As we mentioned in a previous post, Cosmetic Dentistry is a rather new and unique field within the realm of dentistry as a whole. Changes and technological advancements are helping, of course, but truly beautiful cosmetic dentistry relies just as heavily on knowledge, skill, and artistry as it does on technology.
That’s because cosmetic dentistry is meant to be seen. It is right there, in your face (pun intended), and to be truly effective- it must blend seamlessly into your existing teeth. There are different types, including the creation of veneers, crowns or partials, bonding, whitening, and more. The common denominator that unites all the areas of cosmetic dentistry is the need for attention to detail, and an eye for perfection.
It’s a particular skill, one that not all dentists possess, and that’s why we’re incredibly proud to have a world-class team working in our own on-site laboratory, and producing only the very best products for our patients.
Their dedication and artistry is vital to creating your perfect smile, and that’s a privilege that we don’t take lightly. After all, the beauty built during the cosmetic dentistry process — if you do it right — lasts for decades.
With that said, here are the different types of cosmetic dental procedures we offer at Meza Dental.
What is a veneer you may ask?
The American Dental Association(ADA) says this…
ve·neer | \ və-ˈnir \
Definition of veneer
Veneers are thin, custom-made shells crafted of tooth-colored materials designed to cover the front side of teeth.(American Dental Association, n.d.)
Basically, a veneer is an artificial layer that is created to look like your natural tooth, but better. Where a crown is placed over the entire tooth, a veneer only covers the front of the tooth.
In the past, as with crowns, the underlying teeth had to be altered rather dramatically in order to allow the crown or veneer to be attached. Otherwise, the resulting teeth were noticeably thicker than those next to them.
Improvements in both the creation method and the materials used now allow dentists to attach the veneers with minimum prep. (meaning the underlying teeth require less shaving/shaping) and still maintain a consistent look across the patient’s smile.
Even with the improvements in technology, truly beautiful veneers are pieces of art, and they can only be created by highly trained technicians like ours, who dedicate 20% of the process to the art of crafting veneers that look both beautiful… and natural.
When is a Veneer Used?
So when is a veneer the right choice for you? Here are some issues that are commonly corrected with the use of veneers:
- to mask tooth discolorations that cannot be bleached
- to correct teeth with displeasing contours or shapes
- as a method of realigning teeth that are slightly out of position
- for teeth that are smaller/shorter than usual
- to correct a gap between neighboring teeth
- to cover teeth with enamel issues or discoloration
- To cover teeth that are cracked or damaged
As you can see, veneers are a practical and multi-purpose fix for many common cosmetic issues.
What is a Veneer Made of?
Today, most veneers are made from composite resin or porcelain.
Composite resin veneers are the same as the materials used for bonding, a pliable composite resin that is sculpted directly onto the surface of your tooth and then shaped to match the neighboring teeth in both contour and color.
Pros: Composite resin veneers can be created in one visit and have a natural appearance and may be slightly less expensive than porcelain veneers.
Cons: lifespan of 5- 8 years before replacement, may stain over time if you eat certain foods
Porcelain veneers on the other hand are created separately in a laboratory and are designed to precisely fit your needs. They are then attached to your teeth in the dental office.
Pros: Strong, and durable, with a lifespan of 10 years before replacement. These can be designed using digital software to match your natural teeth in shape and color, but also correct imperfections. Porcelain veneers are stain-resistant.
Cons: Porcelain veneers cannot be created in one visit, as the resin composites are, and the price may be slightly higher.
At Meza Dental, we use porcelain because we believe they provide the most natural-looking and durable result for our patients.
Bonding is a process by which resin material that is color-matched to your teeth is used to correct imperfections in the tooth. The material itself is the same as what is used for the veneers mentioned above, and then it is placed under a special light that is used to cure the adhesive.
Also as mentioned above, the material is pliant and spreadable, allowing our dentists to smooth it into place where necessary. If done correctly, it will blend into the natural surface of the tooth, rendering it virtually invisible. The main difference between this process and the composite resin veneers is that the veneer will cover the entire surface of your tooth.
When is Bonding Used?
The list here is very similar to the list for veneers, it might be easiest to think of bonding as the step before composite veneers. In other words, if you don’t have enough issues to warrant getting a full set of veneers, then you can use bonding to accomplish many of the same things on a smaller scale, such as:
- To fill cavities
- To repair teeth that are chipped or cracked
- To improve discoloration
- To fill spaces between teeth
- To make short teeth look longer
- To change or smooth the shape of teeth
- To fill a space that has been exposed when gums recede
Of course, every case is unique. But in general, bonding is a very useful tool to correct minor issues, but may not be practical for some patients. Veneers are not only more durable but much easier to care for.
As I mentioned earlier, a crown is an artificial tooth that has been created to go over the top of an existing tooth, meaning, it covers the entire tooth, and is bonded directly to it.
When Would I Need a Dental Crown?
Crowns go one step further than some other cosmetic dental procedures in that they can be used to protect teeth from further damage. Here are some reasons that you would need a dental crown:
- To protect a tooth after a root canal, or when a tooth is already partially broken.
- To cover a dental implant. To find out more about dental implants and why they are important, click here.
- To cover and protect a badly chipped or fractured tooth
- To hold a dental bridge in place
- To make a cosmetic improvement
Dental crowns are created from porcelain using digital technology that allows them to match existing teeth in both color and shape. This material is both durable and stain-resistant, allowing you the freedom to return to any natural eating habits that you may have abandoned due to pain when chewing. It also removes the worry that you will inadvertently break off that weak tooth.
During the process, digital scans and physical molds are used to design the crown itself so that it fits precisely over the existing tooth with minimal preparation (grinding/shaving) and blends smoothly with the neighboring teeth. It is then tested for fit and color to ensure it looks completely natural. Once it’s perfect, the crown is bonded directly to the underlying tooth.
Why do people whiten their teeth? Years ago, this type of treatment wasn’t available and we all made do, right? It’s true, we did. But there are many health issues that can do some serious damage to our enamel and our overall dental health, leaving sufferers to cope with unnecessary embarrassment or discomfort. No one should have to worry about smiling because a health issue has discolored their teeth. Where is the fun in that?
Sometimes the discoloration is caused by more common issues, like aging or damaged teeth, or even from a buildup of food stains. As shallow as it may seem, having a nice, bright smile is important, especially if your career puts you into the public eye.
So, dentists began searching for ways to solve the problem. (actually, that’s a bit misleading- there is actually archeological proof that people have been finding ways to whiten their teeth since the time of the pharaohs! However, I have no idea how successful they were.)
When to Use Teeth Whitening
In many cases, the simplest method of brightening a discolored smile is by having your teeth professionally bleached using a hydrogen peroxide whitening gel. The process has improved greatly in recent years, making it quick and painless, and providing excellent results.
If you’re a little leery about the process, here is an article by the American Dental Association that will help explain your options, as well as the process. As with any procedure, the process has pros and cons. For example, there is the possibility that extensive or continued whitening can lead to tooth sensitivity. And, if you continue to drink that red wine every day, your teeth simply won’t stay white.
Whitening at Meza Dental
There are many different ways to whiten your teeth. At Meza Dental we prefer to use the chairside light whitening system. First, your teeth are coated in a whitening solution that includes hydrogen peroxide. It is then subjected to an LED light which helps the peroxide break down faster and speeds up the whitening process.
However, there are cases in which discolored teeth are resistant to the usual whitening process. In this case, many patients turn to veneers to cover up the problem. As I mentioned earlier, modern, high-quality veneers can cover up a laundry list of cosmetic issues.
The Bottom Line on Cosmetic Dentistry
Regardless of the issues that may have you considering cosmetic dentistry, it’s nice to have options. Our smile is often the first thing people notice about us. It lets people know how we feel, it comforts people when they are down, and it sends love to those we care about.
Our smile is a window into our personality, and when we aren’t confident about our smile, it can really slow us down. Here at Meza Dental, we believe no one should be ashamed to smile, and we work hard in cosmetic dentistry to help people restore or reinvent their smiles so that they can let them shine. Advancements in cosmetic dentistry now allow us to design your smile in ways never before possible. (Look for a post about this in the near future!)
If you’ve been considering cosmetic dentistry, we here at Meza would like to help. Our team is always available for questions, and you can even join us for a free consultation call to help determine which process is right for you.
Just drop us a line at https://www.mezadentalcare.com/, where you can sign up for a free consultation. Or call us toll-free from the US and Canada at 1-(877)-337-6392. Our friendly, English-speaking staff are ready and willing to answer any questions that you might have.