Seven great ways to improve your smile! .

1- Bleaching. The best way to improve your smile is to bleach your teeth! This can easily be done with whitening kits from the drug store (my favorite is Crest WhiteStrips), or with a trip to the dentist’s office for tray bleaching or chair side bleaching. This is how tray bleaching works: the dentist takes a mould of your teeth and makes custom trays that are extremely thin and fit to you’re your teeth. Usually a 16% carbamide peroxide gel is place in the trays and they are worn at night for a period of one to three weeks. Chair side bleaching involves sitting in the chair for one or two hours, while the dentist places several applications of 30% hydrogen peroxide to your teeth. As far as in-office methods, I prefer tray bleaching since it can be easily and inexpensively touched up from time to time with just a couple of night’s use. Chair side bleaching is fine, too, but it can require multiple, costly treatments to get it right in the first place. Plus, touchups, if not included in the initial fee, can run up the bill. Whitestrips are affordable and obviously have the same cost each time they are used but can be more expensive than custom trays over a period of years since touchups cost $50 each time. This method uses cellophane strips coated with 10% carbamide peroxide. You wrap the cellophane over your teeth and leave it there for 30 minutes a day. Some of my patients have found them inconvenient since the cellophane can be difficult to keep in place and more of the carbamide peroxide seems to seep into the mouth than with the other two techniques. I find younger patients prefer whitening kits. Cost: Tray bleaching: $300-$500. Chair side bleaching: $300-$550 per treatment; multiple treatments are often required. Whitestrips: $50 per package

2- Bonding. If you have misshapen or rotated tooth or if the shape of your teeth create a smile you don’t like, then a trained dentist can change your smile painlessly by adding a bonded composite material. Teeth that have been minimally bonded look great and tend to look more natural than a fully veneered smile. When people see your new smile, they usually notice your own, natural teeth, not the small altered portion. Bonding, combined with a prior bleaching treatment, is one of your best options for teeth that look wonderful for years. However, bonded teeth can readily pick up stains and the texture of bonded surfaces can change. If you don’t keep bonded surfaces clean they tend to get pitted and porous and even if you do brush well, bonded surfaces will eventually lose some of their surface detail, while natural tooth surfaces don’t. Over time this can make bonded repairs more noticeable. Understandably, the longevity of bonding is highly dependent on the homecare. Cost: $200-$600

3- Crowns or implants. Use these options to fix any individual unsightly or missing tooth. All porcelain (metal free) crowns cover a tooth and tend to strengthen it, while remaining extremely esthetic. They do require considerable reduction of tooth. Although crowns often improve a tooth’s ability to withstand the vertical forces involved with chewing,they sometimes lose their ability to withstand horizontal forces (dentists don’t like to make crowns for prize fighters!). If you need a single tooth replacement, an implant is often a terrific way choice, assuming you have enough bone to hold an implant. To receive an implanted tooth, first your dentist inserts an implant in the bone where you lost a tooth. The implant looks something like a titanium version of the plastic inserts people place into plaster walls to hold screws. After the implant has been in your mouth from 4-6 months it’s ready for your dentist to screw in a post and fabricate a crown. Implant crowns also can be all porcelain (metal free). Sometimes implant sites need to be grafted with bone prior to implant placement to improve cosmetics and the function of the final implant crown. Note that, restoring a mouth missing multiple teeth with implants can be extremely expensive. If you’re missing a lot of teeth or your teeth are in extremely bad shape, dentures are another, though not necessarily ideal, option. Full dentures have a major disadvantage; a person wearing a one often can’t chew as comfortably as they could with an implant or their own teeth. The denture rests on soft gum tissue and can hurt when pressed too hard. All dentures collect and trap food around them when eating and should be removed at night to give your mouth a rest. However, they are economical and I have been able to achieve great esthetic results with dentures. There are times when a denture does afford the best cosmetic option for patients; implants would be an inappropriate choice is if a patient’s inadequate bone structure does not allow an implant placement at the a site where it needs to be. Dentures can easily replace missing gum tissue with pink acrylic and allow more flexibility in placing teeth so that they look good (implant teeth must be connected to implants). . Cost: Implant for a single missing tooth: $1600-$5000 Crown: $1000-$2200 per tooth Dentures, full or partial: $750-$3000 each, though prices may vary.

4- Keep teeth clean. Use an electric toothbrush; my favorite is a Braun Oral-B rechargeable electric tooth brush (any Braun Oral-B rechargeable model is good) Then start flossing! Healthy gums are definitely part of a beautiful smile. No matter how nice your teeth look, if your gums are red and not healthy-looking your smile is unappealing. If you take care of your teeth at home by brushing and flossing and are sure to have regular cleanings at the dentist (every 3-6 months), you are less likely to lose any teeth. Cost: Electric tooth brush $20-$100 Profession check-up and cleaning: $170 If x-rays needed there will be an additional fee.

5- Braces. Both conventional orthodontics and invisalign clear braces (invisible trays) are great options these days. Conventional braces move your teeth using wires and brackets on teeth (to hold the wire). The wire exerts tension on different teeth to move them into more desirable positions. Invisilign is relatively new and uses a series of clear invisible plastic trays to gradually move the teeth into a better position. While undergoing treatment patients are encouraged to wear the trays up to 23 hours a day and only remove them while eating and brushing teeth. Sometimes straightening just the front and side teeth will dramatically improves your smile. With the Invisalign technique, straightening can be accomplished in as few as 18 weeks. Cost: $3000-$7000, on average.

6- Porcelain laminates. This is truly one-stop shopping. Teeth are whitened, straightened and made to look younger in about a week or two! This treatment option works by resurfacing your front teeth with a thin veneer of bonded porcelain. Porcelain laminates (porcelain veneers) are best for improving smiles in which teeth are worn, poorly positioned or discolored. If done well they often last for 10 years or more and porcelain doesn’t show wear as much as bonded teeth do, so that they keep their glossy surface indefinitely. Also a major advantage porcelain laminates vs. bonding is that laminates are created away from the mouth. Following instructions of your dentist, their look is created by a lab technician who specializes in crafting beautiful porcelain laminates. Your dentist is not necessarily required to be the artist and create the exact changes you need on the spot, the way he would with bonding. However, an exacting bonding technique must be used by your dentist to properly attach porcelain laminates to your teeth and they also, can over time, pick up stains at the seam where the laminate meet the tooth. Cost: $1000-$2200 per tooth.

7- And finally, be happy! Think happy thoughts when you’re smiling! Good looking smiles can’t be fake or forced. If it is true that we smile when we are happy and that we are happy when we smile, then maybe, just maybe, fixing your smile will make you happier. I hope so and I hope this article has been informative.

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