By Julia Szabo
Some things to smile about
Why didn’t Mona Lisa smile? Maybe her teeth weren’t picture perfect. Now, however, advances in cosmetic dentistry threaten to make the coy Gioconda grin a thing of the past. Until quite recently, the holy grail of dental whitening was laser bleaching. While lasers still abound, dentist are looking into options that are safer (certain lasers can cause gum sensitivity and be hazardous to the eyes) and less costly.
“We love lasers,” says New York dentist Larry Rosenthal, whose client roster includes Beri Smither (above), Bridget Hall, Angie Everhart, Kathie Lee Gifford, Michael Bolton, and Donald Trump. “We use lasers for reshaping tissue, for bonding ~~we can even cut teeth with. But there is another bleaching alternative with as good, if not better, results.”
That alternative is a superwhite light – twenty watts, as opposed to a laser’s one or two – called a Sub Second light, which, Rosenthal says, “works quicker to penetrate the enamel and absorb stains and discolorations.”
This superwhite light process could become the new ivory standard. Because the light generates no heat and is used in conjunction with a desenatizing coating, pain is kept to a minimum – and usually subsides completely in about two days. Dentists are finding that even those stains that were previously solution-resistant – caused by tetracycline, for instance, or by fluorosis (resulting from excessive intake of fluoride) – can get a quick, minimally invasive same day fix.
It all sounds too good to be true. Not so long ago, a person wanting brighter teeth might have been advised to, say, avoid wearing orange-toned lipsticks in favor of bluish ones, or to abstain from cigarettes and liquids with “stain potential” (grape juice, red wine, tea, coffee, cola, soy sauce). More recently, that person would have been outfitted with tedious, style-cramping overnight bleaching trays (which deliver bleaching agents in weak concentrations directly to the teeth) or with very expensive porcelain veneers.
At home maintenance of dentist-bleached teeth – with doctor prescribed overnight bleaching kits, such as the popular Nite White – was recently made simpler, too, thanks to Day White. Developed by the California dentist William Dorfman (he won’t name names but says his clients include “the casts of Titanic and Friends”). Day White is a bleaching gel designed to whiten while you’re watching, say, Friends, or getting dressed for work.
Available only through dentists, Day White derives its potency from straight hydrogen peroxide. (And don’t think you can achieve results by dipping into the brown peroxide bottle in your medicine chest – that’s paltry 3 percent H2O2, whereas your dentist’s formula is full strength.) Day White’s dual-barreled syringe is not unlike at-home hair-color kits: One nozzle delivers the peroxide, while the other delivers soothing and conditioning agents.
For superficial stairs that call for an even simpler, less expensive solution, over-the-counter options are also getting more sophisticated. (Dentists warn that drugstore whiteners won’t yield the same results as doctors-supervised or prescribed methods; certain baking soda pastes can actually wear down enamel, resulting in even duller teeth.)
Rembrandt recently introduced Age Defying Adult Formula, in toothpaste and mouthwash forms. Its active ingredients, fluoride and dicalcium orthophosphate, help strengthen teeth by remineralizing them, while the patented Citroxain acts as a nonabrasive stain cleaner.
The advancements don’t end there. In the near future, Rosenthal plans to unveil three new low-maintenance at home weapons in the battle against less than pearly whites: an FDA-approved Buck Rogers-esque light emitting “bleaching teeth and kill the bacteria that compound periodontal problems; a whitening rinse tentatively called AM-PM; and a whitening “ribbon.” “People who never flossed before will finally floss, for aesthetic reasons,” he says. “The ribbon will reduce the stains that accumulate between the teeth and deliver health benefits, too.”
Category: Dr. Rosenthal's Articles