Friday, January 29, 2016

Teeth Whitening Options

Most people desire a nice beautiful white attractive smile. They don't necessarily want a whiter smile.......they want the benefits of a whiter smile. 

A whiter smile may enhance confidence. It may improve someone's love life or enable them to keep one. It may help them improve their professional or financial worth. It may even improve overall health by improving mental health and thereby improving physical health. 

Teeth whitening is a relatively safe procedure. There are basically three options. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

In-Office Whitening

In the In-Office option, your teeth will be whiter before you leave the dental office. The advantage here is that you get immediate results. The disadvantage is that tooth sensitivity is a common problem. I've stopped offering this option years ago for this reason.

A custom tray for Take-Home Whitening

In the take-home option, the dentist will fabricate some custom made trays to hold the whitening gel. Every practitioner has their methods and reasons for doing what they do. What I typically do is to tell my patients to place a small BB sized amount of gel into the tray on the surfaces where the teeth will be visible. I tell them to wear the trays for approximately one hour per day for two weeks. This can be modified depending on the intensity of any potential sensitivity. If sensitivity is a problem, I have them titrate it by using less gel, decreasing the amount of time to perhaps 30 minutes, or perhaps only using the trays every other day. There is no hurry. The whitening need not be completed in two weeks. If the patient does not experience any sensitivity, I advise them to not wear the trays for longer than two hours. The biggest problem with this method is that immediate results are not possible.

Over-The-Counter product

The over-the-counter method is similar to the take-home method. However, custom trays are not worn. Adhesive strips are also available. When using these kits, it's best to follow the manufacturer's instructions. Each product has a different formulation with varying concentrations of the whitening agent. The biggest disadvantage of this method is that since the trays aren't customized for your mouth, the gel will get on the gums and cause irritation. In addition, treatment isn't monitored and you are much more likely to damage the gums and the teeth.

Although teeth whitening is a relatively safe procedure, consult with your dentist immediately if any problems arise. Irreversible damage is possible. Also, I must mention that "whitening addiction" is a serious concern. Do not whiten frequently or for extensive periods. 

Some stains are not amenable to whitening. There are basically two types. Those that are on the surface of the teeth (extrinsic), and those that are deep within the teeth (intrinsic). There are other options if you have stains that cannot be readily removed with whitening gels. Your dentist or hygienist can give you guidance.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Resolution to Floss and Keep Your Teeth

Since we have just begun a new year, most of us have new goals and resolutions. The problem however, is that many of us never follow through.

In order to increase your chances of following through, I suggest four ideas:
  1. Make it something you really want
  2. Commitment
  3. Tell others
  4. Progress not perfection
My first suggestion is to make it something you truly want. Let me repeat that, it has to be something you really want! 

For example, many people want to lose weight. If you mistakenly make the resolution about giving something up rather than something you'll gain, it will make your resolution more challenging. Don't focus on giving up candy. Instead, focus on having good health and the physique you want.

The next suggestion is to commit! Without commitment, you will not achieve your goals. How many people say they want to lose weight, yet they don't do the things necessary with fanatical discipline to achieve their ideal weight. Some of you may be thinking, yeah but this or that or some form of excuse. If you don't reach your goal, you're simply making excuses to bail out or assign blame to a source outside of yourself.

Telling others what your goals are may help hold us accountable. The person least likely to hold us accountable is often ourselves. It's too easy to make excuses. Develop the mentality of "No Excuses".

The fourth idea that can prove helpful is to focus on progress and not perfection. We may hit bumps or obstacles that can derail us. Get back on the horse when you fall and focus on what you've accomplished. There is a concept of "The Horizon". If our goal is to reach the horizon, we may travel great distances to get there. However, we will never reach the horizon. Look at your progress, celebrate it, and continue towards the horizon.

Since I'm a dentist, my obligatory challenge to you is about your teeth. I challenge you and encourage you to floss daily. Now, no one want to floss. But, most of us want to keep our teeth. Focus on the idea of keeping your teeth (not flossing). Commit to keeping your teeth. Tell others that you plan on keeping all your teeth for life. If you forget to floss occasionally, it's okay. Just keep flossing.

Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit