Cosmetic dentistry is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your appearance. A beautiful, bright, healthy smile can increase self confidence and overall life satisfaction.
Many regular dental treatments can be cosmetic. Modern tooth-colored fillings are virtually invisible when compared to traditional silver fillings. Tooth-colored crowns or caps can be placed instead of gold or silver. In this section, we will look at some of the best treatments we can use to greatly improve your smile and the way you feel about yourself.
A composite filling is a tooth colored quartz-like material. After tooth decay is removed and cleaned, this tooth colored material is layered into the tooth. Each layer is hardened or cured with highly intense visible light, and the final surface is shaped and polished to match the tooth. The final restoration is virtually invisible.
Composite fillings are more than just attractive. They are environmentally non-toxic because they use no mercury. They are stronger because they bond directly to the surface of the tooth. They protect the tooth from fracturing because they don’t require the severe "undercut" (removal of healthy tooth structure) of a mercury filling.
The initial investment in a composite filling is higher than that for a mercury filling. This is due to the fact that the composite material is more expensive and the restoration is more difficult and time consuming to place. However, this initial higher investment is offset in the long run by the health benefits and reduced likelihood of restoring potentially fractured teeth.
Inlays/onlays are sometimes good alternatives to composite fillings, offering excellent long term durability. In cases of extensive decay, inlays/onlays or crowns are the only alternative.
A dental implant is an appliance used to replace the roots of teeth. The implant is surgically attached to the jaw bone and an artificial tooth is attached to the top of the implant, creating a natural looking, undetectable replacement for the missing tooth. In the event that more than one tooth is missing, several implants may provide a base for a series of artificial teeth known as a fixed bridge (see fixed bridges.) Implants can even be used to secure a full set of removable dentures for people who have no remaining natural teeth. This can greatly improve chewing ability and reduce the risk of choking.
It generally takes about six months for the surgical implant to heal before the final installation of the artificial tooth or teeth can be finished.
Dental implants with artificial teeth are the closest thing to regrowing your natural teeth. They are strong, stable, durable and virtually undetectable. By filling gaps left by missing teeth, implants can provide better chewing ability and head off jaw joint problems. They are far superior to removable dentures.
Dental implants are excellent, state-of-the-art restorations and have few disadvantages when compared to alternatives such as dentures. However, dental implants do require surgery and time to heal, and they are initially more expensive than dentures or fixed bridges. These disadvantages are offset by the ease of use, saved time and long term health benefits of implants.
Dentures are a poor alternative to dental implants. However, in some cases, where finances are a primary concern, dentures are the only alternative.
A crown (often called a cap) covers the tooth and restores it to its original shape and size. Decay is removed and cleaned from the tooth and a highly accurate impression or mold is made of the prepared surface. This mold is used to create a model of the tooth which is then sent to a special laboratory that will create a gold or porcelain (tooth colored) crown. The crown is then cemented onto the prepared surface of the tooth.
Porcelain offers a fine alternative to other tooth restoration materials. Made to perfectly match the shade and shape of your teeth, it’s durable, it’s strong, and it’s virtually undetectable.
Crowns are incredibly strong due to the fact that they are created in a laboratory. This protects and strengthens the remaining tooth structure. In the hands of a skilled dentist, a crown will fit almost perfectly onto the prepared surface of the tooth, reducing the size of the seam between the crown and the tooth. This helps keep decay from eventually occurring under the crown.
Crowns should be placed before the tooth is so decayed that it may fracture. This can often help prevent the expense of root canal therapy in the future. It can also prevent the possibility that a fractured tooth may need to be removed, requiring the expense of a bridge or implant to replace the missing tooth.
Crowns are excellent restorations and have few disadvantages. They are highly durable, but they will eventually need to be re-cemented or replaced due to normal wear.
Occasionally, a tooth may still need root canal therapy after being crowned. However, this indicates that the interior of the tooth was already sick (infected) and would have eventually needed root canal therapy anyway.
In the event that a tooth is so decayed or fractured that it needs to be removed, the best alternatives to a crown are bridges and implants that replace the missing tooth.
A porcelain laminate (often called a veneer) is a thin shell of porcelain that covers the front of each tooth. They bond directly to the front of the tooth, similar to the way artificial fingernails work. Each porcelain laminate is a work of art, carefully crafted in a laboratory to fit your individual smile.
In the hands of a highly skilled dentist, porcelain laminates can provide you with an incredibly natural, beautiful smile. They are virtually undetectable and can dramatically improve your appearance. They are durable and long-lasting when compared to other cosmetic treatments.
Although they are highly durable, porcelain laminates are not permanent. Well crafted laminates will last many years, but will eventually need to be replaced.
Porcelain laminates are an excellent investment. However, they are not appropriate for teeth with excessive decay. In those cases, porcelain crowns are the only alternative. In the event that you desire only to improve tooth alignment, orthodontic treatment may be another alternative.
Plastic whitening trays will be made from models of your teeth. You will then place a special whitening gel in each tray and wear the trays for one hour or less each day. A significant change in tooth color is usually seen in just four to six weeks. In addition ZOOM in office bleaching is available for the fastest and whitest bleaching!
Modern tooth whitening systems are highly effective and have dramatic results. Many celebrities consistently whiten their teeth to improve their appearance.
Occasionally, patients may experience some gum or tooth sensitivity when using their trays. These symptoms subside when whitening is discontinued for several days.
Occasionally, teeth may be stained in a way that limits the effectiveness of tooth whitening. In those instances, porcelain laminates or crowns are an excellent alternative.
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Nicholson Dental Care provides advanced general, cosmetic and restorative dentistry to the greater Portland, Oregon area. Dr. Nicholson serves the Southeast Portland, Eastmoreland, Hosford-Abernethy, Mt. Tabor, Sellwood-Moreland, Sunnyside (Hawthorne), Richmond, Clinton City Park, South Tabor, East Moreland, Brentwood, Darlington, Woodstock, Reed College, Oregon Health Sciences University areas by providing exceptional dental care to all patients.
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