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Cosmetic Dentistry is a combination of the art and science of creating an attractive smile. This is accomplished by using state of the art aesthetic materials and techniques in order to achieve the best smile possible for a single individual. Regular general dentistry is primarily concerned with curing or eliminating pathologic conditions in the mouth and replacing or restoring teeth with a variety of dental materials. The emphasis of general dentistry is on function more than cosmetics.
What is a Cosmetic Dentist?
There is no specialty recognized by the American Dental Association called Cosmetic Dentists. However, dentists whose practices primarily focus on creating beautiful smiles are regarded by the public as Cosmetic Dentists. The type of dental procedure responsible for creating more attractive smiles are called cosmetic dentistry procedures.Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures
There are two methods for bleaching teeth. One is called the home bleaching tray technique. The other is called the in-office bleaching technique. The home bleaching tray technique requires the patient to wear a thin soft plastic bleaching tray in the mouth for 2-3 hours per day or sleeping with it overnight. The tray contains a bleaching gel which makes the teeth lighter over a 3-4 week period. Maximum effect is achieved in 4-6 weeks. Although the process is slower, the patient has more control over how light the teeth become. There is less tooth sensitivity with this technique.
The in-office bleaching technique is performed by using a more concentrated bleaching product on the teeth. Once applied, a bright light is placed on the teeth for up to 1 hour. The teeth become instantly lighter. There may be more tooth sensitivity in some patients with this technique. They may not bleach as light as the home tray method. Also, in-office bleaching will fade over time. It should be maintained by home trays applied once every 2-3 months. The in-the-office bleaching technique was devised to give patients a 1 hour instant result. It is accomplished by placing a special gel on the teeth and subjecting it to an intense white light over a 1-hour period.
Benefits & Risks of Tooth Bleaching
The benefits of bleaching your teeth are obvious. Your result is whiter teeth. The risks are sensitivity to temperature changes and certain foods. Although uncommon, sensitivity will usually disappear over a 1-2 week period. Bleaching does not damage your teeth in any way. For bleaching to be effective, the teeth must be cleaned first (usually by a hygienist).
All bleaching regresses over time. This is usually at 4-6 months. At this time it is recommended that the teeth be "touched up" with a tray method bleaching gel at home for 1-2 evenings. This will usually bring the white color back to the original light shade accomplished right after the initial bleaching process. Tray method is recommended for people with very sensitive teeth. It is also recommended in those cases where color control is critical and can be monitored by a slow and more conservative process.
Tooth Colored Fillings
Tooth colored fillings are made from 3 general types of materials. They are: chair-side bonded resins, lab processed composite resins, and lab fabricated porcelains.
When the damage to a tooth is too great to be restored by a composite or porcelain inlay, a porcelain crown is the restoration of choice for the cosmetic dentist.
Porcelain veneers are thin, egg-shell pieces of porcelain that slip over your existing teeth to give them a new look and improve your smile. The process is quick, easy, and virtually painless, and it takes just two visits.
Porcelain veneers can be used for a variety of cosmetic improvements on a person's smile. They can repair a single tooth or an entire mouth full of teeth. Most people requiring cosmetic improvement require a large group of veneers. You can determine how many teeth will need veneers by counting the amount of teeth that show when you smile in a mirror. Remember, when smiling, you can think of something funny as your "funny smile," which will probably be different than a "forced smile." Porcelain veneers are used to correct tetracycline stained teeth, mal-positioned or oblique teeth, spaces, gaps, chips, worn, short, or twisted teeth. They can also be used to "broaden" the look of your entire arch of teeth or make your teeth look bigger or longer, if required. If you show too much gum when you smile, porcelain veneers are the ideal solution in conjunction with periodontal surgery. Porcelain veneers can even be used to cover old porcelain bridges and crowns when the underlying structure is intact.