An attractive smile shows you at your very best! Unfortunately, in spite of good oral hygiene habits and professional care, your smile may not be as bright as it could be. Cosmetic and restorative dentistry can enhance your smile through a unique combination of science and art.
The age-old concerns of conventional dentistry, namely function and durability, have now been expanded to include cosmetics as an equal concern. Presently, the materials and techniques of modern dentistry permit skillful dentists to place appropriate importance on all three concerns depending upon the specific requirements of the patient and the limitations of current restorative materials. For example, concerns for function and durability yield to cosmetic concerns for restorations near the front of the mouth, while the reverse is true for restorations in the back areas of the mouth.
1. Cosmetic Touch-Ups
Uneven tooth edges, yellow or brown stains, white spots, and asymmetrical gum contours can disfigure your smile. Simple corrective techniques can bring dramatic results immediately. “Touch-up” cosmetic dental procedures are techniques which give you the biggest “bang for the buck.” These procedures are proven to be simple, safe, quick, and non-invasive. They are inexpensive, and the results are immediate, dramatic, and long lasting.
a. Jagged Tooth Edges can be recontoured and polished in one visit to dramatically improve your smile.
b. Asymmetrical Soft Tissue Contours – Occasionally, the symmetrical appearance of the “gums” can account for as much as 50% of the total cosmetic value of the front teeth. Anterior soft-tissue recontour is a minimal procedure accomplished in a single visit. The results can be dramatic and can last a lifetime.
c. Teeth Whitening and Brightening – Coffee, tea, or white teeth? With the advent of safe tooth whitening procedures you can enjoy them all. You do the procedure yourself at home once Dr. Greenlaw has custom-molded a flexible plastic “bleaching tray” and prescribed your whitening solution. The treatment is complete in six to eight days and the results are lasting.
d. Dark and Super-White Spots – Seeing spots? The technique of “acidic micro abrasion” can safely reduce dark yellow, and super-white spots on teeth in about 30-45 minutes. The results are permanent.
2. Direct Adhesion Dentistry – “Bonding”
Cracked, decayed and chipped teeth are common, but they usually detract from your smile. Whether as a result of tooth grinding, too vigorous tooth brushing, decay, or just bad luck, many damaged or disfigured teeth can be restored in one or two office visits. Because the restorative materials are applied directly to the teeth, this technique is called “direct adhesion.” Direct adhesion methods maximally preserve the existing natural tooth structures. Properly cared for and not abused, these materials can last a life time.
3. Porcelain Veneers
One of the most significant breakthroughs in dentistry has been the discovery of new adhesion techniques which permit dentists to successfully adhere dissimilar materials to one another. For example, porcelain can now be laminated or “veneered” to tooth enamel, dentin, metals, and previously placed porcelain.
Although lab-fabricated adhesion techniques are comparatively new, the restorative results have proven consistently successful. The cosmetic values of these procedures frequently exceed the patient’s own expectations. Some of the advantages of these techniques include:
- The natural tooth structure is maximally preserved and the surrounding soft tissues remain undisturbed.
- Individual teeth of dissimilar color and contour can be beautifully matched beyond detection with porcelain veneers.
- Permanent stains such as those caused by antibiotics can be covered with porcelain veneers.
- The porcelain veneer process actually laminates and strengthens the tooth with a layer of adhesive and a layer of porcelain. The strength of these “laminated” restorations is unparalleled.
- Even fractured and trauma-damaged teeth can now be restored with the porcelain veneer technique.
These procedures most frequently do not require the use of local anesthetics.
4. Combined Restorative & Cosmetic Procedures – Crowns & Bridges
When the structural integrity of a tooth has been compromised by “old filling materials,” cracks and decay, a full coverage crown is the treatment of choice. If the restoration is subject to display when smiling or talking, a tooth-colored crown is preferable. When teeth are missing, the conventional porcelain bridge is the recommended treatment. These bridge restorations are permanently fixed (cemented) in place and offer the patient long term function, durability and life-like cosmetics. Occasionally, specific dental conditions require the use of both restorative and cosmetic techniques. For example, full mouth rehabilitation may require porcelain veneers, porcelain crowns, and porcelain bridges. Through these techniques, teeth are restored not only for improved appearance and function, but also for greater durability.
5. Titanium Dental Implants
Titanium dental implants that become integrated with the bone are a promising area of dentistry. These implants are positioned in a site prepared into the bone and left undisturbed for four to six months to allow complete integration. The internal portion of these implants is threaded in order for the dental prosthesis to be attached with small threaded fasteners. The requirements of function, durability and cosmetics are well met with the successful placement of a dental implant.
6. Replacement of Amalgam (Silver Filling) With Composite Materials
For more than 150 years dentists have placed amalgam dental restorations (silver fillings) in the teeth of their patients with remarkable success. Amalgam, as the name suggests, is an amalgamation (mixture) of metals – silver, tin and mercury. Due to the presence of mercury in amalgam, a controversy surrounding amalgam has continued for decades within the dental profession with no conclusive evidence regarding toxicity of amalgam yet established. With modern dentistry, numerous material alternatives for amalgam restorations currently exist. Currently, composite resins, cast porcelain, cast gold, and porcelain crowns offer genuine treatment alternatives to the older amalgam restorations.