Gloss phobia, more commonly called the fear of public speaking, is thought to be the most common of all phobias. As many as 75 percent of all people are afraid to speak in front of an audience. Without going in to all phobias and their rankings, my observation is that needle phobia in the dental office is by no means abnormal and ranks up there among the highest. Dentists still have to work around needle phobia. However, the future looks encouraging with the first FDA approved needle free anesthesia product for scaling and root planning.

This story is about my friend Sergio and his wife Lina. They were the perfect couple. Lina was a bit trendier, but by no means could one describe her as “the flavor of the day”. She had the smarts, and a solid head for business, probably groomed by her father who, like many Italians emigrated from Italy to find their fortune in the Western world, the land of opportunity. Sergio and Lina were comfortably set. They were off to a good start after their wedding, with the help of her dad and family, pretty well owned their first home sooner than most of their friends.

Lina had been pressuring Sergio to get some cosmetic work done on his teeth. The daily espresso coffees and his mother's blueberry pies were beginning to test the strength of a solid Roman Catholic marriage. Lina's desire to pop an impromptu kiss on Sergio was starting to wane because of his discolored teeth. She surprised how can “I persuade him at least, to go for a dental check-up”? Her goal for Sergio was to have his teeth cosmetically improved to show off the fashionable celebrity white-teeth-smile and nothing was going to stop her.

The whitening of teeth has become a billion-dollar business and celebrities have had no small part in raising the bar for the perfect smile. Another cosmetic fashion statement which is showing its colors is the art of tattooing one's body parts. I mentioned this purposely, because a visit to the tattooing studio is far more popular that a visit to the dentist, although, ironically there is a common factor, sometimes pain. Why is this? Why is it that people will pay huge sums of after-tax dollars to have a tattoo sculptured in sensitive parts of the anatomy and yet be hesitant to visit the dentist? Maybe vanity is more powerful than oral health! Or maybe the School of Body Art has out-marketed the college of dentistry? How often have you seen a young woman / man flashing a tattoo, but in need of obvious orthodontic or other dental work? We have to rely on anecdotal reports in the absence of a truly scientific study.

Back to my friends Sergio and Lina. Researchers have come to the rescue with a product that brings effective needle-free anesthesia for patients during scaling and / or root planning procedures. Oraqix fits the perfect scenario for a patient who is needle phobic. This product is the first FDA approved system for the above indications. Hopefully this addition to dental armamentarium will allay the fear of the dreaded needle. Fear of finding other latent problems incurring a cost is an irrational decision. Why should one have two standards for maintaining perfect health? Oral health is no less important that physical health. The diagnosis of oral cancer is by far more often seen by the dentist than by medical doctors. If for no other reason it makes good sense to keep the oral cavity healthy and free of possible terminal diseases.

Four out of five Americans claim a desire for whiter teeth. Never before have so many options been available. Nu-pro is a dentist prescribed take-home system that has been designed to address the patient's tooth whitening requirements and offers two configurations with dramatic results in one to two weeks. Who are the best candidates for do-it-yourself whiteners? Before you spend a dime on whitening your smile, your dentist will explain what is best for you and the reason why. Teeth should be healthy without cavities or recession of the gums thereby exposing sensitive root structure. If whitening agents come in contact with an open area on a tooth with a clear path to the nerve center of your tooth, you will not care what color your teeth are because they will have to peel you off the ceiling.

You need to have a proper evaluation by your dentist. A talk to your dentist will determine if you do have discoloration and what is the cause. There are two major ways teeth become discolored. Teeth naturally discolor as we age, and we all have lighter or darker teeth, just as we have different complexions. Every habits and food consumption penetrate the tooth's enamel to cause extrinsic and intrinsic stains: There are as many reasons for tooth discoloration as there are solutions. Over-the-counter whitening does not work if the discoloration comes from an injury to a tooth, for example. Also, if you have teeth that have tooth-colored fillings or crowns that are dark or discolored, again, over-the-counter whiteners do not whiten porcelain or tooth colored filling materials.

Stains can be caused by foods such as coffee, tea, red wine, and nicotine. Rule of thumb, if it stains your carpet, it can stain your teeth. What kind of results can we expect from an over-the-counter product? Today Over-the-counter whitening products work differently and better than ever before because the technology has changed so dramatically. Will your teeth look as different as if you had full mouth veneers? No. But if you have a pretty smile, that you want whiter and brighter, the newer over-the-counter options are very effective. Here's a look at some of the latest options. Most people hate the messy trays you stick in your mouth. What are the alternatives?

Crest White strips, night effects (liquid strip gel). Crest White strips continue to be the OTC gold standard in whitening – and a beauty secret for millions of Americans, (mostly women). When you look in dressing cabinets, you see them right next to the lipsticks. Whiter teeth give women confidence and make them look younger and prettier. A great new whitening product is hitting store shelves now. It's called Night Effects and it's very exciting because it works while you sleep. The first generation products made to whiten teeth while we sleep included a tray and stuff oozing out of it. I dare you to sleep with that unit in your mouth and not destroy your bed linen. Bearing in mind that these are all over-the-counter products. Dental prescribed take-home products are still the most effective. So what has been improved for the OTC shopper?

Night Effects is great for a couple of reasons: First, it's good for people whom whatever reason, can not whiten during the day. Second, the coating sticks to your teeth. You've heard me say that for a product to work, the whitening agent has to stay in contact with the teeth. The problem with some of the other over-the-counter products is that they tend to quickly wash away when they come in contact with saliva, food or drink. Night Effects appears to be the first paint-on product to address this problem. The patent process they use is as follows. Immediately after applying the gel, the product forms a liquid strip coating that stays on your teeth overnight. The liquid strip slowly releases the whitening ingredient into your teeth to remove stains and loosen stain-causing build-up. In the morning, you simply brush the liquid strip coating and stains away.

Researchers have overcome the overnight challenge by developing a silicon-based gel applied with a brush. Secondly, it is not water soluble like other paint-on products. Because of this new technology, the whitening gel holds on your teeth for hours while you sleep. Over-the-counter whitening serves a selected market, however for the clinically accepted procedures, it is best to have your dentist involved.