Category Archives: Teeth whitening

Can I Trust Ads for Discounted Teeth Whitening?

I’ve been getting Groupon e-mails weekly for at-home teeth whitening products and teeth whitening specials with dentists. Do these really work? I’ve always wanted to have a really white smile, and now it looks like I can do it affordably. How do I know if it’s not a waste of money? – Karla R. from San Antonio

Karla,

Thank you for your question.

At-home teeth whitening products are becoming increasingly popular. Some of the products contain 35% carbamide peroxide, which will whiten your teeth.

Still, be careful. Getting teeth whitening from your dentist has many advantages, even if you decide to get a take-home kit from your dentist. Factors to consider:

  • Types of stains – The American Dental Association confirms that teeth whitening does not work with all types of stains. Depending on the cause of the stains, the bleaching gel may not correct them and can even can make the stains more noticeable.
  • Whether you have dental restorations – A dentist needs to check existing dental work on your teeth, including crowns, veneers, and bonding, before starting the teeth whitening process. Bleaching your teeth can make them whiter than the restorations, and you will have mismatched results.
  • Custom bleaching trays – Your dentist will provide you with customized trays for your teeth. The trays help you avoid wasting the gel or irritating your gums from bleaching gel that oozes out of the trays.
  • Progress checks – Your dentist can monitor the progress of the teeth whitening and adjust your treatment as needed.

Be cautious about the products that you use. Talk with your dentist about the coupons you have seen and discuss the cost. Your dentist might be willing to work with your budget so that you can get your teeth safely whitened.

Plano, Texas dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy sponsors this post.

Should You Choose Ultra-thin or Traditional Veneers?

Porcelain veneers transform smiles. A skilled cosmetic dentist and ceramist can manipulate porcelain to mimic the color and translucence of natural teeth. Advanced dental technology has introduced ultra-thin veneers. Which type of veneers should you choose?

Should You Choose Ultra-thin or Traditional Veneers?

Whether you choose ultra-thin or traditional veneers depends on your case, the condition of your teeth, and your dentist’s recommendations. We explain some factors that may influence your and your dentist’s decision.

Traditional Porcelain Veneers

Traditional veneers have the following characteristics:

  • About .5 millimeter thick
  • Require preparation of your natural teeth so they fit correctly and will not look bulky
  • 0.3 to 0.5 millimeters of the front surface of a tooth is removed to prepare it for a veneer

Ultra-Thin Veneers

Ultra-thin veneers have the following characteristics:

  • About .3 millimeter thick
  • Can be bonded to your teeth without preparation
  • Cosmetic dentists strive to remove a minimal amount of a tooth’s front surface

What Do Ultra-thin and Traditional Veneers Have in Common?

Ultra-thin and traditional veneers have several things in common:

Teeth whitening application
Your cosmetic dentist can whiten your teeth before placing veneers
  • Custom-made in a dental lab
  • Match the characteristics of your natural teeth, so in the hands of a skilled cosmetic dentist, people will think your veneers are your natural teeth
  • Stain-resistant
  • Can last 15-20 years if you take diligent care of them and have them maintained by a trained cosmetic dentist

Which Should You Choose?

Schedule an appointment with a skilled cosmetic dentist. They can determine which type of veneers will give you the best results based on the condition of your teeth, the shape, position, and size of your teeth, and the results you want to achieve. You should not insist on either traditional or ultra-thin veneers. A cosmetic dentist will also preserve as much tooth structure as possible yet produce natural-looking results. The dentist will bond your veneers to ensure they look natural and are durable.

Many patients find it helpful to schedule at least two consultations before making decisions about porcelain veneers. Below are a few tips for scheduling your consultation:

  • Select experienced cosmetic dentists, preferably accredited, who have advanced, post-graduate training.
  • Look for a smile gallery on each dentist’s website and find photos of patients who received porcelain veneers.
  • Ask the dentist how many porcelain veneer cases they have completed.
  • Compare the recommendations, treatment plan, and costs of each dentist.
  • Look for patient reviews on the dentist’s work.

What Can You Expect?

After the consultation, if you are interested in porcelain veneers, you can expect the following:

  • An exam
  • Digital x-rays
  • A smile design that includes your preferences and considers your facial features to ensure natural-looking results

If you want a bright smile with porcelain veneers, your cosmetic dentist must whiten your natural teeth first. It will ensure that your veneers match the color of your teeth.

Miranda Lacy, DDS, a Plano, Texas, female dentist sponsors this post.

Is My New Dentist Overdoing It with X-Rays and Fluoride Treatment?

I have a new dentist and have some questions about their recommendations. Do I need x-rays every six months? Also, as an adult, do I need a yearly fluoride treatment? I want to limit treatment that I do not need frequently. Thank you. Susanna from San Francisco

Susanna,

Thank you for your questions.

How Often Do You Need Dental X-rays?

General guidelines for dental x-rays are as follows:

  • Bitewing x-rays – Yearly
  • Panographic x-ray – once every five years

However, the American Dental Association (ADA) states that your dentist may recommend x-rays more often depending on several factors, including:

  • Your age
  • Your oral health
  • Your risk for disease
  • Signs and symptoms of oral disease, including tooth decay, bone disease, or gum disease

Dental x-rays expose you to minimal radiation. Still, the ADA document, Dental Radiographs – Benefits and Safety, recommends providing a new dentist with your existing x-rays to avoid duplicating them.

How Often Do Adults Need Fluoride Treatment?

Although dentists usually give fluoride treatment to children, adults may receive treatment for aggressive decay. How often you receive fluoride depends on your condition and its severity.

Teeth whitening application
Fluoride treatment can calm lingering sensitivity from teeth whitening

Reasons that your dentist might recommend fluoride treatment

  • Advanced tooth decay
  • Lingering sensitivity from teeth bleaching
  • Minimize decay from reduced saliva flow from diseases, medications, or medical treatments.

Most dental offices use acidulated fluoride. If you have porcelain veneers or crowns, acidulated fluoride can etch the surface, roughen it, and increase the risk of our crowns or veneer staining. If the dental lab makes your porcelain restorations tinted the surface, acidulated fluoride can dissolve the tint.

And if you want your teeth whitened, ask your dentist to supervise it, help you minimize sensitivity, and avoid the need for fluoride treatment.

Is My Toothpaste Scratching My Veneers?

I think I misunderstood something about whitening toothpaste and porcelain veneers. My dentist gave me free teeth whitening gel and trays. I wanted to get all my natural teeth whitening before she placed veneers. After I finished whitening my teeth, I used whitening toothpaste to keep them bright. And after I got veneers, I kept using the toothpaste. But last week, at my dental appointment, the hygienist said that I could damage the veneers with the whitening toothpaste. I thought that other whitening agents do not change the color or harm veneers. Could I really scratch them with the toothpaste that I’m using to keep my natural teeth bright? – Deynah from Long Island

Deynah,

Thank you for your question.

Whitening toothpaste cannot change the colors of your veneers. But if you use them long-term, their abrasiveness might scratch the glaze on your veneers. If you have not been using the toothpaste long, do not worry about it.

What Can Scratch Porcelain Veneers?

Certain toothpastes, dental materials, and dental chemicals can damage the glaze on porcelain veneers. Some of them include:

Photo of a yellow toothbrush with toothpaste being applied to it; for information on free teeth whitening in Plano, TX
Long-term use of abrasive toothpaste can scratch porcelain veneers
  • Abrasive toothpaste
  • Abrasive polishing pastes
  • Acidulated fluoride
  • Power polishing equipment at a dental office

We recommend toothpaste made for cosmetic dental work.  Supersmile is a toothpaste brand that will remove surface stains from veneers without damaging them. Be careful about types of toothpaste within a brand that claim to be low abrasion. Read the labels for specific instructions about using the brand of toothpaste on cosmetic dentistry work. Consistently rubbing your veneers can wear away the bonding between your teeth and veneers.

You can use bleaching gel from your dentist to touch up your natural teeth and keep them bright without harming your porcelain veneers.

Miranda Lacy, DDS, a female dentist in Plano, TX, sponsors this post.

Dentist won’t whiten my teeth without treating a broken tooth first

I have intense pain in a tooth that broke three years ago. I did not see a dentist about it until I decided to get my teeth cleaned and whitened. Last week, I saw a dentist who says that there is no way I can get my teeth whitened without treating this tooth that is hurting my chin and jaw. The dentist asked me to return for an x-ray because I was in the office for a teeth whitening consultation. Is it necessary to take care of an old broken tooth before whitening my teeth? – Brandon from Denver, CO

Brandon,

A tooth infection is causing your pain, and it needs treatment right away. If the pain is traveling into your jaw and chin, the infection is spreading.

Tooth Pain in Your Jaw and Chin

If you have tooth pain in your jaw and chin, schedule an appointment for an x-ray as the dentist you saw recommended. And ask her to x-ray your other teeth. Your broken tooth probably had a large cavity. Before pain spreads to your jawbone, other teeth can get infected along the way. Stopping the infection now is a wise decision.

When Can You Get Your Teeth Whitened?

Nose-to-chin photo of a man's white teeth - from Plano, TX dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy

You can get teeth whitened after the infection is clear. If the dentist can save your broken tooth, she will recommend root canal treatment and a crown. But if most of the healthy tooth structure is gone, or if the tooth is too damaged, you will need an extraction.

If root canal treatment is an option, you can wear a temporary crown until completing the whitening process. After your teeth are as white as you want them, your dentist can make a crown to match.

Check the Dentist’s Cosmetic Dentistry Training

The improvement you want for your smile can benefit from a cosmetic dentist, so check for the dentist’s advanced cosmetic dentistry training. A cosmetic dentist can perfectly match a crown to your newly whitened teeth. The results will look natural.

Miranda Lacy, DDS of Plano, TX, sponsors this post.

Why are my teeth darker after Zoom whitening?

I got Zoom whitening in June, but now my teeth are not as white as they were at first. My dentist gave me the impression that my teeth would stay white. I am concerned that I paid for treatment that is not going to last. Is this normal? And if so, how often will I need to repeat the treatment? Thank you. Jade

Jade –

When you receive in-office Zoom Whitening, your teeth will be ultra-bright–much brighter than in the following days. In a week or so, after your teeth rehydrate, the color might be a few shades darker than when you first received the treatment, but that’s normal. In-office Zoom treatment jumpstarts the process. But you may need to follow up with another in-office whitening session or take-home whitening.

Photo of upper and lower teeth whitening trays in a blue case; for information on free teeth whitening from the office Plano dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.
Custom teeth whitening trays for home use keep your smile bright

Your dentist probably gave you a take-home whitening kit to use after in-office treatment. When you use the kit as directed by your dentist, your teeth will continue to whiten. But do not use the take-home kit more than directed by your dentist. It is possible to over-bleach your teeth. When that happens, teeth can get brittle and turn dark.

If you follow your dentist’s instructions for at-home treatment but want your teeth even whiter, speak with our dentist about it. They will explain how to safely whiten your teeth without causing a lot of sensitivity or damaging your tooth structure.

Miranda Lacy, DDS of Plano, TX, sponsors this post. Dr. Lacy offers free whitening to patients to maintain regular dental cleaning and exam appointments.

How Can I Fix a Chipped Tooth?

My teeth are healthy, but I want to make some changes that will make my smile look better. Three weeks ago, my tooth chipped. It’s really a small chip on the outer edge of my front center tooth. You can see it, but it is not very noticeable. But I have also been wanted to get my teeth whitening. I read online that I should get my teeth whitened before getting a porcelain veneer for the chip. How natural looking will the veneer look? Can a dentist shape it exactly the way it was? And if I get my teeth whitened, will the veneer be a close match or a perfect match? I am afraid to get a veneer if it is not going to match perfectly. Since it is a cracked front tooth, I think a mismatched veneer will be more noticeable than the small crack. Thank you! M. Santiago fro LA

Dear M. Santiago,

We wish that Dr. Lacy could examine your tooth to explain your treatment options. But you likely have two options for your cracked tooth, and a porcelain veneer is one of them.

How Can You Fix Chipped Tooth?

A dentist can repair a chipped with a porcelain veneer or dental bonding. Either cosmetic dentistry treatment can make your tooth look like it was never chipped. Let us explain the difference between repairing a chipped tooth with a veneer vs. dental bonding.

Porcelain veneer for a chipped tooth

If a cosmetic dentist repairs your chipped tooth with a porcelain veneer, you can expect the following:

  • Coverage – A porcelain veneer will cover the entire front of your tooth.
  • Tooth preparation – A dentist will likely need to prepare—or etch—the tooth lightly to ensure the veneer fits well.
  • Crafting the veneer – After your dentist takes an impression of your teeth, a lab will make a custom veneer to fit over your chipped tooth.
  • Skill level – A dentist with advanced cosmetic dentistry training can give you a lifelike veneer that matches the characteristics of your chipped tooth and matches your brightened smile.
  • Cost – The average cost of one veneer in the U.S. is about $1500.
  • Longevity – Well-made veneers can last up to 20 years.

Dental bonding for a chipped tooth

If a dentist uses dental bonding to conceal a chipped tooth, you can expect the following:

  • Coverage – Dental bonding will fill in the chip and blend with the surrounding tooth structure. A dentist will not need to cover your entire tooth with bonding.
  • Tooth preparation – A dentist will roughen your tooth enamel in preparation for bonding.
  • Crafting the bonding – A dentist mixes composite bonding in the office to match your tooth shade. Afterward, the dentist will shape, harden, and polish the bonding.
  • Skill level – Almost any dentist can use dental bonding to conceal a small chip.
  • Cost – The average cost of dental bonding in the U.S. is about $100 – $400 per tooth.
  • Longevity – Dental bonding lasts three to five years.
Before and after photos for information on free teeth whitening, from Plano TX dentist Miranday Lacy DDS.
A cosmetic dentist can whiten your teeth and match bonding or a veneer

If you prefer a porcelain veneer over dental bonding, look for a dentist with advanced cosmetic dentistry training. Then, you will get natural-looking results that match your newly whitened teeth.

Miranda Lacy, DDS, a Plano, TX female cosmetic dentist, sponsors this post.

My Teeth Are Dark Beneath My Veneers. Can I Whiten Them?

I got Lumineers in 2010, and although I had problems with them falling off, I finally got that issue fixed by visiting a different dentist. Since February 2020, my teeth beneath the veneers began turning dark. Also, the veneers do not fit well at my gums anymore. My veneers are not as white as some of my friends’ natural teeth. Is the issue with the veneers or my teeth beneath them? Can a dentist remove the veneers, clean and whiten my teeth and bond them on again? – Anika from GA

Anika,

You have had an unfortunate experience with porcelain veneers. We hope that it will not take long to find an experienced cosmetic dentist to correct the issue.

Why Are Teeth Dark Beneath Porcelain Veneers?

When your teeth are dark beneath your porcelain veneers, the veneers are leaking. You no longer have a tight seal between the veneers and your teeth. That is why your veneers are separating from your gumline. Fluid and bacteria leak in, cause staining, and promote decay.

The first dentist who bonded your veneers did not do it correctly. That’s why they were falling off. But it seems that the second dentist did not understand how to re-bond porcelain veneers. Several steps are required.

Can Porcelain Veneers Be Re-Bonded?

A trained cosmetic dentist can re-bond your porcelain veneers. But it takes care using these steps:

  • Remove and clean the veneers
  • Remove the old bonding material with sand-blasting equipment
  • Clean your teeth
  • Etch the inner surface of the porcelain with hydrofluoric acid
  • Prime the veneers
  • Bond them onto your teeth

After the above process, your veneers will remain on your teeth without leaking for many years.

Can You Remove and Clean Your Veneers?

Photo of upper and lower teeth whitening trays in a blue case; for information on free teeth whitening from the office Plano dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.
A dentist will not be able to remove your veneers to whiten your teeth

Removing the veneers, whitening your teeth, and bonding the veneers on again is risky. Your veneers are not loose, so they will probably break in the process. A dentist must grind the veneers off your teeth. At this point, it is best to replace your porcelain veneers.

This time, look for an advanced cosmetic dentist with post-graduate cosmetic dentistry training. You can schedule consultations with one or two cosmetic dentists before you ask for an exam.

Plano, TX dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy sponsors this post.

My dentist extracted my tooth and left two roots behind

I had not been to a dentist in years, so I decided to get an exam and cleaning and schedule teeth whitening later. A needed several fillings before I could get my teeth whitened, and the dentist said one tooth was severely decayed and required an extraction. The dentist extracted the tooth last Thursday, and this weekend when I looked at the extraction hole to clean it, I saw two roots of the tooth left. Will those roots interfere with a dental implant, and why would my dentist leave them? Thank you. Konnor

Thank you for your question. Molar teeth have multiple roots, and it is a challenge to see into an extraction site near the back of your mouth. Are you sure that you see tooth roots are left and not debris stuck in the socket?

If your dentist left two roots behind, there must be a reason for it—although your dentist should inform you when this happens. Sometimes the location of tooth root tips is so close to the sinus that removing them could puncture the sinus or damage or nerve. But the roots must be removed before getting a dental implant.

Not all dentists are comfortable retrieving tooth roots and tips, and some do not have the instruments required to do it. The process can be challenging and lengthy for a dentist who does not have much experience in this area. If you have roots left in the extraction site instead of debris and your dentist cannot remove them, an oral surgeon can. It is easier to remove the roots soon after extraction, so schedule an appointment promptly

Teeth Whitening After Extraction

After the extraction site heals, you can begin teeth whitening treatment. When your teeth are as white as you want, your implant dentist will begin the process. A lab will make your dental crowns to match your brightened smile.

Selecting Your Dental Implants Provider

Diagram of dental imlant components, including the root form, connector, and crown
Dental implant

Look for a skilled implant dentist or oral surgeon. If your dentist left roots and not debris behind, it might be challenging for him to resolve the issue with the roots before placing a dental implant. It might be best to ask for a referral to an oral surgeon for tooth root removal and implant placement.

Plano, TX dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy sponsors this post.

Do I really need both wisdom teeth extracted?

My dentist is going to remove my lower right wisdom tooth because it aches. He says that if I don’t remove the upper right wisdom tooth, it will drop into the space of the lower one and eventually hit my gums or interfere with other teeth. Is that true. Do I need both wisdom teeth extracted? I am 54 years old and do not want unnecessary complications. I am anxious to begin teeth whitening treatment. Thank you. Regina

Regina,

Your dentist is right. It is wise to remove wisdom teeth in pairs for several reasons.

  • Drifting – Keeping the upper right wisdom tooth can cause it to drift into the lower space.
  • Bite disruption – The unevenness can disrupt your bite or contribute to tooth decay or gum disease.
  • Tooth decay or gum disease – Without a lower tooth to chew against, if the upper tooth disrupts your bite, tooth decay or gum disease can occur in other teeth.

What Can You Expect with Wisdom Teeth Removal?

You can expect painless surgery and progressive recovery with wisdom tooth removal. Impacted wisdom teeth can be challenging to extract. If your dentist is not experienced with a variety of cases and your teeth are impacted, he may refer you to an oral surgeon.

Comfort – Before surgery, the oral surgeon will sedate you.

Surgery length – Your time in surgery depends on how many teeth the surgeon will remove and if they are impacted. Average time for removing all four wisdom teeth is about 1.5 hours.

Progressive recovery – You will see some swelling and feel soreness, but post-operative instructions explain how to manage them both and keep comfortable. Each day, you will progressively feel better. Although complications are rare, your oral surgeon will explain the signs and symptoms of complications, including:

Photo of upper and lower teeth whitening trays in a blue case; for information on free teeth whitening from the office Plano dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.
Teeth whitening can begin after wisdom tooth extracation
  • Dry socket
  • Infection
  • Sensory nerve damage
  • Sinus perforation

Follow-up visits – You may have one follow-up visit after extraction, but it is often not needed.

Your dentist will schedule an appointment to check the extractions sites and ensure your gums and remaining teeth are healthy before starting teeth whitening treatment.

Plano, TX female dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy sponsors this post.