Commonly Asked Questions About Cosmetic Dentistry
This area of About Cosmetic Dentistry was created to better answer the most common questions about cosmetic dentistry. After reading through the questions, visit the Cosmetic Dentistry Glossary to learn and understand "dental lingo" in simplified terms.
How do I find and choose a cosmetic dentist?
Finding a highly skilled cosmetic dentist can be the difference between getting the smile you want and a serious disappointment. There are many things to consider, from a cosmetic dentist's credentials and continuing education to a cosmetic dentist's experience with the procedures you want performed. In our Finding a Dentist section we've outlined all the things you need to consider, including ways to verify a cosmetic dentist's license, and some helpful ways on how to find a highly skilled cosmetic dentist. Start by visiting our Finding a Dentist section and clicking on your state. Then click on the "Basic information about choosing a cosmetic dentist" link.
How do I know what color my veneers, crowns, caps, bridge or implants be?
Usually, the answer is to whiten your natural teeth to either the level of whiteness you want or to the brightest they can be. Your cosmetic dentist will then have the veneers made to that color. Teeth are of course not monochromatic, so typically more than one color is used to create a very natural look. This color variation is critical in avoiding fake or artificial looking teeth. It is the internal contrast of colors that help create vitality. The internal play of light on the porcelain in the restoration helps to create this vitality. Surface texture is also very important, and helps to break up light reflections and make the veneers, crowns, caps, bridges or implants look more natural. Just go to the Procedures section and click on the procedure you're considering to learn more about selecting the best shade of whiteness for your smile.
What should a cosmetic dentistry treatment plan look like?
Many people have mentioned that it would be helpful to see what a cosmetic dentistry treatment plan might look like. This will give you a good idea of the analysis and solutions you'll receive from a cosmetic dentist. Click here to see an example of a cosmetic dentistry treatment plan.
What causes dulling and discoloration of teeth?
Discolorations can be caused by staining, aging, or chemical damage to teeth. Tooth dullness or staining is an indication that whitening should be considered. Smokers and those who drink coffee and/or tea on a regular basis accelerate the discoloration and require cleaning more often. This is among the most common reasons for teeth whitening. Teeth whitening is usually the first solution to try due to its lower cost.
What is Bonding typically used for?
Bonding is a tooth-colored composite resin (similar to an enamel) that is bonded to the tooth surface to repair and/or change the color or shape of a tooth, then sculpted into shape, hardened, and polished. When teeth are chipped or slightly decayed, bonded composite resins may be the material of choice. Bonding also makes a great tooth colored filling for small cavities and broken or chipped surfaces. It can also be used to close spaces between teeth. Additionally, it is used to cover the entire outside surface of a tooth to change its color and shape.
What can be done for missing teeth?
Bridges are designed to replace missing teeth. Not only do they fill the unsightly spaces left by lost teeth, but they also help support the teeth adjacent to, and directly opposite, the missing teeth. Often a dentist will recommend an Implant to fill in the space as well.
How can jagged teeth be corrected?
In some instances, simple reshaping (contouring) of the front teeth, even without anesthesia, may produce a dramatic result to correct jagged, chipped or slightly uneven teeth. The cosmetic dentist simply utilizes sanding discs and creativity, to create a natural look with existing teeth.
I was told that I have a weak biting surface, what can be done?
Crowns are used when making cosmetic improvements to the teeth is the goal, and serve an additional purpose. A crown is placed over a tooth, replacing most of its enamel. It surrounds the tooth, giving it strength and providing a strong, durable biting surface.
What are Porcelain and Ceramic Inlays?
Porcelain inlays are considered durable, with a manufacturing process that enables a high degree of accuracy in placing the inlay. Porcelain inlays bind onto the tooth and increase the overall strength of the tooth. These inlays may cost more than other types of filling procedures. Ceramic inlays are used to repair somewhat damaged back teeth. They are made of very strong and durable industrial ceramics. Glued into place with special adhesives, they hold the damaged parts of the tooth together. These inlays are quiet durable, and look exactly like a tooth in every way. They are also significantly stronger than regular filling materials.
Why is Orthodontics a specialty in dentistry?
Orthodontics is the specialty of dentistry that addresses occlusal problems, or the mouth's ability to close with the teeth in the proper position. Orthodontics brings the teeth, jaw bones, and facial profile into proper alignment. An orthodontist is a dentist who has completed an additional two to three years of continuous study in an ADA approved, university affiliated graduate orthodontic program.
I have Porcelain Laminate Veneers, why are they so special?
Many times, the demands of cosmetic changes in the mouth are too great for simple bonding. This is when porcelain laminate veneers may be used. Porcelain veneers (sometimes referred to as laminates) can change an entire smile. Porcelain laminate veneers are quick, painless, and dramatic. They can change shape, color, size, and arrangement of teeth or any combination of these factors. They can be used as an alternative for orthodontic treatment. The best part about porcelain laminate veneers is that they can be placed in two visits. When are Porcelain Jackets recommended? When there is not enough tooth structure left, or the chewing demands in the mouth are too great for laminates, a stronger, more extensive restoration is needed. In this case, porcelain jacket crowns are used. Porcelain jackets are pure porcelain crowns placed on a fully prepared tooth. They are the most life-like of all full crown type restorations.
What if Porcelain Jackets are not enough?
When biting pressure is too great for porcelain jackets, teeth are loose due to periodontal disease, or gaps from missing teeth must be filled in, metal alloy must be placed under the porcelain for strength. This is the porcelain fused to metal crown technique. More tooth structure is removed to accommodate both metal and porcelain. Once an impression is taken, a metal coping is made on the prepared tooth. This is then covered with porcelain. Porcelain fused to metal crowns do not have the translucency of pure porcelain crowns. However, a talented ceramist with experience in custom staining can usually overcome this limitation. When individual back teeth are broken down but some good healthy tooth structure remains, porcelain fused to gold inlays are used. This is the strongest and longest lasting back teeth restoration procedure. Once the tooth is properly prepared, the technique is similar to the porcelain fused to metal crown technique. The benefit of this restoration is the advantage of gold underneath which supports the tooth during heavy biting, therefore protecting the tooth and the nerve.