Department of Operative Dentistry (319) 335-7218
Creating a Beautiful Smile for Everyone
A smile can be the most eye-catching feature of a face. With dentistry's many advances, patients no longer have to settle for stained, chipped, or ill-shaped teeth.
Even the most subtle change in a person’s smile can make a dramatic difference in the way they look and feel about themselves. Some possibilities for improving the appearance of teeth are listed below, but should be discussed with a dentist before decisions are made.
Bonding is a process by which a tooth- colored material is attached to your tooth to replace missing tooth structure or to rebuild your teeth to a desired shape which will improve your smile. Bonding often requires little or no tooth structure removal and in many cases may not even require anesthesia. In some cases the process may be reversible.
Bonding provides the patient many options for improving their appearance. Through bonding it is possible to close spaces, lengthen teeth, realign crooked teeth, and restore missing teeth. Bonding may require only one appointment where the dentist places the restoration, or it may necessitate having precision restorations made outside the mouth in a dental laboratory and bonded into place by the dentist. Tooth colored materials used in bonding include both composite resin and porcelain.
Composite Resins - Composite resin restorations are made of a mixture of tooth-colored materials. These materials can be directly placed in one appointment by the dentist, so cost and time required for placement are less than porcelain restorations. They can also be used in back teeth to provide an esthetic alternative to the amalgam restoration.
Often less tooth structure removal is necessary with composite resins, and they provide excellent esthetics with good durability. Although composite restorations may occasionally stain or discolor over time, they can be easily repaired. However, their longevity is often less than porcelain.
Porcelain - Porcelain is often used in situations where there is little tooth structure left or major modifications need to be made to a tooth or teeth. Since porcelain restorations must be made in a laboratory, these restorations involve multiple patient appointments and a higher cost restoration.
If you want a
smile that's your crowning glory, you may need a crown to cover a tooth to
restore the tooth to normal shape, size, and color. If your tooth is greatly
weakened, a crown can make it stronger and improve its appearance.
A crown can be placed as part of a bridge, protect a weak tooth or restore one that is broken. Crowns are usually made of porcelain in front teeth but may be made of laboratory processed resin in back teeth.
Veneers are thin, custom-made shells crafted of tooth-colored materials (usually porcelain) designed to cover the front of teeth. They're made by a dental technician, working from a model provided by the dentist.
Veneers are a solution for gaps between teeth, teeth that are stained, badly shaped or crooked. Veneers are usually an irreversible process, because of the necessity to remove a small amount of enamel from the teeth to accommodate the shell. A veneer might chip or fracture and need to be replaced.
There are many options to consider if you want to obtain whiter teeth and a more attractive smile.
Whiteners may not correct all types of discoloration. For example, yellowish hued teeth will probably bleach well, but brownish-or grayish-colored teeth may bleach less well. Also, for the person who has had bonding or tooth-colored fillings placed in front teeth, the whitener will not affect the color of these materials, so they will stand out against newly whitened teeth. In these cases, porcelain veneers or dental bonding may be preferable.
In-Office Bleaching - For those who are candidates for bleaching, the dentist may suggest chairside bleaching, which may require more than one office visit. Each visit may take from 30 minutes to one hour.
During chairside bleaching, the dentist will protect the oral soft tissues with either a protective gel or a rubber shield. A bleaching agent is then applied to the teeth, and a special light may be used to enhance the action of the agent.
Bleaching solutions contain peroxide(s), which bleach the tooth structure. They typically come in a gel and are placed in a mouthguard. The dentist can make a custom-fitted mouthguard that will fit the teeth precisely, ensuring a more uniform and effective action.
There are several types of products available for use at home, which can either be dispensed by your dentist or purchased over-the-counter. While these products have improved over the years in effective-ness and ease of use, professional supervision increases success with home bleaching, insuring proper fit of trays, diagnosis of discoloration and chance of success with bleaching, monitoring progress and managing side effects (sensitivity). The dentist can also check for other dental problems.
Possible side effects - Several side effects are possible from whitening, including sensitivity and soft tissue irritation. Teeth can become sensitive during the use of bleaching solutions. In many cases, this sensitivity is temporary and should lessen once the treatment is finished. Some people also experience soft tissue (gum) irritation—either from a tray that doesn’t fit properly or from solution that may irritate the surrounding tissues. Concerns about such side effects, should be discussed with a dentist.
Toothpastes - All toothpastes help remove surface stain through the action of mild abrasives. Some "whitening" toothpastes have special chemical or polishing agents that provide additional stain removal effectiveness. Unlike bleaches, these products do not alter the color of teeth.
Care and Maintenance
After the dental work is completed, it is up to you to preserve the health and beauty of your newly-improved teeth and smile. As with your normal teeth, bonded restorations require care and proper treatment. Brush carefully and daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and floss regularly, following guidelines discussed with your dentist.
Some beverages (such as coffee, tea or red wine) may have a tendency to stain these restorations. Grinding or clenching your teeth or biting into hard foods or ice may cause wear or chipping.
Regular checkups and periodic polishing by the dentist can greatly improve the longevity of all cosmetic restorations.