Restore, Repair or Replace: Options for a Great Grin
With the rise of cosmetic dentistry, people of all ages have been able to have the perfect smile. There are plenty of options to choose from – you can manipulate the shape of your teeth, whiten them, close the gaps between them, remove cavities and plaques, and more.
Keep on reading to learn about nine common procedures that can help you have a healthy, happy smile!
- Teeth Whitening
Teeth often lose their white shade over time. This often comes naturally as it absorbs various chemicals from the food and drinks you consume throughout your life.
Your dentist can create a custom mouthpiece tray that ensures the right amount of whitening solution reaches your teeth.
Keep in mind, whitening products are not meant to clean teeth, it is still important to continue practicing daily oral hygiene by brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash daily.
Sometimes called caps, crowns completely cover a tooth, restoring a normal shape and appearance. You may need a crown to:
Cover a misshapen or discolored tooth
Protect a weak tooth
Restore a broken or worn tooth
Cover a tooth with a large filling
Hold a dental bridge in place
Cover a dental implant
Cover a tooth that’s had a root canal procedure
Crowns can be made from metal, porcelain fused to metal, resin, or ceramic materials. Because crowns are costly, dentists usually suggest them only when other procedures can’t produce a pleasing result.
Permanent crowns can have a long life if you take good care of them.
Bonding may improve how your teeth look if they have excess space between them, or if they are chipped, broken, stained, or cracked.
Dentists also use bonding materials to fill small cavities or to protect the exposed root of a tooth.
The dentist can usually do this procedure in a single office visit by applying an etching solution followed by tooth-colored materials — sometimes composite resins — directly to the tooth’s surface where needed.
Although bonding can last for several years, it is more likely than other types of restorations to chip or become stained or just wear down.
These custom shells, typically made of porcelain (sometimes plastic), cover the front sides of the teeth to change their color and/or shape. Veneers last longer than bonding and provide a superior appearance. They are less expensive than crowns. Veneers can improve teeth that:
Have spaces between them
Have become chipped or worn
Are permanently stained
Are poorly shaped
Are slightly crooked
Before inserting veneers, the dentist first takes an impression of your tooth, then buffs the tooth before cementing the veneer in place. A beam of light helps harden the cement, which secures the veneer to your tooth.
Porcelain veneers are made in a laboratory, so you need a second visit to the dentist to have them inserted.
- Enamel Shaping and Contouring
Enamel shaping and contouring involves removing or contouring dental enamel to improve the appearance of your teeth. Dentists may combine this process with bonding.
Often used to alter the length, shape, or position of teeth, reshaping and contouring can correct:
Crooked or overlapping teeth
Chipped and irregular teeth
Minor bite problems
You may be a good candidate for reshaping and contouring if you have normal, healthy teeth, and there’s still adequate bone between your teeth to support them.
Sometimes called a fixed partial denture, bridges are used to replace missing teeth with artificial teeth. Bridges can be made of gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination. Dentists anchor them onto surrounding teeth after preparing them for crowns. Then a false tooth joins to the crowns and the bridge is cemented onto the prepared teeth. Only your dentist can remove a fixed bridge.
The success of your bridge depends upon its foundation. So, remember that oral hygiene to keep remaining teeth healthy is particularly important if you wear a bridge.
Braces are becoming increasingly common because they not only straighten out your teeth, but they can fix overbites, underbites, and other jaw and teeth problems. Braces pretty much force the teeth to the desired places, usually for a few months to a few years depending on how badly the teeth are positioned.
Braces were traditionally made of metal, ceramic, or plastic brackets with wires that go through them. Every time you visit the dentist, the braces are tightened. This is often a very uncomfortable experience at first – a lot of people report losing weight due to loss of appetite.
- Clear Aligner Trays
Clear aligners are an alternative to braces. It’s less noticeable because it’s transparent, and it’s also removable. It’s usually more expensive than braces, but it’s often more convenient and less painful. However it can only correct minor problems though – you won’t be able to correct horribly misaligned teeth.
Implants are very expensive but are better alternatives to removable dentures that could easily fall out. Implants are surgically connected to the jawbone and look like a real tooth. The procedure consists of several steps and will therefore take quite a few sessions. They last very long and won’t lose their white shade anytime soon.
Cosmetic dentistry has led to a lot of promising procedures that can help just about anyone have a perfect smile, but you have to remember that the procedures can only do so much in restoring your original teeth. Prevention is always better than the cure, so make sure you practice good oral hygiene. The better you take care of your teeth, the less damage control you’ll need to do later on.
Sources: Worldental.org, WebMD