For many people, the simple act of smiling can be a challenge. Crooked, missing, or discolored teeth can ruin an otherwise-perfect grin and often forces people to smile with their mouths firmly closed.
In days gone by, the options for fixing dental problems were limited – most often a case of resorting to false teeth – but as dental techniques and technology have improved, there is now a vast range of relatively simple treatments that can be employed to improve a person’s smile.
Traditional braces work by using fixed brackets and wires to re-engineer crooked or widely-spaced teeth into a new, more aesthetically pleasing position. Although primarily used in adolescents to fix dental issues, braces can be worn (and will work) at any age. Also, braces now come in a variety of colors to make them less visible – and are also now considerably smaller and lighter than previous models.
Using aligners to fix crooked teeth
Aligners are an increasingly popular orthodontic treatment that corrects misaligned or crooked teeth and can be used as an alternative to braces. The custom-made aligner is removable and is replaced approximately every two weeks until the teeth have shifted into the desired position. As the aligner can be taken out, it can make flossing, eating, and brushing teeth considerably easier. Many people opt for aligners as they are less conspicuous than braces, often appearing almost invisible in the mouth.
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Tooth discoloring is incredibly common as we age. Discolored teeth can be caused by poor diet, the types and colors of drink we ingest (some of the worst culprits are tea and coffee), smoking, or even just through the natural wear and tear of aging. As long as the tooth enamel is still intact, whitening can work wonders on a discolored smile and restore teeth to their previous glory.
Fitting enamel veneers to the teeth
As our teeth age, the thin white enamel surface can often wear down, exposing the naturally yellow-colored dentin below and commonly resulting in a yellowing of the tooth surface. If the damage is sufficient enough, whitening will no longer help restore the color of healthy teeth, particularly when there is no enamel coating left to color. In these cases, fitting a thin enamel veneer to the underlying tooth can be the best option to cover up the dentin below. Veneers are also commonly used to cover up other superficial damage like cracks or chips.
Using crowns to cover up damage to teeth
Sometimes veneers won’t bond to teeth if the damage done to the enamel is already too severe. As an alternative treatment, a dentist will often recommend fitting a crown to the damaged tooth. Crowns are a type of cap made from either metal or a combination of porcelain and metal, which are fitted directly into the mouth. Crowns can be used purely for cosmetic reasons or, more commonly, to cover up broken, damaged, or decayed teeth. An average crown will last anywhere between 5 and 15 years, depending on the oral hygiene and personal lifestyle habits of the patient. Fitting a crown is a relatively painless operation performed under anesthetic or sedation, mostly resulting, at worst, in only mild discomfort.