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.

How white can your teeth become?

How white your teeth can become from bleaching and whitening is a common question with a very subjective answer. Some whitening procedures claim they can whiten your teeth by up to nine shades, but that is highly unlikely. Just a change of two or three shades will make a significant difference in just about anyone's smile. 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. During your first consultation for tooth whitening, your dentist will go over what you personally can expect for your specific smile. How white teeth will become from a given procedure will vary from person to person. The structure of your teeth and the type of procedure implemented will affect the outcome.

The following chart will give you some idea of how to compare the two most popular methods for tooth whitening. As everyone's circumstances are different, both options should be further discussed with your cosmetic dentist prior to making a decision.

Procedure Usually Lasts For: May Cause During and Shortly After Procedure: Time for Procedure: Changes in Shade: Average Cost:
Gel/Tray 4 - 12 Months Sensitive Gums/Teeth 50 Hours 4 - 5 $ 400.
Laser 12 - 18 Months Minor Discomfort 2 - 3 Hours 7 - 8 $ 1,000.
BriteSmile 12 - 18 Months Minor Discomfort 2 Hours 8+ $ 600.

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 long does teeth whitening last?

Teeth whitening is not a permanent procedure. Results can last for one to or more years, depending upon your personal habits. In most cases, the whitening procedure is very effective and the patient is pleased with the results.

Types of Teeth Whitening Procedures

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.

BRITESMILE TEETH WHITENING (In-Office)
Using a specail light with a whitening gel, this is an in-office bleaching system. It is often followed up with an at-home bleaching kit if needed.

The translucent bleaching gel is applied to the teeth and a specail activating light source 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, but two hours is common.

Advantage: One visit is usually all it takes for a bright smile. The tooth whitening treatment typically costs $600.

Disadvantage: The sudden change of color is likely to be noticed by those around you immediately.

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.

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.

CUSTOM FIT TRAY BLEACHING (In-Home)
A custom fitted tray is worn over your teeth. A small amount of the bleaching gel is placed in the tray and worn for a brief amount of time each day. This is the most common technique because it's easy to use and costs less. Impressions are taken of your mouth and a thin custom made plastic tray is made which you take home and wear for about one to two hours per day. While some results may be seen in a couple days, it usually takes one to two weeks to see the full whitening of your teeth. This procedure is sometimes used in conjunction with the in-office laser bleaching if you have severe discoloration (dark grey or purple) or internal teeth staining.

Advantage: A gradual whitening of your teeth over time will be less noticeable to others that you're undergoing this procedure. The cost is relatively low.

Disadvantages: This procedure will require two to four visits to the cosmetic dentists office.

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.

Pros and Cons of Teeth Whitening

Advantages:
People typically have their teeth whitened to improve their appearance. Whiter teeth are associated with beauty and a healthier lifestyle. When people have a brighter smile, they tend to smile more often and are less self-conscious.

In addition, a whiter smile tends to minimize the appearance of facial wrinkles, giving way to a more youthful and energetic appearance.

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

Disadvantages:

Although bleaching is very effective, there can be short term disadvantages, such as sore gums or teeth from the bleach. This disappears when bleach use is discontinued. Some individuals are more chemically sensitive. If you are one of them, inform your cosmetic dentist so that you can be tested for sensitivity to the solution.

Research indicates that bleaching is completely effective in more than 78% of people. In cases of serious teeth discoloration, bleaching may not be the best choice. Veneers or crowns may be the superior choice. Bleaching is usually the first solution to try due to its lower cost.

Some people experience discomfort from wearing the mouth tray. This typically goes away in short order, but if you suspect that there is a problem with the fit of your mouth tray, call your dentist's office. They can often make small adjustments that will minimize or eliminate the problem.

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.

Pros and Cons of Cosmetic Gum Surgery

Advantages:
Healing is usually quick and your more youthful and beautiful smile is obvious early on. It has been reported that cosmetic gum surgery additionally improves the health of your gums. The procedure to correct receding gums may even reduce your tooth sensitivity to cold or hot foods or beverages while protecting your roots from decay and lessening further gum shrinkage.

Disadvantages:
Cosmetic gum surgery is of course, surgery. Surgery is often performed in segments under a local anesthetic - unless your entire mouth is undergoing this procedure at once, then a general anesthesia is typically used.

ROOT CANALS

Dental Root Canals for Your Teeth

Many of us have heard the comparisons of painful things to the root canal procedure. It's not that bad. There are tiny canals within your tooth that may become infected. This leads to the pulp inside your tooth also becoming diseased. Either your dentist or an endodontist to remove any infection performs the root canal procedure. The canals are then filled and the tooth receives either a filling or a crown. Crowns are more common in most cases as they add strength to the tooth itself. The procedure itself takes one to two visits.

What are Root Canals?

There are tiny canals within your tooth that may become infected. This leads to the pulp inside your tooth also becoming infected as well. Either your dentist or an endodontist to remove any infection performs the root canal procedure. The canals are cleaned and then filled and the tooth receives either a filling or a crown.

Types of Root Canals

There are generally two types of root canal procedures. The first (and hopefully only) root canal on a tooth, and the second root canal on the same tooth. Both procedures are the same, other than that if this is the second root canal done on the same tooth it requires more time and expense. This is because your dentist must remove all of the previous filling in the canal and pulp area in order to start again.

How much do dental root canals cost?

Expect the cost of a root canal treatment to be about $400. to $600. per front tooth and about $500. to $800. for a molar. The difference is because front teeth usually have only one root canal and molars usually have three or more. The costs for a crown or permanent filling are additional. Costs for a second root canal, hopefully not needed, on the same tooth are slightly higher.

Who is a candidate for Dental Veneers?

Veneers, porcelain or plastic, are placed over the front teeth to change color shape of the teeth. Veneers are ideal for teeth that are too small, too big, or have uneven surfaces. It is very common for people to have imperfect teeth, either oddly shaped teeth, chipped teeth, crooked teeth,teeth with small holes in them, or an inappropriate sized tooth or teeth that have an odd appearance. Veneers solve such irregularities and create a durable and pleasing smile.

Overview of Tooth Veneers

Often an alternative to crowns, 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 in most cases. It is important to ask your cosmetic dentist how much tooth will be removed. In some cases more tooth will need to be removed, which may increase the risk of trauma to the tooth. Veneers are created from an impression taken in your cosmetic dentist's office. Your custom veneer is then glued directly onto your tooth. Typically costing less than crowns, veneers won't 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.

How are Tooth Veneers Attached to your Tooth?

In your first appointment, it is important to initially discuss with your cosmetic dentist that you will want to "try in" your veneers with temporary cement that is the same color cement as will be used for the permanent attachment. During this "try-in" phase, be sure to look at your veneers in natural light in addition to the office light. Teeth are prepared for veneers by lightly buffing to allow for the small added thickness of the veneer. Veneers are thin like contact lenses, and will usually only need tooth reduction of 0.5mm to 1.0mm. If a drastic change is being made for the result you want, reduction may be 1.0mm to 2.0mm. A mold is taken of the teeth, from which the veneers are modeled after. Temporary veneers will be placed and worn until your permanent veneers are ready. While wearing the temporary veneers, advise your cosmetic dentist of any adjustments or changes you would like made, such as in shape or size. These changes will be translated into your permanent veneers, so good communication between you and your dentist is important in achieving your new smile.

Your dentist places the veneers with water or glycerin on the teeth to verify their perfect fit and the shade or color. The color cannot be changed after the veneers are adhered to your teeth. The tooth is then cleansed with chemicals to achieve a durable bond. Once the glue is between the veneer and your tooth, a light beam is used to harden the glue/cement.

Types of Tooth Veneer Procedures:

There are two tooth veneers 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 tooth veneers procedure for you.

Composite Veneer Procedure:

Composite (direct) veneers are usually performed in a single visit to your cosmetic dentist. The procedure is an application of a bond and enamel directly to the tooth's surface.

Porcelain Veneer Procedure:

Porcelain (indirect) veneers are a very thin porcelain material. Usually porcelain veneers require two visits and also require a dental laboratory to create the final tooth restoration piece.

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.

Overview of tooth contouring and reshaping

Dental reshaping and contouring is a procedure to correct crooked teeth, chipped teeth, cracked teeth or even overlapping teeth in just one session. This procedure is even a substitute for braces under certain circumstances. This is also a procedure of subtle changes. A few millimeters of reduction and a few millimeters of tooth-colored 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.

How is tooth contouring and reshaping accomplished?

Preparation for dental contouring and reshaping is a team effort with your cosmetic dentist. Some dentists in cosmetic dentistry even use computer imaging to show you how you will look after the procedure.

Your cosmetic dentist will take x-rays to evaluate the size and location of the pulp of each tooth to ensure that there's enough bone between the teeth to support them.

The cosmetic dentist will mark your teeth with a pencil prior to performing the procedure. This helps the cosmetic dentist in their sculpting process. As your cosmetic dentist sculpts the tooth, imperfections are artfully eliminating or minimized. A sanding drill or laser may be used to remove small amounts of surface enamel gradually. Abrasive strips are then moved back and forth between your teeth to shape the actual sides of your teeth. Then the teeth are smoothed and polished. Usually anesthetic is not needed. Teeth contouring and reshaping usually takes one to three visits.

Contouring teeth may also help correct small problems with bite. It is common for bonding to be combined with tooth reshaping to achieve a beautiful 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.

How much does tooth contouring and reshaping cost?

Your dental insurance is likely to cover tooth contouring and reshaping only if it is needed as a result of an accident, but this is a relatively inexpensive procedure. The cost depends on how much the dental reshaping is needed, but average costs are approximately $50 to $350 per tooth.

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.

Who is a candidate for dentures?

If you've lost, or are losing, all of your teeth a Complete Denture is something to discuss with your cosmetic dentist. If some of your teeth remain and are healthy, a partial denture may be your way to a great smile.

This procedure should be thoroughly discussed with your dentist as there are several personal and medical factors to take into consideration. You may instead be a candidate for dental bridges and dental implants as optional procedures.

Complete Dentures

These replace all of your teeth, upper or lower. Their comfort depends on muscle, bones, tongue, and saliva. Patients begin wearing conventional dentures after healing the teeth that were pulled.

Immediate Dentures

Immediate Dentures are placed all at once, and may require additional adjustments after the healing process. It can take months for your bone and tissue to stabilize after tooth extractions.

Upper Dentures

Upper Dentures, tend to be a bit easier to adjust to. These are made of the same materials as a Complete Denture, but are designed to provide you with upper teeth only.

Over Dentures

Over Dentures are a type of conventional denture similar to Complete Dentures. The difference is that not all teeth are extracted and they use one or more natural teeth for their support. This type provides greater stabilization during chewing. Over Dentures cost more and typically require more preparation dental appointments until the procedure is fully complete.

Partial Dentures

Designed to correct the gaps in your smile when only some of your teeth are missing. Metal attachments anchor the dentures to your natural teeth. Partial Dentures maintain tooth alignment by preventing your remaining teeth from shifting. Partial Dentures can also help prevent your loss of more teeth due to decay or gum disease.

How much do dentures cost?

Costs will vary depending on where you live and your needs. Prosthodontists' prices are typically between $500 to $2,500 per upper or lower arch. Cosmetic Dentist fees are usually $300 to $1,200 per arch. This is a procedure for which you should definitely research your dental insurance coverage. Much of the cost is often covered.

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.



Who is a candidate for dental caps?

If you grind your teeth, have an improper bite, have fillings or tooth decay you have contributing factors to 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.

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

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.

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.

What are dental implants?

Dental implants are fixtures of titanium which are surgically screwed into your jaw bone. The implant is an anchor for a naturally-appearing false tooth or a set of false teeth. The success rate of dental implants depends on where the implants are placed and their purpose. They are typically best placed in the front portion of your lower jaw. Implants are great for replacing missing teeth. It is important that you have enough bone in the area of the missing teeth for the implants to be attached to. Implants are not only used to replace one tooth, but rather people missing most, if not all, of their teeth benefit greatly as well. Implants are increasingly being used to replace certain types of bridges and removable partial dentures.

Overview of Dental Implants

Implants are surgically placed in your jaw bone while under anesthesia. It is a very time consuming procedure when having many implants placed. As this procedure is surgical, 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.

How are Dental Implants Attached in Your Mouth?

The implant procedure is a surgical placement of the implant or implants in your jaw bone which requires a three to six month healing period before the implant restoration to replace the missing tooth or teeth. During this healing time, the bone grows in and around the titanium implant creating a very strong support. Dental implants can be rejected. Usually they are replaced with another implant of a slightly larger size. The rejection or "failure" rate is minimal, only 1 to 2% of all implant procedures. You must go without wearing your dentures for one day to two weeks after an implant placement. After the implant has "taken" and you have sufficiently healed, a very natural crown is placed on the implant.

When missing one tooth, your cosmetic dentist may use a Flipper to fill the space. A Flipper is a false tooth to temporarily take the place of a missing tooth before the permanent crown is placed on the implant. 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 to be placed on your implant(s).

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. A procedure of building up the bone is known as Bone Grafting. Bone grafting is common with dental implants. The bone that is used is one of three types. The preferred bone to use is taken from other areas of your mouth or collected in a suction device as the drilling of the sites for dental implants occurs. Sometimes bone is taken from areas such as a hip (this requires an orthopedic surgeon and an operating room). The third source for needed bone is a synthetic type. This is the least preferred type of bone to be used for this procedure.

TOOTH BONDING

What is tooth bonding?

Bonding is a composite resin filling placed in the back teeth as well as the front teeth. Composites are the solution for restoring decayed teeth, making cosmetic improvements and even changing the color of your teeth or the reshaping of teeth. Bonding will lighten any stains you may have, close up minor gaps and can be used to correct crooked teeth. 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 and sculpt, color and shape it to provide a pleasing result. A high-intensity light then hardens the plastic, and the surface is finely polished.

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.

Overview of dental bridge procedure

If you a space from a missing tooth, a bridge will be custom made to fill in the space with a false tooth. The false tooth is attached by the bridge to the two other teeth around the space - bridging them together.

How is dental bridge accomplished?

Your cosmetic dentist will prepare your teeth on either side of the space for the false tooth. You will be given a mild anesthetic to numb the area, and the cosmetic dentist will remove the an area of each abutment (teeth on either side of the space) to accommodate for the thickness of the crown. When these teeth already have fillings, part of the filling may be left in place to help as a foundation for the crown.

The dentist will then make an impression, which will serve as the model from which the bridge, false tooth and crowns will be made by a dental laboratory. A temporary bridge will be placed for you to wear while your bridge is being made until your next visit. This temporary bridge will serve to protect your teeth and gums.

Your cosmetic dentist may have you use a Flipper appliance. A Flipper is a false tooth to temporarily take the place of a missing tooth before the permanent bridge 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 bridge.

On your second appointment, the temporary bridge will be removed. Your new permanent bridge will be fitted and checked and adjusted for any bite discrepancies. Your new bridge will then be cemented to your teeth.

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.

How much do dental bridges cost?

The average cost of a single fixed bridge depends on many factors, from which region you're in to how many and which type of bridges are needed. Typically dental bridge cost ranges from $500-900 per tooth. Dental insurance typically pays for about half of the cost of the bridge.

TOOTH CROWNS

What are 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.

   

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