Dental bonding can improve the appearance of teeth, especially teeth that have stains which can’t be removed by bleaching. During the procedure, a composite plastic resin is applied to the front surface of the teeth. Dental bonding can also be used to change the shape of teeth including adding length to short teeth.

How is the Procedure Performed?

The dentist first “roughs up” the enamel (removes the shine of the enamel) of the tooth using phosphoric acid so that the composite resin will adhere to the tooth. Then, he applies the resin to the tooth and exposes it to a high intensity light which hardens the resin and seals up the “roughed up” enamel. After bonding the resin to the tooth, the dentist polishes and contours the tooth. The procedure usually doesn’t require the use of an anesthetic.

VENEERS

What are Veneers?

Veneers are ultra-thin shells of ceramic or resin material that are bonded to the fronts or backs of the teeth, much in the same way that artificial fingernails are attached to the fingers. The only requirement is that the teeth be structurally sound.

Veneers are used to correct cosmetic defects on teeth or to correct the bite (the way the teeth come together). Cosmetic imperfections that can be corrected with veneers include teeth that are slightly crooked or stained. There may be gaps or chips or the teeth may be uneven. In the past, the only way to correct these or other imperfections was to cover the tooth with a crown.

BLEACHING (TEETH WHITENING)

How can you brighten your smile?

Your wedding is coming up and you want your smile to be its brightest. Or maybe you have an important speaking engagement. Whatever the reason, tooth bleaching isn’t just for the movie stars, and it isn’t just for one day. Many people have had their teeth bleached, and probably millions more are thinking about it. The desire for a brighter smile with whiter teeth is very strong, and tooth bleaching safely lightens the color of the teeth, lasting for up to five years. The most effective and safest method of tooth bleaching is dentist-supervised.

How does bleaching work?

First, the dentist will determine whether you are a candidate for tooth bleaching and what type of bleaching system would provide the best results.

If you’re in a hurry for whiter teeth, you may decide to have your teeth lightened immediately. Your dentist will use an in-office bleaching system while you sit in the dental chair. However, most patients choose dentist-supervised at-home bleaching, which is more economical and provides the same results.

At the next appointment if you don’t choose an in-office bleaching system the dentist or hygienist will make impressions of your teeth to fabricate a mouth-guard appliance for you. The mouth-guard is custom made for your mouth and is lightweight so that it can be worn comfortably while you are awake or sleeping. The mouth-guard is so thin that you should even be able to talk and work while wearing your mouth-guard. Along with the mouth-guard, you’ll receive the bleaching materials. You’ll be given instructions on how to wear the mouth-guard.

Some bleaching systems recommend bleaching your teeth from two to four hours a day. Generally this type of system requires three to six weeks to complete, and works best on patients with sensitive teeth. Other systems recommend bleaching at night while you sleep. This type of system usually requires only 10-14 days to complete.

How long does it last?

Lightness should last from one to five years, depending on your personal habits such as smoking and drinking coffee and tea. At this point you may choose to get a touch up. This procedure may not be as costly because you can probably still use the same mouth-guard. The re-treatment time also is much shorter than the original treatment time.

Is Bleaching right for me?

Generally, bleaching is successful in at least 90 percent of patients, though it may not be an option for everyone. Consider tooth bleaching if your teeth are darkened from age, coffee, tea or smoking. Teeth darkened with the color of yellow, brown or orange respond better to lightening. Other types of gray stains caused by fluorosis, smoking or tetracycline are lightened, but results are not as dramatic. If you have very sensitive teeth, periodontal disease, a lot of decay, or teeth with worn enamel, your dentist may discourage bleaching.

COMPOSITE RESINS

What is a composite resin (white filling)?

A composite resin is a tooth-colored plastic mixture filled with glass (silicon dioxide). Introduced in the 1960s, dental composites were confined to the front teeth because they were not strong enough to withstand the pressure and wear generated by the back teeth. Since then, composites have been significantly improved and can be successfully placed in the back teeth as well. Composites are not only used for restoring decay, but are also used for cosmetic improvements of the smile by changing the color of the teeth or reshaping disfigured teeth.

How is a composite placed?

Following preparation, the dentist places the composite in layers, using a light specialized to harden each layer. When the process is finished, the dentist will shape the composite to fit the tooth. The dentist then polishes the composite to prevent staining and early wear.

How long does it take to place a composite?

It takes the dentist about 10-20 minutes longer to place a composite than a silver filling. Placement time depends on the size and location of the cavity. The larger the size, the longer it will take.

What is the cost?

Prices vary, but composites average about one-and-a-half to two times the price of a silver filling. Most dental insurance plans cover the cost of the composite up to the price of a silver filling, with the patient paying the difference. As composites continue to improve, insurance companies are more likely to improve their coverage of composites.

What are the advantages of composites?

Esthetics are the main advantage, since dentists can blend shades to create a color nearly identical to that of the actual tooth. Composites bond to the tooth to support the remaining tooth structure, which helps to prevent breakage and insulate the tooth from excessive temperature changes.

What are the disadvantages?

After receiving a composite, a patient may experience post-operative sensitivity. Also, the shade of the composite can change slightly if the patient drinks tea, coffee or other staining foods. The dentist can put a clear plastic coating over the composite to prevent the color from changing if a patient is particularly concerned about tooth color. Composites tend to wear out sooner than silver fillings in larger cavities, although they hold up as well in small cavities.

How long will a composite last?

Studies have shown that composites last 7-10 years, which is comparable to silver fillings except in very large restorations, where silver fillings last longer than composites.

INLAYS & ONLAYS

What are Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays and onlays can be used in the place of a filling. Unlike soft fillings, which are molded into the shape of the mouth, inlays and onlays are made in a dental laboratory and then glued to the tooth by your dentist.

An inlay sits in a hole in the tooth and an onlay sits on the tooth. They can be made tooth-colored, gold or composite. Different materials are suitable for different parts of the mouth and parts of the teeth.

You will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area and any old fillings or damaged bits of tooth will be removed.

A mold is taken of the tooth to be repaired which will guide the dental technician who is making the inlay or onlay.

A temporary filling will protect the tooth being repaired before you return to the surgery to have the inlay or onlay glued into position. Your dentist may make minor adjustments to ensure that the tooth is comfortable to bite on.

Inlays and onlays are very strong, often lasting longer than a “traditional” filling and are useful for back teeth and large repairs for front teeth where it can be difficult to make a white filling look natural.

To ensure the inlay or onlay looks natural, your dentist will be able to match the color to that of your “natural” teeth.

Dr. Vaziri and Leading Edge Dental in Leesburg, Fl would like to discuss treatment questions you may have.