Cosmetic dentistry is generally used to refer to any dental work that improves the appearance (though not necessarily the function) of a person's teeth, gums and/or bite. For example, veneers are a dental procedure in which a covering is placed over the outside (visible area) of the tooth. Cosmetic dentistry may involve: 1. the addition of a dental material to teeth or gums - examples: bonding, porcelain veneers (laminates), crowns (caps), gum grafts 2. the removal of tooth structure or gums - examples: enameloplasty etc., gingivectomy 3. neither adding nor removing dental materials, tooth structure or gums - examples: teeth whitening (bleaching). 4. straightening of teeth accompanied by improvement in appearance
Veneers, as part of cosmetic dentistry are usually only applied to the part of the tooth that is visible when talking or smiling. Veneers are ultra-thin, custom-made porcelain laminates that are bonded directly to the teeth. They are an option for closing gaps or disguising discolored teeth that do not respond well to whitening procedures.
The procedure can be direct or indirect. The direct technique usually involves placing composite resin on the outside of the tooth using bonding. This method is usually referred to as bonding.
The indirect technique usually involves two appointments because the veneers will be fabricated at a dental laboratory. At the first appointment the teeth are prepared, impressions taken, and the teeth are given a temporary covering. In two to three weeks the veneers are back from the laboratory, the temporaries are removed and the veneers are bonded to the teeth. The laboratory fabricated veneers are usually made using porcelain or pressed ceramic and are very aesthetic.
The advantage of veneers versus crowns is that much less tooth material is removed, and the procedure is generally less uncomfortable. Cosmetic dentistry is recommended for teeth that have large fillings or little tooth structure.
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