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Cosmetic Dentistry

The Ultimate Guide to How to Whiten Teeth

By | Blog, Teeth Whitening | No Comments

If we’ve learned anything in our years as Naperville’s general dentists, it’s that everyone wants a perfect pair of sparkling pearly whites. But between the foods we eat and the habits we create, getting shiny white teeth can be easier said than done. Whitening your teeth (and keeping them that way) requires good oral hygiene practices, including brushing, flossing, regular cleanings, and avoiding things that cause damage and discoloration, like smoking and poor diet.

If you’re suffering from teeth stains or yellowing teeth, don’t worry — you’re not alone. There are many ways to whiten your teeth, both at home and at the dentist, and things you can do to keep discoloration at bay. But while at-home practices can be effective, nothing will give you the same dramatic results as professional teeth whitening.

No matter which teeth whitening method you choose, the experts at Naperville Dental Specialists are here to help you restore your teeth to their former brilliancy. Let’s take a look at what causes tooth discoloration and how to put the “white” back in your pearly whites. 

What Causes Yellow Teeth

There are many factors that contribute to yellow teeth — from lifestyle and diet choices to genetic predispositions and aging. Some of these things are in our power to change; for example, we can choose to eat more fruits and veggies and avoid smoking. Other things are just a part of how we’re built.

When it comes to whitening your teeth, it’s important to understand that your teeth have two basic parts: the enamel (or outer layer) and dentin (or inner core). As we age, dentin naturally yellows which unfortunately is just a part of growing older. But there are ways to combat the aging process, and to whiten your enamel, to keep your teeth looking whiter for longer. Here’s how:

  • Eat healthy, nutritious foods: A diet that lacks proper vitamins and nutrients will lead to premature aging of the dentin, meaning your teeth will look yellow quicker. At the same time, your enamel can become discolored by highly pigmented foods and drinks, like red wine, coffee and tobacco. Fortunately, eating a diet rich in healthy, nutrient-packed foods will slow yellowing down and whitening treatments are extremely effective to clear up your enamel.
  • Protect your teeth from trauma: Grinding and trauma from accidents, falls or sporting injuries can all accelerate the aging of the dentin. As we’ve learned, that equals yellow teeth. When you grind your teeth or suffer damage from an accident, the force can cause the dentin to shrink and trigger the aging process, so be sure to take good care of your teeth.
  • Get a whitening treatment: From at-home solutions to in-office professional services, there are so many ways to get whiter teeth. Keep reading to find out more and then ask your dentist which method is best for you.

How to Get Whiter Teeth

Now that you know what’s dulling your teeth’s shine, let’s talk about the best way to get whiter teeth. The most effective solution is professional teeth whitening but it can be more of an investment than some patients are ready to make. For those who prefer to whiten their teeth on their own, there are plenty of DIY teeth whitening practices you can try. Just be aware that while at-home methods and regular cleanings at your dentist will help get rid of surface stains, they won’t be able to clear away deep, set-in discoloration. In most cases, professional teeth whitening is the best solution.

  • Teeth whitening strips: It seems that every major toothpaste brand has some sort of teeth whitening product that promises to give you the shiny, white teeth of your dreams. This type of method is super popular for good reason: it’s super affordable and you can do it in the comfort of your own home.

The truth is whitening strips are actually effective — but that doesn’t make them safe. These strips typically contain hydrogen peroxide, which definitely makes your teeth whiter by breaking down the molecules that cause discoloration in both your enamel and dentin. But hydrogen peroxide is considered toxic or harmful when used in the mouth, so the side effects may not be worth the pearly whites after all.

  • Activated charcoal: This one is for the DIY-ers out there. Activated charcoal has long been used to promote detoxification and treat poisoning, dating back nearly 200 years. The healing properties of activated charcoal have stood the test of time and are now used in all types of beauty and health products, including teeth whitening methods. Unlike hydrogen peroxide, activated charcoal cannot reach the dentin and can only whiten surface stains caused by environmental factors, food and drinks — but it is a 100% safe, natural way to whiten your teeth.
    To try it out, make a paste with activated charcoal, then smear it on your teeth and let it sit for 5-10 minutes. Then rinse and brush away anything remaining. Since charcoal is quite abrasive, it’s best to only use this homemade toothpaste a few times a week.
  • Professional teeth whitening: Like we’ve mentioned, this is the only guaranteed way to get whiter teeth that last. Professional teeth whitening can safely get rid of stains and yellowing on both your enamel and dentin, giving you the whitest smile possible.

At Naperville Dental Specialists, we offer Zoom Tooth Whitening. Using a specially designed, light-activated gel, this method breaks down stains. In less than an hour, you’ll have the brightest, whitest teeth you’ve had in years. All you have to do is follow our aftercare instructions and practice good oral hygiene. With our professional teeth whitening service, we’re confident we can put the sparkle back in your smile.

 

 

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What You Need to Know About Getting a Dental Crown

By | Dental Crowns | No Comments

The dental crown procedure is among the most common restorative treatments and it’s one our Naperville cosmetic dentists perform frequently. Unfortunately, crowns get a bad rap because the process has a reputation for being time consuming and, in some cases, it can require multiple visits to different practices. At Naperville Dental Specialists, we have a team of general dentists and specialists under one roof, so you don’t need a referral to another office and all of your treatments, including getting your dental crown, can be done in the same place. We also have an in-house laboratory, so same-day crowns are an option, meaning we can restore your tooth in a single visit. Whichever route you choose to go, here’s what you need to know about getting a dental crown:

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Can a gentle dentist give me sedation or a shot in my gums that I can’t feel?

By | Sedation Dentistry

Will I need a shot in my gums? I’m sweating trying to find a gentle dentist or one who does sedation and can fit me in their schedule. There is a bump on my gums at one of my bottom left molar teeth. Yesterday, I sterilized a needle and stuck the bump with it. A bunch of yellow pus came out. It hurts pretty bad and the bump is seeming just to fill up with pus again. It’s been 4 years since I’ve been to a dentist. I have tried to avoid the dentist for this bump on my gums, but I might not have a choice. Will a dentist have to give me a shot in my gum? If I can find a gentle dentist will they be able to make it absolutely pain free?? Thanks. Jon

Jon – The bump on your gums that you described is an abscess that is caused by an infection. The infection will not go away on its own. It needs to be treated by a dentist. Sedation dentistry will help you get the treatment you need

After you are sedated, the dentist will clean the area around your tooth and numb your gum. There is no need to worry, though. A gentle dentist will use topical anesthetic or a hand-held pulsating device to numb your gum and give you a pain-free injection. The injection will relieve your pain and prevent you from feeling pain that may otherwise result from the dental procedure.

If there is an infection in your tooth, a root canal treatment will remove it. After that, the tooth will be protected with a dental crown. It is important that you get help right away to treat the infection and avoid further pain and discomfort.

Find a Gentle Dentist Who Offers Sedation Dentistry

You should speak to a gentle dentist about your anxiety. Sedation dentistry can help you relax during dental visits so you can get the treatment you need.

Nitrous oxide – This is also called laughing gas. During your appointment, you can breathe it in to relax.

Oral conscious sedation – A dentist can give you anti-anxiety medication to take before your appointment. You will be drowsy and relaxed.

Learn more about these options on our sedation dentistry page.

Don’t delay in getting the bump on your gums treated. A gentle dentist can use his or techniques and sedation dentistry make your experience pain free.

This post is sponsored by Naperville Dental Specialists, the office of Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

My tooth turned gray after I used teeth whitener

By | Teeth Whitening

I recently applied a bleach-based tooth whitener to my teeth for the first time.  The next day, one tooth turned gray and my cheek inside my mouth has a small bump on it. Neither the tooth nor the bump hurt. I just think it’s strange. I don’t want to believe that it’s related to the tooth whitener, but I didn’t have any problems before that. What could have caused my tooth to turn gray? Is there anything I can do to reverse what the teeth whitener did and get my tooth back to its original color? – Brie

Brie – It is strange that your tooth would turn gray after using teeth whitener. Make an appointment with your dentist to examine your tooth, and bring the whitening agent with you to the appointment. Your dentist can examine it, the contents, and if necessary have it tested to determine what’s really in it.

Why Did Your Tooth Turn Gray After Whitening It?

There are several things to consider:

  • It may be that your tooth was damaged before you applied the whitening gel to it, and it became irritated afterward.
  • The problem might stem from the whitening gel. Depending on its source, the gel could be old, contain harmful ingredients, or not be bleaching gel at all.
  • Only a dentist can make the determination after examining your tooth and the bleaching gel.

Although many people prefer to whiten their teeth on their own, there are still many advantages to getting your teeth whitened by a dentist. In advance of providing you with the whitening gel, your dentist will examine your teeth, determine if whitening gel will work for you, anticipate any problems that will occur, and monitor your progress. The results will be predictable and exactly what you hoped to achieve.

The bump on the inside of your mouth will need to be examined to determine why your oral tissue is irritated. Whenever you have oral health issues, it’s best to receive an examination from a dentist and not to determine the cause and treatment. Prompt treatment can save you time and money, and prevent further damage to your tooth.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Would a prosthodontist be willing to do porcelain veneers for me?

By | Porcelain Veneers | No Comments

I’m wondering if a prosthodontist would be willing to do porcelain veneers for me. I’ve been to 2 dentists about veneers and neither of them will do them for me because I grind my teeth a lot. They say the veneers would break under the pressure from grinding. I know that different dentists have different techniques and some can accomplish things that others won’t touch. The issue with my teeth is that they are too small. My smile is short and looks like it belongs to an adolescent. I’m 37 years old and would very much like a change. Is a new smile with porcelain veneers something a prosthodontist would be willing to do? Thanks. Jess

Jess – Many dentists would not recommend porcelain veneers if you’re a heavy teeth grinder. Bruxism (teeth grinding) can cause damage to natural teeth, porcelain veneers, and even porcelain crowns.

Before addressing the cosmetic issues with your teeth, a prosthodontist would try to determine the cause of your teeth grinding habit. Treatment, which can include relaxation techniques, minimizing stress, and wearing a custom night guard can help protect your teeth and dental restorations.

A prosthodontist wouldn’t give you porcelain veneers right away. Several things have to be done first. Some of them include:

  • Examine the health of your natural teeth and gums to determine if you’re a candidate for porcelain veneers.
  • Collaborate with you to determine the cause of your teeth grinding.
  • Determine if you need TMJ (temporomandibular joint) treatment.
  • Recommend therapy or jaw exercises to alleviate discomfort from teeth grinding
  • Provide a customized night guard to minimize grinding and protect your teeth

A prosthodontist is a specialist in the replacement and restoration of teeth. After general dentistry training, a prosthodontist receives up to four years of specialized training. They understand dental aesthetics and what is required to improve your smile.

Porcelain veneers aren’t the only option for lengthening the appearance of your teeth. A prosthodontist will let you know your options, based on your case and the condition of your teeth and gums.

We suggest that you find a specialist who can address your bruxism and your desire to lengthen the appearance of your teeth. A prosthodontist can do both. You can get a second opinion from a prosthodontist to discuss your options.

 

This post is sponsored by American Board certified prosthodontist and Naperville implant dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Is full-mouth reconstruction really necessary?

By | Cosmetic Procedures | No Comments

When I was a child I never had the privilege of seeing a dentist. Now that I’m 26 years old I’ve moved out and am on my own. I have a job and dental insurance. I also have horrible teeth. 4 of my teeth are missing and I have a few other teeth that are worn and chipped. I’m in treatment for periodontal disease that is really advanced. My current dentist recommends full mouth reconstruction. It should like a good idea, but I don’t know if it is really necessary. Even if it is a good idea, I don’t know how I could afford it. Do I really need full mouth reconstructions or are there other ways to give me a decent smile? – Bennett

Bennett – Full-mouth reconstruction is a huge project for the most skilled dentists. It requires skill, technical knowledge, and training that’s much more advanced that what is taught in dental school.

A dentist has to be trained in aesthetics and restorative dentistry to ensure your teeth are functional—individually and as a unit. Most dentists aren’t trained or qualified to provide it, but experienced prosthodontists and some cosmetic dentists have the training and experience required.

If you need full-mouth reconstruction and if you are considering it, cost should not be the primary consideration. This treatment requires meticulous planning, technique, and care. It is an expensive process.

Full-Mouth Reconstruction – Learn About Your Options

  • Find two to three board-certified prosthodontists or accredited cosmetic dentists and schedule consultations with me.
  • Check each dentist’s credentials in advance of your visit, and check patient reviews.
  • Take notes from each consultation you have and record the options and estimates you are given.
  • After each dentist explains your options, ask about the results you can expect with dental crowns, dental bridges, or dental implants. Carefully record the details you are given.
  • Ask each dentist what can be done to make treatment affordable for you. A dentist might offer payment plans or financing so you can pay for care over time.

Compare your options, as well as each dentist’s experience with cases like yours. It will help you make an informed decision.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Dental bonding made my toothache worse

By | Dental Bonding

I got dental bonding in September last year and it’s been an ongoing problem. My dentist filled a cavity on the inside of my tooth, but the tooth has never stopped hurting. For some reason it hurts worse than it did before it was filled. He did the filling over again but the tooth still hurts. I went back last week and my dentist prescribed steroids. He said if it doesn’t get better he’ll probably have to extract the tooth. Somehow I feel like everything hasn’t been done to try to save the tooth. It’s not that I know what steps to take, I just feel like more could be done. I don’t know how to stop tooth pain, but is the extraction the last possible option? Laney

Laney – Your description sounds as if the dental bonding is the source of your pain. It’s common for a tooth to be irritated after a filling, but the irritation gradually calms down within a few weeks. It’s possible that the bonding was placed too high and is interfering with your bite (the way your upper and lower teeth fit together).

Tooth pain can be a sign of an infection. Steroids will make it more difficult for your body to fight the infection, so that’s not the right option in this case. If there is an infection, it needs to be removed and the filling needs to be properly replaced. If your tooth pulp in affected, a root canal treatment and crown will be needed.

We recommend that you get a second opinion from a skilled prosthodontist. He or she is a specialist in tooth restoration. Your tooth will be examined, your bite will be checked, and if needed, x-rays will be taken to determine the best way to preserve your tooth. It’s likely that the bonding just needs to be correctly replaced. You can also get advice on preventing tooth decay.

Ask friends or family members for a recommendation of a prosthodontist, or search online for a board-certified prosthodontist. Be sure to check patient reviews.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist and board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

 

 

teeth-too-small-gummy-smile-blog

My teeth are too small and only my gums show when I smile

By | Cosmetic Procedures

My teeth are too small. My smile is basically 75% gums and 25% teeth. When I was I school, kids called me Gumby. Now some cruel adults make jokes about it when we are kidding around. I don’t joke about anyone’s personal appearance so I am not sure why they go there. I am 36 years old so this is not an issue of growing into my smile. My teeth are just plain too small. I do not want anything artificial like porcelain veneers placed on my teeth. I am just wondering what other options are to help me smile freely and not hold back because people are looking at my gums. Thanks. Melina

Melina – When more gums than teeth show when you smile, it’s usually due to excess gum tissue, as opposed to your teeth being abnormally small. A prosthodontist who is skilled in cosmetic dentistry will examine your teeth and let you know your options.

If you don’t want porcelain veneers, there are other options.

  • Gingivectomy – This procedure is performed after numbing your gum tissue. Either a laser or dental scalpel is used to remove the excess gum tissue and lengthen the appearance of your teeth. The procedure is completed in the dentist office and is usually completed in one visit. It is also referred to as gum contouring or a gum lift.
  • Crown lengthening – This procedure involves the removal and reshaping of excess gum, as well as bone tissue. It exposes more of your teeth so that they appear longer.
  • Composite bonding – Dental composite is mixed to match the color of your natural teeth. It is applied to your teeth, and then shaped and polished to lengthen your teeth.

Regardless of which treatment you receive, if you find an expert cosmetic dentist or prosthodontist to do the work, the results will be seamless. Other than noticing an improvement in your smile, people won’t be able to see the difference between the dental treatment and your natural teeth.

We suggest that you schedule one or two consultations with experienced dentists to discuss your options. Ask to see patient photos of cases similar to yours that were completed by each dentist. This will help you choose the right provider.

This post is sponsored by Naperville board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca

Can I sleep off some of my sedation at the dentist’s office before I drive home?

By | Sedation Dentistry

I need sedation dentistry but I don’t want to ask anyone to drive me to my dental appointment. I really don’t want anyone to know about the appointment and there really isn’t anyone I would feel comfortable asking anyway. If I get sedation, will I be able to stay at the office until it wears off? How long will it take to get out of my system? Thanks. Kyle.

Kyle,

After sedation dentistry, most people are drowsy for the rest of the day. You will be barred from driving for the rest on the same day that you receive sedation.

Exactly how long you will be drowsy depends on the medication used and how your body reacts to it. In advance of your dental procedure, a sedation dentist will discuss your dental procedure and the level of your anxiety. Those factors, along with the types of sedation that your dentist offers, will determine which medication is used.

A sedation dentist is responsible for your safety. Although you can briefly rest after your appointment, you won’t be allowed to rest or sleep in the office with the goal of driving yourself home. It’s simply not safe, and it’s definitely not worth the risk. Your dentist will recommend that you go home and rest. If there is no one that you want to ask to drive you to and from your appointment, consider getting private transportation.

It’s best to have a consultation with a sedation dentist first to find out what is involved in your treatment and how many appointments are required. It will help you determine the best way to travel to and from your dental appointments. Your dentist will require that you have transportation before you receive sedation, so be prepared to make appropriate arrangements.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Do affordable dental implants need veneers to look good?

By | Affordable Dental Implants, Porcelain Veneers

I’ve been saving for affordable dental implants because since 2002 I’ve been wearing a partial denture 2 missing top right teeth and it is very uncomfortable. My cousin is a dental hygienist and she suggested that I look into dental implants. That was 3 yrs ago. When I found out the cost of implants I knew I couldn’t do anything about the partial so I saved up for it. I found a dentist who supposedly offers affordable implants but now I’m beginning to wonder about him. I had consultations with 3 different dentists like my cousin advised me. I chose this dentist because he is personable and explained everything so clearly to me. Last week I went into the office to get digital x-rays. The dentist told me everything looks good and I am eligible to get implants. Then he started talking about my need to have porcelain veneers on the teeth on the left and right of the implants. He said that to get the teeth to match the implants I need veneers. I thought implants would be made to match my natural teeth. Now I’m getting nervous about the cost and I don’t want veneers anyway. Is it normal protocol to need veneers so the implants match my teeth? Thank you. Jovana

Jovana,

Unfortunately, we have to recommend that you see a different dentist for affordable dental implants. It is not normal for a dentist to recommend porcelain veneers to ensure your dental implants match the teeth on either side of them.

It sounds like your dentist might not have cosmetic dentistry training and is not confident that he can provide you with implants that match your natural teeth. Either he doesn’t have the skill to provide you with natural-looking results, or he is trying to increase his profit on your case.

Do any of the dentists with whom you had consultations also have training in cosmetic dentistry? If so, visit one of them again to get more information on their recommendations for your implants. If you were really dissatisfied with the other two dentists, we suggest that you find two more dentists who offer affordable dental implants.

Your priority should be quality implant placement and results that look good. It’s possible that to get affordable dental implants, financing or a payment plan might be your best option. It’s better to ensure you get quality dental care than for it to be the cheapest option available with a poor outcome.

This post is sponsored by Naperville implant dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.