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May 16, 2015

I have a space between my front teeth – and my teeth are a little crooked. Do I have any options, other than braces?

479705143Many people would love to have a straighter smile. Whether it’s crooked teeth, gaps between your teeth, overlapping teeth, crowded teeth or other imperfections, there are a number of options available to correct your teeth alignment – without having to get a full set of braces.

Orthodontic work is a type of dental treatment that deals with adjusting the alignment of the teeth. The most common type of orthodontic treatment is braces – which is a rite of passage for many young people during the teenage years.

But what if you don’t want braces, or don’t have time for braces, or can’t afford braces, or are no longer at a time of your life where braces are socially acceptable?

Fortunately, there are other ways to correct certain minor imperfections with the alignment of your teeth. Here are some of the main options that might work for your situation:

  • Removable Retainer: A removable retainer is a small mouthpiece – usually made of plastic and/or metal, that you wear over your teeth. Retainers can keep teeth from moving and can also be used to “train” teeth to move in a new direction. Retainers are one of the most common orthodontic appliances – if your teeth can be corrected without having to get braces, a retainer is usually the solution that will be recommended to you.
  • Permanent Retainer: A permanent retainer is a metal bracket that is cemented to the backs of your teeth – usually after the successful completion of treatment with braces. A permanent retainer does just that: it “retains” teeth “permanently” in the position where they were moved to during the braces treatment. Depending on your situation, a permanent retainer might be an option to keep certain troublesome teeth from moving any further out of position – for example, if you have a growing gap between your front teeth, a permanent retainer can be put on those teeth to hold them in place and stop the gap from increasing.
  • Invisalign treatment: Invisalign is a type of orthodontic treatment that is a popular alternative to braces – especially for adults. With Invisalign treatment, your dentist will fit you with a customized plastic mouthpiece that you wear over your teeth. The Invisalign “aligner” system will gradually move your teeth into their new positions – giving you a straight new smile without the inconvenience and discomfort of traditional braces.
  • Braces: Okay, I know you said that you didn’t want braces…but have you seen some of the new advances in braces technology these days? You might be surprised at how comfortable – and how nearly invisible – braces can be. And you don’t need to be embarrassed about being an adult with braces. More adults than ever before are getting braces to improve the look of their smiles and help maintain the long-term health of their teeth and gums. So don’t be too quick to give up on braces – you might be surprised at how “do-able” braces can be for you.

As always, be sure to talk with your dentist about all of the options available to you. Some people need more complex treatment that can only be provided by an orthodontist – if needed, your dentist can refer you to qualified orthodontists in your area.

July 16, 2014

What are veneers? Do I need them?

beautiful smileIf you have a damaged, discolored or unsightly tooth, you might consider improving your teeth’s appearance by using dental veneers.

Veneers are basically an extra layer of tooth-like material that is placed over the surface of a tooth in order to improve the tooth’s appearance or to protect the tooth. Veneers are made from either dental porcelain or composite resin and are fixed to the surface of the teeth using strong adhesive cement.

Veneers are used for the following reasons:

  • Improve the appearance of teeth. If your teeth are stained, discolored or otherwise not looking their best, veneers might be a good option to quickly improve your smile.
  • Protect damaged teeth from further harm. If your teeth have been damaged or have decayed over time, a veneer might be used to cover up the damaged tooth and keep it safe from further injury. This use of veneers is similar to the use of dental crowns – but for less severe damage and decay; crowns are used to cover an entire tooth, while veneers only cover a tooth’s surface.
  • Create a straighter smile. If your teeth are not properly aligned, it may be possible to use dental veneers to make your teeth appear straighter – without going through the full treatment involved with braces or other orthodontic work. (Note: Veneers are not ideal for all situations where the goal is to straighten teeth. Depending on the degree of re-alignment that is needed, you might not be able to achieve the best results with veneers alone. As always, please talk to your dentist.)
  • Provide uniform size, shape and symmetry. If your teeth are different sizes and shapes, with gaps in the middle – or if you have small teeth with spaces that cannot be easily closed with orthodontic work, veneers might be useful to create a more consistent-looking smile.

If a patient decides to get dental veneers, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind.

Can I afford veneers?

Veneers are not cheap. Depending on the part of the country where you live, dentists might charge $1,000 per tooth (or more). Cosmetic dental procedures like veneers are often not covered under most dental insurance plans, so before you start the procedures, talk to your dentist and make sure you understand your responsibilities and have a sense of what your total out-of-pocket costs will ultimately be.

Do I want porcelain or composite veneers?

Out of the two main types of material used to make veneers, porcelain tends to be more durable and less likely to stain. Composite veneers are usually less expensive.

How long will my veneers last?

Veneers are a long-term investment in the appearance of your teeth. If you take care of them properly, they should last for many years – they are almost as durable as real teeth. If your veneers chip or fracture, they can usually be repaired without having to go to the full expense of replacement.

There have been many exciting advances in recent years in the field of cosmetic dentistry – veneers are one of the most prominent. More than ever before, veneers and other cosmetic dentistry treatments are making it possible for people to repair, enhance, or create an entirely new smile that allows them to present their best face to the world.

December 5, 2013

What are Invisalign Braces?

Adults are one of the fastest growing groups of people undergoing cosmetic dental procedures – and one of the major types of cosmetic dental procedures is the Invisalign system.

Invisalign is a type of dental adjustment system – it works in a similar fashion to traditional braces, but, as the name suggests, Invisalign is practically invisible.

A lot of adults would like to correct some aspect of their teeth in order to have a straighter, more appealing smile – but they don’t want to go through the hassle, awkwardness and discomfort of traditional braces. (After all – once you’re out of high school, it can be a little awkward to be wearing braces.)

Invisalign is one way to solve this conundrum. You can still benefit from getting a straighter “well-adjusted” smile, but without some of the drawbacks that go with traditional metal braces.

Here are some of the benefits of Invisalign:

  • Removable aligners – not “permanent” braces. Instead of traditional metal braces which are fastened to the teeth for years at a time, Invisalign treatment is done with removable, clear “aligners” that are shaped like a mouthguard and fit directly over the teeth.
  • Flexible for a “grown-up’s” lifestyle. When you’re in middle school or high school, you pretty much have to take what your parents give you – if they want you to wear braces, you’re going to wear braces. But once you’re an adult, you need the flexibility that Invisalign offers – you can remove the aligners if you need to. You can still play sports and have an active lifestyle while wearing Invisalign aligners.
  • No more food stuck in your braces. One of the worst parts of having braces, as many mortified teenagers can testify, is the constant “stickiness” of the metal brackets – food tends to get stuck on braces. This is not the case with Invisalign – no food will ever get stuck on your Invisalign aligners, because you remove the aligners before you eat.
  • More comfortable. Invisalign treatment is intended to be more comfortable for your mouth than traditional braces – as your teeth move into place, the Invisalign process is easier on your gums and jaws. Also, since Invisalign aligners do not have brackets or wires, you are likely to have less discomfort than you would with braces. (No more getting stabbed in the mouth with metal protusions and jagged edges!)

Can any dentist prescribe Invisalign?

No – Invisalign has certain special requirements for the dentists and orthodontists who prescribe this form of treatment. Talk to your dentist if you are interested in adjusting your teeth with Invisalign – your dentist or orthodontist needs to be specially trained in how to use Invisalign treatment.

Is Invisalign only for adults?

No – although most of the people who get Invisalign treatment are adults, many teenagers are also able to use this method of teeth alignment. Talk to your dentist – Invisalign patients need to have already lost all of their baby teeth and have their second molars at least partially erupted.

What if I already have braces – can I replace them with Invisalign?

Talk to your dentist or orthodontist – a growing number of patients are receiving a combination of Invisalign treatment and traditional braces, so it is possible to do both. But talk to your dental professional first and see what method will work best for your unique situation.

Invisalign may not be right for everyone – some people need a level of orthodontic work that can only be achieved with braces. However, if you’re interested in the Invisalign method, talk to your dentist. It might be an effective, convenient, and mostly invisible answer to your teeth-straightening needs.

For more information on Invisalign, check out


October 4, 2013

Can over-the-counter bleaching damage my teeth?

Everyone wants a white, shiny smile. White teeth are a sign of good health and social status – people judge each other by appearance, and a healthy smile makes you look more approachable and trustworthy.

There are a number of over-the-counter teeth whitening options available. Crest Whitestrips® are one of the most popular and widely-recognized over-the-counter teeth whitening systems. Other examples include whitening/bleaching gels that are applied with a mouth guard (allowing the teeth to “soak” in the whitening gel).

Before you start trying to whiten your teeth, you should talk with your dentist. It’s important to get some professional advice as to whether or not your teeth coloration would be improved with whitening – not all types of teeth discoloration can be effectively treated with whitening systems. Your dentist also might recommend “in-office whitening” – professionally applied whitening done in the dentist’s office.

But if you feel that over-the-counter teeth whitening is right for you, keep the following risks in mind:

  • Chemical burns: It sounds scary, but it’s true – some teeth whitening systems use high-concentration chemicals which can cause harm to your gums and other sensitive tissues if they come in contact. Follow the directions closely and use caution with any over-the-counter teeth whitening method.
  • Tooth sensitivity: Especially in the early stages of the teeth whitening treatment, you might experience heightened sensitivity or discomfort in your teeth.
  • Too much of a good thing: Some people experience “overbleaching” – “hyperodonto-oxidation” – caused by over-the-counter teeth whitening systems. Again, read the directions closely and watch for excessively bright results. You want a white, shiny smile – not blindingly white.
  • Watch out for “the rebound:” No, this is not relationship advice…sometimes when you get your teeth whitened, the new white color doesn’t stay. “Rebound” is the technical term for what happens when newly whitened teeth go back to their old color. Read the directions closely and consult your dentist if you feel that you are not getting the lasting results that you were hoping for.

In addition to these possible side effects and risks, some people should be especially cautious about teeth whitening. For example:

  • If you have sensitive teeth, receding gums, or if you’ve had restorative dental work done in the past (cavities, bridgework), you should ask your dentist before you start using any kind of tooth whitening system.
  • If you are sensitive to hydrogen peroxide (the “active ingredient” that actually makes the teeth whiter), don’t try to whiten your teeth without talking to your dentist first!
    • Teeth whitening is not recommended for children under age 16. Children’s teeth are still maturing at this age, and the pulp chamber, or “nerve” of the tooth, is especially large until people reach about the age of 16 – which puts kids at risk of irritation of the tooth pulp.
    • Teeth whitening is also not recommended for pregnant or lactating women.

Teeth whitening – whether it’s done at your dentist’s office or with over-the-counter systems – can be a big difference-maker in how you feel about the smile you present to the world. But make sure you’re aware of the risks and possible side effects. It’s always best to consult with your dentist before starting on a new teeth whitening system.

September 4, 2013

Can wine and coffee permanently damage my teeth?

Every day, billions of people all over the world drink coffee, wine, tea and other dark-colored beverages. These drinks have been part of human history for thousands of years.

So is it possible that these beloved beverages are actually ruining our teeth?

In a word, yes.

Although many of us love to start the morning with a hot cup of coffee, and wine is a social lubricant for many a dinner party and high-class reception, these beverages can harm our teeth. In addition to the other health effects of caffeine and alcohol, these drinks have particular impact on our dental health.

So what is it about wine and coffee that make them so damaging to teeth?

The answer: acid.

Coffee and wine are both highly acidic beverages. The acid in these drinks interacts with the enamel in our teeth and causes the tooth enamel to break down over time.

Coffee and wine also can stain our teeth. If you’re a heavy drinker of coffee or wine, your teeth are likely to show unsightly signs of your beverage consumption.

So what can you do? How can you enjoy a morning cup of coffee or an evening glass of wine without worrying about damaging your teeth?

Here are a few tips:

  • Sip, don’t slosh. Try to avoid the amount of contact that the drink makes with your teeth. While you’re drinking your coffee, try not to slosh the coffee around in your mouth – don’t cause your teeth to be in contact with the liquid any longer than necessary.
  • Use a straw. If you’re a frequent visitor to Starbucks or other coffee places, get a straw to drink your mocha frappucino. Drinking through a straw causes the liquid to pass by your teeth – reducing the amount of contact that the acidic liquid makes with your tooth enamel.
  • Don’t brush too soon after drinking. So you just had a cup of coffee/glass of wine. Your teeth are coated with a thin layer of acid, eating away at your tooth enamel. You  might think that the solution is to go brush your teeth, right? WRONG. If you brush too soon after drinking coffee or wine, you might actually make the problem worse. The act of brushing your teeth will spread the acid around and disperse the acidic effects farther and deeper into your tooth enamel. Wait at least an hour after drinking coffee or wine – and drink some water – prior to brushing.
  • Beware of white wine. Most people assume that red wine is the biggest culprit in damaging and staining teeth – but recent research suggests that white wine might actually be more harmful. Avoid the effects of wine by sipping your drink less frequently – and try not to “soak” your teeth. (Some of the worst effects of wine on teeth have been observed in wine tasters – who frequently “soak” their teeth as a side effect of sampling dozens of different wines.)
  • Be cheesy. One of the best ways to counteract the effects of wine on your teeth is to eat some cheese – either along with or shortly after your wine drinking. Cheese contains calcium, which helps to prevent dental erosion – by eating cheese, you are helping to replace the calcium in your tooth enamel that is damaged by the acid in the wine. There’s a reason why wine and cheese go together so well…

You don’t have to give up drinking coffee and wine. But just be aware that there are risks to your teeth – and use some of these helpful tips to keep your teeth white and healthy.

December 14, 2010

Head into the Holidays with a Dazzling Smile

Family gatherings, social events, festive feasts, group photos! All signs that the holidays have arrived. They seem to sneak up on us every year, but it’s never too late to give your smile a boost! This holiday season, look and feel your best with cosmetic enhancements from Dalin Dental.

We know time is valuable, especially around the holidays, so check out these one-visit procedures designed to make your smile shine as bright as freshly fallen snow.

One-Hour Whitening
Over-indulging in red wine, coffee, and tea can leave telling stains on your teeth. Revamp your smile with one-hour whitening. Performed in our office, professional whitening removes deep-down stains, even those caused by the natural aging process. With a brighter, whiter smile, you’ll be ready to face relatives, friends, and in-laws head on! (more…)

555 N. New Ballas Rd., Suite 355, St. Louis, MO 63141 USA
Dr. Jeffrey Dalin Dalin Dental Associates is the dental office of Dr. Jeffrey Dalin and is located in St. Louis, MO offering cosmetic dentistry, general and restorative dentistry to families. (314) 567-3555 (314) 567-9047