All posts by AllSmiles

5 Cheap Ways to Whiten Your Teeth and What to Expect

There are plenty of advantages to whitening your teeth. When it’s done safely, you really can’t go wrong. Just some of the benefits include:

  • Making your smile look younger
  • Improving your social life
  • Creating a good first impression
  • Helping you feel more confident

Cheap Paths to a Brighter Smile

Of course, you can get your teeth whitened by your dentist, but are there less expensive ways that work? Let’s review five common ways people brighten their smile, and what you can expect.

1. Whitening toothpaste

There are many brands of whitening toothpaste. Some of them remove surface stains on your teeth. Many of them are abrasive and can scratch your tooth enamel. You’ll receive minimal results—if any—and if stains are trapped deep in your teeth, you probably won’t notice a difference with whitening toothpaste.

2. Whitening strips

Some strips will provide decent results depending on the strength of the peroxide in them. The higher the percentage of peroxide, the whiter your teeth will get. Remember not to overdo it. And keep the bleaching gel away from your gums.

3. Over-the-counter bleaching kit

The success of over-the-counter kits depends on the contents of the bleaching gel. Carbamide peroxide is the most effective bleaching agent. Bleaching trays need to fit well to keep the gel in contact with your teeth so it can penetrate them and break down stains. The gel in most kits is less than half the strength of what dentists offer, so it will take more whitening sessions to brighten your teeth.

4. Baking soda

Baking soda can help with minor stains, but it is also abrasive to your tooth enamel. You shouldn’t use it for an extended period. And if you have composite bonding on your teeth or other types of dental restorations, you shouldn’t use it at all.

5. Free teeth whitening

Teeth whitening makes your smile look younger

Yep – free teeth whitening. Did you know that some dentists offer it if you keep up with your regularly scheduled appointments for cleaning and exams? You will receive custom bleaching trays and professional-strength gel. The results? A dynamic smile.

This post is sponsored by Miranda Lacy DDS, a female dentist in Plano, TX who offers free teeth whitening.

Think You Can’t Afford to See a Dentist for TMJ? 3 Surprising Facts that Might Change Your Mind

Click. Pop. Ouch! If left untreated, TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder can be painful and uncomfortable. But what if you can’t afford treatment from a dentist?

Annoying TMJ Symptoms

You’re probably already experiencing the signs and symptoms of TMJ:

  • Jaw stiffness, clicking, locking, or popping
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Chronic head or neck pain

Treatment from a dentist can relieve the symptoms, but how will TMJ affect your life if you can’t afford a dentist?

How Will It Impact Your Life?

Photo of woman holding the right side of her face, who might need Plano affordable dentistry from female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Jaw pain can limit your ability to chew well—and that affects your digestion. If speaking or laughing become uncomfortable, it can affect your mood. Ringing in the ears and head or neck pain throughout the night will disturb your sleep. And lack of sleep can contribute to a variety of health issues, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

What If You Can’t Afford a Dentist?

Dental treatment might not be as expensive, invasive, or time-consuming as you think. A June 2019 study published in the journal Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology and Oral Radiology reveals some good news. The study included 162 patients who suffered from chronic TMJ disorder. Treatment of the symptoms included self-awareness therapy, jaw exercises, and the use of custom oral appliances. After 20 months of treatment, what were the results?

  • Pain – After treatment, the average pain score fell from 6.9 to 2.0.
  • Chewing – Most patients benefited from a large reduction in pain while chewing.
  • Quality of life – The overall quality of life for the patients improved.

Three Keys to Relief

The patients in the study received meaningful improvement and significant relief of their symptoms. What were the three keys to relief?

  1. Self-awareness of your oral habits
  2. Exercises
  3. A custom oral appliance

That might be all that’s needed to decrease your pain and discomfort and improve your quality of life.

So What’s the Cost?

If you have dental insurance, you’ll save money on the cost of care. The cost of relieving your symptoms is more affordable than you might think. Even out-of-pocket costs are more manageable if you find a dentist who offers payment plans.

Occlusal guard (mouth guard/oral appliance) – Depending on where you live in the country, the out-of-pocket cost for an oral appliance to relax your jaw is $600-$800. Some insurance plans pay half of the cost or more.

Exercises – Your dentist will show you exercises that you can do at home to loosen your jaw muscles and increase your comfort.

Self- Awareness – Oral health habits, including grinding your teeth, the position of your tongue and jaw when at rest, or holding your head or face with your hands, can affect your jaw health. As you learn what habits trigger pain, it will increase your awareness of your habits and help you control them and your discomfort.

Treatment Delays Are Costly

If you think you can’t afford dental care, the delays in getting treatment will make the condition worse. When the pain and discomfort become unbearable, that means the problems have progressed. And dental care will cost you even more money in the long term. We recommend that you schedule an appointment with a dentist who has training and experience in TMJ diagnosis and treatment.

Plano, TX dentist Miranda Lacy, DDS sponsors this blog. Dr. Lacy offers payment plans and financing to help make dental care affordable for you.

3 Ways Getting Sedated at the Dentist Can Help You Get Rid of a Chronic Sinus Problem

What does getting sedated at the dentist have to do with a chronic sinus problem? If your sinus issue is related to a tooth infection, a dentist can help you get the relief you need.

The Tooth and Sinus Connection

According to a January 2019 article published in the online journal, MDLinx, chronic sinus infections are often caused or intensified by chronic tooth infections. A tooth infection can spread into your sinus cavity. Although you might receive antibiotics for a sinus infection, after you’ve finished the medication, the untreated tooth infection can cause the sinus infection to recur.

Maxillary sinusitis of endodontic origin (MSEO) is the medical term for a sinus infection that results from a tooth infection. Usually, the problem occurs with infection in upper back teeth.

What’s the Solution?

Your dentist will examine and x-ray your teeth. If there is an infection in your tooth, your dentist will remove it with root canal treatment. If the issue with your tooth is complex, your dentist might refer you to an endodontist, or root canal specialist.

The procedure cleans out the infected pulp (living tissue, including nerves) in your tooth—completely through the roots. Your dentist or specialist will fill your hollow tooth with dental filler material and seal it. Your dentist will protect the tooth with a dental crown. About half of all patients with MSEO who receive a root canal treatment also experience sinus relief and require no further care. If the thought of dental procedures increases your anxiety, your dentist can give you a mild sedative to help you relax.

What’s the Connection with Sedation Dentistry?

Let’s admit it. If you have a lingering toothache, you’ve probably delayed seeing a dentist for it. Dental anxiety is one of the main reasons that people delay, reschedule, or cancel appointments. Sedation can make the difference you need. How does it help?

1. Relaxes You

Photo of a young woman lying in a hamock on a beach as an exmaple of how sedation dentistry relaxes you.

There are varying levels of sedation available to match your anxiety level and the complexity of the dental procedure you will receive. Nitrous oxide (laughing gas) might be all you need to unwind, but if it’s not enough, your dentist can provide you with a mild anti-anxiety pill to take before your appointment. You won’t become anxious at the sights and sounds of dental tools.

2. Decreases Your Sensitivity to Pain

Your relaxed state will decrease your sensitivity to pain. You won’t be “on alert” for a slight pinch or other sensations that you might otherwise anticipate.

3. Helps Your Dentist Accomplish More

Sedation—your relaxed state—allows your dentist to focus on your dental procedure. Interruptions from anxiety attacks or pauses in treatment won’t be an issue. You’ll have a productive visit. And you won’t have to reschedule the appointment due to anxiety.

Which comes first—the sinus infection or the toothache? It could be the toothache, and sedation can help you get rid of both.

Dr. Miranda Lacy, a female dentist in Plano, TX, sponsors this blog. She is also a sedation dentist who can relieve you of anxiety and help you have pleasant visits.

3 Ways to Make Dental Care More Affordable

I’m trying to find ways to make my dental visits more affordable. I have a new dentist whose recommendations are so different from my previous dentist. She asked me to schedule an appointment for a fluoride treatment and full-face x-rays. My check-up appointments now have out-of-pocket expenses that are over $150.

Can I refuse the services my dentist is recommending, or should I search for a dentist whose fees are lower? Thanks. Daphne

Photo of a woman in a dental chair with a dentist and hygienst on either side of her; for information on affordable dentistry from Plano TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.
Ask your dentist about affordable alternatives for care

Daphne – Your patient rights allow you to refuse any dental service, but before you do, there are several factors to consider.

  • Speak to your dentist. Ask her why it’s important for you to have fluoride treatment and full-face x-rays. Adults who are at risk for decay or who have sensitive teeth still benefit from fluoride. Most dentists will do a full face x-ray (panoramic x-ray) every three to five years. But if you’re in a high-risk category, have bone loss, or have been considering orthodontics or dental implants, your dentist will request new x-rays before recommending treatment.
  • Avoid referring to the additional services as unnecessary. Listen carefully to your dentist’s explanation about why you need each treatment that she recommends. It could be that her philosophy on preventive care, although different from your previous dentist, is better for your oral health. Although the cost of care might be more expensive at her practice, you might have better long-term results.
  • Get a second opinion. You may have to switch to a dentist who thoroughly explains your treatment options and what you can expect from them. But don’t base your decisions about dental care on cost alone.

This blog is sponsored by Dr. Miranda Lacy, a Plano affordable dentist.

5 Facts about Stubborn Canker Sores If You Can’t Afford a Dentist

Photo of woman holding the right side of her face, who might need Plano affordable dentistry from female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Canker sores (recurrent aphthous stomatitis) are small painful sores inside your mouth that occur frequently. They are not contagious. Although a sore will usually go away on its own, what if it doesn’t? And what can you do to treat it at home if you can’t afford a dentist?

What Causes a Canker Sore?

Although the exact cause of a canker sore is unknown, a variety of factors can trigger it, including:

  • Irritation in the mouth by things such as aggressive brushing or dental work
  • Oral injury
  • Sensitivities to food or sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Stress and hormonal changes
  • Certain diseases, including celiac disease and irritable bowel syndrome

What Are the Symptoms and Signs?

If a canker sore is developing, you will feel oral pain or burning. In a day or two, the sore will appear. The sore is a slight bump that is round or oval. The center is usually yellowish gray, and the border is red.

How Long Will It Last?

A sore usually lasts four to seven days. If your sore lingers, or if it gets worse, you might need to see a dentist.

What Can You Do About It?

What if you can’t afford a dentist? You can try over-the-counter pastes such as Anbesol that contain benzocaine, which will help speed the healing process and make the sore less painful.

What If Home Treatment Doesn’t Work?

If your efforts to treat the sore don’t help—or if it’s getting worse—schedule an appointment with a dentist for an examination. You may need a prescription for oral or topical medication or mouth rinse. It is possible that the sore is not a canker sore, but your dentist can make that determination. If your budget is limited and you don’t have dental insurance, ask the office representative what can be done to make treatment affordable for you. This post is sponsored by Plano, TX female dentist Miranda Lacy, DDS

Will Sedation Dentistry Make you Nauseous?

I’ve heard that dental sedation can make you sick. I’ve never had a reaction to any kind of medication, but I’m worried. Obviously, I don’t want to throw up at the dental office, but what I’m really concerned about is what happens when I go home. Is there a real risk of vomiting and choking while I’m still drowsy at home, or am I just overly anxious?

Thanks, Jordan

Jordan,

It might help you to have a better understanding of how sedation dentistry works.

Varying Levels of Dental Sedation

Head-to-waist photo of a brunette woman outdoors and stretching backward with her eyes closed; for information on relaxing with sedation dentistry from Plano TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Nitrous oxide. You’ve probably heard it referred to as laughing gas. Nitrous oxide is the lowest level of sedation. It is fast-acting, administered in the office, and wears off quickly. It works well for anxious patients and gives you a sense of well-being. Research shows that after receiving nitrous oxide for a medical procedure, nausea is not a concern for most patients. The risk of nausea increases with longer procedures. But dental-office procedures are usually short, so you will be less likely to have an issue.

The good news is that nitrous oxide wears off before you leave the office, so you won’t be drowsy when you leave the dental office. To minimize the chances of feeling nauseous, avoid eating a large meal before your appointment.

Oral conscious sedation. Your dentist will give you oral medication to take in advance of your dental appointment. Oral conscious sedation is often used along with nitrous oxide. The types of medication that dentists prescribe vary, from sedatives to anti-anxiety medication and even antihistamines. Your dentist will likely have a list of preferred medications to help patients relax. Nausea is a potential side-effect with many medications. You will likely be advised not to eat after midnight before your appointment. Your dentist will also recommend that you have an adult with you for the rest of the day as the medication wears off.

IV sedation. This highest level of sedation has similar side-effects as oral conscious sedation. It provides a deeper state of relaxation, but unlike general anesthesia, you will still be conscious. You will need to arrange for transportation to and from your dental appointment.

Minimizing the Risk of Nausea

If you don’t have a history of nausea with medications, you probably won’t have any issues with dental sedation. It is also worth noting that most cases of nausea don’t result in vomiting. You can minimize the risk by following instructions on whether or not you can eat before. You can speak with your dentist about your concerns, and he or she will explain what you can expect before, during, and after your dental procedure.

This blog is sponsored by Plano sedation dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Teeth whitening isn’t helping the white spots left after braces

I got my braces off in late February. I’ve been waiting to see how the color of my teeth would turn out. They are a mix of beige and white. There are white spots in most of the places where the brackets were on my teeth. This is really embarrassing. I kept telling people that my braces would be off soon. So everyone is looking at my teeth and they are spotted! I am using free whitening strips that my sister got from her dentist but they are not helping. What should I do now? – Charleigh

Charleigh,

The issue you’re having with white spots on your teeth after braces is common, but should you try to treat the stains yourself? Consider a few facts.

What Causes Stains on Teeth after Braces?

Stains on teeth after braces are often a result of a process called decalcification.

  • Decalcification starts with dental plaque. If you don’t maintain diligent oral hygiene each day, bacteria will cling to your teeth and result in a buildup of sticky dental plaque.
  • As you eat food, the bacteria will feed off of the sugar in food and produce more bacteria.
  • An acidic reaction from the bacteria gradually dissolves your tooth enamel.
  • The decalcification of your tooth enamel leaves a white spot that, if left untreated, will weaken the enamel and create a cavity. The cavity will continue to spread until it is treated.

Reasons the Free Teeth Whitening Gel Isn’t Working

Decalcification is a result of bacteria and decay. It’s not a stain that teeth whitening can remove.

Photo of upper and lower teeth whitening trays in a blue case; for information on teeth alignment from the office Plano dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.
Teeth whitening might not the be answer for white spots on teeth
  • If there is sufficient carbamide peroxide (bleaching agent) in whitening gel, your natural teeth will be whitened, but the spots from decalcification will remain.
  • Remember that the white spots on your teeth are the beginning stages of a cavity. Teeth whitening gel can penetrate the area and create sensitivity.
  • Bleaching your teeth might make the stains even more noticeable.

What’s the Solution?

  • An examination is needed – It’s best to have your teeth examined by a dentist. He or she will examine them, determine the cause of the stains, and recommend treatment.
  • Cavities should be treated – The decalcification and any cavities in your teeth will need to be treated before you receive treatment to brighten your teeth.
  • Dental bonding can help – Although bleaching your teeth might be not the solution for the white spots, dental bonding can help. A cosmetic dentist can blend shades of dental composite to match the shade of your natural teeth.
  • Stop trying to correct it yourself – We recommend that you stop trying to whiten your own teeth. The results you can expect are unpredictable, particularly because of the decalcification.

It’s best to get professional help in treating the stains.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy. Dr. Lacy’s office is convenient to Addison, Allen, Carrollton, Farmers Branch, Frisco, Garland, Highland Park, and Little Elm.

3 Things to Remember When Choosing a Sedation Dentist

You can schedule the appointment, but you also keep rescheduling it. You drive to the dentist’s office, but you can’t get out of the car. If anyone in the dental office comes near your mouth, you grab their hand. All of these factors likely indicate that you have dental anxiety or dental phobia. A sedation dentist can help.

If you really want to take care of your oral health, but dental appointments make you nervous, a sedation dentist can help. Don’t have one? Before you select a sedation dentist based on an online search or how close the dental office is to your home or office, there are three things to remember.

1. You need to like and trust the dentist

If you don’t like or trust a dentist in general, you probably won’t trust him or her to provide you with sedation before a dental appointment. Choose two or three experienced sedation dentists, schedule time to check out the office and meet the dentist and staff members. Pay attention to how they treat you and treat each other. If you’re comfortable, schedule an appointment for an exam.

2. What levels of sedation are offered?

There are three levels of sedation—nitrous oxide (laughing gas), oral
conscious sedation, and IV sedation. An option is chosen based on your anxiety level, the length or complexity of the dental procedure, and what levels of sedation the dentist offers. Find out which levels a dentist offers. Ask for details about how the dentist administers sedation and what you can expect. Also, ask about his or her training in sedation dentistry.

3. It gets better

Head-towaist photo of a brunette woman outdoors and stretching backward with her eyes closed; for information on relaxing with sedation dentistry from Plano TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.

Many patients who receive sedation dentistry find that over time, they are less nervous for future appointments. Some patients require sedation less frequently or are able to switch to a lower level of sedation.

Cooperate with your sedation dentist by sharing the history of your dental anxiety. Ask questions to learn about your options. Remember that it is possible to relax, keep your dental appointments, and maintain good oral health.

This post is sponsored by Plano, TX dentist Miranda Lacy, DDS.

How Can You Get Affordable Dentistry Without Dental Insurance?

I’m wondering what my options are for finding cheap dental care without insurance. In June 2018, I was laid off from my job. In March of this year, I was hired by as a contractor, so I don’t qualify for benefits. I admit that I haven’t taken the best care of my teeth. My stressful employment situation has increased my teeth grinding habit, and last week I felt a tooth crack while I was asleep. I realize that something needs to be done before the crack spreads. Is it possible to get cheap dental care even though I don’t have insurance, or is the issue too serious for treatment to be affordable?

Thanks, Kleo

Dear Kleo,

We understand how your economic difficulties can cause stress and contribute to increased bruxism (teeth grinding) and additional issues with your teeth. We have a few suggestions you can consider to receive the dental care you need even though you don’t have insurance.

Avoid Cheap Dental Care

It’s probably best to avoid seeking cheap dental care. If a dentist is able to significantly cut costs, you should consider if it will include shortcuts and compromising the quality of dental care you receive.

Find Quality Care You Can Afford

Photo of a woman in a dental chair with a dentist and hygienst on either side of her; for information on affordable dentistry from Plano TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.
Ask your dentist’s office how care can be made affordable
  • You can get dental insurance on your own. Major insurers have policies similar to what is offered through an employer, including the level of coverage. Your premiums will cost more than they would if the insurance was provided through an employer who subsidized the premium costs.
  • Find a dental practice that offers special financial arrangements. Call a few dental offices and ask if they offer a cash discount or if the practice partners with a financing company like CareCredit®. CareCredit offers interest-free payment plans if you pay off the balance within a specified time period, otherwise, you might owe retroactive interest.
  • Receive treatment in phases. If you need multiple procedures, your dental office can provide a treatment plan and let you know the order in which you should receive each procedure. Often treatment can be provided in phases if it doesn’t compromise your oral health.
  • Tell your new dentist about your teeth grinding habit. You can cause further damage to your teeth if they aren’t protected from teeth grinding. They can break, loosen, and create issues with your jaw muscles. Your dentist will provide you with a nightguard to protect your teeth while you sleep. You can also learn techniques to keep your tongue, lips, and jaw in the optimal position to prevent teeth grinding throughout the day.

 In summary:

  • Search for high-quality dental care.
  • View each dentist’s website or call the office for information on payment options if you don’t have dental insurance.
  • Schedule a consultation with at least two dentists to discuss your oral health, treatment options, and if the treatment can be completed in phases.

 This post is sponsored by Dr. Miranda Lacy, an affordable female dentist in Plano, TX.

How Long Do Teeth Whitening Gel and Trays Last?

Almost 2 years ago, I took advantage of a free teeth whitening promo offered by a new dentist. I had new patient cleaning and exam. They took impressions of my teeth, made custom trays for me, and gave me whitening gel. I haven’t returned to that dentist because the office environment was unprofessional. It’s a family dentist but I don’t feel comfortable taking my daughter there. Are the trays and gel good for life? I didn’t use it right away. I actually put the supplies in the cabinet below my bathroom sick and forgot about it. Is it still safe to use? And will it work? D.L.

D.L.,

The trays you received with your free teeth whitening kit should be good for life if you have kept them in their protective case and have not experienced any of the following issues:

  • The alignment of your teeth has changed
  • You’ve recently received a considerable amount of dental work
  • The bleaching trays are damaged

You can rinse the bleaching trays, place them on your teeth, and check them for fit.

Is It Save to Use the Free Teeth Whitening Gel?

Photo of upper and lower teeth whitening trays in a blue case; for information on teeth alignment from the office Plano dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.
Custom teeth whitening trays can last for many years

Most whitening gel lasts about a year after it is made. If it is kept in the refrigerator, the gel can still be good for use a little longer than a year. Over time the gel oxidizes and loses its potency. The gel will begin to look white or foggy if it is old. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it is dangerous to use, but it probably won’t whiten your teeth.

Dentists offer quality teeth whitening, so the tubes you received probably have the manufacturer’s name on them as well as the gel type. You can search online for the guidelines for using the gel. If you can’t find any information, it’s probably best to throw away the gel.

Custom bleaching trays cost more than gel. If you are keeping up with your dental appointments for cleanings and exams, tell your current dentist that you already have custom trays. He or she might be willing to offer you the gel at no cost or for a reasonable fee.

 This post is sponsored by Dr. Miranda Lacy. Dr. Lacy of Plano, TX offers free teeth whitening to patients who maintain regular dental exams and cleanings.