Tag Archives: teeth whitening

Can a Dental Flipper Make Teeth Look Straight?

I have crooked teeth but feel I am too old for braces. I’ve heard about a dental flipper that can snap onto your teeth and make them look straight. Will this really work?

Theresa

Dear Theresa,

A dental flipper

A dental flipper

I think whoever told you this had a dental flipper confused with the snap-on smile. A dental flipper is used to replace a missing tooth. It does not fit over a tooth. In case someone reading this is looking into tooth replacement options, a flipper is considered a temporary replacement. It’s inexpensive and people use it to give themselves a “tooth” while they save up for a permanent replacement, such as a dental implant.

Having a Straight Smile Without Braces

Snap-on Smile is something that will snap over your teeth in order to make them look better. They will not look stunning, like they would with porcelain veneers but they will look okay. They are more suitable for something like a photoshoot or one-night class reunion. They are made of acrylic and would need to be replaced every few years.

An image of Invisalign aligners

These days we have better options than ye olde fashioned traditional braces. Now, there is Invisalign. Instead of metal wires and brackets, it uses clear aligners. These are invisible, even at a conversational distance. These are more comfortable than braces and work in significantly less time.

You can go with the snap-on smile and it will give you a decent temporary solution. My suggestion, however, would be to plan long term and get Invisalign. It has an additional hidden benefit of enabling you to whiten your teeth at the same time as you straighten them. The aligners can double as teeth whitening trays. It is like getting a mini smile makeover at a fraction of the cost.

This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.
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Is a Cracked Crown a Dental Emergency?

I have five porcelain crowns. They have served me well for just over 15 years. With one, there has been a slight defect in it from the beginning. It was never before visible, but could only be felt by my tongue. Lately, it has changed. I can now see it and it feels more like a crack. I am assuming I have to replace the crown, which I am fine with. I am just wondering if it requires an emergency appointment. I don’t want it to break in public.

Allie

Dear Allie,

Gilbert CEREC Crown

While I would not consider this a dental emergency, I would not put it off either. Based on the changes you described, I would expect it to go sometime soon. It has had a good life. Given the amount of time you’ve had all of these crowns, I would expect that others will start to show their age soon too. You have a couple of choices here. You could replace the dental crowns all at once, or you can just replace them one at a time. There are benefits to both.

If you get them done all at once, you will be done with it. Though, of course that is a bigger chunk of money at once. If you do them one at a time, you can pay a little at a time, but you will be making trips to the dentist more often, possibly at unexpected and inconvenient times. It really is six of one; half a dozen of the other. It’s just which inconvenience is the least problematic for you.

One thing to be aware of is that you don’t want a dentist saying you have to replace them all at the same time in order for them to match. That tells me the dentist does not have adequate cosmetic skill. Speaking of aesthetics. If you want to whiten your teeth, the time to do it is now before you have the new crown made. This way, the crown can be made to match the new whiter color. It is certainly not required. I just wanted you to be aware that teeth whitening only works on natural tooth structure so the crowns themselves will not whiten.

This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.

Options for a Tooth Gap

I have an 8mm gap in my front teeth. My dentist is suggesting I get Lumineers to fix that but I’m a bit nervous about that. I see the Lumineers have mixed reviews. Are there other options for me that do not include 3 years in metal braces?

Cameron

Dear Cameron,

An image of Invisalign aligners

Whatever you do, please do not allow your dentist to do Lumineers on your teeth. For one, 8mm is enough space for a whole other tooth. This is a very complicated case for any brand of porcelain veneers and you are correct that Lumineers is touch and go at best. This is due to two factors.

1. They are highly advertised to inexperienced cosmetic dentists. You would need one of the top 1% of cosmetic dentists for your particular case.
2. The company that owns Lumineers insists dentists use their lab, which is not known for having excellent results.

My suggestion would be for you to get Invisalign. This can straighten your teeth and close that gap in half the time of traditional braces. Not only that, they can do it invisibly. There are no metal wires and brackets. Instead, Invisalign uses clear aligners. These are much more comfortable and, because they are removable, it is simple for you to brush and floss your teeth.

They have an additional hidden benefit of allowing you to whiten your teeth at the same time. This is because the aligners can double as teeth whitening trays. It is like getting a mini smile makeover at a fraction of the cost.

This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.

Invisalign and Retainers

I am on my last pair of aligners and need to move out of state. It is rather sudden, but my mother had a stroke and will need a lot of care. I can work from anywhere so I’m going to move there to be closer to her. I don’t know if I will need to find a new Invisalign dentist or if any dentist can give me the retainer I need. I was told it is important to wear a retainer for a while. How do I handle that?

Amanda

Dear Amanda,

An image of Invisalign aligners

I am sorry to hear about your mother. It is wonderful how you are stepping up to take care of her. You will not have to find another Invisalign dentist to finish out your treatment. You are already on your last pair of aligners so you won’t need any further aligners.

Your dentist is correct that you will need a retainer. It is important in order to get your teeth used to their proper alignment. Without that, they will begin to shift again. The good news is, your final pair of aligners can double as a retainer for you. This will take one burden off of your shoulders while you care for your mother. Follow these directions carefully and you shouldn’t have any problems.

Using Invisalign as a Retainer

  • Step One: Wear them as you have been for your treatment for about a month, only taking them out to eat as well as brush or floss.
  • Step Two: Wear them only at night for a month
  • Step Three: Wear them every other night for a couple of months, doing a shift check after the first few days.
  • Shift Check: If when you try to place your aligners in, they seem a tad more difficult than before, it means your teeth have shifted and you need to go back one step.
  • Step Four: Back off a tad more by wearing them once every three or four days for a month or two, being careful to do shift checks.
  • Step Five: Wear them once a week for a month.
  • Final Step: Leave them out completely.

One word of caution here. Make sure you keep your aligners around and periodically give your teeth a check.

Cosmetic Double Duty with Invisalign

There is another benefit to having your Invisalign aligners around. They can double as teeth whitening trays. This will allow you to whiten your teeth while keeping them straight. All your dentist will have to provide you with is the professional strength gel, which will save you a lot of money.

Best of luck to you and your mother.
This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.

Must I Go to an Oral Surgeon to Get Dental Work Done?

My dentist tried to numb me for two different procedures. Neither time worked. I’ve always ended up having to go to an oral surgeon and have my work done with an I.V. that knocks me out. That makes getting any dental care quite expensive. Am I condemned to spending a fortune and still not having healthy teeth? Have you heard of someone in my situation before? Is there a different solution?

Matt

Hi Matt,

Someone asleep from dental sedation

Yes, I think I know exactly what is going on here. The great news for you is there is a solution. One thing I’ve found is that patients with dental anxiety have trouble getting numb. Sometimes it will seem like the numbing medication is working but once the work starts, they can feel pain. However, if they can be relaxed with something like nitrous oxide before the Novocain is administered, then when they are relaxed give them the numbing medicine, it works almost every time.

Some patients have such a high level of anxiety that they need a stronger level of sedation. For those patients, I recommend oral conscious sedation.

For either of these, you will not have to see an oral surgeon. Just do an internet search for a “Sedation Dentist”. They are able to help you in the office, saving you a good amount of money. You will also find that if you use oral conscious sedation, your dentist will be able to do a lot more work in each sitting. This will allow you to catch up on your work more efficiently. In fact, you’ll probably sleep through all the work.

One thing to be aware of, however, is oral conscious sedation, though administered with a simple pill, is so strong you will need someone to drive you to and from your appointment.

Once you’ve caught up with your work, if you’re looking for a quick, inexpensive way to improve the appearance of your smile quickly, I’d consider teeth whitening. That one procedure takes years off the appearance of your smile.

This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.

How Much is Too Much Dental Work to Get at One Time?

Hello,

My dentist recommended I get a lot of dental work – both cosmetic and general work. I need some cavities filled, one tooth filed down, and several root canals done. I’d also like to get my teeth whitened at this time. Can I get all of this done at once? Or will it take multiple visits?

Tammy, from Mesa, Arizona.

 

Hi Tammy,

To get the most work done at once, you’ll need a sedation dentist. The dentist will put you under oral conscious sedation. Without the sedation, it varies from dentist to dentist how much they will do at one time.

The procedures you need done are not complicated. However, it depends on where in your mouth you need the root canals done. It will take double the time if the root canals are needed in the back of your mouth, versus the front. Your best bet may be to see an endodontist for the root canals, as they are the most experienced and can work fastest.

If you have an experienced root canal dentist or endodontist that can work quickly, your appointment can be completed in about four hours. However, this also depends on your endurance. Without sedation, it may be best to break up the appointments.

This blog post is brought to you by Gilbert dentist, Dr. Roper, of Vista Dorada Dental.

 

Can I whiten a bonded area on my tooth?

I had a little black space near my gums covered with dental bonding a few weeks ago. I love having that space filled because I really self-conscious about it. It looks like my bonding is turning yellow, though. My husband says it’s not, but I swear it’s more yellow than it was when I got it put on. I typically brush with baking soda and that’s not helping.  I have a tooth whitening tray from my dentist a year ago. Should I try it on my bonding?

Amelia, Four Corners area

Amelia,

Baking soda is not your best option on dental bonding or porcelain veneers. It is very abrasive and can cause damage to the glaze on the bonding or veneers. The baking soda may be what has made your bonding turn yellow. If the polish has been compromised, that area may be more susceptible to stains from food or drinks, such as berries, coffee, or tea.

The problem could just be the bonding material itself.  If your dentist wasn’t experienced in cosmetic dentistry, there’s a chance that the materials he used weren’t quality materials. It may have caused the area to yellow.

How do I fix my yellowed bonding?

As you said you had this bonding done a few weeks ago, you should return to your dentist and ask about the coloration of your bonding.  Ask if they can repolish that area. Unfortunately, as with porcelain veneers, no whitening will work. Actually, with bonding, whitening can actually make that area look worse because it will whiten the tooth around the bonding and leave the bonded area the color it is.

If you can resolve the coloring issue with your bonding with your dentist, look for a specialty toothpaste designed specifically for bonded areas or porcelain veneers, such as Supersmile toothpaste. If your dentist can’t remedy this, you may need to see another cosmetic dentist. That area may not need to be completely redone, but may be corrected with just better materials.

This post is sponsored by Vista Dorada Dental in Gilbert, AZ.

 

Should I whiten and straighten before porcelain veneers?

I am thinking about getting porcelain veneers since I don’t love my front teeth, especially my top ones.  I have looked a little and know it’s expensive to get porcelain veneers, so if I’m going to get them, I want them to look the best they can.  Should I do teeth whitening and invisalign before I get veneers so my teeth will be perfect when I’m done?

Thanks,
KC, San Diego

Dear KC,

Someone's "perfect" smileYou mentioned you wanted perfect teeth. “Perfect” for you may mean something different than another patient. “Perfect” may be dazzling white and perfectly straight teeth.  Maybe “perfect”  is whiter, straighter, natural-looking teeth that are better than what they are now. No matter what your definition of perfect is, it is important to consider your answers before spending the money on porcelain veneers, whitening, or invisalign.

Should I whiten before getting porcelain veneers?

If you are unhappy with the general color of your teeth before veneers, whitening is a step that needs to happen before you start the porcelain veneers. Veneers themselves do not whiten. Good cosmetic dentists will match the color of your porcelain veneers to your regular teeth so they look more natural. If you want the new veneers to be matched to whiter teeth, complete this step before you start the porcelain veneers.

Should I straighten my teeth before porcelain veneers?

It is not necessary to straighten  crooked teeth before you start. That’s one of the beauties of porcelain veneers. They can make your teeth look straight. Invisalign isn’t necessary.  It won’t affect the placement of the veneers and will save you a lot of money, especially if your teeth aren’t too crooked. If you are generally not happy that several of your teeth, top or bottom, are crooked and you are only planning to get a couple of veneers, it may be something to consider.

The best path for you to take to get the smile you want is to discuss your “perfect” teeth with a cosmetic dentist. Ask for his or her opinion about your treatment plan. Discuss your options so you are comfortable and happy with what the outcome will be before you start anything.

This post is sponsored by Vista Dorada Dental in Gilbert, AZ.

 

 

Are CEREC Crowns as Reliable as Regular Crowns?

At my last check-up, my dentist said I need three crowns. I wasn’t too surprised I needed them, but he’s pretty insistent I get CEREC crowns. My insurance doesn’t cover those and they’re more expensive. I’m not sure I want to invest in something more expensive just because it’s the newest thing unless I know it’s as reliable as the regular crowns. Do you have an opinion on this?

Louis A.

Dear Louis,

A CEREC Machine
When Should You Get a CEREC Crown?

A lot of whether or not a dental crown is reliable depends more on the dentist than anything else. Some dentists get better results than others. However, there are times when a CEREC crown is better than a traditional one. There are times it’s the other way around as well.

Because they’re computer milled, CEREC crowns often fit better. They do well in front and side teeth, but aren’t always strong enough for back teeth. For those, you may prefer a zirconia crown or a porcelain fused to metal crown.

Their biggest benefit is you can have your three crowns done in one visit, without a temporary crown. Other than that, everything else truly depends on the skill of your dentist.

If you decide you want a CEREC crown, your dentist can bill the insurance for the regular crown and you just pay the difference, which isn’t too substantial.

Some Considerations with CEREC Crowns

Placement is the biggest issue. If it’s going to be visible and you’ve ever wanted to whiten your teeth do the teeth whitening before you have the crown milled. If it’s a visible side tooth, that should be sufficient for an attractive looking smile.

However, if it’s a front tooth, you’ll want a traditional crown. CEREC crowns are milled out of a single block of porcelain which, though beautiful does not have all the subtleties necessary for a front tooth. You’ll want something sculpted from various blocks so that the right level of translucency comes across at the appropriate parts of the tooth. Otherwise, it can look a little flat compared to the tooth next to it. You’ll know it’s a little different without knowing why. It will still be attractive, just not as attractive as it could have been.

Again, each dentist’s skills vary in this area, so ask to see sample before and after pictures of their work.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.

Does Affordable Dentistry Mean Slow Results?

I’m curious if affordable dentists take longer to get results than other dentists. I’ve always had bad teeth. I kept thinking I’d be able to afford more dental care as I got older. But, I’m 40 now and still have horrible teeth. Realizing it’s now or never, I searched for an affordable dentist so I could get started. I’ve been going monthly for almost two years and still see no difference in my teeth. My teeth are stained and crooked. Every time I bring up braces he just says, “Let’s get those teeth and gums healthy first.” I’m discouraged. After two years, I figured I’d see a difference. Am I being ripped off? Would it go faster with a more costly dentist?

Nell M.

Dear Nell,

Affordable Dentist

There are a few things going on here. But, first, I will say that an affordable dentist should work equally as effectively as the highest priced dentists. The two things you’re concerned about, the color and crookedness of your teeth are cosmetic issues. Generally, you get the teeth healthy, then start on the cosmetics. However, you should already be noticing a brighter smile. Your teeth are being regularly cleaned, so they should be at least a tad whiter.

If you do the cosmetics too soon it can be detrimental to your goals. For instance, if you have gum disease (and it sounds like you do), getting braces to straighten your teeth before your gums are healthy will cause your teeth to come loose and fall out. Then instead of straightening your teeth, you’re stuck replacing them.

Because you’re going to the dentist monthly instead of twice a year leads me to believe you have advanced gum disease. That’s your first priority. When that’s in check, there’s much more you can do cosmetically with your teeth.

One proactive step you can do on the cosmetic end, even while you have gum disease, is teeth whitening. I will warn you, the exposed areas where your gums have receded will be sensitive to the whitening gel. Though, with professional teeth whitening, it’s common for the dentist to custom design the trays to your bite. He can try to avoid those areas, while simultaneously making sure the coverage is such that you’ll have an even tooth color.

All of that being said, two years seem excessive with monthly visits. You should be able to spread them out more by now if he’s doing everything he can to help with your gum disease and you’re keeping up with your oral hygiene. You may consider getting a second opinion. Some dentists even give free second opinions so it may not even cost you anything.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Matt Roper.