Cosmetic dentistry techniques have been available for hundreds - even thousands - of years, but until recent times, cosmetic dental services were financially feasible to the wealthy alone. The fact that most dental insurance plans don't cover aesthetic dental procedures has also proven to be a roadblock for many patients. Fortunately, advancements in dental tools and techniques have made cosmetic dentistry available to the masses - namely, composite bonding and enamel shaping. Both bonding and enamel-shaping are simple, non-invasive, and inexpensive techniques that can completely transform your smile.
Composite bonding involves the use of a composite resin to mend small problems in the tooth enamel. Some of the imperfections that can be corrected by bonding include:
- Gaps between teeth
- Small chips or cracks
- Uneven or slightly-crooked teeth
- A tooth that is smaller or shorter than its neighbors
- Discolored teeth that cannot be repaired by whitening
The bonding process is painless and can often be completed in one dental visit. First, your dentist will choose or mix a composite color that closely matches the color of your teeth. A rubber dam will then be used to isolate the tooth or teeth in question. A phosphoric solution will be used to polish the enamel in preparation for bonding, at which point the chosen color is applied as a resin and molded into the required shape. In some cases, a special light will be used to accelerate the hardening of the resin until it is firmly bonded with the structure of the tooth. The final step is to ensure that the bond is comfortable, so the patient will feel and bite down on the repaired area to make sure that it feels natural.
After the bonding is complete, the repaired teeth can be used to chew, eat, and speak normally. However, it is important to care for the bonded teeth to ensure that they do not undergo any damage. Continue with your oral healthcare regimen as usual with regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings. It is best to refrain from harmful habits such as chewing ice, hard candy, or other hard objects, since composite materials can chip under pressure.
Another quick and pain-free technique to improve the appearance of your smile is enamel shaping or contouring. By contouring the shape of your tooth enamel, your dentist can:
- Correct uneven or awkward positioning of the teeth
- Remove tiny chips or cracks
- Improve slight crookedness
- Smooth teeth that appear rough or pointy
- Shorten teeth that are too long in relation to their neighbors
The contouring procedure can take only minutes to complete. A simple tool implements a diamond-tip to smooth and shape the enamel. This technique will only remove a millimeter or so of the outer enamel and usually does not require any local anesthetic. Once finished, your dentist will polish the affected teeth and the process is complete. Since the teeth have only been reshaped a bit, after-care only requires the same oral techniques that are always necessary for healthy teeth and gums.
Simple, yet Effective
While bonding and enamel-shaping sound like minimal procedures, the results can be astounding. Especially when used in conjunction with each other, these cosmetic techniques can fix a number of unsightly flaws from crooked teeth to gapped, chipped smiles. Sometimes, a quick contouring and bonding procedure is all you need to transform your teeth into the dazzling smile you've always wanted. Many patients are under the impression that they need braces, veneers, or other procedures to achieve the same results. The best part is that these are some of the most inexpensive cosmetic procedures available.
While insurance doesn't always cover cosmetic techniques, bonding and enamel-shaping provide an affordable solution for the average patient. In many cases, one of these techniques can cost less than a fashionable pair of shoes! If you've been dreaming of improving your smile, be sure to consult your dentist about these simple yet effective techniques.
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