Cosmetic Dentistry Wilmington North Carolina

Country: United States
State: North Carolina
City: Wilmington

Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures: Teeth Whitening

Whitening of the teeth is performed for patients who desire a brighter smile. Tooth whitening can be performed to reduce discoloration and staining, or simply to provide the patient with whiter, brighter teeth.

We've prepared a primer on teeth whitening to help improve your understanding of what teeth whitening can and do for a patient. Just click on the next page graphic below to get started. Or, if you want to jump to a specific topic, use the handy outline.

What causes discoloration of the teeth?

Teeth enamel discoloration can be caused by staining, aging, or chemical damage to teeth. Some of the more common causes of teeth discoloration are medications, coffee, tea or cigarettes. People who drink significant amounts of cola soft drinks can experience similar staining.

Aside from staining, there are other factors that can affect the color of an individual's teeth. Genetics can play a role. Some people have naturally brighter enamel than others. Disease can also be a factor and certain medications can cause a discoloration of the teeth. If you suspect that there is an underlying medical cause for your teeth discoloration, be sure to inform your cosmetic dentist.

Overview of Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is used to correct discoloration of the teeth by removing the brown and yellow staining. The term "teeth whitening" can refer to a number of techniques to improve the brightness of the patient's teeth. Among them are chemical whitening, mild acid whitening, abrasive teeth brightening and the newest technique, laser teeth whitening.

Teeth Bleaching

Teeth bleaching is chemical process used to lighten the color of the patient's teeth. The procedure can be performed entirely in the cosmetic dentist's office or it can be performed by the patient in their home, using a materials provided by the dentist. The home method is often used because it saves the patient from having to make an office visit for each treatment.

Before the patient embarks on the home teeth whitening regimen, the cosmetic dentist creates a custom mouth tray for the patient. The custom tray is a critical component of the treatment. It ensures that the correct amount of whitening solution is used and that the patient's teeth are properly exposed to the whitening solution. The custom made mouth tray provides for a better fit than a one-size-fits-all mouth tray to help increase the margin of patient safety.

The steps in the home teeth whitening regimen are fairly straightforward. The cosmetic dentist's office provides the patient with the materials and instructions and also answers questions the patient may have about the routine. Your dentist's office can also provide you with off-site supervision should you have any questions once you've begun.

A home whitening session can last for two to three hours, during which time you will have the tray and solution in your mouth. Depending upon your needs and desired results, your dentist may instruct you to keep the tray in your mouth overnight. Typically, you will follow your home teeth whitening regimen for two to three weeks, after which time you will return to your cosmetic dentist for a follow up visit.

How much does tray bleaching teeth cost?

The standard fee for tray bleaching teeth procedures is about $500 or more in most cases. Depending on your cosmetic dentist, this may or may not include office visits. Costs can vary depending upon the area of the country you live in and the type of whitening treatment you undergo.

Generally speaking, the price of teeth whitening increases with the number of in-office treatments required by the patient. Dental insurance does not typically cover the cost of the teeth whitening procedure.

There are a few teeth whitening procedures available that correct discoloration of the teeth by removing the brown and yellow staining. While each work effectively, there are advantages and disadvantages to each procedure dependent upon your objectives and commitment to the processes. The type of procedures available should be discussed with your cosmetic dentist, and a they will recommend the most appropriate teeth whitening procedure for you.

LASER BLEACHING (In-Office)
Using a laser with a whitening gel, this is an in-office bleaching system. The translucent bleaching gel is applied to the teeth and a laser light is used to activate the crystals to absorb the energy from the light and penetrate the teeth enamel to increase the lightening effect on the teeth. The length of time in the cosmetic dentist's chair depends on the degree of discoloration you have.

Advantage: One visit is usually all it takes for a bright smile.

Disadvantage: The sudden change of color is likely to be noticed by those around you immediately. This is the more expensive of the procedures available, but also the quickest.

How much does laser teeth whitening cost?

Costs can vary depending upon the area of the country you live in and the type of whitening treatment you undergo. Laser teeth whitening is typically over $1000. for the complete procedure.

Generally speaking, the price of teeth whitening increases with the number of in-office treatments required by the patient. Dental insurance does not typically cover the cost of the teeth whitening procedure.

What causes discoloration of the teeth?

Teeth enamel discoloration can be caused by staining, aging, or chemical damage to teeth. Some of the more common causes of teeth discoloration are medications, coffee, tea or cigarettes. People who drink significant amounts of cola soft drinks can experience similar staining.

Aside from staining, there are other factors that can affect the color of an individual's teeth. Genetics can play a role. Some people have naturally brighter enamel than others. Disease can also be a factor and certain medications can cause a discoloration of the teeth. If you suspect that there is an underlying medical cause for your teeth discoloration, be sure to inform your cosmetic dentist.

Who is a candidate for cosmetic gum surgery?
You should consult your dentist about cosmetic gum surgery if you believe you have "Gummy Smile" (small crown length), gum recession "long teeth", an uneven gum line due to "short teeth", gum loss or gums which appear to be collapsing (from missing teeth), dark or black areas between bridges, implants, crowns or teeth, or tooth sensitivity from receding gums.

There are two primary procedures for cosmetic gum surgery, depending on your current smile.

"Gummy Smile" (Excessive Gingival Display)
A "Gummy Smile" can occur due to wear of teeth from teeth grinding, a short upper lip, or having a longer than usual upper jawbone. This smile is when your teeth appear too small and your gums appear to large.

"Long Tooth Smile" (Gum Recession)
As your gums recede, your teeth appear longer than normal. While "long teeth" may result in an unattractive smile, you should also be concerned with root sensitivity and possible tooth loss. Recent advances in techniques and materials have resulted in significant improvements in both comfort, predictability and esthetics.

To Correct a "Gummy Smile"
Cosmetic gum surgery can be done to reduce the excess gum and bone. The removal of these tissues allows for normal sized teeth and for a normal gum line appearance by using an instrument, usually a laser, to remove the undesirable tissue. Typically your cosmetic dentist will prescribe an antibacterial mouth rinse to be used twice a day for a two-week period following your surgery.

To Correct a "Long Tooth Smile"
As your gums recede, your teeth look much "longer" than normal. Such gum recession exposes your sensitive root surface which often makes hot or cold foods and drinks a painful experience. Teeth can become loose as your gum recedes. The cosmetic gum surgery solution is basically when a cosmetic dentist or periodontist removes tissue from the roof of your mouth and then grafts it onto your gum line. This tissue then reinforces thin gums or fills in areas where your gums have receded. Typically your cosmetic dentist will prescribe an antibacterial mouth rinse to be used twice a day for a two-week period following your surgery.

How much does cosmetic gum surgery cost?

The costs involved in cosmetic gum surgery vary extensively based upon how much of your mouth is undergoing a procedure, which corrective procedure is being used, and which other cosmetic dentistry procedures will be needed to provide you with that perfect smile. It is common for other cosmetic dentistry procedures, such as crowns or veneers, to be recommended by your dentist as part of the overall strategy to cosmetically correct your gums. The overall strategy should be extensively discussed with your dentist and well understood by you prior to undergoing these procedures..

Who is a candidate for a root canal?

If your tooth is infected or there's severe damage to the pulp, a root canal will be recommended. An untreated cavity is the most common cause for this infection. The pulp inside the tooth can become inflamed from trauma or extensive restorative work. It can even be affected from a series of fillings being applied in a short period of time. This inflammation usually leads to infection. Pain in the tooth is the most common and obvious symptom.

Pros and Cons of Dental Root Canals

Advantage: Pain is always associated with root canals, but should actually be little to no pain during the procedure. The procedure is not for cosmetics, but rather your health. The infect will only get worse with time if left untreated. The root canal procedure is successful over 92 percent of the time. The biggest advantage is that the tooth will not need to be extracted in the future.

Disadvantage: Not often, but sometimes infected tissue is pushed through the ends of the root, which will infect the gum. This is easily treated, but is also painful until the infection is cleared up. Canals are irregularly shaped, and if the canal is not accurately measured or branches of the canal were not discovered, it cannot be completely cleaned or filled requiring the procedure to be done again when this area becomes infected.

Pros and Cons of Tooth Veneers

Advantages:
Porcelain veneers are common in creating new smiles and smile makeovers. With porcelain veneers, you can have the smile of your dreams in a very short period of time. Typically veneers are difficult to stain, making veneers a very popular solution for many people seeking that perfect smile. Strong and very durable, veneers last from ten to fifteen years, and come in colors that will brighten dark teeth without the worry of them changing color. Veneers are typically done in only two one and a half hour long appointments, and can actually strengthen your tooth.

There is no additional maintenance, other than a follow-up visit to your cosmetic dentist and proper brushing and flossing on a daily basis.

Finally, a whiter smile gives people to whom you are speaking a place to focus on and gives you a friendlier appearance.

Disadvantages:
It takes roughly a week or two of a period of adjustment to get used to your teeth that have been changed in color, size, spacing and shape. While very little tooth is removed in most cases, there are situations where more tooth must be removed which increases the risk of trauma to the tooth. The amount of tooth to be removed for the veneers should be discussed with your cosmetic dentist beforehand.

It is common to have minor sensitivity after your teeth have been prepared for your veneers while wearing the temporary veneers. Some people can experience a difference in speech, usually pronouncing "s" and "f" sounds. This is corrected through minor adjustments your cosmetic dentist can make to your veneers. Veneers are very reasonable facsimiles of natural teeth, but not perfect replacements for natural teeth. It's common to see slight variations in the color of veneers upon very close inspection, as with natural teeth. It can take up to a month or two before your new smile feels a part of you.

If you suffer from bruxism, clenching or grinding of your teeth, veneers can be damaged, chipped or cracked from this. If you suffer from bruxism, speak with your cosmetic dentist about wearing a mouth guard at night to protect your new smile.

TOOTH CONTOURING AND RESHAPING

What is tooth contouring and reshaping?

Tooth reshaping, or contouring, is one of few instant treatments now available in cosmetic dentistry. Dental reshaping and contouring is a procedure to correct crooked teeth, chipped teeth, cracked teeth or even overlapping teeth in just one session.

The dental contouring procedure can even be a substitute for braces under certain circumstances. It is also a procedure of subtle changes. A few millimeters of reduction and a few millimeters of tooth-colored laminate can create a beautiful smile when performed by a cosmetic dentist, with no discomfort to you. Tooth reshaping, or dental contouring, is commonly used to alter the length, shape or position of your teeth.

Who is a candidate for tooth contouring and reshaping?

If you want your teeth to appear less crowded, lack chips and fractures, have decreased overlaps or to be without pits or grooves in the enamel, this procedure should be discussed with your cosmetic dentist. With a little dental contouring, you can make a huge difference in the way you feel about your smile. Good cosmetic dentistry can give you a smile that is the envy of others. Tooth contouring by a cosmetic dentist does require that you have normal, healthy teeth.

Tooth reshaping, or tooth sculpting, is a safe and conservative way to improve your smile. Teeth may become weaker if large amounts of enamel are removed, tooth reshaping should be limited to minor changes or combined with veneers or bonding for the best smile.

Types of Tooth Contouring and Reshaping Procedures
There are actually several ways to change the appearance of your teeth. Many times these various procedures are combined in different ways to deliver that smile of your dreams.

Tooth Contouring and Reshaping

The reshaping of a your teeth is a procedure that involves the removal of a very small amount of tooth structure to help achieve a more desirable smile. Chipped or fractured areas are smoothed out and specific angles or edges can be rounded or squared. Contouring creates better alignment and can create a more feminine or masculine smile. It is sometimes done to prevent chipped areas from getting worse. Tooth reshaping is a conservative way to improve the teeth. Since teeth can become weaker if large amounts of enamel are removed, this procedure is limited to minor changes or combined with veneers or bonding for a terrific smile.

Dental Veneers

Veneers are sometimes used in conjunction with contouring. Dental veneers are very thin pieces of specially-shaped porcelain or plastic that are glued over the front of your teeth with little or no anesthesia needed. They are the cure for teeth that are severely discolored, chipped, have small holes or pits, misshapen or crooked, or for the correction of unwanted or uneven spaces. Unlike crowns, veneers won't require the dentist to remove much of the tooth itself. Veneers are created from an impression taken in your cosmetic dentist's office. Your custom veneer is then glued directly onto your tooth.

Tooth Bonding

Basically, bonding will cover any natural flaws applying a thin coating of a plastic material on the front surface of your teeth. After this, your cosmetic dentist will apply a bonding material sculpt, color and shape it to provide a pleasing result. A high-intensity light then hardens the plastic, and the surface is finely polished. This procedure often accompanies contouring and teeth reshaping procedures.

Pros and Cons of a tooth contouring and reshaping

Advantages:
Your dentist can remove only a small amount of tooth enamel, contouring your problem tooth into a more pleasing shape for an improved smile. The tooth contouring procedure is quick, simple, painless, and inexpensive.

Disadvantages:
There are limits. You may be at risk for tooth breakage and decay if too much enamel is removed your teeth. If your teeth were uneven because you grind them, they'll become uneven again until the grinding issue is resolved. Your dental insurance is likely to cover tooth contouring and reshaping only if it is needed as a result of an accident.

Pros and Cons of a Dentures

Advantages:
Dentures definitely provide a great smile with a very natural appearance. They're made of very durable materials and last very long when properly taken care of. Typically dentures last from five to ten years. They also correct several problems, from speech to chewing, for many patients.

Disadvantages:
There's no doubt that dentures take a little getting used to. There is maintenance involved, and initial speech issues to overcome (these are temporary and last only a couple of days). Mouth irritation or sores may occur, but are usually caused by poor dental hygiene, and not removing your dentures when needed. It is common that your mouth change over the life of your dentures, so even though they last long, they may need to be replaced to achieve a better fit before they are worn out. With a denture a person typically chews at only 15-23% efficiency compared to a person chewing with their natural teeth. In the case of a full upper denture, the upper palate is covered which can reduce taste of foods you're chewing.

TOOTH CAPS

What are Tooth Caps?

Grinding of your teeth, an improper bite, age, fillings and tooth decay can all be contributing factors in the wearing down, cracking or breakage of your teeth. Dental caps cover the entire visible surface of your affected tooth and add strength, durability and stability.

How are Dental Caps Attached to your Tooth?

A cosmetic dentist will make an impression (mold) of your tooth and a dental laboratory will create the needed custom cap. You will typically leave the office with a temporary cap to wear while the permanent cap is being made - this takes about fourteen days. The permanent cap is then cemented onto your tooth. Typically, only two visits are required for this part of the procedure. Often, a preliminary restoration of your tooth may be needed before the permanent cap is actually placed. To stabilize your tooth, a filling must first be put in place prior to placing a cap to counter any loss of your original tooth structure.

It is important to discuss with your cosmetic dentist that the cement color used for your permanent cap will be the same as used for the temporary cap (try in paste). The color of the cement does affect the overall color of a porcelain cap, so this needs to be discussed well before your temporary cap is placed.

In some cases your cosmetic dentist may choose to use a Flipper instead of a temporary cap. A Flipper is a false tooth to temporarily take the place of a missing tooth before the permanent crown is placed. A Flipper can be attached via either a wire or a plastic piece that fits in the roof of your mouth. Flippers are meant to be a temporary solution while awaiting the permanent cap.

Types of Tooth Caps

There are generally three types of caps - those made of gold, ceramic caps and ceramic-veneered gold caps. Gold and metal-ceramic caps are extremely durable and are normally used in molars, where the forces from chewing and grinding are most prevalent. Ceramic caps are used primarily for front teeth, since they can best resemble the natural tooth color and are more pleasing to the eye.

Types of Porcelain used with Dental Caps
There are basically two types of porcelain you're likely to hear and read about most when researching dental caps and crowns- the felspathic and pressed ceramic porcelains. The felspathic type is the original method that has been around for 20 years. A Ceramist in a dental lab bakes porcelain onto tin foil and then heats it in an oven. The Ceramist is able to create tints and opaques inside the porcelain of the dental cap or crown to give the natural look we seek.

Pressed ceramic is created from a single ingot. The single ingot is milled in one piece to create the desired shape of the cap or crown. The stains and opaques are applied only to the surface of the porcelain to give a natural look for your new smile.

Resin and Porcelain Caps
The new reinforced resin or bonded all-porcelain type of cap has the nicest appearance. This cap can be made from pure ceramic or a new reinforced composite resin. It is almost indistinguishable from natural teeth. The new bonding technology involved provides an exceptional bond your tooth. It is metal-free, and thus satisfies the needs of patients with metal sensitivities. When correcting your back teeth with bonding, the cosmetic dentist will perform a tooth colored onlay. This type of procedure is used to correct only the parts of your tooth that are in need. This procedure is metal-free.

Caps Made of Gold
Gold caps are used when appearance is not a priority to you. The gold is extremely workable, making gold caps a more precise fit than any other type. While there exists a slight possibility of chipping with porcelain caps, gold caps provide no such possibility.

Porcelain and Metal Caps
For a very natural appearance, porcelain fused to metal caps are the answer for you. However, they have a metal substructure and require an opaque below the porcelain, which can make the translucency of natural teeth difficult to match. Sometimes a darker line will be visible at the edge of the cap, near to your gum when your gum recedes with age.

How much do dental caps cost?

Porcelain caps cost more because they are usually more time-consuming than gold caps. Porcelain and gold caps will average between $500. to $3,100. in total cost.

The relatively new reinforced resin or bonded all-porcelain type of caps cost more, and may exceed your insurance plan coverage for caps.

Usually, the price of dental caps increases with the number of in-office treatments required by the patient. Dental insurance does not typically cover all the costs of the dental cap procedure.

Pros and Cons of Dental Caps Types

Dental caps in general add a good deal of strength to a weakened or worn tooth, and last ten to fifteen years. Depending on your habits and the condition of your gums, there may be some drawbacks for you. Your cosmetic dentist will advise which is best for you given several factors, such as how important appearance is to you. The following are the advantages and disadvantages of the most common types of caps.

Gold Caps

Advantage: The preparation of your tooth for a gold cap is the simplest and least complicated preparation. There is minimal tooth structure removal with as much as possible of the healthy tooth structure remaining untouched. As porcelain is hard by comparison, it may cause wear on opposing teeth over the years where gold is not as likely to do this. Gold is also easier to place to the area where the tooth and cap meet for a better fit. Gold is also a healthier environment for the gum tissue.

Disadvantage: The biggest disadvantage to gold caps is cosmetic, unless it is being used in the back of your mouth.

Porcelain Caps

Advantage: Porcelain caps or the new reinforced resin types are considered to be the most aesthetically pleasing, as it is so easily matched in color to your surrounding teeth.

Disadvantage: The thickness of the porcelain required for pleasing aesthetics also requires that more tooth structure is removed. Also, it is more difficult for your cosmetic dentist to get an ideal fit where your gum meets the cap. Gingival inflammation is typically more common with porcelain caps than gold caps.

Porcelain Fused-to-Metal Caps

Advantage: Porcelain fused-to-metal caps have a very natural and pleasing appearance.

Disadvantage: They have a metal substructure and require an opaque below the porcelain, which can make the translucency of natural teeth difficult to replicate. Occasionally a darker line will be visible at the edge of the cap, by your gum as your gum recedes with age.

Who is a candidate for dental implants?

If you're missing one tooth or all of your teeth, implants may well be for you. So long as you have enough bone in the area of the missing tooth to facilitate the anchorage of the implants, this procedure can yield terrific results. If you don't have enough bone for this purpose, a bone graft may be necessary. If you have a small dental bridge or partial dentures (removable type), implants will be a welcome alternative. Implants are an alternative to a fixed bridge. The implant will last a lifetime, but the crown on top of it will last ten to fifteen years.

Pros and Cons of Dental Implants

Advantages:
As our life span increases, a permanent dental replacement like implants is increasingly important as we get older. While dentures and removable bridges are usually loose and unstable, implants provide you with dental replacements that are both natural looking and very functional. Implants look much better, and feel better, than traditional removable bridges, and offer the same force for biting as bridges that are fixed in place. Implants will last your lifetime.

Disadvantages:
Implants are a major investment and not without risk. The extensive use of implants can cost tens of thousands of dollars to achieve a great result. It is also a very time consuming procedure when having many implants placed. As this procedure is surgery, it is very important to research and find a well credited cosmetic dentist that you are comfortable with. For some people there are varying degrees discomfort or pain, which subsides in a couple of days. As with similar types of surgery, bruising and minor swelling might also develop shortly after the procedure. The crown (false tooth placed on top) will need to be replaced in ten to fifteen years.

How to choose the color of dental implants?

When considering dental implants a common question is how white the dental implants should be. Usually, the answer is to whiten your natural teeth to either the level of whiteness you want or to the brightest they can be. Your cosmetic dentist will then have the dental implants made to that color. Teeth are of course not monochromatic, so typically more than one color is used to create a very natural look. This color variation is critical in avoiding fake or artificial looking teeth. It is the internal contrast of colors that help create vitality. The internal play of light on the porcelain in the restoration helps to create this vitality. Surface texture is also very important, and helps to break up light reflections and make the dental implants look more natural.

There is no one standard system in the dental field to measure and determine tooth color. The most often heard about, however, is the Vita shade guide. This guide divides tooth color into four basic shade ranges:
A (reddish brown)
B (reddish yellow)
C (gray)
D (reddish gray).
In the A range there are five levels of darkness. Ranges B, C and D, each have four levels.

Not all of your teeth are the same natural color. Usually your eye teeth tend to be darker than the others, your front teeth are typically the whitest, and molars tend to be a shade between the two. The goal for everyone is to achieve their individual optimum whiteness while still looking natural.

Most dentists will show you a shade chart (like the above mentioned Vita Shade Guide) for you to pick from. Keep in mind, with a good cosmetic dentist this is merely a starting point. Other considerations when determining the color of dental implants for each patient are your complexion, hair color, the color of your natural teeth and even your eye color.

How is Tooth Bonding Accomplished?

A very mild etching solution is applied to your teeth to create very small crevices in the tooth's enamel structure. These small crevices provide a slightly rough surface permitting a durable resin to bond materials to your teeth. The resin is then placed on your tooth and high-intensity light cures the resins onto your tooth's surface - with each individual layer of resin hardening in just minutes. When the last coat has been applied to your tooth, the bonded material is then sculpted to fit your tooth and finely polished.

The resin comes in many shades so that we can match it to your natural teeth. Due to the layers involved, this procedure will take slightly longer than traditional silver fillings because multiple layers of the bonding material are applied. Typically bonding takes an hour to two hours depending on your particular case.

Types of Tooth Bonding Procedures

There are two types of bonding. What type is indicated in your situation depends upon whether you have a small area or a larger area that requires correction.

For small corrections

These are one appointment fillings which are color-matched to the tooth and are bonded to the surface for added strength. These are most appropriate for small fillings and front fillings as they may not be as durable for large fillings.

For larger corrections

Dental lab-created tooth-colored fillings require two appointments and involve making a mold of your teeth and placing a temporary filling. A dental laboratory then creates a very durable filling to custom-fit the mold made from your teeth. These fillings are typically made of porcelain. The custom-fit filling is then bonded to your tooth on your return visit. This type is even more natural looking, more durable and more stain resistant.

Who is a candidate for tooth bonding?

If you have close, small gaps between your front teeth, or if you have chipped or cracked teeth, you may be a candidate for bonding. Bonding is also used for patients who have discolored teeth, uneven teeth, gum recession or tooth decay. Bonding material is porous, so smokers will find that their bonding will yellow. If you think you are a candidate for bonding, discuss it with your dentist.

DENTAL BRIDGES

What is a dental bridge?

A dental bridge is a false tooth, known as a pontic, which is fused between two porcelain crowns to fill in the area left by a missing tooth. The two crowns holding it in place that are attached onto your teeth on each side of the false tooth. This is known as a fixed bridge. This procedure is used to replace one or more missing teeth. Fixed bridges cannot be taken out of your mouth as you might do with removable partial dentures.

In areas of your mouth that are under less stress, such as your front teeth, a cantilever bridge may be used. Cantilever bridges are used when there are teeth on only one side of the open space. Bridges can reduce your risk of gum disease, help correct some bite issues and even improve your speech. Bridges require your commitment to serious oral hygiene, but will last as many ten years or more.

Types of Dental Bridge Procedures

There are three types of dental bridges:

Traditional Fixed Bridge

A dental bridge is a false tooth, known as a potic, which is fused between two porcelain crowns to fill in the area left by a missing tooth. There two crowns holding it in place that are attached onto your teeth on each side of the false tooth. This is known as a fixed bridge. This procedure is used to replace one or more missing teeth. Fixed bridges cannot be taken out of your mouth as you might do with removable partial dentures.

Resin Bonded Bridges

The resin bonded is primarily used for your front teeth. Less expensive, this bridge is best used when the abutment teeth are healthy and don't have large fillings. The false tooth is fused to metal bands that are bonded to the abutment teeth with a resin which is hidden from view. This type of bridge reduces the amount of preparation on the adjacent teeth.

Cantilever Bridges

In areas of your mouth that are under less stress, such as your front teeth, a cantilever bridge may be used. Cantilever bridges are used when there are teeth on only one side of the open space. This procedure involves anchoring the false tooth to one side over one or more natural and adjacent teeth.

Who is a candidate for Tooth Crowns?

Grinding your teeth, an improper bite, age, fillings and tooth decay can all be contributing factors in the wearing down, cracking or breakage of your teeth. Dental crowns cover the entire visible surface of your affected tooth and add strength, durability and tooth stability.

Your cosmetic dentist will usually be able to spot problem areas in your mouth that might lead to tooth damage and a need for crowns. Chewing patterns play a big role as well. By selectively grinding the tips of your middle and back teeth (called cusps) will alter your bite to reduce the stress on at-risk teeth.

In other instances, crowns are used to replace a actual missing tooth. These crowns are anchored to the teeth on either side, with a bridge section connecting the two crowns. Instead of bridges, single tooth dental implants may be used that eliminate the need for supporting the crowns.

How are Tooth Crowns Attached to your Tooth?

Your cosmetic dentist will make an impression of the tooth and a dental laboratory will create the crown. You will typically leave the office with a temporary crown to wear while the permanent crown is being made - this takes about two weeks. The permanent crown is then cemented onto your tooth. Typically, only two visits are required for this part of the procedure. Often, a preliminary restoration of your tooth may be needed before a crown can be placed. To stabilize your tooth, a filling must first be put in place prior to placing a crown due to the loss of original tooth structure. Tooth crowns usually last ten to fifteen years.

Be sure to discuss with your cosmetic dentist that the cement color used for your permanent crown will be the same as used for your temporary crown. A try in paste is used for this purpose. The color of the cement does affect the overall color of a porcelain crown, so this needs to be discussed long before your temporary crown is placed.

In some cases your cosmetic dentist may choose to use a Flipper instead of a temporary crown. A Flipper is a false tooth to temporarily take the place of a missing tooth before the permanent crown is placed. A Flipper can be attached via either a wire or a plastic piece that fits in the roof of your mouth. Flippers are meant to be a temporary solution while awaiting the permanent crown.

Types of Tooth Crowns
There are basically three types of crowns, those made of gold, ceramic crowns and ceramic-veneered gold crowns. Gold and metal-ceramic crowns are extremely durable and are normally used in molars, where the forces from chewing and grinding are most prevalent. Ceramic crowns are used primarily for front teeth, since they can best resemble the natural tooth color.

Resin and Porcelain Crowns
The new reinforced resin or bonded all-porcelain type of crown has the nicest appearance. This crown can be made from pure ceramic or a new reinforced composite resin, and is almost indistinguishable from natural teeth. The new bonding technology involved provides an exceptional bond your tooth. It is metal-free, and thus satisfies the needs of patients with metal sensitivities. When correcting your back teeth with bonding, the cosmetic dentist will perform a tooth colored onlay. This type of procedure is used to correct only those parts of the tooth that are in need. This is a metal-free procedure.

Crowns Made of Gold
Gold crowns are appropriate when appearance is not a priority to you. The gold metal is extremely workable making gold crowns a more precise fit than any other type. While there exists a slight possibility of chipping with porcelain crowns, gold crowns provide no such possibility.

Porcelain and Metal Crowns
For a very natural appearance, porcelain fused to metal crowns are the answer. However, they have a metal substructure and require an opaque below the porcelain. This can make the translucency of natural teeth difficult to replicate. Occasionally a darker line will be visible at the edge of the crown, near to your gum when it recedes with age.

Types of Porcelain
There are basically two types of porcelain you're likely to hear and read about most - the felspathic and pressed ceramic porcelains. The felspathic type is the original method that has been around for 20 years. A Ceramist in a dental lab bakes porcelain onto tin foil and then heats it in an oven. The Ceramist is able to create tints and opaques inside the porcelain to give the natural look we seek.

Pressed ceramic is created from a single ingot. The single ingot is milled in one piece to create the desired shape. The stains and opaques are applied only to the surface of the porcelain to give a natural look.

   

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