Cosmetic Dentistry

Cosmetic Dentistry

In the past decade or two, the interest in cosmetic dentistry has increased dramatically. We all realise that having a healthy, bright, beautiful smile enhances our appearance and allows us to smile with confidence. Thanks to the advances in modern cosmetic dentistry, we are able to improve our teeth and smiles with the techniques and procedures discussed below.

Cosmetic dental treatment can:

  • Change the size, shape and alignment of teeth.
  • Repair decayed, broken, cracked or chipped teeth.
  • Lighten or brighten the colour of teeth.
  • Fill in unattractive spaces between teeth.
  • Improve or correct bites.
  • Replace missing teeth.
  • Replace old, unattractive dental treatments.

Remember, your smile speaks before you even say a word!

Porcelain inlays

A porcelain inlay restoration is a custom-made filling of porcelain. Porcelain inlays are popular, because they resemble the natural tooth very closely. A porcelain inlay is made by a dental technician and is permanently cemented into the tooth by your dentist.

Inlays are used to conservatively repair teeth that have large defective fillings or have been damaged by decay or trauma. They are an ideal alternative to conventional amalgam and composite fillings. Inlays are more conservative than crowns, because less tooth structure is removed in the preparation of inlays.

As with most dental restorations, porcelain inlays are not always permanent and may someday require replacement. However, they are highly durable, aesthetically pleasing, and will last for many years.

Why are porcelain inlay restorations needed?

  • To repair decayed or broken teeth.
  • To replace large or fractured fillings.
  • For cosmetic enhancement.

How are porcelain inlay restorations placed?

Getting an inlay restoration usually requires two appointments. Your first appointment will include taking several highly accurate impressions (moulds) that will be used to create your custom inlay and a temporary restoration.

While the tooth is numb, the dentist will remove any decay and/or old filling materials from the tooth. The space will then be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared, shaping the surface to properly fit an inlay restoration. A temporary filling will be placed to protect the tooth while your inlay is made by a dental laboratory.

At your second appointment, your new inlay will be carefully and precisely cemented into place. A few adjustments may be necessary to ensure a proper fit and that your bite is comfortable.

You will receive care instructions at the conclusion of your treatment. Good oral hygiene practices, a proper diet and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new inlay.

Porcelain onlays

A porcelain onlay restoration is a custom-made filling of porcelain. It is sometimes referred to as a partial crown. Made by a professional dental laboratory, it is permanently cemented onto the tooth by your dentist.

Onlays are used to conservatively repair teeth that have large defective fillings or have been damaged by decay or trauma. Onlays are an ideal alternative to crowns (caps), because less tooth structure is removed in the preparation of onlays. They are essentially identical to inlays, with the exception that one or more of the chewing cusps have also been affected and need to be covered by the restoration.

As with most dental restorations, porcelain onlays are not always permanent and may someday require replacement. However, they are highly durable, aesthetically pleasing and will last for many years.

Why are porcelain onlay restorations needed?

  • To repair decayed or broken teeth.
  • To replace large or fractured fillings.
  • For cosmetic enhancement.

How are porcelain onlay restorations placed?

Getting an onlay restoration usually requires two appointments. Your first appointment will include taking several highly accurate impressions (moulds) that will be used to create your custom onlay and a temporary restoration.

While the tooth is numb, the dentist will remove any decay and/or old filling materials from the tooth. The space will then be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared, shaping the surface to properly fit an onlay restoration. A temporary filling will be placed to protect the tooth while your onlay is made by a dental laboratory.

At your second appointment, your new onlay will be carefully and precisely cemented into place. A few adjustments may be necessary to ensure a proper fit and that your bite is comfortable.

You will receive care instructions at the conclusion of your treatment. Good oral hygiene practices, a proper diet and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new onlay.

Composite fillings

Composite (tooth coloured) fillings are used to repair teeth that are affected by decay, cracks, fractures, etc.

Of the many types of filling materials available, composite fillings are rapidly gaining popularity. However, each filling material has its own advantages and disadvantages. Discuss the best options for restoring your teeth with your dentist.
Because composite fillings are tooth coloured and come in a variety of shades, they can be closely matched to the colour of your existing teeth, and are very aesthetically pleasing.

As with most dental restorations, composite fillings will not last forever and sometimes need to be replaced. However, with proper care they are very durable, will last for many years and because they are very natural in appearance, will give you a beautiful smile.

Why are composite fillings needed?

  • To restore decayed teeth.
  • To restore chipped, cracked or broken teeth.
  • To close diastemata (small spaces between teeth).
  • To build-up and protect worn teeth.

How are composite fillings placed?

Composite fillings are usually placed during a single dental visit. If needed, your dentist will numb the tooth to be filled and remove all the decay. The cavity in the tooth will then be thoroughly cleaned and dried. The tooth will be treated with a weak acid, rinsed again, a bonding solution will be applied and the filling placed. Once the filling is in place, a special curing light is shined on the filling and the filling will set.

Once the filling is hard, it will be shaped and polished to precisely match the surrounding teeth. When composite fillings are first placed, it is normal to experience sensitivity to hot and cold. This will subside with time as your tooth acclimates to the new filling.

Your dentist will give instructions about the care of your fillings. Good oral hygiene practices and eating habits, as well as regular dental check-ups, will extend the life of your new fillings.

Porcelain crowns (caps)

A crown, sometimes called a cap, is a restoration that covers the entire surface of the tooth, restoring it to its original shape and size. A crown protects and strengthens tooth structure that cannot be restored with fillings or other types of restorations.

Although different materials can be used to make crowns, porcelain or porcelain and metal combination (tooth coloured) crowns are the most popular. These crowns perfectly resemble your natural teeth. They are highly durable and will last many years, but like most dental restorations, they may eventually need to be replaced.

Porcelain and porcelain metal combination crowns are made to match the shape, size and colour of your teeth, giving them a very natural appearance.

Why are crowns needed?

  • To restore broken or fractured teeth.
  • For cosmetic enhancement.
  • To restore badly decayed teeth.
  • To replace fractured fillings or overly large fillings.
  • To strengthen teeth that had root canal treatment.

How is a crown fitted?

Getting a crown usually means two appointments. During the first appointment, several highly accurate impressions (or moulds) will be made of your teeth. These will be used to create your custom crown. An impression might also be used to create a temporary crown, which will be fitted to your tooth until your new crown is fabricated by a dental technician. This usually takes about one to two weeks.

While the tooth is numb, the dentist will prepare the tooth to accept your crown. Any decay will be removed and the tooth will be shaped in such a way to properly fit the crown. Once this shaping has been done, your temporary crown will be cemented in place with temporary cement. Your bite will be checked to ensure you are biting properly.

During your second appointment, your temporary crown will be removed. The tooth will be cleaned and your new crown will be carefully cemented to your tooth, ensuring the spacing and bite is accurate.

You will be shown and given instructions on how to care for your new crown.

Porcelain fixed bridges

A bridge is a fixed (non-removable) appliance and is an excellent way to replace missing teeth.

There are several types of bridges. Your dentist will discuss the various options and assist you to make the best choice for your particular case. The traditional bridge is usually made of porcelain fused to metal. It consists of two or more crowns that fit over the anchoring teeth (abutment teeth) and are attached to artificial teeth (pontics), filling the gap created by one or more missing teeth.

Dental bridges are highly durable and will last for many years. However, they may need replacement or to be re-cemented due to normal wear.

Why are fixed bridges needed?

  • To replace missing teeth.
  • To prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position.
  • To restore function (chewing and speaking).
  • To restore your smile.
  • To maintain your facial shape.
  • As an upgrade from a removable partial denture.

How is a fixed bridge fitted?

Getting a fixed bridge usually means two or more appointments. After numbing teeth, the anchoring teeth are prepared by removing a portion of the tooth structure so the crowns can be fitted. Accurate impressions (moulds) are made. This will be used by a dental technician to fabricate your crown. A temporary bridge will be made out of a plastic material and cemented with temporary cement until your bridge is ready.

During the second appointment, your permanent bridge will be carefully checked, adjusted and cemented to achieve a proper fit. Occasionally your dentist may decide to only temporarily cement the bridge, allowing your teeth and gum tissue time to get used to the new bridge. This will then be permanently cemented at a later stage.

You will be shown and given instructions on how to care for your new fixed bridge. Proper brushing and flossing will extend its life.

Dental implants

Dental implants are an effective way to replace missing teeth. They also provide a permanent and fixed alternative to having removable, partial or complete dentures. Implants provide excellent support and stability to removable dentures that are clipped to implants.

Dental implants are artificial roots, usually made of metal (titanium) that are surgically placed into the upper or lower jaw bone by a dentist, periodontist or oral surgeon. The teeth attached to implants are very natural looking and often indistinguishable from natural teeth.

Dental implants are very strong, stable and durable. They will last many years. On occasion, however, they might need re-tightening or replacement due to normal wear.

Why are dental implants needed?

  • To replace one or more missing teeth without affecting adjacent teeth.
  • To support fixed bridges or dentures.
  • To support removable dentures, making them really secure and comfortable.
  • To prevent teeth shifting into the space of other missing teeth.
  • To restore function (chewing, digestion and speech).
  • To restore your smile!

How are dental implants placed?

The process of getting implants requires a number of appointments, sometimes over the duration of several months.

During your initial appointment, X-rays and impressions (moulds) are taken of the jaw and teeth to determine if sufficient bone, gum tissue and space are available to fit the implants. While the area is numb, the implant will be surgically placed into the bone and allowed to heal and integrate itself onto the bone for up to six months.

Depending on the type of implant, a second stage of surgery may be required in order to expose the implant and to fit the implant with a ‘post’ that will hold the artificial tooth in place. In other cases the ‘post’ is fitted to the implant at the same time the implant is placed in the gums.

After several weeks of healing, the crown, bridge or denture (depending on the case) are made and fitted to the ‘post’ portion of the implant. This might require several appointments, depending on the type of structure fitted to the implant.

You will be shown and given instructions on how to care for your implants and the structures fitted to them. Good oral hygiene, brushing and flossing, as well as healthy eating habits, will greatly extend the life of your implants.

Porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers are very thin shells of durable, tooth-shaped porcelain that are individually crafted (for shape and colour) by a professional dental technician. They are bonded onto the front of teeth to create a beautiful and attractive smile.

Veneers can completely reshape your teeth and smile. They can sometimes be alternatives to crowns and are the ideal solution in treating many dental conditions.

As with most dental restorations, veneers are not permanent and may someday need replacement. However, they are very durable and will last many years, giving you a natural and bright smile.

Why do I need porcelain veneers?

  • To mask severely discoloured or stained teeth.
  • To correct minor abnormalities in the shape and position of teeth.
  • To improve the looks of teeth that are too small or too large.
  • To hide unwanted or uneven spaces between teeth.
  • To restore worn or chipped teeth.
  • To create a uniform, white, natural-looking smile.

How are porcelain veneers crown-fitted?

Getting porcelain veneers usually requires two appointments. On the first visit, the teeth are prepared by lightly buffing and shaping the surface to allow for the thickness of the veneer. An impression (mould) of the teeth is taken and a shade (colour) for the porcelain chosen.

On the second visit, the teeth will be cleansed with a weak acid solution and the veneers bonded to the teeth. Bonding cement is placed between the tooth and veneer. A special light beam is used to harden and set the cement.

You will receive care instructions for your porcelain veneers. Proper brushing, flossing and regular dental visits will aid in extending their life.

Tooth bleaching (whitening)

Tooth bleaching, often also called whitening, is a non-invasive and easy way to change the colour of natural tooth enamel. This is an ideal way to enhance the beauty of your smile.

There are a number of ways to bleach teeth. The most popular method is using a home tooth bleaching system. Tooth bleaching only works on natural tooth enamel. Therefore it is important to evaluate all existing fillings, crowns or bridges before bleaching. Replacement of any restorations is preferably done after bleaching, so they will match the newly bleached teeth.

Tooth whitening is not permanent. A touch-up may be needed from time to time. This will be even more necessary if you smoke or drink lots of coffee, tea or wine.

Reasons for bleaching teeth

  • Teeth stained due to colourants in the diet.
  • Teeth becoming darker due to normal wear of tooth enamel (the outer layer).
  • Teeth stained by certain medications.
  • Fluorosis – a condition that discolours teeth due to excessive exposure to fluoride during tooth development.

How is tooth bleaching done?

Home tooth bleaching will normally require two visits to your dentist. During the first visit, impressions (moulds) will be made of your teeth. This is used to cast a plaster model of your teeth on which clear plastic, bleaching trays are made.

During your second visit, these bleaching trays will be fitted in your mouth to ensure they are the correct size. You will be instructed on the use of the trays.

The trays are filled with a bleaching agent provided by your dentist. They must be worn overnight for a couple of days or weeks, depending on the degree of staining and how much you want your teeth to be bleached. Some patients experience tooth sensitivity during the use of dental bleaching agents. This is normal and will disappear once bleaching is stopped.

During your bleaching visits, you will be given all the necessary information on bleaching, as well as care instructions for your teeth and bleaching trays.

If you have any questions or concerns about dental treatments or procedures, contact your dentist today!