People choose esthetic dental procedures/surgery for various reasons—to repair a defect such as a malformed bite or crooked teeth, treat an injury, or just improve their overall appearance. Whatever the reason, the ultimate goal is to restore a beautiful smile.
For these and many other reasons, esthetic dentistry has become a vital and important part of the dental profession.
Common esthetic dental procedures can be performed to correct misshaped, discolored, chipped or missing teeth. They 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.
Some of the more common procedures involve:
Which techniques should be used to improve your smile? A dental exam will take many factors into consideration, including your overall oral health.
Bleaching and non-bleaching products are the two basic kinds of whitening products available today.
Non-bleaching products normally use abrasives or chemicals and only remove surface stains on teeth.
Bleaching products work with a chemical called peroxide and can brighten your teeth several shades.
Another process employs the use of a special gel that is placed inside a flexible device you wear around your teeth for a certain period of time. After you remove the device, you must use a second bleaching agent, followed by a special light to activate the chemical action.
Mildly stained teeth usually only require one session of bleaching.
Special thin laminates, called veneers, can often be used to correct discolored, worn down, cracked and chipped teeth. Veneers can also be used to close unsightly gaps between teeth. Stronger types of veneers made of porcelain, also called composite veneers, typically last longer because they are bonded to the tooth.
Another process called bonding can accomplish some of the same things, but it does not last as long. Material that looks much like the enamel on your teeth is used during a bonding procedure. The material is shaped to the tooth, and when it becomes hard it is polished.
In addition, dental contouring and reshaping can correct chipped, cracked, crooked, or even overlapping teeth. This procedure can alter the shape, length, or position of teeth.
Soft tissue grafts are sometimes performed to treat gum disease, or correct other abnormalities.
The procedure involves taking gum tissue from the palate or another donor source to cover an exposed root in order to even the gum line and reduce sensitivity.
Periodontal procedures are available to stop further dental problems and gum recession, and to improve the aesthetics of your gum line. For example, an exposed tooth root resulting from gum recession may not be causing you pain or sensitivity, but is causing one or more of your teeth to look longer than the others. In other cases, an exposed tooth root causes severe pain because it is exposed to extremes in temperatures or different kinds of food and liquids.
Once contributing factors are controlled, a soft tissue graft procedure will repair the defect and help to prevent additional recession and bone loss.
If you lose one or more permanent teeth, an indentation may result in the gums and jawbone where the tooth used to be. When no longer holding a tooth in place, the jawbone recedes and the resulting indentation looks unnatural. Ridge augmentation is a procedure that can recapture the natural contour of the gums and jaw. A new tooth can then be created that is natural looking and complements your smile.
Bonding is a process in which an enamel-like material is applied to a tooth's surface, sculpted to an ideal shape, hardened, and then polished for an ideal smile. This procedure usually can be accomplished in a single visit.
Bonding is often performed in order to fill in gaps or change the color of your teeth. It typically only entails one office visit, and the results last for several years.
Bonding is more susceptible to staining or chipping than other forms of restoration such as veneers. When teeth are chipped or slightly decayed, bonded composite resins may be the material of choice. Bonding also is used as a tooth-colored filling for small cavities and broken or chipped surfaces.
In addition, bonding can be used to close spaces between teeth or cover the entire outside surface of a tooth to change its color and shape. Crowns, also known as caps, are used in cases where other procedures will not be effective. Crowns have the longest life expectancy of all cosmetic restorations, but are the most time consuming.