Today’s dentists may spend most of their working hours performing preventative maintenance on their patient’s mouths, such as digital X-rays and cancer screens, or performing restorative treatments. These form the foundation of a traditional dental practice, but do you know that cosmetic dental services are now among the most requested services provided at your local dentist? While some dentists may specialise in cosmetic dentistry, thanks to demand and ongoing training, many of the more common cosmetic dentistry services are now routinely offered by general dentists.
What is Cosmetic Dentistry?
Cosmetic dentistry typically involves procedures or techniques in dentistry that aim to improve the aesthetic (the look) of the teeth themselves. While cavity filling is an essential part of traditional dentistry, it is hard to make the argument that the filling improves the look of the tooth or teeth. While filling a cavity serves a necessary function, to restore comfort to the tooth and to stop the progression of decay, it is not aimed at making the tooth look better.
Tooth whitening, however, can be categorized as a cosmetic service since discolouration of the teeth does not necessary impact their form, function or health.
There are some grey areas where cosmetic dentistry is concerned, however. For instance, a root canal may not serve to improve a tooth’s appearance, necessarily, but it is necessary to prevent the tooth from needing to be extracted due to a risk of infection spreading. What happens after the root canal is really where we see the potential for cosmetic dentistry to play a role in the restoration of a tooth.
Root Canals and Crowns
A root canal can be necessary where there has been trauma to the teeth which result in diseased tissue inside of the tooth’s hard exterior. Inside the tooth is a tooth’s dentin which forms the inside of the tooth and root system. When decay progresses into the dentin of a tooth, the result can be painful. If the decay proceeds beyond the dentin, trouble can start. Inside the inner channel of the tooth is nerve tissue that has blood supply. Bacteria from decay can enter this chamber and cause the inside of the tooth to become infected. Since this chamber is connected to the rest of the body by means of its blood supply, the risk of an infection spreading is not one that your dentist is willing to take. This may mean having a root canal to save the tooth from needing to be extracted from the jaw.
The root canal removes the diseased tissue from within the inner chamber of the tooth and eliminates the risk of infection spreading. (It also has the tremendous benefit of eliminating pain associated with the infection, since there is no nerve tissue to send a pain signal). Once root canal therapy has been performed, your dentist must decide whether a crown is necessary to seal the tooth, or whether a filling will suffice.
In many cases, accessing the inside of the tooth requires removing so much of the outer tooth that a filling may not be able to support it, leaving it at risk for fracture or breakage. In these cases, your dentist will suggest the placement of a crown over the tooth. A crown fits over the outside area of your tooth and meets the gum tissue at the gum line. The benefits of a crown are numerous, with both cosmetic and functional considerations. First, the crown will look more like a natural tooth than it would if it was simply filled with amalgam. The crown takes the form and colour of your natural tooth, ensuring that it blends seamlessly with its neighbours along the dental arch. Since crowns are made of composite material, they will not be susceptible to decay and will distribute forces more naturally over the tooth’s surface making it much sturdier than a filling.
In the event that a patient has lost a tooth or has had to have one of their teeth extracted, bridges are often recommended to fill the gap where the tooth used to be. Bridges are artificial teeth anchored to one or more of the adjacent teeth to either side. There are four types of bridges including: traditional, cantilever, maryland and implant-supported. Your dentist will be able to recommend the best option for your needs. Like crowns, these bridges are made of composite material that provides a natural appearance that no one is likely to know isn’t real if you don’t tell them.
While crowns surround the entirety of the surface of your natural teeth, veneers provide an alternative to crowns that improves the appearance of a tooth without needing to prepare the entire surface of the tooth. Veneers are typically used to improve the appearance of our ‘smile’, as in, those teeth toward the front of our mouth that are visible when we smile. Veneers are made to precisely match your natural tooth’s colour and is placed on the presentation side of your tooth. Your tooth will be etched to ensure that the veneer achieves a proper bond to your tooth.
For more information about these and other services provided by our general dentists, please contact Viva Dental Wellness for an appointment today!