It's the time of year for catching up with family and friends, and a favorite part of this time for many is snapping lots of pictures, or maybe even updating a family portrait. Whatever the occasion, it's important to be sure your smile is camera-ready, and the team at Soddy Daisy Smiles has some insight to help make it happen.
In-office teeth whitening is a great place to start. The professional bleaching that your dentist provides is a quicker (and more impressive) fix than what you may achieve with drugstore whitening kits. However, while many people love the idea of in-office whitening, the cost may seem like it's out of reach.
"It really isn't expensive at our office," Dr. Mandy Shearer with Soddy Daisy Smiles said. "It's less than $400 for an hour-and-a-half professional whitening."
The concentration of whitening ingredients used in the dental-office product is much higher (about 15 to 35 percent hydrogen peroxide) than that of the whitening products at the local drugstore (about 3 to 10 percent hydrogen peroxide). During an office treatment, the dentist applies a whitening gel to the teeth and may activate the bleaching process with a laser technology, known as power bleaching, that is thought to penetrate teeth and create a deeper whitening effect. Typically this process only takes an hour and can yield drastic results.
"If you can't get an appointment for a professional whitening for whatever reason, you can do an over-the-counter kit at home in a pinch," Shearer said. "It will only remove the external stains and is more temporary, so that's something to keep in mind for down the road."
Holiday parties and gatherings also tend to lead people to consume sugary treats and drink alcoholic beverages more than usual, which are things to be careful of to help both maintain your overall oral health and keep your holiday smile bright and white. Dentists Robert and Mandy Shearer recommend a few ways to protect teeth during the holiday season.
Refrain from swishing wine around in your mouth and drink water between glasses of wine to rinse acid from your teeth. This helps reduce the build up of the acid which can damage tooth enamel, according to Robert Shearer.
Avoid goodies such as cookies, chocolate and candy canes; the sugar in them promotes the growth of bad cavity-causing bacteria, said Mandy Shearer.
"If you can't brush or floss after eating sweet treats, drink water or chew a piece of sugarless gum, which will increase saliva flow and help wash away the bacteria," she said.
Finally, holiday stress can cause some people to grind or clinch their teeth, and this can result in chipped teeth, jaw pain and headaches.
"Finding ways to alleviate your anxiety can help, and be sure to see your dentist," Robert Shearer said. "You might need a better solution, like a custom night guard. Wearing one at night will prevent you from taking out the holiday stress on your teeth while you sleep."
While most people opt for whitening or veneers for quick smile fixes and brighteners, they are not the only ways to enhance a smile. Bonding and contouring are other ways a dentist can help improve the look of a person's teeth.
"Like veneers, bonding helps make your smile more symmetrical by addressing any teeth that are dis-proportionally small or overly sharp or misshapen," Mandy Shearer shared. "Only, bonding can be completed in as little as an hour during a single office visit, making it one of the fastest and most affordable ways to improve a smile."
Both Robert and Mandy Shearer are also reminding patients to be sure to take advantage of any unused insurance benefits or unused flexible spending account or health savings account benefits before the end of the year.
"By delaying dental treatment, you are risking more extensive and expensive treatment down the road," Mandy Shearer said. "The yearly maximum usually renews every year, and if you have unused benefits, these will not roll over. When the new year begins, you will need to meet that deductible again and this year's benefit will be lost."
"It really isn't expensive at our office," Dr. Mandy Shearer with Soddy-Daisy Smiles said of in-office tooth whitening. "It's less than $400 for an hour and a half professional whitening."
For more information on cosmetic dentistry options or how to get help with your dental insurance and benefits, call Soddy-Daisy Smiles at 423-332-5275 to schedule an appointment or visit soddydaisysmiles.com.