Cosmetic Dentistry: Your Dentist Can Brighten Your Smile
You don’t have to put up with stained, chipped, or misshapen teeth, These days a range of simple cosmetic options are available to improve your smile.
It’s inevitable that age, along with a combination of lifestyle and personal factors will result in various faults and blemishes on your teeth. Here are some of the reasons reasons for changes in the appearance of your teeth:
- Inherited traits. You may have a family history of dental irregularities (gaps, misaligned teeth, spots, blemishes).
- Permanent discolouration caused by medication used during childhood.
- Staining caused by smoking, and foods or beverages.
- Chips and/or cracks, normally due to tooth grinding or clenching, or sports injuries and accidents.
- Previous fillings that have either broken or just become worn and stained over time.
- Age. Your teeth will naturally change with age.
A Range of Cosmetic Dentistry Options
Your dentist can offer a variety of cosmetic dental treatments to improve the appearance of your teeth and smile.
Bleaching is a teeth whitening option that can lighten teeth that have not responded to professional cleaning. When the bleaching is performed by a qualified dentist, it is a safe procedure.
An impression will be made of your teeth and a custom-made tray will be constructed. This tray will hold the bleaching gel close to your teeth, but not in contact with your gums.
Your dentist will advise you how often and for what length of time you should use your mouth tray. Good results usually occur within two weeks.
Tooth-coloured Composite Fillings
Tooth-coloured composite fillings are made of a resin material which is tooth coloured. They are used in place of silver fillings in both front and back teeth. Because the resin material is bonded to the tooth, the tooth is given some of its strength back, compared with the older silver amalgam material which, while strong, did not return any strength to the tooth. The long term result with bigger amalgam fillings was often that remaining tooth structure eventually fractured away from the filling, resulting in further tooth breakdown.
Your dentist will place a composite filling where needed after removing decay or an old filling. Exposure to a special light will harden the material.
Ceramic Inlays and Onlays
Inlays used to always be made of gold, but now they are often made of ceramic, or composite material. The inlays are very strong and are used to repair moderately damaged back teeth. Inlays are glued into place and are contained within the cusp tips of the tooth.
Onlays are made of the same material as inlays, but they are used for more extensive repairs that cover the tips of the tooth cusps. An onlay is much stronger than any other type of filling, and will restore the strength of the tooth. Inlays and onlays are more conservative of remaining tooth structure than crowns, and may be used to restore back teeth that have had root canal treatments.
Your dentist will give you advice on which procedure is right for you and the cost of these treatments. This will depend on the extent of damage or decay on your tooth or teeth as well as procedures you may have had done on those teeth in the past.
Veneers are often chosen to repair chipped, discoloured, misshapen teeth or to close gaps between the teeth. If a front tooth is discoloured, or misshapen, but strong and healthy, your dentist may recommend a porcelain veneer.
A porcelain veneer is a porcelain facing that is matched in colour to the adjacent teeth. It covers the front of the tooth, and is bonded to the tooth with a resin cement. Sometimes sets of 6 or 12 Veneers are placed to allow the dentist to completely transform the shade and or shape of existing teeth and in this way remodel a smile.
To prepare your tooth for the veneer, your dentist will remove a thin layer from the surface of the tooth. An impression is then taken of your teeth and sent to the ceramic technician with instructions.
At your next appointment, your dentist will cement the veneer onto your tooth, after ensuring that the colour matches and it fits perfectly.
Direct Resin Bonding
Direct Bonding is useful in improving small to moderate irregularities at a much lower cost than Porcelain Veneers or Crowns. Once the treatment has been planned, it is usually a single visit procedure. The tooth is prepared, and a bonding liquid is applied. A special light sets the bonding liquid. A putty-like resin is then moulded and shaped to the tooth, and the light is used to harden it. The set resin is then trimmed and polished.
Bonding will not last as long as porcelain veneers in the treatment of some problems as it is more prone to chipping, breaking and staining, but it is relatively inexpensive, very conservative of remaining tooth structure, and is easily removed and replaced.
Your smile can be completely changed with just one or two trips to your dentist. This can boost your confidence and allow you to be yourself when you talk, laugh and communicate with others rather than worrying or being embarrassed by flaws in your smile.
Your dentist will discuss restorative options with you. You can ask for cost estimates for the various cosmetic dentistry options available so you can find which suits your budget.