Category Archives: Cosmetic Dentistry

Be Sure You Include Bite Treatment in Your Smile Makeover Plan

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If you’re seriously considering turning your “smile makeover” dream into reality it’s a good idea to approach it like a home makeover. In both, there’s one critical element—make sure you’re working within the big picture.  A fresh coat of paint isn’t quite enough to renovate a house, for example, if it also has serious foundation flaws.

The same is true about your teeth—just changing their outward appearance with porcelain veneers, crowns or other restorations may not be enough to produce the desired appearance change. This is because the real cosmetic problem could be your teeth aren’t where they’re supposed to be due to a malocclusion (poor bite).

Your teeth are part of an overall framework that also includes your jaws and facial structure, the elements of which all blend together to create your smile appearance. A malocclusion resulting in misaligned teeth can therefore adversely affect your smile. That’s why your dentist and you may need to include orthodontic treatment in your smile transformation plan.

Orthodontics is a dental specialty that addresses occlusion (how the teeth come together and interact with each other) problems by moving teeth to better positions. While braces are the mainstay of orthodontic treatment, they’re by no means the only tool in an orthodontist’s tool kit, especially for complex malocclusions.

If the dentist directing your smile makeover detects a bite problem, he or she may refer you to an orthodontist for a complete assessment. Using a number of diagnostic tools like x-rays, CT scanning, mold impressions or computer modeling, an orthodontist can determine the exact nature of your malocclusion and the corrective actions to bring your teeth into proper alignment.

How your smile makeover proceeds from this point will depend on the type of malocclusion and its complexity. It will most likely involve a team approach between different specialties including orthodontics or periodontics (for the gums and other structures that support the teeth). Each team member will address some aspect of your care and work together to achieve your smile transformation.

Depending on your needs, your smile enhancement may proceed in stages and over an extensive period of time. In the end, though, your smile “renovation” will be thorough and lasting.

If you would like more information on smile transformations, please contact us or schedule a consultation by calling (815) 741-1700. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Magic of Orthodontics: The Original Smile Makeover.”

Tips for Picture-Perfect Summer Smiles

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June is the month when lots of important events happen—like weddings, graduations, and family get-togethers. When the weather turns balmy and the days get longer, it’s the perfect time for a celebration…and today it’s easier than ever to capture those special moments in pictures that will be treasured for years to come. Are you ready for your close-up?

Both professional photographers and dentists want to help you look your best when you’re smiling for the camera. Here are a few suggestions from both kinds of pros for capturing a great-looking smile.

Tilt your head just a bit

Instead of looking straight at the camera, try turning or tilting your head slightly. This often presents a more flattering angle, and can hide small facial asymmetries. If your face has a “good side” (you can check by looking in a mirror), be sure to make it visible. But even if your head is tilted or turned, your eyes should be looking at the camera.

Moisten teeth before the shutter clicks

A sparkly smile is the most appealing one. Just before the picture is snapped, run your tongue over your teeth to give them a little extra shine. Highlights in the teeth, lips and eyes add liveliness to your portrait.

Relax—Don’t clench your teeth!

It’s better to smile naturally—perhaps with teeth slightly parted, or lips in a more relaxed position—than to force yourself to make an artificial-looking grin. Try recalling things that make you joyful, or think of people you care about, and chances are your natural smile will shine out.

Have your teeth professionally cleaned at the dental office

Before the big event, you can ensure that your smile looks its best with a professional cleaning at our office. This treatment removes layers of plaque and tartar on visible tooth surfaces, as well as between teeth and under the gumline. It not only makes teeth look their best, but it’s also an effective way to fight tooth decay and gum disease. And while you’re here, it’s the perfect time to talk about any cosmetic issues that may be troubling you about your smile. With treatments like teeth whitening, cosmetic bonding or dental veneers, we can help you get the smile you’ve always wanted.

If you would like more information about professional teeth cleaning or cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule a consultation by calling (815) 741-1700.

New Materials Add Strength to Veneers’ Beautiful Life-Likeness

veneers.

With exciting innovations in cosmetic dentistry over the last few decades, we can now transform nearly any unattractive smile. One of the best and most cost-effective of these is the porcelain veneer. These thin layers of dental porcelain are bonded over the front of chipped, slightly misaligned or stained teeth to create an entirely new look.

Veneers have evolved over time, especially with the materials they contain that give them their beauty and life-likeness. The first veneers were made mainly of feldspathic porcelain, a mineral composition known for its similarity in color and translucence to natural teeth.

But because this early porcelain had a high amount of silica (in essence, glass), and because they were created through overlaying several thin layers that weren’t as strong as a single piece, they were prone to shattering. This made them problematic for teeth subject to heavy biting forces or patients with clenching or grinding habits.

The situation changed dramatically in the 1990s, when dental labs began adding Leucite, a sturdier glass-like mineral that didn’t diminish the porcelain’s translucence. Not only did Leucite make veneers more shatter-resistant, it also enabled dental technicians to fashion most of the veneer in one piece to further strengthen it.

More recent veneers may now incorporate an even stronger material called lithium disilicate. Because lithium disilicate has twice the strength of Leucite, veneers made with it can be as thin as 0.3 millimeters. Not only does this blend together the most desirable qualities expected of a veneer—strength, aesthetic appeal and easy fabrication—it allows for a broader range of situations and uses.

Both of these materials can be pressed or milled to assume the exact shape necessary to fit a particular tooth. The manufacturing process also allows for creating smaller veneers that can then be overlaid with porcelain for the most life-like appearance possible.

Thanks to these stronger materials enhancing the natural beauty of porcelain, we now have a wider creative palate for transforming your smile.  

If you would like more information on porcelain veneers, please contact us or schedule a consultation by calling (815) 741-1700. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Veneers: Your Smile—Better Than Ever.”

Keep Your Smile Beautiful…in April and Beyond

spring cleaning.

There are well-known holidays on the calendar this month, but here’s one that might have escaped your notice: “Keep America Beautiful Month,” which is observed throughout April! At this time, people from coast to coast are encouraged to clean and beautify their communities. So why not think of it as an occasion to spiff up your smile? Here are five ways to do exactly that:

Have your teeth professionally cleaned. A routine dental visit, which includes a professional cleaning and exam, is one of the best preventive healthcare values there is. It’s a chance to catch dental problems (including potentially serious ones like oral cancer) before they become more difficult to treat. A dental professional can remove built-up deposits of tartar from your teeth using specialized instruments—something you can’t do at home. Plus, you’ll leave the office with a freshly polished smile that looks and feels great.

Get a professional teeth whitening. Having whiter teeth often makes people look more youthful. And one of the best ways to brighten dull teeth is with professional teeth whitening. You can achieve the fastest, most dramatic results with an in-office treatment—up to ten shades in just one visit! We can also make you a custom take-home kit to achieve similar results over time.

Repair chipped teeth. If you feel self-conscious about a chipped tooth, consider cosmetic bonding. In this relatively inexpensive procedure, which often takes just one office visit, tooth-colored resin material is applied to the chipped area and hardened under a special light. The translucent resin is built up layer by layer, bringing teeth with minor flaws back to a great, natural-looking appearance.

Replace old dental work. Sometimes old dental work can stand out more than we’d like it to. This is especially true of amalgam (silver) fillings—but even white fillings can absorb stain after many years. If you feel old dental work is detracting from your smile, it may be time to replace it with up-to-date dental materials.

Straighten your smile. Did you know that there is no maximum age for successful orthodontic treatment? It’s true: Healthy teeth can be moved at any age. And if you think metal braces wouldn’t fit in with your look or lifestyle, consider one of the less-visible alternatives to traditional orthodontic hardware—such as ceramic braces and clear aligners.

Having the smile you want can make you feel more confident in any month of the year. If you’d like more information on cosmetic dentistry, please contact us or schedule a consultation by calling (815) 741-1700. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “How Your Dentist Can Help You Look Younger” and “Orthodontics for the Older Adult.”

Give Yourself the Gift of a New Smile

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The holidays are a season for giving. At this time of year, lots of us spend hours rushing around, looking for the perfect gifts for people we care about. But sometimes, amidst all the hustle and bustle, it doesn’t hurt to step back and think about yourself a little. If a better-looking smile has been on your list but you haven’t taken the first steps, the holiday season might be the right time to give yourself a gift.

Many smile problems, like discolored, chipped or uneven teeth, can be resolved with veneers—wafer-thin porcelain shells that cover the front surfaces of teeth. Veneers are custom-made just for you: They can have a pearly luster to match your existing teeth, or be Hollywood-white for a dazzling red-carpet smile. In just a few visits to the dental office, you can have the smile you’ve always wanted—and a whole new look for the New Year.

If damaged or missing teeth are what’s bothering you, you’ll be happy to know that there are lots of good options for replacing them. If the tooth’s roots are still in good shape, a crown or cap could be the answer. This is a sturdy replacement for the entire visible part of the tooth that not only looks great, but also functions well in your bite—and can last for years to come.

If teeth are missing or can’t be saved, we offer several options for replacement, including fixed (non-removable) bridgework and dental implants. A tried-and-true method for replacing one or more missing teeth, bridges are firmly supported by healthy teeth next to the gap in your smile. These teeth must be prepared to receive the bridge by having some of the tooth’s surface removed.

Dental implants are today’s premier option for tooth replacement. In this high-tech system, a root-like titanium insert, placed directly into the bone beneath the gum, forms a solid anchorage for the visible part of the replacement tooth. Implants look and feel completely natural, and can last for many years. Plus, they don’t require any work to be done on nearby teeth.

What kind of smile makeover is right for you? Just ask us by calling (815) 741-1700! We will be happy to take a look at your smile and recommend a treatment plan. And in this season of generosity, there’s no better gift you can give yourself than a bright new smile.

You can learn more about smile makeovers by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Beautiful Smiles by Design.”

A Smile Makeover Depends on Balancing Technique with Beauty

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“Redesigning” a smile is a lot like remodeling a house: the technicalities of construction must blend seamlessly with what is perceived as elegant and beautiful. The first aspect — the proper materials and techniques to achieve a sound restoration — is absolutely crucial. But the aesthetic is just as important for assuring the final restoration evokes beauty and style.

Balancing these two aspects of a smile makeover requires thoughtful intent and planning. What may be pleasing aesthetically may not be technically feasible; but what may be technically sound may not have that sought-after “curb appeal.”

You and your dentist must work together to achieve the successful blending of these two aspects. That’s why it’s important for you to have full confidence in your dentist: that he or she is both technically skilled and experienced in cosmetic procedures and artistically aware of what will look best aesthetically.

The first step in your makeover is a thorough dental examination to determine the overall state of your oral health. With this “bigger picture,” your dentist will have a better understanding of what’s possible and practical for you and your situation. The exam may also reveal problems that should be treated first before any cosmetic work.

From there, you must communicate clearly to your dentist what you perceive as wrong with your smile and what you would like to have changed. While there are general principles of beauty best followed, your dental work could hypothetically take different paths depending on your desires and expectations. You might prefer a more “sexy” look or one that’s “sophisticated.” Or perhaps you only want subtle changes that still retain features expressing your individuality.

Ultimately, though, your expectations must line up with reality. Much like your house contractor, your dentist will advise you on what’s both practical and possible. And with their experience in smile enhancement, they can also help you determine what will look most attractive given your facial structure and features.

With this preliminary planning, you can be confident as the work proceeds that the end of the project will be both exciting and satisfying. And just as with your newly renovated home, you’ll be more than happy to share your smile with others.

If you would like more information on enhancing your smile through cosmetic dentistry, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700 for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cosmetic Dentistry.”

Benefits of Seeing a Prosthodontist

prosthodontists.

What do architects and prosthodontists have in common? An architect designs buildings with both function and aesthetics in mind; a prosthodontist designs tooth restorations for optimal function and aesthetic appeal. In fact, prosthodontists are sometimes called “smile architects,” and are able to restore damaged or missing tooth and jaw structures with dentures, crowns, bridges, veneers, and other techniques.

Prosthodontics is one of the nine dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.  This specialty focuses on using oral prosthetics (artificial teeth, for example) to restore your smile in the most aesthetically pleasing way. The benefits of seeing a prosthodontist include:

Extensive training
After graduating from dental school, prosthodontists complete an additional 3-year program that provides in-depth training and clinical practice. Their training includes cosmetic dental procedures; diagnosis and treatment of TMJ/TMD (jaw-joint disorders) and sleep disorders; and facial reconstruction due to oral cancer, an accident or a deformity from birth.

Large-scale experience
Prosthodontists limit their practice to the restoration of teeth, gums and associated oral structures, and have extensive clinical experience in this area. Like other specialists, a prosthodontist is more likely to be familiar with state-of-the-art techniques and technology in this rapidly advancing field. Further, prosthodontists are in close communication with dental laboratory technicians to coordinate the best custom restoration for each patient.

Team leadership
Some oral health problems require multi-step procedures carried out by a team of dental professionals, including oral surgeons, periodontists, general dentists, laboratory technicians and dental hygienists. A prosthodontist is often the point person who devises an overall treatment plan and coordinates the sequence of procedures with the various health professionals.

Attention to aesthetics
In prosthodontics, oral function and cosmetic dentistry go hand in hand. Prosthodontists have a deep understanding of what goes into a beautiful, functional smile—and their clinical training and experience can help you get the best results from dental treatment.

Prosthodontists have special expertise in the treatment of missing or damaged teeth, complex problems that require full-mouth reconstruction, and many other restorative dental procedures. If you have any questions about the specialty, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700 for a consultation.

Transform Your Smile with Porcelain Veneers

porcelain veneers.

You have a problem with your teeth. Functionally, there’s nothing wrong with them — but it’s another story when you look in the mirror: discoloration, wearing or maybe a slight gap between them.

Fortunately, you don’t have to settle for a smile you’re not happy with. Less costly than crowns or bridgework, porcelain veneers can nonetheless correct many mild to moderate cosmetic problems with teeth and transform them into an attractive smile.

Like the name implies, a veneer is made of thin layers of dental material custom-designed and bonded to the outside of a tooth. Veneers can correct problems with color, tooth shape and size, and mild misalignments or spacing. It’s akin to installing new siding on a house.

To begin your journey with veneers, we must first examine your teeth to fully assess your dental needs and ensure you have no issues that could prevent applying them. Then, we prepare your teeth: although not to the extent as for a crown or bridge, we must remove a small amount of tooth material so the veneer will appear natural and not bulky.

We then make an impression mold of your prepared teeth that a dental technician will use to create your veneers. During this process they build up layer after layer of liquid porcelain until they achieve the right thickness, shape and color to match your teeth.

In the meantime, we can fit you with a temporary set of veneers made of acrylic plastic so you can chew, speak and smile normally. These provisional veneers also give you and your friends and family a chance to see what your new smile will look like.

When your veneers are ready, we’ll create micro-etches in your teeth that will help keep the veneer secure after we’ve bonded them. Once bonded, the veneer will feel like an inseparable part of the tooth and look it too. No one except you and us need know you’re wearing veneers.

If you take care of them — keeping up daily hygiene habits, not biting into hard surfaces, and visiting us regularly for checkups — your veneers can last for many years. And so will that beautiful, new smile.

If you would like more information on porcelain veneers, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700 for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Veneers.”

Dental Porcelain is a Great Option for Creating a Natural Appearance

porcelain.

The mark of a great dental restoration is that you can’t see it. It’s there in plain sight, but others observing your new and improved smile can’t tell the difference between the restoration and your natural teeth. Everything looks, well, natural.

That’s the great advantage of dental porcelain. A dental technician with technical skill and artistic flair can form this inorganic, ceramic material into a life-like replica of your tooth, with a shape and color that blends in with the rest of your teeth. And because of its strength properties, porcelain restorations can hold up to the normal chewing and biting forces in your mouth, as long as you use prudence when biting down on hard substances.

Porcelain is also highly adaptable to different kinds of restorations. For natural teeth still viable but no longer attractive, porcelain can be the main ingredient in two very popular and effective restorations, the veneer and the crown. Although the porcelain material is the same for both, their construction and application are quite different.

Veneers are very thin laminated layers of dental porcelain custom-colored and shaped for bonding to the outer visible portion of a tooth. They’re a great solution for relatively decay-free teeth that have minor to moderate defects like chipping, slight misalignment or heavy staining. They often require some permanent removal of tooth enamel to ensure their appearance isn’t too bulky, but causes minimal impact to the tooth.

Crowns, on the other hand, are complete tooth replicas that are bonded in place over an existing tooth like a cap. They’re a good choice for teeth in which the root and inner layers are still viable, but the tooth has been significantly damaged by decay or trauma. They’re also useful as a protective cover for teeth that have undergone root canal treatment. But unlike the minimal impact of veneers, crowns require significant tooth alterations to accommodate them.

In either case, though, the end result is much the same: both crowns and veneers can be fashioned to precisely mimic the shape, color and texture of natural teeth. In skillful hands, these porcelain restorations can transform your smile for the better
and no one but you and your dentist will ever need to know.

If you would like more information on porcelain restorations, please contact us by calling (815) 741-1700 for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers.”

David Copperfield on the Magic of Cosmetic Dentistry

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If you could seem to levitate, walk through walls, or make the Statue of Liberty disappear… would it really matter whether or not you had a bright, shiny smile? According to David Copperfield, who has performed all of these illusions (and many more), the answer is: Yes, absolutely! In a recent interview with Dear Doctor magazine, the renowned magician talked about how a smile affects the way you’re seen by others — and the way you see yourself.

“Whether you’re in a job interview, or on stage, or just walking down the street, it can influence how people react to you, when they see you‘re happy,” he said. “And a smile is a beacon of that.”

As a veteran performer with a decades-long career, Copperfield understands the importance of a great-looking smile — not only to those who see you, but to your own self-esteem. “It’s not just appearance, it’s how you feel about yourself,” he noted.

Although he makes it look easy, Copperfield explained that it takes plenty of work behind the scenes to make the illusions appear natural. And at various times, when his dazzling smile has needed some touching up, the masterful magician hasn’t hesitated to take advantage of a different kind of magic: the kind offered by cosmetic dentistry.

What kinds of “magic tricks” can dentists do? Cosmetic procedures range from easy and effective teeth whitening to cosmetic bonding, which can repair small chips or cracks with tooth-colored resin. A smile that is crooked can be straightened with traditional or colorless braces, or by using clear plastic aligners that fit right over the teeth and are nearly invisible. Teeth that are more seriously stained or damaged can be restored with crowns or veneers. And teeth that have “disappeared” can be replaced with modern dental implants or traditional bridgework.

But the best thing about these “tricks” is that they aren’t illusions: Dentists work hard to preserve and restore your natural teeth whenever it is possible, and offer natural looking, long lasting replacements when it isn’t. That means, with proper oral hygiene care and routine office visits, a great-looking smile can be yours for life. And that’s not “magic”… it’s reality!

If you have questions about cosmetic dentistry, or would like to talk about having a “smile makeover,” contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can learn more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Cosmetic Dentistry” and “The Impact of a Smile Makeover.”