Category Archives: How to find a great dentist?

Play it Safe!

Long Island dentist, dentistry newsAccording to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are over 600,000 sports-related dental injuries treated in emergency rooms across the U.S. annually. Now that the kids are back in school and sports programs are in full swing, it’s a good idea to think about protecting their mouth and teeth from accidents with a mouth guard.

A mouth guard is a plastic device that fits over the upper teeth, cushioning and protecting them from impact. Generally, there are three types of mouth guards are available including:

  1. “Stock” mouth guard: These are preformed, ready to wear, and available at most sporting good stores. They are usually inexpensive and come in a few different sizes, but the fit is not adjustable. These devices are bulky, and can make breathing and talking difficult. Most dentists don’t recommend these, because the protection they offer is minimal.
  2. “Boil and bite” mouth guard: These are also available at most sporting goods stores often fit better fit than stock mouth protectors. The “boil and bite” mouth guard is softened in hot water, and then placed shaped around the teeth. Not always a perfect fit, these mouth protectors are an acceptable budget-conscious choice.
  3. Custom designed mouth protectors are designed and made in a dental office or dental laboratory based on individual needs and to fit individual anatomy. Your dentist will make mold of your teeth, and a mouth guard is then constructed from the model using special plastic material. The extra time and work involved in making a custom mouth guard means that it is more expensive than the other types; however, the benefit is that it provides the most comfort and protection possible.

Dentist Long Island, dentistry newsThe American Dental Association recommends the use of custom made mouth guards for anyone who participates in vigorous physical activity such as baseball, football, basketball, hockey, skateboarding, wrestling, bicycling, racquetball, skiing, and even weightlifting. Evidence indicates that a custom made mouth guard can prevent or minimize some of the most common oral and facial injuries which include:

  1. Lacerations. A custom-fit, professionally made mouth guard covers the sharp surfaces of the teeth to protect the soft tissues of the cheeks, lips, gums and tongue from cuts that can result from a blow. This is especially important for people wearing braces.
  2. Jaw and tooth damage. A mouth guard also helps to prevent injuries to the jaws and teeth, which can include but chipped and broken teeth or teeth that are partially or fully knocked out of their natural position.
  3. TMJ (jaw joint) Trauma. A mouth guard that fits well will reduce the potential for knocking the jaw out of place or fracturing the joint, because the jaws are cushioned against the impact. This is especially important for individuals with TMJ problems.
  4. Jaw Fracture. A custom made mouth guard absorbs and distributes impact forces so that jaws are protected. And it is this reduction in force that can help prevent the jaws from fractures.

dentistry news, long island dentistMake a dental appointment for your child (or for yourself) to discuss whether a mouth guard is important protection during your favorite activity. Prevention is always less expensive and less uncomfortable than treating damage or injury… Play it safe!


Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

Diabetes and periodontal disease are two common chronic diseases that are reaching epidemic proportions in America; and in fact current research indicates that the two diseases actually directly influence each other. Periodontal disease effects more than half of all adults; and according to recent statistics released by the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million children and adults in the United States are diabetic. Another 79 million people are pre-diabetic, meaning that they are at risk for developing this serious disease which can affect many major organs including the heart, blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. Scientists understand a great deal about both diseases and they are learning more all the time… considering the number of people at risk and the potentially life threatening consequences of developing either of these conditions, isn’t it a good idea to know your risks and to understand how the two diseases are linked?

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a complicated disease which involves the inability of the body to make the hormone insulin (Type I) or to use the insulin that it makes (Type II). Insulin is necessary to move glucose, also known as “blood sugar” from the blood stream into the cells, to be used for energy that sustains life. When cells do not receive adequate glucose, the body stops functioning…and if too much glucose accumulates in the blood, a variety of severe health complications can occur. Furthermore, people with diabetes are at higher risk for infections and they tend not to heal as well as people without the disease because their immune systems don’t function as effectively.

Type one diabetics are born with the disease, and are treated with replacement insulin. However, type II diabetes generally develops slowly over time as insulin receptors are damaged or destroyed, thought to result from chronic inflammation. Periodontal disease is jointly caused by the by-products of oral bacteria and the body’s inflammatory response to those bacteria. The common thread appears to be inflammation, but how does the diabetes-periodontal disease relationship work? Researchers have determined that there are several reasons for the association.

  • Chronic inflammation occurs in the body for a variety of reasons including untreated periodontal infections and even excessive body fat, and the long standing inflammation causes tissue damage. This process is how the gums and bone surrounding the teeth are destroyed in periodontitis. Similarly, inflammation damages the part of the cell that allows insulin to work (the insulin receptor) making cells “insulin resistant”. As the body’s cells become increasingly resistant to insulin, type II diabetes develops. Untreated, the process continues: damaged tissue itself causes more inflammation, so one disease provokes the other.
  • High blood sugar inhibits and slows circulation. The body heals itself of infections by using specialized cells and substances transported in the blood to the site of an infection. Sluggish circulation impairs this natural healing ability, which makes the gum tissues more susceptible to infections and much more difficult to treat.
  • High glucose levels in saliva promote growth of bacteria that cause periodontal disease.
    • Untreated periodontal disease can actually increase blood sugar and make it more difficult to control; and a study in the Journal of Periodontology found that if Type II diabetes is poorly controlled, patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease.

    Many of the risk factors that are associated with Type II diabetes can be minimized through healthy lifestyle changes; and fortunately the same is true of periodontal disease. Good home care practices and regular dental checkups are the keys to good oral health, especially for people diagnosed with or at risk for diabetes. Eliminate tobacco use as well… research has shown that diabetic smokers may be 20 times more likely than diabetic non-smokers to develop periodontal disease! The major risk factors for developing Type II Diabetes include:

    • High blood pressure
    • High blood triglyceride (fat) levels
    • High-fat diet
    • High alcohol intake
    • Sedentary lifestyle
    • Obesity or being overweight

    Many people feel overwhelmed by everything they need to learn when they are first diagnosed with diabetes, but they quickly realize that they must take steps to manage their condition every day. Excellent oral care is an essential step in that process, and the good news is that your dental team understands its important role.

    Research at Columbia University has demonstrated that dentists can often identify patients with undiagnosed diabetes based on what they observe about the conditions in the mouth during a checkup. So, if you are at risk or suspect you might have the symptoms of either diabetes or periodontal disease, please take the risk seriously and speak to both your dentist and physician … it could save your life. If you have already been diagnosed with either condition then you should know that your dentist is committed to working with you and the rest of your medical team to maintain optimal health and quality of life.


    Losing Sleep? Your Dentist Can Help Prevent the Deadly Effects of Sleep Apnea

    Are you chronically sleepy during the day? Excessive snoring and waking up feeling unrefreshed are common symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a sleep disorder in which interruptions in breathing occur because the airway becomes narrowed or blocked by excess tissue when throat muscles relax. Episodes of apnea (not breathing) can occur as often as every few seconds during sleep causing frequent waking, and as you might expect, some serious long term consequences including cardiovascular disease and even death.

    About 4% of middle aged adults and 3-12% of children suffer from this treatable condition, and it is particularly common among overweight people. Most are not aware that the problem exists until family members either witness periods of apnea (not breathing), or raise concerns about symptoms such as heavy snoring. Unfortunately, difficulty staying alert during waking hours may lead to accidents or injury before the diagnosis of Obstructive Sleep Apnea is made.

    The most common treatment for OSA is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine. Worn when sleeping, the CPAP is a type of respirator consisting of a snug fitting face mask and pressurized air flow that keeps the throat open, allowing patients to breathe more easily and consistently. The benefits of treatment can be life changing… and life saving. Unfortunately, many patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea have difficulty getting accustomed to wearing a CPAP mask, and give up after a short time because they find it intrusive.

    There are several other ways to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and if you think you may be experiencing some of the symptoms of this potentially serious sleep disorder you should bring it to the attention of your physician immediately. You should also be aware that your dentist may play an important role in treating your condition, especially if you are one of the people for whom a CPAP machine is not effective.

    Surgery may be a recommended treatment is some cases, and could involve repositioning of the jaw by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, or perhaps removal of excess tissue in the throat (including tonsils or adenoids) by an ear nose and throat specialist (otorhinolayryngologist). One of the more common and effective solutions for mild to moderate sleep apnea is an oral appliance, custom crafted by a dentist with specialized training in sleep medicine. These FDA approved devices resemble orthodontic retainers, but are designed to reposition the lower jaw (Mandibular Advancement Device), elevate the soft palate, and increase muscle tone of the tongue (Tongue Retaining Device), thus keeping the airway unblocked during sleep.

    The effects of Sleep Apnea are not only dangerous, research has indicated that they truly invade reduce the overall quality of nearly every aspect of life. The first step towards getting a better night’s sleep is to have a thorough examination by a physician specifically trained to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. Depending on the seriousness of your condition, your doctor may request that you participate in a sleep study, which will provide your health care team with precise data about your breathing and sleeping habits. The results of the sleep study will assist in determining which treatment options are likely to be most beneficial to you.

    If you have been losing sleep, you can rest assured that our office will work with you and your medical team to ensure that you obtain an accurate diagnosis and treatment for this condition.


    Preparing for Your Child’s First Dental Visit

    The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that a child see a dentist by their first birthday. Some parents may feel that this is too early, and perhaps that their child is not ready for the experience or that it isn’t really necessary. No matter how many children you have had, you know that there is always a great deal to learn about each little one’s unique personality and about caring for their unique health needs. These early dental visits are much more than exams and cleanings… they play a very important role in helping your child develop attitudes and oral health habits that will ensure a lifetime of healthy smiles.

    Most importantly, from the very first visit your child begins to develop a trusting relationship with the dental team in his or her new dental home; and parents have the opportunity to learn homecare techniques customized for their child.

    As parents, we want to comfort our children and prepare them for new experiences, but it is very important to remember not to transfer our own anxiety to our children on the process. Remember too, that the child has no expectation that anything will hurt or be unpleasant unless someone else makes a suggestion that gives him a reason to be afraid. A first visit should be a positive, happy experience that will encourage the child to want to cooperate and return for future visits. How should you prepare your child? Here are some tips:

    DO try to schedule appointments early in the day when children are well rested and not hungry.

    DO explain that it is important to visit a dentist to keep our teeth healthy. There are several excellent children’s books available to help with the preparation- try bringing one home in advance to introduce the subject with your child.

    DO build excitement about the experience.

    DO tell the child enough that she will know what to expect: “the dentist will count your teeth, and make them shiny, and maybe take some pictures!”

    DO remain calm and positive in the exam room. Provide supportive coaching for your child.

    DO reward your child’s good behavior- but be understanding about what this means. A few tears are okay.

    DO be firm and flexible. It is important that the dental team and the parent – not the child be in charge of the appointment. Of course, we want to do the examination and cleaning, but we don’t necessarily have to perform every planned procedure (x-rays, fluoride, etc.) for the appointment to be a success.

    DO bring your child along to a sibling’s appointment so he can watch what happens before it is his turn (but make sure that the child who is being watched is not likely to cry or be upset by the procedure). However…

    DON’T encourage your child to watch an adult having their teeth cleaned up-close, especially if some bleeding is likely. That can be pretty scary for children; and furthermore, an adult cleaning is usually much more involved than a child’s cleaning and therefore not a very good example of what to expect.

    DON’T use words like hurt, needle, x-ray, shot, or cavity. Children are very sensitive to words that they may not fully understand and even though they had no expectation about being hurt, they will once you have use the word!

    DON’T wait until there is an emergency to schedule your child’s first visit. It’s hard to have a positive when something hurts!

    DON’T tease or threaten. Parents sometimes try to lighten the mood with humor, but what may seem like an obvious joke such as, “Sarah wants to have all her teeth taken out” – doesn’t seem silly or funny to a child who is confused and in a stressful environment. Children may act out because they don’t have a good way to express their anxiety…threatening to take away a privilege often has the effect of increasing anxiety and exacerbating behavior problems.

    DON’T tell children that if they don’t brush their teeth they will get a cavity and have to have a shot. First of all, it isn’t entirely true. Sometimes very small cavities can be filled with no anesthetic and some may not need to be filled at all. Secondly, this well intentioned statement prepares a child to expect the worst at every visit, and they arrive fearful and less cooperative.

    Every child has a different level of tolerance; his emotional and physical maturity will help guide the first dental visit. Your child will be introduced to the dental chair and other equipment, and may learn how to brush his teeth properly if he is old enough. Parents should be assisting with homecare at least until around age ten – so this visit will be educational for everyone! A cleaning is usually planned for this appointment, but it may be a scaled-down version of an adult cleaning. Depending on your child’s needs, the hygienist may just clean with just a toothbrush. Fluoride may or may not be applied, and this will largely depend on whether the child can tolerate the flavor, not swallow it, and what other sources of fluoride (supplements, water etc.) he has access to.

    The dentist may ask you questions about how you care for his teeth at home, and parents should come prepared to ask any questions they may have about their child’s oral health. Finally, the dentist will check for obvious cavities or other problems. There are no definitive rules on when to take the first x-rays of a child’s teeth. As long as there are no obvious areas of concern and his mouth is large enough to accommodate the film, then two bitewings are typically taken when the first permanent molar erupts at around age six.

    We understand that every child is an individual with unique needs. Sometimes, especially if there are cavities that must be filled, the most important thing to accomplish at the First Dental Visit is simply to make the child feel comfortable enough to want to come back again. Let’s begin early and work together to ensure that your child has a lifetime of happy smiles and stress-free dental visits. What techniques have worked for you to ease your child through this experience?


    Are You at Risk for Oral Cancer?

    According to the National Cancer Institute, about 36,500 new cases of oral and throat cancer will be diagnosed this year and 7,880 people will die from the disease, often because it is diagnosed too late. Here is sobering statistic reported by the Oral Cancer Foundation: among those newly diagnosed individuals, only a little over half will still be alive in 5 years… and these disturbing statistics have not improved very much in decades despite many new advances in our ability to detect and diagnose and treat the disease. How can this be? Unfortunately, the people who are at greatest risk may be least likely to have regular dental and medical checkups, for a variety of reasons ranging from health insurance to lack of awareness.

    How much do you know about your risk for this deadly and destructive disease?

    Lifestyle factors are chief among the major risk factors for oral cancers, and includes long term exposure to sun, such as would occur among people who spend their careers or leisure time outdoors. Heavy alcohol use is another lifestyle choice that increases risk; and tobacco use, regardless of its form accounts for about 75% of the cancers of the mouth, throat and lips that are diagnosed at 50 and older. When heavy alcohol use is combined with tobacco, the risk of developing oral cancer is 15 times greater!

    Speaking of age, most oral cancer has historically been discovered in people over age 60. The Center for Disease Control reports that it occurs more often in men than women, and black people seem to be at higher risk than other races… but no one is really immune. About 5% of oral cancers have no known cause; and new evidence has emerged that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV-16), a common sexually transmitted disease present in about 40 million Americans is responsible for an increase in the number of oral cancers among young adults.

    Early signs of oral cancer are very often painless and difficult to detect without a thorough head and neck examination by a dental or medical professional. As a result the people who are inclined to put off dental visits – often those who have lost their dental insurance and postpone checkups for financial reasons – are most vulnerable. Oral cancer is treatable, but the tissues of the mouth and neck have a rich blood supply and numerous lymph nodes that enable undiagnosed oral cancer to spread to other parts of the body very quickly. Improving the average 50% survival rate depends upon the location and early detection of suspicious lesions – before they can spread.

    What to be concerned about:

    • A sore in the mouth – especially a painless one – that does not heal within two weeks
    • A lump or thickening in the cheek.
    • A white or red patch on the gums, tongue, tonsil, lip, or lining or floor of the mouth.
    • A sore throat or a feeling that something is caught in the throat.
    • Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
    • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue.
    • Numbness of the tongue or other area of the mouth.
    • Swelling of the jaw that causes dentures to fit poorly or become uncomfortable.
    • Chronic hoarseness.

    The American Cancer Society recommends that doctors and dentists examine the mouth and throat as part of a routine cancer-related checkup… and you should do a self examination periodically too: look in your own mouth with a flashlight or have someone do it for you:

    • · Remove dentures or partials
    • · Look and feel inside the lips and the front of gums
    • · Tilt head back to look at and feel the roof of your mouth
    • · Pull the cheek and both lips out to see the inside surfaces as well as the back of the gums
    • · Stick out your tongue as far as you can and look at all of its surfaces
      • Lift up your tongue to examine the floor of the mouth
        • · Feel for lumps or enlarged lymph nodes (glands) in both sides of the neck including under the lower jaw.

    Many people have some harmless, abnormal lesions in their mouth that never become cancerous, but it is important to be aware of them and bring them to the attention of the dentist for observation and diagnosis. A thorough head and neck examination is always a routine part of your regular dental checkup visit; it takes only a minute but it could save your life.


    The Truth about Dental X-ray Safety

    Do you hate to have dental X-rays taken? Be honest… of course you do. Everyone does. But, if you are one of the many people who has refused checkup x-rays or told the hygienist that you “don’t need x-rays because nothing is bothering me”, then you should know that you are not doing yourself any favors. In fact, you could be potentially trading a short term inconvenience for a long term, costly problem.

    It is certainly true that dental x-rays are a valuable tool when diagnosing the source of pain… but one of the most important reasons for taking periodic x-rays is to identify the many oral conditions have no symptoms at all in the early stages. Patients who refuse x-rays on a regular basis are doing themselves a significant disservice – and worse, they are not getting their money’s worth! Even though they pay for a complete exam, problems may be lurking which cannot be identified except with x-rays.

    The concept is similar to that of a mammography, colonoscopy, tuberculosis screening or your annual physical: if a problem can be detected early enough, it is usually less expensive to treat and will likely have a better outcome.

    What kinds of problems might be going undetected?

    About 20% of the tooth enamel is not visible to the eye during a dental examination and cavities very often begin in these invisible areas: between the teeth where they touch, and where the toothbrush cannot reach. Do you floss thoroughly and regularly? If your answer is anything other than “yes”, then your risk of developing cavities between the teeth is even greater. Gum disease may be completely painless and bleeding unnoticeable even while bone is slowly dissolving away around the tooth. Finally, visually detecting abnormalities around extensive cosmetic or prosthetic restorations like crowns, bridges and implants can be quite challenging; yet the risk of developing a problem is greater around one of these “foreign objects” than for a natural tooth.

    So, if oral disease is painless and can’t be seen, how can you be sure that there are no problems? Using x-ray images along with a thorough visual inspection, your dentist can see the entire tooth, the underlying bone, and the roots. Insidious problems like periodontal disease or a dying tooth nerve can be identified even before any discomfort is ever felt. It is important to realize that there are many different types of dental x-rays and they don’t all reveal the same information; your dentist may order one or more of these depending upon your specific needs. For example the x-ray that is taken to check for the presence of wisdom teeth may not reveal cavities very well- and an abscess will not appear on the type of x-ray typically taken to check for bone loss and cavities. You should feel free to ask questions about your dentist’s recommendations!

    That said, the reason why some people refuse x-rays is because they have concerns about safety. The American Dental Association has established guidelines for x-ray frequency based on individual patient needs and the safe dosage criteria established by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements which take into consideration the many sources of radiation most people are regularly exposed to, You might be surprised to learn that people are exposed to more radiation in the environment (for instance, while in an airplane or during an afternoon in the sun) than during exposure of dental x-rays; and most dental offices take far fewer x-rays that would be considered safe.

    Public safety is not just controlled at federal level. All personnel who take X-rays in any New York dental office must be trained regarding safety and precautions, and the equipment used must be regularly certified by the State as safe for use. Improvements in the quality and speed of dental x-ray film have made it possible to create images with less exposure to radiation than ever before; and digital x-rays further reduce exposure – by up to 90%!

    Special circumstances

    Although the dentist will nearly always postpone x-rays on pregnant women, the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians have stated that they are in fact, safe during pregnancy when necessary.

    Some recent television reports and news stories have raised questions about whether dental x-rays can increase the risk for thyroid cancer. The lead shield that is placed over your chest and abdomen during dental x-ray exposure usually has a thyroid collar to protect the gland from any stray radiation; you should know that that according to the American Thyroid Association , routine exposure of dental x-rays has not been proven to cause cancer.

    All medical procedures carry some risk and the fact is that Physicians and Dentists use them anyway… provided that the benefits outweigh the risks. Dental x-rays are no exception to this rule, however your health and safety and are our primary concern. Rest assured that no patient care is ever “routine”. We never take more x-rays than are safe, or more than are necessary based on your needs and individual circumstances.

    What are your concerns? Please feel comfortable asking your dental provider about the x-ray safety precautions that are used in our office, or about the specific recommendations we have for you.


    Is Whitening Really Safe … and Is It Right For Me?

    Nothing conveys youth and confidence like flashing a bright white smile, and it seems everyone from teens to seniors want to know more about whitening options… and why not? There are a wide variety of products available commercially and through the dental office that make it is easier, safer and more affordable than you might think for virtually everyone to perk up their pearly-whites.

    Whitening is a term that is used to cover a broad range of products and procedures, but there are some important terminology distinctions to be made. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the term “bleaching” is may only be used for products which whiten the teeth beyond their natural color. This applies strictly to products that contain bleaching agent – most often hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The term “whitening,” on the other hand, refers to restoring a tooth’s natural color by removing surface stain and debris, so any product that cleans (such as toothpaste) can be considered a whitener. Understanding these differences is the first step in choosing the right product and procedure to meet your needs.

    Skeptics often wonder if whitening and bleaching is too good to be true… the results look great, but is it really safe? The answer is, “absolutely!” The Food and Drug Administration only approves products for use in the mouth if they are shown safe and effective when used according to manufacturer’s recommendations. That said, there is a right and wrong way to use any product and you can always have too much of a good thing. Consumers should be aware that they are taking risks if they use whitening services outside the dental office, such as at a salon. Recently, the American Dental Association asked the FDA to regulate these services for the safety of the public. All whitening and bleaching products are not created equal; get the best possible result and avoid complications or disappointment by asking yourself what your expectations are. Choose the right product, and be sure you understand the limitations of your choice; it will differ depending upon the product and a variety of individual factors including your dental and periodontal (gum) health, and any fillings or crowns you may have.

    Bleaching

    Are you hoping for a dramatic change in your appearance or something more subtle? Those seeking a dramatic impact may wish to consider one of two types of bleaching procedures performed in the dental office; the material used in both of these methods is more concentrated than what is available over the counter. A typical one-hour whitening procedure uses a light activated bleaching material and typically has the most dramatic, long lasting effect. Most people touch up their new smile periodically with an at-home product after this procedure. Alternatively, the dentist may make a model of your teeth and create custom fitted plastic trays that are filled with bleaching material and worn over the teeth at home. The tray method takes about two weeks of repeated application and requires touch-ups periodically.

    Over the counter white strips are an effective low cost choice for those who may not be looking for a show-stopping impact, those who don’t want to replace fillings, or if you are just unsure whether your teeth will be too sensitive to tolerate a procedure that uses a stronger bleach concentration. After using an over the counter product, you can always upgrade to an in office procedure later.

    Whitening

    Whitening toothpastes are generally abrasive and they work by polishing off surface stain; for people who build up stain quickly these can be an inexpensive smile pick-me-up. Use these products in conjunction with bleaching products, or instead of them if your main concern is daily stain from tobacco or foods. Watch for tooth or gum sensitivity, and consider alternating use with standard fluoride toothpaste to resolve the problem.

    Mouth rinses that claim to whiten work because they help keep stain causing substances from sticking to the surface of teeth. The effect of these rinses in minimal; they don’t contain bleach and they don’t change the color of teeth. However, they are safe and may be a little added “boost” for those who already have a nice white smile and don’t need much change.

    Things to think about

    White fillings and crowns don’t change color when teeth are bleached, but that doesn’t mean that whitening isn’t an option! Often, the dentist will recommend bleaching the teeth to the ideal shade and then replacing older fillings or crowns to match. This will leave you with a beautiful, uniform appearance. The roots of teeth are always slightly darker than the enamel; so if you have receding gums, be prepared for the likelihood that the exposed roots will whiten differently than the rest of the tooth.

    Keep in mind that regardless of cost no whitening or bleaching procedure is permanent; how long the effect lasts depends heavily on dietary habits and smoking. Avoid coffee, tea, dark sodas, red wine and foods that have strong pigment. Drinking through a straw will help, as will through brushing and flossing to remove stain causing substances. Regardless of the procedure you choose, touch ups should be expected over time.

    A major consideration when deciding whether whitening your teeth is right for you is your general oral health. Cavities or gum disease are present can make a bleaching painful, so be sure that you have a dental examination and complete any recommended treatment before beginning a cosmetic whitening procedure. Bleaching can cause sensitivity even in a healthy mouth, but the good news is that it is temporary. Use desensitizing toothpaste before, during and after the procedure; and you may need to give your teeth a longer rest between applications of home products.

    Don’t be misled by advertising! Teeth are naturally yellowish, and as we age, it is normal for teeth to darken. No matter how much you bleach them, they will never be truly white and the end result depends on how dark they were when you started. Don’t over use products striving for an unnatural color; too much bleaching will make the teeth sensitive. Imperfections in the enamel can sometimes cause unevenness in the whitening result too, but most of the time the overall change is stunning and any minor imperfections are noticeable only to you – up close in the mirror.

    Almost everyone can significantly improve their smile – safely and simply – with a professional or over the counter bleaching procedure or a whitening product. Ask your oral health professional which products would best suit your needs and above all, be realistic about your expectations.


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