IMPROVE MY SMILE
A smile can be the most eye-catching feature of a face. With dentistry's many advances, you no longer have to settle for stained, chipped, or misshapen teeth. You now have choices that can help you smile with confidence.
Even the most subtle change in your smile can make a dramatic difference in the way you look and feel about yourself. Talk to your dentist about the options most suitable for you, what your expectations are and the dental fees involved.
The most popular methods for improving your smile are:
Braces are a common method of changing one's appearance. 20% of today's patients are adults. They are usually placed by an orthodontist or a experienced general dentist. Orthodontics is the dental field that involves the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of problems caused by poorly positioned teeth. When teeth are out of position they sometimes look unaesthetic but also are more susceptible to periodontal (gum) disease and dental decay. A poor bite can also stress your jaw joints (TMJs) and muscles and cause pain.
There are different types of treatments to correct the position of teeth. There are fixed and removable appliances. These appliances gently move the teeth and bone until they are in a desirable position. The most common type of fixed appliance is 'braces'. The braces consist of a bracket, made out of plastic, metal or ceramics, and an arch wire which connects them. The teeth are moved by adjusting the pressures on the teeth by the archwire. Sometimes, springs or rubber bands are used to help. In certain instances the brackets can be placed on the lingual or inside surface of the teeth so they are less visible. These braces are tightened periodically and some discomfort is felt at that time.
The length of time it takes to move the teeth to the desired location varies from person to person. The average is from 18 months to 30 months for children and may be longer for adults. The time depends on the difficulty of the case, the amount of room available, the distance the teeth must travel, the cooperativity of the patient and the bone and the age of the patient. In some adults braces can't correct the problem and a jaw surgery is necessary. After the braces come off a removable retainer is used to keep the teeth from moving back to their original positions. This retainer must be used. Sometimes it is still used years after the braces come off.
Bonding is the term used when a dentist 'bonds' a tooth colored resin onto the tooth to repair a fractured, worn or chipped tooth, cover up a discoloration on a tooth, or close a small space or gap between two teeth. The dentist lightly prepares the tooth to receive the material and etches the surface so the material has more surface area to bond to. He coats the tooth with a bonding liquid and then shines a light on the tooth to set it. He then places the putty like material on the tooth and shapes it to the desires shape and then shines a light on the tooth again to harden the material. After it is set he trims and polishes the resin to a luster. This can be performed in one or more appointments depending on the number of teeth involved.
Bonding usually lasts from 3 to 5 years and before needing to be repaired. Because the material is a plastic resin it is not as strong as your natural teeth and can be chipped or broken, if not careful. The material is also porous and eventually will pick up stains. The bonded surface will wear and get duller in appearance after a while unless special toothpastes are used. Proper home care and professional cleanings will keep your restored teeth healthy. Bonding not only restores your tooth but also helps to improve your appearance and self-confidence. People are sometimes hesitant to smile because of the way their front teeth look, after bonding they can smile freely again.
More Dental Fillings
A popular method for treating moderately stained or discolored teeth is bleaching. These stains often can not be removed with regular professional cleanings. The most popular method of bleaching is the at-home method. There are a few good products out on the market that are dispensed by dentists. I do not suggest to use the off the shelf variety. They can cause more harm than good.
First, the dentist makes a mold of your teeth and makes a custom mouthtray. The mouthtray will hold the bleaching material against the tooth surface without concentrating the agent on the gum tissue. If the material contacts the gum tissue to long the gum tissue can be irritated or even burned. The tray is worn 1/2 hour to 2 hours per day and a noticible improvement usually takes place within 2 weeks. Some bleaching agents say you can wear them all night but your teeth may get very sensitive after doing this. You may continue using the product until you reach your desired whiteness. Sometimes you can not achieve the desired whiteness and will have to settle for something less. The dentist may have you come in periodically to check the progress and the reaction to the gum tissue, if any. After you have lightened your teeth, you may need to periodically (once every couple of months) bleach them for a session to keep the whiteness.
More Teeth Whitening
Veneers or Porcelain Laminate Veneers are the strongest way to repair a broken portion of your tooth. They are used to correct the same things as bonding does. They can cover up discoloration, repair a damaged tooth or change the shape or size of your teeth. They are much stronger than bonding. They will not pick up stain like bonding does. They will retain their luster, unlike bonding. They will usually last 4 or more years. This is a two appointment procedure. The first appointment is the preparation phase. A small amount of enamel is removed off the front of the tooth and an impression is made. The impression is sent to the lab and the lab makes a front of the tooth, much like a false fingernail, out of porcelain. The dentist tries in, bonds, trims and polishes the veneers at the next appointment. The seating is usually a time consuming appointment and can last for hours. But usually quite worth the wait. Compared to crowns, veneers are a more conservative method for restoring a moderately fractured tooth.
What Are Veneers ?
Veneers are thin, custom-made moldings that cover the fronts of unsightly teeth. They are crafted from toothcolored, high-tech materials to portray a natural, bright smile.
Should You Consider Veneers ?
Veneers provide an alternative to traditional crowns. They cover unattractive gaps, and can mask stained, mis-shapen, or crooked teeth. If these conditions apply to your mouth, veneers may be your best option.
How Long Will Veneers Last ?
Veneers are intended to last for many years. Unlike most bonding materials, veneers will not change color over time. You should consult with your dentist to find out exactly how long veneers will last in your mouth.
How Are Veneers Applied ?
The tooth is reshaped initially to allow for the added thickness of the veneer. A molded image is taken from the tooth and sent to a dental laboratory where the veneer is custom-fitted to your mouth. The veneer is applied with adhesive material which bonds it to the original tooth structure.
Benefits of Veneers
A minimal amount of the natural tooth must be altered to fit the veneer. Veneers can be matched to make even the darkest teeth appear to be bright white. Minor twists and overlaps, as well as small gaps, can be quickly corrected through the use of veneers.
Maintaining Your Veneers
Brush and Floss Regularly to Prevent Oral Hygiene Problems. Veneers generally can not be damaged by abrasion from your toothbrush or floss. Good oral hygiene will ensure your veneers stay strong and provide you with a long-lasting, attractive smile.
Advantages of Veneers
Tooth-like Appearance Since veneers are individually sculpted for each patient, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the veneer and the natural tooth. Stain-Resistant. Custom made veneers resist stains from coffee, tea, and cigarette smoke because they are made of hightech, extremely polishable materials.
Keep In Mind
When considering veneers, there are some important points to consider before undergoing the treatment. Non-reversible Procedure. Because a small amount of tooth is reduced to fit the veneers, the process is NOT reversible. Anesthetic Advised. Generally, the use of a local anesthetic is advised to maintain absolute comfort throughout the treatment process. Strength of Veneers. Veneers provide more strength when crushing an object than twisting or tearing. Therefore, just as with natural teeth, patients with veneers are advised to avoid opening nut shells, chewing on bones, or any other matter that may cause the veneers to chip or crack.
COMMON COSMETIC PROBLEMS
Chipped, cracked, or worn teeth.
Teeth that are chipped, cracked, or worn can be perfectly restored with ultra-thin, specially made laminates or veneers. Either option can close gaps or disguise discolored teeth that do not respond well to whitening procedures.
Long-lasting porcelain or composite veneers are ultra-thin, specially made laminates that are bonded to the teeth. Veneers are stronger and have a longer life than bonding, but the process requires more time.
Bonding is a process in which an enamel-like material is applied to a tooth's surface, sculpted to an ideal shape, hardened, and then polished for an ideal smile. This procedure usually can be accomplished in a single visit.
Stained, discolored, or dull-looking teeth.
If you have stained or discolored teeth, but otherwise like your smile the way it is, all you may need are whitening procedures to give you the smile you've always wanted.
People with stained or dull teeth will benefit from whitening - a safe, effective means to whiten stained, discolored or dull teeth (or even a single tooth). In-office and supervised at-home whitening systems are available. At-home systems should be individually fitted and monitored by your cosmetic dentist.
Missing teeth or general bite dysfunction.
Missing teeth can be replaced with predictable results using fixed bridges or dental implants. Crown or bridge work is best for correcting major functional or structural problems with individual teeth, missing teeth, or general bite dysfunction.
New porcelain and ceramic technology is available to replace missing and/or severely broken teeth so that no one can tell that the replacements are not real.
Implants are being used to successfully replace teeth for people in all age groups-with esthetic and predictable results.
Excessive or uneven gums.
Excessive or uneven gums can be corrected with cosmetic surgery, a gum lift, resulting in a more even, pleasing smile.
Old and unsightly fillings.
Old, unsightly fillings can now be replaced with esthetic filling materials such as resins and porcelain fillings or crowns.