Dentist Blog

Posts for tag: cosmetic dentistry

By Northside Family Dentistry
May 12, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures

Are tooth-colored fillings safer than silver fillings?
No. Both are considered safe based on the most reliable and up-to-date scientific evidence. Still, tooth-colored fillings do have some definite advantages. Not only do they blend in with your smile far better than “silver” (dental amalgam) fillings, but they often require less removal of healthy tooth structure. That’s because in order to fill a tooth with amalgam, it is necessary to create indentations in the tooth called “undercuts” to hold the amalgam in; this requires the removal of some healthy tooth material. With a tooth-colored filling, we need only remove the decayed part of the tooth to place the filling.

Are there any disadvantages?
Yes, tooth-colored fillings don’t always wear as well as metal fillings — particularly on back molars where they are subjected to the most stress from chewing. They are also more expensive and less likely to be fully reimbursed under dental insurance plans.

Are there different types of tooth-colored fillings?
Yes, three different choices of tooth-colored fillings are available:

  • Composite — This mixture of plastic and glass is the most common type of tooth-colored filling. Newer materials can hold up almost as long as amalgam fillings and look very natural, though they can stain over time just as natural teeth do.
  • Porcelain — High-tech dental ceramics are considered the most aesthetic choice of filling material. They don’t stain as composites can, but their relatively high glass content can make them more brittle and prone to breakage. They may be more expensive than composites.
  • Glass Ionomer — Made of acrylic and glass powders, these inexpensive, translucent fillings blend in acceptably well with natural teeth and have the advantage of releasing small amounts of fluoride to help prevent decay. However, they generally don’t last as long as other restorative materials.

We would be happy to offer guidance on which choice would be best in your own unique situation.

If you have any questions about tooth-colored fillings, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth-Colored Fillings.”

By Northside Family Dentistry
March 18, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures

Think you already know all about dentures? Answer the following questions, and see whether your understanding of false teeth is more true than false.

True or False: About one-quarter of the U.S. population has none of their own teeth left by the age of 65.

Answer: True

The technical term for the complete loss of all permanent teeth is edentulism, and it's a big issue, affecting 26% of adults between 65 and 74 years of age. Without treatment, many individuals not only suffer a reduced quality of life, but also risk nutritional problems and systemic health disorders. Dentures are a reliable and affordable way to replace their missing teeth.

True or False: Tooth loss has nothing to do with bone loss.

Answer: False

Far from being a fixed, rigid substance, bone is actually growing and changing constantly. In order for it to stay healthy, bone needs constant stimulus. For the alveolar bones of the jaw, this stimulus comes from the teeth; when they are gone, the stimulus goes too, and the bone resorbs or melts away. The missing bone mass can cause changes in facial features, difficulties with eating, speech problems and other undesirable effects.

True or False: Once the teeth are gone, there is little that can be done to mitigate bone loss.

Answer: False

While a certain amount of bone loss is unavoidable, it can be minimized. The techniques of bone grafting may be used to create a “scaffold” on which the body can restore its own bone tissue. Bone loss can also be limited by retaining the roots of teeth that had previous root canal treatment, even when the crowns must be removed. Perhaps the best way to limit long-term bone loss is the use of dental implants, which restores function and prevents excessive resorption from tooth loss. When tooth loss is inevitable, a pre-planned transition to dentures offers the opportunity to retain as much bone as possible, and avoid future problems.

True or False: There are many options available to make wearing dentures a fully functional and comfortable experience.

Answer: True

Fabricating prosthetic teeth is a blend of science and art. Not only must the appearance of the teeth and gums be made to look natural, but the fit has to be exact and the bite must be balanced. After a little practice, most people subconsciously adapt to the slightly different muscular movements required when wearing dentures. For those few who have difficulty, hybrid forms of implant-supported dentures may offer an alternative. In all cases, developing a partnership of trust between a skilled clinician and an informed patient is the best way to ensure that the experience will be a success.

If you would like more information about dentures, 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 “Removable Full Dentures.”

By Northside Family Dentistry
January 23, 2014
Category: Dental Procedures

Australian heartthrob Hugh Jackman has won international recognition for his work on stage, screen and television, including his long-running portrayal of Wolverine in the X-Men film series, and his Academy-Award-nominated starring role in Les Miserables. Oh, and did we mention he was named the “sexiest man alive” by People magazine in 2008? So when Jackman once said “I have shocking teeth”… what did he mean?

“[My dentist] looked at my teeth and went, ‘Oh, my God, you've got gray teeth,’” the actor stated. The proposed cure: tooth whitening. But what if the action hero's teeth were brightened too much — would his look still convey his trademark rugged charm? To see how that issue was resolved, let's look a little closer at various methods of tooth whitening.

All Whitening Isn't the Same
Everyone has seen the kind of over-the-counter tooth whitening strips advertised in magazines and sold in drug stores. Most dentists agree that, given enough time, they can work in many cases. But there may be problems, too.

One is that unless you know what's actually causing the darkening, you can't be sure if there is an underlying issue that needs treatment — a root-canal problem, for example. Bleaching a diseased tooth is like painting over a rusty car: it camouflages the problem, but doesn't fix it. That's one reason why, before any whitening treatment is attempted, it's important to have a complete dental examination, with x-rays.

Another is that without professional supervision, it's more difficult to control the degree of whitening you will end up with. For safety reasons, over-the-counter whitening products have the least concentrated bleaching agent, and will probably require weeks of use to produce noticeable results. The next step up — a custom-designed, at-home bleaching kit from our office — will likely produce results twice as fast.

The Professional Advantage
At-home bleaching done under our supervision uses stronger whitening agents with a flexible plastic tray that's custom-made to fit your teeth. It's a cost-effective way to achieve several shades of whitening in a relatively short time. Plus, with the advantage of our experience and guidance, you can get excellent results safely and efficiently.

If you want the fastest and most controllable whitening, however, in-office whitening treatments are the best way to go. According to one study, using the most concentrated whiteners in a safe clinical setting produced a six-shade improvement in just three office visits! This would have required a week or more of at-home bleaching, or upwards of 16 daily applications of the over-the-counter whitening products!

In-office whitening also offers the greatest degree of control over the outcome. That's why it was the method Hugh Jackman chose for his treatments. By adjusting the concentration of the bleaching solution and the treatment time, Jackman's dentist made sure his teeth were pleasingly light — but still looked completely natural. And in our office, we can do the same for you.

So whether you're looking for a dazzlingly bright smile or a more subtle enhancement, the best way to start is to call our office for a consultation. For more information, see the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered” and “Teeth Whitening.”

By Northside Family Dentistry
August 14, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures

The world is full of options to improve your appearance. But if you really want a dramatic change for the better, don't overlook one of the more prominent features of your face — your smile. The field of cosmetic dentistry has developed a vast array of procedures, techniques and materials to work this transformation.

First, though, it's important to undergo a smile analysis. During this review, we examine the major components of your current smile: the condition of your teeth and their alignment; their natural color and hue; your gum health; and the relationship between your upper and lower jaws. We then analyze these findings in context with the shape of your face, your eyes and your skin. Any changes we propose to make to your smile must fit with this bigger picture.

Of course, nothing is more foundational to a beautiful smile than good, basic hygiene. Besides a daily regimen, regular visits to our office for cleaning and polishing not only remove entrenched decay-causing plaque or tartar, but also staining that can spoil your appearance. Whitening procedures, at home or in our office, can also brighten up an otherwise drab smile.

But what if you have chipped or broken teeth, or some other abnormality? That's where our artistry as a cosmetic dentist can truly make a difference. In some cases, using bonding materials, tooth-colored restorations or veneers may be the best option, if enough of the tooth structure is still intact. If not, porcelain crowns may be in order.

Nor are we limited to those options. Your particular situation may call for a more integrated approach to smile enhancement. Orthodontics to realign teeth and treat for malocclusion (where the teeth on the upper and lower jaws do not meet properly) could be part of that approach, as well as replacing missing teeth with dental implants that replicate the teeth they replace.

The key is to devise the best approach that couples reality with your expectations. It will change not only your smile, but also your life.

If you would like more information on cosmetic dentistry, 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 “Cosmetic Dentistry: A Time for Change..”

By Northside Family Dentistry
June 14, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures

Dental professionals sometimes use specialized words, and you may not be clear about exactly what we mean. Test yourself on some of the specialized vocabulary concerning tooth whitening. How many of the following can you define correctly?

1. Bleaching?
A method of making yellow, discolored teeth whiter. It is relatively inexpensive and safe, with few side effects.

2. External or extrinsic staining and whitening?
Extrinsic staining mainly results from diet and smoking. For example, foods such as red wine, coffee and tea can produce extrinsic stain. Teeth with these stains are bleached by placing whitening substance in direct contact with the living tooth surface.

3. Internal or intrinsic staining and whitening?
Intrinsic tooth discoloration is caused by changes in the structure of enamel, dentin, or pulp tissue deep within the root of the tooth. When the discoloration originates with the pulp tissue, root canal treatment may be needed to whiten the tooth from the inside.

4. Chromogenic material?
Color generating material that may get incorporated into the tooth's substance. It can be a result of wear and aging, or can be caused by inflammation within the tooth's pulp.

5. Carbamide Peroxide?
A bleaching agent discovered in the 1960s and frequently used for tooth whitening. When used, carbamide peroxide breaks into its component parts, hydrogen peroxide and urea, which bleach the colored organic molecules that have been incorporated between the crystals of the tooth's enamel.

6. Power Bleaching?
This technique is used for severely stained tooth. It uses a highly concentrated peroxide (35 to 45 percent) solution placed directly on the teeth, often activated by a heat or light source. This must be done in our office.

7. Tetracycline?
An antibiotic used to fight bacterial infections. It can result in tooth staining when taken by children whose teeth are still developing.

8. Rubber Dam?
Use of strong bleaching solutions requires protection for the gums and other sensitive tissues in your mouth. This is done using a rubber dam, a barrier to prevent the material from reaching your gums and the skin inside your mouth. Silicone and protective gels may also be used.

9. Whitening Strips?
Strips resembling band-aids that you can use in your home to whiten your teeth. They generally contain a solution of 10 percent or less carbamide peroxide gel. When using them, be sure to read the directions and follow them strictly to avoid injury or irritation.

10. Fade Rate?
The effects of bleaching may fade over time, from six months to two years. This is called the fade rate. It can be slowed down by avoiding habits such as smoking, along with food or drink that causes tooth staining.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss your questions about tooth whitening. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article, “Teeth Whitening.”