Breaking Down Different Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures

Bridges, crowns, veneers, and bonding. No, we’re not talking about construction. These four terms refer to common dentistry procedures that can often be a source of confusion for patients.

To help you better understand why you would need this kind of work done, here’s a look at each procedure and how they can help improve your smile.

What Do All These Terms Mean?

Bridges, crowns, veneers, and bonding are all procedures that fall under restorative or cosmetic dentistry and serve as ways to improve the look of your smile.

Restorative vs. Cosmetic Dentistry

Restorative dentistry refers to preventative and corrective dental procedures that help to maintain the health and functionality of your mouth and teeth. Procedures falling under this category include dental implants, dentures, fillings, and crowns.

Cosmetic dentistry, on the other hand, refers to treatments and procedures that improve the look of your smile.

And while your dentist will always prioritize your oral health first, cosmetic procedures will not typically impact the actual health of your teeth

Dental Crowns Explained

Crowns, also commonly known as caps, are artificial tooth-tops that cover and strengthen teeth weakened by tooth decay or breakage, and are custom made to look like your natural teeth.

Here are a few reasons why your dentist would recommend a dental crown:

  • To replace a large filling if there is not enough tooth left
  • To restore a fractured tooth or prevent an already weakened tooth from fracturing
  • To help attach a bridge
  • To cover a dental implant or a tooth that has had a root canal
  • To cover a discoloured or misshapen tooth

Understanding Dental Bridges

Your dentist may recommend a bridge if you’re missing one or more teeth, as gaps from missing teeth can cause your remaining teeth to shift or rotate into the empty spaces, which results in a bad bite.

A bridge is a permanent solution for replacing missing teeth and consists of a group of three or more crowns attached to one another.

There are four main types of dental bridges.

Traditional Dental Bridges

Traditional bridges are the most popular kind of bridge and consist of one or more pontics (also known as false teeth) that are held in place by dental crowns.

These dental crowns, also commonly known as abutments, are cemented onto the teeth next to where your missing tooth should, on both sides.

Cantilever Bridges

Cantilever bridges are similar to traditional bridges, except the artificial tooth is supported by an abutment just on one side, rather than both.

Maryland Bridges

Maryland bridges are more conservative than traditional bridges, and the artificial teeth are held in place by a metal or porcelain framework which is bonded onto the backs of the two teeth neighbouring the missing tooth.

Implant-Supported Bridges

Rather than being supported by crowns or frameworks, this type of bridge is supported by dental implants.

Typically, one implant will be placed for every missing tooth, which holds the bridge in place.

However, if this method is not possible, the bridge can also consist of an artificial tooth suspended between two implant-supported crowns.

Dental Veneers 101

Veneers are tooth-shaped shells made from porcelain that are bonded over your existing front teeth with the goal of improving the look, colour, shape and strength of your teeth.

The procedure is considered cosmetic and is a great option for patients who are unhappy with the look of their smile due to chips, cracks, gaps, or stains, as they are designed to naturally blend in with your surrounding teeth.

What is Dental Bonding?

Bonding is similar to veneers in that it involves bonding tooth-coloured composite resin to the teeth. The goal is to repair a decayed, chipped, fractured or discoloured tooth.

However, there are some key differences as veneers are usually made of porcelain, manufactured in a laboratory, and require a custom mold in order to get the right fit. Bonding, on the other hand, is more simplified and can be done in a single dentist visit.

What are the Differences Between Crowns, Veneers, and Bridges?

So how do all these procedures differ from one another, and why would you choose one over the other?

Here are some of the key differences:

Dental Crowns

  • Are a cosmetic and restorative procedure
  • Restore and strengthen damaged teeth by covering them with a porcelain cap
  • May be needed to help support a dental bridge

Dental Bridges

  • Are both cosmetic and restorative dental treatment
  • Are often used to replace multiple missing teeth
  • Involves three or more crowns attached to each other
  • Can be fitted with either dental crowns or implants

Dental Veneers

  • Are a primarily cosmetic procedure
  • Consist of applying a porcelain coating to front teeth with the goal of reshaping, or brightening teeth

If you are interested in pursuing any of these cosmetic or restorative dentistry procedures, it’s important to remember that even though you will have a brand new smile, maintaining it is a lifelong commitment.

In order for your investment to last, you must maintain regular brushing and flossing, and continue visiting your dentist for cleanings and checkups to decrease the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

For more information about cosmetic and restorative dental procedures such as bridges, crowns, veneers, and bonding, book an appointment with your dentist to determine if one of these procedures is a good fit your you and your smile.

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