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How to lighten up your smile for the holidays

Along with a snowy white Christmas, everyone longs for a bright white smile for their holiday gatherings and photos.

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry asked people what they would like to improve most regarding their smile. The overwhelming response: white teeth.

The American Association of Orthodontists found that nearly 90 percent of its patients request tooth whitening.

Dr. John Luther, Chief Dental Officer with Brident Dental, offers helpful teeth whitening information and tips below:

  • Why do teeth change colors? Coffee, tea and red wine are three primary staining culprits. So are tobacco (tar and nicotine), aging, and certain medications (some antihistamines, antipsychotics and high blood pressure).
  • How does teeth whitening work? Whitening products contain either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, two tooth bleaches. They break stains into smaller pieces, making the color less concentrated and the teeth brighter and whiter.
  • Does whitening work on all teeth? No. Bleach works well on yellow teeth, but not as much on brown teeth. And gray tones may not bleach at all. Whitening doesn’t work on caps, veneers, crowns and fillings.

Three ways to put a shine back in your smile:

Whitening ToothpastesBrident Dental recommends Opalesence as a safe toothpaste that has polishing agents to provide additional stain removal effectiveness.

In-Office BleachingChairside appointments usually require only one office visit at Brident. A dentist will apply either a protective gel to the gums or a rubber shield to protect the gums. Bleach is then applied to the teeth. A special light or laser might be used to enhance the action of the whitening agent.

At-Home Whitening KitsBrident Dental suggests using kits that include 10 upper and lower whitening trays with a 10-percent hydrogen peroxide gel solution that are applied to each arch for an hour a day, whitening teeth up to six shades lighter. Over-the-counter whitening strips are available, but the results are not as dramatic.

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How to Get the Most from Your Dental Plan
  Going to the dentist is probably the last thing on your mind this holiday season. But while you’re making your to-do list, you might add “make dentist appointment” because December is an ideal time for a visit. Kids are out of school for their holiday break, appointment slots are available, and for many of us, dental plan benefits expire at the end of the year.  That makes getting in to see the dentist a higher priority this month.   If you’re in the middle of dental treatment, it can be important to make that next visit. For example, as patients receiving a dental implant know, there are several steps to receiving your implant. If your last appointment was for bone restoration a few months ago, you may be ready for placement of the implant. Or the doctor may have your permanent crown ready to replace that temporary crown you received a few weeks ago.   Scheduling a cleaning with the hygienist is wise every six months, and more often if you had periodontal care on your last visit. Coming in for an appointment now to continue treatment you’ve started means you can use up deductibles and maximize your plan’s benefits this year.   You may also want to start needed treatment with any remaining benefits you may have this year, and then pick up where you left off with fresh new benefits in January. Many people split care over two year’s benefits this way for best coverage.   Don’t neglect your oral health altogether this holiday season. Squeeze in an hour of your day to see your dentist just one more time before year end.  You’ll know you’re getting the most out of your dental plan, and you’ll feel good about starting off the New Year with a fresh new smile!
How Long Will My Dental Filling Last?
The common treatment for a cavity is a dental filling which, in most cases, replaces the decaying portion of a tooth and inhibits further deterioration. But how long does a dental filling last? The question of the life expectancy of a filling doesn’t get asked often, perhaps because most people just assume it lasts a lifetime. The lifespan of a dental filling is dependent on a number of factors, such as the type of filling used, the size of filling required and, most importantly, your level of dental care and maintenance. The passage of time is a big factor affecting anything material, including dental fillings. So, it’s important to understand that dental fillings may not last forever. Some types of dental fillings more durable than others. The different types of dental fillings: 1.  Composite fillings: Also called white fillings, they are quite common and have the advantage of appearing as the same color as your teeth, giving your teeth a more natural appearance. Composite fillings contain quartz which provide durability. Nevertheless, composite fillings have the least life expectancy; on average they can last 7-10 years. 2.  Silver fillings: Commonly known as amalgam fillings, silver fillings are quite rugged as they can withstand everyday wear and tear. They have their own shortcomings, like being highly visible, which can be a drawback for many. Silver fillings have an average lifespan of 10 to 15 years. 3.  Gold fillings: Gold is a very valuable and expensive commodity and you can expect it for fillings as well. Gold fillings can cost up to 10 times more than the silver fillings, and just like silver fillings are very visible. You can expect a gold filling to last from 15 years to as long as 30 years. If you have a cavity and you’re wondering which kind of filling would be best for you, talk to your dentist, who will explain the pros and cons of treatment and discuss your options with you.
Dental habits that keep teeth healthy during the holidays!
Thanksgiving arrives this week, signaling the start of a cherished holiday season filled with both giving and receiving. Thanksgiving is not only a good time to think about others, but also a time to think about our own oral health and overall health.  Here’s some advice from Brident Dental to help your mouth and gums stay healthy during this festive period when the tendency is to indulge ourselves in food choices that we frequently resist throughout the year.   Don’t Forget about Nutrition: Sugar is the enemy, not only for dental reasons, but also because childhood obesity is such a big concern. Whether it’s pumpkin pie or a marshmallow-topped yam casserole, Thanksgiving dinner can be a delight for your sweet tooth. But all that sugar also becomes a feast for cavity-causing bacteria. TIP: If you’re cooking, consider swapping sugar for substitutes like xylitol or erythritol – sweeteners that don’t cause decay. Veggies & Salad: We all love turkey, filling and sweet potatoes, but make sure to balance your Thanksgiving meal by including vegetables and salads. TIP: Red and orange veggies are usually high in vitamin C (good for gums), while leafy green vegetables are a great calcium source for strong teeth. Walk It Off: Take a post-meal walk before having that piece of pumpkin pie. TIP: A light lunch or breakfast is a good idea, and so is getting in a workout before Thanksgiving dinner. Holiday Dental Visits: Holiday weeks are the perfect time to visit the dentist. Kids are out of school, and many dental offices have available appointments. And, as Black Friday approaches, look for deals on dental work and orthodontics.  Preventative Steps: Drinking water intermittently helps keep sugar and food particles from resting in the grooves of your teeth. It’s important to maintain good habits by brushing the teeth thoroughly and flossing before going to bed.