Tetracycline stains are nothing but trouble

I have some serious tetracycline stains on my front teeth and finally decided to do something about it. My dentist said that crowns would be best, but after having eight done (and re-done twice), I’m pretty much convinced he has no idea what he is doing. He replaced the first set because they looked yellow and their shape just didn’t look right. The second set was better, but the color was still off and they were too opaque. This last time he went back to the lab and had them blend in some translucent color in hopes they would look more natural. Unfortunately, when I got home and looked in the mirror, all I could see was gray streaks and spots. I’m thinking I should have just left my teeth the way they were. I have no idea what to now…any advice? — Kim

As you’ve probably discovered, tetracycline stains are some of the hardest to mask and most dentists are clueless when it comes to treating them. And unfortunately, it sounds like your dentist falls into that category. In fact, he probably had no experience with tetracycline stains (and neither did his lab) and the result was a complete disaster.

What your dentist should have recommended was porcelain veneers. Rather than grinding down your teeth, all that is required with veneers is shaving a little bit off the front of each tooth. And while porcelain veneers are the standard, there’s a fine balance that needs to be achieved to block out the stain and still get a natural look. If not done correctly, one of two things can happen: 1) the teeth will look gray from the stain showing through or 2) your smile will look like a porcelain sink.

Your first step in trying to get this corrected is to find a skilled cosmetic dentist in your area who can take a look. Then, you should pursue getting a full refund from your dentist and start completely over. Just be sure you find a cosmetic dentist who has experience with tetracycline stains to assure the best results possible.

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.

Will silver fillings expose my son to mercury?

There’s been a lot of buzz about mercury-free dentists lately and I’m not really sure what to think. I have silver fillings and mine have held up just fine over the years without any issues. But since I’ve become a mom, I tend to be really protective of my son and have tried, whenever possible, to minimize his exposure to dangerous chemicals. I’ve thought about a mercury-free dentist for him, but he really loves our current dentist and I have a feeling it would be really hard to switch. Are the benefits worth switching to a mercury-free dentist? — Maria

As it stands now, the American Dental Association (ADA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and even the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) stand behind the safety of amalgam fillings. Of course, we all recognize the dangers of mercury, but in doses as small as this, all of the agencies agree that they’re safe. However, many other private organizations continue to question their safety and there’s a big movement to get away from them anyway.

The good news is that you probably do not need to seek out a mercury-free dentist in order to avoid amalgam fillings. Most dentists are happy to work with you and will do a composite (tooth- colored) filling if that’s what you prefer, even if they routinely do metal ones. Rather than try to switch, it’s a good idea to talk with your current dentist and see what his thoughts are. You may be surprised to find out how seldom he does amalgam fillings to begin with. Avoiding them, should your son ever need to have a filling, shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Sometimes dentists do prefer to do metal fillings on kids because it’s easier to make sure they stay put. The tooth colored fillings require cooperation from the patient and a dry mouth. If your son can’t cooperate, or if the dentist feels amalgam is best, then you may want to start searching for an alternative. Often times, a pediatric office can help overcome these obstacles with their demeanor or by entertaining the child while the work is being performed. Sedation or nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can also be offered to help kids stay more comfortable and agreeable in the chair.

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.

Missing Tooth Causing Teen Trouble

My daughter was born with a missing tooth. It’s toward the back, but it’s always been fairly noticeable when she smiles. As a little girl, it didn’t seem to bother her much. Fast-forward to her teen years and it’s become a major problem. You know how teenage girls are… they obsess about every little detail. Every time she looks in the mirror, all she sees is this hole in her smile and unfortunately, others are noticing it now, too. She is adamant about having it fixed. The dentist has always said that an implant will be the best fix, but he won’t do it until she is older. She’s miserable, and I want to make her happy. Why can’t she just have the implant now? — Ann Marie

Ann Marie,
The teenage years can be so hard — especially for girls — and it’s understandable that you want to do all you can to make sure your daughter feels confident and happy. There’s no doubt that a dental implant is the best way to go when it comes to a long-term, natural-looking replacement for a missing tooth. It’s also a procedure that takes time and a huge financial commitment, so it’s imperative that it’s done right – and at the right time. That’s exactly why your dentist wants to wait. Your daughter still has quite a bit of growing to do. Her face and jaw will change a lot over the next few years, and if an implant is placed too soon it will not grow with her and the tooth might end up looking like it’s buried in her jaw. There are a few other options available that could replace the tooth until she’s ready for an implant. Ask your dentist what might be best for her situation.

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 there an over-the-counter fix for TMJ?

My mom and dad have both recently suffered some major medical issues that have caused a lot of stress both physically and financially for our family. There’s just not a lot of extra money right now. I have TMJ and all the stress has caused a flare-up and I literally can’t open my mouth. My jaw has been locked for several weeks. I’m in so much pain! I’ve seen those mouth appliances you can buy at the drug store for about $20. Would one of them help? — Sasha

Dear Sasha,
Sorry to hear that you’re going through so much right now. Hopefully things will get better from here on out. As for the TMJ, there are a couple of things you can try at home to help with the inflammation:

  1. Alternate between heat and ice packs (for about 10 minutes at a time) on your jaw joints
  2. Take 800mg of Ibuprofen three times a day

If the dentist is simply out of the question right now, try the store-bought mouth guard as it will be better than doing nothing. If you’re grinding your teeth a lot, just be careful and check that you’re not wearing it through. Hopefully, though, it will help protect your teeth for now. They come in small, medium, large or one-size-fits-all, but regardless of what you buy, keep in mind that it won’t be a perfect fit since it’s not custom made.

For moderate to severe temporomandibular joint dysfunction like you are experiencing, a custom night guard made by your dentist is really the best way to go. If you have dental insurance they may cover all or even a portion of the cost. Make a call and find out. Another option would be to see if your dentist offers CareCredit. It’s a no-interest medical card you can apply for if you don’t have insurance, but have adequate credit. Check into both of these options since your TMJ is fairly severe – it will be worth it in the end if you can get a custom-fit appliance and get this flare-up under control.

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.