DanvilleSanRamon.com

- June 1, 2007

Whiter teeth lead to a brighter smile

Bleaching process is new craze in dental care

by Jeb Bing

For a smile that everyone notices, check out the latest in teeth whitening services offered by local dentists and over-the-counter products.

Teeth whitening is the new craze in dental care, offering dentists a patient-pleasing service with no pain or discomfort while also adding to the practice's profitability.

Most toothpastes today feature a whitening effect. In addition, do-it-yourself self brightening gels and liquid strips are hot sellers. But to be sure you do it right, it's probably best to start with a dentist who specializes in teeth whitening technology. That usually involves an hour-long in-office procedure that includes a thorough tooth color diagnosis and then whitening applications to remove stains and so that the end result is a universal whiteness.

Tri-Valley dentist Jerry Sanchez, who has been practicing cosmetic dentistry for 20 years, specializes in what he calls "smile makeovers." His is a minimally-invasive technique that starts with an initial consultation to assess the face shape, tooth color and tooth size. Pictures are taken so that the patients can preview their new smile through computer imaging. Since older teeth tend to be shorter from wear and some teeth more than others have stains from coffee, red wine or smoking, the process involves custom designing the whiteness so that it's as uniform as possible.

"The challenge with tooth whitening is the unpredictability of it," Sanchez said. "The procedure gets better all the time, but it's still challenging to determine how a particular patient will respond to the bleaching materials."

That's why Sanchez recommends that anyone considering whitening their teeth see their dentists first. Once the in-office procedures are completed, the patient goes home with a bleaching tray and products approved by the dentist that should be applied about an hour a day for several months.

Once the teeth are whitened to the patient's satisfaction, over-the-counter products can be used, with maintenance visits and checkups back at the dentist's office every three to six months.

Sanchez estimates that 60-65 percent of those who undergo teeth whitening procedures are women, although more men are also seeking the service after seeing how much improved a smile looks when they see a friend whose teeth have been whitened. Although whitening can help the smiles of any age group, it's become most popular among students just starting high school once their braces have been removed.

"And once a patient sees how attractive they look with professional whitened teeth, there's no going back," Sanchez said. "Along with watching their diet to avoid food and drinks that can stain teeth, those who have acquired great smiles through teeth whitening want to maintain those good looks."

For more information on teeth whitening, cosmetic dentistry and Jerry Sanchez, visit his Web site at www.smilesbysanchez.com.

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