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Crowns

Sometimes called caps, crowns completely cover a tooth, restoring a normal shape and appearance. You may need a crown to:

  • Cover a misshapen or discolored tooth
  • Protect a weak tooth
  • Restore a broken or worn tooth
  • Cover a tooth with a large filling
  • Hold a dental bridge in place
  • Cover a dental implant
  • Cover a tooth that's had a root canal procedure

Crowns can be made from metal, porcelain fused to metal, resin, or ceramic materials. Because crowns are costly, dentists usually suggest them only when other procedures can't produce a pleasing result.

Sometimes, a dentist can make an in-office same-day crown, or a temporary crown.  Some offices can mill a crown in the same day. The dentist prepares the tooth for the crown, makes molds of the tooth or takes a digital impression, provides you with a temporary crown if sending it to a lab, and then places the permanent crown at a separate time.

Permanent crowns can have a long life if you take good care of them.

Enamel Shaping and Contouring

Enamel shaping and contouring involves removing or contouring dental enamel to improve the appearance of your teeth. Dentists may combine this process with bonding.

Often used to alter the length, shape, or position of teeth, reshaping and contouring can correct:

  • Crooked or overlapping teeth
  • Chipped and irregular teeth
  • Minor bite problems

You may be a good candidate for reshaping and contouring if you have normal, healthy teeth, and there's still adequate bone between your teeth to support them.

Braces

Today, people of almost all ages are benefiting from braces. Braces not only improve the look of teeth that are crooked or crowded. They can improve an irregular bite and correct jaw positioning and jaw joint disorders.

Braces are worn to apply pressure to and reposition the teeth, usually over the a few months to longer for more advanced cases.

To place braces, your dentist or orthodontist bonds brackets made of metal, ceramic, or plastic to your teeth. Then she places wires through the brackets, which guide the teeth into their correct positions. Sometimes, dentists can attach lingual braces to the backs of teeth, hiding them from view.

After your braces are attached -- and after each visit in which your dentist tightens your braces -- expect some discomfort for a few days. Also, regular oral hygiene becomes especially important while you are wearing braces.

Risks with braces are minimal. But people with allergies to metal or latex, or those who have periodontal disease, are at greater risk for problems during treatment. Root shortening is also a problem if teeth are moved too quickly.

An alternative for correcting minor spacing problems involves wearing a series of clear, customized appliances called aligners, or invisible braces. Your dentist will reshape and replace them about every two weeks to progressively move your teeth. Unlike traditional braces, aligners can be removed while eating, brushing, and flossing.

Often there are two phases to treatment with braces: wearing braces, and then using a retainer to hold your teeth in their new position. Retainers can be removable or permanently bonded in behind your teeth.

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