Coronavirus COVID-19 Information (read more)


Franklyn Alexander, DDS
General & Cosmetic Dentistry

Patients Choice Winner 2016

Archive for the ‘Cosmetic Dentistry’ Category

Teeth Whitening Expectations

White teeth make us feel instantly more confident, which is why more and more people are looking in to teeth whitening to brighten up their smiles and improve their outlook. If you’re thinking about having your teeth whitened, it’s a good idea to be aware of the reasons that teeth become stained, the different types of whitening available and what types of results you can expect.

What causes teeth to darken?

A variety of factors affect the color of your teeth, but generally you can expect teeth to darken with age and/or in response to certain foods and beverages. As we grow older, the protective layer of enamel on the outside of our teeth gradually weakens and wears away, exposing the more porous and stain-prone material underneath. If your diet contains a lot of heavily staining foods, like black tea or coffee, you can expect this process to happen more quickly. Any food or drink that is high in acidity as well as dark in color tends to be more staining; the acids soften the enamel, allowing the dark pigments in the food to penetrate this weakened outer layer.

Tobacco is another big culprit when it comes to tooth staining; whether it’s smoked or chewed, tobacco use will continue to contribute to stains until you quit. Of course, nature plays a part in the color of your teeth as well- some people have naturally white teeth, even if their hygiene is less than perfect, while others who observe ideal brushing and flossing habits may be more prone to staining.

What Types of Teeth Whitening are Available?

For those with mild to moderate staining, home whitening kits can be successful. These are available at most drug stores and come in a wide variety of formulas such as gels, strips and trays. There are also a few different formulas available- mainly hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide – so if you get underwhelming results or experience irritation from one formula, you may want to try a different one after checking with your dentist. Home kits often need to be used consistently over a period of days or weeks to achieve results, and will generally result in no more than a few shades of lightening.

If your stains are more severe (if you want to whiten more than a few shades) you should consider making a trip to the dentist’s office. In-office bleaching is often more effective and works more quickly than a do-it-yourself kit. Your dentist will also offer multiple types of bleaching processes based on your needs. They may use a type of concentrated bleaching gel in trays, or a laser bleach system in which a special gel is applied to the teeth and then exposed to a laser which quickly lightens the color of the teeth. Whitening done by a dentist is likely to work much more quickly than a store-bought kit, and you can expect the results to be more dramatic.

What else should I keep in mind when deciding how to whiten?

Any bleaching process can leave your teeth temporarily sensitive, but if a certain process is extremely uncomfortable, stop using it immediately and let your dentist know before trying anything else. Also remember that blindingly white teeth aren’t natural-looking; you don’t need to keep bleaching and bleaching until your teeth are paper-white. Abnormally bright teeth are arguably just as distracting as stained teeth, so use good judgment and follow your dentist’s advice.

Helpful Reminders to Keep a White Smile

Keeping white, healthy teeth is a great way to give yourself a confidence boost. When you know your teeth look great, you’re not afraid to flash a big smile – and smiling has benefits that go beyond looks. Here are a few tips for maintaining white teeth.

Quit Smoking

You’re probably aware of all the other health consequences that cigarettes cause, but smokers are prone to stains due to the tar and other chemicals in cigarette smoke. Long-term smokers also tend towards dry mouth, or xerostomia, which reduces the flow of saliva in the mouth. Since saliva is your body’s natural way of keeping your teeth clean and free of debris, a reduction in saliva can mean an increased risk of decay and gum disease as well as higher likelihood of stains.

Don’t Skip Brushing or Flossing

Daily preventative hygiene is one of your most powerful weapons against stains and discoloration. Brush at least twice a day- in the morning and at night before bed- and it’s helpful to brush an hour or so after each meal. Many of us don’t floss as often or as thoroughly as we should, but it’s essential to removing debris from the tiny spaces between teeth where your toothbrush doesn’t reach. If you find it impossible or impractical to brush after each meal, make sure to rinse your mouth out with water to rid yourself of any potentially staining residue.

Ditch the Dark Beverages

Coffee, black tea and red wine aren’t terribly harmful to your health in moderation- tea has even been shown to carry some health benefits- but the dark colors of these drinks combined with their acidity levels makes them bad news for those who want white teeth. If you can’t seem to give up your morning cup of coffee or your weekend wine indulgence, there are a few ways you can minimize the damage. When possible, drink dark colored beverages through a straw to avoid contact with teeth. Have them with meals instead of sipping throughout the day so that your post-meal brushing takes care of the residue, and lastly, some foods like cheese can help protect your teeth from stains when eaten along with a glass of wine.

Stock Up On Teeth-Cleaning Foods

Just as cheese was mentioned as being protective against acids, some other foods can help clean and polish teeth as well. Strawberries, in addition to being full of nutrients, contain a type of acid that’s helpful for whitening teeth; just be careful not to overdo it. A handful a day is plenty. Fibrous, crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, celery and broccoli act as natural scrubbers when chewed- the texture of these foods helps polish away any residue or debris on the teeth. They’re a good way to end a meal, and an excellent choice for a midday snack.

Keep Sugar-Free Gum Handy

Chewing helps to stimulate saliva flow in your mouth, which can be especially helpful after a meal to keep your teeth free of stain-causing residue or bits of food. Look for the ADA seal on a pack of gum to make sure it’s been approved by the American Dental Association as being beneficial for dental health.

If you want a little extra help keeping your smile white, check with your dentist about teeth whitening procedures available to patients!

Healthy and Healthy-Looking Teeth: A Vegetarian’s Dilemma

Foods That Stain

A vegetarian diet comes with many benefits as well as challenges. One challenge many might not think about is a greater risk of stained teeth. When it comes to nutrition and green vegetables, darker tends to be better. Despite all the nutrients, dark greens such as spinach, kale, and broccoli also more easily stain teeth than most foods.

Foods That Stick

Sticky foods also pose a problem. Candy and caramel first come to mind, but more health conscious eaters may discover this problem with foods like raisins, and other dried fruits. Beverages are another important part of the equation. Coffee and tea are notorious for their teeth-darkening potential, as are red wine, beets, tomatoes, and soy sauce.

Missing Nutrients

As if this isn’t enough, vegans face their own unique challenges, since they often are missing the calcium and whitening properties of dairy products. Dairy products can also help raise the pH balance of the mouth’s saliva, which in turn discourages the growth of harmful bacteria. Of course, calcium is available in many vegetables, as are foods with a naturally high pH level, but incorporating them into a vegetarian or vegan diet calls for more conscientious meal planning than most may be accustom.

What You Can Do

Whether you identify as a shameless omnivore, a casual vegetarian, or a strict vegan adherent, when it comes to stained teeth, prevention is the aim of the game. Be prepared to brush twice a day, preferably after every meal, and floss.

If you think there might be one or more nutrients that you’re missing, talk with your dentist, doctor or a nutritionist about a supplement regimen. Augmenting your current diet with lighter fruits and vegetables, like apples, pears, and cauliflower can help help offset the aesthetic damage done by the darker greens. Also, think about alternatives to the problem foods listed above. For example, try switching to white or green tea.

Finally, if the stains dismay you, there are still professional teeth-whitening solutions. For modest staining, at-home whitening treatments are effective, and affordable. More severe discoloration may require the attention of a dentist. Surface whitening and bonding are options that you might want to explore with the dentist. Following a tooth whitening treatment, make sure to incorporate smile-friendly tips into your diet.

The Basics of Teeth Whitening

We place a high value on smiles, and for good reason. A smile can make or break a first impression. According to a survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 99.7% of adults view a smile as a vital social asset and 74% think an unattractive smile can hurt career chances.

Of all the procedures available, tooth whitening is one of the quickest and most convenient ways to improve your smile. In as little as an hour, your teeth can look dramatically whiter.

Why Teeth Whitening?

The main reason to consider tooth whitening is because you are unhappy with the current shade of your teeth. However, you should also consider the treatment if you are getting crowns or veneers. Both of these are matched to the current color of your teeth. If you decide to have your teeth whitened at a later time, the crowns or veneers will noticeably stand out. Because of this, some patients choose to whiten their teeth beforehand.

Teeth Whitening Process

After a consultation with your dentist, molds of your teeth will need to be made. These molds are used to make the trays that hold the bleach. It’s essential to have trays that are customized to fit your mouth so that bleach doesn’t leak out onto your gums. This is a major benefit of choosing an in-office treatment over an at-home kit.

After the trays are finished, they will be filled with the bleaching agent and applied to your teeth. Some types of bleach require a light or laser to activate them, while others are self-activated. The bleach will be left on for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the type of whitening procedure that your dentist uses. Regardless of the procedure, your smile will show a significant improvement the very same day.

After Teeth Whitening

Unfortunately whitening is not a one-time fix. Your teeth will gradually become dark and stained again over time. For this reason, a lot of people return to the office for touch-ups. There are also several things you can do on your own to slow the process of darkening.

  • Avoid foods that contain tannins, such as berries, pomegranates, nuts, and wine
  • Limit consumption of coffee and tea
  • Drink dark-colored soft drinks through a straw
  • Don’t smoke or chew tobacco
  • Keep up with oral hygiene to prevent tooth decay