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Improve Your Smile ... And Look Years Younger
Written by Michelle Bisson (POPcliQ)   

Teeth WhiteningCosmetic dentistry has become an increasingly popular topic in the past decade, as more options become available and more people are drawn to the benefits of a brighter smile – including a more youthful appearance and an increase in self-confidence.

Cosmetic dentistry has become an increasingly popular topic in the past decade, as more options become available and more people are drawn to the benefits of a brighter smile – including a more youthful appearance and an increase in self-confidence.

It may seem obvious, but a great smile means a healthy smile. Anyone seeking advanced procedures to brighten or straighten their smile needs to be practicing excellent hygiene at home, and following up with routine dental visits.Yes, good oral health will give you a better smile, but it’s also a vital part of your overall health. Gum disease, bone disease, and cavities in people’s teeth have been known to trigger health concerns such as  diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain forms of oral cancers. This is because unwanted bacteria in the mouth can get into your bloodstream and affect the health of your entire body.

As a family dentist, I urge people to be cautious of dentists who are eager to start advanced dental work without a proper dental evaluation and dental cleaning. For example, a person who hasn’t had a check-up for six years cannot expect to walk into my office and get laser whitening done right away. If you are immediately offered that service, I say run! Once you know your mouth is healthy and free of any cavities, you have endless options when it comes to im-proving the aesthetics of your teeth and smile. The most popular are whitening, straightening, crowning or veneering, gum augmentation, and botox. Let’s have a look at each of these options...

Teeth whitening: Youthful benefits

It is amazing how brightening teeth can take years off your appearance. Actually, tooth whitening is the most effective on yellowing teeth!

Unfortunately, there are no “at home” products, in my opinion, that will give you visible results. I usually recommend starting with takehome bleaching kits with office-strength bleach.  The bleaching trays are made from personalized models of individual teeth, enabling the bleach to stick closely to the front surfaces of the teeth. The concentration of office-strength bleach is close to 30 perent as opposed to a 10 percent concentration in store-bought whiteners. Maximum results are usually achieved after two weeks of daily bleaching. If you’re looking for further bleaching results and you do not have a history of sensitivity with take-home bleaching, light-accelerated bleaching, or laser bleaching, can be done in a dental office. The light source actually “excites” the bleach molecules and rapidly bleaches the teeth in a single one-hour appointment. Care must be taken to prepare the teeth for bleaching, as the bleach can cause a chemical burn on the gums.

On the straight and smiley

Straightening will give you a more beautiful smile by allowing you the confidence to show off straighter teeth when smiling, instead of hiding your teeth behind closed lips. And these days, straightening has become a more practical option for a youthful smile thanks to invisible orthodontic straightening systems.

These systems typically involve clear trays that are worn for a certain number of months to straighten the front teeth. Minimal reduction in the width of the teeth is often required to allow room to align the teeth back into the arch.

If the invisible orthodontic systems are not an option, conventional braces may be able to be placed on the back side of teeth. This allows a strong force for movement without the bulky brackets showing on the fronts of the teeth.

Your crowning glory

Another alternative to straightening or whitening is to have crowns or veneers placed on the teeth that are in the smile line. When a veneer is done, a shell is cemented onto the facial surface of the tooth with minimal reduction of the natural teeth. In my history as a practitioner, the biggest downfall with a veneer is a short life-span. Usually I see veneers starting to crack and discolour at the borders after three to five years. A crown or cap is a longer-lasting restoration that is cemented around the entire tooth surface. This requires that the tooth is reduced to a small version of itself for full coverage around the tooth.

More sensitivity can occur with a crown versus a veneer, but there are more options with changing shape and colour of the teeth, plus a much longer life-span. I find that well-made crowns can last more than 20 years.

Long in the tooth?

An understated procedure that can drastically improve the appearance of your smile and shave years off your appearance is gum augmentation. People with long teeth often appear older – as the expression “long in the tooth” will attest. By pulling the gums down over the teeth, a smile line can look literally years younger. Patients tend to shy away from this procedure because there is some blood and stitches involved.

Likewise, a gummy smile can also make some feel self-conscious about their smile, so an opposite procedure, gingival removal, can be performed. Periodontists are the specialists who usually do these procedures and are able to achieve outstanding results.

Botox in the dentist chair!

Last, but not least, is the well-publicized Botox treatment. Many people aren’t aware that your dentist can actually administer this treatment to help improve your smile.

When we smile, the “smile lines” around our eyes and elsewhere may be expressive – but an abundance of them will age the face. Botox is a highly purified protein form of botulism that can smooth the appearance of wrinkles around the face.

A healthy mouth is the foundation for a beautiful smile and healthy body. But as you can see, there are many options involving cosmetic dentistry that can greatly contribute to your new and improved smile. Educate yourself on all the options before making a decision. Get your dental check-up every six months and take this opportunity to discuss cosmetic dentistry with your dentist, and have your questions or concerns addressed at that time. That’s what we’re here for, so never hesitate to pick our brains!

Michelle Bisson (POPcliQ) - D.M.D.

Misty A Henne, D.M.D. is a family dentist in Cloverdale. She graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia and has been practicing  dentistry for almost ten years. She and her husband opened a practice together three years ago and also reside in the area with their two young children. For more dental information, please visit