Tag Archives: Teeth Whitening

Can I Run My Invisalign Aligners Through the Dishwasher?

I’m a germaphobe. I hate the idea of putting my aligners in my mouth with bacteria in them. All that spit that got on them (and yes I know it’s my spit) gives me the heebee-geebees. I was thinking of running them through the dishwasher as a means of disinfecting them. I do that for all my dishes and silverware. The heat gets rid of the bacteria.

Kate – San Antonio


I understand how you feel. I’m a salmonella-phobe. You should see all the precautions I take when I’m cooking chicken. However, using the dishwasher to disinfect your Invisalign aligners is a bad idea. The heat, which admittedly does disinfect, will also distort the aligners. That can derail your treatment.

Your dentist should have given you instructions on how to properly clean your Invisalign. Additionally, the Invisalign company makes a special kit you can order. If you are still concerned, you can do a vinegar soak. Vinegar is a natural and potent disinfectant. However, I would only let them soak for 30 minutes about once a week. Don’t forget to rinse them after the soak or you’ll have a nasty taste.

You may also consider asking your dentist if you can get your teeth whitened simultaneously with your Invisalign treatment. The aligners can double for teeth whitening aligners as well. Peroxide (used in whitening gels) is also a disinfectant. This way you can feel better about killing bacteria, while doing something proactive about your smile at a reduced cost. I’m all for multi-tasking (and saving money).

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Mike Malone.

Can I Improve My Smile Without Tons of Money?

I’ve wanted to improve my smile for a long time, but just don’t have that much money. I’ve heard porcelain veneers are the way to go, but when I looked into them they were way too expensive. Is there a less expensive way to makeover your smile?

Amanda S. – Topeka


It’s a tough economy right now, especially where we are in Louisiana, so I understand wanting to save money. It’s tough when you have a desire to improve something, but don’t feel you have the requisite funds. I have some good news for you though. There are cosmetic procedures you can do that will improve your smile without porcelain veneers.

One of the least expensive cosmetic procedures is teeth whitening. That simple procedure takes years off your appearance. If you can swing in-office whitening, it’s faster. Your teeth will be dramatically whiter in one appointment. However, your dentist can custom design trays for you to do professional strength whitening at home. That costs a little less. It will take a little longer, depending on the level of whitening you desire, but it can get them as white as the in-office option.

If you have chips or gaps in your teeth, dental bonding can repair them, and is significantly cheaper than veneers. Just be aware that while veneers can last a couple of decades when well cared for, dental bonding will only really last a few years.

This blog is brought to you by Dr. Mike Malone.

Straighten and Whiten your teeth at the same time

I’ve been saving money to make my teeth look better. I’ve got enough to straighten my teeth and whiten them.  Would it better to do the braces first or to whiten them first?

Nerry P. – Georgia


If you’re a candidate for Invisalign, you could do both at the same time.  You’ll find most patients prefer invisalign over traditional braces anyway. They’re more comfortable, more attractive, and finish much sooner.

You may click here to learn more about Invisalign.  If you’re dentist agrees, it is possible to use the invisalign aligners as whitening trays.  This way you can spend some of your time wearing the aligners with the whitening gel inside. In all likelihood, you’ll have briliant, white teeth before you’re even done straightening them, allowing you to witen your teeth and straighten them simultaneously.

This blog is brought to you by Louisiana Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Mike Malone.

Can a general dentist do cosmetic dentistry?

I want to do some cosmetic procedures to my teeth. My dentist is a general dentist. Can you tell me if he can do the cosmetic procedures or if I need to go to a cosmetic dentist?

Frank C. – Oregon


There is no recognized specialty in cosmetic dentistry. That means that everyone who does cosmetic dentistry is a general dentist. However, not all “cosmetic” dentists are equal.

You didn’t mention what type of cosmetic work you were planning on. If you were wanting something simple, such as teeth whitening, then any dentist could do it.

But, if you were wanting someting complicated, such as porcelain veneers, then you’ll want someone with specialized training.  In those cases, I would look for a dentist who is accredited with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). They’ll have the skill to give you a gorgeous smile.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Mike Malone.

Brown spots won’t respond to whitening products

I am in my early 20’s and just recently graduated from college. For almost as long as I can remember, my front teeth have been discolored. I have ALWAYS taken really good care of my teeth (no cavities!), but my mother told me the discoloration was caused by an illness I had as a small child. Now I am trying to get my professional career off the ground, and I feel like my teeth are making an awful first impression.

With the support of my dentist, I have tried almost every over-the-counter teeth whitening product available. If anything, my teeth look WORSE now. The spots did not change in color one bit, but the contrast with the surrounding tooth material (which whitened considerably) is even more noticeable and ugly. Now my dentist is suggesting a “trial” treatment, where he will grind away at the spots until they are gone. The problem is he doesn’t know how much he will have to grind, and I just cannot imagine how this will ever look good!

What about professional whitening? I just really need to get this issue addressed. My teeth are holding me back, and my self-confidence is really taking a beating. I don’t want potential employers to think that I am the type of person who doesn’t even properly care for their teeth!

Thanks so much for your help,

Leta in Albany

Dear Leta,

First and foremost, find a different dentist. Your current dentist obviously does not understand the principles of teeth whitening or he would not have had you wasting your time and money on repeated attempts of the same treatment. Professionally whitening is unlikely to yield the results you want, either. And the idea of grinding away the spots could go horribly wrong.

You need to seek the services of a talented, experienced, educated cosmetic dentist. Make sure you thoroughly check their credentials, and ask to see pictures of their work.

Depending on the severity of the spots, there is a very small chance that a technique called microabrasion might work. This is often used with white spots, but is only effective with brown spots when they are very superficial.

If the spots are small, dental bonding may work to cover them. This is one of the most difficult and artistically demanding skill sets in cosmetic dentistry, so make very sure the dentist you chose is not just competent, but exceptional. If bonding will not work, porcelain veneers may be a solution. Both of these treatments require a high degree of artistry and skill.

I hope you can find the right dentist to help you.

Which is best, Zoom whitening or at-home teeth whitening?

In your professional opinion, which is better, Zoom whitening, or one of those at-home whitening systems? I know your office does the Zoom whitening, but I trust you to give me an honest opinion.

Heather in St. Joseph

Dear Heather –

The short answer to your question is “It depends.” Used according to the instructions, both at-home and Zoom whitening systems yield similar results. Deciding which system is best for you depends a lot on your personality, time constraints, budget, and the nature of the stains on your teeth.

At-home whitening systems need to be applied every day, according to a specific set of instructions. It can take weeks or even months to see results. If your personality lends itself to this kind of patient, consistent approach, then an at-home whitening system would be great for you. They are less expensive than Zoom whitening, so if you have more time than money, an at-home system might be the right choice for you.

Zoom whitening is accomplished in one or two visits to your dentist’s office. If you have a tight schedule, or tend to have trouble sticking to a strict routine, Zoom whitening is a great choice for you. It is more expensive than an at-home system, but many people consider the savings in time to be more than worth the difference in price.

I do recommend checking with your dentist before you go with an at-home system, as some stains will not respond to teeth whitening procedures. If your teeth are stained by tobacco, coffee, tea or some foods (such as berries), an at-home or Zoom whitening procedure will be effective. If your teeth have tetracycline stains, then you will have to make different choices to get whiter teeth. Zoom whitening (or at-home systems) are not very effective in treating tetracycline stains. In fact, sometimes the tetracycline staining is MORE noticeable after a whitening procedure is done.

Also, if you have a tooth or teeth that have become discolored after root canal treatment, that tooth will have to be taken into consideration during the whitening process. If that is your situation, you really should consider having your whitening done under the watchful eye of your dentist.

I hope this information helps.