1. Teeth Whitening
Our teeth get discoloured over time especially if we consume coffee, tea and red wine. We can reverse this by applying a special gel to our teeth and leaving it to bleach or whiten over time. This can be done at home using a custom-made mouthguard. The effects are usually seen after 2 weeks. Alternatively, it can be done in the clinic using a laser or blue LED light or laser over one or two sessions, each lasting an hour or less. Laser teeth whitening takes the least time to achieve a satisfactory result. If the stains are very deep or dark, porcelain or zirconia veneers or crowns may be required.
Types of Teeth Whitening
Laser Teeth Whitening
Laser teeth whitening uses a special amplified light which can quicken the speed at which your teeth can be whitened, when Laser teeth whitening uses a special amplified light which can quicken the speed at which your teeth can be whitened, when compared to chair-side whitening using ordinary LED blue light. Both these methods are more effective and less time-consuming than using a home kit. The surrounding gums are first covered and a concentrated bleaching gel applied to teeth that are to be whitened. The light or laser is then applied for around an hour to achieve the desired new shade. Laser teeth whitening is thus the most effective of the 3 methods available.
Home Whitening Kits
Home whitening kits can also be used to whiten teeth. However, for safety reasons, the concentration of the gel is usually much less thereby prolonging the amount of time needed to achieve a satisfactory result. It usually takes up to 2 weeks to achieve the desired effect and is suitable when the teeth are not excessively stained. Home whitening kits are also beneficial when used in conjunction with conventional LED or laser teeth whitening procedures to maintain the effect for a longer period of time. The main benefit is the much lower cost.
What to expect in the clinic during treatment
In general it is painless.
A protective layer of plastic is first placed over the gums as the chemicals used can irritate the gums.
A bleaching gel, typically hydrogen peroxide is then placed on the tooth.
A light is then used to quicken the reaction.
At Precious Dentistry, we use a special light known as a laser which speeds up the reaction and is more gentle on the tooth making it faster and less uncomfortable. However, some patients may feel some sensitivity or a tingling sensation, in which case the treatment can be divided over two visits.
Things to Avoid immediately after treatment
Coloured foods and sauces - beetroot and curries
Coloured fruits - blueberries and tomatoes
Drinks which stain teeth - coffee, tea and red wine
Mouthrinses which contain the chemical chlorhexidine
While teeth will slowly darken over time, you can prolong the effect of teeth whitening through the following measures:
Good oral hygiene - brush your teeth at least twice a day and use dental floss to clean between teeth
Use of home-care kits or teeth whitening toothpastes
Return to the dentist for regular check-ups and teeth cleaning
Return for a short session of whitening periodically, if you consume lots of coffee, tea or red wine.
Limitations of Teeth Whitening
Teeth whitening is a fairly effective and cost-effective way of lightening our teeth. However, while some stains are superficial, others may affect the entire body of the tooth and have a deep discolouration which cannot be removed either by conventional cleaning or tooth whitening procedures. In such cases, we would need to remove the outer discoloured layer and replace it with a new outer "shell" termed a veneer. If the stains are very dark, even porcelain may be unable to mask the underlying colour and a more opaque but still aesthetic material, Zirconia, may be required.
2. Porcelain Fillings
Porcelain fillings are made from strong and natural looking ceramic material which are long-lasting and biocompatible. In combination with accurate scanning and computer processing technology, it can be made within hours, provide a better fit and require the dentist to trim less of the remaining tooth structure when compared to conventional crowns. It can also be made to match the colour of the surrounding teeth. The use of new generation cements which are adhesive and radiopaque allow better bond with the remaining tooth and allow dentists to check the fit and seal of the crown.
Comparing Porcelain Fillings with Alternatives
Decayed teeth were traditionally filled with amalgam, a mix of silver and other metals with mercury. These eventually became discoloured over time and its use has decreased in recent years due to the presence of mercury, a known toxic material. In addition, the desire for more aesthetic and biocompatible materials, resulted in the development of tooth-coloured fillings composite resins. When the cavity is small, composite resins are adequate but when large sections of teeth need to be replaced, porcelains and zirconia, which are strong and durable are a better choice.
What is the procedure
Any decay is removed and the remaining tooth prepared before either making a mould or taking a digital scan of the cavity.
Our in-house laboratory then uses computer technology to design the filling.
A fully automated milling machine is then used to cut the prefabricated blocks to the desired shape and
The final product heat-treated to harden.
Porcelain fillings can be completed in 3 hours but if Zirconia is required, an additional 8 hours of laboratory time is required and you will need to return to the clinic the following day for cementing the filling in position.
What if the filling is very large?
If damage to the tooth is extensive, a filling may not be a stable long-term solution and more of the tooth may need to be trimmed for better retention. In this case a half-crown or even a full crown may have to be considered. Half-crowns are a compromise between better cosmetics, strength and stability while limiting tooth preparation to the minimum necessary to achieve our intended objective of restoring the tooth to full function.
Full crowns are required for teeth which are badly broken down. It should be noted that if the filling lies below the gum margin, a surgical procedure may also be required.
Veneers are thin tooth-coloured shells which are custom made to fit over the front surface of a tooth to improve the shape, size, colour or alignment of the underlying tooth. They can be made of a variety of materials such as composite, porcelain or zirconia. While they are done mainly to improve aesthetics, they can also be used to repair front teeth which have fractured or have large fillings. Veneers are also preferred by many when compared to crowns as much less of the tooth is trimmed resulting in less sensitivity.
Limitations of Veneers
As only a small amount of tooth is shaved down, the veneer is less effective when covering darkly stained teeth. There is also a higher chance of breakage or dislodgement when compared to crowns which are thicker, stronger and cover a greater surface area. The choice is therefore between a more conservative procedure as opposed to crowns which emphasizes cosmetics and a more predictable outcome. However veneers can work equally well in patients whose bite forces are not excessive and the jaw relationship stable.
What is the Procedure
The teeth are first reshaped lightly before either making a mould or taking a digital scan of the tooth surface. The laboratory then uses computer technology to design a veneer with the desired shape, proportion and colour. The process is fully automated and the images sent to the precision milling machine which will then mill the prefabricated blocks to the desired form. The final product is then heat treated and our in-house technician may stain and characterise the surface of the implant for a more natural look.
Tooth Coloured Alternatives to Porcelain
Composite or plastic resins are a low-cost option but are less translucent and don’t feel as smooth as either porcelain or zirconia. As they are also weaker, they require more of the tooth surface to be reduced to provide for greater strength. Porcelain is preferred for its better aesthetics and natural appearance while Zirconia is used when strength is used when the underlying tooth is badly stained as it can mask discoloration far better. Both composite resins and porcelains can be processed by the lab within hours but zirconia requires an additional day to process.
4. Dental Crowns
Dental crowns are customised shells made from various dental materials to fit over cracked or broken teeth in order to rebuild them to its original form. In the past, metal or gold was often used but in today's age of social media, tooth-coloured materials such as porcelain or zirconia which are strong, yet aesthetic is the popular choice. They are also known as “caps” and besides protecting teeth that are weak, can also be used to change the shape, size and colour of teeth for cosmetic dental purposes.
5. Clear Aligners & Braces
What are Clear Aligners?
Clear aligners is a method of straightening crooked teeth without using traditional braces. It utilises custom made sheets of thin plastic which fit over the teeth like a mouthguard rather than metal brackets and wires to apply a controlled force on teeth which are out of position to push them back into proper alignment slowly over time. Each aligner is made to move the teeth incrementally back into position and is worn for about 2 weeks before changing to subsequent aligners until the teeth reach their planned final position. Of the many types available in the market, the best known is Invisalign®.
What Is Invisalign®?
Invisalign® is one of the most established types of clear aligners and uses 3D computer imaging technology to make a series of clear and almost invisible aligners which can be removed when you have dinner or special occasions. They are comfortable to wear as they fit over your teeth while they gently align and guide to guide and move them into the ideal position. Invisalign® is ideal for working adults as it does not disrupt your work or social life. It can also be used for children to influence jaw growth (Invisalign® First), and also for teenagers who need braces.
Step by Step
Your dentist will examine your teeth, gums, facial proportions and profile to determine if you are suitable for Invisalign®. X-rays and a preliminary mould will be made to allow assessment and a customised plan for you using the special Invisalign® software. The X-Ray examination is important as it allows the dentist to check if you have any buried or extra teeth that might interfere with the treatment. A second X-Ray will show your side-view profile to ensure that your teeth can support your lips in a more ideal position,
Once you have decided to start on Invisalign®, a final physical mould of your teeth and/or a digital scan will be taken and sent to the dedicated Invisalign® laboratory to make a series of clear aligners that will gradually move your teeth to the desired position. As these aligners are custom-designed and made using computer technology, they fit precisely. You will receive your first set of retainers within 3 weeks. Your dentist may sometimes need to slenderize the sides of your teeth to create more space for the required tooth movement.
How long Does It Take:
Each set of aligners come with instructions for its use. You should try to wear the aligners for as many hours in a day, removing them only during meals, when cleaning your teeth or for special occasions. In general, you will be asked to change to a new aligner every two weeks as your teeth gradually move into position. The treatment usually takes between one to two years as it takes time to gently guide your crooked teeth into alignment. You will need to return to the clinic every 3 months for a check-up.
While the use of clear aligners is now very popular, there are limitations and the use of conventional metal or ceramic braces is still required for more complex problems. While some patients dislike the appearance of these “fixed metallic” braces, they are in some instances more effective. Fixed braces are also suitable for patients who may not have the discipline to wear removable braces for an extended period of time. Patients concerned with the appearance can opt to have brackets attached on the sides of the teeth nearer the tongue though these are less comfortable.
Age Limit for Braces
Age is not a barrier for braces and crooked teeth can still be corrected in the elderly. Many adults who desire well-aligned teeth prefer to use clear aligners as it allows them to go about their daily activities without feeling conscious about wearing fixed braces. It should be noted that our lower teeth tend to get out of alignment in our mid-thirties. Besides the crooked appearance, it also tends to make teeth cleaning more difficult and lead to gum disease. The use of clear aligners for a few months can easily correct the minor crowding and keep tooth movement in check.
6. Teeth & Gum Reshaping
In addition to a well aligned set of teeth, the shape, size and proportion of teeth as well as gum contours and symmetry also contribute to a pleasing smile. The size of our natural teeth may sometimes be either too large or too small, and the shape may appear too bulky, or conversely too sharp. In addition, excessive gums may also show when we smile and if the gums which show are at a similar level
Resizing and reshaping teeth
While the use of clear aligners, veneers and crowns can give us the proverbial "Hollywood smile", sometimes all that is needed to improve our appearance is a simple reshaping or recontouring of our front teeth. This quick and painless procedure involves smoothening jagged edges, adjusting the length of teeth or rounding off uneven surfaces. We can also add or bond tooth-coloured materials to change tooth shape and size. Bonding involves roughening of the surfaces of teeth followed by etching and adding of a tooth coloured resin filling material to achieve the desired tooth contour.
Is the procedure painful
No, it is not painful as only very minimal trimming is done and there is no need even for local anaesthesia as the refinement is restricted to the outer enamel layer of the tooth which does not have any nerve supply. Rounding off edges or selectively reshaping the surface of the tooth to give it a more chiselled look will create a more slender and refined appearance. After recontouring, the surface is polished and some topical fluoride is added in order to re-establish the protective outer layer of enamel.
Do Gums Affect our Appearance?
A pleasing appearance is more than just having well aligned or whiter teeth. It also includes having healthy gums with an aesthetic amount of gums seen when we smile, or when we are speaking. Receding of gums due to disease, or excessive gums visible due to the structure of our jaws or lips also affect the symmetry and harmony of our smile. Gum health can be improved through thorough cleaning while receding, asymmetric or excessive gums can be modified through minor surgical procedures such as gum recontouring or repositioning or through gum grafting and regeneration.
What are Cosmetic Gum Procedures?
The main objective of cosmetic gum procedures is to achieve a symmetrical, balanced and harmonious gum line. The following are the common procedures used:
01. Gum Recontouring - This involves the removal of excessive gums in order to achieve a healthy, symmetrical, balanced and harmonious gum line. Ideally around 2-3 mm of gums should be visible when you smile. At the same time the underlying bony support of healthy gums should always lie around 3 mm below the gum level. If this is more than 3 mm, it forms an unhealthy pocket which traps bacteria. If less than 3 mm, the gums remain inflammed. A special instrument or bur may be required to remove a little of the bone to maintain this dimension known as the “biological width”.
02. Gum Repositioning - This procedure involves a minor surgical procedure to move the gums forwards to cover exposed root surfaces. It can also be done in the opposite direction to balance any asymmetry between gum levels or to lengthen the teeth in order to better retain a crown, if required.
03. Gum Grafting - When teeth appear long due to gum recession, we can use gum from a different part of the mouth to cover the exposed root surface. This involves a minor surgery to lift the gum around the affected tooth and slip the transferred gum to cover the root surface before stitching over it. The gums will fuse together after 6 weeks and cover the tooth thereby improving the appearance and reducing the sensitivity. The procedure which takes an hour can be done under local anaesthesia or with the comfort of intravenous sedation. You may feel some discomfort from the “donor gum” site for a week.
04. Gum Regeneration - Gums can regenerate if we create favourable conditions for the gums and the underlying bone to regrow. This involves a minor surgical procedure to lift up the gum and prop up the space with either artificial bone or a firm membrane. The teeth in the particular segment will also need to be thoroughly cleaned. In the presence of an adequate blood supply, the body is able to regenerate the gum tissues, or at the very least to heal. The use of some components of our own blood, termed medically as “PRP” or platelet rich plasma, can help improve the success of tissue regeneration.
What is a cosmetic dentistry makeover?
A cosmetic dentistry makeover is a combination of various procedures to ensure a radiant smile with well aligned teeth, appropriate amount of gum showing, well supported lips, and a pleasing facial proportion and profile. As an example, aligners alone straighten teeth but do not change tooth shape, size or colour. If done in combination with veneers, we can improve the overall smile and at the same time shorten the period of aligner wear. Likewise, veneers or crowns alone alone may improve tooth colour but adding a gum recontouring procedure will enhance the overall smile.