What is Cosmetic Dentistry
The interesting thing about cosmetic dentistry is that it is rarely just cosmetic. A full set of strong teeth is not only attractive but helps a person eat and speak properly, which are the main functions of the teeth. Still, there are some dental procedures that are mostly done to enhance the person’s smile and correct teeth that are crooked, crowded, chipped, discolored or missing.
Dental implants are artificial crowns that replace a damaged or missing tooth. The procedure usually takes some months to complete, since the dentist implants a post into the patient’s jaw. This post is usually titanium or zirconium, both bio-compatible metals that fuse well to bone tissue. The post is covered with the patient’s gum tissue and allowed to fuse over several weeks. After this has been achieved, the dentist opens up the gum, places an abutment on the post and places an artificial crown on the abutment. Though the crown can be made of metal, crowns that replace front teeth are often made of porcelain made to be an exact match of the patient’s natural teeth.
Some dentists implant the post and the crown or several crowns at the same time, which is called immediate loading. Both traditional dental implants and immediate loading require that the patient take special care of their teeth as the post fuses with the bone. This includes very careful dental hygiene, avoidance of certain foods and taking antibiotics prescribed by the dentist. Not following instructions can lead to the failure of the implants.
Dental veneers are very thin porcelain shells that are applied to damaged or unsightly teeth. During this treatment, the dentist removes a very thin layer of enamel from the tooth. The thickness, which is about half a millimeter, matches the thickness of the veneer. The veneer itself is custom made in a dental lab. When it is ready to be placed on the tooth, the dentist abrades the tooth to make sure that the veneer has a firm grip, then binds the veneer to the prepared tooth with dental cement. The dental cement is then cured with a special light.
This is probably the most purely cosmetic dental procedure. The color of a person’s otherwise healthy teeth depends largely on their genetics, and strong teeth are not necessarily blindingly white. However, people who opt for teeth whitening often have unattractive staining on their teeth due to smoking, their consumption of tea, coffee or red wine or the fact that they just don’t take good enough care of their teeth.
Though teeth whitening can be done at home, the best way to whiten teeth is to let the dentist do it. There are two basic types of tooth whitening. One whitens a tooth that still has a nerve and the other a tooth whose nerve has been removed thanks to root canal therapy. In the former, the dentist applies a gel to the tooth that is then cured with a laser or a special light, much like dental cement. This is a multi-step process, and most patients need to visit the dentist more than once.
If the tooth does not have a nerve, the dentist applies a bleaching agent inside the tooth
If the patient opts to whiten their teeth at home, the dentist makes impressions of their mouth and has a mouthpiece made for them. Gel is placed inside the mouthpiece, and the patient wears it for a few hours every day for as long as a month.