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All Posts in Category: Dental Care

Teeth Whitening Trends and Professional Treatment

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No one in Greater Los Angeles can ignore the fact that there are a lot of gleaming Hollywood-quality smiles around. You see them in the mall, at restaurants, and on the street. You might even feel a little shy about flashing a full smile if yours is not quite up to this local glamorous standard.

But most of those who are so proud of their grins were not born with that level of whiteness. You probably know why your teeth have been gradually getting darker, aside from the natural effects of aging: too much coffee, tea, and red wine or smoking (anything). But you may be surprised that colored sodas can do the same, as well as blueberries, beets, and tomatoes. 

You probably are aware of the rising trend of using over-the-counter whitening kits, but if you’ve tried them, you’ve probably been disappointed. Whether they use strips, gels, pens, or trays, they not only aren’t very good at making your teeth noticeably whiter, despite the hassle of using them, they can even irritate your gums and make your teeth sensitive.

Then there is the sudden popularity of toothpastes claiming that the activated charcoal or baking soda they have will make teeth whiter. True, but these also can also damage the outer enamel that protects your teeth from decay.

On the other hand, the recent claim that swishing coconut oil in your mouth can whiten teeth has no evidence to support it.

Thanks to advances in cosmetic dentistry, however, anyone can achieve a smile that will make them want to smile about it, especially when it can come at an affordable cost from one of Southern California’s most respected cosmetic dentists. Dr. Shervin Louie offers a professional method of whitening that is far more effective, faster, and safer than the alternatives.

A special whitening bleach is carefully placed on the teeth, while the gums are protected, and then a special light activates the agent. After an hour, patients find that, depending on depth of the discoloration, up to eight shades will have been removed.

Friends, colleagues, customers, and even strangers will start smiling back as your friendliness is made obvious by your vibrant new look.

Many patients like to touch-up their new smile by returning to Dr. Louie’s office once or twice a year after the initial treatment. We also offer a professional-grade whitening kit to take home, for those who like to do this themselves.

Don’t bother with ineffective, difficult, and risky trends when relaxing in our office for an hour can make all the difference in your personal and business life with professional whitening.

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How to Maintain Care of Your Teeth Following Invisalign Treatment

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After having to wear Invisalign trays for many months to straighten your teeth, you are no doubt looking forward to not having to take them out when you eat and cleaning them. But to maintain your newly perfect smile, you need to start wearing special retainers to keep the teeth from going back to their original positions for a time Dr. Louie will recommend for your case.

It has been proven that once your basic orthodontic goals are achieved, the bones will still need time to harden around the teeth (especially for teens, whose jaws are still developing). Fortunately, the retainers are similar to the trays in being clear and fitting over the teeth, but with even less pressure, since they are just maintaining the teeth in place. Dr. Louie will do a final scan to be sure those he creates for the upper and lower arches will fit perfectly. Some patients have made the mistaken assumption that they can just keep using the last Invisalign trays to save time or money, but the fit won’t be right and they will become discolored.

There are some important tips to having a successful Invisalign aftercare experience:

Remove the retainers before eating to avoid having food particles get stuck in them. When finished, brush your teeth, rinse the retainers, and put them back in your mouth.

Beverages and Retainers

Avoid drinking hot beverages when wearing retainers, since they may slightly melt the plastic and no longer fit properly, requiring new ones to be made.

At night, scrub them with soapy water (not toothpaste, which is abrasive), or soak them for 20 minutes in water in which a tablet for cleaning retainers has been dissolved.

Wear the retainers at night, since this will protect them from any unconscious grinding of the teeth, due to tension, which can be damaging.

Candy and Sticky Foods

Avoid eating sticky candy or chewing gum, which can get stuck on the retainers.

If you smoke, try to stop, otherwise reduce it to the minimum possible and ask for retainers that are not clear (since they will turn yellow from the smoke).

You should continue to brush and floss as you have been doing. If the teeth or gums feel sensitive (which is often the case after any orthodontic treatment), use a salt water rinse and toothpaste for teeth sensitivity during the transition.

And be sure to visit Dr. Louie every six months or on the schedule he recommends to have a digital x-ray and a professional cleaning, to be sure not only your Invisalign goals continue to be met, but that you maintain good overall oral health.

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A Missing Tooth Should Be Treated Sooner than You Think

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It’s all too easy to lose a tooth. A car or sports accident can knock one out. No one is born with a perfect set of teeth, so brushing and flossing them is challenging. Periodontal or gum infection does not initially cause pain, so you might not realize how serious it is until the gums bleed.

If you’re fortunate enough to have just one or two teeth missing (or in need of extraction), you should not put off considering a replacement. The mouth responds to a gap in the teeth alignment by having those on either side lean towards the space, resulting in the loosening of their own roots and making them in danger of falling out, as well. A domino effect results, as other teeth become misaligned and loose. If the initial loss of teeth is not quickly addressed, you might find yourself among the quarter of Americans 74 or older who no longer have any left.

A Missing Tooth Should Be Treated Sooner than You Think

Fortunately, a potentially permanent solution, with proper care, is a dental implant for each lost tooth. Los Angeles dentist, Dr. Shervin Louie is one of the most highly-regarded implant specialists in Southern California. The first step is a thorough exam that includes a low-radiation digital x-ray to check the underlying jawbone to be sure it is strong enough to hold the implants in place (if it is inadequate, bone grafts can build it up).

Other risks need to be considered, such as whether there is sufficient gum around the empty socket and whether the patient has diabetes or osteoporosis, heart disease, or autoimmune disorders. If some teeth have been ground down during sleep (due to an unconscious tension called bruxism), you will be provided with a custom night guard to wear to prevent this and protect the implants. 

If conditions are positive for dental implants, the first step is to insert the implant, a titanium screw, into each empty socket. An impression is taken to send to a top dental lab, which will work with our practice to create the tooth-like dental crowns in the precise shade to match the neighboring teeth. After the bone integrates around the implants for a few months, they will be attached to the crowns, which will be adjusted for a comfortable fit.

In addition to restoring the ability to chew and speak properly, dental implants will help support full lips (which otherwise will appear too thin) and the cheeks (so they don’t look hollow).

If you have lost even one tooth, you should have a full consultation with Dr. Louie as soon as possible about the best options for keeping your appearance and oral health in their optimum condition.

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Is there Pain When Getting Dental Implants Placed?

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You may realize that you can’t go long without replacing lost teeth before the others naturally lean towards that gap and your entire arch gets misaligned, causing other teeth to become loose. You probably know that dental implants are the best solution, lasting much longer than dental bridges and dentures, enabling you to chew and speak as if you had all your natural teeth.

If you hesitate because you are concerned about the pain of having an implant inserted into the tooth socket, you needn’t be. Even if you need a bone graft to build up the area of the jawbone where an implant will be placed, you have a variety of options to be sure you only feel some normal discomfort.

An implant starts with a biocompatible metal screw being inserted into the empty tooth socket and then is allowed to heal for a few months (when a customized dental crown that looks like the original tooth will be attached).

Before an initial implant procedure is done, a topical numbing solution is first swabbed on the area before an injection of anesthesia is administered (which only feels like a pin prick). If you want to minimize anxiety, mild oral sedation (benzodiazepine) is available in pill form. A stronger version will cause you to feel drowsy or even sleep through surgery. Many prefer to have an intravenous (IV) drip, which will put you in a deep state of relaxation, yet you will remain conscious (though you may not recall much in the way of detail and be surprised when it is done).

Many patients find that ibuprofen or acetaminophen are adequate for pain control 4-6 hours afterwards, when the sedation wears off, but you will always be given a prescription for medication in case it is needed. 

It is important to maintain good oral hygiene afterwards to avoid infection. For the first few days, avoid chewing and eat only soft or pureed foods. You should brush softly around the implant, normally everywhere else, and use salt water rinses to keep the area clean for 24 hours.

The success of having a dental implant depends in large part on the experience of the dentist and Dr. Louie is one of the most highly-regarded specialists in the Los Angeles area. The complexity of your individual case and your overall oral health are other factors.

Remember that not having a tooth replaced as soon as possible can lead to much more pain, as periodontal disease spreads, due to the misalignment, and other teeth are lost. Properly done and with good long-term oral care, dental implants can be a permanent and painless solution.

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Why You Should Choose Invisalign as Your Teeth Straightening Solution

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You may have been embarrassed by a crooked smile all your life, but never had orthodontic braces when you were younger. Maybe they were too expensive, you didn’t like the idea of being a “metal mouth” and have severe dietary restrictions for two or three years, or you heard how so uncomfortable and even painful they were.

But it’s never too late to have a more beautiful smile, thanks to the Invisalign revolution in orthodontic technology, which is suitable for both adults and children. Los Angeles dentist, Dr. Louie is an experienced expert and preferred provider in customizing the Invisalign clear trays (called aligners) to gently move your teeth to their ideal positions in just six months to two years.

First, he would do an examination to determine if your oral health is in the right condition to go ahead with Invisalign and the complexity of your case. If appropriate to move ahead, an image of your mouth will be scanned to provide the first set of transparent personalized aligners for both your lower and upper arches. You could be advised about a schedule to receive the next set and return to the office periodically to check the fitting.

For Invisalign to produce the desired effects as fast as possible, it is critical that you wear the aligners all the time, except when you eat, even when you sleep. Unlike traditional braces, which cannot be removed, of course, the trays can easily be lifted out and put back in before you have a meal or a snack. With metal braces, patients are advised not to eat popcorn, nuts, hard candy, peanut butter, caramel, or bite into ice or chew gum.

It is important to care for the aligners properly. Wash them with cool water before putting them back in (after dinner, wash with dish soap first, then brush and floss normally before reinserting the trays). You can keep them on if you drink plain water, but take them out before you drink coffee, tea, red wine, or sodas (even clear ones), then wash them in water and, ideally, brush your teeth before putting them back on (this helps to avoid staining them). You don’t even need to remove them before playing contact sports (with braces, one has to wear a special mouthguard). 

Unless you tell people, they won’t even know you are wearing Invisalign trays. This can provide self-confidence as a more beautiful smile is secretly being created. This is especially appealing to teens, who don’t want to be teased about wearing braces as they are building their self-confidence. It’s no wonder then that there are over six million happy patients whose lives have been changed by Invisalign.

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Dental implants Help Prevent Long-Term Effects of Tooth Loss

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The lack of understanding most American adults have about the importance of dentistry is illustrated by the fact that many first think of their experiences with cavities as children.  Yes, dental caries, as they are technically called, remain common: according to the National Center for Health Statistics, among those aged 20-64, 91% had tooth decay. But that is easily treated and should not be the primary concern for adults: losing teeth and not replacing them should be paramount.

Why? More than two-thirds of Americans 35-44 already have at least one missing tooth. Sometimes this is due to trauma, but mostly it is due to poor oral care habits. Few of us are taught how to do this properly, brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing before you go to bed (have our hygienist show you the proper way to be most effective).

Teeth can Loosen Over Time

This problem gets worse over time: bones consist of living tissue and new cell growth is stimulated by chewing. A lost tooth loses this effect and, worse, if you don’t replace a missing tooth, the nearby ones lean in to fill the gap, causing them to loosen. By the time people are 74 or older, 26% have lost all their teeth. 

If you have already lost many, you probably have been wearing dentures and we don’t need to tell you that they are hard to maintain, not always comfortable, and often make it difficult to chew effectively or speak clearly. But you may not be aware that the reason dentures need to be refitted every few years is that they do not prevent the continued erosion of the underlying jawbone, which starts when a tooth is lost.

Dental Implants are a Long-Term Solution

The permanent solution (with proper care) is that no matter how many teeth are missing, they should be replaced with dental implants. These consist of a screw made of biocompatible material, which is implanted into the jaw, stopping that erosion. After this heals for several months, it is attached at the top to a dental crown, which looks exactly like one of your natural teeth, including the same shade of white, so no one will know you have one or more artificial teeth. Implants also provide better support for the facial muscles than dentures, as well as a better ability to eat and speak.

But you need an experienced expert to achieve the overall 95% success rate that dental implants can have. Dr. Sherwin Louie is one of the most highly-regarded specialists in Southern California. Make an appointment with him today for an assessment of your unique dental health situation and whether implants might be right for you.

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How to Prepare Your Smile for a Healthy New Year

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TMJ Treatments

After an especially challenging year for maintaining our health, we are all eager to fulfill our resolutions to commit to improving our health in every way in this new year. As one of our valued patients, you know that dentistry plays a very important role in this goal and these are a few important points you may wish to share with family and friends.

The Importance of a Regular Dental Checkup

Few of us grew up knowing that oral bacteria can travel throughout the body, significantly raising the risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer. Seeing a dentist twice a year for a checkup is vital to catch any infection in the teeth and gums. This may include a low-radiation digital x-ray to examine the health of the underlying jawbone. A third of Americans do not even see a dentist once a year, which allows the bacteria to grow out of control, causing unnecessary pain and expense to stop. Many fear that treatment will cause pain, unaware that a variety of anesthetics can make any of our procedures pain-free.

A checkup with the dentist is also an opportunity to find out if you might have the symptoms of other serious oral-facial problems we can treat, such as sleep apnea (often indicated by frequent snoring and being tired during the day) and TMJ Disorder (common signs are a clicking sound when you open and close your mouth and soreness in your jaw). 

The Importance of a Professional Cleaning

Brushing after breakfast and dinner for a full two minutes can be boring and hard to do exactly right. Flossing can also be challenging. Next time you come in, have our dental hygienist show you how to brush and floss to be sure you get all the bacteria and hardened tartar completely off. She also has the tools, training, and solutions that can do a much better job of rooting out bacteria than any patient can. To avoid emergency cases, you might need this done once or up to four times a year and will be amazed at how quickly your oral health improves.

The Importance of a Beautiful Smile

As obvious as the benefits of physical health are, a wonderful smile is just as important. People often make quick judgments just on appearance when they first meet someone, whether introduced by a friend in a store, at a business conference, a social event, or on a first date arranged by someone else or online. You want to radiate self-confidence with a welcoming smile and we can help you enhance nature through our variety of cosmetic dental treatments, including Invisalign for straightening teeth, veneers to cover imperfections, and porcelain implants for teeth that need to be replaced. Check out our gallery of before-and-after photos of patients who left our office with a special smile because of the new smile we created together.

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How Does Botox Help TMJ Treatments?

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TMJ Treatments

BOTOX is well-known as the purified toxin solution that is injected into the face to stop it from creating wrinkles. You might be surprised to know that dentists are better trained than most other medical professionals to provide such injections. It also helps that we have had extensive experience with everything to do with the face and mouth, including administering anesthesia.

But BOTOX is more than a way to have a youthful-looking face. Among its 20 medical uses is its ability to relieve the pain of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. These joints are the hinges connecting the lower jaw to the skull, which you can feel by putting your finger in front of your lower ears and opening and closing your mouth.

A variety of things can cause the joint to dysfunction, typically indicated by clicking sounds when opening or closing the mouth or difficulty in doing this at all. About 40% of cases last more than five years. Other symptoms can be tooth sensitivity, soreness or swelling on the side of the face, pain or discomfort around the neck or shoulders, dizziness, tingling or numbness in the ends of fingers, migraine headaches, and ringing, congestion, or pain in the ears.

An estimated 20-30% of American adults are affected at one time or another, usually ages 20 to 40, and predominantly female. TMJ disorder in many cases is due to vitamin and mineral deficiencies because of menstruation, which affects the bones of joints. It can also occur in women because of their use of oral contraceptives or because they are undergoing hormone replacement therapy. A range of other causes includes missing teeth that throw off the jaw alignment, excessive gum chewing, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and a blow to the head.

BOTOX can be injected into the muscles surrounding these joints to decrease spasms and restore TMJ function. It can block pain signals from muscles and nerves to the brain and relieve muscle tension in the jaw, which leads to a reduction in the amount of teeth grinding at night.

There can be some unexpected positive side-effect for patients who have received BOTOX treatments for TMJ. They sometimes report that they sleep better, feel less anxious, have fewer and less intense headaches, even for migraines, and have less tooth sensitivity.

There are also other ways we can alleviate TMJ disorder, including creating an oral appliance to gradually reset the jaw and teaching you neuromuscular exercises to relax it. 

If you think you may be suffering from TMJ disorder, call us today to set an appointment for a consultation.

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Choosing Porcelain Veneers or Lumineers

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Cosmetic veneers are the most affordable and easiest way to get a complete smile makeover and Dr. Shervin M. Louie is recognized by patients and peers as one of the masters of the process. People from all over the world have heard about his work over the past two decades and come here to get that Hollywood Smile.

A veneer is made of thin material that can be designed to look like a natural tooth and attached to the front of the tooth to cover up discoloration, a chip or crack, or even a gap between teeth. The least expensive material, composite resin, is adequate for emergencies or a tight budget, but is much more easily discolored or chipped than cosmetic porcelain and only lasts 4-8 years.

Porcelain veneers are usually durable for 10-15 years with proper care and are resistant to stains. To avoid having them stick out too much and look artificial, it is necessary to shave off some of the enamel from the front of the teeth on which they will be placed. Impressions are made of the area and sent to a top dental laboratory to craft your veneers. On a second visit, they will be bonded to your teeth for your new, confident smile.

Lumineers are a new type of patented Cerinate porcelain as thin as contact lenses which do not require shaving the enamel. They can be even be placed over existing restorations and last for up to 20 years. The way Dr. Louie designs the Lumineers, they are considered works of art. 

It is important to have your natural teeth professionally whitened in advance of having veneers placed, so that the shade you have chosen will match the best your natural teeth look. You may need to do this especially for teeth which have dead roots that appear dark or which have had root canals done and may seem yellow. You can’t whiten veneers, but you can keep your teeth the same color by cleaning frequently, especially after drinking coffee, tea, or red wine or smoking. Be aware the using some medications, like tetracycline, and strong mouthwashes can stain teeth. Dr. Louie will also discuss whether you should consider having misaligned teeth first corrected with transparent Invisalign aligners.

Set an appointment with Dr. Louie today so you can get the smile you have always dreamed about for all the benefits to your personal and professional life.

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Even the Most Minor Cosmetic Procedure Can Make a Difference

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Few of us learned how important good dental care was when we were growing up. We thought going to the dentist was just about getting a filling for a cavity. Dentistry is actually the most underappreciated medical specialty for many people, who are not aware that good oral health can prevent a greater risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

But cosmetic dentistry also has many benefits, even the most minor procedures, because a great smile is the easiest way to start a new friendship or begin building a relationship with a prospective customer.

Sometimes just using white bonding resin can repair chipped teeth, cover stains, close gaps between teeth, or protect enamel or roots.

Tooth-colored composite fillings can inexpensively and easily replace unsightly old silver or gray ones that many feel may be harmful.

Inlays and onlays made of porcelain, gold, or resin to cover a area of the bite that has been damaged and a filling is not enough.

Or a professional whitening by our dental team can give you that Hollywood smile by removing up to eight layers of discoloring in an hour (more, if you want).

Veneers, thin pieces of porcelain that are placed on the front of teeth, are a step up in cosmetic dentistry, but are an easy fix for many problems, including cracks and chips, teeth that are too small or too large compared to others, misshapen teeth, and gaps.

Perhaps the biggest reason for veneers is for discoloration that is hard to remove with whiteners. This is usually due to either smoking and chewing tobacco or excessive consumption of coffee, tea, and red wine, but even apples and potatoes can stain. Many medications and even mouthwashes or excessive fluoride in water can discolor. A dead root can darken a tooth and with age the outside enamel surface can wear down and show the yellow dentin underneath. Properly made and customized to your needs, veneers can mask anything.

Even a single dental crown is an affordable and simple way to cover a damaged tooth that stands out.

If you are missing a tooth, you may know that unless something takes its place, the nearby teeth will lean in to fill the gap, which can cause misalignment and eventually the loss of other teeth. The easiest way to prevent this is to place a dental bridge on the adjacent teeth, with a natural-looking artificial tooth in between. 

Come in to have Dr. Louie assess your cosmetic dental needs and recommend a path to a new life with a brighter smile.

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