Options for enhancing your smile
People seek cosmetic dentistry for a variety of reasons. Some people simply want to look younger, and cosmetic dentistry is like a dental facelift that can quickly "reverse" the natural aging process of the teeth. The majority of people have had unattractive teeth their whole lives and have always felt self-conscious because of them. They will rarely smile, which can often hide a warm side of their personality.
Modern dentistry offers a wide variety of treatment options for people seeking to enhance their smile. The options range from porcelain veneers to braces. In many cases, a combination of these techniques is required to deliver the best results.
Porcelain laminate veneers, or simply "veneers," are custom-made porcelain wafers that the dentist places over teeth to enhance their appearance and also to repair damage. Veneers can dramatically change a person's smile and help improve their self-confidence.
Veneers can be used to improve a wide variety of cosmetic dental problems. They can whiten stained or discolored teeth, close gaps between teeth, "correct" a crooked smile without the need for braces, repair chips and imperfections, and create a more attractive or youthful looking smile. The procedure usually involves removing only a thin amount of the outermost layer of the tooth, called the enamel. The dentist then takes molds (impressions) of the mouth. Temporary veneers are then placed for the patient to wear while the permanent veneers are being made. The procedure usually takes between 1.5 - 2 hours.
Next, the laboratory carefully crafts the porcelain into veneers. In about two weeks, the veneers are ready for the dentist to fasten to the fronts of the teeth. This process improves the teeth's appearance and strength.
There is no doubt that veneers are an excellent option, but how about the cost? That depends on how many veneers are required to produce the desired results. In most cases, a minimum of six veneers are needed, and are usually placed on the upper six front teeth, from the canine (sometimes known as the eye tooth) on your right side, to the canine on your left side. Prices vary...all patients are different with their wants and needs.
Tooth whitening involves the use of peroxide-based materials to whiten teeth.We use an at-home whitening system to achieve the desired results. Before tooth whitening, the patient must get all cavities filled, and the gums must be healthy. At-home systems most often use 10 to 30 percent carbamine peroxide gels to oxidize stains. The dentist makes impressions (molds) of the mouth, and then has soft mouth trays made. The patient is fitted with the trays, and then is instructed to place a thin ribbon of the gel into the tray and wear a few hours on a daily basis until your teeth get to that perfect shade of white.
Most whitening occurs in one to two weeks. In difficult cases, trays may need to be worn for up to six weeks. The procedure is safe when monitored by a dentist, and does not damage the tooth in any way.
White fillings (resin bonding) or porcelain crowns (caps) and bridges will not whiten significantly with either method. Some patients will experience minor tooth sensitivity during whitening procedures. The dentist can remedy this by alternating concentrated fluoride with the peroxide in the mouth trays.
Store-bought bleaching systems are not as effective as dentist-managed systems. Unsupervised use of store-bought bleaching systems can cause painful sensitivity to untreated dental cavities. The mouth trays are not custom made, which can cause gum irritation, and the peroxides are not as strong or effective.
Tooth shaping involves removing a small amount (generally 1 to 2 millimeters) of the enamel of the teeth. Tooth shaping can shorten long teeth, round off pointed teeth, and help create a pleasing smile that gently follows the contour of the lower lip. The procedure is quick and painless (the enamel has no nerves), and is usually completed in less than 30 minutes. A small minority of patients gets slight sensitivity after tooth shaping. This can be remedied with prescription strength fluoride or in-office desensitizers. The procedure does not appear to cause any long-term damage to the teeth.
Resin or Tooth-Colored Fillings
Resin fillings, also referred to as composite, white fillings or bonding, can make a substantial improvement in the appearance of the teeth in a short period of time. Resin is what dentists use to repair small cavities or chip s in front teeth, as well as fill cavities cosmetically in back teeth. Resin can do virtually the same thing as porcelain veneers with respect to improving the appearance of the teeth. Using resin instead of porcelain veneers for cosmetic dentistry saves time and money, however, there are disadvantages. They are not as strong as porcelain veneers and require repairs every few years. Resin can discolor over time and does not have as much natural beauty as porcelain veneers. Resin cosmetic procedures can usually be completed in about an hour.
Retainers are worn for minor tooth movement. If you have had braces and a tooth gets out of alignment we offer this for you. Sometimes you don't even need to have worn braces. We take a look at each patient to see what we can do to help your smile.
Cosmetic dentistry is really more of an art than a science. I will often use a combination of the above methods to get the results that the patient is looking for. The most important thing to remember is that you and your dentist should talk about what outcome you expect before you begin treatment, and you should explore all the alternatives available in the exciting area of cosmetic dentistry before starting treatment.