Aesthetic and Cosmetic Dentistry
Cosmetic dentistry refers to dental treatments that are designed to enhance the smile and correct chipped, cracked, discolored, and unevenly spaced teeth. From porcelain veneers to tooth-colored fillings, patients can choose from a variety of dental solutions to restore the health and vitality of their smile.
Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures
Aesthetic dental treatments can be performed to correct everything from minor flaws in the smile to severe tooth discoloration, missing teeth, and uneven spacing between teeth. The following is a list of common aesthetic dentistry options:
Dental bonding is a procedure that offers both cosmetic and restorative benefits. The treatment involves the application of a composite resin material to the teeth in order to conceal cosmetic flaws such as cracks, chips, discoloration, and imperfections in shape or size. The bonding solution can also be used to fill small cavities and repair otherwise damaged teeth. Your dentist will color the bonding material so that it perfectly complements the color of your surrounding natural teeth and blends seamlessly into your smile.
For many patients, dental bonding serves as less expensive, but nevertheless excellent alternative to porcelain veneers. Other patients are attracted to the fact that the dental bonding procedure requires no alteration to the natural structure of the teeth and therefore can be reversed. Dental bonding is a remarkably versatile procedure in that it can be performed on its own or in conjunction with other cosmetic and restorative dentistry treatments such as teeth whitening, dental crowns, and dental bridges.
Another appealing characteristic of dental bonding is that the procedure yields instant results. You can walk into a dental office and after a single appointment emerge with a beautifully rejuvenated smile. Results can last for many years with proper oral hygiene and routine dental visits.
View Teeth Bonding Before & After Photos
Even if a person has teeth that are straight, healthy, and symmetrical, the beauty of their smile may be diminished if the gum line is uneven or falls too far below the lip line. Many dentists refer to gums that extend too far down as a “gummy” smile. It can make the teeth look small and cause people to feel self-conscious about the appearance of their smiles. Ideally, the gums should appear even and smooth, and should act as a frame to complement a person’s smile, rather than as a distraction from it. Fortunately, a gummy smile can now be corrected with cosmetic dentistry procedures such as gum contouring.
Porcelain veneers are thin shells of medical-grade ceramic that are attached to the front surfaces of teeth for an immediate smile transformation. Individually crafted for each patient, these cosmetic enhancements are made from advanced material that closely resembles the appearance of natural dental enamel. Dentists can use veneers for an impressive number of cosmetic corrections, ranging from teeth whitening to orthodontic adjustments. Thanks to their lifelike appearance and wide array of functions, porcelain veneers rank among the most trusted and popular procedures in cosmetic dentistry.
Millions of people suffer from dental discoloration to varying degrees. Even those who brush, floss, and visit the dentist regularly may find that food, environmental factors, and the passage of time will eventually take their toll on the natural radiance of their teeth. Fortunately, professionalteeth whitening is an incredibly effective way to lighten or altogether eliminate stains and achieve a naturally white smile.
Today, you have more whitening options than ever before. Although there are many over-the-counter products to choose from, professional, dentist-supervised treatment is safer and offers more dependable results. Many cosmetic dentists offer both in-office and at-home treatment options from reputable, trusted manufacturers.
Results vary depending on your dental health and the treatment you choose. However, the vast majority of patients have been satisfied with the outcome of their whitening treatment. Side effects are rare and mild, and the treatment is convenient and non-invasive. Following a professional whitening regimen, you could enjoy a dramatically improved smile and a huge boost of self-confidence.
In many cases, the terms “whitening” and “bleaching” are used interchangeably. Technically, however, any product that removes food or debris from teeth can be classified as a “whitening” product. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the term “bleaching” can only be used when a product contains bleach (hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide). Bleaching can lighten teeth beyond their natural shade. As oxygen molecules penetrate your dental enamel, they will break apart the chemical bonds between stains.
A dental bridge is a common, affordable, time-tested, and low-risk treatment for missing teeth. The dental bridge is so called because it literally bridges the gap created when teeth are lost. The typical bridge comprises one or more artificial teeth, known as pontics, which are held in place by two dental crowns, or abutments. Though the replacement teeth used in bridges can be made from a variety of materials, including silver amalgam or gold, they are commonly made from porcelain for aesthetic considerations.
To place a traditional bridge, a dentist will secure the crowns to the teeth on either side of a gap, anchoring the pontic or pontics so that they fill the space. The result is a smile that is fully restored in terms of function and appearance.
However, bridges can also be attached to dental implants, which do not rely on natural teeth for support. To affix this type of restoration, a dentist will surgically embed tiny biocompatible posts made of titanium in a patient’s jawbone, and these posts secure the entire restoration. Dental implants are the only dental restorations that mimic the entire structure of missing teeth, including the roots, making them the strongest, most stable method of securing bridges available.
No matter what type of bridge a patient receives, the restoration will have significant aesthetic and practical benefits. The new teeth will restore dental functionality and oral health. Additionally, thanks to new dental technology and aesthetic advances, today’s dental bridges are virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth.
If one or more of your teeth are affected by decay, chips, cracks, or other forms of damage, dental crowns may provide an ideal solution. Crowns offer both cosmetic and oral health benefits, reinforcing the structure of a tooth while helping to make a smile look whole and natural again. Crowns are typically custom-made to blend seamlessly into each patient’s unique smile. They are carefully crafted to complement the surrounding natural teeth in terms of color, size, shape, and texture and to restore integrity to the patient’s bite.
In order to create a custom crown, the patient’s tooth must first be prepared and a mold must be taken. A temporary restoration is then used to protect the tooth until the permanent crown is ready to be placed.
In some cases, dental crowns are used to secure artificial teeth as part of a dental bridge. In other cases, crowns are attached to dental implants to replace missing teeth. The dental crown procedure generally involves two visits to the dentist over the course of two to three weeks, although many practices now offer same-day crowns.
Dental fillings are used to restore teeth that have been damaged by tooth decay. The development of tooth-colored fillings has provided dentist and patients with a safer and more attractive alternative to silver amalgam fillings.
By precisely matching tooth-colored composite fillings with the natural color of your teeth, a skilled cosmetic dentist is able to provide you with white fillings that are virtually invisible. The removal of old amalgam fillings can provide patients with white fillings that provide a more pleasing, silver-free smile.
Types of Dental Fillings
- Dental amalgam: Amalgam, also known as silver fillings, are the least expensive type of filling.
- Tooth-colored composite resin: Composite resin fillings are more pleasing to the eye but are more expensive than dental amalgam fillings.
- Glass ionomers: This type of filling is primarily used in fillings below the gum line and in small children; the cost is comparable to composite resin.
- Gold fillings: These fillings are well tolerated by sensitive patients and are resistant to corrosion, tarnishing, and wear and tear but are among the most expensive filling materials.
- Ceramic or porcelain: Ceramic and porcelain fillings most closely mimic natural tooth color and can be as expensive as gold fillings.
Learn about composite and silver dental fillings, including the benefits and side effects associated with each material, before you decide to have your smile restored with this cosmetic dentistry treatment.
Dental implants offer people who are missing one or more of their teeth the opportunity to restore full form and function to their mouths. Implant-supported crowns, bridges, and dentures are truly the next best thing to having a mouth full of strong, healthy natural teeth.
Also known as endosseous fixtures, dental implants are designed to replace the entire structure of missing teeth, from root to crown. The implants themselves are similar to small screws, usually made from titanium or a titanium alloy, which act as artificial tooth roots. Once they have been surgically embedded in the jaw, the implant posts fuse to the natural bone tissue through a process called osseointegration. They essentially become part of the patient’s natural anatomy, providing security and stability comparable to healthy tooth roots. Custom-crafted replacement teeth are then attached to the implants via abutments.
Depending on the needs of the individual patient:
- A single implant can be used to secure a dental crown
- Multiple implants can be used to secure multiple crowns or a dental bridge
- Several strategically placed implants can be used to secure dentureson the upper arch, lower arch, or both.
Many dentists also offer mini implants, particularly small implant posts that can be screwed directly into the jaw, through the gums, without the need for flap surgery. While mini implants are not right for every case, they do offer an implant-based solution to certain patients, including many whose jaw bones may not be sufficiently dense to support full-sized implants.
Dental inlays and onlays are restorations used to repair rear teeth that have a mild to moderate amount of decay. They can also be used to restore teeth that are cracked or fractured if the damage is not severe enough to require a dental crown.
Inlays and onlays are usually made from porcelain, composite resin, and sometimes even from gold. Because they can be created from tooth-colored materials, inlays and onlays are often used to replace metal dental fillings for patients who desire a more natural looking smile. Read on to find out about how inlays and onlays may be able to enhance your smile’s health and appearance.
Dental inlays are used to treat teeth that have decay or damage lying within their indented top surfaces, between the cusps of the teeth. They can also be used to replace old or damaged metal fillings. Inlay placement is usually carried out over two appointments. During your first visit to the dentist, an impression of your tooth will be taken, and a temporary inlay will be placed over the tooth. The dentist will send the impression off to a dental lab, which will create the inlay to match your tooth’s specifications. When you return to the dentist’s office, the temporary inlay will be removed and the permanent one will be placed carefully over your tooth. There is no downtime after receiving a dental inlay, only a mild level of tenderness in the treated area, so you can return to work or other activities as soon as you leave the office.
Since dental inlays and onlays can be made from durable, tooth-colored porcelain, they offer much more enduring and natural-looking results than metal fillings. In addition, their customized nature allows dentists to securely bond them to the tooth surface, adding structural integrity and preventing bacteria from entering and forming cavities.
Inlays and onlays can be used to restore teeth that are affected by decay and cavities. The tooth-colored restorations can be used to fill in areas of inner or outer tooth surfaces; inlays refer to treatment in the center of the tooth, while onlays refer to treatment on tooth cusps or biting surfaces. Inlays and onlays are an excellent alternative to dental crownsand fillings. Like crowns, inlays and onlays are custom fabricated to fill in or fit your teeth, whereas dental fillings involve use of materials that can be molded into place during one visit.