FAQ

Find answers to common questions about our services

Cosmetic Dentistry

What are my whitening options at Lee Dental Centers?

  • OpalGo:  This product is budget-friendly and ideal for patients who want the convenience of a disposable whitening system with the benefits of higher levels of whitening not available over the counter. These semi-custom trays are so effective that they require only 15 minutes of wear time! Pick up a box at your next visit. OpalGo also makes a great gift!
  • Custom Home Whitening Trays:  Custom trays are great for people who have crowded or rotated teeth or teeth that tend to be stubborn and resist whitening. Custom trays allow our team to ensure the bleach can completely access your tooth surfaces and allow for longer wear times. Custom trays also allow easier access to touch-up whitening when you purchase whitening refills at your check-up visits. With custom trays, you can pace yourself on the level of whitening, if trying to match existing dental restorations, for a natural, brighter appearance.
  • In-Office Whitening:  This is our most popular method of whitening because your dental team does most of the work. Lives and schedules are busy, and many people, even if they want a whiter smile, forget to use the whitening products they purchase. At Lee Dental Centers, our in-office whitening combines a powerful whitener with a gentle procedure to deliver great results.  Because we protect your gum tissue and sensitive parts of your tooth with a protective barrier before applying the whitener, we can optimize whitening and minimize sensitivity. As a bonus, our in-office whitening includes an OpalGo take-home kit for additional touch-up as needed.

How much will my teeth whiten with professional whitening?

Everyone who whitens will get results, but for some patients it is more dramatic. Think of it like tanning. Some skin tones tan better with less sun exposure, while others may require a spray tan to achieve a golden glow. Our enamel can behave a little like that. Some people have a tone of tooth color that responds very well to whitening, and others can whiten and not reach their goal shade. Those less responsive teeth may require more cosmetic intervention in the form of bonding or veneers to achieve desired results.

How long does whitening last?

Although most patients never return to “square one” after they’ve whitened their teeth, those with habits that cause staining on the teeth may find they require more maintenance and more frequent touch-ups. Coffee, tea, wine, and tobacco products are the biggest culprits. OpalGo is a great product to use periodically if you need a little boost to your whitening effects.

Can I find OpalGo over the counter?

OpalGo and the entire line of Opalescence products used at Lee Dental Centers are only available through your dental professional. Any Opalescence product found online should be considered black market and the formulation cannot be verified for your safety.

I have an old crown that appears too dark. How can I whiten it?

With porcelain restorations, the only way to predictably alter the shade of the crown is to create a new crown for the tooth and select a lighter shade of porcelain. Over time, most patients will experience slight changes in their gum contours and positioning. A crown that looked very natural 10 years ago may not look like it belongs in your smile anymore. Improvements in dental materials allow the dentists at Lee Dental Centers to replace old crowns with a naturally beautiful looking tooth.

How do I know if I have a cracked tooth?

To diagnose a cracked tooth, your dentist will rely on your description of clinical symptoms, a thorough clinical examination, and an x-ray of the tooth. Many times, if the tooth is not yet broken, a crack can be difficult to detect on an x-ray. A cracked tooth may exhibit symptoms such as sensitivity to hot and/or cold with biting tenderness or a “zinging” pain on biting. It is more common for a crack to develop on a tooth with a history of a large filling; however, cracks can also develop anywhere a tooth takes a lot of biting force. Patients who clench or grind their teeth are more prone to developing cracks.

Do you have to drill on my teeth to apply veneers?

Although the preparation of the tooth will be as conservative as possible, most cosmetic veneer cases require preparing or removing some tooth structure so that your new smile will have a natural, esthetic contour. We want your new teeth to look like you, only better. Preparing teeth allows us to avoid bulky, over-contoured, unnatural looking veneers. Because veneer procedures are irreversible, our doctors will make sure you understand all cosmetic options for selecting the method that will deliver the best results.

Should I whiten my teeth if I want veneers?

The veneer is made of porcelain, and the shade will be selected by you and your dentist. Whitening prior to any cosmetic procedure allows you to select a lighter shade for your restorations that will blend and match any visible natural teeth. Porcelain restorations, created in lab, are color stable and will not respond to whitening products like our natural teeth do. It is important to consider the long-term shade you want for your smile prior to your veneer or cosmetic procedure.

Specialty Dentistry

At what age should my child be evaluated for orthodontic treatment?

A child should be evaluated by age 7 to determine if there are any early problems that need to be corrected. It is better to see a child before there is a problem than wish we had been able to catch things earlier. Early diagnosis allows us to evaluate jaw development, congenitally missing permanent teeth, and crossbites.

What should I expect at an orthodontic evaluation?

At your evaluation appointment, you will receive a thorough diagnosis of your orthodontic areas of concern. This may include photos of your smile, models of your current tooth position, and radiographs (if needed) to determine tooth position and angulation.

Why do I see younger kids getting braces now?

There are many reasons children are starting braces at earlier ages. By addressing orthodontic issues, such as crossbites and severely crowded teeth, earlier in a child’s development, we can take advantage of the growth already happening and guide their jaws in the “right direction.” Early intervention, also known as Phase I therapy, can cut down on the total time the child will spend in braces later in adolescence. Another reason why children are starting braces earlier is esthetics. A child with moderate-to-severe crowding or rotation of the front teeth may gain confidence in their smile that impacts them in their relationships at school. Phase I therapy is a shorter treatment time than full braces and may only take four to eight months.

I have always wanted my teeth straight but cannot imagine having a “metal mouth.” Are there any options for me?

YES! There are wonderful options for patients who want a straighter smile with less metal. Clear aligner therapy and tooth-colored ceramic brackets allow your dental team to get you the smile you’ve always wanted without compromising esthetics in the process.

When is the best time to have my wisdom teeth evaluated for extraction?

Wisdom teeth can be removed at any age, but generally between the ages of 16 and 21 when the roots are not as well developed. Individuals will differ in how their wisdom teeth are positioned and in the general development of these teeth. An evaluation by your dentist, orthodontist, or oral surgeon is helpful in deciding the ideal time to have these teeth removed.

Can I be sedated for wisdom tooth removal?

Most patients desire to be sedated for this procedure. Impacted teeth generally require a small incision in the gums to expose the tooth plus the removal of a small amount of bone in the area, which can be uncomfortable. We perform intravenous sedation in the office to ensure the patient’s comfort throughout the procedure. The procedure generally lasts about 45 minutes.

How much recovery time will I need after wisdom tooth removal?

Every patient is different, but most can return to work or school within 48 to 72 hours. Patients will generally receive a non-steroidal pain medication, as well as a small amount of narcotic pain medication for use after the procedure.

What procedures are utilized to place an implant?

A one-stage implant involves placing the implant, or root replacement, into the jawbone under the gums, with a metal collar that protrudes through the gums. This eliminates the need to re-expose the implant. After a three-to-four-month healing period, the prosthetic process of custom building the abutment and crown can begin. This generally takes about four weeks.

During a two-stage procedure, the implant is placed into the jawbone under the gums, and after a three-to-four-month healing period, it is surgically exposed by removing parts of the gums covering it. The prosthetic process of custom building the abutment and crown can then begin. This generally takes about four weeks.

An immediate implant procedure removes the natural tooth and then places the implant utilizing the same bone socket. This happens during one visit.

What is the healing process of an implant?

The jawbone requires three to four months to heal and form bone around the implant before the crown process can be initiated.

How long do implants last?

Implants last for as long as you take care of them. The average long-term success rate is in the high 90-percent range. Good hygiene practices at home plus regular dental cleaning appointments and follow-ups are needed, to ensure the implant stays in optimum health and to prevent disease or infection.

Do I need to be fully sedated to have an implant?

Implant placement is a simple surgical procedure that lasts about an hour. We use local anesthetics (the same that is used for a filling). After the procedure, you can drive yourself and perform most normal functions.

What is bone grafting or bone augmentation?

The bone around the tooth is supported by the tooth itself. When the tooth is removed, the surrounding bone tends to collapse if a “filler” or a bone augmentation material is not used to fill that void or socket. Bone augmentation is necessary to preserve the bone and gums and ensures better results for implant placement.

What is sinus augmentation?

The maxillary sinus is an air-filled space in our skull that ensures normal breathing and other important functions. The maxillary sinus is located above the upper posterior teeth and is tented in its place by the roots of these teeth. When these teeth are removed, the sinus tends to drop down, making that location impossible for dental implantation without augmentation. Sinus augmentation is typically performed at the same time the implants are placed, by simple techniques that push the sinus up to its normal location with the use of bone augmentation materials.

What should I expect after a root canal?

A recently treated tooth will generally experience mild to minimal soreness for up to seven days, which can be readily managed by over-the-counter medication such as Tylenol or Advil. However, if the tooth is in severe pain and/or heavily infected before the initiation of root canal therapy, the chance of experiencing more severe post-op sensitivity is higher. For most extreme cases (less than 4 percent of all root canal treatments), infection flare-up could happen. Rest assured these situations will most often be anticipated, and prescription pain medication, anti-inflammatory agents (steroids) and/or antibiotics will be prescribed at the end of the appointment to minimize post-op discomfort.

What exactly is a root canal?

The purpose of root canal treatment is to save a severely diseased natural tooth, which otherwise would have to be extracted. When the soft tissue inside of a tooth (dental pulp/dental nerve) gets diseased due to deep decay or dental injury, a root canal procedure is required to remove the inflamed or infected pulp tissue, eradicate the source of infection and pain, and to save and restore the hard structure of your tooth to full functionality. Typically, a root canal is a two-step procedure involving “cleaning” of the root canal systems and “filling” them. While most root canals can be completed in one visit, more complex cases or highly infected teeth may require two visits or more.

Why do most root canal-treated teeth also need crowns?

Most teeth requiring Root Canal Treatment (RCT) are already severely decayed or cracked. During a root canal procedure, the softened and diseased hard tissue is removed and eventually replaced with a man-made filling material. However, over time, the filling material and/or the already weakened tooth might fracture and render the tooth non-restorable. A full-coverage crown is needed to cover and protect the tooth and prevent cracking or fracture. Root canal-treated teeth can also darken or discolor over time. While this is normal, a beautiful porcelain crown can enhance the appearance of your tooth.

Why might my tooth need a root canal retreatment?

Root canal treatments, when performed properly, have a long-term success rate greater than 95 percent. Yet, like any medical procedure, the success rate is not 100 percent. Many factors may contribute to persistent infection even after a tooth is root canal treated, including a missed small canal that still harbors bacteria or a cracked/leaking filling that results in re-infection of the canals from outside. Most of the time, the factors contributing to the failure can be identified by an experienced dentist or endodontist during a consultation appointment. If issues are readily correctable, a retreatment is needed to eradicate the pain and infection while still saving the tooth.

What is Periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a chronic inflammatory disease that targets the gums and bone around the teeth.  It is caused by plaque that accumulates on the surface of the teeth due to decreased oral hygiene practices, among other risk factors that include smoking, age, genetics, stress, and some systemic diseases and medications.

How do I know if I have periodontal disease?

Some signs and symptoms of periodontal disease include bad breath, bleeding gums, red or swollen gums, receding gums, heavy tartar build-up on or around your teeth, increases in spacing between teeth, and possibly teeth that are loose. Periodontal disease can be diagnosed by taking measurements of the gums and the bone levels surrounding the teeth and assessing the health of the bone and gum tissues through clinical and radiographic examination.

How do you treat periodontal disease?

Treatment depends on the severity of the disease. The first line of treatment is deep cleaning of the gums to remove tartar and to smooth the roots of the teeth. After cleaning, many patients will not require any further treatment, but most will require maintenance therapy to maintain gingival health or further active therapy that might include surgical therapy.

What is esthetic crown lengthening?

If you’ve ever thought you have a “gummy smile” or that your teeth look too short, you should be evaluated for possible esthetic crown lengthening. With this procedure, the periodontist enhances your natural smile by exposing more of your own tooth that could be “hidden” under the gums. Think of it as a gum lift that highlights what’s already there. It can be great for an entire smile or to help balance out a couple of teeth where the gums are uneven. Your dentist might discuss this procedure if it could help you achieve a more optimal cosmetic result for your smile.

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