Overview

People choose esthetic dental procedures/surgery for various reasons-to repair a defect such as a malformed bite or crooked teeth, treat an injury, or just improve their overall appearance. Whatever the reason, the ultimate goal is to restore a beautiful smile.

For these and many other reasons, esthetic dentistry has become a vital and important part of the dental profession.

Common esthetic dental procedures can be performed to correct misshaped, discolored, chipped or missing teeth. They also can be used to change the overall shape of teeth-from teeth that are too long or short, have gaps, or simply need to be reshaped.

Some of the more common procedures involve:

  • Bonding - A procedure in which tooth-colored material is used to close gaps or change tooth color.
  • Contouring and reshaping - A procedure that straightens crooked, chipped, cracked or overlapping teeth.
  • Veneers - A procedure in which ultra-thin coatings are placed over the front teeth. Veneers can change the color or shape of your teeth. For example, veneers have been used to correct unevenly spaced, crooked, chipped, oddly shaped or discolored teeth.
  • Whitening and bleaching - As the term implies, whitening and bleaching, a rapidly increasing procedure, are used to make teeth whiter.

Which techniques should be used to improve your smile? A dental exam will take many factors into consideration, including your overall oral health.

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Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening has a long history and has evolved into one of the most popular aesthetic dental treatments available. From "chew sticks" made from twigs dating back to 3000 B.C. to today's use of various forms of peroxide to safely whiten teeth, the quest for "pearly whites" threads throughout the history of oral health.

The science has come far. Today, patients will enjoy immediate results. And it's entirely worry-free. Years of extensive research and clinical studies confirm that teeth whitening under the supervision of a dental professional is safe. In fact, many dental professionals consider teeth whitening the safest cosmetic procedure available.

Almost anyone can benefit from teeth whitening. Of course, there are many reasons for discoloration and not everyone will experience the same results. That's why it's important to involve a dental professional. There are many factors that play into what kind of whitening is right for you, and a dental professional will help you get the best results possible.

There are three common categories of teeth whitening:

Professionally Applied Teeth Whitening:
Any whitening procedure performed within a dental office, under the direction and care of a dental professional.

Professionally Prescribed Whitening:
Any whitening material dispensed by a dental professional for a patient to use at home either as their main whitening treatment or for maintenance after an in-office whitening treatment.

Over the Counter:
Any whitening material available to purchase for home use without seeing a dental professional, such as those available at drug stores and supermarkets, which include whitening toothpastes, rinses, gels, and strips.

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Veneers

There's no reason to put up with gaps in your teeth or with teeth that are stained, badly shaped or crooked. Today a veneer placed on top of your teeth can correct nature's mistake or the results of an injury and help you have a beautiful smile.

Veneers are thin, custom-made shells crafted of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front side of teeth. They're made by a dental technician, usually in a dental lab, working from a model provided by your dentist.

You should know that this is usually an irreversible process, because it's necessary to remove a small amount of enamel from your teeth to accommodate the shell.

Your dentist may recommend that you avoid some foods and beverages that may stain or discolor your veneers such as coffee, tea or red wine. Sometimes a veneer might chip or fracture. But for many people the results are more than worth it.

Veneers help correct broken chipped teeth, hide gaps, cover permanently stained teeth, are custom made, cover only the front side of teeth and lastly have a very natural look.

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Porcelain Crowns

Porcelain crowns have a wide variety of uses, including, but not limited to – teeth lightening, closing large or small gaps between teeth, help correct slight misalignment of teeth, and also help reduce crowding in the mouth. Their versatility means that they are used as a fix for a lot of potential problems that patients may be having.

Apart from fixing tooth problems, they can also be used to improve the outward appearance of the teeth. For those that are insecure about the appearance of their teeth or their smile, porcelain crowns can be a one-fix-for-all-problems solution.

To fit the crowns, a thin layer is shaved off teeth that are to receive treatment, and this prepares them for the crowns. On the patient’s first visit of the treatment a mould is taken of their teeth in order to get the perfect shape for the next session. After the first visit patient will leave with temporary crowns that are cemented with temporary cement. During the second visit the crowns are then bonded onto the teeth using a bonding material of some sort. Once the bonding has taken place, which will normally take one session at the dentist, the patient’s can eat as normal.

Crowns are very popular because they have an excellent history of fixing dental issues, and their track record is proven to work in all countries in the world. Up until quite recently, crowns were bonded to the tooth using a metal-based framework so that the crown could withstand the pressures involved with daily chewing of food in the mouth. Today, most of the time the metal framework is not required, since modern technology has advanced up to the point where pure porcelain is strong enough even for use on hard working molar teeth. The metal framework had an issue – after a few years the gum line of a patient would recede with age, revealing an ugly grey line at the top of the crowned tooth. Due to the color of the metal showing through, it was difficult to make crowned teeth look natural for more than a few years.

The advantage of using pure porcelain is that the crowns are near identical in color to the existing colors of the patient’s teeth, making it nigh on impossible for others to discern a crowned tooth from a real one. A dentist will match the color of the crown to the tooth color already in the mouth, and then they will place an order with a lab to create the tooth with the perfect color and shape, taken from the previously mentioned mold, and patients are very happy with the results, and their new smile.

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