Category Archives: Teeth whitening

Why Do My New Composite fillings Hurt?

I’ve had to put off teeth whitening because I have four small composite fillings that are painful. I received the fillings in early September. I get a brief sharp pain when I chew hard or crunchy foods. The pain isn’t worse, but it’s consistent. Also, I’ve noticed that I don’t feel the pain when I clench my teeth tother.

After my online search about this issue, it seems that I need to find a dentist who uses self-etching primers or a glass ionomer base. I’ve called a few dental offices, but the receptionists don’t know what I’m talking about. How can I find the right dentist to replace the fillings? – Thanks. Eve from S. Carolina

Eve,

The sensitivity you describe occurs more often with small fillings than large ones.

Why Do New Composite Fillings Hurt?

The reason that new composite fillings hurt seems to be related to a dentist bonding the filling to dentin of the tooth. Most dental office receptionists are not familiar with self-etching primers or glass ionomer bases. Maybe a dental assistant who helps the dentist with the procedure might be familiar with the terms.

Although Dr. Lacy would need to examine your teeth, two possible solutions include:

Schedule an appointment to make your request – Before allowing a dentist to work on your teeth, insist on a glass ionomer base beneath the filling to protect the dentin and keep composite away from it. If the dentist doesn’t agree with your request, find another dentist.

Find an advanced cosmetic dentist – You might have to travel to find a cosmetic dentist who is familiar with self-etching primers and glass ionomer base. A dentist with post-graduate training in cosmetic dentistry knows how to protect your teeth, and you don’t have to explain your position or tell the dentist what materials you want in your teeth.

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 can further irritate sensitive teeth

Although a cosmetic dentist would usually whiten your teeth first and place the fillings afterward to match them, your teeth are sensitive. The bleaching gel can increase sensitivity. Speak with the dentist about the best time to start teeth whitening treatment.

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

Will Teeth Whitening Help White Spots or Make Them Worse?

When I was a child, solid white spots developed on the tips of my teeth. As a teenager, I had braces, and I think the braces cause white spots on my upper center front teeth. My family dentist says my teeth are healthy, and since I’m 30 years old with healthy teeth, I shouldn’t be overly concerned. The white spots because they are noticeable when I smile. Will Zoom whitening or whitestrips make the spots more prominent, or are porcelain veneers better? Thanks, Laney from AL

Laney,

So many dentists have the attitude that your teeth look okay, so leave them alone. But that’s not what you want. And they’re not genuinely concerned about how you feel about your smile. They just fix teeth to their satisfaction. Don’t ask your family dentist to do anything about the white spots on your teeth.

Zoom whitening, whitestrips, or any teeth bleaching will improve the spots on your teeth. It can make them worse. Although some dentists might prescribe whitening, find a dentist with advanced training in cosmetic dentistry.

Although Dr. Lacy would need to examine your teeth, dental bonding might conceal the white spots. If not, porcelain veneers will cover them. If you want a brighter smile overall, you can whiten your teeth and then use bonding or porcelain veneers for the white spots.

But don’t think that every dentist who claims to be a cosmetic dentist can do the work. Some claim to be a cosmetic dentist because the procedures are profitable. But the dentists don’t have artistic talent or training, color management, or translucence. If you choose a dentist based on their claims alone, you can still be disappointed with the results.

Take time to find a cosmetic dentist to conceal the white spots, and then you can return to your family dentist for general care.

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

How to Whiten a Single Tooth and Get a PERFECT Color Match

I love my smile and my teeth are as white as I want them except one that’s turning brown. In elementary school, I collided with a student, and his head hit my mouth. Although I’ve had a hairline fracture in the tooth and it sits back farther than the one on either side, now the tooth is getting dark. It doesn’t hurt, and it’s not sensitive. Is there a safe way to whiten it without it turning dark? Is it possible to get whitening for one tooth or will bonding work? If whitening will work, I’ll try it myself. Thanks. Chanele from Fort Wayne, IN

Chanele,

If your tooth is not painful or infected, you won’t need root canal treatment. A tooth that has light trauma can develop thicker dentin (layer beneath the enamel) and darken.

Is Teeth Whitening an Option for a Single Tooth?

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.
Don’t try to whiten a single dark tooth at home

Manipulating the color of a single tooth is a challenge for about 98% of dentists. But don’t ask a dentist to color match a single tooth with a bleaching agent. Sometimes bleaching gel makes discoloration in teeth even more noticeable. And it can be tricky to determine how long to leave the gel on a tooth to achieve the right color—especially after a few days when the color stabilizes. Don’t try to whiten your tooth at home.

Lighten a Single Tooth with Dental Bonding or a Veneer

An artistic cosmetic dentist will use dental bonding to achieve a perfect color match. A single, lab-made porcelain veneer will produce natural-looking results, but it’s more invasive than dental bonding.

An advanced cosmetic dentist will blend dental bonding to match the shade, translucency, and gloss of your natural teeth. The same can be achieved with a porcelain veneer and ceramic who will manipulate the color to match your surrounding teeth.

Consult with a cosmetic dentist to discuss your options and the cost of dental bonding vs. a single porcelain veneer.

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

How to Get a Whiter, More Even Smile Without Porcelain Veneers

I want my teeth to be whiter and to close the spaces between them, but I can’t afford porcelain veneers. I’m thinking about a snap-on smile because it will cover both of my concerns. I’m not sure how a snap-on smile compares to veneers, but I know it’s cheaper. Braces are out of the question for the spaces between my teeth. I’m not sure that my research has revealed all my options, though. How can I improve my smile without going into debt? Thanks. Yazi

Yazi

Before you ask a dentist for a Snap-On Smile, we’ll explain what you can expect. It will help you decide if it’s the solution you’re seeking.

What to Expect from a Snap-On Smile

Cost – You can expect to pay about $1500 for a Snap-On smile. If you wear it all the time, it can last two years or more—depending on how well you take care of it.

Aesthetics – A Snap-On smile fits over your teeth, so it makes them look bulky. Unless you have small teeth, a Snap-On smile might draw more attention to your smile in a negative way.

Feel – It’s an appliance that fits over your teeth. Although you’ll get used to it, it won’t feel natural. And it takes time to learn to speak without lisping while you’re wearing it.

Alternatives for a Brighter, More Even Smile

Alternatives to a Snap-On Smile will give you better, longer-lasting results.

Brighter smile

If you want a brighter smile, teeth whitening is an option that will help your smile look younger. Some dentists offer free or discounted whitening to patients to keep their cleaning and exam appointment.

Teeth whitening will help your smile look younger

Closing gaps or spaces

Also, tooth-colored composite bonding will close small gaps or spaces between your teeth. But it takes an artistic cosmetic dentist to apply dental composite and mimic the characteristics of natural teeth.

If you ask for a specific treatment, some dentists will provide it even though alternatives might work best for the long-term health of your smile. We suggest that you schedule consultations with at least two cosmetic dentists. They will examine your teeth, explain your options, and let you know what to expect.

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

9 Causes of Bad Breath and Why Hiding the Odor Isn’t Good Enough

I have a bad smell in my mouth. I brush daily but it still smells. I chew gum all day long and suck on mints, but I don’t want to get cavities from all the sugar. Any suggestions? Will teeth whitening help? – Thanks. Luca from San Antonio

Luca – Many factors can affect the way your breath smells. Although teeth whitening products can brighten your smile, they won’t help your breath smell fresh.

What Causes Bad Breath?

Several factors are reviewed below.

1. Bacteria

Bacteria in your mouth is the most common cause of bad breath. In addition to brushing your teeth daily, floss between them. Flossing removes food debris that promotes bacteria. If bacteria get stuck between your teeth, it will begin to smell bad. Some people benefit from a tongue cleaner to remove bacteria. Others gently brush their tongue.

2. Gum Disease

Infected gum tissue breeds bacteria. Gums can get inflamed and pus-filled and cause a foul odor on your breath.

3. Dry Mouth

Saliva cleanses your mouth. Lack of saliva production causes bacteria to breed and make your breath smell bad. Breathing through your mouth, instead of your nose, will also decrease saliva production.

4. GERD

When stomach acid flows up your esophagus, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs. The backup of regurgitated food can cause your breath to smell bad.

5. Liver Disease

Your liver removes toxins from your body. If your liver isn’t functioning properly, toxins can build up in your bloodstream and cause a sweet, musty odor on your breath.

6. Kidney Disease

Malfunctioning kidneys cause minerals to collect in your bloodstream. The result is often a metallic taste in your mouth and breath that smells like ammonia.

7. Extreme Low-Carb Diet

If you’re on an extremely low-carb diet, your body will burn fat, instead of sugar. Fat burning releases ketones in your body, including acetone, which can make your breath smell like nail polish.

8. Pneumonia

Phlegm from the bacterial or viral infection in your lung has a bad odor. As you cough it up, it will affect the smell of your breath.

9. Bronchitis

As you cough, foul-smelling mucus from your lungs will make your breath smell bad, too.

There are powerful products to help you treat bad breath, including BreathRx. But don’t neglect an appointment with your dentist or medical doctor to identify the cause of the problem. You might have an underlying medical condition that needs to be treated. The odor of your breath can be a lifesaving sign of something more serious. Don’t ignore it.

Plano, TX dentist Miranda Lacy sponsors this post.

Is This Hydrogen Peroxide Solution Good for Whitening Porcelain Veneers?

I found a mouthwash and teeth whitening recipe online that I can make that won’t harm my porcelain veneers. I just want to double-check the ingredients to make sure it will work. It contains 8 oz filtered water, boiled; 8 oz of 3% hydrogen peroxide; and 2 tablespoons of sea salt. Is this mixture okay to use on porcelain veneers, or are the measurements off? Thanks. Gloria from Little Elm

Gloria,

If your veneers are stained, avoid any at-home methods to brighten them.

How to whitening teeth that have been restored with porcelain veneers

Mouthwash – Mouthwash that contains alcohol will soften the bonding that adheres the porcelain veneers to your teeth. It will create a reservoir around the edge of your veneers that attracts stains. Your veneers can loosen, too. Avoid alcohol-based mouthwash.

Hydrogen peroxide – Although hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria, including harmful bacteria that promote gum disease, it also kills beneficial microbes. The result is an overgrowth of yeast, or candida albicans.

Although short-term use of hydrogen peroxide is helpful as a mouthwash, prolonged use can develop into unwanted symptoms, including:

  • Oral yeast infection
  • White and peeling oral tissue
  • Raw, red, and painful patches

What if your veneers are stained?

Photo of a single porcelain veneers, from affordable Plano TX dentist Dr. Miranda Lacy.
Ensure your veneers are maintained by a cosmetic dentist

If your porcelain veneers appear to be stained—or if you want to ensure they remain sparkling white— what can you do?

  • Continue to maintain good oral hygiene. Floss between your teeth daily and brush them with non-abrasive toothpaste.
  • Speak with your dentist if you have concerns about discoloration or stains. He or she has in-office equipment to polish your veneers without harmful whitening chemicals.
  • Avoid using tooth whitening solutions on your porcelain veneers. The chemicals can scratch the surface of your veneers and attract stains.
  • Only have your veneers cleaned by a dental hygienist who is trained to use the correct tools to avoid damaging them.

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

Teeth Sensitive at the Gumline? What’s Causing It and How It’s Treated

For about 3 months, I’ve had periodic tooth sensitivity at the gumline on my top right front tooth and the one to the right of it. The teeth aren’t sensitive to heat or cold, but if I run my fingernail or a toothpick along the gums, it’s sensitive. Flossing or brushing my teeth doesn’t hurt. The sensitivity has increased over the past 3 weeks. The only thing different is that I’ve started whitening my teeth at home. The sensitivity isn’t during or after whitening, but if I put pressure on the teeth, it feels like the nerves in the area are more irritated than ever. What’s causing this? – Luke

Luke,

Thanks for submitting your question. Persistent tooth sensitivity should not be ignored because it can lead to internal damage and root canal treatment. Until the issue is diagnosed and treated, you should discontinue whitening your teeth, because bleaching gel can cause further irritation.

The good news is that your teeth aren’t sensitive to heat or cold, so it is unlikely that the pulp (living tissue in the tooth) is damaged.

How Are Sensitive Spots on Teeth Treated?

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.
Discontinue whitening until your dentist says it’s safe

Although many dentists aren’t aware of it, teeth slightly flex where the crown and root meet. These tiny movements can occur when we bite, chew, or clench or grind our teeth. Flexure causes small amounts of tooth structure to break. Over time, flexing sends impulses to a tooth and creates sensitivity. The tooth can develop a significant groove, referred to as an abfracted lesion.

It’s relatively easy for your dentist to treat teeth that are sensitive in specific locations.

  • Your dentist must examine your teeth to determine the size of the spots.
  • If the spots are small enough, your dentist will seal them.
  • Larger grooves must be filled. An ordinary filling often won’t stay in the grooves, so your dentist can use a microfill composite or another flexible filling material. Microfill composite will eliminate or reduce sensitivity in the teeth.

After treatment, your dentist will let you know when it’s safe to resume whitening your teeth.

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

3 Reasons Why Whitening Might Be Bad for Your Teeth

Whiter teeth can make your smile look more youthful and enhance your facial appearance. But in some cases, teeth whitening attempts can do more harm than good.

1. Gum Disease and Cavities

If your gums bleed or are inflamed or irritated, teeth whitening will make matters worse. The bleaching agent will further irritate your gums and cause pain. Gum disease needs to be treated and controlled before bleaching your teeth. Also, bleaching gel will penetrate through cavities and increase sensitivity in your teeth.

2. Challenges of Charcoal for Whitening Teeth

Researchers at the Creighton University School of Dentistry concluded that charcoal toothpaste is harsh on tooth enamel and can cause premature wearing and tooth decay. Laboratory students observed that charcoal toothpaste caused discoloration and made teeth look yellow or gray.

3. Hydrogen Peroxide Hype

Hydrogen peroxide can whiten teeth, but it can be harmful to your oral health. Some people are tempted to purchase the most potent solution available to brighten their teeth. Studies show that high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can burn your gums and oral tissue and break down tooth enamel. And if you ingest high-powered peroxide, it releases dangerous levels of oxygen in your bloodstream.

Long-term use of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide (low strength) can kill beneficial microbes in your mouth and cause microorganisms, including candida albicans (yeast), to thrive.

What Are the Alternatives?

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.
Dentist-supervised whitening is safe

If in-office whitening from your dentist isn’t within your budget, consider the following alternatives:

  • Take-home whitening from your dentist is effective.
  • Keep your dental exam and cleaning appointments. Often, your dental hygienist can get tough surface stains off your teeth.
  • Limit things that cause tooth stains, including smoking and drinking coffee, soda, wine, and dark juices.
  • Ask your dentist how whitening treatment can be made affordable for you. Some dentists offer free whitening for patients who keep their exam and cleaning appointments.

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

Teeth Whitening Gel or Baking Soda to Brighten Your Dull Veneers?

Are you thinking about using teeth whitening or baking soda to brighten your porcelain veneers? What you use to clean your veneers can maximize—or minimize—their lifespan.

The Properties of Porcelain Veneers

Well-made porcelain veneers replicate tooth enamel. Although porcelain beautifully mimics enamel, the properties of porcelain are different. The dental ceramics used to make veneers are harder than tooth enamel. And veneers are stain resistant. So how can you whiten them?

Teeth Whitening

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 treatments won’t brighten porcelain veneers

Professional bleaching gel is made of carbamide peroxide, which penetrates through tooth enamel into the dentin in teeth. The gel lightens the natural pigmentation in your teeth. But porcelain veneers are colorfast—teeth whitening won’t change their color.

Baking Soda or Teeth-Whitening Toothpaste?

Powdered baking soda is abrasive. If used for an extended period, it can scratch tooth enamel or the surface of porcelain veneers. Additionally, most types of toothpaste—including those with teeth whitening properties—are too abrasive to use for an extended period on cosmetic dental work. At the margin of your gumline and the veneers, abrasive pastes can wear away the composite bonding that secures the veneers to your teeth.

Many advanced cosmetic dentists recommend low-abrasion toothpaste for any cosmetic work, including porcelain veneers. Supersmile® toothpaste is gentle on teeth and cosmetic work.

Bottom line: Don’t use powdered baking soda or teeth-whitening gels or pastes on your porcelain veneers. Long-term use will create scratches that attract stains. Use a low-abrasion brand of toothpaste that is recommended by your cosmetic dentist.

If Your Porcelain Veneers Are Dull or Stained

If porcelain veneers are stain resistant, why do yours look dull? Several factors can cause veneers to look dark and detract from your smile, including:

  • Bacteria leaking behind the cosmetic work
  • Excess dental cement that your dentist didn’t thoroughly remove when bonding the veneers to your teeth
  • Damage that results when a hygienist uses dental instruments or chemicals that work well on tooth enamel but not on veneers

It’s best to determine the cause of your dull or stained veneers. Teeth whitening gels or pastes won’t help. You can schedule an appointment for an exam with an advanced cosmetic dentist. Your cosmetic dentist might be able to polish your veneers and enhance their gloss. He or she will explain your options.

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

3 Surprising Ways Your Toothbrush Can Affect the Brightness of Your Smile

Teeth whitening is an easy way to make you and your smile look younger. Although your teeth get stained and darken over time, regularly brushing them will help remove surface stains and prevent a buildup of discoloration. But does your toothbrush matter?

1. Lifespan of a Toothbrush

Photo of a yellow toothbrush with toothpaste being applied to it; for information on free teeth whitening in Plano, TX

The lifespan of a toothbrush is three to four months. If you haven’t switched your toothbrush in a year, your brushing might be in vain. And the brush won’t make your teeth any whiter. Scattered, worn bristles aren’t doing the job. Settle the issue by keeping a few toothbrushes on hand so you can switch to a new one when the current one is worn. Can’t remember to switch to a new brush? Make a note in your calendar—hardcopy, phone, tablet, or iPad.

2. Hard or Soft?

Is a hard toothbrush more effective at removing surface stains from your teeth? That might seem logical, but below are a few facts:

  • Hard and medium bristles can promote gum recession.
  • Exposed tooth roots from gums that recede will make your teeth more sensitive to heat and cold.
  • A soft-bristled brush with long, angled bristles can easily clean between each tooth. It will be effective without harming your gum tissue.

3. Manual or Electric?

The American Dental Association reports that manual and electric toothbrushes are equally effective. Does this mean that your loved one needs no longer needs to gift you with an electric brush? An electric toothbrush has several advantages.

  • If you have dexterity issues, lack the motivation to brush properly, or don’t brush long enough, an electric toothbrush can help. Many electric brushes have a two-minute timer.
  • Just hold the brush and move it along the front and back of each tooth.
  • Don’t brush aggressively. Let the toothbrush do the work.

It’s all about you

Often, the brightness of your smile is related to the effort you put into maintaining good oral health. Brush your teeth twice daily. If you want a bright smile—even if you received professional teeth whitening—there is no substitute for brushing your teeth. Floss between your teeth to remove food debris that can lead to a buildup of plaque and discoloration.

In some cases medication or medical issues can change tooth color. A cosmetic dentist can help improve your smile.

If you’re doing all you can keep your teeth clean, but some stains remain, ask your dentist if professional teeth whitening is right for you. It can break down stains beneath the enamel and will give your teeth the sparkle you want.

This post is sponsored by Dr. Miranda Lacy of Plano, TX. She provides free teeth whitening to patients who keep their dental cleaning and exam appointments.