Aesthetic Smile Design
Many services provided in our office can help you get the beautiful smile you have always dreamed of or knew you needed. Below are some of the smile restoring services we offer, and more information on how the procedures are done in our office.
Veneers are ultra-thin yet strong, shells of ceramic (porcelain), which are bonded to the front of teeth. Similar to a “fake” fingernail. Veneers are often placed to mask discolorations, to brighten teeth, close gaps and to improve a smile – by changing the size and shape of the teeth underneath. Patients with tetracycline stains or large composite fillings or years of wear & tear on their front teeth find veneers a more conservative option than crowns. Veneers can strengthen while covering your worn, dark or overly filled tooth. You may have seen models or celebrities with gaps between their front teeth – that suddenly disappeared. Bet they found a great dentist to help them with veneers! Porcelain veneers can last for many years with good homecare, decay prevention and gum health checkups on a regular basis. Veneers may require some reshaping of the teeth to give the most natural and pleasing result.
Many things cause teeth to wear and break. Large, old fillings, worn teeth and decay can all make a tooth break or look old before it’s time. Teeth can be rebuilt to a new condition with a dental crown or cap. A crown rebuilds, strengthens and protects the weak, cracked/split or broken tooth and will improve the appearance of the tooth as well. A tooth that has broken, has more filling than tooth or is cracked well beyond the surface may benefit from a dental crown. The crown helps hold the remaining tooth together, hopefully preventing the damage from getting worse. If you have a root canal procedure, the tooth will need a crown to protect the remaining structure from breakage after the nerve is gone. Dental crowns are also placed on dental implants to look like the original natural tooth growing out of the gum. How long a crown will last is often influenced by habits such as grinding your teeth, fingernail biting or chewing ice. Keeping your gums and bone healthy with recommended cleanings and preventing decay will also help your crown to last longer.
To make a crown, all broken, decayed or weak areas of the tooth are removed and an impression (mold) taken. Some impressions can be done “virtually” – with a digital image of the tooth. If the new crown is not seated that day (Cerec crowns can offer this option) then a temporary crown is made and placed to keep the patient comfortable while the beautiful and strong custom crown is fabricated. Dental crowns are not all the same – find out what materials are being recommended for you – all porcelain, all engineered porcelain, all gold and porcelain over different mixes of metals, are options today. Where a crown is made – out of the country or U.S. lab and the materials it is made of will generally influence the cost. Dr. Schumacher uses local labs and quality, tested materials for his patients.
Bonding is the use of a tooth-colored material used to fill in gaps or change the color of teeth. Requiring a single office visit, bonding lasts several years. Bonding is perhaps more susceptible to staining and could chip more than other materials used to change the appearance of teeth (like crowns or veneers). It can be used cosmetically to close spaces between teeth – gaps you may not like, or change the outside color of a tooth on a less permanent basis. Bonded fillings will not wedge the tooth apart like the older style mercury fillings many of us grew up having placed if we had a cavity.
When teeth are chipped or decayed, bonded tooth colored resins may be the material used. Bonding also is used as a tooth-colored filling for smaller sized cavities.
Whitening is a common and popular chemical process used to lighten & brighten teeth. Some people get their teeth whitened (or bleached) to make stains disappear, while other just want a brighter shade.
Changes in the color of in the enamel and can be caused by smoking, medications taken as a very young child, coffee, tea & wine. Some medications we take as adults may also lead to discoloration of the teeth. Aging may also bring darker shades to our smile.
Whitening can be done in the dental office or, under dental supervision, at home. Many patients prefer the convenience of whitening at home. Others are looking for a “faster” result. Both systems require approximately 10 days use of a custom mouthpiece to bring out the best brightening. A custom tray made by the dentist helps control the amount of whitening product that can contact the tooth surface (and your gums). Follow instructions closely to reduce your chance for sensitivity. At home whitening also allows you to decide when you are “white” enough. Typically, whitening at home takes two weeks, depending on the desired shade you wish to achieve. Whitening in the office will usually involve a one hour appointment in the dental chair with a closely controlled environment for the stronger dosage chemicals to be safely applied.