For more than 17 years, New York City dentist Dr. Timothy Chase has been practicing cosmetic and restorative dentistry with an emphasis on natural tooth preservation and oral health. After earning his Doctor of Dental Medicine from Boston University, he completed a general practice residency at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and is himself a dedicated educator, having held faculty positions at New York University Dental School and Spear Advanced Dental Education Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dr. Chase remains on the forefront of advances in restorative and cosmetic dentistry and is also a prominent figure in the media – his expert advice has been featured in numerous fashion and beauty publications. Dr. Chase is co-founder of FishmanRothChase & Associates and SmilesNY.
Tell us a little bit about your history and how you chose to practice dentistry
My father is the oldest of 5 boys and 2 of his younger brothers were dentists. One of them had a home office that I would visit a lot and I found all of the equipment to be very cool. As a kid I loved working with my hands, building models, fixing electronics, and woodworking projects, so dentistry fit right in. Add to that my love for science and my career path was set.
What specific procedures are most requested by your patients?
My practice is located on the upper east side of Manhattan, a few feet from Bloomingdale’s. So as you could imagine most of the requests are for beautiful, whiter, straighter, younger-looking smiles that must look natural. These goals can be achieved using Invisalign, tooth whitening, gum lifts, and of course porcelain veneers or a combination of any or all of them.
How have you seen cosmetic dentistry evolve during your career?
I’ve been practicing for just about 20 years and many exciting things have happened in that time, the most important being that now more than ever people are interested in the beauty of their smile. Whitening played a big part of that – it’s a billion dollar industry – but it also led to increased interest in taking good care of your teeth from a health standpoint, which is the most important thing. Pretty teeth are only as good as the healthy gums and bone they are built on.
Just to name a few things that have changed the way we practice: metal-free crowns; better and stronger, more lifelike porcelain; dental super glue that allows us to bond veneers almost anywhere and conserve the natural tooth; and dental implants that have made tooth replacement predictable and easy – hardly anyone has to wear a denture anymore. Again, the best thing that has happened is that people are now much more interested in taking care of their teeth than they were 20 years ago.
What are the most harmful things people do to their teeth and smiles?
The big 3: diet, homecare, and habits.
- Diet—too much sugar, sticky foods, foods that stain, and acidic foods all damage teeth, and smoking is a tooth killer.
- Homecare—failing to properly clean your teeth by brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist regularly
- Habits—biting your nails, chewing on pens, over aggressive brushing, clenching, and grinding teeth all cause problems
What tips do you have for achieving and maintaining a beautiful, healthy smile?
- Use a non-alcohol mouthwash; the alcohol tends to dry the mouth out.
- Floss at least once a day; it cleans out food particles and bacteria and it brings oxygen under the gums to help reduce mouth odor.
- For a quick, at home “Power Bleach,” use traditional at home whitening gel, but change the solution every 10 minutes instead of leaving it in for the full half hour. This is because the gel gets weaker over time. Switching solutions insures that the gel is fresh and stronger the entire time. It leads to better, quicker results.
- Instead of using toothpaste with a whitening product in it, opt for the regular toothpaste instead. Whitening toothpaste only removes surface stains by using more abrasive particles and may harm your teeth and gums. It does not actually bleach the teeth.
- Drink less soda and coffee, but if you find yourself reaching for those sugary, staining drinks, make sure you brush or at least rinse out your mouth with water after.
- Bring a toothbrush to work. Brushing after lunch helps keep your breath fresh and your gums healthy. Make sure you remember to brush your tongue—reducing the bacteria on it helps to keep your breath fresh.
- In a pinch, you can chew sugar free gum; those containing xylitol have been shown in studies to reduce the bacteria that cause tooth decay.
- Certain foods help to remove bacteria that cause plaque, which hardens into a yellowish tartar if not brushed away soon enough. Crunchy fruits and vegetables (apples, cauliflower carrots, celery, etc.) work best because they function as an abrasive scrub for your teeth. They also stimulate the production of saliva, which helps to keep plaque from forming.
- Strawberries and oranges are both useful for polishing teeth. Rubbing an orange peel or a strawberry over your teeth, following by washing out your mouth with water will get your noticeably whiter teeth after a few months.
- Dairy products such as yogurt, milk, and cheese contain a lactic acid, which may help protect teeth against decay. Hard cheeses are best for whitening since they help remove food particles as well.
- It’s important to avoid stain-causing foods and substances as much as possible. A simple rule is any food that causes a stubborn laundry stain can stain teeth too. Brushing teeth or at least rinsing one’s mouth with water after consuming these foods is a great way to help prevent staining. Foods to avoid include coffee, tea, blueberries, red wine, soy sauce, and soda, as well as tobacco.
What exciting new advances in cosmetic and restorative dentistry can you tell us about?
Three leading advances in dental technology that are enhancing the way dentists treat their patients and aiding in early detection of dental issues that could negatively impact overall health are:
- Reverse Anesthesia—the process of reversing the effects of anesthesia, which causes numbness
- Scanning teeth vs. traditional impressions (“goop”)
- Laser cavity detection—spotting cavities before they come to fruition