Cosmetic Dentistry

What is Cosmetic Dentistry? It is the art of creating a new smile, whitening existing teeth, or replacing silver mercury fillings with white, natural looking restorations. In general, cosmetic dentistry refers to the area of dentistry where smile enhancement is produced using various dental material available today.

What are some examples of cosmetic dental materials?


1. Porcelain Veneers

They come with different names such as LUMINEERS, but essentially all are ultra thin (like contact lenses) porcelain veneers that are glued(bonded) to the outside of the tooth. Since they are custom made, they can be made in various shades depending on each person’s desire. Most times some modification of the natural tooth will be needed but in some instances no tooth modification is required.

Porcelain veneers (see cases) are the most beautiful restorations available today. They are used to make teeth whiter, to close spaces, to correct rotated or crooked teeth, to make short teeth appear longer, to reshape existing teeth, or to perfectly align all teeth on the upper or lower jaws.

2. All Ceramic Crowns (Caps)

Most caps made have some type of metal backing for increased strength against potential fracture. Sometimes, the metal backing shines through and one can notice a black line along the gums which leads to an unpleasant sight. The all ceramic caps, as the name implies, have no metal backing. By eliminating the metal, there are two great benefits. The first is that the cap will look much more natural and blend better with the adjacent teeth. The second is that by eliminating the metal, any potential allergic reactions are also eliminated.

The all ceramic crowns (caps) are the second nicest restoration after porcelain veneers. They require much more tooth modification then the porcelain veneers and in general can be used for the same dental correction as the veneers above as well as for fixed bridges in the front of the mouth.

3. Composite Materials

These are the materials used to replace silver mercury fillings, to replace broken or chipped teeth, to be placed as the first restoration (filling) in new cavities, and to veneer front teeth in the office (as an alternative to the laboratory made porcelain veneers above). These are tooth colored materials that are bonded to the existing tooth. In time they have a tendency to wear out and change color therefore requiring more frequent replacement. The composite dental material is the most widely used dental material today and there are constant improvements which make these materials better and better as the time passes.

4. Bleaching Materials

The most used cosmetic procedure today, bleaching of the existing teeth is the most cost effective way to whiten teeth. There are many types of over the counter or dentist supervised bleaching materials on the market. The difference is in the concentration of the chemical used to bleach the natural teeth. In general, a thorough examination of the teeth and gums are needed before a bleaching procedure is started. Bleaching works best for people that have no restorations or caps (virgin teeth). For people that have restorations or caps, once the bleaching procedure is done, the old caps or restorations may need replacement to be able to match the color to the bleached teeth.

In office bleaching is done with a light such as ZOOM or other high intensity light followed by custom tray at home bleaching for at least two weeks to achieve a long lasting effect. In most instances, simply tray bleaching at home will do the job of whitening at a reduced cost for the patient if the instructions are followed.

Bleaching will last for a long time with only a few touch ups needed a few times a year. In general, beside some transient sensitivity, no long term adverse effect of bleaching has been noted.