Modern cosmetic and restorative dentistry offers some remarkable options for turning brown, cracked, broken, jagged or even missing teeth into a brilliant smile. But nothing lasts forever, and the choices you make now could make a big difference in how much life you get out of your restorations. Here are some tips to help you keep smiling longer.
Choose Durable Crown Materials
Dental crowns can not only beautify a damaged or discolored tooth, but they also strengthen and protect a tooth weakened by root canal therapy and other invasive procedures. But all crowns are not created equal. Cheap composite materials such as synthetic resin may look good and save you money in the short term, but they also wear down and require replacement earlier than other other materials, potentially making them a more expensive investment in the long run. Metals such as gold will last longer, but you may not want a mouthful of shiny gold teeth. Porcelain is quite strong and natural looking, but it can also become brittle and develop fractures after years of biting and chewing pressure.
You may find the best combination of durability and cosmetic appeal in crowns that are made from tooth-colored porcelain fused to a zirconia base. The zirconia lends extra strength to the porcelain; even if a small fracture does develop in the porcelain, the zirconia underneath still protects the tooth.
Select Veneers Instead of Bonding
Tooth bonding and veneers are two kinds of dental overlays, either of which can cover discolorations, chips, gaps or cracks in your front teeth. Depending on the exact nature of your dental problem, you may have a choice between both types of restorations. You may feel tempted to choose bonding because it's a faster, easier and less expensive procedure -- but veneers are more likely to keep their looks over time.
Veneers are shells of durable porcelain that fit over the entire front surface of the tooth. This material can remain intact for up to 15 years, while also resisting stains to preserve the dazzling whiteness of your smile. Bonding fills in missing portions of the tooth with synthetic resin. This material is significantly softer and weaker than porcelain. It's also prone to discoloration when exposed to tobacco, red wine, coffee and other staining foods and beverages.
Go With Implants Over Bridges or Dentures
A dental implant restoration can replace one tooth or an entire row of teeth -- but so can an old-fashioned bridge or denture plate. Bridges and dentures cost less to have made, and they can rejuvenate your smile from the moment they're inserted in the mouth. So why might you instead choose a dental implant restoration, which involves oral surgery and crown fittings over an extended period of time, while costing significantly more up front?
This is yet another case of "getting what you pay for." Bridges and dentures do nothing to preserve the underlying jaw bone, which can lose density and change shape as a result. This requires you to constantly reline, adjust or replace the dental appliance in question -- and each such procedure costs money. Dental implants are surgically fused with the jawbone to act as "roots," continually stimulating the jawbone to prevent density changes and hold the implants firmly in place. These titanium roots and tough permanent crowns are designed to last you a lifetime.
Address Bruxism Issues
If you've had to undergo dental restoration partly because you habitually clench or grind your teeth -- a phenomenon known as bruxism -- be aware that your beautiful new restorations will be subjected to the same forces and may possibly experience similar deterioration. This is particularly true of less extensive restorations such as veneers and bonding. Crowns can hold out longer against the constant grinding, but even they have their limits; results may include "implant fatigue," fractures of the permanent crowns topping your implants.
Fortunately, the same techniques prescribed by dentists to protect natural teeth against bruxism can also protect your newly-restored teeth. Your dentist can fit you for a night guard that cushions your tooth surfaces against unconscious overnight clenching and grinding. It's a sensible, cost-effective investment that will help you keep all your teeth free of cracks and wear. You may also be advised to look into lifestyle adjustments for reducing stress, a common cause of bruxism.
Get the most for your money by selecting the right dental restorations for your needs and taking the appropriate steps to keep them intact. Your dentist can help to craft a strategy for maintaining your gorgeous new smile for many years to come! For more information, contact a dental office like Tijeras Dental Service.