Losing a tooth due to injury, dental decay, or gum disease can happen. However, in order to avoid causing problems for the adjacent teeth and your overall dental health, it is important to replace the tooth that has been lost. This can be done a number of ways including fixed bridges, removable partial or full dentures as well as a more recent procedure known as dental implants.
One of the most significant dental innovations in recent times, an implant is a small surgical fixture made of biocompatible metal or ceramic materials that is placed into the jawbone and functions in the same manner as the root of a tooth. In the same way that natural root supports the natural crown of your tooth, an implant once it fully integrates with the surrounding bone, provides a stable and durable foundation for a replacement tooth. Implants often support a crown for an individual tooth, but can also be used as abutment teeth for a dental bridge, or strategically placed to help stabilize a denture.
Out of all of the restorative choices available today an implant comes the closest to replicating the look, feel and function of a natural tooth. Furthermore, it is the only method of tooth replacement that does not require the involvement or preparation of the adjacent teeth. A dental implant also stimulates bone remodeling to prevent shrinkage in areas where teeth are missing and helps to restore facial contours in areas where significant bone loss has occurred.
The terms dental crowns and caps are synonymous. If dental decay, cracked fillings, root canals, clenching or grinding the teeth have caused extensive damage to the underlying tooth structure a dental filling may not be a sufficient restoration. The only way to completely restore the cosmetic appearance and function of this tooth is often full coverage with a dental crown. The good news is that a completed dental crown looks and feels like a natural tooth.
In addition to restoring a single natural tooth, crowns can be used in other situations including being the supporting ends of dental bridge, covering dental implants, or as coverage for a cracked tooth to prevent further breakdown. A crown may also be indicated when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance. Crowns can be made of either porcelain baked onto a metal substrate, all-porcelain, or many of the new ceramic materials that have been developed.
If your teeth suffer from gaps, chips, stains, or discolorations you may be a candidate for porcelain veneers, a highly effective and minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that can achieve beautiful results.
Porcelain veneers are thin facings custom-made of the highest quality ceramic materials that are designed to fit perfectly over the front of your teeth. One of the most conservative cosmetic treatments available, veneers can mask a host of dental imperfections to give you the smile that you have always wanted. Porcelain veneers not only enhance and improve the shape of your teeth, they are able to create an overall whiter and brighter smile.
One of the most appealing aspects of the process of fabricating porcelain veneers is that they involve minimal tooth preparation and take just a few visits. Porcelain veneers, once they are fabricated and fitted, are permanently bonded to the underlying teeth. The result is a naturally pleasing smile that is both strong and durable.
Teeth that have been stained or darkened by food, tobacco use, age, medications or injury can be lightened and brightened by means of a non-invasive process known as teeth whitening.
Teeth whitening or bleaching simply refers to any process that will make the teeth appear whiter. While there are many over the counter options for teeth whitening, the most effective and safest teeth whitening systems are the professional strength ones available at the dentist’s office. A dental professional whitening system offers a higher concentration of whitening components and delivers them to the teeth in the most efficient manner to achieve optimal results.
At our office we offer two exceptional options for tooth whitening. You can choose either an in-office tooth whitening procedure or a professional take home system. Both of these are top-of the-line systems. However, the biggest advantage of the in-office procedure is that in as little as one hour you can achieve a smile that is several shades whiter and brighter than the original color of your teeth.
Our professional strength take home system also produces excellent results. However, this is achieved by way of a more gradual process. Our take home kit may be prescribed alone, or after an in-office treatment to perfect or maintain the in-office result.
Dental bonding is procedure that is often used to restore teeth affected by decay as well as repair chipped or fractured teeth and mask a range of dental imperfections such as stains, discolorations, gaps, misshapen, or undersized teeth. A popular method for restoring and improving the appearance of a person’s smile, dental bonding qualifies as a cosmetic procedure by virtue of the fact that the composite resins used for the procedure are tooth-colored and come in a range of shades that blend seamlessly with natural tooth structure.
A dental bonding procedure, which is performed to fill a cavity or to cosmetically repair a chip, fracture, enamel defect or gap between teeth is known as a “direct composite restoration.” For a direct composite restoration, both artistry and precision are required as the dentist places the selected shade of composite resin and carefully sculpts it to rebuild or improve the appearance of a tooth.
In terms of the cosmetic repair of dental defects, the masking of discolorations or the closure of gaps between teeth, a dental bonding procedure is considered the most economical and quickest method of care out of all the cosmetic solutions available for these types of corrections. Unlike porcelain veneers or ceramic crowns, dental bonding is a minimally invasive, one-visit cosmetic procedure. Moreover, unless a cavity is being cleaned and prepared prior to a dental bonding procedure, no drilling of tooth structure and no anesthesia is required.
How is a dental bonding procedure performed?
When performing a bonding procedure, it is important to enable the composite resin to firmly adhere to the underlying tooth structure. To do this the surface of the tooth is etched and then painted with a liquid bonding agent just prior to the placement of the filling or cosmetic bonding. As the dentist places the composite resin, it is carefully sculpted to achieve the desired shape and then cured it with a special light or allowed to set. Once hardened, the newly bonded restoration is polished and buffed for a smooth finish. Some dentists may offer composite veneers as an alternative to porcelain veneers, artistically bonding and blending successive layers of composite resin to transform the appearance of a tooth.
Caring For Bonded Teeth
While a bonding procedure offers an excellent and cost-effective method of care for the treatment of minor cosmetic dental issues, there are a couple of considerations with this approach. Teeth that are restored or cosmetically enhanced with a dental bonding procedure are as a rule more susceptible to staining and chipping than with other types of cosmetic treatments. For this reason, highly pigmented foods and drinks are to be avoided along with tobacco products. As dental bonding can easily chip and break, it is also important not to bite into hard objects or foods and to avoid oral habits such as biting one’s nails or chewing on pens. However, with proper hygiene and care, a bonded restoration can last for many years.
When teeth are missing a series of changes that can impact your overall dental health and jaw function may be initiated. The adjacent teeth may start to drift or tilt into the space, and teeth in the opposing jaw may start to shift toward the area of the missing tooth. It is therefore important to replace the single tooth or multiple teeth that have been lost. One of the best options to prevent the consequences of shifting teeth and to restore full function to a small edentulous section in the mouth is a dental bridge.
A dental bridge replaces the missing teeth with artificial teeth called “pontics,” and is supported on the ends by prepared natural teeth. Once fabricated and fitted a dental bridge will be permanently “fixed,” or cemented into place. Like crowns, bridges can be made of either porcelain baked on to a metal substrate or many of the new ceramic materials that have been developed.
Invisalign®* is a form of orthodontic treatment that works to correct many different types of malocclusions through the use of a series of clear plastic trays called aligners. In many cases it provides an excellent treatment alternative to traditional orthodontic braces and metal wires.
Invisalign utilizes 3-D computer imaging technology to correct problematic bites or malocclusions by planning a complete sequence of custom-made clear aligners. This series of clear aligners, each of which is worn for a couple of weeks, incrementally move the teeth into place until the final desired corrections are reached.
The advantage and appeal of Invisalign appliances is that they are more cosmetic and more comfortable than most other orthodontic appliances With Invisalign appliances orthodontic treatment is practically “invisible.”
*Invisalign is a registered trademark of Align Technology, Inc.