Cosmetic Dentistry Guide
Cosmetic dentistry aims to improve the appearance of a person’s teeth, and may include changes to the teeth, gums, and bite of the person seeking treatment. A variety of procedures are available to suit individual needs.
Bleaching and Whitening
The most commonly performed cosmetic treatment for teeth is that of cosmetic whitening or bleaching of teeth. There are many issues and situations that lead to darkened and discolored teeth. These include aging, genetic predisposition, medications, smoking, and exposure to certain foods. Dental teeth whitening procedures are very safe and effective, offering protection to delicate gum tissue. Any sensitivity issues can be immediately addressed and dealt with as well. The effects of these treatments can be seen in as little as a one hour treatment. With professional dental whitening treatments, teeth can become up to 10 shades lighter and brighter in just one visit. With proper care and good oral hygiene, the results of a professional teeth whitening can last up to a year, or even longer.
Cosmetic dentists use composite resins and porcelain materials when filling teeth for a more natural appearance. These fillings are durable and effective when properly cared for and do not contain mercury like traditional metal, or amalgam, fillings.
Bonding is used to fix broken, chipped, or misshapen teeth. When a tooth is broken or chipped without too much damage to the tooth, it can be prepared and then repaired with the addition of bonding material. The bonding material attaches to and actually bonds with the remaining tooth surface to create a natural looking and long lasting surface that resembles and functions like a real tooth. The affected tooth is prepared for bonding, then the bonding material, such as composite resin or porcelain, is attached to the tooth. The cosmetic dentist then sculpts and shapes the bonding material into the desired form. The material is then hardened and polished. The end result is a natural looking tooth.
As material is added in the process of bonding, excessive tooth material can be removed in order to reshape the teeth. Teeth that are slightly uneven, large, or misshapen can be contoured to create more evenly proportioned teeth that are straighter and more even. In reshaping, part of the affected tooth is removed, typically just the enamel, in order for the tooth to better match existing teeth. Even slightly crooked teeth can be reshaped to eliminate the need for braces and other orthodontic procedures.
Veneers are placed onto the front surface of teeth to change the appearance of teeth. Porcelain laminate veneers are very thin slices of porcelain that can be cemented to the front of a tooth. Part of the tooth must be shaved off to make room for the veneer, but only a small reduction is necessary. Veneers can help make teeth look whiter, resist stains, and correct teeth that are just a little crooked for straighter appearing teeth.
When a tooth has been extremely damaged through decay or has been broken beyond the ability to be bonded, crowns are often used. A crown replaces the entire outer portion of the tooth, offering protection, function, and even an improved appearance for affected teeth. A crowns is an artificial tooth covering that take time to make, but is then placed over the remaining part of each affected tooth. A crown can eliminate the need for entire tooth removal and the need for a partial denture or a bridge.
Dentures and Partials
When one or more teeth are missing, artificial teeth in the form of dentures or partials can be used to regain functioning and appearance. A denture is used when a whole row of teeth is missing, whereas a partial is used when just one or more teeth are missing but there are still good teeth on either side of the gap. Both dentures and partials are removable.
A dental bridge is similar to a partial denture, but it is a permanent fixture in the mouth. Artificial teeth are created to replace one or more missing teeth in a row. Healthy teeth on either side of the gap are readied for crown placement. The bridge is a series of artificial teeth with a crown on either side. The crowns are placed over the prepared teeth, allowing a gap to be bridged in a more permanent fashion than by using a partial denture.
The use of dental implants is becoming a popular preference in the replacement of a missing tooth or missing teeth. This is because implants are a permanent, attractive, and durable option to replace missing teeth and offer the look and feel of natural teeth, more so than other tooth replacement options. A base is actually installed into the gum and jawbone to mimic the root of a missing tooth. A crown is attached to this base. The base actually fuses into the jawbone, making dental implants durable and functional. They are hard to distinguish between real teeth. Dental implants can last a lifetime when cared for properly.
There are many other procedures involved in cosmetic dentistry that involve gums, jaw, and bite. These are not as common as other procedures, but are available as necessary from trained cosmetic dentists and surgeons.