From brushing twice daily to flossing every night, caring for your smile is essential to your health. However, if you get behind on your teeth-cleaning duties or your teeth are starting to age, Los Altos, CA cosmetic dentist Joseph Field, DDS recommends four different ways to refresh the smile, from eliminating dark foods from your diet to getting porcelain veneers.
1. Everyday Care
“Before diving into whitening, try to minimize the teeth’s exposure to dark foods like red wine, coffee, tea and smoothies because all of these foods can negatively impact the color of the teeth over time. So, whether it be cutting these foods from your diet completely or trying to brush shortly after consuming these foods, try to shorten the amount of time they’re in contact with your teeth. This will keep your smile white and bright without having to use at-home whitening products. Also, for people that are clenchers or grinders, make sure you are wearing a nightguard to prevent shifting.”
2. At-Home Whitening
“The number-one easiest way to achieve a smile refresh is by at-home whitening, and there are several over-the-counter (OTC) products that work very well—so much so that they can make the teeth up to eight shades whiter. However, there is a challenge with OTC products because some work better than others and some have a higher risk of sensitivity than others. To minimize the risks of these issues be careful with what products you are using and always discuss them with your oral health care professional.”
3. In-Office Whitening
“Another option for whitening is in-office whitening like Zoom Professional Teeth Whitening. This is going to be the most substantial in terms of how many shades you get whiter because it’s stronger than any at-home whitening product. Also, the nice thing about in-office whitening is that it’s monitored more closely in our office and we use desensitizers to help limit the impact of the sensitivity. However, even with that, most patients find that they have a little bit of sensitivity no matter what. Lastly, we use blockout material to help protect the gums during in-office whitening because it helps mitigate the impact in that area.
One small caveat with in-office teeth whitening is that not all patients will see a dramatic impact. For example, if someone has grey teeth, enamel issues, white spots, a dark tint that comes from the inside of the tooth or teeth that are out of position, whitening will not help. What will help is starting with an orthodontic product to straighten the teeth, like invisalign, and doing that in conjunction with whitening. If that doesn’t do it, the next step up is veneers.”
4. Porcelain Veneers
“The best smile refresh options that we have are porcelain veneers. Whitening and Invisalign err more on the side of smile enhancements and improvements whereas veneers offer a complete smile transformation. I often recommend veneers to patients who have an aging face. As we age, the teeth can get darker, shorter and they develop cracks, all of which can make your teeth appear older. By using the porcelain veneers, we’re able to restore the teeth to their original state, whether that be color, shape or length.
In my practice, we have two types of veneers: thin and regular. In most cases, we try to be conservative when doing veneers, so people who have worn-down or small teeth will often receive the thin, minimal-prep veneers and people who have more substantial issues will require a more traditional veneer. We also offer digital smile design at our practice, so patients can test drive their new smile with a rendering before they have their real veneers put on. This makes the process much more seamless and reliable.”