Can you whiten your teeth too much?

Teeth whitening can give you an amazingly white smile. But what if you’re hooked on it? Is it a harmless or harmful?

What’s Normal for Teeth Whitening?

Photo of teeth whitening trays in a blue case.
Teeth whitening trays

Normally, you can whiten your teeth until they reached the desired shade. It takes a few days for the shade to settle in, so after about two weeks of whitening, you should wait a few days before continuing whitening. But can you continue whiten your teeth continuously for months?

What Happens If You Overuse Teeth Whitening?

Excessive whitening can damage teeth, their roots, and your gums.

  • Teeth – Tooth enamel can wear away. If that happens, you’ll lose your brilliantly white smile and your teeth will look gray or blue instead. Your teeth can also become sensitive to heat or cold foods and beverages.
  • Gums – The gum tissue around your teeth can be burned by the chemicals in the gel or get irritated. Inflamed gum tissue leads to periodontal disease, which can cause damage your gums and teeth. In severe cases, soft-tissue grafting might be required.
  • Roots – As your gums get irritated and recede, your tooth roots will be exposed. If you continue whitening, you’ll also feel sensitivity in your roots.

Take a Break

  • Whitening might not be the right treatment – Did you realize that bleaching your teeth isn’t always the best solution for removing stains or making them whiter? Speak with your dentist before you begin whitening them. If your gums or teeth are not healthy—or if you have cavities developing—those issues should be treated first.
  • Pause between treatment – After you whiten your teeth for two weeks, take a break and let the color settle. If you want to continue whitening, only do it for a week longer. Touch-ups are only needed every few months.
  • Whitening gel – Only use FDA-approved gel. Avoid using cheap gel in packages that don’t reveal the contents.

This post is sponsored by Baton Rouge cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

Are Lumineers the best?

I am planning on a smile makeover. I want to get the best one possible. I keep hearing good things about Lumineers. Are they as good as their advertisements say?

Georgiana

Dear Georgiana,

Advertisement with Lumineers including a woman smiling and a single veneer being held by a tool

You are right that Lumineers are heavily advertised. They happen to be one of only brands known by name because of that. While they are okay, you can do better. Plus, there is a much more important consideration than the brand.

More Important than the Brand

While some brands are better than others, you can use the absolute best brand and the results would totally depend on the skill of the cosmetic dentist using that brand.

The skill of the dentist is the number one determining factor in whether or not your smile makeover ends up stunning or sad.

Finding an Expert Cosmetic Dentist

You want a dentist who has invested a lot of post-doctoral time in cosmetic training. Smile makeovers aren’t taught in dental school. Instead, a dentist has to intentionally take the time to study its theory and practice.

Just like not all painters have the same skill level, neither do cosmetic dentists. One dentist will have a more artistic eye than another. So, how do you know if you’re getting a Michelangelo or a Mickey Mouse?

One way is to look at their smile galleries. This should be a brag book of sorts showcasing their best work. You’ll want to make sure it is their actual work and not just stock photos they are posting.

However, you’ll likely be safer looking on the mynewsmile.com website. This site examines both the technical skill and artistry of dentists who wish to be listed. They can’t pay to get on. They have to have the requisite skill.

Don’t Be Surprised if they Don’t Suggest Lumineers

An expert cosmetic dentist will know the strengths and weaknesses of each brand of porcelain veneers. Unfortunately, Lumineers has more weaknesses than strengths. Their biggest weakness is the company which owns the brand insists dentists have to use their lab. It’s not known for beautiful work.

Find the right dentist and trust them to pick the right brand of porcelain veneers for your smile makeover goals.

This blog is brought to you by New Orleans Dentist Dr. Duane Delaune.

Is It TMJ or an Ear Infection?

Does your ear hurt and feel full and you think it might be related to TMJ? How can you determine the real cause of your symptoms?

What Is TMJ?

TMJ has is an acronym that is commonly used to describe dysfunction with the temporomandibular joint, which connects your lower jaw (mandible) to the bone on the side of your head (temporal).

close up of temporomadibular joint
TMJ disorder can cause ear pain

There are many signs and symptoms associated with TMJ. And you don’t have to experience them all to have a TMJ disorder. You might be experiencing one or more of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Pain in or around your ear
  • Chronic headaches
  • Chronic earaches
  • Tinnitus (ringing in your ears)
  • Chronic neck pain
  • Difficulty opening and closing your mouth
  • Clicking or popping noises when you open your mouth
  • Jaw clenching
  • Jaw pain or soreness that is worse in the morning or late afternoon
  • Jaw pain when you chew, bite or yawn
  • Tender jaw muscles
  • Sensitivity in your teeth
  • Bruxism (grinding your teeth)

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of an Ear Infection?

Although you may not be experiencing all of them, common signs and symptoms of an ear infection in adults include:

  • Ear pain
  • Fluid draining from the ear
  • Impaired hearing
  • Fullness in the ear
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • In severe cases, a stiff neck and/or fever

If you think you have TMJ, schedule an appointment with a dentist who has advanced training in the disorder. He or she will examine your teeth, jaw, and bite to make the determination.

How Will It Be Treated?

  • If you have TMJ, a customized mouthguard will be recommended for you to wear while you sleep. It will relax your jaw and prevent bruxism, which is often related to TMJ.
  • Relaxation and jaw exercises might be recommended to help relax the muscles.
  • It can also help to alternately apply hot and cold packs to the side of your face where the muscles are sore.

What If Your Symptoms Don’t Match TMJ?

Even if you don’t think you have TMJ, chronic ear pain should not be ignored. An untreated infection can spread and permanently affect your hearing and balance. You should schedule an appointment with your primary care doctor. If necessary he or she will refer you to a specialist.

This post is sponsored by Dr. Duane Delaune of Delaune Dental in New Orleans.

Is It Too Late For Dental Implants To Help My Sagging Face?

Is it too late for dental implants if I’m 64 years old and have already experienced facial sagging? I’ve been wearing dentures since I was 50 and have had continuous problems with them. This situation is difficult for me because my face looks uneven. I want to try to avoid cosmetic surgery if possible. It’s easier for me to get implants rather than have my face cut. Besides that I want the results to look natural. I’m not trying to look 44 again like cosmetic surgery might do. I just want to give my face a natural-looking lift. Thanks. Leilani T.

Leilani – As you may know, when your teeth are missing for years, your jawbone will progressively shrink. This is because tooth roots stimulate the bone, so when teeth are missing, it’s a signal to your body that the bone isn’t needed. Your body will resorb the bone and use the minerals from it elsewhere.

When dentures are resting on your jawbone, the pressure from them accelerates bone shrinkage. Although cosmetic surgery may eliminate excess facial skin, jawbone shrinkage can continue. And if it does, so will facial sagging. The good news is that it’s not too late to receive dental implants.

It’s Not Too Late for Dental Implants to Help with Facial Sagging

If you’re already experiencing facial sagging, your jawbone has begun to shrink. But dental implants need to be placed deep enough in the bone to be stable. It’s likely that you’ll need bone grafting first.

Side-by-side profile photos of a middle-aged woman that show the effects of facial sagging and how dental implants can help; from Dr. Duane Delaune of New Orleans.
Dental implants can prevent or improve facial sagging
  • Bone grafting – Even after jawbone shrinkage occurs it’s not too late for dental implants. Bone grafting can be used to replace the missing bone. In a few months, the grafts will heal and dental implants can be placed. The implants will stimulate bone and prevent further shrinkage. Four to six implants will stimulate a wider area of the bone.
  • Support for your dentures and facial muscles – The built-up jawbone will support your facial muscles. Dentures will be attached to the dental implants. Implant-supported dentures don’t rest on your jawbone and put pressure on it.

What’s Next?

Before you receive any treatment, 3-D x-rays will be taken to determine the extent of bone shrinkage and the best way to treat it. Both bone grafting and dental implant surgery have a healing period of three to four months, so be patient. Your oral health and your facial appearance will improve.

We suggest that you schedule consultations with
at least two experienced implant dentists to discuss your options for implants and natural-looking dentures.

This post is sponsored by New Orleans cosmetic dentist Dr. Duane Delaune. Dr. Delaune is a sustaining member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.