Teeth Whitening with a Cavity?

Today I was told I have a cavity. My first cavity. I was shocked. Before I recovered from that golden news nugget, I received a second shock. My dentist said if I want to get my teeth whitened, I should do it now before I fill my cavity. Once the filling is done, the color can’t be changed. I didn’t even realize I needed teeth whitening until he said something. Now, when I look in the mirror I see yellow everywhere! But, I looked it up and while he’s right that the color can’t be changed, I also read that you shouldn’t have your teeth whitened when you have a cavity. So…which is it?

Hannah H. – Montana


You’re in one of those catch-22 situations. There is evidence that your teeth are more sensitive to the whitening procedure with decay. The theory is because some of the enamel is weakened, it allows the whitening gel to get that much closer to the nerves.

There isn’t any evidence to support that teeth whitening worsens the cavity or weakens the enamel. The only real concern to having teeth whitening done while having decay is that of sensitivity. So, if you think you could handle that, there’s no real concern. If, however, the potential for sensitivity terrifies you there is another option, though it will admittedly it costs more.

You could fill the cavity, then get your teeth whitened. Then, re-do the filling to match the new color. That is very inconvenient and incurs unnecessary expenses, so it’s definitely not ideal. But, the inconvenience in time and added expense is yours to choose or reject. You may find the peace of mind to not fear additional sensitivity well worth any additional time or funds.

There’s not a right or wrong choice. No one will judge you as being weak if you choose to do the filling twice. And no one will think you foolish and cheap for doing the whitening first. It’s truly a matter of whatever your preference is.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Duane Delaune.

Switch to Dental Implants?

I’m wondering if I should switch to dental implants, but I’m not sure they’re worth the investment yet. I have three missing teeth and two of them show when I smile. I generally wear a partial denture and I’m quite bothered to go without it. I don’t like to take it out, even at night, because I’m self-conscious about missing those teeth. I also worry that people notice I’m wearing a denture when I talk to them. I’ve actually started worrying so much that I have been refusing to dine out with my acquaintances. I don’t know if it’s all in my head or if people really can tell. I’m having a tough time justifying the costs, though. Is it worthwhile for me to switch to dental implants or am I going to face the same problems?

Beth – Detroit

Dear Beth,

The hard truth is that nobody knows how you, personally, will feel about them if you switch to dental implants. If you’re someone who normally suffers from any kind of anxiety, it could stick around afterward. However, there are some big benefits to switching and it may be enough to help you resume your normal activities. Based on what you’ve expressed, dental implants will be a great option for you. Peace of mind is often worth a little extra cost.

First of all, you won’t be taking them out. They’re permanent, so there’s no concern about going to bed without teeth. A lot of people worry about losing dentures during a meal or about what they can eat without getting food trapped or breaking the denture. This is another thing you won’t have to worry about.

It’s also worth noting that people who have lost teeth start losing bone in that area as well, and this leads to facial collapse. Facial collapse makes people look older than they are, but dental implants can stop or slow down bone loss, so you’ll retain a youthful look longer.

Considering only the teeth, yes, they tend to look cosmetically better as well. The crowns are generally made of layered porcelain, which does a good job of mimicking a natural tooth. They reflect light differently and have some translucency. Dentures are typically made of acrylic or another plastic and they don’t have the same depth to them.

All in all, you’ll probably be much happier because so much of your concerns surround being without teeth, but it’s a good idea for you to see a cosmetic dentist for a consultation on this. You’re going to want someone with extra training and lots of experience doing the work, so you get the best results possible.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Duane Delaune.

I’ve Seen a Specialist; Why Do I Still Have TMJ Pain?

I have been a TMJ sufferer for years. I was first diagnosed with TMD by my general dentist during a routine exam. At the time I had jaw pain, limited range of motion, headaches, and popping. He sent me to a specialist who made me a night guard. He told me it should alleviate my problems. After a few weeks of relief, the discomfort was more consistent, so he made me a TMJ splint which I wore around the clock. The pain is still present after 2 years. Now he’s talking about surgery. What is going on? Why can’t they fix this?

Kathy B. – Oregon


Diagnosis and treatment of Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) can be challenging. There are often a variety of overlapping conditions involved. The root of the problem can be in the muscle that controls and affects jaw movement or in the joint itself. An accurate diagnosis is critical for successful treatment. With all the self-proclaimed “TMJ specialists”, it’s important to note that TMJ is not a recognized specialty in dentistry or the medical field.

Since any doctor can claim they specialize in this, it’s important to research reviews online from people who were treated by them for this condition. Be sure to ask the dentist what type of TMJ training he’s had. Dental school is not enough. Despite the fact you’re still struggling, the doctor was on the right track. However, sometimes the best results are seen when treatments are done in combination.

I know it’s frustrating. First, make certain your dentist has the type of training necessary to treat such a complicated issue. For instance, Dr. Delaune studied TMJ at the Dawson Academy. If you can find someone in your area that has similar training, you can have the confidence they’ll find the solution.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Duane Delaune.

Is Jaw Pain Diet Related?

I have pretty severe jaw pain, especially in the mornings. My sister said it’s my diet and I need to eat only whole foods. I switched to a whole foods diet. I’ve been on it a few weeks and haven’t had any relief. Do I need to give it more time? I can’t decide if this is diet related or dental related?

Carla T. – Georgia


There are some conditions that are thought to be diet related and while, if you eat something that aggravated your jaw it can cause pain, diet will not cause the type of pain you’re describing.

Because it’s stronger in the morning, and I suspect you probably get morning headaches as well. I’d look into night grinding and TMJ.

See a dentist who’s received significant training in TMJ diagnosis and treatment. It’s not a recognized specialty, so a general dentist will have to put forth specific effort to receive the training. Don’t be shy about asking them where they studied TMJ. We’re not talking about where they studied in dental school. This needs to be post-graduate training. For instance, Dr. Delaune, studied at the Dawson Academy.

If it turns out that you’re grinding your teeth at night, that would explain your jaw pain. A simple night guard should solve the problem.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Duane Delaune.