Through advances in modern cosmetic dentistry materials and techniques, the shape, color, and alignment of your teeth can be improved to give you a smile you’ve always wanted. The experts at Bedford Family and Laser Dentistry are here to help you put your best smile forward.
Tooth Bleaching – Whitening Your Smile
How we look and how we perceive ourselves has much to do with our self-esteem. When the color of our teeth makes us embarrassed to smile, it’s probably time to get those teeth whitened.
As we age, our teeth may darken from coffee, tea, tobacco, berries, and other substances that get into microcracks in the enamel, causing discoloration. Some people have gray or brown bands on their teeth caused by an early childhood fever or tetracycline medication that was taken when the tooth enamel was forming. In parts of the country where fluoride is found in naturally high concentrations in the drinking water, individuals have developed teeth with bright white patches or dark brown blotches (mottled enamel or fluorosis).
Not everyone is a candidate for bleaching. Teeth discolored from aging give the best results. If you have tooth-colored resin or composite fillings in your front teeth, they will not change color from bleaching and will stick out like a sore thumb after the procedure. If you would like to have your teeth whitened, then inform us at your next check-up visit. If you are not a good candidate, we can suggest alternatives such as bonding or porcelain veneers.
The Bleaching Process
There are various options for whitening your teeth, including in-office and at-home procedures. Depending on the level of staining and desired whiteness, an in-office procedure may involve several appointments of 30-60 minutes each. The bleaching agent is applied to your teeth and activated with a special light. For the at-home procedure, you will be given a custom-made mouthguard filled with a bleaching gel to be used for two hours daily, or at night, for approximately two weeks. Certain kinds of toothpaste have added whitening agents and can be used as an adjunct to the other two procedures. In any case, there is no reason for a person to suffer the embarrassment of discolored teeth.
Porcelain laminate veneers are probably the most aesthetic means of creating a more pleasing and beautiful smile through cosmetic dentistry. They require a minimal amount of tooth reduction (approximately .5 mm) and are a more conservative restoration than a crown. Porcelain veneers allow us to alter tooth position, shape, size, and color. They are also the only alternative for all aesthetic abnormalities.
Some facts you might want to know about porcelain veneers:
Since they require approximately .5mm of tooth reduction, porcelain veneers are NOT considered a reversible form of treatment.
Occasionally, the preparation of a porcelain laminate veneer does not require the use of local anesthetic. However, for patients who are particularly sensitive or anxious, a local anesthetic is advisable.
The laboratory time required for the fabrication of a porcelain laminate veneer is approximately one week. Due to the minimal amount of tooth reduction, it is usually not necessary to fabricate any temporary restoration. Should a temporary be needed, they can, in most circumstances, be made at the time of treatment. Between your preparation visit and the insertion visit, you can expect some tooth sensitivity to hot and cold liquids. This is normal and is due to the removal of a small portion of the enamel covering of the tooth. This sensitivity should disappear after the placement of your porcelain laminate veneer.
During your second visit, the insertion of your laminate can be accomplished, once again, with or without local anesthetic. This visit is usually longer in duration. The laminates are then fixed in place with a light-sensitive resin that is hardened using a white light.
Once placed, laminates are very strong and will resist most of the wear and tear placed upon them by a normal diet. Porcelain has great crushing strength but poor tensile strength. Therefore, you should avoid anything that will tend to twist the laminate. Opening pistachio nuts with your teeth and chewing on bones or candy apples is probably not a good idea.
Maintenance of Your New Porcelain Veneers
The maintenance of your porcelain laminate veneers is relatively simple. A few suggestions, however, are in order:
Please practice good dental hygiene prevention and brush and floss as you normally would; do not be afraid that you will damage your veneers by either flossing or brushing. Any non-abrasive toothpaste is acceptable. A good home tooth-care regimen will ensure the success of your cosmetic dentistry work for years to come.
As a reminder, some sensitivity to hot and cold may be experienced after the placement of your veneers. This is a function of the amount of enamel left on your tooth after preparation, the proximity of the nerve, and several other factors. Some sensitivity is absolutely normal and usually dissipates after one to two weeks. If this sensitivity persists or becomes a cause for concern to you at all, please call us right away.
If you have a habit of grinding your teeth, then please let us know. We will fabricate a soft night guard for you to wear to minimize the stress placed on your teeth while you sleep.
Approximately one week after the placement of your laminates you will be asked to return to the office for a treatment evaluation. This visit gives us the opportunity to evaluate the placement of the laminates, the tissue response, and answer any questions you might have regarding your new smile.
We hope that your porcelain laminate veneers can provide you with a beautiful smile for years to come. If you live in the Bedford, MA area and are interested in veneers or having your teeth whitened, then reach out to Bedford Family and Laser Dentistry by filling out our contact form or calling 781-275-6349. We can help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted. For your convenience, all of our new patient forms are available online.