A gorgeous smile can give you a youthful and more aesthetically pleasing appearance and is an important part of our social, sensuous and psychological well-being. It is possible to get the beautiful smile you always dreamed of.
Teeth and the underlying jawbone support our face, cheeks and lips, affecting the way we look. Tooth loss leads to deepening of facial creases and folds making us look older than we are. The alignment and position of our teeth also affect the fullness of the lips. When lips appear thin, it is either due to lack of support from teeth, or lack of volume, in which case fillers are required to enhance lip volume.
You can brighten dull teeth, whiten stained teeth, close gaps between teeth, repair chipped teeth, mask metal fillings and straighten crooked teeth. This can be achieved using a combination of techniques including the use of veneers, crowns, bleaching, gum and teeth recontouring and braces.
Our teeth become discoloured with age due to food stains and smoking. The colour of our teeth can be improved through “bleaching” or by using porcelain veneers or crowns.
To bleach teeth, the gums are protected by a plastic barrier and a whitening gel applied to the front surfaces of teeth. An intense light or laser is then used for about 45 minutes. The teeth may remain sensitive for a day and coloured foods and drinks avoided for 24 hours. Most patients bleach their teeth every two years.
If the teeth are badly stained, bleaching is inadequate and porcelain veneers or crowns may be required. Veneers, like crowns, are made from porcelain except that only the front and edge of teeth are trimmed. They provide a more cosmetic result than bleaching.
In very severe cases, even veneers are insufficient to mask the stains as they are thinner and may not be able to hide the underlying stains. In these patients and for patients with strong bite forces, veneers are not suitable and porcelain crowns are required.
Crooked teeth can be corrected through the use of braces (orthodontics) or porcelain veneers and crowns (prosthodontics). Generally, braces are the norm for younger patients, and take 2 years to complete. The trend is to use less visible braces such as those made of ceramics or a removable mouth aligner, “Invisalign”. However braces cannot correct tooth shape, size, colour or proportion.
Veneers and crowns are especially suitable in older patients and if teeth are chipped or discoloured. With veneers and crowns, gaps and spaces can also be closed and a near perfect makeover achieved within 3 days. However, it does involve trimming teeth which can lead to post-treatment sensitivity. This usually goes away in days but in 6-9% of crowns, the sensitivity remain and may require further treatment.
Crowns can also be used to change the facial profile and proportion as the thickness and position of teeth affect lip posture and facial height. Braces, veneers and crowns can thus be used separately or in combination to achieve the desired final cosmetic result.
Written by Dr William Chong