Posts for tag: cosmetic dentistry
When you have your teeth bleached in a dental office, the results almost seem like magic. Let's push aside the magician's cape and see what is really happening in professionally-applied, in-office tooth whitening.
How do teeth become discolored?
A tooth's enamel covering is mostly composed of mineral crystals. At a microscopic level, you can see a framework or matrix of organic (living) matter interspersed between the crystals of enamel creating a very irregular surface capable of retaining stains. Chromagenic (color generating) organic compounds can become part of this organic matrix resulting in tooth staining. They can be bleached without affecting the mineral structure of the tooth's enamel.
As people get older and their teeth wear, the enamel loses its youthful translucency and the underlying layer, called dentin, thickens and becomes more yellow. Such changes to the actual tooth structure are called intrinsic staining. Other causes of intrinsic discoloration are exposure to high levels of fluoride or tetracycline antibiotic administration during childhood, tooth decay, or root canal problems, among others. Discoloration can also be caused by external staining from certain foods, drinks, or tobacco products. Such surface stains are called extrinsic staining.
Behind the Magic
Materials used for tooth bleaching are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. Peroxides are commonly used as bleach, and you may have seen them used as hair bleaches, for example. Hydrogen peroxide is a strong oxidizing agent that attacks the organic molecules responsible for tooth discoloration, bleaching them until they lose their color. Carbamide peroxide also contains urea, which is a compound that permits the peroxide to remain in contact with the teeth for longer amounts of time without harming them.
Often called power bleaching, the in-office technique uses a high concentration of peroxide solution (35-45% hydrogen peroxide), placed directly on the teeth in the form of a gel. A heat or light source may enhance the peroxide release. The gel is applied with trays custom fitted to your mouth, and specific barriers are applied to protect sensitive gum tissue from the solution. Results show teeth becoming up to ten shades lighter in about an hour.
In-office bleaching under the supervision of my staff and me is recommended if you have severely stained teeth, and particularly if you are about to have veneers or crowns made. It's a way to rediscover the pearly translucency of your youthful smile.
Designing a better smile sometimes requires a change in the size, shape, or color of your teeth. Porcelain laminate veneers (thin layers of dental ceramic material) enhance your appearance by replacing the natural enamel on the outside of your teeth. A veneer is physically bonded to the surface of a tooth, in essence, becoming part of it.
Traditionally, a small amount of the natural tooth enamel is drilled away to allow room for the veneer. But today, in some circumstances, it is possible to use an approach where enamel reduction or preparation is not necessary because the veneers can be bonded directly onto the tooth's natural surface. These are called “Prepless” or “No-prep” veneers, and are used to create aesthetically pleasing and natural looking restorations. An advantage of the prepless procedure is that the process is reversible so that you can give your new smile a “test drive.”
You may be a good subject for Prepless veneers if:
- Your smile is narrow because the teeth in the sides of your smile are positioned inward and do not show from a frontal view.
- There is spacing between your teeth, and the teeth appear too small.
- You have a fairly common genetic condition in which one or both of the teeth directly next to the two upper front teeth are very small and peg-shaped.
- There is an imbalance between the size of your lips and teeth (large lips and small teeth), which are not in proportion to show off your best smile.
Prepless veneers are probably not for you if:
- Your teeth are not aligned properly in your bite.
- Your teeth are very crowded, resulting in poor facial profile.
- Your teeth are already relatively large or positioned forward.
In these cases you may need to have some form of orthodontic treatment to move your teeth into better position. Sometimes veneers can be used to create an illusion of proper tooth alignment, but some amount of tooth reduction may be required.
We can assess whether prepless veneers are right for you. There is no substitute for an expert dentist's talent and expertise with the various cosmetic techniques available today. These skills combined with a thorough diagnostic evaluation, and a clear understanding of your goals, are the keys to providing you with a successful and beautiful smile.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about cosmetic dentistry. You can also learn more about prepless veneers by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Veneers Without the Drill.”
When it comes to restoring both the beauty and functionality of a smile, two of the most commonly used techniques are porcelain crowns and veneers. Why? They consistently deliver beautiful, natural-looking results that are permanent and require very little maintenance. And while they have many things in common, they also have just as many differences.
Here are some facts that apply to both porcelain veneers and crowns:
- Both enable changes to a tooth's color and shape.
- Dental laboratory technicians use precise molds made by our office to hand-craft porcelain veneers and crowns.
- Both are made using high-quality dental porcelain.
- Neither respond to tooth whitening products — the color of the veneer or crown remains the same color as the day it was placed.
- Neither procedure is reversible once completed.
Here are some of their differences:
- Crowns are used to replace a larger amount of tooth structure while veneers are thin shells that are placed over the front surface of teeth.
- Veneers require much less tooth preparation (reduction by drilling) than crowns.
- Crowns allow for greater change of tooth shape, while veneers allow for more minor changes.
- Crowns are generally used to restore teeth that have lost tooth structure from decay or trauma.
- Veneers are generally used where teeth are structurally healthy and intact, but color and shape change are required.
- Veneers are used mostly for teeth that are visible when smiling, while crowns can be used to restore virtually any tooth.
Want To Learn More?
We are often asked about restorative and cosmetic dentistry procedures and the role they play in a smile makeover. We are also faced with people wondering whether or not they can benefit from treatment. For this reason, we developed the following self-assessment to help you determine whether or not cosmetic dentistry is right for you.
- Do you avoid smiling in public or for photos?
- Are you self-conscious about spaces and gaps between your teeth?
- Do your teeth make you look older than you feel?
- Have you ever held back or restrained a smile?
- Do you feel that your teeth are stained or yellow?
- Do you hold your hand in front of your mouth when talking, laughing or smiling?
- Do your teeth look old and worn down, making you look and feel older?
- Do your teeth appear short because of a “gummy” smile?
- Are your teeth crooked, chipped or crowded?
- Do you wish you had someone else's smile?
If you answered, “yes” to one or more of the above questions, then you could benefit from a smile makeover. However, that is the easiest part of the process. The next step is the one that probably matters the most — scheduling a consultation with us. During this appointment you can discuss the specifics that bother you about your smile using your responses from our self-assessment test. You can also learn about the many treatment options available for providing you with the smile of your dreams.
Ready To Take The Next Step?
A veneer is a cosmetic dental procedure that we use in some situations to correct discolored teeth, small spaces or gaps between teeth, small chips or oddly shaped teeth, and teeth that are slightly misaligned by placing a thin shell covering over the teeth. They are artistically hand-crafted by lab technicians out of tooth-colored porcelain using precise molds that we have made in our office. We attach veneers to the tooth's surface using a special adhesive that creates a chemical bond. Veneers are often a key component in a smile makeover.
Traditional veneers will require some tooth preparation, a process where we reduce or file down some of the facial (front, visible) portion of your tooth by 0.3 to 0.7 millimeters. For this reason this cosmetic procedure is not reversible.
How Long Do They Last?
Veneers can last from 7 to 20+ years depending on how you care for them. This may include sleeping in a protective, professionally made mouthguard. And while porcelain is a durable material that can withstand a great deal of pressure, you must remember that they are a type of glass. You could possibly shatter a veneer if you bite into anything that requires a hefty amount of twisting movement and biting pressure.
By using the latest technologies and procedures, we will create the naturally beautiful smile of your dreams and we will restore your mouth to full functionality and optimal health. Contact us today to discuss your questions or to schedule a consultation.
Want To Learn More?
Learn more about veneers when you continue reading the exclusive article from Dear Doctor, “Smile Design Enhanced With Porcelain Veneers.”