Cosmetic dentistry is an enormous industry, mainly fueled by women, a group that represents two thirds of cosmetic dentistry patients. From dental veneers to full dental implants, there are many procedures available to make smiles more aesthetically pleasing. Here, we’ll look at both procedures, reviewing their basic processes and uses.
Dental veneers are thin, custom shells usually made from porcelain that cover the front surface of the teeth. They are used to mask chips and other imperfections and usually last for five to ten years. The process can be quite long, taking one or two weeks. First, a cosmetic dentist takes X rays and makes impressions of the patient’s teeth. Then about a half millimeter of enamel is taken from the surface of thhe tooth in question, compensating for the thickness of the veneer. The dentist then makes an impression of the tooth and sends it to a dental laboratory where the veneer is constructed. The veneers are usually received after one or two weeks. When the patient returns to the office, the veneer is temporarily placed for fit and color examination. The dentist may make a few adjustments before cleaning polishing, and etching the tooth. Then, a special cement is applied to the veneer which is bonded to the patient’s tooth. Once it’s in position, the dentist applies a special light beam to the veneer, activating chemicals which cause the cement to harden very quickly.
Most patients interested in dental implants are referred to a dental implant center where professionals specialize in full and mini dental implants. Implants are designed for patients without teeth, though some individuals with very damaged teeth opt to have their existing teeth pulled and replaced with implants. Basically, the process involves implantation of small fixtures into the gums that hold full, permanent tooth replacements that look, feel, and work like natural teeth. Mini dental implants are simply particularly small fixtures used to place only one tooth at a time.
The first step patients undergo at a dental implant center is formulation of a treatment plan. This plan addresses specific needs of the individual patient. Next, the tooth root implant, a small titanium post, is placed into the bone socket of the missing tooth. Over the course of the next six to 12 weeks, the jawbone heals, growing around the implanted post and anchoring it into the jaw. Once the implant is bonded to the jawbone, the patient returns to the dental implant center and a small connector post is attached to hold the new tooth. The dentist makes impressions of the patient’s teeth and creates a model of his or her bite upon which the replacement tooth, called a crown, is based. This crown is attached to the abutment. Dental implants have a 98% success rate as long as they are properly cared for.
Both of these procedures are rather extreme and are sometimes not covered by insurance. Still, they can make a huge difference for a person’s self esteem and are considered worth the cost by many. Ask your dentist for referral to a dental implant center or veneer specialist if you’re interested in improving your smile. More on this topic.