I went to the dentist and I wasn’t sure what was best for me. I went to the dentist feeling like I wanted one thing, but wanted to know more of what my choices could be.
What I got from going to a dental offices was the they offer a variety of treatments to respond to the needs of people. After a preliminary check up, my dentists basically recommend some cosmetic options.
To help understand what type of procedures is best for each person like me, the following information was presented to me.
1. Bleaching or Teeth Whitening
Adult teeth have a natural tendency to appear darker, yellowish or stained with age. In addition, other factors such as drinking coffee and tea, taking medications, smoking tobacco, exposure to high levels of fluoride and tetracycline, tooth decay and root canal issues can cause teeth discoloration.
As a remedy, bleaching is a popular chemical process used to whiten the teeth. Using whitening agents is a safe treatment that can be performed by a dentist in his/her dental clinic or it can be done at home under dental supervision. Using bleaching agents frequently, however, may cause tooth sensitivity, so be sure to follow directions closely particularly when done at home.
Teeth whitening done in the dental office is preferred because although stronger bleaching agents are used, the dentist makes sure that the gums and the mouth are always protected. It takes about one hour per session but a single visit can make the teeth up to 10 shades brighter.
With supervised at home teeth whitening, the dentist creates a mouth tray that fits the patient exactly to avoid leaking whitening solution that may cause gum irritation. He/she also recommends the right amount of whitening solution to make sure the teeth are properly exposed for maximum results. This method usually takes two to four weeks depending on the brightness the patient wishes to achieve. Over-the-counter teeth whitening products may also be purchased but it is safer to have dental supervision especially when there are oral concerns to deal with.
2. Tooth-Colored Fillings for Cracks and Cavities
In the past, dentists used metallic fillings such as silver amalgam to fill in the cracks and cavities resulting from the decay of teeth. This type of filling is very durable but does not have the same color as natural teeth.
Today, fillings made from composite resins (plastic resin with silica filler) are used. They resemble the natural color and feel of the teeth so it is almost impossible to tell the difference. Cracks and cavities of the teeth are filled with these white composite resins and then hardened using high-intensity blue light.
Another advantage of using composite resins is it allows the dentist to save more of the healthy tooth material. With amalgam fillings, the dentist needs to undercut the tooth, which actually weakens the tooth and makes it prone to cracking, to hold the amalgam in place. This is no longer a problem with composite resins.
3. Tooth Bonding for Chipped Teeth
Tooth bonding is the cosmetic dental procedure of choice for repairing chipped teeth or teeth with rough spots. Two types of materials are bonded directly to the chipped tooth: composite resin and porcelain. Composite resin is similar to the tooth-colored fillings and has properties similar to dentin, the inner tooth material. Porcelain has properties that imitate the enamel, the outside tooth material.
After smoothening and polishing the bonded material, it looks and feels natural. It matches the surrounding teeth perfectly so that the repair is not obvious. This treatment can be done quickly in one session but it can last several years with proper maintenance. Tooth bonding is a cheaper option for repairing chips than veneers.
4. Closing Gaps Between the Teeth
Small gaps between the teeth can be closed using tooth-colored fillings. This procedure makes each tooth appear wider.
With large gaps between the teeth, dentists recommend bonding veneers to the front of the teeth. Ultra-thin sheets of porcelain, ceramic or resin materials are used as veneers so they come with a very natural look. Porcelain veneers are costly while resin veneers are cheaper but the latter chip and stain easily. Veneers may also be employed for treating cosmetic defects such as chipped, stained or crooked teeth. Adding veneers usually takes more than one visit to the dentist.
At other times, dentists recommend patients to use orthodontics or braces to close the gaps. A variety of brace options are available including invisible braces or clear orthodontic aligners. It is best to ask your cosmetic dentist about all the possible options and related issues.
5. Recontouring Uneven Teeth
Tooth recontouring or reshaping is a very simple cosmetic dental treatment which involves removing small amounts of tooth enamel to change the shape, length or surface features of the tooth. It can be used to remove teeth overlaps or minor crevices to avoid tartar or plaque build-up. If you have uneven teeth or irregularly shaped teeth, this cosmetic dentistry work is what you need.
This procedure can only be undertaken if the tooth enamel is thick enough and the pulp is not close to the surface. The cosmetic dentist takes an x-ray of the teeth and evaluates if it is feasible to proceed with the recontouring.
After the procedure, there’s the possibility of having tooth sensitivity because of the removal of enamel that protects the dentin. If that happens, desensitization or adding a thin layer of bonding material may be performed by the dentist.
6. Crowns on Damaged Teeth
A crown, also called a cap, is a cover shaped like a tooth that is placed over a tooth. Dentists recommend putting a crown to save what is left of a tooth that is badly damaged or decayed.
Crowns may be made from ceramic, metal and porcelain with varying life span from 7 years up to 40 years depending also on a person’s good oral hygiene. Some people specifically choose porcelain crowns for esthetic reasons. Porcelain crowns are very durable but chronic tooth-grinders or jaw-clenchers must wear a mouth guard at night to protect the crown from excessive pressure.
The process of putting a crown is not easy as root canal treatment and building up a foundation may or may not be necessary. Two visits at the least are needed unless the cosmetic dental clinic has a machine that can create the crown. Otherwise, a temporary crown will be put on the first visit and will be replaced with the permanent customized crown will be put on the second visit.
7. Dental Implants for Missing Tooth
When missing a tooth, this dental cosmetic surgery of putting implants to replace the roots of the missing tooth is a very good option. Getting dental implant services can be a long process. Dental Implant are made of titanium and are directly connected to the jaw bone. When it has sufficiently fused with the jaw bone, only then can a crown be attached to complete this cosmetic dentistry option. Definitely, this is not a one-day process. It actually takes months to complete the entire procedure.
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