two sets of hands holding professional whitening products, such as gel and trays

The Differences Between Teeth Whitening Strips and In-Office Teeth Whitening

Whitening strips and professional whitening share the goal of brightening your smile but do so in different ways. The most apparent difference between them pertains to where you receive treatment – either at home or in the dentist’s chair. However, you must consider several factors when determining which method best suits your needs.

What Are at Home Teeth Whitening Strips?

Teeth whitening strips are a prevalent method for those wishing to improve their smile. Flexible plastic material and a thin layer of bleaching gel comprise most whitening strips. The gel, typically made of either hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, adheres to your teeth, penetrates the enamel, and breaks down the discolored molecules.

As you apply the strips to your top and bottom teeth, the gel firmly presses against them and gently lifts stains while held in place by the plastic strip. Leave the whitening strips on for up to 30 minutes. Since you can buy strips nearly anywhere and wear them at home, you have the freedom to finish chores, read a book, or rest during the treatment.

The Results of Teeth Whitening Strips

Since teeth whitening strips are readily available at stores, they contain less hydrogen peroxide than other methods. Therefore, depending on how discolored your teeth were before treatment, you may need to apply the whitening strips daily for two to three weeks. Then, after you achieve the desired shade, you’ll only have to use the strips every once in a while to maintain it.

What Is Professional In-Office Teeth Whitening?

Zoom teeth whitening is one of the most popular professional treatments performed by certified dentists. Good candidates for Zoom whitening visit their dentist for the treatment. Your dentist begins treatment by covering your gums and lips, exposing only your teeth. Next, they apply the Zoom whitening gel, a 25% hydrogen peroxide solution, directly to your teeth.

A specially designed Zoom light quickens the process and, together with the gel, removes surface stains by penetrating deep into the enamel. Then, after every 15 minutes, the gel and light procedure repeats until the treatment session ends. It typically takes 45 minutes to an hour, and once complete, your dentist rinses the gel and applies a fluoride-based solution to reduce sensitivity.

Professional Whitening Results

After one treatment session, Zoom whitening results can last six months to a year with proper care. In-office whitening methods contain significantly greater amounts of hydrogen peroxide that only certified dentists can apply, so fewer visits are required to achieve your goal shade. Patients can also schedule retouch appointments during regular dental visits if they choose between whitening appointments.

professional in-office teeth whitening before and after

Pros and Cons of Teeth Whitening Strips

The advantages and disadvantages of using teeth whitening strips are as follows:

Pros

  • An inexpensive, convenient, and quick method of brightening your smile
  • Readily available for purchase in-store or online
  • Generally, an effective, safe, and convenient treatment when used as directed
  • Easy to place and remove strips
  • At-home treatment

Cons

  • Not all brands achieve the same results
  • Can cause irregular or uneven whitening if used incorrectly
  • Higher risk of tooth sensitivity
  • Strips can lose their adhesive and thus may fall off
  • Can cause enamel damage if overused
  • Higher risk for gum irritation

Pros and Cons of Philips Zoom Whitening

Philips Zoom whitening treatment also has many pros and cons to consider:

Pros

  • Immediate results (up to 8 shades brighter after the first session)
  • Whitening can last up to a year with proper care
  • A dentist completes everything for you
  • Treatment only takes 45 minutes to an hour
  • Lower risk of gum irritation and damage
  • Receive a retouching kit to maintain the white between visits

Cons

  • Costs more than over-the-counter treatments due to administration by a dental professional
  • Tooth sensitivity is common
  • You must visit the dentist to receive treatment

Receive Quality Care From Our O’Fallon, IL Dentist

At Lake Pointe Dental Group, our dental professionals provide numerous services to patients in O’Fallon, IL, including Zoom in-office whitening. We’re dedicated to the patients we care for and treat each one like family. Whether you need a routine dental cleaning, root canal therapy, or emergency care, our O’Fallon family dentistry team can serve you. We’re sure you’ll leave our office with a confident smile!

Schedule an appointment with our dentists, Drs. Greiff and Bean, today to learn more about your teeth whitening and dental care options.

 

What is a Toothache?

Toothaches are characterized by pain either in or around a tooth. Some minor aches are caused by temporary gum irritation and can be treated at home. On the other hand, more severe toothaches are caused by dental or mouth issues that only a dentist can effectively treat. Regardless of its cause or severity, a toothache is uncomfortable and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Toothache Causes

Several factors determine the root cause of a toothache, but the common result is some form of pain. The pulp inside your teeth is soft and filled with nerves, tissues, and blood vessels. When the pulp’s nerves, the most sensitive in the body, are irritated or infected by bacteria, they can create severe pain. Common causes of toothaches include:

  • Tooth decay: When damage to the tooth’s surface occurs, cavities can form, which can be painful.
  • Abscessed tooth: A bacterial infection inside the tooth’s pulp.
  • Tooth fracture: A crack in your tooth can cause discomfort.
  • Repetitive motions: Actions such as chewing gum or grinding the teeth can wear down the enamel, increasing the risk of irritation and infection.
  • Eruption: Teeth that break through the gums can be a temporary yet painful experience.
  • Infected gums: Also called periodontitis, gum disease damages the soft tissue, and if left untreated, the bone underneath as well, causing pain and tooth loss.

Additionally, toothaches can be the result of an issue elsewhere in your body, called referred pain. An example of this phenomenon is sinusitis, a condition in which your sinuses become inflamed due to a fungal, viral or bacterial infection in your sinus cavities. Since the roots of your upper teeth are located close to your sinuses, it’s possible you may experience a toothache as a result.

Toothache Symptoms

Besides pain, toothaches can bring about additional symptoms. Depending on the severity, some cases can disappear after a couple days. For instance, if the cause of your toothache is from mild gum irritation, you can simply avoid chewing in the affected area and eat soft foods until the pain subsides. However, if you experience the following symptoms for a prolonged period of time, it’s important to receive dental treatment as soon as possible:

  • Sharp, throbbing, constant pain
  • Pain resulting from pressure on the affected area
  • Fever or headache
  • A bad odor from the mouth
  • Foul-tasting drainage from an infected tooth

Treating Toothache at Home

Mild toothaches typically improve after a few days. In the meantime, certain at-home steps can be implemented to ease the pain, such as:

  • Rinsing with saltwater: Stirring ½ teaspoon of salt into a glass of water and rinsing your mouth thoroughly can loosen debris between your teeth, reduce inflammation, and act as a disinfectant.
  • Rinsing with hydrogen peroxide: Dilute the hydrogen peroxide (3%) with equal parts water and swish thoroughly in your mouth, being careful not to swallow it. The solution helps to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Pain medications: Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications, such as Tylenol or Advil, can work to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Cold compress: Holding a cold compress of ice wrapped in a towel to the affected area for 20-minute periods every few hours can numb the tooth.

If you’ve tried several different home remedies and still experience painful symptoms after a few days, it’s in your best interest to visit the dentist. The trained professionals, such as the team at Lake Pointe Dental Group, are trained to treat a variety of dental conditions. They know the best practices for ensuring comfort and will work to relieve your toothache.

When to See the Dentist for a Toothache

Temporary, homemade pain relief won’t be enough if your symptoms are progressing. Call your dentist when it’s clear your issue isn’t getting any better despite your efforts. When you visit our dentist office in O’Fallon, IL, for a toothache, we’ll first review your medical history. Then, we’ll identify where the pain is located, when it started, its severity, and what helps.

In addition, our team will take an X-ray of your mouth to picture the affected area and assist us in determining the next best steps. Once the cause is determined, a treatment plan will be given. You may receive definitive treatment, temporary antibiotics, a referral, or other palliative care, depending on the diagnosis.

Treatment

Treatment differs depending on the specific cause. For example, if a cavity is causing your toothache, Dr. Greiff or Dr. Bean will restore the tooth. In some cases where the pulp is infected or an abscess is present, a root canal would be the route taken. The dentist will remove the infected pulp and replace it with sealing material.

If you have a fever or are suffering from a swollen jaw, antibiotics will likely be recommended. Minor infections can arise from pieces of food being lodged in the gums, so an antibiotic will help to reduce swelling. Further periodontal procedures, like deep cleaning, can also be performed or recommended depending on the severity of your gum disease.

How to Prevent Toothache

Since a majority of toothaches are caused by tooth decay, good oral hygiene practices are highly effective in prevention. Be sure to brush your teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste, floss at least once each day, rinse with a quality mouthwash, and visit your dentist twice a year for professional cleaning. Avoiding foods high in sugar can also help prevent toothaches.

Receive Care from Our O’Fallon, IL Dentist

No matter how severe, toothaches can be extremely uncomfortable. However, your pain is not permanent so long as it’s treated. If you experience pain, fever, bad odors or foul tastes and have attempted home remedies to no avail, contact our O’Fallon, IL dentist office right away. Untreated toothaches can significantly worsen as time passes, and may indicate another condition elsewhere in your body. Schedule an appointment today to relieve your symptoms and prevent further issues.

bad breath

Why is My Breath Bad? 5 Surprising Causes of Bad Breath

We all get bad breath from time to time. Spicy food, tobacco, coffee, poor oral hygiene— these are just some of the common causes of halitosis we’ve all seen or experienced. However, there are many possibilities behind the condition that may not be so obvious and yet are more concerning.

If you have bad breath you can’t quite explain, especially if it persists and is beginning to restrict you socially, consider the following surprising causes:

Low-Carb Diet

When your diet barely includes carbohydrates, your body runs on fats and releases ketones into your bloodstream. The problem is that these ketones can also find their way into your breath, giving you that distinct halitosis that comes with low carb consumption. Obviously this is not an oral hygiene issue, so no amount of extra brushing, flossing, or tongue scraping will do. The good news is, you don’t have to quit your low-carb diet either. Ketosis-related halitosis can be managed simply with sugarless gum or mints, especially the bacteria-fighting xylitol, and increased water intake to dilute the ketones.

Medications

Drugs are another less known cause of halitosis, and there are two ways they affect your breath. First, they cause the release of odorous body chemicals that can leak through your mouth; and second, they decrease the production of saliva, whose antibacterial action keeps your breath smelling fresh. Many medicines can cause halitosis, especially when taken long-term, including antidepressants, antihistamines, diuretics, migraine medications, and even certain vitamin supplements. Fortunately, just like ketosis-related bad breath, drug-induced halitosis can be managed with sugarless gum and mints and by drinking more water to keep the mouth hydrated.

Being Sick (Cold, Strep Throat, Sinusitis, Etc.)

We’ve all experienced colds, strep throat and sinusitis, but we don’t always think of them as causes of halitosis. They are, and so are a host of other respiratory illnesses that deposit infected mucus at the back of the throat, making our breath stink when we breathe from the mouth. Generally speaking, we emit odors when we’re ill simply because our immune systems are on overdrive. It’s nature’s signal that someone is sick and needs attention, or that we should back off to protect ourselves from the contagion. Even animals are documented to have this ability to smell illness, whether in humans or other animals.

Alcohol Consumption

When we drink too much alcohol, our bodies treat the substance as a toxin and convert it to less harmful chemicals to protect us from its damaging effects. About 90% of the alcohol we consume gets converted to acetic acid, and that’s what causes bad breath following an alcohol binge. It goes without saying that if you drink too much too often, the halitosis will stick around longer. Not all kinds of alcoholic drinks cause bad breath equally though, but you’ll want to stay away from liqueurs, certain aromatic blends, or alcohol altogether.

Heartburn and GERD

In gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, stomach contents flow back up into the esophagus and cause a painful sensation known as heartburn. But that’s not what causes GERD-related bad breath. Remember that your stomach contains undigested food, acids, and bile. When they escape into your esophagus, which leads all the way to your mouth, you get bad breath. Managing GERD-related bad breath is therefore as simple as managing your GERD; for example, eating smaller meals or waiting a few hours to lie down after you eat. Ask your doctor for tips.

Learn More at Lake Pointe Dental Group in O’Fallon

While bad breath is generally harmless, it can signal something more important, such as a lifestyle problem or even a serious disease that must be addressed. By knowing that halitosis can be caused by many other factors, such as carb consumption, medicines, respiratory illnesses, alcohol, or heartburn, you know the condition must never be taken for granted. Of course, it helps to have a family dentist to appease your concerns and help you find the right solutions to your bad breath woes. Oral health care goes beyond treating halitosis or its causes, after all. It’s about providing comprehensive family dental care that includes installing crowns, dental implants, or any other needed interventions.

If you’re looking for an O’Fallon, Il dentist or an emergency dentist O’Fallon Il, in particular, Lake Pointe Dental is a trusted name in the city’s family dentistry industry. Reach out today!

tooth loss

What Causes Tooth Loss in Adults?

For a young child, the sudden loss of a tooth means the tooth fairy will visit and leave goodies behind! Tooth loss—a cause for celebration as a child—feels far different when you’re an adult.

At best, losing a tooth means a trip to the dentist, and necessary interventions to set things right. At worst, losing a tooth may permanently affect your appearance, resulting in a loss of self esteem.

So, what can you do to protect your own smile? Here are some of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults and ways to address them. Lake Pointe Dental Group can help you protect your smile!

Gum Disease

One of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults is gum disease. No matter what your age, healthy gums are an essential part of dental care, and neglecting those vital structures may have devastating consequences.

The reason gums are so vital is easy to understand: your gums hold your teeth in place. If those gums are compromised by advanced disease, your teeth can loosen and eventually fall out. Dr. Harold Bean and Dr. Richard Greiff provide regular, thorough examinations at Lake Pointe Dental Group in O’Fallon, Illinois. Gum disease is relatively easy to treat in its early stages, but the longer you wait the more your teeth will be at risk. The team at Lake Pointe Dental provides cleanings, can offer advice on the best toothpastes to use in each individual case, and refer to a periodontist for specialized treatment. The sooner you schedule an appointment with Lake Pointe Dental Group, the sooner you start protecting your precious smile.

Sports Injuries

Not all tooth loss is related to poor oral hygiene or undetected gum disease. Sports injuries can also take a toll on your smile.

If you play sports, especially contact sports, you need to protect your teeth. Wearing a mouthguard is a good place to start, and there are other sport-specific dental appliances you can use as well. If you do lose a tooth playing football, hockey, or another favorite sport, prompt dental attention could restore your smile and help prevent further damage. Having a tooth knocked out is an urgent situation; your first call should be to Dr. Bean and Dr. Greiff in O’Fallon.

Unattended Cavities

In many cases, intense pain will signal you have a cavity in your mouth. When you take a drink or try to eat, the exposed nerve lets you know something is wrong. In other cases, a cavity may not be so obvious.

Sometimes cavities do not create toothache pain; that makes a problem easy to miss. Undetected or untreated cavities can lead to tooth loss. Dr. Bean, Dr. Greiff, and the Lake Pointe Dental team of hygienists detect cavities at the earliest stages when treatment is simple. It is important to see a dentist twice a year.

Do yourself and your smile a favor; schedule your next examination today. In many cases, prompt action can prevent the loss of a tooth. Even if the tooth is too far gone, you can restore your smile with dental implants.

Contact Lake Pointe Dental Group

Knowing what causes tooth loss in adults is key to maintaining good oral health and your appearance. Lake Pointe Dental Group schedules emergency exams, comprehensive exams and cleanings, and regular appointments.

If your smile has already been compromised by a prior tooth loss, Dr. Bean and Dr. Greiff will develop a treatment plan to help you recover. It is never too early or too late for quality family dental care. Request an appointment at Lake Pointe Dental Group!