Cosmetic Dentistry: Saving Your Teeth, Sparkling Your Smile
by Dr Richard Barry
You visit your dentist twice each year and leave with cleaner teeth and a brighter smile. Occasionally, you may need to have a cavity filled. Hopefully, you never need more dental work than that. However, if and when you do need more, you’ll discover that cosmetic dental procedures at Lifetime Dental Associates can help just about any dental problem you encounter.
What Procedures are Considered Cosmetic Dentistry?
What cosmetic dentistry offers is a spectrum of procedures to address many problem situations and painful circumstances, from lingering stains to missing teeth, to a misaligned jaw or a troublesome bite. So, read on!
As George Carlin once said, “Everyone smiles in the same language.” We smile when we’re happy, when we’re amused, when we want to appear friendly. So, if your smile isn’t quite as pearly as you wish it were, the solution may be teeth whitening, the most commonly sought cosmetic dental procedure.
Today, nearly every drug or grocery store sells teeth whitening toothpaste and at-home whitening kits. Don’t be fooled. For results you’ll actually be happy with, professional tooth whitening — which can make teeth up to 8 shades whiter — is by far the better choice. In a whitening procedure, the strength of the solution and the length of soaking time is critical. With an at-home kit, there’s no way to adjust the level of bleaching or modify the soaking tray to fit your mouth. Our whitening service can be specifically geared to your mouth and your teeth. Check it out!
Most people have had at least a few dental fillings by the time they reach adulthood. Even so, sometimes a filling isn’t enough to do the job. That’s when a dental crown — a more complex procedure than filling a cavity — is often the recommended option. Usually made of porcelain, a crown sits on top of a damaged tooth to cover up a very large filling, seal a badly decayed tooth against additional deterioration, or cover a tooth that’s cracked or broken.
At Lifetime Dental Health, we offer the latest in crown technology: a very strong ceramic crown designed and created using computer-assisted technology. It’s called a CEREC crown, and it can be made right in our office from 3-D models of your teeth. Like traditional crowns, CEREC crowns are designed to match your natural teeth and to last for many years. Unlike traditional crowns, this advanced technology allows our dentists to measure, create, and place crowns over damaged teeth in a single session, with no injections, no metal, and no restoration period.
A dental veneer is like a slipcover for a tooth. It’s a very thin piece of porcelain in the shape of a tooth that can be applied to the tooth’s surface. Most of the time veneers are the answer for damaged teeth that need more than a crown: discolored or crooked teeth, teeth that are misshapen or misaligned, and teeth with worn down enamel. Sometimes veneers are applied to undamaged teeth to make them match the color of nearby teeth or close a small gap between teeth.
Getting a veneer is a two-step process. First, a thin layer of tooth enamel is removed, so that the veneer can bond well to the natural tooth. The veneer is then crafted to precisely fit the target tooth and applied with dental cement that bonds it to the tooth permanently.
Using braces to adjust children’s teeth that are crooked or misaligned has long been a staple of cosmetic dentistry. But today there’s a new option to traditional metal braces, called “aligners.”
Aligners are simple, efficient, and cost-effective. Just like old-time braces, they slowly move your teeth into place, space them out a bit, or adjust your bite. As your teeth realign, you receive a new aligner periodically (usually 20 to 24 aligners in all) and you’ll wear each set for about two weeks. Although treatment times vary, most people notice an improved smile within just six months.
Unlike metal braces, today’s clear plastic aligners are nearly invisible, and movable. You don’t have to worry about missing your favorite sticky sweets or crunchy crackers, either. When it’s time to eat, you want to brush and floss, or your aligner needs cleaning, you can take it off — for up to two hours a day. We offer our own clear aligners as well as Invisalign®.
Missing teeth can be bothersome. In addition to the unattractive appearance of empty spaces in your jaw, missing teeth can make speaking and chewing difficult, allow healthy teeth to shift, and affect the strength of your bite. They can also lead to jaw pain and headaches, as well as other health issues. Enter the dental bridge!
A dental bridge is a prosthesis that consists of synthetic teeth and it is used to fill the space left by missing teeth. Dental bridges can be made from gold alloys, ceramic material, or porcelain bonded to a metal support, then attached with dental cement to the teeth on either side of the empty space. While not considered permanent, a quality dental bridge and can last from five to 15 years before needing to be replaced.
Could Cosmetic Dentistry Be Right for Me?
Now that you know what’s available, it’s time to talk to us about your needs. We can check out your teeth and help you decide what solution is best for you. We invite you to contact our office today!