Veneers have also seen a rise in popularity with younger generations as of late, and even though the fashion crowd may love their gap-toothed beauties, not all ladies with gaps between their two front teeth like how their pearly, or not-so-pearly whites look. That’s when they turn to cosmetic dentists like Dr. Michael Apa, a NYC-based dentist who’s seen his share of stories – he’s based in the Upper East Side in a land of Gossip Girls young and old – perfect territory in which to explore all the tooth whitening options out there. We caught up with Dr. Apa to talk tooth whitening – from making a permanent change to your teeth to reaching for those handy dandy Crest White Strips.
StyleCaster: Can everyone whiten their teeth, or are there certain people who won’t benefit from whitening products – or worse, be harmed by them?
Dr. Michael Apa: Whitening doesn’t take for everyone, and tooth color isn’t usually the problem. Whitening is the first thing people think of when they think of cosmetic dentistry, but really only about 10 percent of the population benefits from whitening. Usually, it brings more attention to other flaws in your teeth.
SC: DIY whitening kits are obviously cheaper than in-office services. Is there any difference between the two?
MA: In-office whitening is about six times more powerful than DIY whitening and takes less time.
SC: Should we avoid certain foods/drinks after a whitening session?
MA: For 24 hours after you whiten your teeth, you should stay away from tea, red wine, marijuana, and cigars – anything that stains. These will always stain your teeth, but the bleach makes teeth more susceptible to discoloration.
SC: Not to sound compulsive here, but how frequently should we whiten our teeth to keep up the treatment? Does whitening damage teeth or make them more fragile?
MA: Over bleaching can cause sensitivity in teeth and gums. Also, it can make your teeth turn grey or translucent. You can try eating more foods like celery which can naturally whiten teeth because they contain organic phosphates for a safer form of whitening.
SC: We hear about Hollywood stars getting them all the time, but how common are veneers for young people?
MA: A lot of younger people have veneers. About 80 percent of my personal clients are under 35, and around 50 percent of the entire office’s clients are under 35.
SC: What goes into the creation of veneers?
MA: Vision goes into the creation of veneers. The dentist needs to be able to see where the teeth should end up, and what shape and color would best complement the patient’s face and skin tone. It takes artistry, especially since these veneers are first made into a handmade custom mold and then sent to a ceramicist. Cosmetic dentists are more like artists than doctors.
SC: Veneers seem like a big commitment. Is there a way to test them out before committing?
MA: When patients come in, I make them temporary veneers so they can see the difference for themselves. I call them “Imagine Systems” – they don’t truly represent what cosmetic dentistry can do, since it’s digitally putting someone else’s teeth into the patient’s face, but it’s a close example. Veneers have to be custom made with the patient’s face in mind.
SC: Are there other corrective services you offer besides whitening and veneers?
MA: I do almost exclusively veneers; whitening is just an additional service. Invisalign is also sometimes done in conjunction with veneers.
SC: What simple daily routine do you recommend for maintaining a beautiful smile?
MA: Brushing, flossing, and regular cleanings should maintain a smile.
A graduate of NYU College of Dentistry, Dr. Apa, 32, is partner in The Rosenthal /Apa Group on Manhattan’s Upper East Side where he concentrates exclusively on aesthetic and restorative dentistry. A Ford Model for a short stint between undergraduate school and Graduate School, Dr. Apa has a personal understanding of how conservative, non-evasive cosmetic dental procedures positively impact patients’ overall appearance and self-confidence. He’s recently been profiled in Departures Magazine (“The Not-So-Perfect Smile,”), W, Men’s Vogue, Oprah, Marie Claire, InStyle and Forbes. Some of his celebrity patients are Chloe Sevigny, model Bridget Hall, Matt Dillon, Vera Wang, and designer Rachel Roy, as well as high-powered businessmen and women and international royal figures.