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Posts for: October, 2013

By Dr. James Merlo and Dr. Mary A. Merlo-Murison
October 30, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: celebrity smiles   braces  
KristiYamaguchisBracesHelpedGiveHeraWinningSmile

If Kristi Yamaguchi's kids inherit her figure skating ability, they might just be headed for the Olympics — after all, their mom won the gold medal for figure skating in the 1992 games. When it comes to teeth, however, she wouldn't mind if they inherited her spouse's instead. “My husband [fellow Olympian turned pro hockey player Bret Hedican] never had braces,” she recently told an interviewer. “I'm hoping they get his teeth.”

When you look at the elegant skating star's pearly smile, you'd never suspect she had dental problems. In fact, Kristi had four permanent teeth extracted to relieve the crowding in her mouth. She also wore braces to correct irregularities in both upper and lower teeth. Could orthodontics work the same “magic” for your kids — or yourself?

It just might. The first step toward finding out is having an orthodontic evaluation. For kids, the right time for an initial evaluation is no later than age 7. By then, the first molars are usually present and your child's bite pattern is establishing. Even though treatment may not begin for several more years, it's helpful to know what problems may arise in your child's individual situation — and to start treating them at just the right time.

Orthodontics has progressed a great deal in the two decades since Yamaguchi's braces came off. Today, small devices called palatal expanders are often used to create more space in the mouth, as an alternative to tooth extraction. There are also many new options for orthodontic appliances, in addition to standard metal braces. These include unobtrusive tooth-colored braces and lingual braces, which are applied to the tongue side of the teeth and can't be seen. In some cases, clear plastic aligners can be used instead of braces, for a look that's almost invisible.

Adolescence is often the preferred time to do orthodontic treatment. By then, the permanent teeth have mostly come in, but there's still some growing left to do. But age isn't a factor that should stop you from getting the smile you've always wanted. About one in five orthodontic patients today is an adult — and those less-visible appliances can fit in well with the more “professional” image of an older person.

Orthodontics can't help make someone an Olympic athlete — only lots of talent and practice can do that. But it can make a big difference in a person's appearance. “Once my braces came off, it was like — Wow! That looks so much nicer,” Yamaguchi recollected. And today, the mother of two, author, and philanthropist sports the same appealing smile she had on the podium at the Albertville Olympic Games.

If you would like more information on how orthodontics could help you get the smile you've dreamed about, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Early Orthodontic Evaluation” and “The Magic of Orthodontics.”


By Dr. James Merlo and Dr. Mary A. Merlo-Murison
October 15, 2013
Category: Dental Procedures
SpruceUpYourSmileWithTeethWhitening

Clothing and hair styles may come and go, but a dazzling smile is always in fashion! If you're considering options for perking up your appearance, brightening your pearly whites is a quick and affordable way to achieve eye-catching results.

You have several choices when it comes to teeth whitening. But to get the safest, most appropriate, and most satisfying results, you should start with a proper dental examination. A professional assessment of your oral health can determine the cause of your tooth discoloration and may reveal the need for a particular treatment before, or in addition to brightening the color of your teeth.

Brightening Options

When we talk about teeth whitening, we generally are referring to “bleaching,” which actually returns your teeth to their natural tooth color. A thorough cleaning — generally part of a routine checkup — often can remove surface discoloration/staining (such as coffee, tea, tobacco or red wine).

There are basically three approaches for external bleaching/whitening of your teeth. They vary based on the strength of the bleaching solution, method of application, duration of treatment, and cost considerations.

Professional In-Office Whitening. This approach involves the carefully controlled application by a dental professional of a powerful and fast-acting concentration of hydrogen peroxide gel. Professional whitening can achieve the most significant color change in the shortest amount of time, but it is pricier than the other options.

Professionally Dispensed Take-Home Whitening Kits. These include a lower-strength peroxide gel applied via flexible plastic bleaching trays custom made by our office specifically for your teeth. The tailored fit of the trays helps ensure an even and thorough coating. A more affordable option than the in-office procedure, it also requires more time to achieve similar results.

Over-the-Counter Products. These feature the lowest-concentration bleaching gel, which is applied to the teeth using one-size-fits-all trays or strips, or a paint-on applicator. While they are the least expensive option, they take the longest to achieve maximum results and may not reach all teeth.

If you have questions about teeth whitening, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Teeth Whitening” and “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered.”