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Austin Cosmetic and General Dentistry FAQ

  1. People tease me because I won’t smile when I’m having my picture taken, but I’m very sensitive about my teeth—they have little chips and cracks and are not as white as I’d like them to be. What options do I have?
    First, rest assured that yours is not a unique problem. Many people are unhappy with their smiles. The good news is that there are new techniques in cosmetic dentistry that will have you smiling for the camera. Porcelain veneers can be bonded over your existing teeth to look like natural teeth, and to take care of your color concerns as well. Dr. Patel will determine the best treatments to help you obtain a picture perfect smile.
  2. My work involves meeting face-to-face with clients. Although I’m very good at my job, I feel my teeth sometimes detract from my business performance. They are unevenly spaced and crooked. But with my high profile job, I can’t wear braces. Are there any alternatives?
    Many adults share your problem, because either they did not have orthodontic treatment when they were young, or the treatment was not successful. Today there are a number of options for you. One of them is Invisalign®, which uses clear, removable aligners to straighten teeth. A dentist who is trained in cosmetic dentistry can help determine which treatment will give you the smile you deserve.
  3. What will my smile look like after treatment?
    Your smile is unique. Cosmetic dentists are trained to achieve a natural looking smile based on your facial characteristics and the condition of your teeth, and even your age, gender and complexion.
  4. I’ve heard people talking about porcelain veneers, but I’m not sure what they are and what they do.
    Porcelain veneers are like a magic wand waved over your teeth. They can change the shape of a tooth, hide flaws such as chips, cracks and discoloration, and even close small gaps between teeth. They are bonded directly to your teeth in a relatively easy and painless procedure that requires just two to three office visits. Today’s porcelain veneers are translucent, like the tooth’s natural enamel, so they are virtually indistinguishable from your natural teeth.
  5. I know that dentures can be very hard to clean. What about porcelain veneers?
    Porcelain is a ceramic, glass-like material that is fairly resistant to staining from coffee, red wine, tea and tobacco. You can brush and floss them just like your natural teeth.
  6. What does it mean to have a tooth capped?
    Capping refers to what dentists call crowns. The dentist will take a mold, or impression, of your existing tooth and a lab will create a crown to fit exactly over that tooth.. Crowns improve the appearance of a tooth and preserve it despite extensive decay. The central part of the tooth remains, along with the root, and with the crown, it’s greatly strengthened. A cosmetic dentist can tell you if crowns are appropriate for your dental needs.
  7. I need one crown. Will it look like my other teeth?
    Yes. Your cosmetic dentist will take the color, shape, and length of your natural teeth into consideration when making your crown. An impression of your teeth will be taken to ensure that the crown fits the tooth precisely and in harmony with the surrounding teeth.
  8. I have a gap between my top front teeth. Is there a way to close it up without having a lot of work done?
    Dental bonding has a come a long way in the last few years. Bonding uses a special composite material which can be added to teeth to make subtle changes in their shape. In your case, composite could be applied to the sides of each teeth next to the gap. The composite comes in a wide array of shades so that it can be matched to your existing tooth color. The result? A gap-free smile!
  9. Can bonding lengthen a tooth that’s shorter than the one next to it?
    Yes. However, your cosmetic dentist will evaluate your bite to make sure that the newly bonded tooth won’t bump against the opposite tooth, possibly chipping it. If bonding is not the answer, your dentist will come up with alternative treatments to help you achieve the results you desire.
  10. I’m getting married next year and I want my smile to dazzle. When should I start whitening my teeth?
    You can begin any time you like. Professional tooth whitening results can now be achieved in just one hour.  With ZOOM tooth whitening, Dr. Patel can improve the shade of your teeth without any trays or weeks of waiting.  ZOOM tooth whitening is performed by applying a special gel to your teeth, and the activating the gel, using a special, high-intensity light to break up stains and discoloration.Tooth whitening can also be done at home, and is completed in about 2 or 3 weeks, although it may depend on how much whitening your teeth need, or are capable of. Not everyone achieves snow-white teeth, but everyone does achieve very noticeable change. You might want to allow a few extra weeks for touch-up afterwards. Your cosmetic dentist can tell you about other procedures to enhance your smile for your wedding day.
  11. Is teeth whitening safe?
    When done by a skilled cosmetic dentist like Dr. Patel, the procedure is quite safe. The whitening agent touches only your teeth, so it causes no irritation to the gum tissue. You might notice increased sensitivity to cold, but this will disappear quickly afterwards.
  12. I’d like to replace the silver fillings in my back molars. Is there anything that won’t show as much?
    Advances in technology now allow your dentist to use porcelain fillings in back molars. Sometimes the porcelain is mixed with a metal for added strength on those chewing surfaces.  Dr. Patel can replace your metal fillings with composite white fillings, porcelain inlays, or porcelain onlays.  All three of these options provide an aesthetic solution for your old metal fillings, and all are permanently bonded to your teeth, not only filling any damage, but also improving the strength of your teeth.
  13. What are “white fillings?”
    “White fillings” is another name for either composite fillings or porcelain fillings. Unlike the silvery-colored amalgams of years ago, composite material can be matched to the color of your natural teeth. Porcelain is translucent like natural tooth enamel. That means light travels through it and bounces back off the cement holding it onto the tooth, and this gives it the lustrous look of natural teeth.
  14. How are lasers used in dentistry?
    To enhance the tooth whitening process, recontour gum tissue, cure bonding materials and remove diseased parts of a tooth. Lasers are highly focused beams of light that work quietly and with minimal discomfort to a patient. If you have any questions about laser use, ask your dentist before having the laser procedure.
  15. I had braces when I was younger, but I’m still not happy with the results. I don’t want to have a mouth full of metal now, but I’d like straighter teeth.Invisalign® may be the answer for you. Using the Invisalign® system, your dentist will fit you with a series of removable clear appliances that gradually realign your teeth. The process generally takes about a year, but may vary depending upon the amount of correction needed.
  16. I’m 54. Am I too old for Invisalign®?
    Not at all. Many adults your age and older have been successfully treated with Invisalign®. The clear aligners are popular with adults because they are removable and are virtually invisible when worn. Consult your dentist for an evaluation to see if Invisalign® is the right treatment mode for you.
  17. What exactly is a dental implant? How does it differ from dentures?
    Dental implants are tooth replacements that are implanted in your jaw so that they actually fuse with your existing bone structure. Unlike dentures, they do not require support from surrounding teeth and, once healed, are indistinguishable from your own teeth. They are permanent once placed in the mouth.
  18. Will my dental implants be as strong as my natural teeth?
    Your implants may actually be stronger then your natural teeth. Dental implants help restore chewing function and improve your appearance by eliminating the sunken look that often occurs with tooth loss.
  19. What is TMJ?
    TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint syndrome. It’s a cluster of symptoms that result from the malocclusion or misalignment of your jaws. When the jaws don’t mesh properly, the muscles surrounding them become strained which may result in pain throughout the face, head, arms, shoulders, and back. TMJ can also cause headaches, sore teeth, numbness or tingling in the arms, popping in the jaw, chipped and broken teeth, and pain in the neck and shoulders.
  20. How do I know if I have TMJ?
    Neuromuscular dentists use special instruments to observe your jaw in its resting position. They can observe how it moves and measure any misalignment in your bite. A process known as electromyography measures the jaw’s muscle function and determines if there is any structural imbalance in the jaw-to-skull relationship. TMJ is often misdiagnosed— if you have been experiencing headaches, pain or tingling in the arms, neck or shoulders, a “popping” sound in the jaw, or an increase in chipped or broken teeth, consult a neuromuscular dentist.
  21. What causes gum disease?
    Periodontal (gum) disease is caused by a sticky, film-like substance called plaque that builds up on the teeth. Plaque fosters the growth of bacteria which can get between the tooth and its surrounding gum, causing a breakdown of the gum tissue. If plaque is not removed each day by brushing and flossing, it hardens into a substance known as calculus or tartar. As the disease progresses, bacteria from the plaque spread through the gum and may eventually destroy the bone underneath.
  22. How can I prevent gum disease?
    By preventing the buildup of plaque and tartar on your teeth. The easiest and most effective prevention technique is daily flossing and brushing. If you have children, encourage them to floss as well as brush. Your dentist can show you the most effective way to brush and floss in order to prevent plaque build-up. Regular dental check-ups will also detect the disease in its early stages when it can be more easily treated.
  23. I haven’t had my teeth cleaned in years because I get so nervous at the dentist. Is there something that can help me?
    Many people are fearful about visiting a dentist. You can ask for sedation dentistry, in which not only an anesthetic us used, but also relaxing medications. You would take the pill before going to the dentist’s office, and have somebody drive you. By the time you arrive, you’ll be drowsy and relaxed. Dentists who are specially trained in sedation, like Dr. Patel, will discuss your level of anxiety to determine which medication is right for you.
  24. My friend recently had some dental work done and was given “laughing gas.” What exactly is laughing gas?Laughing gas is a common name for nitrous oxide, an agent that helps you relax during dental treatment. Nitrous oxide is administered by placing a mask over your nose. You’ll feel calm and unworried, but also able to respond to comments and requests.
  25. What do dentures feel like?
    Although today’s dentures are designed to look and feel like natural teeth, there is a period of adjustment. You may have some minor irritation or soreness and feel that your saliva flow has increased. These are temporary side effects and should diminish within a few weeks.
  26. What are dentures and when would I need them?
    Dentures are a set of artificial teeth used to replace natural teeth lost to poor oral hygiene or trauma.  Dentures can either be complete or partial.  Complete dentures are used when all the teeth are so damaged that they need to be removed and replaced.  Partial dentures are used when only a few teeth are damaged.  With partial dentures, the damaged teeth are removed and the denture is anchored to the existing teeth.

If you’re interested in the world-class cosmetic & general dentistry performed in Dr. Patel’s office, please schedule a complimentary consultation with Dr. Patel, through our treatment coordinator.