There are many products and techniques available for patients who want to achieve a brighter smile, and with so many options available, it can be difficult to choose the method that is right for you. The best way to begin any teeth-whitening regimen is to schedule an appointment and talk to your doctor about the differences between in-office professional whitening and at-home whitening.


The first professional option is commonly referred to as in-office whitening. This procedure is performed in a dental office. During an appointment, your dental professional will apply a whitening gel to the surface of your teeth. The entire office visit generally takes about 90 minutes and you will be able to see results immediately.



Tray bleaching is a type of professional whitening that uses custom-made trays and whitening gel only available through your dentist. The whitening gel is placed in custom-fitted trays that fit perfectly over your teeth. As the peroxide in the gel breaks down, hydroxyradicals help whiten stained teeth. Unlike strips, this process whitens all your natural teeth and may contain ingredients intended to provide maximum comfort. At-home professional tray whitening generally takes ten to 14 days, although you may notice results in as little as three to five days.


There are many over-the-counter teeth whitening options, and one type of readily accessible whitening products is commonly referred to as a “paint-on” teeth whitener. Paint-on whiteners can be purchased over-the-counter and generally are less expensive and less effective than whitening strips or professional options. Paint-on teeth whiteners consist of a gel that is applied to the tooth using a small brush. Paint-on whitening gel hardens into a film that coats the teeth, and dissolves in the mouth. As with any teeth-whitening regimen, it is wise to consult with a dental professional before use.


Teeth-whitening strips are thin, flexible plastic (polyethylene) strips with a thin film of hydrogen peroxide on one side. Whitening strip kits come with two types of strips: strips for the upper teeth and strips for the lower teeth. The whitening agent is applied by placing the strips across your teeth and gently pressing the strips to ensure contact with all your teeth. Teeth-whitening strips are typically worn for 30 minutes a day, twice a day. The duration of treatment will vary.


The least expensive options are whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes. Designed to have “whitening” capabilities, toothpastes and mouthwashes work to remove surface stains using mild abrasives. However, unlike the materials used in professional whitening procedures, these products do not lighten the actual color shade of the tooth. Whitening toothpastes affect surface stains and will mildly lighten your teeth.

Read more

Advantages of Getting Invisalign vs Braces

Are you among the many individuals who would like to improve your smile, but you don’t want to endure the things that are associated with traditional braces? If so, you should look at the advantages of getting Invisalign® over braces. When it comes down to Invisalign® vs braces Invisalign® provides a number of advantages that may allow you to get your teeth straightened without the issues associated with the presence of braces.

One of the things people often dislike about traditional braces is the appearance of the braces themselves. They have the idea that a mouthful of metal is the first thing others see when they smile or speak. If you have been hesitant to get your teeth straightened for this reason, you should see an orthodontist about the use of the Invisalign® system.

Invisalign® utilizes clear aligners that fit over the teeth. As far as the appearance is concerned, they do not stand out the way metal braces do. In fact, most other people will not even notice them. You can talk or smile with confidence. Therefore, if the way braces make you look is holding you back, you will definitely see an advantage in getting Invisalign® vs braces.

Another advantage associated with the use of Invisalign® is the ability to remove the aligners when necessary. They can be taken out for cleaning and for brushing and flossing of the teeth. While this may seem like a simple thing, it can make your daily oral hygiene activities much easier than trying to work around braces to brush your teeth.

Individuals with metal braces often find that it is difficult to eat certain foods. Those items that tend to be sticky can get stuck to the braces. Likewise, foods like corn on the cob can be harder to eat with braces as well. These issues go away with Invisalign®. First, the aligners are much smoother, and food will not stick to them like it will traditional braces. Secondly, they can be removed, if necessary, while eating these types of foods.

If you opt for Invisalign® over braces, you will not need to visit the orthodontist as frequently as you will if you choose traditional braces. With braces, the orthodontist must adjust the tension at regular intervals in order to keep the teeth moving in the right direction. With Invisalign®, you will simply receive another aligner on a regular basis to replace the previous one. These aligners are customized for you to keep the progress going.

The best way to learn more about Invisalign® vs braces is to schedule an appointment with an orthodontist. You may find that you can improve your smile in a way that is easier to live with than you first thought. Invisalign® has become increasingly popular in recent years for this reason.

Read more


What to do if You Have a Tooth or Gum Abscess

Tooth or gum abscesses can form very quickly. There are two types of mouth abscesses, ones that occur in the space between the tooth and the gum (gum abscess) and the ones that occur in the tooth itself (tooth abscess). A gum abscess is usually caused by an infection that forms. Tooth related abscesses occur inside the tooth when the nerve is either dead or dying.

Since most abscesses, regardless of being gum or tooth, are painful, the majority of people will seek medical help immediately. Abscesses will not go away by themselves so it is crucial that you get help from a medical professional as soon as possible. It can be tricky to decipher whether what you’re experiencing is actually an abscess though, so let’s outline the common symptoms of a gum or tooth abscess.

Symptoms of a Tooth or Gum Abscess

The main symptom for both tooth and gum abscesses is a throbbing or stabbing pain in the mouth that won’t subside. If you have a toothache, it may be the result of an abscess. Usually, the area of the mouth that has the abscess will be sensitive to chewing and it will be difficult and painful to brush your teeth. Another symptom is swelling of the lymph nodes in your neck, making it difficult and painful to swallow, this is sometimes accompanied by a fever as well. Pressure in the sinuses can be another symptom of a gum or tooth related abscess.

If you are experiencing symptoms like the ones described, seek professional medical help immediately. In rare cases, the infection caused by an abscess can lead to more serious health problems if left untreated.

Steps to be Taken if You Have an Abscess

Once you’ve called your dentist for an emergency appointment, there are a few steps you can take to ease the pain while waiting.

Step 1: Use your tongue to gently feel around your mouth and see if there is a swollen, pea sized bump on your gum (this would be a gum abscess). If you don’t feel any swelling but the area is still painful and sensitive it might be a tooth abscess so you should continue to follow these steps as well.

Step 2: Create a mild salt water solution by mixing 1/2 teaspoon of salt into an 8 ounce glass of warm water. Once the solution is mixed, use it to gargle in your mouth for approximately 60 seconds.

Step 3: Repeat this salt water rinse method several times a day to help subside the pain. Hopefully you will find relief using this method, but even if you do it is important to get the abscess medically treated so do not cancel your emergency appointment.

Dental Treatments for Tooth and Gum Abscesses

The majority of mouth abscesses will heal after they are thoroughly cleaned out, the pus is drained and the infection is properly, medically treated. There are three main procedures that may be used to treat the abscess, depending on what kind it is.

If a fistula is present (a hole into the roof of the mouth), your dentist will most likely insert a skinny, flexible material into the fistula to trace back to the original infection source. The material will then appear on an x-ray that the dentist takes and it will show him or her where the fistula leads, which would be the source of the abscess. The infection, once located, will then be cleaned out and the fistula should close up and heal on its own.

If the tooth has sustained a large amount of damage from the abscess, a tooth extraction may be necessary. In this case, your dentist will drill a small hole into your gum so the fluid of the abscess can drain out properly. The tooth will then be removed and a tooth replacement such as the clear choice of an implant will be placed.

If the abscess is specifically a tooth abscess, with the infection source inside the tooth itself, your dentist will drill a small hole into the affected tooth to provide a drainage route for the fluid. The tooth will then undergo a root canal treatment which would then be followed by a filling or crown (cap).  The weakened, dead tooth is capped to protect it from fracturing.

After the procedure, it is common for your dentist to prescribe antibiotics or advise you to take painkillers to further ease the pain and help with the healing process.

If you suspect that you might have a tooth or gum abscess and are located in the Austin area, call our office immediately at 512.341.2321. This is a situation where emergency dentistry is often warranted.

Read more