Cosmetic Dentistry Wilmington North Carolina
Country: United States
State: North Carolina
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)
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.
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.
Sometimes a single tooth becomes discolored causing it to look out of place with the rest of your smile. In these cases you may want to consider having the tooth whitened to match the rest of your teeth. If you'd like to learn more about what causes the discoloration and what can be done about it, please follow the links below.
How much can a tooth be whitened?
How white an individual tooth can become from bleaching and whitening is a common question. Some whitening procedures claim they can whiten your teeth by up to nine shades, but that is highly unlikely. 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. However, the Vita shade guide is the most used. This guide divides individual tooth color into four basic shade ranges:
A (reddish brown)
B (reddish yellow)
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. As strange as it may sound, usually your eye teeth are darker than the others, and your front teeth are almost always the whitest, and molars tend to be a shade between those two. When your cosmetic dentist is whitening one particular tooth, they will take this into account. The goal for everyone is to achieve an overall 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 a white tooth will become will vary from person to person. The structure of your tooth and the type of procedure implemented will affect the outcome.
The following chart will give you some idea of what to expect. As everyone's circumstances are different, options should be further discussed with your cosmetic dentist prior to making a decision. Most people are not seeking a gradual whitening of an individual tooth. The laser whitening procedure affords the cosmetic dentist the needed control and the patient the instant results sought.
Procedure: Usually Lasts For: May Cause During and Shortly After Procedure: Time for Procedure: Changes in Shade: Average Cost:
Laser 12 - 18 Months Minor Discomfort 2 - 3 Hours 7 - 8 $ 300.
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.
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.
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.
How much do tooth veneers cost?
Porcelain Veneers typically cost between $900 - $2,500. per tooth and require two or more visits one to two weeks apart. Veneers made of porcelain provide a greater longevity than plastic, typically ten years to fifteen years or more.
Composite Veneers cost significantly less, around $250 per tooth or more, but only last from five to seven years typically.
Generally speaking, the price of tooth veneers and whitening increases with the number of in-office treatments required by the patient. Dental insurance does not typically cover the cost of the tooth veneers procedure.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Types of Dental Implant Procedures
Implants rely on titanium fixtures inserted into the jawbone. Most implants are made of titanium, which is very effective at fusing with living bone (osseointegration). There are three types of dental implants which your cosmetic dentist will discuss with you:
Root Form Implant
This screw type implant is shaped like the root of a tooth. This is the most commonly used implant and is used where there is plenty of width and depth to your jawbone. If your jawbone is too narrow or short for placement of the Root Form implants, bone grafting may be needed to allow for their placement. After you've received anesthesia, your cosmetic dentist will expose an area of your jawbone and prepare the bone for the implant. The number of incisions and bone preparations depend on how many implants you need. The implant will be set into place and your gums are closed with stitches. It will take three to six months for healing. After you've fully healed, your implant is uncovered and an abutment is attached.
Plate Form Implant
If your jawbone is too narrow for bone grafting, a Plate Form implant is placed into your jawbone. The Plate Form implant is unique for this purpose as it has a flat and long shape for a better fit into a narrow jawbone. After you've received anesthesia, your cosmetic dentist will expose an area of your jawbone and prepare the bone for the implant. The number of incisions and bone preparations depend on how many implants you need. The implant will be set into place and your gums are closed with stitches. It will take three to six months for healing (some Plate Form implants are immediately ready for restoration without the long healing process).
If there's not enough bone width or height for the Root Form or Plate Form implants, the Subperiosteal implant is recommended. The Subperiosteal implant is custom made to rest on top of your jawbone and under your gums like the Plate Form implant, but the Subperiosteal implant is placed through one of two special methods.
The first method of placement involves your cosmetic dentist making an impression of your jawbone. After you've received anesthesia, your cosmetic dentist exposes your jawbone and takes an impression of it. The impression is used by a dental laboratory to make a custom-fit implant for your jaw. The next procedure, after your custom-fit implant is created, is to again expose your jawbone and place the implant. Your gums are then closed with stitches and replacement teeth are installed.
The second method of placement requires a CAT scan of your jawbone. Through computer modeling techniques, a model of your jawbone is made from the CAT information. The next procedure, after your custom-fit Subperiosteal implant is created by a dental laboratory, is to again expose your jawbone and place the implant. Your gums are then closed with stitches and replacement teeth are installed.
How much do dental implants cost?
Dental implants can be a costly procedure. An entire team of professionals are needed to deliver a long-lasting smile. Implant procedures demand a great deal of the doctor's and staff's time and effort. The prosthodontist intensely studies your health profile, and then develops a plan to meet your unique needs. Additionally, surgical staff and the laboratory perform several services to produce the desired result. The materials used to construct implant prosthodontics are also very expensive. Bone grafting, if needed, is additionally costly.
While a basic implant is typically $1,250. to $3,000., depending on your circumstances additional costs for things such as in the case of a posterior mandible, bone regeneration, sinus elevation, and wide diameter or narrow diameter implants quickly escalate to as much as $15,000 to $30,000. for the complete procedure for the upper or lower jaw.
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.
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.
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.
Pros and Cons of a Dental Bridge
Advantages of dental bridges:
Bridges are natural in appearance, and usually require only two visits to your dentist. If you maintain good oral hygiene, your fixed bridge should last as many as ten years or more.
Disadvantages of having a dental bridge:
It is common for your teeth to be mildly sensitive to extreme temperatures for a few weeks after the treatment. The build up of bacteria formed from food acids on your teeth and gums can become infected if proper oral hygiene is not followed.
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.
Pros and Cons of Dental Crowns Types
Tooth crowns in general add a good deal of strength to weakened or worn teeth. Depending on your habits and the condition of your gums, there can be some drawbacks. Your cosmetic dentist will advise which is best for you given many factors, including how important appearance is to you. The following are the advantages and disadvantages of the most common crown types.
Advantage: The preparation of a tooth for a gold crown is the simplest and least complicated preparation as there is minimal tooth structure removal with as much as possible of the healthy tooth structure remaining untouched. While porcelain is hard by comparison, it may cause wear on opposing teeth over the years where gold is not as likely to do so. Gold is also easier to fit to the area where the tooth and crown meet for a better fit. Gold is also a healthier environment for the gum tissue.
Disadvantage: The biggest disadvantage to gold crowns is the cosmetic aspect, unless it is being used in the back of your mouth.
Advantage: Porcelain crowns or new reinforced resin are considered to be the most aesthetically pleasing, as it is so easily matched in color to the surrounding teeth.
Disadvantage: The thickness of the porcelain required for pleasing aesthetics also requires that more tooth structure needs to be removed. It is more difficult for your cosmetic dentist to get an ideal fit where your gum meets the crown. Gingival inflammation appears to be more common with porcelain crowns than gold crowns. All-porcelain crowns require a higher skill level from your dentist and lab.
Porcelain Fused-to-Metal Crowns
Advantage: Porcelain fused-to-metal crowns have a very natural appearance.
Disadvantage: 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.