If your main interest is to improve your smile, cosmetic dentistry is your best option. It focuses purely on the aesthetic needs of the patient.
State of the art treatments are naturally quite expensive, but require years of training and updating for the dentist involved. Some of these treatments also make use of expensive processes and materials. Hence why they are not available under the NHS dental services.
Another advantage is time. Time to discuss what it is you would like to achieve and time for the dentist to help you achieve it.
NHS dentistry covers those treatments that are considered to fall under cosmetic dentistry (bridges and orthodontic appliances), ONLY IF they are needed to treat an underlying or existing dental problem. Once you reach the age of 18, Orthodontics is no longer available under the NHS.
Tooth whitening can be an impressive way of changing the natural colour of your teeth without causing any damage to the tooth surface. It will only whiten natural teeth. Crowns, veneers and other ‘false teeth’ will stay the same colour and will not be affected by the whitening process.
There are many reasons why people choose to have their teeth whitened. Our teeth vary enormously in colour, with very few people having brilliant white teeth. Other factors can affect the colour of our teeth:
- Staining from food and drink
- Long-term antibiotic use
- Calculus (tarter)
- Small cracks in the surface of your teeth that attract stains
Before undertaking any form of whitening, the dentist will make an assessment to decide if you are suitable and explain how each method works. The active ingredient in the whitening product is Hydrogen Peroxide. Custom-made trays will be made for you to use, during and after your chosen treatment. All this will be explained at your consultation appointment.
Tooth whitening, also referred to as professional bleaching, can be done by one of the following methods:
- Laser/in surgery whitening
- Professional home whitening kits
Laser whitening or ‘in surgery’ whitening
This procedure just requires one visit and uses light-activated bleaching gel to whiten your teeth. It usually takes approximately 2 hours and gives an instant result. Teeth can be whitened up to five or six shades lighter. Photos are taken pre and post procedure. A record of the current tooth shade/colour is made before the whitening is carried out. Discussion about the desired shade is made at the consultation. After you have completed your treatment, you will be given your whitening trays and a ‘top up’ kit. Our staff will explain what you will need to do and any aftercare.
Home whitening or the ‘take home’ method gives results in one to two weeks. Again, you will need arrange one visit. Your dentist will show you how to put the gel into the whitening trays, before placing them in your mouth. They will also explain how often you will need to do this to achieve your desired results. Your aftercare will also be explained.
After your whitening, current thought are that it should last for up to three years. However, this can vary depending on your lifestyle. The results may not last as long if you smoke, or eat and/or drink things that can stain your teeth.
Always ensure that if you are considering any form of tooth whitening it is carried out by a registered qualified dental professional.
White/tooth coloured fillings with composite bonding
Dental bonding is a technique that has been used in cosmetic dentistry for many years and can transform a smile in a single visit. The process involves the skilful use of dental composite. Bonding can be used in a variety of ways:
- Filling dental cavities- white fillings
- Replacing metal or amalgam fillings
- Repairing broken and chipped teeth
- Closing gaps between teeth
- Reshaping teeth
- Smile makeovers – composite veneers if suitable
Dental composite bonding is a favoured choice for fillings because the material can be matched to the shade and texture of your own teeth. It gives a much better result than the old amalgam/silver fillings which can look unpleasant when you smile.
Dental bonding is not suitable for large cavities as the material used does not have enough strength when used in a large area.
The filling can be done in one visit.
Veneers have been used for many years to create the ultimate smile makeover. With instant smile makeovers becoming ever more popular, veneers are the perfect way to achieve this.
They can be used to improve the colour, shape and position of your teeth. They can also be used to cover chipped teeth and unwanted gaps.
Veneers are wafer-thin laminates or shells of tooth-coloured material which make the teeth look healthy and natural. Because they are wafer-thin, they can be held in place with a special bond (similar to super glue). They can be either porcelain, ceramic or composite resin.
Some require very little preparation of the tooth, while others need no preparation at all.
A crown, also referred to as ‘a cap’, is an artificial restoration that protects a damaged, cracked or broken tooth. It fits over the remaining part of a prepared tooth, restoring its function and giving it the shape of a natural tooth.
Crowns are bespoke restorations and are made from various materials:
- Porcelain bonded to precious metal: this is the most common type of crown. The precious metal base is made, then layers of porcelain are applied.
- Porcelain: this crown is made entirely of porcelain, but is not as strong as a porcelain-bonded crown. They do look more natural and are the preferred option for front teeth.
- All-ceramic: this technique offers a metal-free alternative. It gives the strength of a bonded crown and the natural appearance of a porcelain crown. It can be used anywhere in the mouth.
- Glass: these crowns look extremely natural and can be used anywhere in the mouth.
- Gold-alloy: gold has been used for many years as a filling material. Modern day techniques combine it with other metal alloys to increase its strength and make it more hard-wearing. They can be gold or silver in colour.
You will need to make two visits to have your crown made. The first visit will involve preparation of the tooth, taking an impression and having a temporary crown fitted.
The crown will be fitted at your second visit.
A dental bridge is a false tooth, which is anchored onto neighbouring teeth in order to replace one or more missing teeth. The false tooth is known as a pontic and is fused in between two crowns which act as anchors by attaching the teeth on each side to the false tooth. Thus ‘bridging’ the gap.
The bridge can be made from gold, metal alloys, porcelain or a combination of these materials.
Bridges may be the choice of treatment where there is one or more teeth missing. They are usually recommended for:
- Improvement of your smile and appearance
- Improving your bite
- Improving your speech
- Improving the shape of your face
- Helping to reduce the rate of gum disease and tooth decay, by removing the gap where food can become trapped.
Following your consultation, you will need to arrange two visits. The first to have the teeth prepared, an impression made and a temporary bridge fitted. The second to have it fitted.
Dentures are removable replacements for your teeth, designed to look and function like your own natural teeth and surrounding gum tissues. They have been used for many years now.
The loss of teeth can dramatically affect your self-confidence, your ability to chew food, thereby reducing your enjoyment of food, and your bite. Your teeth provide structure to your face, by supporting your cheeks, so tooth loss can cause your cheeks to sag and make you appear older than you are.
When all your teeth are missing, you will need to have a complete denture made, but if you only have a few teeth missing then a partial denture can be used.
Modern dentures can look very realistic and be impossible to tell apart from natural teeth. They can be made from an acrylic resin, chrome or the latest ‘Valplast’ flexible denture.
After discussion with your dentist, it usually takes three appointments to have your dentures made. On your first visit an impression will be taken of your top and bottom teeth. Your second visit will be to try-in the wax denture that is sent from the dental lab. You will be able to alter how the denture looks and ensure you are happy with the shade and shape of the teeth. Finally on your last visit, the denture will be fitted. Occasionally you may need to come back to have the denture ‘eased’.
A dental implant is an artificial replacement for the root portion of the natural tooth. It is anchored into a pre-drilled socket in the jaw bone to support a crown, bridge or denture. It is becoming a more popular treatment to replace missing teeth and is an alternative to a removable denture. They also provide a longer term solution, preserve nearby healthy tooth tissue and slow down bone loss.
Implants are made from titanium which integrates easily into bone.
To find out if you are suitable, book a consultation appointment with our implant specialist. He will assess your mouth and decide if treating you with an implant is the right treatment for you. We will give you lots of information about having an implant to help you make an informed decision.
If you decide to go ahead, an assessment is made with x-rays and a CT scan to assess the bone quality and the anatomy of your mouth.
On your first treatment visit, the implant is placed under local anaesthetic. Our specialist will be give you advice on the care of your implant.
You will need a further two or three visits, depending on your choice of restoration. This will be discussed with you.
Once the implant has fully integrated into your jaw you should notice improved function when eating certain foods, e.g. apples, especially if you have worn removable dentures previously.
Looking after your implant is also much easier than cleaning under a bridge or dentures. Regular brushing, flossing and dental check-ups, in the same way that you look after the rest of your teeth is all that is needed. The implant will look and feel like a natural tooth.
Orthodontic or teeth straightening is used to treat a wide variety of dental problems:
- Crowding – teeth to close together
- Spacing – gaps between the teeth
- Overbite – teeth overlap too much
- Overjet – front teeth stick out
- Underbite – lower teeth stick out
- Crossbite – teeth bite on the wrong side of each other
- Openbite – teeth do not meet when biting
- Misplaced midline – centre lines of upper and lower teeth don’t align
A consultation appointment with one of our specialists is your first step. They will spend time assessing you and whether you are suitable for this type of treatment. In some cases, conventional orthodontic treatment is a better option and you will be advised of this.
If you decide to have the treatment, an initial appointment will be made to take impressions and notes to plan your treatment. Photos will also be taken.
Once your brace has arrived, you will need another appointment, usually an hour, to have it fitted.
You will then come back several times over the next few months to have the brace adjusted, as your teeth begin to move. This varies from one patient to another. It is important to maintain excellent oral hygiene while wearing fixed braces and our staff will advise you about this.
Once your treatment has been completed and the brace has been removed, the specialist will decide if fixed retainers or removable ones are needed.