What is Teeth Whitening? Chairside professional teeth whitening is a procedure designed to lighten the color of your teeth using a hydrogen peroxide mixture. It produces maximum whitening results in the shortest possible time with minimum sensitivity.
Procedure: During the procedure, the whitening gel will be applied to your teeth for three (3) 15-minute sessions. Yet can go up to (4) 15-minute sessions based on your sensitivity. For the duration of the entire treatment, a plastic cheek retractor will be placed in your mouth to help keep it open and your gums will be covered with a barrier to ensure isolation from the hydrogen peroxide gel. Before and after the treatment, the shade of your teeth will be assessed and recorded.
Risks: All forms of health treatment, including tooth whitening, have some risks and limitations. Complications that can occur in professional tooth whitening are infrequent and are usually minor in nature.
Tooth Sensitivity: During the whitening process some patients may experience tooth sensitivity. This is normal and generally mild if your teeth are not normally sensitive. If your teeth are normally sensitive, please inform us before treatment. Please let us know if you experience any discomfort during or after the procedure so we are able to minimize your discomfort.
Gum and soft tissue irritation: Whitening may cause inflammation of your gums, lips or cheek margins. This is generally the result of the whitening gel coming into contact with these tissues. Protective materials are placed in the mouth to prevent this, but despite our best efforts, it can still rarely occur. If any irritation does occur, it is generally short in duration and is very mild. Rinsing with warm salt water can relieve it.
Existing restorations: White fillings; porcelain or composite restorations, crowns or veneers will not whiten at all during this procedure. Please discuss this with your dentist prior to beginning treatment.
Treatment Responsibilities: If you do not understand something communicated to you during consultation, or in any printed material given to you before or after the procedure, please feel free to ask.
Expectations: Significant whitening can be achieved in many cases, but there is no absolute way to predict how light your teeth will get. Please understand that teeth with multiple colorations, bands, splotches or spots due to tetracycline staining or fluorosis do not whiten as well and may appear more spotted after treatment. These effects are generally short in duration. Chairside professional tooth whitening is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women, children under 18 years of age or any persons having known peroxides allergies.
Alternate Treatment Options: This is a cosmetic procedure and is optional. An alternative option would be to do nothing, however there are other cosmetic procedures that are available if you are a candidate. These procedures include veneers, or cosmetic crowns. If this is something that you may be interested in please ask the dentist about your options.
What are Veneers? Veneers are ultra-this shells of ceramic (porcelain) or a composite resin material, which are then bonded to the front of your teeth. This procedure can be an option for improving the appearance of the front teeth. Veneers are placed to mask discoloration, to brighten teeth and to improve your smile.
What Happens During the Procedure? Patients may need up to three appointments for the entire procedure: diagnosis and treatment planning, preparation and bonding. It's critical that you take an active role in the smile design. Spend time in the planning of the smile. Understand the corrective limitations of the procedure. Have more than one consultation, if necessary, to feel comfortable that your dentist understands your objectives. To prepare the teeth for the veneers, the teeth are lightly buffed to allow for the small added thickness of the veneer. Usually, about half a millimeter of the tooth is removed, which may require a local anesthetic. Composite resin veneers are generally done in one appointment. After the tooth is prepared, the dentist carefully bonds and sculpts the composite material onto your teeth. For ceramic veneers, a mold is taken of the teeth, which is sent to the laboratory for the fabrication of the veneers. This may take several days. If the teeth are too unsightly, a temporary veneer can be placed, at an additional cost. When your ceramic veneers are ready, the dentist places each veneer on the teeth to check their fit and get a sense of the shade or color. While the veneers are resting on your teeth, view the results, and pay particular attention to the color. At this point, the color of the veneers can still be adjusted with the shade of the cement to be used. The color cannot be altered after veneers are cemented. To apply the veneer, the tooth is cleansed with specific chemicals to achieve a bond. Special cement is sandwiched between the veneer and tooth, a light beam hardens the cement.
How about maintenance? For about a week or two, you will go through a period of adjustment as you get used to your "new" teeth that have changed in size and shape. Brush and floss daily. After one or two weeks, your dentist will ask you to return for a follow-up appointment. It is also recommended that a night guard is made to protect the veneers.
What are realistic expectations? Veneers are reasonable facsimiles of natural teeth, not perfect replacements. It's not uncommon to see slight variations in the color of veneers upon close inspection, as this occurs even in natural teeth. Nevertheless, this procedure can greatly enhance your smile and can heighten self-esteem.
What is a Full Mouth Reconstruction/Rehabilitation? Full mouth reconstruction, rehabilitation and restoration are terms often used interchangeably to describe the process of rebuilding or simultaneously restoring all of the teeth in both the upper and lower jaws. Full mouth reconstruction typically involves general or restorative dentists (performing procedures like crowns, bridges and veneers), and can incorporate dental specialists like periodontists (specializing in the gums), oral surgeons, orthodontists (specializing in tooth movements and positions) and endodontists (specializing in the tooth pulp).
The need for full mouth reconstruction may result from:
- Teeth that have been lost due to decay or trauma.
- Teeth that have been injured or fractured.
- Teeth that have become severely worn as a result of long-term acid erosion (foods, beverages, acid reflux) or tooth grinding.
- Ongoing complaints of jaw, muscle and headache pain requiring adjustments to the bite (occlusion).
- Or just simply wanting to have that perfect smile.
How the Process Begins: If you think you need reconstruction, see your dentist for a comprehensive examination. Your dentist will examine your mouth to determine the extent of the problem and the treatment options that can be used to correct it. In particular, he or she will examine the condition of your:
- Teeth: The condition of your teeth will determine what restorative procedures may be needed, such as porcelain veneers or full-coverage crowns, inlays or onlays, bridges or implants restored with a crown. In particular, your dentist will make note of any cavities and decay, tooth wear, cracks, short/long teeth, root canal issues and any tooth movement.
- Periodontal (gum) tissues: If your gums are not healthy, you will most likely need scaling and root planning to treat periodontal disease. You may require more intensive treatments from a periodontist to ensure that your newly reconstructed teeth will have a solid foundation. Such treatments could involve soft tissue or bone grafts to build up your gums and underlying jaw bone. Your dentist will look for deep pockets, excessive or insufficient gum tissue, periodontal disease and bone density irregularities.
- Temporomandibular joints, jaw muscles and occlusion: A stable bite – one in which you are not in pain when you close your mouth or chew and one that does not cause wear or destruction of your teeth – is important to your overall oral health. Occlusal changes need to be taken into consideration when your dentist plans your restorations. In fact, you may require orthodontics or some other type of treatment (night guard or bite reprogramming orthotic) to correct occlusion before additional restorative procedures can be performed.
- Esthetics: The color, shape, size and proportion of your teeth, and how they appear in relation to your gums, lips, mouth, side profile and face, are also important factors in full mouth reconstruction.
The examination process requires records of your mouth, such as X-rays and photographs, impressions of your upper and lower teeth, models of your teeth that are made from the impressions and a model of your bite. Your dentist may also refer you to specialists (periodontist, orthodontist, oral surgeon) for a consultation in order to develop a treatment plan that is best for you.
Once your dentist has obtained all information relevant to your case, he or she will develop a comprehensive, step-by-step treatment plan to correct all of the problems in your mouth and complete your reconstruction. If you do not understand the procedure being described to you, ask for a detailed written description of the proposed treatment plan so you can review it. This can be helpful if you want to get a second opinion. Be sure you understand the risks and benefits of the recommended procedures and treatments.
What Procedures Are Needed? Only your dentist and the team of specialists working on your full mouth reconstruction can determine what procedures are needed for your specific case. Other treatments may also be available, so ask your dentist about all possible procedures that might be required for your case and under what circumstances.
Most reconstructions involve multiple phases and office visits. It is not unreasonable to expect treatment to take 12 months or more, depending on your situation. The following procedures may be involved, depending on your needs:
- Prophylaxis teeth cleaning and periodontal care.
- Crown lengthening to expose healthy, sound tooth structure for possible crowns or bridges.
- Orthognathic surgery to reposition the jaw.
- Contouring of the gum tissue to create balance and harmony in your smile.
- Preparation (reduction) of your natural tooth structure so crowns, bridges or veneers can be placed.
- Placement of temporary restorations so you can become accustomed to your new teeth and the feel of your new mouth or bite alignment.
- Placement of permanent restorations, such as crowns, veneers, inlays/onlays or bridges, made from ceramic, ceramic supported by metal or a combination of both.
- Orthodontics (braces) in order to move your teeth into the optimal position for reconstruction.
- Implant placement and restoration to replace missing teeth and/or anchor bridge restorations.
- Bone or soft tissue grafting to enhance the stability of your teeth, proposed implants and/or other restoration.