Cavities and small fractures leave many teeth with defects that progress over time if untreated. In the past, metal restorations served a need but left many teeth discolored and strained from the wedging effect of the metal. Today, tooth-colored composites blending into tooth structure provide an excellent option for restoring defects. Composites can often be placed in thinner layers than metal, preserving more of the natural tooth.
Smile designing is a dental procedure which artistically creates straighter, whiter and beautiful natural looking smiles. Smile designs can do wonders to fully restore your dental health and appearance regardless of the original state of your existing teeth.
Veneer is a thin layer of porcelain made to fit over the front surface of a tooth, like a false fingernail fits over a nail. Sometimes a natural-colour ‘composite' material is used instead of porcelain. Veneers can improve the colour, shape and position of your teeth. A precise shade of porcelain can be chosen to give the right colour to improve a single discoloured tooth or to lighten your front teeth. A veneer can make a chipped tooth look whole again. The porcelain covers the whole of the front of the tooth, with a thicker section replacing the broken part. Veneers can also be used to close small gaps, when orthodontics (braces) are not suitable. If one tooth is slightly out of position, a veneer can sometimes be fitted to bring it into line with the others.
Tooth gems are crystals of glass mounted on a thin foil of aluminium to create the attractive spark available in different colours’. Gems are clear and sapphire ,white and blue crystals, available in so many other colours too. It takes about 4 minutes to safely affix the jewel.
Tooth whitening can be a very effective way of lightening the natural colour of your teeth without removing any of the tooth surface. It cannot make a complete colour change, but it may lighten the existing shade. Professional bleaching is the most usual method of tooth whitening. Your dental team will be able to tell you if you are suitable for the treatment, and will supervise it if you are. First the dental team will put a rubber shield or a gel on your gums to protect them. They will then apply the whitening product to your teeth, using a specially made tray which fits into your mouth like a mouthguard. The ‘active ingredient' in the product is usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. As the active ingredient is broken down, oxygen gets into the enamel on the teeth and the tooth colour is made lighter.
The total treatment can usually be done within three to four weeks. First, you will need two or three visits to the dentist. Your dental team will need to make a mouthguard and will take impressions for this at the first appointment. Once your dental team has started the treatment, you will need to continue the treatment at home. This means regularly applying the whitening product over two to four weeks, for 30 minutes to one hour at a time.
Removal of the infected or inflamed pulp is the first step in saving the tooth. Under local anesthetic, an opening is made in the crown of the tooth to get access to the infected or inflamed pulp within. Using small, specially designed hard or rotary files, the root canals are cleaned and shaped to a form that can be sealed. Debris with the canal is removed by flushing with an anti-bacterial solution.
The canals are finally filled or sealed with an inert material called gutta-percha. The tooth should be restored to full shape and function by either a permanent filling or a crown, depending on how much of the tooth is left. This should be done as soon as possible as there could be a risk of tooth fracture due to biting forces. Root canal treatment may be done in single or multiple visits depending on tooth complexity. In between treatment appointments, medicament may be placed within the canals and the tooth is covered with a temporary filling. Try to avoid chewing or biting on the tooth being treated until you have it permanently restored with with either a filling or a crown. Excessive pressure at this stage may crack or fracture the tooth. Therefore, it is very important to restore the tooth properly as soon as possible. Most endodontically-treated teeth last as long as natural teeth following permanent restoration. Practise good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing at all times as root-filled teeth are as prone to decay as natural teeth. It is also important to have your treated tooth reviewed regularly by your dentist.