Posts for: August, 2013
The “Hollywood Smile” — dazzlingly white — is associated in our society with youth, health and vitality. Achieving that smile through either professional or home whitening applications has become very popular.
Teeth become discolored or dull for a number of reasons. It can be something intrinsic with the teeth — changes in enamel or dental structure during development, inherited disorders, heavy exposure to fluoride or tetracycline, or changes in mineral structure or wear due to aging. It can also be extrinsic, resulting from environmental or lifestyle causes. Eating foods with tannins (red wine, coffee or tea) or carotene pigments found in plant foods like oranges or carrots, or using tobacco may all cause staining.
Most modern applications involve an oxidizing chemical (usually hydrogen peroxide) that bleaches the teeth. Professional applications in a dentist's office use high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide (usually 35 to 45%) applied directly to the teeth with control measures to protect the lips and gums. This type of application can lighten the color of teeth up to ten shades.
There are a number of home options too: whitening strips, “Paint on” or “Brush on” whitening, and even whitening gum. We can also provide you with a “Take home” kit that resembles the professional application but is generally less expensive. Although all these home applications are generally safe and effective, they typically take longer for results (several repeated days as opposed to about one hour for an office application), and not always to the same level of lightness as the professional.
Just about anyone can be a candidate for a whitening application. However, if you have thinner than normal dentin and more porous enamel, or suffer from gum recession or enamel loss, then whitening may increase tooth sensitivity. And, whitening is not a permanent solution: the brightness will fade over time, usually within a year. You can slow the fading by avoiding foods and habits that contribute to staining. It's also possible to touch up the initial whitening once or twice a year to extend the life of your new, bright smile.
If you would like more information on teeth whitening, 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 “Teeth Whitening.”
If you haven't seen a recent picture of Matthew Lewis, the actor who played Neville Longbottom in all eight Harry Potter movies, you may be in for a surprise: It seems the plump, awkward teenager from Gryffindor has been magically transformed into a post-Hogwarts hunk. What kind of wizardry did it take to change his memorably snarled teeth into a leading man's sparkly smile? The kind skilled cosmetic dentists perform every day!
While special effects created some of the character's dental disarray, the actor's own teeth were far from perfect. And, as Lewis recently noted, the film studio urged him to postpone cosmetic dental work until the movies were all done. “It was something I'd always wanted to do, but it would have meant me wearing a brace for two years,” he told an interviewer with the Yorkshire Evening Post. “Warner Brothers said if I put it off until we'd finished filming they'd pay for it — and they did.”
There are plenty of people, like the twenty-something actor, who put off orthodontic treatment until after their teen years. If you're wondering whether there's still time to get orthodontic work done, then take heart — it's never too late to straighten your teeth!
Today, an estimated twenty percent of orthodontic patients are adults. Compliance with the orthodontic program (meaning thorough regular brushing and flossing, wearing elastics, etc.) is often less of an issue with adults than with teens. Plus, there are some options that can help ensure your orthodontic appliances will fit in with a more mature image.
One is colorless braces. In this system, the brackets (the parts that are bonded to the front teeth and hold the archwire) are made of a clear ceramic material that blends in with the tooth's natural color. This makes them hard to see unless you look closely. Inconspicuous yet effective, clear braces have been the first choice of many celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and Faith Hill... and lots of “regular” adults too.
Another option is lingual braces. These are truly invisible, because they attach behind the teeth (on the tongue side) instead of in front. They work just like the standard braces, and they're appropriate in many situations. However their cost is higher, and the space they occupy in the mouth may take the wearer a bit of time to get used to.
A third option is clear aligners. Unlike braces, which aren't normally removed until orthodontic treatment is nearly complete, clear aligners are easily removable. They consist of a series of transparent trays made of special plastic, which are worn over the teeth 22 hours per day. Each tray in the series is worn for a few weeks, and each moves the teeth a small amount; all together, they can accomplish a big change.
Aligners work well for correcting mild to moderate malocclusion (bite problems). Plus, you can temporarily remove them for important social occasions. But best of all, they're virtually undetectable — so whether or not you play the role of a wizard in the movies, you won't need a magic spell to make them invisible!
Which option is right for you? That's something we would be happy to discuss. If you would like more information about adult orthodontic treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Orthodontics for the Older Adult.”