Esthetic and Cosmetic Dentistry
Esthetic dentistry consists of dental work to improve a patient’s smile or repair chipped or broken teeth. This includes teeth whitening, white fillings, porcelain crowns, porcelain veneers and gum surgery. In some cases a full mouth restorations (full mouth reconstructions) are indicated. Esthetic and cosmetic dentistry is not recognized as a dental specialty. The dental specialty with three full years of training in esthetic, implant and restorative dentistry is Prosthodontics. Esthetic dentistry incorporates form, function and dental science to reconstruct teeth and improve the health and beauty of a patient’s natural smile.
Patients with severe dental problems including but not limited to missing teeth (congenital or disease), failing restorations, severely worn teeth, clenching and grinding and/or wanting to improve the health and function of their mouths may be indicated for full mouth reconstruction. As the name implies, full mouth reconstruction involves reconstruction or rebuilding all of the teeth in a patient’s mouth. This treatment may require working with other dental specialist (orthodontist, periodontist and/or oral surgeon) to accomplish the best results.
Dental implants are replacements for missing tooth roots. They are made of metal and are surgically placed in patient’s jaws where teeth are missing. Dental implants support single crowns, bridges, fixed and removable dentures. If a patient is missing a single tooth or multiple teeth, dental implants may be used instead of a bridge to replace the missing teeth. This treatment conserves more of tooth structure. If a patient is missing all of their teeth, they do not require an implant for each missing tooth. With four to eight implants a prosthodontist can replace all of the teeth in one arch with a removable or fixed prosthesis.
Bridges and Partial Dentures
Dental bridges are a conventional way to replace missing teeth. A bridge requires that a strong tooth is present on each side of the missing tooth. The teeth on each side are prepared for a crown and a false tooth is connected to each crown. The bridge is cemented in the mouth and is not removable by the patient. If several teeth are missing and healthy teeth are not available, dental implants can be used to replace multiple missing teeth.
Removable partial dentures are conventional ways to replace multiple missing teeth in a patient’s mouth. The remaining healthy teeth are used to anchor the removable partial denture. Unlike a dental bridge, the missing teeth do not require teeth on either side of the missing tooth. The removable partial denture usually contains a metal framework for rigidity and support and pink acrylic with denture teeth. The number and location of missing teeth will affect the fit and function of a removable partial denture. When made properly, a removable partial denture will provide a safe replacement for missing teeth. Dental implants can improve the fit and stability of a removable partial denture and in some cases metal clasps on the partial denture are not needed.
Complete dentures replace all of a patient’s missing teeth. Complete dentures are removable by the patient and are a conventional way to provide teeth for patients needing all of their teeth replaced. Dental implants can improve the fit and stability of a conventional complete denture.
A crown or cap covers the tooth to restore the shape and function of the tooth. If a tooth is broken or fractured, has a failing large silver or white filling, has a root canal, are misshapen, are discolored and/or are severely worn, then a crown may be indicated. Crowns can be made of all metal, all porcelain (ceramic) or a combination of porcelain (ceramic) fused to metal.