Individuals who want to repair their smiles may wonder what tooth restoration options are available and which would most suit their needs. Crooked, damaged, or missing teeth can affect the confidence of those who have such dental issues, but a visit to a cosmetic dentist can provide patients with a variety of dental repair choices, as well as information about each procedure and how which they choose can improve both their appearance and future oral health.
What is cosmetic dentistry?
Cosmetic dentists are mostly concerned with repairing the appearance of their patient’s smiles. They can examine, target, and repair a variety of cosmetic dental issues, including:
- Discolored or stained teeth
- Cracked teeth
- Missing teeth
- Crooked or misaligned teeth
Cosmetic dentists can also offer information about each procedure, the time it may take to complete, and what their patients might expect before, during, and after having work done. The first step, however, is for the patients to learn about several popular tooth restoration options so they can make an informed choice.
Patients with a worn or slightly damaged tooth may benefit from having a crown placed. A dental crown fits over an existing natural tooth and protects it from further damage. In some cases, when a cavity is too large to insert a filling but a cosmetic dentist wants to save the affected tooth, a crown can serve this purpose.
To create a crown, a dental team begins by taking an imprint of their patient’s teeth to fashion an individual and comfortable crown. In the meantime, a cosmetic dentist may place a temporary crown over the tooth. Once the permanent crown is ready, the dentist fits it over the tooth, creating a cap that matches the appearance of the rest of the teeth. With proper care, most crowns can last more than 20 years.
Fillings are a common type of dental restoration used to repair cavities. Cavities occur when inconsistent brushing and flossing cause sugars and starches to break down tooth enamel and then the tooth pulp itself if the problem is not repaired. Cosmetic dentists may use a variety of different materials to fill a cavity, depending on the preferences of their patients. Some materials include silver amalgam, gold, composite, and porcelain. Gold and porcelain are usually the most costly, while composite fillings more closely match the color and texture of the rest of the natural tooth.
Depending on the type of filling patients choose, most fillings can last over a decade. Metal fillings usually tend to last longer than composite material, but lifestyle choices and some bad habits, such as teeth grinding, may wear a filling down sooner. Patients may want to let their dentists know about such habits before choosing a material.
When people have missing teeth, they may hesitate to smile or fear eating or speaking in front of people. Missing molars can also affect how well individuals chew, especially when it comes to meat and sticky foods. Dental implants can resolve the problem of missing teeth and provide patients with a permanent solution.
Cosmetic dentists usually begin a tooth restoration of this type by taking X-rays of their patient’s jawbone to examine whether it is strong enough to hold the screws required to place the implant. Depending on the strength of the bone, the dentist may place the screw, which acts as artificial tooth roots. This may be placed either into the jawbone directly or right above it. If more than one tooth is missing in one area of the mouth, cosmetic dentists may also use implants to create a permanent bridge. This can restore a problem area and return bite strength to the patient as well as restoring the beauty of his or her smile.
Veneers are another permanent cosmetic choice that can brighten and improve the appearance of teeth that are different in size, chipped, badly stained, or otherwise damaged. Veneers come in two styles, direct and indirect, and each includes a different procedure for attachment.
Direct veneers can correct more than one damaged tooth in the same area of the mouth. These veneers usually take more than one visit to apply, as the dentist usually adds the shells in layers. Indirect veneers require an imprint of the patient’s teeth, which is then sent to a dental lab so it can create the veneers and match a patient’s tooth shade and shape. Afterward, the dentist may etch some enamel off the natural teeth and then bond the veneers. These shells usually last up to 10 or 12 years with proper care, and patients who choose them may want to ask for a few maintenance tips before leaving the office.
Individuals who need cosmetic dentistry may want to speak to a clinic that specializes in a variety of techniques. No matter which they choose, patients with damaged, stained, or missing teeth can improve their smiles and their self-confidence.
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