Cosmetic Dentistry Florence South Carolina

Country: United States
State: South Carolina
City: Florence

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.

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.

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.

TOOTH WHITENING

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)
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. 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 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.

How are Dental Root Canals Performed?

Depending on the number of teeth and severity affected, root canals usually require one to two visits not including any follow-up visits. Your dentist or endodontist will numb the area around the affected tooth, or may offer you the option of mild sedation. The tooth is then drilled to the pulp area either through the top or the back of the tooth. The actual root canals are measured after some of the pulp has been removed. This is done so that the dentist can clean the entire canal, and so that enough of the filling material will be used to completely fill the canal. The actual measuring is done with either x-rays or electronic imaging devices.

All of the diseased pulp in the tooth is removed, and the canal is cleaned out thoroughly with an antiseptic solution. This solution will clean all of the canals within the tooth. The canals are then filled with gutta percha, a flexible plastic material. A temporary filling is then put on top of that. A crown or permanent filling will be done after there has been no sign of infection. Crowns are most common since the root canal procedure weakens the tooth. The crown is usually placed as soon as possible, within a month or less.

Expect two to three days of soreness after the procedure, or longer if the infection in the root canal was severe.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Overview of dentures

Dentures are removable replacements for missing teeth typically made out of an acrylic resin which may at times incorporate porcelain or metal for additional structural support. There are two main types of dentures, complete and partial. Both Complete dentures and partial dentures are finely crafted and custom-fitted to the patient. If you properly maintain your dentures they will appear natural and provide a perfect smile. Additionally, dentures help strengthen muscles controlling your expressions that require the support of your teeth, rid you of pronunciation problems caused by missing teeth and aid with chewing.

How are dentures accomplished?

It is somewhat common to require for some teeth to be extracted, and surgery in some cases is necessary to improve the bony ridges that stabilize your dentures.

The procedure begins with a wax bite impression of your mouth that will give your dentist exacting measurements. A try-on appointment will fine tunes color, shape, and custom-fit.

After your final dentures are fabricated, they will be placed and informed of their required care.

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.

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.

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).

Subperiosteal Implants

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 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.

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 long does tooth bonding last?

While the traditional silver fillings last about seven years, these composites should last about seven to eleven years.

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.

How much does tooth bonding cost?

As with all procedures, prices vary depending on your location. The cost of dental bonding will also vary with the extent of the bonding process you need. Many dental insurance plans cover most of the cost of the bonding, particularly when it is done for structural reasons.

The average cost of cosmetic dental bonding ranges from $300 to $600 per tooth.

Pros and Cons of Tooth Bonding

Advantages of dental bonding:
Esthetics is the big advantage over silver fillings. As silver does not stick to teeth, entirely healthy tooth structure is usually removed to keep a silver filling in place. Composites permit your cosmetic dentist to remove only the decayed area of your tooth. Unlike silver fillings, composite bonding expand just like your teeth and are much less likely to cause cracks in your tooth. Composites bond directly to the tooth providing support. Composites can be used to fill in cracks, chips and gaps - and will match the color of your other teeth.

Disadvantages of the dental bonding procedures:
Bonding with composites simply costs more in material and time.

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.

Who is a candidate for dental bridges?

If you have missing teeth and have good oral hygiene practices, you should discuss this procedure with your cosmetic dentist. If spaces are left unfilled, they may cause the surrounding teeth to drift out of position. Additionally, spaces from missing teeth can cause your other teeth and your gums to become far more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease.

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.

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.

How much do tooth crowns cost?

Expect to pay more for porcelain crowns because they are usually more time-consuming than gold crowns. Porcelain, porcelain over metal and gold crowns average between $600. to $3100. each in total cost.

The new reinforced resin or bonded all-porcelain type costs more than other types, require more skill from your dentist and the lab, and may exceed your insurance plan coverage for crowns.

Generally speaking, the price of tooth crowns increases with the number of in-office treatments required by the patient. Dental insurance does not typically cover all the costs of the tooth crown procedure.

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.

Gold Crowns

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.

Porcelain Crowns

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.

   

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