Compared to fillings which just cover a small portion of a tooth,
a crown (or cap) encases the entire visible portion of a tooth. In effect, the
crown acts as the tooth's new outer surface. A dental crown is used when a tooth
is broken or decayed to such an extent that fillings aren't able to repair the
problem. The crown is able to provide a protective shell around the damaged or
decayed tooth to strengthen it, as well as to improve the appearance of the
tooth. They can also help restore a tooth to its original shape and are used
commonly for teeth that have fractures. While crowns come in different
materials, the most common crowns typically have some mixture of porcelain in
them to give them a look and feel similar to a natural tooth.
The first visit to your dentist involves reshaping the tooth and taking
impressions to create the crown. Typically a portion of your tooth will have to
be removed for the crown to fit properly. After the dentist reshapes your tooth,
a special material is used to create an impression of it. This impression
will be sent to a dental laboratory to be made into a permanent crown. Before
sending you home, the dentist will provide you with a temporary crown to cover
your tooth in between visits.
When you return to you dentist, he will
have received the permanent crown from the laboratory. He will remove the
temporary crown and fit the new permanent one. Before cementing the permanent
crown in place, he will ensure that it fits comfortably and matches the color of
When treating a cavity, the dentist will remove the decayed portion of your tooth and fill it with another substance. This procedure is called a filling. There are multiple options for the material to be used in the filling, the most common of which are composite fillings and amalgam fillings.
Amalgam fillings, also known as silver-colored fillings, are made
from a combination of metals such as tin, copper, silver and mercury. This
combination of metals gives amalgam its renowned strength and durability. These
fillings usually last between 10 - 15 years. Because of its strength, these fillings
are particularly useful for use on the molars in the back of the mouth, where
the most chewing occurs. Its silver color is also less visible when placed on
molars in the back of the mouth. As an added benefit, amalgam fillings are
typically more cost effective than composite “white” fillings.
procedure is done by first removing the decayed portion of the tooth. Once that
is complete, the tooth is shaped in a specific way to accept the filling. The
amalgam is then placed into the tooth. A band maybe placed around your tooth
during the process to help the amalgam condense. The filling is then adjusted
and polished to fit your bite for maximum comfort.
After you’ve had your
tooth filled with amalgam, you may experience a temporary period of heightened
hot and cold tooth sensitivity. Additionally amalgam fillings do not harden
instantaneously, and it’s advisable to avoid chewing in that area for a few
A composite filling is also known as a tooth colored filling, since the material
used in the filling can be closely matched to the color of your teeth.
Composite fillings provide good durability for small to medium cavities, and
the procedure typically involves removing less of a tooth than you would during
an amalgam filling. They are also particularly well suited for treating front
or highly visible teeth because of their natural look.
can be used to treat decayed teeth and also to repair some chipped or broken
After the dentist numbs the area where the filling is to be
placed, decayed portions of teeth are removed. A substance is then applied to help
open up the pores of your teeth for a stronger bond, and hardened and cured with
a special light. Once this is complete, the filling is applied in thin layers
to slowly form the complete filling. After the composite has hardened, the
filling will be smoothed and polished to be comfortable and fit your bite.
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Our teeth can discolor through the years as may stain them from foods and beverages. They may also be naturally discolored and show their underlying colors as the enamel wears down. The wearing down of enamel allows dentin, a yellowish-color structure that
makes the core of our teeth, to show through. This is what gives our teeth a
yellowish tint. Teeth whitening helps restore teeth to a shiny white color
through the use of peroxide gels.
There are two
popular teeth whitening options available through your dentist. The first,
in-office teeth whitening, produces a significant color change in your teeth in
a short amount of time, usually within an hour. The procedure is done at the
dentist's office by applying a high-concentration peroxide gel on the teeth
after the gums and tissue have been protected. A powerful blue light is shined on the teeth to activate the gel.
The second method,
involves the use of take home whitening kits. These whitening kits are purchased
from your doctor for use at home. The strength of the gel used in these kits is
lower than that used for in-office bleaching, and thus the gel can be applied
for longer periods of time. Usually the trays are worn a couple hours a day or
overnight for a few days or weeks depending on the product.
It's best to
consult your dentist to understand which whitening option is best for
Veneers, Bonding and Ceramic Crowns
Dental Bonding is a restoration procedure in which a tooth-colored moldable resin is bonded to a tooth and hardened with a powerful blue curing light. Bonding is faster and cheaper than veneers or crowns, and can thus be a good option to make small cosmetic improvements to your teeth. Unlike veneers and crowns, bonding can be done within one office visit since nothing has to be custom made by a dental laboratory. Additionally, the procedure typically requires removing less tooth enamel compared to veneers and crowns. However, since bonding typically doesn’t last as long and is less resistant to stains, it is used more often for small cosmetic touchups rather than major restorations.
The bonding procedure typically requires between 30 to 60 minutes to complete for each tooth. First the dentist determines what color shade your teeth are to select a resin that will blend in naturally. Once this is done, the dentist will prepare the tooth so that the bonding material will adhere strongly. This involves roughening the surface of the affected tooth and applying a strong adhesive. Once this is complete, the dentist will apply the resin to the tooth and harden it in place using the curing light. Finally, the dentist will apply the finishing touches by shaping and polishing the resin for a good fit.
Dental veneers are thin custom made facings that cover the front surface of your tooth to improve their appearance. They are made of tooth colored materials and can be used to improve the color of teeth that have been worn down or stained. Alternatively, they can be used to improve the shape or size of the tooth.
There are two types of veneers that are commonly used. Porcelain veneers are more durable, and resist stains better. The properties of the material also helps to create a very natural tooth look. Unlike porcelain veneers, composite resin veneers are not made in a laboratory, but instead directly applied to the teeth. They typically have a shorter life span, and are less expensive.
You talk to you dentist about dental veneers if
- Your teeth are stained or discolored teeth
- Your teeth are crooked or misshaped teeth
- Your teeth have spaces between them
- Your teeth are broken or chipped
Two visits to your dentist are typically required for porcelain veneers. At the first visit, three important steps are completed. First, the tooth is prepared to be fitted with veneer, which will involve trimming a portion of the tooth so the veneer can be bonded on top. Second, an impression is taken of your tooth which will be sent to a laboratory to prepare the veneer. Finally, you may receive a temporary veneer depending on how much of your tooth structure was removed. This temporary veneer will protect your tooth while the permanent veneer is prepared at the laboratory.
At the second visit, the temporary veneer, if you received one, will be removed. Then, the new veneer received from the laboratory will be checked to see if it fits well. It's best not to adjust porcelain veneers after they are bonded to your teeth, so any adjustments will be made beforehand. Once you and the dentist are satisfied with the look and feel of the veneer, it will be bonded to your tooth.