Dentistry is no longer just a case of filling and taking out teeth. Many people turn to cosmetic dentistry, or ‘aesthetic dentistry’, as a way of improving their appearance from slight twists in their teeth to discolouration. They do this in the same way they might use cosmetic surgery or even a new hairstyle. The treatments can be used to straighten, lighten, reshape and repair teeth. Cosmetic treatments include veneers, crowns, bridges, tooth-coloured fillings, implants and tooth whitening.
For over 150 years standard fillings have been made out of a silvery-grey material called ‘amalgam’. This is considered one of the strongest and longest-lasting materials for fillings. However, many people find it unattractive and some are concerned about possible health risks. White fillings are now a popular alternative to amalgam fillings. The new dental materials mean it is much easier to find a perfect match for the shade of a particular tooth. In most cases, it is quite impossible to see that the tooth even has a filling. Sometimes white filling material can be used to cover unsightly marks on teeth, in a similar way to veneers.
Preventive dentistry is the modern way of helping you keep a healthy mouth. It helps you to keep your teeth, and means you need to have less dental treatment. The two main causes of tooth loss are decay and gum disease. The better you prevent or deal with these two problems, the more chance you will have of keeping your teeth for life.
When the dental team and patient work together, this can help to prevent the need for treatment – especially fillings and extractions. Your dental team may recommend a course of treatment to get your mouth into good condition, and then work out a ‘maintenance plan’ to help you keep it that way. This can be either done solely by a dentist or a dentist and hygienist combination.
Crowns, Bridges or Veneers:
When a tooth is badly broken or heavily filled, the dentist may need to crown or ‘cap’ it to restore its appearance and strength. The usual method for fitting a crown involves shaping the tooth under local anaesthetic and then taking an impression using a rubber-like material. The impression is then sent to the laboratory along with the details of the shade to be used, and the technician makes the crown. While your crown is being made, the prepared tooth can be protected with a temporary crown. This is easily removed just before fitting the permanent one. In most cases, the temporary crown is in place for about two weeks. Crowns can be made of a variety of different materials, such as porcelain or porcelain bonded to gold. New materials are continually being introduced. It is a good idea to talk to your dental team about which crown would be best for you.
Bridges are ideal for people who don’t like dentures and only have a few teeth missing. Bridges are usually made by putting a crown on the teeth on either side of the gap and attaching a false tooth in the middle. The bridge can’t be removed. These bridges are usually made of precious metal bonded to porcelain. Sometimes other non-precious metals are used in the base to give it extra strength.
Veneers are thin slices of porcelain. These are precisely made to fit over the visible surface of your front teeth, like a false fingernail fits over a nail. Veneers are an ideal way of treating discoloured or unsightly teeth, closing gaps between front teeth, or repairing chips and cracks. A small amount of enamel is removed from the tooth, usually the same thickness as the veneer will be. The dental team take an impression and send it to a dental technician, who makes the veneer in a laboratory. The veneer is then bonded to the tooth to form a strong and natural-looking repair.
Dentures are removable false teeth made of acrylic (plastic), nylon or metal. They fit snugly over the gums to replace missing teeth and eliminate potential problems caused by gaps.
Gaps left by missing teeth can cause problems with eating and speech, and teeth either side of the gap may grow into the space at an angle. Sometimes, all the teeth need to be removed and replaced.
You may therefore need either:
- complete dentures (a full set) – which replace all your upper or lower teeth, or
- partial dentures – which replace just one tooth or a few missing teeth
Dentures can help to prevent problems with eating and speech and, if you need complete dentures, they can also improve the appearance of your smile and give you confidence.
Minor Oral Surgery:
Some patients may be referred to our Minor Oral Surgery Service if they need dental care which cannot be provided by their regular dentist. If your Dentist believes this is the best option for you, they will refer you to our dentist with a special interest in Oral Surgery. Following this we will offer you an assessment appointment. The term “Minor oral surgery” refers to smaller operations and includes removing wisdom teeth, impacted teeth, and severely broken-down teeth, as well as apicectomies, biopsies and other procedures.
Oral surgery is carried out by “dentists with a special interest in oral surgery” (DwSI) who have gained the necessary skills and experience by receiving training in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Departments in hospitals and are all registered as specialists with the General Dental Council.
Root Canal Therapy:
Endodontic therapy or root canal therapy is a sequence of treatment for the infected pulp of a tooth which results in the elimination of infection. Root canals and their associated pulp chamber are the physical hollows within a tooth that are naturally inhabited by nerve tissue, blood vessels and other cellular entities which together constitute the dental pulp.
Endodontic therapy involves the removal of these structures, the subsequent shaping, cleaning, and decontamination of the hollows with small files and irrigating solutions, and the filling of the decontaminated canals with an inert filling such as gutta-percha and typically a eugenol-based cement. Epoxy resin is employed to bind gutta-percha in some root canal procedures. After completion of Root Canal Therapy a filling or in some cases a crown will be required.