You may have noticed, as you get older, that the enamel of your teeth is looking worn in certain areas. Sometimes tooth wear takes the form of a minor chipping or fracturing at the incisal (cutting) edges of the teeth, or a loss of tooth material from the area near the gum line. In more severe cases, worn teeth look quite a bit smaller than they used to. Why does this happen?
Some wear with age is natural. But too much wear can interfere with your bite, expose more sensitive inner parts of the tooth to decay, and give you a more aged appearance.
There are things you can control that affect wear:
Your habits: Clenching or grinding habits, also called “bruxism,” is a major cause of tooth wear. The motion of teeth sliding over each other with forces that are beyond what's normal for biting or chewing causes a mechanical removal of tooth enamel. This can happen during sleep or periods of high stress. In either case there are therapies available, such as a thin, professionally made mouthguard that prevents your teeth from coming into contact with each other. Holding foreign objects, such as nails and bobby pins, between your teeth can also cause wear.
Your diet: Tooth enamel can be eroded (dissolved away) by acidic beverages, such as sodas, sports drinks and juices. Frequent snacking on sugary foods encourages the growth of oral bacteria that produce acid as a byproduct — also leaving your teeth vulnerable to tooth decay. Your saliva can buffer the effects of the acid in your mouth in about half an hour; if you consume these types of foods and beverages continually, there won't be enough time for this to work.
We can restore the appearance and function of worn teeth in a variety of ways. Porcelain crowns and veneers, for example, can re-establish the normal thickness and length of teeth while improving their color and giving you a more youthful appearance.
If you have any questions about tooth wear, please contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more about tooth wear by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “How And Why Teeth Wear.”
Invitations, dresses, the cake, the photographer: there's so much to think about when planning your wedding. And remember to plan for one more thing, your smile. Your wedding photographs will record the magic of your wedding day forever, so you'll want your smile to look radiant. Bonus: you'll be providing for a lifetime of good oral health.
Start planning as far ahead as possible. We can help you select from the variety of treatments, therapies and procedures that can enhance your smile on that special day. Together, we'll assess your starting point, decide what needs to be changed, and create a plan of action. Remember that the bigger the changes you want to make, the longer they are likely to take.
Plan the indicated amount of time before your wedding for the following:
We can make sure that your wedding day smile makes you look and feel great, not just for those treasured photos, but for years to come. For many of these procedures, results can last a lifetime. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to prepare for your best wedding smile. For more information read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Wedding Day Smiles.”
If you don't like your smile when you look in the mirror, or feel self-conscious because your teeth are discolored, there are a variety of whitening procedures that can help you obtain the smile of your dreams.
Choosing the Right White: With strips, trays and toothpastes all claiming to be the best tooth whitening systems, it can be hard to choose how to whiten your teeth. Our office can help you decide the best approach based on your individual needs, time constraints and budget. Whiteners may not correct all types of discolorations.
Whitening in Our Office: This procedure is called chair-side or professional bleaching and may require more than one office visit. Each visit may take from 30 minutes to one hour. We use an in-office whitening gel that is professionally applied to your teeth and activated by a light source, giving you significantly whiter teeth in less than an hour. Typically, teeth with a yellowish hue respond best to whitening.
Whitening Your Teeth at Home: If you are an adult who practices good oral hygiene and doesn't suffer from periodontal disease, our office can help you decide whether an at-home whitening system, or having your teeth whitened in our office best meets your needs. If you decide to go with an at-home system, you will wear a custom-made whitening tray that looks like a thin, transparent night guard. You fill the tray with a mild whitening gel and need to wear the gel filled tray for a specified period of time each day (per our office's instructions). This procedure must be continued over a period of time that generally extends from 2-4 weeks.
Whitening Products Found in Stores: If you are considering over-the-counter whitening products we can also recommend products that will offer you the best results. Whitening toothpastes that have the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance contain special chemical or polishing agents that generally provide some stain removal effect.
If you've ever looked through a magazine and viewed the perfectly aligned white smiles of celebrities and models, you may be already familiar with the look of porcelain veneers. To achieve a picture-perfect smile, many Hollywood stars choose porcelain veneers (thin-layers of porcelain) that are bonded to the front of teeth allowing for the alteration of tooth position, shape, size and color. By fixing imperfections, as well as whitening them, veneers offer celebrities a perfect smile that, when maintained properly, can last for several decades.
Evaluation: If porcelain veneers sound appealing, our office can help you decide if you're a good candidate for them. We will ensure you have sufficient tooth structure, that your teeth are in more or less a normal position, and that symmetrical gum contours are present, allowing for proper “framing” of the teeth, necessary for a beautiful smile.
The Process: Once it's been determined that you're a good candidate for veneers, our office will begin a smile analysis using computer imaging to digitally replicate your smile and then fabricate a mock-up smile made of tooth-colored wax. We will work with you to determine the right color and shade for your veneers. You can choose the brightest, whitest “Hollywood smile” or opt for a more natural color and enhanced look.
Next Steps: After your initial appointment, it typically takes the laboratory one week to fabricate your porcelain veneers. The insertion of your veneers can be done with or without a local anesthetic. We will place the veneers on your teeth with a light-sensitive resin, which sets with the use of a white light, effectively bonding them to your teeth. While you may initially experience some tooth sensitivity to hot or cold, this will disappear after a few days. Maintaining your perfect smile requires simple brushing and flossing techniques and routine check ups.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss any questions you may have regarding porcelain veneers. Read more about this topic in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Smile Design, Enhanced by Porcelain Veneers.”
If you are pleased with your smile except for that one front tooth that appears darker, then we have good news for you. Often a tooth appears darker as a result of trauma that may have occurred years ago. Your tooth may need root canal treatment or may have already had root canal treatment in the past. Regardless, you can whiten this tooth via a process called internal bleaching. And as the name suggests, the tooth can be bleached from the inside out. Here's a brief summary of how this entire process works:
To learn more about this procedure and see amazing before and after images, continue reading the Dear Doctor article, “Whitening Traumatized Teeth.” Or, you can contact us to discuss your questions or to schedule an appointment.