What Is Cosmetic Dentistry?
You may feel self-conscious about your teeth if they are chipped, discoloured, deformed, crooked or missing. You may feel the need to cover your mouth every time you talk or laugh, or tend not to smile with your teeth in photos. Apart from affecting your self-confidence, having damaged teeth can also affect your oral health, particularly if chipped teeth are left untreated. Your dentist will be able to assess the complexity and severity of the problem. This may involve referral to dental specialists.
Cosmetic dentistry refers to a range of dental procedures used to restore damaged teeth or replace missing teeth. Possible treatment options for each scenario are listed below, however, not all options may be right for you.
Bonding and Composite resin (tooth-coloured) fillings
Bonding is used in repairing chipped teeth with tooth-coloured fillings. Composite fillings are often used to repair teeth, particularly teeth towards the front of the mouth that are visible. Silver fillings can be replaced with tooth-coloured ones if the fillings are visible when you smile. The decision to replace silver fillings for improved appearance should be balanced against the risk of nerve injury and structural damage to teeth which can occur when placing tooth-coloured fillings.
Darker teeth can be lightened with special bleach, which can be applied in the dental chair or at home. Customised plastic trays are made to fit specifically to the shape of your teeth and act as a reservoir for the bleach. After two weeks of night application at home, you should notice a significant difference in the brightness of your teeth. This treatment may not work for some types of discolouration. Bleaching should only be done under the guidance of a dentist with whom you can discuss risks such as tooth sensitivity. Teeth that are discoloured following root canal treatment can sometimes have their original colour returned by bleaching inside the tooth. This can only be carried out by a dentist.
Dentures (false teeth) can replace wide spaces with multiple missing teeth. Dentures can be supported by teeth, gum and implants for stability.
Approximately 0.5 millimetres thick, veneers are bonded to the front of the teeth to mask any discolouration. The equivalent depth of enamel will need to be removed from the front of the teeth to ensure even thickness. Although porcelain lasts longer than resin veneers, they can be easily damaged by habits such as fingernail chewing.
Crowns, Bridges and Implants
Crowns are caps permanently bonded over a damaged tooth. Porcelain options are available to match the colour of adjacent teeth. Bridges are a series of caps supported by the tooth on either side to replace missing teeth. This is most effective when the gap is small and the teeth on either side of the gap require crowns. Missing teeth can be replaced with dental implants. A titanium screw is fixed into the jaw which becomes fused with bone over time. Depending on the number of missing teeth and space available, the crown of tooth/teeth is then fitted.
Orthodontic treatment can straighten overcrowded or overlapping teeth. Orthodontics is a specialised branch of dentistry that corrects teeth and jaw problems with braces and plates to properly align the teeth.