Does in-office teeth whitening work?

I’m considering professional whitening at my dentist office. I’ve tried the over-the-counter whitening strips and the only thing they seem to do is damage my enamel. I don’t have any friends or family who’ve done in-office whitening to truly know if it works. I’m also concerned about cost and how frequently I’d have to go back to have it done. Any advice? — Cheryl

Professional in-office whitening is a great, long-term solution to whiten your teeth. As for damaging your enamel, keep in mind that any whitening products (over-the-counter or in office) can be harmful if used too much. Over-the-counter products are designed to whiten a couple of shades lighter, however, it’s really only temporary because they are not as strong. Plus, they must be used frequently to maintain your desired result.

If you’re interested in professional whitening, check with your dentist, because he probably has a couple of options:

  1. An in-office procedure where he will apply a bleaching agent to your teeth and then use a light to activate the gel (this bumps your color several shades, and you’ll need to plan on about two hours at a cost of several hundred dollars)
  2. Take-home trays for bleaching at home which is less expensive (and works just as well over a longer period of time)

Talk with your dentist about whether or not you’re a good candidate for whitening and what might work best. Professional, in-office whitening can leave your teeth bright white for many years. Touch-ups are typically recommended every couple of years, depending on whether or not your eating, drinking or smoking habits discolor the teeth sooner. The good news is that periodic touch-ups are fairly inexpensive.

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.

Can I wait till Monday or should I see an emergency dentist?

I recently started having a jaw ache that I was pretty sure was related to the implant I’ve had for about a year. Because I knew it didn’t feel right, I immediately went back to my implant doctor so he could evaluate it. Needless to say, he said he didn’t see anything wrong and that I had nothing to worry about. Since he is an implant specialist, I assumed I could trust his judgement. This weekend I woke up and fixed some breakfast. When I started to eat, it was quickly apparent something was very wrong because there was a bad taste in my mouth that I have never experienced before. I felt the tooth and it seems a little loose, so I looked at it in the mirror and there is pus oozing out all around the implant. I am absolutely freaked out! Of course it’s the weekend… should I call an emergency dentist or should I wait for my implant doctor to get back in the office on Monday? — Mary Ellen

Mary Ellen,
Oh my… this does sound like a serious situation. Even though you think your implant dentist doesn’t work on the weekends, you should try calling because he may be “on-call” for things like this or his voice mail might at least give an emergency number to call. Hopefully he will get back to you in a short amount of time, but if not, you should absolutely see an emergency dentist. From what you describe, it sounds like you have an infection – and it’s probably been getting worse all along. You need treatment immediately, not only to ensure the implant doesn’t completely fail, but also to make sure your overall health isn’t compromised. Depending on exactly what the emergency dentist determines in the examination, he will likely at the very least prescribe an antibiotic for the infection. If it’s loose, he could also splint it to hold it in place. He may not be able to offer a long-term solution, but at least he can help you keep the infection from spreading until you can get in to see your implant dentist.

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.

Had Zoom Whitening… will my teeth darken to match crown over time?

I had Zoom Whitening done in preparation for a crown I needed. My dentist told me that if I ever wanted to brighten my smile, now was the time to do it, because the crown’s color couldn’t be change afterwards. The tooth isn’t visible all the time. It’s on my top, but two spaces over from the front. Anyway, I went in for the Zoom Whitening and had the crown done about a month later. The dentist assured me it would look fantastic. When I looked at it afterwards, the crown was slightly darker than the rest of my teeth. I didn’t get to see it until after it was cemented, so now I’m stuck with it.

The dentist told me that he used the whitest shade possible, and that it only appears darker because it’s closer to the back of my mouth. He also said that it wouldn’t get noticed, because it’s not part of my smile… except it is. I can see it when I smile in the mirror, and I have looked at it in all sorts of lighting. I complained about it over the phone, and the office lady told me that my teeth would darken over time, and it would match. I’m really frustrated. Are they right and should I leave it, or should I insist that the dentist fix it? — Marilyn

It sounds like your doctor doesn’t have a whole lot of experience when it comes to cosmetic dentistry or Zoom Whitening. You may want to have another dentist handle any of your future cosmetic needs.

First of all, he didn’t use the whitest shade possible. It sounds like he used the whitest “natural shade,” but now that you’ve had Zoom Whitening, your teeth are incredibly bright. Although they’re not a shade that’s seen in untreated teeth, they’re likely a very common shade for whitened teeth, and he should have ordered a lighter color to suit. Therefore, it’s not your imagination- that tooth probably doesn’t match the rest of your teeth, and, given its position, of course you can see it. It’s part of your smile line, and he should have known this and taken extra care when selecting a shade. Moreover, he should have allowed you to look at the crown before it was put on. It’s very odd that he didn’t have you try it in and give you a chance to examine it before it was permanently cemented.

As you acknowledged, you can’t change the color of the new crown, and the individual who told you that the other teeth would “catch up,” was sorely mistaken. Teeth will take on a whole different hue depending on your habits, and there’s no telling if or when the crown will ever match. The real problem, however, is that you paid extra to have all of your teeth white, and to have that crown match, and you should have received what you expected. At this point, the only way to make it match is to have it redone, and the doctor should be willing to correct it for you without hassle.

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.

I want to get veneers, but I’m afraid they will cause tooth decay

I’m in need of a smile makeover, but not sure if I should go with porcelain veneers or Lumineers. Should I be concerned about tooth decay with veneers from food getting stuck under them? — Anastasia

Regardless of what type of veneer you go with, if your dentist bonds them properly, there will be no gaps behind them and your smile will look very natural because the veneers fit perfectly over your teeth. Porcelain veneers themselves are not made of enamel, so they will not decay, but the exposed tooth structure is still susceptible to normal decay if you don’t keep up on your daily home care of brushing and flossing. So be diligent in your daily oral habits and don’t forget to schedule regular dental cleanings and check-ups.

You need to be sure that you get the help of a skilled cosmetic dentist. Be very thorough when doing your research – ask to see before and after photos of his or her work. Also, if you don’t have a good understanding of the difference between porcelain veneers and Lumineers, you need to ask for more information and determine which is best for you. Lumineers are simply a brand a ultra-thin veneers that don’t require teeth preparation. They work for some people, but if they are not properly placed they can cause several aesthetic problems. Porcelain veneers are more versatile and allow a dentist to custom design a perfect fit.

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.