For teeth with imperfections that cannot be addressed with teeth whitening procedures, but are not so flawed as to require full coverage crowns, dental veneers can provide the desired cosmetic improvements.
Dental veneers are custom-fabricated facings that offer a conservative and cosmetically pleasing way to improve the appearance of teeth that are chipped, gapped, worn, slightly crooked, misshapen or darkly stained. With dental veneers, the color, shape, size, and length of the teeth can be changed for the better. Bonded to the front surfaces of the teeth, veneers can be used to enhance the appearance of a single tooth or multiple anterior teeth.
The two most common types of veneers are porcelain veneers, which are also known as porcelain laminates, and composite veneers. While porcelain veneers are the most commonly offered option in care, composite veneers can also achieve excellent results. Starting with a smile makeover consultation and a comprehensive assessment of a patient’s oral health as well as a discussion of the cosmetic goals, the dentist will determine a treatment plan to achieve the most pleasing outcome of care.
Porcelain veneers are ultra-thin facings that are custom fabricated from the highest grade of dental ceramics and offer the following benefits:
- Require very little preparation of underlying tooth structure
- Can be fabricated from start to finish in just a few visits
- Porcelain reflects light in much the same way as teeth for a naturally beautiful looking smile
- Once bonded, porcelain veneers are strong and durable and can last for many years with proper care
- Resistant to stain and discoloration
- Well tolerated by surrounding periodontal tissues
When direct composite veneers are the selected method of care, the dentist applies carefully selected shades of tooth-colored composite resins to the fronts of the involved teeth. As the composite resin is placed, it is meticulously sculpted to create the desired shape, length and overall form of each tooth. Each layer of applied composite is then cured with a special light, and additional layers of composite are placed as required to achieve an aesthetically pleasing and functional result. Once the final result is completely set, the dentist will smooth and polish the direct composite veneers to a naturally brilliant finish.
While composite veneers frequently offer the advantages of being a single visit procedure, easy to repair and an economical alternative to porcelain veneers, they are not as strong or resistant to staining and wear as dental ceramics. However, by avoiding certain dietary choices and habits, practicing good oral hygiene and getting routine dental care, direct composite veneers can offer an effective and long lasting cosmetic smile improvement.
Crowns and Bridges
Crowns: The terms dental crowns and caps are synonymous. If dental decay, cracked fillings, root canals, clenching or grinding the teeth have caused extensive damage to the underlying tooth structure a dental filling may not be a sufficient restoration. The only way to completely restore the cosmetic appearance and function of this tooth is often full coverage with a dental crown. The good news is that a completed dental crown looks and feels like a natural tooth.
In addition to restoring a single natural tooth, crowns can be used in other situations including being the supporting ends of dental bridge, covering dental implants, or as coverage for a cracked tooth to prevent further breakdown. A crown may also be indicated when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance. Crowns can be made of either porcelain baked onto a metal substrate, all-porcelain, or many of the new ceramic materials that have been developed.
Bridges: When teeth are missing a series of changes that can impact your overall dental health and jaw function may be initiated. The adjacent teeth may start to drift or tilt into the space, and teeth in the opposing jaw may start to shift toward the area of the missing tooth. It is therefore important to replace the single tooth or multiple teeth that have been lost. One of the best options to prevent the consequences of shifting teeth and to restore full function to a small edentulous section in the mouth is a dental bridge.
A dental bridge replaces the missing teeth with artificial teeth called “pontics,” and is supported on the ends by prepared natural teeth. Once fabricated and fitted a dental bridge will be permanently “fixed,” or cemented into place. Like crowns, bridges can be made of either porcelain baked on to a metal substrate or many of the new ceramic materials that have been developed.
Tooth Colored Fillings
Dental fillings are the most common type of dental restoration used to replace sections of teeth that are missing, damaged or decayed. While traditional dental materials like gold, amalgam, porcelain, and composite successfully restore teeth; recent advances in dental technology have made a wider and improved selection of restorative choices available. Some of the newest state-of-the-art filling materials including ceramic and the latest composite materials, are not only strong and durable, they offer the most aesthetically pleasing and natural looking results.
Inlays & Onlays
When more than half of the tooth's biting surface is damaged, a dentist will often use an inlay or onlay.
What are dental inlays and onlays?
Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. These pieces are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. An inlay, which is similar to a dental filling is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth. An onlay is a more substantial reconstruction, similar to the inlay but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.
Traditionally, gold has been the material of choice for inlays and onlays. In recent years, however, porcelain has become increasingly popular due to its strength and color, which can potentially match the natural color of your teeth.
How are inlays and onlays applied?
Inlays and onlays require two appointments to complete the procedure. During the first visit, the filling being replaced or the damaged or decaying area of the tooth is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay. To ensure proper fit and bite, an impression of the tooth is made by the dentist, and sent to a lab for fabrication. The dentist will then apply a temporary sealant on the tooth and schedule the next appointment.
At the second appointment, the temporary sealant is removed. Dr. Molina or will then make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If the fit is satisfactory, the inlay or onlay will be bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.
Considerations for Inlays and Onlays
Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, which are bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent. As a result, they can last from 10 to 30 years. In some cases, where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire dental crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative.