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Dentistry is no longer just a case of filling and taking out teeth. Nowadays many people turn to cosmetic dentistry, or ‘aesthetic dentistry’, as a way of improving their appearance. They do this in the same way they might use cosmetic surgery or even a new hairstyle. The treatments can be used to straighten, lighten, reshape and repair teeth. Cosmetic treatments include veneers, crowns, bridges, tooth-coloured fillings, implants and tooth whitening.

Veneers

Thin slices of porcelain. These are precisely made to fit over the visible surface of your front teeth, like a false fingernail fits over a nail, an ideal way of treating discoloured or unsightly teeth, closing gaps between front teeth, or repairing chips and cracks.

Fillings

Have been made out of a silvery-grey material called ‘amalgam’ for over 150 years. However, many people find it unattractive and some are concerned about possible health risks. White fillings are now a popular alternative to amalgam fillings. The new dental materials mean it is much easier to find a perfect match for the shade of a particular tooth. In most cases, it is quite impossible to see that the tooth even has a filling. Sometimes white filling material can be used to cover unsightly marks on teeth, in a similar way to veneers.

Crowns

are used when a tooth is badly broken or heavily filled and  the dentist may need to crown or ‘cap’ it to restore its appearance and strength. The usual method for fitting a crown involves shaping the tooth under local anaesthetic and then taking an impression using a rubber-like material. The impression is then sent to the laboratory along with the details of the shade to be used, and the technician makes the crown.

While your crown is being made, the prepared tooth can be protected with a temporary crown. This is easily removed just before fitting the permanent one. In most cases, the temporary crown is in place for about two weeks.

Partial Denture

The simplest way to replace missing teeth. If a tooth is missing, or needs taking out, there are several ways to fill the gap that is left. In some cases it is important to try to replace any missing teeth to balance the way your jaw bites. If you have several missing teeth, the remaining teeth are under more pressure. This can lead to broken fillings or even jaw problems. However, some people find dentures uncomfortable and eventually decide to look at alternatives, such as bridges or implants.

Bridges

Ideal for people who don’t like dentures and only have a few teeth missing. Bridges are usually made by putting a crown on the teeth on either side of the gap and attaching a false tooth in the middle. The bridge can’t be removed.

Implants

An alternative to dentures and bridges, but they are more expensive. Implants are titanium rods which are surgically placed into the jawbone and act as anchors for fastening dentures or crowns onto.

Tooth whitening

Can be a highly effective way of lightening the natural colour of your teeth without removing any of the tooth surfaces. It cannot make a complete colour change, but it should lighten the existing shade.

The Power In-Office whitening treatment uses a light shone on the teeth to activate the chemical. The light speeds up the chemical reaction of the whitening product and the shade change can be achieved more quickly. This treatment usually takes about one hour.

The On-going Home whitening treatment provides trays which fits into your mouth like a mouthguard to take home and apply the whitening product to your teeth. 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. This treatment can take around 3 to 4 weeks, depending on how long you keep the trays in your mouth each time, and how much whiter you want your teeth to be.

It is important to remember that only natural teeth will be whitened, and that any crowns, bridges or dentures you have will stay the same shade.

Incorrect bite

When the teeth do not meet together properly or are not in balance with the rest of the face, or if teeth are lost and not replaced. If an incorrect bite is not treated the face can ‘collapse’. This can cause the face to sag, the chin to stick out or the smile to droop. It can even cause headaches, neck pain and pain in other parts of the body.

Teeth can be straightened with orthodontics using braces or invisible braces. This is usually done during the teenage years, when the jaws are going through a period of growth. However, many adults also have treatment to straighten their crooked teeth or to improve their appearance. The treatment can take much longer in adults and is therefore more expensive.

Braces may be clear or plastic, hardly noticeable or ‘invisible’ braces, when the Dentist provides a series of clear plastic shields (like a mouthguard) which need to be worn all day and gradually move your teeth into a new position.

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