Can A Tooth Be Replaced?
You can diligently floss and brush your teeth and still lose a tooth, to gum disease or accident. If this happens, the tooth should be replaced in order to restore your smile, regain your chewing and prevent other teeth from shifting.
There are three main types of artificial teeth and each one is designed for a particular situation. They are dental implants, removable dentures and fixed bridges. This treatment can be provided by your regular dentist or a bridge/implant specialist (Prosthodontist).
A DENTAL IMPLANT is made by surgically placing one or more small metal posts beneath the gum into the jawbone. In a few months, when they are attached to the surrounding bone, they are exposed and have the artificial tooth or teeth attached to them.
A REMOVABLE DENTURE replaces all of the lost teeth in the arch with one appliance. The denture is held in place by clasping some of the remaining teeth - or by suction where none of the natural teeth are left.
A FIXED BRIDGE is a replacement that is cemented to the adjacent teeth and cannot be removed.
What is a Crown/Cap?
A crown or cap is a cover that fits over a properly prepared tooth that has been damaged by decay or accident, or is badly stained or shaped. This treatment can be provided by your regular dentist or a bridge/implant specialist (Prosthodontist).
A crown can be made of acrylic, metal, porcelain, porcelain and metal, or resined metal. All-porcelain crowns look more like your natural teeth, and therefore are usually used for front teeth; while porcelain with metal underlay has more strength and is good for crowns in the back of the mouth. Sometimes all-metal crowns are used for back teeth because of the metal's strength.
HERE'S HOW IT'S DONE: In order to prepare your tooth for a crown, you require a local anaesthetic. Then the tooth is filed down so the cap can fit over it. An impression of your teeth and gums is made and a temporary cap is fitted over the tooth until the permanent crown is made. On your next visit, the dentist will remove the temporary cap and cement the crown onto the tooth. The crown will closely match your natural teeth and give you back your smile.
What is Root Canal Treatment?
Today, with modern dentistry, root canal treatment has become a common form of treatment for diseased (abscessed) teeth. This treatment can be provided by your regular dentist or root canal specialist (Endodontist).
HERE'S HOW IT'S DONE: In healthy teeth, the interior of the tooth is filled with tissue (pulp). Once the tooth is injured, cracked, or decayed, it is necessary to open the tooth and clean out the infected tissue in the centre. This space is then filled and the opening sealed. During the procedure the area around the tooth is frozen. Sometimes difficulties may be encountered during or after root canal treatment. This may require the use of medication or involve further treatment. A crown or cap may be necessary to protect the tooth, once the root canal treatment has been completed.
Teeth that have had root canal treatment can stay as healthy and last as long as other teeth. In most instances, you won't be able to feel or see a difference.
Can I Improve My Smile?
Are you too self conscious to smile because your teeth are chipped, discoloured, or poorly spaced? Cheer up, your dentist may be able to apply a porcelain laminate veneer to your teeth and give them a whole new appearance.
Veneers are strong, thin pieces of porcelain that are bonded to the teeth. They are used to repair chipped, decayed or stained teeth and for closing gaps between teeth. With a bit of contouring, veneers can also rectify crowded or overlapping teeth. If your teeth have discoloured with age, a veneer may improve their appearance. Veneers can also be used for cosmetic reasons instead of crowns, which are more often used for badly damaged or decayed teeth.
HERE'S HOW IT'S DONE: The tooth needs to be ground down and the veneer replaces the ground off surface. Veneer preparations frequently require the use of local anaesthetic and, depending on colour and shade, may take two or more appointments to complete. Ask your dentist if veneers can help improve your smile.
Want Whiter, Brighter Teeth?
The best way to keep your teeth white is to brush twice a day, floss daily, see your dentist for regular checkups and professional cleanings, and limit stain-causing foods and habits. These include: tobacco, certain foods and beverages (such as coffee, tea and berries), some drugs (such as tetracycline), or trauma to a tooth. As well, your teeth may become stained or discolored naturally as you age. Your dentist can give you the best advice about whitening your teeth.
HERE'S HOW IT'S DONE: Chairside bleaching - usually takes about 30 to 60 minutes and one to three visits to the dental office. A shield (or rubber dam) protects your gums from the bleaching agent (usually a form of hydrogen peroxide) which is "painted" onto your discolored teeth and activated with heat or high-intensity light.
This is done by you at home. You wear a custom-made mouth guard with special bleaching gel (provided by your dentist) for a period of time each day, or overnight, over a number of weeks.
It's important to know that not everyone's teeth will "whiten" the same. It depends on the number of teeth involved and the severity of discoloration. Over-the-counter, at-home whiteners are not recommended because they may cause problems associated with over exposing gum tissues to the active whitening agent. Any bleaching treatment should be done under your dentist's supervision.