Cosmetic Dentistry Archives - Prosthodontist in Johannesburg
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Cosmetic Dentistry

By: Dr Gerald Kaplan

Dentistry the 1970’s was very different to the way it is today…

In those days the restorative material in everyday use was silver amalgam. Today it is tooth coloured composite. Many still believe that amalgam is still a good material because composite is very difficult to manipulate to create the ideal tooth shape and form.

But fashions have changed and people want white fillings. Gold continues to be the most ideal restorative material but cosmetic dentistry to provide white fillings is its competition. Scientific research has made major headway in all fields of dentistry. Periodontics, endodontics, orthodontics and material science have all experienced major advances and changes. Today we have a deeper understanding in all these areas.

A major breakthrough in restorative dentistry came with the ability to bond tooth coloured restorative material to tooth enamel. Materials have continued to develop and are still doing so. The materials available today provide a beautiful colour match and eliminate the need for major to tooth destruction particularly in the fracture of front teeth. The capping of teeth has always been an art and science. The limitation has always been the availability of the most ideal material which has now moved from porcelain fused to gold to all ceramic restorations. The cosmetic results achievable today are really unbelievable.

The most significant advance in the last quarter-century has been the development and understanding of implant dentistry. There has been a total revolution in the approach to replacing missing teeth and also in giving denture wearers a viable alternative to a fixed restoration. Although root canal therapy continues to remain the treatment of choice in retaining a compromised tooth tooth there is great debate whether to extract the tooth and replace it with an implant or do a canal. Certainly in the case of a failed root canal implant dentistry offers a marvellous solution in replacing a missing tooth. Orthognathic surgery was in its rudimentary stages but now is a common procedure in the correction of major jaw deformities. Maxillofacial surgery has advanced by leaps and bounds.

How have I kept abreast of all these changes in dentistry? My three years of graduate school in Boston in the mid-70s was for me a major leap forward in gaining knowledge that at that time was not available in South Africa. I was able to bring that knowledge back with me and have been in private practice ever since.

Over the years I have attended many continuing education courses in order to fulfil the requirements of continual professional development (CPD) which is essential to keep abreast of modern trends. My involvement in teaching has also helped to keep me in touch with the modern world. A new element that is beginning to make major inroads into modern dentistry is digital technology. One wonders how long it would take for this new technology to surpass the time-tested techniques of the present and past techniques.

Over my 45 years of practice I have gained a vast amount of experience in becoming a fine diagnostician and in being able to advise patients on how to continue to enjoy long-term dental health. I also continue to see how the dentistry that I provided my patients over the years continues to give them good service. There has been value in their investment. Dentistry continues to remain an exciting profession and I enjoy being at the cutting edge.

Those of us who are not completely happy with the smile we have been given, can rest assured that the advances in cosmetic dentistry have made many procedures more effective and more affordable.  Here Dr Kaplan takes a look at some common cosmetic dentistry procedures and explains which are best to address common dental problems, to restore a natural-looking smile, and help you feel confident again.

Q: How Do I Find And Choose A Cosmetic Dentist?
A: Working with a highly trained cosmetic dentist is the best way to avoid future problems. In addition to checking the dentist’s credentials and commitment to continuing education, patients are recommended to ensure that the dentist has sufficient experience performing the required procedures.

Q: What Is Bonding Used For in Cosmetic Dentistry?
A: Composite tooth coloured composite resin is used to reshape, repair or change the colour of a tooth. The composite resin is sculpted, hardened and then polished to give it a natural look. Bonding is usually well suited for teeth that are chipped or slightly decayed. It can also be used to restore small tooth cavities, to smooth out chipped, cracked or broken surfaces or to close the gaps between teeth that are spaced apart. It can also be used to cover the whole external surface of a tooth to give it new colour and shape.

Q: How Can Jagged Teeth Be Corrected With Cosmetic Dentistry?
A: Thanks to advances in cosmetic dentistry, it is possible for the front teeth to be reshaped without using anaesthesia. With the appropriate treatments, and of course with the dentist’s experience, remarkable changes can be made very easily. When major cosmetic improvements are to be made, crowns provide full coverage restorations ( crowns) or veneers may be needed.

Q: What Causes Discolouration And Dulling Of The Teeth?
A number of factors can contribute to discolouration: aging, staining and chemical damage are some examples. Teeth whitening or bleaching is an effective procedure that can restore the whiteness of the teeth. However, it is important to remember that daily intake of tea and coffee can exacerbate staining.

Q: What Cosmetic Dentistry Options Are There For Missing Teeth?
A: Missing teeth can be replaced with bridges. Bridges fill up the spaces left by missing teeth, however, your prosthodontist may also recommend implants.

Q: I Have Been Told That I Have A Weak Biting Surface- What Can Be Done About This?
A: When cosmetic improvements are t be made, crowns provide invaluable assistance. Crowns are positioned over the tooth, covering a lot f its enamel. A crown encapsulated the tooth, making it stronger and giving you a stronger and more durable biting surface.

Q: What Are Porcelain Inlays?
A: Porcelain inlays are  indicated as a replacement for large defective silver fillings which have come to the end of the usefulness. It may be more conservative in preserving natural tooth material to use porcelain inlays rather than for crowns. Two visits required for the procedure.

Porcelain inlays have become popular today as an alternative to gold inlays that were done so successfully in the past.