrush after brushing.
- One that looks like it will feel comfortable in your hand.
- One that’s small enough to reach all the surfaces of your teeth (even the back ones) . You should be able to brush your back teeth without having to open your mouth more than an inch or so. For some adults, this may mean that you need to choose a compact toothbrush head, a youth toothbrush or even a child-size brush. If you're buying for a child, be sure to pick the size that's recommended for his or her age.
Since the recommendation is to change your brush every 3-4 months, hopefully this will help you pick the best toothbrush for you!
Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist with an office at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053, 440-960-1940. She is taking new patients. Find out more at www.drjrobb.com
Coming soon--the office will be moving to 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd.
You probably wouldn't be surprised to hear that someone playing hockey, racing motocross or duking it out in an ultimate fighter match had a tooth knocked out. But acting in a movie? That's exactly what happened to Howie Mandel, well-known comedian and host of TV's America's Got Talent and Deal or No Deal. And not just any tooth, but one of his upper front teeth—with the other one heavily damaged in the process.
The accident occurred during the 1987 filming of Walk Like a Man in which Mandel played a young man raised by wolves. In one scene, a co-star was supposed to yank a bone from Howie's mouth. The actor, however, pulled the bone a second too early while Howie still had it clamped between his teeth. Mandel says you can see the tooth fly out of his mouth in the movie.
But trooper that he is, Mandel immediately had two crowns placed to restore the damaged teeth and went back to filming. The restoration was a good one, and all was well with his smile for the next few decades.
Until, that is, he began to notice a peculiar discoloration pattern. Years of coffee drinking had stained his other natural teeth, but not the two prosthetic (“false”) crowns in the middle of his smile. The two crowns, bright as ever, stuck out prominently from the rest of his teeth, giving him a distinctive look: “I looked like Bugs Bunny,” Mandel told Dear Doctor—Dentistry & Oral Health magazine.
His dentist, though, had a solution: dental veneers. These thin wafers of porcelain are bonded to the front of teeth to mask slight imperfections like chipping, gaps or discoloration. Veneers are popular way to get an updated and more attractive smile. Each veneer is custom-shaped and color-matched to the individual tooth so that it blends seamlessly with the rest of the teeth.
One caveat, though: most veneers can look bulky if placed directly on the teeth. To accommodate this, traditional veneers require that some of the enamel be removed from your tooth so that the veneer does not add bulk when it is placed over the front-facing side of your tooth. This permanently alters the tooth and requires it have a restoration from then on.
In many instances, however, a “minimal prep” or “no-prep” veneer may be possible, where, as the names suggest, very little or even none of the tooth's surface needs to be reduced before the veneer is placed. The type of veneer that is recommended for you will depend on the condition of your enamel and the particular flaw you wish to correct.
Many dental patients opt for veneers because they can be used in a variety of cosmetic situations, including upgrades to previous dental work as Howie Mandel experienced. So if slight imperfections are putting a damper on your smile, veneers could be the answer.
If you would like more information about veneers and other cosmetic dental enhancements, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Porcelain Veneers” and “Porcelain Dental Crowns.”
Dental crowns strengthen damaged teeth. Whether you have an old amalgam filling, a poorly shaped tooth, deep decay, or other issue, a crown can restore your tooth to full health, performance, and appearance. Here at the Lorain, OH, office of family dentist Dr. Jennifer Robb, we offer crown placement to restore our patients' smiles—read on to learn if this treatment is right for you.
Porcelain crowns have four functions
- They protect, shore up, and improve the appearance of teeth spoiled by cavities, infection, oral trauma, or congenital malformation.
- They support fixed bridgework composed of one, two, or more artificial teeth.
- They protect teeth that have been restored through root canal treatment
- They complete dental implants.
In all of these functions, crowns readily blend in with your natural teeth, as they are custom-shaped and colored to match your smile.
The crown treatment
During a consultation at our Lorain office, Dr. Robb carefully evaluates possible crown patients to ensure that their remaining tooth structure is strong enough to support the restoration. If it can, she takes oral impressions and numbs the tooth with locally-injected anesthetic. She removes the damaged enamel and filling material.
Next, your family dentist shapes the tooth for a proper crown fit, and a temporary crown is placed on the tooth to protect it until the next dental visit.
In the interim, the dental lab fabricates the crown. A technician uses Dr. Robb's instructions and crafts the restoration with perfect fit and color. When bonded over the tooth at the next office visit, the crown looks natural and allows for normal oral function. The American Dental Association (ADA) says that a crown keeps the tooth structure strong and greatly diminishes the chances of fracture.
Caring for a porcelain crown
Dr. Robb instructs her patients to brush and floss carefully every day, as well as visit the Lorain office twice yearly for check-ups and cleanings. Typically, crowns last for 10 to 15 years or longer with good oral hygiene practices.
Need dental work? Give us a call
Phone our Lorain office today at (440) 960-1940 to schedule an appointment with your family dentist, Dr. Jennifer Robb.
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