Service Spotlight: Teeth Whitening in North Las Vegas

teeth whitening

We would probably all like to have some A-list, movie-star good looks, but as your dentist, I can only help with your teeth. Fortunately, teeth whitening is a quick and effective way to improve your smile and roll back the effects of time.

Our teeth become discolored for two primary reasons.

We typically start out with sparkling white teeth, which have a surface composed of porcelain-like enamel. Enamel protects the teeth from the rigors of chewing and the chemical composition of our food, but eventually it starts to wear down.

While enamel is the outermost layer of your tooth (and is a bright white), most of your tooth is made from dentin. It’s a light, yellowish color, and when your enamel becomes too thin, that yellow starts showing through.

Additionally, chewing can cause microscopic cracks in enamel. Cracks can be filled with stains that dull the appearance of the teeth.

What Causes Tooth Stains?

There are a variety of factors that can affect the color of your teeth. In no particular order:

Genetics: Not everyone’s teeth can be perfectly white. Your teeth have a genetically-determined natural color. That include light shades of yellow, brown, green, and grey. Without whitening treatment, that color will intensify over time. Some people have teeth that are nearly translucent, which means there is little pigment to whiten during treatment.

Age: Enamel thins as we age, particularly if teeth aren’t cared for. Stains from other factors have had time to accumulate. Generally speaking, teeth darken over time.

Diet: Certain foods and beverages have a stronger effect on teeth than others. Regular consumption of coffee, soda, berries, or red wine can cause significant staining over a length of time. Acidic beverages and foods, even if they are healthy, can contribute to enamel erosion.
Smoking: Despite being very hard on the surface, teeth behave like sponges. They have pore-like structures that can absorb the strong colors of things you regularly consume. Smoking is one habit that will darken your teeth, at least until you whiten them.

Grinding/Trauma: If you’re a grinder, that trauma to your teeth causes excessive microscopic cracks in your enamel, allowing stains to penetrate. It will be more noticeable on the biting surfaces as they start to darken.

I Want to Be Forever Young

Home whitening systems, whether they be trays, strips, or gels, incorporate low-dose bleaching agents that can take weeks to show a visible effect. They can be useful for touch-ups and maintenance, but they aren’t great for someone who wants to make an impactful difference in their appearance.

Professional whitening means that you get the good stuff. Chairside whitening treatment is not only the safest form of whitening, but it yields results that are visible immediately. Teeth whitening can make you appear up to 10 years younger.

What to Expect From Teeth Whitening

Treatment is straightforward, and is not uncomfortable or painful. However, your teeth might be sensitive following whitening. Sensitivity is simply a result of your teeth being dehydrated, reducing their ability to insulate their nerves from temperature change. It’s normal and will subside within one to two days.

Here’s what the whitening process generally looks like:

  • A cheek retractor is inserted into the mouth, exposing all the “esthetic zone” teeth (teeth that are visible when you smile).
  • A liquid rubber dam or hardening resin is painted onto the gum tissue to protect against any irritation caused by the bleaching gel.
  • A bleaching gel containing hydrogen peroxide is applied to the esthetic zone teeth and kept on for approximately 15 to 30 minutes.
  • The bleaching gel is suctioned or washed off, and fresh gel is applied for one or more additional periods of 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Some whitening treatments incorporate an intense light that is focused on the teeth and is said to activate or enhance the bleaching process. Opinions vary as to whether this light improves the bleaching outcome.
  • Between gel applications, the teeth are checked to see how well they have whitened, and whether more bleach needs to be applied.
  • After the final gel application, the cheek retractors are removed, the patient rinses, and the immediate post-treatment shade change is measured. The teeth may whiten by as few as two to three shades or as many as eight (out of a total of 16). Part of the whitening effect is due to dehydration during the bleaching process, which makes the teeth look whiter than their true new color. That color will emerge after a couple of days.

For best results, we recommend a cleaning prior to whitening. Schedule a consultation with our North Las Vegas dental team to get started on your whitening treatment.

Have a little bit of coffee discoloration? Not to worry! Dr. Soard and his team can help you get that pearly white smile you’ve been after…give us a call, today.

~Dr. Zachary Soard

Dental Implants and Dental Implant–Supported Dentures

dental implants

Teeth need to last a lifetime, but they don’t always make it that far. The average American lives to be around 78 years old—that’s a long run for a tooth! It’s estimated that 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth and that 40 million Americans are missing all of their teeth. Age is reflected in this data, as about 30 percent of adults 65–74 have no natural teeth.

Whether it’s a single tooth or all of them, there’s a good option available for patients—dental implants.

What Are Dental Implants?

Dental implants are small titanium screws that are inserted into the gums and attached to the jawbone. The implant is a full replacement for a tooth root and serves as an anchor for tooth restorations such as crowns and dentures that look and function just like real teeth. Dental implants are a permanent solution to tooth loss.

Who Needs Dental Implants?

Implants are effective for patients of any age. If you’re missing one or more teeth due to tooth decay or any other condition, dental implants are a safe and effective choice. Many choose dental implants because they are a permanent solution and don’t require extra maintenance or care, unlike dentures.

Implants may be a good choice if your missing teeth affect you in one of these ways:
cause pain
make it difficult to chew
distort your speech
affect your appearance

What Are Implant-Supported Dentures?

Traditional dentures mean your teeth spend a lot of time in a cup and not in your mouth. They may slip out, make it difficult to eat, and distort your speech. If you already have dentures or are missing several teeth, implant-supported dentures might be the best solution for you.

As implant-supported dentures are permanent, they look and function just like natural teeth and do not need to be removed for cleaning. There’s another important benefit that comes with implants—they protect your jawbone.

Missing teeth not only change the natural shape of your face and your smile but can lead to jawbone deterioration. When the underlying bones of your mouth aren’t being used to support teeth when chewing, they lose strength, and noticeable bone loss results. Dental implants stimulate bone strength and prevent bone loss.

What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?

They are the closest thing to natural teeth. Implants are stronger than any other tooth restoration method. Your implants will look and function just like (perfect) natural teeth.

Dental implants are long-lasting. As they are more durable and require less maintenance than regular dentures or bridges, implants are a long-term solution. As many as 98 percent of dental implants will go 10 years before they need so much as a simple adjustment.

Improve your quality of life. Never be embarrassed by missing teeth, dentures coming out, or having slurred speech because of loose dentures. You’ll be able to eat your favorite foods, no longer avoiding food choices that might hurt or dislodge your dentures.

Dental implants are a healthier choice. Stimulate bone strength and prevent bone loss so that you can retain the natural shape of your jaw. While you should still care for your restored teeth the same as you would your natural teeth, you are no longer susceptible to cavities. Mom will be proud!

Should I Get Dental Implants?

Dental implants let you enjoy your life without worrying about your teeth. If you’re missing one or more teeth, consider a permanent restoration that is low-maintenance and looks natural. Schedule a consultation with our North Las Vegas dental practice to see if you’re a candidate for dental implants.

Schedule a consultation today!

~Dr. Zachary Soard

Service Spotlight: Everything You Need to Know About Root Canals

North Las Vegas Root Canal

While prevention is the best medicine, sometimes a tooth that is badly decayed or infected needs a root canal. When most patients learn they’re going to need a root canal, their first question is, “Does it hurt?”

They used to, but modern root canal therapy is relatively painless and treatment is very effective.

Root canals, or endodontic therapy if you want to be fancy, is a procedure to eliminate infection. Left untreated, an infected tooth can kill you—in addition to being pretty painful, of course. Before dentistry, casualties from infection were much more common.

Fortunately, modern medicine is equipped to handily deal with infected teeth before complications can occur, and that’s where the root canal comes in.

Why Do People Need Root Canals?

Your teeth aren’t just solid bone. They’re made from dentin (a bone-like substance) and enamel on the outside, and on the inside there is the pulp. The pulp consists of connective tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. These enter the tooth via a small channel in the root, known as the “root canal.”

If your tooth is hurting, you’re well aware of the presence of nerves. The structures in the pulp of your tooth transmit sensations (such as “hot” or “cold”) through your nervous system.

The hard structures of dentin and enamel protect your teeth. However, tooth decay can result in cavity formation. When the hole in your tooth gets big enough and is left untreated, bacteria from your mouth can find their way into the pulp of your teeth and cause an infection.

Sometimes the infection results in an abscess, which is like a blister that forms around the roots of your tooth. Besides the discomfort and difficulty eating, the big threat from an abscessed tooth is that the infection could spread to your brain or heart, cause sepsis, or result in pneumonia.

Root canal therapy is the procedure to remove the infected pulp and replace it with a filling. After treatment, the tooth will function as it should and the infection will be cleared.

What Happens During a Root Canal?

Initial appointment

The patient likely came in because of a bad toothache. During this appointment, we make a good assessment and take X-rays to identify the exact shape of the root and the infected area. If we recommend endodontic treatment, we set that up as soon as possible with a trusted North Las Vegas endodontist.

2. Prepare the tooth for treatment. The first thing we do during treatment is numb the affected area. We then apply a rubber dam around the tooth to keep the working area dry. The dentist makes an opening in the crown of the tooth for clear access into the pulp chamber.

3. Clear the damaged material. The dentist removes the damaged and infected nerves from the crown of the tooth and the root canal. The area is then cleaned up a bit and shaped so that it can be properly filled.

4. Filling the tooth. The canal itself is filled with a special, rubbery material. The affected tooth gets a regular filling or a dental crown to restore it to full function. Sometimes, the initial crown is temporary and the patient returns in a few days to receive the permanent filling.

What Should I Expect After a Root Canal?

Your tooth and the surrounding area are probably going to be sore and sensitive for a couple of days after a root canal. Although your mouth will be sore for a little while, after the final sealing is complete, you can return to a normal oral hygiene routine immediately. Brush your teeth and floss as you normally would.

Do you have a tooth that’s bothering you? Afraid you need a root canal? Give our North Las Vegas dental practice a call and we’ll be more than happy to discuss your options together.

~Dr. Zachary Soard

Tooth Busters 101: Dental Injuries and What to Do

dental injuries

We might have helmets, mouth guards, and padded playgrounds, but our children will still find ways to hurt themselves. When do you “rub some dirt on it,” and when do injuries to the mouth mean it’s time to find a dentist in North Las Vegas?

At Dentistry for Families, we understand that accidents happen. Sometimes it’s ok to wait until Monday; other times you need to get to a dentist or medical doctor right away. Let’s take a look at a few situations so you know what to do in the event of a dental accident.

Oral Trauma

In the event of a non-emergency, do what you can to minimize your child’s discomfort until you can get in to see our team.

Losing a Permanent Tooth

I once treated a young man who was enjoying a caramel apple sucker while shooting some hoops outside. It melted in the heat, adhered to his tooth (a molar), and cleanly extracted the tooth when he removed the sucker.

Fortunately, we can usually save a tooth that managed to find its way out. You should immediately rinse the tooth with water, ensuring that you don’t touch the roots. Place the tooth in a container filled with milk, and call our North Las Vegas office to get in for urgent dental treatment.

What to Do With a Broken Tooth

Another young man was forging some new muscle in the gym when he took a weight to the mouth. Ouch. It broke his front tooth in half.

I can usually restore an original broken tooth as well. If not, we can add a crown that blends perfectly with the patient’s natural smile. Take the loose piece(s) and rinse them with water, storing them in milk as you would for a whole tooth. Apply fluoride toothpaste to the fractured part that’s still in the mouth, to protect it from bacteria, and then call our North Las Vegas dental practice to get in for treatment.

Detached Crown

Children often lose crowns due to sticky candy, but there are many other reasons a crown can come off. The underlying tooth might be decayed, people break it when grinding their teeth, or the cement can give out.

Don’t attempt to put it back in yourself—Gorilla Glue is great stuff, but now is not the time for it. The remaining tooth structure needs to be evaluated and the crown precisely placed. Clean the crown and then call our North Las Vegas dental practice to get in for treatment.

Cuts and Other Wounds

Many children take hard spills in sports like football, cheerleading, or soccer. For this reason, we recommend mouth guards to protect teeth as much as possible. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, though, and as a parent of four I can say my stomach churns when I see my kids get hurt. Shots to the mouth can be painful and sometimes result in bleeding.

Get a look inside to see if there are large cuts (that may need sutures) or anything missing. If everything looks to be where it should and the patient can breathe, apply gauze to the bleeding area. After it stops bleeding, apply Vaseline to help seal and moisturize the wound. Ice can help reduce pain and swelling, and you have my permission to follow the instructions on the bottle to administer some ibuprofen. If pain, bleeding, and swelling persist, give us a call or seek medical attention.

When to Get Urgent Care for Dental Injuries

In the event of a more severe dental accident, the situation calls for immediate medical attention. These cases might include dental injuries or otherwise be dentistry-related, but other risk factors will mean you need to immediately seek medical attention.

Losing Consciousness

Anytime someone loses consciousness, they should be medically evaluated immediately. This is particularly true if an impact to the head was involved. If there are dental problems to take care of, we’ll get to those as soon as the patient is safe and cleared of traumatic brain injuries.

Severe Jaw Pain

If the pain occurs when opening and closing the mouth and was the result of trauma, we could be looking at a jaw fracture or dislocation, so don’t wait for the dentist. If there is any swelling, go to the emergency room—it could result in difficulty breathing or swallowing.

If you’re unsure of the cause of the pain (it just started badly hurting), it could be an infection or the result of TMD. In the case of the latter, the pain might be felt in the jaw (these cases often come to the dentist as a result), but is actually stemming from muscular or joint problems around the jaw or ear. If the pain is significant, seek urgent care to rule out other problems, and if it is a dental problem we will see you as soon as possible.

Only a Dentist Can Perform Dentistry.

If you’re not sure, call us. Better safe than sorry.

Most emergency rooms aren’t going to have a dentist on standby, and only a dentist can provide most dental treatments. However, urgent care facilities can provide immediate pain relief and rule out or treat non-dental problems. If there are any dental problems present, call our practice and get in as soon as possible.

If you’re not sure what to do about your particular dental problem, or if it qualifies as an emergency, simply call our North Las Vegas dental practice and we’ll help you determine the right solution.

If you experience an oral trauma emergency/accident, assess the situation. If it requires immediate medical attention, call 911. If it doesn’t require immediate medical attention, call Dr. Soard directly to be seen ASAP.

~Dr. Zachary Soard

Relaxing in the Dentist’s Chair

dental anxiety

Just the anticipation of the dental drill can make some people nervous enough to avoid their dentist for months, or even years!

The fear of the experience is usually worse than any actual discomfort. Fortunately, in my North Las Vegas dental practice, we utilize the best dental techniques for helping you to be calm and comfortable during your visit.

Tips for Staying Relaxed at the Dentist

There are a few things you can do to help yourself relax.

Tell us about your anxiety.

There’s no shame in being nervous—it’s a pretty common experience.

If you tell us about your fears, we can take a few extra steps to help set up a more comfortable visit for you, and we can discuss some additional options for medication and sedation.

My team and I are here to listen to your concerns and previous experiences at the dental office. Once those concerns are identified and addressed then myself and my team can make any necessary adjustments to help make you comfortable in the chair.

We promise it’s an experience like you have never had before in a dental office before!

Bring your headphones.

Whether it’s music, an audiobook, or your favorite podcast, you can distract yourself during your procedure and soothe your nerves with headphones.

I recommend choosing something that will help you relax. I love a wide variety of music, so even if you forget your headphones, there’s always music playing in the office.

Take a deep breath.

Nervous people tend to hold their breath, increasing their heart rate and blood pressure.

Before you sit down for your appointment, take a minute to meditate and practice deep breathing exercises to bring yourself down a notch or two. This is also important to remember during the appointment.

Once we get started, it’s always good to remember to take big deep breathes through your nose to help you relax. Holding your breath will only accentuate whatever you think you are feeling.

Sedation Dentistry

In addition to the local anesthetics we use to numb the area we’re working on, there are also several sedation techniques that vary from “help with just a little bit of nervousness” to “I don’t want to be conscious anymore.

As with any type of medicine, we try to aim for the most conservative method that meets your needs. At one end of the scale, there are oral medications (such as Valium) to calm the patient’s nerves. At the other, general anesthesia is used for the most complex treatments. With general anesthesia, the patient will stay in a deep sleep throughout the procedure, and it may require performing the treatment at another facility.

Talk to Your North Las Vegas Dentist to Decide What the Best Course Is for You.

Anxiety about the dentist is a common problem, but Dentistry for Families in North Las Vegas is here to help you get the best dental experience possible. My goal is to ensure all of my patients receive safe, effective, and comfortable dental care.

Want to further discuss how we can help you relax at your next dental appointment? Give us a call to learn more.

~Dr. Zachary Soard