Dentist says I need an Anterior Repositioning Splint… what is it?

I’ve been seeing a dentist for jaw pain and at my last appointment he mentioned fitting me for an Anterior Repositioning Splint. He didn’t really tell me much about it or how it will help me. Is it made out of plastic and is it very big? What will it do? — Jeremiah

Jeremiah,
Dentists often prescribe an anterior repositioning splint (ARS) to re-position or realign the condyles (in basic terms, the condyles are the hinge of the jaw). It treats disc displacement by helping place your jaw joints into a more normal position. If you experience clicks or lock jaw, the ARS will allow your lower jaw and temporomandibular joints to move into a position that reduce those symptoms.

The splint is made of acrylic and typically worn all the time for several months. It can affect speech if it’s worn on your top arch, but the good news is that if you can get through the 3-4 months, your jaw should be in the correct position and you can stop wearing it. The ARS will help your muscles and ligaments relax so you should also see a reduction in grinding or clenching. This type of appliance should only be used for the amount of time recommended by your dentist as it could cause changes to your bite if worn too long.

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.

Does my dentist really expect payment for my implants up front?

I was in an accident a few years ago and lost some teeth. At the time, all I could afford to replace them with was a partial denture, but knew I would eventually get implants. I’ve done a ton of research and recently found an implant dentist that has great patient reviews, so I went to see him. We both agree that implants are the way to go and I can’t wait to get started. I’ll be having surgery to place four implants and then I’ll go back in 6-9 months to have the crowns placed. Here’s the deal… I was totally caught off guard when they told me that I’d need to pay for the entire procedure up front. That’s a lot of money to put up in advance, considering it will take many months to complete. Do most dentists ask for the entire amount up front? Should I question him more about it? — Daniel

Daniel,
You certainly have the right to ask a few questions regarding the procedure and the finances of it, so hopefully you’ve developed a trust and feel comfortable doing so. If you have any doubt in his/her capabilities or practices, consider it a red flag and keep looking. With that said, you need to keep in mind the complexity of the dental implant procedure. It requires a lot of skill on the doctor’s part and there are extremely high fees for materials and lab work that the doctor has to pay for many months in advance to you having a finished product. That’s why asking for payment upfront is not uncommon. Today, many doctors have finance plans they can offer patients (some are even interest free) to help make it more affordable. The approval typically only takes a few minutes and you can get started on the procedure that day. Good luck!

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.

Does the blue light in Zoom whitening do anything?

I recently had Zoom Whitening done and my dental office made a big deal about preparing me for the blue light. I’m thrilled with the results and my teeth have never been brighter, but I was talking with my boyfriend after the procedure and he laughed it off. He said that the blue light is just a gimmick, and that it doesn’t do anything. Does the blue light used in Zoom Whitening actually have a purpose, and if so, what does it do?  — Shyla

Dear Shyla,
The blue light associated with Zoom Whitening and other systems is highly-debated, and it’s possible your boyfriend stumbled upon some of the less-credible information on the net. The blue lights are LED lights, and each system projects the light at a slightly different intensity. There are basic home systems that like to include a single LED for the sake of show. It kind of resembles the blue light that people are familiar with, and have seen on makeover shows. Sometimes those lights work as a timer, and can boost consumer satisfaction, simply because the individual feels like it’s doing something. On the other hand, professional-strength systems include very powerful lights, that can actually be dangerous if proper precautions aren’t taken. Although similar lights are used in some medical treatments, and have even been shown to impact mood in people who suffer from SAD, lengthy exposure to professional-grade systems can actually burn the skin, just like a sunburn. Therefore, Zoom Whitening offices will take great care to block out your gum tissue, and will give you sunblock and eye protection, too.

Even though the light is cool, it’s very intense, and it triggers a reaction in the Zoom Whitening gel, so that it works even quicker. Studies that have compared Zoom Whitening results with and without the blue light generally find there’s a remarkable difference between the final shades. Other systems don’t fare as well in these sorts of trials, and that has a lot to do with the quality of the lights included in the system. The active ingredients in the prescription-strength gel is effective by itself, which is why your office can send you home with the same product, though usually at a lower strength, and you can do touch-ups at home. However, your results with in-office whitening will be quicker and more dramatic, because of the gel’s concentration and the quality of the activating blue light. Hope this helps settle the dispute!

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.

Are veneers the only option to replace my bonding?

When I was younger, I took tetracycline and it stained my teeth. Back then, they did bonding to cover the stains and for the most part it has held up pretty well. It’s just been in the last few years that they have started to look bad again and I’ve been considering what to do about it. At my last dental appointment, I brought it up to my dentist and asked him what my options are. He insists that I can only do veneers – which are completely out of the question because there is no way I can afford them. I asked if we could do bonding again or if teeth whitening would work and he shot both of them down. Is there really nothing else that can be done? Will I have to just have dingy, stained teeth until I can save up enough money for veneers? — Marilee

Dear Marilee,
Do you know if your dentist does much cosmetic dentistry? Based on what he is telling, it doesn’t sound like he does. There’s no doubt that veneers would be the best way to give you a great looking smile, but there are other options.

Unless he’s examined you and determined that there are structural issues with your teeth, there shouldn’t be any reason why the bonding couldn’t be redone. If he’s pushing the veneers, your teeth are probably fine. As for whitening, tetracycline stains are highly resistant to even the strongest professional grade gels and it could take months of treatment to get where you want to be.

Here’s what you need to do: find a good cosmetic dentist and get a second opinion. He or she might be able to polish some of the stains out. If you do try whitening, you need to realize that it could take a long time to see any results, so you’ll have to be persistent and patient. The bonding won’t actually change color, so it will need to be replaced. A good cosmetic dentist can tell you whether or not the bonding can be removed before you start the whitening and then replaced after you’ve gotten the results you want.

This will be a lengthy process – probably several months at least. If you don’t think you can endure that long, you better start tucking away those extra dollars so you can eventually get veneers.

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.