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Cosmetic Dentistry 101

What is one of the first things you notice about someone you meet? For many people, they notice someone’s smile. After all, who doesn’t want a nice bright smile? Straight teeth make you feel more confident. But that’s not all. Having a beautiful smile is about more than just looking good. Fixing dental imperfections that affect your appearance can also improve your bite, dental health, and well-being.

What is cosmetic dentistry? 

When you think of cosmetic procedures, you might be thinking of a nip here or a tuck there. But when it comes to your teeth, what is cosmetic dentistry? Cosmetic dentistry is the term typically used to refer to dental procedures that improve the appearance of your teeth or bite.

Keep in mind; most dental procedures should be beneficial cosmetically. For example, a procedure, such as a bridge or an implant not only improves the function of your teeth but also has a cosmetic benefit.

What are the Benefits of Cosmetic Dentistry?

Who doesn’t want to look their best? An obvious benefit of cosmetic dentistry is it improves your appearance. But there is an old saying that beauty is more than skin deep.”

Improving your smile does more than enhance the way you look. Fixing dental imperfections can also boost your self-image and confidence. Even a subtle change in your teeth and smile can make a difference in how you feel.

When you think about changing your life, a visit to your dentist is probably not the first thing that comes to your mind. But feeling better about your smile and how you look is often a game changer. If you feel confident, it can change your outlook on things, which affects all areas of your life.

How Can Cosmetic Dentistry Improve My Smile?

So, you’re sold on the idea of a healthy mouth and improving your smile. But what are your options? We’re glad you asked. Procedures that may improve the appearance of your teeth and in many cases the functioning include the following:


A veneer is a thin piece of material placed on top of a natural tooth to correct or repair chipped, strained, or misaligned teeth. Veneers are usually made of resin material or porcelain. If you’re having more than one tooth repaired, veneers adhere to each individual tooth to improve your smile. Your dentist will be sure to match the veneer with the color of your other teeth to create a natural appearance.


A crown is a prosthetic tooth that is made of various materials including ceramic, stainless steel, and porcelain. Crowns are an excellent option to repair a broken or weak tooth. Usually, crowns are needed if a tooth is too weak to be repaired with a filling alone. Opting for a crown is a great way to improve both the function of a tooth and the appearance.

Usually, it takes two appointments to have a crown. During the first appointment, the decay from your tooth is removed, and the tooth is filled and prepared, so it supports the crown. An impression of your teeth is taken, and the permanent crown is made in a dental lab. Your dentist will match the color of the crown to your other teeth, so it blends in naturally.

A temporary crown is placed while you wait for your permanent crown to be made. During your second appointment, the crown is placed over your tooth and cemented in place.

Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is one of the easiest ways to enhance your smile. As we age, our teeth often lose their natural brightness. Eating and drinking certain things, such as coffee, red wine, and berries can also stain teeth.

Whitening can take your teeth from a yellowish hue to a white smile. Both at-home and in-office teeth whitening are available. At-home whitening is often a convenient option for many people.

At- home whitening involves wearing custom-made trays and a whitening agent. The whitening agent placed in the trays comes in preloaded syringes, so it’s user-friendly. Trays can be worn overnight or during the day.

Custom-made trays fit your teeth better than over the counter store bought products. Wearing a custom-made tray helps the whitening agent cover every angle of your teeth, which provides optimal results.

It’s helpful to wear the trays on consecutive days until your teeth are your desired color. The number of days it takes to reach your desired shade depends on how discolored your teeth are. Keep in mind, teeth whitening products will not brighten veneers or crowns.

How Do I Know What Procedure is Right for Me?

With all the cosmetic dentistry options you have, how do you know what is best? The dental problem you are hoping to correct plays the biggest role in which procedure is most appropriate. In some cases, you may have more than one option that would work well.

It’s also essential to determine if any cosmetic dental issues are due to an underlying problem, such as gum disease. A thorough dental exam helps your dentist identify any problem areas.

Choosing the best cosmetic dental procedure may also depend on several factors, such as your cavity rate, periodontal health, and your bite. Your dentist will work with you to determine what type of cosmetic dentistry is right for you. The bottom-line is if you are unhappy with your smile, you can do something about it. There are several ways to enhance both your appearance and dental health!

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Tooth Whitening for a Bright Smile

Watch any Hollywood awards show, and you’ll see celebrities flash their bright smile as they walk the red carpet. Did you ever wonder how they get their teeth so white? Even good genes don’t prevent tooth discoloration from the foods and beverages we drink and eat. Fortunately, you don’t have to be rich and famous to achieve a pearly white smile.

Why Teeth Become Discolored  

If you don’t have super white teeth, you’re not alone. Many of us have varying degrees of discoloration that range from off-white to yellow to deeper golden hues. Yellow and gold may be on your color wheel, but not when it comes to your teeth. So, what causes those nice white teeth we have as kids to take on a darker tinge?

Even if you have healthy teeth, you’re not immune to tooth discoloration. There are several reasons your smile may not be as bright as it used to be. Some discoloration may just be due to genetics. Yep, blame it on your family. Genetics may play a role in the brightness and thickness of your tooth’s enamel, which in part determines if you have whitewashed teeth.

Aging is also one of the most common reasons some people experience tooth discoloration. Your teeth have a few different layers. The enamel is the outer layer. Under the enamel is an inner layer called dentin, which has a yellowish tint. As we age, the enamel may thin, which causes the dentin to show more and makes the teeth appear discolored.

Certain foods and drinks can also lead to discoloration. For example, red wine can stain your teeth. Unfortunately, white wine doesn’t reverse the discoloration. But seriously, many common foods and drinks can contribute to discolored teeth. In addition to wine, cola, blueberries, and tea can sabotage your bright smile.

In some cases, side effects from medication may be to blame for discolored teeth. Certain medications, such as high blood pressure drugs, can cause discoloration of the teeth. Trauma to the teeth can cause changes in the tooth’s structure, which also leads to discoloration.

One of the biggest culprits for yellow teeth is smoking. The chemicals in cigarettes, especially tar and nicotine, often lead to discoloration. The longer a person smokes, the worse the discoloration usually becomes.

What Can You Do About Discolored Teeth?

Whitening your teeth can cause an immediate positive change in your self-esteem and appearance. Having a bright smile helps you talk and laugh with confidence.

Pretty much everyone wants a nice white smile, but they may not know how to achieve it. The goods news is tooth whitening has never been easier. Over the counter whitening products, such as mouthwash, toothpaste and whitening strips are available to brighten your teeth.

Your best bet to get a whiter smile is at-home bleaching with custom-made bleaching trays and whitening products. The custom-made trays fit your mouth better than over the counter products. A better fitting tray makes the difference in your results. A custom-fitted tray helps ensure every angle of your teeth gets consistent coverage by the whitening product. Plus, the products dispensed through your dentist typically have a higher concentration of the bleaching agent, which means you get better results.

Keep in mind; no product can whiten your teeth several shades in only a few minutes. Chemically, the whitening agents cannot penetrate deep enough into the teeth to whiten teeth dramatically in a short time. For best results, tooth whitening should be done on consecutive days for a week or two or until the desired shade is reached.

Teeth whiteners are usually safe for most people. Some people may have some tooth or gum sensitivity. If tooth sensitivity occurs, try delaying whitening a few days. In most cases, tooth sensitivity is only temporary and usually disappears in a day.

Remember that tooth whitening does not work on bridges and crowns. Depending on the shade of discoloration, it may not be effective on all teeth. Talk to your dentist to determine what method of tooth whitening may be most effective for your situation. Always follow the instructions, since the overuse of whiteners may harm the tooth enamel.

Keeping Your Pearly Whites Bright

Once your teeth are pearly white, you want to keep them that way. Although certain factors that contribute to tooth discoloration, such as age and genetics, are uncontrollable, you can still do several things to keep your teeth looking good. Consider the following suggestions to keep your smile bright:

Stop smoking: If you smoke, you probably already know that it is bad for your overall health. It is also bad for your teeth. Smoking cessation programs, medications, and nicotine patches are available to help smokers break the habit.

Keep diet in mind: Once your teeth are whitened, they can become discolored again depending on your eating and drinking habits. If you want to keep your teeth white, consider the foods and beverages you eat and drink. Consider limiting certain things that stain the teeth, such as coffee, tea, and cola.

Use a straw: When you’re drinking certain beverages, such as cola or coffee drinks, using a draw limits the amount of contact the stain causing dyes have with your teeth.

Practice good oral hygiene: One of the best ways to keep your teeth white naturally is by practicing good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss daily. Have regular checkups and get your teeth professionally cleaned as recommended by your dentist.

Consider touchups: You can’t expect to whiten your teeth once and have it last a lifetime. To maintain a bright smile, you may have to use tooth whitening products periodically. How often you have to do a touchup depends on lifestyle factors, such as the foods and drinks you consume and whether or not you smoke. Talk to your dentist to make sure you are not using whitening products too often.

Use an ADA approved whitening toothpaste: To maintain your bright smile between touchups, consider using a whitening toothpaste. To be sure the toothpaste is approved by the American Dental Association, look for the ADA seal on the package.



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Dental Care Before and During Pregnancy

When you see a positive sign on a pregnancy test, your first thought is probably not to share the good news with your dentist. But keeping your chompers in good shape and your gums healthy is essential during pregnancy for several reasons.

Ideally, you should schedule a dental checkup before you become pregnant. If any dental issues are found, they can be treated ahead of time. After all, once you’re a mom-to-be, you’ll have enough to think about. You don’t need to add toothaches or gum disease to the list. Treating dental problems means one less thing to worry about.

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What You Should Know About Emergency Dental Care

No one wants to deal with a dental emergency, but stuff happens. Ignoring a problem or waiting too long can lead to extensive, and expensive dental work. Knowing what to do in a dental emergency can prevent complications and possibly save a tooth.

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