Cosmetic dentistry is the art and science of providing a patient with an aesthetic improvement to their teeth. This involves looking at the patient as a whole, assessing their needs and tailoring a solution specifically to them.
To create the perfect smile solution for the patient, a number of different areas of the dental speciality need to be utilised including:
- Orthodontic movement of teeth
- Reshaping and altering existing enamel in the teeth
- Placing veneers on healthy but misshaped or stained teeth
- Crowns and bridges to correct large restorations, poorly shaped and unhealthy teeth or missing teeth
- Implants to replace missing teeth
In a number of following articles we will talk about the different smile solutions we offer to our patients
Do I need veneers?
Ever wondered how some people have the perfect smile? Despite what you may think, not all of those people were born that way. Orthodontics has helped many achieve a straight smile but it can’t change the shape or colour of a tooth. That’s where dental veneers come in.
So what are dental veneers?
Dental veneers are super thin, custom made shells that cover the surface of the tooth. Because they are custom made for each patient, your dentist will work with you to achieve your ideal colour and tooth shape, even filling in gaps in your smile and in some cases, straightening your teeth! There are two main types of dental veneer materials – composite resin and porcelain.
Composite veneers are more affordable than porcelain veneers but they have much shorter life span, generally only lasting between 3-5 years. They are also more prone to chipping and staining during their lifespan. This is in contrast to porcelain veneers which have a life of 12-25 years, are incredibly resistant to chipping and rarely stain. Porcelain also reflects light in a similar way to natural teeth, so the veneer very naturally blends in to your existing smile.
What happens when I choose to get veneers?
After your initial consultation with your dentist, a mould will be taken of your teeth, an example of the final result will be provided to you in wax. This will help both you and the dentist to come up with the perfect cosmetic result for you, making the teeth longer or shorter, wider, more square or rounded.
Once all the planning work has been completed, the teeth will undergo some light but precise preparation, a mould taken and sent off the lab for final veneer creation! If you would like to know if veneers are right for you, book in for a cosmetic consultation today and let us help create your dream smile!
What is the difference between composite and porcelain veneers?
Veneers are small, thin coatings that are placed over the front of anterior teeth in order to reshape, resize and change the colour and appearance of teeth in order to achieve a greater aesthetic result. They are primarily done for cosmetic reasons, correcting short, gappy or discoloured front teeth.
So what is the difference between having the veneer done in composite versus porcelain? Composite is essentially a very fancy plastic material. It is primarily used to fill in holes in teeth where there is plenty supporting tooth structure around the composite material, i.e. small fillings.
When used on the edge of teeth or to cover a whole surface of a tooth like in the case of a veneer, it places excessive stress on the filling and causes it to not last as long. Porcelain on the other hand is super strong, with modern dental ceramics they are often stronger than the natural enamel on teeth and as a consequence last a very very long time.
Also because of their strength, they can be made much thinner, saving having to shave down the precious enamel on the teeth. Porcelains can also be made much whiter than composite fillings and can be used to colour match significantly better.
The only down side with porcelain work is that it is considerably more expensive than composite and that the final result takes 2 weeks to achieve as the veneers have to be custom. Both composite and porcelain veneers are a great option for creating a more aesthetically pleasing smile.
Though composite provider a cheaper, quicker result, porcelain provides a better cosmetic result, as well as lasting longer and doing less damage to the underlying tooth structure.
What is enamel and why is it important?
Enamel is the outer layer of tooth, it protects all the underlying structures. Good enamel means good teeth. Enamel cannot be regrown, any damage done to it is permanent! Though enamel is the hardest thing in the body, because of the fact that it cannot repair itself, any damage is cumulative.
That means small amount of damage, every day, can lead to big problems months, years, or decades down the track. We will cover some things that can help you strengthen and preserve your enamel for the years to come in the next posts as well as go over how we make sure we still have teeth for the rest of our lives.
How to strengthen enamel
Tooth enamel is the exterior surface of the tooth that provides protection against decay and damage. Strong enamel is essential for our long term oral care but once it’s gone, it cannot regenerate, so it’s important to maintain and strengthen what we have left. You might be surprised to learn that most causes of weakened enamel are easily avoided! Here are some tips on how to stop further erosion:
1. Minimise Sugar and Starch Intake
Sugar and starch cling to your teeth and provide food for bacteria to grow on. Bacteria in your mouth produce acids that weaken the enamel allow it erode away. This applies to not only food such as cakes, cookies, and chips, but to sugary, acidic drinks as well. If you enjoy your acidic drinks from time to time, it’s best to use a straw to minimise the contact between your teeth and the drink.
2. Brush Your Teeth Properly
Did you know that 25% of adults do not brush their teeth twice a day? Even adults who do brush twice a day often don’t brush long enough or well enough. It’s important to regularly brush your teeth to help clean off the food and plaque that bacteria can feed on. Each surface of each tooth must be brushed to have a proper clean.
If you struggle cleaning your teeth properly, try switching to an electric toothbrush. A good electric toothbrush will provide a much better clean with the same amount of effort used with a manual brush.
Note: Although it is important to brush your teeth properly, brushing hard can also cause damage to the enamel. We recommend using a soft bristle brush if using a manual toothbrush, or if you use an electric toothbrush, gently hold the device without exerting too much pressure. Remember, a hard clean is not a better clean!
3. Floss, Floss, Floss!
Failing to keep floss is probably the one thing most patients are guilty of. Flossing can remove up to 40% of the plaque in your mouth. When you skip flossing, you are essentially not cleaning two surfaces of your teeth and thus providing food for bacteria to grow on. So remember, after you brush, floss!
4. Choose the Right Toothpaste
When our enamel breaks down, it loses calcium and phosphate in a process known as demineralisation. Thankfully there are products on the market that remineralise the enamel known as CPP-ACP toothpaste. If you’ve been to our practice, you may have been recommended to use a CPP-ACP paste called Tooth Mousse.
However products like Tooth Mousse are not replacements for regular toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride also remineralises tooth enamel, but studies have shown that the effect of fluoride on the tooth enamel is increased when used in conjunction with a CPP-ACP toothpaste.