Dentistry is no longer just about maintaining healthy teeth. Many people opt for cosmetic dentistry as a way to improve their appearance the same way they would choose a new hairstyle. There are a variety of treatments available to straighten, lighten, reshape, and repair your teeth. Cosmetic or aesthetic dentistry includes veneers, crowns, bridges, tooth-colored fillings, implants, and teeth whitening. Here are the different options you can choose from to enhance your smile:
These are hard, thin shells of tooth-colored porcelain that can mask several dental imperfections. Comparable to placing artificial nails over natural fingernails, veneers can easily hide and correct gaps, chips, and cracks in teeth. In order to position veneers, a small amount of enamel is removed from the tooth and then an impression is sent to a dental technician, who makes a veneer custom to your tooth. The veneer is then bonded to the tooth, resulting in a strong and natural-looking tooth.
A relatively inexpensive way to improve your smile is by whitening your teeth a few shades. This can be done at home using over-the-counter products or in your dentist’s chair in as little time as one visit.
Professional whitening can be done by using dental trays custom made for your teeth and filled with diluted hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Once you start this treatment, you can bring the trays home and continue the treatments at your own leisure. It can take around three to four weeks to acquire the desired results depending on how many shades lighter you want to go. It is important to remember that only natural teeth can be whitened, so fillings, crowns, bridges, and dentures will remain the same shade through this process.
Your dentist can also provide laser whitening or ‘power whitening. During the treatment, the light from a laser speeds up the chemical reaction of the whitening product and the shade change can be achieved very quickly. The treatment usually takes about an hour and can make teeth up to five or six shades lighter. It is always recommended to use Sensodyne toothpaste at least three weeks prior to whitening in order to reduce sensitivity.
Usually made of titanium, implants can be used to replace the root portion of a missing tooth. A crown is fitted on top to create a natural-looking replacement for the entire tooth. This method is used as an alternative to dentures and bridges, but tends to be more expensive. Implants are a good choice if you find dentures uncomfortable and inconvenient.
Heavily damaged teeth can be covered with natural-looking porcelain crowns. They are ideal for larger teeth like molars and can fix an incorrect bite, which is when the teeth do not meet properly. Your dentist makes a crown by shaping the tooth under local anesthetic and then taking an impression using a rubber-like material. The impression is sent to a lab where the technician makes the crown in the appropriate shade. It can be made using several different materials, but porcelain is the most common. New materials are constantly being introduced, which is why it is important to talk to your dentist about which is best for you.
Gone are the days of obvious and unsightly fillings. Now, tooth-colored fillings are barely noticeable. For more than 150 years, fillings were made with silver-grey colored material called amalgam because of their strength and durability. White fillings are now available and can match the shade of your teeth while also providing strength and durability. They can also be used to cover marks on teeth discreetly in a similar way to veneers.
A missing tooth can be replaced with porcelain bridgework that is attached to the natural teeth on either side of the missing tooth. This option is ideal for people who do not like dentures and only have a few missing teeth. If you do not want your remaining teeth drilled, adhesive bridges are also available. These are made of a false tooth with metal wings on each side, which is then bonded to the teeth on either side, with very little drilling. Instead, the teeth are roughened and the bridge is fitted using a very strong composite resin.
No two people have the same mouth and so the procedure(s) you need will depend on the look you want for your teeth. Consult one of our dentists at Westney North Dental to determine which treatment options are right for you.