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Your local dentists have countless methods for bringing you the smile of your dreams, but what do they really mean? What do they entail? Here we’ll go over the strengths, weaknesses, and purposes of the many different procedures offered by your local dentists!
Dental Bonding is a form of filling that is far more popular and less obtrusive than the traditional silver or gold fillings that have been used since the 19th century. Bonding is used for a variety of dental problems due to its painless installation and ease of use. Some of the many applications of bonding include covering stained or discolored sections of teeth, fixing of cracks or gaps, or even the filling of cavities. Bonding is not an amalgam method that contains mercury but is a composite gel that is applied to the tooth in the form of a resin and shaped before being cured using ultraviolet light, and then smoothed using a fine-grit dental polish to provide a seamless finish leaving no traces of having been filled. As such bonding is a wonderful technique to use for minor tooth and gap repair.
Dental bridges are a much newer innovation than that of bonding having been first introduced in the mid 20th century, taking the place of many partial dentures and false teeth. A bridge is a tool used to replace missing teeth by installing a new one that is anchored in place by placing crowns on the two adjacent teeth. Bridges today are installed in a two-step process, where they first take a mold of the area surrounding the missing tooth and install a temporary bridge to increase visual appeal immediately and limit the movement of teeth while the permanent bridge is carefully created to fit flawlessly in the gap created by the missing tooth. Permanent dental bridges are made from gold, metal alloys, or porcelain to prevent any negative health effects and to maintain integrity for years to come. Bridging lasts typically for over 10 years.
Dental crowns are used as methods of repair for teeth more heavily weakened teeth that may be experiencing decay, cracks, discoloration, and a variety of other problems that plague more brittle teeth. Crowns are typically made of porcelain, metal fused porcelain, or gold. Porcelain crowns are recommended in that they are durable and retain the natural appearance of the tooth. The crown installation process requires 2-3 visits to your dentist. The first visit typically consists of shaving down the tooth to prepare it for your permanent crown, and then an installation of a temporary crown. The second or third visits entail the removal of the temporary crown and the placement of the permanent crown. Crowns take 2-3 weeks to make, but will last 10-15 years!
Crown lengthening is a very specialized process where some bone and gum material is removed from around the base of the tooth. This is done most commonly for repairs of heavily decayed teeth to reveal sufficient strong tooth material to build a secure crown. However, the crown lengthening process is also used to fix “gummy” smiles. Most often a “gummy” smile has just as much tooth as anyone else, they just have a build-up of excess gum material covering more than the desired amount of tooth. Crown lengthening can also reshape the gum line to make a more desirable smile.
The dental implant process is a much newer technique for filling holes created by missing teeth. When compared with the bridging option the dental implant is often preferred because it doesn’t require the damaging of the surrounding teeth, and it feels just like one of your teeth! Dental implants take 3-6 months to fully complete the process. First, there is an incision placed in the gum and screw put in the jaw to prepare for the implant. The second step is to allow the jaw to heal around the screw, sometimes taking over 3 months to complete. During that time a temporary crown is placed over the implant to allow for normal eating and communication. After the healing process is completed the base of your new tooth, called an abutment, is placed on your implant and used to build up your new tooth. When the process is finished in its entirety the new tooth looks and feels just like it was always there.
The options for dentures are numerous! Traditionally the standard option for dentures is the conventional full dentures, where all of your teeth are removed, and the tissues are given time to re-heal before new dentures are placed in, leaving the patient without teeth sometimes for up to a couple months. Another option available today is called immediate dentures, these dentures are placed in the patient’s mouth immediately after the removal of their teeth leaving you with no time without teeth, but also require a follow-up visit to reshape your dentures as your jaw heals. If not all the teeth need removed partial dentures would be an option. These are very similar to bridges but are not mounted permanently in the mouth allowing for removal as needed.
Tooth extractions are fairly self-explanatory, these are performed when a troublesome tooth is in need of being removed, whether it be wisdom teeth, impacted teeth, or any other problem causing teeth. The gum tissue surrounding the problem tooth is cut until the tooth is revealed and then the tooth is wriggled back and forth until it comes out. In some cases the teeth are in so tight they require being broken and removed piece by piece. Understandably, this can be rough on one’s mouth and certainly requires rest and recuperation, often limiting one’s food intake to soft foods for a few days post-surgery. Fortunately, the wisdom tooth extraction procedure is fairly simple and straightforward, with minimal recovery time.
Root Canals are probably the most feared and least understood dental procedure. A root canal is necessary when the nerves at the bottom of the tooth become infected. If left the infected tooth can create an abscess seriously damaging the jaw bone and surrounding tissue. To remove the tissue the dentist drills down until the nerve canal is exposed, and then removes the infected tissue, the area is then filled again to prevent future infection and then topped off with a crown. Root canal pain is typically heavily mitigated through the use of anesthetics and prescription drugs post-operation. Root canals are some of the fastest recovering surgeries requiring just a couple of days before all traces of pain are gone.
Teeth Whitening is a simple service to help your smile shine like you know it should. Normal care for your teeth is not enough to prevent the daily staining from certain foods, cigarettes, and coffee. During the teeth whitening process two trays are created specifically for your teeth, you then daily for the course of a few days place the whitening paste in the trays and soak your teeth in them for a short time.
Veneers are similar to bonding but differ slightly in the application. Veneers are a thin ceramic shell placed over your teeth to improve their aesthetic appeal improving the shape and reducing discoloration. The fabrication process for veneers takes around 10-14 days.