Cosmetic Dentistry’s Earlier Origins
Cosmetic dentistry covers a vast array of dental procedures that provide aesthetic as well as functional benefits. The technology that goes into creating beautiful smiles is highly advanced today, but cosmetic dentistry itself has ancient origins.
And by “ancient” we mean thousands of years. As early as 3,000 BC, people were aware of the importance of oral hygiene. Although they weren’t exactly using toothbrushes per se, they did chew on twigs and small sticks to remove particles from their teeth. In ancient Egypt, gold was used to make dental crowns, and dentures were built out of bone and ivory.
As early as 4,000 years ago, the Egyptians were combining ground pumice stone with wine vinegar to create a teeth-whitening agent. Meanwhile, on another continent, archaeologists have discovered bow-shaped drills that were used by ancient Mayans for cosmetic tooth filing and sharpening.
Although the technology of cosmetic dentistry has evolved dramatically since ancient times, the desire for beautiful teeth, and the effort to meet that demand, is as strong as ever.
When dentists are committed to staying on top modern advances, they have at their fingertips highly refined digital technology and procedures as well as the materials and equipment to make cosmetic dental procedures far less invasive and, thus, more comfortable for their patients.
Precision tools and procedures have also made treatment faster and highly efficient. Overall, the materials used in creating dental restorations have become safer and lighter-weight with little if any compromise of durability.
Here are some examples that represent these trends.
Digital X-rays render images that can be viewed on a computer screen. This eliminates the need to wait for film to develop and allows the dentist to find out what is going on with the patient right away.
Digital X-rays provide a more detailed view of the mouth, enabling the dentist to conduct more precise treatment planning. This means less time in the chair and a higher level of predictability and control over outcomes.
In terms of safety and comfort, digital X-rays reduce radiation exposure by as much as 70% compared to traditional X-rays, and patients no longer need to bite down on razor-like pieces of cardboard (whose one size does not fit all) during the procedure.
Digital X-rays have replaced expensive film, the cost of which is to some extent passed on to the patient, and unlike traditional photos, digital images are easily transferred to a lab or to other dentists in cases of referral.
CT Scanners for a Full Picture
CT stands for computer tomography. Tomography is an imaging technique that allows the viewer (in this case, the dentist) to view a cross section of an area. CT scanners allow the dentist to not only see the inside of the mouth, but also get 3D views of the neck, jaw and skull. This provides the dentist with vital information on tooth structure and bite alignment.
Getting precise images of the teeth and surrounding areas, such as the location of any nerves, makes implant placement highly accurate and that translates into added comfort, safety and functionality with regard to the dental implant.
One-Visit Cosmetic Dentistry
CEREC technology, which is short for CEramic REConstruction is cutting-edge 3-D imaging and milling technology that allows the dentist to create crowns, veneers, bridges onlays or inlays out of high-grade porcelain.
The precision behind CEREC technology enables the dentist to render perfectly fitting, life-like restorations that are color-matched to blend in with the surrounding teeth. Milling is done right in the office so there is no need for temporary crowns or fillings—or extra visits.
Porcelain-based ceramics are replacing metals for tooth-colored fillings, crowns, veneers and other prosthetic restorations. Porcelain-based ceramics are more aesthetic than metal and they blend in much better with the natural teeth. They tend to be safer than their metal-based counterparts, which can cause non-optimum reactions in dental patients.
Clear braces have become a popular alternative to metal braces for certain cases of teeth straightening. Not only are clear braces more pleasing to the eye, but the treatment period may be half that of traditional braces, depending on the orthodontic issues being addressed. For those who want to correct minor smile problems such as gaps, crowding, rotated teeth, tilted teeth and others, there are even faster solutions.
Be it right or wrong, having a nice smile seems to have become increasingly important in a world heavily dominated by social media. The good news is that certain cosmetic dentistry treatments such as dental bonding can dramatically improve issues such as gapped, chipped or cracked teeth and more. Though not as durable as ceramic restorations, bonding is a quick and affordable option for improving a smile.
These are just of few of the many exciting developments in cosmetic dentistry.
Would you like to improve your smile? Dr. Siegel has been for practicing for 25 years and always uses the latest technology and tools. Having trained at the prestigious Las Vegas Institute of Advanced Dental Studies, where he earned the title of Master Aesthetic Dentist, Dr. Siegel is highly skilled when it comes to helping you achieve the smile you want.