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The idea of cosmetic dentistry may sound like an extravagance, but cosmetic procedures are much more common than one might expect, given that many functional dental procedures have cosmetic elements to them, too. Cosmetic dentistry can be used to correct imperfections, replace teeth, and provide strength and structure to a compromised natural tooth.
Unlike decades past, the technology, skill set, and materials used for cosmetic dentistry have evolved to the point of being widely available. Now, rather than seeing a cosmetic specialist, many routine cosmetic procedures are available through the general dentist that you already know and trust. Cosmetic outcomes are rarely the only desired effect of procedures – more often, cosmetic materials and techniques are applied once the functional part of the procedure has been completed.
When a natural tooth has become infected, cracked, broken, or severely decayed, your dentist’s attention will go, first, to removing the decay or infected pulp of the tooth and cleaning the area to ensure that the tooth is free of remaining infected tissue. While this often involves root canal therapy, some instances require removal of the natural tooth. In both cases, cosmetic dentistry steps in to assist in restoration or replacement. We know how much better our patients feel about themselves when they are confident in their smile.
A crown is sometimes also referred to as a ‘cap’ and is an artificial covering of your natural tooth. Your natural tooth is ground down to an appropriate dimension for your crown, and digital impressions using iTero® digital scanning are collected. Your digital impressions will assist the dental lab in making a custom-fit crown which will ensure that your tooth remains strong, healthy, and protected from pain. Your false tooth will be made to occupy the same dimensions as your natural tooth when installed over the prepared tooth, and it will be made to match the colour of its neighbours for the most natural appearance available.
In cases where a tooth has been badly damaged, decayed, or dislodged, your dentist may recommend extracting the unhealthy tooth and installing a bridge in its place. A bridge is typically made of two crowns (one on each side of the gap) and a pontic (false tooth) in the middle. This allows replacement of the lost tooth by anchoring it to a crown on either side. The pontic does not penetrate the tissues, it sits on top of the gum tissue and helps to distribute bite forces across the dental arch. Bridges, like crowns, are laboratory-made with digital accuracy in terms of the dimensions and colour of the pontic and crowns.
Your dentist offers effective whitening services that far outweigh the results of drugstore products. This is because your dentist’s products are clinical strength, offering better whitening in less time. Sensitivity of the teeth and gums can be mitigated with products like rehydrating solutions and gum barriers which drastically improves the patient experience where comfort is concerned. Teeth whitening is a regularly requested cosmetic service that can be offered at the end of your regular checkup and cleaning appointments.
Chips, breaks and imperfections can often be resolved by using bonding resin to make changes to the shape and appearance of a natural tooth. Bonding resin is mixed in the same colour of your natural tooth and is painted onto the tooth’s prepared surface. Bonding can be shaped, tinted and built-up which makes it ideal for ‘filling in’ chips or broken-off edges.
While bonding may need to be touched up periodically, veneers are irreversible and last approximately ten years before needing to be redone. These thin white shells are adhered to the natural teeth after being etched down by approximately one millimeter. Veneers are popular in those who just want to perfect the appearance of their smile, and when there is permanent discolouration of the tooth due to a genetic condition. Veneers, like crowns and bridges, require two appointments to have installed. The first appointment allows your dentist to prepare your natural teeth and take a digital scan with our iTero digital scanner. Then, you will be fitted with your temporary veneers to wear until your permanent veneers are ready to be placed.
A Note on Care
While the materials in your bridges and crowns will not succumb to decay, the tissues around them can still become irritated if the teeth are not brushed and flossed regularly. Brush your restorations the same way that you would with your natural teeth to keep decay and gingivitis at bay. Always treat your restorations with care and only use teeth for their intended purpose – avoid stressing restorations by avoiding very hard foods. When in doubt, cut foods like carrots and apples into small pieces before chewing.
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