The definition of a great smile will vary depending on who you ask. And while as dentists, we’d like to think we are the ‘great smile’ experts, we tend to find beauty in all kinds of smiles. 

However, over one-third of Americans are unhappy with something about their smile and want to have it fixed. That’s where we come in. 

Two of the most popular reasons to change a smile are tooth color and discrepancies in the tooth. Here’s how we often help patients find their perfect smiles.

Problem: Unhappy with the shade of teeth or want to address staining.

Solution: Professional teeth whitening

First, let’s talk about toothpaste. Many toothpaste brands claim to whiten teeth but often don’t work. These products are very abrasive to the tooth’s enamel and can also irritate gum tissue. As far as whitening strips, some people get mild improvement with over-the-counter bleaching, but there aren’t too many products that can adequately do the job. One tip from the pros is to have teeth professionally cleaned by a dental hygienist every six months. During this appointment, superficial stains can be removed with polishing while also addressing other issues, such as halitosis (if present). 

Suppose your whitening needs to go a little deeper into the enamel to penetrate internal staining from foods and drinks such as wine and coffee or normal aging. In that case, professional whitening is your best bet short of veneers. One-hour whitening isn’t effective, and Dr. Engel doesn’t recommend it or consider it a good value. Instead, he recommends custom whitening trays and a prescription-strength whitening solution to get the best outcome. If your staining is extensive, such as with tetracycline-stained teeth, Dr. Engel offers KöR. KöR uses a special whitening formula to penetrate deep into the enamel to pull out hard-to-reach stains. 

Problem: Want to fix the shape of your teeth, repair discrepancies, or want to address hard to remove stains.

Solution: Dental veneers

Dental veneers may be an option if you’ve not been successful with professional teeth whitening. However, veneers are most commonly used to fix discrepancies in teeth, such as crooked teeth. A veneer is a covering that your dentist places on the front of your tooth. Created in a lab, making a dental veneer takes a high level of artistry to design the smile of your dreams. Veneers quite literally erase imperfections. 

At Living Dental Health, Dr. Engel creates dental veneers in pairs to ensure they mirror one another, such as the top two front teeth. Eyes look for and find imperfections. The human eye can pick up any imbalances between your teeth. Therefore the veneer must be customized based on your needs and goals. Knowing what questions to ask and getting crystal clear on desired outcomes is a must. Hair color and skin color are considered, as is the color of the remaining teeth. Next is a diagnostic wax-up, a mock-up done by the lab that is made from a model of existing teeth. The purpose of the wax-up is to ensure the treatment plan is on point. We consider it to be an absolute necessity for providing the best outcomes. Dr. Engel considers doing anything less to be akin to building a house without a blueprint.

If you are considering a smile makeover, talk to your dentist and get clear on your wishlist. Communication between you and your dentist and your dentist and the lab is critical to achieving the desired outcomes. Dr. Engel calls this “removing as many variables as possible.” 

Remember, the most important opinion of a beautiful smile is your own. Every smile is special in its own unique way. But if you want to change something about yours, you know where to find us.

Living Dental Health