Cosmetic Dentistry for the 21st Century
An increasing demand for whitening can still be met through the application of hydrogen peroxide gel. But the use of rubber shields does not eradicate side effects – albeit short term – including tooth sensitivity and gum soreness. The power of porcelain technology offers an alternative to chemical solutions.
Now widely used, wafer thin porcelain veneers can be bonded to the natural tooth in a few simple sessions with minimal filing. Porcelain lasts between 10 and 15 years, saving the patient repeated expenditure. Like tooth whitening, porcelain veneers begin at around £300. However the price is per tooth rather than for the set. Cost should be balanced against permanency when recommending appropriate treatment for the patient.
Veneers can create the illusion of an aligned set of teeth, but unlike corrective procedures they may need maintenance and replacement in the future. An alternative modern solution is the Invisalign brace. Less visible, more comfortable and easier to clean than normal braces, Invisaligns start at around £1500 and can run into many thousands. But long term savings and reduced invasion can render Invisaligns a better permanent option to rectify a crooked smile.
Porcelain advances also impact on crowns and dentures. They offer cosmetic and longevity benefits over resin and metal composites, which can wear down and show a black line between the crown and the gum. Fitting has been revolutionised in the past 10 years thanks to Cerec technology. Instead of forming a mould, digital advances create a virtual imprint of the root cavity so that the crown can be produced and fitted in one session.
Dental Crowns and Dentures
Titanium technology fuses crowns and dentures with the bone and can rectify jaw shape in the case of full dentures. The convenience, cosmetic impact and permanency of tooth replacement are vastly improved in comparison to traditional options. Surprisingly there is little significant difference in outlay – a Cerec crown can cost as little as £200, ranging to £1000 for a full veneer.
Gum sculpting and grafting techniques have advanced the potential for reconstruction and reshaping. Oversized or uneven gums are increasingly treated by laser technology instead of the scalpel. Laser sculpting seals blood vessels during surgery, reducing bleeding and protecting from infection. Grafting breakthroughs encourage the growth of new tissue, improving receding gums and filling gum cavities to hold the tooth firmly. New developments in the use of bone mineral scaffolds can even encourage the regeneration of bone within the gums for lasting results. Starting in the region of £120 an hour, gum treatments are increasingly affordable and accessible.
Add to this advances in sedative dentistry – offering oral, intravenous, intra muscular and locally administered sedation – and the dental patient has more flexibility than ever before to choose the treatment that is suitable, affordable, and financially viable for them.
Another treatment option that has developed significantly over the last few years is dental implants, which are designed to provide a permanent solution for those who have lost teeth.