What is Digital Smile Design?
Digital Smile Design (DSD) is the use of digital images and computer-based manipulation to demonstrate possible changes to the smile and, specifically, to the position, size, shape, and colour of the teeth and gums. It is a comprehensive cosmetic dental planning tool that uses digital calibration to known dimensions in the mouth to guide the placement of wax during the planning/blueprint or diagnostic wax-up stage. It is then this diagnostic wax-up that is “test-driven” in your mouth before the final smile is delivered.
This is a technique coined and pioneered by Dr. Christian Coachman, DDS, CDT.
Read more here: http://digitalsmiledesign.com
Note: The page is in Portuguese, but do look at the photographs!
What is Cosmetic Dentistry?
Cosmetic dentistry is the branch of restorative dentistry that strives to improve teeth and smiles to a level reflecting beauty, harmony, and natural symmetry. It is the art of designing a tooth or smile to mimic nature. The sine qua non of cosmetic dentistry is to produce restorations unnoticed by the eye.
Success in cosmetic dentistry is achieved not only by modifying the white esthetics (i.e. the teeth), but also, in some cases, the pink esthetics (i.e. the gums). Cosmetic dentistry sometimes conducts a coordinated dance between dental specialties in the reconstruction of a case. Often, bone grafting and gum grafting are prescribed in conjunction with implants to replace a missing tooth. Orthodontics or braces are often needed to move teeth to a better positioning for more predictable esthetics and function before veneers, crowns, or bridges are added to the mix.
The key to smile design lies in the understanding of a patient’s personality and desires. It is possible to produce a smile in a patient that does not seem to belong there at all. Cosmetic dentistry, therefore, requires artistic perception to successfully emulate nature.
The difference between cosmetic dentistry and esthetic dentistry is simple. Cosmetic dentistry strives to improve the appearance of teeth and smiles. Esthetic dentistry represents the final subjective result: a smile that looks good. What looks good to one may not look good to another; however, what is certain is that esthetic success is often attained if nature is reproduced.
My teeth are stained and yellow. Is teeth whitening safe?
Yes, professional teeth whitening is a very popular and effective treatment to brighten discoloured teeth. Ten-year studies have confirmed the safety of dentist-prescribed at-home whitening regimens, and research indicates that the whitening agents used in dentistry do not cause enamel or nerve damage. Most people are able to achieve a white, luminous smile in as little as one hour with in-office treatment, or two to three weeks with custom take-home teeth bleaching trays. The maximum level that the teeth can be whitened is typically greater with an at-home whitening kit. In certain cases, patients may experience sensitivity while their teeth are whitened, but this sensation should fade after whitening treatment is complete. Most patients report no tooth sensitivity at all.
Can I see a preview of my new smile before I proceed with treatment?
Yes! We believe the best way to design a predictable outcome is through open communication with your cosmetic dentist, which models, visualisations, and smile design software can play a key role in. Commonly, a wax model or diagnostic wax-up of your mouth is created to show you the potential changes and enhancements that porcelain veneers and/or crowns may produce. This allows you to critique the model and relay any desired changes to your dentist so there is a clear understanding of your treatment goals before starting any work. Now, many dentists—including the talented dentists at our practice—utilize Digital Smile Design software to show you high-quality images of the potential results. In certain cases, you can see the proposed outcome directly in your mouth using a wax model. Either of these methods can help you gain a good understanding of how you might look after treatment.
I have metal fillings. Is the mercury in silver amalgam fillings bad for my health?
Metal amalgam fillings have served as a quality restoration for over 150 years. There is currently no conclusive research that directly associates amalgam fillings to any systemic conditions, diseases, or ailments. Some patients choose to exchange their silver fillings for tooth-coloured composite fillings for esthetic reasons, but the metal has been continuously considered safe for use in dentistry by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Compared to the high concentration of mercury often found in seafood, the level of mercury in the mouth from amalgam fillings is very low. Mercury levels are generally at their highest when the amalgam filling is first placed and when it is removed. If you feel your metal filling is an eyesore, we can certainly replace it with a more esthetic restoration if desired. This should be a personal decision after you weigh the risks and benefits.
What is the difference between porcelain and composite veneers?
Porcelain veneers are usually made by a dental ceramist in collaboration with your cosmetic dentist. Porcelain tends to have better colour stability over time when compared to composite, but the veneers can be harder to repair and require more tooth preparation before placement. Porcelain veneers typically take one to two weeks to fabricate. Composite veneers, on the other hand, are artistically layered directly onto the tooth by your cosmetic dentist. They typically utilize two to five colours to achieve a natural shade that is harmonious with your smile. While composite veneers can attract staining agents to a higher degree when compared to porcelain, composite is more easily polished and repaired. Composite veneers also have the benefit of requiring very little tooth recontouring and they are much less expensive.
My teeth are chipped. Can they be fixed?
Absolutely. With the advances in cosmetic dentistry, chipped and fractured teeth can be repaired quite easily using a simple bonding technique. Tooth-coloured composite resin is applied in layers to the damaged area and your cosmetic dentist then shapes the tooth to create a full, natural appearance. This can restore the lost portion of your chipped tooth. If the bonding treatment is performed correctly, the result should be indistinguishable from your surrounding teeth. Larger chips may require a porcelain or composite veneer.
Can dental implants be used to restore multiple missing teeth?
Yes, dental implants can be used to replace an individual tooth or multiple missing teeth. If you have lost all of your teeth in an upper or lower dental arch, dental implants can even be used to replace unsecure or wobbly dentures. This involves strategically placing implants at various angles in order to anchor a custom-made denture, allowing increased confidence and security when chewing and speaking. We recommend an innovative technique called All-on-4® for ideal implant denture candidates, which can secure your denture using no more than four to six implants. For patients who are simply tired of wearing dentures, implants can also be used to support long-span or cross-arch porcelain bridges.
What is a dental implant?
A dental implant is a restoration designed to replace missing teeth. Made from grade 4 titanium, which is the strongest grade of CP (commercially pure) titanium, a dental implant is compatible with your body and shaped to mimic a natural tooth root. The implant is meticulously placed into the gums by a dentist or specialist and left to fuse with the jawbone for a period of three to six months. After it successfully integrates with the jawbone in a process called osseointegration, your dentist will begin to design the dental crown that tops the implant using special impressions taken of your teeth and mouth. The implant crown is then fitted and cemented into place, and you should have a fully functioning tooth replacement that looks and feels like a normal tooth. You can brush, floss, and bite with your implant, just as you would a natural tooth. This is considered the most predictable and effective tooth replacement technique in dentistry, and most dentists recommend an implant as the first option to restore lost teeth.
What is a dental bridge?
A bridge is designed to occupy a missing tooth space and fill the gap in your smile. This is achieved by using the teeth on either side of an empty space as support teeth for the dental bridge. Treatment involves preparing these two abutment teeth for placement of porcelain crowns, which will anchor the bridge in place. The crowns are then fused with a custom-made “pontic,” or artificial tooth, and the three-piece restoration is used to instantly “bridge” the space between healthy teeth. Bridges should only be used to replace missing teeth if the root support of the abutment teeth is optimal. Otherwise, a dental implant should be utilized to replace a missing tooth instead.
What is a dental veneer?
A veneer is an ultra-thin porcelain shell that is permanently bonded to the front of your tooth to hide chips, gaps, and discolouration. This requires minor preparation of the tooth beforehand to accommodate placement of the veneer and avoid a bulky appearance. In some cases, a natural look and fit can be achieved without the need to recontour the tooth surface. Either way, a veneer or set of veneers can transform your smile in as little as one to two weeks. An aged, short, misshapen, or discoloured tooth can be renewed to a bright, perfectly aligned tooth form that blends in seamlessly with your smile. A veneer can be made from a composite resin material or porcelain. The most successful results depend on the artistic arrangement between your cosmetic dentist and dental ceramist.
What is a dental crown?
A crown is a “cap” or covering designed from handmade porcelain that restores the lost contours of your tooth. This can reinforce and strengthen the tooth while simultaneously renewing its appearance. Crowns should only be prescribed if the tooth has been significantly weakened from decay, large fillings, or a previous root canal, the reason being that a dental crown often requires more tooth reduction than other options, such as a porcelain veneer.