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writeradmin writes blog posts on behalf of Dr. Kasia Lopez

Why Won’t My Dentist Give Me Braces?

My dentist also has the training to do braces. It’s one of the reasons I chose him as my dentist. I was saving up to straighten my teeth and didn’t want to go to two different offices. I finally was ready. When I went in for my consultation, my dentist said I’m not a good candidate because of fluorosis. Does this mean I can never have straight teeth? Also, I have these awful stains on my teeth. Is it possible to whiten them away? They’re not from food or drink, they’ve been there as long as I can remember.

Deanna O.

Dear Deanna,

Invisalign Orthodontics

You can definitely have straight teeth. I’m a little confused by your dentist’s attitude. I see two easy options with orthodontics. Plus, a non-orthodontic option depending on what type of straightening you need done.

The staining on your teeth is from the Fluorosis your dentist mentioned. Fluorosis is the clinical name for when your teeth are stained from too much fluoride intake. The damage is caused during childhood when your teeth are developing, which is why you’ve had the stains for as long as you can remember. Possibly, you lived in a country that didn’t regulate the amount of fluoride in water or maybe you just ate tons of toothpaste in your younger years. I’ll get to treatment for that in a moment. Let’s talk about braces first.

Fluorosis doesn’t preclude you from getting braces. Though, to get a good bond you’ll want to have more etching done than normal. It sounds like your dentist just isn’t familiar with working with situations like yours. There’s another option, too, which doesn’t require a bond.

Did your dentist mention the possibility of Invisalign? If not, and it turns out you’re a good candidate, I really think you need to find a better dentist. For Invisalign, you don’t need an orthodontist for that at all. Any general dentist should be able to do it. It uses clear aligners instead of the traditional metal braces and brackets.

As far as whitening the staining, traditional teeth whitening will not work. Fluorosis stains are splotchy and the whitening process will only make the differences between that and your natural teeth more obvious. The best option with advanced fluoride staining is to get porcelain veneers.

If you decide to do that, you may not need braces, depending on your specific case. Porcelain veneers can make your teeth look straight even when they’re not. They can close gaps, repair chips, make oblique teeth look vertical. Pretty much they can create any smile you want. The catch is you’ll need to find an expert cosmetic dentist in order for it to look beautiful. Look for dentists who have reached accreditation level with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (aacd.org). They’re the most artistic dentists in the country. In fact, most of them have a beautiful smile guarantee.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Did I Make a Mistake Going to a Holistic Dentist?

I’m pregnant. I should say that up front so you’ll understand why I went to a holistic dentist to begin with. I know a lot of people think they’re fake dentists. I had a nasty toothache. Because half of my face swelled up and I was in tremendous pain, I knew I had a tooth infection. I also knew leaving an infection would be dangerous for both me and the baby. I was in a quandary and thought going to a holistic dentist would be safer because they’d consider the baby and not just my teeth. After an examination, he said the tooth had to be pulled. I figured he knew what he was talking about so I agreed. My sister thinks the tooth could have been saved by a root canal treatment if I’d have gone to a different dentist. She told me that holistic dentists don’t believe in root canals. Is that true? Did I lose a tooth unnecessarily?

Karen B.

Dear Karen,

Chicago Holistic Dentist

First, let me assure you, there is absolutely nothing wrong with going to a holistic dentist. They are definitely real dentists with the same training as any other general dentist. In fact, some of them have invested more time into additional training in things like cosmetic dentistry and neuromuscular dentistry than their peers. The biggest difference between a traditional dentist and a holistic dentist is their view of the body.

While a traditional dentist is concerned mainly with your teeth, a holistic dentist considers the implications to your whole body. How far they take that does vary from dentist to dentist. For some, it just means being a mercury-free dentist. For others, like Dr. Lopez, they’ll triple filter their water and make sure everything is BPA free to ensure everything that enters your body is as pure as possible. This is ideal when you’re pregnant, so your choice was a good one.

I doubt your tooth was pulled because your dentist didn’t believe in root canal treatments. There is a very small, fringe group of holistic dentists who fit that worldview, but their numbers are an extremely small percentage of the number of holistic dentists worldwide.

It’s more likely that the tooth infection was so far gone, there really was no way to save the tooth. Given the severity of your infection, based on the symptoms of your face swelling so much, that’s the more likely reason.

However, either way, the tooth has been removed. The next course of action is to decide on the best tooth replacement option for you. Ideally, you’d want to get a dental implant. However, that will have to wait until after you’ve delivered your baby as it requires surgery. It is the best replacement, so if you want that, you can have a temporary replacement put in, such as a removable partial denture or a dental flipper, until you’re ready for the implant.

A second good option is to get a dental bridge. That won’t require surgery, but it does mean grinding down the two adjacent teeth to place crowns on them. If those need crowns anyway, then you’ve got a good solution. But, if they’re perfectly healthy, you may want to consider if it’s worth it to you to get rid of healthy tooth structure for the sake of convenience.

By the way, congratulations on your pregnancy. Having children is one of the biggest blessings available to the human race.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Does Plexus Really Solve TMJ?

I have a dear friend who sells Plexus. I love her to pieces but she thinks it’s the solution for practically every ailment. I half expect her to tell me it can help you regrow limbs soon. She has told me that it solves TMJ problems.  I don’t see how there could be a connection with that. Have you heard of that before? Is it legitimate?

Cully Anne L.

Dear Cully Anne,

Chicago TMJ Dentist

Plexus certainly does seem to be making the rounds these days.  I recently had someone tell me it can cure Lyme. I did some research trying to figure out how the products could affect the temporomandibular joint. The best I can discover is that some of their products boast several products which they report as reducing inflammation.

That can help alleviate some of the symptoms while your dentist looks for the root cause of the problem. It’s a little like taking some ibuprofen to help with the inflammation and pain, except their ingredients are advertised as all natural, which if accurate would be a nice benefit. However, Plexus is pretty pricey, so you’ll want to factor that in.

Though it could potentially help with that inflammation, there are many potential causes for TMJ. In order to really make a difference that cause needs to be worked out.  Sometimes, the TMJ is from your bite being thrown out of alignment. There’s not much an anti-inflammatory can do about that.

However, it could be healed completely and you wouldn’t be stuck spending hundreds of dollars a month on natural solutions to the pain. One Invisalign procedure or a life time of anti-inflammatories and pain relievers. That seems an easy choice to me.

Plus, if you do ever decide to get the Invisalign procedure, you can simultaneously whiten your teeth. The aligners can double as whitening trays. That allows you to get a second procedure for a significant price savings.

There are a plethora of other TMJ causes, many of which have simple solutions. So, yes, you can get Plexus to help with inflammation if you’d like. But, don’t let that be the reason you don’t find out the cause. You could spend a small fortune unnecessarily.

This blog is brought to by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

My Dentist Said White Fillings are Experimental

I love my dentist he’s been good to my family for many years. But, I took my grandson to the dentist for my daughter and it turned out he had a cavity. Our dentist was willing to fill it then, so I called my daughter to see what she wanted to do. She said to go ahead, but she wanted him to only have white fillings. I told our dentist that and he said it’s a bad idea because they’re experimental. I decided to wait because my daughter really wanted him to get the white fillings. Is it a good idea? A second opinion would be useful.

Melanie N.

Dear Melanie,

I’m glad you’re seeking a second opinion. I’m also glad your daughter had the sense to insist on a white filling. Composite fillings (aka white fillings) have been used since the 1980s. They haven’t been experimental in decades.

While it’s okay to put this treatment off for a bit while you find a dentist who can properly treat his cavity, you don’t want to wait too long. Dental cavities get bigger. If you put it off for weeks, it could blow up into a dental emergency. It won’t be hard to find another dentist who can do it right.

Truthfully, it sounds like your dentist has been in practice for many years and is just used to doing things the way they’ve always been done. Those methods have served him well for years and he’s not ready to change.

Your daughter has likely heard that the old amalgam fillings (silver) are made mostly of mercury, which is a toxic substance. While the ADA still says they’re safe, there are several studies which have shown they aren’t. This makes patients (and mothers) uncomfortable. Even if they could be safe, they’d rather not risk it. Thus the increased demand on white fillings.

Don’t insist this dentist place them. It’s a completely different bonding technique than he was taught. Without the new methodology, they won’t bond correctly and could end up causing your grandson pain.

I’m certain you can find a mercury-free dentist who’ll work with you. These dentists only place the white composite fillings. You can likely find a pediatric dentist with experience placing white fillings.  If not, there are general dentists who enjoy treating children who are also mercury-free dentists.

This blog is brought to you by Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.

 

Should I do Invisalign or Teeth Whitening First?

I’m doing some things to upgrade my smile. I’m very excited. I’m going to both whiten my teeth and do Invisalign. I wondered if it mattered which procedure I do first?  Eventually, I’ll get some dental bonding done to take care of all my chips.

Melissa A.

Dear Melissa,

Congratulations on getting to work toward the smile you’ve always wanted. It looks like you’re wanting to straighten your teeth as well as change their shape and color. I wanted to make sure you knew there’s a procedure that can do all of those things at once.

Porcelain veneers can give you a complete smile makeover. They can change virtually anything about your smile. In fact, a great cosmetic dentist can custom design a look for you depending on what your goals are. They can lengthen your teeth to give you a more youthful appearance or widen them slightly to give you more authority. There’s virtually no end to the variations possible.

However, it is a high-end procedure and will cost more than what you’ve currently planned. That may factor into your decision.

If you decide to stick with Invisalign, bonding, and whitening, that’s okay too. Most dentists will allow you to do both Invisalign and teeth whitening simultaneously. You can use your Invisalign aligners the same way you would whitening trays. You’ll just need to purchase the whitening gel. Make sure you get the professional gel your dentist can provide. Anything you buy over-the-counter will not be nearly as strong.

As far as the dental bonding goes, make sure you don’t bond anything to your teeth until you’ve achieved the level of whiteness you want on your teeth.  Once the bonding is done, there’s no way to change the color. You’ll want your dentist to match it to your final results.

One word of caution with porcelain veneers, if you decide to go that route, make sure you go to an expert cosmetic dentist to get the best results, preferably someone with a beautiful smile guarantee. You can find a listing of artistic cosmetic dentists who practice in your area on the mynewsmile.com website

Best of luck with your smile makeover.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

My Childhood Orthodontist Ruined My Smile

I’m distressed about my smile. When I was a child my mother took me to an orthodontist. He felt my teeth were crowded and removed the one right next to my front teeth. That put my pointy teeth close to my front teeth. It makes my smile look ridiculous. Now that I’m older they’ve shifted and I have a big gap between those and my front teeth now. Is there any way to fix this? I don’t just want to push the teeth together because that would look weird to have my pointy teeth so close, but I don’t know what to actually do about it.

Kerri R.

Dear Kerri,

I’m surprised at what your childhood orthodontist did. Removing your lateral incisors is a mistake. The canine teeth are needed where they are to help support your back teeth in the back and forth motion of chewing.

I’m glad you see the problem in just shifting the teeth closer.  That would never quite look right. You’re going to need to work with both an orthodontist and a great cosmetic dentist, preferably one with significant experience with dental implants.

Ideally, you’ll have enough space to place dental implants between your front teeth and your canines. That will get your smile back to normal. Just be sure they’re also an experienced cosmetic dentist, so the results look as beautiful and as natural as you’d like.

If there’s not enough space, you could do another round of Orthodontics, possibly even Invisalign, depending on your case. This will shift everything into position to place the implants.

I’m sorry you’ve found yourself in this dreadful position. Hopefully, this will help you move forward and feel confident when you smile.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Can a Crown Make TMJ Worse?

My dentist told me I have TMJ.  I went in because my jaw aches. He felt my teeth grinding led to the problem and wants me to get a mouth guard. I was going to then it turned out I needed a crown. So,  I had to get that first. Ever since I received the crown, my jaw’s been killing me.  It hits the teeth above it before any of the other teeth do. I don’t know if that’s the problem. My dentist adjusted it, but nothing’s changed. He says I’ll get used to the crown and just get the mouthguard. But this pain is much worse than what I had before the crown.

Monica T.

Dear Monica,

How your teeth come together is quite important. It takes some additional training to understand the best way to put those together. If it’s not done well, then yes, an improperly placed crown can exacerbate TMJ that’s already present. In fact, it can even cause TMJ.

Some dentists will just adjust it over and over again without any real difference being made to wear out the patient from complaining. They start to feel like they’re the problem and give up.  Or, they just grind it down until it doesn’t hit the opposing teeth.

Because it’s worsened your TMJ pain, I’d like you to get a second opinion with a dentist who truly understands TMJ. You can look at Dr. Lopez’s TMJ qualifications to get an idea of what type of dentist you want to see.

Getting a mouthguard will help with your TMJ pain after the problem with your crown is fixed. Plus, if you grind your teeth and don’t get one, the pain will steadily get worse and could lead to cracked teeth.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Horrible Pain With White Fillings

I had a cavity and told my dentist I wanted a white filling. He wasn’t too keen on it saying that I risked infection from my saliva. I didn’t want the mercury fillings so pretty much insisted. Now I’m in terrible pain. I wonder if he was right and I have a problem with the filling. What do I do?

Ben T.

Dear Ben,

While I understand your desire not to want mercury loaded fillings, there is a danger in pushing a dentist outside of their comfort zone. Most struggle with admitting when they’re out of their depth. They’re usually concerned you’ll lose confidence in them, which is dangerous for your long term care. Instead, they’ll suggest alternative treatments.

The best dentists, of course, will put their pride aside and explain why they’re not qualified to do the procedure. Then help you get to a dentist who can.

Composite fillings (white fillings) are a different procedure than the amalgam fillings. Your dentist didn’t know how to do the procedure but didn’t want to disappoint you.

You’ll need to get this removed and re-done. Based on what you’ve described, there’s not a good seal on your filling. It’s going to become a haven for bacteria, putting you at serious risk for decay.

You’re not stuck getting an amalgam filling. You’ll just have to have a composite filling done by someone with the skill to do it. Your best bet is to go to a mercury-free dentist. They do white fillings exclusively and will get you the right seal on your teeth.

This blog is brought to you by Holistic Dentist Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Invisalign with Crooked Gums

Can you get Invisalign if you have crooked gums? I had asked the hygienist if Invisalign would fix my smile. She just kind of laughed and said, “Not really”. I was a little embarrassed so I didn’t bother asking the dentist. But, that doesn’t fix the fact that I am embarrassed to smile. Is Invisalign impossible for me? I keep hearing they’re better than normal braces.  If I have to do regular braces, I will. I’d like to do something to help my appearance.

Lara S.

Dear Lara,

The hygienist was quite insensitive and partially wrong. If your teeth are crooked, Invisalign can help.  Some of the reasons people prefer them to traditional braces are you can straighten your teeth in secret, they’re more comfortable, they work faster than braces, and you can eat and brush more easily.

Regardless of what your hygienist says, you should always be comfortable asking your dentist anything. He or she should have the answers for any dental question you have. Even if the thing you inquire about isn’t the correct procedure, a good dentist would tell you what is, and not just leave you without answers.

While Invisalign can straighten your smile, it will not repair the crooked gums. There are procedures which will. There are two potential procedures which come to mind immediately. You’ll want something to reshape the tissue.  If the unevenness is from one tooth to the next, your dentist can do a gingivectomy, it removes extra gum tissue. If, however, the  gums are bulky, it would be called a gingivoplasty it involves reshaping them. Either procedure is fairly quick. It’s done in-office in a single visit and your gums will heal up fairly quickly after.

The dentist will know which procedure will help you. If there are other things such as the shape and color of your teeth bother you, the “Cadillac” of smile makeovers is to get porcelain veneers. That can completely change the appearance of your teeth and the character of your smile.

One word of caution. Almost any dentist can do the Invisalign procedure, but you’ll really need an expert cosmetic dentist to do a complete smile makeover. Something like porcelain veneers requires an artistic eye. Be sure they have some type of beautiful smile guarantee. You can look up expert cosmetic dentists in your area on the mynewsmile.com website.

I hope this helps. This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.

Daughter’s Orthodontist Said Dentists Shouldn’t Place Invisalign

I was at my daughter’s orthodontic appointment and mentioned to him that I’m getting Invisalign. He said he hoped I wasn’t doing it through a dentist instead of an orthodontist. When I said I was, he told me it was a huge mistake because dentists can’t make adjustments and I’m putting my treatment at risk. Is this true? I don’t want to damage the teeth I’m trying to fix.

Melanie M.

Melanie,

It sounds to me like your orthodontist isn’t happy that so many patients go to their general or cosmetic dentist for Invisalign treatment. While orthodontists do receive some specialized training, many dentists are equally capable of placing braces and have even made the effort to train in their placement, adjustment, and care.

However, Invisalign is different from traditional braces and was designed with general dentists in mind. The treatment plan is computer designed and milled, so the time you have to wear orthodontics is significantly reduced.

If you’ve already been approved as a good candidate for Invisalign, then you shouldn’t have any issues. A dentist will do just fine. In fact, in some ways, a cosmetic dentist will be superior. For instance, if you also wanted to get your teeth whitened, a cosmetic dentist could oversee both procedures. In fact, your Invisalign aligners could be used to double as teeth whitening trays allowing you to do both simultaneously.

I’m sure your dentist would never have invested in becoming an Invisalign provider if he (or she) wasn’t serious about developing their qualifications to place them. Nor would they risk patient safety and care.

It wasn’t ethical of your daughter’s orthodontist to suggest it wasn’t safe for you to go to a dentist, especially without any evidence to the fact. All that does is cause a patient unnecessary worry and expense.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Kasia Lopez.