Cosmetic dentistry is all about creating a nice smile. In the last ten years we have became conscious of the colour of our teeth, and when whitening became available an interest in porcelain veneers and crowns also increased.
Originally performed by oral surgeons and periodontists, today, many well-trained general dentists perfom cosmetic dentistry. The focus now is not only on preservation, but on creating an attractive smile too. Attention is focused on the lightening and cosmetic restoration of teeth or on orthodontia, which allows crooked and badly positioned teeth to be moved into proper alignment.
Cosmetic dentistry includes processes which involve the addition of a dental material to teeth or gums, for example bonding, porcelain veneers or laminates, or crowns (caps). Other procedures available are gum grafts, and the removal of teeth or part of the tooth structure or gums -this is enameloplasty.
Lightening the teeth is the most popular cosmetic dental procedure performed. While a variety of lightening options are available, including over the counter products, professional treatments are recommended for the process.
A peroxide gel is put on the teeth and left in place for a variable amount of time. In a cosmetic dentist’s, heat or special curing lights speed up the process, where the face and gums are protected from the chemicals and lights. The process continues at intervals at home, where a gel is applied and held in place with a form-fitting tray for half an hour a day for approx two weeks. Users should be made aware that the process of whitening can irritate the gums and cause tooth sensitivity. It will not change the colour of fillings or crowns, and it is also possible that the process will result in splotchy teeth.
Sculpting, or tooth reshaping, is where the dentist removes parts of enamel to improve the appearance of a tooth, and used with bonding is used to correct a small chip, or to alter the length, shape or position of teeth, and it can be used to correct crooked or excessively long teeth. This procedure is also known as enameloplasty, odontoplasty, contouring, recontouring, slenderising, stripping or sculpting. It offers fast results, and can even be a substitute for braces under certain circumstances. The bonding process uses an enamel-like dental composite material, which is applied to a tooth’s surface, sculpted into shape, hardened with the use of special light, and then polished.
Veneers are extremely thin, custom-made porcelain pieces that are bonded directly to the teeth. They are an option for reducing gaps or disguising discolored teeth that do not respond well to lightening procedures.
Crowns are also generally composed of porcelain, but require the tooth being shaved down much more than needed for veneers. The procedure is used when the structure of a tooth is quite decayed or twisted out of shape.
Implants are titanium metal anchors screwed into the bone, with crowns later attached to these anchors.
Dental bridges are false teeth, known as pontics, which are fused between two porcelain crowns to fill areas left by missing teeth. This is known as a fixed bridge, and is used to replace one or more missing teeth. Bridges may reduce the risk of gum disease, help correct some bite issues and can even improve speech, however they require excellent oral hygiene. They last up to ten years or more.
Gum lift is a cosmetic dental procedure that raises and sculpts the gum line. The procedure involves reshaping the tissue and/or underlying bones to create the appearance of longer or more symmetrical teeth.
Striaghtening teeth provides both functional and cosmetic benefits. By correctiing the bite, the teeth don’t bang into one another, and therefore last longer. Invisalign is a new technique to straighten teeth that uses clear plastic mouthpieces, with sequential trays made and used, further positioning the teeth correctly. Invisalign is an alternative to old-fashioned metal braces, and the most obvious advantage of the treatment is cosmetic: the aligners are completely transparent, therefore more difficult to detect than wire and bracket braces. Invisalign is also more comfortable, with patients ‘graduating’ to a new set of aligners in the treatment series approximately every two weeks, whereas metal braces are adjusted approximately every six weeks and apply greater forces. In addition, the appliance is removable, therefore food can be consumed normally, which also reduces the likelihood of tooth decay compared to using metal braces, as these cannot be removed for eating and cleaning, and also prevent accurate x-rays from being taken.
The average treatment time is about one year, depending on the complexity of the individual’s treatment, and simple treatments such as minor crowding may be as short as twenty weeks.
This branch of dentistry deals with the replacement of teeth by removable and fixed dentures. The latest improvement is the use of a flexible material that replaces the ugly metal wires that hold partial dentures in place. The new material is tooth coloured, snaps into place almost invisibly, and is thinner, lighter and stronger than the old materials.
Tooth-coloured materials are now replacing the more noticeable silver-coloured fillings, which are also extremely damaging to general health as they contain unsafe amounts of mercury. First used in the 1970s, the materials have been improved and now last much longer, and will eventually replace mercury fillings completely. New dental drills are also much faster than the older drills, and are air- and water-cooled, creating less heat and less pain.
Looking for a cosmetic dentist on the Gold Coast? Contact this Robina dentist for great advice and friendly service.