Are you self-conscious about your smile? A healthy smile contributes more than just beauty; it is a vital component of good overall health. Every day dental patients ask us about options for improving the health and appearance of their smile. The great news is that dental procedures and especially cosmetic dental procedures have improved dramatically over the last 10 to 15 years. As a result, there’s an array of affordable options that are no longer a luxury limited to Hollywood celebrities. There are a wide range of choices available for improving the health and appearance of your smile. At McCarl Dental Group, we can help you determine which dental procedures are best for your needs.
If you’ve thought about improving your smile, this guide can help you learn about the latest techniques in dentistry and cosmetic dental procedures.
Composite White Fillings
A dental filling repairs a hole or cavity in a tooth caused by tooth decay. Dental fillings are still the most common dental procedure performed in dentistry today. Composite resin fillings are tooth colored and are adhesively bonded to the walls of the teeth. This allows the dentist to remove less tooth structure than metal fillings that do not adhere to the teeth. Metal fillings made of metallic amalgam are anchored in a tooth by drilling an undercut beneath the surface of the cavity for retention of the filling. Metal fillings darken teeth and are very noticeable when you smile. Most people consider metal fillings unattractive. The dentists at McCarl Dental Group have not used amalgam fillings for more than 15 years. Today’s composite fillings come in natural white shades that blend with the color of your teeth and are not noticeable when you talk, smile or laugh.
Teeth Whitening or Bleaching
Professional whitening gel often reduces or eliminates tooth stains and discoloration that occurs over time. Our McCarl Dental patients have great success with the Zoom custom take home whitening tray system. The results can be achieved quickly and you can enjoy whiter teeth for a long time.
A dental veneer is a thin layer of porcelain applied to the face of a tooth. Veneers allow dentists to change the color size and shape of teeth for a more aesthetic smile. Porcelain veneers are an excellent option for people with tooth discoloration or heavy stains that do not lighten with professional tooth whitening. Dental veneers are custom made; the thickness of the veneer and the amount of tooth reduction necessary varies with each patient’s specific needs.
A crown is used to cover or “cap” a damaged tooth starting at the gum line. In addition to strengthening the damaged tooth, a crown can be used to improve the tooth’s appearance, shape or alignment. In the past, porcelain crowns were fused to metal and were less natural looking. Today, all-porcelain crowns are more durable, comfortable and much more attractive.
Dental Bonding is the application of white tooth colored filling material to the surface of a tooth. Bonding is similar to veneers in that it allows the dentist to change the shape size and color of a tooth. Bonding is typically less expensive than porcelain veneers but does not last as long and has aesthetic limitations.
Invisalign orthodontics is a simple and convenient way to straighten your teeth. Clear, thin Invisalign trays straighten teeth and correct your bite. Unlike metal braces, almost no one else can tell you are wearing Invisalign. Straightening crooked teeth with Invisalign orthodontics is more comfortable, more convenient, less expensive and usually faster than metal braces. For most adults, treatment time is just under one year. Overall gum and bone health are improved when teeth are properly aligned and fit together with an ideal bite. Straight teeth are not only important for a beautiful smile – they contribute to a healthy smile!
Dental implants are an excellent example of the benefits of new dental technology and are often an ideal solution for replacing missing teeth. A dental implant serves as a tooth root and anchors a replacement tooth, bridge or denture to your jaw. When dental implants are restored with porcelain crowns, they look and feel like natural teeth. One of the most common uses of mini dental implants is stabilization of dentures. Anchoring a denture with one or more dental implants resolves problems commonly associated with dentures, including concern and discomfort from loose and poorly fitting dentures. The dentists at McCarl Dental Group are certified in dental implant placement and restorative techniques for both traditional and minimally invasive dental implants.
Dental Bridge (Fixed Partial Denture)
A dental bridge is also called a fixed partial denture and may be recommended if you’re missing one or more teeth. A fixed partial denture can be placed at the location of a missing tooth and is connected by crowning adjacent teeth. Bridges are sometimes better alternatives to removable partial dentures for comfort as well as aesthetic appeal. When there are gaps left by missing teeth, the remaining teeth eventually rotate or shift into the empty spaces. The imbalance caused by missing teeth can also lead to periodontal disease, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, and ultimately, loss of additional teeth.
Tooth reshaping or dental contouring can be used to correct crooked teeth, chipped teeth, cracked teeth or even overlapping teeth. Contouring can also help adjust the length, shape or position of your teeth. The procedure creates very subtle changes with minimal or no discomfort.
Cosmetic Gum Surgery
The amount of visible gum tissue can be altered to improve the appearance of your smile. Sometimes gums recede with age or as a result of gum or periodontal disease. Gum recession can create the appearance of unnaturally long teeth. Gingival grafts can add gum tissue to reduce that “long in the tooth” look. Conversely, a gingivectomy
reduces excessive gum tissue revealing more of the tooth creating a less “gummy” smile. Gum contouring is also used to create a symmetrical or even gum line.
It is important to note that gum recession and shrinkage may also be a sign of periodontal disease which has very serious consequences for your dental and overall health. Your dentist and dental hygienist will evaluate the health of your gums at your routine dental cleaning and check-ups every six months, or more often if indicated.