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Ask Dr. Santiago: Monthly look at trends in dentistry

Dr. Robin Santiago

This Summer, Put Your Best Smile Forward!
It’s that time of year again! School is almost out…young people are looking for summer jobs…adults are counting up available vacation days and putting long overdue getaways on their calendars…and, brides are finalizing their wedding plans. It’s almost time for swimsuits and reunions and weddings – happy occasions with lots of pictures full of big, bright smiles.

Do you want to see a beautiful, gleaming, youthful smile in each and every memorable snapshot?
When your teeth are otherwise healthy, tooth whitening offers a fast and economical way to achieve that sparkling smile. With several options to choose from, you can select the one that fits your finances and your schedule… even if your vacation starts this weekend!

How to Get Your Bright Smile
Over-the-counter whitening products use a low concentration of an active whitening agent. The most common application method is “strips” that fit over the front teeth and are left in place for a period of time. People tend to report mixed results with these products. For some, surface stains disappear for a short time. Others say they see little change in the brightness of their smiles even after weeks of diligent use. Thankfully, dentist-supervised whitening is available, and a growing number of people are taking advantage of this easy treatment.
If you watch extreme makeover shows, you have witnessed the stunning results that can occur from a single, in-office whitening session (like Zoom!® Whitening). Believe it or not, the active ingredient in the varnish or gel that your dentist uses is very similar to what you find in over-the-counter products; however, it is much more powerful and is applied more efficiently. In fact, your dentist can adjust the intensity of the whitening product to ensure more consistent results, even if your teeth are unevenly shaded or discolored. In conjunction with your in-office treatment, your dentist will create a custom tray that fits over your teeth, holding the whitening agent in place to enhance and maintain your in-office results.
Most dentists also offer a take-home version of their in-office treatment that uses the same customized tray. Using these trays, patients can whiten their teeth over several weeks with this at-home option. Your dentist can tailor different strengths and formulas of the whitening agent to further customize this option.
Some patients experience short-term tooth sensitivity, which can be addressed with tooth-strengthening fluoride treatments or special toothpastes like Sensodyne® that use potassium nitrate often in combination with fluoride. All in all, patients are usually thrilled with the results of their dentist-supervised whitening.
A recent survey by the American Dental Association, Crest®, and OralB® found that a healthy smile outranked eyes, hair, and body as a person’s most attractive physical feature. That’s something to think about the next time you consider whiteningyour teeth.


Dr. Robin Santiago was recently named a Top Dentist 2011 by Hartford Magazine. She and the dental team at Beautiful Smiles love to see healthy smiles come true for people of all ages. Dr. Santiago and her team are available for questions and are currently accepting new patients at their West Hartford Center office. They can be reached by email at or by phone at 860-232-4511.  You can “like” Dr. Santiago and her team on Facebook  – at   Beautiful Smiles by Robin Santiago, DMD. – where they provide ongoing dental tips and insights.
A complimentary Smile Evaluation can be scheduled, at your convenience, by contacting the office.

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