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Teeth Whitening – A Popular Trend

Tooth whitening lightens teeth and helps to remove stains and discoloration. Whitening is among the most popular cosmetic dental procedures because it can greatly improve how your teeth look. Most dentists perform tooth whitening.

There are two main types of whitening procedures. Vital whitening is performed on teeth that have live nerves. Non-vital whitening is done on a tooth that has had root-canal treatment and no longer has a live nerve

Whitening is not a one-time procedure. It will need to be repeated from time to time if you want to maintain the brighter color.

To help you make an educated decision regarding teeth whitening, here are some of the pros and cons of this procedure:
  • Helps improve your smile and your appearance
  • Boosts a person’s self esteem
  • Helps make you look younger
  • You have to avoid certain foods and drinks to keep your teeth whiter for longer
  • Maintenance is actually required when you have your teeth whitened
  • You may suffer from sore gums and teeth

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Cracked Tooth

The crack exposes the inside of the tooth (the ‘dentine’) that has very small fluid filled tubes leading to the nerve (‘pulp’) of the tooth. Flexing of the tooth opens the crack and causes movement of the fluid within the tubes. When you release the biting pressure the crack closes and the fluid pressure simulates the nerve and causes pain.

Most fractures cannot be avoided because they happen when you least expect them. However, you can reduce the risk of breaking teeth by:

  • Trying to eliminate clenching habits during waking hours;
  • Avoiding chewing hard objects (e.g. bones, pencils, ice) and using teeth as a tool;
  • Avoiding chewing hard foods such as pork crackling and hard-grain bread.

If you think you grind your teeth at night, ask your dentist if a night guard or a splint will be of use to you. Individuals who have problems with tooth wear or “cracked tooth syndrome” should consider wearing a night guard while sleeping. This will absorb most of the grinding forces.

Relaxation exercises may be beneficial.

It is very important to preserve the strength of your teeth so they are less susceptible to fracture.

Try to prevent dental decay and have any dental decay treated early. Heavily decayed and therefore heavily filled teeth are weaker than teeth that have never been filled.

How does the dentist treat a cracked tooth? It depends on the direction and severity of the crack. If the crack is small enough, a filling may be used. Bonded white fillings and bonded amalgam fillings will hold the tooth together making it less likely to crack. Sometimes the cracked part of the tooth fractures off during the removal of the filling and this can be replaced with a new filling. Your dentist may first place an orthodontic band around the tooth to keep it together. If the pain settles, the band is replaced with a filling that covers the fractured portion of tooth (or the whole biting surface). Other options include the placement of gold or porcelain fillings or even a crown.

Unlike fractures elsewhere in the body, this crack will never heal. There is a small chance that the crack will get worse even with a crown placed. This may lead to the need for root canal treatment, or even the removal of the tooth. However, many cracks can be fixed without root canal or tooth removal. Seeking treatment early is key to minimising the extent of treatment required.

Front teeth usually break due to a knock, an accident or during biting. Back teeth can also be fractured from a knock. They are much more likely than front teeth to crack from forces applied by the jaws slamming together rapidly. This is why sportspeople wear mouthguards to cushion the blow. Other forces occur during sleep because people grind their teeth with a much greater force than they would ever do while awake. The first sign of problems may be what we call “cracked tooth syndrome” –a sore or sensitive tooth somewhere in the mouth that is often hard for even the dentist to find. In some individuals the grinding, called bruxism, causes tooth wear rather than fracture.

Types of Sedation

Many people are nervous or anxious about visiting and being treated by the dentist. Fortunately there are a number of techniques dentists have at their disposal to help their patients. These include inhalation sedation, intravenous sedation and general anaesthetic.

The most common technique is the use of a nitrous oxide and oxygen mix or the so-called ‘laughing gas’. The Nitrous Oxide mixture –

  • Reduces pain,
  • Reduces anxiety, and
  • Reduces the gag reflex.

Patients will often experience a feeling of well-being and euphoria.

The technique involves placing a mask over your nose, and then breathing through your nose.

The gases have a slightly sweet smell and are well tolerated by even the most sensitive noses. The dentist will adjust the percentage of nitrous oxide to oxygen to suit you.

The technique has a number of advantages over other techniques:

  • It is less expensive than other techniques
  • It is simple
  • No escort is required
  • No fasting is required
  • There is a rapid onset and fast recovery

It is suitable for children

Unfortunately, the technique is not suitable for all. Some anxious and phobic people require a deeper form of sedation. In general, pregnant women should not receive inhalation sedation. People with nasal obstructions and mouth breathers may also find this method unsuitable.

For people who require a greater degree of sedation, or if the procedure is of a nature that requires the patient to be sedated, intravenous sedation may be suitable. With this technique a sedative is injected into a vein in the arm by a qualified seditionist or anaesthetist.