Can I fix my tooth gap with orthodontic bands?

I’m trying to find an affordable and fairly quick way to fix the gap between my front teeth. Braces will take too long and I’m not in at a point in my life where I want make the time commitment. Another option my dentist recommended was porcelain veneers, but they cost an outrageous amount of money and there’s no way I can afford them. I recently read about something called orthodontic bands and I think they might be a great option for me. They fit my budget and it’s not a long-term thing because I would just wear some rubber bands around the teeth I want to move. Why hasn’t my dentist offered this? I’m afraid if I ask him, thinking he’ll brush it off because he wants more money. Are these bands a viable alternative to fix my gap? — Sharna

Dear Sharna,
There are several things to think about when it comes to these type of orthodontic bands. First and foremost, the companies that are marketing these products don’t have FDA approval. Second, it’s really not the best way to move teeth and could cause more damage than good.

Braces are designed to move your teeth in a slow, gentle and consistent manner until they are aligned perfectly. That means there will be no strange looking gaps. They do use bands, but they are metal and fit around the teeth or rubber bands are also used. Porcelain veneers don’t change the position of the teeth, but rather bond directly to the front of them to change the look.

The orthodontic bands you are asking about wrap around teeth and essentially pull them together. It can actually loosen the teeth in the process, align them incorrectly or even damage them. The gap between the two teeth wrapped in the band will look smaller, but it will increase the gap on either side. There’s also no long-term way to keep the teeth in their new position (like retainers after braces) so eventually the teeth will just move back. You should think twice about these orthodontic bands. While they may fit your budget, spending less now will likely mean spending more later to fix an even more serious issue.

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.

My preschooler has a gray tooth… will teeth whitening help?

My daughter injured one of her teeth a while back and it turned gray. The dentist advised me to just let it be. He said it would fall out soon enough and that if there weren’t any symptoms, she should be ok. I was worried about how things would go when she started school in the fall and I asked my dentist if teeth whitening was an option. I’m a stay-at-home mom and my daughter has been home with me this whole time. I’m afraid that if she’s around other kids, they’ll pick on her. That would be a devastating way for her to begin her school years. The dentist looked at me like I was nuts when I suggested fixing it and told me to let it be. Is teeth whitening and option, and if so, how do I go about finding a dentist who will do it?  — Sheila

Dear Sheila,
Teeth whitening, in a general sense, probably won’t work in this situation. The stains you’re talking about are working their way out from the inside, whereas traditional teeth whitening works on stains near the outside of a tooth. It’s ideal to handle stains caused by coffee and other external forces. In cases like this, doctors may perform an internal teeth whitening procedure, but it’s a complex procedure and requires that the patient be highly cooperative.

While it may be true that kids can be difficult, they don’t tend to notice small things like the shade of a tooth at this age. If she was a teenager or a late adolescent, that might be different. It’s highly unlikely that she or any of her peers will have a problem with the discoloration, as long as it isn’t pointed out. Most kids start to lose their front teeth in kindergarten or first grade. You didn’t mention which tooth it is, but those tend to be the ones most susceptible to trauma. So, there’s a good chance she’ll lose the tooth within a year or so anyway and her peers will be so busy focusing on the excitement of who lost a tooth first, the color won’t even be on the radar.

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.

Why does my lip stick to my Lumineers?

I’m so in love with my new Lumineers smile! It looks better than I ever imagined, but there’s one little problem I am noticing since I got them: when I talk, my upper lip tends to dry out and stick to my front teeth. It’s kind of annoying, but I don’t know what to do other than try and get used to it. Is this normal? — Ashley

Lumineers are a great option for many people and it sounds like you are very happy with the appearance of your new smile. It’s unfortunate about this lip issue. While you think it’s just a little annoying right now, you’ll likely find that if it continues, it will become more distracting and even embarrassing. Kudos to you for trying to live with it, because most people would probably be very irritated and back at their dentist to complain in no time.

When traditional porcelain veneers are placed, it requires shaving down the front of the tooth slightly to accommodate the veneers. Lumineers are called “no-prep” which means your dentist can bond them directly to the teeth, which often results in a bulky or thick feeling.

That is probably what you are experiencing. Your teeth are now thicker and your lip is getting stuck and drying out. Since the Lumineers are bonded in place, your dentist could try and shave them down a bit and polish them, but it’s pretty risky if he gets too aggressive and accidentally shaves right through the veneer. Your only other options are to have the Lumineers re-done, or as you stated before, try to get used to them and just live with it.

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.

Should I see a holistic dentist while I’m pregnant?

I recently found out I am pregnant after about a year of trying. With so much time to prepare, I’d already chosen an OB doctor and had researched almost everything about pregnancy. I’m concerned that I may have overlooked one thing – my dentist. I’m thinking I should have switched to a holistic dentist because today, when I went for my regular check up, they wanted to do x-rays, even though I told them I was pregnant. During the examination he also said I need to have an amalgam filling removed because there has decay under it. There’s no way I am exposing my unborn baby to radiation or mercury! They let me get by today with just the cleaning, but want me to schedule an appointment for the other procedures. Should I find a holistic dentist while I’m pregnant? — Sara

Congratulations on your exciting news! Your concern is understandable, but let’s take a quick step back. Most dentists will likely want to confirm with your OB that you are not considered high risk before they give you any type of treatment. When it comes to x-rays, many are digital these days and OB’s will usually give the OK because the exposure to radiation is extremely low. Plus, you’ll be wearing a protective lead apron that will shield both you and the baby. If you have doubts about the safety of it, talk to your OB at that first visit.

There are a couple of things to consider as far as the filling is concerned. Mercury exposure is definitely a risk, but bacteria and periodontal disease have also been linked to low-birth weight and even pre-term birth. That’s why it’s so important to keep up with regular dental visits during pregnancy. Before the bacteria continues to spread or get worse, you should probably consider having the filling removed. A holistic dentist (often referred to as a mercury-free dentist) will take every precaution during the removal to ensure mercury vapors are extracted and that not even any small bits get swallowed. It’s actually a very safe procedure that won’t harm you or your baby. Your OB will probably want you to wait until you get through your first trimester and you will be restricted to certain types of anesthetics. Consult with your OB and have them be a part of the treatment plan to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your baby. 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.