Having healthy teeth and gums is important for chewing and breaking down food for better digestion, as well as optimal nutritional intake. If your teeth and gums aren’t healthy, you may experience oral and general health complications as a result. That’s where your dentist steps in, for they can help treat oral conditions and disease so that your oral health stays on track.
However, there is another important job that dentists do – cosmetic dentistry. Cosmetic dentistry refers to dental work that is used to correct and improve the appearance of your smile.
There are a number of smile issues that cosmetic dentistry can fix. Cosmetic dental problems don’t necessarily affect your oral health, but they can have a huge impact on your appearance, “smile” confidence and emotional well-being.
The following include the most common cosmetic dental problems that dentists treat:
Tooth stains and discolouration
Teeth whitening is by far the most common cosmetic dental treatment that people seek to brighten their smile. However, this treatment is mostly suitable for extrinsic or superficial stains caused by long term consumption of certain foods and beverages that stain your teeth. On the other hand, intrinsic stains are usually caused by certain meds and aging, and are deeply embedded in teeth. These require cosmetic options such as veneers or crowns.
Spaces between teeth may develop due to developmental or tooth drift problems. This can cause a smile to look uneven and draw attention to the gap. Orthodontic treatments, such as aligners or braces, are the best long term options. They require a lot of patience and potential discomfort on the part of the patient because treatment can take months or even years. For quicker results, cosmetic treatment options such as dental crowns and veneers are quite popular.
Misaligned and malpositioned teeth
A smile can look uneven if your teeth aren’t in their proper positions. As above, orthodontic treatment is the best long term solution. However, more immediate results can be achieved through the use of dental bridges and veneers.
People tend to cover up or limit their smile if they have a missing front tooth because it’s just so obvious. That’s why tooth replacement options are important to improve the smile confidence of those missing a tooth. Your dentist can recommend the best option for your situation which may be a dental bridge, a dental implant or removable dentures (partial or full).
Chipped, damaged or broken teeth
Teeth that are damaged through accident, tooth decay or wear & tear can be repaired and restored to their original function and appearance via a few dental options, including fillings, inlays, overlays and crowns.
Inlays and onlays are dental treatments for teeth that are moderately decayed, damaged, chipped or cracked. Unlike fillings, which are molded into a cavity, inlays and onlays are prosthetic partial teeth that are fabricated in a dental lab to fit precisely into the space left by the missing portion of the tooth.
Inlays and onlays – What’s the difference?
They are very similar but each has a specific purpose. Inlays are designed to fit where traditional fillings usually go – the space within the cusps of a tooth. If one or more of the cusps are damaged or missing, then an onlay is more suitable. Onlays are a little bigger and cover more of your tooth’s surface. They can fit within and over any outer cusps that have broken off as a result of damage or decay.
The conservative approach
Why are inlays and onlays considered to be a conservative alternative to tooth restoration? They only restore the part of a tooth that is actually damaged.
If you were to opt for a full-coverage crown to restore the same tooth, more invasive procedures are needed to prepare the tooth for a crown. That means you may sacrifice perfectly healthy tooth structure to accommodate the crown. So in that sense, inlay and onlay treatment is a conservative approach, since it preserves as much of your natural tooth structure as possible during prep.
What are the benefits of inlays/onlays?
Seal teeth better than fillings
Strong, durable and stable
Protect and support weaker parts of a tooth
Preserve more of your natural tooth structure for better long-term functionality
Easier to clean for better oral care
Colour-matched with surrounding tooth enamel
Stain resistant, and better colour retention than tooth-coloured fillings
More cost effective than other tooth restoration options
If you have a tooth that is decayed and damaged, inlays and onlays may be the perfect solution. Call us on 07 3349 9334 to schedule a visit before your tooth gets damaged any further!
Dental amalgam is a cost effective and popular filling material that has been used in dentistry for over a hundred years. Amalgam is an alloy made up of silver, tin, mercury, zinc and copper. When the mixture has set, these metals bond permanently and harden. Amalgam has been clinically proven to be bio-safe despite ongoing concerns about the release of mercury into the body.
The main advantages of amalgam fillings are durability, resistance and strength. They may not look that attractive but on the upside, amalgam fillings can last well over 10 years and can withstand strong chewing and grinding forces, especially on your back teeth.
Amalgam is also very effective for large cavities below the gum line. While the alloy is pliable, it can be pushed and compacted deep into the prepared cavity.
Should amalgam fillings be replaced or removed?
There is no conclusive clinical evidence that amalgam fillings can cause health problems unless you have specific metal allergies. In that case, you wouldn’t have been recommended an amalgam filling treatment in the first place.
If there isn’t a good reason to remove a sound amalgam filling, then removal is not usually recommended. Removing good amalgams is a safe procedure but trace amounts of mercury may be released, and the healthy parts of your tooth may be affected unnecessarily in the process. The preparation and restoration process alone may remove and weaken your existing tooth structure more than simply leaving the existing filling undisturbed.
However, there are situations were removing or replacing amalgam fillings is still preferred or even necessary.
Reasons for removal or replacement include:
Appearance. Amalgams have a silver colour that doesn’t match the natural shade of your teeth. When you open your mouth too wide as you speak or laugh, these fillings are very visible. This can be a big issue for a lot of people. Solution? Have your amalgams removed and replaced with composite resin fillings which can be colour-matched perfectly to your surrounding teeth. They are just as strong but may need to be replaced after five years. If you prefer to keep your amalgam filling, you can also elect to have a dental onlay applied to mask it.
Worn or broken amalgam fillings. Amalgams may be long lasting but they can wear out and break. And as with any type of filling, bacteria and decay may develop beneath a filling. Your dentist should spot any potential problems early at your regular check up, and give you advice concerning the best time to replace or restore your amalgams.
If you are concerned about your amalgams, or would like more information about getting your amalgams removed or restored, call our friendly staff to book a consultation on (07) 3349 9334.
When Invisalign clear aligners first came on the market in 1999, they offered an alternative to traditional metal braces. They were hailed as a big advance in modern dental orthodontics.
To this day, Invisalign continues to grow in popularity all over the world. Independent academic research has proven the benefits of Invisalign- for a patient’s emotional and physical well-being during teeth-straightening treatment.
Benefits of Invisalign
Looks better – Invisalign aligners are transparent and discreet. Patients are less self-conscious when wearing them.
Prevents plaque and oral infection – Invisalign aligners are removable. This makes normal oral care (incl. brushing and flossing) far easier and more effective than cleaning teeth while wearing fixed metal braces.
Gentler on your teeth roots – Invisalign treatment realigns your teeth roots with less torque than metal braces. This gradual shift causes less damage to your teeth root structures (Resorption), which means stronger teeth.
More comfortable to wear – Invisalign aligners are changed fortnightly so each alignment step is more gradual and less painful than traditional braces. There are also no metal wires or brackets poking and pressing against the inside of your mouth. Invisalign aligners are strong and flexible, causing less cheek and gum irritation.
Made from FDA-approved, medical-grade, material-safe and allergy-free plastic polymers
Comparable in price to braces – Treatment costs can vary, depending on individual needs. Your Invisalign provider, government tax rebates and health fund membership may largely offset treatment costs also.
Utilises 3D scanning and imaging – Before your aligner trays are fabricated, your dentist can manipulate your “virtual” teeth on a computer and show you a preview of the final results. No surprises!
The benefits of Invisalign are clear. But they aren’t suitable for everyone. Before deciding on Invisalign as a treatment, you will need to consult your dentist to determine if you can benefit from Invisalign treatment.
Limitations and disadvantages of Invisalign
Maintaining treatment requirements – Removing your Invisalign aligners for eating and tooth brushing is a plus. But forgetting to re-insert your aligner trays, and not clocking up the requirement of wearing them 22 hrs per day, can result in treatment failure. Using Invisalign aligners requires self-discipline.
Cleaning – Not only do you have to brush and floss your teeth, you have to clean your aligners also. Otherwise, the oral health benefits of Invisalign are compromised.
Not suitable for all orthodontic conditions – Invisalign can’t treat all cases of malocclusion. Specialised orthodontic braces may be required for overbites, cross-bites, severe crowding of teeth, rotated teeth, single tooth adjustments and shifting teeth vertically.
Treatment times may be longer – Traditional braces can be a faster treatment. But when your teeth are being repositioned permanently, it pays to adjust them more gradually, to prevent tooth and root resorption.
So, there are quite a few factors to consider, if you’re comparing Invisalign with other teeth-straightening treatments.
To make an informed decision, we can help you. Just book a consultation with one of our dentists at either of our TC Dental clinics in Mt. Gravatt or Annerley. We are certified Invisalign providers. For any questions, please call us on 07 3848 1574 or 07 3349 9334.