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The goal of cosmetic (esthetic) dentistry is to improve the appearance of your teeth and smile. It includes bleaching, bonding, veneers and crowns.
Bleaching is a simple method of whitening teeth. It can be done in the office or at home using materials supplied by our office. We are currently using Colgate Platinum home bleaching system, one of only three systems to be approved by the ADA as safe and effective. The system consists of a custom made bleaching tray which is worn 1 to 3 times a day for 20 to 30 minutes at a time. It usually takes 2 to 3 weeks to achieve the desired results. Bleaching is often used in conjunction with bonding or veneers to deal with more severe stains.
The term bonding usually is used to refer to the direct application of a composite resin material to the front surface of a tooth in the dental office. Bonding can be used to restore teeth that are chipped, cracked, misaligned, discolored or a combination of these conditions. The composite resin is a putty like material which can be shaped and molded on the front of the tooth and then hardened using a bright light. It can usually be completed in one visit, though more complicated cases may require several visits.
Porcelain veneers are thin ceramic shells which are bonded onto the front surface of teeth similar to the way false fingernails are applied. Veneer is much more durable than is composite bonding (above), and can be used in all of the same situations in which bonding is used. Porcelain veneers are made in a dental laboratory and usually take two appointments to complete.
Porcelain crowns can be used to restore severely broken down or heavily filled teeth which would not be good candidates for bonding or porcelain veneers. They may also be used to "straighten" more severely misaligned or rotated/crooked teeth with orthodontics. Anterior teeth which have undergone root canal therapy are probably better treated with a crown to help improve the strength as well as the appearance of the tooth. Crowns, like porcelain veneers, are made in a dental laboratory and take appointments to complete. More information on types of crowns can be found under Fillings and Crowns.