Posts for: April, 2011
What causes stains on teeth?
Staining can occur on the outside surfaces of teeth and is caused by foods such as red wine, coffee, and tea, as well as by tobacco use. They can also be developmental, affecting the structure of the teeth due to excessive fluoride levels or from tetracycline antibiotics given during childhood to name a few. Changes in a tooth's enamel or dentin during tooth formation, or as teeth age, can also cause discoloration.
What is going on inside a tooth's structure that makes it look stained?
Most of a tooth's covering (95 percent) is composed of highly mineralized enamel. The crystals of enamel are contained in a framework, or matrix, of organic matter. Dentists believe that various organic compounds that get into this matrix can cause staining.
How do whiteners work?
Tooth whiteners or bleaches expose the teeth to a peroxide compound. This creates reactive oxygen that breaks down highly colored organic compounds within the tooth's sub-surface matrix, making the tooth look whiter, but without changing its internal structure.
What professional in-office whitening techniques are available?
During treatment, a high concentration of peroxide solution in the form of a gel is applied directly on the teeth, often with activation by a heat or light source. These systems use custom tailored trays fitted to an individual's mouth. Silicone barriers or protective gels are used to keep the peroxide gel away from the gums or sensitive membranes in the mouth.
How are professional home whiteners different?
Home whiteners involve a less concentrated solution of peroxide in a gel form. It is delivered to the tooth surface by a bleaching tray that is custom-made in your dentist's office. Over-the-counter whiteners such as whitening strips or paint-on formulas can also be used, but they take longer and they're not as effective — the more diluted solutions are used for safety.
Can toothpastes really whiten teeth?
Mild abrasives in toothpastes clean surface stains but cannot change the underlying tooth color or remove significant staining.
How long do the results last?
Usually, the results last from six months to two years, but effects will diminish over time. You can make them last longer by avoiding the foods and habits that cause staining.
Are teeth whiteners safe to use?
Teeth whitening products are safe if used according to our recommendations or the product manufacturer's directions. Peroxide products may be toxic if used in excess of recommended intervals and amounts.
For adults with a reasonably well fitting bite, but mild to moderate crowding or spaces between your teeth, clear orthodontic aligners can be an ideal solution for straightening your teeth. This is why we offer this treatment option to our patients experiencing these issues. However, for those of you who are unfamiliar with what they are or how they work, this will give you a brief understanding.
Clear orthodontic aligners consist of a series of clear “trays” that fit snuggly over all teeth to slowly shift them into alignment. Patients are typically required to wear them 20 hours per day for about 2 weeks before progressing to the next tray. With each new tray, you are one step closer to achieving your goal of perfectly aligned teeth. The entire process usually lasts 6-18 months depending on how much movement is required to achieve the goals.
Each aligner is individually made from very precise molds of the patient's teeth to ensure proper fit. And we map out the entire alignment process using computer generation from each patient's initial molds so that we can identify the number of trays required. But best of all, clear orthodontic aligners are perfectly smooth with no rough edges like traditional braces, and you can remove them for eating, brushing, and flossing teeth as well as for brief social events.
If you are insecure about your misaligned crooked teeth, then you may be a perfect candidate for clear orthodontic aligners. This system is an alternative to traditional braces that uses a sequence of individual, clear, removable “trays” that fit over your teeth to gradually straighten them. Each tray is completely clear and covers all the teeth thus making it virtually invisible. Each tray is designed to slightly move the teeth until the teeth are in proper alignment. Typically, each tray must be worn for 20 hours a day for 2 weeks before progressing to the next tray in the sequence with each tray moving you closer towards your goal — perfectly aligned teeth.
However, clear orthodontic aligners are not for everyone. If you are interested and wonder if they can benefit you, contact us so that we can schedule an appointment for a thorough evaluation to assess your specific situation. Below, we have briefly outlined some situations when they will and will not work.
Clear orthodontic aligners work if...
- You have mild to moderate crowding or spacing issues between teeth
- Back teeth fit together properly
They may not be the right choice if...
- You have moderate to severe crowding or spacing issues between teeth
- When your bite does not align properly (for example, if you have a large over-, under-, or cross-bite)
- When your teeth are “rotated” way out of position; such misaligned teeth will require special or complex techniques to rotate them back into position, or to pull them down into place or to fill the space left after pulling a tooth to resolve excessive crowding of teeth
Want to learn more?
When speaking about veneers in dentistry, many people wonder what they are really made from and how they produce such natural results. The answer is dental porcelain...and yes, it really is a type of porcelain or glass. Even though they are made of porcelain, not all porcelains are the same. This is one reason there can be such a wide price range when comparing porcelain veneer pricing from one dentist to another. For example, the quality of the dental porcelain used and the expertise of the dental lab artisans greatly impact the price of a veneer — just like other pieces of fine art, pricing depends upon the materials used and the artistry of the person creating them.
Dental porcelains are used to create veneers because of their near ideal optical properties in mimicking natural teeth in shine, opacity, and translucence. And when you combine these facts with the artistry of the lab technician and your dentist skill's in placing the veneers, you begin to understand how veneers are virtually undetectable in cosmetically-enhanced teeth. Another reason for using dental porcelain is that they can be made in many colors, shades and translucencies to enhance the optical properties and natural beauty of whiter, brighter, and visually appealing teeth. However, do not let the word porcelain, fool you when it comes to durability. While veneers are not as strong as natural teeth they are not so fragile that you should worry about breaking or damaging them with normal wear and tear. However, you should avoid biting into extremely hard substances; using your veneers as a tool in lieu of scissors, tweezers, or pliers (you should not use your natural teeth as a tool either!); and twisting your veneers when biting into harder substances.