What are Veneers? Ask an Apex General Dentist

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If your teeth are cracked, gapped, chipped, or stained, veneers are an excellent non-invasive dental procedure to consider. Veneers are simply a thin shield of synthetic material, either composite resin or porcelain, that are bonded to the front of the teeth, recreate the natural look of enamel. Below is some more information about veneers from our Apex general dentist office!

What Can Veneers Correct?

Veneers are able to correct discoloration, fractures, gaps, chips, and stains in teeth. They are also able to close small gaps and correct small misalignments. Veneers can accurately change the color, size, and strength of a tooth without requiring dental surgery.

Who Does Not Qualify for Veneers?

Unfortunately, dental veneers are not appropriate for all candidates. Situations which may exclude the possibility of veneers include:

  • Unhealthy teeth which have been eroded by gum disease and decay
  • Weakened teeth which lack the necessary amount of base enamel
  • Teeth that are severely misaligned

Only a qualified dentist can determine if veneers are an appropriate choice for your teeth, so be sure to consult a professional before purchasing cheap online alternatives!  

How are Veneers Made? 

If your veneers will be made of composite resin, your dentist will usually be able to sculpt and bond them on-site during your second appointment. However, the majority of veneers are made of porcelain, because it is more durable, long-lasting, and impervious to stains. For porcelain veneers, your dentist will take a mold of your teeth and send it to a laboratory for fabrication. If your teeth are extremely stained or damaged, your dentist will be able to place a temporary veneer for you to wear during the waiting period.

How are Veneers Applied?

Once your veneers are ready for application, your dentist will lightly buff your teeth so that they can adhere to them more easily. Usually, about one millimeter of the tooth surface will be removed. Then, your dentist will carefully place each veneer over your teeth to verify that the fit and color match those of the original teeth. When your dentist is satisfied with the veneer’s fit and appearance, he or she will apply a cement bond beneath them, and cure the cement with a light beam for about 60 seconds.

Schedule an Appointment with Hansen Dentistry in Apex NC

Veneers are one the most effective, least invasive ways to correct dental blemishes and enhance your smile. If you’re ready to begin the process of applying your veneers, contact Hansen Dentistry in Apex today!

Am I a Candidate for Invisalign? Ask an Apex Dentist Office

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You may have already heard of Invisalign, a modern alternative to traditional orthodontic braces which uses a series of clear plastic aligners to move the teeth. Since Invisalign has many significant benefits over traditional braces, many of our patients are interested in the treatment. However, not every smile is a good fit for Invisalign, and certain circumstances might require the traditional method.

Only your dentist can determine whether Invisalign is right for you, but here are some signs we look for when assessing whether a patient is a good candidate.

Dental Issues Helped by Invisalign

Generally, Invisalign is best-suited for patients with mind dental and orthodontic issues, such as:

  • Mildly crooked teeth
  • Protruding teeth
  • Mild overbites
  • Mild underbites
  • Wide gaps in the teeth
  • Overcrowding of teeth
  • Mild open bites (teeth that do not touch when the mouth is closed)
  • Mild crossbites (when the upper and lower teeth are misaligned)

When Invisalign May Not the Best Choice

Invisalign is usually not recommended for harsher dental issues, especially issues that require the jaw alignment to be corrected, such as extreme overbites and underbites. .  Invisalign aligners can move crooked teeth, but they do not have the ability to actually shift a person’s jaw into a different position.

Invisalign is also generally not recommended for children. This is because juvenile teeth are still growing and have not reached their final stage of development. Children also generally do not have the dedication or self-control to successfully finish the Invisalign treatment. Since the Invisalign trays can be easily removed at any time, and since all tooth realignment will cause some soreness, it is usually very difficult for children to keep the trays in for the recommended 22 hours per day they should be worn.

Get Invisalign and More at our Apex NC Dentist Office

If you live in the Raleigh, Cary, or Apex NC area, and are interested in correcting your smile with Invisalign, stop by Hansen Dentistry for a consultation. Dr. Hansen will examine your teeth and determine whether Invisalign is a good treatment option for you. Remember that only an experienced dentist should make this decision—if you have already decided that you don’t qualify for Invisalign, you might be wrong!

To schedule a dentist appointment with us, click here.

What is a Cavity Filled With? Learn About Dental Fillings from our Apex General Dentist

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When a tooth is damaged by decay and acid, your dentist will use a filling to restore it to its normal shape and function. If you are going to get a filling in an upcoming dental appointment, or have already had one and are just curious about the procedure, here is everything you need to know about dental fillings from our Apex dentist office.

Popular Dental Filling Materials 

Fillings help close off spaces where bacteria can enter, and prevent further decay. Materials used for fillings include:

  • Gold
  • Porcelain
  • Composite resin (for tooth-colored fillings)
  • Amalgam fillings (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).

No one type of filling is “best” for everyone. What’s best for you will depend on the extent of the decay; whether or not you are allergic to certain materials; where the cavity is located; and cost. Below is more information about each cavity filling material.

Gold Fillings

Historically the only filling material that was used, gold fillings are now made to order in dental labs. Gold inlays are well-tolerated by gum tissue, and may last for more than 20 years. For these reasons, many dentists consider gold to be the best filling material. However, it is often the most expensive choice, and is not the most resilient.

Porcelain Fillings

Porcelain fillings usually have a similar cost to gold. If you have ever heard the dental term “inlay” or “onlay”, it was referring to a porcelain filling. Porcelain restorations are a popular choice because they can be matched to the color of the tooth, resist staining, and are very durable. A porcelain restoration generally covers most of the tooth.

Composite Resin Fillings

Composite fillings are essentially a type of plastic. These can also be matched to the same color of your teeth, and are therefore another popular choice when the cavity is in a visible area. The ingredients are mixed and placed directly into the cavity, where they harden. Composites may not be the ideal material for large fillings, as they may chip or wear over time. They can also become stained from coffee, tea, or tobacco, and do not last as long as other types of fillings (generally from three to 10 years).

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings are often known as “silver fillings”, but a dental amalgam is actually a mixture of mercury, silver, tin, copper, and zinc. Mercury, which makes up about 50% of the compound, is used to bind the metals together. Generally, the amount of mercury in a filling is considered too small to be harmful, as studies have shown that the amount of mercury in a filling is less than the amount most people consume in the food they eat.

Amalgam fillings are resistant to wear and relatively inexpensive. However, due to their dark color, they are more noticeable than porcelain or composite restorations, and are not usually used in very visible areas, such as the front teeth.

What Happens When You get a Dental Filling?

During a checkup, your dentist will use a small mirror to examine the surfaces of each tooth. If your dentist detects a cavity that needs to be filled, he or she will first remove the decay and clean the affected area. The cleaned-out cavity will then be filled with one of the materials described above.

Schedule an Appointment with Hansen Dentistry

If you would like to have your teeth cleaned and inspected for cavities, stop on by Hansen Dentistry! Our friendly Apex dentist, Dr. Hansen, will help you achieve your perfect smile. To schedule an appointment, click here.

What is Xylitol? Ask a General Dentist in Apex NC

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We all know about the negative health effects of sugar, especially when it comes to teeth. Fortunately, artificial sweeteners don’t have the same effect on teeth as sugar, and can help you have a much healthier smile. One artificial sweetener, xylitol, even has positive effects on teeth. Here’s everything you need to know about Xylitol from a dentist in Apex, NC.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is categorized as a sugar alcohol. That means that it combines traits of sugar molecules and alcohol molecules to create a structure very similar to that of sugar. However, Xylitol has much fewer calories, doesn’t raise blood sugar levels, and actually kills the harms the bacteria that live on your teeth and cause tooth decay.

Is Xylitol Natural?

Despite the pharmaceutical-sounding name, Xylitol is found in many fruits and vegetables, and is even produced in small amounts by the human metabolism. It can also be processed from trees like birch, or from a plant fiber called xylan. For these reasons, most health professionals consider it to be a safe, natural substance.

How Xylitol Helps Your Teeth

Xylitol functions a lot like a “mousetrap” for the bacteria that live on your teeth. Normally, these bacteria ingest sugar and carbohydrates and convert them into acid, which destroys the tooth enamel. After the bacteria ingest xylitol, however, they are no longer able to absorb glucose. With their energy-producing pathway clogged up, they end up starving to death. That’s why many dentists recommend using xylitol-sweetened chewing gum: it’s one of very few things that can actually kill harmful tooth bacteria.

Why Xylitol is Toxic to Dogs

If you buy gum or candy that contains Xylitol, it is very important to keep it away from any dogs in your house. When a dog eats xylitol, its body mistakes it for glucose and starts producing large amounts of insulin. Then, the dog’s cells start absorbing glucose from the bloodstream, which can lead to hypoglycemia, low blood sugar, and even death. Xylitol may also have detrimental effects on liver function in dogs, with high doses causing liver failure.

It only takes 0.1 grams per kg of body weight for a dog to be affected. To put that in perspective, a 6 pound Chihuahua could get sick or die from eating a single piece of xylitol chewing gum.

Need a General Dentist in Apex NC? Call Hansen Dentistry

If you are in need of a dental cleaning, oral surgery or other dental service, be sure to contact our general dentist in Apex NC. At Hansen Dentistry, we will do our best to make you feel relaxed and at home while receiving expert dental care. To schedule an appointment, click here.

Apex Dentist Recommends NOT Using Activated Charcoal Toothpaste

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The last time you were browsing Pinterest or Instagram, you might have seen an ad for one of the hippest new health trends: Activated charcoal toothpaste. Made from coal, wood, and other substances, activated charcoal has started popping up as a miracle cure in everything from soap to lotion. But this stuff should never come into contact with your teeth—and here’s why from Dr. Hansen, our Apex NC dentist.

What is activated charcoal?

Activated charcoal is made primarily from coal and wood, but can also contain other burned things, like coconut shells and bones. It becomes “activated” when high temperatures combine with a gas or activating agent to expand its surface area. Traditionally, charcoal has been used to treat poisoning and drug overdoses, as far back as ancient times. When a person ingests activated charcoal, drugs and toxins bind to it, keeping them from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Many people believe that it absorbs other “toxins”, too. 

Why shouldn’t charcoal be used on teeth?

There has been very little evidence of charcoal toothpaste’s safety and effectiveness. In September 2017, the American Dental Association (ADA) published a peer-reviewed scientific literature review stating that researchers found little evidence that charcoal reduces bacteria, prevents cavities, or even reduces tooth stains. Researchers even pointed out some possible carcinogenic ingredients in charcoal and in clay that are found in some of these toothpastes that could be damaging to human health.

What we do know about charcoal toothpaste

While more research might contradict previous studies’ findings, there is something we do know about activated charcoal: it’s extremely abrasive on teeth. That means it can easily damage your enamel, exposing the sensitive dentin beneath. Since dentin is naturally yellow, this means that charcoal toothpaste won’t make your teeth appear white; on the contrary, it will make them look more stained. And once your enamel isn’t protecting your teeth anymore, your cosmetic appearance will be the least of your problems—anything hot, cold, hard, or acidic will be extremely painful! 

Get the best solution for teeth whitening with our Apex cosmetic dentist

If you want to have whiter teeth, the most effective, safe and long-lasting whitening method is using custom whitening trays made by a dentist, or some other professional whitening method. If you use charcoal toothpaste, you might as well brush your teeth with sand—so be sure to book an appointment with our Apex dentist today.

Signs You Are Brushing Your Teeth Too Hard – Ask a Dentist in Apex

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Many people believe that plaque is hard to remove, and brush their teeth as hard as they can. However, this can erode your enamel and damage your gum line over time. Here are some signs that you are being too rough on your teeth when you brush.

A Frayed Toothbrush

If your toothbrush looks flat and damaged, with bristles that are split or frayed out, you are probably brushing too vigorously. You can minimize the damage by purchasing an electric toothbrush with a pressure sensor that lights up or stops if you brush too hard. Some electric toothbrushes also come with a 2-minute timer so that you do not brush for too long.

Receding or Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums are usually a sign of gingivitis, caused by a lack of brushing, but bleeding and receding gums can indicate you are damaging your gum tissue from over-brushing. Gum recession exposes your teeth to infection and decay, so it’s not just a cosmetic issue, but something that needs to be fixed to preserve your overall health. If you suspect your gums are receding, run a finger over your teeth. If you can feel notches or gaps where your gumline used to be, schedule an appointment with a dentist.

Sensitive Teeth

When you over-brush, you wear down the hard enamel protecting your teeth, exposing the sensitive dentin beneath. The more enamel you lose, the more sensitive your teeth will be to hot, cold, and carbonated items, as well as brushing. To preserve the health of your enamel, brush gently, remineralize with fluoride, and avoid toothpastes containing abrasive substances like activated charcoal.

Dull or Yellow Teeth

Yellow teeth can be a result of staining from coffee, wine, and other acidic beverages, but it can also be caused when the white enamel erodes, exposing the naturally yellow dentin beneath. If  your teeth are sensitive and seem to have a yellow sheen, you may be brushing too hard or too often.

Protect Your Teeth – Schedule an Appointment with a Dentist in Apex

If you think you are experiencing one or more of the symptoms listed above, make sure to schedule an appointment with a dentist in Apex. At Hansen Dentistry, we will do our best to make you feel relaxed and at home while receiving expert dental care. To schedule an appointment, click here.

The Dangers of Cheap Veneers – Ask an Apex Cosmetic Dentist

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Dental veneers have soared in popularity in recent years as a fast, easy way to correct worn-out or discolored teeth. But with professional veneer treatments costing in the hundreds or thousands, many people opt for a cheap veneer alternative—and end up sincerely regretting their decision. Here’s why you should only get veneers from an experienced, licensed dentist.

Cheap Veneer Alternatives

There are two basic ways to get cheap veneers, both of which are very risky. The first is traveling to a foreign country and having dental work done there. Another common way is purchasing them from an online retailer and applying them at home. In both cases, good results aren’t guaranteed. It takes artistry and skill to make veneers that are the right thickness, length, and color, and what is promised may not always be delivered. Consider what Benjamin Franklin said: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten!”

Risk 1: Too Much Enamel is Removed   

To apply veneers, the underlying tooth enamel must be filed down, much in the same way fingernails need to be buffed before artificial nails can be applied. Inexperienced or poorly skilled dentists might grind away too much enamel, preventing the veneers from fully adhering and eventually causing them to fall off. In addition, having over-filed enamel will make biting and chewing very uncomfortable, if not downright painful.

Risk 2: Not Enough Enamel is Removed

Problems can also arise when the dentist doesn’t grind away enough enamel. Since veneers are about as thick as a plastic credit card, they easily can make the teeth look and feel too bulky. Too much thickness can also impede your speech, making it difficult to pronounce words with “m” or “th” sounds. If the veneers extended too far past the natural tooth, they will crack very easily.

Risk 3: The Color Isn’t Right

Quality veneers should not be an opaque white, but translucent, so they reflect light like real teeth. Making veneers the right color and opacity requires some artistry on the part of the laboratory that mixes the porcelain. Overly white veneers can look extremely fake and garish, and can’t be replaced once they have adhered.

Veneers are Not Reversible

Veneers can be redone, and in fact will need to be redone every 10 or 20 years as they weaken or crack. However, since they adhere to your ground-down tooth enamel, they can’t simply be removed if done improperly. That’s why it’s crucial to visit a professional dentist to have veneers. Yes, it is more expensive, but there is nothing more expensive than a job done poorly—especially when it comes to your teeth.

Get Quality Veneers from an Apex Cosmetic Dentist

If you have cracked, chipped, or stained teeth, be sure to visit our Apex cosmetic dentist office for a consultation. It may be that you are qualified for veneers; or it may be the case that another dental solution will work better for you. To schedule an appointment with us, click here.

Busting 4 of the Most Common Tooth Brushing Myths – Apex Dentist

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Most of us learned how to brush our teeth in Kindergarten—so it’s no wonder we tend to get some things wrong. After all, we haven’t had a proper tooth brushing lesson since we were little kids! Coupled with the fact that tooth brushing best practices have changed over the years, and popular myths that exist about dental hygiene, it’s not surprising that so many people visit our office with cavities and caries, even though they brush every day. Here are some ways you may be brushing your teeth wrong.

Myth 1: After brushing your teeth, you should rinse out your mouth with water.

This is by far the most common tooth brushing mistake most people make. When we were kids, an emphasis was placed on spitting out the toothpaste in order to keep us from swallowing it. However, as an adult, you should keep the toothpaste residue on your teeth as long as possible. Toothpaste works by applying fluoride to your tooth’s surface, in order to raise the Ph of your mouth and remineralize the enamel. Rinsing it off with water minimizes its benefits.

Myth 2: After brushing your teeth, you should rinse your mouth with mouthwash.

Mouthwash should be used before you brush, not after. Unless it’s a fluoride mouthwash, you’ll be negating all the hard work you did by brushing, just as with water. Secondly, you’re also creating a more acidic environment in your mouth that wears your enamel down more quickly.

Myth 3: You should brush your teeth soon after eating.

Brushing your teeth after a meal does a lot of damage to your teeth. All the acid in your food is stuck in-between your teeth, and brushing rubs it around like sandpaper. Instead of brushing directly after eating, wait a few hours after eating so that the saliva in your mouth lowers the Ph. If you’re worried about having bad breath, chew a minty gum containing xylitol. The best time to brush your teeth is first thing in the morning, before you’ve eaten.

Myth 4: Since plaque is tough to get off, I need to brush forcefully.  

Brushing too hard can actually cause your gums to recede, and erode your enamel as well. Instead, brush your gums with light, gentle motions. Plaque is not stuck on hard to your teeth, and brushing lightly will remove it. If your toothbrush bristles have a smashed-down appearance, that’s a sign that you are brushing too hard.

Get a Dental Cleaning from a Qualified Apex Dentist

If it’s been a while since your last dental cleaning, be sure to stop in to Hansen Dentistry. Our Apex dentist office is a welcoming, family-friendly, judgement-free zone where we only care about one thing: helping you have the healthiest smile possible. To schedule an appointment, fill out our appointment form here.

Prehistoric Humans Had Better Teeth Than We Do – Here’s Why from an Apex Dentistry

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Our teeth are whiter, shinier, and straighter—but in terms of cavities and tooth decay, they’re not as healthy as the teeth of our ancestors, according to research published in scientific journal Nature Genetics. Learn more about this surprising discovery below.

From Carnivores to Omnivores

In order to learn more about prehistoric humans’ health and diet, an international team of researchers, led by a group at the Australian Center for Ancient DNA, extracted dental plaque from 34 prehistoric European skeletons. (Dental plaque is unique in that it is the only easily accessible source of preserved human bacteria.)

The researchers were able to trace the changes in oral bacteria from the last hunter-gatherers, through the Neolithic, medieval, Industrial Revolution, and modern eras. They found that, as humans switched from an all-meat diet to a diet high in grains and wheat, they developed more and more tooth decay. Their conclusion? While the advent of agriculture might have revolutionized our quality of living, but it wreaked havoc on our teeth.

Researchers also found that early hunter-gatherer groups had greater diversity of disease-associated bacteria. More bacterial diversity means that our ancestors’ mouths were more resilient to stresses and less likely to develop disease.

Bacteria and Tooth Decay

These finding make sense when you think about what causes tooth decay. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not sugar directly that makes teeth rot. It’s actually the bacteria that live on the teeth, who love to eat sugar and carbohydrates. Once they’ve eaten, the bacteria process the gluten into acid which destroys the teeth enamel. The more sugar and grains, the more acid and the more tooth issues.

How to Take Care of Your Teeth, Here and Now

These results are no doubt good news for advocates of the paleo diet—but really, any diet that is high in protein and vegetables will be good for your teeth, as well as the rest of your body. You can also take care of your teeth by chewing gum that contains xylitol; brushing your teeth regularly and correctly; and having regular dentist check-ups.

Need a dentist office in Apex NC? Call Hansen Dentistry

If you have sensitive, chipped, or stained teeth, be sure to visit our dentist office in Apex NC for a consultation. Our experienced dental team will make sure you have the healthiest smile possible. To schedule an appointment with us, click here.

What are Dental Veneers? Ask an Apex Cosmetic Dentist

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Have you ever wondered if dental veneers could help you achieve the smile you have always dreamed of?  It is important to find an Apex Dentist who can help you understand if you are a good candidate for dental veneers and answer all of your questions.  Here are a few to get you started!

What exactly is a veneer?

Veneers, also known as porcelain veneers or porcelain laminates, are super thin shells of ceramic porcelain which are bonded to the front of teeth.  The procedure is often considered “cosmetic” because there is typically little or no decay present.  The goal is to improve your smile!

Why choose a veneer?

Veneers are an excellent choice of dental treatment in many situations. They can often provide a conservative alternative to dental crowns.  This is because the thin shells only need to cover the tooth enough to change it’s color, size or shape, rather than to remove dental decay.
Veneers are can improve a smile in many different ways, such as
-repair teeth that were chipped and broken from an injury.
-filling gaps between front teeth
-masking a tooth that turned gray after a root-canal procedure.
-masking undesirable defects, such as teeth stained by tetracycline
-masking genetic dental defects, such as peg laterals
-masking discolored fillings in front teeth.
It is important to have an initial consultation with your dentist so that all of your questions can be answered.  It is very important for your Apex Dentist to understand all of your objectives.  Are you trying to close a gap or fix a chipped tooth, or both?  Do you want your veneers to match the current shade of your teeth or do you want to whiten your teeth first and then match your veneers to your new pearly whites?  It is critical that your dentist allows you to be an active participant in planning your new smile.

What happens during the procedure?

First your Apex Dentist will prepare the teeth for veneers by lightly buffing about a half of a millimeter of the outer enamel.  As a result you will likely recieve a local aesthetic. After the teeth are prepared your dentist will take an impression in order for the veneer to be fabricated.  If your dentist has the technology to do a digital impression through the use of CEREC technology, you will be able to receive your new veneers in one appointment. This is because as the veneers can be created in the dental office the same day that the teeth are prepared.  After the veneers are created, the teeth are cleaned with a solution that will allow them to achieve an adequate bond. Then the cement is applied and a light cures (or hardens) the cement, attaching the new veneers!
Maintaining your veneers is easy…just treat them the way you treat the rest of your teeth. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups are vital to protecting your investment as well as maintaining your overall oral health.
You never get a second chance to make a first impression.  See if dental veneers can help you put your best smile forward!