COSMETIC TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR YOUR SMILE
Bonding involves applying tooth colored filling materials to the tooth, and in some cases can be considered a reversible procedure. It is used to mask deep stains in the tooth structure, close gaps between teeth, repair chips and/or cracks in teeth, cover exposed root surfaces to help protect from cavities/sensitivity, or to fill in small cavities. This procedure is usually completed in one appointment and usually does not require the use of local anesthetic. Because tooth colored filling material is NOT as strong as tooth enamel, it is important to remember that it could be more prone to chipping and/or staining, resulting in the need for it to be replaced or repaired periodically.
2. RECONTOURING AND SHAPING
Recontouring of the teeth involves polishing, filing and smoothing of the tooth enamel. It can be used to smooth rough areas on a tooth, to change the contour on a tooth surface or to change the shape of a tooth. This procedure is generally completed in one visit and does not require the use of local anesthetic. Recontouring is very commonly used when a patient has worn small chips on the edges of his/her front teeth, in order to very easily remove these rough spots and give a more cosmetic smile.
Whitening, or teeth bleaching, is any procedure used to lighten, and brighten, the tooth structure along with helping to remove any surface staining. It can be done in the dental office or with one of the many at home whitening products. There are some stains that are inside the tooth structure (internal tooth stains) which will NOT be affected by these external whitening products. Because of this, it is important to discuss with your dentist whether you are a good candidate for external tooth whitening. Some patients may experience some tooth sensitivity while bleaching his/her teeth. Usually this sensitivity is of a temporary nature and can be decreased by using sensitivity toothpaste both before and during the bleaching process.
4. GUM SURGERIES (Gingivoplasty)
Gingivoplasty is a minor gum surgery which is done to reshape healthy gum tissue around the teeth. A gingivoplasty can be used when the gum line on adjacent teeth is not even, as a means to make the gum line even and more cosmetic. This procedure is usually done in one appointment that requires the use of local anesthetic, with a follow-up appointment about 7-10 days later to check on healing. Minor discomfort is normal and expected for a few days after this procedure. Some patients may benefit from a combination of gingivoplasty and gingival graft. If you do not like how your gum tissue looks along the teeth, talk to your dentist to find out what your different treatment options are.
Orthodontic treatment is used to move the teeth into a more desirable position. It can be used to align crooked teeth, to help close spaces between teeth, to correct bite discrepancies and to help reduce symptoms from TMD. Orthodontic options range from comprehensive orthodontic treatment, which is used to get the patient to an ideal bite with their back teeth along with straight front teeth, to more short term orthodontic treatment with the primary goal of aligning the visible teeth without any predictable change in the patient’s bite. The orthodontic treatment options available utilize metal braces, tooth colored/ceramic braces, clear plastic aligners or retainer type aligners or any combination of the above. The treatment time, depending on each patient’s desired outcome, can range from a few months to a couple years. If you are interested in your orthodontic options, it is important to talk with your dentist to find out the advantages and disadvantages of all orthodontic treatment options based on your individual chief complaint and oral situation.
Veneers are a thin coating made of porcelain or resin material that fits on your front teeth in order to change the appearance of your smile. They are custom made, and because of this usually require two appointments to make. They can be used to cover teeth that are discolored due to medication or age, repair front teeth that are worn or chipped, close existing spaces between teeth, or give a straight appearance to crooked teeth. They are cemented to the front and sides of your teeth. Because they are NOT as strong as tooth enamel, they may be more prone to staining or breakage than your natural tooth structure, so care must be used with your veneers. It is important to talk to your dentist if you are interested in veneers, because not every patient is a great candidate for veneers.
Crowns (or caps) are made of porcelain, metal or some combination of the two, to create a custom fitted “cover” for your prepared tooth. Crowns may be the best recommended treatment for a tooth with a larger cavity, a cracked or broken tooth, to replace an existing poor fitting crown, to cosmetically change the shape/appearance of a tooth, to make crooked teeth appear straight or to make a tooth/teeth taller in order to change a patient’s bite. Making a crown usually requires two appointments and the use of local anesthetic. Crowns on front teeth can usually be made of all porcelain to ensure a superior shade match to your natural teeth, while some crowns for back teeth will require a porcelain-metal crown or an all metal crown, due to the limited space and the increase in biting forces on these back teeth.
Dental implants are usually made of titanium and are used to replace a missing tooth or to create a support structure replacing multiple teeth. They can be used to support crowns, bridges, partial dentures and dentures. They require multiple visits with the dentist/oral surgeon in order to have the minor surgical procedure to place the implant, followed by regular visits to monitor healing. Not everyone is a candidate for implants, so it is important to discuss the different treatment options you have for replacing teeth with your dentist. Even though a dental implant cannot get a cavity, they do not have a 100% success rate, and maintaining regular dental checkups along with quality home care is of the utmost importance.