Comprehensive Family Dentistry: The Shape of Teeth
There are a number of options available to address poorly shaped or spaced teeth. The most common are bonding, crowns, veneers, and re-contouring.
Family Dentistry 101: Dental Bonding
Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin material is applied to the tooth surface and hardened with a special light, which ultimately fuses the material to the tooth. The surface of the tooth is treated to allow the resin bonding material to permeate the enamel surface of the tooth, thereby stabilizing the bonding restoration. These resin materials have limitations in strength and color stability. Frequent coffee or red wine will tend to discolor these restorations. Additionally, their resistance to fracture can sometimes be problematic when adding to the length of front teeth. In this regard the bonding may need to be redone periodically. On the other hand it is frequently the least expensive method of closing unsightly spaces and correcting minor shape discrepancies.
Family Dentistry 101: Ceramic Crowns
Ceramic crowns or “caps” fully cover the entire tooth and can match the adjacent tooth color very well. Contemporary technology will eliminate the dark line frequently seen in older technology. Additionally, we are able to custom color the ceramic for an exact match. Ceramic crowns have adequate strength for significant changes in the shape and length of teeth and are most frequently used when large, unsightly fillings exist or when a tooth fractures or is at risk for fracture. The fabrication of crowns requires significant reduction of the natural tooth to enable proper shape and color. Ceramic crowns will not discolor like bonding resins with normal foods, coffee, tea or red wine. It is expected that ceramic crowns will last many years providing proper maintenance is provided.
Family Dentistry 101: Porcelain Veneers
Porcelain veneers are extremely thin, custom-made shells of tooth-colored ceramic materials that are designed to cover the front surface of teeth. These ceramic shells (imagine a fake fingernail for teeth!!) are bonded to the front of the teeth using a technology similar to bonding fillings. Porcelain veneers require less tooth reduction than ceramic crowns but still need accurate reduction of the tooth in specific areas. Teeth with large fillings generally are NOT candidates for porcelain veneers, and are best treated with ceramic crowns. The veneers are stain resistant and in properly chosen circumstances can blend with the adjacent teeth so well that they are essentially invisible.
Occasionally, very minor re-contouring or reshaping of the teeth can be a simple and very effective solution to minor chipping or misshaping of teeth. Generally no local anesthetic is required and the result is immediately seen.