Smile With Confidence
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Whether you realize it or not, your first impression of people is often based on their smile. A big, bright, confident smile is not only considered an attractive feature, but also has the power to improve a person’s overall self-esteem. When you’re not self-conscious and worried about covering your mouth and teeth, you smile more. When you smile more, you feel better. Today, a beautiful smile is within everyone’s reach.
Q. What can I do if I’m too self-conscious to smile?
A. There are a couple of options—changes can be as simple as a one-visit resin bonding; or as customized as lifelike porcelain veneers. A nice smile can improve your confidence and make you look younger. Improving your smile can be as effective as a facelift, and the end results are often more predictable. Dr. Ned Windmiller of Windmiller Distinctive Dentistry—with offices in Stillwater and Wayzata—is included in a small group of dentists in Minnesota that are accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), and he has given lectures around the world to other dentists regarding cosmetic dentistry and how to create the ideal, natural smile. A smile design consultation includes focusing on gaps and spaces, crooked or crowded teeth, chipped teeth, missing teeth, discolored and worn teeth, or old crowns or bridges. State-of-the-art computer imaging helps patients visualize the end result before the actual treatment. “My patients who receive a new smile are more confident, look younger, and smile more than they ever have before,” says Dr. Windmiller.
Q. What are the benefits of dental implants?
A. Maybe you lost a tooth due to a sports injury, maybe you lost a tooth (or teeth) in an accident, or maybe a permanent molar needed to be pulled due to infection or decay.
The worst thing to do is ignore the missing tooth. In doing so, you could be putting more wear-and-tear on your healthy teeth, you could eventually have trouble eating (misaligned teeth can cause an improper bite), you could start getting jawaches or headaches, and you could experience bone or tissue loss in your jaw—a shrinking jawbone—making your face appear older than it is.
At one point in time, you had one of two options in this situation: make an appointment for a bridge—made up of an artificial tooth fused between two crowns, with healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth often filed down to support the bridge—or get fitted for partial or complete dentures, replacing the top or bottom arch of your mouth. Possible adverse effects include damage to healthy teeth on either side of the bridge, possible bone loss, loose pieces, infection, and the fact that many bridges only last from seven to 10 years.
Today dental implants are a better option for the majority of patients. An implant is a replacement tooth made of a small titanium post that’s anchored to the jaw and topped with an individual replacement tooth. They are fixed permanent teeth, allowing you to chew, smile, and speak like normal.
Patients go to the St. Paul Dental Center in downtown St. Paul for comprehensive dentistry, which includes cosmetic, implant, and advanced restorative care.
“Because we are restorative dentists (concerned with the restoration of existing teeth that are defective because of disease, trauma, or abnormal development), we have an acute awareness of all the cosmetic concerns a dentist or patient may have before starting their dental implant surgery,” explains Dr. Scott Lingle.
Along with Dr. Joseph Trowbridge, Dr. Lingle has the extensive training and experience to perform the traditional implant surgery or the state-of-the-art, minimally invasive computer guided surgical stent keyhole technique. This method significantly simplifies the procedure for everyone. The major advantage of this technique is the soft tissue isn’t manipulated, cutting down on healing time (the conventional process can take anywhere from three to six months) and discomfort (you don’t have to wear a temporary prosthesis until the permanent crown is put into place).
The chosen procedure depends on several factors—your dental health, the number of teeth involved, and which teeth are being replaced. Don’t let the price tag deter you, either. Remember that bridges often have to be replaced; while implants can last a lifetime.
Dental implant-supported replacement teeth look, feel, and function like natural teeth. You can eat and drink what you want. But most importantly, dental implants can improve your quality of life in a very concrete way. People who have felt embarrassed about missing teeth are often overwhelmed by what new permanent teeth can do for their self-esteem.
Q. What are my options for whitening teeth?
A. Professional in-office whitening procedures such as Boost, Zoom!, and laser bleaching can whiten teeth dramatically in as little as an hour. Other whitening options include at-home treatments such as custom-fitted bleaching kits, foam trays, whitening strips, and whitening toothpaste. However, only a trained specialist can diagnose the type of stain and the whitening system that will work most effectively.
“I don’t recommend whitening toothpastes—they’re abrasive and rarely make much of a difference in the color of teeth because the whitening agent isn’t in contact with the teeth for long enough to take action,” says Dr. Anthony Boe of Lakeside Family Dentistry in Long Lake. “In our office, we offer both in-office whitening and take-home custom tray systems. Both are good options.”
In-office whitening yields instant gratification, but the “gold standard” of whitening, according to Dr. Boe, is the custom trays.
Either way, tooth whitening is safe, effective, affordable, and has very little side effects (although some people complain of tooth sensitivity during the early stages of treatment). Results of in-office tooth whitening can last anywhere from 18 months to three years.