InStyle Feature: How to Whiten Your Teeth Before a Wedding

Are you getting ready for your big day? Are you afraid your teeth aren't as white as your wedding gown? Whether you're a bridesmaid, groom, or Mother-Of-The-Bride, a beautiful smile is a big part of any celebration! Courtney Lavigne, DMD shares her exclusive tips with InStyle Magazine about how to Whiten Your Teeth Before Your Wedding

Schedule a consultation with Courtney Lavigne, DMD to see how we can help you get those pearly whites even whiter for the big day!

Thanks to InStyle Magazine for the opportunity to help readers learn about whitening options!

What Is Tooth Wear? Causes And Treatment.

One of the most common problems we see in our patients today isn’t decay or gum disease. Believe it or not, it’s tooth wear! Have you noticed the edges of your teeth chipping? How about more translucent edges to your teeth? Have you noticed all of your front teeth are the same length? If so, watch this video for an explanation of some of the most common causes of wear we see in our practice. 

While some patients don’t realize their teeth are wearing down faster than they should be, other patients come to us because of esthetic concerns or sensitivity as a result of the wear. Dental bonding, Invisalign, and porcelain veneers are some of the procedures we do often for tooth wear. The sooner you have the wear diagnosed, the more options you have for correcting the problem. Often, the sooner you address it, the less invasive the treatment!

If you are concerned about your teeth, give us a call. We’re happy to take a look!

A Safe Whitening Toothpaste? Yes!


We’re back with a quick update on the abrasiveness of toothpastes. I just learned about the Colgate Optic White line of toothpastes. This line is different because it has a chemical component to whiten teeth.

I’m really excited about a whitening toothpaste that is safe to use as your everyday paste! Typically I recommend avoiding whitening toothpastes because of how abrasive they are. Most whitening pastes work mechanically, through tiny beads called silica which can wear the teeth and gums.

Some of the Optic White pastes rely less on the mechanical action of silica and more heavily on the chemical action of hydrogen peroxide. This is a much safer way to whiten. All of the whitening options I stand behind have this peroxide-based chemical mode of action.

There are a number of types of Optic White toothpaste. Sparkling White has an RDA value between 100-110. While that’s low for a whitening paste, it’s still higher than I like to see for an everyday paste. A low abrasiveness paste has a value of 70 or less.

Colgate Optic White Express White has a greater concentration of hydrogen peroxide than the Sparkling White and a lower level of silica. As a result, the RDA value is between 46-50. That’s really low!

So for a safer toothpaste that will help to keep your teeth white, Colgate Optic White Express White is your best option.

If you have any questions about this or in-office whitening treatments that we offer, give us a call at 508-358-2122 or come in for a consult. Happy healthy brushing!

What Toothpaste Should I Use?


Whitening and tartar control toothpastes carry some serious side effects with prolonged use that everyone should be aware of. All toothpastes are given a relative dentin abrasivity number by the American Dental Association. The higher the RDA number, the more abrasive it is to the tooth surface.

Whitening and tartar control toothpastes have high RDA numbers.

With whitening toothpaste, abrasive particles are added to scrub surface stains harder. They don’t chemically whiten the teeth the way that Crest Whitestrips would, for example. These pastes can initially make teeth appear whiter because your wine, pasta sauce, coffee and tea gets scrubbed away more effectively. 

However, this has pretty serious long-term negative effects. The paste is so abrasive that it wears away tooth enamel, and eventually the second layer of tooth called dentin. 

Enamel is the outer white layer of tooth, dentin is the inner yellow layer. If you wear away the enamel, your teeth will become less shiny, more yellow, and you may notice notches along the gumline. Your gums can be affected as well, and recession can occur.

Tartar control toothpastes work in the same way. Those added abrasive particles will help to remove more tartar from your teeth...but again, you’ll remove some of the tooth structure as well.

To protect your teeth over time, Dr. Lavigne recommends toothpastes with an RDA value of 70 or less. 

If you tend to build up tartar quickly, more frequent cleanings are much healthier than tartar control toothpaste. And if you’re interested in whiter teeth, there are ways to achieve that - but your toothpaste is not one of them.

Happy, healthy brushing!


The Proper Way to Brush Your Teeth

Brushing your teeth is something we all do every single day, and improving your technique can preserve the health and youthfulness of your teeth and gums.


With either a manual or an electric, start by placing a pea-sized amount of paste on the brush. Angle the bristles 45 degrees to the gumline. If you angle the brush directly onto the teeth, you’ll still remove some of the plaque, but not as effectively, and you won’t stimulate the gums. 

If you have a Sonicare or an electric brush, gently and lightly pull the brush forward along each tooth. The electric brush does the “brushing” for you, so you don’t need to be moving the brush as you would with a manual. Keep a light grip on your brush, you shouldn’t have sweaty palms when you finish.  A light hold on your brush maintains light pressure on the teeth and gums, avoiding future enamel wear and gum recession.

If you’re using a manual toothbrush, you’ll still position the bristles at a 45 degree angle, but you have to do the brushing motion instead of the brush. The proper way to use a manual is to make light circles along the gumline. 

Remember to always use light pressure - brushing too hard will do more harm than good to the teeth and gums. If you find yourself “scrubbing” your teeth rather than brushing lightly, the Sonicare Flexcare is a great option because it vibrates when too much pressure is applied. If your bristles look frayed after a few months, that’s a less-than-subtle hint that you fall into this category!

Happy, healthy brushing!

At-Home Whitening

Dr. Lavigne walks through best practices for the Kor At-Home Whitening Treatment and sneaks in a few tips to help keep teeth feeling great and de-sensitized during the process.

I recommend using a sensitive toothpaste two weeks before starting your whitening treatment. Any paste that contains Potassium Nitrate will do the trick. Some common ones that I would recommend are Sensodyne, Colgate Sensitive, or Tom’s of Maine Sensitive.  

In addition to using a sensitive paste morning and night, your Kor whitening kit will come with a desensitizing gel to paint on your teeth. Apply the desensitizing gel before and after whitening tray use by evenly painting the teeth with a coating of the gel. Our whitening regimen is very patient-specific, so the amount of consecutive days you’ll wear your trays will vary depending on what you’ve been prescribed.

With at-home whitening, the amount of gel applied to the trays contributes to the success of the treatment. Applying too little leads to insufficient coating of the teeth and can make the teeth whiten in a splotchy manner. Applying too much can lead to gum irritation, swallowing of the material, and wasting your gel.

When applying the whitening gel, you should have the tip of the syringe facing the outside corner of the indentation for the teeth. Use a thin, continuous line along that outside corner until you get to the other side of the tray. If the line of gel thins in some areas, go back and fill it in. If the gel bunches up while you’re placing it, stop expelling it and thin that area out.

If you have any other questions about your treatment, always feel free to call us at the office at 508-358-2122. Happy whitening!