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Teeth whitening has become quite popular over the last 2 decades. From over the counter whitening toothpastes to teeth whitening strips to professional teeth whitening. People are in pursuit of that perfectly white smile. Teeth whitening is a positive thing if it makes you feel good about yourself.

Marielaina Perrone DDS Teeth Whitening

Methods Of Teeth Whitening

There are multiple ways to achieve the same goal…..whiter teeth. Some methods can be done at home by yourself and others will need the supervision of a dental professional.

-Teeth Whitening Toothpastes. This method is probably the cheapest and easiest to use but also will give limited results. Many premium toothpastes now include teeth whitening ingredients to help you achieve a whiter, brighter smile. Unfortunately, teeth whitening tooth pastes have their negatives. The results are extremely variable from individual to individual. If your smile has extensive staining and discoloration, these toothpastes may not work as well as for someone who has very light discoloration and tooth staining. However we are brushing anyway, so why not give it a try and see what the results may bring for your individual smile.

-Teeth Whitening Strips. This method has an increased cost over the teeth whitening toothpastes and can give very good results. You can buy a box of teeth whitening strips at your local pharmacy.The active teeth whitening ingredients in the strips are generally the same as dentists use in their professional teeth whitening products but the concentration of the teeth whitening ingredients in the store bought products will come in at a much lower level. The drawback to the lower concentration of whitening ingredients is that they may not get your teeth to whiten as much as you would like. The other drawback is the application of the teeth whitening strips. The whitening strips must be placed across all the teeth evenly, and cannot be directly applied to one that is stained more. The fit is sometimes not the greatest, and they have the possibility to irritate periodontal tissues.

-Teeth Whitening With Custom Trays. This procedure is completed in a dental office. The custom trays fit your mouth comfortably and allow for an even distribution of the teeth whitening gel across all teeth or can only applied to specific teeth or even a single tooth. The trays can be worn day or night (even overnight) over a period of one to 4 weeks, and are very convenient for people with active schedules on the go. The other advantage is that this type of teeth whitening is that your dentist will use a stronger whitening agent. The main disadvantages to this type of teeth whitening versus the at home techniques is that the cost is higher, and sensitivity may be greater, but the results are usually far better.

-Teeth Whitening Performed In Dental Office. This is by far the highest cost, fastest, and generally most effective Teeth Whitening option available. This teeth whitening procedure is performed by your dentist using a special dental light and teeth whitening gel. This type of teeth whitening can deliver fantastic results in as little as 1/2 hour to one full hour. This teeth whitening technique utilizes a highly concentrated whitening agent accelerated by heat and light  to speed up the teeth whitening process. The disadvantage is the higher cost of  Teeth Whitening.

Teeth Whitening Conclusion

As written above there are many choices available for teeth whitening whether at home or in your dentist’s office. Discuss the various options for teeth whitening with your dentist to see what would be the best for your individual smile. Teeth whitening has seen a rapid growth. Talk to your dentist at your next visit to see what options are right for you.


As we get older, we need tokeep track of our bodies far differently than when we were younger. This includes our dental hygiene. Prescription medications can have a big effect on dental health. They can lead to dry mouth which can lead to increased tooth decay. Below you will find some great dental hygiene tips to navigate through the senior years.

Common Dental Issues For Seniors

Certain dental health problems are more common in seniors, they include the following:

1) Tooth Decay. Cavities are caused by plaque bacteria which breakdown the enamel and cause holes in the teeth. Soft diet, dry mouth, limited dexterity, a large number of crowns and fillings to clean around, and high sugars or acids in your diet will increase your chances of decay.

2) Periodontal Disease. Seniors are at an increased risk of periodontal disease. This occurs when plaque builds up beneath your gum line causing inflammation of the tissues and eventually bone loss if allowed to progress. Certain medications cause the gums to swell and bleed and make it more difficult to remove plaque. This may cause gum recession and periodontal disease.

3) Root Cavities. The roots of the teeth can also decay. Once gums recede, the unprotected root surface is very easy for the plaque bacteria to attack. With no enamel to protect it, the cavity can progress rapidly to the nerve of the tooth.

4) Tooth Sensitivity. As we get older, our gums may recede, exposing root surfaces. The roots have nerve endings close to the surface which can become increasingly sensitive to hot, cold, brushing, and sweets. If you experience sensitivity, try a sensitivity toothpaste (like Colgate Sensitive Pro-Health) . If the problem persists, see your dentist, as the sensitivity may be an indication of a more serious condition, such as a cavity or a cracked or fractured tooth.

5) Dry mouth or Xerostomia. Dry mouth is a common condition in the senior population and one that may be caused by medications or certain medical disorders (like radiation therapy for cancer). If this condition is left untreated, it can cause damage to your teeth. Dry mouth occurs when there is reduced salivary flow. Plaque tends to build up when the mouth is dry, putting you at an increased risk for cavities. Your dentist can recommend multiple methods to restore moisture in your mouth, as well as treatments or medications to help prevent the development of cavities. Two products I recommend are Biotene and Listerine Zero.

6) Denture Issues. Many older people wear dentures. If they are not properly cared for, they can cause dental health problems, especially fungal infections such as yeast. A sign of a yeast infection is bright red irritated tissue, itchiness, burning, or a white creamy build up on oral tissues or denture. Just because you have dentures does not mean you do not need a dental examination. You should have an annual check of your denture fit, oral tissues, and oral cancer screening. As well as a jaw x-ray every five years to detect growth or changes in the bone.

Senior Dental Hygiene Tips

-Maintain Regular Brushing. The recommended time to brush is at least 2 minutes. For many of us, we never reach the 2 minute mark at any of our tooth brushing sessions. If you feel like you are having trouble keeping to 2 minute deadline think about the use of a timer or an electric toothbrush that shuts off after 2 minutes of use.

-Use A Plaque Disclosing Solution. This solution allows the patient to see visually if they left any plaque behind and work on areas they are missing. It is a great tool and easy to visualize the areas you need improvement on.

-Maintain Regular Dental Visits. This goes for the old and the young. Maintaining regular dental visits can catch small problems before they become bigger issues. This will save you time and money and possibly pain down the road.

-Add A Mouthwash Rinse To Your Dental Hygiene Protocol. It is a good idea to use an oral rinse that does not contain alcohol. As we get older, our teeth can become sensitive, alcohol rinses can be uncomfortable to use for those with sensitive teeth.

-Floss Daily. Flossing your teeth can help prevent plaque from building up between teeth. Flossing should be done at least once a day. We also recommend the use of floss mate. A variety of companies (Butler GUM floss mate or REACH access flosser), make these products and are easily found at the local drug store. These products work well in patients with minimal or reduced dexterity.

-Quite Smoking.  In addition to increasing your risk of many systemic diseases, smoking can increase your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. There are a variety of methods available to quit to make it as painless a possible.

Conclusion

There are many health challenges to deal with as we age, but maintaining good oral hygiene and monitoring to your dental health can keep your smile sparkling for many years to come.

Tooth decay is a slow, destructive process. In its earliest stages, a decayed tooth, is easily treatable. If left untreated it will lead to dental infection and tooth loss. The best defense against tooth decay is good oral hygiene along with regular dental visits. These routine dental visits will give your dentist the ability to detect tooth decay in its earliest stages.

Signs Of Tooth Decay

-Pain/Discomfort. Having any kind of oral or tooth pain is not normal. It is usually a sign that something is wrong.

-Tooth SensitivityThis can be due to a variety of things but it is important to note the type of sensitivity present. Is it sensitive to hot temperatures, cold temperatures, or both? Is it sensitive to sugary foods? Is it sensitive to acidic foods? If the tooth or teeth are sensitive to most or all of the questions posed than it is cause for concern.

-Persistent Bad Breath (Halitosis). Bad breath can be caused by many things like the foods we eat, periodontal disease, and systemic disease (like diabetes). Tooth decay can also present itself with a persistent malodor due to the bacteria present in tooth decay.

Tooth Decay Treatment

Treatment of tooth decay usually takes two routes. One is when it is detected early enough to see if it will reverse itself through remineralization and the other is restoring the tooth to its natural form and function.

-Remineralization. Very shallow cavities in our teeth can sometimes fix themselves with a little help. These cavities must only be in the outer layer of our teeth (enamel). Once it passes theough this layer the tooth decay will not reverse itself. The repair process is known as remineralization. Application of fluoride to the teeth can reverse the process of early tooth decay. This is usually done using a fluoride supplement or through application at a dental office. Fluoride can be harmful at high levels so it is important to follow your dentist’s advice.

-Dental Restoration. Once the tooth decay enters the underlying layers of a tooth it is time for a dental restoration to restore the form and function of the teeth. Restorations can include dental amalgam, dental bonding, and dental crowns. Dental crowns (can be porcelain or gold) are necessary when the tooth decay is extensive.

-Root Canal Therapy. This treatment will be necessary if the tooth decay has entered the “nerve center” of the tooth. This allows the dentist to save the tooth preserving it for future use. Once a tooth receives a root canal it is generally recommended that a dental crown be placed.

-Tooth Extraction. If a patient decides to forego root canal therapy or the decay is so extensive that it is not able to be restored, the only option is to remove the tooth (or what is left of that tooth). This is usually a last resort option.

Tooth Decay Conclusion

It is important to remember that tooth decay is preventable and even if it does arise it can be treated with minimal care. The key is early diagnosis. The only way to diagnose tooth decay early is through regular dental examinations and routine radiographs. At the first sign of tooth decay call your dentist to evaluate the situation.

Sensitive teeth can occur for a variety of reasons and in many ways. Sensitivity to temperature, sweets, touch, or pressure are the main types of tooth sensitivity.  The pain and discomfort from sensitive teeth are generally a sign of trauma, tooth decay, or wear, and can range from mildly irritating to quite painful.  Did you know there are effective treatments against sensitive teeth?

Types Of Sensitive Teeth

There are two very different types of sensitivity:

Dentinal Sensitivity. This occurs when the middle layer (dentin) of a tooth is exposed. Dentin is usually covered by enamel above the gum line and by cementum (bone like connective tissue covering the root of a tooth) below the gum line. There are tiny openings called tubules in the dentin. Inside each tubule there is a nerve branch that comes from the tooth’s pulp (the nerve center of the tooth). When the dentin is exposed, these nerve branches can be affected by hot, cold, or certain foods. This causes tooth sensitivity.

When the outer protective layers of enamel or cementum wear away the dentin becomes exposed. This can affect one tooth or multiple teeth. Dentin exposure can be be caused in a variety of ways. These can include:

1. Aggressive brushing. The enamel layer can be worn away from brushing too hard.

2. Plaque build up. The presence of plaque on the root surfaces can cause sensitivity.

3. Tooth wear that occurs over time from clenching and grinding.

4. Untreated dental cavities.

5. Gingival recession. When the gums recede they expose the tooth’s roots. Receding gums are often caused by periodontal diseases or by aggressive brushing. Receded gums are very common and up to four fifths of people have gum recession by the time they are 65.

6. Periodontal surgery (gum surgery) that exposes the tooth’s roots.

7.  Tooth whitening.

8. Frequently eating acidic foods or liquids.

Pulpal sensitivity. This is a reaction of the tooth’s pulp. The pulp consists of a mass of blood vessels and nerves in the center of each tooth. Sensitivity of the pulpal tissue tends to affect only one tooth. Causes of this type of sensitivity can include:

1. Dental cavities or infection.

2. Placement of a recent filling.

3. Excessive pressure from grinding or clenching your teeth.

4. A cracked or broken tooth. If you feel a sharp pain upon biting, you may have a broken or cracked filling. Pain when you release your bite is a sign of a cracked tooth.

Your dentist will be able to diagnose the type of sensitivity you have.

Can Sensitive Teeth Be Strengthened?

Your dentist can strengthen your weakened teeth in two ways. These include the following:

-Attempt to rebuild the worn enamel. Fluoride treatments are highly effective at strengthening weakened tooth enamel. Fluoride contains minerals that can help to strengthen your teeth enamel. Exposing your teeth to more fluoride can be done in several ways:

-In Office Fluoride Treatment. This is the most concentrated fluoride treatment available. During this procedure, trays of fluoride gel, varnish, or foam are placed over your teeth, and allow the fluoride to take effect for several minutes to several weeks.

-At Home Fluoride Treatment. You can also use fluoridated toothpaste, gel, or mouthwash at home for gradual enamel maintenance.

-Create A New Enamel-like Layer. The cosmetic dentistry procedures that are highly effective are dental bonding, crowns, and porcelain veneers.

Dental bonding gives the dentist the ability to add tooth colored material to cover the areas lacking in tooth enamel. This effectively creates a protective layer between the sensitive areas of your teeth and the outside stimulants in the outside world.

Sometimes the sensitivity is related to the tooth nerve suffering from inflammation. This may or may not lead to a need for root canal therapy to stop the pain.

Porcelain veneers and crowns can act as a protective layer and decrease sensitivity or protect a tooth after root canal therapy.

Sensitive Teeth Conclusion

Dealing with sensitive teeth can be very frustrating. Oftentimes sensitivity can be treated effectively and quickly. If you are experiencing sensitive teeth, consult your dentist to see what can be done for you to relieve your discomfort and address problems which may be occurring. The sooner the sensitivity is addressed the less chance of more serious problems.