Posts for: February, 2015
Many Hollywood luminaries use porcelain veneers to enhance their smiles. Take actress and singer Hilary Duff, who, according to People magazine, had veneers placed on her two front teeth after chipping them on a microphone during what must have been an extremely energetic performance.
Well, you don't have to be a Hollywood star to benefit from a smile enhanced with porcelain veneers. If you have small chips, cracks, slight tooth rotations or minor spacing problems, veneers may be able to give you back your smile — or an even better one.
The word “veneer” refers to a super-thin covering, and in dentistry a veneer is a thin layer of porcelain that replaces your natural tooth enamel. Porcelain is the material of choice because of its strength, translucency, and ability to resist erosion.
In the right hands, dental porcelain can mimic tooth enamel perfectly. To make veneers, a skilled dental technician will mix porcelain powder (in a shade specified by the dentist) with water and then fire the material in an oven like pottery; the porcelain is built up in layers for a truly lifelike effect.
Before a veneer is bonded to a tooth, often we need to remove a tiny bit of the tooth's existing enamel so that the final effect will not be too bulky. The procedure is virtually painless and can be completed in as little as two visits. Because enamel is removed, this particular cosmetic treatment is not reversible. Sometimes veneers can be added directly onto the tooth surface without any tooth reduction and therefore are reversible if used in this way.
Once you have veneers, please keep in mind that while extremely strong, porcelain veneers are not indestructible; you won't want to do things like crunch ice or break nuts open with your teeth. And if you are a teeth-grinder, you should wear a nightguard to protect your beautiful new smile. With proper care, your veneers will last 20 years or more.
If you would like more information about porcelain veneers, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Smile Design Enhanced With Porcelain Veneers.” Dear Doctor also has more on “Cosmetic Dentistry: A Time For Change.”
From its development and first use over a century ago, radiography — the use of x-rays to view internal images in the body — has revolutionized how dentists diagnose and treat patients. Now, a new technology known as Cone Beam Computing Tomography (CBCT) promises to take us “light years” beyond even today's most modern conventional x-ray devices.
X-rays expose images on special film after passing through a mass, like the human body. Because they pass more easily through soft tissues than through hard structures like teeth or bone, the softer tissues will appear darker. This property can reveal even subtle distinctions in density such as might be the case with a fracture or a tooth cavity.
Standard radiography, though, has its limitations. It takes extensive training and experience for a dentist to interpret exactly what they're seeing in an x-ray. Their two-dimensionality (like a photograph) limits the amount of information we can derive from the physical structures being examined. And due to radiation exposure to patients, we must limit the amount of their use for each individual patient.
CBCT improves on those limitations. The device projects a cone-shaped beam of x-rays as it rotates around a patient's head. During this rotation it records hundreds of images that a computer can later digitally format in a variety of ways. The result: instead of a two-dimensional flat view, we can now three-dimensionally view the mouth from a variety of different angles and in greater detail. Best of all, one scan can provide enough imagery data to view in detail the entire skull or a jaw, or something as minute as a single root canal within a tooth.
CBCT is already improving the accuracy of diagnostics and treatment in a variety of dental specialties, including orthodontics, implantation and oral surgery. And properly set, the radiation exposure is no more or less than a full-mouth series of x-rays, and up to ten times less than CT scanning.
Advances like CBCT increase the range and accuracy of diagnostics and improve treatment for a variety of conditions. As they grow in use, the result will be more successful dental outcomes for you and your family.
If you would like more information on CBCT diagnostics, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Getting the Full Picture With Cone Beam Dental Scans.”