Q: I haven’t been to a dentist in years. I use all the dental rinses and products from the drug store to take care of my mouth. I see some stained and dark areas in my teeth, how can I bleach them white?
A: Tooth whitening is a procedure to remove persistent stains and to change the shade of teeth. The procedure is meant to be done on healthy, clean, polished teeth. Would you pay to have the most expensive paint job done on your dented, rusted car you haven’t had serviced in years? Tooth and gum health need to be addressed before considering making teeth whiter and brighter.
Q: What would a dentist do to my teeth?
A: A dentist is responsible for a thorough examination and proper diagnosis to determine the best treatment for the patient, evaluate the benefits versus the risk and determine which additional treatments are necessary before and after whitening. Dental disease (cavities and gum disease) need to be treated before cosmetic procedures are begun. Existing fillings, bonding, veneers and crowns will not whiten along with the teeth.
Before treatment begins, a comprehensive examination needs to done. This includes dental radiographs (x-rays) to check for abscesses, previous root canals, underlying causes of discoloring, dental decay and periodontal disease. Counseling will include what existing restorations will no longer blend with the new whitened smile and what replacements will be needed.
Professional planning needs to be done before beginning whitening. This prevents fixing costly errors from bad or unexpected results.
Q: What is tooth decay?
A: Dental decay (caries) is a bacterial disease. Everyone has bacteria in their mouth that cause caries. These bacteria form a plaque on teeth (sticky bacterial deposits); sugar from the diet is turned into acid by these bacteria, which causes decalcification of the tooth, destroys the tooth enamel and causes decay to occur.
Dental caries is not completely preventable. No vaccine is available to prevent this common disease. Without a cure, utilize the modern dental technologies for maximum prevention and limit destruction with early treatment. Decayed teeth need to be treated.
Q: What is gum disease, periodontitis and periodontal disease?
A: Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that surround teeth. It is caused by the accumulation of bacteria (long-term plaque). It’s progressive, causing the structures that support teeth to break down (gums, jaw bone and attachment to the roots). As gums are damaged, pockets develop around the teeth. Untreated, more gum is destroyed and infection spreads down the roots to infect bone. Even healthy teeth become loose, fall out or need to be extracted. Periodontitis is the primary cause of adults losing their teeth.
Gingivitis is the milder and reversible form of periodontal disease. No bone loss, yet. Gingivitis, if untreated, can progress to periodontitis.
Remember whitening is best performed professionally. The supervision of a dentist for a thorough examination and proper diagnosis will result in the most ideal whitening results possible.