Dental Myths Debunked

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Myth #1: “Pregnant women shouldn’t undergo traditional dental procedures because of high risk factors.”

The Truth: “It’s not only 100 percent safe for pregnant women to go to the dentist, it’s a must,” says Atlanta cosmetic dentist Ronald Goldstein, DDS. “In fact, you’ll want to go more than usual—every two to three months.” The reason? The rise in hormone levels causes the gums to swell, bleed and trap food, leading to increased gum irritation, according to the American Pregnancy Association. 

While preventive dentistry is highly recommended during pregnancy, cosmetic dentistry is not. Says Cleveland cosmetic dentist John Heimke, DMD, “Pregnant women should definitely avoid whitening procedures, since the bleach could be harmful if swallowed. They should also avoid getting veneers and crowns while pregnant, due to the drugs in the anesthesia.” On the flip side, bonding—where tooth-colored plastic is sculpted over the teeth to hide chips, staining and small breaks—is considered safe, since no anesthesia is administered. “If you’re considering cosmetic dentistry, like bonding or tooth contouring, the best time to go is in the second trimester. The baby is most vulnerable in the first trimester, and procedures done in the third trimester can potentially bring on an early labor due to increased stress,” says New York City cosmetic dentist Irwin Smigel, DDS

Myth #2: “if your smile is starting to sag, you need a facelift.”

The Truth: “Facial surgery isn’t always the answer to a sagging, sluggish smile,” says Dr. Irwin Smigel. As we age, the skin and underlying muscles start to lose elasticity and definition, and the lower face starts to cave inward. “Did you ever notice how older people have a short distance between their nose and chin? It’s because their smile has lost structural support,” he says. Your dentist can use bonding, veneers (superthin porcelain coverings placed on the front of your teeth) or crowns, which cover the teeth on all sides, to build up the smile. Termed by many dentists as the nonsurgical smile facelift, the procedure restores shape to the face by building out the muscles. “If a patient wants a fuller, poutier smile, we can build up the front teeth, causing the front lip to roll up and look more pronounced,” says Dr. John Heimke. Adds Dr. Irwin Smigel, “We can also lift the cheeks and add dimension to the back part of the smile, softening the nasolabial line and creating a ‘cheekbone effect.’” Even with procedures like these, cosmetic dentistry isn’t a viable facelift alternative. “Cosmetic dentistry has its place, but it can’t provide the same effects as a surgical facelift,” says Dr. Ronald Goldstein. 

Alternative: A Dental Lip Lift

In addition to bonding, veneers and crowns, there’s another procedure that can help lift a sagging jawline—a lip lift. “We lift up the top lip and put small plastic beads underneath the gumline, right above the upper teeth,” says Bethesda, MD cosmetic dentist Joe Kravitz, MD. “It takes about 20 minutes and is performed with local anesthesia, resulting in no bruising, pain or downtime. Before we put the grafting material inside the tissue, we test out the lip with wax to get an idea of how much material we need to use.”

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