Everything you need to know about tarting up tainted teeth.
What is it?
Cosmetic surgery has come a long way in recent years, not just due to medical advances but also demand. As a result, a number of different techniques are now available to help restore weak, loose or broken teeth and, by extension, your self-confidence.
What's on offer?
Treatment for discoloured teeth, used to erase stains caused by coffee, tea, red wine and smoking.
The procedure: First the dentist takes an impression of your teeth. This is used to make up a model that can be filled with a special jelly-like bleach (hydrogen peroxide). Depending on the strength, the dentist can apply it in one go for a couple of minutes, or leave you to use a weaker mix for a couple of hours every day until your teeth lighten up as desired.
The risks: Overdo it, and people will have no trouble seeing you in the dark when you smile. Bleaching is safe providing bleach doesn't come into contact with the gums.
Not a chance to become best mates with your dentist, but a means of filling small cavities or tooth chips. In some cases, it can even be used to change the shape of your teeth.
The procedure: The stricken tooth is cleaned and etched (to make the surface *sticky*) and then a special adhesive is applied. Once the bonding agent is piped on, a light beam may be used to fuse it permanently to the tooth. Sounds frightening but no more traumatic that having a little torch shone inside your gob.
The risks: Can cook up a nasty taste in your mouth during the procedure. There's a slight chance of the bond coming adrift at a later stage.
Porcelain Laminate Veneers
Antique-sounding procedure to shape up your teeth and/or brighten up your smile. How? By cladding the front of your pegs to change their colour or shape.
The procedure: A very fine layer is shaved off the tooth, and an impression duly taken - from this, a dental laboratory prepare perfect-fitting facings and these are fitted on a subsequent visit, much in the same way as bonding (see above).
The risks: Veneers may dislodge if you hammer then hard.
Porcelain jackets (caps):
If your teeth are really trashed, and you need some kind of cover-up that can withstand biting action, these are your only option.
The procedure: Porcelain jackets cloak the crowns of your troublesome teeth, and are often fused to a metal or gold base to guarantee an unbeatable fit. The tooth must be prepared in the same way as laminates and then capped off from the world forevermore. Phew!
The risks: There is no lifetime guarantee with any form of cosmetic dentistry, but you should be OK providing you don't develop a taste for chewing small rocks.
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