Posts for: September, 2018
A relatively easy and inexpensive way to improve your smile is to whiten your teeth. In fact, you may even be able to do it yourself at home. Although there are differences between at-home and professional whitening, the former can still be effective.
That effectiveness, though, might be dependent on how well you understand what home whitening can do and what it can’t. So before you purchase your kit, here are a few things to know about DIY teeth whitening.
Home kits are safe—when used as directed. Although nothing in life is completely risk-free, home whitening kits are relatively safe. But only if you follow the directions: If you overuse the bleaching solution beyond its intended use, you could wind up with permanent damage to your tooth enamel that can be costly to treat.
Bleaching solutions are relatively mild. Nearly all home kits use carbamide peroxide, a form of hydrogen peroxide, as their bleaching agent. Home kits usually contain no more than 10% of this agent, much lower than professional solutions. Used as directed, this amount of bleaching agent poses little to no risk to dental or general health. On the other hand, the weaker home kit solution does limit the extent of brightness you can achieve compared to stronger professional treatments.
For top results (or certain conditions), consider professional whitening. While you can obtain good results with a home whitening kit, professional whitening provides more precise brightness control and range, and may possibly last longer. That’s because your dentist has more advanced techniques and equipment, as well as stronger bleaching solutions. And, if your discoloration originates inside your teeth, a home kit won’t help—only a dentist can address that kind of discoloration.
Even if you decide to “go solo,” your dentist can still give you advice on what to look for in a home kit, as well as tips for the actual procedure. But whether you whiten at home or let your dentist do it, teeth whitening can take years off your smile and give you a more attractive look.
If you would like more information on teeth whitening, 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: Are Bleaching Products Safe?”
If you want to keep that new smile after orthodontic treatment, you’ll need to wear a retainer for awhile. Teeth have a tendency to “rebound” to their old positions and a retainer prevents that from happening.
Most people are familiar with the standard removable retainer. But there’s another option: a bonded retainer. While performing the same function as a removable one, the bonded retainer differs in one important aspect—it’s fixed in place and can’t be removed except by a dentist. It’s especially useful for certain bite repairs like the closure of the gap between the front teeth.
If you’re thinking this retainer sounds a lot like the braces just removed, it’s not. The main part of a bonded retainer is a thin metal wire that we bond with a dental composite material across the back of the affected teeth. While you can definitely feel it with your tongue it can’t be seen by others, which is an advantage over many removable retainers.
The fixed nature of bonded retainers also creates a couple of advantages, especially for younger patients. There’s no compliance issue as with removable retainers—the patient doesn’t have the option of taking it out. That also means it can’t be lost, a frequent and costly occurrence with the removable variety.
But a bonded retainer does have some drawbacks. For one, the wire and composite material make it more difficult to floss. There’s also a possibility of breakage from high biting forces, which if that should occur must be immediately repaired to avoid the teeth rebounding. But while removable retainers have their downsides, it’s much easier with them to keep the teeth clean of plaque—you simply take the appliance out to brush and floss.
With your dentist’s help you can weigh the pros and cons of both types of retainers and decide which is best for you or your child. Whichever one you choose, wearing a retainer will help protect that hard-earned smile for years to come.
If you would like more information on protecting your bite after orthodontic treatment, 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 “Bonded Retainers: What are the Pros and Cons?”
Gingivitis is an early stage of periodontal disease, otherwise known as gum disease. Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss and other oral health problems. Maintaining good oral hygiene habits at home and visiting a dentist regularly for an oral exam and cleaning can help prevent gingivitis from developing. If it does begin to develop, regular dental checkups allow your dentist to spot the early warning signs and treat gingivitis before it progresses. Dr. Mehr Tucker is your Rockville, MD dentist for both the prevention and treatment of gingivitis.
Causes of Gingivitis
Gingivitis develops when the gums become infected by bacteria. Bacteria on the teeth can result in the formation of plaque, tartar buildup, and the eventual development of gingivitis. Gingivitis can be prevented through good oral hygiene habits, including daily brushing and flossing, limiting consumption of sugary foods and beverages, and visiting your Rockville dentist twice a year for a checkup and professional cleaning.
Symptoms of Gingivitis
Several symptoms can be indications of possible gingivitis. If you develop any symptoms associated with gingivitis, seeing a Rockville dentist as soon as possible can help stop the gingivitis from progressing and restore your oral health. If gingivitis has already developed, your dentist can often reverse the effects of the gingivitis that is still in the early stages. Symptoms can include:
- Sensitive gums that bleed easily (especially when eating or brushing and flossing)
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Gums that are beginning to recede
- Loose or missing teeth
- Severe toothaches
- Chronic bad breath
Gingivitis is the beginning stage of gum disease, but can be prevented and even reversed in its early stages with proper dental care, including regular oral exams and professional cleanings. See a dentist right away if you have developed any of the symptoms associated with gingivitis, such as red, swollen or tender gums that bleed easily. For the treatment of gingivitis, schedule an appointment with Dr. Tucker by calling the dental office at (301) 963-8900.