the truth about tooth whitening and bleaching from Yuba City / Marysville Dentist Dr. James Ellis DDS

So You Think You Can Bleach…

the truth about tooth whitening and bleaching from Yuba City / Marysville Dentist Dr. James Ellis DDSSo you have to have those super white movie-star teeth?
Bleaching teeth as been around for a long time… A really long time. Back in the French Court of Marie Antoinette they really started loosing their heads over bleaching.
Chemistry was not what it is today so they used the Urea Peroxide (pig urine) to bleach instead of Hydrogen Peroxide.

Using Carbomide that has available hydrogen perioxide in a gel form, the modern tooth bleaching products have come a long way from Pig Urine… Or have they?

Modern Bleaching started when dentists wanted to reduce the effects of an antibiotic called tetracycline. Back in the 1950’s this medication was given to a lot to children and resulted in turning their permanent teeth a dark grey color. Bleaching with 40% hydrogen peroxide using very controlled conditions helped but did not cure the problem.

Then the cosmetic guys got hold of the technique and the rest is history again. Now people are bleaching away without thought of the side effects…

Yes side effects like tooth sensitivity, destruction of the gum tissue and in some cases Kidney Damage.

It turns out that one molecule of hydrogen peroxide can kill one Kidney Cell. The only place in the body where hydrogen peroxide is broken down (metabolized) is in the mouth by an enzyme called peroxidase. Once it gets into the body watch out kidneys.

Sensitivity is caused by the bleaching agent removing the calcium plugs that cover the tiny dental plup nerves that reach out to the surface of the tooth. Can you reverse the effects?
Yes and No. Once the surface of the tooth is roughened by the bleach, tiny strans of the calcium molecules on the surface of the teeth can break off and cannot be replaced. Do not brush your teeth
after bleaching, instead remineralize the tooth with a calcium phosphate material like GC America’s MI paste to minimize the the calcium loss. Technically you could use extra sharp chedder cheese to remineralize but there will be some abrasion and possible discoloration from yellow cheese.

Bleaching trays when properly prepared can also help. A dentist can prepare thin bleaching trays that cover the teeth but not the gums. These cost a lot since impressions have to be taken, models prepared and then the trays vacuum formed then trimmed to the contour of the teeth. You can make your own trays using sports guards that have been formed to the teeth by dipping the material in hot water then adapting directly onto the teeth. Yes you can visualize the blisters forming on the gums from the hot plastic touching the delicate gum tissue… Ouch!

A layer of serane wrap or glad wrap directly over the teeth and gums helps a little.

After the well contoured trays are made, protect the gums by putting the guard in the mouth and smearing a silicone lubricant on the gums above the tray then take the tray out and apply a small amount of the bleach gel in the tray and slip the tray back into the mouth being careful not to extrude the gel out of the tray.

The other product for whitening is Proctor and Gambles White Strips. They work but they take time.

Any bleaching technique requires time and temperature to work. The bleach has to reach then dentine or inside part of the tooth to be effective. The only way is to get the bleach through the enamels by slowly percolating between the enamel rods from 1 to 2 millimeters. This can take a month and any day you miss bleaching will retard the percolating process.

A good rule of thumb is that one day missed retards the process 3 days.

If you are the do it yourself type I have included some resources that are available at local superstores or online at Amazon, Goodle or ebay.

Good Luck and remember Buyer BE ware!

Perfect Denture Fitting with Dr. James R. Ellis DDS Yuba City Dentist

How To Get A “Perfect Fit” With Your Dentures

Getting Perfect Fitting Dentures by Dr. James R. Ellis, DDS a Dentist in Yuba City

The Perfect Fit Denture. How do you avoid a “Perfect Storm” in your mouth?

There are many forces that have to come together to attain a successful denture fit.

Ernest Hemmingway once said “no man is an island” or basically man cannot exist alone, he is dependent at some level on forces outside his control. In the same way, there are many hidden steps or forces inherent in not only making a denture but ultimately receiving a denture that is aesthetically pleasing and functional: a denture that allows you to talk, smile and chew.


So how are dentures constructed? You could say there are five easy steps with a hundred things that can affect the outcome:

  1. Get an impression: duplicate your mouth to build the denture outside your mouth
  2. Record the position of your Jaw, Lips and Teeth
  3. Select teeth and create the biting position that is comfortable and pleasing
  4. Try-in a wax mock up of the denture with teeth
  5. Process Adjust and Deliver the finished denture.


Step One. There are a lot of different ways to get an impression. The materials generally shrink after the impression is made and the plaster used to make the model of your mouth expands as it sets. So the trick is to get a balance of materials that cancel out each other.

Furthermore, when you bite, the gum tissue is compressed, so a static material that misses the compression may not work for someone with thick or movable gums.


In making the impression, using a “One Size Tray Fits All” approach to hold the impression material creates more problems than the time it saves. Custom trays with the right impression material allow for a good impression of the gums and identifies where the muscles, ligaments and lips limit what the denture can cover without being popped out when things move


Step Two. No two jaws move the same. Some are narrow, some wide, some high…you get the idea. Not only that but the right and left sides are different. So every denture is different to match the position and movement of the jaws. Recording those differences can be easy or hard depending on the skill of the denture wearer and the dentist. Many times the selection of the chewing teeth depends on how the jaw moves.


Step Three. Picking out teeth Leonardo daVinci had his secrets concerning the size and placement of a smile. So did the Gomer Pyle character created by Jim Nabors. Leonardo created a beautiful lady with the mystery smile and Jim Nabors created a dumb smile that implied a low IQ but puppy dog loyalty. The placement of the teeth creates the personality and persona of an individual.

Once the smile is determined, choosing the right chewing teeth determines the comfort of the bite. When the teeth move out of a central biting position to the front or side, the teeth need to stay in contact or occlude. This allows chewing without interference. Some teeth are flat some very steep. What is right for you depends on all those things in step two.


Step Four. The try-in. If all the previous steps worked well this step can be very easy. If not, that “Denture Storm” is only one step away. Now is the time to check out all those Leonardo tricks. Are the pupils of the eyes level with the teeth? Does the lip droop? Do the corners of the mouth or nose slump? Does it look like you can eat corn through a fence or look like you were punched in the face? If any of these things have occurred, then it is back to Step two or at least correcting something that happened during the previous steps.


Step Five. Getting the new set. Technology is a wonderful thing. Almost everything used to make dentures was adapted from another technology. The Acrylic resin used to make Dentures is very similar to the plastic used in Airplane windows. The plaster for the molds is similar to that used for surfacing swimming pools and the impression materials were used to make gear molds. When different materials are used together there can be a synergy that can be better than any one part. This is certainly true in making dentures. But just when everything is almost ready there is one final hurdle.


The last big problem is the Acrylic. It shrinks four percent (4%) during curing and leads to a denture that is too tight or won’t go all the way in. If the acrylic is cured faster, it will shrink more. If the acrylic has a built in catalyst (self-cured) the material will not only shrink more, it will discolor more over time and is not as strong as the slow cure heating process.

Getting the denture to fit requires adjustments to compensate for the shrinkage of the Acrylic and compression of the gum tissue and limits of the original impression.


Once you have the new set of dentures go out and enjoy. . But remember that compression of the tissue will change the fit and bite over the next 24 hours so more adjustments are likely. No stormy weather ahead just clear sailing from here. Happy chewing.



Yuba City Dentist James Ellis DDS secret for tooth care

“The Miracle Cure For Tooth Decay?”

Yuba City Dentist James Ellis DDS secret for tooth careErosion. Gum Disease. Tooth Decay.

They destroy your smile, and all three are prevalent in mature Adult teeth.

“The miracle cure for tooth decay will happen within twenty years” said the discoverer of the effects of fluoride, Robert Knudsen in a Symposium in the early 1960’s.

It’s 2010 and teeth are still decaying.

What happened?

To get the whole picture, you first need to understand why adult teeth are suseptable to decay…

The simple answer is bacteria. The complex answer is that the mouth is a hostile environment.

When is the last time you saw a car last 80 years?

Drenched in acid, attacked by bacteria, eroded by strong abrasives a car would not last 5 years. Drive down to the beach and look at the local cars. Pitted chrome on the bumpers, and rust stains around the doors are just like decay on teeth.

Why expect teeth to last a lifetime when you can’t even protect your Mustang?

Its Amazing teeth can last 80 years or more with some simple rules. “A clean tooth is a happy tooth” said Chuck Luscia an Navy dental technician fifty years ago. Today a clean tooth is likely to be an eroded stump stripped of enamel by abrasion from chewing, eroded by food acids and sanded clean by heavy brushing with sand treated with phosphoric acid. (Silica Gel – a.k.a. whitening tooth paste).

When teeth come together small bits of the surface of the tooth wear away. So why not keep the teeth from coming together? Teeth touch when you swallow more than when you eat so not eating is not the answer. (and would be a poor answer even if it worked!)

Teeth dissolve slowly in acid. So why not keep the acid from coming in contact with the teeth?

The problem is that any liquid with a ph of 5.5 or less will cause erosion of the teeth. It’s virtually impossible to avoid these things… For example:

  • Tea has a ph of 4.0
  • Sports drinks have a ph of 3.3
  • Soft Drinks have a ph around 2.8 (which is why drinking them is a fast-track to tooth decay).
  • Even bacteria produce lactic acid as a byproduct of its digestion of food.
  • The stomach contains acid under ph 2.5 so gastric reflux from our own body can do severe damage.

Watching what you eat can help but even healthy foods can be acidic. Orange juice, Tomatoes, Vinegar and wine (especially white wine) are very acidic. The elimination of soda and sports drinks are a good start though…

Want to eat something really destructive to the teeth?

The recipe is simple:

  1. Take stone ground tortillas deep fried till they are hard, and then cover them in salt to make them extra abrasive.
  2. Dip the chips in a salsa made with tomatoes, onions lime juice and vinegar to make a really acidy mix.
  3. Eat as many of the chips as possible so any weak tooth calcium can be eroded away to expose the tiny strings of protein that held the calcium together then chew another chip to destroy the only hope to re mineralize the surface of the tooth.
  4. Clear the debris away with a sangria made from highly acidic white wine and soft drinks.
  5. Place your hand over the part of your mouth where it hurts and call your dental office!

Ouch there goes happy hour.

That may be an extreme example but it is all natural.

Translated into tooth talk, DON’T DO THIS:

Take something really hard, mix in some rock particles and cover then with an abrasive. Then add a catalyst made from a good tasting mix of acids in an organic base, boost the acidity with distilled acids then erode away.

Want some answers? I’ve painted a dismal picture to try and help you see the kind of battle your teeth go through every single day. You destroy your teeth daily.

But there ARE some simple techniques and concepts that can really make a difference!

In the 40+ years I’ve been a dentist, I’ve determined that the following really help:

Re mineralizing teeth is possible daily when eating. A clean tooth will accept calcium to re establish the tooth crystal called calcium hydroxyl apatite. There is a paste called recaldent that can put the calcium back on the tooth. Even sharp chedder cheese has high levels of calcium. Skim milk may also work since it has calcium without the fat that can interfere with calcium uptake.

Brushing can help if is done right. Like cars the decay starts around the edges not on the smooth surfaces. A dentist named Bass described a method called sulcular brushing in the ADA journal (Oct. 1958) that aims the tooth brush down toward the gum into the tough around the tooth. This cleans around the edges of the tooth and goes a long way to preventing the erosion described above.

The problem is changing your technique to be able to aim the brush.

My old golf pro said it all. “Doc if you don’t have the right grip you will never hit the ball straight.”

The same is true for tooth brushing.

Holding your tooth brush like a hammer is not going to get the job done.

Hold your toothbrush like a pencil or a chop stick to get the grip right. Keep the elbow down against your side. If the elbow is up you are holding the brush like a hammer. Then aim the tip of the brush down towards where the tooth and gum come together at about a 45 degree angle.

Brush by going around in circles not back and forth. This is the basic idea. Give it a try… I’ll wait. 🙂

You can even use an electric toothbrush. Again hold it like a pencil, then dab the head of the brush using your wrist, keeping it at a 45 degree angle to where the tooth and gum meet. Again no back an forth motion. (The brush is already doing the circular movement.)

And what about that miracle cure?

Dentists and researchers are still working on it… But there IS light at the end of the tunnel…

As mentioned earlier, one of the primary causes of tooth decay is a bacteria called Strep Mutans. One cure is to stop the ability of S.mutans to cause decay by modifying its ability to cause decay. According to a recent British Study, use of a prescription medication called Peridex combined with the daily use of Xylitol (a natural sweetener) appears to neutralize Strep Mutans ability to decay your teeth.

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