Tag Archives: Invisalign

whitening teeth with white spots

I have one tooth which has had two white spots on it my entire life, or at least for as long as I can remember. I like the white parts and want to get all my teeth to look that way. My dentist is suggesting I get Zoom Whitening but my sister says that won’t work that the spots will still be whiter than the rest. Who’s right?


Dear Brianne,

Patient using Zoom Whitening light
Zoom Whitening Light

Your sister is correct. It worries me that you’re getting better advice from your sister than you are your dentist. He is supposed to be the professional.

Teeth whitening whitens teeth uniformly. This means that all the natural tooth structure will whiten, including the white spots. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a solution.

You can go ahead with the Zoom Whitening. This will get your teeth as white as possible in just one appointment. You’ll still have those two spots, but they can be fixed with either dental bonding or a porcelain veneer. Dental bonding costs less, but will have to be replaced a little more often.

Either procedure will require an expert cosmetic dentist. In your place, I’d look on the mynewsmile.com website. They pre-screen cosmetic dentists who want to be listed on their site for both their technical skill and artistry. Anyone on the list will do a beautiful job for you.

White Spots on Teeth

Sometimes there are white spots on teeth which are just the pigment. This seems to be your case because you’ve had it for as long as you can remember.

Other times, however, white spots are more serious. Usually, these are signs of decalcification and an early sign of decay. We see them most often with teenagers who’ve recently had their braces removed. These metal wires and brackets are hard to clean around. This is one of the reasons some parents prefer Invisalign for their teenagers.

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

does tmj mean surgery?

I’m 27 years old and have been dealing with a significant amount of jaw pain. I did some research online and it sounds like I may have TMJ. Everything I read says the treatments for this are jaw reconstruction or having all your teeth re-made. That sounds terrifying to me. In fact, I’m a little too scared to see a dentist about it in case they say that is what I need. Are there any other options? What happens if I just don’t treat it and just deal with the pain with medications?


Dear Morgan,

close up of temporomadibular joint
TMJ disorder has various causes and solutions

Before you panic, let me assure you there are many causes and solutions for TMJ Disorder. As you can see from the image above, your TMJ joint is similar to your knee joint. It has movable parts and a disc which serves as a buffer. There are also lots of muscles that help with the various movements requisite to good jaw function. This is known as the temporomandibular joint (hence the TMJ).

Treatments like full-mouth reconstruction or jaw surgery are for the most severe cases, usually after years of going without treatment or a tragic accident. It doesn’t sound like that is what you’re dealing with.

The first step to any treatment is a diagnosis of what is causing the problem in the first place.

Two Causes for TMJ Disorder

One common cause for this is pressure you’ve put on the jaw joint. This is done through clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth. This often happens without a patient even realizing it because they do it in their sleep.

If you get treatment for this early on, before too much damage is done, there is no invasive treatment. It can often be handled simply by wearing a night guard to protect your teeth and add some cushion to assist with the pressure on your jaw.

Another cause is misalignment of your bite. Our teeth shift over time. It could be that yours have shifted in a way that has caused pressure on your jaw.

In some cases, this can be fixed with orthodontics such as Invisalign. Other, more severe cases, will require a full-mouth reconstruction. This latter treatment can also happen if you don’t get teeth grinding under control and your teeth get worn down to nubs.

Full-Mouth Reconstruction

With this procedure a dentist has to crown all of your teeth. This is either because they are too worn down from grinding or your bite is so far out of alignment this is necessary to repair it.

This is quite an advanced procedure and would require a dentist with significant training in TMJ Disorders as well as cosmetic dentistry.

Look for a dentist who trained at one of the following:

  • Dawson Academy
  • J.D Pankey Institute
  • The Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dental Studies

This will take care of their TMJ qualifications. To find out if they’re also a great cosmetic dentist, go to the mynewsmile.com website to see if they’re recommended . They pre-screen cosmetic dentists for both their technical skill and artistry.

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

Do I Need a TMJ Specialist?

I told my dentist about a pain in my jaw. He decided I have TMJ and keeps giving me Botox injections. While the injections help, I don’t want to need them for the rest of my life. If I went to a TMJ Specialist would there be a permanent solution?


Dear Gina,

A woman holding her jaw from TMJ pain

TMJ Disorder can be very complex. Often, there’s more than one factor. If all your dentist is doing is the Botox injections without looking for what could be causing it, then yes, you’ll want to see someone else. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a TMJ Specialist as far as a recognized specialty goes. But, there are some things to look for when choosing a dentist to treat your TMJ.

You’ll want a dentist who has invested in post-doctoral training in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ Disorder. Some of the more reputable institutions are:

  • The Dawson Academy
  • The Seattle Institute
  • The Kois Center
  • Pankey Center
  • Las Vegas Institute (LVI)

Dentists who’ve studied with one of these institutions will be a practitioner who can help find the root cause or causes of your particular TMJ problems.

A couple of Causes of TMJ

One leading cause of TMJ problems is teeth grinding or clenching. Over time, this not only does damage to the hinge joint, but it is also devastating to your teeth. It can cause them to crack or break, requiring dental crowns. It can even cause them to come loose.

The grinding motion wears them down to nubs and could end up costing tens of thousands of dollars for a full-mouth reconstruction. To make matters worse, if you don’t regularly see a dentist you may never know you’re even doing it until it is too late. That’s because most people do it in their sleep.

Fortunately, for most patients, when caught early, there’s a simple fix. A night guard can protect your teeth. It fits like a custom made comfortable mouth guard and places a barrier between your teeth.

Another cause is malalignment of the teeth. If your bite is off, it can throw off your jaw joint leading to serious TMJ problems, including lockjaw. Sometimes, it is just a matter of simple orthodontics, other times it’s more serious.

A good dentist will always start with the least invasive treatment before moving onto other more drastic measures.

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

Zoom Whitening and Marijuana Stains

Let’s say I’m a pot smoker (for medicinal reasons) and that my teeth have started turning a funky kind of color. I’ve been applying for jobs and just got called up for two interviews. I need to whiten my teeth quickly. I’ve been doing some research and know that Zoom is the fastest, but there doesn’t seem to be any information on how it does for marijuana stains. Would it be worth my time?


Dear Jess,

Zoom Whitening Logo

You’re right that Zoom is the fastest. However, like any teeth whitening, it’s most effective when you’ve recently had your teeth cleaned. Otherwise, the results can be splotchy. My suggestion is you get a checkup and cleaning done, if you haven’t recently, and then schedule a Zoom Whitening right after or the next day or so if you think your mouth will need a break.

As for the research on Zoom Whitening and marijuana stains, I’m sure you can imagine that not many companies want their brand associated as the “pot brand” so there hasn’t been much research done on it. However, with the increase in the legalization of medical marijuana, I’m sure there will be studies done without the worry of the negative publicity that would have brought in the past.

Truthfully, marijuana stains are fairly superficial and easy to remove if done regularly. That means excellent oral hygiene habits at home and faithful adherence to twice a year professional cleanings. If you stick to that after your whitening procedure you shouldn’t have any funky buildup such as you’re currently experiencing.

One thing to be aware of, and another reason to make sure you see your dentist regularly, is the increased chance of gum disease with smoking. Studies have shown that smokers, whether that be cigarette or marijuana, are more likely to develop gum disease than other patients. Most of that is likely due to the decrease in blood flow in your gums as a result of smoking.

Alternatives to Zoom Whitening for that Perfect Smile

If you’re wanting a bit more than just a whiter smile, there are some options. For a mini-smile makeover, you can combine Zoom Whitening or at-home teeth whitening with Invisalign or Six-Month Smiles to have both straighter teeth and a white smile.

However, if you’re wanting to go “all out” for a total smile makeover, I’d suggest you go with porcelain veneers. This can change anything and everything about your smile—it’s shape, size, color, even it’s character.

If you decide to go this route, it’s important you get not just a skilled cosmetic dentist but one with an artistic eye as well. The mynewsmile.com website recommends the best cosmetic dentists in each area. You’ll just have to input your zip code and the distance you’re willing to travel.

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

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


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. ┬áDepending 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.

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