Dental makeovers

Makeovers - extreme and otherwise

The dental side of TV makeover shows frightens us* (the rest is gross too but at least is not our field). You do not need to go quite this far to significantly improve the appearance your teeth.

The only thing between you and a smile like Brad Pitt/ Julia Roberts is the desire, time, money, and an understanding of the long term effects of any cosmetic dental treatment on the structure and longevity of your teeth.

There are three main ways that dentists can change the colour or shape of a tooth. (Positioning can be changed by orthodontics at any age)

Composite veneer - a layer of white filling material is placed over the face of the tooth to make minor colour and contour changes. The layer is around ½ to 1 mm thick so it may make the tooth more prominent as we do not usually remove any tooth substance. The composite material will need replacing every 5-6 years as its colour deteriorates.

Porcelain veneers - the front surface of the tooth is reduced to make room for a thin, laboratory made, porcelain facing. Porcelain veneers have better colour and shine than we can make with composite resin and will cover slightly more difficult colour problems. However, the tooth surface has now been cut into and there is no going back. Porcelain veneers should last 10-12 years.

Crowns - the tooth is reduced by 1mm all around. An all-ceramic crown is made to fit and cemented in place over the top of the reduced tooth. A crown is used to strengthen root filled teeth, teeth with large fillings, and to cover up very dark teeth. A crown should last around 20 years.

As we progress through these options we are removing more tooth structure and increasing complexity and cost.

Once a cavity is made in a tooth, its strength is diminished. Every loss of tooth structure through decay, fracture or drilling means an increased probability of fracture of the remaining tooth.

Teeth with big fillings (greater than half of the tooth) can run the risk of an adverse fracture making the tooth irreparable. However, in order to place a crown on these at-risk teeth we must remove some tooth structure. It’s a judgment call we can make together.

I see my job as helping you keep as many of your teeth in the strongest condition possible, improved aesthetics can be a bonus side effect.

You should become well informed before you decide Brad or Julia’s smile is for you and try and strike a balance between the perfect smile and a smile that will be there as long as you are.

*These TV shows scare us because often we don’t believe the contestants will still have those stunning big, white teeth long term.


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