With modern advances in dentistry, cosmetic procedures can range from a basic color correction to replacing missing teeth and everything in between. Explore your options by starting with familiar procedures, then learning more about what can be offered by your dentist’s use of modern technology.
TEETH WHITENINGMost teeth can be whitened (some call it bleaching) and there are a number of ways to whiten teeth. External tooth whitening happens when vital teeth are bleached by direct contact with a safe and commonly used whitening agent, either in a dental office or at home. This means that in most situations, tooth whitening is possible and safe.
FILLINGSDentists no longer need to rely on unsightly metals to replace tooth structure lost to decay, but use high density, state-of-the-art plastic (composite resins) and porcelain materials instead. These materials more naturally mimic the look, feel, and function of natural teeth and actually bond directly to the remaining enamel and dentin. This means that new fillings preserve more of the natural tooth so less repair work is necessary immediately and in the future. These modern filling materials are also more natural in appearance; it’s almost impossible to tell that your tooth has a filling.
Many adults already have existing metal fillings, which do not lend themselves well to replacement with composite resins. The choice of materials is a matter of discussion between you and your dentist.
DENTURESWhile dentures have been considered a tried and true method for tooth replacement for years, they come with their own set of issues. The main problem is that dentures rest on teeth and gums for stability, which can encourage bone loss, tooth decay, and periodontal disease. However, dentures can be relined every few years to compensate for bone loss and any compromised facial integrity.
There have been modern advances in dentures, as there have been in many other areas of dental healthcare, and an overdenture retained by implants may be an option. Overdentures are a combination of traditional dentures and the newer science of dental implants to prevent bone loss that could result from dentures alone.
DENTAL IMPLANTSDental implants replace the roots of lost teeth. A dental implant–along with a crown built on the implant–replaces a missing tooth or teeth and helps to maintain the bone support of the adjacent teeth, extending their life span. Dental implants are considered a permanent service and can be expected, in most cases, to last many, many years. They are the optimum choice for replacing missing teeth. A tooth replaced with a dental implant should be imperceptible from a natural tooth.
ORTHODONTICSOrthodontics is more commonly referred to as “braces,” but this simple term can be misleading, as the science of orthodontics is actually quite precise. Orthodontists are experts not only in the current position of teeth, but also in what has caused them to arrive at their current positions and what future movement is possible.
Your cosmetic dentist now has many options available, from conventional braces to “invisible braces” (Invisalign) and reduced treatment times. Ask your cosmetic dentist about the possibilities. Each option offers its own benefits and issues and should be carefully selected to suit the situation.