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Considering most of us like to avoid the dentist and we rarely even make an annual visit (very naughty!), we all have a ton of questions on how we can achieve a glistening Hollywood smile. Are veneers a better option to braces, and how can we get rid of coffee stains? We recently asked you to send any of your dental questions to our amazing Panel of Beauty Experts, and now we have the answers! World renowned dental specialist and award-winning authority on cosmetic dentistry, Dr. Apa, has solved all your problems: from braces and teeth whitening to everything else you’ve ever wondered about. Find out an expert’s opinion on all your cosmetic dentistry questions:

The lowdown on braces:
Typically you might need to wear braces for 1-2 years, but in critical cases, you will need to wear a retainer at night for 3-4 years post treatment. All brace types move teeth at a similar rate, but the most aesthetic type is Invisalign, which are clear trays – like a retainer, which needs to be removed when you eat. If you’re thinking about bleaching your teeth, wait until after, as it’s hard to properly clean your teeth while the braces are on, so it’s best to wait and bleach them when the treatment is finished.

Braces or veneers?
Both treatments have their pros and cons. With braces, you can get straight teeth, but are your teeth the color, shape, and size you want? Most of the time, if people aren’t happy with the size, shape, or color of their teeth, they’ll eventually end up with veneers. However, if you like the shape, color, and size of your natural teeth, braces are an excellent choice and much less expensive. If you only want slight changes to your teeth, braces are the best option.

How can you minimize large gums?
Big gums are basically due to an elongated facial type where the top jaw grows down to meet the bottom jaw, and with it comes the gums. It’s referred to as a “gummy smile, ” but actually, the teeth are lower in the face than they should be. We can treat this in a couple of ways, depending on the severity:

  1. Orthodontics or braces, the teeth need to be intruded: This can take up to two years to complete, and you must wear a retainer for at least three years after.
  2. Crown lengthening and veneers: In this procedure, the gum is cut back and raised in combination with placing porcelain veneers over the existing teeth. This is the most aesthetic option.
  3. Lip repositioning: This can be done alone or in combination with option two. In this option, a thin piece of skin on the inside of the fold of the upper lip is removed; this will mean the lip isn’t able to rise as high in a full smile, hence not showing as much gum.
  4. Botox: It’s not a great option, but we can use Botox on the muscles that aid in smiling so that the lip isn’t able to rise as high in a full smile.

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How should we actually be whitening our teeth?
The only thing that whitens teeth is hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Anything else (DIY’s) can cause harm. So be careful. Crest makes an affordable white strip as do we. But with whitening, you have to be realistic as to how white it can actually get your teeth. It’s safe to say most should see 2-3 shade change maximum, which isn’t what you see in movies or on celebs. The most effective are porcelain veneers for dark teeth. That said the best thing to do is to stay away from staining foods and to use an electric toothbrush (sonic), and even after doing all of that it doesn’t guarantee white teeth. It’s mostly hereditary.

Can an underbite be fixed without surgery?
Yes. You can use a combination of porcelain veneers and porcelain onlays (basically porcelain veneers that cover the chewing surface of the back teeth) that allow us to “jump” the bite. This will allow the top teeth to go slightly over the bottom and give the look of a healthy bite.

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Is it possible to fix a smile caused by nerve damage?
It’s rare that true nerve damage happens. When it does, it’s due to wisdom tooth surgery or complex oral surgery. However, during routine dental care, the nerve can be temporarily swollen, which most likely will heal and go back to normal. An asymmetrical smile, however, is common. This can be fixed with good orthodontics or braces, can take up to 2 years, and needs retention after for years. A smile can also be fixed with porcelain veneers if the cosmetic dentist is visually talented and can understand how to fix it. But it’s very possible. It’s called a smile “can’t, ” and we fix them all the time.

What are fluoride stains, and is it possible to get rid of them?
Usually, they occur during the developmental stages of the teeth by over exposure to fluoride, or what looks like fluorosis is caused by bacteria around the bracket during braces treatment. They are tough to remove but can be, depending on how deep they are in the tooth. There is an acid that can be applied to the areas affected, but this will usually require a filling in the front of the tooth after (a composite filling). Another treatment to mask these areas is porcelain veneers.

Thank you so much to all of you who left questions and inspired this post, we hope we’ve answered your questions. Got more questions? Leave your comments below.