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Cosmetic dentistry beautifies your smile

Most people think of cosmetic dentistry in terms of expensive makeovers. In truth, cosmetic dentistry includes many inexpensive and affordable procedures designed to enhance and beautify your smile.

Teeth whitening

Teeth whitening is the process of making stained, darkened and discolored teeth whiter, brighter and more aesthetically appealing. Today nearly everyone wishes they had a whiter, brighter smile. Teeth whitening can make that happen.

How many ways can we whiten teeth?

Basically, you have two options for teeth whitening. You can have in-office whitening or at-home teeth whitening. Both types use peroxide-based bleaching agents. In-office teeth whitening uses 15 to 43 percent peroxide solutions depending on the brand name and technique used. At-home systems contain 3 to 20 percent peroxide solutions. Some dentists use laser teeth whitening, as well.

The longer you keep a strong solution on your teeth, the whiter your teeth become. Higher-percentage peroxide teeth whitening solution should be used for shorter periods on the teeth. Keeping the gel on too long will dehydrate your teeth and increase your sensitivity.

Each option has pros and cons, so be sure to talk to your dentist before you try any at-home teeth whitening kits or over-the-counter (OTC) teeth whitening toothpastes or rinses. Not everyone will see good results, particularly with the OTC products. Bleaching will not whiten porcelain crowns or other composite tooth-colored restorations.

What are your choices for at-home teeth whitening?

There are several choices.

Teeth whitening strips and gels can be applied directly to the teeth with a brush or a thin strip. These peroxide-based products are usually applied once or twice daily for up to 14 days. The results typically last four months or longer and cost $10 to $55.

Tray-based teeth whitening includes a mouthguard-like tray filled with peroxide-based bleaching gel or paste. You place this over your teeth up to several hours a day for up to four weeks. You can buy OTC tray-based teeth whitening systems or have one custom-made by your dentist. These can cost from $150 to $600.

Teeth whitening toothpastes are mildly abrasive so they can help remove stains from your teeth. These whitening toothpastes contain chemicals or polishing agents that help scrub stains from teeth without the aid of a bleaching agent such as peroxide. Teeth whitening toothpastes are relatively inexpensive, but they only brighten teeth by about one shade. Those whitening toothpastes that contain peroxides aren’t left on the teeth long enough to increase whitening.

How do you keep your teeth white?

Whether you use an at-home teeth whitening system or an at-home system, you can help maintain your results by brushing, flossing and rinsing daily. Be sure to avoid highly acidic and tannin-rich foods, such as berries and sauces, plus beverages such as teas, coffee, wine, sports drinks and sodas.

How to get the best teeth whitening results?

Having your dentist do your teeth whitening can get your teeth whiter faster. In-office bleaching solutions are usually much stronger than at-home gels. Your dentist might also use heat, light or a combination of the two to speed and intensify your teeth whitening process.

The most dramatic results, which generally make your teeth up to 8 shades brighter, usually take several 30- to 60-minute in-office visits, though some dentists use a single 2-hour appointment for the ZOOM® teeth whitening system. The cost of in-office teeth whitening typically ranges from $500 to $1,000.

The incredible beauty of porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers are hard, ultra-thin shells of tooth-colored porcelain that cover the front surfaces of your teeth and give you a dazzling smile. A porcelain veneer can be placed over an upper or lower front tooth to improve the aesthetics of your smile and protect your tooth from damage. Porcelain veneers will beautify and protect your teeth.

Although porcelain veneers are generally considered part of cosmetic dentistry because they can make over smiles and give you beautifully aligned, white, shapely front teeth. They also provide protective qualities that can help you eliminate the need for more extensive, more costly treatments. They provide durability, improved smile aesthetics and little to no removal of tooth structure when compared to dental crowns. Some porcelain veneers (e.g. Lumineers®) require no preparation whatsoever of underlying teeth.

Why porcelain veneers?

There are many reasons why people can have unattractive front teeth. They can be stained, discolored, crooked, poorly spaced, chipped, cracked or uneven. Regardless of the reason you have an unattractive smile, porcelain veneers may solve most or all of your cosmetic dental issues, including:

  • Worn enamel
  • Stains and discoloration (from soft drinks, tea, coffee, smoking and certain medications
  • Wear and tear (aged teeth are more likely to have chips, cracks or uneven appearance)
  • Genetics (some people are born with abnormal spacing between their teeth)
  • Uneven teeth (result of grinding and/or general wear and tear)
  • Bite issues (malocclusion)

What to expect during porcelain veneers procedure?

The procedure is typically completed in 2 visits over the course of several weeks. These visits may require several hours of examination and tooth preparation. Your dentist offers amenities that may include sedation and audio/visual distractions that help you relax in comfort.

The comprehensive diagnostic and examination phase of treatment will identify any oral health problems that need to be addressed before veneer placement. Your dentist will help you select the best tooth color for you. Some dentists even have imaging technologies that can give you a preview of your expected results. Treatment begins when your exam is complete and your dentist has designed a customized plan.

Expect several steps in this procedure. Your dentist will administer local anesthetic to help keep you comfortable during tooth preparation and veneer placement. He or she will then prepare the tooth by minimally reshaping it with a small handheld device called a bur to give you the best fit. Burs come in various shapes and sizes and allow precise and minimal shaping of a tooth before porcelain veneers are placed.

If you are getting porcelain veneers, your dentist will make an impression of your teeth. From this, we’ll make a mold of your mouth. The resulting impression is typically sent to an outside dental laboratory where your veneers will be professionally fabricated. Some dentists have in-house dental laboratories and technicians who can provide porcelain veneers in less time. And some dentists even have chairside CAD/CAM computer technology that can help them fabricate your porcelain veneers in just one visit.

Do porcelain veneers need special care?

Aftercare for your porcelain veneers is extremely important. Damage such as chips or fractures cannot be repaired, so it’s extremely critical that you care for your porcelain veneers properly. Do not bite or chew on hard objects such as nut shells, bones, pencils or pens and do not use your teeth to open packages.

Once your veneers are in place, brush and floss your teeth as you normally would using nonabrasive toothpaste. Because porcelain veneers are highly polishable, the risk of staining them is greatly reduced. If you drink red wine, coffee, tea or soda, you should brush your teeth immediately afterward to avoid new staining.

Your dentist may advise you to wear a protective appliance while sleeping, especially if you are a teeth grinder/bruxer.

To learn more about cosmetic dentistry, please call 575.521.0127 for your free consultation. You can also use our online Request an Appointment form to book your one-on-one time with one of our dental specialists. Patients come to us for smile enhancement from Ciudad Juarez, El Paso, Las Cruces, Sunland Park, Anthony and nearby areas.

Meet Your Dental Team

Comfortable, relaxed and pampering dental care awaits you at University Family Dental. Since 2006, we have served the Las Cruces, NM area and its nearby communities. Our highly skilled and experienced dental professionals are known for their affable personality and great chairside manners. Look to them for a unique, personalized dental care that promises splendid results.

Our patients say it best...

  • I was greeted by a friendly face immediately and was seen 2 minutes after I walked through the door. The staff is extremely professional, and always makes sure you're comfortable, including offering hand treatments with every cleaning. I would never go anywhere else for my dental services and surprisingly enough, I look forward to my visits at University Family Dental.

    -Antonio L.

  • I'd like to think Dr Martin and her wonderful staff they were delightful and very warm and the atmosphere was beautiful considering it's Christmas I really appreciate that it was so so spirited thank you guys for being such a great stuff I look forward to seeing you again Happy holidays to all.

    -Rachel S.

  • My experience with them was very pleasant. They were very professional and friendly and honest. They explain everything very well and I would definitely recommend them to all my friends and family.

    -Patsy R.

  • I have had dental and gum problems for years. At last I found a dentist who stopped the pain, gave me a "bite", a smile and great whitening solution for my teeth. Wonderful dentist and staff! Thankful I found Dr. Kim and her crew! Plus, they have a wax treatment for your hands!!!! It's like a dental spa!

    -Karen D.

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