Quad Cities, IL/IA

Working with the community... for a healthier community.

Get The Smile You Want!


By Jennifer Burklow, Dental Hygienist, Byrum Family Dentistry

Can you believe it’s been over a decade since we were all amazed by the smile transformations on the Extreme Makeover show on ABC? For five years we watched the lucky participants have head to toe professional enhancements that made them look and feel wonderful. Often, one of the biggest changes was their smile; in other words, their dental health. This sparked people across the country to seek out their own smile transformations with their general dentist. Technology and materials saw a boom in quality and quantity, but the “quick fixes” did as well. Eleven years later, the buzz has died down, but the general desire to have a great smile has not.

The goals often come back to having a youthful smile. One that is free from stains, chips, spaces, or other flaws. Many times having straight teeth will make all the difference. In all cases, having a healthy smile is the first place to start. Your dentist will perform a complete dental exam including radiographs (X-rays) to check for decay or gum disease. Gum disease (periodontal disease) is often the cause of a smile looking aged. The loss of bone support will cause teeth to shift, spread, or look longer due to gum loss. A general dentist may refer severe cases to a periodontist for specific treatment to decrease bone loss and improve the gum appearance.

With a healthy smile in place, it is then important to express your exact wishes and goals for your new smile. Several options may be presented for you to choose, from simple to complex. It is amazing what can be done with composite bonding (tooth-colored fillings) to fix chips, spaces, or even crooked teeth. Many times replacing old silver fillings with composite (tooth-colored) fillings will make teeth appear younger, as well as be healthier.

Cosmetic options may include:


  • Whitening (bleaching)
  • Cosmetic bonding
  • Porcelain veneers
  • Crowns


If your concerns are on replacing missing teeth, this is a great time to ask about options such as dental bridges or implants. Implants are a single tooth replacement procedure that is most successful in longevity. Many times clients are unaware of the diverse options and the comfort available of having these procedures done. Discuss with your dentist concerns about the time involved, comfort measures, and cost estimations.

Whitening the teeth is done by placing a hydrogen- or carbamide-peroxide gel on the teeth to oxidize the sub-surface stains out. The differences come from the strength of the gel and the mode of delivery. The most effective and easily used method is at-home whitening with custom-made trays. In just 30 minutes a day, the high strength whitening gel gently removes built up stains from smoking, coffee, tea, red wine, etc. The full treatment is 10 days in length. Often we continue those stain causing habits, so touching up your whitening is best to sustain your great smile. With this gradual process, there is rarely temperature sensitivity reported. Products found at drugstores are of a much lower strength and therefore a much longer treatment period is needed. The office treatments of very high strength can be effective, but often cause sensitivity to the teeth and gums. Most times, those clients must use at-home whitening trays as well. In the 30 years that Dr Byrum has offered whitening treatments to his patients, the best and most predictable results have come from at-home whitening with custom-made trays.

Cosmetic dentistry is often seen as a luxury, and even though it is an investment, that investment is in your well-being and overall dental health. Studies show that when a person is proud of their smile, they are much more likely to practice good oral health care (brushing and flossing). It is often easier to keep teeth clean and free of cavities if they fit together and function better. This results in long-lasting, great dental health.

For more information, consultations, or to hear about our $99 White For Life program for our patients, please contact us at Byrum Family Dentistry at 563-275-3567 or Byrumfamilydentistry.com.

Photo Credit: Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock