Teeth whitening or bleaching is one of the most affordable and least invasive ways of improving your smile. Although the effect fades with time, whitening can make dull and dingy teeth more attractive in short order.
Teeth whitening is also unique among cosmetic dental procedures in that you can do it yourself at home. While professional bleaching solutions are stronger and capable of greater brightness and longevity, you can still achieve good results with a DIY kit.
If you decide to whiten at home, though, there are a few things to keep mind for a desirable and safe outcome. Here are 3 tips for successful DIY teeth whitening.
Follow the directions. It's not a good idea, both for a successful and safe outcome, to stray away from a kit manufacturer's recommended directions. FDA-approved home kits usually contain 10% or less of carbamide peroxide (one of the more common bleaching agents). That may not seem very strong but it's adequate within the recommended time it remains on your teeth to achieve an effective whitening effect. Exceeding those directions could permanently damage your tooth enamel.
Make sure a home kit will work on your staining. Home whitening kits only affect outer staining on tooth enamel. But dental discoloration can also arise from inside a tooth, often because of trauma, tetracycline use, or as a side effect of a root canal treatment. This kind of internal staining requires a special procedure usually performed by an endodontist to reduce it. So, see your dentist first to make sure your teeth are healthy enough for whitening and that a home kit will work for you.
Get your dentist's advice on home kits. There are a number of whitening applications on the market you can choose, so ask your dentist for recommendations. They can also give you some helpful tips on the whitening process to ensure you'll be safe and successful in your efforts.
Here's a couple of other things to remember to enhance your teeth whitening experience: whether you whiten your teeth at home or with the dentist, be sure you continue to care for your teeth with daily brushing and flossing. And, if you limit your consumption of foods and beverages known to stain teeth, you'll help extend the duration of your brighter smile.
If you would like more information on teeth whitening procedures, 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 “Tooth Whitening Safety Tips.”
Teenagers and adults alike can improve their smile appearance with dental solutions like teeth whitening or orthodontics. But there are a few cosmetic solutions like porcelain veneers that are better suited for more mature teeth.
Veneers are composed of thin layers of dental porcelain that are bonded to the outside of teeth. They're kind of a tooth "mask" that hides blemishes like chips, discoloration or mild bite problems. They're often less involved and expensive than other types of dental restoration.
Even so, we usually need to remove some of the natural tooth's enamel before applying them. Veneers placed directly on unprepared teeth can appear bulky, so we remove some of the enamel to create a more natural look. And although usually only a slight amount, the alteration is permanent and will require the tooth to have some form of restoration from then on.
This usually doesn't pose a major issue for adults, but it could for a teenager's younger teeth. The nerve-filled dentin in a teenager's still developing tooth is thinner and closer to the pulp (nerve tissue) than in more mature teeth.
There's at least one situation, though, where veneers might be applied safely to a teenager's teeth without this concern. If the teen has abnormally small teeth and are receiving veneers to improve their appearance, they might not need alteration. Because the teeth are already thinner than normal, the "no-prep" veneers may not look bulky when directly bonded to them without preparation.
With most cases, though, it might be best to pursue other options that at the very least can make a cosmetic difference until their teeth are mature enough for veneers. For example, we might be able to repair chipped areas with composite resin material that we form and bond to the tooth to achieve a life-like appearance.
We can discuss these and other options for safely improving your teenager's smile. The important thing is to achieve a more confident appearance without endangering their future health.
If you would like more information on cosmetic treatments for teenagers, 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 “Veneers for Teenagers.”
Could puffy gums be the first sign that you have gum disease?
It's an unfortunate reality that many Americans end up dealing with gum disease every year. It's even more unfortunate that many of them don’t even know it until they visit our Lake Oswego, OR, dentist, Dr. Colin Smith, for a regular checkup! Of course, there are some warning signs that may alert you to the fact that your gums aren’t as healthy as you may have thought. Some of the common symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bleeding gums when you brush or floss
- Red, swollen gums
- Gums that are tender to the touch or sore
- Receding gums (teeth may appear longer than usual)
- Persistent and unexplained bad breath
- Loose teeth or tooth loss
- Changes in your bite
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important that you schedule an appointment with our general dentist in Lake Oswego, OR. A simple oral exam is often all that’s needed to pinpoint gum disease. Plus the sooner gum disease is detected, the easier it is to treat.
Early Treatment is Key
While the goal should always be to prevent dental issues from happening in the first place, if there is something going on, it’s important that we find it early on. In fact, if gum disease is caught during the early stages when it’s still just gingivitis, it can actually be reversed. This is why it’s a good idea to turn to us at the very first sign that your gums have changed.
If gingivitis isn’t treated this can lead to full-blown gum disease. In more advanced and serious cases, untreated periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and bone damage.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
There are simple everyday measures that you can take to ensure that your gums remain healthy. Proper oral hygiene is key, so make sure to brush and floss on a daily basis to reduce gum disease-causing plaque and bacteria. You should also visit your dentist every six months for cleanings and checkups. As we mentioned earlier, sometimes gum disease doesn’t cause symptoms, so coming in for these checkups is the only way to catch it early on.
Concerned? Give Us a Call!
Our Lake Oswego, OR, dental team wants to make sure that your gums get the proper care they need. No matter whether you need to schedule a routine cleaning or you are looking for ways to effectively manage your gum disease, call Lake Oswego Smiles today at (503) 635-3653.
Find out the common dental symptoms that may require root canal treatment.
If you are noticing some alarming changes in your oral health, you may be wondering what’s going on. You may even wonder whether or not you need to turn to our Lake Oswego, OR, dentist, Dr. Colin Smith, for care. Read on to learn more about root canal therapy and the warning signs that may mean it’s time to give us a call.
What To Look Out For
The most common symptoms and signs that point towards needing a root canal include,
- Severe tooth pain that’s worse when chewing or biting down on the tooth
- Lingering tooth sensitivity particularly to hot or cold
- Darkening of the tooth
- Swelling of the gums surrounding the tooth
- The development of an abscess (a pimple-like growth on the gums)
It’s important to understand that while a toothache doesn’t necessarily mean that you will need root canal treatment, it is a common warning sign. Either way, dental pain is your mouth’s way of saying that something is wrong, whether you are dealing with decay or infected dental pulp. Since a toothache does constitute a dental emergency, you will need to come in right away for an evaluation.
What Is Involved in a Root Canal?
A root canal is an endodontic procedure in which our Lake Oswego, OR, general dentist will need to go inside the tooth to remove inflamed or infected dental pulp (the soft connective tissue and nerves within the tooth). Dental pulp can become inflamed or infected by severe decay, pervasive bacteria, or a traumatic injury. Once the dental pulp is affected, the only option is to remove it.
Before we remove this pulp we will thoroughly numb the area around the tooth to reduce any discomfort. This can be a major relief for our patients who’ve been dealing with massive tooth pain. Plus, once the pulp has been removed, the toothache will be gone immediately. Once the area is numb, we will simply remove the dental pulp and clean out the inside of the tooth to remove any bacteria.
Once the tooth has been thoroughly disinfected, we will seal up the root canals to prevent bacteria from getting in them. We will also apply a special material inside the tooth to seal it up before placing a dental crown. The dental crown is designed to strengthen the tooth’s existing structure.
Concerned? Give Us a Call!
Are you experiencing any of the symptoms above? If so, it’s important that you schedule an appointment with the dental experts at Lake Oswego Smiles by calling (503) 635-3653. Let us alleviate your dental discomfort!
What your dentist in Lake Oswego, Oregon wants you to know
So, what is Invisalign? It’s the most revolutionary method for straightening your smile! Thanks to Invisalign, you don’t have to put up with uncomfortable brackets and wires. You can straighten your smile in comfort. There’s a lot you should know about Invisalign, and Dr. Colin Smith at Oswego Smiles in Lake Oswego, Oregon wants to share the facts about Invisalign and how it can help your smile.
Invisalign works differently than standard orthodontic treatment. Instead of brackets and wires, Invisalign uses a system of clear plastic trays, called aligners. These aligners offer benefits that can’t be matched by brackets and wires. Consider that Invisalign is:
- More comfortable, because the aligners have no sharp metal parts to irritate soft tissue
- More discreet, because the aligners are clear plastic, so they are virtually invisible
- More convenient, because you can remove the aligners to eat whatever you want
Invisalign is also healthier because you remove the aligners to brush and floss your teeth normally. You don’t have to worry about using cumbersome tools. Invisalign treatment is also fast, with the average completion time between 9 and 15 months.
You begin Invisalign treatment with your first set of custom-fit aligners which you wear for two weeks. You progress to a new set of aligners, which you wear for another two weeks. You move up to a new set of aligners every two weeks as your teeth gradually and comfortably move into their proper position.
Invisalign is revolutionary, but it can still correct the same issues as conventional braces, including:
- Overbite or underbite
- Crossbite or open bite
- Tooth overlap or gapped teeth
You deserve to find out for yourself why Invisalign is the orthodontic treatment of the future. If you’re thinking about orthodontic treatment, now you have another choice, Invisalign! To find out more about Invisalign treatment and what it can do for your smile, call Dr. Colin Smith at Oswego Smiles in Lake Oswego, Oregon today!
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