Considering a Smile Makeover

I’m seriously looking into investing money in my smile. Are there certain things I should be looking at?

Miranda

Dear Miranda,

Pretty brunette with a beautiful smile
Can a beautiful smile be guaranteed?

You’ll love having a smile makeover. You didn’t mention what you wanted to change about your smile so I’ll give recommendations from a minor makeover to full-blown makeover along with what you should look for in the dentist.

Mini Smile Makeover

Teeth Whitening Alone

If the only thing which bothers you about your smile, then I’d recommend teeth whitening. It is fast and inexpensive all while making a dramatic improvement to your smile. This one procedure can make you look years younger.

Whitening with Dental Bonding

before and after a chipped tooth is repaired

When there are chips and gaps in your teeth, you can repair those with dental bonding. This is where a dentist uses a composite resin and sculpts the missing structure onto your teeth. It’s done freehand so you’ll want to make sure they’re a skilled cosmetic dentist.

If you’re also going to whiten, do the teeth whitening first. The bonding won’t respond to teeth whitening gel so you’ll want your teeth to have the color you’re proud of before having it done.

Whitening with Invisalign

Another option is orthodontics with teeth whitening. These days you don’t need unsightly and uncomfortable metal wires and brackets. Instead, you can straighten your teeth using clear aligners from Invisalign. They’re invisible even at a conversational distance so no one will know you’re straightening your teeth.

There is an added benefit that the aligners can double as teeth whitening trays, which allows you to straighten and bleach your teeth simultaneously. This saves you money.

Complete Smile Makeover with Porcelain Veneers

A single porcelain veneer being placed

If you’re out to get the full-blown celebrity smile, then I’ll suggest you have porcelain veneers done. These use tiny wafers of porcelain to completely reshape your smile. They can change the shape, size, color, and character of your smile simultaneously. It’s the top of the line.

However, doing great smile makeovers isn’t taught in dental school. You’ll want to find the best cosmetic dentist you can to get this done right. In your place, I’d look for an AACD accredited dentist. Dentists who’ve reached accreditation are the best in the country. Most of them even have a beautiful smile guarantee, though you won’t need it.

If you’re just after whitening and Invisalign, any dentist can do that.

Best of luck with your new smile.
This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.

Invisalign or Braces?

I want to get my smile beautiful once and for all. Invisalign appeals to me, but I didn’t know if there was an advantage to braces. Are they better? If not, why would anyone use them when Invisalign is available?

Marcy

Dear Marcy,

Clear Invisalgin Aligner

You raise a good question. If Invisalign is more comfortable and invisible why would anyone use any other orthodontic option?

Here are three reasons some people might choose traditional braces over Invisalign.

  • Cost: Braces can, depending on the particular case, be less expensive than Invisalign
  • Complications: It used to be that Invisalign only worked on certain ideal cases. That is no longer the case. It can now handle most cases. However, there are still a few highly complex cases which would require traditional braces.
  • Compliance: With traditional braces, the orthodontics are bonded directly onto your teeth. Invisalign is removable therefore it requires patient compliance. If you don’t keep the aligners in, the treatment won’t work. Some parents don’t feel their child is responsible enough to not lose them.

If none of those issues are a problem for you, then Invisalign would be the better choice.

Getting a Beautiful Smile Without Orthodontics

If you’re wanting a total smile makeover, you may feel happier with porcelain veneers. These can change the shape, size, and color of your teeth. They can even make crooked teeth appear straight. In fact, they are the go-to procedure for celebrities wanting a stunning smile.

There’s one precaution with this. With Invisalign, any dentist can do the procedure. When it comes to porcelain veneers it takes an expert cosmetic dentist. Smile makeovers aren’t taught in dental school. A dentist has to invest in post-doctoral training in order to do them well.

It takes both technical training and an artistic eye to do them well. If you want a gorgeous smile, look for a dentist who has reached accreditation. These are the best cosmetic dentists in the country and any one of them can give you a smile you’re proud to share with the world.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.

Do I Have Oral Cancer

Lately, every morning when I wake up my jaw and teeth hurt like mad. I can’t see anything wrong with the teeth or gums. Is this a symptom of oral cancer? Cancer runs in my family, not this kind in particular but a variety of others. I’m trying not to panic. Would this be a dental emergency?

Macy

Dear Macy,

Woman holding her jaw in pain from TMJ

Don’t panic. If you see a dentist regularly, they should be doing checks for oral cancer. I wouldn’t consider this a dental emergency necessarily and I would be surprised if it was any type of oral cancer. In fact, I think you are dealing with bruxism. You need to bear in mind that I haven’t seen you and am going purely on the symptoms you mentioned above.

Pain in the jaw and teeth is often caused because we grind or clench our teeth in our sleep without realizing it. Your dentist would normally notice signs of this because it wears down the surfaces of your teeth. This could be a fairly new habit for you which would explain why your dentist hadn’t mentioned it yet. Maybe there is new stress in your life which can be causing it.

Bruxism Can Lead to a Dental Emergency

When you are grinding or clenching your teeth it damages them. This can lead to you cracking a tooth or causing it to come loose. Putting off treatment for this can even lead to an extreme procedure known as a full-mouth reconstruction where all your teeth have to be crowned to fix the bite.

Truthfully, it is much easier and affordable to deal with this now. This is especially true because the solution is so easy. Your dentist can fit you with a night guard. This is a simple custom-fitted mouthpiece which you will wear while you sleep. It takes the pressure off of your teeth, protecting them from the damage they would normally incur. Because your dentist fits it to your particular bite, they are very comfortable.

This blog is brought to you by Salem Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.

A Collapse Bite Requires You Choose Your Dentist Carefully

My smile humiliates me. I have to work extraordinarily hard for people to see my teeth. It looks unnatural. Plus, my jaw hurts. My dentist has me wear a night guard for that. It does help and my lips and teeth look more natural when I do. I think it may be that my teeth aren’t big enough. In that case, would porcelain veneers help?

Mary

Dear Mary,

Woman covering her mouth

Based on what you’ve mentioned, it sounds like you have a combination of a collapsed bite along with TMJ issues. If that is the case, porcelain veneers aren’t your solution. However, I do have one for you.

I’m actually relieved you wrote before moving forward. There are too many times we hear from people only after a dentist without the requisite training completely destroyed their bite.

In order to fix what is going on, they will have to open your bite with dental crowns. It will have to be done carefully and methodically with a dentist who knows how to do a full-mouth reconstruction. It will take restoring your bite with provisional restorations first.

This is necessary so that it is reversible until the provisionals are successful. This will mean you are completely out of pain, your upper teeth show normally, you have no speech difficulties, and you are pleased with the appearance of your new smile.

This is a tall order and there are only a small minority of dentists who are able to accomplish this. You’ll want someone who has done extensive post-doctoral work at one of these institutions:

  • L.D. Pankey Institute
  • The Dawson Academy
  • The Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies

These are the top schools for this sort of procedural training. Anything less and you’ll end up with an even more serious problem than you are facing now. The good news is, those dentists are out there. You have hope.

This blog is brought to you by Salem, MA Dentist Dr. Randall Burba.