Dental Enhancements

An Aging Smile

There are several dental enhancements for an aging smile. Click on one of the following links or scroll down to find out more…

  • Porcelain veneers
  • Bonding
  • Orthodontics (braces)
  • Crowns

Porcelain veneers
Porcelain veneers are a natural looking solution to a wide range of cosmetic problems. Porcelain veneers are thin shells of porcelain (about as thick as fake fingernails) that are typically bonded to the front and tops of the teeth. Because they are thin, light can shine through them and they take on the natural color of the underlying tooth structure. Only a minimal amount of tooth structure has to be removed.

Advantages
They are beautiful, strong (once bonded in place) and durable. Minimal tooth reduction is needed to install them, and they can often be repaired in the mouth with bonding techniques.

Disadvantages
Their placement requires some tooth reduction, and the procedure is non-reversible, making you dependent on veneers or replacement veneers for the rest of your life. Your dentist must have the technique, experience, and artistic talent to place veneers. This is a two-appointment procedure.

Bonding
Bonding is a three-step procedure. First, the fronts of the teeth are treated with a mild acid. Next, the plastic bonding material (it has a consistency of bread dough) is placed and sculpted to the desired shape. Finally, the material is hardened with a high-intensity light.

Advantages
Bonding produces strong, natural looking restorations, it allows in-the-mouth repairs, and it’s a one-appointment procedure.

Disadvantages
Some tooth reduction is required, and it’s generally considered a non-reversible procedure that makes you dependent on bonding for rest of your life. Your dentist must have the proper technique, experience, and artistic talent to perform bonding. Note that relatively few dentists have adequate training in bonding procedures.

Orthodontics(braces)
Small brackets are bonded to the front of the teeth, then wires of varying size connect the brackets to provide the leverage to move the teeth and close the gap(s).

Advantages
Braces require no tooth reduction or additional application of restoration materials.

Disadvantages
The treatment time for braces is typically 18 to 36 months, the color and shape of the teeth are not improved, and occasionally the procedure may cause tooth roots to shorten.

Crowns
Crowns are made of porcelain, porcelain and metal, or entirely out of metal. They are best used in cases where teeth are broken down and need structural support and protection. They might also be appropriate if gaps are extremely wide. If your teeth are intact and you merely want to close spaces, stick with bonding, veneers, or orthodontics.

Advantages
Crowns can repair structural damage, are very strong, and can be made from several different materials.

Disadvantages
Crowns require a relatively large amount of tooth reduction, they are less natural looking than veneers or bonding, and they may show a dark blue line where they meet the gums if your gums recede. Porcelain crowns may wear down on opposing teeth.

Bonding

Bonding is an excellent dental enhancement to repair or change the shape or color of teeth, particularly front teeth.

Bonding is usually a one-appointment procedure that starts with a careful matching of the color of the bonding materials to your tooth color.

Next, your teeth are lightly roughened and a gel is applied to ensure that the bonding materials will adhere. Then the bonding material is applied, sculpted and hardened with a high-intensity light. The final step is a careful polishing of your new teeth.

Cosmetic Imaging

Rather than trying to tell you how much better your smile will look after dental enhancements, a dentist with a digital imaging system can show you.
First your teeth are photographed with a regular or digital camera. Next, the photo is stored in a computer and then displayed for you on a television monitor. With a few quick keystrokes, your dentist or dental assistant can show you an image of your smile with new, repaired or whitened teeth.

One caution about imaging: there may be a difference between that enhanced picture of your new smile and what the dentist is actually capable of producing. Before taking the plunge, ask to see before-and-after photos of patients the dentist has actually treated.

Gaps between Front Teeth

Treatment There are several dental enhancements for gaps between the teeth.

These include:

  • Porcelain veneers
  • Bonding
  • Orthodontics (braces)
  • Crowns

Porcelain Veneers
Porcelain veneers are a natural looking solution to a wide range of cosmetic problems. Porcelain veneers are thin shells of porcelain (about as thick as fake fingernails) that are typically bonded to the front and tops of the teeth. Because they are thin, light can shine through them and they take on the natural color of the underlying tooth structure. Only a minimal amount of tooth structure has to be removed.

Advantages
They are beautiful, strong (once bonded in place) and durable. Minimal tooth reduction is needed to install them, and they can often be repaired in the mouth with bonding techniques.

Disadvantages
Their placement requires some tooth reduction, and the procedure is non-reversible, making you dependent on veneers or replacement veneers for the rest of your life. Your dentist must have the technique, experience, and artistic talent to place veneers. This is a two-appointment procedure.

Bonding
Bonding is a three-step procedure. First, the front of the teeth are treated with a mild acid. Next, the plastic bonding material (it has a consistency of bread dough) is placed and sculpted to the desired shape. Finally, the material is hardened with a high-intensity light.

Advantages
Bonding produces strong, natural looking restorations, it allows in-the-mouth repairs, and it’s a one-appointment procedure.

Disadvantages
Some tooth reduction is required, and it’s generally considered a non-reversible procedure that makes you dependent on bonding for rest of your life. Your dentist must have the proper technique, experience, and artistic talent to perform bonding. Note that relatively few dentists have adequate training in bonding.

Orthodontics (Braces)
Small brackets are bonded to the front of the teeth, and wires of varying size connect the brackets to provide the leverage to move the teeth and close the gap(s).

Advantages
Braces require no tooth reduction or additional application of restoration materials.

Disadvantages
The treatment time is lengthy—typically 18 to 36 months. The color and shape of the teeth are not improved, and occasionally the procedure may cause tooth roots to shorten.

Crowns
Crowns are made of porcelain, porcelain and metal, or metal only. They are best used in cases where teeth are broken down and need structural support and protection. They might also be appropriate if gaps are extremely wide. If your teeth are intact and you merely want to close spaces, stick with bonding, veneers, or orthodontics.

Placing a Gold Inlay

The size and shape of a gold inlay is like a silver filling, but the process of creating a gold inlay is more like making a crown….

That’s because an inlay is custom-crafted in a dental laboratory to precisely fit your tooth. For this reason, it takes two appointments to restore your tooth with an inlay.

To make the entire procedure comfortable for you, the affected area is numbed with a local anesthetic. Depending on the size of the filling and the tooth being worked on, a rubber dam may be used. It functions like a safety net, preventing debris from falling to the back of your throat. Then the decay is removed and the tooth is shaped with the handpiece.

Impressions give an accurate working model of your mouth, including the prepared tooth. This helps re-create your natural bite.

Sometimes, to make a more accurate impression, your dentist will put a small piece of string in the space between the tooth and the gums. This gently pushes the gums away from the tooth.

For the week or two that it takes the dental lab to fabricate your new gold inlay, you’ll have a temporary inlay in your mouth. At your next visit, the temporary inlay is removed and you’ll try out your new gold inlay.

Then your dentist checks the bite with a colored tape, which indicates where your teeth are coming together, and floss is placed between the teeth to make sure there are no tight spots.

When everything looks good, your new inlay is cemented in place.

Placing a Gold Onlay

Like a crown, a gold onlay covers and protects the biting surface of a damaged tooth…

It will take two or more appointments to restore your tooth with an overlay. That’s because an overlay is custom-crafted in a dental laboratory to precisely fit your tooth.

To make the entire procedure comfortable for you, the affected area is numbed with a local anesthetic.

Depending on the size of the filling and the tooth being worked on, a rubber dam may be used. It functions like a safety net, preventing debris from falling to the back of your throat.

Then the decay is removed and the tooth is shaped with the handpiece. Sometimes, to make a more accurate impression, your dentist will put a small piece of string in the space between the tooth and the gums. This gently pushes the gums away from the tooth.

For the week or two that it takes the dental lab to fabricate your new gold onlay, you’ll have a temporary onlay in your mouth. At your next visit, the temporary onlay is removed, and you’ll try out your new gold onlay.

Then your dentist will check your bite with a colored tape, which indicates where your teeth are coming together, and floss is placed between the teeth to make sure there are no tight spots.

When everything looks good, your new gold onlay is cemented in place.

Placing a Porcelain Inlay

The size and shape of a porcelain inlay is like a silver filling, but the process of making a porcelain inlay is more like making a crown.

It will take two or more appointments to restore your tooth with an inlay. That’s because it is custom-crafted in a dental laboratory to precisely fit your tooth.

To make the entire procedure comfortable for you, the affected area is numbed with a local anesthetic. Depending on the size of the filling and the tooth being worked on, a rubber dam may be used. It functions like a safety net, preventing debris from falling to the back of your throat.

Then the decay is removed, and the tooth is shaped with the handpiece.

Impressions give an accurate working model of your mouth, including the prepared tooth. This helps re-create your natural bite.

Sometimes, to make a more accurate impression, your dentist puts a small piece of string in the space between the tooth and the gums. This gently pushes the gums away from the tooth.

For the week or two that it takes the dental lab to fabricate your new porcelain inlay, you’ll have a temporary inlay in your mouth. At your next visit, the temporary inlay is removed, and you’ll try out your new porcelain inlay.

Then your dentist checks the bite with a colored tape, which indicates where your teeth are coming together, and floss is placed between the teeth to make sure there are no tight spots. When everything looks good, your new porcelain inlay is cemented in place.

Porcelain inlays are among the finest quality dental restorations available.

Porcelain Veneers

Veneers can beautify your smile by improving the color and shape of one or more of your teeth.

A veneer is a thin shell of porcelain or plastic that’s bonded to a tooth, generally covering only its front and top.

Veneers can be used to close spaces between your teeth, lengthen small or misshapen teeth, or whiten stained teeth. And if your teeth are chipped or beginning to wear, veneers can protect them from damage and restore their original look.

It takes two or more appointments to restore your teeth with veneers. On the first appointment, your teeth are shaped and roughened. From impressions, precise working models are made of your teeth. It’s on these models that the veneers are crafted to exactly fit your teeth.

On the second appointment, your prepared teeth are polished and cleaned. Then an adhesive is used to bond the veneers to your teeth. A harmless high-intensity light hardens the adhesive. Once in place, veneers virtually become part of your teeth. You can use them like you would your own teeth, because the bond is extremely strong. The final result is a more beautiful and natural looking smile!

Power Whitening

Brighten your smile with Power Whitening! All dental whitening involves the application of a whitening agent to the teeth.

Until recently, the whitening agent was applied via soft trays (custom designed by a dentist, or bought in over-the-counter kits) that are worn overnight or during the day for two to three weeks. But now dentists are offering a new way to whiten teeth.

Called power whitening, it’s often used in conjunction with take-home whitening procedures. For a power-whitening treatment, your dentist first protects your gums, and then applies a concentrated whitening agent.

Finally, the whitening agent is activated by directing a high-intensity light or laser on your teeth. The entire process takes only one or two hours. Estimated cost is $600 to $1200 for all of your teeth.

The Goal of Cosmetic Dentistry

The goal of cosmetic dentistry is to give you a fabulous smile! This is done by analyzing every aspect of your smile, then correcting any problems with dental enhancements.

Terrific smiles have several things in common

  • Straight teeth.
  • Teeth are evenly spaced with no gaps.
  • Teeth are white, without stains.
  • The top teeth show when you smile, but not the gums.
  • The gum line is smooth.
  • The edges of the top teeth smoothly follow the curve of the lower lip. There are cosmetic procedures to make any of these corrections, so even if you weren’t born with a beautiful smile, you can still have one!
Whitening

Often the difference between a good smile and a great smile is the whiteness of the teeth.

Over time most teeth lose their luster and brightness because they accumulate stains made by foods and beverages. New whitening agents can remove these stains without harming your teeth.

By far the best and fastest whitening solutions are offered by your dentist. During a typical whitening procedure, your dentist will fabricate a custom tray to hold whitening gel against your teeth. You take the trays home and wear the gel-filled trays each night or for several hours during the day for several weeks.

Dentists can also bleach teeth in the office. This is called power bleaching or laser bleaching. Both techniques work equally well and are offered both as a “jump start” prior to home whitening and as a separate “stand alone” procedure.

While you can get over-the-counter whitening kits, they usually aren’t as effective as professional whitening procedures. Because the over-the-counter trays are not custom fitted, the whitening agent may leak out and irritate your gums. Want a whiter smile? Ask your dentist about dental whitening.

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