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.
Q. What’s new in the field of digital dentistry?
A. “Dentistry has changed so much recently, and for the better,” explains Dr. Bryan Laskin of Lake Minnetonka Dental. “The latest advances include 3D imaging and Computer Aided Design (CAD)/Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) restorations that mimic natural teeth.”
When it comes to 3D imaging, the entire mouth can be visualized using one image—replacing the need for 2D x-rays. “This allows us to see issues that may be missed in 2D images, [and allows us to] plan in 3D,” says Dr. Laskin. “This is particularly useful when placing implants. Many times we can save the patient additional surgeries, making it more comfortable for patients and lowering costs.” This new technology also reduces the patients’ exposure to radiation, and makes it easier to store and transfer information.
The advantages of chair side CAD/CAM restorations, he explains, include achieving highly aesthetic crowns, partial crowns, and veneers in just one visit. “Using a digital impression we save the patient the discomfort of gooey impressions and the need for temporaries,” he says. In some cases, an in-house CAD/CAM system enables the dentist to create a finished inlay in as little as an hour.
Q. What is the VELscope Vx?
A. “It’s the most powerful tool available for assisting in the discovery of oral abnormalities,” says Dr. Drew Spencer of Edina 5-0 Dental, P.A.
According to www.velscope.com, the VELscope’s distinctive blue-spectrum light causes the soft tissues of the mouth to naturally fluoresce (show fluorescence). Healthy tissues fluoresce in distinctive patterns—patterns that are visibly disrupted by trauma or disease. Using the VELscope, a wide variety of oral abnormalities can be discovered—often before they’re visible to the unassisted eye. Discovering soft tissue abnormalities is particularly important in the fight against oral cancer. Because the VELscope Vx assists in early detection, cancer can be caught before it has time to spread, potentially saving lives through less invasive, more effective treatment.
Used on a regular basis, the VELscope Vx helps dental professionals find a wide variety of soft-tissue abnormalities, allowing practices to aspire to an advanced level of patient care. The VELscope Vx is completely safe, simple to use, contains no unpleasant rinses or stains. An entire exam can be completed in a matter of minutes.
Q. How do I know veneers are a good choice for me?
A. Porcelain veneers are handcrafted porcelain coverings used to enhance the size, shape, and color of teeth. They can change almost anything about a person’s smile, successfully treating chips, gaps, excessively large or small teeth, and discolored teeth. In some instances, they can even correct minor crowding or misaligned teeth.
“Veneers are custom-designed to look like natural, beautiful teeth, oftentimes lending dramatic changes not only to a person’s smile, but also to their entire face,” says Minneapolis-based Dr. Nancy Norling, an accredited fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (the highest credential earned in the AACD).
The closest conservative cosmetic alternative to porcelain veneers is composite resin, or dental bonding. With this procedure, composite resin is sculpted directly onto the surface of the tooth (or teeth). This procedure is often used to repair a chipped tooth or to close a space between teeth.
“This is a great option for children and teenagers because it requires very little—and in some cases, no tooth reduction.” Porcelain veneers are more of a long-term solution, explains Dr. Norling.
“In addition to their strength, they don’t stain or discolor—a huge plus for those who love their red wine and coffee!”
Q. What’s the connection between oral health and overall health? Can going to the dentist actually save your life?
A. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease. One study found that the presence of common problems in the mouth—including gum disease, cavities, and missing teeth—were as good at predicting heart disease as cholesterol levels, smoking, or weight.
“Your mouth is the gateway to your body,” says Dr. Atif H. Rizvi of Dentistry by Design in Minnetonka. “Any unattended tooth abscess can lead to septicemia; any infection in the body can cause bacteria endocarditis. It is also true for gum disease, which can have the same harmful effect on the heart if left unattended.”
Dr. Rizvi works in collaboration with his patients’ primary care physicians for the best possible results.
While it’s not known exactly why there’s a connection, one possibility is that bacteria from the mouth enters the bloodstream through the gums. The same bacteria have been found in artery plaques on the heart, so one theory is that these bacteria stick to the fatty plaques in the bloodstream, directly contributing to blockages.
Another possibility is related to inflammatory factors in the body. The bacteria that builds on your teeth can make your gums prone to infection, and one of the body’s natural responses to infection is inflammation.
To complicate matters, diabetes and periodontitis are linked. “The inflammation impairs the body’s ability to utilize insulin,” says Dr. Rizvi. High blood sugar provides ideal conditions for infection to grow, including gum infections. Fortunately, managing one helps keep the other under control.
While it’s important to clear up periodontal disease—often through better brushing and flossing habits—it’s especially important to control high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, weight, and quit smoking. According to the CDC, a smoker’s risk of severe gum disease is three times higher than someone who does not smoke.
Dr. Rizvi also offers oral cancer screenings to all of his patients.
Q. What can I do if I’m grinding or clenching my teeth in my sleep?
A. This is called bruxism, and is actually one of the most common sleep disorders, and if frequent and severe enough—can lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth, and other issues. Dr. Englander of Englander Dental in Minneapolis is a skilled family and cosmetic dentist and a prosthodontist with years of experience dealing with this and other conditions associated with your teeth. Risk factors include stress, age (it can be common in young children), and substances like tobacco, caffeine, some prescription drugs and certain illegal drugs. According to the Mayo Clinic, “A dental examination may detect other disorders that can cause similar jaw or ear pain, such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, other dental disorders or an ear infection.” After a thorough consultation and office exam, Dr. Englander and his qualified staff can provide you with a variety of options that will get you back on the road to feeling and sleeping better.
Q. How do you help patients feel comfortable?
A. You can have an office with the most advanced technology and a dentist with years of training and experience, and yet—if that dentist isn’t empathetic and compassionate—his or her patients aren’t going to want to come back.
“I treat each patient with respect and dignity,” says Dr. Stacy Roszkowski of Lifelong Dental Care in West St. Paul, offering comprehensive dental services, including cosmetic, restorative, and preventive care. “We want them to feel like part of the family.”
When patients meet with Dr. Roszkowski, they can expect not only compassionate care, but a highly skilled dentist who regularly attends advanced training courses. Her patients leave with a smile they’re eager to share, giving them the courage to take chances both professionally and personally.
Q. What is Invisalign?
A. Invisalign offers a clear alternative to metal braces and brackets through a series of invisible and removable aligners that gradually move teeth to give patients the smile they’ve always wanted.
“The aligners allow patients to look their best while enhancing the appearance of their smile,” explains Dr. Brent Fredrickson of Chalet Dental in St. Paul. The aligners are nearly invisible, so people notice your smile—not your braces.
Young adults to retirees have opted for Invisalign, with treatment lasting—on average—12 months (most cases fall between six to 18 months).
Patients often don’t realize just how easy it is to have this treatment done, or how quick and painless it is. You can eat the foods you love because the appliance is removable, and floss and brush normally to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
The results can be dramatic. “I’ve had patients say they wish they had done this much sooner,” says Dr. Fredrickson, who greets patients in a calming, spa-like atmosphere (warm neck wraps, ipods, and all).
Other cosmetic and restorative services at Chalet Dental include smile makeovers,porcelain veneers, composite bonding, same-day crowns, Botox, dental implants, oral surgery, and sleep apnea treatment.
10 Tips for Healthy, White Teeth
- Make regular appointments with your dentist every 6 months to have your teeth cleaned.
- Teeth are porous and can soak up stains like a sponge, after drinking coffee, tea, or red wine, or eating soy sauce, berries, or curry, drink a glass of water to help wash away stains before they set in.
- Fibrous foods like apples, celery, carrots, spinach, broccoli and lettuce actually work to remove stains by exfoliating teeth before the stain molecules have time to set into the teeth’s molecules.
- Try naturally whitening your teeth by eating strawberries, rubbing the inside of an orange peel on your teeth, or mixing lemon juice and salt.
- Drink through a straw whenever possible.
- If you smoke, quit.
- Brush with baking soda at least once a week.
- Eat more fruits and veggies. Make huge salads. Avoid fast food and processed food as much as possible. Avoid constant snacking.
- All of this will help give you brighter, whiter teeth with fewer cavities.
- Invest in an electronic toothbrush, such as Sonicare.
- Gargle with apple cider vinegar in the morning and then brush as usual. The vinegar helps help remove stains, whiten teeth, and kill bacteria in your mouth and gums
Chalet Dental Care
1651 Dale St. N., St. Paul, MN 55117
Lakeside Family Dentistry
1880 West Wayzata Blvd.
Dentistry by Design
17809 Hutchins Dr., Suite 108
Lifelong Dental Care
1525 Livingston Ave.
Edina 5-0 Dental, P.A.
3948 West 50th St., Suite 205
Nancy Norling DDS, FAACD
1660 So. Hwy 100, Suite 122
Englander Dental, P.A.
3801 West 50th St., Minneapolis, MN 55410
St. Paul Dental Center
Family, Cosmetic, and Implant Dentistry
Lake Minnetonka Dental
109 Bushaway Rd., Suite 300
Windmiller Distinctive Dentistry
Stillwater and Wayzata