Cosmetic Dentistry


The first toothbrush was invented in China in 1000 A.D. It was an ivory-handled toothbrush with bristles made from a horse's mane. Toothbrushes became popular in the 19th century among the Victorian affluent. Mass marketing and the advent of nylon bristles in the 20th century made toothbrushes inexpensive and available to everyone.

People choose cosmetic dental procedures for various reasons – to repair a defect such as a malformed bite or crooked teeth, treat an injury, or just improve their overall appearance. For these and many other reasons, cosmetic dentistry has become a vital and important part of the dental profession and one of the fastest growing areas of dentistry. For example, tooth-whitening procedures have tripled over the past five years.

Common cosmetic dental procedures can be performed to correct misshaped, discolored, chipped or missing teeth. It also can be used to change the overall shape of teeth – from teeth that are too long or short, have gaps, or simply need to be reshaped.

Cosmetic dentistry procedures include:

  • Cosmetic fillings -- Alternative, natural-looking materials to conventional silver-colored fillings made from porcelain and composite resins, which are colored to match natural tooth enamel.
  • Whitening/Bleaching -- Procedures that reverse the effects of such things as aging, food and tobacco stains, and medication use.
  • Veneers -- Special thin laminates, called veneers, used to cover stains, correct discolored, worn down, cracked and chipped teeth, and close unsightly gaps between teeth.
  • Bonding -- A tooth-colored material that looks like the enamel of your teeth and used to improve the color of a tooth, or close unsightly gaps.
  • Cosmetic contouring and reshaping – A relatively simple procedure that can correct crooked, chipped, cracked, and even overlapping teeth.
  • Crowns -- Synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain, that can be placed on the top of a tooth to restore its function and appearance, attach bridges, cover implants, or prevent a cracked tooth from becoming worse.
  • Crown lengthening -- Performed to reshape gums and bone tissue, and often used to correct a “gummy” smile.
  • Bridges -- Natural-looking dental appliances that can replace a section of missing teeth and restore the natural contour of your teeth as well as the proper bite relationship between upper and lower teeth. Bridges are sometimes referred to as fixed partial dentures, because they are semi-permanent and are bonded to existing teeth or implants.
  • Specialty dentures – Lightweight dentures that mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. Most dentures are made from a combination of metals and synthetic material such as acrylic resin, and can be either partial or complete sets.
  • Excessive or uneven gums – Gum lifts or soft tissue grafts can be used to even gum lines, or cover an exposed root.
  • Ridge augmentation -- A procedure that can shore up dents and other abnormalities in your gum line.
  • Grafts -- Small pieces of tissue taken from other areas such as the palate and surgically implanted to correct severe gum disease, cover exposed roots, stop bone loss and gum recession, and even reduce pain-causing root sensitivity.
  • Replacement of lost gum tissue -- Gum tissue can be augmented or replaced by a variety of means, including soft tissue grafts.
  • Implants -- Synthetic structures that are placed in the area of the tooth normally occupied by the root. Implants are sometimes a viable alternative to partial dentures.
 
Whitening

Whitening procedures have effectively restored the smiles of people with stained, dull, or discolored teeth.

The darker tissue of your teeth, the dentin, can become exposed as the outer layer of enamel is worn away by the effects of aging or things like caffeine and tobacco.

Food particles are naturally attracted to a tooth's enamel by a certain protein. Products like coffee and tea, berries and soy sauce are notorious for staining teeth. Over time, teeth actually become more absorbent and vulnerable to staining from food and other substances.

One type of stain-caused by traumatic injuries, medications and fluorosis-actually begins inside the tooth; brushing and flossing don't help. Another type of stain-one that can be more easily attached by brushing, flossing and rinsing-is caused by external factors such as foods.

More and more people today are choosing tooth-whitening procedures to reverse the effects of aging and abuse from food and tobacco stains.

Some commercially available "whitening toothpastes" can be somewhat effective at removing stains and making teeth a few shades brighter. However, many of these products have abrasive substances that can actually wear away your tooth's enamel.

Bleaching agents actually change the color of your teeth, but only are effective on certain types of stains. For example, bleaching agents have a difficult time removing brownish or grayish stains. These products also are not as effective on pitted or badly discolored teeth, or on restorations such as crowns, bridges, bonding and tooth-colored fillings (porcelain veneers or dental bonding may be more appropriate in this case).

Professional bleaching performed by our office is considered to be the most effective and safest method; done properly, tooth whitening can last as long as five years. Over-the-counter whitening systems are somewhat effective as long as they are monitored and directions followed closely.