How Do I Whiten My Teeth Without Glow in the Dark Teeth?

I’m considering getting my teeth whitened. I had a friend do it and it seemed like she came out of the office with glow in the dark teeth. Is it possible to get white teeth without being visible from outer space?

James – Missouri

James,

Your friend likely had Zoom Whitening. When you first complete the treatment, which is done in one appointment, in-office, the results are startlingly white.  However, it does calm down after a week. They’re still very white, but won’t be “glow-in-the-dark”.

If you’re still concerned, maybe you want white teeth, but not your whitest teeth, than instead of doing Zoom, you could do professional take-home teeth whitening.

Your dentist will custom design whitening trays for your bite. You’ll wear them a minimum of 20 minutes a day, though many people prefer to just sleep in them.  You can decide on the level of whitening you want. When you reach it, simply stop wearing the aligners. You’re in complete control.

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Can I Substitute My Teeth Whitening Trays for My Retainer?

I lost my retainer. It’s almost Christmas time, so of course I have no money left whatsoever. I have my old teeth whitening trays. Can I use those as my retainer until after Christmas?

Ben – Kansas

Ben,

Unfortunately, your teeth whitening trays are not a good substitute for your retainer. The whitening trays are soft and flexible, specifically designed not just to cover your teeth, but to be comfortable as well.

Your retainer, on the other hand, is made of solid, stiff material designed to keep your teeth locked into place. Your teeth will start shifting without it.  Depending on how long you’ve been wearing your retainer, they may not shift far. But, they will shift.

If I were in your place, I’d call your dentist and let him know what happened. They can likely work with you on payment for a new retainer.

Hopefully you’ll find it soon. If not, call your dentist.

I hope you have a great Christmas.

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Can You Whiten Your Teeth with Dental Implants?

I had two dental implants placed about five years ago and they’re doing great. I couldn’t be happier with them in terms of how they’re holding up and how natural they look and feel. However, I keep looking at my smile in the mirror and I’m not happy with the way it looks overall. I’m considering having some cosmetic work done to make my smile pop a little bit more. The problem is, the implants show a bit when I smile, and I’ve heard that dental implants won’t change color if I whiten. Is this true? If so, what are my options for cosmetic work? Can I have veneers or something put over the top or pay to have them recolored?

Ella – Louisiana

Dear Ella,

Unfortunately, you heard right. Dental implants are typically made from porcelain or another material that doesn’t respond to tooth whitening agents. They’re incredibly stain-resistant, but you can’t really change the color of them once they’re made, either. A lot goes into making a crown.

To give them the appearance of natural tooth structure, they’re made in layers. This gives the same type of translucency you see in your natural teeth.  Sometimes, a lab can recolor crowns, but this is usually done to make them darker not lighter. This is because the color is already baked in.

You also can’t put a veneer on a crown. It would be difficult, if not impossible to place. If your dentist did find a good way to bond them on, the result would be bulky. You’d likely be unhappy with their appearance. However, you’re not without options.

If they’re farther back, whitening your teeth may not be a problem. Teeth naturally look darker towards the back, and so a shade or two of difference may not be noticeable.

If they’re in a prominent position, and visible when you smile, you can replace the crowns after you finished whitening. This way, you could have them made to match your final shade. Done well, they’ll blend seamlessly. Bear in mind, it’s only the crown on top of the dental implants that you’d have to replace. The rest of them, including the screws and posts, should be just fine as they are. So, it’ll probably only take a couple of weeks to complete, versus the months you spent initially. It was also cost less.

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Why Is My Dentist Sending Me Somewhere Else for My TMJ?

My dentist thinks I have TMJ, but he wants to send me somewhere else for treatment.  I thought all dentists treated TMJ.

Michelle – Ohio

Michelle,

While all dentists can treat TMJ, some have more training in treating TMJ than others. It sounds like your dentist feels like you would get better care with another dentist in this case. What that tells me is you have a dentist who really wants to be certain you get the best care possible. That’s something to be lauded.

If your dentist didn’t recommend a specific TMJ dentist, I’ll give you a couple of things to look for. You want a dentist who’s had post-graduate training in TMJ.

Some great training to look for is Dawson Academy, the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI),  Spear, or the Kois Center. There are others too, but these are among the top.

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