4146 Carmichael Road, Suite A
Montgomery, AL 36106
Smith & Smith Endodontics
1910 Bruin Dr
Florence, AL, 35630-6717
Nathan Johnson D.D.S. DMD P.C
2124 Cecil Ashburn Dr SE
Huntsville, AL, 35802
Boykin, Michael J D.D.S.
2400 Hospital Rd
Tuskegee, AL, 36083-5001
Daugherty, M Shannon D.D.S.
200 Grove Park Ln # 600
Dothan, AL, 36305-5921
In dental materials, composite resins are just about the most exciting thing to come down the pike in a long while. Resins may well symbolize the value of long-term, persistent research. From humble beginnings in 1956, the search for an effective adhesive dental filling has culminated in resin materials - versatile, relatively strong, with cosmetic superiority. Quite a return from plastic mixed with glass beads and such.
What's amazing about filling a tooth with resin (vs. gold or silver amalgams) is the nature of the bond to the tooth. The enamel is first treated with a mild acid to create microscopic pores on the surface of the tooth. Once the resin is applied, a mechanical - not chemical - bond is formed. Sort of like dental velcro. Then the resin can be sculpted, tinted, and polished to look like the real thing.
So what do composite resins mean for cosmetic dentist patients? Let's count the ways.
The best bargain in cosmetic dentistry, and proven cavity fighters to boot, are pit and fissure sealants. Sealants are a composite resin painted on back teeth, where tooth decay typically occurs in children. One sealant session, with check-ups now and then, provides cavity prevention - indefinitely.
Dental bonding is an umbrella term for placing composite resin restorations, from tooth-colored inlays to reshaping chipped teeth. For the right candidate, bonding is a comfortable, quick alternative to dental crowns, and a real boon to simple cosmetic dental care procedures. Less of your healthy tooth is removed, so it's essentially a conservative tooth restoration procedure.
In adults, a receding gum can expose the roots of teeth, an uncomfortable situation at best. Along with other adhesives, we apply resins directly to the root surface to help prevent tooth decay, and make the teeth less sensitive to hot and cold.
Teeth straightening just became easier. We can use resins to bond braces directly to teeth, so heavy bands around teeth, in some cases, can be dispensed with. The new invisible braces, along with bonding, make adult orthodontics an appealing alternative to crooked teeth.
Well, not really. Composite resins may never replace old standby filling materials, especially on back teeth. But resins have taken their rightful place in cosmetic dentistry, complimenting metal amalgams, and they can only get better.
Not even the most beautiful teeth can look attractive if healthy and pleasing-looking gums do not surround them. That's because the gums frame the teeth like a picture frame frames a picture. To have a pleasing smile, the shape, color, and texture of the gums are just as important as that of the teeth they frame. Although tooth development, periodontal disease, trauma, or tooth loss can create esthetic gum deformities, modern periodontal procedures and cosmetic dentistry can give individuals a smile to smile about.
As a result of periodontal disease, gums may appear red, swollen, and shiny. If an individual has gingivitis or periodontitis, the gums have to be periodontally treated prior to cosmetic dentistry procedures.
Teeth that appear too short may be normal-sized teeth hiding under too much gum. This can be the result of normal tooth development, or the use of certain medications that may cause gums to overgrow. Either way, a crown lengthening procedure can help reveal the normal tooth structure.
If the teeth appear to be too long or if the root surfaces are exposed, it may be due to gum recession. Soft tissue grafting is very successful in correcting this problem.
If the gum margins appear to be higher on some teeth and lower on others, this may be due to gum recession, altered eruption, or gum defects that resulted from tooth loss. The treatment of uneven gum margins may require crown lengthening, soft tissue grafting, ridge augmentation, or a combination of these procedures.
After a tooth is lost, the bone that encased it disintegrates and the gum around it may collapse, creating an indentation where the tooth used to be. Ridge augmentation procedures can help correct this problem.
Changes in the color of the gums may be part of normal gum development, or the result of scarring. Soft tissue grafts can predictably correct this problem.
Periodontal disease can result in spaces in between the teeth that may appear like black triangles. These spaces can be very difficult to treat. They can be made less unattractive by a combination of procedures that include orthodontics (braces), crowns (caps), and/or periodontal (gum) surgery. The best way to avoid these spaces is to treat periodontal disease in its early stages and avoid the need later for cosmetic dentistry.
One or more missing teeth can be predictably replaced with the aid of dental implants. Dental implants can look and feel like natural teeth.
Changes in the appearance of the gums can occur as a result of normal tooth development, periodontal disease, trauma, or tooth loss. By working with a restorative dentist who has expertise in cosmetic dental care and through the aid of modern periodontal techniques, individuals can design a smile that is both esthetic and youthful in appearance.
By Laura Minsk, DMD