Traditional cosmetic dental treatments
There are many reasons why people might want to correct their smiles with a cosmetic treatment. They may wish to undo the discoloration caused by years of smoking or drinking coffee, tea and red wine. They may wish to fill the gap left by one or more missing teeth. Or they may wish to repair the appearance of a tooth that has become lost or damaged as the result of an accident.
Over the years, the dental industry has responded in kind, bringing a wide range of treatments to restore the self confidence of their wearers. Some of these include...
Crowns are used to cover teeth which have become damaged. They are often used if a tooth is chipped or cracked in an accident. Even if a cracked tooth is still whole, a crown can help prevent the tooth from being damaged further. Likewise if a tooth has a lot of cavities and fillings, a crown can lend it the strength that it has been lacking preventing further damage. A crown is a tooth-shaped prosthetic that sits over the tooth- the enamel of which is usually filed down to accommodate the crown. If a tooth is seriously damaged, it may be secured in place with a titanium steel post.
Crowns are usually made from metals, ceramics, resin or porcelain fused to metal. They can help restore even heavily damaged teeth to their former beauty. They tend to last around 15 years but when properly cared for they can last as long as 25-30 years.
Crowns are useful when a tooth is damaged, but when a tooth is lost altogether, an implant may be the best way to fill the gap in a way that looks natural and lasts a lifetime. Dental implants require a steel post to be drilled deep into the bone beneath the gum. Atop this sits a dental crown. This is a very time intensive procedure and usually takes several months. It’s also potentially very expensive, with costs usually ranging from $1,000-$3,000 per implant. This can add up quite significantly if you have several teeth that need to be replaced. Again, the crown can last anywhere from 15-30 years and the implant itself lasts a lifetime.
Dentures offer a non-invasive alternative to dental implants and crowns. They can also be much more cost-effective for those who are missing a number of teeth. They fit over the gums and are attached with an adhesive. They are worn throughout the day and taken out at night before going to bed. Dentures do, however, come with caveats. They can take some getting used to, especially when talking or eating. What’s more, they can lead to excessive salivation and irritation of the gums.
Bridges are false teeth called pontics which are put in place to bridge the gap between teeth where a tooth is missing. They are attached via crown abutments on the surrounding teeth and not to the gums or bones. As such, they are minimally invasive and very cost-effective. They can give natural looking results but can also be risky. If the crown abutments are ill fitting bacteria can collect in them and increase the risk of gum disease. Crowns can also change the structure of the teeth and bite, resulting in disproportionate wear, pain or even damage to the teeth.
Finally, veneers are similar to crowns in that they improve the appearance and function of teeth. Unlike crowns, however, they only fit on the front of the tooth rather than the whole thing. They are made of strong but extremely thin porcelain, usually about 1mm thick. Around half as thick as a crown. The enamel of the tooth is ground down to accommodate the veneer so they’re only suitable for teeth with a thick enamel layer.