Frequently Asked Questions

I was a smoker who gave up smoking recently but my teeth are quite yellow. Will whitening toothpastes help?

Teeth generally stain over a period of time and appear darker as we age. The outer layer of the teeth gets stained by smoking or by drinking coffee, wine or other drinks or foods that stain.

Whitening toothpastes can remove only minor stains from the external surface of the teeth and do not change the color of the teeth. These toothpastes contain some abrasive particles that helps in physically scrubbing away the stains from your teeth. They are not very effective if your stain is moderate to severe. If you are using a whitening toothpaste, it is recommended that you do not use them regularly for long periods as overuse can lead to the removal of outer surface of the teeth causing the teeth to appear dull and not glossy. So it is better if you use it occasionally alternating with a regular toothpaste.

The best way to remove stains from your teeth is to visit a dentist or a hygienist for a professional cleaning and polishing. Using ultrasonic scalers and polishing paste they can remove all the stains from your teeth safely and effectively, restoring your teeth to the original color. However, if you want to whiten your teeth from its existing color, then you would have to do a teeth whitening procedure. This involves application of whitening gels containing chemicals such as Carbamide Peroxide or Hydrogen Peroxide that can whiten your teeth by 3-8 shades lighter. Whitening procedures can be done in the dental clinic assisted with a whitening lamp to give you faster results or you could use a program at home where the dentist would take impressions of your teeth to give you custom made bleaching trays and whitening gels to use at home. The whitening gels dispensed by the dentists are approved by the American Dental Association and are certified to be safe to use.

There are many over the counter whitening gels and trays that are sold, but you need to be careful, as in many instances they can cause more harm than good. These trays are not custom made for you and the whitening gels may sometimes leak onto your gums causing chemical burns.

Two of my front teeth are quite bigger than others. Can they be reshaped to look smaller and less obvious?

Generally, the front two middle teeth is slightly larger and longer that the adjacent teeth, but from your description, it appears that they are quite prominent. These teeth may be inherently bigger or the adjacent two teeth could be smaller in size than normal, giving the illusion that the front two teeth are larger. It is difficult to give you an exact treatment unless your teeth are examined.

Depending on the above, your dentist would decide on the correct line of treatment. Cosmetic dentistry can now fix your problem and give you the perfect smile. The treatment can range from minor reshaping of your large teeth, to building up of the adjacent small teeth using composites or having porcelain veneers done to achieve a beautiful smile.

It is best that you consult with a dentist who is experienced in cosmetic procedures and he should be able to advise you the correct treatment.

Are electric toothbrushes better than manual toothbrushes?

Both manual and electric toothbrushes will work the same, depending on how you use them. It is like comparing an automatic car with a manual one. Both cars will have the same performance depending on how good the driver is. If you are quite adept at using a manual toothbrush with a correct technique and use it for minimum of two minutes then you need not use an electric toothbrush. The electric toothbrush is useful for someone who is not skillful in proper brushing techniques or tend to complete the brushing very fast. Children also find the electric toothbrushes more user friendly. By just placing the brush over the tooth using its pulsations and movements, it cleans your teeth without you having to do any brushing strokes. Many of the electric toothbrushes also come with timers that can be set to two minutes so that there is no guess work on how long you have brushed.

There are some studies showing that the electric toothbrushes are more efficient in removing plaque from teeth as compared to a manual brushes. But ultimately it depends on the person and how comfortable he is with the toothbrush and its use.

Should one keep changing toothpaste brands regularly?

All toothpastes basically contain the same ingredients. It is just a marketing ploy used by large companies claiming that their toothpaste contains a special ingredient that can solve all your dental problems. You need not change your toothpaste, unless you are using a whitening toothpaste, as prolonged use of this can damage your teeth. If you are using any medicated toothpaste for a long time it would be good to consult with a dentist to treat the underlined cause rather than just continuing using these toothpastes which would only control the symptom but not cure the problem.

It is important to understand that it is not the toothpaste that is most important but it is your brushing that is critical to maintain good oral hygiene. Only use a pea sized amount of tooth paste and brush your teeth at least twice a day.

I don’t have any major problem with my oral health. Should I still meet a dentist?

One of the most common misconceptions is that as long as there is no pain you don’t need to see a dentist, as most people consider the dentist a pain!

Unfortunately, many serious dental problems such as gum disease or dental decay may not cause any pain until the disease has reached an advanced stage, where extensive treatment may be required which could be also much more expensive to treat.

It is very important that you should visit a dentist at least once in 6 months for a regular dental checkup. Your dentist would be able to detect any potential problems in your mouth in an early stage such as cavities which could be treated with a simple restoration. Ignoring this could lead to an infection of the tooth leading to a root canal treatment and a crown. Similarly, gum disease if detected early, can be stopped by professional cleaning and oral hygiene measures. But if it is ignored, it can cause extensive destruction of the supporting bone leading to loss of teeth. As the saying goes it is always better to prevent than to cure and the only way you can do that is by regular dental checkups.

My teeth have been crooked for many years. Why should I consider orthodontic treatment now?

Orthodontic treatment, when indicated, is a positive step, especially for adults who have endured a long- standing problem. Orthodontic treatment can restore optimal tooth and jaw function. Teeth that work better usually look better, and a healthy, beautiful smile can improve self-esteem, no matter what age.

Can orthodontic treatment do for adults what it does for children?

You may be amazed to learn that one in five of the orthodontic patients is an adult. In fact, the American Association of Orthodontists estimates that nearly 1,000,000 adults in the United States and Canada are currently receiving orthodontic treatment from a specialist.

Healthy teeth can be moved at almost any age. Many orthodontic problems can be corrected as easily and as well for adults as children. Orthodontic forces move the teeth in the same way for both a 55- year –old adult and a 12-year-old child. Complicating factors, such as lack of jaw growth and periodontal ( bone and gum) disease may create special treatment planning needs for the adult.

Dental implants are painful!

FALSE! In fact most of the patients after the procedure think , that it was much easier than thought and infact much simpler than other dental procedures.

Factors that will predict whether the procedure will hurt are-

The ease or difficulty of the unique situation individual patient is in. The second factor is the ability to heal well (unique to every individual). And third, the skill and training of the implant dentist.

so, pain should not be a factor in the decision making process. one should choose the treatment that will give the best result.

Dental implants are expensive!

FALSE! Dental implants do not cost much more than an average 3 unit tooth bridge!

The long-term cost for having an implant versus a bridge is much lower, since a bridge will be replaced every 7 -15 years. A dental implant will most likely never need to be replaced!

The fact that for a bridge adjacent teeth are irreversibly ground down , is a reason enough that makes implant worth its cost.