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LocateADoc.com's Q & A

Q&A: Are there invisible braces that act like a retainer braces for my 14 year old daughter?

Your daughter is probably referring to Invisalign. You can learn a lot about this new technique on www.invisalign.com. The website says that "Invisalign is not intended for children and is not appropriate for everyone." You should contact one of the authorized dentist offices performing the procedure to see what age would be appropriate and whether your daughter is a candidate.




Q&A: How much would the new Invisalign braces cost to have them for 2 years?

This is what the Invisalign website says: Q: How much does Invisalign® cost? A: As with other types of orthodontic treatment, the cost of Invisalign® is heavily dependent on the complexity of a patient?s case. The cost is generally more expensive than traditional braces, however, since Invisalign® does not dictate what orthodontists charge their patients for treatment, we are unable to provide specific cost information. Invisalign® offers a low monthly payment option through the Orthodontists Fee Plan (OFP). The cost for a typical case under this plan can be as low as $138 per month -- with no down payment.




Q&A: How do I get rid of tetracycline stains on my teeth?

Although tetracycline stained teeth present one of the biggest whitening challenges, many people can experience a significant improvement through whitening -- whether the in-office systems or take-home. Probably the best approach is a combination of in-office and take home sytems (like the new Discus Dental ZOOM! system). Usually though, getting to the optimal level of whiteness for someone with tetracycline stains can only be achieved through porcelain veneers.




Q&A: I have a stained tooth that is wearing or chipping away. Could laser tooth whitening cause this?

Stains are a seperate issue from the chipps. I am not aware of literature showing the use of whitening lasers having an effect on teeth that would result in later breakage. It may be possible that you have mirofractures that stained and later chipped. Without the benefit of seeing them though, I could not tell. You are making the right move to go see a dentist in person for an evaluation.




Q&A: I have braces, take an anti-convulsant which makes my gums swell, and some gum was surgically removed for the braces. What can I do?

The Internet can do a lot, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to properly diagnose your condition without seeing you. Therefore, my general comments should not be considered a substitute for second opinions from appropriate dental and medical doctors who have the benefit of your case history and a thorough in-person examination. Having said that, let me share with you that I am very sorry to hear of your problems. As you are aware, certain anti convulsant drugs may cause swelling of the gum tissues in certain patients. It is extremely difficult to predict how and to what extent a person's gums will swell due to a medication. This is because side effects from a medication can and do vary from person to person. Also, as discussed below, there are a number of other factors in play beyond the medication that may be contributing to your gum swelling. Therefore, I do not think that the orthodontist can be held responsible for your present situation. Patients who notice a change in their gums while taking a medication should consult with their physician and their dentist to get a diagnosis and to see whether they can or should change medications. Swollen gums make it easier for bacteria to accumulate on the teeth, invade gum tissue and spread to a tooth's bony support. If too much bone is lost, teeth can fall out. When dealing with gum enlargement, the patient must be especially vigilant about oral hygiene while they are on the medications causing it. This is because it can become a vicious cycle. The initial gum swelling caused by the medication can make it harder for patients to properly brush or floss away bacterial plaque from teeth. That can increase the risk of plaque, infection, etc., etc. Many times, however, if the swelling is caught early enough, it is easier to treat and bring under control. At this point, it seems like you should have your teeth professionally cleaned every 2 - 4 weeks. You should also maintain a vigorous home care program such as brushing and flossing at least 3 times a day and rinsing each time with something like Peridex. Follow this regimine until you see some improvement in your gums, then re-evaluate with your dentist. Hopefully, this therapy will allow your braces to be tightened on schedule. I would also recommend that your physician consider switching you to another medication. I understand that this may impact your life in connection with driving privileges, etc. but your health is of the utmost concern. Here are a couple of more things to explore. A removable orthodontic device like Invisalign may be an option for you. Also, an alternative to braces in many cases is porcelain veneers. You may want to look into them in lieu of braces. Go to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (www.AACD.com) to find an accredited cosmetic dentist to discuss this option. Good luck. I hope this helps.




Q&A: Could laser whitening remove my dark tooth stains?

Thanks for your question, Sharon. Frequently, dentists hear from peapole who have not gotten the results they wanted through over-the-counter whiteners. In fact, I have never seen a patient that has gotten good results this way. Several factors can contribute to the darkening of teeth, including the effects of age, foods and drinks, smoking and some medications. Darkened teeth caused by oral supplements or medications pose more of a challenge. The whitening process involves placing a whitening solution in contact with the teeth, causing oxidation of stains and subsequent lightening. There are a variety of systems available, ranging from those done in the dental office to dentist supervised at-home systems. You specifically asked about laser whitening. This is a procedure that is becoming less popular and is being replaced by light-activated in-office whitening systems. For a high percentage of our patients, this whitening technique has been very successful. It usually takes a couple of hours and usually costs about $500 many times, the laser whitening used to cost from $1,200 to $2,000). A smile darkened with the color of yellow, brown or orange responds better to whitening than brown or white spots caused by fluorosis, smoking or tetracycline (grayed teeth). If you have very sensitive teeth or teeth with worn enamel, we can use whitening materials that are designed specifically for sensitive teeth. The more traditional tray whitening takes a little longer to complete. Tray whitening is accomplished by wearing a form-fitted matrix containing a whitening or whitening agent at home for two to four weeks. The take home systems tend to cost a little less than in-office systems. In the take-home system, we mold your teeth and make the trays to fit snugly to your teeth to prevent spillage of the whitening gel. Usually you place these trays over your teeth before going to sleep and take them out in the morning. With tray whitening most people will notice a change in the color of their teeth the first night they bleach. Tray whitening takes about seven to ten days to complete. How Does It Work? Both in-office and take home systems are based on a hydrogen peroxide solution, which releases oxygen. The oxygen works on the teeth by breaking down the protein stains in the teeth without harming the tooth itself. The lightness should last from 1 to 5 years, depending on your personal habits. People, who smoke, drink a lot of coffee or tea will have results that do not last as long. Touch up whitening can be used after several years or for a special occasion. It is important to note that whitening does not lighten caps or crowns or tooth colored fillings, such as composite resins or porcelains.




Q&A: I was wondering, because I have an over bite and then my teeth are crooked, that would I be able to get this fixed with cosmetic dentistry or do I need to get braces?

Thanks for your question. The condition you have described with your overbite is usually correctable. Without the benefit of seeing you, I cannot tell you which treatment options would be best for you. Situations similar to yours are corrected all the time either through restorative dentistry, orthodontics, or a combination of both. We often correct these deep overbites with what we call an "open bite" treatment plan. This consists of reducing your overbite by placing porcelain veneers and onlys on your teeth. I hope this helps and good luck in getting a better smile!




Q&A: is it possible to push back my top teeth and push out my bottom teeth?

Thanks for your question. The condition you have described with your overbite is usually correctable. Without the benefit of seeing you, I cannot tell you which treatment options would be best for you. Situations similar to yours are corrected all the time either through restorative dentistry, orthodontics, or a combination of both. We often correct these deep overbites with what we call an "open bite" treatment plan. This consists of reducing your overbite by placing porcelain veneers and onlys on your teeth. I hope this helps and good luck in getting a better smile!




Q&A: Which would be less expensive, filling teeth or pulling and replacing with dentures?

The thing about pulling teeth is, once they're gone -- they're gone . . . for good! I would try to avoid that. But it does cost money. Once your teeth are gone, then dentures, implants or bridges also cost money. Without the benefit of seeing you in person, I could not advise you about the costs, or recommended treatment for your specific case. You could go for a consultation with a couple of dentists, get the costs and then make your decision.




Q&A: Is there a surgery to fix an underbite?

Generally speaking, a slight underbite in many people can potentially be addressed in a few different ways. First, there is traditionaly orthodontic treatment. As you indicated that braces were not something you wanted to deal with again, you may want to consider the Invisalign system. It is a a system that uses a clear splint to move your teeth into position. You may also get the results you are looking for from porcelain veneers. They are thin shells of porcelain that are bonded to your teeth to give the effect of perfectly straight teeth. These can usually be applied over the course of a few weeks. If you are interested in this procedure, I would go to www.aacd.com, which is the website of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, to obtain the name of an accredited cosmetic dentist in your area. Good luck!




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