Cosmetic dentistry, other procedures
Cosmetic dentistry is generally used to refer to any dental work that improves the appearance (though not necessarily the function) of a person's teeth, gums and/or bite.
Cosmetic dentistry is not considered a separate speciality ; it includes techniques and procedures from other dental specialities that aim to improve the appearance of dental arches.
Dental bonding is a procedure in which a dentist applies a tooth-colored resin material (normally, a dental composite resin) and cures it with visible, blue light.
This ultimately "bonds" the material to the tooth and improves the overall appearance of teeth.
Bonding requires minimum to no tooth preparation. The composite material is applied to the tooth's surface, shaped to match the surrounding teeth, hardened and then polished.
Most often, bonding is used for cosmetic purposes :
- to improve the appearance of a discolored or chipped tooth
- to close spaces between teeth
- to make teeth look longer
- to change the shape or color of teeth
- bonding can be used as a cosmetic alternative to amalgam fillings
- to protect a portion of the tooth's root that has been exposed when gums recede
bonding can be used
to close spaces between teeth
bonding is used
to improve the appearance of a chipped tooth
Generally, no preparation (or minimum preparation) of the tooth is needed for bonding unless the bonding is being used to fill a decayed tooth.
The dentist will use a shade guide to select the composite resin color that will match the color of the tooth most closely.
The surface of the tooth is etched with a specific gel (normally, phosphoric acid, for 20-30 sec) to roughen it. The acid is then rinsed with water.
The tooth is coated with a bonding agent, which helps the composite material adhere.
When the tooth is prepared, the dentist applies the tooth-colored, putty-like resin. The resin is modelled and smoothed until the proper shape is reached.
The material is hardened with a hand held curing light.
After the bonding material hardens, the dentist can further trim and shape it. At the end, he will polish the material until the final gloss is achieved.
Care and risks
The composite resin used in bonding isn't nearly as strong as a natural tooth. Biting on hard pieces of food can chip the material.
Bonding usually lasts several years before it needs to be repaired. How long it actually lasts depends on how much bonding was done ; the care measures are very important as well.
Tooth reshaping, also called dental contouring, is a cosmetic dentistry technique that removes small amounts of tooth enamel to improve the appearance of the tooth.
Tooth reshaping is often combined with bonding and sometimes with more extensive cosmetic dentistry procedures, such as veneers, teeth whitening or crown lengthening.
Teeth reshaping is best for people who just need tiny adjustments to improve the look of their teeth.
Teeth reshaping may be used to correct a small chip, or to alter the length, shape or position of teeth or it can be used to correct crooked or excessively long teeth.
Because only surface enamel is removed, no anesthesia is normally required. Tooth reshaping is performed using dental instruments (such as precision burs) and abrasion techniques.
A sanding instrument can be used to eliminate or minimize imperfections on the surface of the teeth, and interdental strips may be used to contour the sides of the teeth. Finally, the teeth are smoothed and polished.
This procedure offers fast results and can even be a substitute for braces under certain circumstances.
Gum lift, sometimes known as crown-lengthening, is a cosmetic dental procedure that raises (or lowers) and sculpts the gum line.
This procedure involves reshaping the tissue and/or underlying bone to create the appearance of symmetrical teeth, thereby making the smile more aesthetically pleasing.
Gums can be reshaped for numerous reasons :
- when gums have not receded after the permanent teeth erupt
- when lips allow a lot of gum to show when a person smile
- when a person is not happy with the appearance ; it is more visually appealing to have even (or symmetrical) gums
To begin, dentists administer a local anesthesia. Then, they cut and reshape the gum line to make it more even and visually appealing. The gums can be lowered or raised, depending on the need.
The use of lasers can seal off blood vessels and increase the accuracy. It is very important not to remove too much of the gum, as this can expose areas of the tooth that are supposed to be below the gum line.
Gum lift can be combined with other cosmetic procedures, such as veneers or teeth whitening.
Last review and update: November 2020