Will tooth mousse and whitening get rid of my white lesions?

I’ve had white spot lesions on my teeth for several years. I finally decided I wanted to do something about them so at my last dental appointment, my dentist sent me home with tooth mousse and then told me to come back in a couple of months for some whitening. Will the combination of these two things help me finally get rid of these stains for good? — Eric

Eric,
Unfortunately, your dentist is not quite on the mark with this one. Yes, tooth mousse does treat white spots, but it’s only designed to keep them from turning into cavities by remineralizing them. You can check into it, but the company doesn’t make any specific aesthetic claims beyond that.

But what is even more concerning is that your dentist is recommending tooth whitening. The bleaching gel is designed to whitening everything, so if you have white spots, they will end up looking even worse. Find an expert cosmetic dentist in your area and he/she will be able to help you get rid of the white spots with either microabrasion (an acid-pumice mixture that is applied to the surface of the teeth) or tooth bonding which is covering the areas with composite resin.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

CEREC for porcelain veneers? My dentist seems to think so…

I will be fifty soon and while I look and feel pretty great for my age, my teeth are definitely not holding up as well. I’ve chipped and cracked a couple of them and overall, they just look old and discolored. I’ve read up on porcelain veneers and I’d like to treat myself to an early birthday smile makeover. When I talked to my dentist, he recommended using his CEREC machine that is right there in the office. While I have had a crown done with CEREC, I’m not so sure it is ideal for extensive procedures like veneers. I have high expectations for my new smile, so wouldn’t it be better if he sent them to a lab? — Danielle

Danielle,
There are many dentist who use CEREC machines and claim they can get the same results that a dental lab can. If you talk to any tried and true cosmetic dentist, they would more than likely strongly disagree. Before making any sort of decision, google some photos of CEREC veneers. Hopefully you will find some before and after photos from dentists who have completed veneers this way. As you are examining them, ask yourself these these questions:

  • Is the gumline symmetrical?
  • Is the shape of the tooth natural?
  • Does the color and shading match the surrounding teeth?

While many of the smiles may look improved, if you find yourself answering no to these questions, CEREC will not give you the results you desire.

When it comes to porcelain veneers, the best results will be achieved by an experienced cosmetic dentist working closely with an expert lab technician. The best ones out there will have before and after photos of actual patients. Study the photos closely and if you have any doubts in his or her skills, keep looking. The other thing you can do is tell you dentist you would prefer traditional porcelain veneers. If he seems hesitant, it would be best not to push him into doing them. Chances are, he isn’t comfortable with them and that is a sure-fire reason to find someone who is.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

Is my cavity really too deep for a white filling?

I have cavities on two of my back bottom teeth and I requested that my dentist do white fillings. He insists that I need amalgam fillings because the cavities are too big and deep for the white ones. I’m wondering if that’s really the case or if my insurance is the problem and he’s just not telling me. I have Denti-Cal. — Rob

Rob,
For starters, if your dentist is giving you the excuse that your fillings are too deep for white fillings, that’s totally wrong. The deeper the filling is, all the more reason to use white composite. Amalgam fillings can cause sensitivity to hot and cold, and when a filling is very deep, that sensitivity is even worse because the hot and cold is conducted directly into the tooth. Also, when a filling is very deep, the walls of the cavity can be very thin, thus making them susceptible to breaking when amalgam is used. A white filling actually strengthens the tooth structure.

I think the main issue here (and what your dentist is not telling you) is your insurance. Government dental insurance plans like Denti-Cal do not cover white fillings because they are more expensive than amalgam. Most of these plans won’t even allow participants to pay the difference, so you if you want white fillings you’ll have to pay for them out of your own pocket.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.

Is it safe to remove amalgam fillings?

I have old silver fillings from a long time ago that I want to have removed and replaced with white ones instead. One dentist told me it was safer to keep the silver ones, as more mercury can be released during the removal process. Is this true? — Marcia

Marcia,
There are some who are concerned that silver fillings due in fact release mercury gas, with the potential to cause health hazards over time. Since mercury is a toxic substance that can cause many health issues, it’s important that old amalgam fillings (which can contain more than 50% mercury) be removed in a safe manner.

Mercury from your old fillings can be released into your body several different ways (i.e. chewing, brushing or teeth grinding). However, the most dangerous way it can be released is through removal; especially if it’s not done in a specific manner. Traditional dentists remove amalgams regularly with little regard to mercury vapor exposure.

Seeking out a specific “mercury-free dentist” places you in the care of someone specifically trained to safely remove old amalgams, minimizing the effect of mercury exposure. They will likely have all the necessary equipment and tools to do the job safely. Currently, the ADA recognizes mercury containing amalgams as acceptable filling material. With that being said, many dentists will use it regularly, as well as advise not to remove them unless there is decay or cracks. As a patient, it’s important to do your own research about the hazards of mercury-based fillings, and look to a mercury-free dentist that can replace them.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Read more about why many consider Dr. Delaune to be the best dentist in New Orleans.