So you've finally taken the plunge and had your teeth professionally whitened. They look brighter and whiter than ever and you couldn't be happier. You're brushing twice a day, flossing every day, and switching out orange juice for your morning coffee. Your teeth love you!

But a few months down the road you forget to brush your teeth one night, and then you sneak a cup of coffee at work. A week later, you notice that the brightness of your teeth is beginning to fade. You ask yourself "What's going on here? It was just one cup of coffee...and I just had my teeth whitened!"

To get a brilliantly white smile that lasts, you will need to take steps to preserve the beautiful results. With take-home whitening kits, you can maintain your smile at home, without the need for multiple trips to the dentist.

Three Easy Steps to a Whiter Smile

At the office of the Santa Monica teeth whitening dentist, we often recommend at-home whitening as a follow-up for in-office treatments. Whitening at home can help improve the brightness of your smile and prevent your teeth from losing that beautiful glow.

Getting the at-home teeth whitening process started is simple:

  • We’ll make an appointment for you so we can take impressions that we use to fabricate custom-made whitening trays. In about a week, you’ll get the trays back and use them to apply the whitening solution to your teeth.
  • During your appointment, our dentist or hygienist will give you instructions on how to use the custom whitening kit. We’ll show you how much whitening gel to put in the tray and how it is dispensed.
  • After you receive your custom trays, you will apply the whitening gel for about an hour every day for two to three weeks. The results are not as fast as in-office whitening, but they can be just as dramatic - you can expect that the color of your teeth will improve by several shades.

We think take-home whitening kits are a great option! If you're interested in getting more information, please call the Santa Monica teeth whitening dentist to arrange an appointment.



Teeth grinding and clenching of your jaw while you sleep can create serious problems with your oral health, including bite misalignment, cracked or chipped teeth, and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Some common signs that you grind your teeth during sleep are chronic headaches upon waking, shoulder and neck pain or a sensation that your jaw locks up when opening and closing your mouth.

Identifying the Cause

After a thorough dental examination by the Santa Monica family dentist, we can determine what the probable cause of your teeth grinding is and which treatment approach may be necessary to prevent long-term damage to your teeth. There are several reasons people grind or clench their teeth (also referred to as bruxing or bruxism):

  • Injury or trauma to the temporomandibular joint.
  • Misaligned dental bite
  • Muscle tension

A misaligned dental bite can cause your back teeth to become unbalanced, resulting in an excessive force being placed on one side of your mouth. In this case, you do not bite down evenly on all teeth, and the jaw shifts from its normal position to bring the rest of your teeth together.

This action causes you to clench or grind your teeth on that side of your mouth and puts constant, unnatural force on the joint and surrounding muscles. This is why you experience head and neck pain.

Simple, Non-Invasive Treatment

In many cases, the Santa Monica family dentist can create a simple custom appliance called a night guard that will reduce this uneven force on your teeth. However, a thorough exam is the best way to assess your situation and determine the underlying cause and best treatment for your teeth grinding and clenching.

If you believe that your symptoms may be caused by teeth grinding, please contact our office. We will discuss your symptoms and work with you to determine the best course of treatment that will address your needs and provide relief.


Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, can be a big problem if left untreated. But before you even reach the treatment stage, there are things you can do to help prevent gum disease from ever affecting you. Let’s take a closer look at what this disease is, and the different prevention methods.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Gum disease is the result of bacteria and plaque (a colorless, sticky film) buildup between the teeth and gums. As the bacteria grows, the surrounding gums become inflamed. The more inflamed the gums become, the more likely it is that the person will experience discomfort and bleeding.

What Happens If Gum Disease Goes Untreated?

Eventually, the diseased gums will begin deteriorating. Even worse, the bone structure supporting the gums and teeth will also start eroding. In some cases this erosion results in gum recession, and ultimately, tooth loss. Also, it’s believed that a connection may exist between gum disease and other serious ailments, such as heart disease and diabetes.

Carol E. Follette DDS in Santa Monica offers effective gum disease treatments: for example, periodontal laser treatment.

Tips For Preventing Gum Disease

Eliminate Risky Behavior

Smoking is a big contributor to gum disease and a host of other oral complications. Quitting smoking brings big benefits for your teeth and gums, not to mention the rest of your body. Along with smoking cessation, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet. Too many sugary foods/drinks and not enough protein contributes to the onset and exacerbation of gum disease.

Other factors that increase the likelihood of gum disease are age and genetics. But while we can’t control either, you can make good lifestyle choices that counter (to some extent) your genetics and the issues that arise with aging.

Brush Your Teeth

As we all know, brushing regularly contributes to a clean mouth – and a clean mouth is the best defense against gum disease. When you brush your teeth, you remove much of the food particles and plaque that find their way onto the teeth and the gums. And don’t just brush your teeth – brush your tongue too, since it’s a prime location for bacteria to lurk.

Use Mouthwash

When you combine tooth-brushing with a mouthwash swish, you remove even more of the plaque and food residue from your mouth. Mouthwash also penetrates areas that your toothbrush might not reach, and disinfects your tongue and the roof of your mouth.


Flossing is another great way to access spots along the gum line that your toothbrush may have missed. And of course, flossing is also good for dislodging food particles from between the teeth.

Visit a Periodontist

It’s a smart move to visit a local periodontist for an annual exam called a comprehensive periodontal evaluation (CPE). A CPE covers your gums, teeth, and plaque content, along with your bite and bone structure. The goal is to identify any gum disease symptoms early-on so that your mouth can be well-protected.

Carol E. Follette DDS offers decades of experience in a wide range of oral care practices, fromlaser periodontics and dental bonding, to veneers and family dentistry. Count on us to keep your mouth (and your family’s mouths too) healthy and clean.