Your Oral Health
Enhancing Your Smile
Have you ever wished your smile could be whiter? Brighter? Less crooked? More even?
Thanks to advances in modern dentistry, the smile of your dreams could be a couple of dentist visits away!
Several techniques have been developed that make it easier than ever for you to “smile on” with confidence.
Everyone wants whiter, brighter teeth. A word of caution before you tackle this self-enhancing project on your own – tooth bleaching is not a do-it-yourself job.
Some ingredients in over-the-counter kits – like hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide or acids – can irritate your gums and other soft tissues in your mouth, or even cause tooth sensitivity.
And in many cases, do-it-yourself kits won’t even improve your tooth colour. Only your dentist can determine if bleaching is the answer you’re seeking.
If you’re a good candidate for tooth whitening, your dentist can perform the procedure in the office, or send you home with a special tray that will limit contact between your gums and the whitener solutions. Your dentist will also keep an eye on your oral health during the procedure to make sure no problems occur as a result of the bleaching.
No matter how discoloured your teeth are, don’t make tooth bleaching into a do-it-yourself project. You’ll be happier, healthier and more satisfied with your results if you pay a visit to your dentist.
If your teeth are discoloured, chipped, affected by breaks and cracks, or even have gaps, bonding may be the way to go.
In this simple, long-lasting and cost-effective procedure, your dentist “bonds” a natural looking, tooth-coloured material called composite resins to the enamel of your teeth. After the resin is applied to the tooth and properly shaped, it is hardened using a special light. The tooth is then smoothed and polished. Bonding usually lasts three to five years, and can even be used to protect roots exposed by receding gums and restore decayed teeth.
A gap-toothed smile can be absolutely darling — if you’re less than seven years old. Otherwise, a missing tooth negatively affects your appearance – causing your mouth to sink and your face to look older. This can affect the way you chew and speak. And it places unusual stress on your teeth and the tissues in your mouth, by forcing them to compensate for the extra space.
Luckily, bridges can easily fill in these compromising gaps. Your dentist will help you decide which type of bridge is more appropriate for you. If you need extensive bridgework, your dentist may also refer you to a prosthodontist, a dentist who specializes in restoring natural teeth and replacing missing teeth.
After you’re fitted for a bridge, it’s very important to keep your remaining teeth healthy. If you don’t, and the teeth or bone that holds the bridge in place become damaged by disease, the bridge can lose its support and cease fitting properly. To prevent this from happening, brush twice a day and floss regularly, being very careful to clean the areas under, around and between the bridge and your natural teeth. If you have difficulties reaching some areas of your mouth, purchase a dental floss threader or special brush to help. Above all, make sure you see your dentist for regular check-ups to ensure all goes well.
Remember, the ultimate success or failure of a fixed bridge depends on its foundation. Keep your gums and remaining teeth healthy – your dental health and your appearance (not to mention your smile) are well worth the effort!
Composite resins are tooth-coloured fillings made of a plastic mixture filled with glass or silicon dioxide. They’re used in place of traditional silver fillings for a more natural look.
When applying a composite resin filling, your dentist will prepare the decayed tooth as he normally would. Then he’ll insert the composite and use a special light to harden the material. Lastly, he’ll shape the composite to properly fit the tooth and polish it to prevent staining and early wear.
You may experience tooth sensitivity for a short time after having the composite placed. If you drink a lot of coffee or tea, the colour of the composite can change slightly. If you wish, your dentist can put a clear plastic coating over the composite to prevent the colour from changing. Composite fillings last seven to ten years.
Do you have a tooth that’s broken, badly decayed or shaped incorrectly? If so, you may want to have a crown, or cap, placed on the tooth to restore it to its normal appearance.
Crowns are usually made from porcelain in a colour that matches your teeth, and are attached to a strong metal shell. Less commonly, they’re made of gold or non-precious alloys, ceramic, acrylic or composite resin, or any combination of these. Your dentist will decide which one is right for you.
Sometimes a metal post must be placed in the tooth to support the crown. In this case root canal therapy is done, and then the post is fit into the prepared root canal filling.
Since the crown must align correctly with your other teeth for a correct bite, several impressions, or moulds, of your teeth will be taken. The dental laboratory that your dentist works with will make the crown from the moulds of your teeth. A temporary crown will be used to protect the tooth until the permanent crown is ready.
At the second visit, the dentist will fit the crown over the old tooth. If you and your dentist are satisfied with the fit and feel, your dentist will cement the crown into place. Depending on the materials used to make them, crowns can last for many years with careful daily oral hygiene.
A crown may be recommended to:
- Restore cracked teeth.
- Guard weak teeth from fracturing.
- Support a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth remaining.
- Fix badly shaped or discoloured teeth.
- Strengthen teeth following a root canal, when teeth can become weak or more likely to fracture.
- To cover damage caused by decay.
Think your canines look like werewolf teeth? Then enamel shaping, or tooth contouring, may be the answer for you.
Enamel shaping is the process of changing the look of your teeth by removing or contouring the enamel to change the length, shape or position of your teeth.
Enamel shaping is often paired with bonding to give you that picture-perfect smile you’re seeking. It’s a quick and painless procedure with immediate results, and never has to be repeated.
When you think of artificial teeth, do dentures automatically come to mind? Well, it’s time to expand that picture because there’s something new on the market, which may be just for you – dental implants.
Unlike dentures, which have to be taken in and out, implants are attached directly to the jawbone. Implants are more comfortable to wear than dentures and bridges, and they work better. They make it easier for you to chew and speak, thus increasing your self-confidence and esteem.
If you are considering implants, be sure to talk with your dentist about whether they are right for you. Your dentist will perform a complete oral exam, take a medical history, check the condition of your mouth, the supporting bones in your jaws and the way your upper and lower teeth fit together to determine whether or not implants are appropriate for you.
If you decide that implants are the best option for you, the process will begin with inserting the anchor into its place. After the new bone has stabilized the implant, restorative teeth are made and fitted to the post portion of the anchor. Your dentist will make sure that the implants fit properly so that they are comfortable and work properly.
Brushing, flossing and regular dental visits are essential to the success of dental implants. Your dentist will give you instructions on proper care and will regularly watch the healing and attachment of the implant to the jaw.
Implants can last for many years with careful daily oral hygiene. However, only your dentist can tell if and what type of implant is right for you, and recommend a qualified professional who will take good care of you. So if you’re thinking you’d like to have implants, see your dentist today and be prepared to smile on.
Veneers are thin pre-shaped shells that cover damaged top or bottom front teeth, fix gaps and change the shape and size of your mouth. They are made of either porcelain or tooth-coloured composite resin material.
Veneers can last for many years with careful daily oral hygiene. They look very natural and are often an irreversible process because a small amount of enamel is usually removed to make room for the thickness of the shell. Once the veneer is applied, the teeth must be periodically re-veneered or crowned if a problem occurs or if decay develops near the veneer.