There are lots of choices available in your drugstore to brighten your smile at home with teeth whitening products. How do you know which ones are worth your time and money? Knowing more about the methods and how they work may help you decide.
- Toothpaste – whitening ingredients are included in toothpaste to remove surface stains using mild abrasives or polishing agents. Toothpaste can slightly whiten your teeth over time, but doesn’t bleach or change tooth color.
- Strips – thin, invisible pieces of plastic coated with a low concentration whitening solution that you stick onto your teeth. Leave them on for up to 30 minutes a day for a couple of weeks.
- Gel – peroxide based gel that you paint onto your teeth with a small pen or brush and wear while sleeping overnight for two weeks or more.
- Trays – tray similar to a mouthpiece that you fill with a peroxide based gel and wear for a time period daily or overnight for up to a month.
- Light kits – a whitening gel that you apply to your teeth and then hold a special light to your teeth to quicken the whitening process. This can be repeated several times.
Most of these products work to varying degrees if you use them consistently and long enough. Products for home use contain much lower concentrations of whitening agents than professional methods, so you must use them longer. Faster and more dramatic results will occur from professional whitening methods.
Over-the-counter whitening products are safe, although some patients experience gum irritation or mild tooth sensitivity.
For the best results, consult your dentist first to ensure you are a good candidate for tooth whitening. Patients with sensitive teeth, gum disease, worn enamel, or other issues may find whitening uncomfortable. Choose name brands when you purchase whitening products, and look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance so you know the product has met safety and effectiveness standards. Limit drinks that are known to discolor teeth, such as coffee or red wine, and avoid smoking.
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Losing one or more teeth isn’t a problem only faced by older people. Damage from injuries, decay, and accidents can occur at any age. The outcome is the same, because for both aesthetic and functional reasons you’ll want to replace missing teeth. It is helpful to understand the options you have for tooth replacement so you can achieve the results you’d like. Here are three of the most common ways to replace missing teeth.
Dental implants are the newest alternative in the alternatives for tooth replacement. This is a very popular method because it achieves a goal that many patients have: to restore your mouth’s function and appearance without anyone being able to tell it’s there. Implants involve implanting a titanium device directly into your jaw. It takes the place of the original root structure of your missing tooth. Once the implant is surgically placed into your jaw and is allowed to heal, an artificial tooth is then attached to the implant. Dental implants restore your mouth’s function and appearance without any discomfort; most people forget they even have implants.
Often associated with seniors, dentures are typically a removable device that replicates lost teeth. Dentures can be full or partial, depending on the number of teeth missing. Your dentist takes a mold of your mouth to send to a specialized lab that creates customized dentures. The biggest complaint with dentures is the discomfort that sometimes accompanies them, such as coming loose or impacting your ability to speak or eat.
The main function of a dental bridge is just as the name implies: bridging the gap left by one or more missing teeth. You must have teeth on either side of the bridge to support the appliance. Your dentist will take exact measurements of your mouth so that a dental lab can make your bridge, and you will be fitted with a temporary bridge while you wait for the permanent bridge to be created. You will then return to your dentist for a final fitting when it is ready.
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One specialty area of dentistry is oral surgery, which involves the diagnosis and surgical treatment of defects, diseases, and injuries to the areas of the teeth, gums, jaws, head, and neck. Oral surgeons are specially trained to treat a variety of problems that general dentists do not typically handle. Here are some of the most common types of procedures that oral surgeons perform.
Restoring missing teeth
A very popular treatment in oral surgery is dental implants. This is a revolutionary way to have missing teeth restored to complete function and appearance. The surgery involves placing a titanium implant where the tooth’s root used to be, and then topping the implant with an artificial tooth. The outcome is a natural-looking and comfortable new tooth.
There are a number of reasons that teeth sometimes need to be surgically extracted. Primary teeth may not have fallen out and are preventing permanent teeth from erupting. Wisdom teeth can be partially or fully impacted and require removal. Sometimes teeth are simply beyond repair from decay or trauma, and also orthodontic treatment may require tooth removal for ideal results.
Corrective jaw surgery is sometimes necessary to repair bite problems, such as malocclusion. This issue can result in misaligned facial features or incorrect jaw position. Surgery can often successfully repair bites so that the teeth fit together well and there is no more pain or unsightly appearance.
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) pain and dysfunction can lead to difficulties eating, chewing, or opening and closing the mouth. Pain can be intense with TMJ, so sometimes surgery is the best treatment to offer relief.
Surgery may be the answer for trauma to the mouth, jaw, head, or neck. Whether the trauma is major or minor, an oral surgeon can determine if surgical treatment will provide benefits so the results of the trauma don’t last a lifetime.
Veneers are a terrific option to create a dazzling smile. These shells fit right over your real teeth to hide a variety of cosmetic problems. Veneers are typically made of porcelain, giving you a natural and long-lasting smile.
How are they applied?
Once you and your dentist decide that veneers are right for you, a small amount of your tooth enamel will be removed so that they fit correctly. An impression of your teeth will be made and sent to a dental lab for the veneers to be custom made. When they are ready, you will return to your dentist to have the veneers attached to your teeth with a special adhesive.
What are the benefits?
It is hard for others to tell you have veneers because they look very natural. They are shaped just for your smile, and you select the color. Veneers resist stains from things like coffee, red wine, and tobacco use. Veneers are also a great choice because they fit right over your own teeth, without requiring more extensive procedures.
Are there disadvantages?
Some patients experience increased tooth sensitivity after getting veneers due to the minor enamel removal. Also, veneers are permanent and the process cannot be reversed. Another thing to keep in mind is carefully choosing your veneer color, so that your smile isn’t overly white or unnatural.
Are veneers right for everyone?
Veneers are great for hiding chips, cracks, gaps, or uneven teeth. They are whiten teeth that haven’t responded well to other methods. Veneers may not work for patients with weak teeth from decay, large fillings, or fractures. Patients who grind their teeth or clench their jaws may also be poor candidates because consistent wear can crack or chip the veneers.
What about maintenance?
Veneers last ten years or more with good care. Practicing proper dental hygiene is important to avoid decay of your teeth under the veneers. Avoid nail biting or chewing on hard items like ice or pencils, which may break the thin veneers. Normal brushing and flossing is acceptable, and regular dental checkups are important in maintaining good oral health.
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