Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Holland, and surrounding Michigan areas

Patient Resources FAQ's | A Life of Smiles in Grand Rapids, MI

There is no such thing as an incorrect question. Comfort in the dental chair comes in part from knowing what to expect while you’re there. Doctors Jerry and Allyson Mulder are available to give you all the answers you need about our dental services and fill you in on any details you may be curious about. Call our Grand Rapids office to discuss your concerns, send us an email or set up a smile evaluation to find out more.

View common questions related to each of the cosmetic dentistry procedures below:

CEREC Restorations

How does CEREC create a restoration?

After the damaged enamel is cleaned out, the tooth surface is prepared. A highly magnified photo is taken and sent to the computer. Dr. Mulder uses this 3-D digital image to design your new restoration, whether it’s a crown, an inlay, or an onlay.

Then he chooses a shade of porcelain that matches your natural teeth from which to make the restoration. The CEREC milling machine shapes the raw porcelain to Dr. Mulder’s specifications, so that it will fit your tooth exactly. After placing and bonding it in position, Dr. Mulder will polish it to a glossy finish.

Which restorations can CEREC be used for?

CEREC may be used to create porcelain veneers, inlays and onlays, and crowns. Visit Dr. Mulder for your smile evaluation. If you need any of these procedures, you’ll be amazed at how quickly and esthetically they’ll be done using the CEREC system.

How long will my CEREC appointment last?

Most treatments using CEREC will take about an hour and a half, possibly longer if more than one restoration is being crafted.

Will my CEREC restoration look as good as a handcrafted restoration?

There’s no reason why a CEREC restoration shouldn’t look as good or better than a lab-fabricated one if an experienced and skillful doctor is at the helm. CEREC has become popular in premium dental offices around the nation not only for the convenience it offers, but also for its ability to create high-quality, natural-looking restorations. The CEREC software is very technologically advanced, but its final results depend on how well the dentist uses it. Dr. Mulder has excellent training and a great deal of experience using it, and you’ll be very pleased with your new teeth.

Cosmetic Dentistry

Are CEREC restorations high quality?

The amazing thing about the CEREC technology is that it not only creates same-day restorations, but rivals the craftsmanship of lab-created crowns and fillings. Dr. Mulder uses CEREC’s infrared camera to obtain a very highly detailed image of the tooth being repaired, and then guides the software to create an extremely precise dental restoration. He then bonds it to your natural teeth so that it becomes a part of your teeth.

We use high quality porcelain and with the precision of our CEREC system, we obtain a very natural, plaque-resistant result.

What’s the best way to correct my crooked smile?

That partly depends on your exact dental circumstances. For a permanent smile renovation, orthodontic treatment is the way to go. Invisalign offers more permanent results but the process takes longer as compared to porcelain veneers or bonding. Porcelain veneers and bonding offer quick results without the commitment of orthodontic work. Dr. Mulder can recommend your ideal treatment after your smile evaluation.

Can I replace old or metal crowns and fillings?

Yes. Dr. Mulder sees many patients who are tired of metal mouth and unnatural-looking dental work. With CEREC technology and Dr. Mulder’s unparalleled cosmetic dentistry skills, you can replace old fillings, crowns and other restorations with modern, strong and discreet porcelain.

What can be done to fix my gummy grin?

Gum reshaping is an effective and painless method of repairing overly gummy smiles. Dr. Mulder uses precise laser technology to safely vaporize gum tissue and reveal more of your pearly whites. Learn more about Laser Gum Recontouring.

Dental Implants

What effects can missing teeth have on dental health?

Missing teeth, known as edentulism, can not only damage the appearance of your smile, but put a dent in your dental health as well. Failing to replace missing teeth with implants or dentures may:

  • Adversely affect your nutrition by limiting food choices
  • Result in loss of additional teeth due to stress
  • Create a misaligned bite when the remaining teeth migrate to fill the gap, and
  • Eventually lead to bone loss
Will a dental implant appear obvious?

The implant is the artificial tooth root, and won’t be visible. Grand Rapids dentist Dr. Mulder uses his 25+ years of expertise to create very lifelike artificial teeth for his patients. He uses modern materials that are crafted so intricately, they are virtually indistinguishable from natural enamel. The implants are matched beautifully to your tooth shade, built for strength, and strongly anchored to the implant.

How soon can I have my implant finished?

Your implant timeline will depend on the type of implant chosen and your schedule. Because there are several steps in the implant process, you can expect to wait anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Grand Rapids implant dentist Dr. Mulder will go over the expected timeline with you during your consultation.

Can I trust my implant to withstand the same pressure as natural teeth?

Absolutely. The implant, the artificial tooth root, becomes part of the jawbone and forms a very sturdy base for the artificial tooth attached to it.

Studies indicate that implants, when well made, may actually be able to withstand more pressure than natural teeth! Implants are often the tooth replacement of choice, as they are inherently stronger than dentures and partials.

Once your implant is placed and healed, you should be able to eat and speak normally. Remember that you should only use your artificial tooth for normal chewing, and should avoid biting on inanimate objects or using your teeth to open things such as soda bottles.


Is plastic really strong enough to move my teeth?

Not everybody is a good candidate for Invisalign. But if you are, these clear aligners are as effective as metal brackets. Whether you need subtle or more dramatic straightening, Invisalign has proven itself as effective. To ensure the best results, make sure to comply with Dr. Mulder’s wearing instructions.

How are the plastic aligners created?

After a thorough evaluation, 3-D technology is used to custom craft your aligners from impressions of your teeth which Dr. Mulder will take. Each set is shaped to apply slightly different pressures from the previous set, depending on your exact dental conditions, and the totality of tooth movement required.

Is Invisalign more expensive than metal braces?

The cost of your Invisalign treatment will be determined by the number of aligners you will require to reach your desired smile, and by the length of treatment time. The treatment is kept affordable with payment plans.

How long will I need to wear my clear braces?

The length of Invisalign treatment time can range from six or eight months to perhaps 18, depending on your exact dental circumstances. You can find out during your smile consultation with Dr. Mulder whether you’d be a good candidate for Invisalign, and if so, approximately how long it might take.

Laser Soft Tissue Recontouring

How does the doctor use a laser to reshape gum tissue?

Dr. Mulder applies the precise energy of the laser light onto areas of excess gum tissue. He uses a laser wavelength tailored for gum tissue, as opposed to tooth enamel, for instance. Different body tissues absorb different wavelengths and reflect other wavelengths. The laser instantly vaporizes unwanted gum tissue, leaving all other tissue intact. A topical anesthetic is used and healing afterwards is very fast and easy.

What advantages does the laser offer over traditional gum treatment?

The laser offers many benefits including:

  • A faster procedure
  • Little to no bleeding
  • Less swelling
  • Less discomfort
  • Quicker healing
  • Complete sterility in the treated area
  • No need for stitches

Many patients feel much more at ease knowing that a laser, as opposed to a drill, is being used.

Will I feel anything during gum recontouring?

A topical anesthetic will be used if you prefer. Many people report feeling no pain during the procedure, and very little if any discomfort during the short healing process. The laser is also silent and fast. If you suffer from intense anxiety at the prospect of any dental procedure, you could opt for conscious sedation.

Porcelain Veeners

Am I a good candidate for porcelain veneers?

Veneers usually work well for patients with healthy teeth who just need a little cosmetic change. Dr. Mulder will need to evaluate your current dental health before making a treatment recommendation. Schedule your free smile evaluation today to find out if porcelain veneers are right for you.

What advantages does porcelain offer?

Porcelain makes such a great material for cosmetic restorations and veneers because it is strong, stain-resistant, and translucent. It absorbs and reflects light the same way that natural enamel does. Dr. Mulder can match your porcelain veneers to your natural tooth shade. Veneers done well are virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth!

Sedation Dentistry

How long will I be under the effects of the sedative?

Typically you’ll be taking one-pill, which will keep you drowsy and relaxed for four to six hours. Whether your dental procedure(s) take that entire time or not, do make sure to have someone to drive you home.

How much dental work can I have performed during a sedation dentistry visit?

One of the great things about sedation dentistry is that it allows several treatments to be performed in one visit. Dr. Mulder can work more quickly while you’re drowsy and not resisting his work.

Also, with the use of the CEREC machine, restorations can be created on the spot. Depending on your schedule and Dr. Mulder’s, you may be able to have several hours worth of treatment performed all at once. For instance, you could have a cleaning, a filling, and a crown performed in one visit! Traditionally, that would have required four visits.

Will sedation dentistry cure my dental phobia?

Sedation dentistry is not a cure for anxiety, but a temporary solution that allows dental work to be completed more quickly and easily. However, after a few worry-free visits, some people find that they do experience less anxiety than they used to. Read more about dealing with dental anxiety.

What are the risks associated with sedation dentistry?

>While use of sedation in the dental industry is regulated for safety by ADA guidelines, there is always some degree of risk involved with any medication. Assuming you are in good health and have been upfront with your doctor about your health history and current medical conditions, your risk of experiencing adverse side effects should be extremely low. Also make sure you choose a sedation doctor with certification.

Smile Makeover

How do I know which combination of treatments will give me the best smile?

There is no specific formula for a beautiful smile. Dr. Mulder considers many factors in the design process, including personality, tooth and gum health, facial appearance, and desired look. Dr. Mulder will recommend a unique combination of treatments to create a smile you can be proud to show off. Treatments for smile makeovers may include whitening, veneers, metal-free fillings, porcelain crowns, bonding, Invisalign aligners, soft-tissue gum recontouring and more. Schedule a smile evaluation to discuss your smile enhancement needs.

How long will a complete smile makeover take?

This will vary based on the number of treatments being performed and how close together you’re able to schedule your visits. For minor smile enhancements, you can see results in as little as one or two visits. Other treatment options such as Invisalign will require several months for completion. During your smile evaluation, you’ll discuss your smile goals with Dr. Mulder and at that point he can give you an estimated treatment timeframe.

Will I be able to afford multiple treatments?

Dr. Mulder offers flexible payment options to allow all patients to have the beautiful smile they want and deserve. By combining your smile makeover with other treatments, you may be able to save money. Choose from payment upfront by check or major credit card, or learn about our affordable financing options.

Can I preview the results before I begin treatment?

Dr. Mulder will not begin your smile treatment until you have a distinct understanding of how your results will look. You will have the opportunity to view a digital image of your new smile before consenting to treatment. You may also want to check out before-and-after photos of patients who’ve had similar smile makeovers performed.

TMJ Treatment

How do I know if my symptoms are caused by stress or TMJ?

You don’t! Only a qualified dentist can rule out TMJ as the culprit. TMJ symptoms can mimic signs of stress, and can be worsened by added stress. However, TMJ symptoms tend to be more frequent and severe than stress indicators. Schedule your TMJ consultation with Dr. Mulder today.

What if my current dentist does not offer neuromuscular dentistry?

Find a neuromuscular dentist in the Grand Rapids area that is able to diagnose and treat TMJ. You cannot hope for a solution to your pain unless you find a dentist who can first properly identify the source of your pain. Dr. Mulder is trained in TMJ and neuromuscular dentistry, and is skilled in finding which treatment is best for you. Neuromuscular dentists have undergone extensive training and have the diagnostic equipment needed for a thorough evaluation.

Will an oral appliance or bite guard relieve my pain?

The TENS treatment is used to help diagnose chronically strained muscles. The oral appliance, or splint, will be used afterwards, when the TENS information has allowed Dr. Mulder to design the right kind of splint for you. The purpose of the splint is to retrain the jaw to its new position, that is, to retrain the chewing muscles to the new bite.

What happens if TMJ is left untreated?

Depending on the severity of your jaw misalignment, TMJ may lead to increased pain, more frequent headaches, and unbearable tension. TMJ symptoms can affect your daily life, preventing you from doing a variety of activities, and breaking your concentration. Undiagnosed TMJ is not only painful, but can lead to tooth loss, bone damage, and muscle atrophy.

Tooth Whitening

What types of stains can professional whitening treat?

Michigan cosmetic dentist Dr. Mulder answers common questions about Invisalign clear braces. Contact us today to learn more about how Invisalign may straighten your teeth and perfect your smile.Our Grand Rapids in-office and at-home whitening solutions are designed to remove surface staining caused by coffee, wine, tea, tobacco, and aging. There are some antibiotics which cause tooth discoloration when they’re given during childhood, and these stains are very difficult to remove. No tooth whiteners can alter the color of dental restorations like fillings, crowns, and veneers.

Am I a good candidate for tooth whitening?

If you have discolored teeth that you wish looked whiter and more youthful, chances are you will be approved for any of Dr. Mulder’s safe whitening programs. If you have discoloration due to tetracycline or high fluoride doses, you may also benefit from whitening treatment, although the results may be less dramatic. If you have sensitive teeth Dr. Mulder can put you on a lower percentage gel or you can use a desensitizing gel. This may take longer than an average patient but the same results should be expected. Patients with periodontal disease should seek treatment with Dr. Mulder to correct the condition of their gums prior to tooth whitening. If you are pregnant or breast feeding, we recommended that you wait post-up for your whitening treatment. If a child requests tooth whitening, we recommend they start around the age of 15 or older. If you have any questions regarding being a candidate for tooth whitening, do not hesitate to call or email us with any questions.

Which tooth whitening treatment works best?

Each whitening treatment has differing advantages and disadvantages. Dr. Mulder will evaluate your current dental health, health history, lifestyle, and smile goals to help you decide which treatment can deliver the results you expect. Certain treatments may work better on specific types of stains. Schedule your evaluation.

Will my whitening results last?

Dr. Mulder’s professional whitening systems are more potent and longer-lasting than over-the-counter methods. However, the patient also plays an important role in maintaining a bright smile. You will need to follow the doctor’s post-treatment care instructions and avoid substances that cause discoloration. Use of professional brushing and rinsing products can extend the life of your whitening treatment.

Your Grand Rapids dentist at A Life of Smiles is right around the corner. Call 616.458.0631 or email the office of Grand Rapids dentists Dr. Jerry Mulder and Dr. Allyson Mulder today for your smile evaluation and find out more about cosmetic dentistry procedures.