Ask the Dentist!

What can a dentist do to restore my smile?

I’m sure you remember the popular TV show Extreme Makeover.  What was the one thing everyone had done that made the biggest difference in their appearance?  Their smile!  It’s amazing what a profound effect a beautiful smile can have on a person’s appearance and their confidence. 

Modern medicine has allowed our population to live longer, more active lives.  Diet and exercise can do wonders for your body but not always the appearance of your teeth making you look older than you feel.  A lifetime of staining food and drink; old, outdated dental work and wear and tear have left many a smile looking tired and age worn.  Luckily, dentistry has made tremendous advances in techniques and materials to restore and maintain a youthful appearance.

What about Tooth Whitening

For those patients whose only problem is stained, yellow or dark teeth whitening may be the answer.  Simply whitening the teeth can have tremendous youth-enhancing effects on a smile.  Many products are available for home use including gels, strips, toothpastes and rinses.  Each product has its own sets of pros and cons so consultation with your dentist is highly recommended.  

More predictable and many times safer alternatives are professional whitening systems utilizing in-office whitening or custom fabricated whitening trays, done at home.  Using a much higher concentration of whitening gel than over-the-counter gels, in-office whiting may produce dramatic results in as little as one visit.   Not all patients are candidates for in-office whitening so consult your dentist.  

Custom fabricated whitening trays provide a noticed advantage over “one size fits all trays” found in most drug stores.  Over-the-counter systems often give inconsistent whitening results due to weak whitening gels and poorly fit trays.  Custom trays ensure maximum contact of tooth surface utilizing stronger whitening gels.  This results in much more consistent whitening and less gum irritation.

Those old Metal Fillings and Black Lines

Modern advances in dental materials have allowed dentists to restore teeth with beautiful, tooth colored restorations.  Old metal fillings can make a smile look dark and unsightly.  Composite (tooth colored filling) or porcelain are great ways to revitalize a smile, depending on the size and location of the filling.  Ever wonder why your crowns look like they have a dark or black line at the gum line?  It’s likely they are PFM crowns.  PFM (porcelain fused to metal) crowns can begin to show a dark edge as they age.  This can be a result of how the crown was made, chipped porcelain or gum recession.  By using all porcelain crowns the use of metal is eliminated resulting in a much more esthetic, life-like restoration.  Consult with your dentist to see if your are a candidate for these smile renewing restorations.

Combating Wear and Tear

Stress, medications, diet and neglect are but a few of numerous ways teeth are worn out, broken or lost.  A lifetime of abuse and neglect can leave a once beautiful, healthy smile debilitated.  

Clenching and grinding can result in premature tooth wear and pain.  Stress and some medications can cause this abnormal jaw movement.  “TMJ” can be a painful result of untreated clenching and/or grinding.  If left untreated form and function of the teeth will be adversely affected as well as possible tooth loss.

Chronic dry mouth is a common side effect of many over-the-counter and prescription medications. Saliva is the body’s way of combating the harmful effects of bacteria in the mouth and without it can lead to cavities, gum recession and enamel lose.

Mouth moisturizers, drinking lots of water and closely monitoring the diet will help keep the detrimental effects of bacteria at bay.   

Diet can have a profound long term effect on the health of teeth.  Exposure to dietary acid and refined sugar can result in tooth loss due to decay and acid erosion of the teeth.  Many foods and drinks contain both of these harmful substances.  Reading ingredient labels is a must for maintaining a healthy mouth.

Pain, bleeding gums, sensitivity, and bad breath can all be indicators that it’s time for a visit to the dentist.  Regular dental check-ups can identify small, easily fixed problems before they turn into large, costly ones.  A check-up and cleaning is recommended at least every 6 months.  As Benjamin Franklin once said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

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