Your smile is one of the most important parts of your appearance, and helps you make a good first impression. If you’re uncomfortable with the way your teeth look, it can interfere with your ability to interact with others and can affect your quality of life. However, there are ways you can keep your teeth white and your smile bright.
Everyday Hygiene for Clean, White Teeth
Everyday dental hygiene is the first step in maintaining a bright, clean smile. Brush and floss daily to prevent decay and to remove staining agents from the surfaces of your teeth. You can also avoid foods and beverages that can discolor your tooth enamel, including:
- Dark-colored fruits and vegetables
Tobacco is also a major staining agent, and can cause numerous other dental issues that can detract from the look of your smile.
If your teeth tend to develop mild discoloration over time, a whitening toothpaste can help remove these stains. This type of toothpaste usually uses baking soda as a gentle abrasive to remove discoloration. This is effective for stains on the surfaces of the teeth. Other types of staining should be evaluated by a dentist to determine the best approach for treatment.
What to do If Your Teeth Are Stained
If everyday cleaning, even with a whitening toothpaste, does not restore your smile, ask your dentist about other forms of treatment. In-office, professional-strength whitening is a popular and highly effective approach that can lighten your teeth five to ten shades in a single, hour-long treatment.
If your teeth do not respond to whitening treatment, or if you have intrinsic staining, you might consider dental veneers. Intrinsic staining affects the deeper layers of the enamel and usually does not respond to whitening. It’s usually caused by exposure to certain antibiotics or to excess fluoride while your teeth were developing. Talk to our cosmetic dentist about options that can give you a white, welcoming smile if your teeth are affected by intrinsic staining.
One common reason to visit the dentist is to diagnose and treat a toothache. Although you should not wait until you are experiencing discomfort to make an appointment with the dentist, if you are experiencing a toothache or other symptoms that there may be a problem, it is important to seek treatment.
What Causes a Toothache?
Toothaches can occur due to a variety of problems with your teeth. Most people assume that if they have a toothache it’s because of a cavity, but in most cases cavities do not produce symptoms. If tooth decay has progressed far enough that you are experiencing discomfort, it usually means the tooth has been significantly damaged.
Some of the most common causes of toothache include:
- Damage to the tooth enamel
- Damage to the tooth’s interior
- Impacted tooth
To alleviate symptoms from these issues, you’ll need to see your dentist. If your tooth is decayed, a restoration can eliminate your discomfort. Severe damage, however, might required root canal therapy or extraction.
Symptoms of Toothache
A toothache can produce other symptoms in addition to discomfort in the tooth. You might also experience these symptoms without extreme discomfort. Anything that feels unusual or uncomfortable in your mouth could indicate an underlying problem that should be treated.
Other symptoms that should be brought to your dentist’s attention include:
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
- Redness or swelling in the gums
- Extreme sensitivity
- Persistent headache, earache, or aching in the jaw
Your dentist can evaluate your symptoms and determine if you need treatment to alleviate them. If your tooth is decayed, a filling or dental crown might be necessary. For impacted teeth or damage to the tooth’s interior, you will mostly likely require root canal treatment. Your teeth can also ache because other teeth are trying to emerge. This might require extraction, particularly in the case of wisdom teeth. With proper treatment, your dentist can alleviate your discomfort and often help you keep a tooth even if it has been severely damaged.
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For decades, amalgam fillings, made of a combination of several metals, have been the standard for restoring decayed teeth. In recent years, however, more people have turned to tooth-colored fillings because they are more realistic looking. Some people have also decided against amalgam because of concerns about the mercury included in the mix of metals.
What are Amalgam Fillings?
If you’ve needed a filling recently, chances are your dentist offered you a choice between traditional amalgam fillings and tooth-colored fillings. You might have even discussed the possibility of replacing your old fillings with new ones made of dental resin. Before you make this decision, it’s important to know the facts about dental amalgam and the advantages offered by alternative materials.
Dental amalgam is made of a mixture of metals that includes silver, tin, and copper mixed into liquid mercury, which binds it all together. It has been used in dentistry for about 150 years. It is relatively inexpensive and strong enough to keep your tooth intact in the presence of normal wear and tear. Some people have expressed concern that the mercury in the amalgam releases small quantities of mercury vapor that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. To date, no studies have proven any severe side effects related to this phenomenon. However, this concern, as well as other considerations, has led many patients to choose tooth-colored alternatives that do not contain mercury.
Advantages of Tooth-Colored Fillings
Tooth-colored fillings—also called composite fillings—are made of a resin that bonds to the tooth in a way that amalgam cannot. This can help hold a tooth together if it has experienced minor cracks or other damage that can be caused by cavities. Other advantages of composite fillings include:
- They do not respond to changes in temperature
- They cannot conduct temperature to the tooth’s interior
- Your dentist generally has to remove less of the tooth to make room for the filling
- They can be used to modify the tooth’s shape if necessary
If you need a filling, be sure to talk to your dentist about your options. Also check with your insurance company to find out their policy on tooth-colored fillings versus dental amalgam.
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Almost everyone will have to have a tooth extraction at one time or another. Most commonly, the wisdom teeth must be extracted when there is not enough room for them in your mouth. If you take good care of yourself after you have your tooth removed, you should have a smooth and uneventful recovery.
Tooth Extraction Aftercare
It’s important to take good care of yourself after you’ve had a tooth removed. Diligent aftercare reduces the likelihood of infection and also helps prevent dry socket. Your dentist or oral surgeon will provide you with guidelines for how to treat yourself during your recovery. A typical aftercare regimen includes:
- Avoid strenuous exercise for a day or two
- Use gauze to control any bleeding
- Rinse gently with warm salt water
- Take any and all medications your dentist prescribes to control discomfort and prevent infection
- Avoid using a straw for several days
- Avoid brushing over the extraction site
- Report any unusual symptoms to your dentist as soon as possible
Immediately after your tooth is extracted, a blood clot forms in your mouth to protect the empty socket. If this blood clot becomes dislodged, it can create a very uncomfortable condition called dry socket. If you are careful about brushing, avoid using a straw, and rinse your mouth gently rather than vigorously, you should be able to avoid this issue.
Why Would I Need a Tooth Extraction?
There are many reasons why you might need to have a tooth removed. In the case of wisdom teeth, dentists usually recommend removal when there is not enough room in the mouth to accommodate the new tooth. This often leads to compaction, in which the tooth is wedged against an adjacent tooth or the jawbone and is unable to emerge properly through the gums.
A severely damaged or infected tooth might also require removal. In some cases, your dentist might extract the tooth to make room for braces or other orthodontic appliances. No matter why your tooth is removed, it’s very important to take care of the empty socket as instructed by your dentist. If you are diligent and follow your aftercare instructions, you are much more likely to experience a successful recovery.
If you need an extraction, contact our office today to schedule a consultation!
Teeth whitening is a simple and popular way to spruce up the look of your smile. It is performed in your dentist’s office, and generally only takes about an hour. You can have your teeth whitened for a special occasion or simply because you would prefer your teeth to look whiter and brighter. If you take good care of your teeth after they are whitened, your new, brighter smile should last for several months.
Taking Care of Your Whitened Teeth
If you have had your teeth whitened, it is important to maintain good oral hygiene so they will remain white. If your teeth became discolored due to exposure to staining agents like coffee, tea, or nicotine, you should avoid these substances to prevent future staining. You should also brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth clean and healthy. A whitening toothpaste can help maintain the color of your teeth after treatment.
If you experience sensitivity after whitening, which is not uncommon, toothpaste for sensitive teeth can help reduce your discomfort. Ask your dentist for a recommendation if you are not sure about the best toothpaste to use. If you notice your teeth becoming a bit duller, you can have a touch-up treatment, which won’t take as long as your initial whitening.
How Teeth Whitening Works
Teeth whitening is a very common procedure in cosmetic dentistry. It involves placing a whitening agent on the surfaces of the teeth. Whitening performed in the dentist’s office uses a professional-strength whitener that is more effective than those you can acquire over the counter.
In-office tooth whitening is performed in the dentist’s chair. Typically, your dentist applies a coat of the bleaching agent and leaves it in place for about twenty minutes. It is then removed, and a new coating is applied. After the third application, your teeth will have lightened several shades. Over the next several days, your teeth will continue to lighten. The full effect of your teeth whitening treatment can be seen after three or four days.
For more whitening questions, contact our office today!
Taking good care of your teeth is a habit that can begin very early in childhood. The first visit to your family dentist can occur as soon as the first tooth arrives. However, even before baby teeth begin to emerge, you can start to establish good oral care habits that will serve your child well into adolescence and adulthood.
Taking Care of Your Baby’s Gums and Teeth
One of the most important things you can do for your child before the first baby teeth emerge is to accustom her to having her mouth cleaned. Use a small piece of gauze or a soft towel to wipe her gums after you feed her. This removes any milk or formula left behind that can attract bacteria. When the first tooth arrives, continue to use a soft cloth or gauze to clean it. Consult with your family dentist to determine the best time to start using a regular toothbrush and toothpaste.
A child’s first toothbrush should be small and soft. You should also use a toothpaste designed for children. Be careful not to use too much, as excess fluoride can be dangerous for a baby or small child. Until your child can maneuver a toothbrush on her own, you will have to brush her teeth for her. As she gets older, though, you can teach her to maintain her own oral hygiene routine.
As Your Child Gets Older
By the time your baby has become a toddler, she can start to learn to brush her teeth on her own. There are many tools available that are specifically designed for children, such as toothbrushes with larger handles that are more easily maneuvered by little hands. As your child gets a bit older, you can teach her to floss using similar child-friendly tools such as floss holders. You can find these in bright colors, and shaped like animals, which helps make tooth-cleaning time more fun.
If you have any questions about how to best take care of your child’s teeth, ask our family dentist for recommendations. He can let you know what types of toothbrushes and floss holders he recommends, or might even provide samples so you can check out different kinds and see which ones your child likes best.
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Gingival recession refers to a condition in which the gum tissue pulls away from the roots of the teeth, reducing the support given to your teeth. Extreme recession leads to tooth loss as the teeth become loose and eventually fall out. If you have problems with your gums, even if your symptoms are limited to minor inflammation, you should talk to your dentist about appropriate treatment.
Treatment for Gingival Recession
Early symptoms of gum disease include increased space between the gum tissue and the tooth roots. When you visit the dentist, he measures the depth of the pockets between the gums and the teeth. If these pockets are more than two or three millimeters deep, he will probably recommend treatment for gingivitis or early gum disease.
In its early stages, treatment for gum disease is relatively simple and non-invasive. Your dentist may recommend a special toothpaste, an antibacterial mouthwash, or treatment with antibiotics. As the infection becomes more serious, however, treatment becomes more difficult. In later stages, your dentist will probably recommend a deep cleaning procedure called planing and scaling. With planing and scaling, the dentist cleans between the gum tissue and the tooth and also smooths out the tooth root so there are fewer rough surfaces where bacteria can collect. If gum disease progresses even farther, you may require gum surgery, which usually involves grafting tissue from the roof of the mouth onto the gums to create sufficient tissue to support the teeth.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Although gum disease is difficult to diagnose in its early stages, there are some symptoms you can keep an eye out for. If you see any of these problems developing, be sure to bring them to the attention of your dentist:
- Bleeding when you brush your teeth
- An unusual color or appearance in gum tissue
- Persistent, extreme sensitivity
For the best chances of diagnosing gum disease before it becomes serious, be sure to visit your dentist regularly.
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Dental veneers are a very popular cosmetic dentistry treatment, largely because they are so versatile they can be used to address a wide range of problems. They are also less invasive than techniques used in the past to correct similar issues, such as dental crowns.
What are Dental Veneers?
Dental veneers are very thin shells made of porcelain that are affixed to the front of your teeth. They completely cover the tooth surface, disguising any features of the tooth you might find unattractive. They can also be shaped to be larger than the tooth to make disproportionately small teeth look larger, or to make asymmetrical teeth look more regular in comparison to the rest of your teeth.
Veneers are more natural looking than dental crowns because they are semi-translucent. Light penetrates the surface, then is reflected back. Your enamel reflects light in the same way. These reflective properties mean porcelain veneers have the same luster as enamel, making your teeth look less artificial. Veneers are also easy to apply. Your dentist can put them in place in two appointments—one to ready your teeth and to make molds and one to permanently affix the final, custom-made veneer.
Cosmetic Issues Treated with Dental Veneers
Dental veneers can improve the look of many problems you might have with your teeth. Some of the more common issues addressed with veneers are:
- Pitting on tooth surfaces
- Intrinsic discoloration
- Severe staining that doesn’t respond to tooth whitening
- Small gaps
- Minor misalignment
If you have any of these issues, ask your dentist if veneers are a good treatment option for you. In cases of misalignment or gaps, you might require orthodontic work. Veneers only disguise the issue rather than correcting it. Your dentist should evaluate your teeth to be sure the misalignment is only minor.
Veneers are a straightforward way to greatly improve the look of your teeth. With veneers, you can regain confidence in your appearance and smile freely again. Contact us at Bliss Dental to confer with our specialists and determine how you can freshen up your smile!
Preventive dentistry is the best way to keep your teeth healthy and your smile bright. You should brush and floss regularly, avoid foods that can cause tooth decay, and visit the dentist regularly. X-rays, dental exams, and professional fluoride treatments help ensure your teeth are as healthy as possible.
Taking Care of Your Teeth at Home
Everyday dental care is the most important component of successful preventive dentistry. Since childhood, we are told we should brush our teeth after every meal, floss once a day, avoid sugary foods and beverages, and drink milk to provide calcium for strong teeth and bones. These are more than just clichés—they’re pieces of an important foundation that can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy throughout your life.
In addition to avoiding sugary foods, you can take other measures to keep your teeth and gums healthy, including:
- Avoid foods high in acid, like sour candies and large quantities of citrus
- Don’t chew on ice, pens, or pencils
- Eat an overall healthy diet
- Visit your dentist regularly and report any unusual developments or symptoms
These guidelines can help you maintain excellent oral health throughout your life.
Why Are Dental Visits So Important?
Many people feel that if they take good care of their teeth on an everyday basis, they don’t need to visit the dentist. However, even the most diligent, everyday care can’t eliminate the need for regular examinations. Your dentist can help detect and diagnose many problems, many of which don’t produce symptoms, including:
- The beginning stages of decay
- Early stages of gum disease
- Signs of abnormal wear and tear
- Oral cancer
Your dentist has many tools available to him that you don’t, including X-rays, digital photography, and expert examination techniques. A dentist can often detect problems before they become serious and when they require much less complex and invasive treatments. Your dentist also supplies professional cleaning, which can remove tartar—something your toothbrush can’t effectively treat—and can provide fluoride treatments to prevent and in some cases even reverse decay.
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