Posts for tag: cosmetic dentistry
What is tooth wear?
“Tooth wear” refers to a loss of tooth structure that can make your teeth appear shorter or less even than they used to be. Wear starts with loss of outer covering of the teeth, known as enamel. Although enamel is the hardest structure in the human body — even harder than bone — it can wear away over time. If enough enamel is lost, the softer inner tooth structure known as dentin can become exposed, and dentin wears away much faster.
What causes tooth wear?
Tooth wear can be caused by any of the following:
- Abrasion: This is caused by a rubbing or scraping of the teeth. The most common source of abrasion is brushing too hard or using a toothbrush that is not soft enough. A removable dental appliance, such as a partial dentures or retainer, can also abrade teeth. Abrasion can also result from habits such as nail-biting and pen-chewing.
- Attrition: This is caused by teeth contacting each other. Habits that you might not even be aware of — such as grinding or clenching your teeth — can be quite destructive over time. That’s because they can subject teeth to 10 times the normal forces of biting and chewing.
- Erosion: Acid in your diet can actually erode (dissolve) the enamel on your teeth. Many sodas, sports drinks and so-called energy drinks are highly acidic; so are certain fruit juices. Eating sugary snacks also raises the acidity level in your mouth. If you can’t give up these snacks and drinks entirely, it’s best to confine them to mealtimes so your mouth doesn’t stay acidic throughout the day. Swishing water in your mouth after eating or drinking acidic or sugary substances can also help prevent erosion.
- Abfraction: This refers to the loss of tooth enamel at the “necks” of the teeth (the part right at the gum line). This type of wear is not thoroughly understood, though it is believed to result from excessive biting forces. Abrasion and erosion can contribute to this problem.
How is it treated?
The first step in treating any type of tooth wear is to determine the cause during a simple oral examination right here at the dental office. Once the cause has been identified, we can work together to reduce the stresses on your teeth. For example, you may need a refresher course on gentle, effective brushing techniques; or you might benefit from some changes to your diet. If you have a clenching or grinding habit, we can make you a nightguard that will protect your teeth during sleep or periods of high stress. Once we have dealt with the underlying cause, we can make your teeth look beautiful again by replacing lost tooth structure with bonding, veneers, or crowns. This will also allow your bite to function properly again.
Tooth whitening procedures and products have become increasingly popular over the last two decades. There are two main sources of application: professional procedures performed in a dentist’s office; and over-the-counter products for performing whitening applications at home. While there are pros and cons to both approaches, neither type poses a significant health risk — that is, if you match the correct product to the type of staining you have, and it’s applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Although whitening treatments may differ in formula and strength, almost all use hydrogen peroxide as the bleaching agent, usually contained in carbamide peroxide which splits into hydrogen peroxide and urea upon activation. After many studies, there’s a strong consensus that hydrogen peroxide used at the levels found in whitening products doesn’t cause any harm to the body, including as a precursor to cancer.
But as the 16th Century Swiss physician Paracelsus once noted, “All substances are poisons… The right dose differentiates a poison from a remedy.” This is true of the chemicals that make up whitening products — they’re safe unless they’re overused. Going beyond their directions for use could lead to tooth enamel damage.
Further caution is also in order for teenagers using whitening products. Although they may have their permanent teeth (although younger teens may still have some primary teeth), the enamel layer is still developing and can be more vulnerable to damage from whitening chemicals than for adults.
The best approach for both a professional or home whitening procedure is to first seek consultation from our office. If nothing else, you should at least undergo a dental examination to identify the true cause of your teeth’s staining or discoloration. If the discoloration originates within the tooth, home applications and many professional treatments will not help if they bleach the outer surface only. We can also advise you on the proper application and dosage for a chosen product.
Using the right whitening product and in an appropriate manner will reduce the risk of injury to your teeth and overall health. And, the end result can be a brighter, more vibrant smile.
If you would like more information on tooth whitening, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Tooth Whitening Safety Tips.”
Nothing conveys confidence quite like a bright, white smile. Unfortunately, not all smiles are created equal. And, some smiles are much whiter than others. Whether your teeth have become discolored from food and drink or general wear and tear from aging, you may find yourself looking in the mirror one day wishing that there was a simple way to enhance your smile.
You've probably seen many over-the-counter products that claim to whiten your teeth. However, the strongest and fastest whitening solutions are those that are available in our office. There are many reasons why a professional whitening treatment might be the right solution for you. Here are a few:
- Economical. Whitening is one of the least expensive cosmetic remedies available to improve a faded smile.
- Convenient. Depending upon your time frame, you will be able to choose from whitening at home or in our office. With in-office whitening, we will apply a gel to your teeth and leave it on for about an hour. With take-home whitening, you'll receive custom-made trays that we will ask you to fill with the whitening gel and leave on your teeth 30 minutes a day, twice a week for about six weeks.
- Effective. With professional whitening, your teeth will get anywhere from three to eight shades lighter. It's a noticeable difference that will surely help you regain confidence in your smile.
- Low-Risk. Since whitening is a non-invasive procedure, the side effects are minimal. You may feel a bit of tooth sensitivity or gum irritation following treatment, but if such effects do occur, they will last no more than one to four days.
- Easy to Maintain. Whether you choose in-office or take-home, your whitening treatment will likely last from six months to two years. The good news is that your new white smile will be easy to maintain. By avoiding tobacco and foods containing tannins such as red wine, coffee and tea, you will be able to preserve the brightness of your smile. You should also continue your regular oral care routine of brushing twice a day and flossing daily.
If you would like more information about teeth whitening, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Important Teeth Whitening Questions Answered.”
If your teeth are stained and discolored, misshapen or too small, porcelain veneers may be just the opportunity to treat yourself to a beautiful smile that can last for decades. They may be used to restore a single tooth that is broken or stained, or many teeth that are worn or discolored. If you have small teeth with gaps between them, veneers can close the spaces.
Porcelain laminate veneers are thin layers of dental restorative material that are bonded onto your teeth. With porcelain laminate veneers you can change a tooth's shape, size, and color. They require a minimal amount of tooth preparation (reduction of enamel on the original tooth) and are a great way to help you have a beautiful smile now and for decades to come.
They can last from seven to twenty years or more. Part of what determines their exact longevity is the health of your mouth. Gum tissues may deteriorate and the gum line may shrink back away from the roots of your teeth. So brushing, flossing, and other good dental habits are important in maintaining your investment in your smile.
Veneers don't require special treatment, and you can eat nearly anything with them. Keep in mind one precaution, however. Porcelain, like glass, can break with too much stress. This means that biting something that applies a strong twisting movement to your teeth may cause the veneers to shatter. If you grind your teeth at night you may need to wear a night guard to protect your veneers. It doesn't happen often, but if a veneer detaches it can usually be rebonded to the tooth.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to discuss your questions about porcelain veneers and see if they are right for you to enhance or change your smile. You can also learn more about veneers by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Veneers: How long will your porcelain veneers last?”
Today's cosmetic dentist can bring amazing transformations to their patient's smiles. That's because we now have a versatile array of materials and processes that precisely replicate the appearance of natural teeth.
Two of the most useful are porcelain veneers and crowns. Although different in structure and function, veneers and crowns both utilize a material known as dental porcelain, a ceramic material that can be shaped to resemble an individual patient's natural tooth shape, with the same color, hue saturation and translucence as the original or surrounding teeth.
As the name implies, veneers are a thin layer of dental porcelain that adheres to the outer surface of a tooth, essentially as a replacement for enamel. They solve a number of esthetic issues patients have with their teeth, especially those in front: poor color, shape and contours; broken teeth; poor tooth position; and staining that can't be removed with conventional bleaching. They most often require minimal tooth preparation, as only 1 mm or less of tooth enamel needs to be removed. Occasionally, no tooth reduction is required.
However, they are not a good solution where there is not an adequate amount of tooth structure to work with. In this case, a crown may be the best choice. A crown (or cap) covers the remaining tooth structure completely, reinforcing the remaining tooth structure 360°. This is an excellent choice for patients who have lost a large amount of tooth structure due to decay, trauma or grinding habits that have eroded the enamel.
To determine if you are a true candidate for either of these applications you should undergo a smile analysis in our office. During this process it's even possible to create a diagnostic mock-up — a “trial smile,” if you will — with temporary tooth-colored materials applied to your teeth and then photographed for your review.
The smile analysis helps us recommend the best solution for you and in turn will help you make an informed choice on the right application for you. Although either option may not be feasible in all situations, they may just be the right choice to change your smile for the better.
If you would like more information on how porcelain veneers and crowns can help transform your smile, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Crowns and Veneers.”