Our Blog - What's new or interesting on Animated-Teeth.com?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Who would want a smile that looks like this?

Well, you'd have to assume pretty much nobody. Unless it's just temporary and you're getting paid.

A split-arch tooth whitening study.

During this study, only one side received whitening treatment.

What you're looking at in the picture to the left is the type of results participants in the best tooth-whitening studies end up with.

We use the word "best" not because of the level of whitening results but because of the research's design. This type of evaluation is called a split-arch study.

All whitening research should be set up this way.

Surprisingly enough, the first published account of research using this method didn't take place until 2003. And it and further studies like it were instrumental in demonstrating that the use of a bleaching light servers little purpose in any tooth whitening process. You can read the whole story here.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Dental FYI.

Animated-Teeth.com FYI topics.

Are you interested in dental topics in general but at the moment there's no special subject that's on your mind?

If so, we have a FYI section on Animated-Teeth.com that links out to many of the interesting topics and issues we discuss on our pages.

Take a tour.

You can pick FYI's relating to specific subjects such as: Cosmetic Dentistry, Tooth Extractions, Wisdom Teeth, Cold Sores, Root Canal Treatment, Dental Crowns, Dry Sockets, Dental Implants, or Bad Breath.

Or we have a catch-all Browse All FYI's section that presents a randomly selected collection of FYI's from each of the above categories.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

UCR fees: The Catch 22 of dental insurance.

It just seems like the fix is always in:

  • You've got an agreement with a company (warranty, service agreement, insurance, etc...).
  • You think that things are going to be one way.
  • They're not.
  • It ends up costing you money.

Welcome to the world of dental insurance.

This type of thing happens with some forms of dental insurance.

Many plans make use of what is called a Usual, Customary, Reasonable (UCR) fee when the dollar amount of benefits to be paid out are calculated.

Providing benefits, on the insurance company's terms.

As we explain here, the general situation is that your policy does commit the insurance company to paying a certain percentage of your dental procedure's cost (50%, 80%, 100% or whatever).

But they'll only pay that percentage if your dentist charges the same or less than what the insurance company feels that it should cost (the UCR fee).

A win-win, for the insurance company.

The insurance company sets the UCR fee at their own discretion. And it may or may not be a realistic one. The Catch 22 part is this:

  • If your dentist charges more, you end up paying more not the insurance company.
  • If your dentist happens to charge less, the insurance company benefits because they don't have to pay out as much.

There's nothing new about insurance companies using UCR fees. But not knowing about how they work can cost you money.

Use the link above to learn more.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Evidently we just had Justin Beaver week here at Animated-Teeth.com.

Justin Beaver dental eCard.

Last week we noticed a surge in the number of "Justin Beaver" eCards website visitors had sent. (In case you don't know, all of our dental & tooth fairy eCards are free.)

Mr. Beaver's cards are featured in two of our eCard categories:

If you take a look at these cards, be sure to click the green exclamation point box to see the quote from Justin. He's a pretty smart dude.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Troubles with lateral incisors.

Lateral incisors in crossbite.

We've noticed that a fair number of our digital smile makeovers involve problems with upper lateral incisors.

So many in fact that we've been able to add three new categories to our View Makeovers by Category list.

Here they are:

  • Lateral incisors in crossbite. - This condition is the case where the upper laterals have a positioning where they are actually tucked behind the lower teeth they bite against. (Like seen in the picture above.)
  • Missing lateral incisors. - These makeovers involve cases where the laterals are either truly missing or else are impacted (are present but are lodged in the jaw bone). The deciduous laterals (baby teeth) may or may not have been lost.
  • Peg lateral incisors. - Due to developmental abnormalities, some people have lateral incisors that are small and stump shaped. These makeovers show solutions for them.

While you're looking at any one of these groupings of cases, or even any individual makeover itself, you can easily switch to another subgroup by clicking the page's "Makeovers Index" button.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How much do you know about dental sealants?

When it comes to tooth sealants, do you know:

Snapshot of infographic: Dental Sealants in the USA.

Snapshot of infographic: Dental Sealants in the USA.

  • What they are?
  • How effective they are?
  • Which teeth are in greatest need of protection?
  • Don't pretty much all kids get them?

Fast and visual info ...

If you want some quick answers to these questions, have a look at our Dental Sealants infographic.

Detailed and complete information ...

Or, if you're interested in more detailed information like:

  • The guidelines dentist use concerning placement.
  • What is and how easy is the placement procedure?
  • How much do they cost?

Then check out the pages of our full topic about Tooth Sealants.


Monday, July 14, 2014

The veneer trade off.

Just like with so many choices you have in life, if you opt for one thing you'll have to make a sacrifice on another.

This is true with dental veneers.

When deciding to have porcelain veneers placed, you'll have two options: 1) Conventional and 2) Ultra-thin (like Lumineers or Vivaneers).

A smile improved with porcelain veneers.


With ultra-thin veneers, the sole advantage is the ease with which they're placed.

  • No tooth trimming is required.
  • No dental anesthetic is needed.
  • No temporary veneers have to be worn.

And for some patients, these advantages may make the idea of getting them quite attractive.

Here's the sacrifice part.

What must be understood is that in essentially every case, by choosing ultra-thin veneers you're making a trade off. You're trading convenience for a compromised esthetic result.

With ultra-thin veneers:

It's simply a choice you make.

That doesn't mean that ultra-thins don't make a good, or even great, choice.

It also doesn't mean that what a dentist might consider a sub par result isn't the exact one that you're looking for.

But what it does mean is that ultra-thin porcelain veneers make the wrong choice, unless you're fully aware of the limitations associated with them.

Knowing those issues is called being an educated consumer. Hopefully our pages can help you be one.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Digital smile makeover completed.

A digital smile makeover case.

We've completed another free digital smile makeover for a website visitor.

Here's the link if you'd like to view it.

What changes are illustrated?

This case involves the situation where a person is missing their upper lateral incisors. They've had some temporary work placed but it doesn't give the look they want.

Our makeover simulation discusses and illustrates what steps might be taken with their upcoming permanent work that would give a better result.

Why not submit your own picture?

We're always looking for other smiles to create makeovers for. If you have some dental issues on mind about your smile, we encourage you to submit your picture. Like we said above, it's free. (Use the link above for instructions.)


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Everybody knows that having root canal treatment hurts.

Necrotic pulp tissue removed from a tooth.

Nerve tissue pulled out of a tooth's canal.

Well, evidently everybody except those who have actually had it.

Survey says ...

We ran across an old publication (1995) of the American Association of Endodontists (the type of dental specialists that do root canal work).

It stated that their survey found that people who had actually had root canal were 3 times more likely to say it didn't hurt as opposed to people who were asked this question and had never had the procedure performed.

But you need to read between the lines.

Of course, what that blurb doesn't say is that all cases don't hurt.

What should you expect?

To answer this question, we've published the page: Root canal appointment pain.

  • It outlines those types of situations where experiencing pain is more likely (and why).
  • What your dentist does to avoid placing you in these types of situations.
  • And, statistically speaking, what research has determined is the likelihood that something will be painful.


Monday, July 7, 2014

Herpes or Canker - How do you tell?

If you've discovered a mouth ulcer forming in your mouth, especially one for the first time, it's easy enough to start thinking the worst.

  1. Is it going to be something you're constantly hounded with?
  2. Is it something you can spread to others?

And, of course, when thinking about the worst case herpes always seems to come to mind.

It's easy to tell the two apart.

The good news it that the most common type of reoccurring mouth ulceration is the Canker Sore (so the odds are on your side). And as our diagrams and photos illustrate, it's easy enough to tell the two apart. Here's the link to our page that gives instructions how.

And by the way, when it comes to canker sores, the answers to the above questions are: 1) quite possibly, and even probably, yes. and 2) no.


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Whitening pens - A bleaching gesture.

Whitening pen application on a tooth.

Whether you're reading glossy magazines or just standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, sooner or later you're going to be exposed to the idea of paint-on tooth whitening (pens, ampoules).

It seems that the standard ad pitch for these products (really all whitening systems in general) is that "it will lighten your teeth 5 shades."

Of course, sadly enough, it's never mentioned what shade guide is used to make this determination.

(Just judging from the type of products being hyped and the number of shades improvement claimed, we're guess that it's one where the difference between each shade is imperceptible to the human eye. But that's just our jaded opinion.)

It's not that pens are so bad, they're just not so great.

When it comes to paint-on products, they can have a place, and may even offer a few advantages. But there's plenty of research evidence that shows that these types of products generally come in a distant third to other at-home whitening systems like tray bleaching or even whitening strips, and for good reason.

Why doesn't someone step up to the plate?

It's a shame that there aren't stricter ethics in advertising. It's also a shame that one of dental dot ORG's hasn't set up a realistic set of guide lines for evaluating at-home products (including a requirement for studies that involve a split-arch design) and acts as a referee for consumers on this issue.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Surely you don't smell like this.

Rotting meat, rotten eggs, a feed lot, sweaty feet, urine and feces.

Bacterial debris scraped off a person's tongue.

Welcome to the world of bad breath.

We didn't just randomly pick out the stinky smells listed above.

Research has shown that the compounds that cause these very odors are found in the breath of humans. And when their concentration is high enough, we give it a name. We call it bad breath.

That's how you cure halitosis.

That means (at least for most of us) curing bad breath easy enough.

If you can just get at the source of what's causing the offending compounds and shut it down, you can say good by to your stinky breath.

Fortunately, doing so isn't all that hard.

To cure halitosis, all you have to do is understand where the smelly compounds are coming from. And then get that process under control, at least to the greatest degree possible.

As it turns out, for almost everyone, whether you're trying to rid yourself of bad breath or just make sure you never have it, there's a single most important step you must do. And doing it won't cost you a thing.


Friday, June 27, 2014

In-office vs. at-home teeth whitening.

Topic in-office teeth whitening.

Which method gives better results?

There seems to be a general misperception among patients and dentists alike about which gives the better results, in-office or at-home tooth bleaching.

As a matter of fact, there's no shortage of studies that have shown that these two methods can be equally effective. (That means the reason to choose one over the other should be based on factors other than whitening outcome.)

Our two cents.

It's also pretty easy to make the case that at-home tray-based bleaching provides a better result, especially when compared to just a single in-office session. (If it doesn't, why do so many professional systems include the continued use of an at-home system as a follow up to in-office sessions?)

Why the confusion?

Considering the amount of money manufacturers of in-office systems spend on marketing their products, it's easy enough to see why patients would be confused on this issue.

With dentists, if they're selling their whitening services as a convenience (quicker whitening results) then that's great.

But if there's an associated implication that in-office bleaching offers better results then the question would arise, what scientific evidence are they basing that opinion on?


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Free Tooth Fairy eCards for Adults.

Free Tooth Fairy for Adults eCards.

We've noticed that our pages covering wisdom tooth removal have had more visitors this month than last.

That would be expected. That's because (as this graph suggests) during school breaks (like summer vacation) is a prime time for young adults to get their teeth out.

Send a free eCard.

If you know someone who is having their 3rds extracted, check out our free Tooth Fairy for Adults eCards. Maybe one of them can help to put a smile on their (hopefully not to swollen) face.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

One more digital smile makeover completed.

A digital smile makeover case.

We've finished another free smile makeover for a website visitor.

Use this link to view it.

What's this one about?

We're using this case to provide an example of the types of limitations that might be involved when porcelain veneer or crown placement is selected instead of having orthodontic treatment.

With this smile, the manner in which the teeth are misaligned creates an uneven gum line. And if some type of dental braces were used to correct the alignment of the teeth, the gum issue would simply resolve on its own.

In comparison, if crowns or veneers were used as a solution, the same gum line problem would still exist. And the end result would be one where the teeth on one side look too long.

We've got plenty of other cases.

If you'd like to browse through our makeover cases, we've arranged them by category here.


Thursday, June 26, 2014

We've added another case to our makeover database.

Our latest digital smile makeover.

We posted a new digital smile makeover on our website last week but forgot to announce it here.

Link: View the makeover.

Case details.

This makeover involves a smile that is missing one tooth on each side (the lateral incisors). There's also a space between its center teeth.

Our makeover shows how porcelain veneers can be used to close the gap and help to hide the fact that the laterals are missing.

Send in your own photo.

Per usual, we should mention that anyone can submit their own picture (it's free) for a makeover.

We're usually happy to do any case. The one's we reject are almost always for the same reason. A poor quality picture was submitted. Other than that, we're game.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Another digital smile makeover case completed.

New digital smile makeover.

We've added another smile makeover to our database of completed cases. Here's the link.

(Any website visitor can submit their own picture. The service is free.)

The way we've illustrated this case shows how straightforward a repair could be. Although, we realize that there are orthodontic considerations involved and discuss how adding that to the case's treatment plan could provide a big benefit.

What's next in our queue?

You can always use this page to check on the status of our pending cases and access our most recent ones.


Monday, June 16, 2014
A tooth with its porcelain laminate in place.

Our topic Porcelain Veneers has been updated.

What are they? / Applications., Veneer placement., Fees for veneers., How long will a veneer last?, What can you do if your veneer comes off?, Alternatives to porcelain veneer placement.

We've recently rewritten our topic that covers porcelain veneers. We've given it more details, information from research studies and graphics.

During the rewrite we decide to break our content into the subdivisions linked to above.

  • What are they? / Applications. - This section describes basics details about porcelain veneers and gives some examples of the different applications they can be used for.
  • Veneer placement. - This page gives a step-by-step description of the process a dentist uses when placing them.
  • Fees for veneers. - This may be the most visited page of our topic. It gives an estimate of what you might pay per porcelain laminate, and provides links to price information about other veneering techiques.
  • How long will a veneer last? - To us, this would be the very first question we would ask before having veneers placed as an elective procedure. We found several research studies that weighed in on this issue.
  • What can you do if your veneer comes off? - The unexpected always seems to occur at the most inopportune times, meaning when you're away or your dentist isn't available. This page can help you figure out what to do if you have an emergency.
  • Alternatives to porcelain veneer placement. - Getting veneers can be great. But if another (possibly less aggressive) dental procedure can give a similar outcome (possibly at a lower cost), then you really owe it to yourself to consider it.


Monday, June 16, 2014

We've picked out another case for a digital smile makeover.

A pending digital smile makeover case.

We've recently had a website visitor submit a picture of their smile for one of our (always free) digital makeovers.

It should be posted on our website within the next week or two. You can always find a listing of of pending and recently completed cases on this page.

Actually, we aren't going to use the exact picture you see here. Even though this photo seems fairly reasonable, it wasn't up to par in quality with the type of picture we would prefer to work with.

We emailed this person back and asked them to try some more, and were so pleased when they did. It turns out all they needed to do was change the setting on their camera to a higher resolution one. Knowing that a person is interested in helping us out (by taking a better picture) gives our editor some extra motivation.

We're always looking for more case to do. If you would like to submit your own picture, please do.


Monday, June 16, 2014

Does having root canal hurt?

A dentist giving a dental injection.

We've updated our page about root canal treatment and what to expect in regard to discomfort when having it.

Most dentists will quickly tell you that, for the most part, having endodontic therapy is no worse than experiencing any other type of routine dental procedure. Although (as we outline), there are some situations that are more difficult to handle than others.

Our page cites statistics from research articles that looked into this subject. It also explains what extra steps your dentist can take so to help to insure that your appointment is as pleasant as possible.



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